June 1st, 1847 (Tuesday)
This evening Mr Johnson marked out the foundation lines for the Chapel, & I turned the first sod. He has great hopes of having it finished by the 1st of October, but I am a little doubtful; however, he will do his very best. The ground toward the east end unfortunately falls 5 feet, which will involve considerable addition to the brick-work and to the expense. It was subsequently found that the earth there was artificial; looking like the filling up of a gravel hole. It must therefore be sunk, & I suppose ‘concrete’ must be used. This causes delay, but it is hoped that the building will begin on Monday. The weather has been so long dry, that I am in a fidget about a wet season. Yet we could not have begun sooner, so we must be content.
May God grant that the structure to be raised may be to his glory and man’s benefit!
June 2nd, 1847 (Wednesday)
Dined with Sewell at Exeter, who in the evening had a very large assemblage of ladies and gentlemen to tea. The second-hand carpets, purchased by Captain Haskoll for the College, had just arrived, and they were spread under the trees in the garden, and seats were laid upon them. Tea and coffee were then served, and several members of the Motett Society sang some beautiful glees and madrigals and part-songs. The selection was admirable, made by Monk, who conducted. The evening was delicious, the garden and windows were well stocked with flower pots, the sward green and delicately soft, the trees not yet invested with the sombre hue of summer; and what with the ladies gay dresses and the gentlemen’s grave gowns, – and then the deep ivied buttresses of the Bodleian, and the handsome dome of the Radcliffe, – the harmony of nature, sound and art, – I never saw any thing in my life so beautiful of its kind.
When the dew began to fall the whole company adjourned to the hall, which in itself is the prettiest room in Oxford, – though not the handsomest, – and on this occasion was set off by a most happy admixture of flowers and light, arranged, no doubt, by Sewell, who has, added to his other fine qualities, a pure taste, which can be cheerful and playful as well as sober and severe. Here the singing was continued, which was very good, 2 or 3 pieces being encored. Every one (and there were 3 or 4 hundred) seemed highly gratified, and endless were the thanks showered on Sewell as the assemblage retired.
What Sewell says is very true; that instead of giving formal, stately, costly dinner-parties, which to the dozen people who frequent them are felt to be more of a pain than a pleasure, by this plan you can afford high gratification to hundreds, who go away really pleased, and next morning will find no traces of sick-stomach, heart-burn, or head-ache. Five or six pounds defrayed the whole expense, more than which would be required to vex a few people. However, it must be confessed that no one in Oxford but Sewell could command such a party as this. He had all the undergraduates of his College, excepting 5 or 6 ‘mauvais sujets’, whose exclusion was designed. When the singers got into the Quadrangle they sang ‘God save the Queen’, and at the termination one of these worthies shouted ‘Bravo’ out of his window. Sewell sent up to him to command silence. The intrusion sufficiently indicated his character.
The Marklands were there, and Mr Markland told me how gratified he was at our wish to have them on the 9th, and how he regretted that he was obliged to leave Oxford immediately. He bid me a cordial farewell, saying: ‘My heart will be with you.’
One of the reasons which induced Sewell to give this entertainment was to divert people of any notion that, because he was founding a ‘corporation of bachelors,’ either he or we had any antipathy to female society. We are only to be recluses so far as our peculiar duties make it necessary.
Captain Haskoll and I walked to Radley at a late hour, and were delighted by the songs of numberless nightingales, which abound in those parts. One of them piped and twittered in a thorn-bush by the roadside, letting us come quite close without any fear of being molested. It was moonlight, so she must have seen us. They never seem to tire of singing.
June 3rd, 1847 (Thursday)
In the afternoon S. made his appearance. He had come out in a Fly with a Mr Rooke-Hoare, a picture dealer, who had brought down from London several portraits, etc. on the chance of our taking some of them. When Sewell was last in London he bought a few from him, and told him to let him know if he heard of any pictures of great men, possessing any merit. Out of a great number we selected the following:
|Head of Christ||} 13. 6. 0|
|ditto Johnson||8. 0. 0|
|Dead Christ||10. 0. 0|
|ditto by Rembrandt||15. 0. 0|
|Head of Rubens||5. 0. 0|
|Full length James 1st||8. 0. 0|
|Hogarth ¾ (supposed)||5. 0. 0|
|Head of Shakespeare (modern)||5. 0. 0|
|¾ Handel (Mr H. says by Hogarth)||18. 0. 0|
|Head of Newton||9. 0. 0|
|ditto Boyle||9. 0. 0|
|A head (S. thinks of Addison)||5. 0. 0|
|Total||£110. 6. 0|
The head of Johnson I immediately recognised to be in Sir Joshua Reynolds’ style, and on asking Mr Hoare said he had no doubt that it was the sketch from which he painted his large picture. That of James 1st is evidently an original. The portrait of Handel, though plainly of his time, being that of a much younger man that he is represented in all the engravings we have seen, created some suspicions of its genuineness. However, he will take it back, whenever we please.1
But why go to this expense in pictures? For this reason: because we wish to surround the boys with an atmosphere breathing greatness and goodness. No man of experience but knows the value of teaching by the eye. Religion and morality, history and truth, wisdom and learning, are best taught by example, and pictures are a sort of example. Pictures invest instruction with a reality that brings it home to the mind at once. So far as my own eye is concerned, I have no particular fancy for a portrait in itself, unless either the head or the painting of it were very fine; I far prefer a landscape. Yet, so far as education is affected, a few portraits of celebrated men would be much more useful. For this purpose I would rather have half a dozen respectable paintings of historical characters than a fine Claude; – I mean, of course, if I could not have both.
