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Title: Critical Miscellanies (Vol. 3 of 3) - Essay 5: On Pattison's Memoirs
Author: Morley, John, 1838-1923
Language: English
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  CRITICAL
  MISCELLANIES

  BY

  JOHN MORLEY

  VOL. III.


  ESSAY 5: ON PATTISON'S MEMOIRS


  London

  MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

  NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

  1904



  ON PATTISON'S MEMOIRS.

  His influence                                                      133

  Industry and spirit his best credentials                           135

  Youth                                                              136

  Went as a freshman to Oriel in 1832                                139

  Affected by a profound weakness of will and character              140

  The motto of his life--'Quicquid hic operis fiat poenitet'         142

  Newman                                                             145

  Mr. Goldwin Smith                                                  161

  _Life of Milton_                                                   169

  Contributes five biographies to the new edition of the
  _Encyclopædia Britannica_                                          171

  Delivers a lecture on Books and Critics, 1877                      171

  In 1871 and 1872 published editions of the _Essay on Man_
  and _The Satires and Epistles of Pope_                             172



ON PATTISON'S MEMOIRS.[1]


To reckon the subject of this volume among leading minds who have
stamped a deep influence on our generation, is not possible even to the
friendliest partiality. That was not his position, and nobody could be
less likely than he would himself have been to claim it. Pattison
started no new problem. His name is associated with no fertile
speculation, and with no work of the first degree of importance. Nor was
he any more intended for a practical leader than for an intellectual
discoverer. He did not belong to the class of authoritative men who are
born to give decisions from the chair. Measured by any standard
commensurate to his remarkable faculties, Pattison's life would be
generally regarded as pale, negative, and ineffectual. Nevertheless, it
is undeniable that he had a certain singular quality about him that made
his society more interesting, more piquant, and more sapid than that of
many men of a far wider importance and more commanding achievement.

[1] _Memoirs._ By Mark Pattison, late Rector of Lincoln
College, Oxford. London, 1885.

Critics have spoken of his learning, but the description is only
relatively accurate. Of him, in this respect, we may say, what he said
of Erasmus. 'Erasmus, though justly styled by Muretus, _eruditus sane
vir ac multæ lectionis_, was not a learned man in the special sense of
the word--not an _érudit_. He was the man of letters. He did not make a
study a part of antiquity for its own sake, but used it as an instrument
of culture.' The result of culture in Pattison's actual life was not by
any means ideal. For instance, he was head of a college for nearly a
quarter of a century, and except as a decorative figure-head with a high
literary reputation, he did little more to advance the working interests
of his college during these five-and-twenty years than if he had been
one of the venerable academic abuses of the worst days before reform.
But his temperament, his reading, his recoil from Catholicism, combined
with the strong reflective powers bestowed upon him by nature, to
produce a personality that was unlike other people, and infinitely more
curious and salient than many who had a firmer grasp of the art of right
living. In an age of effusion to be reserved, and in days of universal
professions of sympathy to show a saturnine front, was to be an
original. There was nobody in whose company one felt so much of the
ineffable comfort of being quite safe against an attack of platitude.
There was nobody on whom one might so surely count in the course of an
hour's talk for some stroke of irony or pungent suggestion, or, at the
worst, some significant, admonitory, and almost luminous manifestation
of the great _ars tacendi_. In spite of his copious and ordered
knowledge, Pattison could hardly be said to have an affluent mind. He
did not impart intellectual direction like Mill, nor morally impress
himself like George Eliot. Even in pithy humour he was inferior to
Bagehot, who was certainly one of the most remarkable of the secondary
figures of our generation. But he made every one aware of contact with
the reality of a living intelligence. It was evident that he had no
designs upon you. He was not thinking of shaking a conviction, nor even
of surprising admiration.

Everlasting neutrality, no doubt, may soon become a tiresome
affectation. But we can afford to spare a few moments from our solid day
to the Sage, if we are so lucky as to hit upon one; always provided that
he be not of those whom La Bruyère has described as being made into
sages by a certain natural mediocrity of mind. Whatever else may be said
of Pattison, at least he was never mediocre, never vapid, trite, or
common. Nor was he one of those false pretenders to the judicial mind,
who 'mistake for sober sense And wise reserve, the plea of indolence.'
On the contrary, his industry and spirit of laborious acquisition were
his best credentials. He was invested to our young imaginations with the
attraction of the literary explorer, who had 'voyaged through strange
seas of thought alone,' had traversed broad continents of knowledge, had
ransacked all the wisdom of printed books, and had by native courage and
resource saved himself from the engulfing waters of the great Movement.

The Memoirs of such a man may not be one of the monuments of literature.
His little volume is not one of those romantic histories of the soul,
from the Confessions of Augustine to the Confessions of Jean Jacques, by
which men and women have been beguiled, enlightened, or inspired in
their pilgrimage. It is not one of those idealised and highly
embellished versions of an actual existence, with which such superb
artists as George Sand, Quinet, and Renan, have delighted people of good
literary taste. What the Rector has done is to deliver a tolerably plain
and unvarnished tale of the advance of a peculiar type of mind along a
path of its own, in days of intellectual storm and stress. It stirs no
depths, it gives no powerful stimulus to the desire after either
knowledge or virtue--in a word, it does not belong to the literature of
edification. But it is an instructive account of a curious character,
and contains valuable hints for more than one important chapter in the
mental history of the century.

Mark Pattison, born in 1813, passed his youthful days at the rectory of
Hauxwell, a village in Wensleydale, on the edge of the great uplands
that stretch northwards towards Richmond and Barnard Castle, and form an
outwork of the Pennine range and the backbone of northern England. The
scene has been described in that biography of his Sister Dora, which he
here so unceremoniously despatches as a romance. 'Hauxwell is a tiny
village lying on the southern slope of a hill, from whence an extensive
view of the moors and Wensleydale is obtained. It contains between two
and three hundred inhabitants. The rectory is a pretty little dwelling,
some half-mile from the church, which is a fine old building much shut
in by trees. The whole village, even on a bright summer day, gives the
traveller an impression of intense quiet, if not of dulness; but in
winter, when the snow lies thickly for weeks together in the narrow
lane, the only thoroughfare of the place; when the distant moors also
look cold in their garment of white, and the large expanse of sky is
covered with leaden-coloured clouds; when the very streams with which
the country abounds are frozen into silence--then indeed may Hauxwell be
called a lonely village.'

