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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VII. 1806-1811
Matthew Raine to William Godwin, 12 April 1808

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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Produced by CATH
Charter House, April 12, 1808.

Dear Sir,—It may spare you and myself some trouble if, without entering into the accuracy or inaccuracy of the statement of my message by Clairmont, I should explain to you the general rule at this place, relating to attendance upon school business. A rule of this sort I have. I hold it to be indispensably necessary; and bold as the position may be, it is a rule with which I cannot
allow parental power or parental caprice to interfere. The rule is this:—That during the time for the performance of school business, no boy is allowed to be absent, except on the score of ill-health or with the leave of a master, previously had. For granting this leave I have ever been accustomed to expect, and never was refused, a sufficient reason in my own judgment, independent of the parent’s will.

“I have no wish certainly to pry into matters which do not concern me; but I must think that a scholar’s absence always concerns a master, and it materially improves the discipline of a school that the master alone should decide on the propriety of a scholar’s absence. Nor do I believe this rule to be peculiar to Charter House, but if it were, I feel so little disposition to give it up, that I should rather part with my scholar than relinquish a principle so just, and, so far as I have been concerned, so universally acknowledged. It will not be denied that the mere request of a parent for his child’s absence would occasionally be complied with; but I should strongly protest against a frequent repetition of such a request. A man must be everything in his school, or he is nothing; and that parent would seem to me to act the wisest part who should so contrive that his and the schoolmaster’s authority would never clash. If this cannot be without inconvenience in this or that case, I am still of opinion that the individual instance must bend to the general rule. I trust you will believe that I have no wish to perplex you, and that I am very far from seeking to hurt any man’s feelings. The point we differ upon may be a point of etiquette, but I have a rule; and, as the venerable Sergeant Hill said, ‘If I part with my rule I do not know where I shall find another.’

“I am, dear Sir, your very obedient servant,

Matthew Raine.”