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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VII. 1806-1811
William Godwin to Proctor Patrickson, 20 June 1811

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
Skinner Street, London, June 20, 1811.

“ . . . . I wish the letters I receive from you were, as somebody calls it, a thought less dry. I wish you would tell me something of your feelings, your reflections, and your meditations. It is impossible, at your age, and under your peculiar circumstances, but that some other abstractions should pass through your mind besides the abstractions of the mathematics. Tell me how far you are gratified with the occupations and impressions of a college life. Tell me how much and in what respects you regard the present, with pleasure or pain. Tell me how much and in what respects you regard the future—I mean that scene of life upon which you are to enter hereafter, with ardent hope or with unimpassioned indifference. Tell me what you love and what you hate. At present you lock up your reflections in your own breast, with the same niggardliness that a miser locks up his treasure, and communicate with no one the wealth of your bosom, or at least impart no shred of the wealth to me. King Solomon, the great Jewish philosopher, says, ‘The heart knoweth his own bitterness, and a stranger intermeddleth not with his joy.’ I wish I could prevail upon you not to make me altogether this stranger.

“It is of great advantage to a human being in this way to open himself. It takes away the savageness of our nature; it smooths down the ruggedness of our intellectual surface, and makes man the confederate and coadjutor of man. It also tends, in the most eminent degree, to expand and mature the best faculties of the human mind. It is scarcely possible for a man to reason well, or understand his own heart, upon a subject which he has not copiously and minutely unfolded, either by speech or in writing.

“All happiness attend you.—Your true friend,

William Godwin.

Mr Blackall’s [the College Tutor] bill is £9, 6s. 11½d; Lady Day quarter. It seems a most generous action on his part to have given you the £5 you mention; and generosity in this case is, I suppose, the index of a thing more to be prized—esteem.”