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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. II. 1785-1788

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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LITERARY WORK. 1785—1788.

In 1785 Godwin was fairly started as a literary man in London, and became gradually known as a useful political writer on the liberal side. He was a constant contributor to the Political Herald, of which Dr Gilbert Stuart was editor, a publication the aim of which is sufficiently described by its title, and which expired at the close of the following year. Some attempts were made to revive it under Godwin’s own editorship, and Sheridan, as representing Mr Fox’s party, had repeated interviews with Godwin on the subject. It was proposed to him that he should receive a regular stipend from the funds set apart for political purposes by the adherents to the party of Mr Fox, but this he declined, resolving to limit his pecuniary advantages to the fair profits of the pamphlet. He was at this time, and indeed long afterwards, struggling with great pecuniary difficulties, having no fixed income whatever, with the payment for one pupil sent him by Dr Kippis, as the only addition to the small and precarious sum obtained by his fugitive writings.

Through Murray he became known to many literary men, who were accustomed to meet at Murray’s, and at the house of Mr Robinson the publisher in Paternoster Row, while through Sheridan he made the acquaintance of some who were already, or were soon to be known in the world
of politics. At Sheridan’s he met at dinner “
Mr Canning, then an Eton schoolboy, just become known to the public by the paper of the Microcosm, &c., &c. Mr Canning was very pressing with me for the cultivation of my acquaintance.” Sheridan and his circle, finding him not venal, soon dropped him, but not before he had fairly taken his place in the best London literary and scientific society. Fawcet, the dear and chosen friend of a few years back, was not in London, but his place was soon supplied by Holcroft. This name is the second among those of the four men who profoundly influenced the tone of his mind. The acquaintance was made in 1786, but it was not till the year 1788 that he writes of himself and Holcroft as “extremely intimate.” The outward facts of Holcroft’s life are well known, or may be read in his life by Hazlitt. The son of a shoemaker, he had been himself a stable-boy, shoemaker, and actor, before he became a dramatic author, and, self-educated as he was, a successful translator of works from French and German. His home life was far from happy, as will in part appear in these pages. He died in 1809, aged 65. Mrs Shelley writes of him:—


“The name of Holcroft at once gives rise to a crowd of recollections to those who are conversant with the history of the times, and that particular circle of literary men of which my father was one. The son of a shoemaker, he rose to eminence through the energy of his character, and the genius with which nature had endowed him. To think of Holcroft as his friends remember him, and to call to mind whence at this day he principally derives his fame as an author, present a singular contrast. He was a man of stern and irascible character, and from the moment that he espoused liberal principles, he carried them to excess. He was tried for life as a traitor on account of his enthusiasm for the objects of the French Revolution. He believed that truth must prevail
by the force of its own powers, but he advocated what he deemed truth with vehemence. He warmly asserted that death and disease existed only through the feebleness of man’s mind, that pain also had no reality. Rectitude and Courage were the gods of his idolatry, but the defect of his temper rendered him a susceptible friend. His Comedy, ‘
The Road to Ruin,’ will always maintain its position on the English stage, so long as there are actors who can fitly represent its leading characters. He was a man of great industry, unwearied in his efforts to support his family. When they first became acquainted neither he nor Mr Godwin had yet imbibed those strong political feelings which afterwards distinguished them. It required the French Revolution to kindle that ardent love of Political Justice with which both were afterwards, according to their diverse dispositions, warmed.”


Godwin had now entirely severed himself from his former faith, and he thus writes of the change:—


“Till 1782 I believed in the doctrine of Calvin, that is, that the majority of mankind were objects of divine condemnation, and that their punishment would be everlasting. The ‘Système de la Nature,’ read about the beginning of that year, changed my opinion and made me a Deist. I afterwards veered to Socinianism, in which I was confirmed by ‘Priestley’s Institutes,’ in the beginning of 1783. I remember the having entertained doubts in 1785, when I corresponded with Dr Priestley. But I was not a complete unbeliever till 1787.”


By “complete unbeliever,” however, Godwin must be understood to mean an infidel to Creeds only, and not an infidel to God. That he was at any time a “religious” man may be doubted, if by that term be meant one who has the emotional nature exercised in regard to a Being apprehended by faith alone. Reason, far more than the affections, guided his actions, and while he sought after
One who would satisfy his intellect, he seems to have never felt the need, and therefore never the power of adoration and self-abasement. That he was not at this time an infidel in the vulgar sense, is plain from the following note found among his papers, and dated somewhat after the above extract. It is one of several of the same kind, but seems rather to be the digest of the whole, and may be taken as his deliberate answer to the same question as Gretchen put to Faust, “Believest thou in God?”


“God is a being, who is himself the cause of his own existence.

“His prerogative is to perceive before there was anything to be perceived. He is the creator of the universe, He operated upon nothing, and turned it into something.

“He has not impenetrability, yet can act upon matter which is impenetrable, and moves all things, himself immoveable.

“He produces all things with a word; all his works are equally easy, and equally instantaneous.

“He is present everywhere, yet has neither parts, figure, nor divisibility: He is all in all, and all in every part.

“With Him is no variableness, neither before nor after; he is the eternal Now.

“He exists through all time, fills all space, possesses all knowledge, yet is perfectly simple and uncompounded; his thought is but one, His omniscience a single, all-perfect idea.

“He is for ever the same, without change, yet is perpetually active, beginning, conducting, and ending all the variety of events.

“He desires the happiness of all His creatures, and is averse to their pain; yet His own felicity is always complete, He neither approves of their good nor is displeased by their misery.

“I believe in this being, not because I have any proper or direct knowledge of His existence,

“But, I am at a loss to account for the existence and arrangement of the visible universe,

“And, being left in the wide sea of conjecture without clue from analogy or experience,


“I find the conjecture of a God easy, obvious, and irresistible. I perceive my understanding to be so commensurate to His nature, and His attributes to be so much like what I know and have observed

“As instantly to convert mystery into reason, and contradictions into certainty.”


The following note, in a somewhat more pantheistic key, but still far removed from the no-creed of the “unbeliever,” was apparently written about the same time:—


“Religion is among the most beautiful and most natural of all things; that religion which ‘sees God in clouds and hears Him in the wind,’ which endows every object of sense with a living soul, which finds in the system of nature whatever is holy, mysterious, and venerable, and inspires the bosom with sentiments of awe and veneration.

“But accursed and detestable is that religion by which the fancy is hag-rid, and conscience is excited to torment us with phantoms of guilt, which endows the priest with his pernicious empire over the mind, which undermines boldness of opinion and intrepidity in feeling, which aggravates a thousandfold the inevitable calamity, death, and haunts us with the fiends and retributory punishments of a future world.”


