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Wordsworth, Christopher (1774–1846) college head
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Letters to William Whewell and Christopher Wordsworth

Includes letters by J. O. Halliwell, J. M. Heath about the August 1846 storm in Cambridge, H. Montagu Butler about a bust of Archdeacon Hare, Vernon Musgrave about a memorial to Archbishop Musgrave, with a draft from William Whewell to Vernon Musgrave.

Wright, William Aldis (1831–1914), literary and biblical scholar

Letters to John William Whittaker

Fifteen letters from William Whewell, five letters from H. P. Hamilton, one each from Charles Heathcote and Christopher Wordsworth, and two from James C. Franks.

Whittaker, John William (1791-1854) Church of England clergyman

William Carus correspondence

Volume of letters arranged alphabetically by correspondent, with usually no more than one letter per person, each correspondent identified at the top of the page on which the letter is mounted, in the form of an autograph book.

Carus, William (c 1801-1891) clergyman

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Trinity College - When WW last wrote he had not seen the article on RJ in the Quarterly Review: 'I think you have great good luck in escaping out of my hands for I had not ventured to say so broadly what I supposed your plan to be though I expected to leave nearly the same impression, and I certainly never dreamt of quoting you to the extent to which Lockhart's [John Lockhart] established reviewer has done...I am quite sure both from what he says to me and still more from the inscrutable manner in which the whole business of the Review is carried on that he is very far from absolute, and that there is some greater power behind his editorial throne'. WW thinks that RJ's success among the existing political economists, will depend greatly 'on its being explained to them what you are supposed to have different from their doctrine'. If RJ wants 'candid and thinking readers you must go to Germany'. The master of Trinity - Christopher Wordsworth - 'is delighted' with RJ's book ['An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth, and on the Sources of Taxation: Part 1. - Rent', 1831] and impatient for the next volume on wages. WW gives his comments on the review of Whately [Richard Whately].

Letter from Julius Charles Hare

The Master [Christopher Wordsworth] is thinking of leaving College for a month and enquired whether JCH had heard from WW: 'If he be still here, I will tell him you will undertake his Sermon' [see JCH to WW, 1 Aug. 1827].

