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Memorials and Other Papers V1 by Thomas de Quincey

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The "head," as he is called generically, of an Oxford college (his
_specific_ appellation varies almost with every college--
principal, provost, master, rector, warden, etc.), is a greater man
than the uninitiated suppose. His situation is generally felt as
conferring a degree of rank not much less than episcopal; and, in fact,
the head of Brazennose at that time, who happened to be the Bishop of
Bangor, was not held to rank much above his brothers in office. Such
being the rank of heads generally, _a fortiori_, that of Christ
Church was to be had in reverence; and this I knew. He is always, _ex
officio_, dean of the diocese; and, in his quality of college head,
he only, of all deans that ever were heard of, is uniformly considered
a greater man than his own diocesan. But it happened that the present
dean had even higher titles to consideration. Dr. Cyril Jackson had
been tutor to the Prince of Wales (George IV.); he had repeatedly
refused a bishopric; and _that_, perhaps, is entitled to place a
man one degree above him who has accepted one. He was also supposed to
have made a bishop, and afterwards, at least, it is certain that lie
made his own brother a bishop. All things weighed, Dr. Cyril Jackson
seemed so very great a personage that I now felt the value of my long
intercourse with great Dons in giving me confidence to face a lion of
this magnitude.

Those who know Oxford are aware of the peculiar feelings which have
gathered about the name and pretensions of Christ Church; feelings of
superiority and leadership in the members of that college, and often
enough of defiance and jealousy on the part of other colleges. Hence it
happens that you rarely find yourself in a shop, or other place of
public resort, with a Christ-Church man, but he takes occasion, if
young and frivolous, to talk loudly of the Dean, as an indirect
expression of his own connection with this splendid college; the title
of _Dean_ being exclusively attached to the headship of Christ
Church. The Dean, as may be supposed, partakes in this superior dignity
of his "House;" he is officially brought into connection with all
orders of the British aristocracy--often with royal personages; and
with the younger branches of the aristocracy his office places him in a
relation of authority and guardianship--exercised, however, through
inferior ministry, and seldom by direct personal interference. The
reader must understand that, with rare exceptions, all the princes and
nobles of Great Britain, who choose to benefit by an academic
education, resort either to Christ Church College in Oxford, or to
Trinity College in Cambridge; these are the alternatives. Naturally
enough, my young friends were somewhat startled at my determination to
call upon so great a man; a letter, they fancied, would be a better
mode of application. I, however, who did not adopt the doctrine that no
man is a hero to his valet, was of opinion that very few men indeed are
heroes to themselves. The cloud of external pomp, which invests them to
the eyes of the _attoniti_ cannot exist to their own; they do not,
like Kehama, entering the eight gates of Padalon at once, meet and
contemplate their own grandeurs; but, more or less, are conscious of
acting a part. I did not, therefore, feel the tremor which was expected
of a novice, on being ushered into so solemn a presence.



The Dean was sitting in a spacious library or study, elegantly, if not
luxuriously furnished. Footmen, stationed as repeaters, as if at some
fashionable rout, gave a momentary importance to my unimportant self,
by the thundering tone of their annunciations. All the machinery of
aristocratic life seemed indeed to intrench this great Don's
approaches; and I was really surprised that so very great a man should
condescend to rise on my entrance. But I soon found that, if the Dean's
station and relation to the higher orders had made him lofty, those
same relations had given a peculiar suavity to his manners. Here,
indeed, as on other occasions, I noticed the essential misconception,
as to the demeanor of men of rank, which prevails amongst those who
have no personal access to their presence. In the fabulous pictures of
novels (such novels as once abounded), and in newspaper reports of
conversations, real or pretended, between the king and inferior
persons, we often find the writer expressing _his_ sense of
aristocratic assumption, by making the king address people without
their titles. The Duke of Wellington, for instance, or Lord Liverpool,
figures usually, in such scenes, as "Wellington," or "Arthur," and as
"Liverpool." Now, as to the private talk of George IV. in such cases, I
do not pretend to depose; but, speaking generally, I may say that the
practice of the highest classes takes the very opposite course. Nowhere
is a man so sure of his titles or official distinctions as amongst
_them_; for, it is upon giving to every man the very extreme
punctilio of his known or supposed claims, that they rely for the due
observance of their own. Neglecting no form of courtesy suited to the
case, they seek, in this way, to remind men unceasingly of what they
expect; and the result is what I represent--that people in the highest
stations, and such as bring them continually into contact with
inferiors, are, of all people, the least addicted to insolence or
defect of courtesy. Uniform suavity of manner is indeed rarely found,
except in men of high rank. Doubtless this may arise upon a motive of
self-interest, jealous of giving the least opening or invitation to the
retorts of ill-temper or low breeding. But, whatever be its origin,
such I believe to be the fact. In a very long conversation of a general
nature upon the course of my studies, and the present direction of my
reading, Dr. Cyril Jackson treated me just as he would have done his
equal in station and in age. Coming, at length, to the particular
purpose of my visit at this time to himself, he assumed a little more
of his official stateliness. He condescended to say that it would have
given him pleasure to reckon me amongst his flock; "But, sir," he said,
in a tone of some sharpness, "your guardians have acted improperly. It
was their duty to have given me at least one year's notice of their
intention to place you at Christ Church. At present I have not a dog-
kennel in my college untenanted." Upon this, I observed that nothing
remained for me to do but to apologize for having occupied so much of
his time; that, for myself, I now first heard of this preliminary
application; and that, as to my guardians, I was bound to acquit them
of all oversight in this instance, they being no parties to my present
scheme. The Dean expressed his astonishment at this statement. I, on my
part, was just then making my parting bows, and had reached the door,
when a gesture of the Dean's, courteously waving me back to the sofa I
had quitted, invited me to resume my explanations; and I had a
conviction at the moment that the interview would have terminated in
the Dean's suspending his standing rule in my favor. But, just at that
moment, the thundering heralds of the Dean's hall announced some man of
high rank: the sovereign of Christ Church seemed distressed for a
moment; but then recollecting himself, bowed in a way to indicate that
I was dismissed. And thus it happened that I did not become a member of
Christ Church.

A few days passed in thoughtless indecision. At the end of that time, a
trivial difficulty arose to settle my determination. I had brought
about fifty guineas to Oxford; but the expenses of an Oxford inn, with
almost daily entertainments to young friends, had made such inroads
upon this sum, that, after allowing for the contingencies incident to a
college initiation, enough would not remain to meet the usual demand
for what is called "caution money." This is a small sum, properly
enough demanded of every student, when matriculated, as a pledge for
meeting any loss from unsettled arrears, such as his sudden death or
his unannounced departure might else continually be inflicting upon his
college. By releasing the college, therefore, from all necessity for
degrading vigilance or persecution, this demand does, in effect,
operate beneficially to the feelings of all parties. In most colleges
it amounts to twenty-five pounds: in one only it was considerably less.
And this trifling consideration it was, concurring with a reputation
_at that time_ for relaxed discipline, which finally determined me
in preferring W--- College to all others. This college had the capital
disadvantage, in my eyes, that its chapel possessed no organ, and no
musical service. But any other choice would have driven me to an
instant call for more money--a measure which, as too flagrantly in
contradiction to the whole terms on which I had volunteered to
undertake an Oxford life, I could not find nerves to face.

At W---- College, therefore, I entered: and here arises the proper
occasion for stating the true costs of an Oxford education. First comes
the question of _lodging_. This item varies, as may be supposed;
but my own case will place on record the two extremes of cost in one
particular college, nowadays differing, I believe, from the general
standard. The first rooms assigned me, being small and ill-lighted, as
part of an old Gothic building, were charged at four guineas a year.
These I soon exchanged for others a little better, and for them I paid
six guineas. Finally, by privilege of seniority, I obtained a handsome
set of well-proportioned rooms, in a modern section of the college,
charged at ten guineas a year. This set was composed of three rooms;
namely, an airy bedroom, a study, and a spacious room for receiving
visitors. This range of accommodation is pretty general in Oxford, and,
upon the whole, may be taken perhaps as representing the average amount
of luxury in this respect, and at the average amount of cost. The
furniture and the fittings up of these rooms cost me about twenty-five
guineas; for the Oxford rule is, that if you take the rooms (which is
at your own option), in that case, you _third_ the furniture and
the embellishments--that is, you succeed to the total cost diminished
by one third. You pay, therefore, two guineas out of each three to your
_immediate_ predecessor. But, as he also may have succeeded to the
furniture upon the same terms, whenever there happens to have been a
rapid succession of occupants, the original cost to a remote
predecessor is sometimes brought down, by this process of diminution,
to a mere fraction of the true value; and yet no individual occupant
can complain of any heavy loss. Whilst upon this subject, I may observe
that, in the seventeenth century, in Milton's time, for example (about
1624), and for more than sixty years after that era, the practice of
_chumship_ prevailed: every set of chambers was possessed by two
cooccupants; they had generally the same bed-room, and a common study;
and they were called _chums_. This practice, once all but universal, is
now entirely extinct; and the extinction serves to mark the advance of
the country, not so much in luxury as in refinement.

The next item which I shall notice is that which in college bills is
expressed by the word _Tutorage_. This is the same in all colleges,
I believe, namely, ten guineas per annum. And this head suggests
an explanation which is most important to the reputation of Oxford,
and fitted to clear up a very extensive delusion. Some years ago,
a most elaborate statement was circulated of the number and costly
endowment of the Oxford professorships. Some thirty or more there were,
it was alleged, and five or six only which were not held as absolute
sinecures. Now, this is a charge which I am not here meaning to
discuss. Whether defensible or not, I do not now inquire. It is the
practical interpretation and construction of this charge which I here
wish to rectify. In most universities, except those of England, the
professors are the body on whom devolves the whole duty and burthen of
teaching; they compose the sole fountains of instruction; and if these
fountains fail, the fair inference is, that the one great purpose of
the institution is defeated. But this inference, valid for all other
places, is not so for Oxford and Cambridge. And here, again, the
difference arises out of the peculiar distribution of these bodies into
separate and independent colleges. Each college takes upon itself the
regular instruction of its separate inmates--of these and of no others;
and for this office it appoints, after careful selection, trial, and
probation, the best qualified amongst those of its senior members who
choose to undertake a trust of such heavy responsibility. These
officers are called Tutors; and they are connected by duties and by
accountability, not with the university at all, but with their own
private colleges. The professors, on the other hand, are _public_
functionaries, not connected (as respects the exercise of their duties)
with any college whatsoever--not even with their own--but altogether
and exclusively with the whole university. Besides the public tutors
appointed in each college, on the scale of one to each dozen or score
of students, there are also tutors strictly private, who attend any
students in search of special and extraordinary aid, on terms settled
privately by themselves. Of these persons, or their existence, the
college takes no cognizance; but between the two classes of tutors, the
most studious young men--those who would be most likely to avail
themselves of the lectures read by the professors--have their whole
time pretty severely occupied: and the inference from all this is, not
only that the course of Oxford education would suffer little if no
professors at all existed, but also that, if the existing professors
were _ex abundanti_ to volunteer the most exemplary spirit of
exertion, however much this spectacle of conscientious dealing might
edify the university, it would contribute but little to the promotion
of academic purposes. The establishment of professors is, in fact, a
thing of ornament and pomp. Elsewhere, they are the working servants;
but, in Oxford, the ministers corresponding to them bear another
name,--they are called _Tutors_. These are the working agents in the
Oxford system; and the professors, with salaries in many cases merely
nominal, are persons sequestered, and properly sequestered, to the
solitary cultivation and advancement of knowledge, which a different
order of men is appointed to communicate.