It is plain that this is not orthodox, and though the letter of Mrs Sothren’s already quoted is the only expression of dissatisfaction on the part of his family to be found among the papers, there is the draft of a letter from himself to his mother which is interesting as conveying an apology for his declension from his mother’s view. It is not dated, but certainly belongs to this time.


“I am exceedingly sorry that you should suffer yourself to form so unfavourable an opinion of my sentiments and character as you express in your last letter. Not that I am anxious so far as relates
to myself what opinion may be formed of me by any human being: I am answerable only to God and conscience. But I am sorry, even without deserving it, to occasion you with the smallest uneasiness.

“You seem to regret my having quitted the character of a dissenting minister. To that I can only say, with the utmost frankness, whatever inference may be drawn from it, that the character quitted me when I was far from desiring to part with it.

“With respect to my religious sentiments I have the firmest assurance and tranquillity. I have faithfully endeavoured to improve the faculties and opportunities God has given me, and I am perfectly easy about the consequences. No man can be sure that he is not mistaken, but I am sure that if I am so, the best of beings will forgive my error. If I could ever hope for his approbation, I have now more reason to hope for it than ever. My views, I think, were always right, but they are now nobler and more exalted. I am in every respect, so far as I am able to follow the dictates of my own mind, perfectly indifferent to all personal gratification. I know of nothing worth the living for but usefulness and the service of my fellow-creatures. The only object I pursue is to increase, as far as lies in my power, the quantity of their knowledge and goodness and happiness. And as I desire everything from God, I hope the situation in which I am now placed is that in which I am most likely to be useful. Always anxious to resemble the great Creator, can I be afraid of his displeasure? If he has resolved to punish in another world those who are most sincerely desirous to act properly and uprightly in this, what must we think of his goodness or his mercy?”


The same calm temperament which enabled him to dispense with much which is often thought of the essence of religion, seems to have kept him free also from any feeling which can be called love. Except the one great passion of his life, and even this was conducted with extreme outward and apparent phlegm, friendship stood to him in the
place of passion, as morality was to him in the room of devotion. All the jealousies, misunderstandings, wounded feelings and the like, which some men experience in their love affairs,
Godwin suffered in his relations with his friends. Fancied slights were exaggerated; quarrels, expostulations, reconciliations followed quickly on each other, as though they were true amantiam iræ. And his relations with women were for the most part the same as those with men. His friendships were as real with the one sex as with the other, but they were no more than friendships. Marriage seemed to him a thing to be arranged, “adjusted,” as Mr Tennyson says of the loves of vegetables. Hence it was that when settled in London he suggested to his sister Hannah that she should choose him a wife. Her choice fell on the lady whom Mrs Sothren calls “a great favourite of mine,” and thus she recommends her friend:—

Hannah Godwin to William Godwin.
29th June ’84.

“I send” the letter enclosed “to you by way of introduction to the only lady upon whom I could fix, since you said you should like your sister to chuse you a wife. This was one of the thousand things I intended to tell you, that if you had neither fixed upon any lady yourself, nor sworn to be an old bachelor, I had a friend whom I thought might in every way meet your approbation, and that I hoped that if you thought proper to offer your services they might meet with acceptance, could I but be in London to introduce you. The young lady is in every sense formed to make one of your disposition really happy. She has a pleasing voice, with which she accompanies her musical instrument with judgment. She has an easy politeness in her manners, neither free nor reserved. She is a good housekeeper and a good economist, and yet of a generous disposition. As to her internal accomplish-
ments, I have reason to speak still more highly of them, good sense without vanity, a penetrating judgment without a disposition to satire, good nature and humility, with about as much religion as my
William likes, struck me with a wish that she was my William’s wife. I have no certain knowledge of her fortune, but that I leave for you to learn. I only know her father has been many years engaged in an employment which brings in £500 or £600 per ann., and Miss Gay is his only child. Mr Gay is very much of a gentleman, though one whom you would say savours too much of Methodism. . . . I have only mentioned you as my dearest brother, and added that I wished she were acquainted with you, to which she answered, ‘need I say how much pleasure I should have in an acquaintance with one who is so high in the esteem of my dear Godwin.’

“I would not have you mention her to Jack, nor let him know that I have such friends in town, lest he should impose upon their kindness, for I know their friendship for me would induce them to behave respectfully to him, at the same time that I am sure he would be far from agreeable to them.

“What do you say now, my dear William, to my living with you? I certainly intend coming to live in London, hiring a couple of rooms, which, if agreeable to you, I should like to be in the same house with you, and taking in millinery work. . . . But where shall I get a little money to begin with? I shall want £20, and I have neither money nor credit. O my dear brother, how I please myself with the thought of living with you; you will read to me sometimes when I am at work (will you not?) and instruct me, and make me a clever girl.

“I am, with all my failings,
Your affectionate Sister,
H. Godwin.

Godwin answered this effusion, when some months had passed, by asking the lady’s age and opinions, and after two more months he called upon her. What he wrote to his sister may be gathered from her reply to him.

The Same to the Same.
“8th Feb. 1785.

“. . . You have seen Miss Gay. You are not struck with her, but do not think it impossible for you to like her well enough to make certain proposals after a time: let me know the results of your next Interview. I wish to know your sentiments. If you do not approve of her for a wife, but wish to make her your intimate friend, trust me she is worth the trouble it may cost you.

Your obliged Friend and Sister,
H. Godwin.

Godwin appears to have taken no notice of his sister’s rapturous exclamations at the prospect of living with or near him, and he thought no more of the lady of her choice, who accordingly, for the matter was discussed in full family conclave, becomes “poor Miss Gay” in subsequent letters, as though Godwin had really behaved ill to her.

Although during this period of his life Godwin had no settled home, and was constantly changing his lodgings, he yet received a pupil, as has been said, who was apparently a boarder. The lad’s name was Willis Webb, of whom nothing is now discoverable save what can be found in the letters which passed between them. He seems to have left a public school—probably Eton—to become Godwin’s pupil, and to have gone from him to a large private school at Hitcham, near Eton. Old Hitcham Manor House was one of those many houses said “to have been visited by Queen Elizabeth.” It was afterwards for a time the residence of Judge Jeffreys, and about the year 1700 that of Dr Freind, physician to Frederick, Prince of Wales, and afterwards to Queen Caroline. It then became a school, and the house was pulled down, though a part still remains as a cottage.
The grounds which surrounded it are merged in a larger estate. Thence Willis Webb was to go to one of the Universities, but “the Captain,” presumably a step-father, did not exert himself about this final step, and kept the young man under tuition longer than the latter thought desirable. The letters show that Godwin was able to inspire genuine enthusiasm in the young, in spite of his somewhat formal manner of writing to his pupil, and they are the first instance of the way in which he was considered one to whom the young might resort as to an oracle. They are interesting also as a picture of school life ninety years ago. He writes to Godwin from Hitcham House, and, after giving an account of his school work, continues:—

Willis Webb to William Godwin.
October 25, 1787.

