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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. XI. 1798
Harriet Lee to William Godwin, 31 July 1798

Contents Vol. I
Ch. I. 1756-1785
Ch. II. 1785-1788
Ch. III. 1788-1792
Ch. IV. 1793
Ch. V. 1783-1794
Ch. VI. 1794-1796
Ch. VII. 1759-1791
Ch. VII. 1791-1796
Ch. IX. 1797
Ch. X. 1797
Ch. XI. 1798
Ch. XII. 1799
Ch. XIII. 1800
Contents Vol. II
Ch. I. 1800
Ch. II. 1800
Ch. III. 1800
Ch. IV. 1801-1803
Ch. V. 1802-1803
Ch. VI. 1804-1806
Ch. VII. 1806-1811
Ch. VIII. 1811-1814
Ch. IX. 1812-1819
Ch. X. 1819-1824
Ch. XI. 1824-1832
Ch. XII. 1832-1836
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[Bath], “July 31, 1798.

“You distress me, sir, extremely, by again agitating a question which ought to be considered as decided. I had full opportunity, when in Town, to hear, and attentively to weigh your opinions concerning the point on which we most differ: for perhaps I do not fully agree with you in supposing our minds at unison on many others; but that is immaterial—the matter before us is decisive. All the powers of my understanding, and the better feelings of my heart concurred in the resolution I declared before we parted; every subsequent reflection has but confirmed it. With me our difference of opinion is not a mere theoretical question. I never did, never can feel it as such, and it is only astonishing that you should do so. It announces to me a certain difference in—I had almost said a want in—the heart, of a thousand times more consequence than all the various shades of intellect or opinion. My resolution then remains exactly and firmly what it was: it gives me great pain to have disturbed the quiet of your mind, but I cannot remedy the evil without losing the rectitude of my own.

“I have taken from my sister the unpleasant task of telling you
what you are unwilling to credit. She does justice to your understanding, she wishes you every good that you can reasonably demand, but recollect how improbable it is that I should cherish opinions she has not entertained long before; and even if I did, self-dependent as I am both in mind and years, how little likely is it that I should look to another for a rule either of duty or happiness.

“You tell me that you are individually beloved by those who know you, and I can easily believe it, but I will tell you that even among the number of your friends, or at least well-wishers, there are to my knowledge those who much lament, and even blame the lengths to which your systems of thinking have carried you, and who recede insensibly from your opinions, while they preserve a respect for your intentions.

“If, in our conversations, I have ever appeared in any moment undecided, it was only at those when it occurred to me that truth and genuine feeling were so strongly on my side, that while you were collecting arguments to enlighten my mind, I felt persuaded of the possibility of a change in your own. And why should I not? A doctrine so necessary to the heart, so consonant to the reason, as that of a just and all-powerful Diety will I hope one day find its way to both.

“My own good wishes and those of my sister attend you. Nothing further can or ought to be said by either of us. Farewell—but let it be a friendly Farewell.

H. L.”