This text was taken from William Godwin: His Friends and Contemporaries, Vol. 2 by C. Kegan Paul. Henry S. King and Co., London, 1876.
Last Literary Labour. 1824 — 1832.
In the four years, 1824-28, Godwin published his "History of the Commonwealth of England." Once more his interest in his work had overpowered the paralysis of energy which so often attends the mere writing for bread, and the book produced is vigorous, able, and, on the whole, wonderfully correct Subsequent historians have had access to documents which Godwin never saw, but in the last volume, wholly devoted to Cromwell's life, he has given a portrait of that great man which deserves to stand by the side of that which Mr Carlyle has painted for the world. No one before him had so fathomed the character of that extraordinary man, who, as his historian says, having had to struggle against all parties, religious and political, which divided England, succeeded in subduing them all, while he raised the power of the nation to a degree unknown before his day.
It was the last of his greater works. The "Thoughts on Man." published in 1830, were essays already lying by him, and written during many previous years, and which required but slight revision. They contain his mature convictions on religion and philosophy, but, like his posthumous volume edited for his representatives in 1870, the difficulties discussed are not our difficulties, still less are the solutions our solutions.
His last two novels, "Cloudeslev" and "Deloraine," and "The Lives of the. Necromancers," call for slight mention. The great beauty of the English in which they are written is their chief merit, but they have no special interest now. When engaged in the "History of the Commonwealth," ^he applied to -Sir Walter.Srntt for information on some points of Cromwell's rule in Scotland, and received the following valuable letter :
Sir Walter Scott to William Godwin.
"Edinburgh, Nov. 22, 1824.
"Dear Sir,—I did not answer your letter of the 20th August, being prevented by something at the moment, and intending to do so whenever I should come to Edinburgh, for in the country I had little opportunity of procuring the information you wanted. I came here only on the 15 th of this month, and since that time we have been visited by a succession of the most tremendous fires with which this city has ever been afflicted. A very large portion of the Old Town of Edinburgh, the dwelling of our ancestors, is at present a heap of ruins. Everybody was obliged to turn out; the young to work, the old to give countenance and advice, and to secure temporary refuge and support to upwards of 200 families turned naked in many instances into the street: and I had my share of labour and anxiety. We are now, I thank God, in quiet again. Our princely library (that of the Advocates'), worth commercially at least half a million, but in reality invaluable as containing such a mass of matter to be found nowhere else, escaped with the utmost difficulty, and in consequence only of the most strenuous exertions. This will, I am sure, be an apology for my not writing sooner what I now have to say.
"Your letters are a little vague in respect to the precise nature of the information you require. In Thurlow's state papers you will find an accurate list of the Council of State by which Cromwell governed Scotland. But his well-disciplined army under Monk was the real force of his government, and they were exer we have less precise information. If, however, you will shape your enquiries more specifically respecting any points which interest you, I will be happy to make such researches as may enable me to answer them, or to say that I cannot do so. I made a scandalous blunder in my prosody sure enough, in doing honour to a deceased friend. I should have remembered I had been, excercised, as they would have termed it, by more than one insurrection, particularly that made first by Glencairn and afterwards by General Middleton, and by the constant though useless harassing manoeuvres of the cavaliers and discontented Scottish, forming a kind of guerillas termed mosstroopers, who seem to have existed in all the wilder districts, and to have carried on a war rather of a harassing than an effectual character. A person named Nichol kept a large and copious diary of the events of the period, which I caused to be transcribed some years since. The transcriber, I am sorry to say, was rather careless, in fact, a person to whom I had given the book more out of consideration to his wants than to his competence. If this transcript could be useful to you, I will with pleasure give you the use of it, begging only you will take care of it. It is voluminous and contains much trash (as diaries usually do,) but there are some curious articles of information which occur nowhere else. Some of the Diurnals of the Day also contain curious minutiae, but these you have in the Museum more complete than we. I picked up some weeks ago a contemporary account of the battles of Kilsyth and Philiphaugh. I am particularly interested in the last, as the scene lies near my abode and my own ancestor was engaged in it- at that time a keen covenanter. I am thinking of publishing, or rather printing, a few copies of these tracts, and, if you wish it, I will send you one. Brodie's Diary has also some interest, though stuffed with fanatical trumpery. The Lord, as he expresses himself, at length intimated to this staunch Presbyterian that he should, in conformity to the views of Providence for our Scottish Israel, embrace the cause of the Independent Cromwell, and he became one of our judges. His diary is very rare, but I have a copy, and could cause any extracts to be made which you want. I am not aware that our records could add much to the mass of information contained in Thurloe's collection, where there are many letters on the state of the country. The haughty and stubborn character of the Scottish people looked back on the period of Cromwell's domination with anger and humiliation, and they seem to have observed a sullen silence about its particular events. There is no period respecting which
'Long enamoured of a barbarous age,
A faithless truant to the classic page.'
Anything, however, is pardonable but want of candour, and my comfort is that of Miss Priscilla Tomboy, ' I am too old to be whipped.'- 1 am, dear sir, your most obedient servant,
And, as relating to the same work, though written in a later year, a letter of the elder D'Israeli here finds fitting place.
I. D'Israeli to William Godwin.
"6 Bloomsbury Square, July 12, 1828.
"Dear Sir,- It is with great pleasure I communicate to you the striking anecdote which confirms the notice you find in Voltaire of Cromwell, who, when Protector, would be addressed, much against Louis XIV.'s inclination, as 'brother' by the French monarch. At the same time I beg to repeat that I find in my note on this anecdote, a loose reference to Thurlow's papers, by which I infer that I must have read in Thurlow's collection something relative to the subject of your enquiry.
"The present anecdote is very circumstantial and of undoubted authority: Dr Sampson derived it from Judge Rookly, who was present at the delivery of the letter: I transcribe it literally from the Diary of Dr Sampson, Sloane MSS.