“To me, who have enjoyed the liberty of a public school, and experienced the liberality of private tuition, my present situation is extremely irksome and disagreeable. Confined within a narrow pale, I survey a beautiful country, which I am forbid to enter, on the penalty of expulsion from the society. I shudder at the reflexion that for a juvenile indiscretion, which is overlooked at a public institution, not considered as a fault in private education—(the merely taking a walk)—one’s character is liable to be blasted by ignominious dismission.

“When, moreover, I consider that most of my contemporaries have finished their classical career, that mathematical knowledge can be acquired elsewhere with as much facility as at my present abode, that my character is hitherto unimpeachable, and by a timely secession from a place in which it is hourly exposed to imminent danger, will be secured, I confess I ardently desire to be admitted at the University, and to leave a society from which little profit and no pleasure is to be derived.

“Nor am I singular in my opinion that the University would be
the most advisable plan for my future education. Several men of learning and experience, friends of my father (who, by-the-by, had he lived, intended to have sent me this autumn to Oxford), concur in recommending the same measure. I am now in my eighteenth year, an age no longer puerile. My friends wish me to assume the character of a man; but how is this practicable whilst they retain me in the shackles of a child?

“Some people are apt to think that these private seminaries are free from the vices of the age, but give me leave to assure you they are grossly mistaken. The same vices that flourish at Eton or Westminster are practised at Hitcham, with this glorious addition that here deceit is necessary to conceal them; there they gratify their passions without breach of truth and sincerity.

“Adieu, dear Sir, and believe me,

“Yours sincerely,
W. Webb.

P.S.—The Captain intends to send me to Cambridge next summer, because I shall then be more discreet. Q. Are the passions of a young man of eighteen less strong than those of one who is seventeen years and six months old?”

Mr Webb at last got to St John’s, Cambridge, where his gratitude to his former tutor and his priggishness suffered no diminution. He writes from St John’s College, [Cambridge]:—

The Same to the Same.
Feb. 24, [1788].

“I am very much pleased with the academical life; in the University one is at liberty to cultivate whatever branch of learning is most congenial to one’s disposition. In the University one has the opportunity of conversation with men of learning and erudition; we are indulged in every proper liberty, nor have we the mortification of being subjected to illiberal and fruitless restrictions.

“For my part, I chiefly cultivate the classics; to the other
branch I was never much inclined, and though I shall endeavour to make myself master of it, yet I am sure I shall never derive much satisfaction from it. I am surprised that in the present system of education so much attention should be paid to a science which can never produce any real advantage in life to one that is destined for a learned profession.

“I shall conclude, Dear Sir, with my best thanks for the part you had in this affair, and remain, believe me,

“Yours sincerely,
W. Webb.”

It is not, however, probable that Godwin, considerable as was his success with Willis Webb, had a gift for the drudgery of tuition. To write, converse, lecture, and in these ways exert a great influence over others, and especially the young, was a wholly different thing from bearing with the wayward humours, ignorances, and needs of lads who might not all be as receptive as his first pupil. In the summer of 1788, while lodging for a while at Guildford, in Surrey, he took as a pupil, gratuitously, his kinsman, Thomas Cooper, then twelve years of age, who had just lost his father in the East Indies. In the midst of his own real poverty he was always ready to assist those in need. Thomas Cooper was a second cousin of Godwin’s, their mothers being first cousins. Mr Cooper, the father, had entered the service of the East India Company in 1770 as a ship’s surgeon; he went two voyages, and was afterwards attached to the army in Bombay. About 1783 he was appointed surgeon to the factory at Bauleah in Bengal, where he died in October 1787, just as there appeared a fair prospect of providing for his family. Some investments made immediately before his death turned out ill when there was no one to look after them, “his effects at Bauleah, and all his papers, books, and accounts were lost
in a great storm which swept over Bengal in November of that year, while the executor was bringing them from Bauleah for the greater convenience of arranging and settling his affairs.” Thus it appears that all means of tracing considerable debts owing to Mr Cooper were lost, while still further mismanagement in the conduct of the business reduced the family to indigence. It had been with them that Godwin passed some part of his Hoxton vacations, and he now repaid this kindness by taking charge of the elder orphan boy. The younger boy and a girl were adopted by other relatives, and
Mrs Cooper took a situation as housekeeper. Mrs Shelley has left an interesting note on the characters of tutor and pupil, the two parties in this experiment.


Godwin, who, from the very nature of his opinions, was led to analyse mind and draw conclusions as to character, had a sanguine faith in the practicability of improvement, and entertained rigid opinions on the subject of education. Tom Cooper was a spirited boy, extremely independent and resolute, proud, wilful, and indolent. Godwin, conscientious to the last degree in his treatment of everyone, extended his utmost care to the task of education; but many things rendered him unfit for it. His severity was confined to words, but these were pointed and humiliating. His strictness was undeviating; and this was more particularly the case in early life, when he considered the power of education to be unlimited in the formation of character, the understanding, and temper. He took great pains with his kinsman, and devoted attention and care to his instruction. To further his endeavours, he kept notes of the occurrences that disturbed their mutual kindness, evidently as appeals to the lad’s own feelings and understanding, endeavouring to awake in him a desire of reparation when he had done wrong, and also of detailing and remarking on any defects in his own behaviour. These papers throw light on his own views of education, and show the conscientious and per-
severing nature of his endeavours. At the same time they display his faults as a teacher. He was too minute in his censures, too grave and severe in his instruction; at once too far divided from his pupil through want of sympathy, and too much on a level from the temper he put into his lectures.”


The following notes in reference to Cooper are taken almost at random from Godwin’s diary during the years that the boy remained under his roof.


“Give energy, and mental exertion will always have attraction enough.

“Not to impute affected ignorance, lequel n’existe pas. Not to impute dulness, stupidity.

“Suaviter, oh! suaviter, sed fortiter excita mentem.

“It is of no consequence whether a man of genius have learned either art or science before twenty-five: all that is necessary, or even desirable, is that his powers should be unfolded, his emulation roused, and his habits conducted into a right channel.

“He ought to love study, science, improvement.

“Is not his temper embittered by sternness? i.e., over-exactness in lessons and propensity to play the censor on trivial occasions?

“Do not impute intentional error, lequel n’existe pas.

“It is now again probable that our connection will be permanent”—This was written after a severe illness of Cooper’s, during which it was thought probable that there were seeds of consumption in him which might necessitate his removal to a warmer climate.—“Let me, then, again aim at gentleness, kindness, cordiality.

