Project Canterbury

Life of John Coleridge Patteson:
Missionary Bishop of the Melanesian Islands

by Charlotte Mary Yonge

London: Macmillan, 1875.
volume one


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,


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 Grerman exercise, but rather as an amusement than a discipline, and merely with the view of enlarging his Grerman 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 Medelssohn'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, and he was ready to give up all, and content to lead the forlorn hope of Christianity, and perish in the front ranks of the noble army. "And having been a little tried he shall be greatly rewarded, for God proved him, and found him worthy for Himself." '

I have given this letter almost entire, because it shows the impression Coley made on one, little his junior, in the intimate associations of cousin, neighbour, and schoolfellow, as well as travelling companion.

This year seems to have been a marked stage of development. He was now twenty-five, and the boyish distaste for mental exertion which had so long rendered study an effort of duty had passed into full scholarly enjoyment. The individuality and originality of his mind had begun to awaken, and influenced probably by the German atmosphere of thought in which he was working, were giving him that strong metaphysical bent which characterised his tone through life, and became apparent in his sermons when he addressed an educated audience.

Here is a letter to his eldest sister: 'The weather has been better suited for work, and I feel pretty well satisfied with my Hebrew. What makes it so difficult is principally this, that as it is an Oriental language, it is entirely different in structure, and in its inflections, &c., from any language I ever came across. I can't fall back upon anything already learnt to help me; but I see my way pretty clear now, and shall soon have little more than a knowledge of the meaning of the words to learn, which is only a matter of patience, and can be learnt with a good dictionary and practice. A real complete knowledge of the grammar is of course the great thing.

'The great Dresden fair, called the Vogelschiesser, is going on; it began last Sunday and ends next Sunday. About half a mile from the town there is a very large meadow by the river, where a small town of booths, tents, &c., is erected, and where shooting at targets with wooden darts, sham railway-trains and riding-horses, confectionery of every kind, beer of every name, strength, and colour, pipes, cigars, toys, gambling, organ-grinding, fiddling, dancing, &c., goes on incessantly. The great attraction, however, is the shooting at the bird, which occupies the attention of every Saxon, and is looked upon as the consummation of human invention and physical science. A great pole, nearly 80 feet high, is erected with a wooden bird, about the size of a turkey, at the top; to hit this with a crossbow from a regular stand, about 50 feet from the foot of the pole, is the highest ambition of this great people. The accompaniments are rich in the extreme: cannon firing, drums rolling, for a successful shot, the shooting society, who exist only for the sole honour and glory of hacking this bird to pieces, the presence of the King, I think to-day, and the intense interest taken in the amusement by the whole population; certainly the Germans are satisfied with less than any people I ever saw (barring two things, smoke and beer, in which they are insatiable). I went out to see it all, but it rather bored me after an hour or so. Tom F------ and I threw some dice for a pair of braces for Arthur, which we presented in due form; and we had some shots at the targets --mine were eminently unsuccessful.

'Last night we had a great treat. Emil Devrient, who has been acting in London, you know, came back, and acted Marquis Posa in "Don Carlos." The play acts very much better than it reads. Schiller certainly has great dramatic genius; only I agree with Goethe that there is always a longing for exhibiting cruelty in its most monstrous form, and refinement of cruelty and depravity overstepping almost the natural conditions of humanity. I always thought Iago about the most awful character in Shakspeare; but Schiller's Philip II. is something beyond even this, without perhaps so much necessity for the exhibition of this absolute delight in evil. It is long since I have been so excited in a theatre. I was three rows from the stage, heard and understood everything, and was so completely carried away by the grandeur and intense feeling of Devrient (who was well supported by the Don Carlos), that I had some difficulty to keep quiet, and feel to-day rather odd, shaken, as it were, from such a strain upon the feelings.'

