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'.
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 '.
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'.
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'.
WW was disappointed at not seeing HJR in London. He was to have gone with Charles Babbage to Sir Joseph Banks on Sunday but was unwell. WW has been trying to improve his philology by studying Welsh: 'It is not a language wh. there is much temptation to learn'. WW does not believe that we owe much to our Celtic ancestors, and that the most valuable aspects of our manners and constitutions is derived from our gothic past. It has been a long time since WW has read Butler [Joseph Butler]: 'It is a book of negatives. Its object is not to prove, but to remove the presumptions against, natural & revealed religion...he claims the ground and then leaves revelation & other arguments to reset the building.' Did HJR see Jeremy Bentham? WW notes that his 'Church of Englandism' has come out again.
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.
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'.
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].
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'.
Includes translations of Welsh poems and two printed poems, "Cerdd Newydd, O Ddiolch I Hollalluog Dduw ac f'r Marquis of Anglesey, Am iddo sefyll yn ffyddlon yn y Frwydyr faw a fu yn Waterloo, Mekehin 18ed 1815 Ar y mesur a elwir Lord Willbri." (Caernarfon, 1816) and "Hanes y Carwr Trwstan".
A pamphlet attributed to Whewell, "Clipt Words" (9 copies); four issues of "Ο ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝ ΕΦΗΜΕΡΙΣ ΤΗΣ ΥΔΡΑΣ" (1831); advertisements for dictionaries and etymological books; a prospectus for the publication of Anglo Saxon Manuscripts by N. F. S. Grundtvig (London, 1831) with a MS poem in English written by Grundtvig for Whewell dated 19 June 1831; and copies of questions for the Junior and Senior English classes at the University of London, with other miscellaneous works.
To Sylvanus Urban of The Gentleman's Magazine[?]