“Chide him for rudeness and impertinence to Mr Marshal: am heard with great sensibility. The rudeness was public in the mercer’s shop.

“Take from him the translation of Gil Blas, which I yesterday forbade him to procure. Geometria lacrimans. Takes a walk, being engaged, to the Society’s room, Adelphi; comes home too late; does not choose to apologise; insist.”


Another quarrel with Mr Marshal, who was at this time residing with Godwin, led to the following letter of apology, which shews the boy’s disposition better than a hundred comments:—

Thomas Cooper to James Marshal.

“Sir,—I am convinced that I was wrong in not immediately desisting from that from which you desired me to desist; I therefore ask your pardon, and I shall endeavour to make amends for my misconduct by my future behaviour.

“We have lived, sir, for some time in the same house, and, I believe, with a certain degree of friendship and good understanding. I am sorry that that friendship and good understanding have received such a shock as they have done to-day. I was certainly wrong, as I have already said, in not complying with your desire; that non-compliance brought on high words, in course of which you directly called me a liar. You called me so, not by implication; you said, ‘You are a liar.’

“I am glad that I have escaped doing that which your words naturally excited me to do.

T. Cooper.”

The same daily—and indeed hourly—squabbling lasted so long as Tom Cooper continued with Godwin, till Cooper was nearly seventeen; and he from time to time relieved his feelings and refreshed his memory by writing down his tutor’s “pointed and humiliating words.” Here is one such memorandum:—

“He called me a foolish wretch in my presence.
“He said I had a wicked heart ditto.
“He would thrash me ditto. Does he think I would submit quietly?
“I am called a Brute in my absence.
“I am compared to a Viper ditto.
“He went out merely to avoid me ditto.
“I am a Tiger in my absence.
“I have a black heart ditto.
  No justice in it ditto.
  No proper feelings ditto.

“He has no enmity to my person, yet he hates me. I suppose he means by that that he does not think me very ugly,” &c., &c.


This paper he, in a pet, addressed to Mr Godwin, and by design or accident put it in his way.

The following rough draft of a letter in reply throws much light on Godwin’s character, and the wishes in respect to his ward by which he was guided:—

William Godwin to Thomas Cooper.
April 19, 1790.

My dear Boy.—I am more pleased than displeased with the paper I have just seen. It discovers a degree of sensibility that may be of the greatest use to you, though I will endeavour to convince you that it is wrongly applied. I was in hopes that it was written on purpose for me to see; for I love confidence, and there are some things that perhaps you could scarcely say to me by word of mouth. I have always endeavoured to persuade you to confidence, because you have not a friend upon earth that is more ardently desirous of your welfare than I, and you have not a friend so capable of advising and guiding you to what is most to your interest

“This confidence would have been of use to you in what has lately passed; and its continuance would be of use to you in all your future life. If I had seen this paper before last Tuesday, what passed on that day would not have happened. But I am closely engaged in observing what passes through your mind, and I observed a sulkiness and obstinacy growing up in it. You said to yourself, ‘When I behave ill, I am only reprimanded; and I do not mind that.’ Thus when I have been endeavouring, in strong language, to point out your errors, and lead you to amend them,
you have been employed with all your might in counteracting the impression I sought to make.

“There is in this paper a degree of sensibility that has great merit. The love of independency and dislike of unjust treatment is the source of a thousand virtues. If while you are necessarily dependent on me I treat you with heaviness and unkindness, it is natural you should have a painful feeling of it.

“But harshness and unkindness are relative. The appearance of them may be the fruits of the greatest kindness. In fact, can my conduct towards you spring from any but an ardent desire to be of service to you? I am poor, and with considerable labour maintain my little family; yet I am willing to spend my money upon your wants and pleasures. My time is of the utmost value to me, yet I bestow a large portion of it upon your improvement.

“Supposing I should be mistaken in any part of my conduct towards you, can it spring from anything but motives of kindness? I ask for your confidence, because without it I am persuaded that I cannot do you half the good I could wish. It is not an idle curiosity. I care nothing about myself in this business. If I can contribute to make you virtuous and respectable hereafter, I do not care whether I then possess your friendship, I am contented you should hate me. I desire no gratitude, and no return of favours, I only wish to do you good.

W. Godwin.”

The few letters which remain from Mrs Cooper to her son and to Godwin during this period are most touching. They present a sad picture of broken health, of humbled pride, of habits of intemperance resulting in part from her misery, against which the struggles were scarcely effectual, but there is no good gained by dissecting, as it were, a broken heart. What is here said may serve to account still further for the boy’s proud, sensitive nature, and indeed to enhance the extreme kindness and forbearance of Godwin, though his judgment may sometimes have been in fault.


At the advice apparently of Holcroft, with the encouragement of Cook the actor, and Godwin’s full approval, Tom Cooper determined to devote himself to the stage, but his earlier efforts met with scant success. The following letters record his impressions of John Kemble and Mrs Siddons, and his endeavours to gain a permanent stage engagement. They are all the remaining documents respecting him connected with our present period:—

Thomas Cooper to William Godwin.
Edinburgh, Thursday, July 27, 1792.

“I arrived here last night at nine, in high health and spirits, but my spirits were damped when upon my arrival I could get no bed nor lodging either at Edinburgh or Leith, on account of the races, which will end on Saturday. I went to Mr Kemble’s this morning, at eleven, and he told me that at one he would hear me go through the character of Douglas. At one I went, but he left word (with his compliments) that he was obliged to go to Leith. To-morrow morning at twelve I am to rehearse with Mrs Siddons, and on Monday night am to make my first appearance in the character of Douglas. I am just returned to the inn from my second visit to Mr Kemble, to whom I went to know if I might not go to the play to-night. I am going, and Mrs Siddons plays Jane Shore. To-morrow the Road to Ruin is acted (not for the first time), to give some rest to Mrs S., who has acted several nights running. You will receive this Monday morning, and may expect another on Thursday or Friday, and so, hoping you will excuse bad writing on account of haste, I remain, yours everlastingly,

T. Cooper.

“Friday, two o’clock.—’Sdeath, I’m sped! I have just rehearsed Douglas with the other actors before Mr Kemble. When I had done he walked aside with me, and told me he was sorry to say that he could not trust me with the character. He then made his individual objections. He said that in two descriptive speeches
I had a great deal too much passion, especially in the last; and that in the scene with Glenalvon the audience would laugh at me.