Here is a letter, enclosed within one to his sister Fanny on September 9, written on a scrap of paper. The apologetic tone of confession is amusing:--

'My dearest Father,--I have not before told you that I have been at work for just three weeks upon a new subject; reading, however, Hebrew every day almost for three hours as well. Schier is not a great Hebraist; and I found the language in one sense easier than I expected, so that with good grammar and dictionary I can quite get on by myself, reading an easy part of the Bible (historical books, e.g.} at the rate of about twenty-five verses an hour. Well, I began to think that I ought to use the opportunities that Dresden affords. I know that Hebrew is not a rich language; that many words occur only once, and consequently have an arbitrary meaning attached to them, unless they can be illustrated from cognate languages. Now I have a taste for these things, and have in three weeks progressed so far in my new study as to feel sure I shall make it useful; and so I tell you without fear I am working at Arabic. I hope you won't think it silly. It is very hard, and for ten days was as hard work as I ever had in my life. I think I have learnt enough to see my way now, and this morning read the first chapter of Genesis in three-quarters of an hour. It is rich, beyond all comparison, in inflexions; and the difficulty arises from the extreme multiplicity of all its forms: e.g. each verb having not only active, middle, and passive voices, but the primitive active having not less than thirty-five derivative forms and the passive thirteen. The "noun of action,"--infinitive with article (to akonein) of the Greek--is again different for each voice or form; and the primitive can take any of twenty-two forms, which are not compounded according to any rule. Again, there are twenty-eight sets of irregular plurals, which are quite arbitrary. No grammarian has ever given any explanation about them. All mere matters of memory. The very alphabet shows the richness of the language. There are twenty-nine letters', besides vowel points; and each letter is written in four different ways, so that it is different when isolated, when in the beginning, middle, or end of a word. It took me some hours to learn them. In very many respects, it is closely allied to the Hebrew, so that everybody who writes Hebrew grammars and lexicons necessarily has much to do with Arabic; and a knowledge of it may be of great use in clearing up difficulties in the Bible. My year in Oxford will enable me to go on with it, for in three weeks more I hope to be able to go on alone. To-morrow I begin the Koran. My lessons will not in all exceed 31.; and I really should have gone on, perhaps, not much faster with Hebrew if I had worked it exclusively; and it is hard to read so many hours at one thing: and I may say, now without doubt, that I have laid the foundation for a study of Oriental languages, if I have time and opportunity that may be fairly given to them. Think what one hour a day is, and the pleasure to me is very great, and I feel that I have a knack rather (if I may say so) of laying hold of these things. Don't mention it to anyone.'

There the fragment breaks off; and in a letter of August 29 there occurs this reply to a message from his eldest sister:--

'Thank dear Joan for her caution: I know I need it sadly, especially now when I am at work upon somewhat out-of-the-way subjects, and feel the danger of forgetting that if I mistake the means for the end, and feel gratified with the mere intellectual amusement, I am doing very wrong, even when I am working very hard at very difficult matters. I like these things, I must confess, and the time is so well adapted to work here, and now that the weather is cool I can secure every day a good long time to myself.' In the enclosed letter he announces that lie shall leave Dresden in another three weeks. He says:--

'We have had a steady working time of it here; and as I know some members of the family rather discourage these Continental flights, I just sum up the advantages thereof. Being naturally endowed with a love of music, the probability is, that when you, Clara, and Miss Horsley are together in the house, as soon as a Lied or Sonata began, away would go my books, or at all events my thoughts. You know well that the piano goes at all hours, and always in the morning at home. Then riding,, walking with Father, long sitting after dinner, &c. do not improve the chances for reading. In fact, you know that what with visitors from without, friends within, parties, &c., I should have had very little reading in the vacation, and that not through my own fault--not a Stilbchen in the house could protect me from music. Here I make my own time, and last week my eyes were troublesome. I walked twice every day, exactly at the hour when I most wanted it; and without nonsense, I may say that I have in two months done really a great deal more than I could have done at home even with masters. This all applies to Arthur just as much. He has read German exclusively most of the time, and knows as well as I do that it is not possible to work at home. If I could go on just as well as with Mendelssohn ringing in my ears, it would be different, but I can't. You remember how pleasant, but how very idle, last vacation was, and especially the last six weeks of it!'

