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Mr Bentham, written in an angry tone; this was owing to the former having used 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.”
THE LAST YEARS. 1832-1836.
A GREAT, happily the last great, sorrow fell on Godwin in the autumn of 1832, in the loss of his only son. He appears to have been a singularly bright, winning, and accomplished man. His nephew, Sir Percy Shelley, remembers him as “a very good fellow, who used to take me to the play.” He was much loved by his friends, and was happy in his marriage. A somewhat stormy youth and chequered career of various unfinished beginnings had given place to a steady manhood, in which he was friend and companion to his father, and earned for himself a respectable competence. He was parliamentary reporter to the Morning Chronicle, a fairly successful draughtsman, and had at the time of his death finished a novel, “Transfusion," of considerable power and weird imagination. This was published by his father after his death, prefaced by a touching and gravely self-restrained Memoir. William Godwin, the younger, died of cholera after a short illness, during which his father and mother never left him, and was buried in the churchyard nearest his home, that attached to the Church of St. John Evangelist, Waterloo Road.
The poverty which Gadwin had feared was not his fate. In April 1833, Lord Grey, on the urgent request of many
friends, amongst whom Mackintosh, before his death in 1832, had been very earnest, conferred on Godwin the post of Yeoman Usher of the Exchequer, with residence in New Palace Yard. The office, which was in fact a sinecure, the nominal duties of which were of necessity wholly performed by menials, was abolished among the retrenchments on which a reformed Parliament insisted ; and, soon after his appointment, there was for some time a danger, or there seemed to Godwin a danger, that he might be once more homeless and poor, for he had accepted the office subject to such changes as might be deemed afterwards desirable. But men of all political creeds were now kindly disposed to the patriarch of philosophical radicalism, the old literary lion. The Duke of Wellington and Lord Melbourne alike exerted themselves for him, and each assured him that no change in his position should be made.
The old friends were gone. Charles Lamb, almost the last, died at Edmonton, on December 27, 1834. There had been a slight coolness, the cause of which is not apparent, between them, but Rickman intervened, and invited both to meet at a dinner given by him at the Bell at Edmonton, “where,” in Rickman's words, “Mrs Gilpin once dined or meant to dine.” The dinner took place on July 19, 1833, and the old cordiality was happily restored. To Godwin, Edmonton had more sacred associations than of Mrs Gilpin ; there is no record that he had before visited the early home of Mary Wollstonecraft.
And at his age he made few new friends, though even to the last he retained the power of attracting the young and of sympathizing with them. The record of one such acquaint
ance is preserved only in the letters which follow, but the correspondence is worth preserving, since it does honour to both the writers.
W. Cooke to William Godwin.
“Lisson Grove, Dec. 5, 1834. “I take up my pen to address this to you, sir, at the earnest, dying request of a dearly beloved, whose respect and admiration of you was as deep as it was lasting. I believe one of the last requests he made to Mrs Godwin before he left London was, should you be attacked with any dangerous illness, that she should be so kind as to inform him of it; for that wheresoever he was, or whatsoever might be his employ, he would most assuredly hasten to your bed-side, to render all the assistance in his power, and if it should be fatal, to observe how you would conduct yourself in such an extremity, and how you would die. These also are the very things he has requested me to inform you concerning himself, and to this I hasten.
“Rather more than three months ago, soon after his return from the Isle of Wight, he was attacked with an alarming illness. Debility and emaciation still proceeded, and on the 23d ultimo he expired. He retained all his powers of mind unimpaired to the last.
“ About two months before he died, he said he felt a great want of something to console him under his sufferings, and requested me to ask a particular friend of his (a Unitarian minister) to lend him some books. Amongst these was 'Channing's Sermons.' . . . He soon after requested me to read him one of the Gospels. . . . After this, one morning early, he sent his wife for me, saying he had somewhat to communicate ; when he said, 'Father, I am fully convinced that Jesus Christ is very God : I can adore and worship him with all the powers and faculties of my soul.' He said much more to the same purport, and at different times. . . . Perhaps a more surprising change from infidelity to