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Letter from William Whewell

WW attaches an abstract of Heyne's [Christian Gottlob Heyne] work on Homer's Iliad: 'There is however a piece of injustice which has sometimes been committed and which I hope you will avoid - that of considering those who hold such a disbelief as critical atheists; as if they supposed that this glorious frame of the Iliad had been the work of chance - the result of a fortuitous concourse of letters - now such a specimen of literary Epicureanism is perfectly portentous, and never could with anybody's head even if he believed that the Greek alphabet had existed from eternity (which is contrary to the testimony of history) - the worst that you can say of them is that they are critical Polytheists. Instead of believing only in one Homer the creator of the Iliad & Odyssey they suppose a whole hierarchy of Homers, great and small'. WW gives the grounds for his scepticism. Everybody seems to have forgotten the Union [see WW to HJR, 25 March 1817]: 'we have however sent the petition to the Chancellor to be'. How does HJR's part of Lacroix's [Silvestre F. Lacroix] translation progress: 'I have finished the translation of the first part to art. 81. - Then you begin. I have to complete my introduction (which will not be many pages and wh. therefore must not be mentioned in the title) and in a week or two I shall be ready for the press'.

Letter from William Whewell

WW hopes to be working on etymological history, like HJR, in a week. His speculations on the subject 'have not advanced much farther than general notions of the points to be investigated and the method of philosophising upon them. I know nothing of Saxon though I have some intention of descending upon it from German'. HJR's successor on the Cambridge Union is Sheridan [Charles B. Sheridan]. WW is beginning 'to feel for poor Lacroix [Silvestre F. Lacroix] - if he be published at all it would be advisable that he should be out by next October; and for that he must be in the press immediately' [see WW to HJR, 15 April 1817]. The Fitzwilliam Museum is open and are in considerable danger of becoming all conoisseurs'. Has HJR seen Richard Jones in the pulpit? Charles Babbage 'has been here taking his degree and is just as mad about functions as he ever was '.

Letter from William Whewell

WW hopes to shortly 'hold high discourse with you on the many subjects we have to arrange - important to us and still more important to posterity'. He is currently supposed to be going to Margate with Tom Paynter - but he has not yet had word from him. If HJR knows where Paynter is let him know. Further to the Lacroix translation WW has 'not made any new agreement with Deighton' [see WW to HJR, 15 April 1817]. WW is 'glad to see the Bishop of Chester in your hands - you have, I think, shewn very satisfactorily the extreme unsolidity of his hypothesis'.

Letter from William Whewell

WW is pleased 'to hear again of an old and favourite scheme' [to set up a Journal], asks if there is an opening for him, if it is to have a political or religious bent, and if not if it would be successful, if it would not take up too much time, if the reviewers have enough information and experience in the world, and thinks the project should wait a while - if only to gather materials. 'George Peacock talks of a six months' review; upon this hint I suggested a secular review. Marchese Spinetto has been trying to collect a body of Cambridge reviewers. He proposed to Peacock that he and Miles Bland should take the mathematics, which did not at all quadrate with George's notions. I believe the thing has fallen through. I have thought frequently of something like a magazine or periodical collection of essays upon all subjects, scientific, literary, spectatorial, or any other. It would give more liberty than any form. If its circulation at Cambridge were a matter of much importance, I have no doubt that we might annex to it a sufficient quantity of Cambridge mathematics neatly done to make it sell here... The remainder of the publication which should be much the largest part might, I do not doubt, be so written as to do much good here and elsewhere'.

Letter from William Whewell

WW has not yet taken steps to send HJR the sermons he requested. WW has not been able to find the first memoir HJR wanted regarding his work on inscriptions. 'I hope you are going on well and bursting into birth' ['Inscriptiones Graecae Vetustissimae/ Collegit, et Observationes tum Aliorum tum suas Adjecit Hugo Jacobus Rose', 1825]. When is Richard Jones to be married?: 'I sent him down some of the volumes of the French Encyclopaedia lately to establish his political economy'. WW gives a copy of one of the inscriptions he has found.