Then, after much about family matters, commissions, and little gifts which he was collecting for all at home--

I should like to get something for everybody, but that is not possible. Luckily, my lessons are less expensive than I expected, and, considering the work, wonderfully cheap. I make good progress, I can say; but the difficulty is great enough to discourage any but a real " grinder" at such work. I have written a scrap for Father, and you will see that I am working away pretty well. I have finished my introductory book, consisting of forty-one fables; and though difficulties present themselves always to really good scholars from time to time, the Bible is not one of the hardest books, not so hard, e.g. as the Koran. Now I can at any future time, if the opportunity comes, go on with these things, and I hope find them really useful. I know you like to hear what I am doing; but be sure to keep it all quiet, let no one know but Father and Joan. You might carelessly tell it to anyone in fun, and I don't wish it to be known. Especially don't let any of the family know. Time enough if I live out my Oxford year, and have really mastered the matter pretty well. Remember this is taken up with a view to elucidate and explain what is so very hard in Hebrew. Hebrew is to be the Hauptsache, this the Hulfsmittel, or some day I hope one of several such helps. It is very important to accustom one's mind to the Denk-and Anschauungswerk of the Orientals, which is so different from that of Europeans or their language. How hard are the metaphors of the Bible for this reason!'

There is something in all these long apologies and strenuous desire for secrecy about these Arabic studies that reminds one that the character was a self-conscious introspective one, always striving for humility, and dreading to be thought presumptuous. A simpler nature, if devoid of craving for home sympathy, would never have mentioned the new study at all; or if equally open-hearted, would have let the mention of it among home friends take its chance, without troubling himself as to their possible comments. Indeed, it is curious to observe how elaborate he was at this period about all his concerns, meditating over the cause of whatever affected him. It was a form of growth; and dropped off when the time of action arrived, and his character had shaped itself. It must be remembered, too, that his habit of pouring out all his reflections and feelings to his sisters, and their preservation of his letters, have left much more on record of these personal speculations than is common.

His father made a much simpler matter of the Arabic matter, in the following characteristic letter:--

'Feniton Court: September 14, 1852,

'My dearest Coley,--So far from thinking you wrong in learning Arabic, I feel sure that you are quite right. However, we shall keep your secret, and not say anything about it. I am heartily glad that you should acquire languages, modern as well as ancient. You know I have often pressed the former on your and Jem's notice, from myself feeling my deficiency and regret at it. I can well understand that Arabic, and I should suppose Syriac also, must be of the greatest use towards a true understanding of much of the Old Testament: a great deal of which is doubtless not understood by those who understand only our translation, or even the Septuagint, which I suspect to have many passages far from a faithful vehicle of the meaning of the original. I was greatly delighted with your theological letter, so to speak, as well as with the first, and look to have some jolly conversations with you on such subjects.

'We have many more partridges than our neighbours, and Jem shoots uncommonly well. Three double shots yesterday. I shoot worse than usual; and cannot walk without much fatigue and frequent pain, so that I shall not be able to work enough to get much sport. I got through the Mary Church affair very well--that is, not making a fool of myself--and if I did not do much good, I think I did no harm. The Bishop of Exeter [Phillpotts] is mightily pleased, and wrote me a letter to that effect. Of course I cannot tell you what I said, it would be too long, nor are you likely to see it. It was fully inserted in "Woolmer," and from him copied into the "Guardian."

'I live in hopes to see you well and hearty at Oxford on the 14th of October, till when, adieu, God bless you.

'Your affectionate Father,


The interview with the Bishop of Sydney never took place, for the excellent Bishop Broughton arrived with health shattered by his attendance on the sufferers from fever in the ship which brought him from St. Thomas, and he did not long survive his landing.