"'He was in the Banqueting House to receive the Duke of Crequi, as ambassador from the French king. Great was the state and crowd. The ambassador made his speech, and after all compliments, he delivered a letter into his hands which was superscribed: "To his most serene Highness Oliver, Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland." He looks wistfully at the letter, puts it in his pocket, turns away without speaking a word or reading it The ambassador was highly vexed at this, and as soon as he could meet with Secretary Thurlow, expostulates with him for the great affront and indignity offered to his master, so great a prince- asked him what he thought the cause might be. Thurlow answered, he thought the Protector might be displeased with the superscription of the letter. The Duke said he thought that it was according to form, and in terms as agreeable as could be. "But," says Thurlow, "the Protector expected he should have written to our dear Brother Oliver." It is' said the ambassador writing this over to France, the king replied, "Shall I call such a fellow my brotherV to which Cardinal Mazarin answered, "Aye, call him your father, if need be, if you would get from him what you desire." And so a letter was procured, having the desired superscription.'
"I need not assure you of the correctness of the transcript.- Believe me, very truly yours
After Godwin's complete failure, and the disastrous lawsuits, he resided for some years in the Strand, living almost I apart from society, and working hard at his books. A quiet rubber of whist in the evening, and an occasional visit to the theatres- to most of which he held free admissions- were almost his only relaxations. But though he went from home little, and did not entertain at all, it is pleasant to find, from entries in the Diary, that friends were constant in their visits. His books, though he could lay up from their proceeds but little for the future, yet brought in a modest competence. His only son, William, had married, and was earning his own livelihood. Mrs Shelley was constant in her attentions to her father, who took great delight in the society of his grandson. Godwin's few domestic letters are the record of these uneventful years.
William Godwin to Mrs Godwin.
"Gower Place, March 31, 1826
"I am afraid, my dear love, that you will be disappointed by this letter, for I have little to say. "Stoddart inserted W.'s critique upon Rembrandt upon Easter Monday and Tuesday, and gave him two guineas, with which he is satisfied. They then started other subjects, three miraculously fine pictures that have just been purchased from the Angerstein Gallery for 9000 gs., and four designs of Martin to illustrate Milton has this morning written, and is gone to carry to Stoddart, the first number of his critique, relating to a Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian. He made me go with him to Angerstein's yesterday, to look at the pictures. But all this is precarious, depending first on his industry, and secondly on fancy and vacancy in Stoddart to insert his paper.
"I own I have not genius enough to make a story of Percy's first play. He sat for the most part very silent and attentive; and when we came away in the middle of the afterpiece, asked why we could not stay longer. But there was nothing bravely obstreperous and ungovernable in his emotions and his will. We were joined at the play by Kenny and Sir Richard Phillips. Phillips, with flushed cheeks and ruddy health, telling us how completely he is ruined. He has left Brighton, and resides with his family in St. Paul's Churchyard.
"Jane behaves very well, and when I attempted to order my Thursday's dinner, told me what joint it should be, and how it should be dressed, to which, as in duty bound, I submitted." . . .
The Same to the Same.
"44 Gower Place, April 6, 1826.
My Dear Love,- You are very wrong in saying I do not want your society, and still more in supposing Mrs Shelley supplies the deficiency. I see her perhaps twice a week; but I feel myself alone ten times a day, and particularly at meals, and after meals, which are the periods at which, from nature or habit, I most feel the want of a human countenance to look at, and of a human voice with which to exchange the accents of kindness and sympathy. "William calls on me every day. He works for nobody but Stoddart He is now on Martin's designs for Milton, of which Septimus Prowet has requested him to accept a copy. But I do not buy the papers in which his articles appear. I never know of the papers till afterwards, and have no opportunity of procuring them.
"There have been no letters from Vienna, or Moscow, or anywhere else.
"We go on quietly here. I am in good health, and working. I asked Jane, previous to writing this letter, how she was, and she answers she is very well now. Everything is smooth; but I cannot take a frisk, as I used to do with another servant, and give a dinner to Kenney, or some other fooL Jane had a visit from Mrs Earner, who promises to bring her her things the week after next. She brought you two presents, a pint bottle of ketchup, and a gallipot of nasturtiums. . . .
"Do not, I intreat you, from any recollection of me, shorten your visit It is true, it is not good for man to be alone, and I feel it so. But I can summon philosophy to my aid, and can have consideration for some one beside myself; especially when one can take the consolation to oneself, this will soon be over." . . .
Fuseli, of whom Godwin had seen little or nothing for many years, died in April 1825, and Mr Knowles was writing his Biography. He applied to Godwin for aid, who could give him only slender information. It has been already seen how little Knowles attended to the request that Mary Wollstonecraft should be "very slightly mentioned, or not at all," and how little to be trusted is the mention of her in the "Life of Fuseli."
William Godwin to Mr Knowles.
"Sep. 28, 1826.
"Dear Sir,- I am sorry to say that my recollections of Mr Fuseli are very imperfect You knew much more of him in his latter years, and therefore, I doubt not, can recollect much more. I seldom saw him but in company, and consequently know much less of his systems of thinking and his habits. . . . The most remarkable thing that comes to my mind I had from my first wife, whom, by the way, I should wish, if you please, to be very slightly mentioned, or not at all. She told me that when he first came to England, his two deities were Homer and Rousseau. No other authors were worthy to be named with them. Homer retained his place to the last, but Rousseau, who was once placed on an equal column, was obliged, I suspect, afterwards to descend to a lower pedestal.
"You know, no doubt, his strange book on the character and writings of Rousseau, wild, scarcely English, and scarcely commonsense, yet with some striking things interspersed.