Letter from William Whewell

Cambridge University 'is a vile university and the vice chancellor is a damned vice chancellor. - But if possible I will waste no more time in exclamations and give you the facts - scene - Union debating Room - Time - six o'clock. - Knock at door - silence - enter the red round idiot head & turkey cock breast of Okes [William Okes] - Hon. gentlemen stare - enter the inflexibly meek countenance & proctorial smile of French [William French] - stare wider - Okes running himself against the table & addressing the president. "Vice Chancellor sent us to say he don't like these societies - all to go home". French "The Vice Chancellor desires you to disperse & to meet no more". - Pres. requests the messengers to withdraw that soc. may consider of it - "No - not a subject for your consideration - you must oblige" - so the vice chancellor dislikes these societies - but suppose we reject political subjects - will he let us discuss literary ones - "Can't say - no authority - but V.C. is in the house we will mention"[.] [Says] again "no societies at all to be allowed - all to disperse". But we must finish this meeting - we have financial matters - V.C. is here - you will let us send a deputation to him - Whewell - Thirlwall [Connop Thirlwall] - Sheridan [Charles B. Sheridan] - ushered into a room - V.C. in full silks - head white[,] face red & ugly. - Jackson in the background - Red nose of [Hornbuckle?] sticking across the room - and o sorrow & shame! Monk [James H. Monk] - (Why the devil - fool as he was - did he not let it be a Johnian business as it deserved to be) - "We are told you have an objection to our debates - want to know how far it goes - literary subjects?" "No sir - they are against the statutes - all meetings at regular times for the purpose of debate are - hum - haw - hum irregular - and you have only three years - you have other things to do - you take too much upon you - your knowledge[,] your reading[,] your minds are not proper food..." "I am afraid we are not to be allowed to consider the reasons - we must submit to the authority" A move at the word authority "But the case must have been exaggerated - two or three hours a week" "Sir I have had a letter from a person who once belonged to the society and who says that his prospects have been ruined & that the prospects of several of his friends have been ruined by the time and attention he has bestowed on the Society." "Very unfortunate - but it is impossible this can be common." "Sir it is against the statutes - you must disperse." But we may retain our reading room - and continue our present debate - granted. - Long debate - all manner of motions - Remonstrances proposed. - Committee - Whewell - Thirlwall - Sheridan - Lawson - Lodge - My Lord Chief Justice a fool as usual and apparently somewhat frightened. - Committee met today. Now what think you of this? - It is not yet decided what is to be done but of course there must somehow or other, a great noise be made. Do you not think it would do good to write to Clarke & inflame him about it. - And to write to some of the newspapers - it has been proposed to petition the chancellor - write immediately and tell me what you think. - I have done nothing for Lacroix [Silvestre F. Lacroix] yet but we will talk of that another time'.

Letter from William Whewell

Grecian Coffee House, Strand - WW writes to inform HJR of what the seniors have determined: 'they have thought me worthy to be one of their number - so that I may now if I chuse go on imbibing college ale & college politics for the rest of my life'. News on other fellowship candidates. WW is 'ready to meditate upon reviews[,] magazines[,] essays or any other project for the good of mankind and our own immortalization'. Does HJR know where Richard Jones is - he would like to go and see him.

Letter from William Whewell

Carnarvon - WW is glad that HJR is also employed taking students on an educational tour, and hopes HJR has been 'running up a proper quantity of Scotch metaphysics and Greek history with your lines and circles. If your metaphysical examiner be a man of the same kidney as ours was[,] your best plan by far is to read the article metaphysics in the Encyc. Brit. till you can write out a regular syllabus of it[,] for such would the answer to our paper have been - at all events it will be as good a guide as you can have. As to the philology the Port Royal Latin grammar and Harris' Hermes are the fountain for wh. they generally derive it'. Brown's [Thomas Brown] paper was derived from the first of these works. Will WW find HJR at Cambridge in October? WW has accepted the office of lecturer [in mathematics].

