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TO J. C. PLATT, ESQ.
Fox How, February 5, 1836. . I was very much pleased with the pamphlet of Dr. Lieber about Education, and thought him the more worthy of having had so much intercourse with Niebuhr. I entirely agree with what Dr. Lieber says, and wish that people were more aware of the truth of it in England. We are going, however, to have a very important experiment begun here, in the new London University ; of which, as you may have perhaps heard, I am likely, if the present Government stands, to become one of the members. There will then probably be brought to issue this great question, whether the people of England have any value whatever for Christianity without sectarianism; for, as it seems to me, most of those who are above sectarianism are quite as indifferent to Christianity; while almost all who profess to value Christianity seem when they are brought to the test to care only for their own sect. Now it is manifest to me that all our education must be Christian, and not be sectarian ; I would ask no questions as to what denomination of Christians any student belonged to; or, if I did, I should only do it for the express purpose of avoiding in my examination all those particular points, in which I might happen to differ from him. But I should as certainly assume him to be a Christian, and both in examining him in the Scriptures, as well as in the philosophy and history of other writers, I should proceed on the supposition that his views of life were Christian, and should think it quite right to enquire what was his knowledge of the evidences and nature of the Christian scheme. I see that a Jew has just been elected a governor of Christ's Hospital; the very name shews the monstrousness of this, but what shall we say of the wisdom of those who say that a Roman Catholic or an Unitarian is as bad as a Jew, and who thus drive other men to say that, as some pretended religious distinctions are no real moral distinctions, so all religious dis
tinctions are unimportant; and Jew, Mahometan, Hindoo or Benthamite may all be educated together. No doubt they may be taught physical science together; but physical science is not education; and how they can be instructed in moral science together, when their views of life are so different, is a thing that I cannot understand. ..... I am satisfied that the real good must be done through something in the form of a Newspaper or Historical Magazine. You must begin with teaching people to understand, if you can, what they will feel an interest in and talk about; it is of no use to attempt to create an interest for indifferent things, natural history, or general literature, which every sensible man feels to be the play of life and not its business. I hold with Algernon Sidney, that there are but two things of vital importance,—those which he calls Religion and Politics, but which I would rather call our duties and affections towards God, and our duties and feelings towards men; science and literature are but a poor make
for the want of these. I have been at work on the Roman History with very great delight, and also with a part of the New Testament. I have begun the Roman History from the beginning, and I could not have any work which I should more enjoy ; if I live, I hope to carry on the History till the sixth century, and end it with the foundation of the modern kingdoms out of the wreck of the Western Empire. Pray let me hear of
when you can, and believe me that I shall always feel a very lively interest in your proceedings.
Rugby, March 2, 1836. I erred in sending you my manuscript; not that I do not heartily thank you for your comments, which as to the good of the work itself were more useful than if you had more agreed with me; but I would not for the sake of
an hypothetical publication have caused you to dwell on page after page of matter in which you could not sympathize, and which I fear grated harshly upon your notions and tastes. I did it in ignorance; for I really fancied, -without any authority, I believe-but still I fancied that you agreed with me as to the desirableness of opening the Universities, and would sympathize, therefore, in the general drift of what I had written. Otherwise I should not have thought it fair to trouble you with it.
But the whole thing makes me most earnest that we should soon meet, not to argue, but rather to feel the many points of true sympathy between us, and to get our notions of each other refreshed, so to speak, in all their totality. You get from me two or three letters a year; in these I cannot represent what is really my life's business and state of mind, for school affairs would not interest you, nor will the quiet scenes of mere family life bear description. I therefore write naturally of public matters, of questions of general interest; and I write upon them as I feel, that is, decidedly and deeply. But this produces a false impression upon your mind, as if these feelings occupied me predominantly, and you express a wish that I would concentrate my energies upon the school, my own business. Why you cannot surely think that Hawtrey or your brother Edward or any man in England does so more than I do? I should feel it the greatest possible reproach, if I were conscious of doing otherwise. But although a school, like a parish or any other occupation in which our business is to act morally upon our neighbours, affords in fact infinite employment, and no man can ever say that he has done all that he might do,-still in the common sense of the term, I can truly say, that I live for the school; that very pamphlet which I sent you was written almost entirely at Fox How, and my own employment here has been all of a kind to bear directly upon the school work; first Thucydides, and now the Roman History, and subjects more or less connected with the Scrip
tures, or else my Sermons. Undoubtedly, I do not wish my mind to feel less or to think less upon public matters; ere it does so, its powers must be paralyzed; and I am sure that the more active my own mind is, and the more it works upon great moral and political points, the better for the school; not, of course, for the folly of proselytizing the boys, but because education is a dynamical, not a mechanical process, and the more powerful and vigorous the mind of the teacher, the more clearly and readily he can grasp things, the better fitted he is to cultivate the mind of another. And to this I find myself coming more and more; I care less and less for information,
more for the pure exercise of the mind; for answering a question concisely and comprehensively, for showing a command of language, a delicacy of taste, and a comprehensiveness of thought, and power of combination.
We had a most delightful winter at Fox How... I went over to Keswick for one day, and called on Southey and saw him and his daughters Kate and Bertha. Southey is much altered from his heavy domestic trial, and perhaps from his constant occupations. He reads as he walks, which I told him I would not venture to do, though so much younger than he was; it is so constant a strain, that I do not wonder that his hair is gray.
What a great man your uncle was, that is, intellectually; for something I suppose must have been wanting to hinder us from calling him a great man απλώς. But where has he left his equal ?
(On his success at Cambridge.)
Rugby, March 7, 1836. I gave myself the pleasure of writing to Mrs. Vaughan a few lines on Friday evening, which I thought you would prefer to my writing to yourself. But you knew how heartily I should rejoice at your success, and I thank you very much for your kind letter to inform me of it.
I am truly glad indeed and thankful that you have done so well, and I thank you for the credit which you have conferred upon Rugby. I am very glad that you are coming to us in June, a time when I hope to enjoy your company far more than in the Babel at Easter. It will be a great pleasure to me to have some conversation with you again after the lapse of a year, a period which brings such changes in all our minds, and, till our faculties decay, changes surely for the better, unless we wilfully let the ground lie fallow, or plant it with weeds. And it is to me a matter of intense interest to observe the ripening manhood of those minds, in whose earlier opening I felt so deep and affectionate a sympathy. My wife and all the children rejoice in your success, and unite in kindest regards.
TO AN OLD PUPIL. (B.)
Rugby, March 9, 1836. I am far more pleased than disappointed about the scholarship; I am very much pleased that both you and
have done so well. I am not disappointed, because I always think that in every election the chances must be against any one candidate. I wish you would impress
from me; for I am a little afraid that Vaughan's success at Cambridge will make him over anxious, and that he will fancy that he is the more expected to get it, in order to complete the triumph of Rugby. This is not my feeling, and I cannot bear that he should be oppressed with the weight of our unreasonable expectations when I know how much anxiety he has of his own.
Come to us whenever you can, and find it most convenient; we shall be equally glad to see you at
And now for your Oxford agitators. If I were really as anxious to make proselytes as some fancy, I should be much grieved at what I should then call your defection;