Entries for December 1848

December 2nd, 1848 (Saturday)

For a wonder, I, who never go outside the gates, went into Oxford today; – yet not without reason. Monk has long been preparing to take the degree of Mus. Bac., and with this view has composed an exercise to a selection of verses from Milton’s Hymn on the Nativity. It came off today in the Hall of Exeter College, before a most crowded audience, – the Vice-Chancellor, Proctors, and Professor of Music (Sir Henry Bishop) presiding. Monk conducted himself, and the orchestra, which was very effective, acquitted themselves well. Several were engaged from London, and Mr Henry Phillips sang the bass recitative.1 Howard and Savory, and Sir Frederick Ouseley, with numbers of amateurs sang in the chorus. The music was very good, interesting, and pure, so that every one was charmed, and all seemed to agree that no such exercises had been heard in Oxford for many years. I asked Sir Henry Bishop was not one part of it good, which in the rehearsal had just been played, and his reply was, ‘very clever, Sir.’ Altogether a great point has been secured by this performance; for not only has Monk now attained a University degree, which will raise his position here, but Music has been advanced, and a step taken to make it more respectable. The expense however, has been considerable, upwards of £100, – but it is worth it.

[Programme for the exercise]

On our return to Oxford, I found that a ‘basso di camera’, which Monk had ordered for me, was arrived. This is a fine bass instrument, in size between a violoncello and double bass. I purchased it, not so much to play it myself, for I have not the time, but to help the interests of the stringed band, which has lately started into life. Many parents object, very often quite needlessly, to their boys learning wind instruments, while their boys are so anxious to play on something, that, in spite of formidable difficulties before them, they have got leave to try their hands on violins, violoncellos, etc. – no doubt some one some time or other, will make use of this basso.

The brass band is getting on well; in fact, they will soon produce music, which will be quite pleasing to listen to. They are faithfully keeping their promise to be industrious. They devote barely half-an-hour a day to practising, – but their knowledge of music, – scales, intervals, time, and so on, is so solid, that their advancement is easy enough. Thus the band is turning out quite the tool of education that I designed it to be.


1: Henry Phillips, singer, was primarily a baritone, although he also sang bass roles. In 1845 he had performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah under the composer’s direction, and in 1846 Mendelssohn composed music specifically for him to sing, but in 1848/9 his voice deteriorated very rapidly and he sank into obscurity with startling speed. His performance of Monk’s composition would have been one of his last public performances, when he was already considered to have lost his talent. See entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


December 9th, 1848 (Saturday)

Mr Cox, a Scholar of Lincoln College, came out, and is to stop tomorrow. He took a second class, and is well known to Howard and Savory, who think very highly of him. There is but little doubt that we shall elect him a Fellow.


December 10th, 1848 (Sunday)

Howard wrote some time ago to his brother-in-law, Mr Gaye, who has a church in Ipswich, to say that we were very much in want of a priest, who could chant the service, to relieve me, on whom all the responsibility of the Daily Prayer rests. He had a letter today to say that there was a Mr Boucher, a curate near to Ipswich, who, he thought, would answer our purpose. This was accompanied by one from Mr Boucher to me, which I confess I did not much like, as it had the air of vulgarity and egotism. However, we have agreed to send for him, as our necessities are very pressing, for I have not only the service to read twice a day, but the arithmetic and mathematics of the entire school are on my hands. It makes one quite fidgety to think of how much depends upon one person. This Mr Boucher being a Cambridge BA may be able to relieve me a good deal. What increases uneasiness is the closeness of the vacation.


December 12th, 1848 (Tuesday)

Examination began.

Mr Boucher came in accordance with my note. He seems a good churchman, – quite sound upon the Roman question, and, though ill health prevented his taking a distinguished degree at Cambridge, yet has been in the habit of teaching both Classics and mathematics. I confess I think him vulgar, but Howard says that I have been so accustomed to well-bred people, that I am expecting too much. He has published a book against the Romanists and other dissenters, which has alarmed me, lest he should be antagonistic; but he says he ‘hates controversy,’ and was only driven to it by the suspicions of his Romanism, and other circumstances.1

Ever since Sam Singleton has been here, there has been a wish among the Fellows that he should be admitted into the body. I have given it but little encouragement; for, though I admit that I should be glad to see him a Fellow, yet I am apprehensive of unfitness on two or three accounts. I have spoken to them most openly, but the pressure has been kept up, and as Sewell wishes it strongly, I have given way; so this day he was elected. It would have been wiser to have waited, till after residence for some time, doubts should be cleared away; – but this would be attended with difficulty; – so I can only hope that all is for the best.


1: The only book known to be by John Boucher is Lecture notes on the Sacramental Articles and Offices of the Church of England, to elucidate the Prayer-Book principles of the Reformation, published by Mowbrays in 1878. It may be that ‘published’ is too strong a term for a privately printed pamphlet circulated by a young curate in or before 1848.

See Venn’s Alumni Cantabrigienses: John Boucher.


