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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. II. 1785-1788
William Godwin to Thomas Abthorpe Cooper, 19 April 1790

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
April 19, 1790.

My dear Boy.—I am more pleased than displeased with the paper I have just seen. It discovers a degree of sensibility that may be of the greatest use to you, though I will endeavour to convince you that it is wrongly applied. I was in hopes that it was written on purpose for me to see; for I love confidence, and there are some things that perhaps you could scarcely say to me by word of mouth. I have always endeavoured to persuade you to confidence, because you have not a friend upon earth that is more ardently desirous of your welfare than I, and you have not a friend so capable of advising and guiding you to what is most to your interest

“This confidence would have been of use to you in what has lately passed; and its continuance would be of use to you in all your future life. If I had seen this paper before last Tuesday, what passed on that day would not have happened. But I am closely engaged in observing what passes through your mind, and I observed a sulkiness and obstinacy growing up in it. You said to yourself, ‘When I behave ill, I am only reprimanded; and I do not mind that.’ Thus when I have been endeavouring, in strong language, to point out your errors, and lead you to amend them,
you have been employed with all your might in counteracting the impression I sought to make.

“There is in this paper a degree of sensibility that has great merit. The love of independency and dislike of unjust treatment is the source of a thousand virtues. If while you are necessarily dependent on me I treat you with heaviness and unkindness, it is natural you should have a painful feeling of it.

“But harshness and unkindness are relative. The appearance of them may be the fruits of the greatest kindness. In fact, can my conduct towards you spring from any but an ardent desire to be of service to you? I am poor, and with considerable labour maintain my little family; yet I am willing to spend my money upon your wants and pleasures. My time is of the utmost value to me, yet I bestow a large portion of it upon your improvement.

“Supposing I should be mistaken in any part of my conduct towards you, can it spring from anything but motives of kindness? I ask for your confidence, because without it I am persuaded that I cannot do you half the good I could wish. It is not an idle curiosity. I care nothing about myself in this business. If I can contribute to make you virtuous and respectable hereafter, I do not care whether I then possess your friendship, I am contented you should hate me. I desire no gratitude, and no return of favours, I only wish to do you good.

W. Godwin.”