Letter from William Whewell

WW understands that HJR must be working at his inscriptions, and may be about to publish some account of them ['Inscriptiones Graecae Vetustissianne', 1825]: 'Have you had time to embody any of your speculations and the results which they have suggested, or is it merely to be something in the way of materials for the few who have similar pursuits and sufficient industry, to work from, without the trouble of turning on several books? Is there any chance of getting at anything certain in the early history of the Greek, or have we drifted down the stream too far to be able to examine its source?'. WW is likely to give up philology for mathematics - especially since he has just accepted the office of mathematical lecturer. Robert Woodhouse has published a book on physical astronomy: 'It is like his other books...executed in no very neat manner but still good metal - so that at worst it may be melted down and coined over again. It will I have no doubt make its way into the Senate House - especially as we have Gwatkin [Richard Gwatkin] & Peacock [George Peacock] as moderators'. [Alexander] D'Arbly 'talks of writing something on the application of analysis to curves &c'. WW was surprised to find D'Arblay had taken his orders. 'If I go on here I shall I have no doubt become a worthy successor to James Wood'.

Letter from William Whewell

WW is published ['An Elementary Treatise on Mechanics', 1819]. WW wants to know how HJR's work on inscriptions is proceeding, and gives information concerning recent works he has encountered on this subject. However with his work as a mathematics lecturer he no longer has the time to look into these matters. WW took a petition to the new Vice-Chancellor [William Frere] regarding the banned Union Society, and spoke to him for nearly an hour: 'But all that I could gain was a promise to lay it upon the heads and then of course its fate was obvious' [see WW to HJR, 25 March 1817]. WW is keeping his eyes open for a situation which may bring HJR closer to Cambridge.

Letter from William Whewell

WW is 'sorry that you are so much puzzled to chuse between ideas and things that you are making up your mind to be content with words which so far as I understand it is the Platonic resource. I cannot tell you what people in general believe about Berkeley [George Berkeley] and Reid [Thomas Reid] but the two appear to me to come to much the same result - B. says that what we perceive are ideas and that there is nothing else. R. reports that we perceive things and that there is nothing else. But they both agree that what we perceive, exists, and they deny any other objects. The important question is whether the objects wh. we perceive are independent of us in their relations and sequences and of that we have complete evidence as far as the proposition is intelligible. I would never desire to prove a proposition farther. But I will tell you what the mischief is - (very likely I have told it you before -) almost all the quarrelling in this world arises from propositions - are not all your theological disputes questions of in and by and with and from & so on? So likewise in this instance - people chuse to ask whether the objects we perceive are without the mind or not. What the devil do they mean? I know what is meant by a church steeple being on the outside of the eye or a dead dog on the outside of the nose; and if the mind reside in the eye or the nose you may in the same sense say that these objects are exterior to it; not in point of fact the relation between the mind & object is not one which can be expressed by any such beggarly part of speech - it is that of perceiving and perceived. The only externality which is worth lifting an eyelid for is the constancy of the laws of nature by which certain qualities perceived by the different senses are inseparably connected and act upon each other in the way of cause and effect. Have you read Brown's book's? They are dashing, and on some material points strongly wrong, but about cause and effect he has an admirable clearness of view and happiness of illustration'. Samuel Coleridge can publish whenever he wants - 'as he takes all the conceivable elements of unintelligibility it is hard if any envious ray of meaning finds its way through the theologico - metaphysico - etymologico - Coleridgical thatch with wh. he will cover his Platonic hut'.

