WEIMAR, the capital of the
little Duchy of Saxe-Weimar, was chosen by Norman Macleod and young
Preston as headquarters during their residence on the Continent. It was at
that time a desirable place for those who wished to see German life as
well as to study German language and literature. Not that the external
features of the town are possessed of interest, for the Palace, with its
surrounding park, and the Round Tower, containing its excellent free
library, do not redeem Weimar from an aspect of quiet dulness. Yet it was
anything but dull in those days. The people prided themselves on the
memory of their great citizens—Goethe, then recently departed, Herder,
Schiller, and Wieland—and kept up the tradition of literary culture
derived from that golden age of their history; while the Grand Duke, with
his court, sustained its reputation for hospitality and for gaiety of the
old-fashioned order. The town could also boast of a good theatre, an
excellent opera, and music ad libitum in public gardens and cafes. The
Grand Duke was of a most amiable disposition, and the Duchess, sister of
the Russian Emperor, was a woman of brilliancy and culture, and of great
kindness of heart. There was an early dinner at the Palace every Sunday,
followed by an evening reception for all foreigners who had been
introduced; and various balls and state ceremonies, scattered at short
intervals throughout the year, averted the normal stagnation of the place,
and made it a cheerful and pleasant residence. "With a five-and-twenty
years' experience since those happy days of which I write," says
Thackeray, who had lived in Weimar a year or two previous to the time we
are speaking of, " and an acquaintance with an unusual variety of human
kind, I think I have never seen a society more simple, charitable,
courteous, gentlemanlike, than that of the dear little Saxon city where
the good Schiller and the great Goethe lived and lie buried." [Letter to
G. H. Lewes in the "Story of the Life of Goethe."]
The change was certainly
great from Dr. Chalmers and the Divinity Hall, from the simple habits of
the manse, and from the traditionary beliefs, bigotries, and customs—some
true, some false—which hedged the religious life of Scotland, to this
Weimar, with its rampant worldliness and rationalism. It was,
nevertheless, an excellent school for the young Scotchman, who at every
turn found some insular prejudice trampled on, or the strength tried of
some abiding principle.
The most remarkable man at
Weimar, and the great friend of all English travellers, was Dr.
Weissenborn. He was a cultivated scholar, and combined the strangest
eccentricities of character and belief with the gentlest and most
unselfish of natures. He was a confirmed valetudinarian. "My side" had
become a distinct personality to him, whose demands were discussed as if
it were an exacting member of his household rather than a part of his
body; yet Weimar would have lost half its charm but for old Weissenborn,
with his weak side, his dog Waltina, his chameleon (fruitful source of
many a theory on the "Kosmos"), his collection of eggs, and innumerable
oddities of mind and body. All the English who went to Weimar loved "the
Doctor," and no father or brother could have taken a greater interest than
he did in promoting their happiness and in directing their studies. "Thou
wert my instructor, good old Weissenborn," writes Thackeray lovingly. "And
these eyes beheld the great master himself in dear little Weimar town."
["Roundabout Papers, De Finibus."]
Norman entered on this new
life with great zest. It doubtless had its dangers. But although he often
swung freely with the current, yet his grasp of central truth, and his own
hearty Christian convictions, so held him at anchor that, through the
grace of God, he rode safely through many temptations, and was able to
exercise an influence for good over the group of young men from England or
Scotland who were residing that year at Weimar. The very fact that he
entered with them into all their innocent enjoyments and gaieties gave him
greater power to restrain them in other things. He may, indeed, have often
given too great a rein to that "liberty" which was so congenial to his
natural temperament, but it is marvellous that the reaction was not
greater in one who, brought up in a strict school, was suddenly thrown
into the vortex of fashionable life. He was passionately fond of music,
sang well to the guitar, sketched cleverly, was as keen a waltzer as any
attaché in Weimar, and threw himself with a vivid sense of enjoyment into
the gaieties of the little capital. His father and mother frequently
warned him against going too far in all this; and he often reproached
himself for what he deemed his want of self-restraint when in society.
