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These indiscretions were patent; and although, in an estimate of character, if the general innocency of his life, the purity of his intentions, and the entire simplicity of his heart and mind, could have been taken into the account,-if, in a word, my brother could have been fully known, and even his outward conduct judged as a whole, they might well have been regarded as venial : it is matter neither of surprise nor blame, that he was considered unsuitable for the responsibilities properly attached to a college fellowship, then beginning to be more fully and generally acknowledged. It was indeed urged, that while his eccentricities unfitted him for collegiate duties, he might, under the very peculiar circumstances of the case, have been allowed to retain his fellowship on condition of non-residence. It was, perhaps, hardly to be expected that this alternative would be adopted; but a sum of 3001. was awarded him, whether as a free-gift, or in mitigation of what, however inevitable, could not but be regarded as a
of his best and truest friends has remarked—“an exceptional being. No one who had opportunity to observe the absence of mind of which he was the victim, could doubt his being such, -an obliviousness so utterly uncontrollable as to make him sometimes, when involved in deep study, mistake one hour of the twenty-four, for its corresponding one.” “Hartley, how,” said another friend to him, not long after he left Oxford,“how could you think of standing as you did in church last Sunday in the aisle, lost in thought, instead of going into a seat?”
very severe penalty. It is right to add, that he has left no record of any resentful feeling on his part, and he has taken occasion, in the notes to one of his published Essays, to speak of the late Bishop of Llandaff, then Provost of Oriel, in terms of high admiration,
When all was over, and he had entered on a new course of life (May, 1821), he sent me, as a caution to myself, the following "short view of his Oxford life:
“With few habits but those of negligence and self-indulgence, with principles honest, indeed, and charitable, but not ascetic, and little applied to particulars, with much vanity and much diffidence, a wish to conquer neutralised by a fear of offending, with wavering hopes, uncertain spirits, and peculiar manners, I was sent among men, mostly irregular, and in some instances vicious. Left to myself to form my own course of studies, my own acquaintances, my own habits, —to keep my own hours, and, in a great measure, to be master of my own time, few know how much I went through ; -how many shocks I received from within and from without;-how many doubts, temptations, half-formed ill resolutions passed through my mind. I saw human nature in a new point of view, and in some measure learned to judge of mankind by a new standard. I ceased to look for virtues which I no longer hoped to find, and set perhaps a disproportionate value on those which most frequently occurred. The uncertainty of my prospects cast a gloom on what was before
I did not love to dwell in the future, and gradually became reconciled to present scenes which at first were painful
This was not a good preparatory discipline for Oriel, and, indeed, from the first moment that I thought of offering
myself as candidate, I felt that I was not consulting my own happiness. But duty, vanity, and the fear of being shipped off to Brazil, determined me on the trial. You will scarcely believe that, after the first flush of success, I was seized with uneasy melancholy,—triste augurium,—a feeling that I was among strangers, and a suspicion, not yet wholly removed, that
my election arose, in a great measure, from the failure of my county opponents, and the vague appearance of talent, rather than from that hearty conviction of my eligibility which, with their views, would have been the only justifying cause of putting me on so severe a trial. My engagement with my pupils contributed (if only by taking up much of my time) to prevent me from falling immediately into Oriel habits; and, to tell the truth, I did not much like the state of a probationer, or submit, as I ought to have done, to a yoke of observances which I sincerely think very absurd, and which I hoped that I had escaped by being made a Fellow. I knew, I felt that I was subjected to a kind of espionage, and could feel no confidence in men who were watching me.
“ The natural effect of all this on my mind was a tendency to resistance, and I was not bold enough to fight, or prudent enough to make peace. I was induced to fly; to shun the inquiring eyes, which I ought to have met firmly; and to vent my chagrin in certain impotent, but, I dare say, not forgotten, threats of great reformations to take place in the college and university when my unripe fortunes came of age. The complex effect of all this discontent and imprudence was, of course, self-reproach, inconsistency, quickly formed and quickly broken resolutions, just enough caution to lose my reputation for frankness, increasing dread of my consocii, incapability of proceeding in any fixed plan, and an extreme carelessness whenever the painful restraint was removed. You know the consequences.”
He did not immediately give way under his calamity. At first, indeed, he was full of hope and
self-confidence. He had not yet learnt his own weakness, and he trusted that in London he should have been able to win position and independence by his pen. It would be a painful task to trace, step by step, the disappointment of these expectations. The cause of his failure lay in himself, not in any want of literary power, of which he had always a ready command, and which he could have made to assume the most popular forms,-but he had lost the power of will. His steadiness of purpose was gone, and the motives which he had for exertion, imperative as they appeared, were without force. Necessity acted upon him with the touch of a torpedo. He needed a more genial stimulus. Dreamy as he had always been, he had not hitherto neglected the call of duty. He had shown no want of energy or perseverance either at school or college. Now he gave way to a habit of procrastination, from which, except for short intervals and under favourable circumstances, he did not recover till it was too late.
Thus leaving undone what he wished, and continually intended, to do, he shrank from the bitterness of his reflections, which, notwithstanding, continually returned upon him, and took the place of action ; and though he never deliberately sought relief in wine, yet he was a welcome guest in all societies, and when surprised by consequences against which
he was not sufficiently on his guard, he shrunk from the reproaches, and yet more from the uncomplaining forgiveness, of his friends. This led to a habit of wandering and concealment, which returned upon him at uncertain intervals during the middle portion of his life, exposing himself to many hardships, if not dangers, and his friends to sore anxiety. This is the dark side of the picture.
Meanwhile, his conversation and manners preserved all their charm; his temper was most sweet and engaging; he retained not merely his love and admiration for moral beauty and excellence, but a high moral purpose and an enlightened creed. His letters were full of wit and wisdom and affection. He was still a pure-minded, single-hearted, childlike being, in whom every one felt an interest, over whom almost every one was ready to have a care, viewing his aberrations with a peculiar compassion, as if from some mysterious cause he were not fully responsible for his actions. But this did not secure him against self-reproach. In his own sight, he was deeply humbled. It was so to the end.
The following extract from one of his letters written at this period, is here given, for its peculiar vein of mirthfulness. His laughter was excited by an odd sense of comicality, which he had when