Pattison's father had been educated, badly enough, at Brasenose, but
though his own literary instincts were of the slightest, he had social
ambition enough to destine his son from the first to go to Oxford and
become the fellow of a college. But nothing systematic was done towards
making the desired consummation a certainty or even a probability. The
youth read enormously, but he did not remember a tenth of what he read,
nor did he even take in the sense of half of it as he went along. 'Books
as books,' he says, 'were my delight, irrespective of their contents. I
was already marked out for the life of a student, yet little that was in
the books I read seemed to find its way into my mind.' He found time for
much besides reading. He delighted in riding, in shooting rooks in the
Hall rookery, and in fishing for trout with clumsy tackle and worm.
Passion for country sports was followed by passion for natural history
in the ordinary shape of the boy's fancy for collecting insects and
observing birds. He fell in with White's _Natural History of Selborne_,
read it over and over again, and knew it by heart.

     The love of birds, moths, butterflies, led on to the love of
     landscape; and altogether, in the course of the next six or seven
     years, grew and merged in a conscious and declared poetical
     sentiment and a devoted reading of the poets. I don't suppose the
     temperament was more inclined to æsthetic emotion in me than in
     other youths; but I was highly nervous and delicate, and having
     never been at school had not had sentiment and delicacy crushed out
     of me; also, living on the borderland of oak woods, with green
     lanes before me, and an expanse of wild heather extending into
     Northumberland behind, I was favourably placed for imbibing a
     knowledge by contrast of the physical features of England. My eye
     was formed to take in at a glance, and to receive delight from
     contemplating, as a whole, a hill and valley formation. Geology did
     not come in till ten years later to complete the cycle of thought,
     and to give that intellectual foundation which is required to make
     the testimony of the eye, roaming over an undulating surface,
     fruitful and satisfying. When I came in after years to read _The
     Prelude_ I recognised, as if it were my own history which was being
     told, the steps by which the love of the country-boy for his hills
     and moors grew into poetical susceptibility for all imaginative
     presentations of beauty in every direction (pp. 34, 35).

Perhaps it may be added that this was a preparation for something more
than merely poetical susceptibility. By substituting for the definite
intellectual impressions of a systematic education, vague sensibilities
as the foundation of character, this growth of sentiment, delicacy, and
feeling for imaginative presentations of beauty, laid him peculiarly
open to the religious influences that were awaiting him in days to come
at Oxford.

In 1832 Pattison went up as a freshman to Oriel. His career as an
undergraduate was externally distinguished by nothing uncommon, and
promised nothing remarkable. He describes himself as shy, awkward,
boorish, and mentally shapeless and inert. In 1833, however, he felt
what he describes as the first stirrings of intellectual life within
him. 'Hitherto I have had no mind, properly so-called, merely a boy's
intelligence, receptive of anything I read or heard. I now awoke to the
new idea of finding the reason of things; I began to suspect that I
might have much to unlearn, as well as to learn, and that I must clear
my mind of much current opinion which had lodged there. The principle of
rationalism was born in me, and once born it was sure to grow, and to
become the master idea of the whole process of self-education on which I
was from this time forward embarked.' In other words, if he could have
interpreted and classified his own intellectual type, he would have
known that it was the Reflective. Reflection is a faculty that ripens
slowly; the prelude of its maturity is often a dull and apparently
numb-witted youth. Though Pattison conceived his ideal at the age of
twenty, he was five-and-forty before he finally and deliberately
embraced it and shaped his life in conformity to it. The principle of
rationalism, instead of growing, seemed for twelve whole years to go
under, and to be completely mastered by the antagonistic principles of
authority, tradition, and transcendental faith.

The secret is to be found in what is the key to Pattison's whole
existence, and of what he was more conscious at first than he seems to
have been in later days. He was affected from first to last by a
profound weakness of will and character. Few men of eminence have ever
lived so destitute of nerve as Pattison was--of nerve for the ordinary
demands of life, and of nerve for those large enterprises in literature
for which by talent and attainment he was so admirably qualified. The
stamp of moral _défaillance_ was set upon his brow from the beginning.
It was something deeper in its roots than the temporary
self-consciousness of the adolescent that afflicted him in his early
days at Oxford. The shy and stiff undergraduate is a familiar type
enough, and Pattison is not the only youth of twenty of whom such an
account as his own is true:--

     This inability to apprehend the reason of my social ill success had
     a discouraging consequence upon the growth of my character. I was
     so convinced that the fault was in me, and not in the others, that
     I lost anything like firm footing, and succumbed to or imitated any
     type, or set, with which I was brought in contact, esteeming it
     better than my own, of which I was too ashamed to stand by it and
     assert it. Any rough, rude, self-confident fellow, who spoke out
     what he thought and felt, cowed me, and I yielded to him, and even
     assented to him, not with that yielding which gives way for peace's
     sate, secretly thinking itself right, but with a surrender of the
     convictions to his mode of thinking, as being better than my own,
     more like men, more like the world (p. 48).

This fatal trait remained unalterable to the very end, but as time went
on things grew worse. Nobody knows what deliberate impotence means who
has not chanced to sit upon a committee with Pattison. Whatever the
business in hand might be, you might be sure that he started with the
firm conviction that you could not possibly arrive at the journey's end.
It seemed as if the one great principle of his life was that the Sons of
Zeruiah must be too hard for us, and that nobody but a simpleton or a
fanatic would expect anything else. 'With a manner,' he says of himself,
'which I believe suggested conceit, I had really a very low estimate of
myself as compared with others. I could echo what Bishop Stanley says of
himself in his journal: "My greatest obstacle to success in life has
been a want of confidence in myself, under a doubt whether I really was
possessed of talents on a par with those around me."' Very late in life,
talking to Mr. Morison, he said in his pensive way, 'Yes, let us take
our worst opinion of ourselves in our most depressed mood. Extract the
cube root of that, and you will be getting near the common opinion of
your merits.'

