« PreviousContinue »
25th. “ A Letter from my Niece, Mary Anne Beck, who expects to be in Liverpool to-night, and sleep at the Hotel, as they will arrive too late to come here without disturbing me.
26th. A restless night. Mary Anne and her two brothers came.
29th. Began teaching Mary
A rather better night. Anne Italian.
30th. Worse. Accompanied Mary Anne a little on the Violin.
Nov. 9th. “And surely to say that, because your conscience is satisfied, therefore you must listen to no other person, is to forget that you are one of a race, not insulated, but placed by Providence in association with other men and necessarily responsible for the advantages of your position.”—Dr. Hawkins.
Thus saith a naturally able man, a very good man, and a leading man at Oxford, because when he sent me, during the worst of my illness, a long letter full of texts to prove the divinity of Jesus, I reminded him that there is “a persecution of kindness." I am of a race, and therefore must never have done listening to every individual of the race who takes upon him to instruct me. I believe that my good friend does not express the thought that lurks in his mind. It must be, you are of an inferior race, and having been placed in connection with the Oxford race, a superior one, you must never cease to ask instruction from them. If this be not his true, though unconscious meaning, he would perceive that I might retort in the same words, and demand he should at least read what I have published. But no. I sent him Heresy and Orthodoxy, and he would only look into it, because he found it very wrong: i. e. very much against his own principles.
How strangely does this priestly spirit blind those that give way to it! I have not ventured to answer my friend, because I am certain that he cannot bear the truths I must place before him, without giving up all friendship with me. Accursed Orthodoxy!
From Professor Powell.
Oxford, Nov. 13, 1839. My dear Blanco White, Finding that my wife is sending you a parcel, I cannot let it go without increasing it by a small note, which may
perhaps be allowed to serve as some slight apology for my being, as I fear I always am, a very bad correspondent. But I am sure in the present instance it is not likely to be set down to any unmindfulness of you, or to any want of interest in those accounts which have reached us of your state of health, which I have been truly glad to hear has been of late not so bad as formerly; and I sincerely trust the visitor you are expecting will prove in every respect a source of comfort and pleasure. I wish it were in my power to think of any topics which would be likely to interest you, but among the miserable controversies and dishonest maneuverings of (I may say) all parties, in this place and out of it, it is difficult to find any thing to notice without pain and disgust. I meddle very little with any of them, but engage in writing only in the way of stating my views in a way as little controversial as possible, and leaving the polemical part to others. I have now in hand some lucubrations of this kind. During the summer I had an opportunity of putting forth similar views from Pope's pulpit during his absence ; which I was highly gratified to find attracted attention, and that from some whose judgment is valuable. We shall never differ as to the importance of endeavouring to make people, if possible, think: nor, I imagine, as to the general nature of the grounds on which we would have them conduct their thoughts, or the main channel into which we would turn them, or the great ultimate object of truth to which they ought to be directed. Believe me ever most sincerely yours,
Nov. 14. Continued some Spanish verses which I began yesterday. Read to Mary Anne a small portion of my Spanish novel.
20th. Finished a pretty long piece of Spanish poetry.
To Professor Powell.
Liverpool, Nov. 20th, 1839. My dear B. Powell, Many thanks for your kind note. To receive such lines from Oxford is like hearing the nightingale from the depths of the Arabian desert. You are perfectly right-we cannot essentially disagree; we may disagree in formulas, but our truth is the same. It is the eternal, immutable God whom we love, and to whom we would guide all mankind, if it were in our power. Nothing is more melancholy to me than to contrast the clearness with which I see the vanity of the theological controversies, with the dark obstinacy of the multitude that waste their minds and what is worse their hearts upon them.
May God give you patience, and also strength to assist others in the search of truth.
Yours, ever affectionately,
J. BLANCO WHITE.
Dec. 3rd. Abraham, as he appears in the Hebrew Myth, is a beautiful emblematical representation of the conscientious searcher of Truth. To perceive the similarity, we must remember that God is Truth.
“ Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from
thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee.”—Gen. xii. 1.
In societies so full of error, and so essentially founded upon deceit as those which have been hitherto known in the world, no man can thoroughly love Truth unless he is ready to follow it at the expense of a similar sacrifice, whether it be understood figuratively or literally. When a man hears the call of Truth, and is ready to obey, he must set out without knowing whither he is led. No previous opinion should be exempted from the eventual demands of the Lord that calls us : we must not set any limits to our pilgrimage. We must even be ready to sacrifice that which we most love; even Isaac, the only son, may be asked as a victim, and we must not refuse him.
Dec. 16. A letter from Mrs. Whately, telling me that Edward would probably see me on his way to Dublinto-morrow.
Dec. 17. Edward Whately came to see me. He is very much improved : his kindness affected me much.
I received yesterday a most painful letter from - Truth and intellectual freedom will have