Hazlitt discussed Sidney on several occasions after his 1820 lecture: in Table-Talk (1821-2) he says that Sidney’s sonnets are, by contrast with Milton’s, ‘elaborately quaint and intricate, and more like riddles than sonnets’, and in Select British Poets (1824) he allows that Sidney is ‘an affected writer, but with great power of thought and description. His poetry, of which he did not write much, has the faults of his prose without its recommendations’ (The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, ed. P.P. Howe, 21 vols, London, 1930-4, vol. 8, p. 175; vol. 9, p. 236). Somewhat more favourable verdicts are also sometimes delivered: ‘notwithstanding the adventitious ornaments with which their style is encumbered, there is more truth and feeling in Cowley and Sir Philip Sidney, than in a host of insipid and merely natural writers’ (ibid., vol. 16, p. 43); of Annibale Carracci’s Silenus Teaching a Young Apollo to Play on the Pipe Hazlitt says that ‘the only image we would venture to compare with it for innocent artless voluptuousness, is that of the shepherd-boy in Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia [NA, p. 11], “piping as though he should never be old”’ (ibid., vol. 10, p. 9; see also vol. 5, p. 98; vol. 6, p. 300; vol. 20, p. 119).
Sidney’s defenders in the nineteenth century found it easier to answer the generalized attack of Walpole (No. 77) than Hazlitt’s energetic persuasiveness. Lamb (No. 90) took exception to his continual ‘insulting the memory of Sir Philip Sydney’ and suggested that it was politically motivated, but considered only Astrophil and Stella, not Hazlitt’s main target, Arcadia. Hazlitt’s influence endured for a century, informing hostile criticism of Sidney by T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf (Kay, pp. 39-40).