William Godwin's Diary


Hazlitt’s lectures on the English poets were first given on Tuesday evenings at the Surrey Institution on Blackfriars Road from 13 January to 3 March 1818, before being repeated at the Crown and Anchor tavern in the Strand from 23 March. On every Tuesday evening from 27 January to 3 March Hazlitt was in direct competition with his old friend Coleridge, who was lecturing nearby on European literature. Godwin only attended the packed final lecture in this first series, in which Hazlitt dwelt on the living poets, with a famously double-edged evaluation of Coleridge. However, he attended most of the series when it was repeated and so overall heard seven of Hazlitt’s eight lectures, only missing the sixth lecture ‘On Swift, Young, Gray, Collins, andc.’. The lectures were much more successful than Hazlitt’s first series on English philosophy, the experience of six years of regular journalism contributing to his lecturing style. Lectures on the English Poets was brought out by Taylor and Hessey in May of that year and went into a second edition in 1819.

See Stanley Jones, Hazlitt: A Life: from Winterslow to Frith Street (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989); Catherine Macdonald Maclean, Born Under Saturn: A Biography of William Hazlitt (London: Collins, 1943) and Selected Writings of William Hazlitt, ed. by Duncan Wu, 9 vols (London: Pickering and Chatto, 1998), vol. 2.