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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. IX. 1797
William Godwin to Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, 10 June 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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Etruria, June 10, 1797.

“You cannot imagine how happy your letter made me. No creature expresses, because no creature feels, the-tender affections so perfectly as you do; and, after all one’s philosophy, it must be confessed that the knowledge that there is some one that takes an interest in one’s happiness, something like that which each man feels in his own, is extremely gratifying. We love, as it were, to multiply the consciousness of our existence, even at the hazard of what Montagu described so pathetically one night upon the New Road, of opening new avenues for pain and misery to attack us.

“We arrived, as you are already informed, at Etruria on Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday I finished my second letter to you, which was exchanged that evening for your letter, written the preceding day. This is the mode of carrying on correspondence at Etruria: the messenger who brings the letters from Newcastle-under-Lyne, two miles, carries away the letters you have already written. In case of emergency, however, you can answer letters by return of post, and send them an hour after the messenger, time enough for the mail.

“I wrote last Wednesday a letter which of course you were to receive this morning. It is probable that you are now reading it: it is between twelve and one. I hope it finds you in health and spirits. I hope you hail the handwriting on the direction, though not probably with the surprise which, it seems, the arrival of my first letter produced. You are now reading my adventures: the elopement of Mrs Wynn, the little, good-humoured sparring between me and Dr Parr, and the tremendous accident of Cannock. These circumstances are presenting themselves with all the grace of novelty. I am, at the same time, reading your letter, I believe for the fourth time, which loses not one grace by the repetition. Well, fold it up; give Fanny the kiss I sent her, and tell her, as I desired you, that I am in the land of mugs. You wish, it may be, that my message had been better adapted to her capacity, but
I think it better as it is; I hope you do not disdain the task of being its commentator.

“One of the pleasures I promised myself in my excursion, was to increase my value in your estimation, and I am not disappointed. What we possess without intermission we inevitably hold light; it is a refinement in voluptuousness to submit to voluntary privations. Separation is the image of death, but it is Death stripped of all that is most tremendous, and his dart purged of its deadly venom. I always thought St Paul’s rule, that we should die daily, an exquisite Epicurean maxim. The practice of it would give to life a double relish.

“Yesterday we dined at Mrs Wedgwood’s the elder, Everina was not of the party. They sat incessantly from three to eleven p.m. This does not suit my propensities; I was obliged to have a ride in the whiskey at five, and a walk at half after eight

Montagu’s flame is the youngest of the family. She is certainly the best of the two unmarried daughters; but, I am afraid, not good enough for him. She is considerably fat, with a countenance rather animated, and a glimpse of Mrs Robinson. Perhaps you know that I am a little sheepish, particularly with stranger ladies. Our party is numerous, and I have had no conversation with her. I look upon any of my friends going to be married with something of the same feeling as I should do if they were sentenced to hard labour in the Spielberg. The despot may die, and the new despot grace his accession with a general jail delivery; that is almost the only hope for the unfortunate captive.

“To-day we went over Mr Wedgwood’s manufactory. Everina accompanied us, and Mr Baugh Allen—no other lady. For Everina, she was in high spirits. She had never seen the manufactory before. The object of my attention was rather the countenances of the workpeople, than the wares they produced. . . .

“Tell Fanny we have chosen a mug for her, and another for Lucas. There is a F on hers, and an L on his, shaped in an island of flowers, of green and orange tawny alternately. With respect to their beauty, you will set it forth with such eloquence as your imagination can supply.


“We are going this evening, the whole family included, to see the ‘School for Scandal,’ represented by a company of strollers at Newcastle-under-Lyne. . . . Your William (do you know me by that name?) salutes the trio, M., F., and last and least (in stature at least), little W.”