26 December 1797
William Godwin to Mary Hays, 30 Kirby Street, Hatton Garden, 26 December 1797.1
I am very sorry you have put yourself to the trouble of explaining to me your personal circumstances; yet I cannot convict myself of impropriety in those words of mine that occasioned it. In mixed company I can to a certain degree play the man of the world; but in tete-à-tete I must be simple, honest & ingenuous, & fairly say almost every thing that occurs to my mind. I was mortified however by the temper with which you received what was meant for a very cursory remark. Your speech about postage, backed soon after by something of a similar tendency which I have since forgotten, extorted it from me. By your minute detail, you seem (as far as I dare venture to judge) to exculpate yourself.
I am much obliged to you for what you add respecting the person2 whose confidence you at present enjoy. I believe such confessions are fairly due, & wish I had known it sooner. That man has something in him that instinctively repels me, & I should despair of being upon terms of unbounded cordiality with any one of whom he was the chosen companion. Do not construe me in this to mean more than I do. I have a great regard for some persons that cultivate his society, & for you I entertain a real esteem.
Permit me then to subscribe myself,
Dec. 26. 1797.
Address: Miss Hays | 30 Kirby Street | Hatton Garden
Postmark: 28 December 1797.
1 MS G 0322, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 468; Clemit, Letters 1.273-74; Wedd, Love Letters 241-42. Godwin's diary notes that he visited Hays on 23 December.
2 Probably Charles Lloyd (1775-1839), a recent acquaintance and someone who in the next year and into early 1799 will make Godwin's premonitions remarkably accurate and create extreme embarrassment and pain for Hays.