LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. VII. 1806-1811
William Godwin to Dr Ash, 21 May 1808

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
May 21, 1808.

Sir,—Upon reflection I deem it most advisable to trouble you with the leading particulars of my case in writing; as now, in the fifty-third year of my age, I am desirous of arriving, if possible, at a clear view of the affair, and the safest and most judicious way of treating it.

“As this complaint has attacked me at many different periods of my life, I am inclined to suppose that it has a deep root in my frame, and that it may most usefully be explained by historical deduction.

“Its first appearance was in the twenty-eighth year of my age; the fits continued to visit me for some weeks and then disappeared. They did not return till 1800, after an interval of seventeen years.

“In 1792 I had an attack of vertigo, accompanied with extreme costiveness, the only time at which I have experienced that symptom in an excessive degree.

“In 1795 I first became subject to fits of sleepiness in an afternoon, which have never since left me, and occasionally seize me even in company.

“In 1800 and 1803 my old disorder revisited me; the attacks were preceded by a minute’s notice, and each fit (of perfect insen-
sibility) lasted about a minute. Air was of no service to repel a fit, but hartshorn smelled to, or a draught of hartshorn and water, seemed to drive them off, particularly in the last days of an attack. If seized standing, I have fallen on the ground, and I have repeatedly had the fits in bed.

“It should be observed, that when first attacked in 1783, it was difficult to have been of more temperate habits than I was, seldom tasting wine or spirituous liquors. Since that time I have never been intemperate; but for the last twenty years have indulged in the moderate regular use of both, not more than three or four glasses of wine in a day.

“All these three attacks were in the midst of a hot summer; in every instance each single fit seemed to find me and leave me in perfect health. . . . The approach of the fit is not painful, but is rather entitled to the name of pleasure, a gentle fading away of the senses; nor is the recovery painful, unless I am teazed in it by persons about me. . . . I am, etc.,

W. Godwin.”