Saturday, June 11, 2011


Blubbering for Imaginary Beings

Thomas Babington Macaulay, letter to his niece Margaret (August 1851):
I finished the Iliad to-day. I had not read it through since the end of 1837, when I was at Calcutta, and when you often called me away from my studies to show you pictures and to feed the crows. I never admired the old fellow so much, or was so strongly moved by him. What a privilege genius like his enjoys! I could not tear myself away. I read the last five books at a stretch during my walk to-day, and was at last forced to turn into a by-path, lest the parties of walkers should see me blubbering for imaginary beings, the creations of a ballad-maker who has been dead two thousand seven hundred years. What is the power and glory of Caesar and Alexander to that? Think what it would be to be assured that the inhabitants of Monomotapa would weep over one's writings Anno Domini 4551!
Macaulay, letter to Thomas Flower Ellis (August 21, 1851):
I do not think that I ever, at Cambridge or in India, did a better day's work in Greek than to-day. I have read at one stretch fourteen books of the Odyssey, from the Sixth to the Nineteenth inclusive. I did it while walking to Worcester and back.

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