He describes another side of the same over-spreading infirmity when he
is explaining why it was always impossible for him ever to be anything
but a Liberal. 'The restlessness of critical faculty,' he says, 'has
done me good service when turned upon myself. _I have never enjoyed any
self-satisfaction in anything I have, ever done_, for I have inevitably
made a mental comparison with how it might have been better done. The
motto of one of my diaries, "Quicquid hic operis fiat poenitet" may be
said to be the motto of my life' (p. 254). A man who enters the battle
on the back of a charger that has been hamstrung in this way, is
predestined to defeat. A frequent access of dejection, self-abasement,
distrust, often goes with a character that is energetic, persevering,
effective, and reasonably happy. To men of strenuous temper it is no
paradox to say that a fit of depression is often a form of repose. It
was D'Alembert, one of the busiest of the workers of a busy century, who
said this, or something to this effect--that low spirits are only a
particular name for the mood in which we see our aims and acts for what
they really are. Pattison's case was very different. With him, except
for a very few short years, despair was a system, and an unreasoned
pessimism the most rooted assurance of his being. He tells a thoroughly
characteristic story of himself in his days as an undergraduate. He was
on the coach between Birmingham and Sheffield. Two men shared the front
seat with him, and conversed during the whole of the journey about the
things which he was yearning to know and to learn. 'I tried once or
twice to put in my oar, but it was a failure: I was too far below their
level of knowledge; I relapsed into enchanted listening. I thought to
myself, "There exists then such a world, but I am shut out of it, not by
the accidents of college, but by my own unfitness to enter"' (p. 148).
Mankind suffers much from brassy incompetency and over-complacency, but
Pattison is only one of many examples how much more it may lose in a man
who has ability, but no fight and no mastery in him. As we have all been
told, in this world a man must be either anvil or hammer, and it always
seemed as if Pattison deliberately chose to be anvil--not merely in the
shape of a renunciation of the delusive pomps and vanities of life, but
in the truly questionable sense of doubting both whether he could do
anything, and whether he even owed anything to the world in which he
found himself.

The earliest launch was a disappointment. He had set his heart upon a
first class, but he had not gone to work in the right way. Instead of
concentrating his attention on the task in hand, he could only in later
days look back with amazement 'at the fatuity of his arrangements and
the snail-like progress with which he seemed to be satisfied.' He was
content if, on his final review of Thucydides, he got through twenty or
thirty chapters a day, and he reread Sophocles 'at the lazy rate of a
hundred and fifty lines a day, instead of going over the difficult
places only, which might have been done in a week. 'There must,' he
says, 'have been idleness to boot, but it is difficult to draw the line
between idleness and dawdling over work. I dawdled from a mixture of
mental infirmity, bad habit, and the necessity of thoroughness if I was
to understand, and not merely remember.' The dangerous delights of
literary dispersion and dissipation attracted him. Among his books of
recreation was Johnson's _Lives of the Poets_. 'This I took in slowly,
page by page, as if by an instinct; but here was a congenial subject, to
which, when free, I would return, and where I would set up my
habitation.'

It was probably a reminiscence of these vacations at Hauxwell that
inspired the beautiful passage in his _Milton_, where he contrasts the
frosty _Ode to the Nativity_ with the _Allegro and Penseroso_. 'The two
idylls,' he says, 'breathe the free air of spring and summer and of the
fields round Horton. They are thoroughly naturalistic; the choicest
expression our language has yet found of the fresh charm of country
life, not as that life is lived by the peasant, but as it is felt by a
young and lettered student, issuing at early dawn or at sunset from his
chamber and his books. All such sights and sounds and smells are here
blended in that ineffable combination which once or twice, perhaps, in
our lives has saluted our young senses before their perceptions were
blunted by alcohol, by lust, or ambition, or diluted by the social
distractions of great cities' (Pattison's _Milton_, 24).

For the examination school no preparation could have been worse. It was
no wonder that so uncalculating an adjustment of means and ends resulted
in a second class (1836). The class was not merely a misfortune in
itself, but threatened to be a bar to the fulfilment of his lifelong
dream of a fellowship. He tried his fortunes at University, where he was
beaten by Faber; and at Oriel, his own college, where he was beaten by
the present Dean of St. Paul's. 'There was such a moral beauty about
Church,' it was said by a man not peculiarly sensitive about moral
beauty, 'that they could not help liking him.' Though Pattison had
failed, Newman sent him word that there were some who thought that he
had done the best. He made two more unsuccessful attempts, in one of
them the triumphant competitor being Stanley, the famous Dean of a later
day. At last, in November 1838, he was elected to a Yorkshire fellowship
at Lincoln College. 'No moment in all my life,' he says, 'has ever been
so sweet as that Friday morning, when Radford's servant came in to
announce my election, and to claim his five shillings for doing so.' Yet
if the curtain of fate could have been raised, his election to the
Lincoln fellowship might have disclosed itself as the central misfortune
of his life.

'All this while,' he says, 'I was rushing into the whirlpool of
Tractarianism; was very much noticed by Newman--in fact fanaticism was
laying its deadly grip around me.' He had come up from Yorkshire with
what he calls his 'home Puritan religion almost narrowed to two
points--fear of God's wrath and faith in the doctrine of the Atonement.'
He found Newman and his allies actively dissolving this hard creed by
means of historical, philosophical, and religious elements which they
summed up in the idea of the Church. This idea of the Church, as
Pattison truly says, and as men so far removed from sympathy with dogma
as J. S. Mill always admitted, 'was a widening of the horizon.' In
another place (_Mind_, i. 83-88) the Rector shows the stages of
speculation in Oxford during the present century. From 1800 or 1810 to
1830 the break-up of the old lethargy took the form of a vague
intellectualism; free movement, but blind groping out of the mists of
insular prejudice in which reaction against the French Revolution had
wrapped us. Then came the second period from 1830 to 1845. Tractarianism
was primarily a religious movement; it was a revival of the Church
spirit which had been dormant since the expiry of Jacobitism at the
accession of George III. But it rested on a conception, however
imperfect, of universal history; and it even sought a basis for belief
in a philosophic exposition of the principle of authority.

Pattison, like most of the superior minds then at Oxford, was not only
attracted, but thoroughly overmastered by this great tide of thought. He
worked at the Lives of the Saints, paid a visit to the cloisters at
Littlemore, and was one of Newman's closest disciples, though he thinks
it possible that Newman even then, with that curious instinct which so
often marks the religious soul, had a scent of his latent rationalism.
A female cousin, who eventually went over to Rome, counted for something
among the influences that drove him into 'frantic Puseyism.' When the
great secession came in 1845 Pattison somehow held back and was saved
for a further development. Though he appeared to all intents and
purposes as much of a Catholic at heart as Newman or any of them, it was
probably his constitutional incapacity for heroic and decisive courses
that made him, according to the Oxford legend, miss the omnibus. The
first notion of the Church had expanded itself beyond the limits of the
Anglican Communion, and been transformed into the wider idea of the
Catholic Church. This in time underwent a further expansion.

