Page:Studies of a Biographer 3.djvu/143

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131
WILLIAM GODWIN'S NOVELS

there is a general glow of benevolent sentiment which commended him to the more generous impulses of the revolutionary period. I have only to say, however, that it is easy to understand that Godwin would act the part of philosopher to perfection. Ingenuous youths of both sexes are for a time capable of reverence for that variety of the species. The illusion indeed frequently lasts with the superior sex beyond the period of early enthusiasm. Colleges devoted to female education are, I fear, rapidly destroying that agreeable distinction. With minds sharpened by study, young ladies will soon make their brothers' discovery that when a man claims to be a philosopher there is a strong presumption that he must be an impostor. In Godwin's days, Newnham and Girton were not even conceivable; and a philosopher might hope to be taken seriously by a circle of feminine admirers. They could revere a man, not though but, because he was a bore. Incapacity for lighter talk proved that his thoughts were absorbed in serious topics, and the absence of romance showed that in him the emotions were under the sway of reason. Godwin had begun by showing superiority to the impulses of a young man's fancy. He had resolved to marry in a