Nevertheless, the experience he gained in Weimar became of immense
practical importance to him. His own healthy nature repelled the evil,
while he gained an insight into the ways of the world. In what was new to
him he saw much that was good; much that in his own country was called
unlawful, whose right use he felt ought to be vindicated; and he also
perceived the essential wickedness of much more—in the "utter rottenness"
(as he used to call it) "of what the world terms life." Weimar also
brought him another influence which told with indirect, rather than
direct, power on his character. It was his late, in common with many
others, to come under the fascination of the great court beauty, the
Baroness Melanie von S------. Thackeray used often to describe her
extraordinary charms—"the kind old Hof-Marschall von S-------(who had two
of the loveliest daughters eyes ever looked upon)." [Letter to G. H. Lewes
in the "Story of the Life of Goethe."] And she could have been no ordinary
woman who had the genius thus to evoke, as by a spell, a poetic and ideal
life in the young minds she attracted to her. With Norman she became a
kind of romance. She touched his imagination rather than his affections,
and awakened a world of aesthetic feelings which long afterwards breathed
like a subtile essence, through the common atmosphere of his life. When
working against vice and poverty in his parish in Ayrshire, during the
heats of the Disruption controversy, amid prosaic cares as well as in the
enjoyment of poetry and art and song, Melanie haunted him as the sweet
embodiment of happy memories, the spirit of gracefulness and charm and
culture; and thus, for many a day, the halo of the old associations, in
which the real Melanie was etherealised, served to cast a delicate light
of fancy over the rough details of practical daily work.
When he and Preston
returned to Moreby, Norman had become in many ways a new man. His views
were widened, his opinions matured, his human sympathies vastly enriched,
and while all that was of the essence of his early faith had become doubly
precious, he had gained increased catholicity of sentiment, along with
knowledge of the world.
To A. Clerk :—
"Weimar, May 30, 1834.
" * * * * Let us pass
Frankfort; half-way to this we visited Eisenach. The approach to the town
is through the loveliest scenery of wooded and broken knolls. On the top
of the highest stands Wartzburg, where Luther was held in friendly
captivity to brood over the fate of his country amidst the solitude of a
German forest. Would to God there was a second Luther ! Germany is in a
most extraordinary state. The clergyman here (Ruhr) is head of the
rationalist school; of religion there is none, and most of the clergy
merely follow it as a power in the hands of the State. I am credibly
informed by competent judges that ninety-nine out of a hundred are
infidels. If you but heard a rationalist talk on religion! I had a talk
with one yesterday. He believed in Hume on miracles, and, moreover, said
that he thought it of no consequence for our faith in Scripture whether
miracles were true or not; in short, he believed in the Scriptures, and
yet said they were 'pious frauds.' Devils and all are to be saved at last
(tell---------this for his comfort). If you wish to adore your own Church,
country, and profession, come abroad. Here once lived and died Goethe,
Schiller, Herder, and Wieland. The souls of the men still cast a halo on
the town, brighter than most in Germany. There are many clever fellows
here; a splendid library, open free to all; a glorious park, likewise
open, in which the nightingale never ceases to sing. I am in a very nice
family. The lady is a countess by right, and yet they have boarders. Such
is German society ! They often dine at the Grand Duke's.
The music glorious. Every
third night an opera, with best boxes for two shillings. The Grand Duke
supports it, and so it is good. The great amusement of the people on
Sunday is going to gardens to take coffee, wine, &c, or to play at
nine-pins; a band of music, of course; smoking everywhere. The postilion
who drives the Eilwagen smokes a pipe the whole way. A man would commit
suicide were you to deprive him of his pipe.
"The country is a mighty
field without a hedge. A steeple here and there surrounded by houses; no
farm-steadings, no gentlemen's houses ; corn, rye, and grass ; ugly
bullocks, ugly cows drawing ugly ploughs, followed by ugly women or men;
low, undulating pine hills.
"It is odd the inclination
I have here to speak Gaelic. Often have I come out with words. A German
asked me something, when I answered plump outright, 'Diabhaull fhios agam!'
As another instance of German reason, I may mention that my friend, Dr.
Weissenborn, told me gravely to-day that he believed matter in motion to
be the same as spirit; and that as animals arose from our bodies, so we
may be mere productions of the plants."
To his Mother:—
"Weimar, June 4, 1834.
"Yesterday happened to be
my birthday—twenty-two is not to be laughed at; it is a good, whacking
age— 'a stoot lad at that age, faith! and proud may you be for having such
a lad this day.' This evening last year I was at home from Edinburgh. The
winter months are past; their effects are felt—have a substantial
existence, and must be felt for ever. A knowledge of the world either
spoils a man or makes him more perfect. I feel it has done me good in a
thousand ways. I have been made to look upon man as man. I see mankind
like so many different birds in the same atmosphere, alike governed and
elevated by the same feathers. This a clergyman should know; to feel it is
"... How are they all at
Mull and Morven? Many a time 1 shut my eyes, and, while whistling a
Highland tune, carry myself back to fishing at the rock or walking about
the old castle at Aros: at other times I am in the glen or on the hill.