Here let us pause for one moment, to notice another peculiarity in the
Oxford system, upon the tendency of which I shall confidently make my
appeal to the good sense of all unprejudiced readers. I have said that
the _tutors_ of Oxford correspond to the _professors_ of
other universities. But this correspondence, which is absolute and
unquestionable as regards the point then at issue,--namely, where we
are to look for that limb of the establishment on which rests the main
teaching agency,--is liable to considerable qualification, when we
examine the mode of their teaching. In both cases, this is conveyed by
what is termed "lecturing;"--but what is the meaning of a lecture in
Oxford and elsewhere? Elsewhere, it means a solemn dissertation, read,
or sometimes histrionically declaimed, by the professor. In Oxford, it
means an exercise performed orally by the students, occasionally
assisted by the tutor, and subject, in its whole course, to his
corrections, and what may be called his _scholia_, or collateral
suggestions and improvements. Now, differ as men may as to other
features of the Oxford, compared with the hostile system, here I
conceive that there is no room for doubt or demur. An Oxford lecture
imposes a real, _bona fide_ task upon the student; it will not
suffer him to fall asleep, either literally or in the energies of his
understanding; it is a real drill, under the excitement, perhaps, of
personal competition, and under the review of a superior scholar. But,
in Germany, under the declamations of the professor, the young men are
often literally sleeping; nor is it easy to see how the attention can
be kept from wandering, on this plan, which subjects the auditor to no
risk of sudden question or personal appeal. As to the prizes given for
essays, etc., by the professors, these have the effect of drawing forth
latent talent, but they can yield no criterion of the attention paid to
the professor; not to say that the competition for these prizes is a
matter of choice. Sometimes it is true that examinations take place;
but the Oxford lecture is a daily examination; and, waiving _that_,
what chance is there (I would ask) for searching examinations, for
examinations conducted with the requisite _auctoritas_ (or weight of
influence derived from personal qualities), if--which may Heaven
prevent!--the German tenure of professorships were substituted for our
British one: that is, if for independent and liberal teachers were
substituted poor mercenary haberdashers of knowledge--cap in hand to
opulent students--servile to their caprices--and, at one blow,
degrading the science they profess, the teacher, and the pupil? Yet I
hear that such advice _was_ given to a Royal Commission, sent to
investigate one or more of the Scottish universities. In the German
universities, every professor holds his situation, not in his good
behavior, but on the capricious pleasure of the young men who resort to
his market. He opens a shop, in fact: others, without limit, generally
men of no credit or known respectability, are allowed to open rival
shops; and the result is, sometimes, that the whole kennel of scoundrel
professors ruin one another; each standing with his mouth open, to leap
at any bone thrown amongst them, from the table of the "Burschen;" all
hating, fighting, calumniating each other, until the land is sick of
its base knowledge-mongers, and would vomit the loathsome crew, were
any natural channel open to their instincts of abhorrence. The most
important of the Scottish professorships--those which are fundamentally
morticed to the moral institutions of the land--are upon the footing of
Oxford tutorships, as regards emoluments; that is, they are not
suffered to keep up a precarious mendicant existence, upon the alms of
the students, or upon their fickle admirations. It is made imperative
upon a candidate for admission into the ministry of the Scottish Kirk,
that he shall show a certificate of attendance through a given number
of seasons at given lectures.

The next item in the quarterly (or, technically, the _term_) bills
of Oxford is for servants. This, in my college, and, I believe, in all
others, amounted, nominally, to two guineas a year. That sum, however,
was paid to a principal servant, whom, perhaps, you seldom or never
saw; the actual attendance upon yourself being performed by one of his
deputies; and to this deputy--who is, in effect, a _factotum_,
combining in his single person all the functions of chambermaid, valet,
waiter at meals, and porter or errand-boy--by the custom of the place
and your own sense of propriety, you cannot but give something or other
in the shape of perquisites. I was told, on entering, that half a
guinea a quarter was the customary allowance,--the same sum, in fact,
as was levied by the college for his principal; but I gave mine a
guinea a quarter, thinking that little enough for the many services he
performed; and others, who were richer than myself, I dare say, often
gave much more. Yet, sometimes, it struck me, from the gratitude which
his looks testified, on my punctual payment of this guinea,--for it was
the only bill with regard to which I troubled myself to practise any
severe punctuality,--that perhaps some thoughtless young man might give
him less, or might even forget to give anything; and, at all events, I
have reason to believe that half that sum would have contented him.
These minutiae I record purposely; my immediate object being to give a
rigorous statement of the real expenses incident to an English
university education, partly as a guide to the calculations of parents,
and partly as an answer to the somewhat libellous exaggerations which
are current on this subject, in times like these, when even the truth
itself, and received in a spirit of candor the most indulgent, may be
all too little to defend these venerable seats of learning from the
ruin which seems brooding over them. Yet, no! Abominable is the
language of despair even in a desperate situation. And, therefore,
Oxford, ancient mother! and thou, Cambridge, twin-light of England! be
vigilant and erect, for the enemy stands at all your gates! Two
centuries almost have passed since the boar was within your vineyards,
laying waste and desolating your heritage. Yet that storm was not
final, nor that eclipse total. May this also prove but a trial and a
shadow of affliction! which affliction, may it prove to you, mighty
incorporations, what, sometimes, it is to us, poor, frail
_homunculi_--a process of purification, a solemn and oracular
warning! And, when that cloud is overpast, then, rise, ancient powers,
wiser and better--ready, like the _lampudæphoroi_ of old, to enter
upon a second _stadium_, and to transmit the sacred torch through
a second period of twice [Footnote: Oxford may confessedly claim a
duration of that extent; and the pretensions of Cambridge, in that
respect, if less aspiring, are, however, as I believe, less accurately
determined.] five hundred years. So prays a loyal _alumnus_, whose
presumption, if any be, in taking upon himself a monitory tone, is
privileged by zeal and filial anxiety.

To return, however, into the track from which I have digressed. The
reader will understand that any student is at liberty to have private
servants of his own, as many and of what denomination he pleases. This
point, as many others of a merely personal bearing, when they happen to
stand in no relation to public discipline, neither the university nor
the particular college of the student feels summoned or even authorized
to deal with. Neither, in fact, does any other university in Europe;
and why, then, notice the case? Simply thus: if the Oxford discipline,
in this particular chapter, has nothing special or peculiar about it,
yet the case to which it applies _has_, and is almost exclusively
found in our universities. On the continent it happens most rarely that
a student has any funds disposable for luxuries so eminently such as
grooms or footmen; but at Oxford and Cambridge the case occurs often
enough to attract notice from the least vigilant eye. And thus we find
set down to the credit account of other universities the non-existence
of luxury in this or other modes, whilst, meantime, it is well known to
the fair inquirer that each or all are indulgences, not at all or so
much as in idea proscribed by the sumptuary edicts of those
universities; but, simply, by the lower scale of their general
revenues. And this lower scale, it will be said--how do you account for
that? I answer, not so much by the general inferiority of continental
Europe to Great Britain in _diffusive_ wealth (though that argument
goes for something, it being notorious that, whilst immoderate
wealth, concentrated in a small number of hands, exists in various
continental states upon a larger scale than with us, moderately large
estates, on the other hand, are, with them, as one to two hundred, or
even two hundred and fifty, in comparison of ours), but chiefly upon
this fact, which is too much overlooked, that the foreign universities
are not peopled from the wealthiest classes, which are the class either
already noble, or wishing to become such. And why is that? Purely from
the vicious constitution of society on the continent, where all the
fountains of honor lie in the military profession or in the diplomatic.
We English, haters and revilers of ourselves beyond all precedent,
disparagers of our own eminent advantages beyond all sufferance of
honor or good sense, and daily playing into the hands of foreign
enemies, who hate us out of mere envy or shame, have amongst us some
hundreds of writers who will die or suffer martyrdom upon this
proposition--that aristocracy, and the spirit and prejudices of
aristocracy, are more operative (more effectually and more extensively
operative) amongst ourselves, than in any other known society of men.
Now, I, who believe all errors to arise in some narrow, partial, or
angular view of truth, am seldom disposed to meet any sincere
affirmation by a blank, unmodified denial. Knowing, therefore, that
some acute observers do really believe this doctrine as to the
aristocratic forces, and the way in which they mould English society, I
cannot but suppose that some symptoms do really exist of such a
phenomenon; and the only remark I shall here make on the case is this,
that, very often, where any force or influence reposes upon deep
realities, and upon undisturbed foundations, _there_ will be the
least heard of loquacious and noisy expressions of its power; which
expressions arise most, not where the current is most violent, but
where (being possibly the weakest) it is most fretted with resistance.

In England, the very reason why the aristocratic feeling makes itself
so sensibly felt and so distinctly an object of notice to the
censorious observer is, because it maintains a troubled existence
amongst counter and adverse influences, so many and so potent. This
might be illustrated abundantly. But, as respects the particular
question before me, it will be sufficient to say this: With us the
profession and exercise of knowledge, as a means of livelihood, is
honorable; on the continent it is not so. The knowledge, for instance,
which is embodied in the three learned professions, does, with us, lead
to distinction and civil importance; no man can pretend to deny this;
nor, by consequence, that the professors personally take rank with the
highest order of gentlemen. Are they not, I demand, everywhere with us
on the same footing, in point of rank and consideration, as those who
bear the king's commission in the army and navy? Can this be affirmed
of the continent, either generally, or, indeed, partially? I say,
_no_. Let us take Germany, as an illustration. Many towns (for
anything I know, all) present us with a regular bisection of the
resident _notables_, or wealthier class, into two distinct (often
hostile) coteries: one being composed of those who are "_noble_;"
the other, of families equally well educated and accomplished, but
_not_, in the continental sense, "noble." The meaning and value of
the word is so entirely misapprehended by the best English writers,
being, in fact, derived from our own way of applying it, that it
becomes important to ascertain its true value. A "nobility," which is
numerous enough to fill a separate ball-room in every sixth-rate town,
it needs no argument to show, cannot be a nobility in any English
sense. In fact, an _edelmann_ or nobleman, in the German sense, is
strictly what we mean by a _born gentleman_; with this one only
difference, that, whereas, with us, the rank which denominates a man
such passes off by shades so insensible, and almost infinite, into the
ranks below, that it becomes impossible to assign it any strict
demarkation or lines of separation; on the contrary, the continental
noble points to certain fixed barriers, in the shape of privileges,
which divide him, _per saltum_, from those who are below his own
order. But were it not for this one legal benefit of accurate
circumscription and slight favor, the continental noble, whether Baron
of Germany, Count of France, or Prince of Sicily and of Russia, is
simply on a level with the common landed _esquire_ of Britain, and
_not_ on a level in very numerous cases.

Such being the case, how paramount must be the spirit of aristocracy in
continental society! Our _haute noblesse_--our genuine nobility,
who are such in the general feeling of their compatriots--will do
_that_ which the phantom of nobility of the continent will not:
the spurious nobles of Germany will not mix, on equal terms, with their
untitled fellow-citizens, living in the same city and in the same style
as themselves; they will not meet them in the same ball or concert-
room. Our great territorial nobility, though sometimes forming
exclusive circles (but not, however, upon any principle of high birth),
do so daily. They mix as equal partakers in the same amusements of
races, balls, musical assemblies, with the baronets (or _elite_ of
the gentry); with the landed esquires (or middle gentry); with the
superior order of tradesmen (who, in Germany, are absolute ciphers, for
political weight, or social consideration, but, with us, constitute the
lower and broader stratum of the nobilitas, [Footnote: It may be
necessary to inform some readers that the word _noble_, by which
so large a system of imposition and fraud, as to the composition of
foreign society, has long been practised upon the credulity of the
British, corresponds to our word _gentlemanly_ (or, rather, to the
vulgar word _genteel_, if that word were ever used legally, or
_extra gradum_), not merely upon the argument of its _virtual_
and operative value in the general estimate of men (that is,
upon the argument that a count, baron, &c., does not, _qua_
such, command any deeper feeling of respect or homage than a British
esquire), but also upon the fact, that, originally, in all English
registers, as, for instance, in the Oxford matriculation registers, all
the upper gentry (knights, esquires, &c.) are technically designated by
the word _nobiles_.--_See Chambeilayuc_, &c.] or gentry). The
obscure baronage of Germany, it is undeniable, insist upon having "an
atmosphere of their own;" whilst the Howards, the Stanleys, the
Talbots, of England; the Hamiltons, the Douglases, the Gordons, of
Scotland, are content to acknowledge a sympathy with the liberal part
of their untitled countrymen, in that point which most searchingly
tries the principle of aristocratic pride, namely, in their pleasures.
To have the same pursuits of business with another, may be a result of
accident or position; to have the same pleasures, being a matter of
choice, argues a community of nature in the _moral_ sensibilities,
in that part of our constitution which differences one man from another
in the capacities of greatness and elevation. As with their amusements,
so with their graver employments; the same mutual repulsion continues
to divide the two orders through life.

The nobles either live in gloomy seclusion upon their private funds,
wherever the privilege of primogeniture has enabled them to do so; or,
having no funds at all (the case of ninety-nine in one hundred), they
go into the army; that profession, the profession of arms, being
regarded as the only one compatible with an _edelmann's_ pretensions.
Such was once the feeling in England; such is still the feeling
on the continent. It is a prejudice naturally clinging to a
semi-barbarous (because growing out of a barbarous) state, and, in its
degree, clinging to every stage of imperfect civilization; and, were
there no other argument, this would be a sufficient one, that England,
under free institutions, has outrun the continent, in real
civilization, by a century; a fact which is concealed by the forms of
luxurious refinement in a few exclusive classes, too often usurping the
name and honors of radical civilization.