At the same time, if we flourish I hope we shall have a fine picture gallery, a fine museum, sculptures, engravings, gardens, busts, – in fact, a little world of art all prostrate at the feet of Religion and Holiness. We are to educate gentlemen; a gentleman is a Christian refined, and mankind cannot be refined without the arts. Sewell and I wholly accord on this point. In fact, we agree in almost the minutest matters of taste, points upon which men are wont to hold the most varied opinions. For this intimate agreement we have good cause to be thankful. Only for it the College would have no chance of opening on the 1st of August.
The pictures of sacred subjects are to be placed, one in each of the Fellows’ rooms.
This day also there arrived from Falcke’s, in Oxford St., 4 stands for holding candelabra, or anything else without a broad base. The leg of each represents a tree with 2 doves, and their nest, upon the branches, and at the bottom two figures of little boys prettily disposed, one rather stretching up and the other more depressed. They are of old oak, very well carved, and cost £5 apiece. I fear they have a little of a drawing-room air, – but will do very well, I daresay. We ought to be reminded of our emblem.
Also there came seven portraits of Edward 6th, the two Marys, etc, a beautiful sketch of the Duke of Marlborough on a prancing horse, by Jones, who painted the dome of St. Paul’s; all £10 apiece. Also four magnificent crayon drawings of Bassano, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Guido; all on vellum, and, it is said, in the style of each artist. They are uncommonly fine, and each cost £25. However, we need not pay for these for 9 months. Falcke also sent the ‘Graduale’ mentioned earlier in the hope of our purchasing it, but we agreed that we could not afford to give £40 for it, and, even if we could, that we had better lay out the money on portraits. It is undoubtedly a very fine manuscript of AD 1494, but we must do without it. The sheets of vellum are 21 inches by 15.
In the evening we read over the Statutes, of which I had nearly completed a fair copy; made some alterations, and added the remaining ones which were necessary. Amongst the changes, we left out ‘Columbiensis’ from our name.
1: These portraits originally adorned the School room and public rooms in the Mansion. Over the course of the next fifty years they were gradually dispersed into classrooms and dormitories, with the inevitable result that they suffered considerable wear and tear. In 1904 they were seen by the curator of the National Portrait Gallery who declared them to be of little monetary value but of considerable historic interest, and mostly genuine. Most have long since left Radley.
June 4th, 1847 (Friday)
Captain Haskoll and I took a walk in the evening down to the river, to explore that locality. We passed by Nuneham, which slightly reminded me of the Boyne; went under the railway bridge, expecting every moment to come to some road, path or lane, leading in the Radley direction, – but to no purpose. On we went, thinking that the worst that could happen to us would be to be brought to Abingdon, which at last appeared near to us. We had followed the tow-path by the river’s edge, when to our consternation we found that it changed to the other side, where the ferry-boat was moored. It was evident that we must return, as it was getting dark enough, and therefore we retraced our steps with all speed. After wandering for 8 or 9 miles we got safe home. The exploring of the river’s bank was not without its use; though we were not struck by any suitable place in the neighbourhood of Radley for a boat-house. I am afraid too that we may have to pay for a right of way down to the water, as there seem to be no paths through the meadows. The river looked smooth and treacherous. One thing I am determined on, and that is, – to exclude skiffs; unless perhaps hereafter I may deem it safe to let strong and expert swimmers duck themselves in that particular way. Our boats must be good, honest, craft.
June 5th, 1847 (Saturday)
I am thankful to say that I have just completed the fair copy of the Statutes. They occupy fifty pages of the size of the one on which I am now writing, and therefore have cost some trouble in drawing up and transcribing them. They are taken mainly from those of Exeter College, though with considerable omissions and additions, to make them suitable to our purpose. They are an admirable compilation, and had I been protected by such as they at Stackallan, the miserable scenes one had to go through would have been avoided. But Providence ‘doeth all things well’, and I am (with His Blessing) likely to be happier than ever I was there.
Mr Underwood and Mr Johnson came out in the afternoon, and told me that the Chapel had been put too far to the South by its own width, that the south wall, and not the north, should range with the south front of the house. By the plan it was arranged that the Hall, which may hereafter be added, should be as near the offices as possible; – but on deliberation we felt it such an advantage to keep the buildings from crowding the house, beside their looking better, that we ordered the work to stand. The accident was a curious one. When Mr Johnson laid out the lines for the foundation he had not the ground plan.
