This is a letter written by Shelley to Thomas J. Hogg during the Christmas break from Oxford. This is, of course, written only a few months before Shelley and Hogg were both to be expelled from Oxford University for refusing to deny authorship of A Necessity of Atheism. This letter also references Shelley’s extensive search for William Godwin; it would be another year before he found his address (January 3, 1812, Skinner Street).
LETTER TO THOMAS JEFFERSON HOGG (Edited by Rossetti) P. B. Shelley FIELD PLACE, HORSHAM, SUSSEX. December 2Oth, 1810 [Thursday] MY DEAR FRIEND, The moment which announces your residence, I write. There is now need of all my art ; I must resort to deception. My father called on Stockdale in London, who has converted him to sanctity. He mentioned my name, as a supporter of sceptical principles. My father wrote to me, and I am now surrounded, environed, by dangers, to which compared the devils who be- sieged St. Anthony were all inefficient. ? They attack me for my detestable principles ; I am reckoned an outcast ; yet I defy them, and laugh at their in- effectual efforts. Stockdale will no longer do for me. Stockdale's skull is very thick, but I am afraid that he will not believe my assertion ; indeed, should it gain credit with him,) should he accept the offer of publication, there exist numbers who will find out, or imagine, a real tendency ; and booksellers possess more power than we are aware of in impeding the sale of any book containing opinions displeasing to them. I am dis- posed to offer it to Wilkie and Robinson, Paternoster Row, and to take it there myself; they published Godwin's works, and it is scarcely possible to suppose that any one, layman or clergyman, will assert that these support Gospel doctrines. If that will not do, I must print it myself. Oxford, of course, would be most convenient for the correction of the press. Mr. L.'s* principles are not very severe ; he is more a votary to Mammon than God. O ! I burn with impatience for the moment of the dissolution of intoler- ance ; it has injured me ! I swear on the altar of perjured Love to revenge myself on the hated cause of the effect which even now I can scarcely help deploring. Indeed, I think it is to the benefit of society to destroy the opinions which can annihilate the dearest of its ties. Inconveniences would now result from my owning the novel which I have * "L." is probably the initial of some Oxford printer or publisher. in preparation for the press. I give out, therefore, that I will publish no more ; every one here, but the select few who enter into my schemes, believe my assertion. I will stab the wretch in secret. Let us hope that the wound which I inflict, though the dagger be concealed, will rankle in the heart of the adversary. My father wished to withdraw me from college : I would not consent to it. There lowers a terrific tempest; but I stand as it were, on a pharos, and smile exultingly at the vain beating of the billows below. So much for egotism ! Your poetry pleases me very much ; the idea is beautiful, but I hope the contrast is not from nature. The verses on the Dying Gladiator are good, but they seem composed in a hurry. I am composing a satirical poem : I shall print it at Oxford, unless I find, on visiting him, that R[obinson] is ripe for printing whatever will sell. In case of that, he is my man. It is not William Godwin who lives in Holborn : it is John, no relation to the other. As to W.,* I wrote to him when in London, by way of a gentle alterative. He promised to write to me when he had time, seemed surprised at what I had said, yet directed to me as " The Reverend " : his amazement must be extreme. I shall not read Bishop Prettyman, or any more of them, unless I have some particular reason. Bigots will not argue ; it destroys the very nature of the the thing to argue ; it is contrary to faith. How, therefore, could you suppose that one of these liberal gentlemen would listen to scepticism, on the subject even of St. Athanasius's sweeping anathema? * "W." seems to have been some person of public note to whom Shelley had written on religious topics (especially the Athanasian creed) in a tone which, though sceptical, was also grave, and which misled " W." into supposing his correspondent to be a clergy- man. I have something else to tell you, and I will in another letter. Love ! dearest, sweetest power ! how much are we indebted to thee ! How much superior are even thy miseries to the pleasures which arise from other sources ! How much superior to "fat, contented ignorance " is even the agony which thy votaries experience ! Yes, my friend, I am now convinced that a monarchy is the only form of govern- ment (in a certain degree) which a lover ought to live under. Yet in this alone is subordination necessary. Man is equal, and I am convinced that equality will be the attendant on a more advanced and ameliorated state of society. But this is assertion, not proof, indeed, there can be none. Then you will say, " Excuse my be- lieving it." Willingly. St. Irvyne is come out ; it is sent to you at Mr. DayrelFs ; you can get one in London by mentioning my name to Stockdale. You need not state your own ; and, as names are not now in scribed on the front of every existing creature,* you run no risk of discovery in person, if it be a crime or a sin to procure my Novel. How can you fancy that I shall ever think you mad? Am not /the wildest, the most delirious, of Enthusiasm's off- spring? On one subject I am cool, toleration ; yet that coolness alone possesses me that I may with more certainty guide the spear to the breast of my adversary, with more certainty ensanguine it with the heart's blood of Intolerance hated name ! Adieu. Down with Bigotry ! Down with Intolerance ! In this endeavour your most sincere friend will join his every power, his every feeble resource. Adieu. To T. /. Hogs, Lincoln s Inn Fields. * An allusion probably to the brand of Cain. D