"He was the most frankly ingenuous and conceited man I ever knew. He could not bear to be eclipsed or put in the back-ground for a moment He scorned to be less than highest. He was an excellent hater; he hated a dull fellow, as men of wit and talents naturally do; and he hated a brilliant man, because he could not bear a brother near the throne. He once dined at my house with Curran, Grattan, and two or three men of that stamp ; and retiring suddenly to the drawing-room, told Mrs Godwin that he could not think why he was invited to meet such wretched company." . . .
A domestic letter of this year contains a paragraph in Godwin's old introspective manner, and gives evidence of the philosophic calm he was still able to maintain, despite of troubles.
William Godwin to Mrs Shelley.
"Oct. 9, 1827.
"... How differently are you and I organized! In my seventy-second year I am all cheerfulness, and never anticipate the evil day with distressing feelings till to do so is absolutely unavoidable. Would to God you were my daughter in all but my poverty! But I am afraid you are a Wollstonecraft. We are so curiously made that one atom put in the wrong place in our original structure will often make us unhappy for life. But my present cheerfulness is greatly owing to 'Cromwell,' and the nature of my occupation, which gives me an object omnium horarum, a stream for ever running and for ever new.
"May blessings shower on you as fast as the perpendicular rain at this moment falls by my window! prays your affectionate father,
William Godwin to Mrs Godwin
"Hastings, June, 1828.
"Here I am at Hastings, and here I have been the better part of two days. At twelve at noon, however, on Wednesday I was compelled to doubt whether I should have ever been here at all. In coming down a hill, one mile on this side Sevenoaks, one of the horses nearest the carriage set up a desperate kicking, and broke the splinter bar in two, and we were detained above an hour, while we sent to Sevenoaks for a mechanic to come and repair it as well as he could.
"This loss, however, of an hour, or an hour and a half, decided the before doubtful question that I must take something by way of dinner on the road, if I intended to have any. We stopped for that purpose at Tunbridge Wells, which place I once visited before, in the year 1773, fifty-five years ago.
"I found the little trio of this family looking out for me, and we speedily sat down to a comfortable dish of tea at No. 6 Meadow.
"Mary yesterday received here her first letter from Trelawney, who desires her to come to town immediately; but she has written an answer, telling him he must come here. How the contest will end I know not. . . .
"I see but little comparatively to admire here, though we have the finest weather in the world. The shore is at best but the counterpart of Bognor, which had the advantage with me of coming first, about fifteen years ago, when I visited Mr Hayley and the Isle of Wight, and when I sojourned one night at Bognor, when the harvest moon was at full, and I sat viewing it quivering on the sea at twelve o'clock at night, with all the best company of the place.
"Mary desires me to give her best love to you, and to express her earnest wishes that the travellers may arrive safe.
"How is Anne Burroughes? How is her mistress? Dead, I am afraid, with fatigue and cares"
William Godwin to Washington Irving.
"My Dear Sir.- It is seven years- I am afraid I might say nine- since I had the pleasure to see you. In that period I have gone through many vicissitudes. In the spring of 1825 I was a bankrupt. That event was three years in concoction before it came to maturity, and I passed through considerable wretchedness. In the interval I heard of your being in London, and wished much for the pleasure of seeing you. But I said:
'He, like the world, his ready visit pays
Where fortunes smiles : the wretched he forsakes.'
"I was, however, wrong. Your visit to the capital of England was, I believe, remarkably short. Since my bankruptcy my life has been comparatively tranquil. I reside here in an obscure nook, and preserve my health and, I believe, my intellects entire.
.... Now, at seventy-three years of age, I have had the audacity to undertake another novel Mr Colburn has purchased from me the right of publishing it in England. But I am informed that where an author has a name in odour with the public, something may be made of pecuniary advantage, by contriving that his work should be published at the same time in America. .... Might I presume on your good-will, so far as to request that you would have the goodness to suggest to me any mode that your experience might point out to you, by which this advantage might be secured. .... I remain, etc.
Washington Irving to William Godwin.
"3 Chandos St., Cavendish Sq., Oct. 14, 1829.
"My Dear Sir.- I have just received your note of the 12th inst., and read with great concern the gloomy account it gives of the troubles and vicissitudes through which you have passed. The reverse in your circumstances, my dear sir, can have no other effect on me than to awaken a deeper interest in your welfare, and a stronger desire to be of service to you. Any aid that I can render in promoting the publication of your proposed work in America, you may command to the utmost. I rejoice to find that you are about to come forth again in that department of literature in which you first delighted me, and in which you have been so eminently successful. I see nothing of audacity in the undertaking. Recollect the age of Chaucer when he wrote his immortal tales. If you can furnish me with a manuscript copy of the earlier part of the work, and supply the subsequent part in sheets as struck off, so as to give some bookseller in America the decided start of his competitors, I think it highly probable I can get something for it to repay you for your trouble. A novel is a kind of work that the booksellers now always bid for the most eagerly, and the fame of your former productions in this line will ensure an offer. If the MS. or printed sheets are sent under cover to me from time to time, as they are ready, at the American Legation, I will forward them with the despatches, free of expense, and I have a literary agent in America who will negociate with the booksellers to the best advantage, free of charge, so that the experiment will cost you nothing. I would have called immediately on you to talk over this matter, but at this moment I am not as formerly my own master, and am in all the bustle of official arrangements, eta The moment I can command a little leisure I will call on you, and I am sure that, in the interim, you will attribute the delay of my visit to the right cause.
"With kind remembrances to Mrs Godwin, I am, dear sir, very faithfully yours,
One new acquaintance was made in 1830, the last of the long series of younger friends. This was Edward Bulwer, known better to this generation. as the late Lord Lytton, who came in the vigour of his youthful power and growing fame to sit at the feet of the writer of " Caleb Williams." He was introduced to Godwin by Lady Caroline Lamb in the following letter:
Lady C. Lamb to William Godwin.
