April 1st, 1848 (Saturday)
I never remember so wet and mild a March; – scarcely any cold wind. The spring wonderfully forward; trees coming into leaf; – potatoes in the garden above ground. To-day is a most glorious day; all sun, with scarcely a cloud to be seen, – extremely hot. I suppose we can scarcely hope to have entirely escaped North-Easters. As yet one is quite able to enter into the descriptions of spring by the poets, which for 20 years has appeared to me to be mere poetical license. I hope the fine weather may last till Thursday next, when we hope (DV) to have the organ safely housed at Radley. By the way, the heat is so great, that it extracts a most copious odour of coal tar from the felting, which is between the slates and boarding of the roof. The Chapel smells more like a ship than anything else. I do not mind it much myself, but it may be very offensive to others. However, people say it is a wholesome smell; and also, that it will not last long. I apprehend it will be only when the sun shines strong from the south that we shall be annoyed.
Sewell came out with Messrs Low, Savory and Hoskyns of Balliol. The last has been mentioned as a desirable person for a fellow, and I had a very strong recommendation from Hobhouse this morning in his favour. He seems a very gentlemanly person, but as he would be of use only in the lower classes, I do not think we want him much at present. We stand in much more need of a mathematician or a clergyman.
Sewell has seen a favourable notice of us in the Christian remembrancer, – a very high Church periodical. How very comfortable that the feeling towards us is so generally good. As yet Fraser is the only exception.
The servitors went with Monk into the Chapel after dusk, and sang. I was not there, but the music sounded beautiful. There is abundant resonance, and yet not too much of echo-like effect. I know not how many persons it will take to injure it. Gowns are terrible absorbents of sound.
April 2nd, 1848 (Sunday)
Sewell walked out with his brother Henry. The latter much pleased with progress, and says his little boy is much improved. From having been much petted at home by aunts and uncles, he had acquired forward airs, which the college has much softened down.
Consulted him about taking the Park. Recommends us only to have the half, first offered, – but agrees with me in thinking £190 for 112 acres full value. Is to send a valuator from the Isle of Wight, whose report will enable us to see our way more clearly.
A thunderstorm, with heavy rain, which prevented our going to church in the afternoon. Got the boys into the chapel, and sang over the music for evening service, which sounded lovely.
Vicar gave notice of Holy Communion next Sunday. A little alarmed lest he may have no intention of administering it on Easter-day. He has it only once a quarter, and as it was omitted at Christmas, there is reason for the doubt. If so, we must acquaint the Bishop.
April 4th, 1848 (Tuesday)
There is to be communion at Easter; but we have suspicions that our asking the question determined the Vicar to have it.
A letter from Mr Telford. The organ is to leave Dublin today, and he expects it to arrive in Bristol tomorrow morning. Nothing can exceed the calmness and beauty of this weather; this heat began on 31st March. However, the organ is insured at 6/- per cent on £1500.
Mr Telford adds a strange rumour: – “I am informed that Mr Calkin1 has run away from St Columba’s, resigning his situation, the Repealers of Navan having threatened to pull down the College because they expelled Mr Stevenson. He would not stop a night in Dublin even, he was so alarmed. Indeed the feeling is very general, and all classes seem to expect that some rioting will take place.” Surely prompt measures at Stackallan might have prevented all this. When first Mr Stevenson’s republicanism appeared, he ought to have been got quietly to resign, instead of making him a martyr.
1: Calkin was the organist at St Columba’’s. As an Englishman, he may have felt more anxiety than the Irish Fellows as the situation in Ireland worsened
April 5th, 1848 (Wednesday)
A letter from Tripp, in which he gives a long, rambling account of the affair mentioned in mine to him, and yet varying scarcely a little from what I had stated: so why he troubled himself to write so much I know not, except that it was always his way of drawing out cases. He concludes by saying: “This much, however, I will say, – that I am very sorry for the step I finally took, as well on personal grounds as regards yourself, as also on account of the complexion of the act with reference to the College and to yourself, at that time its lawful Head”.
To this I replied that I was wholly satisfied, and that if any thing should bring him in this direction, and he felt disposed to renew our old acquaintance, he should receive a hearty welcome.
I confess it is a great comfort to be able in good conscience to find for oneself an opening towards men, who behaved so ill.
