February 5th, 1848 (Saturday)
Sewell came out with Messrs Audland and Barrow, of Queen’s, to dine, – accompanied by a Captain Wilson of the 52nd, a nephew of the Duke of Grafton’s. He is a sterling churchman, and takes the deepest interest in every Catholic movement. Knows P. Hardwicke, who sent him the Journal, which charmed him beyond measure, and determined him to come to St Peter’s. We were wonderfully pleased with him, as he was with the College. He said to me: “How happy you must be: I certainly must get into the lodge.” He and the major (Davis, a very superior man) have got up Tallis’ Service in the Regiment, and raised the tone of the mess. Captain Wilson is not ashamed of the Church or her rules. What a comfort to find truth making its way into the army! – He says things are improving greatly.
Sent 20 copies of St Columba’s service book by Mr Bowyer to the College in Newfoundland.
February 8th, 1848 (Tuesday)
Yesterday evening the younger Elliott got up during tea-time, and coolly went to the bell and rang it. On my inquiring the meaning of this extraordinary movement, he as coolly replied that “the boys wanted more butter.” We were perfectly astounded at this impudence, and I told him never to dare to do such a thing again without leave, and when Thomas came to answer it I said in an unmistakeable voice that “nothing was wanted.” It is quite clear that the little boy would not have ventured on such a thing without either solicitation or encouragement, so I summoned Reynolds and the elder Elliott into the Bursary this morning, and told them my thoughts and suspicions on the matter pretty plainly. It appeared that some of the boys had whole prints left for them, and others only half prints. The latter, considering this to be a grievance, consulted at table about the remedy, and hit upon what appeared to be a sovereign one; and, to say the truth, its boldness deserved better success than attended it, and therefore I gave them both first a good rowing, and then a good lecture. I commented on the impolicy as well as audacity of the act which they had evidently sanctioned, and told them that if they did not exhibit an example of obedience in their own persons, and also exercise influence over the younger boys for good, the College authorities would find it immensely difficult, if not impossible, to make St Peter’s what they designed it to be. They both seemed sorry.1
After Chapel I spoke to Mrs Burky about disobeying my positive orders respecting the butter, orders resolved on after consulting with her as to the course to be pursued, and meeting with her full approval, which I always try to secure on dietary questions. She made a wrong excuse about an ‘impression’, – but I told her such impressions were very embarrassing, and that the last thing in the world I should ever do would be, to make such a difference between one boy and another. She got angry, and I quitted the room, when I got outside of the House Richard gave me the agreeable intelligence, – that the young gentlemen (as he supposed) had smashed the windows of the granary, and entered it through them, and then thrown all the things, that they could get out, about the ground.
I immediately returned into the house, and having previously found out from Reynolds that the boys were the culprits, went into the School, where being seated on the great chair, the Sub-Warden on the right, Howard and Monk on the left, I made my first speech. Commented on the petty wantonness of this outrage on the property of a neighbour, denouncing it as utterly unbecoming Christian gentlemen, – in fact, – as a piece of mere blackguardism. Told them that the College was resolved to discover the authors, – warned them to tell the truth; and then questioned each separately as to the part he had taken in the scandalous proceeding. The result of the inquiry was, – that every individual was more or less guilty, excepting little Henry Sewell. Gave Reynolds and Elliott ‘major’ a round rebuke for sanctioning and abetting such bold and vulgar mischief. Reynolds, like a great goose, said that he had not joined in the act; – to which I replied that the man who was voluntarily present at a murder, without using any effort to prevent the deed, was, in the eye of the law, no less guilty than the principal, and, if discovered, would be hanged along with him. Reynolds did not hazard further remark. After a good deal said, with a view to show them all the grossness of their behaviour, and how different a place the College of St Peter was from what some of them imagined, – announced that the whole school should be punished, – reserving time for considering in what manner it should be done.2
Gibbings, having a spare day, drove over to see us. He mentioned something very alarming about —.