From the super-appreciation of the military profession arises a
corresponding contempt of all other professions whatsoever _paid by
fellow-citizens_, and not by the king or the state. The clerical
profession is in the most abject degradation throughout Southern
Germany; and the reason why this forces itself less imperiously upon
the public notice is, that, in rural situations, from the absence of a
resident gentry (speaking generally), the pastor is brought into rare
collision with those who style themselves _noble_; whilst, in
towns, the clergy find people enough to countenance those who, being in
the same circumstances as to comfort and liberal education, are also
under the same ban of rejection from the "nobility," or born gentry.
The legal profession is equally degraded; even a barrister or advocate
holds a place in the public esteem little differing from that of an Old
Bailey attorney of the worst class. And this result is the less liable
to modification from personal qualities, inasmuch as there is no great
theatre (as with us) for individual display. Forensic eloquence is
unknown in Germany, as it is too generally on the continent, from the
defect of all popular or open judicatures. A similar defect of
deliberative assemblies--such, at least, as represent any popular
influences and debate with open doors--intercepts the very possibility
of senatorial eloquence. [Footnote: The subject is amusingly
illustrated by an anecdote of Goethe, recorded by himself in his
autobiography. Some physiognomist, or phrenologist, had found out, in
Goethe's structure of head, the sure promise of a great orator.
"Strange infatuation of nature!" observes Goethe, on this assurance,
"to endow me so richly and liberally for that particular destination
which only the institutions of my country render impossible. Music for
the deaf! Eloquence without an audience!"] That of the pulpit only
remains. But even of this--whether it be from want of the excitement
and contagious emulation from the other fields of oratory, or from the
peculiar genius of Lutheranism--no models have yet arisen that could,
for one moment, sustain a comparison with those of England or France.
The highest names in this department would not, to a foreign ear, carry
with them any of that significance or promise which surrounds the names
of Jeremy Taylor or Barrow, Bossuet or Bourdaloue, to those even who
have no personal acquaintance with their works. This absence of all
fields for gathering public distinctions cooperates, in a very powerful
way, with the contempt of the born gentry, to degrade these
professions; and this double agency is, a third time, reinforced by
those political arrangements which deny every form of state honor or
conspicuous promotion to the very highest description of excellence,
whether of the bar, the pulpit, or the civic council. Not "the fluent
Murray," or the accomplished Erskine, from the English bar--not
Pericles or Demosthenes, from the fierce democracies of Greece--not
Paul preaching at Athens--could snatch a wreath from public homage, nor
a distinction from the state, nor found an influence, nor leave behind
them an operative model, in Germany, as now constituted. Other walks of
emolument are still more despised. Alfieri, a continental "noble," that
is, a born gentleman, speaks of bankers as we in England should of a
Jewish usurer, or tricking money-changer. The liberal trades, such as
those which minister to literature or the fine arts, which, with us,
confer the station of gentleman upon those who exercise them, are, in
the estimate of a continental "noble," fitted to assign a certain rank
or place in the train and equipage of a gentleman, but not to entitle
their most eminent professors to sit down, except by sufferance, in his
presence. And, upon this point, let not the reader derive his notions
from the German books: the vast majority of German authors are not
"noble;" and, of those who are, nine tenths are liberal in this
respect, and speak the language of liberality, not by sympathy with
their own order, or as representing _their_ feelings, but in virtue
of democratic or revolutionary politics.

Such as the rank is, and the public estimation of the leading
professions, such is the natural condition of the universities which
rear them. The "nobles" going generally into the army, or leading lives
of indolence, the majority by far of those who resort to universities
do so as a means of future livelihood. Few seek an academic life in
Germany who have either money to throw away on superfluities and
external show, or who have such a rank to support as might stimulate
their pride to expenses beyond their means. Parsimony is, therefore, in
these places, the governing law; and pleasure, not less fervently wooed
than at Oxford or at Cambridge, putting off her robes of elegance and
ceremony, descends to grossness, and not seldom to abject brutality.

The sum of my argument is--that, because, in comparison of the army, no
other civil profession is, in itself, held of sufficient dignity; and
not less, perhaps, because, under governments essentially unpopular,
none of these professions has been so dignified artificially by the
state, or so attached to any ulterior promotion, either through the
state or in the state, as to meet the demands of aristocratic pride--
none of them is cultivated as a means of distinction, but originally as
a means of livelihood; that the universities, as the nurseries of these
unhonored professions, share naturally in _their_ degradation; and
that, from this double depreciation of the place and its final objects,
few or none resort thither who can be supposed to bring any extra funds
for supporting a system of luxury; that the general temperance, or
sobriety of demeanor, is far enough, however, from keeping pace with
the absence of costly show; and that, for this absence even, we are to
thank their poverty rather than their will. It is to the great honor,
in my opinion, of our own country, that those often resort to her
fountains who have no motive but that of disinterested reverence for
knowledge; seeking, as all men perceive, neither emolument directly
from university funds, nor knowledge as the means of emolument.
Doubtless, it is neither dishonorable, nor, on a large scale, possible
to be otherwise, that students should pursue their academic career
chiefly as ministerial to their capital object of a future livelihood.
But still I contend that it is for the interest of science and good
letters that a considerable body of volunteers should gather about
their banners, without pay or hopes of preferment. This takes place on
a larger scale at Oxford and Cambridge than elsewhere; and it is but a
trivial concession in return, on the part of the university, that she
should allow, even if she had the right to withhold, the privilege of
living within her walls as they would have lived at their fathers'
seats; with one only reserve, applied to all modes of expense that are,
in themselves, immoral excesses, or occasions of scandal, or of a
nature to interfere too much with the natural hours of study, or
specially fitted to tempt others of narrower means to ruinous

Upon these principles, as it seems to me, the discipline of the
university is founded. The keeping of hunters, for example, is
unstatutable. Yet, on the other hand, it is felt to be inevitable that
young men of high spirit, familiar with this amusement, will find means
to pursue it in defiance of all the powers, however exerted, that can
properly be lodged in the hands of academic officers. The range of the
proctor's jurisdiction is limited by positive law; and what should
hinder a young man, bent upon his pleasure, from fixing the station of
his hunter a few miles out of Oxford, and riding to cover on a hack,
unamenable to any censure? For, surely, in this age, no man could
propose so absurd a thing as a general interdiction of riding. How, in
fact, does the university proceed? She discountenances the practice;
and, if forced upon her notice, she visits it with censure, and that
sort of punishment which lies within her means. But she takes no pains
to search out a trespass, which, by the mere act of seeking to evade
public display in the streets of the university, already tends to limit
itself; and which, besides, from its costliness, can never become a
prominent nuisance. This I mention as illustrating the spirit of her
legislation; and, even in this case, the reader must carry along with
him the peculiar distinction which I have pressed with regard to
English universities, in the existence of a large volunteer order of
students seeking only the liberalization, and not the profits, of
academic life. In arguing upon their case, it is not the fair logic to
say: These pursuits taint the decorum of the studious character; it is
not fair to calculate how much is lost to the man of letters by such
addiction to fox-hunting; but, on the contrary, what is gained to the
fox-hunter, who would, at any rate, be such, by so considerable a
homage paid to letters, and so inevitable a commerce with men of
learning. Anything whatsoever attained in this direction, is probably
so much more than would have been attained under a system of less
toleration. _Lucro ponamus_, we say, of the very least success in
such a case. But, in speaking of toleration as applied to acts or
habits positively against the statutes, I limit my meaning to those
which, in their own nature, are morally indifferent, and are
discountenanced simply as indirectly injurious, or as peculiarly open
to excess. Because, on graver offences (as gambling, &c.), the
malicious impeachers of Oxford must well have known that no toleration
whatsoever is practised or thought of. Once brought under the eye of
the university in a clear case and on clear evidence, it would be
punished in the most exemplary way open to a limited authority; by
_rustication_, at least--that is, banishment for a certain number
of terms, and consequent loss of these terms--supposing the utmost
palliation of circumstances; and, in an aggravated case, or in a second
offence, most certainly by final expulsion.

But it is no part of duty to serve the cause even of good morals by
impure means; and it is as difficult beforehand to prevent the
existence of vicious practices so long as men have, and ought to have,
the means of seclusion liable to no violation, as it is afterwards
difficult, without breach of honor, to obtain proof of their existence.
Gambling has been known to exist in some dissenting institutions; and,
in my opinion, with no blame to the presiding authorities. As to Oxford
in particular, no such habit was generally prevalent in my time; it is
not an English vice; nor did I ever hear of any great losses sustained
in this way. But, were it otherwise, I must hold, that, considering the
numbers, rank, and great opulence, of the students, such a habit would
impeach the spirit and temper of the age rather than the vigilance or
magisterial fidelity of the Oxford authorities. They are limited, like
other magistrates, by honor and circumstances, in a thousand ways; and
if a knot of students will choose to meet for purposes of gaming, they
must always have it in their power to baffle every honorable or
becoming attempt at detecting them. But upon this subject I shall make
two statements, which may have some effect in moderating the
uncharitable judgments upon Oxford discipline. The first respects the
age of those who are the objects of this discipline; on which point a
very grave error prevails. In the last Parliament, not once, but many
times over, Lord Brougham and others assumed that the students of
Oxford were chiefly _boys_; and this, not idly or casually, but
pointedly, and with a view to an ulterior argument; for instance, by
way of proving how little they were entitled to judge of those thirty-
nine articles to which their assent was demanded. Now, this argued a
very extraordinary ignorance; and the origin of the error showed the
levity in which their legislation was conducted. These noble lords had
drawn their ideas of a university exclusively from Glasgow. Here, it is
well known, and I mention it neither for praise nor blame, that
students are in the habit of coming at the early age of fourteen. These
may allowably be styled _boys_. But, with regard to Oxford,
eighteen is about the _earliest_ age at which young men begin
their residence: twenty and upwards is, therefore, the age of the
majority; that is, twenty is the _minimum_ of age for the vast
majority; as there must always be more men of three years' standing,
than of two or of one. Apply this fact to the question of discipline:
young men beyond twenty, generally,--that is to say, of the age which
qualifies men for seats in the national council,--can hardly, with
decency, either be called or treated as boys; and many things become
impossible as applied to _them_, which might be of easy imposition
upon an assemblage _really_ childish. In mere justice, therefore,
when speculating upon this whole subject of Oxford discipline, the
reader must carry along with him, at every step, the recollection of
that signal difference as to age, which I have now stated, between
Oxonians and those students whom the hostile party contemplate in their
arguments. [Footnote: Whilst I am writing, a debate of the present
Parliament, reported on Saturday, March 7, 1835, presents us with a
determinate repetition of the error which I have been exposing; and,
again, as in the last Parliament, this error is not _inert_, but
is used for a hostile (apparently a malicious) purpose; nay, which is
remarkable, it is the _sole_ basis upon which the following
argument reposes. Lord Radnor again assumes that the students of Oxford
are "boys;" he is again supported in this misrepresentation by Lord
Brougham; and again the misrepresentation is applied to a purpose of
assault upon the English universities, but especially upon Oxford. And
the nature of the assault does not allow any latitude in construing the
word _boys_, nor any room for evasion as respects the total
charge, except what goes the length of a total retraction. The charge
is, that, in a requisition made at the very threshold of academic life,
upon the under standing and the honor of the students, the university
burdens their consciences to an extent, which, in after life, when
reflection has enlightened them to the meaning of their engagements,
proves either a snare to those who trifle with their engagements, or an
insupportable burden to those who do not. For the inculpation of the
party imposing such oaths, it is essential that the party taking them
should be in a childish condition of the moral sense, and the sense of
responsibility; whereas, amongst the Oxonian _under_-graduates, I
will venture to say that the number is larger of those who rise above
than of those who fall below twenty; and, as to sixteen (assumed as the
representative age by Lord Radnor), in my time, I heard of only one
student, amongst, perhaps, sixteen hundred, who was so young. I grieve
to see that the learned prelate, who replied to the assailants, was so
much taken by surprise; the defence might have been made triumphant.
With regard to oaths incompatible with the spirit of modern manners,
and yet formally unrepealed--_that_ is a case of neglect and
indolent oversight. But the _gravamen_ of that reproach does not
press exclusively upon Oxford; all the ancient institutions of Europe
are tainted in the same way, more especially the monastic orders of the
Romish church.] Meantime, to show that, even under every obstacle
presented by this difference of age, the Oxford authorities do,
nevertheless, administer their discipline with fidelity, with
intrepidity, and with indifference as respects the high and the low, I
shall select from a crowd of similar recollections two anecdotes, which
are but trifles in themselves, and yet are not such to him who
recognizes them as expressions of a uniform system of dealing.

