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- Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 10/144 -


to the Privy Council, as a member of the Judicial Committee; where the business was chiefly conducted in writing, and he could act with comparatively little obstacle from his deafness.

On February 10, 1852, he took his leave of the Bar. The Court of Queen's Bench was crowded with barristers, who rose while the Attorney-General, Sir Alexander Cockburn, made an address expressive of the universal heartfelt feeling of respect and admiration with which the retiring Judge was regarded.

John Patteson's reply, read with a voice broken by emotion, is so touching in its manly simplicity and humility that a paragraph or two may well be quoted:--

'Mine,' he said, 'is one of the many instances which I know that a public man without pre-eminent abilities, if he will but exert such as it has pleased God to bestow on him honestly and industriously, and without ostentation, is sure to receive public approbation fully commensurate with, and generally much beyond, his real merits; and I thank God if I shall be found not to have fallen entirely short in the use of those talents which He has entrusted to me.' Then, after some words on the misfortune that necessitated his withdrawal, he continued, 'I am aware that on some, and I fear too many, occasions I have given way to complaints and impatient expressions towards the Bar and the witnesses in Court, as if they were to blame when, in truth, it was my own deficiency; and heartily sorry have I been and am for such want of control over myself. I have striven against its recurrence earnestly, though not always successfully. My brethren on the Bench, and you, and the public, have been very kind and indulgent to me; the recollection of which will remain with, and be a great solace to me for the rest of my life.

'And now, gentlemen, I bid you farewell most affectionately. I wish you many years of health and happiness, of success and honour in your liberal profession; the duties of which have been and are and I trust ever will be performed, not only with the greatest zeal, learning, and ability, but with the highest honour and integrity, and a deep sense of responsibility to God and to man, and which being so performed, are, in my humble judgment, eminently conducive, under the blessing of God, to maintain the just prerogative of the Crown, and the true right, liberties, and happiness of the people.'

He then rose from the Judges' seat, and bowed his farewell to the assembly, who stood respectful and silent, except for some suppressed tokens of emotion, for in truth to many the parting was from an old familiar and much trusted friend.

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.'

CHAPTER IV.

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....

'I find that I am getting to know the undergraduates here, which is what I wanted to do; it is my only chance of being of any use. True, that I have to do it at the expense of two half-days' cricketing, which I have quite ceased to care about, but I know that when I went up to Balliol, I was glad when a Fellow played with us. It was a guarantee for orderly conduct, and as I say, it gives me an opportunity of knowing men. I hope to leave London for Dresden on Monday week; Arthur is gone thither, as I find out from Jem, and I hope the scheme will answer. If I find I can't work, from my eyes, or anything else, preventing me, I shall come home, but I have no reason to expect any such thing. My best love to Joan and all friends.

'Your loving Brother,

'J. C. PATTESON.'

The 'Arthur' here mentioned was the youngest son of Mr. Frank Coleridge, and became Coley's companion at Dresden, where he was studying German. He writes:--

'Patteson spoke German fluently, and wrote German correctly. He had studied the language assiduously for about two years previously, and so successfully that whilst we were at Dresden, he was enabled to dispense with a teacher and make his assistance little more than nominal. Occasionally he wrote a German exercise, but rather as an amusement than a discipline, and merely with the view of enlarging his German vocabulary. I remember his writing an elaborate description of Feniton Court, and imagining the place to be surrounded with trees belonging to all sorts of climates. The result was very amusing to ourselves, and added to the writer's stock of words on particular subjects. When our master Schier appeared, the conversation was led by a palpable ambuscade to the topic which had been made the subject of Patteson's exercise, and conversation helped to strengthen memory. After looking over a few of Patteson's German exercises, Mr. Schier found so little to correct, in the way of grammatical errors, that these studies were almost relinquished, and gave way to Arabic and Hebrew. Before we left Dresden, Patteson had read large portions of the Koran; and, with the aid of Hurwitz's Grammar and Bernhard's Guide to Hebrew Students, books familiar to Cambridge men, he was soon able to read the Psalms in the original. I remember the admiration and despair I felt in witnessing Patteson's progress, and the wonder expressed by his teacher in his pupil's gift of rapid acquirement. We had some excellent introductions; amongst others, to Dr. ----, a famous theologian, with whom Patteson was fond of discussing the system and organisation of the Church in Saxony. Up to the time of his leaving England he was constantly using Olshausen's Commentary on the New Testament, a book he was as thoroughly versed in as Archbishop Trench himself. I think that he consulted no other books in his study of the Gospels, but Olshausen and Bengel's Gnomon.

'In our pleasures at Dresden there was a mixture of the utile with the dulce. Our constant visits to the theatre were strong incentives to a preparatory study of the plays of Goethe, Schiller, and Lessing. What noble acting we saw in that Dresden theatre!

'With regard to the opera, I have never seen Weber or Meyerbeer's works given so perfectly and conscientiously as at Dresden. Patteson's chief delight was the Midsummer Night's Dream, with Mendelssohn's music. He had a tuneful baritone voice and a correct ear for music. We hired a piano for our sitting-room; and, though I failed to induce him to cultivate his voice, and join me in taking lessons, he sang some of Mendelssohn's Lieder very pleasingly, and knew most of the bass music from the Messiah by heart. He began to play a few scales on the piano, and hoped to surprise his sisters on his return to England by playing chants, but the Arabic and Hebrew studies proved too absorbing; he grudged the time, and thought the result disproportioned to the sacrifice.

'In our daily walks we talked constantly of Church matters. Some sharp and sad experiences in the loss of more than one of his Eton and Oxford friends, who had abandoned the Church of England, failed to shake his confidence in the Church he was to serve so faithfully and to die for so gloriously. His faith and daily practice seem to me a protest and warning against the folly, if not the falsehood, of extremes. Moderation, quiet consistency of life, and unswerving loyalty to a faith which had been the joy and comfort of his dear mother, whose loveable nature he inherited and reflected, a blameless life and unfailing charity enabled him when the time came to live a life of incessant toil, and face a martyr's death. I remember the present Bishop of Carlisle inciting Cambridge undergraduates to become, by virtue of earnestness, gentleness, and toleration, "guides not judges, lights not firebrands." He drew a perfect description of Patteson, who came more completely up to that ideal than anyone I ever knew. Here was a man capable of the purest and most tender friendship, with an exquisite appreciation of all that is noblest in


Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 10/144

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