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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. IX. 1797
William Godwin to Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, 5 June 1797

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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Stratford-upon-Avon, June 5, 1797.

“I write at this moment from Hampton Lucy, in sight of the house and park of Sir Thomas Lucy, the great benefactor of mankind, who persecuted William Shakespeare for deer-stealing, and obliged him to take refuge in the metropolis. Montagu has just had a vomit, to carry off a certain quantity of punch, with the drinking of which he concluded the Sunday evening.

“Is that the right style for a letter?

“We are going to dine to-day at the house of Mr Boot, a country farmer, with Dr Parr and a set of jolly fellows, to commemorate the victory, or rather no-victory gained last week by the High Sheriff of Warwick and the oppositionists over the Lord
Lieutenant and the ministerialist, on the matter of the dismission of
Mr Pitt and his coadjutors. We sleep to-night at Dr Parr’s, 60 miles from Etruria, at which place therefore we probably shall not arrive till Wednesday. Our horse has turned out admirably, and we were as gay as larks. We were almost drowned this morning in a brook, swelled by the rains. We are here at the house of a Mr Morley, a clergyman, with whom we breakfasted after a ride of 22 miles. He is an excellent classic, and, which is almost as good, a clever and amiable man. Here we met Catherine Parr, the youngest, as blooming as Hebe, and more interesting than all the goddesses in the Pantheon. Montagu is in love with her.

“We slept the first night at Beaconsfield, the residence of Mr Burke, 23 miles. The town was full of soldiers. We rose the next morning, as well as to-day, a little after four. We drove about 20 miles to breakfast, and arrived at Oxford, 53 miles from town, about 12. Here we had a grand dinner prepared for us by letter, by a Mr Horseman, who says that you and I are the two greatest men in the world. He is very nervous, and thinks he never had a day’s health in his life. He intends to return the visit, and eat a good dinner in the Paragon, but he will find himself mistaken. We saw the buildings, an object that never impressed me with rapture, but we could not see the collection of paintings at Ch. Ch. Library, because it was Sunday. We saw however an altar-piece by Guido, Christ bearing the Cross, a picture I think of the highest excellence. Our escort, one of whom thinks himself an artist, were so ignorant as to tell us that a window to which we were introduced, painted by Jervas (as they said), from Reynolds, was infinitely superior. We had also a Mr Swan and his two wives, or sisters, to dinner, but they were no better than geese.

“And now, my dear love, what do you think of me? Do you not find solitude infinitely superior to the company of a husband? Will you give me leave to return to you again when I have finished my pilgrimage, and discharged the penance of absence? Take care of yourself, my love, and take care of Wil-
liam. Do not you be drowned, whatever I am. I remember at every moment all the accidents to which your condition subjects you, and wish I knew of some sympathy that could inform me from moment to moment how you do, and what you feel.

“Tell Fanny something about me. Ask where she thinks I am. Say I am a great way, and going further and further, but that I shall turn round to come back again some day. Tell her I have not forgotten her little mug, and that I shall choose a very pretty one. Montagu said this morning about eight o’clock, upon the road, ‘Just now little Fanny is going to plungity-plunge.’ Was he right? I love him very much. He is in such a hurry to see his chère adorable, that I believe, after all, we shall set forward this evening and get to Etruria to-morrow.


[End torn off.]