Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
men, and to be on the watch for proofs of hollowness and selfishness in the world and in the Church.  Yet at this time, when people were hearing of his bitter and unsparing sayings in Oxford, he was from time to time preaching in village churches, and preaching sermons which both his educated and his simple hearers thought unlike those of ordinary men in their force, reality, and earnestness.  But with age and conflict the disposition to harsh and merciless judgments strengthened and became characteristic.  This, however, should be remembered:  where he revered ho revered with genuine and unstinted reverence; where he saw goodness in which he believed he gave it ungrudging honour.  He had real pleasure in recognising height and purity of character, and true intellectual force, and he maintained his admiration when the course of things had placed wide intervals between him and those to whom it had been given.  His early friendships, where they could be retained, he did retain warmly and generously even to the last; he seemed almost to draw a line between them and other things in the world.  The truth, indeed, was that beneath that icy and often cruel irony there was at bottom a most warm and affectionate nature, yearning for sympathy, longing for high and worthy objects, which, from the misfortunes especially of his early days, never found room to expand and unfold itself.  Let him see and feel that anything was real—­character, purpose, cause—­and at any rate it was sure of his respect, probably of his interest.  But the doubt whether it was real was always ready to present itself to his critical and suspicious mind; and these doubts grew with his years.

People have often not given Pattison credit for the love that was in him for what was good and true; it is not to be wondered at, but the observation has to be made.  On the other hand, a panegyrie, like that which we reprint from the Times, sets too high an estimate on his intellectual qualities, and on the position which they gave him.  He was full of the passion for knowledge; he was very learned, very acute in his judgment on what his learning brought before him, very versatile, very shrewd, very subtle; too full of the truth of his subject to care about seeming to be original; but, especially in his poetical criticisms, often full of that best kind of originality which consists in seeing and pointing out novelty in what is most familiar and trite.  But, not merely as a practical but as a speculative writer, he was apt to be too much under the empire and pressure of the one idea which at the moment occupied and interested his mind.  He could not resist it; it came to him with exclusive and overmastering force; he did not care to attend to what limited it or conflicted with it.  And thus, with all the force and sagacity of his University theories, they were not always self-consistent, and they were often one-sided and exaggerated.  He was not a leader whom men could follow, however much they might rejoice at the blows which he might happen to deal, sometimes unexpectedly, at things which they disliked.  And this holds of more serious things than even University reform and reconstruction.

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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