May 1st, 1848 (Monday)
Mr Swale went away, highly pleased with all he had seen, and is to come again before he leaves the neighbourhood of Oxford. Got the Chapel in readiness for the Evening. A splendid velvet arrived for the Altar, as the gold brocade does not tell in that position, and has therefore been hung by the Warden’s and Sub-Warden’s seats, where it looks very rich, and yet not gaudy at al. Cotton velvet of a good colour trimmed with handsome gold gimp, forms doubled curtains to protect the entrance through the screen. Above, rises the choir organ, projecting 3 feet, in an extremely beautiful case, and at the back, the great organ, with its great central tower, surmounted by a lofty pinnacle, the finial nearly touching the ridge-board. The whole front presents a fine mass of pipes, large and small, made of pure tin, without any mixture of alloy, and highly burnished, looking exactly like polished silver. The light strikes the ‘choir’ front brilliantly, but falls too low down on the ‘great’ case to show it to advantage; otherwise it would be a perfect blaze. I believe it is better that it should be so, for it might be too oppressive in so plain a building. At present, handsome, nay grand and magnificent though it be, it is not overpowering in the least.
The west end is really very fine, and we are all delighted with in. The two chairs, that I bought at Wright’s, are placed for Warden and Sub-Warden, and look very well. Monk has provided very handsome books for the altar, and also for my stall and the Sub-Warden’s, and candlesticks have been placed on the former. In the afternoon arrived a noble Eagle in brass, about which we had often made inquiries for years past. It is executed after the model of one presented by Lord John Manners to some church, the stand of which we considered to be inferior, and therefore would not have it. For the present it is placed on an oblong box, raised on ends, and covered wit crimson damask. It is very glorious indeed. While we were arranging this, the louvres had been fitted to the swell, and John Horan (Mr Telford’s apprentice) began to play. Such tones I never heard; rich, mellow, soft, delicate, deep, bright, sparkling, bold, grand, – everything. The dulciana is sometimes hardly audible, and the soft cornet is mot melting, ravishing. The hautboy is a wailing reed of great beauty, and the trumpet is superb, – But I cannot find time to say half what could be said. What between the organ and eagle, just at this moment attention was sadly distracted.
After all the labours of a hard day, I was sadly put out by the announcement that Messrs Coope and Blythe (organists of Christ Church and Magdalen) had come, with the intention of going to chapel, as they had heard that the organ was to be opened this evening. I confess I thought this as very cool, if not very impertinent, and as they mentioned Howard’s name, I begged of him to go to them and explain that the Chapel was quite private, that the organ was not near finished, and that there was to be no opening in the popular sense of the term, but that the members of the College were simply going in, quietly to say their prayers. However, they persisted and Howard then said that he must ask my leave, which would have been refused: but it did not come to this, for they perceived that they were not welcome, and retired saying that they would wait till the organ was quite finished. They were amazed by the size of it. “Oh, – look at the 16 foot reed”, “Why, this CCC is a thousand times bigger than mine.”
We all walked into chapel in procession, in surplices, – and after the bells had ceased to chime and toll, the organ struck up. About 60 wax candles made all look tolerably bright. Full choral service. This day twelvemonth we had not possession of Radley. What abundant cause for thankfulness is there in all this!
May 3rd, 1848 (Wednesday)
The Principal of Brasenose and Mrs Harrington, with a Mr Hogg, brother of Mrs Harrington came and asked leave to see the College. Mr Hogg is about to have Robert Elrington for his Curate. All highly pleased. A Lady Churnside with several daughters were brought out by Mr Rawlinson, – mere curiosity hunters, – a class of people to be discouraged. I did not know who they were, but hearing a title mentioned, was very civil. It turned out that they were the family of some physician attendant upon Lord Hertford at Paris; and, to say the truth, I did not think their style quite up to that of lords and ladies.
Messrs Gordon and Morris of Christ Church came to call upon me. Showed them over the organ, which caused great surprise. Very nice men; did not stay long.
This was a weary day, but we don’t mind trouble, unless when imposed by mere loungers.
May 6th, 1848 (Saturday)
Mr Telford went with Howard and Monk to Clifton Hampden and Dorchester. I am very glad of a change for Mr Telford, who must be pretty sick of the organ. Independent of its vast number of parts, – a great many little things were left to be done after it should arrive here, and this has added considerably to delay. Mr Telford seems very happy, and diverts us with his Irish stories.