June 6th, 1847 (Sunday)
Sewell, his brother Henry, and Nugent Wade, made their appearance soon after Church, where we had been, Monk having joined us after a sultry walk from Oxford. Henry Sewell frowned at seeing all we were doing and the lease not yet signed: however it was easy to see that it was the gravity of the lawyer that caused a serious face, and that there was nothing to apprehend. Wade had heard nothing whatever of the College since our important conversation on the evening of 5th March. He was therefore wonderfully surprised to find so many intentions, then only possible, now absolutely fulfilled: funds, a place, a name, statutes, and an approaching installation.
Since writing this, I have called to mind that it was not till next day that he came, and then in company with Sewell alone. Henry Sewell was evidently much pleased with the place and what we had done in the way of painting, etc. He talked of sending us at once his second boy, a fine little fellow of seven years old; the only doubt being whether, at that early age, he could wash, dress, and otherwise take care of, himself.
Monk was poorly, having come into Church very warm and there experienced a chill. However the next day he was quite well. Sewell and Henry Sewell lunched at our dinner, and then walked back after Evensong.
June 7th, 1847 (Monday)
Sewell walked out with Nugent Wade to early tea. Sewell and I settled sundry matters of detail with reference to Wednesday. Arranged that Sewell should come out tomorrow evening and sleep, if possible, so that we might have time to complete remaining affairs, and that he might be quiet on Wednesday, which would tax his nerves to the uttermost. Nugent Wade is to come with him, and remain, if Herbert sends out a bed tomorrow.
Got all books into the bookcases in Common Room.
June 8th, 1847 (Tuesday)
All the things arrived from Wrights’; which Captain Haskoll and I got unpacked, and placed in the Common Room, which looks extremely well. My books give it a very furnished appearance, as they are mostly well bound. Then the dozen old chairs fitted with velvet, the carved study table, and the octagon table, (intended for my room) standing on one of the Turkey carpets give a very handsome effect. The portrait of Charles 1st which I purchased from Wright, frame and all, for £8, is a very fine picture, of large dimensions; – and this we hung over the chimney piece; so that the room looks really quite imposing. A very creditable portrait of George the 3rd, which we got for £5, (little more than the price of the frame; in such slight estimation is that good man’s memory held,) we place on the chimney piece in the next, the Visitors’ room. All this (excepting the disposition of the pictures, which awaited Sewell’s wishes) Captain Haskoll and I got done, the boxes, etc. stowed away, the Halls and Staircase swept and washed, – before Sewell and Wade came, so that they were charmed. I was very uneasy lest Sewell might not admire the two Altar Chairs which I bought with his approval, though he had not seen them. These I had placed in the Music Room, which is to be our temporary Chapel. However he thoroughly admired them, – a great relief.
A box had come from London directed to Sewell which he opened, and which proved to be the Plate which he had purchased for the College. It is old and quaint, and very beautiful. Two Teapots and a Coffee Pot charmingly embossed; Sugar bowls, Cream-ewers, small butter boats; Cruet Stand, and a Mustard Pot in the form of an owl, looking as grave as a Mustard Pot can be. This last is a most comical affair. The eyes stare with piercing mischief and undisturbed solemnity. When the creature has his mouth opened, there appears on the lower mandible a little mouse in the place of a tongue, the mouse being the handle of the spoon, which by the way stands a good chance of having to endure a sinapism.1 The spoons and forks are numerous and of various shapes, and with various handles. Yet all is quiet, so that I am sure our table will look very nice, and yet without appearance of effort or pretension. There are also four very plain plated corner dishes, which I saw with real satisfaction; for delft ones are subject to such continual chipping, mutilation, and fracture, that nothing short of a long purse or an indifferent taste can possibly tolerate them, at least for any length of time.
We are not a little vexed that Hadnutt, notwithstanding letters and entreaties, has not yet sent what Sewell ordered long ago. These included a large circular table with four lions counchant for feet, – for the common room; – two or 3 tables for Fellows’ Rooms; – four high-backed chairs, some little round tables, etc. Neither has Hopson sent the chairs for my room, which Sewell ordered long ago also. We therefore thought it necessary to order a quantity of chairs, etc. from Herbert, to be out early in the morning.
Sewell, Wade, Captain Haskoll and I unpacked a quantity of delft and glass, partly purchased, and partly hired for tomorrow, which fagged and dirtied us sadly.
