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glance during the half year,-it being difficult then to read consecutively,--that I rather hail the prospect of being able to employ a few mornings in some employment of my own.
The school will become more and more engrossing, and so it ought to be, for it is impossible ever to do enough in it. Yet I think it essential that I should not give up my own reading, as I always find any addition of knowledge always to turn to account for the school in some way or other. I fear, however, that I am growing less active ; and I find myself often more inclined to read to the children, or to amuse myself with some light book after my day's work at Rugby, than to enter on any regular employment.
My volume of Sermons connected with Prophecy is still waiting, but I hope that it may come out before the winter. It is a great joy to me to think that it will not give offence to any one, but will at any rate, I trust, be considered as safe, and, as far as it goes, useful. I have no pleasure in writing what is unacceptable, though ] confess, that, the more I study any subject, the more it seems to me to require to be treated differently from the way in which it has been treated. It is grievous to think how much has been written about things with such imperfect knowledge, or with such narrow views, as leaves the whole thing to be done again. Not that I mean that it can be so done in our time, as to leave nothing for posterity : on the contrary, we know how imperfect our own knowledge is, and how much requires yet to be learned. Still in this generation an immense step has been made, both in knowledge and in large and critical views; and this makes the writings of a former age so unsatisfactory. In reading them I never can feel satisfied that we have got to the bottom of a question.
I was very much delighted to have — staying at Rugby for nearly a week with us in the spring. I had not had any talk with him since he was my pupil at Laleham. I was struck with the recoil of his opinions towards
Toryism, or at any rate half-Toryism,-a result, which I have seen in other instances where the original anti-Tory feeling was what I call “popular” rather than “liberal," and took up the notion of liberty rather than of improvement. I do not think that Liberty can well be the idol of a good and sensible mind after a certain age. My abhorrence of Conservatism is not because it checks liberty,in an established democracy it would favour liberty ;—but because it checks the growth of mankind in wisdom, goodness and happiness, by striving to maintain institutions which are of necessity temporary, and thus never hindering change, but often depriving the change of half its value.
Rugby, July 1, 1835. I thank you most heartily for both your affectionate letters. When I suspect you of unkindness, or feel offended with any thing that you say or write to me, I must have cast off my nature indeed very sadly. Be assured that there was nothing in your first letter which you could wish unwritten, nothing that was not written in the true spirit of friendship. I was vexed only thus far, that I could not explain many points to you, which I think would have altered your judgment as to the facts of the case.
My dear friend, I know and feel the many great faults of my life and practice; and grieve more than I can say not to have more intercourse with those friends who used to reprove me, I think, to my great benefit-I am sure without ever giving me offence. But I cannot allow that those opinions, which I earnestly believe, after many years' thought and study, to be entirely according to Christ's mind, and most tending to His glory, and the good of His Church, shall be summarily called heretical; and it is something of a trial to be taxed with perverting VOL. I.
my boys' religious principles, when I am labouring, though most imperfectly, to lead them to Christ in true and devoted faith; and when I hold all the scholarship that ever man had, to be infinitely worthless in comparison with even a very humble degree of spiritual advancement. And I think that I have seen my work in some instances blessed ;-not, I trust, to make me proud of it, or think that I have any thing to be satisfied with,-yet so far as to make it very painful to be looked upon as an enemy by those whose Master I would serve as heartily, and whom, if I dare say it, I love with as sincere an affection as they do.
God bless you, and thank you for all your kindness to me always.
Rugby, Sept. 9, 1835. It is
very hard to know what to say of Hatch as to his bodily health, because, though appearances are unfavourable, Dr. Jephson still speaks confidently of his recovery ; but it is not hard to know what to say of his mind, which, I believe, is quite what we could wish it to be. He always seemed to me a most guileless person when in health, guileless and living in the fear of God, in such circumstances sickness does but feed and purify the flame, which was before burning strong and brightly. He will be delighted to hear from you, and would be interested by any Cambridge news that you could send him, for I think he must find himself often in want of amusement, and of something to vary the day. I am glad that you have made acquaintance with some of the good poor. I quite agree with you that it is most instructive to visit them, and I think that you are right in what you say of their more lively faith. We hold to earth and earthly things by so many more links of thought, if not of affection, that it is far harder to keep our view of heaven clear and strong ;
when this life is so busy, and therefore so full of reality to us, another life seems by comparison unreal. This is our condition, and its peculiar temptations ; but we must endure it, and strive to overcome them, for I think we may not try to flee from it.
I have begun the Phædo of Plato with the Sixth, which will be a great delight to me.
There is an actual pleasure in contemplating so perfect a management of so perfect an instrument as is exhibited in Plato's language, even if the matter were as worthless as the words of Italian music; whereas the sense is only less admirable in many places than the language. I am still in distress for a Latin book, and wish that there were a cheap edition of Bacon's Instauratio Magna. I would use it, and make it useful in point of Latinity, by setting the fellows to correct the style where it is cumbrous or incorrect. As to Livy, the use of reading him is almost like that of the drunken Helot. It shows what history should not be in a very striking manner; and, though the value to us of much of ancient literature is greatly out of proportion to its intrinsic merit, yet the books of Livy, which we have, relate to a time so uninteresting, that it is hard even to extract a value from them by the most complete distillation; so many gallons of vapid water scarcely hold in combination a particle of spirit.
Rugby, September 21, 1835. I have been and am working at two main things, the Roman History and the nature and interpretation of Prophecy. For the first I have been working at Hannibal's Passage of the Alps. How bad a geographer is Polybius, and how strange that he should be thought a good one! Compare him with any man who is really a geographer, with Herodotus, with Napoleon,—whose sketches of Italy, Egypt and Syria, in his memoirs, are to me unrivalled, --or with Niebuhr, and how striking is the difference. The dullness of Polybius' fancy made it impossible for him to conceive or paint scenery clearly, and how can a man be a geographer without lively images of the formation and features of the country which he describes ? How different are the several Alpine valleys, and how would a few simple touches of the scenery which he seems actually to have visited, yet could neither understand nor feel it, have decided for ever the question of the route! Now the account suits no valley well, and therefore it may be applied to many ; but I believe the real line was by the Little St. Bernard, although I cannot trace those particular spots, which De Luc and Cramer fancy they could recognise. I thought so on the spot, (i. e. that the spots could not be traced,) when I crossed the Little St. Bernard, in 1825, with Polybius in my hand, and I think so still. How much we want a physical history of countries, tracing the changes which they have undergone either by such violent revolutions as volcanic phenomena, or by the slower but not less complete change produced by ordinary causes; such as alterations of climate, occasioned by inclosing and draining ; alteration in the course of rivers, and in the level of their beds ; alteration in the animal and vegetable productions of the soil, and in the supply of metals and minerals; noticing also the advance or retreat of the sea, and the origin and successive increase in the number and variation in the line of roads, together with the changes in the extent and character of the woodlands. How much might be done by our Society at Rome if some of its attention were directed to these points : for instance, drainage and an alteration in the course of the waters have produced great changes in Tuscany; and there is also the interesting question as to the spread of malaria in the Maremme.