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useful and embellishing arts may be applied to the perception and recollection of certain properties in numbers and figures! Oh, that I had to learn astrology, or demonology, or school divinity; oh, that I were to pore over Thomas Aquinas, and to adjust the relation of Entity with the two Predicaments, so that I were exempted from this miserable study! Discipline" of the mind! Say rather starvation, confinement, torture, annihilation! But it must be. I feel myself becoming a personification of algebra, a living trigonometrical canon, a walking table of logarithms. All my perceptions of elegance and beauty gone, or at least going. By the end of the term my brain. will be "as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage.' Oh, to change Cam for Isis! But such is my destiny; and since it is so, be the pursuit contemptible, below contempt, or disgusting beyond abhorrence, I shall aim at no second place. But three years! I cannot endure the thought. I cannot bear to contemplate what I must have to undergo. Farewell, then, Homer and Sophocles and Cicero.
Where joy forever reigns! Hail, horrors, hail,
How does it proceed? Milton's descriptions have been driven out of my head by such elegant expressions as the following:
My classics must be Woodhouse, and my amusements summing an infinite series. Farewell; and tell Selina and Jane to be thankful that it is not a necessary part of female education to get a headache daily without acquiring one practical truth or beautiful image in return. Again and with affectionate love to my father, farewell wishes your most miserable and mathematical son,
T. B. MACAULAY.
TO ZACHARY MACAULAY
CAMBRIDGE, January 5th, 1820. MY DEAR FATHER, - Nothing that gives you disquietude can give me amusement. Otherwise I should have been excessively diverted by the dialogue which you have reported with so much vivacity; the accusation; the predictions; and the elegant agnomen of "the novel-reader" for which I am indebted to this incognito. I went in some amazement to Malden, Romilly, and Barlow. Their acquaintance comprehends, I will venture to say, almost every man worth knowing in the university in every field of study. They had never heard the appellation applied to me by any man. Their intimacy with me would of course prevent any person from speaking to them on the subject in an insulting manner; for it is not usual here, whatever your unknown informant may do, for a gentleman who does not wish to be kicked downstairs to reply to a man who mentions another as his particular friend, "Do you mean the blackguard or the novel-reader?" But I am fully convinced that, had the charge prevailed to any extent, it must have reached the ears of one of those whom I interrogated. At all events, I have the consolation of not being thought a novel-reader by three or four who are entitled to judge upon the subject; and whether their opinion be of equal value with that of this John-aNokes against whom I have to plead, I leave you to decide. But stronger evidence, it seems, is behind. This gentleman was in company with me. Alas, that I should never have found out how accurate an observer was measuring my sentiments, numbering the novels which I criticised, and speculating on the probability of my being plucked. "I was familiar with all the novels whose names he had ever heard." If so frightful an accusation did not stun me at once, I might perhaps hint at the possibility that this was to be attributed almost as much to the narrowness of his reading on this subject as to the extent of mine. There are men here who are mere
mathematical blocks, who plod on their eight hours a day to the honors of the Senate House; who leave the groves which witnessed the musings of Milton, of Bacon, and of Gray, without one liberal idea or elegant image, and carry with them into the world minds contracted by unmingled attention to one part of science, and memories stored only with technicalities. How often have I seen such men go forth into society for people to stare at them, and ask each other how it comes that beings so stupid in conversation, so uninformed on every subject of history, of letters, and of taste, could gain such distinction at Cambridge! It is in such circles, which, I am happy to say, I hardly know but by report, that knowledge of modern literature is called novel-reading: a commodious name, invented by ignorance and applied by envy, in the same manner as men without learning call a scholar a pedant, and men without principle call a Christian a Methodist. To me the attacks of such men are valuable as compliments. The man whose friend tells him that he is known to be extensively acquainted with elegant literature may suspect that he is flattering him; but he may feel real and secure satisfaction when some Johnian sneers at him for a novel-reader.
As to the question whether or not I am wasting time, I shall leave that for time to answer. I cannot afford to sacrifice a day every week in defence and explanation as to my habits of reading. I value, most deeply value, that solicitude which arises from your affection for me; but let it not debar me from justice and candor. ever, my dear father,
Your most affectionate son,
T. B. M.
TO THE SAME
CAMBRIDGE, July 26th, 1822.
MY DEAR FATHER, I have been engaged to take two pupils for nine months of the next year. They are brothers whose father, a Mr. Stoddart, resides at Cam
bridge. I am to give them an hour a day each, and am to receive a hundred guineas. It gives me great pleasure to be able even in this degree to relieve you from the burden of my expenses here. I begin my tutorial labors to-morrow. My pupils are young, one being fifteen and the other thirteen years old; but I hear excellent accounts of their proficiency, and I intend to do my utmost for them. Farewell. T. B. M.
TO THE SAME
TRINITY COLLEge, Cambridge, October 1st, 1824. MY DEAR FATHER, - I was elected Fellow this morning, shall be sworn in to-morrow, and hope to leave Cambridge on Tuesday for Rothley Temple. The examiners speak highly of the manner in which I acquitted myself, and I have reason to believe that I stood first of the candidates.
I need not say how much I am delighted by my success, and how much I enjoy the thought of the pleasure which it will afford to you, my mother, and our other friends. Till I become a master of arts next July, the pecuniary emolument which I shall derive will not be great. For seven years from that time it will make me almost an independent man.
Malden is elected. You will take little interest in the rest of our Cambridge successes and disappointments. Yours most affectionately,
T. B. M.
[Macaulay was called to the bar, but scarcely made it a serious profession; his strongest interests were politics and literature, and with his friends at Cambridge he took an active part in the support of Knight's Quarterly Magazine.]
TO THE SAME
July 9th, 1823.
MY DEAR FATHER, I have seen the two last letters which you have sent to my mother. They have given me
1 [In Leicestershire, the former residence of Macaulay's aunt's husband, Thomas Babington.]
deep pain; but pain without remorse. I am conscious of no misconduct, and whatever uneasiness I may feel arises solely from sympathy for your distress.
You seem to imagine that the book is edited, or principally written, by friends of mine. I thought that you had been aware that the work is conducted in London, and that my friends and myself are merely contributors, and form a very small proportion of the contributors. The manners of almost all of my acquaintances are so utterly alien from coarseness, and their morals from libertinism, that I feel assured that no objection of that nature can exist to their writings. As to my own contributions, I can only say that the Roman story was read to my mother before it was published, and would have been read to you if you had happened to be at home. Not one syllable of censure was uttered.
The essay on the Royal Society of Literature was read to you. I made the alterations which I conceived that you desired, and submitted them afterward to my mother. As to the poetry which you parallel with Little's, if anything vulgar or licentious has been written by myself, I am willing to bear the consequences. If any thing of that cast has been written by my friends, I allow that a certain degree of blame attaches to me for having chosen them at least indiscreetly. If, however, a bookseller of whom we knew nothing has coupled improper productions with ours in a work over which we had no control, I cannot plead guilty to anything more than misfortune a misfortune in which some of the most rigidly moral and religious men of my acquaintance have participated in the present instance.
I am pleading at random for a book which I never I am defending the works of people most of whose names I never heard. I am therefore writing under great disadvantages. I write also in great haste. I am unable even to read over what I have written.
T. B. M.