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STROKE OF PARALYSIS.
259 no other of his works, except perhaps ‘Political Justice,' did he give himself up so thoroughly. Not a day passes without a record of pages written and rewritten, with minute and scrupulous care.
It was by no means the last of his works, but those which followed were written with diminished power. For while writing it, came the first warning of seriously failing health. On 25th Nov. 1818 he had a slight stroke of paralysis, so slight that it in no degree interfered with his usual course of life, and he dined out the very next day, But there are records afterwards of numbness, now in this, now in that limb, and from time to time the significant entry, that he felt quite well for so many days, showing clearly that the prevailing sensation was one of somewhat failing bodily powers.
The following letter to Mrs Godwin reflects his state of mind with great vividness, and shows the store he set by this work :
William Godwin to Mrs Godwin [at Southend).
“ Aug. 31, 1819. ...“ I never was so deep in anything as I am now in Malthus, and it is curious to see how my spirits fluctuate accordingly. When I engage in a calculation, I cannot pursue it for an hour without being sick to the lowest ebb. I told you in my last that I have employed William and Rosser. I wrote to Booth for a calculation early on Tuesday last, entreating him to let me have it by the first post on Wednesday, that I might not be prevented from getting on. As usual, I heard nothing of him on Wednesday, nor till Thursday dinner, when he dropped in to my mutton. I was, therefore, miserable. On Friday I made an important discovery and I was happy. The weather has since changed, and you know how that affects me. I was nervous and peevish on Saturday to a degree that almost alarmed me. On Sunday I was in heaven. I think I
shall make a chapter expressly on the geometrical ratio that will delight my friends and astonish the foe. To-day I woke as usual between five and six, and my mind necessarily turned on my work. It was so fruitful that I felt compelled to come down stairs for pen and ink, which I made use of in bed. I invented what I believe are two fine passages, and minuted them down. But the consequence is, there my day's work ends. I rose in a little fever.
“I did not intend to tell you all this, and I am afraid of your not reading it in the spirit of sympathy. But this way of life is my destination, and I must pursue it. I think it will preserve my faculties and lengthen my existence. But if it does exactly the contrary, I care not. What matters what becomes of this miserable carcase, if I can live for ever in true usefulness? And this must be the case in the present instance : for whatever becomes of my individual book, if I am right the system of Malthus can never rise again, and the world is delivered for ever from this accursed apology in favour of vice and misery, of hard-heartedness and oppression.
“Why, to borrow your own words, do I talk so much of myself? Because I have nothing else to think about?”.
The answer to Malthus was published by Longmans, on Nov. 25th, 1820. But it was published for the author, and as will be seen by a subsequent letter to Mrs Shelley, failed to realize in any degree the sum on which the writer had counted.
NEW FRIENDS AND NEW TROUBLES. 1819-1824.
ONCE more the pages of the Diary are thickly studded with the records of death. One whose acquaintance had been so varied and so numerous, presented a large band of friends to the attacks of the great divider. But the stoical calm after which Godwin had ever striven, deprives these records of anything like lament, or the pathos lies in obscure touches. One such is to be found in the entry under August 1, 1820—“E. Inchbald dies, Suffield dies." His most intimate friends are described as Miss, Mrs, and the men simply by their names. Mrs Inchbald alone in these pages is mentioned as though he thought of her under the intimacy of a Christian name. Speculation is out of place in a biography, but it is almost impossible not to think that this death brought to Godwin a very keen pang. She was the woman whom once he had desired to make his wife, with whom he quarrelled for the sake of one he loved yet more, in whose grave the romance of his life was buried.
Two new acquaintances, who ripened into friends were, made by Godwin in 1819; the first being a young man, attracted, as so many others had been, to one whose writings had taught them so much. Mr Rosser's name occurs as a most frequent guest in Godwin's house, and a com) panion in his walks, whenever the Cambridge vacations made it possible that they should be together. Once more the sympathy for the young, and the prudent advice for their career, which have been so manifest on former occasions, come out in the letters to Rosser which follow. They are not in strict order of time, but in a sequence which is not inappropriate.
Henry Blanch Rosser to William Godwin.
“CAMBRIDGE, March 14, 1819. “—I am introducing myself to the study of the Ancients with ardour. The more I know of them, the more I meditate on them, and weigh the meaning of every letter of their words, the more I love and honour them.
When I review my past life, and look for the causes that have operated to mould me into what I am, I always recur to the time I first read ‘Political Justice,' September 1815. I should not now be in Cambridge had I not read it. How doubly fortunate then am I in the friendship of the man to whose book I, the world, owe so much. The ardour and enthusiasm it produced may have cooled, but the conviction of its truth has gathered strength. Nor do I forget, though I am forced to silence here, that my inclination and duty are combined in fostering and spreading the doctrines I adopt.”
The Same to the Same.
“ CAMBRIDGE, April 13, 1819. I suppose, from what I have heard, that a majority of men here are miserable. Several causes may perhaps be assigned for this ..
The solitude, to those who cannot find a resource in books and study, is insupportable ; ennui and disgust seize their souls, and companions and dissipation cannot quiet them. Another species of solitude-no female society. The disgusting monotony of the whole, and, with me at least, the constant attendance at chapel, and the dull, cold, miserable, sombre religious sound of the bell. Another cause, the wretched
How great an advantage it would be if the University were situated in a romantic, mountainous country, with a 'matchless cataract,' a forest, a volcano, or the sea ; some magnificent object of nature, or association of art. At the foot of the Alps, at Rome or Athens, or the Bay of Naples, or, as it must be in England, in the Peak, or the coast of Devon, or in Wales.”
William Godwin to H. B. Rosser.
“ March 7, 1820. “DEAR ROSSER,—I do not like your last letter, and why should I not tell you so? You rejoice in having made a convert to Atheism. I think there is something unnatural in a zeal of proselytism in an Atheist. I do not believe in an intellectual God, a God made after the image of man. In the vulgar acceptation of the word, therefore, I think a man is right who does not believe in God, but I am also persuaded that a man is wrong who is without religion.
“But if a zeal in proselytism in such a cause might, under certain circumstances, be right, think how it shows in a young man conforming in all outward shows with the Church of Englandregular in frequenting her worship, and even joining her in her most solemn act of communion. Do you think that this character looks well. Oh! shut up your thoughts on this subject for the present in your own mind. Do you think there is no danger of their growing too mature ? Or would you be ashamed of reflecting deeply and patiently before you finally cease to reflect and examine in a question, which all mankind in all ages have agreed to regard as of the deepest importance?
“I am also displeased with your telling me of your letter to Wooler, advising him to leave a question you think contemptible to the Whigs. Formerly I took some pains to convince you that the Whigs, as a party in the state, were of the highest value to the public welfare, and constituted the party to which a liberal-minded and enlightened man would adhere. My pains, I see, were thrown away. It is possible I was wrong. But was it necessary