A great whig lord (Earl C----) happened (it may be ten years ago) to
present himself one day at Trinity (the leading college of Cambridge),
for the purpose of introducing Lord F----ch, his son, as a future
member of that splendid society. Possibly it mortified his aristocratic
feelings to hear the head of the college, even whilst welcoming the
young nobleman in courteous terms, yet suggesting, with some solemnity,
that, before taking any final resolution in the matter, his lordship
would do well to consider whether he were fully prepared to submit
himself to college discipline; for that, otherwise, it became his own
duty frankly to declare that the college would not look upon his
accession to their society as any advantage. This language arose out of
some recent experience of refractory and turbulent conduct upon the
part of various young men of rank; but it is very possible that the
noble earl, in his surprise at a salutation so uncourtly, might regard
it, in a tory mouth, as having some lurking reference to his own whig
politics. If so, he must have been still more surprised to hear of
another case, which would meet him before he left Cambridge, and which
involved some frank dealing as well as frank speaking, when a privilege
of exception might have been presumed, if tory politics, or services
the most memorable, could ever create such a privilege. The Duke of W--
--had two sons at Oxford. The affair is now long past; and it cannot
injure either of them to say, that one of the brothers trespassed
against the college discipline, in some way, which compelled (or was
thought to compel) the presiding authorities into a solemn notice of
his conduct. Expulsion appeared to be the appropriate penalty of his
offences: but, at this point, a just hesitation arose. Not in any
servile spirit, but under a proper feeling of consideration for so
eminent a public benefactor as this young nobleman's father, the rulers
paused--and at length signified to him that he was at liberty to
withdraw himself privately from the college, but also, and at the same
time, from the university. He did so; and his brother, conceiving him
to have been harshly treated, withdrew also; and both transferred
themselves to Cambridge. That could not be prevented: but there they
were received with marked reserve. One was _not_ received, I
believe, in a technical sense; and the other was received
conditionally; and such restrictions were imposed upon his future
conduct as served most amply, and in a case of great notoriety, to
vindicate the claims of discipline, and, in an extreme case, a case so
eminently an extreme one that none like it is ever likely to recur, to
proclaim the footing upon which the very highest rank is received at
the English universities. Is that footing peculiar _to them_? I
willingly believe that it is not; and, with respect to Edinburgh and
Glasgow, I am persuaded that their weight of dignity is quite
sufficient, and would be exerted to secure the same subordination from
men of rank, if circumstances should ever bring as large a number of
that class within their gates, and if their discipline were equally
applicable to the habits of students not domiciled within their walls.
But, as to the smaller institutions for education within the pale of
dissent, I feel warranted in asserting, from the spirit of the
anecdotes which have reached me, that they have not the
_auctoritas_ requisite for adequately maintaining their dignity.

So much for the aristocracy of our English universities: their glory
is, and the happiest application of their vast influence, that they
have the power to be republican, as respects their internal condition.
Literature, by substituting a different standard of rank, tends to
republican equality; and, as one instance of this, properly belonging
to the chapter of _servants_, which originally led to this
discussion, it ought to be known that the class of "servitors," once a
large body in Oxford, have gradually become practically extinct under
the growing liberality of the age. They carried in their academic dress
a mark of their inferiority; they waited at dinner on those of higher
rank, and performed other menial services, humiliating to themselves,
and latterly felt as no less humiliating to the general name and
interests of learning. The better taste, or rather the relaxing
pressure of aristocratic prejudice, arising from the vast diffusion of
trade and the higher branches of mechanic art, have gradually caused
these functions of the order (even where the law would not permit the
extinction of the order) to become obsolete. In my time, I was
acquainted with two servitors: but one of them was rapidly pushed
forward into a higher station; and the other complained of no
degradation, beyond the grievous one of exposing himself to the notice
of young women in the streets, with an untasselled cap; but this he
contrived to evade, by generally going abroad without his academic
dress. The _servitors_ of Oxford are the _sizars_ of Cambridge; and I
believe the same changes [Footnote: These changes have been
accomplished, according to my imperfect knowledge of the case, in
two ways: first, by dispensing with the services whenever that could be
done; and, secondly, by a wise discontinuance of the order itself in
those colleges which were left to their own choice in this matter.]
have taken place in both.

One only account with the college remains to be noticed; but this is
the main one. It is expressed in the bills by the word _battels_,
derived from the old monkish word _patella_ (or batella), a plate;
and it comprehends whatsoever is furnished for dinner and for supper,
including malt liquor, but not wine, as well as the materials for
breakfast, or for any casual refreshment to country visitors, excepting
only groceries. These, together with coals and fagots, candles, wine,
fruit, and other more trifling _extras_, which are matters of
personal choice, form so many private accounts against your name, and
are usually furnished by tradesmen living near to the college, and
sending their servants daily to receive orders. Supper, as a meal not
universally taken, in many colleges is served privately in the
student's own room; though some colleges still retain the ancient
custom of a public supper. But dinner is, in all colleges, a public
meal, taken in the refectory or "hall" of the society; which, with the
chapel and library, compose the essential public _suite_ belonging
to every college alike. No absence is allowed, except to the sick, or
to those who have formally applied for permission to give a dinner-
party. A fine is imposed on all other cases of absence. Wine is not
generally allowed in the public hall, except to the "high table," that
is, the table at which the fellows and some other privileged persons
are entitled to dine. The head of the college rarely dines in public.
The other tables, and, after dinner, the high table, usually adjourn to
their wine, either upon invitations to private parties, or to what are
called the "common rooms" of the several orders--graduates and
undergraduates, &c. The dinners are always plain, and without
pretensions--those, I mean, in the public hall; indeed, nothing
_can_ be plainer in most colleges--a simple choice between two or
three sorts of animal food, and the common vegetables. No fish, even as
a regular part of the fare; no soups, no game; nor, except on some very
rare festivity, did I ever see a variation from this plain fare at
Oxford. This, indeed, is proved sufficiently by the average amount of
the _battels_. Many men "battel" at the rate of a guinea a week: I
did so for years: that is, at the rate of three shillings a day for
everything connected with meals, excepting only tea, sugar, milk, and
wine. It is true that wealthier men, more expensive men, and more
careless men, often "battelled" much higher; but, if they persisted in
this excess, they incurred censures, more and more urgent, from the
head of the college.

Now, let us sum up; premising that the extreme duration of residence in
any college at Oxford amounts to something under thirty weeks. It is
possible to keep "short terms," as the phrase is, by a residence of
thirteen weeks, or ninety-one days; but, as this abridged residence is
not allowed, except in here and there a college, I shall assume--as
something beyond the strict _maximum_ of residence--thirty weeks
as my basis. The account will then stand thus:

1. Rooms,......................................... £10 10 0
2. Tutorage,................ ..................... 10 10 0
3. Servants (subject to the explanations made above),
say........................................... 5 5 0
4. Battels (allowing one shilling a day beyond what
I and others spent in much dearer times; that is,
allowing twenty-eight shillings weekly), for
thirty weeks,.................................. 40 4 0
£66 9 0

This will be a liberal calculation for the college bill. What remains?
1. Candles, which the reader will best calculate upon the standard of
his own general usage in this particular. 2. Coals, which are
remarkably dear at Oxford--dearer, perhaps, than anywhere else in the
island; say, three times as dear as at Edinburgh. 3. Groceries. 4.
Wine. 5. Washing. This last article was, in my time, regulated by the
college, as there were certain privileged washer-women, between whom
and the students it was but fair that some proper authority should
interfere to prevent extortion, in return for the monopoly granted. Six
guineas was the regulated sum; but this paid for everything,--table-
linen, &c., as well as for wearing apparel; and it was understood to
cover the whole twenty-eight or thirty weeks. However, it was open to
every man to make his own arrangements, by insisting on a separate
charge for each separate article. All other expenses of a merely
personal nature, such as postage, public amusements, books, clothes,
&c., as they have no special connection with Oxford, but would,
probably, be balanced by corresponding, if not the very same, expenses
in any other place or situation, I do not calculate. What I have
specified are the expenses which would accrue to a student in
consequence of leaving his father's house. The rest would, in these
days, be the same, perhaps, everywhere. How much, then, shall we assume
as the total charge on account of Oxford? Candles, considering the
quantity of long days amongst the thirty weeks, may be had for one
shilling and sixpence a week; for few students--unless they have lived
in India, after which a physical change occurs in the sensibility of
the nostrils--are finical enough to burn wax-lights. This will amount
to two pounds, five shillings. Coals, say sixpence a day; for
threepence a day will amply feed one grate in Edinburgh; and there are
many weeks in the thirty which will demand no fire at all. Groceries
and wine, which are all that remain, I cannot calculate. But suppose we
allow for the first a shilling a day, which will be exactly ten guineas
for thirty weeks; and for the second, nothing at all. Then the extras,
in addition to the college bills, will stand thus:

Washing for thirty weeks, at the privileged rate, .. £6 6 0
Candles, ........................................... 2 5 0
Fire, .............................................. 5 5 0
Groceries, ......................................... 10 10 0
Total, ..... £24 6 0

The college bills, therefore, will be sixty-six pounds, nine shillings;
the extras, not furnished by the college, will be about twenty-four
pounds, six shillings,--making a total amount of ninety pounds, fifteen
shillings. And for this sum, annually, a man may defray _every_
expense incident to an Oxford life, through a period of weeks (namely,
thirty) something more than he will be permitted to reside. It is true,
that, for the _first_ year, there will be, in addition to this,
his outfit: and for _every_ year there will be his journeys. There
will also be twenty-two weeks uncovered by this estimate; but for these
it is not my business to provide, who deal only with Oxford.

That this estimate is true, I know too feelingly. Would that it were
_not_! would that it were false! Were it so, I might the better
justify to myself that commerce with fraudulent Jews which led me so
early to commence the dilapidation of my small fortune. It _is_
true; and true for a period (1804-8) far dearer than this. And to any
man who questions its accuracy I address this particular request--that
he will lay his hand upon the special item which he disputes. I
anticipate that he will answer thus: "I dispute none: it is not by
positive things that your estimate errs, but by negations. It is the
absence of all allowance for indispensable items that vitiates the
calculation." Very well: but to this, as to other things, we may apply
the words of Dr. Johnson--"Sir, the reason I drink no wine, is because
I can practise abstinence, but not temperance." Yes: in all things,
abstinence is easier than temperance; for a little enjoyment has
invariably the effect of awaking the sense of enjoyment, irritating it,
and setting it on edge. I, therefore, recollecting my own case, have
allowed for _no_ wine-parties. Let our friend, the abstraction we
are speaking of, give breakfast-parties, if he chooses to give any; and
certainly to give none at all, unless he were dedicated to study, would
seem very churlish. Nobody can be less a friend than myself to monkish
and ascetic seclusion, unless it were for twenty-three hours out of the

But, however this be settled, let no mistake be made; nor let that be
charged against the system which is due to the habits of individuals.
Early in the last century, Dr. Newton, the head of a college in Oxford,
wrote a large book against the Oxford system, as ruinously expensive.
But then, as now, the real expense was due to no cause over which the
colleges could exercise any effectual control. It is due exclusively to
the habits of social intercourse amongst the young men; from which
_he_ may abstain who chooses. But, for any academic authorities to
interfere by sumptuary laws with the private expenditure of grown men,
many of them, in a legal sense, _of age_, and all near it, must
appear romantic and extravagant, for this (or, indeed, any) stage of
society. A tutor being required, about 1810, to fix the amount of
allowance for a young man of small fortune, nearly related to myself,
pronounced three hundred and twenty pounds little enough. He had this
allowance, and was ruined in consequence of the credit which it
procured for him, and the society it connected him with. The majority
have two hundred pounds a year: but my estimate stands good, for all

