Private letters poured in, expressive of deep regret, esteem, and affection, and not only were gratefully read at the time, but became to the family valuable memorials of the heartfelt appreciation gained by a high-minded and upright course of life, and evidences that their father had done that which is perhaps the best thing that it is permitted to man to do here below, namely, ’served God in his generation.’
Fellowship of Merton. 1852—1854.
In the summer of 1852 Coleridge Patteson stood for a fellowship of Merton, obtained it, and moved into rooms there. Every college has a distinctive character; and Merton, if not actually the eldest, is at least one of the oldest foundations at Oxford, and is one of the most unchanged in outward aspect. There is a peculiar charm in the beauty and seclusion of the quadrangle, in the library, still mediaeval even to the fittings; and the church is above all impressive in the extraordinary loveliness of the early decorated architecture, and the space and loftiness of the choir. The whole, pre-eminently among the colleges, gives the sense of having been unaltered for five hundred years, yet still full of life and vigour.
Coley attached himself to Merton, though he never looked to permanent residence there. The Curacy in the immediate neighbourhood of his home was awaiting him, as soon as he should be ordained; but though his purpose was unchanged and he was of full age for Holy Orders, he wished for another year of preparation, so as to be able to study both Hebrew and theology more thoroughly than would be possible when pastoral labour should have begun. What he had already seen of Dresden convinced him that he could there learn Hebrew more thoroughly and more cheaply than at home, and to this he intended to devote the Long Vacation of 1852, without returning to Feniton. There the family were settling themselves, having given up the house in Bedford Square, since James Patteson had chambers in King’s Bench Walk, where the ex-Judge could be with him when needed in London. There had some notion of the whole family profiting by Sir John’s emancipation to take a journey on the Continent, and the failure of the scheme elicited the following letter:—
’Merton: June 18.
’My dearest Fan,—I can, to a certain extent, sympathise with you thoroughly upon this occasion; the mere disappointment at not seeing so many interesting places and things is a sharp one, but in your instance this is much increased by the real benefit you hoped to derive from a warmer climate; and no wonder that the disappearance of your hopes coupled with bodily illness makes you low and uncomfortable. The weather too is trying to mind and body, and though you try as usual to shake off the sense of depression which affects you, your letter is certainly sad, and written like the letter of one in weak health. Well, we shall see each other, please god, at Christmas now. That is better than passing nearly or quite a year away from each other; and some other time I hope you will be able to go to Italy, and enjoy all the wonders there, though a tour for health’s sake cannot be too soon. It is never too soon to get rid of an ailment....