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HAZLITT, William (1778--1830)
[History of English philosophy. Prospectus]
Proposals for publishing, in one large volume quarto, ... a history of English philosophy: containing an account of the rise and progress of modern metaphysics, ... By William Hazlitt, author of An essay on the principles of human action, and An abridgement of the light of nature pursued.
London: Richard Taylor & Co., printers, [1818?].
8 p. ; 22.3 cm. (8°)

Drop-head title. Printed details of sale 'Price 1l.11s 6d to subscribers, to be paid on completion of the work' amended in ink to 2 guineas and one half to be paid on subscribing. Hazlitt's statement of authorship on the title-page augmented in ink to include Lectures on the English poets &c. (published in 1818). The list of subscribers includes the name of William Wordsworth which has been crossed through in ink, as has that of J. Haslam. Hazlitt first issued proposals for A history of English philosophy in 1809 (British Library, Add. MS 37916) with publication planned for that or the following year. The original proposed subscription price of £1 10s. 0d. would have required 140-150 advance sales to cover the outlay; this was evidently not achieved, and the project has generally been considered to have been abandoned thereafter. In February 1810 Hazlitt wrote to Henry Crabb Robinson with plans to turn 'the History ... into a volume of Essays' on the same subjects, suggesting the History existed as a complete MS. regarded by its author as a potentially viable work in progress. In summer 1811 the work was further revised into a series of lectures to be held at the Russell Institution in 1812. At this point, however, records of the printer Richard Taylor preserved at St Bride's Printing Library show that the 1809 proposals were reset and reprinted, with further corrections and reprintings between April and June 1812: 175 copies in total, presumably intended for distribution at the lectures to attract new subscribers. Further reprints were made in August 1812 and April 1813; this last impression introduced a list of current subscribers to the work as evidenced by the present unique surviving copy in the Soane Museum. Soane and Hazlitt probably met at the Surry Institution in February 1818 when Soane attended the last of Hazlitt's lecture series on the English poets; by April a friendship was established, with Hazlitt giving Soane a copy of the second edition of Characters of Shakespear's plays (q.v.) probably in June 1818. The present copy of the final printing of the proposals, emended in Hazlitt's hand as described above with changes to the price and payment schedule and presumably given to Soane around that time, imply that even at this late date Hazlitt still nourished hopes of publication, but evidently he still failed to raise sufficent funds. See Duncan Wu, 'Hazlitt's unpublished History of English philosophy: the larger context', The Library, 7th ser., v. 7 no. 1 (March 2006), pp. 25-64.

Binding Loose quire.

Reference Number 5939


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