1: This incident must be a direct re-enactment by the boys of the scene in Oliver Twist, in which Oliver, as the youngest boy in the workhouse, was designated by the older boys to ask the Beadle for more gruel. Oliver Twist was published in parts in 1837-8 and so would have been familiar to all the boys in the school. A report published in 1837 stated that “the inmates of a workhouse or gaol are better fed and lodged than the scholars of Eton”. Urban myths circulate easily between schoolboys and this incident and the ensuing riot which Singleton next relates, puts Radley’s earliest boys firmly in the context of their contemporaries, possibly believing themselves about to undergo the same rigours. It should also be remembered that many of them had already experienced life in boarding school and that, although their parents may have subscribed to Singleton and Sewell’s utopian vision of a revolutionary approach to schooling, their sons may have been less optimistic or more pragmatic in their expectations.
2: This riot by the earliest boys of Radley should be seen in the context of other contemporary uncontrolled behaviour among schoolboys, in some of which masters had feared for their lives. In 1808 there were violent disturbances at Harrow where senior boys paraded with banners declaring “Liberty and rebellion” in protest against curtailing their rights to flog their juniors. In 1828, riots at Winchester College were quelled by soldiers with bayonets, whilst at Shrewsbury the Headmaster had to lock himself in his study and request armed protection from the mayor of the town – after these disturbances had subsided parents were requested not to allow their sons to return to the school in possession of loaded firearms. In 1851 a riot broke out at Marlborough College in which the lodge of an unpopular porter was attacked with bricks, windows and desks were smashed, and fireworks set off. There was a similar incident with fireworks and a bonfire, which included kicking fireballs around, at Winchester in the same year.
February 9th, 1848 (Wednesday)
Went into School room, and seated in the great chair, addressed the boys, repeating our opinion of their behaviour, and telling them the course to be followed was fixed upon. Then said that first, as an act of justice they should all pay for the damage they had done; – secondly, as an act of precaution, they must be confined within bounds; which I named; – and then as an act of punishment, the guilt of all was not equal, and therefore the treatment of all should not be the same.
First, I called upon Wood ‘minor’, Willis and Howard, and after charging them never again to “follow a multitude to do evil”, on account of their extreme youth forgave them wholly.
Next, a group of three, – two Hills and Wood ‘major’ (I think Wood ‘minor’ was in this knot, and not in the first). These were very ill behaved, having been active in the outbreak, – so I censured heavily, and announced that Hill minor, being apparently worst of all, should be flogged.
Last, – told Reynolds and Elliott ‘major’, that owing to their age and size, they were more to be blamed than any of the rest, for that they had encouraged the mischief by their words and presence, if not actively promoted it. I then announced that their punishment should be still heavier than that dealt to any of the others, – viz that the Warden and Fellows would teach them nothing, nor have any dealings with them till Saturday night, in which interval during School hours they should be employed in perpetual writing of Latin and Greek translation.
In fine, – that the whole School, excepting the three little fellows, should be deprived of their half-holiday, and come into School, and there write out impositions. Then Sub-Warden carried off Hill to the shoe-room, (divided by the Merton panelling from the outer School room) where I birched him soundly in a very safe part of his person. He roared as much as I could have wished, protesting “that he should faint”, information which produced no change of purpose.
After dinner when it was near time to go into School, I expressed a strong wish that the boys should apologise, and be forgiven. Howard offered to suggest it to Reynolds, which was just the thing. So up I went to my room, and soon after in came Reynolds and Elliott, and made ample acknowledgement of fault and promises of amendment. Gave them a great lecture, and said that more was expected of them than they seemed to have any idea of, – that I looked to them to set an example of dutiful and Christian behaviour to the whole School, and to use their influence to check impropriety in all the other boys. This they engaged to do. Settled the butter question by allowing whole prints for everyone on every day that we dined at 2 o’clock, but forbid them ever speaking to Mrs Burky about their food instead of coming to me, – at the same time warning them against discontent, and telling them that frivolous complaints would meet with no attention whatever.