Mr Swale came out to chapel and tea. Had a talk with Sewell about drawing up rules to restrict visitors.
May 7th, 1848 (Sunday)
Mr Swale came out to dine and sleep. He has now seen us at work on all sorts of days, and is highly pleased.
May 8th, 1848 (Monday)
Had a talk with Mr Swale about an artist for a fellowship, about which matter Sewell had spoken to him; but we agreed that the movement was quite premature, though he though he could name a person who might do. He went away, leaving great regrets behind.
Mr Daubeny1 called to see Richards, who is his nephew, I believe.
1: Charles Daubeny, scientist, founder of the Oxford University Natural History Museum, Keeper of the Physic Garden. He was very involved in the reform of education at the university to include the sciences and in 1845 had founded Cirencester College of Agriculture. See entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
May 9th, 1848 (Tuesday)
The elder Kennard has been misbehaving. Yesterday at dinner, after Kennett had drunk his full allowance of beer, (2 glasses), he forced him to take ½ a glass of his own, which made the little fellow quite tipsy and sick. So I called them both, and they each told their own story, which did not differ much. Kennett said that the other threatened to thrash him if he did not take the extra beer, – but added, – ‘I do not want to insist upon this, as he told me this morning he did not threaten me, – but’ (with great naiveté) ‘he did, Sir, for all that.’ Gave Kennard a great lecture, who, with tears in his eyes, promised ‘never to behave unlike a gentleman again.’
May 10th, 1848 (Wednesday)
Came out to breakfast, the Revd. Mr Nugee and General Sewell. The former, one of Mr Bennett’s curates, a very sound, earnest, man, highly delighted with Radley. It is wonderful what a change has come over men’s minds about their obligations. He says that at St Paul’s. Knightsbridge, they take £700 and £800 a week at the offertory, and that on Easter-day the collection was £2400! There are numbers of people who do not know what to do with their money and are only anxious to devote it to a right use. Mr Nugee is a brother-in-law of Mr Latouche, who has sons at Stackallan. General Sewell has lately arrived from India, where he has been for 20 years. A very religious, tender-hearted, being. When he sat down to breakfast, and saw all the boys looking so gentlemanlike and happy, the tears came into his eyes, and he could not eat. He said he was never so affected in his life. Told me he had a son, whom he had intended settling in India, with bright prospects of advancement, but that lately the boy had mentioned to him that he would far prefer becoming a clergyman. The General was delighted, and having heard, through a Mrs Blackwell of Mells, determined to come and see Sewell, (to whom he is distantly related) about it. Was at two public schools himself, Eton and Westminster, and has a horror of them. ‘I want place,’ said he, ‘where they will care for my boy.’ ‘I only hope you will receive him.’ Monk had long been talking of what nice boys General Sewell’s sons were, and so I consented at once, which rejoiced the worthy gentleman greatly. I hear that the lad is a very clever, – peculiarly nice fellow, with a religious mind. At dinner the General apologised for his appetite, saying that at breakfast he was so overpowered that he could not eat.
After we had sat down the Revd. Messrs Horner of Mells, and Fane of Warminster came in, their first visit.1 The former has a fine fortune, and is developing the Church in every way in his parishes, which are his private property. Has established a sort of collegiate society in an old brick manor house, – chiefly to educate boys for the choral service of his church. Monk’s brother superintends the music of ‘St Andrew’s house,’ as it is called.2 Mr Fane, who seems a superior person, has thoughts of sending his son.
Sewell came over with Messrs Donkin and Sub-Warden of New College, &c. While I was talking to the General in the afternoon a fine trencher and bread knife arrived from London, no doubt sent by Mr Swale, who perceived the want when he was here. These little attentions are very gratifying.
Nugent Wade came last night. The correspondence alluded to has been progressing,3 but he thought it better, for the present, to omit all allusions to Sewell and myself or to our gifts. He has seen the Irish Primate, who consents to the rescinding of the Statutes which leaves the Visitor and Trustees the power to alter the laws independently of the College. Dr Elrington has resigned.4 So far so good. But on Nugent Wade asking me whether I could now support the College, I said I could not, – for that the fasting question remained just where it was.
