So ended Coleridge Patteson’s school life, not reaching to all he saw that it might have been; but unstained, noble, happy, honourable, and full of excellent training for the future man. No sting was left to poison the fail-memory of youth; but many a friendship had been formed on foundations of esteem, sympathy, and kindness which endured through life, standing all tests of separation and difference.
Undergraduate life at balliol and journeys on the continent.
University life is apt to exert a strong influence upon a man’s career. It comes at the age at which there is probably the most susceptibility to new impressions. The physical growth is over, and the almost exclusive craving for exercise and sport is lessening; there is more voluntary inclination to intellectual application, and the mind begins to get fair play. There is also a certain liberty of choice as to the course to be taken and the persons who shall become guides, and this renders the pupilage a more willing and congenial connection than that of the schoolboy: nor is there so wide a distance in age and habits between tutor and pupil as between master and scholar.
Thus it is that there are few more influential persons in the country than leading University men, for the impress they leave is on the flower of English youth, at the very time of life when thought has come, but action is not yet required. At the same time the whole genius loti, the venerable buildings with their traditions, the eminence secured by intellect and industry, the pride that is taken in the past and its great men, first as belonging to the University, and next to the individual college, all give the members thereof a sense of a dignity to keep up and of honour to maintain, and a certainty of appreciation and fellow-feeling from the society with which they are connected.
The Oxford of Patteson’s day was yet untouched by the hand of reformation. The Colleges were following or eluding the statutes of their founders, according to the use that had sprung up, but there had been a great quickening into activity of intellect, and the religious influences were almost at their strongest. It was true that the master mind had been lost to the Church of England, but the men whom he and his companions had helped to form were the leaders among the tutors, and the youths who were growing up under them were forming plans of life, which many have nobly carried out, of unselfish duty and devotion in their several stations.
Balliol had, under the mastership of Dr. Jenkyns, attained pre-eminence for success in the schools, and for the high standard required of its members, who formed ’the most delightful society, the very focus of the most stimulating life of the University,’ within those unpretending walls, not yet revivified and enlarged.