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ing, and ancient history and philosophy will be constantly recalling modern events and parties to your mind, and improving in fact, in the best way, your familiarity with and understanding of them. But I hope that you will be at Oxford long enough to have one year at least of reading directly on the middle ages or modern times, and of revelling in the stores of the Oxford libraries. I have never lost the benefit of what I enjoyed in this respect, though I have often cause to regret that it is no longer within my reach.
I do not know why my Thucydides is not out; I sent off the last corrected sheet three weeks ago. I am amused with thinking of what will be said of the latter part of the Preface, which is very conservative, insomuch that I am rather afraid of being suspected of ratting; a suspicion which, notwithstanding, would be quite unfounded, as you will probably believe without any more solemn assurance on my part. Nor do I feel that I am in any greater danger of becoming a Radical, if by that term be meant one who follows popular principles, as opposed to or distinct from liberal ones. But liberal principles are more or less popular, and more or less aristocratical, according to circumstances, and thus in the application of precisely the same principles which I held two years ago, and ten years ago, I should write and act as to particular persons and parties somewhat differently. . . . . . . In other words, the late extraordinary revolution has shown the enormous strength of the aristocracy and of the corrupt and low Tory party; one sees clearly what hard blows they will not only stand, but require, and that the fear of depressing them too much is chimerical. A deeper fear is behind; that, like the vermin on the jacket in Sylla's apologue, they will stick so tight to the form of the constitution, that the constitution itself will at last be thrown into the fire, and a military monarchy succeed. . . . . . . But of one thing I am clear, that if ever this constitution be destroyed, it will be only when it ought to be destroyed; when evils long
neglected, and good long omitted, will have brought things to such a state, that the Constitution must fall to save the Commonwealth, and the Church of England perish for the sake of the Church of Christ. Search and look whether you can find that any constitution was ever destroyed from within by factions or discontent, without its destruction having been, either just penally, or necessary, because it could not any longer answer its proper purposes. And this ripeness for destruction is the sure consequence of Toryism and Conservatism, or of that base system which joins the hand of a Reformer to the heart of a Tory, reforms not upon principle, but upon clamour; and therefore both changes amiss, and preserves amiss, alike blind and low principled in what it gives and what it withholds. And therefore I would oppose to the utmost any government predominantly Tory, much more one exclusively Tory, and most of all a government, at once exclusively Tory in heart, and in word and action simulating reform. Conceive the Duke of Ormond and Bolingbroke, and Atterbury, and Sir W. Wyndham intrusted with the adminstration of the Act of Settlement. So have I filled my paper; but it is idle to write upon things of this kind, as no letter will hold all that is to be said, much less answer objections on the other side. Write to me when you can, and tell me about yourself fully ".
LXXXIII. TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN.
Rugby, March 22, 1835.
I have been thinking of what you say as to a book on the origin of Civilization, and considering whether I could furnish any thing towards it. But history, I think, can furnish little to the purpose, because all history properly so
a The latter part of this letter was occasioned by a regret expressed at his vote in the Warwickshire election. For the distinction between "Liberal and Popular principles," see his article in the Quarterly Journal of Education, vol. ix. p. 281.
