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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VI. 1794-1796
[William Godwin to John Horseman, 25 October 1797]

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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“. . . I am glad that my writings have in any degree contributed to your pleasure in moments of dejection and gloom. I should be much more glad if I could point out to you a remedy for your disease. Dr Darwin, you say, assures you it is a disease of the mind. There is perhaps some deception in that way of distributing the disorders of the human species. The mind and the
animal frame are so closely connected, that scarcely anything can unfavourably affect the one without deranging the other. I think it not improbable that your unhappiness may be connected with some vice of organization, as far as I can annex a distinct meaning to that term. But in these subtle diseases, take insanity for an example, it seems as if the remedies might sometimes be found in material, sometimes in mental applications. I see no good reason to doubt, that a certain discipline of the mind may have a powerful tendency to restore sanity to the intellect, and consequent vigour to the animal frame. I know a young man, subject in a considerable degree to the same evil under which you labour, and of a strong understanding, who has in some measure found out the remedy for himself, and has considerably added to his happiness by watching resolutely the operations of his own mind.

“The first thing you have to guard against, as the most pernicious error into which you can fall, is the feeling yourself flattered by your own misery as something honourable and delicate. Do not from this, or other motives, cherish and indulge painful sensations. Resolutely expel them, if possible, from your mind. Determine vehemently and hardily to be as happy as you can. . . . Break abruptly the thread of painful ideas. Set your face as much as possible against a spirit of timidity and procrastination. Endeavour to be always active, always employed. Walk, read, write, and converse. Seek variety in this respect. Whatever you engage in, engage in firmly, and give no quarter to the inroads of irresolution and listlessness. . . . Do not indulge in visions, and phantoms of the imagination, or place your happiness in something you may perhaps never obtain, but endeavour to make it out of the materials within your reach. Adopt some course of improvement, and impress yourself with some ardour of usefulness, which will never wholly elude the grasp of him who seeks it with ingenuousness and simplicity. . . .

W. Godwin.”