Letter from William Whewell

[Tom] Paynter has informed WW that HJR has 'a curiosity to know whether you have puzzled me about Pope & Poetry. You would have the less merit in doing so as I have completely puzzled myself. I have vacillated among systems of criticism till I am rather giddy - and seem to myself to be advancing fast to that glorious state of poetical scepticism in which no one principle of criticism is more certain than its opposite: and this by arguments wh., according to Hume's admirable definition of scepticism, admit of no answer and produce no conviction. At present however I have not time to reason or even to doubt upon such matters: instead of the "feast" & the "flow" of poetical analysis to which your letter tempted me, I must pick the dry bones and swill the watery soup wh. are the preparatory diet of the gymnasium here. - I hope you will allow this - viz the having you, myself, the college examination, and very possibly truth also for antagonists, - to be a satisfactory reason for not attempting sooner or for not attempting at all to defend the opinions that you attribute to me. However that you may not consider me as absolutely one of the ungodly and those that perish, or, what is much worse, live & do not admire good poetry - that you may not fancy me fallen away from a state of poetical grace beyond even the saving influence of Wordsworth - I must disclaim some of the opinions you give me - a sceptic may deny though he may not assert - though he is very likely to be troubled with doubts whether denial be not a species of assertion. I do not, then, make Pope my idol. I should not rejoice to see his style restored. I do not perceive in him or from him the love of nature. I do not even insist upon his being called a poet. It is sufficient for me, who would not break the king's peace for a definition, that I receive from his writing pleasure greater & of a different kind from that wh. I should receive from similar writings in prose. - You may certainly analyse the pleasure his pieces give into many elements wh. are not generally understood to be poetical elements; wit for instance, wh. all the world can understand & delight in at all times wh. is more than you can say for feeling of any kind. - He is moreover invariably alive to the ridicule wh. in polished society lies in wait for bursts of feeling wh. are not selon les regles - but everyman - except Adam before the creation of Eve - has had his feelings and the manifestation of them in some measure regulated by regard for the opinions & views of others and then come the sceptic's questions how far? - where to stop & why? - But as for defining poetry or analysing the feelings which it puts in action - explaining what it is or may be or ought to be what is its origin its laws and its end - cela me passe. I have been much delighted by several critical works but convinced by none - the negative part of most systems seems good. A little while back I was in great transports with Schlegel - if you have not read the book I think you will find it will repay you for the perusal. Hare [Julius Hare] considers it as the ideal of criticism. Even if you do not believe it, wh. I think you will in a great measure, you will allow it to be fine writing - a little German or so but still fine. - But as Cicero's interlocutor says of Plato, when I laid down the book I could not recall the conviction. In fact I think you will find when you examine, that most of the good criticism you see produces its effect rather as eloquence than as philosophy - rather excites poetical emotions than analyses them. I was much astonished to find that Coleridge takes his critical ground so low. - It is not so much the absolute extent of his disapprobation of Wordsworth wh. made me consider it as indicating a revolution in Lake criticism, as the principles on wh. he founds it - and those are obviously such that they will irresistibly extend themselves much further than he has carried them - his critique on the daffodils for instance might serve as a model for similar strictures on all Wordsworth's Wordsworthian poems. It pleases me to find that it is in consequence of his theory that Wordsworth is got wrong - what has a poet to do with a theory? - let him mind his business or it will be worse for him. As for Coleridge he has almost too metaphysical a head to be a good poet - a man who is always looking for symptoms in himself will not often be healthful - a man who studies all the motions of all his limbs will not probably be graceful - and a man who is everlastingly watching the operations of his own mind & imagination is not likely to think or to feel truly. - By this time you will begin to suspect that the tendency of all this profound reasoning is to prove my right to be inconsistent. I hope I have fully established that, and that [therefore], if you think it inconsistent to admire both Wordsworth and Pope, you will do me the favour to believe that it may nevertheless be my case: nay, more, that I may admire one or the other, or neither, according to the state of the barometer'. Deighton [Cambridge printer] expects them to pay for the carriage of the Lacroix [Silvestre F. Lacroix] paper to him. If HJR comes to Cambridge would he be interested in resuming the plan [presumably to translate Lacroix].