Having stated, generally, the expenses of the Oxford system, I am
bound, in candor, to mention one variety in the mode of carrying this
system into effect, open to every man's adoption, which confers certain
privileges, but, at the same time (by what exact mode, I know not),
considerably increases the cost, and in that degree disturbs my
calculation. The great body of undergraduates, or students, are divided
into two classes--_Commoners_, and _Gentlemen Commoners_. Perhaps
nineteen out of twenty belong to the former class; and it is
for that class, as having been my own, that I have made my estimate.
The other class of _Gentlemen Commoners_ (who, at Cambridge, bear
the name of _Fellow Commoners_) wear a peculiar dress, and have
some privileges which naturally imply some corresponding increase of
cost; but why this increase should go to the extent of doubling the
total expense, as it is generally thought to do, or how it _can_
go to that extent, I am unable to explain. The differences which attach
to the rank of "Gentlemen Commoners" are these: At his entrance he pays
double "caution money;" that is, whilst Commoners in general pay about
twenty-five guineas, he pays fifty; but this can occur only once; and,
besides, in strict point of right, this sum is only a deposit, and is
liable to be withdrawn on leaving the university, though it is commonly
enough finally presented to the college in the shape of plate. The next
difference is, that, by comparison with the Commoner, he wears a much
more costly dress. The Commoner's gown is made of what is called
_prince's stuff_; and, together with the cap, costs about five
guineas. But the Gentleman Commoner has two gowns--an undress for the
morning, and a full dress-gown for the evening; both are made of silk,
and the latter is very elaborately ornamented. The cap also is more
costly, being covered with velvet instead of cloth. At Cambridge,
again, the tassel is made of gold fringe or bullion, which, in Oxford,
is peculiar to the caps of noblemen; and there are many other varieties
in that university, where the dress for "pensioners" (that is, the
Oxford "Commoners") is specially varied in almost every college; the
object being, perhaps, to give a ready means to the academic officers
for ascertaining, at a glance, not merely the general fact that such or
such a delinquent is a gownsman (which is all that can be ascertained
at Oxford), but also the particular college to which he belongs.
Allowance being made for these two items of "dress" and "caution-
money," both of which apply only to the original outfit, I know of no
others in which the expenditure of a Gentleman Commoner ought to
exceed, or could with propriety exceed, those of a Commoner. He has,
indeed, a privilege as regards the choice of rooms; he chooses first,
and probably chooses those rooms which, being best, are dearest; that
is, they are on a level with the best; but usually there are many sets
almost equally good; and of these the majority will be occupied by
Commoners. So far, there is little opening for a difference. More
often, again, it will happen that a man of this aristocratic class
keeps a private servant; yet this happens also to Commoners, and is,
besides, no properly college expense. Tutorage is charged double to a
Gentleman Commoner--namely, twenty guineas a year: this is done upon a
fiction (as it sometimes turns out) of separate attention, or aid given
in a private way to his scholastic pursuits. Finally, there arises
naturally another and peculiar source of expense to the "Gentleman
Commoner," from a fact implied in his Cambridge designation of
"_Fellow_ Commoner," _commensalis_--namely, that he associates
at meals with the "fellows" and other authorities of the college.
Yet this again expresses rather the particular shape which his
expenditure assumes than any absolute increase in its amount. He
subscribes to a regular mess, and pays, therefore, whether present or
not; but so, in a partial sense, does the Commoner, by his forfeits for
"absent commons." He subscribes also to a regular fund for wine; and,
therefore, he does not enjoy that immunity from wine-drinking which is
open to the Commoner. Yet, again, as the Commoner does but rarely avail
himself of this immunity, as he drinks no less wine than the Gentleman
Commoner, and, generally speaking, wine not worse in quality, it is
difficult to see any ground for a regular assumption of higher
expenditure in the one class than the other. However, the universal
impression favors that assumption. All people believe that the rank of
Gentleman Commoner imposes an expensive burden, though few people ever
ask why. As a matter of fact, I believe it to be true that Gentlemen
Commoners spend more by a third, or a half, than any equal number of
Commoners, taken without selection. And the reason is obvious: those
who become Gentlemen Commoners are usually determined to that course by
the accident of having very large funds; they are eldest sons, or only
sons, or men already in possession of estates, or else (which is as
common a case as all the rest put together) they are the heirs of
newly-acquired wealth--sons of the _nouveaux riches_--a class
which often requires a generation or two to rub off the insolence of a
too conscious superiority. I have called them an "aristocratic" class;
but, in strictness, they are not such; they form a privileged class,
indeed, but their privileges are few and trifling, not to add that
these very privileges are connected with one or two burdens, more than
outweighing them in the estimate of many; and, upon the whole, the
chief distinction they enjoy is that of advertising themselves to the
public as men of great wealth, or great expectations; and, therefore,
as subjects peculiarly adapted to fraudulent attempts. Accordingly, it
is not found that the sons of the nobility are much inclined to enter
this order: these, if they happen to be the eldest sons of earls, or of
any peers above the rank of viscount, so as to enjoy a title themselves
by the courtesy of England, have special privileges in both
universities as to length of residence, degrees, &c.; and their rank is
ascertained by a special dress. These privileges it is not usual to
forego; though sometimes that happens, as, in my time, in the instance
of Lord George Grenville (now Lord Nugent); he neither entered at the
aristocratic college (Christ Church), nor wore the dress of a nobleman.
Generally, however, an elder son appears in his true character of
nobleman; but the younger sons rarely enter the class of Gentlemen
Commoners. They enter either as "Commoners," or under some of those
various designations ("scholars," "demies," "students," "junior
fellows") which imply that they stand upon the foundation of the
college to which they belong, and are aspirants for academic

Upon the whole, I am disposed to regard this order of Gentlemen
Commoners as a standing temptation held out by authority to expensive
habits, and a very unbecoming proclamation of honor paid to the
aristocracy of wealth. And I know that many thoughtful men regard it in
the same light with myself, and regret deeply that any such
distribution of ranks should be authorized, as a stain upon the
simplicity and general manliness of the English academic laws. It is an
open profession of homage and indulgence to wealth, _as_ wealth--
to wealth disconnected from everything that might ally it to the
ancestral honors and heraldries of the land. It is also an invitation,
or rather a challenge, to profuse expenditure. Regularly, and by law, a
Gentleman Commoner is liable to little heavier burdens than a Commoner;
but, to meet the expectations of those around him, and to act up to the
part he has assumed, he must spend more, and he must be more careless
in controlling his expenditure, than a moderate and prudent Commoner.
In every light, therefore, I condemn the institution, and give it up to
the censures of the judicious. So much in candor I concede. But, to
show equal candor on the other side, it must be remembered that this
institution descends to us from ancient times, when wealth was not so
often divided from territorial or civic honors, conferring a real



There was one reason why I sought solitude at that early age, and
sought it in a morbid excess, which must naturally have conferred upon
my character some degree of that interest which belongs to all
extremes. My eye had been couched into a secondary power of vision, by
misery, by solitude, by sympathy with life in all its modes, by
experience too early won, and by the sense of danger critically
escaped. Suppose the case of a man suspended by some colossal arm over
an unfathomed abyss,--suspended, but finally and slowly withdrawn,--it
is probable that he would not smile for years. That was my case: for I
have not mentioned, in the "Opium Confessions," a thousandth part of
the sufferings I underwent in London and in Wales; partly because the
misery was too monotonous, and, in that respect, unfitted for
description; but, still more, because there is a mysterious sensibility
connected with real suffering which recoils from circumstantial
rehearsal or delincation, as from violation offered to something
sacred, and which is, or should be, dedicated to privacy. Grief does
not parade its pangs, nor the anguish of despairing hunger willingly
count again its groans or its humiliations. Hence it was that Ledyard,
the traveller, speaking of his Russian experiences, used to say that
some of his miseries were such, that he never _would_ reveal them.
Besides all which, I really was not at liberty to speak, without many
reserves, on this chapter of my life, at a period (1821) not twenty
years removed from the actual occurrences, unless I desired to court
the risk of crossing at every step the existing law of libel, so full
of snares and man-traps, to the careless equally with the conscientious
writer. This is a consideration which some of my critics have lost
sight of in a degree which surprises me. One, for example, puts it to
his readers whether any house such as I describe as the abode of my
money-lending friend could exist "_in_ Oxford-street;" and, at the
same time, he states, as circumstances drawn from my description, but,
in fact, pure coinages of his own, certain romantic impossibilities,
which, doubtless, could as little attach to a house in Oxford-street as
they could to a house in any other quarter of London. Meantime, I had
sufficiently indicated that, whatsoever street _was_ concerned in
that affair, Oxford-street was _not_; and it is remarkable enough,
as illustrating this amiable reviewer's veracity, that no one street in
London was absolutely excluded but one; and that one, Oxford-street.
For I happened to mention that, on such a day (my birth-day), I had
turned aside _from_ Oxford-street to look at the house in question.
I will now add that this house was in Greek-street: so much it
may be safe to say. But every candid reader will see that both
prudential restraints, and also disinterested regard to the feelings of
possibly amiable descendants from a vicious man, would operate with any
thoughtful writer, in such a case, to impose reserve upon his pen. Had
my guardians, had my money-lending friend of Jewry, and others
concerned in my memoirs, been so many shadows, bodiless abstractions,
and without earthly connections, I might readily have given my own
names to my own creations, and have treated them as unceremoniously as
I pleased. Not so under the real circumstances of the case. My chief
guardian, for instance, though obstinate to a degree which risked the
happiness and the life of his ward, was an upright man otherwise; and
his children are entitled to value his memory.

Again, my Greek-street _trapexitæs_, the "_foenerator Alpheus_,"
who delighted to reap where he had not sown, and too often (I fear)
allowed himself in practices which not impossibly have long
since been found to qualify him for distant climates and "Botanic"
regions,--even he, though I might truly describe him as a mere
highwayman, whenever he happened to be aware that I had received a
friendly loan, yet, like other highwaymen of repute, and "gentle
thieves," was not inexorable to the petitions of his victim: he would
sometimes toss back what was required for some instant necessity of the
road; and at _his_ breakfast-table it was, after all, as elsewhere
recorded, that I contrived to support life; barely, indeed, and most
slenderly, but still with the final result of escaping absolute
starvation. With that recollection before me, I could not allow myself
to probe his frailties too severely, had it even been certainly safe to
do so. But enough; the reader will understand that a year spent either
in the valleys of Wales, or upon the streets of London, a wanderer, too
often houseless in both situations, might naturally have peopled the
mind of one constitutionally disposed to solemn contemplations with
memorials of human sorrow and strife too profound to pass away for

Thus, then, it was--past experience of a very peculiar kind, the
agitations of many lives crowded into the compass of a year or two, in
combination with a peculiar structure of mind--offered one explanation
of the very remarkable and unsocial habits which I adopted at college;
but there was another not less powerful, and not less unusual. In
stating this, I shall seem, to some persons, covertly designing an
affront to Oxford. But that is far from my intention. It is noways
peculiar to Oxford, but will, doubtless, be found in every university
throughout the world, that the younger part of the members--the
undergraduates, I mean, generally, whose chief business must have lain
amongst the great writers of Greece and Rome--cannot have found leisure
to cultivate extensively their own domestic literature. Not so much
that time will have been wanting; but that the whole energy of the
mind, and the main course of the subsidiary studies and researches,
will naturally have been directed to those difficult languages amongst
which lie their daily tasks. I make it no subject of complaint or
scorn, therefore, but simply state it as a fact, that few or none of
the Oxford undergraduates, with whom parity of standing threw me into
collision at my first outset, knew anything at all of English
literature. The _Spectator_ seemed to me the only English book of
a classical rank which they had read; and even this less for its
inimitable delicacy, humor, and refined pleasantry in dealing with
manners and characters, than for its insipid and meagre essays, ethical
or critical. This was no fault of theirs: they had been sent to the
book chiefly as a subject for Latin translations, or of other
exercises; and, in such a view, the vague generalities of superficial
morality were more useful and more manageable than sketches of manner
or character, steeped in national peculiarities. To translate the terms
of whig politics into classical Latin, would be as difficult as it
might be for a whig himself to give a consistent account of those
politics from the year 1688. Natural, however, and excusable, as this
ignorance might be, to myself it was intolerable and incomprehensible.
Already, at fifteen, I had made myself familiar with the great English
poets. About sixteen, or not long after, my interest in the story of
Chatterton had carried me over the whole ground of the Rowley
controversy; and that controversy, by a necessary consequence, had so
familiarized me with the "Black Letter," that I had begun to find an
unaffected pleasure in the ancient English metrical romances; and in
Chaucer, though acquainted as yet only with part of his works, I had
perceived and had felt profoundly those divine qualities, which, even
at this day, are so languidly acknowledged by his unjust countrymen.
With this knowledge, and this enthusiastic knowledge of the elder
poets--of those most remote from easy access--I could not well be a
stranger in other walks of our literature, more on a level with the
general taste, and nearer to modern diction, and, therefore, more
extensively multiplied by the press.

Yet, after all--as one proof how much more commanding is that part of a
literature which speaks to the elementary affections of men, than that
which is founded on the mutable aspects of manners--it is a fact that,
even in our elaborate system of society, where an undue value is
unavoidably given to the whole science of social intercourse, and a
continual irritation applied to the sensibilities which point in that
direction; still, under all these advantages, Pope himself is less
read, less quoted, less thought of, than the elder and graver section
of our literature. It is a great calamity for an author such as Pope,
that, generally speaking, it requires so much experience of life to
enjoy his peculiar felicities as must argue an age likely to have
impaired the general capacity for enjoyment. For my part, I had myself
a very slender acquaintance with this chapter of our literature; and
what little I had was generally, at that period of my life, as, with
most men, it continues to be to the end of life, a reflex knowledge,
acquired through those pleasant miscellanies, half gossip, half
criticism--such as Warton's Essay on Pope, Boswell's Johnson, Mathias'
Pursuits of Literature, and many scores beside of the same
indeterminate class; a class, however, which do a real service to
literature, by diffusing an indirect knowledge of fine writers in their
most effective passages, where else, in a direct shape, it would often
never extend.

In some parts, then, having even a profound knowledge of our
literature, in all parts having some, I felt it to be impossible that I
should familiarly associate with those who had none at all; not so much
as a mere historical knowledge of the literature in its capital names
and their chronological succession. Do I mention this in disparagement
of Oxford? By no means. Among the undergraduates of higher standing,
and occasionally, perhaps, of my own, I have since learned that many
might have been found eminently accomplished in this particular. But
seniors do not seek after juniors; they must be sought; and, with my
previous bias to solitude, a bias equally composed of impulses and
motives, I had no disposition to take trouble in seeking any man for
any purpose.

