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- Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 4/144 -


all at once roared away. The Queen and Consort nodding and bowing, smiling, &c. Then F--- and I made a rush to get up behind the Queen's carriage, but a dragoon with his horse almost knocked us over. So we ran by the side as well as we could, but the crowd was so immensely thick, we could not get on as quick as the Queen. We rushed along, knocking clean over all the clods we could, and rushing against the rest, and finally F--- and myself were the only Eton fellows that got into the quadrangle. As we got there, the Queen's carriage was going away. You may fancy that we were rather hot, running the whole way up to the Castle, besides the exertion of knocking over the clods and knocking at doors as we passed; but I was so happy.'

Such is bliss at twelve years old!

The first half-year of 1839 had brought Patteson into the Remove, that large division of the school intermediate between the fourth and fifth forms. The work was harder, and his diligence somewhat relaxed. In fact, the Coley of this period and of a good while later had more heart for play than work. Cricket, bathing, and boating were his delight; and though his school-work was conscientiously accomplished, it did not interest him; and when he imagined himself to have been working hard and well, it was a thunderbolt to him to find, at the end of the half-year, that a great deal more had been expected of him by his tutor. It shows how candid and sweet his nature was, that, just as when he was a little fellow at Ottery, his penitent letter should contain the rebuke he had received, without resentment against anyone but himself:--

'Aunt has just called me down into the drawing-room and shown me my character. I am stupefied at it; it is so shocking just when I most wanted a good one on account of mamma's health. I am ashamed to say that I can offer not the slightest excuse; my conduct on this occasion has been very bad. I expect a severe reproof from you, and pray do not send me any money, nor grant me the slightest [favour?]. Whilst ....., who has very little ability (uncle says), is, by plodding on, getting credit, I, who (my tutor says) have abilities, am wickedly neglecting and offending both my heavenly and earthly Father by my bad use of them. Aunt called me into the drawing-room, and very kindly showed me the excessive foolishness of my conduct; but from this very moment I am determined that I will not lose a moment, and we will see what the next three weeks will produce.'

Poor little fellow! his language is so strong that it is almost a surprise to find that he was reproaching himself for no more heinous fault than not having worked up to the full extent of his powers! He kept his promise of diligence, and never again incurred reproof, but was sent up for good again in November. His career through the school was above the average, though not attaining to what was expected from his capabilities; but the development of his nature was slow, and therefore perhaps ultimately the more complete, and as yet study for its own sake did not interest him; indeed, his mind was singularly devoid of pleasure in classical subjects, though so alert in other directions.

He was growing into the regular tastes of the refined, fastidious Eton boy; wrote of the cut of his first tail-coat that 'this is really an important thing;' and had grown choice in the adorning of his room and the binding of his books, though he never let these tastes bring him into debt or extravagance. His turn for art and music began to show itself, and the anthems at St. George's Chapel on the Sunday afternoons gave him great delight; and in Eton Chapel, a contemporary says, 'I well remember how he used to sing the Psalms with the little turns at the end of the verses, which I envied his being able to do.' Nor was this mere love of music, but devotion. Coley had daily regular readings of the Bible in his room with his brother, cousins, and a friend or two; but the boys were so shy about it that they kept an open Shakespeare on the table, with an open drawer below, in which the Bible was placed, and which was shut at the sound of a hand on the door.

Hitherto No. 33 Bedford Square had been the only home of the Patteson family. The long vacations were spent sometimes with the Judge's relations in the Eastern counties, sometimes with Lady Patteson's in the West. Landwith Rectory, in Cornwall, was the home of her eldest brother, Dr. James Coleridge, whose daughter Sophia was always like an elder sister to her children, and the Vicarage of St. Mary Church, then a wild, beautiful seaside village, though now almost a suburb of Torquay, was held by her cousin, George May Coleridge; and here the brothers and sisters climbed the rocks, boated, fished, and ran exquisitely wild in the summer holidays. Christmas was spent with the Judge's mother at Ipswich, amongst numerous cousins, with great merriment and enjoyment such as were never forgotten.

Colonel Coleridge had died in 1836, his widow in her daughter's house in 1838, and Heath's Court had become the property of Mr. Justice Coleridge, who always came thither with his family as soon as the circuit was over. In 1841, Feniton Court, about two miles and a half from thence, was purchased by Judge Patteson, much to the delight of his children. It was a roomy, cheerful, pleasantly-situated house, with a piece of water in the grounds, the right of shooting over a couple of farms, and all that could render boy life happy.

