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I suppose the Government may entrench upon individual property for a great national benefit, giving a fair compensation to the parties, just as is done in every Canal Bill. Nay, I cannot see why the rights of the planters are more sacred than those of the old despotic kings and feudal aristocracies who were made to part with many good things which they had inherited from their ancestors because the original tenure was founded on wrong; and so is all slavery, all West Indian slavery at least, most certainly.
TO W. W. HULL, ESQ.
Laleham, September 30, 1824. I am now working at German in good earnest, and have got a master, who comes down here to me once a week. I have read a good deal of Julius Hare's friend Niebuhr, and have found it abundantly overpay the labour of learning a new language, to say nothing of some other very valuable German books with which I am becoming acquainted, all preparatory to my Roman History. I am going to set to work at the Coke
Littleton Roman law,-to make myself acquainted, if possible, with the tenure of property; and I think I shall apply to you for the loan of some of your books touching the civil law, and specially Justinian's Institutes. As my knowledge increases, I only get a clearer insight into my ignorance; and this excites me to do my best to remove it before I descend to the Avernus of the press. But I am twice the man for labour that I have been lately, for the last year or two, because the pupils, I thank God, are going on well; I have at this moment the pleasure of seeing three of them sitting at the round table in the drawing-room, all busily engaged about their themes; and the general good effect of their sitting with us all the evening is really very surprising.
TO REV. JOHN TUCKER.
Laleham, April 5, 1825. I am getting pretty well to understand the history of the Roman Kings, and to be ready to commence writing. One of my most useful books is dear old Tottle's (Aristotle's] Politics; which give one so full a notion of the state of society and opinions in old times, that by their aid one can pick out the wheat from the chaff in Livy with great success. Mr. Penrose has lately mentioned a work by a Mr. Cooper, in which he applies the prophecies in the eleventh chapter of Daniel to Buonaparte.-Have you read the work yourself? My own notion is, that people try to make out from prophecy too much of a detailed history, and thus I have never seen a single commentator who has not perverted the truth of history to make it fit the prophecy. I think that with the exception of those prophecies which relate to our Lord, the object of prophecy is rather to delineate principles and states of opinion which shall come, than external events. I grant that Daniel seems to furnish an exception, and I do not know how Mr. Cooper has done his work; but in general, commentaries or expositions of the prophecies give me a painful sense of unfairness in their authors, in straining the facts to agree with the imagined prediction of them. Have you seen Cobbett's “ History of the Protestant Reformation,” which he is publishing monthly in threepenny numbers? It is a queer compound of wickedness and ignorance with strong sense and the mention of divers truths which have been too much disguised or kept in the back ground, but which ought to be generally known. Its object is to represent the Reformation in England as a great national evil, accomplished by all kinds of robbery and cruelty, and tending to the impoverishment and misery of the poor, and to the introduction of a careless clergy and a spirit of ignorance and covetousness amongst every body. It made me groan, while reading it, to think that
the real history and effects of the Reformation are so little known, and the evils of the worldly policy of Somerset's and Elizabeth's government so little appreciated. As it is, Cobbett's book can do nothing but harm, so bad is its spirit, and so evident its unfairness.
TO REV. GEORGE CORNISH.
Florence, July 15, 1825. I wish I could tell you something about the people,but how is it possible, travelling at the rate that we are obliged to do? We see, of course, the very worst specimens-innkeepers, postillions, and beggars; and one is thus in danger of getting an unfavourable impression of the inhabitants in spite of one's judgment. A matter of more serious thought, and on which I am vainly trying to procure information, is the condition of the lower orders. I have long had a suspicion that Cobbett's complaints of the degradation and sufferings of the poor in England contained much truth, though uttered by him in the worst possible spirit. It is certain that the peasantry here are much more generally proprietors of their own land than with us; and I should believe them to be much more independent and in easier circumstances. This is, I believe, the grand reason why so many of the attempts at revolution bave failed in these countries. A revolution would benefit the lawyers, the savans, the merchants, bankers, and shopkeepers, but I do not see what the labouring classes would gain by it. For them the work has been done already, in the destruction of the feudal tyranny of the nobility and great men; and, in my opinion, this blessing is enough to compensate the evils of the French Revolution ; for the good endures, while the effects of the massacres and devastations are fast passing away. It is my delight everywhere to see the feudal castles in ruins, never, I trust, to be rebuilt or reoccupied ; and in this respect the watchword “ Guerre aux châteaux, Paix aux Chaumières," was prophetic of the actual result of the French Revolution. I am sure that we have too much of the oligarchical spirit in England, both in church and state ; and I think that those one-eyed men, the political economists, encourage this by their language about national wealth, &c. Toutefois, there is much good in the oligarchical spirit as it exists in England. .
TO REV. GEORGE CORNISH.
Laleham, October 18, 1825. I have also seen some sermons preached before the University of Cambridge, by a Mr. Rose, directed against the German Theologians, in the advertisement to which he attacks my article in the Quarterly with great vehemence.
He is apparently a good man, and his book is likely, I think, to do good; but it does grieve me to find persons of his stamp quarrelling with their friends when there are more than enough of enemies in the world for
Christian to strive against. I met five Englishmen at the public table at our inn at Milan, who gave me great matter for cogitation. One was a clergyman, and just returned from Egypt; the rest were young men, i. e. between twenty-five and thirty, and apparently of no profession. I may safely say, that since I was an under-graduate, I never heard any conversation so profligate as that which they all indulged in, the clergyman particularly; indeed, it was not merely gross, but avowed principles of wickedness, such as I do not remember ever to have heard in Oxford. But what struck me most was, that with this sensuality there was united some intellectual activity,--they were not ignorant, but seemed bent on gaining a great variety of solid information from their travels. Now this union of vice and intellectual power and knowledge seems to me rather a sign of the age, and if it goes on, it threatens to produce one of the most fearful forms of Antichrist which has yet appeared. I am sure that the great prevalence of travelling fosters this spirit, not that men learn mischief from the French or Italians, but because they are removed from the check of public opinion, and are, in fact, self-constituted outlaws, neither belonging to the society which they have left, nor taking a place in that of the countries where they are travelling. What I saw also of the Pope's religion in his own territories excited my attention a good deal. Monkery seems flourishing there in great force, and the abominations of their systematic falsehoods seem as gross as ever. In France, on the contrary, the Catholics seemed to me to be Christians, and daily becoming more and more so. In Italy they seem to me to have no more title to the name than if the statues of Venus and Juno occupied the place of those of the Virgin. It is just the old Heathenism, and, as I should think, with a worse system of deceit. ....
TO REV. E. HAWKINS.
Laleham, October 22, 1826. You know, I believe, that I am at work upon Thucydides, and that it ought to be ready, if possible, by the beginning of Lent Term. I wish much to get the judgments of several men of different qualifications as to what I have already completed. I should like to have the opinion of a professed scholar as to the critical part; of a man deeply versed in Greek history and law as to the historical and antiquarian part, and particularly to tell me whether there are any points connected with Thucydides which require a particular discussion, and which I may have omitted in pure ignorance; and thirdly, I want the judgment of a man of plain sense, to tell me what he thinks superfluous, and what deficient, in the notes which I have given. Do you think that you could do any thing for me on these points, if I were to send you down the MS. of the first two books;