Occasional Papers eBook

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

Lord Blachford, whose death was announced last week, belonged to a generation of Oxford men of whom few now survive, and who, of very different characters and with very different careers and histories, had more in common than any set of contemporaries at Oxford since their time.  Speaking roughly, they were almost the last product of the old training at public school and at college, before the new reforms set in; of a training confessedly imperfect and in some ways deplorably defective, but with considerable elements in it of strength and manliness, with keen instincts of contempt for all that savoured of affectation and hollowness, and with a sort of largeness and freedom about it, both in its outlook and its discipline, which suited vigorous and self-reliant natures in an exciting time, when debate ran high and the gravest issues seemed to be presenting themselves to English society.  The reformed system which has taken its place at Oxford criticises, not without some justice, the limitations of the older one; the narrow range of its interests, the few books which men read, and the minuteness with which they were “got up.”  But if these men did not learn all that a University ought to teach its students, they at least learned two things.  They learned to work hard, and they learned to make full use of what they knew.  They framed an ideal of practical life, which was very variously acted upon, but which at any rate aimed at breadth of grasp and generosity of purpose, and at being thorough.  This knot of men, who lived a good deal together, were recognised at the time as young men of much promise, and they looked forward to life with eagerness and high aspiration.  They have fulfilled their promise; their names are mixed up with all the recent history of England; they have filled its great places and governed its policy during a large part of the Queen’s long reign.  Their names are now for the most part things of the past—­Sidney Herbert, Lord Canning, Lord Dalhousie, Lord Elgin, Lord Cardwell, the Wilberforces, Mr. Hope Scott, Archbishop Tait.  But they still have their representatives among us—­Mr. Gladstone, Lord Selborne, Lord Sherbrooke, Sir Thomas Acland, Cardinal Manning.  It is not often that a University generation or two can produce such a list of names of statesmen and rulers; and the list might easily be enlarged.

To this generation Frederic Rogers belonged, not the least distinguished among his contemporaries; and he was early brought under an influence likely to stimulate in a high degree whatever powers a man possessed, and to impress a strong character with elevated and enduring ideas of life and duty.  Mr. Newman, with Mr. Hurrell Froude and Mr. Robert Wilberforce, had recently been appointed tutors of their college by Dr. Copleston.  They were in the first eagerness of their enthusiasm to do great things with the college, and the story goes that Mr. Newman, on the look-out for promising pupils, wrote to an Eton friend, asking

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