Letter from William Whewell

The new Arabic Professor knows as many languages as HJR: 'Mr Lee [Samuel Lee] of Queen's who was originally a carpenter but took to learning languages, and was in consequence employed in translating for the Bible Society and sent to Cambridge [assisted by Isaac Milner, Master of Queen's College]'. 'There is a great spirit of reform abroad in the university at present so that though the old professors are not to be molested in their inactivity all those who are hereafter elected are to give lectures...You shall see us deviate into something good by and bye. There is something of truth and not much in what you heard about Peacock's [George Peacock] examination. He had as much analytics in his papers as ever but he took upon himself to be scandalised (not without reason) at the ignorance and superficial knowledge of applications of mathematics which he found and thereupon put a very large portion of low subjects in the viva voce, wh. made monstrous boulevarsements in the order of the tripos. As for his rude speeches I heard of none except his hoping that this examination would teach men for to speculate'. Peacock has also become engrossed in mineralogy. 'Clarke [Edward Clarke] is as edifying as ever with the addition of a fancy which he has taken of late to abuse the Quarterly Review at lectures'. WW's mechanics is at last in the press ['An Elementary Treatise on Mechanics', 1819]: 'I shall be much disappointed if you are not able to read it without any trouble, for I did not intend it for a difficult book'. WW will be interested in HJR's work on inscriptions 'for I still retain some of my zeal for philological pursuits'.

Letter from William Whewell

WW would rejoice to see HJR move near to Cambridge. WW met Richard Jones and saw a great deal of him for two or three days: 'He took very strongly to metaphysics and happening to have made up his mind that the two words "necessary truth" ought not to be placed in immediate contact' proceeded to abuse the author of a book which made this connection: 'Not content with pouring forth all his own rage upon them, he went about to all his friends, protesting like a true parson (with your fervor) that church and king, the cause of sound doctrine and good practice, were all endangered by this unnatural union - I endeavoured in vain to appease him by shewing that neither reason nor custom had forbid the connexion'. Has HJR heard 'of a most material revolution which has taken place at St. John's - the spirit of abolishing privileges & equalising rights has entered even there - the last place one should expect to find it. In short they have got a King's letter, one of the first instruments his Majesty signed, abolishing all restrictions upon their fellowships so that they are now as open as ours. The king's power of course extends only to the foundation fellowship but they seem to imagine that eventually they will be able to open all - this is a most material improvement in their constitution and will I suppose if possible make them more loyal than before'. How is HJR's work on inscriptions progressing? There has on the whole been no shortage of material for the new Society [Cambridge Philosophical Society], but they have all been rather bored by 'an endless paper of good old Farish's [William Farish] upon what he calls "isometrical perspective"'.

Letter from William Whewell

WW has been unable to conduct the research HJR required concerning his research on inscriptions: 'I have not got anything copied for you because the answers to your questions are necessarily contained in sentences & half sentences scattered over a dozen pages which it would be too complicated a business to pick out'. WW gives a summary of the kind of details he found in the resources he consulted.

Letter from William Whewell

The only person WW can find who answers HJR's description is a William Johnson of St. John's who was matriculated December 17 1787. Paynter has returned from a trip to Peterborough looking at early English arches. WW intends to go to the press in about a week [WW's and HJR's planned translation of Silvestre F. Lacroix] - 'send what you have finished that we may have some capital to begin upon. I have not taken any steps yet; except talking to Deighton who seems to have a sort of consciousness that he has been laid upon us and talks of having no objection to overstep his engagement if the work succeeds... I grow more and more in good humour with the plan'. Has HJR any information concerning Richard Jones? News concerning the romantic activities of two University friends.