The 'Mary Church affair' here referred to was the laying the foundation-stone of the Church, built or restored, it is hard to say which, on the lines of the former one, and preserving the old tower, at St. Mary Church, near Torquay. Though the death of the Rev. Gr. M. Coleridge had broken one tie with the place, it continued to be much beloved by the Patteson family, and Sir John had taken so much share in the church-building work as to be asked to be the layer of the corner-stone. The speech he made at the ensuing luncheon excited much attention and the sisters took care that their brother should not miss reading it. The stay at Dresden was drawing to an end; and he was preparing to return through Berlin, intending to go direct to Oxford and reside there till the summer, when he meant to seek ordination and enter on the Curacy at Alnngton. He says to his sister Joanna:--

'It is a long time to pass without seeing you, but I hope, if it please God that we all live on together, that it will be long before such another interval occurs. I have not grown out of an occasional fit of home sickness yet; and on these occasions Arthur and I talk incessantly about domestic matters, and indulge our fancies in conjecturing what you are all doing, and so forth. I followed Joan and Clara's trip, step by step, from the Den at Teignmouth to St. Mary Church, Oddiscombe, Rabbicombe, Anstey's Cave, Meadfoot, &c. How I remember every inch of the dear old places! Better than the mud banks at Ferkstowe, are they not, Clara? I shall keep always the scrap from the "Guardian" with Father's speech. I don't think I remember any speech on a similar occasion so thoroughly good, and so likely to do good. Plain, sensible, and manly, no question of words and unimportant differences of opinion; no cant, high or low, just like himself. I pray I may have but a tenth part of his honesty and freedom from prejudice and party spirit. It may come, under God's blessing, if a man's mind is earnestly set on the truth; but the danger is of setting up your own exclusive standard of truth, moral and intellectual. Father certainly is more free from it than any man we ever knew. He tells me in his letter that the Bishop of Sydney is coming home to consult people in England about Synodical Action, &c., and that he is going to meet him and explain to him certain difficulties and mistakes into which he has fallen with regard to administering the Oath of Abjuration and the like matters. How few people, comparatively, know the influence Father exercises in this way behind the scenes, as it were. His intimacy with so many of the Bishops, too, makes his position really of very great importance. I don't want to magnify, but the more I think of him, and know how very few men they are that command such general respect, and bear such a character with all men for uprightness and singleness of purpose, it is very difficult to know how his place could be supplied when we throw his legal knowledge over and above into the scale. I hope he will write: I am quite certain that his opinion will exercise a great influence on very many people. Such a speech as this at Mary Church embodies exactly the sense of a considerable number of the most prudent and most able men of the country, and his position and character give it extra weight, and that would be so equally with his book as with his speech. How delightful it will be to have him at Oxford. He means to come in time for dinner on the 14th, and go away on the 16th; but if he likes it, he will, I daresay, stop now and then on his way to town and back. Jem will not be back in town when he goes up for the Judicial Committee work, so he will be rather solitary there, won't he. I am not, however, sure about the number of weeks Jem must reside to keep his term. . . .'

The enjoyment of the last few days at Dresden 'las much marred by a heavy cold, caught by going to see an admirable representation of ' Egmont,' the last of these theatrical treats so highly appreciated. The journey to Berlin, before the cold was shaken off, resulted in an attack of illness; and he was so heavy and uncomfortable as to be unable to avail himself of his opportunities of interesting introductions.

