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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. II. 1800
Thomas Holcroft to William Godwin, 13 June 1800

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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Altona, June 13th, 1800.

“Though the attacks I have lately received of body and mind have been extraordinary, yet surely I am not mad. Or if I were, it cannot be that I am surrounded by none but madmen. I have not depended merely upon my own judgment in the pictures I have sent to London. I consulted a variety of persons, and, among others the best artists and judges I could find, two of whom I may certainly affirm are competent to the task of giving an opinion. . . . I tremble lest the impressions under which Messrs Opie and Birch may have gone to examine the pictures should have led them to decline interference, and even suffer pictures which cost here between four and five hundred pounds to be sold at the Custom House to pay the duties. Surely this cannot have happened. I believe there is a plain way of proceeding. Christie is not the only auctioneer. Cox and Burrel are, or very lately were, men of enterprize. Phillips might do the business profitably, and he would undertake it with eagerness. . . .

“It is needless to add anything to impress you with a deep
feeling of my present situation. I refer you to my former letters. It is not a prison, it is disgrace, that I dread, and which, I own, I want the fortitude to meet with any degree of apathy. I therefore request you to proceed with the earnestness and expedition you have hitherto used, and to let me know the result as soon as possible; for if it should be that no man will advance money on these pictures, I must then try whether I have not a friend on earth who will on my own credit and for my own sake entrust me with such a sum till it can be repaid by the produce of my brain. I am proceeding with the ‘
Abbe de L’Epée.’ ‘The Lawyer’ shall likewise be altered and sent. I have written to Robinson, as you are doubtless informed by a note addressed to you and enclosed in his letter” [which contained proposals for a German-English Dictionary], “and I am in treaty with a German bookseller on the same subject. Were I a thousand pounds in debt at this moment, allow me only two years, and I have no doubt it would be paid. The fact, however, is, that unfortunate as my affairs have been, and gloomy as appearances are, I have pictures in my possession, unless sold at the Custom House, which, exclusive of duties, have cost me about six hundred pounds; I have ‘The Lawyer,’ which certainly will not take me a month to alter; I have the piece I am now employed upon, that will be finished in less than three weeks; and you have the trifle, which, if accepted, has a chance of concurring to raise supplies.

“The burns in my wrist and forehead reached almost to the bone and skull; consequently they are yet far from cured. The pain of them continues to be considerable, though such as may be supported with entire calmness. It was the accident of having my spectacles on that saved my eyes, and I feel rather as if I had obtained a blessing, than suffered agony and injury.

“We are all well, these burns of mine excepted, and the boy grows finely. No enquiries of mine can excite you to say a word of any being whom I love and esteem, not even of your children. I know you have enough to do with my damned affairs: however, notwithstanding their ill turn, you cannot but receive the applauses of your own heart, as you do most fervently of mine.

T. Holcroft.”