Intellect and Character in Victorian England: Mark Pattison by H. S. Jones

By H. S. Jones

Within the Victorian interval English universities have been remodeled past acceptance, and the fashionable educational occupation started to take form. Mark Pattison used to be one of many top-rated Oxford dons during this an important interval, and articulated a particular imaginative and prescient of the academic's vocation usually at odds with these of his contemporaries. within the first critical research of Pattison as a philosopher, Stuart Jones indicates his value within the cultural and highbrow lifetime of the time: as a proponent of the German notion of the college, as a follower of Newman who turned an agnostic and a completely secular highbrow, and as a pioneer within the examine of the background of principles. Pattison is now remembered (misleadingly) because the intended prototype for Mr Casaubon in George Eliot's Middlemarch, yet this e-book retrieves his prestige as some of the most unique and self-conscious of Victorian intellectuals.

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These, he recalled, rested on ‘an amount of research, of which no English historian at that time had set the example’. 69 Pattison’s commitment to the cause of intellectual culture would later induce him to diverge sharply from doctrinal orthodoxy, and in his mature scholarly work he would depict a basic conflict between learning and ecclesiastical authority. 70 It would be misleading, then, to suppose that Pattison’s Tractarian phase can be interpreted in terms of the temporary ascendancy of the religious impulse over the intellectual, although the Memoirs give that impression at times.

Even the gauche and na¨ıve boy from Hauxwell had glimpsed that ideal, which he already thought it was the role of a university to sustain. 30 Yet that ideal was utterly remote from the practice of most dons and undergraduates in Oxford in the 1830s, even at Oriel, the college which, with Balliol, represented the intellectual cream of the University. They had no notion of the kind of intellectual curiosity which Pattison had formed even in the desert of Hauxwell. Such was my simplicity that I had believed that no one went to college but those who were qualified, and anxious, to study.

Pattison, Memoirs, p. 87; A. Dwight Culler, The Imperial Intellect: A Study of Newman’s Educational Ideal (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955), p. 74. ’56 But this is a crude and indefensible caricature. In fact, given Pattison’s precocious sense that the University stood in need of renewal, one thing that may well have attracted him to the Tractarians was the fact that they were radicals who deplored the formalism and laxity of current academic practices and stood for their rejuvenation. 58 When he describes his early years as a fellow of Lincoln, Pattison explicitly associates the cause of religious seriousness with that of academic reform.

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