Then went down into School and addressed the boys at some length in a friendly tone, giving them a thorough insight into the nature of St Peter’s, and the principles of its government. Was listened to with dumb attention, and was pleased to see Hill (who was flogged in the morning) crying a great deal at the allusions, not to his misdeeds, but to all the College was doing for them all, without any object of personal interest, in the sense, at least, in which the world would understand it. Amongst a number of other things I said “I was glad at what had occurred, for that I knew they had a lesson to learn, which sooner or later must have been taught them, and could scarcely have been mastered without some sharp usage.”
I have been particular in noting down this affair, for I am sure it will establish once and for call the discipline of the School. There was a similar case at Stackallan, which, by prompt treatment, produced the result, which we hope, please God, that this will do.
February 10th, 1848 (Thursday)
Monk is gone to Ireland in order to see if there be any alteration which he would like to have made in the organ, which might be now done better than after its arrival hither, when perhaps it could not be done at all. I am to keep the Servitors to their practice every day, but it would be too much to undertake the Students too, at the very end of the day.
Some days ago Sewell sent me a number of the Spectator, which, Radical a Newspaper as it is, has a good deal of honesty about it. It contained a critique of the Journal, speaking very favourably of it and of this College.
February 11th, 1848 (Friday)
A Mr Young, of Stoke Newington, a near neighbour and great friend of Mr Reynolds and Mr Brett, came with the latter, last week, to see Radley, on account of his son, whom he thought of sending. Mrs Young, a good Churchwoman, very anxious for the boy to come, but he has been a little scrupulous, apprehending a popish tendency in Church principles. On that occasion (after learning from Mr Brett that the connection and the boy were unobjectionable) had a very open conversation with him; told him plainly that there were not two more resolute Anti-Romans in England than Sewell and I; but that unless he would throw his son into our hands with perfect confidingness, we would not undertake the care of him. He replied that he would do so most willingly, – so he brought him today. Mr Young is a person of independent means, and his boy seems a nice lad.
February 13th, 1848 (Sunday)
Sewell forwarded a reply which he had read, from —, to whom he had written in consequence of G’s alarming statements, and came over in the afternoon to talk about it. I conceived it to be a most disingenuous, evasive document, and all agreed that more direct questions should be put.
Had the Hills in my room, and gave them a severe lecture, saying that if they did not take care they would be sent away. The younger seems penitent, the elder impassible. The former asked “can we recover of characters, Sir?” to which I replied, – “indeed you can, and the mere wish to do so is a first step towards amendment.”
Sewell had a talk with several of the younger boys, and among other questions asked them “what is the first thing which the College has in view for you?” “To make us comfortable, Sir,” – was the reply. This looks as if they were happy enough.
February 14th, 1848 (Monday)
Captain Wilson sent me a present of the ‘Clergy List’, with a very kind note, pressing its acceptance as a memorial of his pleasant visit here. He had heard me say that we must get one.
February 15th, 1848 (Tuesday)
Sewell came over with the Revd. Edward Hill, Curate of Bradfield, to whom he had written about his two brothers. He was in great distress about them; – said that he had prepared a letter to me before they came, mentioning their characters, but that their mother would not consent to his sending it; – that he bitterly lamented our not having been informed, – for that thus we might have been saved the late disturbance. Was most grateful when we said that though, had we known all we would not have taken them into the College, yet we were willing to give them a fair trial. Said that Marlborough was a horrid place, – that all sorts of vice prevailed there, – that the boys took novels into Church to read, – and 20 other bad things.
Clutterbuck at his old tricks again. The Sub-Warden warned him on Friday, and again on Saturday, that as he knew he went into bed again after being seen out after gong ringing, so he would certainly catch him some morning. Accordingly he was detected this morning. He ate no breakfast, from apprehension of what was coming, as I last term promised him a flogging on the next occasion. Was as good as my word; for went into School, and calling him up, recapitulated all his delinquencies of laziness, that the other boys might see the justice of the punishment, and avoid returns into bed themselves. Sub-Warden carried him off to Shoe-room, Reynolds and Hill held 2 arms, and after the first stroke he gathered his legs under the chair, which Sub-Warden with some difficulty succeeded in finding and capturing, – and then holding them both he became an easy victim to a baker’s dozen. It will be some little time before he courts his bed again at improper periods.
