William Godwin's Diary


One of a series of eleven lectures on English philosophy, delivered weekly by William Hazlitt at the recently-founded Russell Institution on topics ranging from Hobbes to Hazlitt’s favourite topic of the disinterestedness of mind. Hazlitt initially found it difficult to adapt his early written style to lecturing, reading quickly from a script and in a low voice for the hour of the lecture. However, by the time Godwin heard him he had improved, as Crabb Robinson’s diary entry for 4 February records: ‘At Hazlitt’s fourth lecture; still on Locke …. Hazlitt’s manner is now very respectable’. This is the only one of the series that Godwin attended. Hazlitt’s ‘Prospectus of a History of English Philosophy’ can be found in the second volume of Howe’s Complete Works but the lectures themselves were never printed. However, Hazlitt’s son rescued ‘fast moldering’ notes for five of the lectures were from the cellar of a lodging-house (see Literary Remains of the Late William Hazlitt, vol. 1, p. 115, quoted in Wu, ‘Hazlitt’s Unpublished History of English Philosophy’) and fragments of three of these manuscripts survive in Manchester Central Library.

See DNB; The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, ed. by P.P. Howe, 21 vols (London: J.M. Dent and Sons, 1930-34); P.P. Howe, The Life of William Hazlitt (London: M. Secker, 1922) and Duncan Wu, ‘Hazlitt’s Unpublished History of English Philosophy: The Wider Context’, The Library 7.1 (2006) 25-64.