On his return to Oxford, Sewell had shown his brother the Statutes, which he told me this evening that he (Henry Sewell) highly approved with two or 3 exceptions. He thought that the absolute interdict on the Warden’s marriage was unwise, as it might exclude persons who, notwithstanding, might be most eligible for the office: for instance the case of an elderly person without children. We therefore determined to introduce a clause of exception in grave cases, to be approved by the Five Priors, and perhaps the rest of the College also. Henry Sewell also suggested that giving the Warden alone power to get rid of a Fellow would not give the Fellows a sufficient feeling of independence. This Sewell and I had often discussed, knowing it to be a most important and difficult point. We had repeatedly thought of leaving the power in the hands of the Warden and Four Officers, but I dreaded too great a difficulty, more than too great ease, in getting rid of an incapable, unsound or insubordinate, person. We therefore determined to make the consent of the Sub-Warden necessary in the copy to be sent to the Bishop, and if on further consideration we thought proper to limit the Warden’s power still more, relaxation in that direction would be easy enough, in the other perhaps impossible. But we must not forget that where young people are to be ruled, unity in the governing body is essential. A want of adequate power in the head would be the signal for restiveness, and the source of contempt.
1: A mustard-plaster. (Oxford English Dictionary)
June 9th, 1847 (St. Columba’s Day)
This morning, after completing our arrangements for the service and form of the ceremony of the installation, (that is, as to what they were to be; -) the four of us (Sewell, Nugent Wade, Captain Haskoll and self) proceeded to settle the Music-School for the purpose. It has 3 windows to the north, the centre one of which we closed with the shutters, and placed before it an oblong table of carved oak. Upon one end of this we placed a quarto Prayer-Book; bound in purple turkey morocco, resting upon a small portable reading frame; and at the other a Bible in a similar way. In the centre was put our beautiful offertory dish, supported also be a similar frame, only of black wood. This had been lent to Stackallan, but withdrawn when they changed their principles. Such was the furniture of the table.
Chairs were set for strangers by the walls of the room; with hassocks before them. In front of these were two rows of seats appropriated, as it were, to the College, though of course nearly all were empty. The two altar chairs were placed for the Warden and Sub-Warden, in College – Chapel position,1 and three of the baronial chairs, from Bristol, stood at right angles to them on each side. These were the seats of our supposed six Fellows. Between the last of these on one side and the Table were three high-backed cane chairs, where the Warden and 2 Fellows elect took their seats. In the corresponding space on the other side an old arm-chair stood, which Sewell occupied as Founder. On the chimney-piece rested a very old picture of the Virgin and Child. At the end of the room were chairs for Mrs Burky and her daughter, and the 2 Servitors, Henry Searle and William Bradley. The flooring and dado are of fine dark oak, so that the whole apartment presented a grave and solemn appearance.
Our company, which consisted of Sewell’s nearest friends, with 2 or 3 exceptions, began to arrive about 3 o’clock. They consisted of:
Mrs Acland Lady of the Professor of Anatomy Miss Richards } sisters of the Rector of Exeter College Miss M Richards Revd J Ley Sub-Rector of Exeter Revd Mr Marriott Fellow of Oriel Revd J B Heathcote2 [sic] } Fellows & Tutors of New College Revd J E Sewell Revd J Pollen Fellow of Merton Revd Mr Wynn } Fellows of All Souls Revd Mr Dean Revd Robert Gibbings Ex-Fellow of St Columba’s, now Curate of Peasemore Revd Nugent Wade Rector of St Anne’s, Soho Revd William Crichton Rector of Crayford, Kent Revd Mr Bellaire A friend of Mr Dean’s Mr Saunders } Bachelors of Exeter Mr Whitehead
These with Sewell, Captain Haskoll, Monk and self, made up twenty. The Hon. & Rev. Arthur Perceval would have been delighted to come, but his health was not equal to it. I was greatly disappointed at the absence of the Revd. J C Hobhouse, Fellow of Merton and Vicar of St. Peter’s in the East. He had engaged to come, but was stopped by some tiresome school-business or other. He is a most charming person and our hearty friend. Mr Barrow, Fellow and Tutor of Queen’s, and Mr Greswell of Worcester College, were also prevented from coming; as was Mr Acland, the Professor. We were also very sorry to find that Mr Sharpe could not come, being obliged to attend a meeting at the Bank of England. I do not remember that any more were invited, who promised to come, and came not with the exception of Mr White, Fellow and Tutor of New College, whose father had arrived just as he was setting off, which prevented him. Mr Radcliffe, the Vicar of Radley, has not yet called, which extraordinary as it is, is very convenient; for we should not at all have relished his company, and yet we could scarce have avoided asking him, had he been civil.
Sewell, in full academicks, received all the guests, we being in our ordinary dress. He was in office, – we, only candidates for it. About ½ past 3 o’clock, we went and robed ourselves. I had to put on a grand gown, with velvet sleeves, over my cassock, which only helped to make me long the more that all was over. We then went down to the Common Room, where all was assembled, and, Sewell taking Mrs Acland and I Miss Richards, the whole company proceeded to the Music-School.