Letter from William Whewell

What are HJR's movements? WW has 'just got through a new book of your friend Coleridge's, his Biographia Literaria which I suppose you have seen. It contains an account of himself wh. in many places is amusing enough; but it appears to me to be of considerable consequence from the critical parts of it which will I think completely change the state of the question about the "Lake school." For to my great astonishment I find it full of good sense and fair rational criticism; and containing a condemnation of all those parts of Wordsworth [William Wordsworth] both of his theory and of his practice to wh. I should object. Denying his whole theory about poetical diction; and the resemblance of poetry to real life and low life; and blaming almost all those poems wh. he has written upon his theory. Condemning his prosaic style, his peculiarities his mystical and inflated language and wonderments about the most everyday things, his matter-of-factness, his attachment to pedlars, his deification of children; and in short everything or almost everything that other people have made a pretence of laughing at the whole he takes out and laughs at by itself. - Now it may be very true that all this makes but a very small part of the whole but nevertheless it always appeared to me so woven and matted with the rest as to give a tinge to the entire mass - it was in consequence of that, that I never entirely got over the repulsion I felt to Wordsworth - for there were so many passages obviously favourites of the poet where I could not feel any sympathy with him that I could not but doubt whether I had really any sympathy with him where I appeared to have. Even yet I much doubt whether Wordsworth would allow that man to understand his poems who talks of them as Coleridge does. If it be so the whole imaginary fabric of a new school of poetry wh. seemed as if it were to be built up to the skies and to the borders of the universe, far out-topping the town of Babel, turns out to be nothing but a little furbishing and beautification (as the churchwardens call it) of the parish church. Just getting rid of stale epithets and stale personifications and one or two other errors that had crept in and all our poets of reputation will turn out to be good poets. I am glad of it because I had much rather have my objects of admiration increased than diminished'. However as with most systems, the negative part of Coleridge's system is 'true or verisimillimum - as for the positive part we are all abroad again - his poetics I think are false - and as for his metaphysics they are as before - muddy with their own turbulence - I can make nothing of them. But how the man who wrote the critique on Wordsworth could write Christabel I cannot conceive. If I were to judge from this book I should take Coleridge's talent to lie in wit more than in poetry - his similes and metaphors are delightfully lively - he puts me in mind of Pope more than any other writer. Upon the strength of Coleridge's knowledge of Wordsworth's meaning I have sent for Ws poems'.

Letter from William Whewell

WW has been waiting for Julius Hare to find out the answer to HJR's question. WW can only find one of the books HJR requires in the library: 'When you come you may put them down in the order book'. WW is pleased to hear that HJR is continuing with his work on inscriptions: 'I shall be glad to hear of the appearance of a work which I am sure, whenever it does appear, will bring you a large portion of kudos with respect to the sort of historical purpose you talk of I can only say that I have always found such accounts exceedingly interesting, and that this one, on a subject where anything like a general account is I suppose nearly untouched, must be very desirable' ['Inscriptiones Graecae Vetustissimae/ Collegit, et Observationes tum Aliorum tum suas Adjecit Hugo Jacobus Rose', 1825].

Letter from William Whewell

WW is sorry to hear that HJR is ill. HJR's old pupil, [Charles J.] Goodhart, is a particular favourite with Thomas Thorp. WW did not mean to suggest he had quarrelled with Miller's Bampton Lectures since he has not read them: 'But I suppose I should have asked you what you mean by your school and my school. I do not know that my views and opinions are those of any class of people and they certainly are not those which have often served as a basis for the jokes of our common acquaintances - your school is I presume the Wordsworthian, and I believe that many of the persons whom, I imagine, you would include in it have exceedingly amiable and deeply seated religious & moral views & feelings - but what these have to do with... Coleridge's rant of etymologico-Platonic speculations is what I have never been able to make out'. They have been fighting in Cambridge over the right of election. Adam Sedgwick 'has just printed a pamphlet on the subject which is quite admirable - I cannot send it you but I beg you to believe on my word that we are exceedingly in the right and that the heads in general & French in particular are greatly in the wrong'.

Letter from William Whewell

WW has not got the time to visit HJR. 'Are you not doing what our worthy friend Hare [Julius Hare] and some others do to an extent which I should not have conceived possible in men of sense? Finding that Reason alone cannot invent a satisfactory system of morals & politics are you not quarrelling with her altogether and adopting opinions because they are irrational? ... Why will you not see that in speculative matters, though reason may go wrong if not guided by our better affections, that you cannot do without her... I beg your pardon for all this blasphemy but what can I say when I see men of sense adopting obsolete follies merely because they have been so completely confuted?'.

Letter from William Whewell

Due to a mistake HJR will not be able to preach in Cambridge this month: 'I do not know whether you will be content to take another turn as a set off but if you chuse to do so I can offer you one on Feb. 1, which time will I think coincide with that when you expect to be in Cambridge'. If HJR is interested he should let WW know now.

