Again on December 31 he writes to his father, by way of New Year's gift, ‘Let me reside one year at Cambridge
; let me study belles-lettres, and after that time it will not require a spirit of prophecy to predict with some degree of certainty what kind of a figure I could make in the literary world.
If I fail here, there is still time enough left for the study of a profession; and while residing at Cambridge
, I shall have acquired the knowledge of some foreign languages which will be, through life, of the greatest utility.’
The answer of the father is too characteristic to be omitted, whether for its views as to personal standards or as to poetic structure.
Most youthful poets of that day had to face a critical method based strictly upon the versification of Pope
, and their parents regarded all more flowing measures as having a slight flavor of the French Revolution
‘The subject of your first letter is one of deep interest and demands great consideration.
A literary life, to one who has the means of support, must be very pleasant.
But there is not wealth enough in this country to afford encouragement and patronage to merely literary men. And as you have not had the fortune (I will not say whether good or ill) to be born rich, you must adopt a profession which will afford you subsistence ’