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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VI. 1794-1796
Elizabeth Inchbald to William Godwin, [May? 1794]

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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Monday evening.

Sir,—Your first volume is far inferior to the two last. Your second is sublimely horrible—captivatingly frightful.

“Your third is all a great genius can do to delight a great genius, and I never felt myself so conscious of, or so proud of giving proofs of a good understanding, as in pronouncing this to be a capital work.

“It is my opinion that fine ladies, milliners, mantua-makers, and boarding-school girls will love to tremble over it, and that men of taste and judgment will admire the superior talents, the incessant energy of mind you have evinced.

“In these two last volumes, there does not appear to me (apt as I am to be tired with reading novels) one tedious line, still there are lines I wish erased. I shudder lest for the sake of a few sentences, (and these particularly marked for the reader’s attention by the purport of your preface) a certain set of people should hastily condemn the whole work as of immoral tendency, and rob it of a popularity which no other failing it has could I think endanger.

“This would be a great pity, especially as these sentences are trivial compared to those which have not so glaring a tendency, and yet to the eye of discernment are even more forcible on your side of the question. . . . . But if I find fault it is because
I have no patience that anything so near perfection should not be perfection.”