1878 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Godwin

Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke, in Recollections of Writers (1878) 36-37.



I again also occasionally met Godwin. His bald head, singularly wanting in the organ of veneration (for the spot where phrenologists state that "bump" to be, was, on Godwin's head and indentation instead of a protuberance), betokened of itself a remarkable man and individual thinker; and his laugh — with its abrupt, short, monosound — more like a sharp gasp or snort than a laugh — seemed alone sufficient to proclaim the cynical, satirical, hard-judging, deep-sighted, yet strongly-feeling and strangely-imaginative author of Political Justice, Caleb Williams, St. Leon, and Fleetwood. His snarling tone of voice exacerbated the effect of his sneering speeches and cutting retorts. On one occasion, meeting Leigh Hunt, who complained of the shortness of his sight and generally wore attached to a black ribbon a small single eye-glass to aid him in descrying objects, Godwin answered to his complaints by saying sharply, "You should wear spectacles." Leigh Hunt playfully admitted that he hardly liked yet to take to so old-gentlemanly-looking and disfiguring an apparatus; when Godwin retorted, with his snapping laugh, "Ha! What a coxcomb you must be!"