Although it is really nonsense (as I believe there are few periods in our
lives really happier than others), I often think those days must have been
paradise—I was so perfectly unshackled; while, at the same time, I
remember well my many wishes to go abroad. Every person has his ideal.
That was mine; a plain Manse is my only one now."
From his Mother:—
"Campsie, June 30.
''You ought not even to
witness the profanation of the Sabbath—wherever you are. In the first
place, you are bound to set an example to your pupil; in the next place,
it is the Christian Sabbath, wherever you are, and to be kept sacred in
thought and deed before the Lord."
From his Journal:—
"Scotland is, in sooth, in
a strange state. But in all this 'noise and uproar,' there are signs of
activity and life—that men at least wish good, and this is something. I
must say I have much confidence in the sound sense and morality of the
people of Scotland. It is absurd to measure them by the turbulent
effervescence of ranting radical town fools, who make theories and speak
them, but do no more. There is a douceness (to use a phrase of our own)
about the mass and staple bulk of formers and gentlemen that will not
permit violent and bad changes.
"But how different is the
case in Germany ! There is an apathy, a seeming total indifference, as to
what religion is established by law. The men of the upper classes are
speculators, and take from Christianity as it suits their separate tastes.
They seem to have no idea of obligation. True, the lower classes are not
so drunken as ours, just because they have nothing to drink, and their
tastes lie in other directions. Not one of them, I believe, is regulated
by its moral tendency. In other vices they are worse—much worse. May
Germany have another Luther!
"13th July, Tuesday
night.—I have to-day received a letter from my mother announcing that my
old and dear friend Duncan Campbell is dead! I reverence his memory. He
was a friend worthy of the warmest attachment and deepest regard. We were
at school together. For many years, I may say, I lost sight of him, until
in 1829, in the moral philosophy class in Glasgow, we met as students.
From that hour an intimate and close friendship commenced, shared with a
third, James Stewart. We were called ' the three inseparables,' or 'the
trio.' That winter we were literally every day six or seven hours out of
the twenty-four in one another's company. A more simple, amiable, and
deeply delicate heart there never lived: generous, unselfish, and noble;
one of the few that retain in college life the purity which nature stamps.
He is gone before me. His memory is associated with happy days. I am far
from his resting-place, but I need never seek it, as I may exclaim in the
beautiful words of the translated Persian poet—
"Dicebant mihi sodales si
sepulchrum amici visitarem, Curas meas aliquantulum fore levatas Dixi
autem—an ideo aliud præter hoc pectus habet sepulchrum." [This College
friend was the original from which he drew the character of "Curley" in
"The Old Lieutenant."]
"July 17th.—To-day I walked
with the doctor to the Gottesacker (the churchyard). I hate the style of
foreign burying-grounds. The deeper feelings of our heart, and especially
grief, are far removed from the rank, overgrown bushes or from the flowers
that are associated with neat beds in a lady's garden. No; simplicity is
unalterably connected with deep passion.
"Upon Saturday, Halley, the
two Millers, Preston, and I, had good fun on the Ettersberge playing 'I
spy!' and drinking Wurtzburg. Well, we enjoyed ourselves much, and not the
less as it reminded us all of school boy days.
"27th July.—And now this
day on which I write is a Sabbath later. I have read my Bible, my only
good book. I have then read over my letters again, as I receive pleasure
from refreshing my mind with expressions of love and affection.
"Tell me, is it weakness or
childishness to have home and friends ever present to your eye? Honestly,
I think I am neither the one nor the other, and yet at times I feel as if
a single change by death would make the world quite different to me. I am
sometimes frightened to think upon what a small point in this respect hang
my pleasure and my pain. In truth, the Continent is a horrid place for the
total want of means—no good books, no sermons, no church; I mean for me.
"I would renew my
confidence and trust in Him who has said, 'Ask and ye shall receive; I
will never leave you, I will never forsake you.' The past is still the
SONNET ON HEARING OF
Oft have I watch'd, in
A sunbeam travel over hill and dale:
Now searching the deep valley, now it fell,
With gorgeous colouring, on some ancient wood,
Or gleam'd on mountain tarn; its silver flood
Bathed every cottage in the lowly vale;
The brook, once dark amidst the willows grey,
Danced in its beams, and beauties, dimly seen,
Were lighted into being by that ray:
The glory ceas'd as if it ne'er had been,
But in the heart it cannot pass away—
There it is immortal! Coleridge, friend of truth,
Thus do I think of thee, with feelings keen
And passions strong, thou sunbeam of my youth!