The fasting statute at St Columba’s
The law runs thus, – ‘In the observance of the Fasts the College is to be guided entirely by the Bishop’; which was accompanied by a document of interpretation, not only containing some more objectionable principles, but asserting the right of each person to act as he pleases, and giving a bare protection to the churchman who might think it his duty to fast. So long as this document was valid, so long the Statute could not possibly support a right-minded Warden. It was withdrawn, but the withdrawal would scarcely better his condition; for an unsound man might fairly enough maintain that it was got rid of, not because of its bearing on the Statute, but from the monstrous principles which it contained, such as ‘liberty of conscience’, and so on; – that the rescinding of the former law, and driving away its first Warden and two of the Fellows for their adherence to it, showed plainly what the present law meant. Wade admitted this fully, but asked if it were not a right principle to interpret a law according to its literal, grammatical, import, independent of the opinions, or even the intentions, of its framers. To this the reply was, that, be it never so right, it was not applicable in this case; – for that a certain interpretation had already been got in, and acted upon, from the passing of the substituted law, by all parties connected with the College, an interpretation and precedent which no authority could set aside. But further, – that the law meant nothing, and what was more, was meant to mean nothing, the object being (as was almost avowed) to say to one class of people that there was a law of fasting, and to another that the members of the College might do as they pleased. ‘In the observance of the Fasts they are to be guided by the Prayer Book’, – but the Prayer Book says nothing except mentioning the days; so that it would run thus, – in the observing of the days appointed by the Prayer Book they are to observe the days that the Prayer Book appoints: – which is mere idle trifling and, in point of fact, dishonest nonsense.
I pressed the importance of their stating distinctly what they did mean, – if the object be to have a rule of Fasting, let them avow it by an unambiguous enactment, – but if not, the law, even as it now stands, should be totally cancelled. Wade saw the fairness of this, and promised to do what he could. The conversation terminated by my telling him that, unless they reverted to their former principles, or disgorged everything received before their abandonment of them, – it was vain to go on, – a worm was at the root of the gourd, which would gnaw it to death.
1: Revd. John Stuart Hippisley Horner was a BA of Exeter College. He had been appointed stipendiary curate of Mells, near Frome in Somerset in 1835, and Rector of the parish later the same year. Revd. Frederick Adrian Scroop Fane was a BA of New Inn Hall, Oxford, appointed Curate of Aston Rowant, Stokenchurch chapel in 1834. Later Rector of Warminster. Both these men had close, neighbourhood ties with Edwin Monk’s family in Frome, and, through Exeter College, with William Sewell.
2: The similarity between the choral training of St Andrew’s house in Somerset and Monk’s work training the servitors of Radley as choristers is striking.
3: 22nd April, 1848, between Wade and Todd about Stackallan
4: Rev Dr C R Elrington, Regius Professor of Divinity in Dublin University, had been appointed a governor of St Columba’s following the death of Dean Jackson in 1841. Elrington was a close associate of the Primate of Ireland, which led the governors to appoint him official censor of books to be used in the future school. He was accepted reluctantly by the founding governors of St Columba’s who considered him ‘a little too Protestant for their liking.’ G.K. White History of St Columba’s College. 1981, p. 13
May 11th, 1848 (Thursday)
Mr Dean came, accompanied by Messrs Upton, Richards and Allies. These are very high Churchmen, and belong to a class, (at least the former does) which has no great fancy for Sewell. However, they seemed much gratified.
May 15th, 1848 (Monday)
Mr Telford, Howard and Monk went to Blenheim.1 I have been very anxious that the first should not find his stay here too tedious, so that we have tried to enliven it with a change now and then. They had a delightful day, and their account of the place was quite wondrous.
The Rector of Exeter College, with Miss Richards, came to Chapel and tea. Rector greatly struck with all that had been done, and especially with the happy and gentlemanly appearance of the boys. Evidently grateful for our attentions.
1: Blenheim Palace at Woodstock, Oxfordshire is on the other side of Oxford to Radley. It would have taken 2-3 hours by horse or carriage to reach it. The Palace, like many grand houses of the time, was open to gentlemen to visit.