He returned to his rooms at Merton direct from Germany. Like many men who have come back to Oxford at a riper age than that of undergraduate life, he now entered into the higher privileges and enjoyments of the University, the studies, friendships, and influences, as early youth sometimes fails to do. He was felt by his Oxford friends to have greatly developed since his Balliol terms had been over and the Eton boy left behind. Study was no longer a toil and conscientious effort. It had become a prime pleasure; and men wondered to find the plodding, accurate, but unenthusiastic student of three years back, a linguist and philologist of no common power and attainment. Mr. Roundell says, 'He had become quite another person. Self-cultivation had done much for him. Literature and art had opened his mind and enlarged his interests and sympathies. The moral and spiritual forces of the man were now vivified, refined, and strengthened by the awakening of his intellectual and esthetic nature.'

Ever reaching forward, however, he was on his guard against, as he said, making the means the end. Languages were his pleasure, but a pleasure held in check as only subservient to his preparation for the ministry. He did not mean to use them to the acquirement of academical honour nor promotion, nor did he even rest in the intellectual delight of investigation; he intended them only as keys to the better appreciation of the Scriptures and of the doctrines of the Church, unaware as yet that the gift he was cultivating would be of inestimable value in far distant regions.

In February, while Sir John Patteson was in London, his son James was the cause of much alarm, owing to a mistake by which he swallowed an embrocation containing a large amount of laudanum. Prompt measures, however, prevented any ill effects; and all danger was over before the letter was sent off which informed Coley of what had happened; but the bare idea of the peril was a great shock to one of such warm affections, and so deeply attached to his only brother. He wrote the two following letters to his father and sisters on the first impulse on the receipt of the intelligence:--

'Shrove Tuesday.

'My dearest Father,--I believe I speak truly when I say that I never in my life felt so thoroughly thankful and grateful to God for His great mercy as I did this morning, on reading of dear Jem's danger and safety. He is less accustomed to talk about his feelings than I am, in which I see his superiority, but partly because our tastes are in several respects different, chiefly because of his exceeding amiability and unselfishness. I am sure we love each other very dearly. Ever since his illness at Geneva, I have from time to time contemplated the utter blank, the real feeling of loss, which anything happening to him would bring with it, and the having it brought home close to me in this way quite upset me, as it well might. I pray God that no ill effects may follow, and from what you say I apprehend none. I have often thought that it is much better when two brothers propose to themselves different objects in life, and pursue them with tastes dissimilar on unimportant matters. They act better upon one another; just as I look to Jem, as I have more than once told him, to give me a hint when he sees a want of common sense in anything I take up, because I know I act a good deal from impulse, and take an interest in many things which are perhaps not worth the time I spend on them. It is a mercy that I hope I shall never forget, never cease to be thankful for. Many and many a time, if it please God, I shall look to him in difficulties, and remember how nearly once he was lost to me. I can get away with the greatest ease for a few days on Thursday if desirable, and perhaps old Jem will feel low after this, when you have left him. I think this very likely, from what I know of him, and if you think it too, without asking him if he would like it, I will come up for some other reason. You will not go, I know, unless he is perfectly well; but he might, and I think would, like to have some one with him just at first. Let me know what you think.

'Good-bye, my dearest father.

'Ever your affectionate and dutiful son,


'Merton, Shrove Tuesday.

'My dearest Joan and Fan,--How we must all have united this morning in pouring out our thanks to God for His great mercy! You will not suspect me of being-wanting in love to you, if I say that the contemplation of what might have happened presented such a scene of desolation, such a void, that it would have required all the strength I possess to turn to God in resignation and submission to His will. I have often, very often, thought of that illness at Geneva, but this brought it home to me, perhaps closer still; and I hope I shall never cease to be mindful of, and thankful for, this special providence. Father seems pretty confident that all mischief is prevented; and Jem wrote six hours after he took the laudanum, and had then felt no drowsiness to speak of. and Dr. Watson said there was no fear of anything happening after two hours had elapsed.

'I should like to join with you in showing our gratitude by some deed of charity, or whatever you think right. Something that without any show might be a thank-offering to God for His signal act of mercy.

'Ever your loving Brother,


'5.30. I wrote this quite early this morning. I can hardly think yet what it all means. Now, I feel only a sense of some very heavy affliction removed. Poor dear Father, and all of us! what should we have been without him!'