December 13th, 1848 (Wednesday)

Elected Boucher.


December 14th, 1848 (Thursday)

A Mr Fox, a junior Fellow of New College, came out to see Radley, preparatory to his going to Armagh. Old Dr Millar has lately died; and the Primate of Ireland, who certainly does greatly interest himself in Irish education, has determined to remodel the Armagh School, and with this view has appointed a Mr Guillmard to be Head Master. Mr Fox is to be one of his assistants, who will carry to Ireland with him a remembrance of what he has seen here.


December 16th, 1848 (Saturday)

Elected Cox. He was to have been ordained on a curacy within the Diocese of Oxford, – but the Bishop kindly gave him to us, and this day I received a letter from him to say that he would ordain Cox on this title. This is a most valuable privilege. One cannot help thinking of the difference between our treatment here and in Ireland.

Examination terminated. Most satisfactory. The boys’ advancement in scholarship, and especially in ancient history and geography, is very general, and very considerable.


December 19th, 1848 (Tuesday)

College broke up: the number of boys being 36. Went to Gloucester on my way to Dublin.

Found my mother very ill, and spent a miserable Christmas. Matters, however, mended afterwards, and one got into much better spirits. Not a little cheered by affectionate letters from some of the boys, especially from Reynolds and Elliot. With these two, who are fast becoming young men, I have taken the greatest pains ever since they came hither. Both are full of faults, yet are very different characters. Reynolds is timid, close and reserved, quiet-tempered though somewhat pettish, inclined to subterfuge, – though not without affection yet particularly cold. Elliot is high-tempered, open and truthful, manly, and most particularly affectionate. The way I have treated them is this. I have first made them afraid of me, by showing the greatest firmness and resolution whenever they do any thing wrong, never passing it by. On such occasions I mostly bring them to my room, and speak in the most open, plain, terms possible, – and almost always with great affection. Seeing that one has but a single object in view they will bear my saying any thing. Such scenes have always ended in contrition, and sometimes in tenderness. When a boy sees that you love, without fearing him, – that you heartily desire his benefit, and spare no pains to accomplish it, – that you are just and even in your government, – he will do any thing for you, – unless you find a really bad boy, and devoid of affection.

I mention the case of these two because they are the two eldest boys in the College, and occupy a prominent position, their characters being more brought out by these circumstances than those of the younger.

My object in writing this journal is scarcely at all for my own sake, but rather for that of my successor in the Wardenship, if it should please God to grant the College stability enough to see another Warden, – which may He grant for Christ’s sake! May there be a line of them as long as England’s life!

It may be well then, for my successor to have the benefit of my experience, whatever view he may be disposed to take of the principles and acts of one’s government. This, so far as I know myself, is my sole motive in keeping up the laborious work of writing day after day. How long it can go on I cannot say, but when the duties of office increase, it will be hard to continue it.

My successor then will not charge me with egotism, though he may find me talking a great deal about myself in whatever page he opens. Nor will he now object to my inserting extracts from letters concerning these two boys, as they are introduced solely to show the working of the system. Whatever influence for good has been attained, is simply owing to the effort to teach as the Church teaches, and to guide the young according to the principles laid down in the Bible. I do trust that the spirit of individualism, which was Arnold’s bane,1 has not found its way within these walls. There is, indeed, but little food for vanity or self-complacency, when a person tries to merge himself in a body, and to think that, whatever he may be enabled to do for good, he is only a tool in Higher Hands, – nothing beyond the slave of the Church. For all proud thoughts of self, which I desire heartily to abhor, – I pray God to grant me deep repentance, and full pardon.

This explanation I give once and for all, lest the very repletion of it might wear the appearance of that which I disclaim.


1: Thomas Arnold of Rugby School


Letters from Parents

The diary now contains a series of extracts from letters from parents. These and the diary entry dated 19th December 1848 were assembled and written in retrospect during the Christmas vacation December 1848 to January 1849. Singleton’s fear that pressure of work would not allow him to continue to keep the journal systematically was proved correct almost immediately upon his return to the school. The original journal stopped at this point, with later entries being scribbled on two sheets of paper. The fine copy which Singleton prepared for deposition with Radley College contains a note to this effect dated February 27th 1874, in which he states his intention of copying the loose pages into the journal. This he has done, with annotations against some of the entries dating from 1874.

Letters from Mrs Elliott

In a letter dated the 1st October Mrs Elliott writes thus:

‘It is to the wonderful influence you have gained over our dear boy that we owe his change of character. When I so earnestly entreated you to receive him at our first interview, (‘my reluctance arose from his age.’ Singleton) I knew the elements of good that were in him, but I also knew that, without the training and culture of wise discipline, the weeds must choke the flowers. From all that I heard I believed that such discipline and such culture he would receive from you, and I thank God that it is as I believed. Now you will smile, but I must guard him from idolatry, – he must not do right because he loves you, but because he loves God.’