Letter from William Whewell

WW is on the verge of departing on his travels. His first destination is a place near Dresden - 'my stay there will depend upon the motions of Professor Mohs [Friedrich Mohs]. It is not impossible that I may go on to Vienna but rather more likely that I shall spend a portion of my time at Berlin & I should be much obliged by your recommendation to any of your friends there, or at Dresden, to whom it might not be too much trouble to write with the chance of your letters not being delivered'. WW is in such a hurry because 'the mineralogical lectures at Freyberg end early August. I hope to return full of crystallography'.

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 William Whewell

WW had intended to call on HJR today but was too unwell. The sole reason for the meeting yesterday was over WW's petition: 'People will not agree with us in picking out some cases for exceptions from the dominion of facts and points for the declaration of right individual feeling'. The only measure WW felt had claim to be untainted by being a party measure was the election of William Cavendish [MP for the University of Cambridge, 1829-31]. It makes WW feel better 'in the worst of times to find that I am not likely to lose your regard and confidence but I have lost my trust in my own guidance as to action & should be well content to sit and speculate if times & people would allow us' [see WW to HJR, 23 March 1831].

Letter from William Whewell

WW sends HJR a document of some customary payments owed to him from Trinity College - 'its being the last of such literary essays which you will receive from me'. All WW's duties keeping accounts have been passed on to somebody else. WW is pleased 'to hear a good account of your university [HJR was Professor of Divinity at Durham University]... I wish most heartily among other novelties you would some of you discover or write a system of morals which might take the place of Paley & Locke. Sedgwick [Adam Sedgwick] tells me he has sent you his sermon; when you read it you will see that he has declared war against both Paley & Locke. This puts them in a different footing in Cambridge from that on which they have hitherto been; for though opinions to the same effect were in very general circulation in the place, they were never I think clothed with anything like an authoritative expression before. The task of writing a system of ethics is certainly not easy, for it must not only be erected on sound principles, but so framed as to bear an advantageous comparison in its logic and execution with the best of other systems, for instance, with Paley's book - which is no easy condition. I am afraid, from what your Brit. Mag. says of Wardlaw's Christian Ethics, he has not solved this problem'.

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 William Whewell

HJR may switch with William Twopeny and preach on Whit Tuesday instead of Monday if he wants. Tindal [Nicholas C. Tindal] has declared himself as a candidate for the forthcoming election for the University - 'and I think has more claims upon us than either of the other candidates so I am afraid we shall not yet get to the same side'.

Letter from William Whewell

WW has 'spoken with Prickett [Marmaduke Prickett, Chaplain of Trinity College, 1836-38] about his intentions and find as I supposed that he does not hesitate being a candidate for a fellowship next term & so that there will be no obstacle on that head in the way of his belonging in your vineyard. It appears that the Master, who I think mentioned his name to you had not spoken to him of the possibility of such a proposal from you; but it is I think much to the credit of his judgement & principles, as well as a good enquiry for his being a useful & satisfactory assistant to you, that he is particularly delighted with the idea of entering the church under your auspices'. WW is sorry to hear of JHR's asthma. WW has 'only just begun Napier ['Peninsular War']. Sedgwick [Adam Sedgwick] is delighted with the military views which it contains...but he is not insensible to the faults you mention. He seems to think, & Peacock also that it may change people's opinion of Cintra & Moore. I think it was very bad reading for a man with a weak chest & so you seem to have found it'.

Letter from William Whewell

WW gives his opinion on HJR's proposal of a provincial paper, 'even from a University', which 'could not make its way very rapidly, except it were to season its articles somewhat in the John Bull style, which would not be well...there would be a good deal of difficulty in getting your active writers to agree on a system of opinions neither too lax nor too rigid; and some chance, perhaps not a great one, of splits and collisions arising from differences of opinion. I think too that your argument and even your assertions and proofs would come with less weight when issuing from a professional source'. WW has 'a profound horror of a personal share in the responsibility of providing food for any periodical creature'.

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