Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
on in the early morning hours in Carlton House Terrace.  All this time the foundations were being laid and the materials gathered for books of wider scope and more permanent aim, too vast for him to accomplish even in his later years of leisure.  It is an original and instructive picture; for though we boast statesmen who still carry on the great traditions of scholarship, and give room in their minds for the deeper and more solemn problems of religion and philosophy, they are not supposed to be able to carry on simultaneously their public business and their classical or scientific studies, and at any rate they do not attack the latter with the devouring zeal with which Bunsen taxed the efforts of hard-driven secretaries and readers to keep pace with his inexhaustible demands for more and more of the most abstruse materials of knowledge.

The end of his London diplomatic career was, like the end of his Roman one, clouded with something like disgrace; and, like the Roman one, is left here unexplained.  But it was for his happiness, probably, that his residence in England came to a close.  He had found the poetry of his early notions about England, political and theological at least, gradually changing into prose.  He found less and less to like, in what at first most attracted him, in the English Church; he and it, besides knowing one another better, were also changing.  He probably increased his sympathies for England, and returned in a measure to his old kindness for it, by looking at it only from a distance.  The labour of his later days, as vast and indefatigable as that of his earlier days, was devoted to his great work, which was, as it were, to popularise the Bible and revive interest in it by a change in the method of presenting it and commenting on it.  To the last the Bible was the central point of his philosophical as well as his religious thoughts, as it had been in his first beginnings as a student at Gottingen and Rome.  After a life of many trials, but of unusual prosperity and enjoyment, he died in the end of 1860.  The account of his last days is a very touching one.

We do not pretend to think Bunsen the great and consummate man that, naturally enough, he appears to his friends.  We doubt whether he can be classed as a man in the first rank at all.  We doubt whether he fully understood his age, and yet it is certain that he was confident and positive that he did understand it better than most men; and an undue confidence of this kind implies considerable defects both of intellect and character.  He wanted the patient, cautious, judicial self-distrust which his studies eminently demanded, and of which he might have seen some examples in England.  No one can read these volumes without seeing the disproportionate power which first impressions had with him; he was always ready to say that something, which had just happened or come before him, was the greatest or the most complete thing of its kind.  Wonderfully active, wonderfully quick and receptive, full of imagination

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