Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Occasional Papers.

Perhaps a life of combat never does all that the combatant thinks it ought to accomplish, or compensates for the sacrifices it entails.  In the case of the Provost of Oriel, he had, with all his great and noble qualities, one remarkable want, which visibly impaired his influence and his persuasiveness.  He was out of sympathy with the rising aspirations and tendencies of the time on the two opposite sides; he was suspicious and impatient of them.  He was so sensible of their weak points, the logical difficulties which they brought with them, their precipitate and untested assumptions, the extravagance and unsoundness of character which often seemed inseparable from them, that he seldom did justice to them viewed in their complete aspect, or was even alive to what was powerful and formidable in the depth, the complexity, and the seriousness of the convictions and enthusiasm which carried them onwards.  In truth, for a man of his singular activity and reach of mind, he was curiously indifferent to much that most interested his contemporaries in thought and literature; he did not understand it, and he undervalued it as if it belonged merely to the passing fashions of the hour.

This long career is now over.  Warfare is always a rude trade, and men on all sides who have had to engage in it must feel at the end how much there is to be forgiven and needing forgiveness; how much now appears harsh, unfair, violent, which once appeared only necessary and just.  A hard hitter like the Provost of Oriel must often have left behind the remembrance of his blows.  But we venture to say that, even in those who suffered from them, he has left remembrances of another and better sort.  He has left the recollection of a pure, consistent, laborious life, elevated in its aim and standard, and marked by high public spirit and a rigid and exacting sense of duty.  In times when it was wanted, he set in his position in the University an example of modest and sober simplicity of living; and no one who ever knew him can doubt the constant presence, in all his thoughts, of the greatness of things unseen, or his equally constant reference of all that he did to the account which he was one day to give at his Lord’s judgment-seat.  We trust that he may be spared to enjoy the rest which a weaker or less conscientious man would have claimed long ago.

XXIII

MARK PATTISON[27]

  [27]
  Guardian, 6th August 1884.

The Rector of Lincoln, who died at Harrogate this day week, was a man about whom judgments are more than usually likely to be biassed by prepossessions more or less unconscious, and only intelligible to the mind of the judge.  There are those who are in danger of dealing with him too severely.  There are also those whose temptation will be to magnify and possibly exaggerate his gifts and acquirements—­great as they undoubtedly were,—­the use that he made of them, and the place which he filled among

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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