Nugent Wade read Evensong, only introducing Psalms 121, 122, 127, 132, 133, 134 instead of the Psalms for the day. The Sub-Rector of Exeter read the lessons, which we fixed to be the 6th chapter of Deuteronomy and 2nd of 1st Peter. The rest of the service was as usual. After rising from our knees, on a sign from Sewell we sat down. He then made an address, in the course of which he pointed out the necessity, which the law created, of having witnesses to the formation of a College by its Founder; for that no body self-constituted could ever enjoy any of those privileges and benefits which the law would protest, unless there were external proofs that it had been really organized. He then stated the principles upon which the present foundation was to rest, and enlarged upon the nature of the educational system to be pursued therein. He explained different things which met the eyes of those present, and which might otherwise have been scarcely intelligible, showing why it was that we surrounded the place with dignity, handsomeness, taste, and an air of antiquity; in fact, that expense incurred was sound policy, and not extravagance. He deprecated any one’s looking upon the present effort as a mere experiment, for that it was only a repetition of what had been eminently successful before. He begged of those, who might be at a loss to comprehend why he had retired from all connections with St Columba’s, to ask him no questions; for that the characters of others, for whom he had the sincerest regard, were so mixed up with the proceeding, that he would far rather remain silent, and unless compelled to speak, would say nothing. At the same time he added that my whole behaviour had merited his fullest approbation, respect and gratitude.
In the course of his remarks he added more that was complimentary to oneself, but I forget most of what he said, and even if I remembered it, I could not write it down. My shortness of memory arises not from indifference, but because I was in such a fluster that it was hard to recollect any thing. He made allusion to St. Columba having been driven from Ireland; (by the way, that story of his quarrel with the King and his own Master, about his copying the Psalter, is doubted) and when he spoke of this Saint’s having founded so many Schools of learning, he expressed a deep sense of his own unworthiness, and the painful contrast which the recollection forced upon him. He here became greatly affected. After a few more observations, he concluded by saying; ‘We shall now observe silence for a short time that we may all offer up out secret prayers for a blessing on what we are now engaged in.’ After this interval he repeated the 51st Psalm, all present following him. Then came the Lord’s Prayer; after that the Collect for the 12th Sunday after Trinity, and ‘Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings.’3
We then rose from our knees, and after a few prefatory remarks, Sewell said, ‘In behalf of myself and those persons, who have entrusted me with funds for this foundation, I hereby nominate and appoint the Revd. Robert Corbet Singleton, Master of Arts, of Trinity College, Dublin and late Warden of St Columba’s in Ireland, to be the Warden of this College of St. Peter, Radley.’ He then came across to me, took me by the right hand, and led me to the seat already mentioned as appropriated to the Warden. He gave me a hearty squeeze, and then delivered to me the book of Statutes, wrapped up in black silk and tied with a ribbon; saying that they were taken chiefly from those of Exeter College, which had been drawn up since the Reformation and were found to be an admirable code. This done, he retired to his seat, and I read the promise and declaration in Latin, prescribed by the Statutes.
When this was over, he brought Monk up to me, and spoke shortly to his character and abilities, alluding to his former connection with me; and presented him as a fit person to be a Fellow of the College; to which I replied by a slight bow. He then brought up Captain Haskoll, wearing his medal for Services in China, saying that he had known him since he (Sewell) was a child, and that he could safely recommend him to be a member of the body, not only for his general character’s sake, but because I should find him particularly useful in the management of boys, (of whom he had much experience and was very fond, -) especially in imparting to them a knowledge of French, with which language a long residence in France had made him quite familiar. He then took occasion to observe that serious people were beginning to see the importance of making use of that great mass of piety and talent, which was lying unemployed among the officers of the Army and Navy not on active duty. I bowed once more, and Captain Haskoll proceeded to read the promise and declaration of a Fellow.
When he had finished I turned to Monk and said; ‘Eduine, idem promissum quod Guilielmus praestitit in persona sua tu prae stabis in persona tua?’ To which Monk replied: ‘Prae sto’. I then took his right hand, saying: ‘Eduine, auctoritate mihi commissa admitto te in numerum Sociorum hujus Collegii, in nomine Patre, Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.’ And the same for Captain Haskoll. They then went to the seats already mentioned as appropriated for the Fellows.
When Sewell brought up Monk and presented him, he took occasion to mention, what he had forgotten before, that the Statutes had not yet been laid before the Bishop of Oxford, as Visitor, but that this would shortly be done, and he felt no doubt that his Lordship would make no vital change in them.
Gibbings, by some accident, had seated himself from the very first in one of these six chairs; which seemed to say that he ought to be a Fellow of St. Peter’s. I was delighted to see him. He came from London to be present, though he had to go to his curacy the same evening. In coming downstairs, he said, ‘I almost wish to be one of you again.’ However, I would not let him proceed, reminding him that Providence seemed to have designed him for another sphere.
As I was now the Head of the House, I proceeded with the rest of the ceremony, and commenced ‘Te Deum’: after which came a form extracted from Bishop Andrewes’ ‘Private devotions’, with a few alterations and additions.
Then followed the Prayer for Unity out of the Form for the 29th of January;4 the Collect ‘O Almighty and Everlasting God’; concluding with the Blessing. Thus the whole form was taken from recognized sources, containing nothing of our own, but a few petitions which seemed absolutely necessary, and to which no one present would, and no one else could, make any objection.