Though the principle, which Mrs Elliott here lays down, is undoubtedly true, – yet some caution must be used in the application of it. To the very young the idea of God is scarcely more than an abstraction. Love can scarcely be elicited except through something visible; and so parents are to children, for a time, almost in the place of God. As they grow up ideas will expand, and by proper direction the affections will enlarge too, and be attracted to their true centre, and by degrees be riveted there. I am for ever pressing upon the elder boys that there is but one motive which can always keep them right, – the love of Christ, and that their Saviour is the only being who deserves their whole heart, – that in Him alone is abiding happiness.

Elliot, to be sure, is quite old enough to understand all this, and to have it impressed upon him, – but even in his case, one must not expect too much, nor too rigidly press a truth, which, by his not being quite prepared for it, might have a tendency to chill him a little. Please, God, he will come to it by and bye, but the corks must not be too abruptly removed from the swimmer, or he may struggle and sink. But to go on with the letter…

‘I will send you an extract from one of his letters, dated the 19th September. “You asked me in your letter whether I was improving in character. That is a thing which I cannot tell, but I know that I have felt happier lately than I have for some time, for I think the dear Warden is beginning to like me, (‘this is quite true; I did not like him before, for he was sulky, mischievous, and a bully.’ Singleton) and you know that I would rather gain his love than that of any other person I know, except my own family.”’

I had letters from him this vacation to say that his friends were quite willing to give up the idea of his going into the Indian Navy, since he had an elder brother who would take his place. Now, he never wished to go, and rather gave a passive consent, not liking to refuse altogether. I never liked the idea in the least, and so I was heartily rejoiced to hear this. He quite rejoices at the prospect of returning to Radley for a little time longer. They talk of a merchant’s or solicitor’s desk for him; anything better than the sea.


Gilbert Stanley Elliot left the school in 1849, the first boy to leave Radley, at the age of sixteen. He did enter the Indian Navy in 1849, and left within a year or two to attend Brasenose College, Oxford, 1851-2. He emigrated to Australia, where he became a station owner in New South Wales. He married Catherine Robinson in 1868. He was killed in a carriage accident at Young, NSW, on 10th February, 1874.

Letter from Mrs Reynolds

I also received a letter from Mrs Reynolds, dated October 7th, in which she says:

‘You cannot feel as strongly as we do, that if ever our child does well in future life, his success must be attributed (under the blessing of God) to the training he received at Radley. Of one thing I am assured, – that you have complete possession of our dear boy’s affection. I certainly never before heard a pupil speak in similar terms of a master, and when reverential love is the abiding principle, what may we not hope for in the way of benefit?

I must own nothing so cheers me in looking at my boy as the knowledge that he is daily acquiring the love of goodness, and though at present the feeling shows itself most in attachment to an individual, I cannot but look forward to the formation of a principle, which shall prove strong enough to support him in all difficulties, and carry him through all temptations.

I am well aware that dear Harvey will have much to contend with, – his extreme childishness for his age, – his want of moral courage, and is rapid bodily development, subject him to peculiar trials; but all these adverse circumstances, for such in combination they really seem to be, are met, and most judiciously dealt with, where he now is. You know him, feel for him, and will do all in your power to fit him for future life, – what can his Parents say for al you have done? Thanks are poor returns, but a grateful heart must render them, inadequate as they are. Your record and your recompence is above, and He, who has placed His lambs under your special care, will Himself be your exceeding great reward.’

In a letter from Reynolds himself, dated January 5, 1849, he says:

‘I am indeed very much obliged to you for the kind advice contained in your last letter, and for the very great and undeserved care, which you have always taken for my welfare. I do not know how I can repay such kindness as you have shown me. All that I can do at present is, to try and profit by your instructions to the utmost of my power; and this, with God’s Grace, I will endeavour to do.’

I believe all this is perfectly genuine and spontaneous and is a great deal coming as it does, from a cold and reserved boy. I we can manage to keep up such a spirit as this, we are not very likely to be put into such a condition as Dr Moberly was lately at Winchester. I cut this out of a newspaper in the vacation:

Extract from The Globe, November/December 1848

A REVIVAL OF OLD PRACTICES. – An emeuté took place at Winchester College on Monday week among the gentlemen commoners, owing to Dr Moberly, the Headmaster, having forbidden the customary display of fireworks on the evening previous to the holidays (Saturday week). The young gentlemen, however, were determined to have their fireworks, and obtained the usual supply, which was thrown over the wall into the playground during the time of divine service on Saturday. No sooner was the service over than the commoners made to their playground, and speedily kindled a large bonfire, and commenced kicking about fireballs. Dr Moberly, being informed of what was going on, hastened to the spot, when a number of serpents were directed against him, and he was obliged to retire. On Sunday, the Doctor having intimated his intention of severely punishing the ringleaders, the youths refused to attend chapel, and on Monday morning declined making their appearance, and, for protection, barred their master out, who in his turn, barred them in. The besieged stood out for several hours, but before eventide they were starved into a surrender, when some of the most forward were flogged, and one of them, who had rendered himself particularly obnoxious, was expelled the school.