"My Dear Sir,- My brother, William Ponsonby, is so much delighted with the two books you left with me, and I am so enchanted with the letter of advice to the young American, that we both request you to send us a list of all your publications for the use of young people. Send also to S. James' Square, Hon. William Ponsonby,' The Advice to the American,' 'A Roman History,' and ' The Pantheon.' I forget my brother's number, but it is next door to the Duke of St. Alban's.
"Mr Bulwer Lytton, a very young man and an enthusiast, wishes to be introduced to you. He is taking his degree at Cambridge; on his return pray let me make him acquainted with you. I shall claim your promise of coming to Brocket; would your daughter or son accompany you? Hobhouse came to me last night; how strange it is I love Lord Byron so much now in my old age, in despite of all he is said to have said, that I also love Hobhouse because he so warmly takes his part. Pray write to me, for you see your advice has had some effect. I have been studying your little books with an ardour and a pleasure which would surprise you. There is a brevity which suits my want of attention, a depth of thought which catches at once, and does not puzzle my understanding, a simplicity and kindness which captivates and arouses every good feeling, and a clearness which assists those who are deficient, as I am, in memory. I am delighted. So are my brothers; the few men who are about me are all eager to get your books; but what has vexed me is that the two children and four young women to whom I endeavoured to read them, did not choose to attend. How I like the beautiful little preface to the ' History of Rome;' oh, that I were twelve! quite good and quite well, to be your pupil.
'I'd drudge like Selden day and night,
And in the endless labour die.'
"After all, what is the use of anything here below, but to be enlightened, and to try to make others happy? From this day I will endeavour to conquer all my violence, all my passions; but you are destined to be my master. The only thing that checks my ardour is this: "For what purpose, for whom should I endeavour to grow wise?
"What is the use of anything? What is the end of life? When we die, what difference is there here, between a black beetle and me?
"Oh, that I might, with the feelings I yet possess, without one vain, one ambitious motive, at least feel that I was in the way of truth, and that I was of use to others.
"The only thoughts that ever can make me lose my senses are these:
"A want of knowledge as to what is really true.
"A certainty that I am useless.
"A fear that I am worthless.
"A belief that all is vanity and vexation of spirit, and that there is nothing new under the sun.
"The only prayer I ever say beside the sinner's, and the only life I shall ever leave written by myself of myself is, that I have done those things which I ought not to have done, and have left undone those that I ought to have done. C. L." The correspondence with Mr Bulvver requires no elucidation, but a remarkable paper in Godwin's writing seems to throw some light on one of the intellectual consequences of this intimacy.
Godwin had intended to write a romance on the story of "Eugene Aram," and drew up the following notes on the subject. They are undated, but from the character of the writing, the correspondence of paper on which they are written with that Godwin was then using, and the packet in which it was folded, it is evident that they belong to the years 1828-30.
"Petition to the King on behalf of Eugene Aram, never presented.
Born, ..... 1704
Newby, . . - . 1717-18.
Belles Lettres, . . . 1721.
Keeps School at Netherdale. Marries.
Knaresborough. Hebrew, Latin and Greek, 1732.
London, .... 1744
Botany, Arabic, Celtic.
Clark murdered, . . . Feb. 1745.
Apprehended, . . . . 1758.
Tried, .... Aug. 3, 1759.
Confesses, . . . Aug 4.
Grand Magazine, Vol. III., 85-6.
Newgate Calendar, Annual Register.
Netherdale, Shelton near Newby.
Rippon, Newby, Knaresborough.
Letter in Grand Magazine written after conviction.
"Let there be an Act of FL that, after a lapse of ten years, whoever shall be found to have spent that period blamelessly, and in labours conducive to the welfare of mankind, shall be absolved.
"No man shall die respecting whom it can reasonably be concluded that if his life were spared, it would be spent blamelessly, honourably, and usefully.
"Aram, schoolmaster: Clark, shoemaker: Houseman, flaxdresser: Terry, publican- Clark, just married- Aram's confession not authenticated. G. M., 1759, Aug.- Houseman burned in effigy, ditto- execution, ditto- had divided the blood vessels of his left arm, could not support the weight of his body to the place. York newspaper.
"Cut the veins of his arm a little above the elbow and the wrist, but missed the artery. Pub. adv Trial, Friday, Aug. 3. Execution, Aug. 8-14: last week a riot. Public adver.
"Languages: Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, Celtic, with dialects, i.e., Irish, Welch. French, Mathematics, Heraldry, Botany."
These notes are in form and arrangement precisely like the drafts which Godwin made and left behind him of other books, both those which were afterwards completed, and others only planned. And it is more than probable that, finding how unlikely it became that he should himself write the Romance he had projected, he gave his subject and material to his younger and more vigorous friend. It seems clear that Lord Lytton, in his earlier style, isL the direct intellectual descendant of the writer of "Caleb Williams" and "St. Leon."
E. L. Bulwer to William Godwin.
"April I, 1830.
"My Dear Sir,- In an article in the N. M. Magazine, called the 'Lounger,' you will see the few observations I have made on your book. My desire was, not to praise it, so much as to tempt others to read it. I should have said much more, had I not heard there was to be a review by some other person in the same number. I perceive that there is one. You will forgive the frankness with which I have said I differ from you on some points, and you will smile at the freedom with which-the disciple of one school talks of the 'errors' of the master of another. "I am happy to hear on all sides the praises and increasing popularity of your book, 'Cloudesley.' Bentley told me it was selling surprisingly well, and I hear in another quarter that the sale has already far surpassed that of ' Mandeville.'
"I trust you will find all this true, and with great respect and increased admiration, believe me, my dear Sir, very sincerely yours,
"E. L. Bulwer."
William Godwin to E. L. Bulwer.
"May 13, 1830.
