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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VI. 1794-1796
Thomas Abthorpe Cooper to William Godwin, 21 October 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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Produced by CATH
Stockport, October 21, 1794.

“Whether the God of Wisdom presided in my brain at the time I made the resolution of joining these strolling players at Stockport I know not. Whether you may think the step wise (which is not the same quaere, however paradoxical my supposing a difference may appear to you), I am equally ignorant. But well I know that it is now a fortnight since we closed at Liverpool, and that in the interim I have travelled fifty miles, bag and baggage, across the country, and that by this means my stock of cash is so reduced, that without a supply before to-morrow at twelve o’clock, I shall be obliged to dine with a certain duke with whom I have kept company before to-day (but heartily despising everything, and titles among the rest, that put me in mind of usurpation and inequality), whose company I would very willingly renounce for the time to come. Nevertheless I stand prepared to encounter any tricks or mischief Fortune may be inclined to put upon me, continually repeating the first lines of that ode of Horace, beginning, ‘Justum et tenacem propositi virum.’

“By means of reduction in my pocket, having now taken the step of coming here, it is impracticable to recall it, and here I must remain. But in eight or ten weeks, unless I should meet
with any great success, I shall again think of coming to London. Though, indeed, if
Mr Holcroft’s trial comes on, and a consequence which I tremble to think of should take place, I shall be in London on the instant.

“Thus, then, I am. We open to-morrow. I do not play till Saturday, when I make my appearance in Barnwell. I have no doubt of my success, for what trifling degree of merit I may have, will derive additional lustre from the extreme dullness of the set of devils I have got among. We are to play in a theatre, to be sure, that is, in a place built for that purpose only, but we shall come under the Vagrant Act. But the sweets of superiority! ‘Oh, ’tis better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven!’

“I will thank you for a letter, containing as much circumstance as you can contrive. How do yours’ and Mr Holcroft’s novels sell? How is Mr H.’s family governed in his absence. Tell me any occurrences relative to Mr H.’s imprisonment, if any there is, not mentioned in the papers. Is George Dyson yet out of his swaddling clothes? that is, does he yet live entirely as his own master, or is he still at home with papa and mamma? How does Jack go on? Remember to give my love to my mother, Miss Godwin, &c. Likewise let the Holcroft family know I have not forgotten them. And though last, not least, mention me, ‘after what flourish your nature will,’ to Mrs Reveley—I believe—but it is, however, the lady who supped with you at Mr Holcroft’s the last night I was in town. She is a painter. Tell her I would come to London, all the way barefoot, to see her perform the office of hangman to Mr P., which I recollect she said she should have no objection to.

Thomas Cooper.”