But, on this subject, a fact still remains to be told, of which I am
justly proud; and it will serve, beyond anything else that I can say,
to measure the degree of my intellectual development. On coming to
Oxford, I had taken up one position in advance of my age by full thirty
years: that appreciation of Wordsworth, which it has taken full thirty
years to establish amongst the public, I had already made, and had made
operative to my own intellectual culture in the same year when I
clandestinely quitted school. Already, in 1802, I had addressed a
letter of fervent admiration to Mr. Wordsworth. I did not send it until
the spring of 1803; and, from misdirection, it did not come into his
hands for some months. But I had an answer from Mr. Wordsworth before I
was eighteen; and that my letter was thought to express the homage of
an enlightened admirer, may be inferred from the fact that his answer
was long and full. On this anecdote I do not mean to dwell; but I
cannot allow the reader to overlook the circumstances of the case. At
this day, it is true, no journal can be taken up which does not
habitually speak of Mr. Wordsworth as of a great if not _the_
great poet of the age. Mr. Bulwer, living in the intensest pressure of
the world, and, though recoiling continually from the judgments of the
world, yet never in any violent degree, ascribes to Mr. Wordsworth (in
his _England and the English_, p. 308) "an influence of a more
noble and purely intellectual character, than _any_ writer of our
age or nation has exercised." Such is the opinion held of this great
poet in 1835; but what were those of 1805-15,--nay, of 1825? For twenty
years after the date of that letter to Mr. Wordsworth above referred
to, language was exhausted, ingenuity was put on the rack, in the
search after images and expressions vile enough--insolent enough--to
convey the unutterable contempt avowed for all that he had written, by
the fashionable critics. One critic--who still, I believe, edits a
rather popular journal, and who belongs to that class, feeble,
fluttering, ingenious, who make it their highest ambition not to lead,
but, with a slave's adulation, to obey and to follow all the caprices
of the public mind--described Mr. Wordsworth as resembling, in the
quality of his mind, an old nurse babbling in her paralytic dotage to
sucking babies. If this insult was peculiarly felt by Mr. Wordsworth,
it was on a consideration of the unusual imbecility of him who offered
it, and not because in itself it was baser or more insolent than the
language held by the majority of journalists who then echoed the public
voice. _Blackwood's Magazine_ (1817) first accustomed the public
ear to the language of admiration coupled with the name of Wordsworth.
This began with Professor Wilson; and well I remember--nay, the proofs
are still easy to hunt up--that, for eight or ten years, this
singularity of opinion, having no countenance from other journals, was
treated as a whim, a paradox, a bold extravagance, of the
_Blackwood_ critics. Mr. Wordsworth's neighbors in Westmoreland,
who had (generally speaking) a profound contempt for him, used to rebut
the testimony of _Blackwood_ by one constant reply--"Ay, _Blackwood_
praises Wordsworth, but who else praises him?" In short, up to 1820,
the name of Wordsworth was trampled under foot; from 1820 to 1830, it
was militant; from 1830 to 1835, it has been triumphant. In 1803, when
I entered at Oxford, that name was absolutely unknown; and the finger
of scorn, pointed at it in 1802 by the first or second number of the
_Edinburgh Review_, failed to reach its mark from absolute defect of
knowledge in the public mind. Some fifty beside myself knew who was
meant by "that poet who had cautioned his friend against growing
double," etc.; to all others it was a profound secret.

These things must be known and understood properly to value the
prophetic eye and the intrepidity of two persons, like Professor Wilson
and myself, who, in 1802-3, attached themselves to a banner not yet
raised and planted; who outran, in fact, their contemporaries by one
entire generation; and did _that_ about 1802 which the rest of the
world are doing in chorus about 1832.

Professor Wilson's period at Oxford exactly coincided with my own; yet,
in that large world, we never met. I know, therefore, but little of his
policy in regard to such opinions or feelings as tended to dissociate
him from the mass of his coevals. This only I know, that he lived as it
were in public; and must, therefore, I presume, have practised a
studied reserve as to his deepest admirations; and, perhaps, at that
day (1803-8) the occasions would be rare in which much dissimulation
would be needed. Until Lord Byron had begun to pilfer from Wordsworth
and to abuse him, allusions to Wordsworth were not frequent in
conversation; and it was chiefly on occasion of some question arising
about poetry in general, or about the poets of the day, that it became
difficult to dissemble. For my part, hating the necessity for
dissimulation as much as the dissimulation itself, I drew from this
peculiarity also of my own mind a fresh reinforcement of my other
motives for sequestering myself; and, for the first two years of my
residence in Oxford, I compute that I did not utter one hundred words.

I remember distinctly the first (which happened also to be the last)
conversation that I ever held with my tutor. It consisted of three
sentences, two of which fell to his share, one to mine. On a fine
morning, he met me in the Quadrangle, and, having then no guess of the
nature of my pretensions, he determined (I suppose) to probe them.
Accordingly, he asked me, "What I had been lately reading?" Now, the
fact was, that I, at that time immersed in metaphysics, had really been
reading and studying very closely the _Parmenides_, of which
obscure work some Oxford men, early in the last century, published a
separate edition. Yet, so profound was the benignity of my nature,
that, in those days, I could not bear to witness, far less to cause,
the least pain or mortification to any human being. I recoiled, indeed,
from the society of most men, but not with any feelings of dislike. On
the contrary, in order that I _might_ like all men, I wished to
associate with none. Now, then, to have mentioned the _Parmenides_
to one who, fifty thousand to one, was a perfect stranger to its whole
drift and purpose, looked too _méchant_, too like a trick of
malice, in an age when such reading was so very unusual. I felt that it
would be taken for an express stratagem for stopping my tutor's mouth.
All this passing rapidly through my mind, I replied, without
hesitation, that I had been reading Paley. My tutor's rejoinder I have
never forgotten: "Ah! an excellent author; excellent for his matter;
only you must be on your guard as to his style; he is very vicious
_there_." Such was the colloquy; we bowed, parted, and never more
(I apprehend) exchanged one word. Now, trivial and trite as this
comment on Paley may appear to the reader, it struck me forcibly that
more falsehood, or more absolute falsehood, or more direct inversion of
the truth, could not, by any artifice of ingenuity, have been crowded
into one short sentence. Paley, as a philosopher, is a jest, the
disgrace of the age; and, as regards the two universities, and the
enormous responsibility they undertake for the books which they
sanction by their official examinations for degrees, the name of Paley
is their great opprobrium. But, on the other hand, for style, Paley is
a master. Homely, racy, vernacular English, the rustic vigor of a style
which intentionally foregoes the graces of polish on the one hand, and
of scholastic precision on the other--that quality of merit has never
been attained in a degree so eminent. This first interchange of thought
upon a topic of literature did not tend to slacken my previous
disposition to retreat into solitude; a solitude, however, which at no
time was tainted with either the moroseness or the pride of a cynic.

Neither must the reader suppose that, even in that day, I belonged to
the party who disparage the classical writers, or the classical
training of the great English schools. The Greek drama I loved and
revered. But, to deal frankly, because it is a subject which I shall
hereafter bring before the public, I made great distinctions. I was not
that indiscriminate admirer of Greek and Roman literature, which those
too generally are who admire it at all. This protesting spirit, against
a false and blind idolatry, was with me, at that time, a matter of
enthusiasm--almost of bigotry. I was a bigot against bigots. Let us
take the Greek oratory, for example:--What section of the Greek
literature is more fanatically exalted, and studiously in depreciation
of our own? Let us judge of the sincerity at the base of these hollow
affectations, by the downright facts and the producible records. To
admire, in any sense which can give weight and value to your
admiration, presupposes, I presume, some acquaintance with its object.
As the earliest title to an opinion, one way or other, of the Greek
eloquence, we ought to have studied some of its most distinguished
artists; or, say _one_, at least; and this one, we may be sure,
will be, as it ought to be, Demosthenes. Now, it is a fact, that all
the copies of Demosthenes sold within the last hundred years would not
meet the demand of one considerable town, were that orator a subject of
study amongst even classical scholars. I doubt whether, at this day,
there exist twenty men in Europe who can be said to have even once read
Demosthenes; and, therefore, it was that, when Mr. Mitford, in his
"History of Greece," took a new view of this orator's political
administration--a view which lowered his character for integrity--he
found an unresisting acceder to his doctrines in a public having no
previous opinion upon the subject, and, therefore, open to any casual
impression of malice or rash judgment. Had there been any acquaintance
with the large remains which we still possess of this famous orator, no
such wrong could have been done. I, from my childhood, had been a
reader, nay, a student of Demosthenes; and, simply, for this reason,
that, having meditated profoundly on the true laws and philosophy of
diction, and of what is vaguely denominated style, and finding nothing
of any value in modern writers upon this subject, and not much as
regards the grounds and ultimate principles even in the ancient
rhetoricians, I have been reduced to collect my opinions from the great
artists and practitioners, rather than from the theorists; and, among
those artists, in the most plastic of languages, I hold Demosthenes to
have been the greatest.

The Greek is, beyond comparison, the most plastic of languages. It was
a material which bent to the purposes of him who used it beyond the
material of other languages; it was an instrument for a larger compass
of modulations; and it happens that the peculiar theme of an orator
imposes the very largest which is consistent with a prose diction. One
step further in passion, and the orator would become a poet. An orator
can exhaust the capacities of a language--an historian, never.
Moreover, the age of Demosthenes was, in my judgment, the age of
highest development for arts dependent upon social refinement. That
generation had fixed and ascertained the use of words; whereas, the
previous generation of Thucydides, Xenophon, Plato, &c., was a
transitional period: the language was still moving, and tending to a
meridian not yet attained; and the public eye had been directed
consciously upon language, as in and for itself an organ of
intellectual delight, for too short a time, to have mastered the whole
art of managing its resources. All these were reasons for studying
Demosthenes, as the one great model and standard of Attic prose; and,
studied him I _had_, more than any other prose writer whatever.
_Paripassu_, I had become sensible that others had _not_ studied
him. One monotonous song of applause I found raised on every side;
something about being "like a torrent, that carries everything
before it." This original image is all we get in the shape of
criticism; and never any attempt even at illustrating what is greatest
in him, or characterizing what is most peculiar. The same persons who
discovered that Lord Brougham was the modern Bacon have also
complimented him with the title of the English Demosthenes. Upon this
hint, Lord Brougham, in his address to the Glasgow students, has
deluged the great Athenian with wordy admiration. There is an obvious
prudence in lodging your praise upon an object from which you count
upon a rebound to yourself. But here, as everywhere else, you look in
vain for any marks or indications of a personal and _direct_
acquaintance with the original orations. The praise is built rather
upon the popular idea of Demosthenes, than upon the real Demosthenes.
And not only so, but even upon style itself, and upon the art of
composition _in abstracto_, Lord Brougham does not seem to have
formed any clear conceptions--principles he has none. Now, it is
useless to judge of an artist until you have some principles on the
art. The two capital secrets in the art of prose composition are these:
1st, The philosophy of transition and connection, or the art by which
one step in an evolution of thought is made to arise out of another:
all fluent and effective composition depends on the _connections_;
--2dly, The way in which sentences are made to modify each other; for,
the most powerful effects in written eloquence arise out of
this reverberation, as it were, from each other in a rapid
succession of sentences; and, because some limitation is necessary to
the length and complexity of sentences, in order to make this
interdependency felt, hence it is that the Germans have no eloquence.
The construction of German prose tends to such immoderate length of
sentences, that no effect of intermodification can ever be apparent.
Each sentence, stuffed with innumerable clauses of restriction, and
other parenthetical circumstances, becomes a separate section--an
independent whole. But, without insisting on Lord Brougham's
oversights, or errors of defect, I will digress a moment to one
positive caution of his, which will measure the value of his philosophy
on this subject. He lays it down for a rule of indefinite application,
that the Saxon part of our English idiom is to be favored at the
expense of that part which has so happily coalesced with the language
from the Latin or Greek. This fancy, often patronized by other writers,
and even acted upon, resembles that restraint which some metrical
writers have imposed upon themselves--of writing a long copy of verses,
from which some particular letter, or from each line of which some
different letter, should be carefully excluded. What followed? Was the
reader sensible, in the practical effect upon his ear, of any beauty
attained? By no means; all the difference, sensibly perceived, lay in
the occasional constraints and affectations to which the writer had
been driven by his self-imposed necessities. The same chimera exists in
Germany; and so much further is it carried, that one great puritan in
this heresy (Wolf) has published a vast dictionary, the rival of
Adelung's, for the purpose of expelling every word of foreign origin
and composition out of the language, by assigning some equivalent term
spun out from pure native Teutonic materials. _Bayonet_, for
example, is patriotically rejected, because a word may be readily
compounded tantamount to _musket-dirk_; and this sort of
composition thrives showily in the German, as a language running into
composition with a fusibility only surpassed by the Greek.