“I asked him if he did not think Douglas was very angry; he answered, Certainly, but that he was angry with good manners, and that he must not vex Mrs Siddons (she was not present); and, in short, he thought I was really too young to act a character of such importance, but that he would see about some other characters. Then, having parted, he said that if I would come to him next morning to breakfast, he would see if we could not manage Douglas by reading it together. Perhaps Mrs Siddons will be there, and I shall probably please her better, if she gives me a hearing, for I am certain I rehearsed as well as ever I did to Mr H. I have an infallible rule to judge by—the recollection of my own feelings. I should be glad to hear from you, if possible, by return of post. Direct to me at Mrs M’Lelland’s, opposite the general entry, Potterrow St., Edinburgh. Nothing less will answer the purpose, for reasons which I have not room to explain.”

The Same to the Same.
August, 1792.

“My courage is as great as you could wish, considering that I stand upon a shaking foundation. Every time Mr Kemble sees me, I perceive, or think I perceive, a kind of discontent, arising from want of determination in his countenance. I do not keep company with any of the actors, except in the green room.

“I wish when you have room in any letter that you would give me some news. I have not heard any of Mr Pavie and France’s proceedings since I left London. Let me know of mother’s health, &c., soon. Is A. Dyson gone to France?

T. Cooper.”

“Monday.—The above was written on Saturday, since which something of importance has occurred. I went this morning into the pay-room to receive my money, and having got it, asked Mr Kemble’s advice relative to my manner of travelling to London, whither we remove in the middle of this week. ‘Why, really, Mr Cooper, I think the best thing you can do is to go back to Lon-
don.’ I told him that I believed if he would give me a hearing in Lothario I could please him. He said I was not at all fit to play it. Then he began to talk in a hesitating way about my being of no use on account of my being inexperienced in stage matters. I said that if that were true in every instance plays would live as long as, and no longer than actors at present existing should live. In short, I argued the case a little with him, told him that I had learned the characters in London. He then said that he had a great respect for
Mr Holcroft, and must endeavour to bring me forward little by little.

“To-night I am one of Mrs Siddons’s train (dumb as usual) in the Mourning Bride. On Wednesday I am to be the second witch in Macbeth. Mr Kemble told me that if he had thought of it in time, I should have played Malcolm, and desired me to learn it. On Thursday I believe I shall begin my march to Lancaster, arriving there Sunday night. I shall stay there a week, and then for Sheffield.”

The Same to the Same.
Newcastle, Aug. 11, 1792.

“I did leave such directions at Edinburgh as answered the purpose of bringing your letter immediately to hand, which I think it was most probable I should do, as I had begged you to write by return of post. I think your observation relative to my being too loud in rehearsal was the true cause of Mr Kemble’s rejection of my Douglas: but as you say, that belief is of little consequence (except, indeed, that it will be a warning to my future conduct), since I have had no second hearing, and I am afraid shall not have, for Mrs Siddons, on account of her health, is unwilling to play any characters that require her greatest exertion. She has already played Jane Shore, Desdemona, to-night Mrs Beverley, for the last time but two, one of the two is to be Zara, of the other I am ignorant: so that you perceive there is very little chance for me. I have learned since that it is to be Lady Macbeth.

“I am, as you say, at a loss for a subject, the strangeness of
which will vanish when you consider that I am deprived of the characters in which I expected to shine: that I am obliged to sit down with a black gown over my shoulders as a dumb senator (which I have done twice in the plays of
Shylock and Othello!!) and hear Mr Kemble hold forth with the most impetuous rant, with sudden, ill-timed, unmeaning risings and fallings of voice, to astonish the vulgar, and confound the wise by not articulating a single syllable; and to hear Mr Woods repeat his words in one dull, heavy, monotonous sound. This circumstance is so remarkable in Woods, that having repeated a part of Lord Hastings’ speech with tolerable propriety, and having made a pause introducing a totally different feeling and passion, and by his pause, and the length of it, rousing every individual to the highest pitch of eagerness and expectation, he begins to speak, and on the instant destroys all pleasure by the repetition of the very same sound. I uttered, at the very first syllable, an involuntary groan (this was at the first time of my seeing him), and a dirty scene-shifter, cursing him, expressed his dissatisfaction in a very characteristically awkward manner. Woods speaks with a remarkably graceful action and easy deportment. Then to perceive a number of dull fools who scarcely even pretend to know their right hands from their left, fill up the other characters, without my being considered worthy to utter a syllable; your astonishment, I say, must vanish when you consider these things, for it is natural that a mind reflecting on them should withdraw itself to talk of the height of steeples, the length of streets, the nature of the soil, &c., &c.

Mr Woods was to have played Glenalvon, but was obliged to undertake Douglas, which he had never played before; in consequence of which a Mr Sparkes took his Glenalvon. My reception was such as I could wish: the actors are all very civil, and the higher are not distant and proud. Mr Bell, and others of some consequence, give me advice, in general insignificant enough, but tolerably good of its kind. You need be under no apprehension concerning money, for I get a guinea every Monday.”

The Same to the Same.
Newcastle, Aug. 16, 1792.

“The die is cast, and when, having tottered some time, I thought myself firm, at that instant the fate was reversed, and I fell headlong without hopes of recovery. I will now explain my meaning, and I am afraid that the explanation will be more serious than you may expect from this introduction. I told you in my last of the doubtful manner of talking of Mr Kemble, and at last of his saying that he would keep me, and endeavour to bring me forward, on account of his respect for Mr Holcroft. Irresolute blockhead! he has again altered his mind. Now he has got the shadow of a reason for his final determination, to which, although one of the most irresolute, I believe he will adhere; but observe, although I call it the shadow of a reason, I do not mean to say that I was without blame. He desired me to study Malcolm against the next time it was acted. But the next morning I told him that I would undertake it for that time, as I had two before me: he consented. I went through the part very well, and tolerably perfectly, till I came within two lines of the end of the play (I speak the last speech), and there I wanted the word. The noise behind scenes, the play being nearly over, prevented my hearing the prompter, and in an instant some people at the back of the gallery, as I guessed, began to hiss, and immediately everybody else began to clap, which lasted for a minute, and as we were so near the end it was not advisable to wait the conclusion of the bustle to say the few words that remained. The trumpets sounded, and the curtain fell. My blame consisted in want of courage, or recollection, in not skipping to the next line the very instant they began to hiss, and it was impossible to catch the word. Mr Kemble made this his handle, declared I was totally unfit for the profession, and that I had not one single requisite for an actor, and in fine, he said, ‘As a friend, I advise you to return to London. I cannot keep you.’ I told him that I would undertake anything, however low, if I was not qualified for higher, and in proportion to my little utility would be willing to receive little.
I told him I should be willing to take the salary of Mr Charteris, junr. (a foolish fellow about my age), and he certainly could not deny that I should be of equal, if not more utility than him. He could not deny it, but he did not want a person of that description—that Mr Ch. was going to leave. I thought I had submitted already too much for honesty, and therefore would submit no further. I asked if that was his reason for dismissing him. This question was a home-thrust at his own equivocation. He said, ‘he had no business to account to me for his motives.’ I answered ironically, begging his pardon that it was an improper question. I believe he understood me literally. I have too much dependence on your sense of justice to think that you will blame me for not stooping to his pride any further than honesty would justify, and altering my manner when I perceived his injustice, which I did with moderation, as appears from his not even understanding my irony (which perhaps you do not, for from hurry I’m afraid I am not very intelligible). I ought to observe, in addition, that Mr Charteris goes away by his own choice with a number of other actors from Mr Kemble’s company, who are going to stroll as a sharing company. I have been endeavouring to get admission into it, but have not succeeded, and I suppose shall not. The most disagreeable part of my most disagreeable situation, is that I am afraid I must determine on something without waiting for advice. I write, however. If you can suggest any means by which in London I can earn 10s. 6d. per week, at the expense even of four or five hours a day. 10s. 6d. is sufficient to live on. Write . . . I shall presently be left alone here. It is now Thursday. They play here for the last time on Friday.

