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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. X. 1819-1824
Sir James Mackintosh to William Godwin, 6 September 1821

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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Mardocks near Ware, Sep. 6, 1821.

My dear Sir,—When I received your work last year, I was labouring under a distressing illness, which rendered me for a time unable to read or write, and for a longer period unfitted me for serious application of mind.

“The first exertions of my understanding after an imperfect recovery, were claimed by the duties of a laborious session of Parliament, and since the almost entire restoration of my health, I have only had time to look over your work in a very cursory way. I shall shortly study it with the attention which the nature of the subject requires. But I can no longer delay this short explanation of a silence which you must have thought unpardonable.

“I should be wanting in that frankness, of which you have always set the example, if I were to say that your reasonings (as far as I have hitherto considered them) have changed my opinions on population. But I must add, that these opinions do not appear to me inconsistent with the firmest belief in the indefinite improvement of the human character and condition. The theory of the increase of mankind does not, by just inference (as I think), lead to any consequences unfavourable to their hopes. I before intimated to you my notion on that subject, and should be glad to talk of it when I see you next, which I will take care to do when I go to town.


“I own I thought your tone towards Malthus somewhat intolerant, and that you might have maintained your argument as firmly with more forbearance towards such an opponent.

“There is a review of your book in the present ‘Edinburgh Review,’ which I have only just seen. I beg you to be assured that I never knew or heard anything of it till I saw it in print. I should be exceedingly sorry (for more than one reason) to take any part in the application of any language to you personally but that of esteem and regard. I make this observation to satisfy my own feelings and your claims on me. I need not say that several circumstances would render it unpleasant to me to have any public use made of my language.—I am, my dear Sir, with sincere regard, yours faithfully,

J. Mackintosh.”