     Now the idea of the Catholic Church is only a mode of conceiving
     the dealings of divine Providence with the whole race of mankind.
     Reflection on the history and condition of humanity, taken as a
     whole, gradually convinced me that this theory of the relation of
     all living beings to the Supreme Being was too narrow and
     inadequate. It makes an equal Providence, the Father of all, care
     only for a mere handful of species, leaving the rest (such is the
     theory) to the chances of eternal misery. If God interferes at all
     to procure the happiness of mankind, it must be on a far more
     comprehensive scale than by providing for them a Church of which
     far the majority of them will never hear. It was on this line of
     thought, the details of which I need not pursue, that I passed out
     of the Catholic phase, but slowly, and in many years, to that
     highest development when all religions appear in their historical
     light as efforts of the human spirit to come to an understanding
     with that Unseen Power whose pressure it feels, but whose motives
     are a riddle. Thus Catholicism dropped off me as another husk which
     I had outgrown (pp. 327-328).

So a marked epoch came to its close, and this was one of the many forms
in which the great Anglican impulse expended itself. While Newman and
others sank their own individuality in religious devotion to authority
and tradition, Pusey turned what had been discussion into controversy,
and from a theologian became a powerful ecclesiastical manager. Others
dropped their religious interests, and cultivated cynicism and letters.
The railway mania, the political outbursts of 1848, utilitarian
liberalism, all in turn swept over the Oxford field, and obliterated the
old sanctuaries. Pattison went his own way alone. The time came when he
looked back upon religion with some of the angry contempt with which
George Eliot makes Bardo, the blind old humanist of the fifteenth
century, speak of his son, who had left learning and liberal pursuits,
'that he might lash himself and howl at midnight with besotted
friars--that he might go wandering on pilgrimages befitting men who knew
no past older than the missal and the crucifix.'

It is a critical moment in life when middle age awakens a man from the
illusions that have been crowning the earlier years with inward glory.
Some are contemptuously willing to let the vision and the dream pass
into easy oblivion, while they hasten to make up for lost time in close
pursuit of the main chance. Others can forgive anything sooner than
their own exploded ideal, and the ghost of their dead enthusiasm haunts
them with an embittering presence. Pattison drops a good many
expressions about his Anglo-Catholic days that betray something like
vindictiveness--which is certainly not philosophical, whatever else it
was. But his intellectual faculties were too strong to let him feed on
the poison of a reactionary antipathy to a deserted faith. Puseyism, as
he says, dropped away from him for lack of nutrition of the religious
brain,--which perhaps at the best was more like an artificial limb than
a natural organ in a man of Pattison's constitution. For some five years
he was inspired by a new and more genuine enthusiasm--for forming and
influencing the minds of the young. He found that he was the possessor
of what, for lack of a better name, he calls a magnetic power in dealing
with the students, and his moral ascendency enabled him to make Lincoln
the best managed college in Oxford.

From 1848 to 1851 he describes his absorption in the work of the college
as complete. It excluded all other thoughts. In November that incident
occurred which he calls the catastrophe of his life. The headship of the
college fell vacant, and for several weeks he was led to believe that
this valuable prize was within his grasp. At first the invincible
diffidence of his nature made it hard for him to realise that exaltation
so splendid was possible. But the prospect once opened, fastened with a
fatally violent hold upon his imagination. The fellows of Lincoln
College, who were the electors, were at that time a terribly degraded
body. The majority of them were no more capable of caring for
literature, knowledge, education, books, or learning than Squire Western
or Commodore Trunnion. One of them, says Pattison, had been reduced by
thirty years of the Lincoln common-room to a torpor almost childish.
Another was 'a wretched _crétin_ of the name of Gibbs, who was always
glad to come and booze at the college port a week or two when his vote
was wanted in support of college abuses.' The description of a third,
who still survives, is veiled by editorial charity behind significant
asterisks. That Pattison should be popular with such a gang was
impossible. Such an Alceste was a standing nuisance and reproach to the
rustic Acastes and Clitandres of the Lincoln bursary. They might have
tolerated his intellect and overlooked his industry, if his intellect
and his industry had not spoiled his sociability. But irony and the _ars
tacendi_ are not favourite ingredients in the boon companion. Pattison
never stayed in the common-room later than eight in the evening, and a
man was no better than a skeleton at a feast who left good fellows for
the sake of going over an essay with a pupil, instead of taking a hand
at whist or helping them through another bottle.

We need not follow the details of the story. Pattison has told them over
again, with a minuteness and a sourness that show how the shabby
business rankled in his soul to the very last. It was no battle of
giants, like the immortal Thirty Years' War between Bentley and the
Fellows of Trinity. The election at Lincoln College, which was a scandal
in the university for many a long day after, was simply a tissue of
paltry machinations, in which weakness, cunning, spite, and a fair spice
of downright lying showed that a learned society, even of clergymen, may
seethe and boil with the passions of the very refuse of humanity.
Intricate and unclean intrigues ended, by a curious turn of the wheel,
in the election of a grotesque divine, whom Pattison, with an energy of
phrase that recalls the amenities of ecclesiastical controversy in the
sixteenth century, roundly designates in so many words as a satyr, a
ruffian, and a wild beast. The poor man was certainly illiterate and
boorish to a degree that was a standing marvel to all ingenuous youths
who came up to Lincoln College between 1850 and 1860. His manners,
bearing, and accomplishments were more fitted for the porter of a
workhouse than for the head of a college. But he served the turn by
keeping out Pattison's rival, and whatever discredit he brought upon the
society must be shared by those who, with Pattison at their head,
brought him in against a better man. All this unsavoury story might as
well have been left where it was.

The reaction was incredibly severe. There has been nothing equal to it
since the days of the Psalmist were consumed like smoke, and his heart
was withered like grass. 'My mental forces,' says Pattison, 'were
paralysed by the shock; a blank, dumb despair filled me; a chronic
heartache took possession of me, perceptible even through sleep. As
consciousness gradually returned in the morning, it was only to bring
with it a livelier sense of the cruelty of the situation into which I
had been brought.' He lay in bed until ten o'clock every morning to
prolong the semi-oblivion of sleep. Work was impossible. If he read, it
was without any object beyond semi-forgetfulness. He was too much
benumbed and stupefied to calculate the future. He went through the
forms of lecturing, but the life and spirit were gone. Teaching became
as odious to him as it had once been delightful. His Satan, as he calls
the most active of the enemies who had thus ruined his paradise, planned
new operations against him, by trying, on the grounds of some neglected
formality, to oust him from his fellowship. 'Here,' cries Pattison, 'was
a new abyss opened beneath my feet! My bare livelihood, for I had
nothing except my fellowship to live upon, was threatened; it seemed not
unlikely that I should be turned into the streets to starve.
Visitatorial law, what it might contain! It loomed before me like an
Indian jungle, out of which might issue venomous reptiles, man-eating
tigers, for my destruction.'

