Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.

Dr. Hawkins, the Provost of Oriel, has resigned the Provostship.  He has held it from 1828, within four years of half a century.  The time during which he has presided over his college has been one of the most eventful periods in the history of the University; it has been a time of revolt against custom, of reform, of keen conflict, of deep changes; and in all connected with these he has borne a part, second to none in prominence, in importance, and we must add, in dignity.  No name of equal distinction has disappeared from the list of Heads of Houses since the venerable President of Magdalen passed away.  But Dr. Routh, though he watched with the keenest intelligence, and not without sympathy, all that went on in the days into which his life had been prolonged, watched it with the habits and thoughts of days long departed; he had survived from the days of Bishop Horne and Dr. Parr far into our new and strange century, to which he did not belong, and he excited its interest as a still living example of what men were before the French Revolution.  The eminence of the Provost of Oriel is of another kind.  He calls forth interest because among all recent generations of Oxford men, and in all their restless and exciting movements, he has been a foremost figure.  He belongs to modern Oxford, its daring attempts, its fierce struggles, its successes, and its failures.  He was a man of whom not only every one heard, but whom every one saw; for he was much in public, and his unsparing sense of public duty made him regularly present in his place at Council, at Convocation, at the University Church, at College chapel.  The outward look of Oxford will be altered by the disappearance in its ceremonies and gatherings of his familiar form and countenance.

He would anywhere have been a remarkable man.  His active and independent mind, with its keen, discriminating, practical intelligence, was formed and disciplined amid that company of distinguished scholars and writers who, at Oxford, in the second decade of the century were revolted by the scandalous inertness and self-indulgence of the place, with its magnificent resources squandered and wasted, its stupid orthodoxy of routine, its insensibility to the questions and the dangers rising all round; men such as Keble, Arnold, Davison, Copleston, Whately.  These men, different as they were from one another, all represented the awakening but still imperfect consciousness that a University life ought to be something higher than one of literary idleness, given up to the frivolities of mere elegant scholarship, and to be crowned at last by comfortable preferment; that there was much difficult work to be seriously thought about and done, and that men were placed at Oxford under heavy responsibilities to use their thoughts and their leisure for the direct service of their generation.  Clever fops and dull pedants joined in sneering at this new activity and inquisitiveness of mind, and this grave interest and employment of

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