July 5th, 1847 (Monday)
Found all well, and the chapel and house advanced satisfactorily. My room handsomely set out with fine, old fashioned chairs, two escritoires in beautiful marqueterie, the octagon table which I purchased at Wright’s, one of the handsome altar chairs, (which we do not intend to place at the altar, as sedilia appear to be the only legitimate provision of that kind) a “prie-dieu” well carved, and (of course) my own study table and chair, which I brought from Stackallan. I have a large Turkey carpet, for Sewell & I quite agree that they are much the cheapest in the end, while they always look much more quiet and collegiate than any other kind; – besides it being next to impossible to get a Brussels or Kidderminster without an objectionable pattern, or some admixture of colours to be reprobated by good taste. The book-case that Johnson made is an excellent piece of work, and really ornamental.
Sewell has put over the chimney-piece a fine carving, in solid walnut and of large size, of the four symbols of the Evangelists, & “Salvator Mundi” in the centre. Also on the walls the four heads of Great Painters in crayons, which we got from Falcke. The woodwork is painted oak, almost black, and much darker than I like. Still the room is really very imposing. It is entered by an arched passage in the wall, which contains the stone stair-case. It (the passage) is above six feet in length, & is painted of the same grim colour, so I am sure it will be an object of horror, a sort of dread Styx, to the unhappy little creatures which will have to pass it in the suspense of the judgement which awaits them beyond. I have proposed that it should be called the “Locus Paenitetiae.”
My bedroom has a bedstead which was got from Hopson at Gloucester, on which he avers that Charles 1st once slept. Whatever may be the value of the tradition I have put a bit of carpet on the three sides, and at each side of the head an old patterned chair with seven crowns in different parts of the carving. Besides, I have hung upon the wall over the chairs the two engraved busts of the king. Over the chimney piece is the proof of Chalon’s portrait of the Queen, & in other parts, Strange’s two prints. All of these I had designed (as before mentioned) for my sitting-room, but this being more handsomely embellished, – I have now the honour to sleep, instead of to sit, in a right Royal atmosphere. All the bedsteads in the house, except the Dame’s, are of iron; – but even if I had no fancy to conform to this usage, I think I should share the prejudices of Lady Margaret Bellinden, in Old mortality, and no more allow the bedstead, “in which his most sacred Majesty” “lay”, “to be pressed by a less dignified weight,” than she would her turkey Morocco chair.1 Indeed the article is not the most convenient one in the world for the purpose, being very low, very rickety, and very rude. No doubt it was very fine in its day.
I was glad to find that Sewell had approved of my ordering from Mears (while I was at Kingstown), two more bells, to chime for chapel, ending on the Great Bell. They are to be A & B, a 5th & 6th to the D; & will weigh about 8 & 10 cwt. Mears will wait till next year to be paid for them.
Found that several things had arrived which Sewell had purchased. Amongst others, 60 yards of the most magnificent brocade of silk and gold, which came from the Queen of Portugal’s Chapel at Belem. (Belem is a fortress on an island at the mouth of the Tagus, whither the Royal family can retire in circumstances of great peril.) This will do for our cushions, & perhaps curtains for the Warden’s & Sub-Warden’s stalls. It was only a guinea a yard, which is the price of good velvet, & to which it is infinitely superior. Also a Thibet [Tibet] carpet, made of the material of which cashmere shawls are composed. The manufactory of this kind of carpet Sir Harford Brydges told Sewell had long been extinct. It is said that there are only three such in England; one bought by George 4th for £200; another in the possession of some nobleman; and this, which cost £30. It is intended for a ‘pede-cloth’. Also a very fine iron chest with a very elaborate lock; and three ancient locks for the Chapel doors. Also some fine examples of old stained glass, including three lights, 8 ft x 1.7 in., representing he figure of SS Peter, Paul & James. These were all that remained of twelve, which Sewell had seen 2 or 3 years ago. They came from Cologne, and cost £14 apiece, which is a very low price, as they are magnificent, & superior to anything in Oxford. Other articles were purchased & arrived while I was away, – such as pictures, carvings, etc.
When Prince Albert visited Oxford, along with the British Association, he was entertained by the Rector of Exeter, who is his private chaplain. On this occasion Sewell lent our furniture & plate, which the Prince admired very much. He sat in the Chair, which is appropriated to the Warden in the Bursary.
