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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. IV. 1801-1803
William Godwin to John Philip Kemble, 28 September 1801

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
Sep. 28, 1801.

Dear Sir,—The sole object of the note with which I troubled you on Friday last, was to ascertain whether the piece I had written had received that vigilant and attentive perusal which I conceive to be due to the production of a person already in the possession of some sort of literary character. There are I should suppose from fifty to a hundred manuscripts of all sizes and denominations handed to your theatre every season; a great majority of them the production of sempstresses, hair dressers, and taylors, without a glimmering of sense from one end to the other. It is impossible that these should be bona fide read through by your committee of censors, three or four pages will often be enough in conscience. The drift of my enquiry was, was my piece or was it not put into the heap?

“Your answer, without applying exactly to this point, opens a new question. You hint at alterations to be made by me. Indeed, sir, standing as the affair does, it is impossible that I should make alterations.

“My piece is promising, or it is not. If it is radically bad, can my efforts be worse employed than in attempting alterations? If it is worthy of encouragement your readers are bound by every
sentiment of honour and justice to say, ‘In these respects we approve of the piece, in these other respects we lament that the subject has not been otherwise treated.’ It would be lunacy to attempt to alter it to please I know not whom, who object to I know not what, but who simply communicate to me their disapproval in toto.

“The principal alteration I have myself meditated, consists in elevating the principal character, the exhibiting in every scene in which he appears (which I perceive I have not properly done) sensitive, jealous, the slave of passion, bursting out on the most trifling occasions into uncontrollable fits of violence, at the same time that his intentions are eminently virtuous. But I have no doubt that other alterations might be suggested to me by men of sense and experience, which reflection would lead me to approve and enable me to execute.”