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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. IV. 1793
James Marshall to William Godwin, 31 May 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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Produced by CATH
Friday, May 31, ’93.

“I enclose you three guineas; the rest you shall have very shortly. I take this opportunity of saying a word or two on the affair of Tuesday. It was not I, but somebody else, who exhibited marks of intoxication, or more properly of insanity—for upon no principle of sound intellect is it to be accounted for. I came like a rational being, from motives of the purest kind, to discharge what I believed to be a duty. But Sir Fretful was in a humour to hear nothing but commendation, and tyrant Procrustes would admit no duty in another of which he should himself be the object, and which did not square precisely with his own ideas. Yet this is a philosopher teaching the firm discharge of duty to mankind! Whip me such philosophers, whose precepts and practice are eternally at variance.

“So far from being told twenty times, previous to reading the MS., that I was not to give my opinion, I do not remember being once told it; but had it been so, I do not see that it ought at all to have altered my conduct

“One word respecting the MS. itself, and I have done. The incidents are ill chosen; the characters unnatural, distorted; the phraseology intended to mark the humorous ones inappropriate; the style uncouth; everything upon stilts; the whole uninteresting; written as a man would make a chair or a table that had never handled a tool. I got through it, but it was as I get over a piece of ploughed-up ground, with labour and toil. By the way, judging from the work in question, one might suppose some minds not to be unlike a piece of ground. Having produced a rich crop, it must lie fallow for a season, that it may gain sufficient vigour for a new crop. You were speaking for a motto for this work—the best motto in my opinion would be a Hic jacet; for depend upon it, the world will suppose you to be exhausted; or rather what a few only think at present, will become a general opinion, that the Hercules you have fathered is not of your begetting.


“Your note to me is written to justify yourself from a charge of weakness; and it contains an additional confirmation of that weakness. The meaning of it is that if I cannot have the forbearance to avoid mentioning a syllable or breathing a censure upon this ‘work of works,’ I must not approach you till it be finished. Fie, fie! what name does this deserve?

Jas. Marshal.”