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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VI. 1804-1806
William Godwin to Thomas Wedgwood, 14 April 1804

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
Polygon, April 14, 1804.

Dear Wedgwood,—It is with the utmost reluctance of feeling that I obtrude on you the following statement.

“I know not whether I am entitled to the possession of several opulent friends: this has been almost universally the lot of persons of as much literary publicity as myself: it has been my fortune never, except you, to have had one.

“Among the various measures which, since I have become the father of a family, I have had recourse to for their support, one which inevitably suggested itself was the theatre; a resource which is, if successful, I believe usually found more productive
than any other. I applied myself with great diligence to the experiment I made in that way four years ago: as has always been my habit, I proceeded not merely on my own judgment but consulted my friends. The production I ultimately brought forth, though perhaps in one or two points not sufficiently adapted for popularity on the stage, cost me more thought proportionally, and is perhaps more finished, than any other of my writings.

“It was however necessary that I and my family should subsist while I prepared the experiment. A young man not opulent, but who had then some money at his command, spontaneously lent me £100 for that purpose. My experiment was unsuccessful, and the money was never repaid. Mrs Godwin and myself will, I believe, not be found deficient in industry. I by original works, and she by translation, contrive fully, or nearly, to support a numerous family in decency, but this is all we can do.

“Unhappily the young man who so generously assisted me is since fallen into great embarrassments, and has become liable to arrests and the other difficulties arising from these embarrassments. He has never asked me for his money, he would never accept any memorandum or acknowledgment that it was due. Yet how can I bear to think that he wants money so cruelly, while I am in this manner his debtor? I hope I could almost perish, sooner than apply to you for further assistance for myself, but in this case, to use the ordinary phraseology, I would move heaven and earth to acquit myself. If I had any other resource that I could imagine or invent, you should not have been troubled with this ungracious intrusion.

“Yet my dear friend, consult your own convenience in this case. I am sure you would assist me if that would permit. But this is no claim upon you, whatever it is on me.

“Though it is now a very long time since I have heard from, or seen you, yet I have occasionally the satisfaction, I wish I could say the pleasure, of hearing concerning you from Tobin, Coleridge, and others. The last opportunity of this sort was a letter by you to Coleridge a short time before his departure, in which you spoke of your health as being a little better than it had been
some time before. What pleasure would it afford to me, and to every one that knows you, could we have a well-grounded prospect of its being ultimately restored. With sincere affection,

W. Godwin.”