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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. XII. 1799
John Arnot to William Godwin, 4 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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Produced by CATH
Hamburg, Sunday, 4th August 1799.

“. . . Having first delineated the character of the [Russian] people, I meant then to have pointed out to the English, and to every civilised nation, how much they had to dread if ever such a people, or rather if such machines should be put in motion against them as enemies, and to have called their attention to the prodigious extent of the Russian Empire, and the gradual encroachment of its Sovereign, first in Asia from south to north, and now in Europe from north to south. After a due consideration of these facts, I flattered myself that I might be able perhaps to persuade the English to dissolve their present alliance with Russia. In this I now think I was too sanguine, but it is not improbable that my representations might in time have produced a good effect . . .

“Another project soon occurred, which would not have been difficult to execute. I had not pored long over my books before I was struck with the difference in the combination of the words in the German and in the English languages; the one the language of imagination, yet minutely accurate and metaphysical in its distinctions; the other the language of reflection, simple and philosophical, for such do these languages appear to me to be. When I shall have considered them better, it may be that I shall find myself mistaken. As I proceeded with my reading, this difference of arrangement became to me still more remarkable, and at length suggested the idea of attempting an analysis of the German language, and a comparison of it with the English. With the minutiæ of the grammar of both I had no concern; that would have been more than I could have grasped; I meant only, from several well chosen sentences in both languages, to select of each that sentence which should seem to me most complete for my purpose, to analyse them both, tracing the order of ideas, and placing them in various points of view, and then to compare them
together. The study of philosophical grammar is generally supposed to be a very dry study. I had long been of opinion that no study was dry if it were pursued in a proper manner; I thought I had now an opportunity of making the experiment, and for two months I continued collecting remarks and preparing materials, all of which were to me agreeable and entertaining, and, as I hoped, would have proved so to others.”