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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. II. 1800
William Godwin to Thomas Holcroft, [May 1800]

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
[May 1800.]

“. . . I most earnestly wish, as you hint in your last letter, that you would come over and superintend the sale of these pictures yourself. I have a further and very strong reason for wishing it. If the consequence of your embarrassments should be your being thrown into prison, reflect on the difference between being a prisoner here and at Hamburg. Here you may be a prisoner in the rules of the King’s Bench, or the Fleet, which is almost nominal imprisonment. You may see booksellers and other persons with whom you wish to transact business, with whom, I fear, you will never make advantageous engagements without being on the spot. There—I turn away with horror from the supposition—there, imprisonment would be little less than a sentence of death, and starvation to your family. Reflect seriously on this.

“I will take every care in my power respecting the pictures, which, I suppose, are now on their voyage to England. I will see Opie, I will see Gillies; I will, if possible, clear them at the Custom House, and lodge them in a place of safety, to wait your further orders. Beyond this I cannot go.

“And now, to dismiss this subject, I say firmly, ‘Stop!’ Think how much anguish, how many sleepless nights you are preparing for yourself. Your life—as much of it as is spent in this pursuit—will be one series of corroding expectation and continual disappointment. Indeed, it is madness; for what is madness but a constant calculation of feelings and a sentiment in mankind—the
sentiment in this instance of bestowing a large price on your pictures—which is never realised. You give the greatest pain to all your friends here, who are anxious for your welfare. What can we think, when we see a catalogue of pictures, rated by you at so many thousand pounds, which no man here thinks will sell for as many hundreds? You will go near in the sequel to make us as mad as yourself. . . .”