A letter to the brother himself was written under the same impulse, even more tenderly affectionate, but so deep and intimate, that it would almost be treason to give it to the world. The next letter was written soon after the alarm had passed, but is undated:--

'My dear Fan,--Yesterday I was. unluckily too seedy with headache to go on the ice, and this morning I have been skating for half an hour, but the ice is spoilt. Very jolly it is to be twisting and turning about once more. I thought of writing to old Jem to come down for it, as I should think the frost is not severe enough to freeze any but the shallow water of the floods, but it was not good enough to reward him for the trouble of coming so far.

'The constant sense of his preservation from that great danger really prevents my feeling so acutely perhaps as I ought to do the distress of others. I really think I ought to be less cheerful and happy than I feel myself to be. I had a pleasant little talk with Dr. Pusey on Monday: he was recommending me two or three books for Hebrew reading, but they would be of no use to me yet; the language is difficult to advance far into, and you know my shallow way of catching a thing at first rather quickly perhaps, but only superficially. I find my interest increasing greatly in philological studies. One language helps another very much; and the beautiful way in which the words, ideas, and the whole structure indeed, of language pervades whole families, and even the different families, (e.g., the Indo-Germanic and Semitic races,) is not only interesting, but very useful. I wish I had made myself a better Greek and Latin scholar, but unfortunately I used to hate classics. What desperate uphill work it was to read them, a regular exercise of self-denial every morning! Now I like it beyond any study, except Divinity proper, and I try to make up for lost time. There are admirable books in my possession which facilitate the acquisition of critical scholarship very much, and I work at these, principally applying it to New Test. Greek, LXX, &c. But my real education began, I think, with my first foreign trip. It seems as if there was not time for all this, for I have Hebrew, Arabic, &c., to go on with (though this is a slow process), Pearson, Hooker, Blunt on the Reformation (a mere sketch which I read in a day or two at odd times), Commentaries, Trench's Books on Parables and Miracles, which are in my room at home, and would in parts interest you; he is a writer of good common sense, and a well-read man). But I of course want to be reading history as well, and that involves a good deal; physical geography, geology, &c., yet one things helps another very much. I don't work quite as methodically as I ought; and I much want some one to discuss matters with relating to what I read. I don't say all this, I am sure you know, as if I wanted to make out that I am working at grand subjects. I know exceeding little of any one of them, so little history, e.g., that a school girl could expose my ignorance directly, but I like to know what we are doing among ourselves, and we all get to know each other better thereby. I felt so much of late with regard to Jem, that a natural reserve prevents so often members even of the same family from communicating freely to each other their opinions, business, habits of life, experiences of sympathy, approval, disapproval, and the like; and when one member is gone, then it is felt how much more closely such a habit of dealing with each other would have taught us to know him. . . Nothing tests one's knowledge so well as questions and answers upon what we have read, stating difficulties, arguments which we can't understand? &c., to each other. Ladies who have no profession to prepare for, in spite of a very large correspondence and numerous household duties, may (in addition to their parochial work as curates!) take up a real course of reading and go into it thoroughly; and this gives girls not only employment for the time, but gives the mind power to seize every other subject presented to it. If you are quite alone, your reading is apt to become desultory. I find it useful to take once or twice a week a walk with Riddell of Balliol, and go through a certain period of Old Testament history; it makes me get it up, and then between us we hammer out so many more explanations of difficult passages than, at all events, I should do by myself. He is, moreover, about the best Greek scholar here, which is a great help to me. You have no idea of the light that such accurate scholarship as his throws upon many disputed passages in the Bible, e.g., "Wisdom is justified of her children," where the Greek preposition probably gives the key to the whole meaning, and many such. So you see, dear old Fan, that the want of some one to pour out this to, for it sounds fearfully pedantic, I confess, has drawn upon you this grievous infliction.