But what good purpose is attained by such caprices? In three sentences
the sum of the philosophy may be stated. It has been computed (see
_Duclos_) that the Italian opera has not above six hundred words
in its whole vocabulary: so narrow is the range of its emotions, and so
little are these emotions disposed to expand themselves into any
variety of thinking. The same remark applies to that class of simple,
household, homely passion, which belongs to the early ballad poetry.
Their passion is of a quality more venerable, it is true, and deeper
than that of the opera, because more permanent and coextensive with
human life; but it is not much wider in its sphere, nor more apt to
coalesce with contemplative or philosophic thinking. Pass from these
narrow fields of the intellect, where the relations of the objects are
so few and simple, and the whole prospect so bounded, to the
immeasurable and sea-like arena upon which Shakspeare careers--co-
infinite with life itself--yes, and with something more than life. Here
is the other pole, the opposite extreme. And what is the choice of
diction? What is the _lexis_? Is it Saxon exclusively, or is it
Saxon by preference? So far from that, the Latinity is intense--not,
indeed, in his construction, but in his choice of words; and so
continually are these Latin words used, with a critical respect to
their earliest (and, where _that_ happens to have existed, to
their unfigurative) meaning, that, upon this one argument I would rely
for upsetting the else impregnable thesis of Dr. Farmer as to
Shakspeare's learning. Nay, I will affirm that, out of this regard to
the Latin acceptation of Latin words, may be absolutely explained the
Shakspearian meaning of certain words, which has hitherto baffled all
his critics. For instance, the word _modern_, of which Dr. Johnson
professes himself unable to explain the _rationale_ or principle
regulating its Shakspearian use, though he felt its value, it is to be
deduced thus: First of all, change the pronunciation a little, by
substituting for the short _o_, as we pronounce it in _modern_, the
long _o_, as heard in _modish_, and you will then, perhaps, perceive
the process of analogy by which it passed into the Shakspearian use.
The _matter_ or substance of a thing is, usually, so much more
important than its fashion or _manner_, that we have hence adopted, as
one way for expressing what is important as opposed to what is trivial,
the word _material_. Now, by parity of reason, we are entitled to
invert this order, and to express what is unimportant by some word
indicating the mere fashion or external manner of an object as opposed
to its substance. This is effected by the word _modal_ or _modern_, as
the adjective from _modus_, a fashion or manner; and in that sense
Shakspeare employs the word. Thus, Cleopatra, undervaluing to Caesar's
agent the bijouterie which she has kept back from inventory, and which
her treacherous steward had betrayed, describes them as mere trifles

"Such gifts as we greet modern friends withal;"

where all commentators have _felt_ that modern must form the
position, mean, slight, arid inconsiderable, though perplexed to say
how it came by such a meaning. A _modern_ friend is, in the
Shakspearian sense, with relation to a real and serviceable friend,
that which the fashion of a thing is, by comparison with its substance.
But a still better illustration may be taken from a common line, quoted
every day, and ludicrously misinterpreted. In the famous picture of
life--"All the world's a stage"--the justice of the piece is described

"Full of wise saws and modern instances;"

which (_horrendum dictu!_) has been explained, and, I verily
believe, is generally understood to mean, _full of wise sayings and
modern illustrations_. The true meaning is--full of proverbial
maxims of conduct and of trivial arguments; that is, of petty
distinctions, or verbal disputes, such as never touch the point at
issue. The word _modern_ I have already deduced; the word
_instances_ is equally Latin, and equally used by Shakspeare in
its Latin sense. It is originally the word _instantia_, which, by
the monkish and scholastic writers, is uniformly used in the sense of
an argument, and originally of an argument urged in objection to some
previous argument. [Footnote: I cannot for a moment believe that the
original and most eloquent critic in _Blackwood_ is himself the
dupe of an argument, which he has alleged against this passage, under
too open a hatred of Shakspeare, as though it involved a contradiction
to common sense, by representing _all_ human beings of such an age
as school-boys, all of such another age as soldiers, of such another as
magistrates, &c. Evidently the logic of the famous passage is this
that whereas every age has its peculiar and appropriate temper, that
profession or employment is selected for the exemplification which
seems best fitted, in each case, to embody the characteristic or
predominating quality. Thus, because impetuosity, self-esteem, and
animal or irreflective courage, are qualities most intense in youth,
next it is considered in what profession those qualities find their
most unlimited range; and because that is obviously the military
profession, therefore it is that the soldier is selected as the
representative of young men. For the same reason, as best embodying the
peculiar temper of garrulous old age, the magistrate comes forward as
supporting the part of that age. Not that old men are not also
soldiers; but that the military profession, so far from strengthening,
moderates and tempers the characteristic temper of old age.]

I affirm, therefore, that Lord Brougham's counsel to the Glasgow
students is not only bad counsel,--and bad counsel for the result, as
well as for the grounds, which are either capricious or nugatory,--but
also that, in the exact proportion in which the range of thought
expands, it is an impossible counsel, an impracticable counsel--a
counsel having for its purpose to embarrass and lay the mind in
fetters, where even its utmost freedom and its largest resources will
be found all too little for the growing necessities of the intellect.
"Long-tailed words in _osity_ and _ation_!" What does _that_
describe? Exactly the Latin part of our language. Now, those
very terminations speak for themselves:--All high abstractions
end in _ation_; that is, they are Latin; and, just in proportion
as the abstracting power extends and widens, do the circles of thought
widen, and the horizon or boundary (contradicting its own Grecian name)
melts into the infinite. On this account it was that Coleridge
(_Biographia Literaria_) remarks on Wordsworth's philosophical
poetry, that, in proportion as it goes into the profound of passion and
of thought, do the words increase which are vulgarly called
"_dictionary_ words." Now, these words, these "dictionary" words,
what are they? Simply words of Latin or Greek origin: no other words,
no Saxon words, are ever called by illiterate persons dictionary words.
And these dictionary words are indispensable to a writer, not only in
the proportion by which he transcends other writers as to extent and as
to subtility of thinking, but also as to elevation and sublimity.
Milton was not an extensive or discursive thinker, as Shakspeare was;
for the motions of his mind were slow, solemn, sequacious, like those
of the planets; not agile and assimilative; not attracting all things
within its own sphere; not multiform: repulsion was the law of his
intellect--he moved in solitary grandeur. Yet, merely from this quality
of grandeur, unapproachable grandeur, his intellect demanded a larger
infusion of Latinity into his diction.

For the same reason (and, without such aids, he would have had no
proper element in which to move his wings) he enriched his diction with
Hellenisms and with Hebraisms; [Footnote: The diction of Milton is a
case absolutely unique in literature: of many writers it has been said,
but of him only with truth, that he created a peculiar language. The
value must be tried by the result, not by inferences from _a
priori_ principles; such inferences might lead us to anticipate an
unfortunate result; whereas, in fact, the diction of Milton is such
that no other could have supported his majestic style of thinking. The
final result is a _transcendant_ answer to all adverse criticism;
but still it is to be lamented that no man properly qualified has
undertaken the examination of the Miltonic diction as a separate
problem. Listen to a popular author of this day (Mr. Bulwer). He,
speaking on this subject, asserts (_England and the English_, p.
329), that, "_There is scarcely an English idiom which Milton has not
violated, or a foreign one which he has not borrowed._" Now, in
answer to this extravagant assertion, I will venture to say that the
two following are the sole cases of questionable idiom throughout
Milton:--1st, "Yet virgin of Proserpine from Jove;" and, in this case,
the same thing might be urged in apology which Aristotle urges in
another argument, namely, that _anonymon to pathos_, the case is
unprovided with _any_ suitable expression. How would it be
possible to convey in good English the circumstances here indicated--
namely, that Ceres was yet in those days of maiden innocence, when she
had borne no daughter to Jove? Second, I will cite a case which, so far
as I remember, has been noticed by no commentator; and, probably,
because they have failed to understand it. The case occurs in the
"Paradise Regained;" but where I do not at this moment remember. "Will
they _transact_ with God?" This is the passage; and a most flagrant
instance it offers of pure Latinism. _Transigere_, in the language
of the civil law, means to make a compromise; and the word
_transact_ is here used in that sense--a sense utterly unknown to
the English language. This is the worst case in Milton; and I do not
know that it has been ever noticed. Yet even here it may be doubted
whether Milton is not defensible; asking if they proposed to terminate
their difference with God after the fashion in use amongst courts of
law, he points properly enough to these worldly settlements by the
technical term which designated them. Thus, might a divine say: Will he
arrest the judgments of God by a _demurrer_? Thus, again, Hamlet
apostrophizes the lawyer's skull by the technical terms used in actions
for assault, &c. Besides, what proper term is there in English for
expressing a compromise? Edmund Burke, and other much older authors,
express the idea by the word _temperament_; but that word, though
a good one, was at one time considered an exotic term--equally a
Gallicism and a Latinism.] but never, as could be easy to show, without
a full justification in the result. Two things may be asserted of all
his exotic idioms--1st, That they express what could not have been
expressed by any native idiom; 2d, That they harmonize with the English
language, and give a coloring of the antique, but not any sense of
strangeness to the diction. Thus, in the double negative, "Nor did they
not perceive," &c., which is classed as a Hebraism--if any man fancy
that it expresses no more than the simple affirmative, he shows that he
does not understand its force; and, at the same time, it is a form of
thought so natural and universal, that I have heard English people,
under corresponding circumstances, spontaneously fall into it. In
short, whether a man differ from others by greater profundity or by
greater sublimity, and whether he write as a poet or as a philosopher,
in any case, he feels, in due proportion to the necessities of his
intellect, an increasing dependence upon the Latin section of the
English language; and the true reason why Lord Brougham failed to
perceive this, or found the Saxon equal to his wants, is one which I
shall not scruple to assign, inasmuch as it does not reflect personally
on Lord Brougham, or, at least, on him exclusively, but on the whole
body to which he belongs. That thing which he and they call by the
pompous name of statesmanship, but which is, in fact, _statescraft_--
the art of political intrigue--deals (like the opera) with ideas so few
in number, and so little adapted to associate themselves with other
ideas, that, possibly, in the one case equally as in the other, six
hundred words are sufficient to meet all their demands.

I have used my privilege of discursiveness to step aside from
Demosthenes to another subject, no otherwise connected with the Attic
orator than, first, by the common reference of both subjects to
rhetoric; but, secondly, by the accident of having been jointly
discussed by Lord Brougham in a paper, which (though now forgotten)
obtained, at the moment, most undue celebrity. For it is one of the
infirmities of the public mind with us, that whatever is said or done
by a public man, any opinion given by a member of Parliament, however
much out of his own proper jurisdiction and range of inquiry, commands
an attention not conceded even to those who speak under the known
privilege of professional knowledge. Thus, Cowper was not discovered to
be a poet worthy of any general notice, until Charles Fox, a most
slender critic, had vouchsafed to quote a few lines, and that, not so
much with a view to the poetry, as to its party application. But now,
returning to Demosthenes, I affirm that his case is the case of nearly
all the classical writers,--at least, of all the prose writers. It is,
I admit, an extreme one; that is, it is the general case in a more
intense degree. Raised almost to divine honors, never mentioned but
with affected rapture, the classics of Greece and Rome are seldom read,
most of them never; are they, indeed, the closet companions of any man?
Surely it is time that these follies were at an end; that our practice
were made to square a little better with our professions; and that our
pleasures were sincerely drawn from those sources in which we pretend
that they lie.

The Greek language, mastered in any eminent degree, is the very rarest
of all accomplishments, and precisely because it is unspeakably the
most difficult. Let not the reader dupe himself by popular cant. To be
an accomplished Grecian, demands a very peculiar quality of talent; and
it is almost inevitable that one who is such should be vain of a
distinction which represents so much labor and difficulty overcome. For
myself, having, as a school-boy, attained to a very unusual mastery
over this language, and (though as yet little familiar with the
elaborate science of Greek metre) moving through all the obstacles and
resistances of a Greek book with the same celerity and ease as through
those of the French and Latin, I had, in vanquishing the difficulties
of the language, lost the main stimulus to its cultivation. Still, I
read Greek daily; but any slight vanity which I might connect with a
power so rarely attained, and which, under ordinary circumstances, so
readily transmutes itself into a disproportionate admiration of the
author, in me was absolutely swallowed up in the tremendous hold taken
of my entire sensibilities at this time by our own literature. With
what fury would I often exclaim: He who loveth not his brother whom he
hath seen, how shall he love God whom he hath not seen? You, Mr. A, L,
M, O, you who care not for Milton, and value not the dark sublimities
which rest ultimately (as we all feel) upon dread realities, how can
you seriously thrill in sympathy with the spurious and fanciful
sublimities of the classical poetry--with the nod of the Olympian Jove,
or the seven-league strides of Neptune? Flying Childers had the most
prodigious stride of any horse on record; and at Newmarket that is
justly held to be a great merit; but it is hardly a qualification for a
Pantheon. The parting of Hector and Andromache--that is tender,
doubtless; but how many passages of far deeper, far diviner tenderness,
are to be found in Chaucer! Yet in these cases we give our antagonist
the benefit of an appeal to what is really best and most effective in
the ancient literature. For, if we should go to Pindar, and some other
great names, what a revelation of hypocrisy as respects the _fade_
enthusiasts for the Greek poetry!