T. Cooper.”

Mr James Marshal, to whom was addressed Tom Cooper’s curious letter quoted above, was a friend who for some time shared Godwin’s house, and each would seem to have aided the other when in need, struggling against such difficulties as only those can know whose daily bread
depends upon their daily writings.
Mrs Shelley speaks of him with affectionate enthusiasm as follows:—


“There was another man, a fellow student, and an aspirant to the honours of literature. The booksellers of London in his day knew him well, and many a contemporary author, fallen on evil days, many a widow and orphan had cause to remember the benevolent disposition, the strenuous exertions, the kind and intelligent countenance of James Marshal. His talents not permitting a higher range, he became a translator and index maker, a literary jobber. In a thousand ways he was useful to Godwin, who, sensitive, proud, and shy, whose powers of persuasion lay in the force of his reasoning, often found the more sociable and insinuating manners of his friend of use in transacting matters of business with editors and publishers. They often shared their last shilling together, and the success of any of his friend’s plans was hailed by Marshal as a glorious triumph. Godwin, whose temper was quick, and, from an earnest sense of being in the right, somewhat despotic on occasions, assumed a good deal of superiority and some authority. Marshal sometimes submitted, sometimes rebelled, but they were always reconciled at last, and the good-humoured friend was always at hand to assist to the utmost Godwin’s more intellectual exertions in copying, or in walking from one end of town to the other.”


He had acted as amanuensis to Godwin at an earlier date, but having got into considerable difficulties, went to the West Indies to seek his fortune. Not having found it, he soon came back again to work for, and quarrel with Godwin once more.

Another man of very different stamp was much with Godwin in those years. George Dyson was a friend of Thomas Cooper. He was a young man whose abilities promised much, and whose ardour for literature and desire
to do right seemed to give assurance that such promise would be realised. Unfortunately violent passions and a vehement temper ruined these hopes. Godwin spared neither remonstrance nor censure to keep him straight, and though these were sometimes received with remorseful confessions of their justice, sometimes with bitter resentment, they did not in the end avail. In various disputes which arose between Cooper and Dyson, Godwin seems to have taken, on the whole, Dyson’s part; but in the end the breach between these old friends became too wide for healing, and Dyson’s name only appears in these pages to give occasion for the touching lines which Godwin addressed to him, later indeed than this date, but as the conclusion of many a fierce paper war.

William Godwin to George Dyson.

“I hope and still strongly incline to believe that I shall one day see you, complete in talent, and free from every stain of those vices which I have always suspected, and now vehemently disapprove in you. You have been one of my prime favourites, and whatever may be the vicissitudes of your character, the deviousness of your conduct, or the fermentation of your uncontrollable passions, they will all be watched by me with affectionate anxiety. You may grieve me, but you cannot inspire me with anger.

W. Godwin.
Friday Evening.”

With all his faults, however, Dyson must have been a very remarkable man. He is the third of those of whom Godwin speaks as being “the four oral instructors” to whom he felt his “mind indebted for improvement,” thus ranking him with Fawcet, Holcroft, and Coleridge, although he was so much younger than himself, and
standing in so evident need of fatherly counsel and control.

We have seen already that in these years Godwin had become “extremely intimate” with Holcroft. It would seem to have been a characteristic of the literary men of those days that the most furious verbal onslaughts on each other brought no real diminution of friendship. Godwin and his friends were typical examples of this. The first of the following notes, which commences the correspondence between Holcroft and himself, is undated, but it would seem to have been written immediately before the other, and they appear to refer to one and the same engagement.

Thomas Holcroft to William Godwin.

“I will certainly not fail you, God willing, on Tuesday. Sentimental hypocrisy you know I treat nearly the same as other hypocrisy, therefore I think you will not blame me for telling you we were yesterday, as I told you we should be, driven, &c. But I know you—what is who can resist? Had I but the power to remove difficulties from all of us—oh, there would be rare doings! For heaven’s sake do not torment yourself; times and seasons have strange variations, and who knows that the sun will never shine.

T. Holcroft.”
The Same to the Same.

“Sir,—I write to inform you that instead of seeing you at dinner to-morrow I desire never to see you more, being determined never to have any further intercourse with you of any kind.

T. Holcroft.
Feb. 28, 1785.”

“I shall behave as becomes an honest and honourable man who remembers not only what is due to others, but himself.
There are indelible irrevocable injuries that will not endure to be mentioned. Such is the one you have committed on the man who would have died to serve you.”

The estrangement happily did not last long, but no further letters are preserved till the summer of 1788, when Godwin was staying at Guildford, and was glad to receive news from Holcroft in London.

The vacancy for the City of Westminster, the main subject of the following letters, was occasioned by the appointment of Lord Hood, the sitting member, to be a Lord of the Admiralty. He, of course, offered himself for re-election, and was opposed by Lord John Townshend, in the liberal interest. The poll was kept open from Friday, July 18th, till Monday, August 4th, on which day Lord John Townshend was elected by a majority of 823. The excitement during the election was very great, and the compliments bandied on both sides unusual, even for the license of the day. That a lawyer was thrown out of the window of Lord Hood’s committee room into a night-cart, was a specimen of the amenities of parties. “This,” mildly says the Public Advertiser, which supported Lord Hood, “is a species of outrage not easily to be justified in a civilized community. No subjects have a right to take the law into their own hands.”

Thomas Holcroft to William Godwin.
London, July 24th, 1788.

