Wednesday, April 10, 2013



William Godwin (1756-1836), Fleetwood: or, The New Man of Feeling, Vol. II (London: Richard Phillips, 1805), pp. 198-200 (chapter XV; Macneil speaking):
"Fleetwood, you are too much alone. I hear people talk of the raptures of solitude; and with what tenderness of affection they can love a tree, a rivulet, or a mountain. Believe me, they are pretenders; they deceive themselves, or they seek, with their eyes open, to impose upon others. In addition to their trees and their mountains, I will give them the whole brute creation; still it will not do. There is a principle in the heart of man which demands the society of his like. He that has no such society, is in a state but one degree removed from insanity. He pines for an ear into which he might pour the story of his thoughts, for an eye that shall flash upon him with responsive intelligence, for a face the lines of which shall talk to him in dumb but eloquent discourse, for a heart that shall beat in unison with his own. If there is any thing in human form that does not feel these wants, that thing is not to be counted in the file for a man: the form it bears is a deception; and the legend, Man, which you read in its front, is a lie. Talk to me of rivers and mountains! I venerate the grand and beautiful exhibitions and shapes of nature, no man more; I delight in solitude; I could shut myself up in it for successive days. But I know that Christ did not with more alacrity come out of the wilderness after his forty days' sequestration, than every man, at the end of a course of this sort, will seek for the interchange of sentiments and language. The magnificence of nature, after a time, will produce much the same effect upon him, as if I were to set down a hungry man to a sumptuous service of plate, where all that presented itself on every side was massy silver and burnished gold, but there was no food."

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