Unpacked a slab which Sewell bought in London for £25. It is said to be Eastern Alabaster, and is very good of its kind: intended for communion table.
February 18th, 1848 (Friday)
Dr Bloxam, Vice President of Magdalen came with a Mr Donnison, a legal gentleman from London, who was accompanied by his son, whom he wished to place here. He had been under the care of Dr Bloxam’s brother, whose ill health has obliged him to give up pupils. As all seemed right, the boy was left; – a docile boy apparently. They dined. Dr Bloxam pleased with progress, and said the President would ask him plenty of questions.
Monk returned from Ireland last night. Gives the most satisfactory account of the organ. The ‘swell’ alone is completely finished: it is the grandest thing he ever heard. Every thing promises to be first-rate. It is now certain that we cannot open the Chapel till Easter, but there is little doubt, please God, of getting into it then.
February 19th, 1848 (Saturday)
February 20th, 1848 (Sunday)
Elliot’s love of mischief is becoming quite tiresome. He has been painting or inking Clutterbuck’s ear or ears. Besides all that I have said, Sewell gave him a very serious talking to yesterday about this idle propensity, saying that the next thing we shall hear of his doing will be boring holes in the panelling or breaking the carvings in Chapel. I therefore called him to my room, and told him that I was amazed at his so soon reverting to the habit, the indulgence of which had so lately brought him into trouble; that one of our objects, as he knew, was to make the boys gentlemen, and as gentlemen are not mischievous, so boys must be taught not to be mischievous; – that his age and size made his example of great consequence in the school; – that the same reason rendered it difficult to punish him for childish pranks. In fine, – that though I would take charge of young men, and also of boys, I would not consent to embarrass myself with one who combined in one person both young man and baby; that, therefore as he stood in the way of our making the College what we wanted, I should forthwith get him out of it, – and accordingly should write to his mother tonight to take him home.
This decision astounded him. He begged for mercy; – said that “he had no idea it would be thought so serious a matter”. “What,” said I, “and do you think the mode in which the College treated the late outrage was mere trifling? Do you imagine that the sound flogging was an empty joke? If you do, you make a grievous, a fatal mistake, – a mistake that will cause your mother a deep and lengthened pain, – a pain inflicted by her own son.”
When I talk to a boy about grieving his mother, I usually think that I have drawn my last arrow. Elliot cried bitterly, and then exclaimed in agony “I am disgraced if I am sent away.” “Yes, that you are, without a doubt.” “I do solemnly promise to be more careful in future, if you would try me.” “What security have I that you will keep this promise any better than the last?” “I never thought of it in the same serious light that I now do.” Believing that a sufficient impression was made, I replied; – “Well, all that I can engage is, not to make up my mind irrevocably till Post hour: in the evening you shall hear my determination. You may go now; I have nothing further to say at present.” In great agitation he asked; – “Please, Sir, may I go to the dormitory?” “Yes, you may.” Thus was the matter terminated till evening. The Sub-Warden was in the room all the time.
In the evening I wrote to his mother to say that his mischievous propensity seemed scarcely, if at all, checked, and that I had made up my mind to send him home, giving her quietly to understand that I felt I had been deceived; – but that in consequence of his grief and penitence I had determined to try him once more, begging of her and Dr Elliot to write to him in aid of my object. Brought him to my room, told what I had done, and concluded the matter with a lecture and advice. He seems thoroughly frightened and impressed.
February 21st, 1848 (Monday)
Gibbings came for a few days. Told him about —-, when we settled that he must be —.
February 23rd, 1848 (Wednesday)
Sewell came out with the Misses Richards. Wrote to —, to refuse.