May 19th, 1848 (Friday)
Mr Telford went away much to our regret. The organ is finished, and is everything that has been said of it, – quite magnificent, – the first I ever heard which had body of tone enough to please me.
May 22nd, 1848 (Monday)
Intelligence of Mrs Sewell’s death.1 Offered the special prayer in that ‘for all conditions of men’, – in behalf of Sewell and his family.
1: Jane Sewell (1773/4–1848), youngest daughter of the Revd John Edwards, curate of Newport, wife (and first cousin) of Thomas Sewell (1775–1842), a prominent solicitor of Newport, Isle of Wight, variously recorder of the borough, twice its mayor, steward and deputy governor of the island. The couple had 11 children, 5 of whom merited an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, including William Sewell, their second son.
May 24th, 1848 (Wednesday)
Sang the litany for the first time, and from a lectern of Howard’s, which answered for a faldstool. This is placed between the eagle and the sacrarium.
While at dinner Mr Dean came in with two sons of Lady Charlotte Bertie’s, – boys, whom he wanted to take an account home of things here.
In the afternoon Dr and Mrs Harrington brought out the Bishop of Brechin, who seems a very pleasing person, and is much interested in us. He asked me about Morton, and gave a good account of Trinity College Perth.
May 25th, 1848 (Thursday)
Lieutenant Crawley, with his brothers and a friend or two, came with a letter of introduction from Dr Pusey. They seem worthy men, and some of them are about to change their professions and take orders. Dr Pusey talks in his note of our ‘interesting establishment.’
The Revd John Booker, Vicar of Killurin, one of my oldest friends came the day before yesterday and went away today. Highly pleased with St Peter’s and its prospects. He told me that he, in common with A.C. had very uneasy apprehensions about the fate of this place, but now is full of hope. Gave me but a poor account of church matters in Ireland. Dr Elrington’s secession to the National Board has caused great scandal: people know not whom to trust.
May 26th, 1848 (Friday)
Mr I.O. Hallward, undergraduate of ‘University’ called upon me with his brother, a clergyman, who had come up to take his M.A. Nephews of Thomas Cliffe, – gentlemanly men, – greatly struck.
Nugent Wade went away. Has been here for several days. Tells me that the Stackallan folk have bought Mr Foot’s place, Holly Park, near Dublin. Have given £3500 for a lease for ever of house, &c, and 30 acres, at, I think, £150 per annum. Lord Boyne was so unreasonable that it was quite impossible for them to remain there. Yet it is a very perilous step to take; for, besides the serious expense of moving and putting the place into a condition fit for them, they must build Chapel, school room, and I know not what. However, if they would but set things right, I should have good hope. It is proposed to get rid of the Trustees as an independent, external body, and I have suggested to Wade to get them to take our constitution, a body of ‘Prior Fellows’, or some parallel arrangement. I also strongly urged that, as it was evident if they repudiated the horrid office of Trustee, (I hate the word), they must wholly remodel their Statutes, – this was a most fitting opportunity for introducing some straight-forward, honest, avowal of their principle about the Fasts of the Church, – some enactment which might save the College hereafter from intestine divisions, and the friends of it from doubt and deception. If they would do that, I would forget all that has passed, and do my best for it, consistently with my duty to this place. Wade will try his utmost to bring things round.
May 30th, 1848 (Tuesday)
General Sewell brought his son. In talking to the boy, he gave me a sad description of the school he had just left at Clapham. The Master, Mr Pritchard, was always eating, and eating the best of food, while he constantly gave his boys (120 of them) high meat, and forced them to eat it. He abuses his assistants in the school room, before the whole school, and on one occasion threw a parcel of books at the head of one of them. It is a sort of parish school, with a public chapel in the playground, where the church service is terribly mutilated, and a new arrangement substituted, on a private judgement, 19th century, principle. The boy, who is a very sensible, quiet lad, seemed to be speaking the simple truth. This is the sort of education which thousands are annually completing in England, – so that the wonder is that the nation is not worse instead of better.
Messrs Pococke (Queen’s) Chamberlain (St Thomas’) with a clergyman from Yorkshire, a friend of the latter, came over to Chapel and tea. The former two had not been here since last Autumn and were astonished. Every one is struck with the interior of the Chapel, even the highest Churchmen (which these are;) the proportions are so good and the character so ecclesiastical.