7 May 1795

William Godwin to Mary Hays, 2 Paragon Place, Surry Road, Southwark, 7 May 1795.1 

    What day can you imagine I would choose next after Wednesday, but Thursday? On Thursday (May 14), if agreeable therefore, & nothing uncommon intervene, you shall see me.

    I always admire your letters &, when I read them, am sorry that invincible circumstances preclude me from having often the pleasure of seeing you. I am sorry too, that the nature of my avocations restrain me from entering into regular discussions in the epistolary mode. To ask you to write to me, when your mind is bursting with thought, at random as you would to your genius in the moon, would be an unreasonable demand; but, if it were not unreasonable, I would ask it.

     I was not aware, when I was last at your house, of any such fault in you as you describe, & did not feel myself harrassed with questions.2

                             W Godwin


Somers Town

May 7. 1795.


Address: Miss Hayes | No 2 | Paragon Place | Surry Road

Postmark: 8 May 1795.


1 MS G 0217, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 392-93; Clemit, Letters 1.114-15. 

2 The last entry prior to the date of this letter in Godwin's diary to Hays is 29 January 1795; given the gap between that entry and the date of the above letter, the visit she is referring to above was apparently not recorded by Godwin. Godwin joined Hays at John Dunkin's residence at the Paragon on Thursday, 14 May 1795, along with William Frend, George Dyer, Stephen Weaver Browne, someone named Brooke (this is not the novelist Frances Brooke), and others described by Godwin as “etc.” Most likely he was referring to Elizabeth Hays, Mrs. Hays, and John and Joanna Dunkin. Godwin adds that they “talked of God,” which, given the evangelical orthodoxy of Mrs. Hays and the Dunkins, would have been expected of them and, given Godwin's skepticism concerning Christian doctrine at that time, would have created an uncomfortable situation for him.