The Ceremony of Installation being ended, I conducted Mrs Acland down to the Common Room, and then went in with Sewell to see how the dinner was arranged, and that all matters were right. We met Mrs Burky in tears, tears of joy. She said that a year ago she had not the remotest expectation of ever being so happy again during her whole life, as she was now; that she never dreamt of being once more the Dame of a College with oneself for its warden, – and that she hoped we would not think that her delight at her present situation would ever lead her to forget her duty.
The table looked charming. Mr Johnston had erected a temporary structure, like broad benches for carpenters’ use. These were arranged in a T shape. To hide the unevenness we put quilts over the planks, and then covered the quilts with our own table cloths, which had just been finished, and looked as white as snow, or as linen possibly can. The dishes were all of cold viands, including some tarts, and blanc-manges. There was abundance, but the table did not groan either literally or metaphorically. Several bowls of flowers were spread about, and gave a gay and finished look to the repast, while our plate added a quiet handsomeness, exactly suited to the sort of College that we want to have. It was greatly admired.
At the head of the table one of the Bristol chairs was placed for the Warden, and on each side were four chairs which had been formerly in Carlton Palace, and had fallen into Mallam’s hands, and from his into ours.
Before we assembled at dinner I implored Sewell not to drink my health, but he was inexorable. He said that it would be expected from him; and that if he did not propose the toast somebody else undoubtedly would; and that the omission would be un-English: so I was compelled to submit. I then told him that I must in that case propose his in return as Founder, but he besought me not to do so so pathetically, that I yielded, and thus showed him more mercy that he showed me. How I do abhor a share in public proceedings; and of all things I tremble at the prospect of having to make a speech.
All matters being now arranged under the superintendence of Hewlett that Common-Room man at Exeter, I took Mrs Acland down, Sewell Miss Richards, and Wade Miss H Richards. When dinner drew toward a close, the beautiful Grace-cup full of some beverage prepared by Hewlitt, was brought to Sewell, who rose and said that it was essential to a College that it should have a ‘Poculum Caritatis’; that he had some years ago caused the one in his hands to be laid by for him, on account of its beauty and suitableness; and that he had always intended it for some College or other, having thought of Exeter and St. Augustine’s, but that he was now happy that it had remained in his possession until the present time; concluding with words to this effect:
I have much pleasure, Mr Warden, in presenting this Grace-cup to the College of St Peter. You may observe that there are brute animals represented on its sides, and that it is crowned by an ancient figure of a Bishop with a crozier in hand, symbolising the universal triumph of religion. May it prove to this College a cup of grace, the type of brotherly love, and the bond of peace and unity.’ Having taken a draught, he handed it to me; upon which I rose and expressed, ‘in behalf of the College, the high value which we placed upon the ancient usages of such Societies, and that we should always feel it a happiness as well as a privilege to imitate them where practicable; returning our best thanks for the handsome gift now offered.
I then took a draught myself, and handed the cup to Miss Richards, who did the same, and then each of the company in turn, who stood up as they drank. What the fluid tasted like I am sure I don’t know. I was in such a fuss that I should have been none the wiser, had it been ink.
After this ensued a short interval, which was not spent in the happiest way imaginable by me, for I knew my fate was now at hand, and felt more as if I was going to be executed than to have my health drank. Accordingly Sewell stood up, and instantly all was silence. He then observed that ‘we had a custom at St Columba’s of never sitting after dinner in Hall or Common Room drinking wine, but that on Saints’ days and on certain other festal occasions, we used to partake moderately of it during dinner, and in very particular instances to drink one toast, and but one. That in accordance with this principle he was now about to propose a toast, which he had no doubt would be responded to unanimously, as it would be anticipated by all. He added some eulogistic remarks, (which in all sincerity, I wholly forget,) and ended by saying: ‘The toast that I have now the pleasure of giving is, – God bless the Warden of St Peter’s’; to which all the company added ‘Amen.’ – This was very painful, and almost past bearing; – but on great occasions excitement seems to furnish unnatural nerve, so I bore it. After bowing in acknowledgement of the salutations on all sides, I rose and spoke briefly; but what I said I’m sure is not worth recording, and I doubt if I could remember it. However, I took occasion to ‘thank those present for the very great kindness and attention which I had received at their hands, and which I said affected me the more as it was shown to a stranger, and wholly free from all appearance of effort.’ Sewell told me afterwards that I had said just enough, and that people were pleased; a comfort proportioned to my apprehension. The whole company then retired, and shortly afterwards quitted the College, very much struck, and very highly pleased, by the proceedings of the day.
I scarcely ever remember to have been more delighted at the termination of any thing, for I was fagged beyond measure. As to Sewell, he lay down on the floor and rested his head against a chair. My head was splitting. He soon became somewhat recovered, and walked into Oxford with Edward Sewell and Nugent Wade. On taking leave of me (for I was to go away the next day,) he said; – ‘What a comfort to send you back to your mother once more a Warden.’