'My kindest love to Father and dear Joan,

'Ever your loving

'J. C. P.'

Fanny Patteson answered with arguments on the other duties which hindered her from entering on the course of deep study which he had been recommending. He replies:--

'Feb. 25, 1853.

'My dearest Fan,--I must answer your very sensible well-written letter at once, because on our system of mutual explanation, there are two or three things I wish to notice in it. First, I never meant that anything should supersede duties which I am well aware you practise with real use to yourself and those about you, e.g., the kindness and sympathy shown to friends, and generally due observance of all social relations. Second, I quite believe that the practical application of what is already known, teaching, going about among the poor, is of far more consequence than the acquisition of knowledge, which, of course, for its own sake is worth nothing. Third, I think you perfectly right in keeping up music, singing, all the common amusements of a country life; of course I do, for indeed what I said did not apply to Joan or you, except so far as this, that we all know probably a great deal of which each one is separately ignorant, and the free communication of this to one another is desirable, I think.

'My own temptation consists perhaps chiefly in the love of reading for its own sake. I do honestly think that for a considerable time past I have read, I believe,, nothing which I do not expect to be of real use, for I have no taste naturally for novels, &c. (without, however,, wishing to deny that there may be novels which teach a real insight into character). Barring "I Promessi Sposi" which I take up very seldom when tired, I have not read one for ages: I must except "Old Mortality," read last Vacation at Feniton; but I can't deny that I like the study of languages for its own sake, though I apply my little experience in it wholly to the interpretation of the Bible. I like improving my scholarship, it is true, but I can say honestly that it is used to read the Greek Testament with greater accuracy: so of the Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic. I feel, I confess, sometimes that it is nice, &c.,. to know several languages, but I try to drive away any such thoughts, and it is quite astonishing how, after a few weeks, a study which would suggest ideas of an unusual course of reading becomes so familiar that I never think of myself when pursuing it, e.g.. I don't think that after two hours' grind at Arabic the stupid wrong feeling of its being an out-of-the-way study comes upon me now, it is getting quite natural. It comes out though when I talk or write perhaps with another, but I must try and get over it.

'I believe it to be a good thing to break off any work once or twice a day in the middle of any reading, for meditating a little while and for prayer. This is more easily done at College than elsewhere; and is, I hope, a preventive against such thoughts. Then, as I jog on I see how very little I know, what an immense deal I have to learn to become ordinarily well acquainted with these things. I am in that state of mind, perhaps, when Eccle-siastes (which I am now reading) puts my own case exactly before me. I think, What's the good of it all? And the answer comes, it may be very good properly used, or very mischievous if abused. I do indeed look forward to active parochial work: I think I shall be very happy so employed, and I often try to anticipate the time in thought, and feel with perfect sincerity that nothing is so useful or so full of comfort as the consciousness of trying to fulfil the daily duties of my situation. Here of course I need do nothing; I mean there is nothing to prevent my sitting all day in an arm-chair and reading "Pickwick." . . . One word about the way languages help me, that you may not think what I am doing harder than it really is. These three bear the same kind of relation to each other (or rather say these five, Arabic, Syriac, Hebrew, Chaldee, Ethiopia; but of the last I know nothing-whatever, and of Chaldee only so much as that it is a dialect of Hebrew in the same character, and consequently anyone who knows Hebrew knows something about it), as German to English, e.g., Bahlom (Arab.), Beel (Syr.), Baal (Heb.), are the same word, as you can see, only written in different characters, and all mean "a lord," so Baal, Beelzebub, or Baalzebeb. Baal Peor, which means, literally, "the Lord of the ravine," viz., the idol worshipped at the Pass in the wilderness. Consequently, in reading any one of these languages, the same word keeps on occurring in all; and the chief use is of course that often a word which occurs only once or twice in Hebrew perhaps is in common use in the others, and so its meaning is fixed. Add to all this, that the Syriac version of the New Testament was made (as all agree) early in the second century, if not at the end of the first, and thus is the very best exponent of the New Testament where the Greek is doubtful; and the additional fact, that though a mixture of Chaldee and Syriac was the language of Palestine in our Lord's time, yet He certainly sometimes spoke what is now our Syriac (e.g., Talitha cumi, &c.), and the importance of it is apparent. Surely to read the language that our Blessed Lord himself used is no small profit as well as delight.

