A childish, childlike boy, he was now, and for many years longer, intensely fond of all kinds of games and sports, in which his light active form, great agility, and high spirit made him excel. Cricket, riding, running-races, all the school amusements were his delight; fireworks for the 5th of November sparkle with ecstasy through his letters, and he was a capital dancer in the Christmas parties at his London home. He had likewise the courage and patience sure to be needed by an active lad. While at Ottery he silently bore the pain of a broken collar-bone for three weeks, and when the accident was brought to light by his mother’s embrace, he only said that ’he did not like to make a fuss.’
Consideration for others, kindness, and sweetness of nature were always his leading characteristics, making him much beloved by all his companions, and an excellent guardian and example to his little brother, who soon joined him at Ottery. Indeed, the love between these two brothers was so deep, quiet, and fervid, that it is hard to dwell on it while ‘one is taken and the other left.’ It was at this time a rough buffeting, boyish affection, but it was also a love that made separation pain and grief, and on the part of the elder, it showed itself in careful protection from all harm or bullying, and there was a strong underlying current of tenderness, most endearing to all concerned with the boys, whether masters, relations, friends, or servants.
Boyhood at Eton. 1838—1845.
After the Christmas holidays of 1837-8, when Coley Patteson was nearly eleven years old, he was sent to Eton, that most beautifully situated of public schools, whose delightful playing fields, noble trees, broad river, and exquisite view of Windsor Castle give it a peculiar charm, joining the venerable grandeur of age to the freshness and life of youth, so as to rivet the affections in no common degree.
It was during the head-mastership of Dr. Hawtrey that Patteson became, in schoolboy phrase, an Eton fellow, being boarded in the house of his uncle, the Rev. Edward Coleridge, one of the most popular and successful Eton masters. Several of his cousins were also in this house, with other boys who became friends of his whole life, and he was thoroughly happy there, although in these early days he still felt each departure from home severely, and seldom failed to write a mournful letter after the holidays. There is one, quite pathetic in its simplicity, telling his mother how he could not say his prayers nor fall asleep on his first night till he had resolutely put away the handkerchief that seemed for some reason a special link with home. It illustrates what all who remember him say, how thoroughly a childlike being he still was, though a well-grown, manly, high-spirited boy, quite able to take care of himself, keep his place, and hold his own.