April 8th, 1848 (Saturday)
Mr Telford arrived on Wednesday last, leaving the organ safe at Bristol, with four of his men, who had it carefully looked after at the terminus. The weather lovely, and the passage rapid with a still sea. On Thursday afternoon it was in Abingdon, whence it was removed on that and the next day hither, in three enormous loads on three enormous wagons. There were 84 packages, weighing above 12 tons. From the time the removal from the factory in Dublin commenced, till it was brought to Radley, – was a week, during which it did not receive a drop of rain. On Friday evening it was thundering and pelting at Abingdon, and we were much alarmed, as wet would have been ruinous; – but, thanks to Providence, we got everything into the chapel most comfortably soon after dusk. This day the erection began, and this day twelve-months ago I ordered the organ to be made, – though we had neither “local habitation, nor a name”. Looking upon the events of the past year, may we not say without presumption, – “He that is mighty hath done to us great things”? We all agree that the carving is eminently successful: indeed, Sewell wants to send some panels to Dublin to be executed there. However, more of criticism hereafter: at present the chapel is a scene of confusion, and looks more like a picture of the ruins of Babylon than anything else.1 Such infinity of parts!
1: Henry Layard’s description of the excavations at Nineveh had only just been published. Singleton may be referring to this in this comment. Nineveh and its Remains: with an Account of a Visit to tile Chaldaean Christians of Kurdistan, and the Yezidis, or Devil-worshippers; and an Inquiry into the Manners and Arts of the Ancient Assyrians (2 vols., 1848–1849).
April 14th, 1848 (Friday)
Johnson has made out the estimate for the Hall, which comes to nearly £3000. Under these circumstances Sewell left it to us to determine whether this should be proceeded with, or a portion of the Dormitory of the same length. It appeared to us of such consequence that we should at once provide accommodation for a number of boys sufficient to cover our expenses, as well as to exhibit our dormitory system in perfect operation, which is necessarily very incomplete while confined to the house, – that we unanimously resolved to give up the Hall for this year. It is, then, proposed to apply the ground floor of the new building to chambers for 2 or 3 fellows, and the rest to a school room, the present school rooms doing very well for dining rooms. Accordingly marked out the position of it at the North front, reserving room for the Hall next the house, when it shall please Providence to enable us to set about it.
A Mr Kinnard, a partner in Dennison’s Bank, who is a friend of Mr Young’s, wanted to send two of his sons to Harrow, but was unable owing to its being so full, – when Mr Young recommended him to try to get them in here. So he wrote to me, and I invited him down hither. He came today, and is to sleep. Is a gentlemanly person, very sensible, sound Churchman; – amazed at the College, highly pleased at our observing the fasts, being accustomed to abstinence in his own family. I wrote to Mr Young about the boys, who speaks well of them.
April 15th, 1848 (Saturday)
A Mr R Blake Byass, of Westwood cottage, Sydenham, came with his brother-in-law, Revd. JR Nicholl, Rector of the great living of Streatham, and formerly pupil of Sewell’s. Mr Byass anxious to send his son, about whom I have written to his late tutor, Revd. Dr Proctor. The applications either for admission or information are most numerous.
The books bought by Henry Sewell, and sent to be bound, have at last arrived from London. The binder charged so extravagantly, that his demand was submitted to Bohn for his opinion, but the delay seemed interminable, and so the bill was paid. They consist chiefly of splendid copies of the classics, which were picked up at a marvellously low rate, and notwithstanding the cost of binding or repairing, cost only about 5s a volume, all round. There are 4 or 5 hundred.
April 16th, 1848 (Sunday)
Mr Telford went into Oxford with Monk. Greatly pleased, especially with New College, whose organ he much commends, as also that of St Mary’s. Sewell had gone in, and introduced him into the Common Room after he had been at New College.
Mr Bartley walked out. Told how he had been at Windsor and read Oedipus and Antigone before the Queen, the private band and a select chorus attending. Queen most gracious, and gave him a fine diamond ring, which he showed us. Mr Bartley had been an actor by profession, but long since retired. Is said to be a wonderful reader of Shakespeare. Sewell hopes to get him some day to read before us, though he only does so to the Court, and at Exeter College, as he has a son there.1
1: George Bartley is more usually described as a comedian rather than as a tragic actor. His wife, Sarah Smith, was renowned for her tragic roles. Both were deeply affected by the death of their only son whilst a student at Exeter College in 1843. It is puzzling, therefore, that Singleton should imply that he was still alive and at Exeter in 1848.
