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CHAPTER VII.

1840.

LIFE AT OXFORD-LETTERS TO MR. STRACHEY

LETTERS TO A FRIEND-DEATH OF HIS SISTER.

MAGDALEN Hall, 2nd month, 2nd, 1840. MY DEAREST MOTHER, I have now been here two weeks, and I am thankful to say that I do humbly believe that I have taken a right step. I earnestly desire that I may be kept in a state of ready submission to the will of God. If he should prosper our business, and continue it as it is at present, I shall have to thank Him for the means of indulging my early inclination, and pray that I may exercise it to His glory. But if, on the contrary, J. M. D. should find that he cannot carry on the business without my whole time and attention, and that we cannot safely afford my expenses, I hope to be able to go back, and cheerfully thank God for what will be left to me. In that case there will be no harm done, except that I shall have spent a few pounds of my own money here.

John is very kind and generous ; though, if I continue my college life, I hope to make such an arrangement as will remunerate him for

my

deficient services.

LIFE AT OXFORD.

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I shall still spend more than half my time at home. This is the longest Term I shall ever have to keep. I hope to remain here till the end of next month.

I have no doubt of my having chosen well as it regards a college. There are in our Hall many men of my own age, and several much older, and they are generally serious, hard-working persons, who come here much in the same way as I do. Our principal is just such a person as Dr. Birkbeck in disposition and manners, and our tutor is a truly excellent man.

I am in private lodgings, but I have to attend worship twice a day, to dine, and attend lectures in the Hall. I feel very much at home, and should it be the will of God to preserve me from being a burden to anyone, I have no hesitation in saying that I am in my right place. It would be an unspeakable joy to me, if my dear father could approve of what I am doing. But that is in God's hand, and (as far as one may lawfully take comfort in one's own conduct) my conscience clears me of having been deficient in due filial reverence and obedience. At my age, I believe, I should not have dared to place myself in an entirely fresh position against the wish of a parent for anything less than an imperative call of duty, which is the voice of God. I know that thou (my dearest mother) wilt pray for me, that I may be directed in the right way, and always believe me thy very dutiful and affectionate son,

S. CLARK.

MAGDALEN Hall, February 3rd, 1840. MY DEAR GODWIN,—There are many men here of my own age and older, and as to scholarship, the Hall

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has, during the last two years, borne a larger proportion of the honours of the university than any other Hall or College. This (I think) is mainly owing to the character of our tutor and vice-principal (Jacobson), who is the perfection of a college tutor, as far as I have been able to judge. I shall forbear saying anything of my own reading and studies for the present, for they have not yet been effected by the college system. All that the university has yet done for me, is to invest me with a cap and gown, and to feed me at a college table, and to make me attend prayers twice a day—that is, outwardly, for as you may judge, these circumstances, with the mere fact of one's feeling one's self to be a member of a college, would somewhat change the current of one's thoughts and emotions.

I have felt my mind relieved from the burden of the mystery of the Prometheus of Æschylus by a theory strictly eclectic (particulis undique coactis), mainly German, partly Maurician, partly Coleridgian, and partly Quarterly Reviewian. Æschylus, though a Greek by birth, was not one in the character of his genius-neither indeed, me judice, were Plato or Pythagoras. If I may trust my own impressions, you may take the whole family of man from Japan and proceeding westward to New York, where there is or has been any exercise of intellect, and you would look in vain for two more distinct characters of intellect than may be represented by Pythagoras, Plato, and Æschylus on one hand, and by Aristophanes, Aristotle, the orators, and Lucian on the other. The latter I take to be representatives of Athenian genius. Keeping this in view then, take Æschylus by himself,

THE PROMETHEUS OF ÆSCHYLUS.

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and in the Prometheus especially, consider him as setting forth a Phoenician or an eastern myth with the naked boldness of a universal (not a national) genius. Prometheus seems to have been spirit or free-will incarnate, Ζεύς (not the πατήρ θεών και

-, ( åvo pórtwv of Homer) the hard irresistible powers of material nature operating through the agency of strength and force, his ministers. The Oceanides were the social affections, and Io the spirit of earth, the yearning of lower things after something above themselves; she indeed is a witness against self-satisfaction, taking these words in their philosophical, not popular sense. The whole progress of the antitype of Io is of course co-existent εν τω νύν αιωνίω. In another phasis Wordsworth personifies it:

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Earth fills her lap with pleasure of her own
Yearnings she hath of her own natural kind,' &c.

But unable in herself to satisfy her yearnings, she becomes restless and wandering, till associating with the mighty spirit that is in man, she sees hope coming from afar, and foretells a time when she shall find rest, and the spirit freedom.

Such I take to be the outline of the meaning of this marvellous myth. In this letter I look upon myself as φωνάντα συνετοίσιν (or συνετό), and therefore I do not attempt to enlarge or go into the particulars of the play. One thing I would, however, suggest to you, to ompare the magnificent passage in St. Paul, wherein he speaks of the same subject as I suppose to be that of Prometheus, with this interpretation : The restless wandering of Io and her looking out for good to come αποκαραδοκία της κτίσεως, την αποκάλυψιν των υιών του θεού απεκδέχεται. In being the victim against her will of these fretful impulses, τη ματαιότητι η κτίσις υπετάγη ουχ εκούσα, and again, η κτίσις συστενάζει και συνωδίνει άχρι Toll vũv. The suffering of Prometheus is not extinct even in the Christian life, when the Holy Ghost (personally) is helping our infirmities--aútoi TV απαρχήν του Πνεύματος έχοντες, και ημείς αυτοί εν avtos oteváčojev, K. T. X. But read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the whole passage, and see whether in it is not the átokálunfres of the Sublime Story. I think if you agree with me, you will have more regard for the unfortunate Io. Hercules of course you will see is something of a Messiah, and Mercury is the fuxirós, the understanding (Coleridgicè), who with hard and cutting words cannot comprehend the workings of the spirit in Prometheus.

In the mythology of Homer, Zeus is merely a generally worthy sort of person of great power, but who can only act under the omnipotent decrees of Fate, which he can consult, but by no means avert. The common Greek genius could personify God no higher than in exaggerated humanity. Herodotus saw this when he spoke of the Persian religion : ‘It seems to me,' says he (or something like it), that the Persians ουκ άνθρωποφυέας ενόμισαν τους θεούς, καθάπερ οι "Έλληνες, είναι. . To speak phrenologically, and as it happens conveniently, the Greeks had ideality and marvellousness, but were lacking in veneration. They could conceive and embody the materially beautiful, they could people the groves, caves, brooks and mountains with unseen creatures; but here, taken up by little fitnesses and little harmonies (if I may so

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