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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. IX. 1797
William Godwin to Thomas Wedgwood, 19 April 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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“No. 7 Evesham Buildings, Somers Town,
April 19th, 1797.

“. . . You have by this time heard from B. Montague of my marriage. This was the solution of my late application to you, which I promised speedily to communicate. Some persons have found an inconsistency between my practice in this instance and my doctrines. But I cannot see it. The doctrine of my ‘Political Justice’ is, that an attachment in some degree permanent, between two persons of opposite sexes is right, but that marriage, as practised in European countries, is wrong. I still adhere to that opinion. Nothing but a regard for the happiness of the individual, which I had no right to injure, could have induced me to submit to an institution which I wish to see abolished, and which I would recommend to my fellow-men, never to practise, but with the greatest caution. Having done what I thought necessary for the peace and respectability of the individual, I hold myself no otherwise bound than I was before the ceremony took place.

“It is possible however that you will not see the subject in the same light, and I perhaps went too far, when I presumed to suppose that if you were acquainted with the nature of the case you would find it to be such as to make the interference I requested of you appear reasonable. I trust you will not accuse me of duplicity in having told you that it was not for myself that I wanted your assistance. You will perceive that that remark was in reference to the seeming inconsistency between my habits of economy and independence and the application in question.


“I can see no reason to doubt that as we are both successful authors, we shall be able by our literary exertions, though with no other fortune, to maintain ourselves either separately, or which is more desirable jointly. The loan I requested of you was rendered necessary by some complication in her pecuniary affairs, the consequence of her former connection, the particulars of which you have probably heard. Now that we have entered into a new mode of living, which will probably be permanent, I find a further supply of fifty pounds will be necessary to enable us to start fair. This you shall afford us, if you feel perfectly assured of its propriety, but if there be the smallest doubt in your mind, I shall be much more gratified by your obeying that doubt, than superseding it I do not at present feel inclined to remain long in any man’s debt, not even in yours. As to the not having published our marriage at first, I yielded in that to her feelings. Having settled the principal point in conformity to her interest, I felt inclined to leave all inferior matters to her disposal.

W. Godwin.”

“We do not entirely cohabit.”