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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. IV. 1801-1803
William Godwin to Joseph Ritson, [10 March 1801?]

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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[Polygon, 10th March 1801.]?

Dear Ritson,—I should be sorry to interrupt your business or occupations one moment unnecessarily by this correspondence. Give me leave, however, to say,

“‘I can easily and entirely forgive the acrimony (if that is what you allude to) of your note of the date of Saturday. We have all of us too many frailties not to make it the duty of every man to forgive the precipitation of his neighbour; and the unfortunate state of your health and spirits which often painfully recurs to my mind, gives this duty a double portion of obligation in the present case. I think a person of conscious integrity may be expected more easily to forget a reflection cast on his character than one of a different description.

“But I am still further incited to forgive your misconstruction in this instance, because I am conscious of the blameableness of my conduct. I have, perhaps, a peculiar sentiment in this case: I feel as if it would be a sort of insult to ask the patience of a friend to whom I was in debt, unless I came to him with the
money in my hand; and this in a full and entire sense I was unable to do. But I perceive I owed you an explanation. I might easily have said to you, as I said to myself, ‘I believe I shall not spend more in my journey to Ireland (my residence there being entirely without expense) than I shall save in my housekeeping in England during my absence.’ The journey had an appearance of extravagance. I might also have told you that my
tragedy was accepted by Mr Sheridan as long ago as April 1799, and that the unexpected delays of the theatre were the direct causes of the delays that occurred as to your payment. I never failed before in any literary effort, and I had not the slightest apprehension of the misfortune that awaited me. Let me add that, instigated by Mr Sheridan’s approbation, I applied a great [part] of the year 1800 to the rendering my play as perfect as the plan upon which it was constructed and the abilities I possessed would allow.

“Restore me entirely to your good opinion. The letter I have just received from you manifests an inclination to do so. Let the consequences be only temporary and transient, which flowed from a transient misapprehension. I have some idea of engaging in a literary work, the nature of which will render your advice singularly interesting to me. Suffer me, when the time comes, to apply to you for that advice. Your silence in answer to what I have written shall be construed into a sufficient permission.”