April 17th, 1848 (Monday)
Mr Fortescue, a fellow of New College came out with a relative of his, of the same name, but much older. The latter is a great [friend?] of Mr Houblon’s, and of Gibbings, whom he estimates very highly. Was delighted to see this place and to be introduced. Nothing could exceed his interest and kindness of manner.
April 18th, 1848 (Tuesday)
Completed rules for the boys’ library, and called upon them to elect a Librarian. Of course the power is kept in our own hands.
It turns out that Sutton’s right arm is withered, and that he is totally unable to lift a heavy dish; so I called him yesterday, and censured him for his want of truth in telling me that he was ‘left-handed’ when he came, a statement evidently implying some very good use of his right. When I asked him what on earth he had intended doing, when, on Easter Monday (for instance) he would have to remove a heavy joint from table, and replace it by a second course, – he replied that “he intended to do his best”! – which I suppose would have been to drop it into my lap, if indeed he could get it so far. Of course gave him notice, warning him against a suppression of truth on so important a point. This day hired a regular butler, who bears a good character, having lived in one service for thirty years. We are sadly annoyed by candidates for the office of Head Servant, who, one after another, have turned out quite incompetent.
Commenced digging foundations for the Dormitory. Had a good deal of discussion about a ‘terra cotta’ roof, the advantages of which would be (professed) cheapness, and its being proof against fire. We felt some reluctance to adopt what has hardly yet been sufficiently tested by experiment, and which if a failure, would be simply ruinous.
Underwood and Johnson are both against it, so the idea is abandoned. Johnson is getting things very forward, so that we have some hopes of occupying this year.
April 20th, 1848 (Thursday)
Tried the effect of the gold brocade on the altar, which is lost, as it must be seen in a particular light to preserve its handsomeness: accordingly determined to put it up as curtains for Warden’s and Sub-warden’s seats, – and Sewell is to buy suitable velvet in London.
The servitors have lately been exceedingly careless, – indeed for a very long time, – every one complaining of them. Upon the whole they are very nice boys, – but it is clear they need smart discipline. Mrs Burky has repeatedly punished them, but it is not enough. This morning Thomas and Henry did not get up when the others did, and Thomas left a chair the whole night near a blazing fire, though over and over again rebuked for that very fault, and I had yesterday warned them to be cautious about fire. So I sent for them all, – gave them a severe lecture, explaining that I should treat them as I should the students; and then Sub-Warden and I flogged Thomas and Henry, – the other boys being within hearing. We were all sadly grieved about poor Thomas, who is a general favourite from his gentleness and good temper, and in the evening I had a tender scene with him. He seemed deeply to feel the kindness of one’s motive.
April 21st, 1848 (Good Friday)
Gave all the workmen and Mr Telford’s men this day for rest and devotion, paying their wages as usual. Church very full. By the way, we long ago resolved not to think of going into the Chapel on Easter-Monday, as the organ would be very incomplete, and the Chapel would continue much encumbered by its parts. The tin front pipes have suffered a good deal in the carriage, though nothing that cannot be set to rights, but it takes time. Indeed, several matters were left to be finished after its arrival here. However, we have every hope, DV, of having all sufficiently ready by the Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, the Monday following.
Sewell has at last completed a fair copy of the Statutes, introducing some alterations of consequence, – as for instance, – that no one can be proposed for a fellowship without the Warden’s consent. The Exeter Statute has been adopted, which gives the Rector no more influence than any of the fellows: at least a fellow might be elected in spite of him. Also the Decimals are to be nominated by the Warden and Fellows, each in rotation, instead of being elected. Elections are bad things, ingenious expedients for arousing evil passions, and perpetuating ill feeling.
April 22nd, 1848 (Saturday)
Savory went into Oxford, and heard at Spiers’ sundry theories and ideas about St Peter’s. Among others, that it was so very thoroughly Romish, – that even the very locks were got from the Inquisition. I suppose that this is some marvellous view of the lock on the Chapel door, which is certainly very remarkable for elaborate and beautiful workmanship, but not quite the sort of thing for a door of a dungeon.
Mr Young came to take his son home for a few days, but on finding that it was contrary to our Statutes, instantly acquiesced. Told him what we had done by Mr Kinnard, that as he had heard warnings of our Roman tendencies and of certain “dangers”, – and so on, – it seemed impossible that he could commit his sons to our care with that unreserved confidence which we believe to be absolutely necessary for their successful training, – and therefore we must decline receiving them. Mr Young was very sorry, and said that he knew Mr Kinnard would feel greatly disappointed, for that he had long made up his own mind, though female scruples could not so easily be got under.