Dear Sir,—I am greatly obliged by your kind attention, but Trenck”—‘The Life of Baron F. von der Trenck,’ translated from the German by T. Holcroft—“I find, must not go to press yet; there are 250 copies overlooked, so that when you return to town it will be time enough to marginate—yes, marginate. It needs
little philosophy to prove that if no man had ever made innovations, we should all have been dumb.

“The tide is turned, instead of Townshend. The whole Town, great and small, old and young, the little vulgar and the great, seem all to be bawling, ‘Hood for ever!’ ‘The beast with two horns (blue and orange) appears to have pushed westward and northward and southward, till behold an he-goat came from the West.’ Despatches from Cheltenham, Pitt and Treasury runners, canvassing, Military interference, the potent Magistrate Sir Sampson Wright collared by Sheridan, Bayonets pointed at patriot throats, James Parry, Esq., become a leader from the breakfasting-houses in company with Lord William Russell, &c. Oh, here is the devil to pay! A mad world, my masters! Women murdered, Men with their skulls fractured, sailors with broken arms, Bullies committed, Freedom maintained by battle-array, soldiers polling by hundreds and sent to the house of correction by (oh! no, I had forgotten—bailed by their officers, who commanded them to present, and if occasion were to fire), the Foxites disagreeing and disunited, Liberty Hall in an Uproar, Pitt and prerogative triumphant, &c., &c., &c. For I am quite out of breath. Observe, however, I will not vouch for the truth of a single syllable of all this; but I will cite you most grave and respectable authorities, viz., Herald and Post. This, however, you may, if so it you shall please, affirm from me, sir, namely, that scandal (and, I believe, falsehood), pitiful, mean, mutual scandal, never was more plentifully dispersed; and that electioneering is a trade so despicably degrading, so eternally incompatible with moral and mental dignity, that I can scarcely believe a truly great, mind capable of the dirty drudgery of such vice. I am at least certain no mind is great while thus employed. It is the periodical reign of the evil nature or Demon. A most paltry apology, but the best I can make.

“Since writing the above, having the advantage of an exquisitely dizzy headache, I strolled, in company with this delightful associate, to the hustings, and thence into Westminster. ‘’Fore heaven, they are all in a tune.’ I must indeed except three
unities, whom in my traverse sailing progress I encountered between the Garden and the Horse Guards, i.e., a Barber’s boy, a Lamplighter’s Do., and a young Chimneysweeper, who all had the singularity to wear ‘
Townshend for ever’ pinned in front. No: two of them were in Hedge Lane. One thing amazes me: the walls abound in squibs and pasquinades, many of them keen and excellently adapted to the capacity of their serene worships the worthy Electors of Westminster, all for Lord Hood, and no sign of any such in behalf of Townshend. This is the very reverse of what might have been expected. Tis plain the Hoodites have been most remarkably active, and I suspect the adverse party has been very foolishly lulled to sleep by Mrs Security. To afford you some small comfort, however, let me tell you an active Foxite has laid 10 Guineas to five that Townshend is 100 ahead at the poll, and affirms that he shall himself go up to the Hustings to-morrow (Friday) at the head of 400 voters. In the meantime the state of the poll yesterday was—
“July 23d.—Hood,2892
and according to the account I have just received, for I sent expressly to afford you as much of that information which your aunt Abigail desires as possible—
“July 24th, 5 p.m.—Hood,3380

“The Lord knows when I wrote so long a letter before, or when I shall again.—I am, dear sir, very sincerely,

T. Holcroft.”
The Same to the Same.
London, August 4th, 1788.

“As I know, Dear Sir, you interest yourself in the present desperate (I had almost said despicable) contest, I take it for
granted you will be glad to hear that your favourite,
Lord John Townshend, is elected. I have sent to know the exact state of the poll, but it was impossible to obtain it with certainty. I hear the balance is 823 in favour of Lord John. The universal cry of the Hood party at present is bad votes and Parliamentary scrutiny. I imagine this scene is soon again to be renewed, i.e., at the General Election. The Hoodites publish such long lists of bad votes, and exclaim so loudly, that the vulgar opinion is that the present election will be declared void, which, however, I think improbable. I imagine you received the strange olio I wrote before in the form of a letter. Affairs took another turn, I believe the very day after I wrote. The cry of the mob has uniformly gone with the majority, but this is no newly discovered principle in man. Though my letter required no answer, I begin to fear lest, wanting a more accurate direction, you have not received it; pray be so much of an Irishman as to write an answer to this, whether you receive it or no. I intend to ride down and pay you a visit, if I can, in the course of next week; but I do not suppose it will be more than the visit of a day.—I am, dear Sir, very sincerely yours,

T. Holcroft.”
“Mr Godwin,
at Mr ——, Upholsterer,
Guildford, Surrey.”
William Godwin to Thomas Holcroft.
Guildford, August 5th, 1788.

Dear Sir.—Though I am flattered by your attention, and must acknowledge that you have touched upon my hobbyhorse, yet I am sorry that your politeness led you to give yourself a moment’s trouble for the sake of gratifying the silly impatience of your humble servant. I owe you a thousand apologies for not having answered your letter of a fortnight since; but the fact is I wrote to you and another gentleman, immediately after my arrival, by the same post, and was answered by said gentleman that I was a man of leisure and could write letters; he was engaged in active life, and could not. No man is less willing to
be guilty of the sin of intrusion than I am: I therefore took this rebuff in dudgeon, and forswore the writing of any letters but of mere business for a fortnight. Will you accept this apology? If you do, in gratitude I will damn you, and say you have more good-nature than wit.

“If you did but properly reflect upon my desolate situation, banished from human society, and condemned to eat grass with the beasts, you surely would not tantalize me with the visit of a day. But be it as it will, for I can adapt to myself the words of Addison with true Addisonian fire, and say—
“‘A day, an hour, of intellectual talk
Is worth a whole eternity of solitude.’
Only upon this occasion keep the reins in your own hands, and do not fetter yourself too much with domestic stipulations before you set out.

“Sir, had you remembered the letter of the Chinese Mandarin, which had no other address than ‘Dr Boerhaave, Europe,’ you surely would not have insulted me with the supposition that I must borrow lustre from a petty upholsterer in such a town as Guildford, and not be seen by own radiance. I would have you to know that I am as much of a poet as either Dr Boerhaave, or even Van Swieten, his commentator. Nay, if you provoke me, I do not know but I shall enter the lists with Mynheer Van Haaren, the Homer of the whole Dutch nation.

Lord John Townshend for ever! Huzza!

“Yours sincerely,
W. Godwin.

“Present my compliments to Robinson and Hamilton. Tell the latter (if you see him, and if you like it) that he has forgotten me.”

The only other letter of special interest relating to this time is the following from Mrs Godwin senior, to which may also be added one of somewhat later date, since it fits in more appropriately here, with the notices of
the Coopers and of
Hannah Godwin. Hull Godwin was Mrs Godwin’s eldest son, with whom she was residing.

