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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. XII. 1799
Thomas Holcroft to William Godwin, 19 July 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, July 19th, 1799.
At Wm. Cole’s, No. 100 Cathermen Strasse.

“We have been in this place eight days, and, had I time, the description of what I have already seen would be certainly more than sufficient to fill eight pages. But it is not my present intention to say anything on this subject, except to remark that though there may be few essential differences in the morals, or great outlines of behaviour in two nations, yet the numberless little particulars produce so striking an effect upon the eye and imagination, and we are so apt to wonder and laugh at what we are not accustomed to, that for some few days young and unpracticed persons might imagine themselves suddenly transported to another, and, certainly not in their opinion, to a better world.

“I received your second volume, and made enquiries immediately after my arrival, but have not yet met with any person who could give me sufficient information relative to the translating and publishing it in the German language. I think it right to tell you that Louisa and Fanny have read the two volumes, and are both of opinion that Leon is a second Falkland, but much his inferior. I was present when Louisa several times laid down the book to exclaim against his feeble and absurd conduct, to which I made no reply whatever. But it was a consolation to me to find they were both delighted with Marguerite. They think, however, there is by no means the same degree of interest created as that which they felt in reading ‘Caleb Williams.’ I inform you of this because
you have always wished to enquire into the feelings of your readers, and because I consider such experiments as beneficial.

“I was somewhat moved, and rather surprized at the note included in the parcel. You reproach me for not having consulted you on my travelling plan, which you say you have always disapproved and loathed. I have been frequently amazed at your forgetfulness, but never more than in the present instance. It is full two years, I believe indeed much more, since I first conceived the project. I spoke of it frequently, and I dare affirm oftener to you than to any other person. I cannot recollect whether you then made any objections, but had they been very serious and pointed they would surely have been attended to, and not forgotten. My reasons, however, I think you have already heard, and when again brought to your recollection will scarcely be thought feeble. I had a house and establishment, which, my family being dispersed, were a heavy and unnecessary expense; my debts were great, and several of them of so long standing that I remembered them with a poignant anxiety, neither were my creditors, however they might forbear to dun me, entirely satisfied. These debts could only be discharged by the sale of my effects, and the breaking up of what was become in my opinion an immoral establishment, to support which I subjected myself to unnecessary labours, turmoils, and obligations. Persecuted at the Theatre as I continually have been from the appearance of ‘Love’s Frailties’, whenever a piece was known to be mine, what could I do better than disappear from the scene, and no longer excite malice or anger, call it which you will, that I could not appease? This was my train of thoughts, this train of thinking you have often witnessed, and in it, in my apprehension, you have acquiesced. That I was the first to recommend, both in language and practice, an unreserved communication, I well remember, and though certainly it has not existed between us of late in the same high and unspeakably gratifying degree it once did, its decline as far as I am a judge did not begin with me. This decline had I think two marked and decisive periods. The first was that which immediately preceded your marriage, and the second the lament-
able event by which it was terminated. The anguish of heart I felt, first from the event itself, and afterwards from circumstances which I cannot endure to repeat, was such as never can be forgotten. You will not, I am sure, wound me by saying I do want or ever have wanted, since I have known your worth, confidence in you. Question me on any possible subject, any act or thought of my life, and I will answer you with the openness due to the honesty of your intentions, and the sincerity exacted by truth. No one, however, better understands than you do how impossible it is to be totally unreserved on one side, where there is a conviction of reserve being practised on the other. Of this you have given a fine picture between your St. Leon and Marguerite. That I shall never cease to have an unequivocal and active friendship for you I am certain, and what I have said has been accidentally drawn from me. . . .

T. Holcroft.”