"I have this moment finished the perusal of' Paul Clifford.' I know that you are not so wrapped up in self-confidence as not to feel a real pleasure in the approbation of others. And I regard it as a duty not to withhold my approbation when I am morally certain that it will be received as it is intended. "There are parts of the book that I read with transport. There are many parts so divinely written that my first impulse was to throw my implements of writing in the fire, and to wish that I could consign all that I have published in the province of fiction to the same pyre. But this would be a useless sacrifice: and superior as I feel you to be in whatever kindles the finest emotions of the heart, I may yet preserve my peace, so far as relates to the mechanism of a story. This is but little, and does not satisfy my self-love, but I am capable of a sentiment that teaches me to rejoice in the triumph of others, without subjecting me to the mean and painful drawback of envy.
"I am bound to add that the penetration and acuteness you display are not inferior to the delicacy."
E. L. Bulwer to William Godwin.
"Hertford St., May 25, 1830.
"My Dear Mr Godwin,- You must know that I am too glad to go with you, not to take your day and hour, and too desirous to encourage you to wish for a second excursion, not to desire that at least the day and hour you select should be exactly to your own inclination. I am going this week to search for a small lodging in the country, as an occasional retirement, and I think the best plan will be that I should first find one, and then you and I should go down there for a day, and return in the evening. This we may do next week, when I will write to you again.- Believe me most truly and respectfully yours,
E. L. Bulwer."
William Godwin to E. L. Bulwer.
"Sep. 16, 1830.
"My Dear Sir,- I remember a recorded speech of Lord Chatham at the appointment of the Rockingham administration in 1765, in which he says, 'Confidence is a plant of slow growth in aged bosoms.' Allow me to apply that maxim to myself. "I have known you but a short time. I know you as the author of' Pelham,' a man of eminent talents, and devoted, as it seemed to me, to the habits of high life. I heard from your lips occasionally high sentiments of philosophy and philanthropy. I was to determine as I could which of these two features formed the basis of your character.
"I now avow myself your convert. Your advertisement in this morning's paper is a pledge for your future character. You have passed the Rubicon. You must go forward, or you must go back for ever disgraced. I know your abilities, and I therefore augur a career of rectitude and honour. "With respect to the acquaintance I shall have with you, I can dispense with that. If in these portentous times you engage yourself with your powers of mind for the real interests of mankind, that is everything. I am but the dust of the balance.
"And yet, shall I own? The slowness you manifested in cultivating my acquaintance was one of the circumstances that weighed with me to your disadvantage. But I am nothing. Run the race you chalk out for yourself in this paper of yours, and I am more than satisfied. "Allow me, however, to add something in allusion to our last conversation. It must be of the highest importance to an eminent character which side he embraces in the great question of self-love and benevolence. I tolerate and talk, and think with much goodhumour towards the man who embraces the wrong side here, as I tolerate a Calvinist or a Jew. But in the public cause he labours with a mill-stone about his neck. No, not exactly that; but he is like a swimmer who has the use only of his left hand. Inexpressibly must he be disadvantaged in the career of virtue who adheres to a creed which tells him, if there be meaning in words, that there is no such thing as virtue."
E. L. Bulwer to William Godwin.
"Bognor, Sep. 17, 1830.
"My Dear Sir,- I am greatly obliged and pleased by your letter, and I am unexpectedly rejoiced that my address to the people of Southwark should produce one effect- an increase of your good opinion. You surprise and grieve me, however, by thinking so ill of my judgment as to imagine me slow in seeking your acquaintance. The fact is, that you a little misconceive my character. I am in ordinary life so very reserved and domiciliated a person, that to court anybody's good opinion as I have done yours is an event in my usual quietude of habit.
"With respect to the Utilitarian- not 'self-love' system of morals, all I can say is that I am convinced, if I commit a blunder it is in words, not things. I understand by the system that Benevolence may be made a passion, that it is the rule and square of all morality; that virtue loses not one atom of its value, or one charm from its loveliness. If I err, I repeat, it is in words only. But my doctrine is not very bigotedly embraced. And your essay has in two points let a little scepticism into a rent in my devotion.
"My advice, or rather opinion, such as it may be, is always most heartily at your service, and you will flatter and gratify me by any desire for it.
"I am living here very quietly: and doing, what think you? writing poetry. After that, it may be superfluous to tell you that Bognor is much resorted to by insane people.- Ever and most truly yours,
E. Lytton Bulwer."
The following letters refer to the novel of "Deloraine" and the "Lives of the Necromancers," and are inserted, not only as giving a touching picture of the old philosopher, but a no less touching one of -Walter Scott at his own herculean task, yet steering up-hillward with all his old heart and hope.
William Godtwin to Mrs Shelley.
"July 22, 1830.
"As you mean to quit Southend this day seven-night, I do not think it likely that I shall avail myself of your kind invitation, though I am deeply sensible of the obligation I owe you in it, since by giving it you shew your indulgence to a decrepit, superannuated old fellow, while you are good enough to praise things to yourself in false colours, and convert what would really be a pain into the image and superscription of a pleasure.
"I called yesterday on Bentley, and found him, as usual, not at home. I left a note, saying that I will call again on Saturday, whether to see him or not I know not . I am miserable under the weight of this uncertainty, feeling myself able and willing to do everything, and do it well, and nobody disposed to give me the requisite encouragement. If I can agree with these tyrants in Burlington Street for £300, £400, or £500 for a novel, and to be subsisted by them while I write it, I probably shall not starve for a fortnight to come. But they will take no step to bring the thing to a point, and I may go thither one, two, or three times, and catch them if I can. I have no contention with them which is the nobler party, they or I; but this dancing attendance wears my spirits and destroys my tranquillity. 'Hands have I, but I handle not: I have feet, but I walk not: neither is there any breath in my nostrils.' Meanwhile my life wears away, and 'there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither I go." But indeed I am wrong in talking of that; for I write now, not for marble to be placed on my remains, but for bread to put into my mouth. In that sense, therefore, every day of which they rob me is of moment, since every day brings its cravings to be supplied.'"