Mrs Godwin senior to William Godwin.
May 29, 1788.

Dear William,—Your letter to be sure could not fail of being pleasing and acceptable to me, who delights to hear from my children, espetially when they are going on comfortably and are likely to be a blessing to their connections and an ornament to Religion wh is not the least part of w we are sent into the World for. poor dear Hannah once made it her Chief concern and happiness but now I fear it is otherwise, God grant It may revive again And yt she may not be as the fig-tree whome the master of the vinyard came seeking fruit and found none. Is my daily prayer for her and all of you poor Jack once made a profession two but him I have no hopes off. I may say the same of Joseph how cuting a Stroke it is to be the means of bringing Children into the world to be the subjects of the kingdom of Darkness to dwell with Divils and Damned Spirits from whence as I have heard you mention in your Prayers there is no redemption. Sometime agoe I lent Hannah a book of Sermons that was not my own, but not without the owner’s live Mr Copland, I red them myself and was Charmed with them, espetially as there was one about declention having lost their first love which I hoped might have a better effect than all I could say. please from me to desire her to return the first privat opportunity yt will be safe directed to Mrs Sothrens, she have miss’d Mr Burchan who would have brought it safe. You say Miss Anna Trench is going to be married and I suppose by what you mention to live the Partnership to her Sister Miss Frances Trench and your Sister as with Miss Trench why can’t you call your Sister Hannah as you call Miss Trenches Nancy and Fanny and me Hon’d Mother, as well as Mad’m it would be full as agreeable.

“You say by great luck Joseph has got a comfortable Place I wish it may Prove so and he deserving of it but If He prospers I
shall think it strange indeed that one could use a Woman as he has, an agreeable Woman his own Choice and brought him some fortune and also her friends always doing for her.—and of
Jack he is still the unfortunate man. It is not Scripture Language I do not as I know off read of luck or fortune then I think it rather the Language of Heathens and that it should be owned as the smiles or frowns of Providence or in other words God.

“but I don’t want to enter into arguments with you abt it for perhaps I might not find words or time to go thro it, therefore if its not agreeable to your notion it will be better to pass it by and you keep yours and I mine. I had Jackey’s letter but could not find an opportunity to send the 20s he was out of pocket for Natty when he was hiding from ye Press Gang till now, and this acquaints you that I have sent ye guinea by the hand of Mr Jon Johnson which is the second on Natty’s account and the full of what I promiss’d and I dont thank Jackey for taking him into good company as he calls it every Evening and two or three Sunday’s executions. I like your Conduct to him much better Jackey says you gave him 5s at parting—my kind love to my dear Hannah.

I remain yr affecate Mother.

Cousin Sothren Mrs Hull and Hully are well I hope I am at Norwich and parted with the 2 last mentioned yesterday.”

The Same to the Same.
“Dalling, Sep. 5, ’92.

Dear William,—I earnestly pray you may be making progress Heavenward, that is my fear and question on account of the little apearance of religion in those that are left as well as those yt are departed this life, my life is bitter, am obliged to cry out with David Ps. 13 How long wilt thou forget me O Lord forever, How long wilt thou hide thy face from me. I may say I pray without ceasing for you, 3 times a Day, besides the sleepless Hours of the night, and my strength is so feble that I know not how to sustain myself in the day some times. I know that
its God’s work to make the hart suseptable of divine Impressions. Not ye most Eloquent preachers, for they are but Earthen Vesels, Paul and Apolos may water, but without God gives the increase no fruit will spring up. Gods word is full of premisses to those that seek in sincerity, relying on Christ as the atoning sacrifice and intercesor, for sure I am that sinners cannot be justified and accepted by any righteousness of their own. His word declares that by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified and for that reason Christ came to make a propitiation to Offended justis that all who believe in him might be saved. You know its not ment without showing their faith by their Obedience as far as we in our fallen and depraved state are capable, but its not said that his affronted and despised patience will last always, a bare crying for mercy at last is a dangerous experiment. I’m obleged to you for the respect you profsess for me. If I could see my children walk in ye truth I should be happy, my Happiness is bound up in theirs. It would sweeten my expiring moments, with Views of meeting those I have been ye Instrument of bringing into life, in the happy regions of blesedness where all perplecty will for ever cease. Thank yo for ye information you gave me respecting
Natty, as to ye name of ye Ship Capt &c. am sorry he has not a better constitution, for he can have but few indulgencies in the way of life He is in. the tempers of seafairing men are generaly like the boisterous Element. I hope there will come a time when he will fare better, tho I dont think Mr Hurry have been so kind to him as might be expected considering he had been so many years in his service, his perseverance is a good sign, for what could be done with him otherwise I dont know. Am realy sorry John should accept an iniquitous imployment. I think he might make a living of the two clarks places without the Lottery. I gave him my advice before I recd yours or knew anything about it, not to disoblige Mr Finch least he should loose his place, but would have you use all the influence you have to prevale with him to keep the two places, and never more to Ingage in the Lottery. I think he might do exceeding well with his pay and the perquisites. I sincerely wish Mrs Cooper cou’d meet with an agreabl sittuation,
believe they are hard to be met with, believe there is something in her temper that forbids happiness. It must give Miss Cooper much uneasiness. Miss Cooper is I think a very senceable, prudent agreeable Girl. Poor
Hannah wrote me of the unlucky accident that befel her of her being push’d down in the street, and her Cloths being Spoil’d. It was a great mercy she escaped so well as She did, and was able to get home. I hope it will be a warning not to be out of an Evining, at least not to come home alone. Intend writing to her soon, am glad she has got such an agreeable Girl as Miss Green to bare her company. I was exceeding hurt that you should have borrow’d 5 guineas of Mr Venning so long and then say to me when I was in Town he was so mean as to mention it. What would you have him do, or what would you have done in such a predicament. However I have paid it, and shall expect your note for it. You can inquire at Fish Street Hill when its likely Mr Jacob will be in town for you to meet him, and give a proper note. These things so often repeated with all the aeconemy I am mistress of shall not be able to do anything for the young ones.

“I have a few friends that I highly value, Mrs Sothren and Mrs Foster, and Mrs A. Hill is a comfort and help to me, but Mrs Sothren is a person you ought to Rever as your second Mother, who nurtured you in your infancy. I did not expect she would got this winter over, she is so assmatic, thro divine mercy she is yet spared, and I hope shall see her in the course of the summer. Mrs Hill was confined near 6 weeks, has a bad complant of her neck, otherwise is much as usual. She and Hully desire to be remember’d to you.

“from your Affecate Mother,
A. Godwin.”