Captain Haskoll and I walked with Monk part of the way into Oxford, but I had such a pain in my head that I could not go far. The glow-worms shone, and the nightingales whistled, as we returned. I managed a hearty supper, of which I stood somewhat in need, having eaten scarcely anything at dinner, I was in such a fuss, though no one could detect any uneasiness. What a great work it is which we have now taken the first formal step; one scarcely dares to think of all the responsibility which we have incurred. What damage to the cause of truth if we should fail: – quod absit!
1: i.e., facing each other across the aisle rather than facing front towards an altar.
2: The original handwritten text has “J B Heathcote”, though it seems likely that this would be W B Heathcote.
3: “Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works, begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” From the Office for the laying of a foundation stone for a church or chapel from the Book of Common Prayer.
4: “O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst say unto thine Apostles, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: Regard not our sins, but the faith of thy Church, and grant unto it that peace and unity which is agreeable to thy will; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.”
Singleton’s prayer at the foundation of Radley College, 9th June, 1847
A prayer extracted from Bishop Lancelot Andrewes’ Private devotions, with a few alterations and additions, as follows:
Let us kneel down and offer up to Almighty God
An Act of Intercession
for the Catholic Church;
for the Churches throughout the whole world;
that is, for their verity, unity, and stability;
that in all charity may flourish,
and truth be a living principle.
For our Church;
that what is wanting in it may be supplied;
what is unsound, corrected;
that all heresies, schisms, scandals,
as well public as private,
may be removed.
Correct the wandering,
convert the unbelieving,
increase the faith of the Church,
expose the crafty enemies,
bruise the violent.
For the Clergy;
and especially for the Bishop of this Diocese;
that they may rightly divide,
that they might rightly walk;
that while they teach others, themselves may learn.
For the people;
that they seek not to be wise above measure;
but may be persuaded by reason,
and yield to the authority of superiors.
their stability and peace.
For our Kingdom;
that they may fare well and prosperously,
and be freed from all danger and inconvenience.
For the Queen;
help her now, O Lord,
O Lord, send her now prosperity;
crown her with the array of truth and glory;
speak good things to her heart
for Thy church and People.
For the prudence of her Counsellors;
the equity and integrity of the judges;
the courage of the army;
the temperance of the people,
and their godly simplicity.
For all Universities and Schools;
and, as in this place we are especially required to pray,
for the Universities of Oxford and Dublin;
and for the Colleges of
Exeter, Merton, St Mary Winton,
and St Columba’s in Ireland.
For the rising generation;
and here especially let us pray
for all the little ones of Christ,
who shall be trained up within these walls,
that as they increase in age,
they may also increase in wisdom and in favour
with God and man.
For them that show themselves benevolent,
whether to the Church,
or to the poor and needy;
reward Thou them sevenfold into their bosom;
let their souls dwell at ease;
and their seed inherit the earth;
blessed is he that considereth the needy.
That it may please Thee to reward all out benefactors with eternal blessings.
For the benefits they have bestowed on us upon earth,
let them obtain everlasting rewards in Heaven.
That it may please Thee to behold and relieve
the miseries of the poor and the captives.
That it may please Thee of Thy merciful compassion
to restore the frail lapses of the flesh,
and to strengthen them that are failing.
That it may please Thee graciously to accept
our reasonable service.
That it may please Thee to raise our minds
to heavenly desires.
That it may please Thee to regards us
with the eyes of Thy compassion.
That it may please Thee to enable us
steadfastly and in love
to follow the example of Thy Blessed Apostle St Peter,
and to feed Thy lambs.
That it may please Thee to preserve the souls
of us and our’s
from everlasting damnation.
That it may please Thee to grant unto us,
with those for whom we have prayed,
or for whom we are in any way bound to pray,
and with all the people of God,
an entrance into Thy Kingdom;
there to appear in righteousness,
and to be satisfied with Glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
June 10th, 1847 (Thursday)
After administering the requisite promise to Captain Haskoll, I formally constituted him Sub-Warden, and left for Ireland. Passed through Gloucester, and called on Hopson to hurry him with the carvings, and to consult him about the stalls, which he was ordered to get ready. It was quite clear that he had not hands enough employed to have 10 or 12 ready by November.
June 12th to July 5th, 1847
Singleton went to Ireland to help his brother fight for a Parliamentary seat in the General Election of 1847. The diary entries between 12th June and 5th July were written up retrospectively on his return, grouped under the general date and heading June 12th.
