Mark Pattison

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Mark Pattison (10 October 1834 – 30 July 1884) was an English biographer, historian, Anglican priest, and Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford.


Memoirs (1885)[edit]

Mark Pattison. Memoirs (1885)

  • My father's views for me, which were to guide his choice of college, were twofold. He really wanted me to learn; to get a good education, not so much with the idea of my making my way in the world, as from the value which he had learned to set upon intellect. ... He was fond of repeating the sentence in the Eton Latin grammar—" Concessi Cantabrigiam ad capiendum ingenii cultum. . . ." This was the proverb which presided over my whole college life. Though often dimmed, it was never lost sight of, and however much I may have had to hate the grammar on other accounts, I think no other sentence of any book has had so large a share in moulding my mind and character as that one. It was then essential to my father's plans for me that the college to be selected for me should be one where the instruction given was reputed to be good.
  • But there was in my father's mind another sentiment, less creditable to him, than the wish to give me the best education to be had. I mean those social aspirations which he continued to nourish, though by his removal to the remote situation of Hauxwell, and consequent detachment from the Castle, he was no longer able to gratify them. He had the instinct of good society, and liked to live with gentlemen, and to know what was going on in the upper world. His acquaintance with the peerage was accurate; he must have read Debrett at that time more than the Bible. Hence, in estimating colleges he was led to take the footman's view, and to prefer one which was frequented by the sons of gentlemen.
    • Chapter I, pp. 22–24
  • A man who does not know what has been thought by those who have gone before him is sure to set an undue value upon his own ideas—ideas which have perhaps been tried and found wanting. As accumulated learning stifles the mental powers, so original thinking has been known to bring about a puffy, unsubstantial mental condition.
    • Chapter I, p. 78
  • About 1500 it seemed as if Europe was about to cast off at one effort the slough of feudal barbarism, and to step at once into the fair inheritance of the wisdom and culture of the ancient world. The Church led the van, and smiled on free inquiry and the new learning. About the third decennium of the century the resistance of the obscurantists was organised, the Catholic reaction set in, and nascent humanism was submerged beneath the rising tide of theological passion and the fatal and fruitless controversies of Lutheran, Calvinist, and Catholic, to the rival cries of the Bible and the Church. The " sacrificio d'intelletto " of Loyola took the place of the free and rationalising spirit with which Erasmus had looked out upon the world of men.
    • Chapter II, p. 100
  • I wanted not merely to get up my classics, but to penetrate to the secrets and mysteries which I vaguely understood to be somehow wrapt up in books, though they had not, as yet, been revealed to me. I was disconcerted to find that none of my new acquaintance had any share of this yearning curiosity.
    • Chapter III, p. 105
  • ... I began at the beginning, and read Hind's Logic, Whately's Logic, Reid's Enquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense. But the book which was of most use to me on these subjects was Stewart's Elements. I found on odd volume of this in my father's study at Hauxwell. It attracted me; I read and re-read it with increasing satisfaction. To Dugald Stewart, an author now obsolete, I owe the first infusion of a taste for philosophical inquiry. ....
  • Another book read this term seized upon my interest in an exceptional way, this was Gibbon's Autobiography. I had long before got hold of a few extracts from this, which had found their way into Lord Sheffield's Memoir of the author, prefixed to an edition of the Decline and Fall which we had at home. Those extracts had fixed themselves in my memory. I now procured the whole book and devoured it, reading it again and again till I could repeat whole paragraphs. Gibbon, in fact, supplied the place of a college tutor; he not only found me advice, but secretly inspired me with the enthusiasm to follow it.
    • Chapter III, pp. 128–130
  • In the Diary which begins 1845 there is a much larger infusion of secular matter. I find myself deep in the literary history of the eighteenth century, reading Gray's Correspondence, Prior's Life of Goldsmith, Hume's Life and Correspondence ...
    • Chapter VI, p. 187

Quotes about Mark Pattison[edit]

  • Pattison lived through a formative period in the history of the modern university in England, and in his person he embodied many of the transformations that occurred in the half century he spent at Oxford. To re-trace his life and thought is therefore to explore through the eyes of a key figure the elements of that transition to the modern university: the secularization of intellectual life, the emergence of the professional academic, and the challenge posed by the emergent German idea of the university to the traditions of English university life. When Pattison arrived at Oxford as an undergraduate in 1832, the University's chief purpose was to provide a gentlemanly education for intending clergy.

External links[edit]

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