1: Old mortality by Sir Walter Scott. First published 1819
July 9th, 1847 (Friday)
Mr Cox, of the Bodleian, with his lady & son, drank tea with us; much struck and pleased. Went on the leads with them, where was a pigeon which seemed to have met with some accident. Next morning it had made its way into the Dame’s room, where it soon domesticated itself & became not only tame but bold to severity. A ‘columba’ taking refuge with us we thought a good omen as well as a curious fact, and therefore were not a little annoyed to find that it had disappeared a few days afterwards. However, were much relieved by the discovery that it had been carried off by some man or other, who had seen it on a paling about the park, & given it to a woman at Abingdon. As yet we have not recovered it; – &, to say the truth our title is a very questionable one, for people will be slow to recognize the argument from suitableness.
Subsequently a kitten (not a particular beauty) made its appearance. The owner was discovered & it was sent home, but returned the next day, & seems likely to remain.
July 11th, 1847 (Tuesday)
Here I cannot help setting down an incident which occurred after my return to England. On Sunday July 11th, Sewell and I were walking up and down the terrace walk, which he had got made, during my absence, at the south front of the house. The unfortunate martens, who had been dispossessed from their quiet retreats in the angles of the windows, had made fresh ones in the great projecting cornice traversing the top of the house. Near one of these which had been lately completed, sat a cock-sparrow, the picture of impudence. I knew very well by the airs he had put on him, and from an observation of the dishonest and burglarious principles of his species, that he had driven away the builders of the nest from their rightful property and their home.
I therefore said, – ‘Sewell, I can set no bounds to my indignation against that rogue of a bird up there. He would not take the trouble of making a nest for himself, but has secured a comfortable berth without labour, by sacrificing the helpless and innocent. It is the triumph of vulgar force against gentility and justice.’
To which Sewell replied, – ‘My dear Singleton, that sparrow must evidently be a Trustee.’
July 14th, 1847 (Wednesday)
The statutes being now finally agreed on by Sewell & me, they were sent to the Bishop. On the 14th of June the Bishop had written to say that before he could become Visitor there were different points which he required to know, and remarked on Sewell’s previous announcement of the provision for observing Fast days that “he thought the line the Church of England takes is, to give a sheltering rule, to be administered under the direction of each man’s conscience; & therefore that whatever would give to another the power of enforcing private fasting would imply the principle of the Church of Rome,” etc. All his remarks upon the question seemed to us at entire variance with the Prayer Book. It is quite clear that he has taken up the view of the two Primates, & therefore the issue is not quite clear.
Sewell replied, & this produced a rejoinder from the Bishop, reasserting the doctrine in the most illogical way, but exhibiting much kindness of feeling, ending thus:
“I anxiously desire to co-operate with you heartily in this matter.” Sewell wrote again in explanation, and the Bishop replied that “with a very slight addition the proposed sketch of a statute would be unobjectionable; if, to the requirement of some public & visible observance of the Church order by the fellows such words as these were added; ‘Private fasting or abstinence being let to the rule of each man’s own conscience’.”
Now, we never dreamt for a moment of the Warden’s interfering with the Fellows’ private fasts, unless indeed a fellow should observe the public fast too rigidly, or should superadd to it private fasting which might damage his health or tend to mere asceticism. In this case, surely the head of this House, like the Head of any other family, should be at liberty to exercise all fair moral influence to dissuade from an injurious practice; and this is what I absolutely did do in Montgomery’s case. However, it is clear that the Bishop would not object to this, & therefore I feel certain that he wants a public observance, (since we insist on it) and then when a fellow is once in his rooms, the liberty for his eating & drinking “ad libitum”; and this of course we cannot allow.
My journal has got greatly into arrear, owing to a press of work in getting the house into order, and therefore I cannot tell exactly the day that Rooke Hoare came with some pictures, which Sewell had bought. These were Henry 8th, Mary Cromwell, & perhaps one or two more. To this we agreed to add a fine painting of Ignatius Loyola, which had been purchased at Cardinal Fisch’s sale, & one of Pitt. I told Mr Hoare to make particular enquiries about the Handel, said to be by Hogarth; for while I was in Ireland I found in “Hogarth’s works” an account of two, which he had painted of that great man. Mr Hoare writes:
“I have been waiting to see Mr Smart, who resides a short distance from town, the gentleman I had the portrait of Handel. It was left in his possession for security of a debt of between £30 & £40. The party died, & the portrait was all Mr Smart had for his debt.”
