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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VII. 1806-1811
William Godwin to Proctor Patrickson, 1 April 1812

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
April 1, 1812.

“I perceive that you set up the present state of your understanding as the criterion of reason and justice, and have no notion that anything can be right which you do not understand, or, in other words, that any other person can see, or that you may hereafter see, what at present you do not. This tone of mind is a perfect leveller, and a leveller of the worst sort, bringing down to your own standard everything that may happen to be above you, but certainly not equally anxious about raising those that may happen to be below you.

“The opposite tone of mind cannot be designated by any name more properly than that of the religious feeling. It is the feeling which pious men cultivate towards the Author of the world. It consists in the acknowledgement that there may be something right which we do not comprehend, and something good that we do not perfectly see to be such. It is built upon a sober and perfect conviction of our weakness, our ignorance, and the errors to which we are perpetually liable. It therefore cherishes in us
sentiments of honour, admiration, and affection, for those whom we apprehend to be in any way wiser and better than ourselves. I do not very distinctly see how love can grow up in the mind, or there can be anything exquisitely amiable in the character, where the religious feeling, in this explanation of the term, is wanting. This feeling, however, is perfectly consistent with the highest and purest notions of erectness and independence: nay, it strengthens and corrects them, because it converts what was before a cold decision of the judgment into a noble and generous sentiment.”