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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. II. 1785-1788
Thomas Abthorpe Cooper to William Godwin, 11 August 1792

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
Newcastle, Aug. 11, 1792.

“I did leave such directions at Edinburgh as answered the purpose of bringing your letter immediately to hand, which I think it was most probable I should do, as I had begged you to write by return of post. I think your observation relative to my being too loud in rehearsal was the true cause of Mr Kemble’s rejection of my Douglas: but as you say, that belief is of little consequence (except, indeed, that it will be a warning to my future conduct), since I have had no second hearing, and I am afraid shall not have, for Mrs Siddons, on account of her health, is unwilling to play any characters that require her greatest exertion. She has already played Jane Shore, Desdemona, to-night Mrs Beverley, for the last time but two, one of the two is to be Zara, of the other I am ignorant: so that you perceive there is very little chance for me. I have learned since that it is to be Lady Macbeth.

“I am, as you say, at a loss for a subject, the strangeness of
which will vanish when you consider that I am deprived of the characters in which I expected to shine: that I am obliged to sit down with a black gown over my shoulders as a dumb senator (which I have done twice in the plays of
Shylock and Othello!!) and hear Mr Kemble hold forth with the most impetuous rant, with sudden, ill-timed, unmeaning risings and fallings of voice, to astonish the vulgar, and confound the wise by not articulating a single syllable; and to hear Mr Woods repeat his words in one dull, heavy, monotonous sound. This circumstance is so remarkable in Woods, that having repeated a part of Lord Hastings’ speech with tolerable propriety, and having made a pause introducing a totally different feeling and passion, and by his pause, and the length of it, rousing every individual to the highest pitch of eagerness and expectation, he begins to speak, and on the instant destroys all pleasure by the repetition of the very same sound. I uttered, at the very first syllable, an involuntary groan (this was at the first time of my seeing him), and a dirty scene-shifter, cursing him, expressed his dissatisfaction in a very characteristically awkward manner. Woods speaks with a remarkably graceful action and easy deportment. Then to perceive a number of dull fools who scarcely even pretend to know their right hands from their left, fill up the other characters, without my being considered worthy to utter a syllable; your astonishment, I say, must vanish when you consider these things, for it is natural that a mind reflecting on them should withdraw itself to talk of the height of steeples, the length of streets, the nature of the soil, &c., &c.

Mr Woods was to have played Glenalvon, but was obliged to undertake Douglas, which he had never played before; in consequence of which a Mr Sparkes took his Glenalvon. My reception was such as I could wish: the actors are all very civil, and the higher are not distant and proud. Mr Bell, and others of some consequence, give me advice, in general insignificant enough, but tolerably good of its kind. You need be under no apprehension concerning money, for I get a guinea every Monday.”