July 15th, 1847 (Thursday)
Mr Vulliamy, the great clock maker in Pall Mall, called & dined with Sewell & me. Sewell had written to him about the cost of a turret clock to strike the hours on the great bell, & the quarters on the small. He subsequently sent plans and estimates of three. The middle-sized one would come to £235. It is clear that we cannot think of this at present, but we can erect the turret so as to admit of it hereafter if funds come in.1
1: Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy (1780-1854), the head of the famous clock and watch-makers company founded by his father in London in c.1730. The firm had been based at 75 (later renumbered 68) Pall Mall since 1752. Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy specialised in clocks for turrets and had narrowly lost the contract for the clock which was to become Big Ben, in the new tower at the Houses of Parliament in 1844. Singleton and Sewell were approaching the most prestigious current clockmaker for their new clock. See entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
July 17th, 1847 (Saturday)
The Rev. Henry Tuckwell, Principal of a new college in Newfoundland, came with Mr Barrow of Queen’s to see us, & to make many inquiries with a view to his own work. He seemed much pleased. Gave him a large paper copy of the service-book, and promised some copies of the new edition; & also of the Psalter, if he liked the principal of it. Barrow highly pleased.1
1: The Psalter arranged for chanting: as used in The College of St. Peter, Radley. Frome, 1847. [by R.C. Singleton] The titlepage bears the earliest known printing of the device of St. Peter, which later featured on all College prizebooks and on The Radleian Magazine. It was designed by Edward Howard.
July 18th, 1847 (Sunday)
A letter from Mr Brett to say that he would accept our offer of receiving his nephew, (Reynolds) as a student. We had had some correspondence previously upon the subject. The difficulty was the age of the youth (16 years); but hearing so excellent a character of him from Mr Brett, who was known to us as an earnest Catholic, & the author of some sound & valuable little works, Sewell proposed his coming with the lad, (or he volunteered it) & so they came on Wednesday, I think, & we liked them both very much, as did they the College. If the boy be what we have every reason to believe he is, he will be a great acquisition as his size & age will help us wonderfully in establishing our system.
A letter also from Mr Howard who had applied for a Fellowship. He is son to the great artist of that name, & second-class of Lincoln College, a beautiful draughtsman himself, & a musician. A few days before he had come to the College, & I found him pleasing & gentlemanlike, and Sewell was satisfied that he would throw himself into the work. The letter announced that his friends were quite satisfied that he should join us. Sewell told him to bring letters of recommendation from his College Tutor, & others. This he subsequently did, & Messrs. Kay, Gage, etc all agreed in giving him an excellent character, & pronouncing him a very fit person for our purpose.
July 22nd, 1847 (Thursday)
Holdich sent down Mr Robert Sewell’s organ, which to avoid the annoyance & expense of his coming to put it up, I put up & roughly tuned myself. It has 5 stops, but has no merit. It is lent to us, & is set up in the Music-School. A lady made it a present to the owner. It was rescued out of a burning house; old & had barrel movement.
A portion of the delft arrived from Minton. The blue scroll with the motto, ‘Sicut columba’, looks very well. The china cups & plates are just like those at Stackallan, & are very nice.
A letter of this date was received in course from Mr Basil Jones, throwing difficulties in the way of his coming, expressing fears that too long a residence would be required from him, &, stating that “circumstances of recent occurrence seemed to render it improbable that he would be able to continue at Radley for any length of time.” From all this we concluded that he was going to be married, and therefore I gave him up at once. Sewell wrote him a letter in reply which would facilitate his retirement if that were his object.
July 26th, 1847 (Monday)
Miss Goold called to know whether we would take the ground about the house, which was held by her father, – and the gardens, & the house occupied by them. The last she said would be willingly surrendered, provided they were paid the money which they had laid out upon it. To this we replied that we would take the land at once, – that we were uncertain about the garden, but that due notice should be given of any intention to take it, – but that as to the house it might be desirable to have it in our own hands, though the demand for money would make it necessary to lay the case before our legal friends.
The truth is, – that Mr Goold, while the Bowyer family were abroad, by some means or other got possession of the holding, & when the annuitants wanted to turn him out, he very coolly demanded payment for his improvements. This made them very angry, but nothing was done, for they did not like to go to the expense of ejectment, their main object being income more than the moral benefit of the estate. This I merely conclude from the probabilities of the case. They clearly neglected their duty in not turning him out in the first instance. I am sure we shall have trouble about it, for it is out of the question to have a family so close to us, over whom we can exercise no control, & the annuitants will leave that party to get rid of the inconvenience, on whom the inconvenience presses; & the Bowyers will say that they have no money to spend in law.
July 28th, 1847 (Wednesday)
Mr Howard came to have a final arrangement made about his appointment. As Mr W. Basil Jones seemed so unlikely to join the College, Sewell & I agreed that Sewell, as Founder, should nominate a third Fellow, in order that the body might then be in a capacity to exercise corporate functions; for by the Statutes the Warden & three Fellows are necessary to constitute a “congregatio”. Sewell being fully satisfied with Mr Howard, & the latter being fully satisfied with the College, he was absolutely appointed, and introduced to us as Fellow of St Peter’s. He is to commence residence on the 14th of August. We have charged him to get designs for the Block & Seal.