Letter from Julius Charles Hare

Herstmonceux, Hailsham - JCH has received a parcel from WW and Connop Thirlwall [WW, 'Additional Remarks on some parts of Mr Thirlwall's Two Letters on the Admission of Dissenters to Academical Degrees', 1834. CT had produced a pamphlet entitled 'A Letter to the Rev. Thomas Turton on the Admission of Dissenters to the University of Cambridge', 1834, as a response to the House of Lords rejecting a Bill to abolish tests and to Thomas Turton's, Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, defence of religious disqualification's in his 'Thoughts on the Admission of Persons, without regard to their Religious Opinions, to Certain Degrees in the Universities of England', 1834 ]: 'It used to be a source of great satisfaction to me to think that I had left you Thirlwall as a colleague. My grief however was overpowered by indignation on learning yesterday that the master had not only required him to give up his place in the tuition, but had also recommended his resigning his fellowship. Surely this is a most outrageous step. The high church party seem all gone stark-mad, and to have been all seized with a fanatical desire of martyrdom at all costs and risks. Else I should be utterly unable to comprehend how the master could be guilty of such a piece of insolence and folly. I conceive that, in making this recommendation, he was urging what he has no authority to enforce: and assuredly the pamphlet contains nothing to warrant such a proceeding. I long to hear what the fellows will do in consequence. It seems to me that, in addition to your private answers to Thirlwall's circular, there ought at least to be a general protest, if not a general address to him. Is it true that what the master has done has been prompted by Rose [Hugh James Rose]? I cannot believe it. If it had, he ought never to be admitted into any room in the college again'. However where CT attacked compulsory chapel service it was right that he should be made to resign: 'For it seems to me that the officers in any executive body are bound not to proclaim the defects of the system they are appointed to execute, unless in concert with their brother officers, and with a reasonable hope of correcting the defects they complain of'. JCH regrets as much as WW what CT says about chapel attendance: Still is not the fact of his speaking in such a way about the practice a strong argument against it? I think you strain the argument from antiquity, though of course I concur heartily with what you say about such an argument. In ancient times the practice of the colleges was in unison with that of all the rest of the country. Daily religious worship was then general'. Students on the whole see chapel going not as a religious duty but more as a muster-roll which is injurious. JCH gives his opinion on Christian Dissenters: 'I was very glad to see what you said in defence of 'prescribed exercises', and against the 'full consciousness of freedom'. It is so strange that a person who weighs his words, and knows their meaning, like Thirlwall, (unlike C. Wordsworth) and have been led by his abhorrence of 'compulsory religion', into arrant quakerism: that is to say, quakerism in the idea; for of course the quakers, out of their hatred of all forms, become the greatest formalists among mankind. It is strange that he should have overlooked the difference between 'compulsory religion', and religion into which one is led, and in which one is strengthened, by moral influences. Though force is destructive of religion, these influences, being cognate to it, are not. Alas one cannot have a fortnight in the care of a parish without finding that to talk about 'the full consciousness of freedom 'as necessary to religion is totally inapplicable to the present condition of mankind'. Theology may be installed into a man but not religion. 'It is [awful?] to think of the breaking up of that singularly happy delightful society which we enjoyed for so many years at Trinity. But how could one expect that it would be privileged to last for ever?' Who did not foresee that the Reform Bill 'was to shake every institution and to loosen every tie throughout the country!' How can WW say he stands completely outside the conflict? and should he?: 'You who have so much influence with both parties, who see through their delusions, who have so many qualifications for mediating between them?' In fact WW's pamphlet shows that he cannot abstain. Hopefully the forthcoming vacation will cool men's minds and induce the master to apologise to CT. 'Have you heard anything lately of William Wordsworth? He will be grieved to hear of these college quarrels'. John Sterling has been lately with JCH - 'whom I know not whether more to admire for his genius, or to love for his simplicity, his gentleness, his frankness, and his noble mind'. Sterling tells JCH of the 'very good effects produced by the abridgement of the service at Corpus. If something of the kind were done, it might give the service more the character of family prayer and I think a great deal of good might be done by having a sermon more short, and bore upon the condition of the congregation, somewhat of the manner of Arnold's [Matthew Arnold] admirable Rugby sermons. This would be much in associating religious feelings with the place'.

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Trinity College - Things 'are all going wrong here and I dare say shall soon be in a condition quite insolvable. Thirlwall [Connop Thirlwall] has published a pamphlet on the Dissenters question' ['A Letter to the Rev. Thomas Turton, on the Admission of Dissenters to Academical Degrees', 1834]. Subsequently, the Master [Christopher Wordsworth] has asked him to resign which he duly did: 'The Whigs are a bitter set, and not very scrupulous, and I dare say will do something to shew their wrath'.

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Norwich - Perhaps WW should have suppressed his pamphlet altogether, 'but there was something which looked like a challenge in a part of Thirlwall's [Connop Thirlwall] which drew me on' [see WW to RJ, 12 June 1834]. WW thinks RJ's suggestion that WW's pamphlet could be seen as a defense of the Master's dismissal of Thirlwall as absurd. On the contrary, WW thought Thirlwall's opinions on chapel going could have been overcome: 'This I told his friends (Sedgwick, Musgrave, Romilly etc) from the first'. WW is clear about his own view: 'The case is the same as that of an officer in any other body publishing an attack upon the system which he has to carry into affect: or a cabinet minister declaring himself against a cabinet measure: the tutors and assistant tutors were understood by most of us to be engaged to further the observance of all college rules by the undergraduates'. This does not mean a tutor cannot hold Thirlwall's opinions about dissenters, as is clear from the case of George Peacock. RJ will find that Julius Hare 'considers that the Master could not do otherwise than he did, and Sedgwick [Adam Sedgwick] acknowledged that Thirlwall's declarations were inconsistent with his position'.

