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Chapter XIX, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 3

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In the autumn of 1866 a singular and lamentable accident deprived British India of a bishop who was not one of the least worthy successors to Heber in the see of Calcutta. George E. L. Cotton, born in 1813, a fortnight before his father - Captain Cotton, of the 7th Fusiliers - fell in front of a French redoubt in the battle of the Nivelle, was educated at Westminster School, whence lie passed to Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1836, he was appointed by Dr. Arnold - for whose character and work at Rugby he retained through life the highest veneration - to a mastership at that school. His playful humour and affectionateness of nature, joined to unswerving rectitude and much moral earnestness, endeared him at Rugby to a large band of pupils. After the death of Arnold, Cotton became the attached friend and trusted counsellor of his successor, Dr. Tait, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1852, he was appointed Head Master of the great school recently established at Marlborough, and occupied this important post for six years. " His success was complete. He won from the very first the hearty confidence of the singularly varied body of bishops, noblemen, M.P.'s, clergy, lawyers, and county gentlemen, who formed what is now called the 'governing body' of the school. With their cooperation, a wise economy, combined with entire self- abnegation on the part of himself and the devoted band of old pupils and their friends whom he drew around him, restored the financial equilibrium. Within the school " (which had witnessed under his predecessor an "exciting conflict with authority") "order was re-established: mutual respect and kindly intercourse took the place of mere repression and resistance. Work throve under so zealous a teacher; and a civilised out-of-door life, in the form of cricket, football, and wholesome sports, took the place of poaching, rat-hunting, and poultry-stealing." Cotton was appointed in 1858 to the vacant bishopric of Calcutta. Of his life in India we will only say that, while his episcopal activity bore scanty fruit, in the shape of native converts to Christianity, the influence which contact with his kindly and equitable nature exerted, both on natives and Europeans, in helping to heal the wounds and close the breaches which the Mutiny of 1857 and its terrible repression had occasioned, was both great and important. One very valuable work, in accomplishing which his school experience at Rugby and Marlborough came usefully into play, was the foundation of grammar schools in the hills, for the use of the sons of European and Eurasian residents. These schools, founded at Simla, Mussoorie, and Darjeeling, were by his care provided with endowments, and continue to flourish to this day. In October, 1866, the Bishop was returning from a visitation tour in Assam, and had reached a place called Kooshtea on his return to Calcutta. Here, on the afternoon of the 6th of October, he consecrated a cemetery, and, being detained on shore by various affairs, it was nearly dark before he set out on his return to the Government barge in which he had come from Dacca. The vessel was lying out in the river, a large branch either of the Ganges or the Brahmaputra - in that maze of waters it is difficult to distinguish between the two - and some planks, with no hand-rail, furnished the only communication between her and the shore. " Somewhere on the perilous causeway of planks bridging the waters his foot slipped; he fell, and was never more seen. The increasing darkness, an unsteady platform, his near sight, the weariness of a frame enfeebled for the time by fever, had all doubtless a share, humanly speaking, in the great calamity foreknown in the counsels of Him 'who moves in a mysterious way.' Every effort was made to rescue, to recover him. All who are acquainted with the current of an Indian river will know how infinitely slight would be the chance of success in the one endeavour or the other."

John Keble, who died at Bournemouth on the 29th March, in his seventy-fourth year, participated but little in the public life of England. His was not the dignified and conspicuous career of the ecclesiastical luminary of a great city; the press did not circulate the masterpieces of his pulpit eloquence; nor was he a frequenter of missionary or charitable platforms; yet it is probably no exaggeration to say that for thirty years no one man so powerfully influenced the inner life of the Church of England as the vicar of Hursley. He was of a precocious talent; before his fifteenth birthday he had gained a scholarship at Corpus, and in his eighteenth year he took first-class honours both in classics and mathematics. Arnold was of the same college; they soon contracted a warm friendship, as was natural in men who were both of such moral elevation, such wide and keen intellectual sympathies; but Keble was by some years the elder of the two, and his more equable temperament disposed him to regard half with admiration, half with misgiving, the fervid and aggressive sallies of the young reformer. Both were elected to fellowships at Oriel College - Keble in 1812, Arnold three years later. But from this point their lives diverged. Keble was a tutor of his college for some years, and a member of that remarkable common- room which numbered Whately, Davison, Newman, and Pusey among its members. About the year 1823 he ceased to reside, and retired into the country, taking parish work, sometimes under his father at Fairford, in Gloucestershire, sometimes in the neighbouring villages. In the course of these pious toils, amid peaceful rural influences, his teeming mind found a vent in the composition of sacred poems, celebrating the Sundays and holidays of the Church of England's calendar. Thus arose the "' Christian Year," the publication of which commenced in 1827, and than which no devotional work, with the exception, perhaps, of the "Imitatio Christi," ever more quickly and more potently adapted itself to the spiritual needs of innumerable souls. Keble was Professor of Poetry at Oxford between the years 1831 and 1842; his Latin lectures, or Prœlectiones, display consummate ability, and, in spite of being veiled in a dead language, attracted crowds of hearers. These lectures were published. Mr. Keble was engaged also, at this period of his life, in preparing an edition of the works of Hooker, and accomplished the task with that conscientious thoroughness which distinguished him in everything. But it was not only as a sacred poet, still less as a literary man, that Mr. Keble influenced his generation. If in the direction of devotion and the spiritual life the " Christian Year " opened a fount of lyrical consolation for the English-speaking populations of the world such as had never flowed before, the calm steadfastness and moral force of his character ensured for his deliberate opinions on the great ecclesiastical questions of his day an influence in which he stood without a rival. The readers of Dr. Newman's "Apologia" will remember how i strikingly this point is brought out by him, how clearly he traces back to the mind of John Keble, rather than to that of any other single man, the germ of that great Tractarian movement which has since branched out in so many remarkable ways. He hated modern Liberalism with the whole force of his nature, not so much because it favoured democracy, as because it raised, in his view, an impious hand to the ark of the covenant; because it suppressed episcopal sees in Ireland, and threatened to amalgamate Churchmen with Dissenters in England. Already, in 1832, he had concerted measures with a few like-minded Oxford friends for the systematic advocacy, in the pulpit and through the press, of those ideas respecting the supernatural origin and privileges of the Church, which constituted, in their eyes, a return to " something better and deeper than satisfied the last century." In the July of 1833, ten Irish sees having been just suppressed, Keble seized the occasion of an assize sermon which he was selected to preach in St. Mary's to sound the trumpet of warning against the guilt of " national apostacy," which he declared to have already set in, and against which he urged all faithful children of the Church to harden their faces like a flint, saying with Samuel, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." He was the author of several of the " Tracts for the Times and although deeply grieved by the secession of so many of his most trusted friends, after the movement had taken a distinctly Romeward tendency, he continued to the end of his life attached to the High Church party, and it must be even admitted that his views - as was proved by the famous alteration which he allowed to be introduced, in the latest edition of the " Christian Year," into the hymn for " Gunpowder Treason " - underwent a gradual modification in the direction of those opinions which were afterwards commonly described under the name of Ritualism.

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