William Godwin to Sir Walter Scott.
"Feb. 17, 1831.
"My Dear Sir.- I have never experienced anything from you but the greatest kindness, on the few occasions in which I have been so fortunate as to be thrown into your society, or have taken the liberty to obtrude myself on your attention. This is the reason of the trouble I am now giving. .... "In fourteen days from the date of this letter, I shall have completed the 75th year of my age. Before the expiration of those fourteen days a volume will have been published of my writing, entitled 'Thoughts on Man, etc.,' which, if I am not mistaken, will display the marks of as youthful and energetic a mind as were ever to be found in the books I have written, in what are called the full vigour of my life and constitution. I am, however, the prodigal who so often serves to point the moral of a tale. I have spent what I had, and have nothing left.
"Meantime I am conscious (if I do not greatly deceive myself) of powers undecayed, which I am most anxious to apply to the support of my life, and the procuring those slender comforts to which I have been accustomed. But the trade, or the disposition of the booksellers in London, is in such a state as to afford me nothing but discouragement...
"It is commonly said at present that the cabinet libraries and miscellanies, which are now publishing by several of our booksellers, swallow up for the time the literature in which they might otherwise be disposed to engage. It has been my habit to work for myself, and stand by myself. But at the present moment I doubted of my right to be difficult, and therefore I have given way in this point. I made a proposal to Dr Lardner, but after two or three conferences he frankly informed me that he and his partner had engaged with a sufficient number of persons of great name, namely yourself, and Messrs Mackintosh, Moore, Southey, and Campbell, to fix on their publication a desirable character, and that they had resolved that the rest of their work should be executed by persons of inferior importance, to whom they should give lower prices than that to which I should be justly entitled. I applied to Mr Murray. I saw Mr Lockhart for that purpose, and disclosed to him the plan of a volume for the Family Library, of which he greatly approved, and told me he did not doubt it would be joyfully accepted. But after a lapse of two or three days he wrote me a note to say that Mr Murray had declined it. I wrote to Mr Cadell of Edinburgh, from whom I received a most courteous answer, but informing me that his whole means were engaged for five years to come, and that he had only been able to strain a point further for a novel by the author of 'Marriage,' and another novel by a popular author. Thus, my dear sir, with powers perhaps unimpaired, and a will to exert them, I find myself likely to be laid on the shelf, as a person whose name has been long enough before the public.
"The volume I proposed to Murray through Mr Lockhart, was to be entitled, 'Lives of the Necromancers, or an Account of the most Eminent Persons who have claimed for themselves, or to whom has been imputed by others, the Exercise of Magical Powers.' I can scarcely expect you to believe me, though it is true, that I had chosen this subject without any knowledge of your letters on 'Demonology,' which, however, appeared before my proposal was actually made. I conceived, however, that there would still be room for my volume, the object of which was to trace the subject biographically, and to endeavour to ascertain by what steps Roger Bacon, Cornelius Agrippa, and a multitude of other eminent men came to be seduced into the profession of magic, or to have magical power imputed to them.
"And now, my dear sir, for the express purpose of this letter. The temper of the times, or the state of commerce, seems to render any direct application unavailing. My magic rod, if ever I had one, is grown powerless with the new-sprung speculators in literary produce; but yours is in all its energy. Would you undertake the generous task to endeavour to prevail with Mr Cadell, or with any other person, to afford me sufficient encouragement to sit ilown to the novel I have hinted at, to the volume I have described, or to any other work to which I might feel myself adequate. . . . You will not, I think, refuse your sympathy to a person no longer active in his limbs, but who believes himself to be in the full vigour of his understanding. . . : I have a wife: I need the little house I live in to hold my books, and my literary accommodations; I cannot live thus, considerably under £300 a year. My labour perhaps might be worthy of that reward, and with that I would be content.
"I am, etc., W. Godwin."
Sir Walter Scott to William Godwin.
"Abbotsford, Feb. 24, 1831.
"My Dear Sir,- I received your letter, which is a melancholy one, and I heartily wish it were in my power to answer it as I might formerly have done. But you know that were I to apply to any bookseller unconnected with myself to take a work in which he did not see his immediate profit- and, if he did, my intervention would be useless- he would naturally expect me in some way or other to become bound to make up the risk. Now, I have no dealings with any except Cadell, nor can I have, as he has engaged great part of his fortune in my publication. By the great bankruptcy of Constable in Edinburgh, and Hurst and Robinson in London, some years ago, I lost, I need hardly say, more than all I was worth. I might have taken a commission of bankruptcy, or I might by the assistance of my son and other wealthy friends have made a very easy composition. I always, however, thought commercial honour was to be preserved as unsullied as personal, and I resolved to clear off my debt, being upwards of,£100,000, part of it borrowed from me when the principal parties knew bankruptcy was staring them in the face. I therefore resolved to pay my debts in full, or to die a martyr to good faith. I have succeeded-to a large extent, more than half of the whole, and I have current stock enough as will in two or three years be realized, which will cover the whole. But in the meantime I cannot call any part of a very considerable income my own, or transfer it to any purpose, however meritorious, save that which it is allocated to pay. Now, you will see that I can neither involve Cadell by making requests to him in other gentlemen's behalf, nor interfere in literary speculations where I have nothing to engage me but my sincere good-will to the author. It is therefore I fear out of my power to serve you in the way you propose. As the sapient Nestor Partridge says, JVon sum qualis eram.