'So I think we may each go on in our several pursuits, each helping each, and each trying to do so without a foolish affectation of learning.

'My best love to dear Father and Joan,

'Ever your affectionate Brother,

'J. C. P.'

Fenelon has said that in a certain stage of piety there is much of self, and Coley was evidently in that stage. His own figure was the primary object before his eyes, neither indulged, nor admired, but criticised, repressed, and by his very best efforts thrust aside, whenever he was conscious that his self-contemplation was self-complacency. Still it was in his nature to behold it, and discuss it, and thus to conquer and outgrow the study in time, while leaving many observations upon self-culture and self-training, that will no doubt become deeply valued as the result of the practical experience of one who so truly mastered that obtrusive self.

Patteson was one of the most decided workers for the admission of improvements and reduction of abuses within his own college, with which each Oxford foundation was endeavouring to forestall compulsory reformation by a University Commission. Mr. Roundell says:--

'His early years as Fellow of Merton coincided with the period of active reform at Oxford which followed upon the Eeport of the Commission in 1852. What part did the future Missionary Bishop take in that great movement? One who worked with him at that time--a time when University reform .was as unfashionable as it is now fashionable--well remembers. He threw himself into the work with hearty zeal; he supported every liberal proposal. To his loyal fidelity and solid common sense is largely due the success with which the reform of Merton was carried out. And yet in those first days of college reform the only sure and constant nucleus of the floating-Liberal majority consisted of Patteson and one other. Whatever others did, those two were always on the same side. And so, somehow, owing no doubt to the general enlightenment which distinguished the senior Fellows of Merton under the old regime--an enlightenment unquestionably due to the predominance in that College of the lay non-resident element--the new reforming spirit found itself in the ascendency. It is to the honour of Patteson, and equally to the honour of the older Fellows of the College at that time, that so great an inroad upon old traditions should have been made with such an entire absence of provocation on the one side, or of irritation on the other. But Patteson, witli all his reforming zeal, was also a high-bred gentleman. He remembered what was due to others as well as to himself. His bearing was one of respect for authority, of deference towards those who were his superiors in age. He knew how to differ. He showed towards others the considerate courtesy which others in return so abundantly showed towards him. And this generous forbearance of the seniors had its reward. It entailed upon the juniors a reciprocity of respect. It was felt by them at the time to be an additional incentive to moderation, to sobriety, to desistance from extreme views. The result was that the work got done, and what was done left no heartburnings behind.

'Yet it would be delusive to pretend to claim Bishop Patteson as a Liberal in the political sense of the word. He was no such thing. If anything, his instincts, especially in Church matters, drew him the other way. But those who knew the man, like those who have seen the Ammergau Play, would as soon think of fastening upon that a sectarian character, as of fixing him with party names. His was a catholic mind. What distinguished him was his openmindedness, his essential goodness, his singleness and simplicity of aim. He was a just man, and singularly free from perturbations of self, of temper, or of nerves. You did not care to ask what he would call himself. You felt what he was, that you were in the presence of a man too pure for party, of one in whose presence ordinary party distinctions almost ceased to have a meaning. Such a man could scarcely be on the wrong-side. Both the purity of his nature and the rectitude of his judgment would have kept him straight.'

Coley remained at Merton until the Long Vacation of 1853; when his Oxford life terminated, though not his connection with the University, for he retained his Fellowship until his death, and the friendships he had formed both at Balliol and Merton remained unbroken.

Project Canterbury