« НазадПродовжити »
in the period when they were in their genuine health and vigour. To them we owe almost all our logic and our literature. What excellent effects do we reap, even at this day, from the feudal system and from chivalry! In this point of view nothing perhaps can be more worthy of our applause than the English Constitution. Excellent to this purpose are the words of Daniel in his Apology for Rhyme : Nor can it touch but of arrogant ignorance, to hold this or that nation barbarous, these or those times gross, considering how this manifold creature man, wheresoever he stand in the world, hath always some disposition of worth, entertains and affects that order of society which is best for his use, and is eminent for some one thing or other that fits his humour and the times.' This is the truest and mos sublime toleration. There is a period, indeed, when each institution is obsolete, and should be laid aside ; but it is of much importance that we should not proceed too rapidly in this, or introduce any change before its due and proper season.
“You say that you count but on a short life. In that too you are erroneous. I shall not live to see you fourscore, but it is not improbable that my son will. I was myself in early life of a remarkably puny constitution. Pope, who was at all times kept alive only by art, reached his fifty-seventh year. The constitution of man is a theatre of change, and I think it not improbable that at thirty or forty you will be a robust man.
“ To descend from great things to small, I can perceive that you are already infected with the air of the country (Ireland)
. Your letter with its enclosures cost me by post £ 1 Is. 8d., and
you say in it that you send it in this way to save expense.' The post always charges parcels that exceed a sheet or two by weight, and they should therefore always be forwarded by some other conveyance.
The Same to the Same.
“ March 14, 1812. “I take up the pen again immediately on the receipt of yours, because I am desirous of making one more effort to save yourself
and the Irish people from the calamities with which I see your mode of proceeding to be fraught. In the commencement of this letter you profess to 'acquiesce in my decisions,' and you go on with those measures which, with no sparing and equivocal voice, I have condemned. I smile, with a bitter smile, a smile of much pain, at the impotence of my expostulations on so momentous a topic, when I observe these inconsistencies. . .
“You say, "What has been done within these last twenty years?' Oh, that I could place you upon the pinnacle of ages, from which these twenty years would shrink to an invisible point! It is not after this fashion that moral causes work in the eye of him who looks profoundly through the vast and-allow me to add-venerable machine of human society. But so reasoned the French Revolutionists. Auspicious and admirable materials were working in the general mind of France; but these men said, as you say, "When we look on the last twenty years, we are seized with a sort of moral scepticism ; we must own we are eager that something should be done. And see what has been the result of their doings. He that would benefit mankind on a comprehensive scale, by changing the principles and elements of society, must learn the hard lesson, to put off self, and to contribute by a quiet but incessant activity, like a rill of water, to irrigate and fertilise the intellectual evil. ..
“I wish to my heart you would come immediately to London. I have a friend who has contrived a tube to convey passengers sixty miles an hour : be youth your tube. I have a thousand things I could say, really more than I could say in a letter on this important subject. You cannot imagine how much all the females of my family, Mrs Godwin and three daughters, are interested in your letters and your history.”
The Same to the Same.
“ March 30, 1812. “ I received your last letter on the 24th inst., and the perusal of it gave me a high degree of pleasure. I can now look upon you as a friend. Before, I knew not what might happen. It was like making an acquaintance with Robert Emmet, who, I believe, like yourself, was a man of a very pure mind, but respecting whom I could not have told from day to day what calamities he might bring upon his country; how effectually like the bear in the fable) he might smash the nose of his mother to pieces, when he intended only to remove the noxious insect that tormented her; and what premature and tragical fate he might bring upon himself. Now, I can look on you, not as a meteoric ephemeral, but as a lasting friend, who, according to the course of nature, may contribute to the comforts of my closing days. Now, I can look on you as a friend like myself, but I hope more effectually and actively useful, who is prone to study the good of his fellow men, but with no propensities threatening to do them extensive mischief, under the form and intention of benefit. ...
“ You say, “I will look to events in which it will be impossible I can share, and make myself the cause of an effect which will take place ages after I shall have mouldered into dust.' In saying this you run from one extreme to another. I have often had occasion to apply a principle on the subject of education, which is equally applicable here—'Be not easily discouraged; sow the seed, and after a season, and when you least look for it, it will germinate and produce a crop.' I have again and again been hopeless concerning the children with whom I have voluntarily, or by the laws of society, been concerned. Seeds of intellect and knowledge, seeds of moral judgment and conduct, I have sown; but the soil for a long while seemed ungrateful to the tiller's care. It was not so; the happiest operations were going on quietly and unobserved, and at the moment when it was of the most importance, they unfolded themselves to the delight of every beholder.
“ These instances of surprise are owing solely to the bluntness of our senses. You find little difference between the men of these islands of Europe now and twenty years ago. If you looked more into these things you would perceive that the alteration is immense. The human race has made larger strides to escape from a state of childhood in these twenty years than perhaps in any hundred years preceding. ..
When arranging his usual short summer excursion in 1812, Godwin determined to combine this with a visit to the Shelleys. They had asked him to visit them, but no time had been fixed for his arrival ; indeed the invitation had not been pressed when Godwin first thought of making his tour westward, for the Shelleys feared they could scarcely make him quite comfortable in the limited accommodation they could offer him. But on his arrival at Lynmouth, the Shelleys were gone, and had taken up their abode at Tanyr-alt in North Wales. The diary illustrates the difficulties of a pleasure tour sixty years since, and the perseverance of the tourist in spite of ill-health.
“ Sep. 9, W. Twice to Bagley's banker : coach Gerards Hall :
sup at Slough. Write to Place. “10, Th. Breakfast at Thatcham : lunch Beckhampton :
cyder, Bath : sleep at Bristol, Bush. Fellow travellers ; Mrs Major Wms (Picton) rev. Gibbs, spouter, and Mrs Harwood. Write to M. J.
Rock Inn, Mr and Mrs Griffiths: dine w. Vivian,
“12, Sa. Boat to Tintern; St Peter's Thumb, Twelve
Apostles, Lover's Leap: dine at Chepstow : walk to Black Rock; adv. Griffiths . (al Lewis) and
Yescomb. Write to M. J. "13, Su. Passage, with 12 horses, &c. : return chaise to
Bristol: call on Dr Kentish, deceased. Write to
Shelley. “14, M. Call on Gutch, and w. him on Cottle : meet Vivian :
w. him Cathedral and Redcliffe: dine at Gutch's w. Dr Pritchard.
Write to M. J.
I have read the tragedy of Cenci, &
Shelley at bact descenimy to What really
s certahring excellent.
Cato March 17.