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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. IV. 1793
William Godwin to Samuel Newton, [November? 1793]

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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Sir,—I have been informed that you have delivered it as your judgment of the work I have published on Political Justice, that, upon attempting the perusal, you found in it matters so peculiarly censurable that you could not bear to read any farther.

“I confess I am strongly inclined to believe that there has been some mistake on the part of my informant, and that the story I have heard is untrue. If so, you will thank me for giving you an opportunity to contradict it.


“Having written thus much, I will trouble you with the reasons that persuade me you never delivered the opinion ascribed to you.

“When I knew you, you were an ardent champion for political liberty. I cannot easily suppose that you have changed your sentiments on that head.

“It is impossible that you should not have perceived that the book in question is intended to promote that glorious cause. Granting that I have the misfortune to differ from you in your theological creed, I am well assured that at the period to which I allude, you had the candour and discernment to do justice to the political writings of people of all persuasions in religion and philosophy. The indulgence in this respect that you would grant to all other men, I cannot suppose you would deny to me. The subject of the book is not religion, but politics: if it be calculated to produce any effect, it is infinitely more probable that that effect will relate to its express object, than its incidental allusions; to the politics which I imagine you will allow to be generally right, than to the theology which you perhaps suspect to be wrong.

“There is a view which I am strongly inclined to entertain upon this subject, that I will take the liberty to mention. We have all of us our duties. Every action of our lives, and every word that we utter, will either conduce to or detract from the discharge of our duty. We cannot any of us do all the things of which mankind stand in need; we must have fellow-labourers. Hence it seems to follow that it is one of our most important duties to do justice to the good qualities of every man and every book that falls under observation, that thus we may enlarge the opportunity of others for discharging those parts of public service which we cannot perform ourselves. It is unworthy of any real friend to mankind to depreciate any well conceived endeavour from a too painful feeling of the incidental defects that may accompany it.

“I make no apology for want of ceremony. We are both of us, I conceive, enemies to that servility under which the species have so long laboured.”