Reached Kingstown, and found my mother there in good health. Went to Mr Telford, whose premises were full of the elements of the organ, the wood-work of which had gone night to empty them. Settled with him, during my stay in Ireland, to introduce some changes and several additions, so that now it will be as near perfect as need be. He still hopes to have it ready by the 1st of November, though some of the pedal pipes may have to be omitted for the present. Mr de la Motte’s plan of the front was so full of blunders, that he got a young artist in Dublin, a Mr Price, to draw one out, and certainly he has produced something far superior to it. However, so erroneous was the former that Mr Price (who was obliged to follow it to a great extent) is now employed upon a fresh one. Just before I left Ireland, I settled upon the final plan and details of the front. The centre pipe will be 20 feet long, (including the leg,) and will be made of pure tin without alloy, and look like silver. We anticipate a very fine tone from this metal, – but these large pipes will cost a great deal of money. They are usually now made of zinc, and therefore light, and cheap. But zinc is an ugly metal, and we will not have any gilding: so we are driven to tin and expense. Tin is now £120 a ton.
I found the Irish newspapers devoted to our injury. The Meath Herald on the authority of the Church and State Gazette assumed that the College of St Columba was forthwith to be removed to the more genial atmosphere of Oxford, and therefore thought fit to rejoice. Saunders News-Letter copied the triumphs of the Meath Herald into its columns, and in a day or two announced ‘on authority’ that ‘Mr Singleton was not its Warden and that it had no connection whatsoever with Mr Sewell, or with his plans, whatever they may be.’ How grateful ‘authority’ is to those who devoted themselves, body, mind and purse to found it!
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.’
To return. When the Meath Herald found it was misinformed, it sincerely lamented that the obnoxious College was not to be removed to England, for that, though Messrs Sewell and Singleton had nothing to do with it, they had no confidence in such a Puseyite place. This was the sense of their remarks, so that, as we said from the very first, their abandonment of their principles at Stackallan only had the effect of cooling or alienating their friends, without the softening or gaining over one enemy.
While at Kingstown, Sewell sent me a copy of an admirable letter that he had written to the Archbishop of Armagh, proving by reference to documents and fact, that I could not have actetd otherwise than I had done about the discipline of fasting, and that it was notorious and past dispute that I had always relaxed, rather than pressed, the Founders’ Rule on the Subject. To this His Grace subsequently replied, without the smallest effort to disprove or weaken what had been urged, that ‘the opinion which he expressed in his former letter remained unaltered.’ Surely this is hard usage.
I met Dr Elrington one day by accident in Grant & Bolton’s shop. I immediately went up to him and we were quite friendly. I afterwards called at his house, but he was examining in Trinity College. However I sat some time with his Sister, Miss Elrington. I was at St Patrick’s one Sunday afternoon, and Dr Todd preached. I could not bear to turn my face towards him, so I heard but saw him not. On another occasion I was at Grant & Bolton’s, when Gabbett came in, but of him I would take no notice. He was one of the main promoter’s of St Columba’s ruin, just as sister ‘Flavie’ was of that of Port Royal. I believe, however, that he and all his co-partners were extremely sorry for what they had done, but if the sorrow were of a right sort, he would have repaired the damage caused by a public defamation of the College and its officers, – by an equally public acknowledgement of his error and sin. This he has never done; therefore I cannot make light of such wicked behaviour by amity, thought I heartily forgive him for his bad treatment of oneself.
Received a letter from the Sub-warden to say that on the 10th, immediately after my leaving, Mr Ratcliffe, the Vicar, called upon me. I understand he is softened towards us. The next Sunday, by Sewell’s directions, (it being Holy Communion) the Sub-warden placed upon the offertory plate £5, rolled in a small parcel, on which was written, ‘- From the Warden and Fellows of S Peter’s College for the poor of Radley.’ This will surely show him that we have no design of disturbing his Parochial position, or of embarrassing him in any way with his people.
Soon afterwards got a note from Sewell, saying that we were very likely to have a formal application for a Fellowship from a Mr Jones of Queen’s. He bears a very high character in every way, and is an excellent classic, having taken a 2nd Class, and got the Ireland Scholarship. This is very satisfactory as it shows (what indeed we fully expected) that men of high attainments will be ready to devote themselves to the work.
On leaving Ireland I brought with me a pair of handsome old silver candlesticks, a present from K. to the College, and a dinner drinking cup from F.; both of which pleased Sewell very much. Returned by the Isle of Man, and spent a day with Allen Cliff at Hampton Lacy, reaching the College in the evening of July 5th.
Extract from the Oxford Chronicle, June 19th, 1847.
COLLEGE OF ST COLUMBA. – A paragraph appeared in the Warder of Saturday last (copied from the Church and State Gazette) in which it is stated that the Rev. W. Sewell, of Exeter College, Oxford, has taken a house near Abingdon, Berks, within four miles of Oxford, and that ‘St Columba College, with its warden, Mr Singleton, its fellows and whole establishment, is to be forthwith removed to that locality.’ This, we are authorised to state, is not true. The College of St Columba is not concerned in any way with the plans (whatever they may be) which Mr Sewell has in contemplation, nor is it to be moved or removed from Ireland at all. Mr Singleton is not the warden of St Columba College, having resigned from that office a year ago. (Why?) – ‘nor has he or Mr Sewell now any connection whatsoever with the college, which is entirely under the direction and control of his Grace the Primate of Ireland, by whom the present trustees of the College have been appointed.’ Warder