This is not the language of half-humorous exaggeration, but a literal
account of a mind as much overthrown from its true balance as is
disclosed in the most morbid page of Rousseau's _Confessions_. For
months and months after the burden of 'dull, insensible wretchedness,'
'bitter heartache,' weighed upon him with unabated oppression. More
than a year after the catastrophe the sombre entries still figure in his
diary:--'Very weary and wretched both yesterday and to-day: all the
savour of life is departed:'--'Very wretched all yesterday and to-day:
dull, gloomy, blank; sleep itself is turned to sorrow.' Nearly two whole
years after the same clouds still blacken the sky. 'I have nothing to
which I look forward with any satisfaction: no prospects; my life seems
to have come to an end, my strength gone, my energies paralysed, and all
my hopes dispersed.'

It is true that frustrated ambition was not the only key to this
frightfully abject abasement. We may readily believe him when he says
that the personal disappointment was a minor ingredient in the total of
mental suffering that he was now undergoing. His whole heart and pride
had in the last few years been invested in the success of the college;
it was the thing on which he had set all his affections; in a fortnight
the foundation of his work was broken up; and the wretched and
deteriorated condition of the undergraduates became as poison in his
daily cup. That may all be true enough. Still, whatever elements of a
generous public spirit sharply baffled may have entered into this
extraordinary moral breakdown, it must be pronounced a painfully unmanly
and unedifying exhibition. It says a great deal for the Rector's honesty
and sincerity in these pages, that he should not have shrunk from giving
so faithful and prominent an account of a weakness and a
self-abandonment which he knew well enough that the world will only
excuse in two circumstances. The world forgives almost anything to a man
in the crisis of a sore spiritual wrestle for faith and vision and an
Everlasting Yea; and almost anything to one prostrated by the shock of
an irreparable personal bereavement. But that anybody with character of
common healthiness should founder and make shipwreck of his life because
two or three unclean creatures had played him a trick after their kind,
is as incredible as that a three-decker should go down in a street
puddle.

It will not do to say that lack of fortitude is a mark of the man of
letters. To measure Pattison's astounding collapse, we have a right to
recall Johnson, Scott, Carlyle, and a host of smaller men, whom no
vexations, chagrins, and perversities of fate could daunt from fighting
the battle out. Pattison was thirty-eight when he missed the headship of
his college. Diderot was about the same age when the torments against
which he had struggled for the best part of twenty arduous years in his
gigantic task seemed to reach the very climax of distraction. 'My dear
master,' he wrote to Voltaire, in words which it is a refreshment under
the circumstances to recall and to transcribe, 'my dear master, I am
over forty. I am tired out with tricks and shufflings. I cry from
morning till night for rest, rest; and scarcely a day passes when I am
not tempted to go and live in obscurity and die in peace in the depths
of my old country. Be useful to men! Is it certain that one does more
than amuse them, and that there is much difference between the
philosopher and the flute-player? They listen to one and the other with
pleasure or with disdain, and they remain just what they were. But there
is more spleen than sense in all this, I know--and back I go to the
Encyclopædia.' And back he went--that is the great point--with courage
unabated and indomitable, labouring with sword in one hand and trowel in
the other, until he had set the last stone on his enormous fabric.

Several years went by before Pattison's mind recovered spring and
equilibrium, and the unstrung nerves were restored to energy. Fishing,
the open air, solitude, scenery, slowly repaired the moral ravages of
the college election. The fly rod 'was precisely the resource of which
my wounded nature stood in need.' About the middle of April, after long
and anxious preparation of rods and tackle, with a box of books and a
store of tobacco, he used to set out for the north. He fished the
streams of Uredale and Swaledale; thence he pushed on to the Eden and
the waters of the Border, to Perthshire, to Loch Maree, Gairloch, Skye,
and the far north. When September came, he set off for rambles in
Germany. He travelled on foot, delighting in the discovery of nooks and
corners that were not mentioned in the guidebooks. Then he would return
to his rooms in college, and live among his books. To the undergraduates
of that day he was a solemn and mysterious figure. He spoke to no one,
saluted no one, and kept his eyes steadily fixed on infinite space. He
dined at the high table, but uttered no word. He never played the part
of host, nor did he ever seem to be a guest. He read the service in
chapel when his turn came: his voice had a creaking and impassive tone,
and his pace was too deliberate to please young men with a morning
appetite. As he says here, he was a complete stranger in the college. We
looked upon him with the awe proper to one who was supposed to combine
boundless erudition with an impenetrable misanthropy. In reading the
fourth book of the Ethics, we regarded the description of the
High-souled Man, with his slow movements, his deep tones, his deliberate
speech, his irony, his contempt for human things, and all the rest of
the paraphernalia of that most singular personage, as the model of the
inscrutable sage in the rooms under the clock. Pattison was understood
to be the Megalopsuchos in the flesh. It would have been better for him
if he could have realised the truth of the healthy maxim that nobody is
ever either so happy or so unhappy as he thinks. He would have been
wiser if he could have seen the force in the monition of Goethe:--

  Willst du dir ein hübsch Leben zimmern,
  Must ums Vergangne dich nicht bekümmern,
  Und wäre dir auch was verloren,
  Musst immer thun wie neu geboren;
  Was jeder Tag will, sollst du fragen,
  Was jeder Tag will, wird er sagen;
  Musst dich an eignem Thun ergetzen,
  Was andre thun, das wirst du schätzen;
  Besonders keinen Menschen hassen,
  Und das Uebrige Gott überlassen.

                    (_Zahme Xenien_, iv.)

  _Wouldst fashion for thyself a seemly life?--
  Then fret not over what is past and gone;
  And spite of all thou mayst have lost behind
  Yet act as if thy life were just begun:
  What each day wills, enough for thee to know,
  What each day wills, the day itself will tell;
  Do thine own task, and be therewith content,
  What others do, that shalt thou fairly judge;
  Be sure that thou no brother mortal hate.
  And all besides leave to the master Power._

At length 'the years of defeat and despair,' as he calls them, came to
an end, though 'the mental and moral deterioration' that belonged to
them left heavy traces to the very close of his life. He took a lively
interest in the discussions that were stirred by the famous University
Commission, and contributed ideas to the subject of academic reform on
more sides than one. But such matters he found desultory and
unsatisfying; he was in a state of famine; his mind was suffering, not
growing; he was becoming brooding, melancholy, taciturn, and finally
pessimist (pp. 306, 307). Pattison was five-and-forty before he reached
the conception of what became his final ideal, as it had been in a
slightly different shape his first and earliest. He had always been a
voracious reader. When 'the flood of the Tractarian infatuation broke
over him, he naturally concentrated his studies on the Fathers and on
Church History. That phase, in his own term, took eight years out of his
life. Then for five years more he was absorbed in teaching and forming
the young mind. The catastrophe came, and for five or six years after
that he still remained far below 'the pure and unselfish conception of
the life of the true student, which dawned upon him afterwards, and
which Goethe, it seems, already possessed at thirty.' Up to this
time--the year 1857, or a little later--his aims and thoughts had been,
in his own violent phrase, polluted and disfigured by literary ambition.
He had felt the desire to be before the world as a writer, and had
hitherto shared 'the vulgar fallacy that a literary life meant a life
devoted to the making of books.' 'It cost me years more of extrication
of thought before I rose to _the conception that the highest life is the
art to live_, and that both men, women, and books are equally essential
ingredients of such a life' (p. 310).

