LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. XI. 1824-1832
Lady Caroline Lamb to William Godwin, [1824?]

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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My Dear Sir,—My brother, William Ponsonby, is so much delighted with the two books you left with me, and I am so enchanted with the letter of advice to the young American, that we both request you to send us a list of all your publications for the use of young people. Send also to S. James’ Square, Hon. William Ponsonby, ‘The Advice to the American,’ ‘A Roman History,’ and ‘The Pantheon.’ I forget my brother’s number, but it is next door to the Duke of St. Alban’s.

Mr Bulwer Lytton, a very young man and an enthusiast, wishes to be introduced to you. He is taking his degree at Cambridge; on his return pray let me make him acquainted with you. I shall claim your promise of coming to Brocket; would your daughter or son accompany you? Hobhouse came to me last night; how strange it is I love Lord Byron so much now in my old age, in
despite of all he is said to have said, that I also love Hobhouse because he so warmly takes his part. Pray write to me, for you see your advice has had some effect. I have been studying your little books with an ardour and a pleasure which would surprise you. There is a brevity which suits my want of attention, a depth of thought which catches at once, and does not puzzle my understanding, a simplicity and kindness which captivates and arouses every good feeling, and a clearness which assists those who are deficient, as I am, in memory. I am delighted. So are my brothers; the few men who are about me are all eager to get your books; but what has vexed me is that the two children and four young women to whom I endeavoured to read them, did not choose to attend. How I like the beautiful little preface to the ‘
History of Rome;’ oh, that I were twelve! quite good and quite well, to be your pupil.
‘I’d drudge like Selden day and night,
And in the endless labour die.’

“After all, what is the use of anything here below, but to be enlightened, and to try to make others happy? From this day I will endeavour to conquer all my violence, all my passions; but you are destined to be my master. The only thing that checks my ardour is this:

“For what purpose, for whom should I endeavour to grow wise?

“What is the use of anything? What is the end of life? When we die, what difference is there here, between a black beetle and me?

“Oh, that I might, with the feelings I yet possess, without one vain, one ambitious motive, at least feel that I was in the way of truth, and that I was of use to others.

“The only thoughts that ever can make me lose my senses are these:

“A want of knowledge as to what is really true.

“A certainty that I am useless.

“A fear that I am worthless.

“A belief that all is vanity and vexation of spirit, and that there is nothing new under the sun.

“The only prayer I ever say beside the sinner’s, and the only life
I shall ever leave written by myself of myself is, that I have done those things which I ought not to have done, and have left undone those that I ought to have done.

C. L.”