"Still, however, I have an easy income, and will willingly join in any subscription to cover the expense of publication of any work, not religious or political, which you choose to undertake. Suppose the price a guinea, I mean I would subscribe for ten copies, for which I should hold one sufficient. If a hundred, or even fifty gentlemen would subscribe in the same proportion only to the merit of their own means, the urgency of the occasion would be in some degree met. I cannot be further useful, for till a month or two ago I had not a silver spoon which I could call my own, or a book of my own to read out of a pretty good library, which is now my own once more by the voluntary relinquishment of the parties concerned. I have been thus particular in this matter, though not the most pleasant to write about, because I wish you to understand distinctly the circumstances which leave me not at liberty to engage in this matter to the extent you wish.
"I am, my dear sir, your very obedient, humble servant,
Jeremy Bentham died in 1832, and Godwin applied to Mrs Gisborne, formerly Mrs Reveley, for her early recollections of the philosopher. It does not appear what use he intended to make of them; he could scarcely, at his advanced age, have contemplated writing a memoir. Mrs Gisborne's narrative, though long, is too curious a bit of old biography and history to be omitted. An interesting account of the intended Panopticon, the scheme of which was in a degree carried out at Millbank, is to be found in Captain Griffith's "Memorials of Millbank."
"I do not remember precisely how long Mr Bentham remained at Constantinople. I think, certainly, not more than two months. He was a very constant visitor at my father's house; but he resided, I think, with a Mr Humphries, an English resident merchant. There were no inns or lodging-houses in the city at that time. He was particularly fond of music, and used to take great delight in accompanying me on the violin. I well remember that he used to say that I was the only female he had ever met with who could keep time in playing, and that music without time was to him unbearable.
We went through together some pieces of Schobert, Schuster, Sterkel, Eichner, and of other composers most in vogue at that time, all of which he played at sight and with care. He seemed to take great pleasure in my society, though I certainly never received from him any particular mark of attention, which might not have been equally shown to one of his sex. Indeed, not the slightest idea of any particular partiality, on his part, ever came across my mind. He was then about 37 years of age, but he did not look so old. I have also impressed in my memory that I obtained his commendation for my preference of works in prose to those of poetry, the reading of which he asserted to be a great misapplication of time.
"I imagine that at that period he was seldom excited to bring forward or discuss any of those subjects to which he so wholly and o successfully devoted himself.
"Had any conversations of that nature taken place in my presence, all traces of the purport of them would most assuredly, even at this time, not have been obliterated from my memory.
"I cannot positively assert that he brought a letter of recommendation .to my father; but I know that he performed the voyage (from Smyrna at least) in company with a Mr Henderson, who presented himself to us with a letter from a Mr Lee, an English resident merchant at Smyrna, and a particular friend of my father's.
"Two young girls, under twenty years of age, accompanied this Mr Henderson, who was a very serious man, and very plausible in his manner. They were introduced as sisters, and his nieces. These ladies, however, were not mentioned in Mr Lee's letter, a circumstance not noticed at the time.
"The elder had, to a certain degree, the manner of a lady; but those of the younger- and her appearance coincided- were by no means superior to what might be expected from a poor farmer's daughter. Mr Bentham, as I have before said, was our constant visitor, and at our house he frequently met the Hendersons. I soon perceived a strong dislike, on the part of these females, towards Mr Bentham. They took every opportunity of making unpleasant observations both on his character and manners. They did their utmost to disparage him in every respect. I was certainly in no way prejudiced against him by these insidious attacks- on the contrary, they occasioned me considerable displeasure.
"The object of his detractors was manifestly to make him appear absurd, ill-natured, mean.
"How far he succeeded in neutralizing the unfavourable impressions made against him by these slanderous tongues, I cannot tell - in that respect my memory fails me; but I know, that to the last, he continued to stand high, both in the opinion of my father, and in that of all our common friends.
"It was not long before that period that the Turkish Sultan, Abdul Hamid, and his inefficient and shortsighted ministers, had been wheedled out of their possession of the Crimea by the 'finesse' and eloquence of the able Russian minister at the Porte, Mom, de Bulgakow.
"The Empress Catherine, most eager to promote the successful colonisation of her newly-acquired territory, had invited a horde of adventurers of all nations, but chiefly Italians, to transfer themselves thither.
"Among others, Henderson was also enlisted in the service. He had engaged, together with his nieces, to establish a dairy in the English style. It occurs to me now for the first time that he might have been brought forward on that occasion under the auspices of Mr Bentham's brother, who was then, I believe, in the Russian military service. But this is only conjecture. When I last saw Mr Bentham, however, he told me that the undertaking had turned out badly, and that Henderson had behaved very ill.
"When the time arrived for the departure of these people for the Crimea, the vessel in which they were to embark happened to lie at a considerable distance from the spot where they were dwelling, the suburb of Pera.
"It was determined they should transfer themselves to it by a short land, rather than by the more circuitous trip by sea, along the Bosphorus.
"A carriage was hired (a most uncouth vehicle, but the only one which the city afforded). In this they proceeded to the place of embarkation, escorted by my father and myself, with a servant on horseback.
"The wife, the owner of a trading vessel, who had formerly been in my father's service, had been living, for some years, under our roof- ostensibly- to supply towards me the care and attention of a mother.
"At the period of Mr Bentham's presence in Constantinople, the husband of the person, having returned from one of his voyages, was also our inmate.
"On the day of our absence with the Hendersons, Mr Bentham paid his usual visit at our house, and was received by this captain and Mrs Newman. In the course of conversation, Mr Bentham (who considered that the Hendersons had now taken their final departure from Constantinople, and felt himself in con
sequence no longer bound to keep their secrets) divulged that the elder niece was no other than Henderson's mistress, and that the younger was an ignorant country girl, merely hired as a servant.
"Their surprise was naturally very great, much greater I believe than mine would have been; for I had already detected a want of concordance in what they separately told me at different times, which I could not account for, but which I by no -means liked.
