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The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter XVII. 1820-1823
William Roscoe to J.-C.-L. Simonde de Sismondi, [July? 1824]

Vol I. Contents
Chapter I. 1753-1781
Chapter II. 1781-1787
Chapter III. 1787-1792
Chapter IV. 1788-1796
Chapter V. 1795
Chapter VI. 1796-1799
Chapter VII. 1799-1805
Chapter IX. 1806-1807
Chapter X. 1808
Chapter XI. 1809-1810
Vol II. Contents
Chapter XII. 1811-1812
Chapter XIII. 1812-1815
Chapter XIV. 1816
Chapter XV. 1817-1818
Chapter XVI. 1819
Chapter XVII. 1820-1823
Chapter XVIII. 1824
Chapter XIX. 1825-1827
Chapter XX. 1827-1831
Chapter XXI.
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“I had the honour of receiving, a few days since, your letter of the 2d July last, and am happy to find that the differences of opinion which subsist between us on some particular points, have not prevented those favourable sentiments of general respect which ought to subsist between those whose only object is the investigation of truth. At the same time, I cannot but regret that the efforts I have made in my ‘Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici,’ to remove the opinions you entertain of his character, have failed of their effect; and this regret is increased by the reflection that this work was purposely intended to conciliate your favourable opinion, and to attract your powerful support to what I consider as the cause of truth. If, on any occasion, I have exceeded the limits of literary courtesy and respect, you will, I trust, do me the justice to attribute it to my earnestness to accomplish this purpose, and not to any feelings of an adverse nature towards one whose productions I so highly admire, and in whose sentiments, on almost all the great questions of human interest, I so fully concur. You will also, I hope, believe that, in making this effort, I was not influenced by any degree of literary competition, to which I know myself too well to pretend, or even by the defence of
my personal credit as a biographer, although that might, perhaps, have some weight with me; but, by an idea of the importance of vindicating an exalted character, in order to show that there is in fact something really good and estimable in human nature, and by a strong conviction of the injurious effects of reducing all men to one common level, and of imputing such blots and errors to the highest characters as wholly destroy their example, and lead us to doubt the very existence of virtue.

“With respect to your notes, intended for the new edition of your history, and of which you have done me the honour to transmit me a copy, I have only to observe, that they appear to me to have carried our debate to a sufficient length, and that I shall willingly leave it to the public to decide between us without a further reply. If I should deviate from this course, it will, I think, extend only to your last note, in which you have again endeavoured to show that Lorenzo de’ Medici maintained an usurped authority by bloody executions. * * * * * I might also, perhaps, complain of the conclusion of this note, where you declare you know not whether I have had blood enough to satisfy me; but I consider this as intended merely to give effect to the preceding representations; it being impossible you could either think that I thirsted for
blood, or expect that any of your readers could think so.

“In turning to more agreeable subjects, it is with great pleasure I can assure you that your excellent work on the Literature of the South of Europe, which has been translated into English by one of my sons, and lately published, has been very favourably received, and that a new edition is shortly expected.”