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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. XIII. 1800
William Godwin to Samuel Parr, 3 January 1800

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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Polygon, Somers Town, Jan. 3, 1800.

Dear Sir,—I received a visit more than twelve months ago from Mr Morley of Hampton Lucy, the express purpose of which was to vindicate himself from any supposed concern in a foolish story that was propagated of my having been, through the influence of a certain melancholy event, converted to Christianity. This was the first time I had ever heard his name joined with that story. His vindication with me was therefore easy. From all that I know of Mr Morley, I should feel great difficulty in persuading myself that a conduct pitiful and unmanly could justly be imputed to him, and I had no hesitation in completely acquitting him.

“I felt some inclination on that occasion to have written to you for the purpose of removing any unpleasant impression that might remain on your mind in connexion with that story. This inclination, after an interval, was renewed in my mind with still greater force, in consequence of my being told, though I cannot now recollect by whom, that you had been heard to do me the honour to express your regret at some unfortunate misunderstanding that had arisen between us. But procrastination is of very fatal influence. I deferred my explanation; I reserved it for the occasion that now presents itself, which I calculated would have occurred much sooner than it has done. I said, I will request Dr Parr’s acceptance of a copy of my second attempt in the way of a novel, and will then write to him on the subject at large.

“The story was first brought to me by a very amusing and good-natured young man, Mr Basil Montagu. He represented you as the assiduous propagator of the tale. If his representation had been true, I should have regretted the circumstance, but I should have looked upon it as a ground of misunder-
standing with a man I so profoundly value and esteem as
Dr Parr. I saw you soon after in town (June 1798), and with my customary frankness related to you what I had heard. You instantly assured me that you had heard the tale, only to contradict it. No answer could be more satisfactory. From that moment the circumstance ceased to give me the slightest uneasiness, and, but for the incidents related in the preceding page, would, I am satisfied, long since have vanished from my mind. I hope this explanation will be received by you as complete. There are few things I regret so much as that petty considerations of miles and hours should now for a year and a half have withheld from me the improving conversation, and the cordial assurances and encouragements I might otherwise have held with and received from Dr Parr.

“I ordered my bookseller to send you a copy of my new novel. I hope you received it in due course. It would give me great pleasure if you did not hold it lost time to communicate to me, with your usual manliness, your sentiments respecting it: if you would give yourself the trouble, in case of your discovering in it any fundamental mistake, to set up a beacon to direct me better in my future efforts, and in case you thought it did not disgrace me, to cheer me with one breath of your applause, that I might proceed with greater confidence and strength to future exertions.

“You made a long visit at Norwich last summer. If I had heard of it in time, I should, perhaps, have been tempted to review the scene of my boyish years. You saw, I am told, a good deal of Mackintosh; you therefore, no doubt, settled accounts with him as to your opinion of his political lectures. I am, myself, exceedingly disgusted with some of their leading features. Sheltering himself under, what I think, a frivolous apology of naming nobody, he loads indiscriminately the writers of the new philosophy with every epithet of contempt,—absurdity, frenzy, idiotism, deceit, ambition, and every murderous propensity dance through the mazes of his glittering periods: nor has this mighty dispenser of honour and disgrace ever deigned to concede to any one of them the least particle of understanding, talent, or taste. He has to
the utmost of his power contributed to raise a cry against them, as hollow, treacherous, noxious, and detestable, and to procure them either to be torn in pieces by the mob, or hanged up by the government. There is a warmth in this style of speculation, that does not well accord, either with the conclusions of my understanding, or the sentiments of my heart. I have noticed it accordingly, en passant, in the third volume, p. 247, of my novel.—I remain, with sentiments of much regard, dear sir, yours,

W. Godwin.”