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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VII. 1806-1811
William Godwin to Charles Lamb, 10 March 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
Skinner St., March 10, 1808.

Dear Lamb,—I address you with all humility, because I know you to be tenax propositi. Hear me, I entreat you, with patience.

“It is strange with what different feelings an author and a bookseller looks at the same manuscript. I know this by experience: I was an author, I am a bookseller. The author thinks what will conduce to his honour: the bookseller what will cause his commodities to sell.

“You, or some other wise man, I have heard to say, It is children that read children’s books, when they are read, but it is
parents that choose them. The critical thought of the tradesman put itself therefore into the place of the parent, and what the parent will condemn.

“We live in squeamish days. Amid the beauties of your manuscript, of which no man can think more highly than I do, what will the squeamish say to such expressions as these,—‘devoured their limbs, yet warm and trembling, lapping the blood,’ p. 10. Or to the giant’s vomit, p. 14; or to the minute and shocking description of the extinguishing the giant’s eye in the page following. You, I daresay, have no formed plan of excluding the female sex from among your readers, and I, as a bookseller, must consider that if you have you exclude one half of the human species.

“Nothing is more easy than to modify these things if you please, and nothing, I think, is more indispensable.

“Give me, as soon as possible, your thoughts on the matter.

“I should also like a preface. Half our customers know not Homer, or know him only as you and I know the lost authors of antiquity. What can be more proper than to mention one or two of those obvious recommendations of his works, which must lead every human creature to desire a nearer acquaintance.—Believe me, ever faithfully yours,

W. Godwin.”