We may notice in passing, what any one will see for himself, that in
contrasting his new conception so triumphantly with the vulgar fallacy
from which he had shaken himself free, the Rector went very near to
begging the question. When Carlyle, in the strength of his reaction
against morbid introspective Byronism, cried aloud to all men in their
several vocation, '_Produce, produce; be it but the infinitesimallest
product, produce_,' he meant to include production as an element inside
the art of living, and an indispensable part and parcel of it. The
making of books may or may not belong to the art of living. It depends
upon the faculty and gift of the individual. It would have been more
philosophical if, instead of ranking the life of study for its own sake
above the life of composition and the preparation for composition,
Pattison had been content with saying that some men have the impulse
towards literary production, while in others the impulse is strongest
for acquisition, and that he found out one day that nature had placed
him in the latter and rarer class. It is no case of ethical or
intellectual superiority, as he fondly supposed, but only diversity of
gift.

We must turn to the volume on Casaubon for a fuller interpretation of
the oracle. 'The scholar,' says the author, 'is greater than his books.
The result of his labours is not so many thousand pages in folio, but
himself.... Learning is a peculiar compound of memory, imagination,
scientific habit, accurate observation, all concentrated, through a
prolonged period, on the analysis of the remains of literature. The
result of this sustained mental endeavour is not a book, but a man. It
cannot be embodied in print, it consists in the living word. True
learning does not consist in the possession of a stock of facts--the
merit of a dictionary--but in the discerning spirit, a power of
appreciation, _judicium_ as it was called in the sixteenth
century--which is the result of the possession of a stock of facts.'

The great object, then, is to bring the mind into such a condition of
training and cultivation that it shall be a perfect mirror of past
times, and of the present, so far as the incompleteness of the present
will permit, 'in true outline and proportion.' Mommsen, Grote, Droysen,
fall short of the ideal, because they drugged ancient history with
modern politics. The Jesuit learning of the sixteenth century was sham
learning, because it was tainted with the interested motives of Church
patriotism. To search antiquity with polemical objects in view, is
destructive of 'that equilibrium of the reason, the imagination, and the
taste, that even temper of philosophical calm, that singleness of
purpose,' which were all required for Pattison's ideal scholar. The
active man has his uses, he sometimes, but never very cheerfully,
admits. Those who at the opening of the seventeenth century fought in
literature, in the council-chamber, in the field, against the Church
revival of their day, may be counted among worthies and benefactors.
'But for all this, it remains true, that in the intellectual sphere
grasp and mastery are incompatible with the exigencies of a struggle.'

The reader will hardly retain gravity of feature before the
self-indulgent, self-deceiving sophistication of a canon, which actually
excludes from grasp and mastery in the intellectual sphere Dante,
Milton, and Burke. Pattison repeats in his closing pages his lamentable
refrain that the author of _Paradise Lost_ should have forsaken poetry
for more than twenty years 'for a noisy pamphlet brawl, and the unworthy
drudgery of Secretary to the Council Board' (p. 332). He had said the
same thing in twenty places in his book on Milton. He transcribes
unmoved the great poet's account of his own state of mind, after the
physicians had warned him that if he persisted in using his remaining
eye for his pamphlet, he would lose that too. 'The choice lay before
me,' says Milton, 'between dereliction of a supreme duty and loss of
eyesight: in such a case I could not listen to the physician, not if
Æsculapius himself had spoken from his sanctuary. I could not but obey
that inward monitor, I knew not what, that spake to me from heaven. I
considered with myself that many had purchased less good with worse ill,
as they who give their lives to reap only glory, and I therefore
concluded to employ the little remaining eyesight I was to enjoy in
doing this, the greatest service to the common weal it was in my power
to render.' And so he wrote the _Second Defence_, and yet lived long
enough, and preserved sublimity of imagination enough, to write the
_Paradise Lost_ as well. Mr. Goldwin Smith goes nearer the mark than the
Rector when he insists that 'the tension and elevation which Milton's
nature had undergone in the mighty struggle, together with the heroic
dedication of his faculties to the most serious objects, must have had
not a little to do both with the final choice of his subject and with
the tone of his poem. "The great Puritan epic" could hardly have been
written by any one but a militant Puritan' (_Lectures and Essays_, p.
324). In the last page of his _Memoirs_, Pattison taxes the poet with
being carried away by the aims of 'a party whose aims he idealised.' As
if the highest fruitfulness of intellect were ever reached without this
generous faculty of idealisation, which Pattison, here and always,
viewed with such icy coldness. Napoleon used to say that what was most
fatal to a general was a knack of combining objects into pictures. A
good officer, he said, never makes pictures; he sees objects, as through
a field-glass, exactly as they are. In the art of war let us take
Napoleon's word for this; but in 'the art to live' a man who dreads to
idealise aims or to make pictures, who can think of nothing finer than
being what Aristotle calls [Greek: authekastos], or taking everything
literally for what it is, will sooner or later find his faculties
benumbed and his work narrowed to something for which nobody but himself
will care, and for which he will not himself always care with any
sincerity or depth of interest.

Let us take another illustration of the false exclusiveness of the
definition, in which Pattison erected a peculiar constitutional
idiosyncrasy into a complete and final law for the life literary. He
used to contend that in many respects the most admirable literary figure
of the eighteenth century was the poet Gray. Gray, he would say, never
thought that devotion to letters meant the making of books. He gave
himself up for the most part to ceaseless observation and acquisition.
By travelling, reading, noting, with a patient industry that would not
allow itself to be diverted or perturbed, he sought and gained the
discerning spirit and the power of appreciation which make not a book
but a man. He annotated the volumes that he read with judgment; he kept
botanical calendars and thermometrical registers; he had a lively
curiosity all round; and, in Gray's own words, he deemed it a sufficient
object of his studies to know, wherever he was, what lay within reach
that was worth seeing--whether building, ruin, park, garden, prospect,
picture, or monument--to whom it had ever belonged, and what had been
the characteristic and taste of different ages. 'Turn author,' said
Gray, 'and straightway you expose yourself to pit, boxes, and gallery:
any coxcomb in the world may come in and hiss if he pleases; ay, and
what is almost as bad, clap too, and you cannot hinder him.'

