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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. XII. 1799
James Ballantyne to William Godwin, 14 November 1799

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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Kelso, Nov. 14, 1799.

Sir,—About three years ago there dined in your company at Mr Holcroft’s, introduced by the late Mr Armstrong, a young man from Scotland, on whose mind your wisdom and benevolent condescension have left impressions of affection and gratitude, which no time will efface. The writer of this letter is the person so delightfully distinguished: but as he is sensible that an interview which constituted so prominent a period of his life may long ere this have melted into the common mass of uninteresting events which consume your time without attracting your attention, he begs leave to mention a circumstance which may recall him to your memory. He promised to send up to London a distinguished portrait, which promise remains to this day unfulfilled. He was not to blame that on enquiry he found every impression of that portrait was sold off; but he severely condemns the mingled indolence and timidity which prevented him from stating that circumstance to account for apparent neglect


“The customs which fetter man in his intercourse with his fellows do not justify this tardy intrusion on your leisure; but these customs Mr Godwin will disregard when they interfere with his power of communicating instruction and extending happiness. The gentleman who will deliver this letter is Doctor Bell, an amiable and accomplished physician, whose mind since his earliest perusal of your writings, has been filled with the most exalted respect for your talents, and affection for your heart.

“The Jamaica fleet which sails in a few days, conveys him from his country, perhaps for ever. His situation will be one of high influence and authority, and I know he will exert his power to lighten the woes and diminish the horrors of slavery. Once only will he be able to avail himself of this introduction, but to see and converse, for however short a time, with Mr Godwin, will prove a source of pleasure, both in enjoyment and reflection, which he cannot leave his native soil without endeavouring to attain. It is no common motive which would incline me to trespass thus on your leisure.

“I beg to be considered, my dear sir, with the utmost respect and affection, your obliged friend,

James Ballantyne.”

One line from you to say you forgive what the world would term my presumption would give me supreme pleasure. I confess I would rather be assured of this by yourself, than by the report of my friend.”