LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VI. 1804-1806
Thomas Wedgwood to William Godwin, 15 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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Gunville, April 15, 1804.

Dear Godwin,—I am so unwilling to leave you in a moment’s suspense, for I give you full credit for the reluctant scruples you express—that I shall not defer a post to get a stamp for a draft but give you the trouble of calling personally on Mr Howslip in York Street on Wednesday next at 3, who will deliver you a note containing the £100. I have adopted this mode to prevent a personal application from you at the Bank, which I conceived might be disagreeable, and it also secures from danger of loss by post, and this same. Mr Howslip will not have the least idea of the nature of our transaction.

“And now let me beg of you to set your mind perfectly at ease. I will tell you honestly what I have felt, and always feel, on the occasion. I have no opinion of the good, upon the whole, resulting from great facility in the opulent, in yielding to requests of the needy. I have no doubt but that it is best that every one should anticipate with certainty the pinch and pressure of distress from indulging in indolence, or even from misfortune. It is this certainty which quickens the little wit that man is ordinarily endowed with, and calls out all his energies: and were it removed by the idea that the rich held funds for the distressed, I am convinced that not only half the industry of the country would be destroyed, but also that misfortune would be doubled in quantity. I confess to you then, that I have always a doubt of the value of any donation or loan. At the same time, I have the strongest desire to give relief to suffering, and an excessive repugnance to that hardness of heart, that vicious inclination to hoard,—to that depraved state of mind which enables me to view sufferings with calmness, if not with indifference, whilst I should never miss the sum that would instantly relieve them. In the case of the
applicant being a friend, you may imagine that the inclination to yield is doubled at least. In the present case, I was extremely moved at the fervour of your determination never again to apply to me for yourself, and in feeling swore a great oath that it should be your own fault if you did not. I could not bear the idea of your struggling day after day with new perplexities. I passed your life hastily in review, and renewed my assurance of the soundness of your principles. I am not speaking of your politics or philosophy: on these subjects I have no sentiments of any assurance, but I am speaking of the goodness of your moral feelings, your subjection to the dictates, erroneous or otherwise, of a moral conscience.

“And I do therefore invite you to still consider me as your friend in every honourable sense of the word. You have placed me in a most ambiguous capacity. I have an excellent friend in T. W., you say: he is the man I should rely upon in a moment of distress, only that I feel that I cannot ask him to make the smallest personal sacrifice for my advantage.

“I wish you may seize the spirit of my confessions, for I really cannot stay the process of writing one moment for a more explicit and luminous statement. I write in pain and great distraction of mind, knowing the injury I do myself. I feel most gratefully your kind wishes for my health. Without indulging an unmanly despondency, I may say after some years continued struggle, I see no prospect of permanent amendment. I left town a day or two after you saw me in Bedford Row. Let me have a line from you when you have received the £100.

“With the sincerest wishes for your happiness, I remain, dear Godwin, faithfully and cordially yours,

Thos. Wedgwood.”