Nobody will be inclined to quarrel with Gray's way of passing his life,
and the poet who had produced so exquisite a masterpiece as the Elegy
had a fair right to spend the rest of his days as he pleased. But the
temptations to confound a finicking dilettantism with the 'art to live'
are so strong, that it is worth while to correct the Rector's admiration
for Gray by looking on another picture--one of Gray's most famous
contemporaries, who in variety of interest and breadth of acquired
knowledge was certainly not inferior to him, but enormously his
superior. Lessing died when he was fifty-two (1729-1781); his life was
two years shorter than Gray's (1716-1771), and nearly twenty years
shorter than Pattison's (1813-1884). The Rector would have been the last
man to deny that the author of _Laoköon_ and the _Wolfenbüttel
Fragments_ abounded in the discerning spirit and the power of
appreciation. Yet Lessing was one of the most incessantly productive
minds of his age. In art, in religion, in literature, in the drama, in
the whole field of criticism, he launched ideas of sovereign importance,
both for his own and following times, and, in _Nathan the Wise_, the
truest and best mind of the eighteenth century found its gravest and
noblest voice. Well might George Eliot at the Berlin theatre feel her
heart swelling and the tears coming into her eyes as she 'listened to
the noble words of dear Lessing, whose great spirit lives immortally in
this crowning work of his' (_Life_, i. 364). Yet so far were 'grasp and
mastery' from being incompatible with the exigencies of a struggle, that
the varied, supple, and splendid powers of Lessing were exercised from
first to last in an atmosphere of controversy. Instead of delicately
nursing the theoretic life in the luxury of the academic cloister, he
was forced to work like a slave upon the most uncongenial tasks for a
very modest share of daily bread. 'I only wished to have things like
other men,' he said in a phrase of pathetic simplicity, at the end of
his few short months of wedded happiness; 'I have had but sorry
success.' Harassed by small persecutions, beset by paltry debts, passing
months in loneliness and in indigence, he was yet so possessed, not
indeed by the winged dæmon of poetic creation, but by the irrepressible
impulse and energy of production, that the power of his intellect
triumphed over every obstacle, and made him one of the greatest forces
in the wide history of European literature. Our whole heart goes out to
a man who thus, in spite alike of his own impetuous stumbles and the
blind buffets of unrelenting fate, yet persevered to the last in
laborious, honest, spontaneous, and almost artless fidelity to the use
of his talent, and after each repulse only came on the more eagerly to
'live and act and serve the future hours.' It was Lessing and not
Rousseau whom Carlyle ought to have taken for his type of the Hero as
Man of Letters.

The present writer will not be suspected of the presumption of hinting
or implying that Pattison himself was a _dilettante_, or anything like
one. There never was a more impertinent blunder than when people
professed to identify the shrewdest and most widely competent critic of
his day with the Mr. Casaubon of the novel, and his absurd Key to all
Mythologies. The Rector's standard of equipment was the highest of our
time. 'A critic's education,' he said, 'is not complete till he has in
his mind a conception of the successive phases of thought and feeling
from the beginning of letters. Though he need not read every book, he
must have surveyed literature in its totality. Partial knowledge of
literature is no knowledge' (_Fortnightly Review_, Nov. 1877, p. 670).
For a man to know his way about in the world of printed books, to find
the key to knowledge, to learn the map of literature, 'requires a long
apprenticeship. This is a point few men can hope to reach much before
the age of forty' (_Milton_, 110).

There was no dilettantism here. And one must say much more than that.
Many of those in whom the love of knowledge is liveliest omit from their
curiosity that part of knowledge which is, to say the least of it, as
interesting as all the rest--insight, namely, into the motives,
character, conduct, doctrines, fortunes of the individual man. It was
not so with Pattison. He was essentially a bookman, but of that high
type--the only type that is worthy of a spark of our admiration--which
explores through books the voyages of the human reason, the shifting
impulses of the human heart, the chequered fortunes of great human
conceptions. Pattison knew that he is very poorly equipped for the art
of criticism who has not trained himself in the observant analysis of
character, and has not realised that the writer who seeks to give
richness, body, and flavour to his work must not linger exclusively
among texts or abstract ideas or general movements or literary effects,
but must tell us something about the moral and intellectual
configuration of those with whom he deals. I had transcribed, for an
example, his account of Erasmus, but the article is growing long, and
the reader may find it for himself in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_
(viii. 515 _a_).

Though nobody was ever much less of a man of the world in one sense, yet
Pattison's mind was always in the world. In company he often looked as
if he were thinking of the futility of dinner-party dialectics, where
all goes too fast for truth, where people miss one another's points and
their own, where nobody convinces or is convinced, and where there is
much surface excitement with little real stimulation. That so shrewd a
man should have seen so obvious a fact as all this was certain. But he
knew that the world is the real thing, that the proper study of mankind
is man, and that if books must be counted more instructive and
nourishing than affairs, as he thought them to be, it is still only
because they are the most complete record of what is permanent,
elevated, and eternal in the mind and act of man. Study with him did not
mean the compilation of careful abstracts of books, nor did it even mean
the historic filiation of thoughts and beliefs. It was the building up
before the mind's eye of definite conceptions as to what manner of men
had been bred by the diversified agencies of human history, and how
given thoughts had shaped the progress of the race. This is what, among
other things, led him to spend so much time (p. 116) on the circle of
Pope and Addison and Swift.

We have let fall a phrase about the progress of the race, but it hardly
had a place in Pattison's own vocabulary. 'While the advances,' he said,
'made by objective science and its industrial applications are palpable
and undeniable everywhere around us, it is a matter of doubt and dispute
if our social and moral advance towards happiness and virtue has been
great or any.' The selfishness of mankind might seem to be a constant
quantity, neither much abated nor much increased since history began.
Italy and France are in most material points not more civilised than
they were in the second century of our era. The reign of law and justice
has no doubt extended into the reign of hyperborean ice and over
Sarmatian plains: but then Spain, has relapsed into a double barbarism
by engrafting Catholic superstition upon Iberian ferocity. If we look
Eastward, we see a horde of barbarians in occupation of the garden of
the Old World, not as settlers, but as destroyers (_Age of Reason_, in
_Fortnightly Review_, March 1877, 357-361).

