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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. XII. 1799
William Godwin to Maria Reveley [Gisborne], [August 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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[August 1799.]

“I think you have the courage to excuse the plainness with which I am going to speak. The game for which we play, the stake that may eventually be lost is my happiness and perhaps your own.

“You have it in your power to give me new life, a new interest in existence, to raise me from the grave in which my heart lies buried. You are invited to form the sole happiness of one of the most known men of the age, of one whose principles, whose temper, whose thoughts, you have been long acquainted with, and will, I believe, confess their universal constancy. This connection, I should think, would restore you to self-respect, would give security to your future peace, and insure for you no mean degree of respectability. What you propose to choose in opposition to this I hardly know how to describe to you. You have said you cannot live without a passion; yet you prefer a mere abstraction, the unknown ticket you may draw in the lottery of men, to the attachment of a man of some virtues, a man whom you once, whom you long believed you loved. Your temper is so gentle and yielding, in those moments in which your heart is moved, that you indeed want a protector and an amulet I cannot bear to think of what, but for the sake of warning you, I would not suffer to remain a moment in my thoughts, the new difficulties, embarrassments, and repentance in which this amiable softness of your character will, too probably, involve you. I offer you a harbour, once your favourite thought; you prefer to launch away into the tempestuous treacherous ocean. I should not forgive myself in case of any new misfortune to you, if I had not ventured to say thus much.

“How singularly perverse and painful is my fate. When all obstacles interposed between us, when I had a wife, when you had a husband, you said you loved me, for years loved me! Could you
for years be deceived? Now that calamity on the one hand, and no unpropitious fortune on the other, have removed these obstacles, it seems your thoughts are changed, you have entered into new thoughts and reasonings.” . . . [The end of the letter is lost]