called belongs to an age of at least partial civilization; and the poetical or mythical traditions, which refer to the origin of this civilization, cannot be made use of to prove any thing, till their character has undergone a more complete analysis. I believe with you that savages could never civilize themselves, but barbarians I think might; and there are some races, e. g. the Keltic, the Teutonic, and the Hellenic, that we cannot trace back to a savage state, nor does it appear that they ever were savages. With regard to such races as have been found in a savage state, if it be admitted that all mankind are originally one race, then I should say that they must have degenerated; but, if the physiological question be not settled yet, and there is any reason to suppose that the New Hollander and the Greek never had one common ancestor, then you would have the races of mankind divided into those improveable by themselves, and those improveable only by others; the first created originally with such means in their possession, that out of these they could work indefinitely their own improvement, the To T being in a manner given to them; the second without the To σT, and intended to receive it in time, through the instrumentality of their fellow-creatures. And this would be sufficiently analogous to the course of Providence in other known cases, e. g. the communicating all religious knowledge to mankind through the Jewish people, and all intellectual civilization through the Greeks; no people having ever yet possessed that activity of mind, and that power of reflection and questioning of things, which are the marks of intellectual advancement, without having derived them mediately or immediately from Greece. I had occasion in the winter to observe this in a Jew, of whom I took a few lessons in Hebrew, and who was learned in the writings of the Rabbis, but totally ignorant of all the literature of the West, ancient and modern. He was consequently just like a child,—his mind being entirely without the habit of criticism or analysis, whether as applied to words or to things;
wholly ignorant, for instance, of the analysis of language, whether grammatical or logical; or of the analysis of a narrative of facts, according to any rules of probability external or internal. I never so felt the debt which the human race owes to Pythagoras, or whoever it was that was the first founder of Greek philosophy. . .
The interest of present questions, involving as they do great and eternal principles, hinders me from fixing contentedly upon a work of past history; while the hopelessness of persuading men, and the inevitable odium which attends any thing written on the topics of the day, hinder me on the other hand from writing much about the present. How great this odium is, I really could have hardly conceived, even with all my former experience.
LXXXIV. TO AN OLD PUPIL.
Rugby, March 30, 1835.
Just as I have begun to write the clock has struck five, which you know announces the end of Fourth lesson, so that I fear I shall not make much progress now; I shall let the Sixth Form, however, have the pleasure of contemplating a very beautiful passage out of Coleridge for a few minutes longer, while I write on a few lines to you. It gave me great pleasure to find that you enjoy's society so much, and I hope that it makes Oxford seem at any rate more endurable to you. I was very much interested by your story of -'s comment upon a little burst of yours about Switzerland. I suppose that Pococuranteism (excuse the word) is much the order of the day amongst young men. I observe symptoms of it here, and am always dreading its ascendancy, though we have some who struggle nobly against it. I believe that "Nil admirari" in this sense is the Devil's favourite text; and he could not choose a better to introduce his pupils into the more esoteric parts of his doctrine. And therefore I have always looked upon a man infected with this disorder of
anti-romance, as on one, who has lost the finest part of his nature, and his best protection against every thing low and foolish. Such a man may well call me mad, but his party are not yet strong enough to get me fairly shut up,-and till they are, I shall take the liberty of insisting that their tail is the longest, and, the more boldly I assume this, the more readily will the world believe me. I have lived now many years, indeed, since I was a very young man,-in a very entire indifference as to the opinion of people, unless I have reason to think them good and wise; and I wish that some of my friends would share this indifference, at least as far as I am concerned. The only thing which which gives me the slightest concern in the attacks which have been lately made on me, is the idea of their in any degree disturbing my friends. I am afraid that is not as indifferent as I could wish either to the attacks in newspapers, or to the gossip of Oxford about Rugby, of which last I have now had some years' experience, and I should pay it a very undeserved compliment, if I were to set any higher value on it than I do on my friend Theodore Hook and his correspondents in John Bull. It is a mere idleness to attend to this sort of talking, and as to trying to act so as to avoid its attacks,-a man would have enough to do, and would lead a strange life, if he were to be shaping his conduct to propitiate gossip. I hold it also equally vain to attempt to explain or to contradict any reports that may be in circulation; in order to do so, it would be necessary to write a weekly dispatch at the least; and even then it would do little good, while it would greatly encourage the utterers of scandal, as it would show that their attacks were thought worth noticing.
You will be glad to hear that the English Essays are again very good, and so I think are some of the Latin Essays; the verse we have not yet received. On the other hand, there is constantly sufficient occasion to remember our humanity, without any slave to prompt us.