Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
his contemporaries.  One set of people finds it not easy to forget that he had been at one time closer than most young men of his generation to the great religious leaders whom they are accustomed to revere; that he was of a nature fully to understand and appreciate both their intellectual greatness and their moral and spiritual height; that he had shared to the full their ideas and hopes; that they, too, had measured his depth of character, and grasp, and breadth, and subtlety of mind; and that the keenest judge among them of men and of intellect had pirlud him out as one of the most original and powerful of a number of very able contemporaries.  Those who remember this cannot easily pardon the lengths of dislike and hitterness to which in after life Pattison allowed himself to be carried against the cause which once had his hearty allegiance, and in which, if he had discovered, as he thought, its mistakes and its weakness, he had once recognised with all his soul the nobler side.  And on the other hand, the partisans of the opposite movement, into whose interests he so disastrously, as it seems to us, and so unreservedly threw himself, naturally welcomed and made the most of such an accession to their strength, and such an unquestionable addition to their literary fame.  To have detached such a man from the convictions which he had so professedly and so earnestly embraced, and to have enlisted him as their determined and implacable antagonist—­to be able to point to him in him maturity and strength of his powers as one who, having known its best aspects, had deliberately despaired of religion, and had turned against its representatives the scorn and hatred of a passionate nature, whose fires burned all the more fiercely under its cold crust of reserve and sarcasm—­this was a triumph of no common order; and it might conceivably blind those who could rejoice in it to the comparative value of qualities which, at any rate, were very rare and remarkable ones.

Pattison was a man who, in many ways, did not do himself justice.  As a young man, his was a severe and unhopeful mind, and the tendency to despond was increased by circumstances.  There was something in the quality of his unquestionable ability which kept him for long out of the ordinary prizes of an Oxford career; in the class list, in the higher competition for Fellowships, he was not successful.  There are those who long remembered the earnest pleading of the Latin letters which it was the custom to send in when a man stood for a Fellowship, and in which Pattison set forth his ardent longing for knowledge, and his narrow and unprosperous condition as a poor student.  He always came very near; indeed, he more than once won the vote of the best judges; but he just missed the prize.  To the bitter public disappointments of 1845 were added the vexations caused by private injustice and ill-treatment.  He turned fiercely on those who, as he thought, had wronged him, and he began to distrust

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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