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off their natural ties of respect or of fear for their richer or nobler neighbours; and as for Ireland, the English care not for it one groat.
Rugby, December 8, 1837. I have asked to send you the two first printed sheets of my History. You had promised to look at the manuscript, and, if you agree with me, you will find it pleasanter to read print than writing. Specially will you notice any expressions in the Legends which may seem to you to approach too near to the language of our translation of the Bible. I have tried to avoid this, but, in trying to write in an antiquated and simple language, that model with which we are most familiar will sometimes be followed too closely; and no one can deprecate more than I do any thing like a trivial use of that language which should be confined to one subject only. I hope and believe that I have kept clear of this; still I would rather have your judgment on it; I think you will at the same time agree with me that the Legends ought to be told as Legends, and not in the style of real history. We had a four hours' debate at the University, and a division in our favour with a majority of one. But the adversary will oppose us still step by step; and they are going to ask the AttorneyGeneral's opinion whether we can examine in the Greek Testament without a breach of our Charter !!! A strange Charter surely for the Defender of the Faith to grant, if it forbids the use of the Christian Scriptures.
(After speaking of the affair of the Archbishop of Cologne.)
Fox How, December 18, 1837. Certainly there is no battle in which I so entirely sympathize as in this of the Christian Church, against the
Priestcraft-Antichrist. And yet this is not quite true, for I sympathize as cordially in its battle against the other Antichrist; the Antichrist of Utilitarian unbelief, against which I am fighting at the London University. If persuades the Government to sanction his views, it will be a wrench to me to separate from the only party that hitherto I have been able to go along with ; and to be obliged to turn an absolute political Ishmaelite, condemning all parties, knowing full well what to shun, but finding nothing to approve or sympathize with. But so I suppose it ought to be with us, till Christ's kingdom come, and both the Antichrists be put down before Him.
Fox How, December 20, 1837. We have been here since Saturday afternoon, and I think it has rained almost ever since; at this moment Wansfell and Kirkstone and Fairfield are dimly looming through a medium which consists, I suppose, as much of water as of air; the Rotha is racing at the rate of eight or nine miles an hour, and the meadows are becoming rather lake-like. Notwithstanding, I believe that every one of us, old and young, would rather be here than anywhere else in the world. .
I thank you very heartily for your letter, and, in this precious leisure time of the holidays, I can answer it at once and without hurry. Your judgment as to the Legends, determines me at once to recast that whole first chapter. I wish, however, if it is not giving you too much trouble, that you would get the manuscript, and read also the chapter about the banishment of the Tarquins and the battle by the Lake Regillus. I think that you would not find it open to the same objections; at least Wordsworth read it through with a reference merely to the language, and he approved of it; and I think that it is easier and more natural than the first chapter. But I have not, and I trust I shall not, shrink from any labour of alteration, in order to make the work as complete as I can; it will after all fall infinitely short of that model which I fancy keenly, but vainly strive to carry out into execution. With regard to the first chapter, you have convinced me that it is faulty, because it is not what I meant it to be. But as to the principle, I am still of opinion, that the Legends cannot be omitted without great injury, and that they must not be told in my natural style of narrative. The reason of this appears to me to be, the impossibility of any man's telling such stories in a civilized age in his own proper person, with that sincerity of belief, nay even with that gravity which is requisite to give them their proper charm. If I thought that they contained really an historical skeleton, disguised under fabulous additions, it would of course be easy to give the historical outline as history in my own natural language, and to omit, or to notice with a grave remark as to their fabulousness, the peculiar marvels of the stories. This was done by Goldsmith, Rollin, &c. But I wish to give not the supposed facts of the stories, but the stories themselves in their oldest traceable forın ; I regard them as poetry, in which the form is quite as essential as the substance of the story. It is a similar question, and fraught with similar difficulties, to that which regards the translation of Homer and Herodotus. If I were to translate Herodotus, it were absurd to do it in my common English, because he and I do not belong to analogous periods of Greek and English literature; I should try to translate him in the style of the old translation of Comines rather than of Froissart; in the English of that period of our national cultivation which corresponds to the period of Greek cultivation at which he wrote. I might and probably should do this ill; still I should try to mend the execution without altering my plan; and so I should do with these Roman stories. For instance, the dramatic form appears to me quite essential; I mean the making the actors express their thoughts in the first person, instead of saying what
they thought or felt as narrative. This, no doubt, is the style of the Bible: but it is not peculiar to it; you have it in Herodotus just the same, because it is characteristic of a particular state of cultivation, which all people pass through at a certain stage in their progress. If I could do it well, I would give all the Legends at once in verse, in the style and measure of Chapman's Homer; and that would be the best and liveliest way of giving them, and liable to no possible charge of parodying the Bible. The next best way is that which I have tried and failed in executing; but I will try again ; and if it is not too much trouble, I will ask you to look at the new attempt. I feel sure,-and I really have thought a great deal upon this point,—that to give the story of the white sow, of the wolf suckling the twins, of Romulus being carried up to heaven, &c., in my own language, would be either merely flat and absurd, or else would contain so palpable an irony as to destroy the whole effect which one would wish to create by telling the stories at all.
For the other and greater matter of the University, I think it is very probable that I shall have to leave it; but I cannot believe that it is otherwise than a solemn duty to stand by it as long as I can hope to turn it to good. Undoubtedly we must not do evil that good may come; but we may and must bear much that is painful, and associate with those whom we disapprove of, in order to do good. What is the evil of belonging to the University à priori? There is no avowed principle in its foundation which I thing wrong; the comprehension of all Christians, you know, I think most right; if more be meant, I think it most wrong; but this is the very point which I am trying to bring to issue; and, though my fears of the issue outweigh my hopes, yet while there is any hope I ought not to give up the battle.
Fox How, January 23, 1838. I had intended to answer your kind letter of the 21st of November long before this time; I reserved it for the leisure of Fox How, and I have found, as is often the case, that the less I have to do, the less I do of any thing. Now our holidays are fast wearing away, and in little more than a week we shall leave this most delightful home; a home indeed so peaceful and so delightful, that it would not be right to make it one's constant portion; but after the half-years at Rugby, which now begin to be quite as much as I can well bear, the rest seems to be allowed; and 1 drink it in with intense enjoyment, and I hope with something of the thankfulness which it claims.
To London I must go, on account of our meeting of the London University on the 7th, when the question of Scriptural Examination will again be discussed. It was curious to me, knowing my character at Oxford, to hear myself charged, at our last meeting in December, with wishing to engross the University of London for the Established Church, as the other Universities were engrossed by it already. The opposition is very fierce. .
I could not examine a Jew in a history of which he would not admit a single important fact, nor could I bear to abstain systematically from calling our Lord by any other name than Jesus, because I must not shock the Jew by implying that He was the Christ. The prevailing evils in the University of Oxford are, to be sure, rather of a different character from those of the University of London. .. But you have done much good with the statutes, and I delight to hear about the prospect of the six scholarships.
I have been engaged in tiresome disputes about my History with the booksellers, and they are only just settled. The first volume will now, I suppose, go to press speedily, and I have begun the second. It is delightful work, when