Still, in the Greek tragedy, however otherwise embittered against
ancient literature by the dismal affectations current in the scenical
poetry, at least I felt the presence of a great and original power. It
might be a power inferior, upon the whole, to that which presides in
the English tragedy; I believed that it was; but it was equally
genuine, and appealed equally to real and deep sensibilities in our
nature. Yet, also, I felt that the two powers at work in the two forms
of the drama were essentially different; and without having read a line
of German at that time, or knowing of any such controversy, I began to
meditate on the elementary grounds of difference between the Pagan and
the Christian forms of poetry. The dispute has since been carried on
extensively in France, not less than in Germany, as between the
_classical_ and the _romantic_. But I will venture to assert
that not one step in advance has been made, up to this day. The shape
into which I threw the question it may be well to state; because I am
persuaded that out of that one idea, properly pursued, might be evolved
the whole separate characteristics of the Christian and the antique:
Why is it, I asked, that the Christian idea of _sin_ is an idea
utterly unknown to the Pagan mind? The Greeks and Romans had a clear
conception of a moral ideal, as we have; but this they estimated by a
reference to the will; and they called it virtue, and the antithesis
they called vice. The _lacheté_ or relaxed energy of the will, by
which it yielded to the seductions of sensual pleasure, that was vice;
and the braced-up tone by which it resisted these seductions was
virtue. But the idea of holiness, and the antithetic idea of sin, as a
violation of this awful and unimaginable sanctity, was so utterly
undeveloped in the Pagan mind, that no word exists in classical Greek
or classical Latin which approaches either pole of this synthesis;
neither the idea of _holiness_, nor of its correlate, _sin_,
could be so expressed in Latin as at once to satisfy Cicero and a
scientific Christian. Again (but this was some years after), I found
Schiller and Goethe applauding the better taste of the ancients, in
symbolizing the idea of death by a beautiful youth, with a torch
inverted, &c., as compared with the Christian types of a skeleton and
hour-glasses, &c. And much surprised I was to hear Mr. Coleridge
approving of this German sentiment. Yet, here again I felt the peculiar
genius of Christianity was covertly at work moving upon a different
road, and under opposite ideas, to a just result, in which the harsh
and austere expression yet pointed to a dark reality, whilst the
beautiful Greek adumbration was, in fact, a veil and a disguise. The
corruptions and the other "dishonors" of the grave, and whatsoever
composes the sting of death in the Christian view, is traced up to sin
as its ultimate cause. Hence, besides the expression of Christian
humility, in thus nakedly exhibiting the wrecks and ruins made by sin,
there is also a latent profession indicated of Christian hope. For the
Christian contemplates steadfastly, though with trembling awe, the
lowest point of his descent; since, for him, that point, the last of
his fall, is also the first of his reäscent, and serves, besides, as an
exponent of its infinity; the infinite depth becoming, in the rebound,
a measure of the infinite reäscent. Whereas, on the contrary, with the
gloomy uncertainties of a Pagan on the question of his final
restoration, and also (which must not be overlooked) with his utter
perplexity as to the nature of his restoration, if any were by accident
in reserve, whether in a condition tending downwards or upwards, it was
the natural resource to consult the general feeling of anxiety and
distrust, by throwing a thick curtain and a veil of beauty over the
whole too painful subject. To place the horrors in high relief, could
here have answered no purpose but that of wanton cruelty; whereas, with
the Christian hopes, the very saddest memorials of the havocs made by
death are antagonist prefigurations of great victories in the rear.

These speculations, at that time, I pursued earnestly; and I then
believed myself, as I yet do, to have ascertained the two great and
opposite laws under which the Grecian and the English tragedy has each
separately developed itself. Whether wrong or right in that belief,
sure I am that those in Germany who have treated the case of classical
and romantic are not entitled to credit for any discovery at all. The
Schlegels, who were the hollowest of men, the windiest and wordiest (at
least, Frederic was so), pointed to the distinction; barely indicated
it; and that was already some service done, because a presumption arose
that the antique and the modern literatures, having clearly some
essential differences, might, perhaps, rest on foundations originally
distinct, and obey different laws. And hence it occurred that many
disputes, as about the unities, etc., might originate in a confusion of
these laws. This checks the presumption of the shallow criticism, and
points to deeper investigations. Beyond this, neither the German nor
the French disputers on the subject have talked to any profitable

I have mentioned Paley as accidentally connected with my _début_
in literary conversation; and I have taken occasion to say how much I
admired his style and its unstudied graces, how profoundly I despised
his philosophy. I shall here say a word or two more on that subject. As
respects his style, though secretly despising the opinion avowed by my
tutor (which was, however, a natural opinion for a stiff lover of the
artificial and the pompous), I would just as unwillingly be supposed to
adopt the extravagant opinions, in the other extreme, of Dr. Parr and
Mr. Coleridge. These two gentlemen, who privately hated Paley, and,
perhaps, traduced him, have hung like bees over one particular
paragraph in his Evidences, as though it were a flower transplanted
from Hymettus. Dr. Parr pronounced it the finest sentence in the
English language. It is a period (that is, a cluster of sentences)
moderately well, but not _too_ well constructed, as the German
nurses are accustomed to say. Its felicity depends on a trick easily
imitated--on a balance happily placed (namely, "_in which the wisest
of mankind would rejoice to find an answer to their doubts, and rest to
their inquiries_"). As a _bravura_, or _tour de force_, in
the dazzling fence of rhetoric, it is surpassed by many hundreds of
passages which might be produced from rhetoricians; or, to confine
myself to Paley's contemporaries, it is very far surpassed by a
particular passage in Burke's letter upon the Duke of Bedford's base
attack upon him in the House of Lords; which passage I shall elsewhere
produce, because I happen to know, on the authority of Burke's
executors, that Burke himself considered it the finest period which he
had ever written. At present, I will only make one remark, namely, that
it is always injudicious, in the highest degree, to cite for admiration
that which is not a _representative_ specimen of the author's
manner. In reading Lucian, I once stumbled on a passage of German
pathos, and of German effect. Would it have been wise, or would it have
been intellectually just, to quote this as the text of an eulogium on
Lucian? What false criticism it would have suggested to every reader!
what false anticipations! To quote a formal and periodic pile of
sentences, was to give the feeling that Paley was what the regular
rhetorical artists designate as a periodic writer, when, in fact, no
one conceivable character of style more pointedly contradicted the true
description of his merits.

But, leaving the style of Paley, I must confess that I agree with Mr.
Bulwer (_England and the English_) in thinking it shocking and
almost damnatory to an English university, the great well-heads of
creeds, moral and evangelical, that authors such in respect of doctrine
as Paley and Locke should hold that high and influential station as
teachers, or rather oracles of truth, which has been conceded to them.
As to Locke, I, when a boy, had made a discovery of one blunder full of
laughter and of fun, which, had it been published and explained in
Locke's lifetime, would have tainted his whole philosophy with
suspicion. It relates to the Aristotelian doctrine of syllogism, which
Locke undertook to ridicule. Now, a flaw, a hideous flaw, in the
_soi-disant_ detecter of flaws, a ridicule in the exposer of the
ridiculous--_that_ is fatal; and I am surprised that Lee, who
wrote a folio against Locke in his lifetime, and other examiners,
should have failed in detecting this. I shall expose it elsewhere; and,
perhaps, one or two other exposures of the same kind will give an
impetus to the descent of this falling philosophy. With respect to
Paley, and the naked _prudentialism_ of his system, it is true
that in a longish note Paley disclaims that consequence. But to this we
may reply, with Cicero, _Non quoero quid neget Epicurus, sed quid
congruenter neget_. Meantime, waiving all this as too notorious, and
too frequently denounced, I wish to recur to this trite subject, by way
of stating an objection made to the Paleyan morality in my seventeenth
year, and which I have never since seen reason to withdraw. It is
this:--I affirm that the whole work, from first to last, proceeds upon
that sort of error which the logicians call _ignoratio elenchi_,
that is, ignorance of the very question concerned--of the point at
issue. For, mark, in the very vestibule of ethics, two questions
arise--two different and disconnected questions, A and B; and Paley has
answered the wrong one. Thinking that he was answering A, and meaning
to answer A, he has, in fact, answered B. One question arises thus:
Justice is a virtue; temperance is a virtue; and so forth. Now, what is
the common principle which ranks these several species under the same
genus? What, in the language of logicians, is the common differential
principle which determines these various aspects of moral obligation to
a common genius? Another question, and a more interesting question to
men in general, is this,--What is the motive to virtue? By what
impulse, law, or motive, am I impelled to be virtuous rather than
vicious? Whence is the motive derived which should impel me to one line
of conduct in preference to the other? This, which is a practical
question, and, therefore, more interesting than the other, which is a
pure question of speculation, was that which Paley believed himself to
be answering. And his answer was,--That utility, a perception of the
resulting benefit, was the true determining motive. Meantime, it was
objected that often the most obvious results from a virtuous action
were far otherwise than beneficial. Upon which, Paley, in the long note
referred to above, distinguished thus: That whereas actions have many
results, some proximate, some remote, just as a stone thrown into the
water produces many concentric circles, be it known that he, Dr. Paley,
in what he says of utility, contemplates only the final result, the
very outermost circle; inasmuch as he acknowledges a possibility that
the first, second, third, including the penultimate circle, may all
happen to clash with utility; but then, says he, the outermost circle
of all will never fail to coincide with the absolute maximum of
utility. Hence, in the first place, it appears that you cannot apply
this test of utility in a practical sense; you cannot say, This is
useful, _ergo_, it is virtuous; but, in the inverse order, you
must say, This is virtuous, _ergo_, it is useful. You do not rely
on its usefulness to satisfy yourself of its being virtuous; but, on
the contrary, you rely on its virtuousness, previously ascertained, in
order to satisfy yourself of its usefulness. And thus the whole
practical value of this test disappears, though in that view it was
first introduced; and a vicious circle arises in the argument; as you
must have ascertained the virtuousness of an act, in order to apply the
test of its being virtuous. But, _secondly_, it now comes out that
Paley was answering a very different question from that which he
supposed himself answering. Not any practical question as to the motive
or impelling force in being virtuous, rather than vicious,--that is, to
the _sanctions_ of virtue,--but a purely speculative question, as
to the issue of virtue, or the common _vinculum_ amongst the
several modes or species of virtue (justice, temperance, etc.)--this
was the real question which he was answering. I have often remarked
that the largest and most subtle source of error in philosophic
speculations has been the confounding of the two great principles so
much insisted on by the Leibnitzians, namely, the _ratio
cognoscendi_ and the _ratio essendi_. Paley believed himself to
be assigning--it was his full purpose to assign--the _ratio
cognoscendi_; but, instead of that, unconsciously and surreptitiously,
he has actually assigned the _ratio essendi_; and, after all, a false
and imaginary _ratio essendi_.


It is remarkable--and, without a previous explanation, it might seem
paradoxical to say it--that oftentimes under a continual accession of
light important subjects grow more and more enigmatical. In times when
nothing was explained, the student, torpid as his teacher, saw nothing
which called for explanation--all appeared one monotonous blank. But no
sooner had an early twilight begun to solicit the creative faculties of
the eye, than many dusky objects, with outlines imperfectly defined,
began to converge the eye, and to strengthen the nascent interest of
the spectator. It is true that light, in its final plenitude, is
calculated to disperse all darkness. But this effect belongs to its
consummation. In its earlier and _struggling_ states, light does
but reveal darkness. It makes the darkness palpable and "visible." Of
which we may see a sensible illustration in a gloomy glass-house, where
the sullen lustre from the furnace does but mass and accumulate the
thick darkness in the rear upon which the moving figures are relieved.
Or we may see an intellectual illustration in the mind of the savage,
on whose blank surface there exists no doubt or perplexity at all, none
of the pains connected with ignorance; he is conscious of no darkness,
simply because for _him_ there exists no visual ray of speculation--no
vestige of prelusive light.

Similar, and continually more similar, has been the condition of
ancient history. Once yielding a mere barren crop of facts and dates,
slowly it has been kindling of late years into life and deep interest
under superior treatment. And hitherto, as the light has advanced,
_pari passu_ have the masses of darkness strengthened. Every
question solved has been the parent of three new questions unmasked.
And the power of breathing life into dry bones has but seemed to
multiply the skeletons and lifeless remains; for the very natural
reason--that these dry bones formerly (whilst viewed as incapable of
revivification) had seemed less numerous, because everywhere confounded
to the eye with stocks and stones, so long as there was no motive of
hope for marking the distinction between them.

Amongst all the illustrations which might illuminate this truth, none
is so instructive as the large question of PAGAN ORACLES. Every part,
indeed, of the Pagan religion, the course, geographically or
ethnographically, of its traditions, the vast labyrinth of its
mythology, the deductions of its contradictory genealogies, the
disputed meaning of its many secret "mysteries" [_teletai_--
symbolic rites or initiations], all these have been submitted of late
years to the scrutiny of glasses more powerful, applied under more
combined arrangements, and directed according to new principles more
comprehensively framed. We cannot in sincerity affirm--always with
immediate advantage. But even where the individual effort may have been
a failure as regarded the immediate object, rarely, indeed, it has
happened but that much indirect illumination has resulted--which,
afterwards entering into combination with other scattered currents of
light, has issued in discoveries of value; although, perhaps, any one
contribution, taken separately, had been, and would have remained,
inoperative. Much has been accomplished, chiefly of late years; and,
confining our view to ancient history, almost exclusively amongst the
Germans--by the Savignys, the Niebuhrs, the Otfried Muellers. And, if
that _much_ has left still more to do, it has also brought the

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