A letter from Mr Grimaldi to say that he approved of a proposal which we had made, – for Mr Bowyer to drain the Park, and increase the rent. It is very wet, and it is hard to get graziers to take it, in consequence.
Sewell went to London and saw Mr and Miss Sharpe, who will be down on Wednesday with their little cousin. Miss Sharpe has offered two orange trees in tubs. Mr Sharpe’s £30 is to be laid out in an Eagle which is in hand for us, – his annual subscription helping the purchase still further.1
Saw also Nugent Wade, who has had a letter from Todd, consulting him upon the posture of affairs at Stackallan. He (Todd) has been down there and finds the Englishmen in a great fidget, and disposed to leave. Also he believes that Irish gentlemen cannot afford to send their sons. All which is very likely; for Morton never really cared about the College, nor would his being the Head of it materially increase his interest; still less would the disturbed and seditious state of it. Then for the gentry, there are but very few in the whole country who value anything of a sound education, and of those few many are poor. Todd says that he never was in despair until now, for that if the Englishmen go, it is impossible to supply their places by Irishmen. He asked Nugent Wade for his advice, and the latter has written very firmly to say, that he has shown the Statutes to a first-rate lawyer, (Roundell Palmer) who has declared that the Statute giving the Visitor and Trustees power to alter the constitution, without the College having a voice, is simply fatal: – that this law must, therefore, be altered. (I may here remark that I objected to this very law when Todd showed me privately the draft of the last Statutes before they were imposed; but I was over-ruled.) Than, that it is absolutely necessary that Dr Elrington should resign, having joined the National Board: – and further, that they should return to me all my gifts to the College. It is understood that Mr Sharpe, and others, approve of this letter. I cannot see how they can survive this pressure on every side.
1: An eagle lectern to hold the Bible in the Chapel. It appears in photographs of the interiors of both the original chapel built by Singleton and Sewell in 1847-8, and its replacement, the new chapel built in 1895. Radley College Chapel does not now possess an eagle lectern – its fate is unknown.
April 23rd, 1848 (Easter Sunday)
The students have not been spending their Sundays in a reverent way, so I began this day to bring them into school for an hour before church, morning and afternoon, and there they must remain quiet. It is very difficult to know how to manage the boys on Sundays, though it is quite clear that they must not be allowed to play or riot. Took them into the Chapel after dinner, to hear some of the stops on the swell, a few of which have been inserted, though not tuned. They were delighted. When they hear it all, they will be astounded.
Howard went into Oxford; as he is going to stand for a fellowship at Oriel. The examination will last for several days in this week. His absence the better reconciles us to the delay in going into Chapel.
A letter from Mr Kinnard,1 lamenting very much that he had expressed himself in such a way as to lead us to decline receiving his sons, and asking permission to come down on Tuesday to explain. Three boys are to come in a few days, – Kennett, (Mr Sharpe’s cousin,) Richards, and Byass.
1: Singleton persists in referring to this man as ‘Kinnard’, although his sons are entered in Radley College registers as ‘Kennard’.
April 24th, 1848 (Easter Monday)
The services joined together are too long, so we commenced a new system of hours for Feast days, – this day. Up and down as usual: – School till 7 ½ o’clock; Chapel, – breakfast; Communion Office at 10 o’clock; from ¼ 6 to 6 ½ saying what they learnt from 7 to 7 ½ am – Chapel at 8 o’clock.
Sang Nicene Creed, King in F. This we had not reached at Stackallan, owing to the resistance of the Fellows to the music generally.
Mr and Mrs Willis came, fearing that their little boy was going on badly, owing to his scarcely ever writing, even to acknowledge receipt of things sent from home. Told them plainly that he was very idle, and had shown plain symptoms of untruthfulness, which they said were his very faults at home. Indeed, they showed me his last letter, in which he declared that he had had “a very bad cold”, (I suppose to screen his negligence,) – a mere falsehood. They are very unhappy about him, but I told them (after hearing particulars of character) not to be cast down, for that with God’s help, I could almost promise to cure him.
