William Hazlitt: Danger is a Good Teacher

"Danger is a good teacher, and makes apt scholars. So are disgrace, defeat, exposure to immediate scorn, and laughter..."


William Hazlitt (1778-1830) was an English man of letters, a writer and literary critic held in the same esteem as luminaries such as Samuel Johnson and George Orwell. Hazlitt was and still is considered the greatest critic of his age, a reputation based on his astute observations and keen humanistic essays. Hazlitt was also a painter; the above picture is a self-portrait. Despite his legendary acclaim, many of Hazlitt's writings are currently out of print. A key theme in his writings is the importance of experience over abstraction, an idea quite evident in the quote below.


"Danger is a good teacher, and makes apt scholars. So are disgrace, defeat, exposure to immediate scorn, and laughter. There is no opportunity in such cases for self-delusion, no idling time away, no being off your guard (or you must take the consequences) — neither is there any room for humour or caprice or prejudice."

From: "The Indian Jugglers," via Wikiquote

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