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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VI. 1794-1796
Thomas Holcroft to William Godwin, 22 July 1795

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
Clist, July 22d, 1795.

“Had I not forgotten the place of Dr Parr’s residence, you would have received the ‘Lamentations of Jeremiah’ from me. You would have heard how I fell from a slip ladder, and broke it fairly in two; how, with difficulty, I kept what your friend at Hatton calls soul and body together; how I endeavoured to overcome the extreme pain, but at last was obliged, partly by entreaty
and partly by precaution to send for a village surgeon; how he took a full basin of blood from me; how, half an hour after his departure, the spasms with which I had before been seized assaulted me with two-fold, or, for aught I know, with ten-fold malignity; how I was obliged to send to Exeter for another Dr in search of ease; how he affirmed my ribs were broken; how I believe they were not, but am not quite certain; how he made me swallow potions which proved to be opiates, and which indeed relieved me in part from spasm, but consigned me over to drowsy stupidity, which to me appeared a more intolerable evil; how I was roused from this lethargic struggle after existence by a severe fit of the gout; how I lay with my joints burning and my muscles cramped and twisted, during which I had full leisure for the display of my system ‘of resistance to pain;’ how I persuaded myself, in spite of my tormentors, that my system was true; how it induced me to laugh and joke, and exercise my little wits on all that came within my sphere of action; how some believed I was in pain, and some believed I was not; and how difficult I found it to define to myself what pain is. In short, like my predecessor Grumio, I would have told you a very tragical tale, had not my ignorance of your local existence prevented me.

“The gout has not yet left me, though I carry it about in a very clandestine kind of a manner; and till it has disappeared, I am advised not to bathe again; being further advised that bathing would be very good for me. Hence you will perceive I have not escaped that Tyrant Necessity—(if you can tell me when I shall, pray send me the intelligence by express, I will venture the expense)—and that the Necessity of which I am now the slave is uncertainty.

“I have had occasion to talk of you, or rather of your essence, your ‘Political Justice,’ and your ‘Caleb.’ If you suppose I understand you, I need not tell you in what terms I spoke. I sometimes doubt whether it be right, i.e., necessary, to declare sentiments of personal affection; yet I still seem more strongly to doubt whether it be right totally to omit such declarations; for impossible as it is that men should perceive utility, or if you will virtue,
and not love it, yet the temporary uncertainties to which the clearest minds appear to be subject, may render declarations concerning our feelings necessary. To what accidents you or I shall hereafter be liable is more than either of us can positively determine; but it seems to me our minds have proceeded too far for there to be any probability that our sentiments respecting each other should suffer any great change. Still, if it be pleasure to remind each other that we deserve and possess something more than mutual esteem, I see no good motive for abstaining from the enjoyment of this pleasure.

“I hope you have renewed your visits in Newman Street. As this letter will perhaps be a more circumstantial narrative of my late disaster than any they have yet received, be kind enough to communicate the contents at home.

Mr Cooper, partly in consequence of my desire, and partly, as I suppose, from the decisions of his own judgment, remains near me some time to pursue his studies. I wish, perhaps more than a wise man ought, to be at home. Whether this impulse, or the hope of re-establishing my health shall prevail, must be left to future circumstances: my return, however, cannot be very distant.

T. Holcroft.”

“How came I to omit saying that you have a few warm admirers here, and that the report of your second edition has committed homicide upon the first? In my opinion, should the publishing be delayed, both will be injured.”