April 26th, 1848 (Wednesday)
Mr Sharpe and his sister came with their little cousin, Kennett. In the morning there had arrived from Miss Sharpe two tolerably large orange trees and 6 aloes, which give the place a finished and aristocratic air. They take the greatest interest possible in the College. Mr Sharpe had arrived but a few minutes before he was at the top of the campanile to see his “old friends the bells”, with whom he had formed an acquaintance at Mears’. Miss Sharpe, who is a florist, and has a garden of her own at Chiswick, was yet much pleased with our patch of flower beds, especially with the hyacinths, which are certainly the finest I ever saw grown in the open air. They brought down a great collection of little books of amusement for the boys’ library, which were the very thing we wanted, as those we had were of a sober class, chiefly. Such apologies as they made for (as they thought) the pettiness of the gift.
Sorry to see Mr Sharpe looking so poorly. Being junior partner, he is compelled to sleep at the bank every night, and inhale the noxious air of Fleet Street. The Messrs Goslin are so hard on him, that they will give no respite, coolly saying that he would not be overworked if he did not attend to so many other concerns, these concerns being works of charity. He makes money but to spend it in God’s service: yet if he spent it upon himself, I suppose they would be more merciful. However, he is allowed one month in the twelve to breathe a little fresh air.1 Is greatly charmed with the Chapel, which he never dreamt would, or could, be so effective; and also with the organ. Miss Sharpe could scarce tear herself away from its fine tones, though very little of it is available. Next month he is to get his holiday, when they will come and spend a day on their way to the sea-side. Told Sewell that his real object in coming down to Oxford last spring was to dissuade him from the attempt to get up this College, but that he was rejoiced, and that we must succeed.
Mr Kennard came yesterday, and expressed great regret at his having written in such a way as to leave the impression that he hesitated in placing confidence in us; – for that all he needed was further information about a place, of which only a few days ago he was in total ignorance; – and that even this was more for the sake of others than for himself. To all this I replied, that I more than justified his caution before taking so serious a step, as placing his sons in a place of education; – but that if he were right to be careful in committing, so equally was I in receiving; – and that therefore it was a duty which I owed to the College and to myself, not to admit any boy whose parents had scruples, which might cause a perpetual apprehension and worry, and perhaps end in absolute hostilities. That we had already refused to accept the sons of one person of rank in society, upon this very ground, that if there were not mutual and full confidence between parent and Tutor, to educate would be a fruitless effort. That when people talked of Romish tendencies, I made it a point not to talk to them of my private opinions or Mr Sewell’s; for that a ready answer might be made, – that persons, who had spoken and written soundly and vigorously enough against Rome, had yet gone over to the Pope. That my course was always to adduce the Statutes of the College, and show the ample security which they provide against unsoundness, in placing it under the Visitorship of a Bishop, as well as under the express canonical authority of the Ordinary, who could destroy it any moment that it went astray, by withdrawing his license from Warden and Fellows. That though it was easy for individuals to change, bodies were slow to alter, and therefore, if now sound, the progress to error must be gradual, during which interval an easy remedy could be applied. Mr Kennard expressed himself more than satisfied with this explanation, and begged “as a favour” that I would take his two sons into the College, for that he was anxious to throw them unreservedly into our hands, – which I consented to do, to his great satisfaction. However, I am to have a letter from Mr. Jones their former Tutor.
1: Singleton is referring to Goslings Bank, 19 Fleet Street. The Sharpe family had been associated with Goslings since at least 1794 and continued as junior partners until 1896 when Gosling and Sharpe became amalgamated with Barclays Bank, although they were excluded from any automatic hereditary element in the partnership. John Charles Sharpe served the bank from 1838 and was still active at his death in 1913 at the age of 95, “after a lifetime of religious as well as financial activity, strongly Anglo-Catholic and a supporter of good causes”. The History of Gosling’s Branch
April 27th, 1848 (Thursday)
The Rev. H Swale came to spend a few days. Is a very sensible, clever man, taking the deepest interest in all we are doing, and one of the very few, who thoroughly comprehend what we are about.
April 30th, 1848 (Sunday)
As we are to have prayers tomorrow in the Chapel, went in thither, and tried what quantity of light we should require at evening service, – for it would not be ready till evening. Very pretty brass sconces came from Potter, which we inserted in the 18ft desks, 6 in each and 32 in all. This will not be enough. Had the servitors in, and practised the music for tomorrow. Henry Sewell suddenly made his appearance last evening, and in order to give him a bed, Sewell had to go to one of the cubicles in the dormitory. The boys were fast asleep when he went thither, so that the next morning they knew not that he was there; yet there was no talking, which is very satisfactory.