To A Clerk :—
"Weimar, October 12, 1834.
"I have just returned to
Weimar after a fine tour. Look at the map, and draw your pencil from
Weimar through Cobourg, Nuremberg, Augsburg, Munich, Innsbruck, Saltzburg,
Linz, down the Danube to Vienna; back to Briunn, Prague, Dresden, Leipsic,
Weimar; and you have our course. And you may well suppose I saw much to
interest and amuse me. The three Galleries of Munich, Dresden, and Vienna
are glorious; I feasted upon them. I was there every hour, so that many of
the greatest works of art are engraved in my memory. The Tyrol is
magnificent beyond words: the eye is charmed, and the heart filled still
more, with an overflowing sense of the beautiful. In religion the people
there are as yet in the Middle Ages. Fancy a sacred drama acted in one of
the loveliest scenes of nature before about six thousand people, and
representing the Crucifixion! [This must refer to the Ammergau Play.]
"Vienna is a strange
place—Greek, Jew, and Gentile; I know not which is worst; I do not like
the place; fine music, good eating, fine sights, and a nasty people. I
hate Austria—tyranny and despotism! Slaves and serfs from Hungary and
Moravia walk under the nose of the 'Father' of his people! They, poor
souls, eat and drink while Metternich picks their hrains and pockets.
There is no danger of revolution there! They are ignorant and stupid. You
may be sure I visited the fields of Wagram and Aspern. When in Brunn—where
I staid a week—I saw 40,000 men en-camped. A splendid sham fight took
place, lasting two days, with everything like a real battle except the
wounds—taking of villages &c.—and this upon the mighty field of Austerlitz.
Was that not worth seeing 1 And how fine, how strange, in the still, cool
evening, to ride along that great camp stretching over a flat plain for
three or four miles, the watch-fires scattered over it, and each regiment
with its band playing such music as I never heard!
"At Prague I saw a Jewish
synagogue. It almost made me weep. Such levity and absurdity I never saw.
The spirit had fled!"
To his Mother:—
"Weimar, October 28, 1834.
* * *
"I have made my début as a
courtier!! The court days are Thursday and Sunday. Every Sunday fortnight
you are invited to dinner in full court dress. Hem ! I am nervous on
approaching the subject. Imprimis, a cocked-hat! under it appeareth a
full, rosy, respectable-looking face, in which great sense, fine taste,
the thorough gentleman, and a certain spice of a something which an acute
observer would call royal, are all exquisitely blended ! A cravat of white
supporteth the said head. Next comes the coat which, having the cut, has
even more of the modesty, of the Quaker about it. The sword (!!) which
dangles beside it, however, assures you it is not a Jonathan. Now, the
whole frame down to the knees is goodly—-round and plump. I say to the
knees, for there two small buckles mark the ending of the breeches and the
commencement of two handsome legs clothed in silk stockings. Buckled shoes
support the whole figure, which, with the exception of white kid-gloves,
is 'black as night.' The hour of dinner is three; you sally forth to the
Palace, gathering, in going, like a snowball, every Englishman in town.
You move among servants to the first of a finely-lighted suite of rooms.
Ladies and gentlemen are scattered about chatting (most of the gentlemen
in military uniforms). You mingle with the groups, bowing here and
chatting there, and every now and then viewing yourself in one of the fine
mirrors which adorn the walls ('stoot lad, faith!' [This expression was
one which occurred in one of his Highland stories, and was a favourite
quotation, being always given with the full native accent.]) The rooms
become more crowded; a bustle is heard; the Grand Duke and his Queen
enter, sliding along between two rows of people, who return their bows and
becks. The Duke chats round the circle. If you are to be introduced, a
lord or master-in-waiting watches an opportunity and leads you up,
announcing your name, and, after making your most profound salaam, a few
questions are put, as—How do you like Weimar? How long do you intend
staying?—and the Duke bows and passes on. I speak nothing but German at
court. Is that not bold ? but I get on uncommonly well. You are generally
addressed every time you go. The dinner is very good; sixty people or so
sit down. You leave after dinner, and return again in the evening. There
is nothing done but conversation, though some play cards. You may retire
when you like. I do so as soon as I can, as this is not the way I like to
spend Sunday evening. Every night we have some prince or other; the
brother of the King of Prussia was there last-time. How much more have I
felt at a small party at Craigbarnet! But thanks to these and the worthy
woman [Mrs. Stirling, Craigbarnet, Campsie.] who gave them, that
society-comes now so easy to me.