February 24th, 1848 (Thursday)
Major Portman, a brother of Lord Portman’s, came in company with Mr Halse, bringing one of his sons, a little boy of 9 years old. I have mentioned some circumstances about this case. Subsequently, the parents became very anxious, to send him and a brother also, and after we had refused on the ground of their want of confidence, they protested that they felt every confidence. Major Portman much struck with the place, and Mr Halse with our progress.
Sewell came out with Messrs Marriott, of Exeter, Pattieson, undergraduate, son of the Judge, and a Mr Williams, fellow of King’s, Cambridge, who had been at Jerusalem with Bishop Alexander, but returned home, being dissatisfied with the Bishop’s proceedings. He is a very pleasing person.
Sewell mentioned a case which occurred at Winchester, even worse than that which appeared in the papers, about a boy who got a fever, in consequence of being forced to fag out at cricket beyond his strength, and died in the end. The case was this. A boy was deliberately thrown into the water, and taken out nearly lifeless; he was then thrown in again and drowned. There is something quite shocking in this. What a dreadful state of lawlessness must that School be in!
Mr Williams mentioned a rather different occurrence at Eton. Very lately a gentle, Christian-minded, boy was subjected to great persecution for daring to say his prayers. At length one day a group got round him at their accustomed work, teasing and bullying; whereupon he singled out the biggest of them all, and gave him a sound thrashing. The persecution thenceforth ceased, and some time afterwards some of these very boys came and begged him to pray for them. I scarcely ever heard any thing so grand.
February 26th, 1848 (Saturday)
Clutterbuck and Wood (min) have been fighting, and as the case was forced on my notice by Elliott inking one ear to be as black as bruises had made the other, I called them, and gave them a lecture about the sin of Quarrelling, saying that I was not going to punish them, for that I would rather prevent fighting by promoting peace. It appears that nearly all the boys in the School urged them both to it. This is very bad, and must clearly be inhibited. I made them both promise, not to abstain from fighting, but when they were provoked, to repeat to themselves the passage, -”little children love one another”.1
Clutterbuck is a terrible baby, and a very provoking baby too, so his face is almost always like Joseph’s coat.2 He is vexatious, and then every body torments him, and even little Howard is said to have given him a dubbing, – he is such a coward. The whole question of fighting is an embarrassing one, – but must be grappled with.
Sewell came out, and also Messrs Jelf, Gordon, Stokes and Temple, all “students” of Christ Church. The last has just been appointed principle of a training school for masters under the Privy Council, who for this purpose have purchased ‘Knellar Hall.’3 Very much struck, and wonderfully respectful. Howard says that it is a marvel for the ‘Dons’ of Christ Church to shakes hands with ordinary people. I was quite innocent of the compliment thereby paid, thinking it all very natural as well as very proper. It is extraordinary to see how thoroughly our plain way of going on is understood, (for we make no difference for anybody) and also how cheerfully, as a matter of course, the position of a College is conceded to us. People do not seem to dream of our being any thing else.
Sang a metrical psalm for the first time, having determined to sing one whenever we have choral service, until we can get up a sufficient number of short anthems. Have chosen Hullah’s Book, which contains 90 grand old English tunes.4
Sewell tells me that there is an article in Frazer5 about the Journal, written in a nasty spirit. However, the first edition (500) is exhausted, and a 2nd is to be got out at once.
1: Although this is a central concept of the New Testament, this exact phrasing does not appear in the King James translation of the Bible.
2: viz the coat of many colours given by Joseph by his father Jacob, see Genesis chapter 37.
3: now the home of the Royal Military School of Music. Singleton does not point out that this was one of the locations he and Sewell had considered and rejected as a home for their new school only the previous year.
4: probably The Psalter or Psalms of David in metre, from the authorized version of Brady & Tate, with appropriate tunes set in four parts, with an accompaniment for the Organ or Piano Forte, edited by J. Hullah. London, J. W. Parker, 1843.
5: Fraser’s Magazine.
February 27th, 1848 (Sunday)
Received a letter from Mr Tibbs, and Sewell one yesterday, to say that his friends have recommended him not to stir from Aston, and accordingly resigning his fellowship.