The same prepossessions led him to think that all the true things had
been said, and one could do no better than hunt them up again for new
uses. Our business was, like Old Mortality, to clear out and cut afresh
inscriptions that had been made illegible by time and storm. At least
this delivered him from the senseless vanity of originality and personal
appropriation. We feel sure that if he found that a thought which he had
believed to be new had been expressed in literature before, he would
have been pleased and not mortified. No reflection of his own could give
him half as much satisfaction as an apt citation from some one else. He
once complained of the writer of the article on Comte in the
_Encyclopædia_ for speaking with too much deference as to Comte's
personality. 'That overweening French vanity and egotism not only
overshadows great gifts, but impoverishes the character which nourished
such a sentiment. It is not one of the weaknesses which we overlook in
great men, and which are to go for nothing.' Of overweening egotism
Pattison himself at any rate had none. This was partly due to his theory
of history, and partly, too, no doubt, to his inborn discouragement of
spirit. He always professed to be greatly relieved when an editor
assured him that his work was of the quality that might have been
expected from him. 'Having lived to be sixty-three,' he wrote on one of
these occasions, 'without finding out why the public embrace or reject
what is written for their benefit, I presume I shall now never make the
discovery.' And this was perfectly sincere.

The first draft of his _Life of Milton_ was found to exceed the utmost
limits of what was possible by some thirty or forty pages. Without a
single movement of importunity or complaint he cut off the excess,
though it amounted to a considerable fraction of what he had done. 'In
any case,' he said, 'it is all on Milton; there is no digression on
public affairs, and much which might have gone in with advantage to the
completeness of the story has been entirely passed over, _e.g._ history
of his posthumous fame, Bentley's emendations, _et cetera_.' It almost
seemed as if he had a private satisfaction in a literary mishap of this
kind: it was an unexpected corroboration of his standing conclusion that
this is the most stupid and perverse of all possible worlds.

'My one scheme,' he wrote to a friend in 1877, 'that of a history of the
eighteenth century, having been forestalled by Leslie Stephen, and the
collections, of years having been rendered useless, I am entirely out of
gear, and cannot settle to anything.' His correspondent urged the Rector
to consider and reconsider. It would be one of the most deplorable
misfortunes in literature if he were thus to waste the mature fruit of
the study of a lifetime. It was as unreasonable as if Raphael or Titian
had refused to paint a Madonna simply because other people had painted
Madonnas before them. Some subjects, no doubt, were treated once for
all; if Southey had written his history of the Peninsular war after
Napier, he would have done a silly thing, and his book would have been
damned unread. But what reason was there why we should not have half a
dozen books on English thought in the eighteenth century? Would not
Grote have inflicted a heavy loss upon us if he had been frightened out
of his plan by Thirlwall? And so forth, and so forth. But all such
importunities were of no avail. 'I have pondered over your letter,'
Pattison replied, 'but without being able to arrive at any resolution of
any kind.' Of course one knew that in effect temperament had already
cast the resolution for him in letters of iron before our eyes.

We are not aware whether any considerable work has been left behind. His
first great scheme, as he tells us here (p. 319), was a history of
learning from the Renaissance. Then he contracted his views to a history
of the French school of Philology, beginning with Budæus and the Delphin
classics. Finally, his ambition was narrowed to fragments. The book on
_Isaac Casaubon_, published ten years ago, is a definite and valuable
literary product. But the great work would have been the vindication of
Scaliger, for which he had been getting materials together for thirty
years. Many portions, he says, were already written out in their
definite form, and twelve months would have completed it. Alas, a man
should not go on trusting until his seventieth year that there is still
plenty of daylight. He contributed five biographies to the new edition
of the _Encyclopædia Britannica_. The articles on Bentley, Erasmus,
Grotius, More, and Macaulay are from his pen. They are all terse,
luminous, and finished, and the only complaint that one can make against
them is that our instructor parts company from us too soon. It is a
stroke of literary humour after Pattison's own heart that Bentley, the
mightiest of English scholars, should fill no more space in the
Encyclopædic pantheon than Alford, who was hardly even the mightiest of
English deans. But the fault was more probably with the rector's
parsimony of words than with the editor. In 1877 he delivered a lecture,
afterwards reprinted in one of the reviews, on Books and Critics. It is
not without the usual piquancy and the usual cynicism, but he had
nothing particular to say, except to tell his audience that a small
house is no excuse for absence of books, inasmuch as a set of shelves,
thirteen feet by ten, and six inches deep, will accommodate nearly a
thousand octavos; and to hint that a man making a thousand a year, who
spends less than a pound a week on books, ought to be ashamed of
himself. There are some other fugitive pieces scattered in the
periodicals of the day. In 1871 and 1872 he published editions of the
_Essay on Man_ and _The Satires and Epistles_ of Pope. Ten years before
that he had been at last elected to the headship of his college, but the
old enthusiasm for influencing young minds was dead. We have spoken of
the Rector's timidity and impotence in practical things. Yet it is fair
to remember the persevering courage with which he pleaded one unpopular
cause. As Mr. Morison said not long ago, his writings on university
organisation, the most important of which appeared in 1868, are a noble
monument of patient zeal in the cause for which he cared most. 'Pattison
never lost heart, never ceased holding up his ideal of what a university
should be, viz. a metropolis of learning in which would be collected and
grouped into their various faculties the best scholars and _savants_ the
country could produce, all working with generous emulation to increase
the merit and renown of their chairs. If England ever does obtain such a
university, it will be in no small measure to Pattison that she will owe
it.'

Yet when the record is completed, it falls short of what might have been
expected from one with so many natural endowments, such unrivalled
opportunities, such undoubted sincerity of interest. Pattison had none
of what so much delighted Carlyle in Ram-Dass, the Hindoo man-god. When
asked what he meant to do for the sins of men, Ram-Dass at once made
answer that he had fire enough in his belly to burn up all the sins of
the world. Of this abdominal flame Pattison had not a spark. Nor had he
that awful sense which no humanism could extinguish in Milton, of
service as 'ever in the great Taskmaster's eye.' Nor had he, finally,
that civil and secular enthusiasm which made men like Bentham and Mill
into great workers and benefactors of their kind. Pattison was of the
mind of Fra Paolo in a letter to Casaubon. 'As long as there are men
there will be fanaticism. The wisest man has warned us not to expect the
world ever to improve so much that the better part of mankind will be
the majority. No wise man ever undertakes to correct the disorders of
the public estate. He who cannot endure the madness of the public, but
goeth about to think he can cure it, is himself no less mad than the
rest. So, sing to yourself and the muses.' The muses never yet inspired
with their highest tunes, whether in prose or verse, men of this degree
of unfaith.





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