"If you but heard that best
of men, the honest Doctor, and I planning how to keep all the young
fellows in order ! and when ten or so meet, it is easy task. It has,
however, been done. Winter has almost begun; we had snow yesterday. I have
a good stove and abundance of wood, so with good easy-chair—called in
German Grossvaterstuhl,—I am in great comfort. But now this throws me back
to "our ain fireside," and then I long to be among you all to get my heart
out, for except on paper it has very little exercise. I am studying
hard—Greek and Latin every day. I read (this is for my father, as you are
not a German blue) Horace and Cicero de Officiis day about with Preston,
the Greek Testament every morning. Ask my father to write to me. He has a
"vast of news" to tell me, about Church, Irish, and Gaelic matters, all of
which give me much interest.
"By-the-bye, mother, give
me your advice. Now, don't be sleepy, I am nearly done. What would your
well-known economical head suggest as to my court dress? First of all
ascertain whether there may not be in some of the old family chests a
relic of the only sprig of nobility in your blood— Maxwell of Newark's
sire. I think old Aunty Bax, if she were bribed or searched, could turn
out an old cocked hat or sword. If this scent fail, we must try the
Scandinavian side. But my idea is, all such relics perished during the
Crusades ! Donald Gregory would give some information. If no such thing
exists, then my determination is fixed, that a room in the Manse be kept
called the court-room, in which my clothes be preserved for my
descendants: I mean—and have no doubt by your looks you have hit on the
same idea—that this does not take place until I have worn them first as
"I think of taking drawing
and singing lessons time about. I think I have a taste for both, and my
idea is that it is a man's duty as well as pleasure to enlarge every
innocent field of enjoyment which God has put in his way.
"Oh dear, I almost thought
myself at home; but the stove is nearly out, and it is still Deutschland.
"I am, your rising
To his Mother:-
"Weimar, November 19, 1834.
"Here I sit on a wet, nasty
evening—Sunday All are at court but myself. A Sunday evening here is
detestable. If I can spend it by myself, good and well; if not! No church,
no sermon, no quiet, no books but Geraan."
To an old Fellow Student:—
"Weimar, December 2, 1834.
"I have just received your
long-wished-for epistle. Within the last half-hour I have speculated more
upon your condition (on what the Germans call your Inneres, or
inward being) than I have ever done before. In Heaven's name, why that
doleful ending of a merry letter? Can it be a joke? 'One that was'—'
tomb.' This must not be. If you are really ill, I grieve for you as a dear
friend; but if it is but fancy, away with it to the shades ! Look out on
nature in all her simple glory; feel yourself a part and being of the
universe; feel your own eternal dignity, that is beyond and above all the
matter before which, alas ! it often bows, but to which it owes no
'We receive but what we
And in our life alone does nature live:
Ours is her wedding garment, ours her shroud!'
Read your Bible, and, if
you want the joy, the meditative joy, which finds religious meanings in
the forms of nature, read clear Coleridge, or his brother Wordsworth. But
the former I love, I adore. Buy his works, should you have no more in the
world to spend.'
"This moment I have read
your P.S., which I did not notice. 'Blood to the head!' What a setting sun
your face must be ! Did you ever hear since the days of Hippocrates of a
fellow of your age and strength having blood to the head ? Why, man, I
suppose you sometimes feel dizzy and get blind, and stagger, when you had
particularly simple biliousness ; for all these symptoms I have had a
thousand times, and half killed myself thinking then as you do now. Take a
great deal of exercise every day; read a few novels, and send those blue
devils to their master."
From his Mother:—
"December 8, 1831
"You complain of want of
books, and a sad want it is; but you can meditate and pray, and set no
wrong example ; and you have your Bible— his Bible who, to his last
moment, loved you with more than a brother's love. It will, I trust, be
but a secondary motive with you, but I know his image, as you last parted
from him, his love, and a recollection of his virtues, will ever rise up
to keep you sober in pursuit, and steady in principle. I feel that when I
write to you, dearest, I will not seem tiresome or preaching too much."
The time had been when this
bright earth and sky,
At dewy morn, calm eve, or starry night,
Inspired the passionate and wild delight
Which only dwell with lofty purity
Of heart and thought; but soon that holy light,
Which comes from heaven to beautify
The things of sense departed, and deep night
Concealed their glory from the seeking eye.