Also one from the Bishop saying that he intended to pay us a visit yesterday, with his brother the Archdeacon. It turned out afterwards that the violence of the weather, and an indisposed coachman, prevented their coming.
Hunt and Roskell have long had in their possession a pastoral staff, of silver gilt, of fine form and chasing. This Sewell had an idea of buying some years ago for St Columba’s, but abandoned it for some reason or other. Since we saw the same kind of thing in the Bishop’s chapel at Cuddesdon, we determined to send to London for it, and, if we liked it, to see if we could manage the purchase. Accordingly it was sent, and turns out to be a very handsome and tasteful work of art, of no antiquity, but thoroughly good. Weighs 116 oz., – of considerable size. We design to put it alongside of the Bishop’s chair, as a striking symbol of our being under Episcopal control. As to payment, the goldsmiths will wait till next year, when Sewell or I hope to be able to manage it.
Sewell wrote to the Bishop on the matter, and he wrote back to say that there “was not the smallest objection to it, if in itself or ornaments unobjectionable,” but that it “ought not to be borne in processions”. Nor exhibited just at present, but that by and bye there “would be no danger”. He speaks of the great “suspicion which surrounds the undertaking.” He called on Sewell subsequently, and mentioned Mr Henley, member for Oxfordshire, as having spoken against us.1 Sewell wrote him a sharp letter, to which the reply was that he meant no harm, but Sewell wrote him another sharp letter to condemn the censures and evil-speaking of mere ignorance. I have not heard the result of this.
1: Questions were raised in Parliament on “Encouragement to Schools in Connexion with the Church Education Society (Ireland)” by Captain Archdale, Kilmore, on February 15th, from the Protestant Inhabitants of Roscommon on February 16th, Mr Maxwell, of Cavan, of February 17th, Mr George Hamilton, of Kildare, and Sir William Veiney, of Armagh, on February 18th, by Captain Jones, of Armagh, on February 21st, from several places in Ireland on February 22nd, by Captain Archdale and others on February 23rd, by Mr Grogan, from Wexford, on February 28th. Throughout this period, debates in the House were concerned with all aspects of the Irish question, of which education (and the example of St Columba’s) was just one aspect.
Joseph Henley, MP for Oxford, was present in the House and spoke or commented on a variety of petitions on February 15th, 16th, 18th and 21st 1848, but not specifically on education.
It should be remembered that Radley was in Berkshire at this time, and that the MP for Oxfordshire did not represent the constituency. Source, Hansard
February 28th, 1848 (Monday)
While I was in Ireland, last June, Sewell purchased a costly group of carvings in this shape [T] 9ft x 7, representing several scenes from the life of Christ, and done with great power and genius, but with a reality bordering on caricature. The figures stand pout in great relief, and are done in gold and colour. The tabernacle work is exquisite, and altogether it is very fine in its way; – but it is quite too graphic to be reverent, and as it also bears a very Popish air, all thought it best to get rid of it; so it was sent back to Pratt today.
I do not say that it would not admit of defence in hard argument, but it would be unwise needlessly to put ourselves in such a position as to be compelled to have recourse to it. James Edwards Sewell and Henry Sewell felt strongly against it, and my own personal repugnance was great. As a matter of theology there might be a question, – but as a matter of taste I think there could be none.1
Although this object was returned to the seller on this occasion, William Sewell purchased it in 1853. It is a fifteenth century carved altarpiece, variously described as a reredos or a retable, from Brabant. Although polychrome when Sewell bought it, he had the whole gilded, in an attempt to reduce the “Popish air.” It is now Radley’s greatest treasure.
The Radley altarpiece by Tony Money, Radley College, 2006 – can be obtained from Radley College Library and Archives.
February 29th, 1848 (Tuesday)
Mr Johnson of the Observatory, came with a Mr Bowen who takes a deep interest in the College, and Rev – Wilson, son of the Sanscrit Professor.
Metal cross put up on turret, after infinite disappointment. It looks beautiful, and is to be gilt.