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Jan 14 1812 William Hazlitt


Henry Crabb Robinson (1775–1867) is best know as a diarist who, in hi
s Diary, Reminiscences and Correspondence, recorded many observations and conversations with the most famous men of letters of his time such as William Hazlitt, Southey, Coleridge, Charles Lamb and William Blake. 

William Hazlitt (10 April 1778 – 18 September 1830) was an English writer, journalist, philosopher, who is now best known, if remembered at all, for his literary criticism.

On January 14, 1812, Henry Crabb Robinson wrote about one of Hazlitt's first public lectures. He writes:   

Heard first lecture by William Hazlitt on "History of English Philosophy." He seems to have no conception of the difference between a lecture and book. What he said was  sensible and excellent,  but he delivered himself in a low monotonous voice with his eyes fixed on his M.S. not once daring to look at his audience; and he read so rapidly that no one could possibly give to the matter the attention it required. 
Hazlitt's biographer, Ralph Wardle in Hazlitt (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1971) at page 126 provides more details about the the lecture: 
Tuesday, January 14, 1812, Hazlitt faced his first audience in the  rooms of the Russell Institution. His topic, as announced, was "The Writings of Hobbes, showing that he was the father of the modern system of philosophy." According to Crabb Robinson, the secretary of the institution, a Mr. Flack, told him just before the lecture that he must restrict himself to one hour. He had, unfortunately, material enough to last three hours—and he attempted to disgorge it all in an hour's time. The result was disastrous.  
He began by reading passages from the prospectus which he had prepared for his history of English philosophy, declaring that he was interested not so much in tracing the history of English philosophy as in criticizing false philosophy and formulating more sensible principles. He was off to a bad start with those of his audience who had come for information rather than theory. And they must have grown increasingly restless as he developed his thesis—that modern philosophy stemmed from Hobbes, not Locke, and that Hobbes, though original, was dead wrong—by reading long excerpts from Hobbes's work with occasional critical comments of his own... 





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