July 29th, 1847 (Thursday)
Mr Sharpe & his sister came from London. Showed them over the College, with which they were most particularly pleased, & went away thanking us heartily for “the day’s treat.” It is a most important matter that they should be so interested.
July 30th, 1847 (Friday)
Mr Hardwicke came to spend a day with us. Much pleased, especially with the Chapel. Pronounced the timber & execution of the work to be excellent. Delighted with his visits; said it was the happiest time he ever spent, – & will come again.
Monk came back in good health, bringing a beautiful kitten who is named “Tom”.
July 31st, 1847 (Saturday)
My book-case having received its cornice, (a plainer one than I had at first thought of) & being stained & varnished, I put up my books, and now feel quite at home again: Deo Gratias.
While we were passing through the Hall to go to dinner in the Common Room, at the door near Mrs Burky’s room, to my amazement, I descried the figure of Tripp. I passed on & said nothing, but when in the Common Room I beckoned Sewell most anxiously into the Bursary, and told him what I had seen. He was astounded, but what was to be done? Were we to receive him? And how? He had behaved most extremely ill in going down to Ravindon to see Mr Ellis & Gabbett, after the former writing violently against the College of St Columba in the newspapers, & the latter being sent away from it on account of treasonable proceedings. To make the matter worse, Tripp had consulted me about going, & had given me a solemn promise that he would not go. Instead of this, when he left the College by way of proceeding to Oxford he went straight to the County of Carlow. Since that time I have never seen him, nor had any communication with him.
Was I then to receive such a person as if such behaviour were a mere misdemeanour, or a matter of no consequence? Sewell was of the opinion that he should be admitted into the College, and received quietly but with no more than bare civility. While he was saying this, the door opened, & in he (Tripp) walked. In my hurry I had forgotten that there were general orders to show all strangers into the Bursary; so we were forced to act on the moment. Accordingly, Sewell shook hands with him, and then I did the same, but in a manner marked by coldness. All sat down, and after a few remarks about the Oxford elections, (whither he had come to vote) Sewell said, “I know Warden, you are engaged just now”; – Tripp adding, “Oh, dinner is ready”, (or some such words), whereupon I expressed assent, got up, bowed & retired.
Sewell and he continued together till long after we had done dinner, & I was in hopes that he would have expressed contrition for his conduct; but nothing of the kind took place. Though Sewell several times spoke strongly of the way in which I had been treated, & gave him every opportunity of saying something apologetic; though he mentioned gratification at having heard of Morton’s frequently speaking affectionately of me, and that Mackarness was fully sensible of his error & very sorry for it, – yet nothing was elicited. He talked, & there were long & awkward pauses; until Sewell thought he would never go away. It was evident to Sewell that he wanted to see the place, but his hints fell fruitless. He can scarcely misconceive the nature of his reception, for he did not see me again, nor Monk, – nor was he asked in to dinner, which he knew was on the table. If he thinks for a moment, he might conclude that his seeing me at all might have been accidental, as it certainly was. He was on his way to Mackarness, & he will no doubt hear of the different manner in which we have behaved to him, after his expression of penitence.
Sewell mentioned that they were going to Rathfarnham, that the Castle required a new roof, & that the organ was to be put up in one of the rooms! How fast it is dwindling down into a mere, common School! He said that the change would cost them £1,000, – I do not see how it can be completed under twice or thrice that sum. This whole incident was very painful; I would have given any thing for one word of confession from him, that I might have been cordial & kind. It is amazing how he could have ventured to appear near Radley unless with the intention of making some amends for conduct that was nothing short of outrageous. He is so silly, that perhaps he does not think that he has done any thing wrong.
Talking of Stackallan reminds me that Sewell received a letter from Mr Hornby to say that he had received a communication from Ireland (no doubt from his brother-in-law, Mr Darby) to this effect: “The Primate thinks the true state of the case has not been disclosed. He has written a strong letter to Sewell, & laid the whole of the correspondence, statutes, bye-laws, & practices, of St Columba’s before the Bishop of Oxford. The Trustees have applied to the Primate for leave to print the whole for private circulation.” Now, we doubt whether they have sent the whole to the Primate, for we know that not long ago the first fasting statute was withheld, – why, it matters not. But whether they have or not, the Bishop does not seem to have been much influenced. Certainly, if they print they will do an imprudent act: for if they print all, they will only proclaim their own abandonment of principle, and injustice, – and if they print less than all, they will compel Sewell and me to supply their deficiency; – which will be worse. This letter of Mr Hornby’s is dated July 19th, he is in a great fidget: in fact, I think nothing will get him out of one. He was satisfied some time ago, but now seems unsettled again.