LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. II. 1800
Thomas Holcroft to William Godwin, 27 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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Hamburg, May 27th, 1800.

“I cannot but suppose the letters I have written, from their tenor and the circumstances under which they were dictated, have been among the most disagreeable you have ever received. This will increase their number. On Friday evening, the 16th instant, as I was preparing to wash my feet, and had a half-pint vial of aqua fortis in my hand, after pouring in about a spoonful to the warm water—from which kind of bath my feet had found benefit—the vial suddenly burst in my hand, and the contents, partly flying up into my face, and the rest upon my hands, arms, and thighs, burned me in so dreadful a manner, that during two hours, till medical help could be procured, I was firmly persuaded my eyes had been destroyed. I thought I felt them run down my cheeks in water. The torture I suffered is indescribable. The places most burnt were my forehead, left eye and cheek, nose and chin, right hand and wrist, and the right thigh and knee; the forehead and wrist shockingly; though the left side was far from escaping. What degree of permanent injury may arise, I do not yet know; but it will be well if my eyes, especially the left, recover their former strength. In other respects, a few scars, I am told, are the only things to be feared, and these not of a hideous nature.

“Now to business. . . .

Fanny has been reading parts of “Fischer’s Travels in Russia” to me during my Jobation. I suppose Job had been burnt with aqua fortis, since I hear so much of his patience; and my opinion is still very favourable. It is a work to which I am
willing to attach my name, though not to all translations, e.g., ‘
Mirabeau’s Berlin Memoires de Voltaire, ecrits par lui même,’ &c.

“Perhaps it is impatience which is astonished, not reason, that you had heard nothing of the arrival of my pictures. My situation is so painful, that, damnable as the burning of aqua fortis is, I feel as if I could better endure it than this state of mind in which my moral character remains for a time degraded. . . .

T. Holcroft.”