Letter from William Whewell

WW has been meaning to write to HJR for some time 'for the purpose of remonstrating with you as to one or two things more hard than was necessary which you have said of my friends the experimental philosophers'. WW cannot imagine why HJR 'should charge mathematics with being useful and with strengthening the memory, when you may easily know that all of the science which we learn here is devoid of all practical use; and I can give you plenty of testimony that it may produce the effect of very thoroughly spoiling memories naturally good, besides giving you psychological reasons why it should do so if you wish for them. Nor do I think that you quite fairly represent the nature of progress in scientific knowledge when you talk of its consisting in the rejection of present belief in favour of novelty; at any rate if the novelty be true one does not see what else is to be done. But, to tell the truth, I am persuaded that there is not in the nature of science anything unfavourable to religious feelings, and if I were not so persuaded I should be much puzzled to account for our being invested, as we so amply are, with the faculties that lead us to the discovery of scientific truth. It would be strange if our Creator should be found urging us on in a career which tended to a forgetfulness of Him. I have undertaken to preach at St. Mary's next February, and may possibly take that opportunity of introducing some of my own views on this subject'. WW is not surprised HJR likes the Master of Trinity [Christopher Wordsworth] so much 'for he always strikes me as most admirable in respect of principles, affections and temper'. If French is made Lucasian Professor, WW will be very upset - 'It will be making the office contemptible, and will besides be a clear proof that there is no greater dispositiion here to select people for their fitness to offices than there has been in previous times; that we do not feel the responsibility of our situation. I wish Babbage had any chance. He would be an admirable person, and so would Airy who is also a candidate'.

Letter from Adam Sedgwick

Norwich - AS could not reply to WW's kind letter until he knew of his sister's plans. If she had been going back via Cambridge AS could have tempted her to take up WW's invitation to stay - but she is not. AS is pleased WW is going to bring before the Seniority the revision of the statutes. AS cannot understand why their former Master [Christopher Wordsworth] did not do this earlier: 'Of course nothing will be done finally before I come back at the end of this month'. George Airy came to visit AS but his stay was cut short: 'there was such a magnetic storm in Greenwich Park that they were obliged to send just for him to come to quell this insurrection among the needles'.

Letter from William Whewell

It seems unlikely that HJR will be able to preach on Whit Tuesday since it appears to be already engaged - Monday seems to be free. WW does not think he can give HJR any reasons 'for and against offering yourself for the Divinity Professorship. Our Master has declared to the electors that he is a candidate; but, if [I] understand him clearly, with the reservation of a disposition to withdraw if one of his own fellows comes forward'. Julius Hare and Connop Thirlwall are to translate the second edition of Niebuhr's History of Rome - 'a very dense & heavy looking mess of German it is. I suppose it is an excellent work but I doubt whether people whose time is less valuable might not translate it properly well'.

Letter from Adam Sedgwick

Norwich - AS is shocked to hear that their former Master - Christopher Wordsworth - has died: 'Could you give me any information on the subject?' AS hopes to be back at Cambridge the first week in April. Can WW help AS with some details concerning a testimonial he has to write.

William Whewell to Julius Charles Hare

JCH is lucky that he left Trinity College 'before the evil days arrived'. For instance Connop Thirlwall's pamphlet on the Dissenters admission ['A Letter to the Rev. Thomas Turton, on the Admission of Dissenters to Academical Degrees', 1834] followed by the Master's [Christopher Wordsworth] harsh reaction: 'The pamphlet was I think sure to do great mischief, and the Master has requested him to resign'. WW remonstrated in vain against the Master's decision. JCH will find WW's view on Thirlwall's work in the pamphlet he has enclosed ['Remarks on Some Parts of Mr Thirlwall's Letter on the Admission of Dissenters to Academical Degree', 1834]: 'I fear that this is but the beginning of troubles - you know the Whigs are a very bitter set'.

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