"We did not return home till late in the evening. We were received at the door by the captain, who could not contain his laughter, and was in a hurry to attack my father about his extraordinary civility, and, as it now appeared, his ludicrous knighterrantry.
"My father felt ashamed at having been so easily taken in by these ignorant impostors; but he consoled himself with the idea that he had not been their only dupe, since Sir Robert Ainslie, our British Ambassador (following my father's example, I fear), had formally invited them to a dinner-party. Their awkwardness and want of ease, which they could not modify to this sudden emergency, were sufficiently manifest; but it was attributed to English timidity and bashfulness.
"But the 'nodo ' of this comic drama is still to be developed; poor Bentham had made his disclosures most prematurely- our friends were not gone, they had in fact returned with us (some impediment had occurred with regard to the sailing of the vessel which appeared likely to occasion a long delay), and we had to increase the captain's mirth by declaring that they were even at that moment again safely housed in their former lodging. The situation of these people during the remainder of their stay at Constantinople after this little eclarcissement was, of course, a very mortifying one. My father had to endure his share also, in the laughter of Mr Humphries, and that of his other friends who would not lose so fair an opportunity of amusing themselves at his expense. We did not see Mr Bentham till the following day, when he seemed rather confounded by the unlucky denouement of the affair.
"I have said that there were no lodging-houses at Constantinople but I remember that the Hendersons were put in possession of an empty house, in which a few articles of furniture had been put, just sufficient to serve their immediate necessities.
"I am now come to the renewal of my acquaintance with Mr Bentham in the year 1790. It happened through his application to Mr Reveley to assist him in the architectural development of his plans for a 'Panopticon' At first he paid us short visits, merely by furnishing Mr Reveley from time to time with the necessary instructions for making out his plans; but the ingenuity of the latter enabling him to raise objections, and to suggest various improvements in the details, Mr Bentham gradually found it necessary to devote more and more time to the affair, so that at length he frequently passed the entire morning at our house, and not to lose time he brought his papers with him, and occupied himself in writing. It was on this occasion that observing how much time he lost through the confusion resulting from a want of order in the management of his papers, I offered my services in classing and numbering them, which he willingly accepted, and I had thereby the pleasure of supplying him with any part of his writings at a moment's notice. Judging from the manner in which he appreciated my assistance, I am inclined to think that this kind of facilitation had never before been afforded him. I then proposed to him that in order to give still more time for the despatch of his business, he should take his breakfast with us. He readily consented to my proposal, but upon the condition that I would allow him a separate teapot, that he might prepare his tea, he said, in his own way. He chose such a teapot as would contain all the water that was necessary, which was poured in upon the tea at once. He said that he could not endure the usual mode of proceeding which produced the first cup of tea strong and the others gradually decreasing in strength, till the last cup became little better than hot water. Teamaking, like many other things (particularly the dimensions of the cups), is perhaps greatly improved since that time. I was even then so well convinced of the advantage of his method that I have pursued it ever since, more or less modified, according to circumstances.
"During this intercourse, Mr Reveley once received a note from Mr Bentham, written in an angry tone; this was owing to the former havingused some incautious and perhaps improper expression in writing to some one concerned in the affair of the Panopticon. It might have been the engraver, though I can scarcely admit the possibility of that surmise. Mr Reveley knew himself to be perfectly innocent of any intentional rudeness or impropriety, he therefore felt himself much hurt at the severity of Mr Bentham's reproof. I can recollect but these very few words of Mr Bentham's note- ' I suppose you have left your orders too with Mr . . .' (naming a lawyer or barrister employed by Mr Bentham, who was residing in Red Lion Square). In fact, Mr Reveley, though a young man of superior talent, was at that time little accustomed to writing; he was also perhaps not sufficiently attentive to the established forms of society. It is therefore by no means improbable that he might have committed some mistake in the use of language. It occurs to me, also, that there might have been previously some slight degree of dormant displeasure in the mind of Mr Bentham against Mr Reveley, excited perhaps by an habitual, though very innocent levity on the part of the latter, who was too apt to make jokes in order to excite a laugh, even on subjects which demanded serious attention. When we were alone, Mr Bentham's Panopticon did not altogether escape, and I can easily imagine that his penetrating glance may have caught a glimpse of this misplaced mirth. But of this, if it was so, he never took the slightest notice. I think that this little misunderstanding took place when the business between them was nearly brought to a conclusion, and it is most pleasing to observe that it did not prevent Mr Bentham from doing justice to Mr Reveley's ability in his printed report or description of the Panopticon.
"I can also recollect that the sum which the latter received as a remuneration for his trouble was £10 - Mr Reveley's first professional emolument.
"After this event I never saw Mr Bentham again till my interview with him in April last. His views with regard to the Panopticon were baffled, and he had no longer occasion for architectural assistance.
"My situation was also changed. I was no longer in the enjoyment of that state of ease and quiet in which he found me five years before when he first visited my father's house.
"Still under twenty years of age, I was already the mother of two children and was called upon to bear my part in a very severe struggle. Our income was but £140 per annum, and the increase brought in by Mr Reveley's business was for several years very slender and uncertain. With these inadequate resources, from the necessity of maintaining if possible our useful connections, we had to make a genteel appearance; this we effected not without considerable difficulty, and by means of constant exertion. A person in such a situation must make great sacrifices and submit to much self-denial. My mind was concentrated in the continual efforts which my new situation required.
"I lost sight of the inestimable Bentham, at least I lost sight of him personally; but still the sentiment- that strong perception of the superior worth which I had imbibed in my first acquaintance with him- was continually strengthened by my own spontaneous reflections and by the accounts which were given to me from time to time of his steady and heroic devotion to the great cause of truth, humanity, and justice. It was delightful to me to hear his praises from the mouths of all those whom I most looked up to as philanthropists and philosophers."
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