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[73] in childhood and youth,1 he had had the advantages he was now enjoying. He saw men around him, his contemporaries, not superior to him in capacity or industry, but far beyond him in extent and accuracy of knowledge, and he could not but recall with a bitter pang the precious hours he had lost for want of books and teachers. The tone of his correspondence, however, is never desponding, but always cheerful. The following extract from a letter to his father, written in November, 1815,—certainly not a season of exhilarating influences in Northern Germany,—is but a fair specimen of the spirit which animates all his communications.
The shortest days are soon coming, and I am glad of it. . . . . At home I used to delight in the silence and darkness of the morning, and a long, uninterrupted winter's evening had pleasures that were all its own; but here, where the sun hardly rises above the damp and sickly mists of the horizon through the whole day, where candles must be burnt till nine in the morning and lighted again at three,— here the darkness becomes a burden of which I shall rejoice to be rid. It no longer seems to me like that “grateful vicissitude of day and night” that Milton says “ flows from the very throne of God,” but like the Cimmerian darkness in which Homer has involved the gloomy regions of death and despair. I would not write thus to you, my dear father, if I did not know that, when you receive this letter, you will be able to console yourself with the recollection that I have already emerged to the light of day. The climate and weather are much like our own in fickleness, though more damp and rainy. .... But I care nothing for this. My health is perfect and constant; and, as for “the seasons and their changes, all please alike.”

1 This feeling occasionally finds expression in his letters. Writing to his father, November 10, 1815, and speaking of his Greek tutor, Dr. Schultze, he says: ‘Every day I am filled with new astonishment at the variety and accuracy, the minuteness and readiness, of his learning. Every day I feel anew, under the oppressive weight of his admirable acquirements, what a mortifying distance there is between a European and an American scholar! We do not yet know what a Greek scholar is; we do not even know the process by which a man is to be made one. I am sure, if there is any faith to be given to the signs of the times, two or three generations at least must pass away before we make the discovery and succeed in the experiment. Dr. Schultze is hardly older than I am .... It never entered into my imagination to conceive that any expense of time or talent could make a man so accomplished in this forgotten language as he is.’

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