My soul was dimmed by all-destroying sin,
Which o'er my inner sense and feelings crept
Like frost at early morn. Still oft within
This darken'd heart a sudden gleam, a share
Of former joy, was mine ; and I have wept,
And thought 'twas from a distant mother's prayer!
To his Mother:— "Weimar,
"You know, mother, there
are very few, if any, upon whose good sense, in matters of the world, I
would rely more than on yours. I have seriously thought of all you say
about my acquiring tastes and habits uncongenial to my future profession.
To tell you the honest truth, this sometimes does give me pain. To battle
against a thousand little things which insidiously collect round your mind
like iron filings on a magnet, till it is all covered, is impossible.
There is a style of life which has charms, talk of it as you please, and
somehow or other it comes quite naturally to me.
"But yet, on the other
hand, I trust I feel too highly those mighty things which constitute real
greatness, whether found in clown or king; and the grand position a
zealous clergyman takes in human society; together with the world of
knowledge I am now acquiring of human character, and of the way to manage
men—that I shall enter, under God's blessing, upon the work with spirit
and success, and be above all discontent.
"Say to my father, with my
love, that I have paid particular attention to his part of the letter. My
next shall be to him upon German theology and sundry other matters.
"As for the girls, keep
none of them cramped up at piano with crooked backs. Air and liberty for
the young, and then two hours or so of hard earnest work. When I have
children, I shall certainly act on this principle!
"You predicted a great many
things about me which have turned out true, and which make me ashamed of
the weakness of my character. I leave Weimar in a month, at the very
furthest; and the regret with which I leave it makes me blush. Why am I
sorry? Am I not going home to those who love me more than any on earth! I
am; and this is invaluable But still—-still there are a thousand things
which I am destined for, and which I shall fulfil, but to which my last
year's education has been directly opposed. Mother, you have taste
yourself, so excuse my rant. When you only remember the beau-ideal life I
have been leading, call me weak, call me tool, but let me speak it out,
and, like a great ass, turn up my poor nose against Scotch lairds and
their pride, and Scotch preachers with their fanatical notions. I agree
with my father to a 'T' about them. And to be obliged to have my piety
measured by my reading a newspaper on a Sunday, or such trash; or by my
vote, on this side or that; or by my love of music; or------Don't be
angry, for I am done, and in better humour.
"I trust to see you in
July. In the meantime I am looking forward to coming back here this time
next year. Hurrah for old Germany again! Next to Scotland I love her. I am
upon the qui vive for a letter as to our route.
"I long to tell you all my
adventures, and how I fell in love with the beautiful 'La Baronne.' If you
only saw her, mother! None of your blockheads!' You were once in love
yourself, and I don't blame you, for my father is a good-looking
man—'fine, stoot man, faith !' She has made me a poet!
"How do my poor crocuses
look? What happy feelings does the question recall!—Campsie long ago and
spring contentment—home and happiness have no news. The same routine of
reading, balls, court concerts, and operas. I long to hear my father has
been made Moderator. I should like to be at the head of everything. It is
a grand thing."
From Dr. Weissenborn
(written to N. after his return to Scotland):—
"Weimar, July, 1835.
"You appear to be a
thoroughly revised and improved edition of yourself. Happy man, whose
feelings are not alienated from his native country and early connections
by a residence abroad, yet keeps a lively remembrance of his friends
there, whose sound constitution throws out foreign peccant matter, after
having assimilated the wholesome principles. Don't smile if I become a
little pathetic on the subject. I really was afraid that your residence
here would have an injurious effect on your tendencies, inclinations,
future plans, and prospects; in short, your happiness and usefulness to
your fellow-creatures. I therefore looked forward towards your return not
as a happy event, but as one fraught with evil consequences and uneasy
feelings to myself, the more so because my health is so very bad and
fluctuating, that I would have felt all the misery you might have brought
upon yourself without being able to remedy or lessen it. You'll forgive a
sick man if he take, perhaps, too gloomy a view of things; but you may
judge how happy I feel to find that all my evil anticipations are
dispelled by your letter. As to the difference of opinion which exists
between you and me with respect to religion, I trust it is only formal,
and I hope German rationalism has not made you a whit less inclined to
dispense the blessings of religion to your future parishioners under those
forms which are most suited to their circumstances, or most likely to
produce the best practical results; though I am convinced myself that we
can't stem the torrent of the age so effectually here as it may be
possible on your insulating stand of old England. We must first experience
its devastations before we can reap the fruit of its inundation."