Feniton was a thorough home, and already Coley's vision was, 'When I am vicar of Feniton, which I look forward to, but with a very distant hope, I should of all things like Fanny to keep house for me till I am married;' and again, when relating some joke with his cousins about the law-papers, of the Squire of Feniton, he adds: 'But the Squire of Feniton will be a clergyman.'

Whether this were jest or earnest, this year, 1841, brought the dawn of his future life. It was in that year that the Rev. George Augustus Selwyn was appointed to the diocese of New Zealand. Mrs. Selwyn's parents had always been intimate with the Patteson family, and the curacy which Mr. Selwyn had held up to this time was at Windsor, so that the old Etonian tie of brotherhood was drawn closer by daily intercourse. Indeed, it was from the first understood that Eton, with the wealth that her children enjoyed in such large measure, should furnish 'nerves and sinews' to the war which her son was about to wage with the darkness of heathenism, thus turning the minds of the boys to something beyond either their studies or their sports.

On October 31, the Rev. Samuel Wilberforce, then Archdeacon of Surrey, and since Bishop of Oxford and of Winchester, preached in the morning at New Windsor parish church, and the newly-made Bishop of New Zealand in the afternoon. Coley was far more affected than he then had power to express. He says: 'I heard Archdeacon Wilberforce in the morning, and the Bishop in the evening, though I was forced to stand all the time. It was beautiful when he talked of his going out to found a church, and then to die neglected and forgotten. All the people burst out crying, he was so very much beloved by his parishioners. He spoke of his perils, and putting his trust in God; and then, when, he had finished, I think I never heard anything like the sensation, a kind of feeling that if it had not been on so sacred a spot, all would have exclaimed "God bless him!"'

The text of this memorable sermon was, 'Thine heart shall be enlarged, because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces also of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.' (Is. lx. 5.) Many years later we shall find a reference to this, the watchword of the young hearer's life.

The Archdeacon's sermon was from John xvii. 20, 21: 'Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be One, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be One in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.' And here again we find one of the watchwords of Coley's life, for nothing so dwelt with him and so sustained him as the sense of unity, whether with these at home in England, or with those in the inner home of the Saints. When the sermon concluded with the words, 'As we are giving of our best, as our Church is giving of her best, in sending forth from her own bosom these cherished and chosen sons, so let there go forth from every one of us a consenting offering; let us give this day largely, in a spirit of self-sacrifice, as Christian men, to Christ our Lord, and He will graciously accept and bless the offerings that we make'--the preacher could little guess that among the lads who stood in the aisle was one in whom was forming the purpose of offering his very self also.

For at that time Coleridge Patteson was receiving impressions that became the seed of his future purpose, and the eyes of his spirit were seeing greater things than the Vicarage of Feniton. Indeed, the subject was not entirely new to him, for Edward Coleridge was always deeply interested in missions, and had done his best to spread the like feeling, often employing the willing services of his pupils in copying letters from Australia, Newfoundland, &c.

When the Bishop of New Zealand came to take leave, he said, half in earnest, half in playfulness, 'Lady Patteson, will you give me Coley?' She started, but did not say no; and when, independently of this, her son told her that it was his greatest wish to go with the Bishop, she replied that if he kept that wish when he grew up he should have her blessing and consent.

But there was no further mention of the subject. The sisters knew what had passed, but it was not spoken of to his father till long after, when the wish had become purpose. Meantime the boy's natural development put these visions into the background. He was going on with ordinary work and play, enjoying the pageantry of the christening of the Prince of Wales, and cheering himself hoarse and half-frantic when the King of Prussia came to see the school; then on his father's birthday writing with a 'hand quite trembling with delight' to announce what he knew would be the most welcome of birthday presents, namely, the news that he had been 'sent up' for a very good copy of seventy-nine verses, 'all longs, on Napoleon e Seylhia profugus, passage of Beresina, and so forth.' His Latin verses were his strong point, and from this time forward he was frequently sent up, in all twenty-five times, an almost unprecedented number.

In fact he was entering on a fresh stage of life, from the little boy to the lad, and the period was marked by his Confirmation on May 26, 1842. Here is his account both of it and of his first Communion. The soberness and old-fashioned simplicity of expression are worth remarking as tokens of the quietly dutiful tone of mind, full of reverence and sincere desire to do right, and resting in the consciousness of that desire, while steadily advancing towards higher things than he then understood. It was a life and character where advancement with each fresh imparting of spiritual grace can be traced more easily than usual.

It is observable too that the boy's own earnestness and seriousness of mind seem to have to him supplied the apparent lack of external aids to devotional feeling, though the Confirmation was conducted in the brief, formal, wholesale manner which some in after-life have confessed to have been a disappointment and a drawback after their preparation and anticipation:--

'You will know that I have been confirmed to-day, and I dare say you


Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 4/144

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