Entries for November 1847

Clutterbuck, notwithstanding former chastisement, has been detected different times lying in bed, or rather going to bed again after being up. This morning I suppose he fell asleep, though the Sub-Warden had seen him out of bed, – for he was not down to prayers: so I gave him a sound caning on the back, – and subsequently announced to him that I should not fiddle with the cane the next time, but would administer a flogging of some moment, my impression being that after that he would not do it again. He is a most troublesome youth, yet there is a forgivingness, a generosity, and a politeness, about him, which make us all like him in spite of his faults.

I have begun to use the short form of prayer which in my time was said at 6 o’clock in Trinity College Dublin. Here it is:

“O Lord Jesus Christ, who art the Eternal Wisdome of the Father, wee beseech Thee to assist us with Thy heavenly grace, that we may be blessed in our Studyes this day, and above all things may attayne the knowledge of Thee, whom to know is life eternal, and that according to the example of Thy most Holy Childhood, wee may grow in wisdom, and years, and favour, with God and man. Amen.”

All are present at 6 ½ o’clock at prayers with satisfactory punctuality. There was some difficulty in effecting it, but it has been done; – a great point.

Howard went into the Gaudy at Lincoln. He maintained, single-handed, a gallant fight in the common room against more than a score of men, who denied that St Peter’s was a College. Mr Ince of that Society, and lately elected a fellow of Exeter, told Sewell that he beat all his adversaries. One gentlemen pleasantly observed: ‘at all events you want one essential element in a College, – corruption.’

November 3rd, 1847 (Wednesday)

Sewell came over with a Mr Burgon, a fellow of Oriel, a most charming person; wonderfully struck and delighted.1 A letter from the Bishop of Lincoln, absolutely refusing all co-ooperation with the College, on the ground of compulsory fasting, and saying that ‘he present state of the Colleges in our Universities, founded, as he conceives, originally with a similar view, seem to forbid the expectation that the attempt could be generally successful.’ To this bad reasoning Sewell replied by giving an account of the whole fasting controversy, together with a copy of our Statute, and begging of the Bishop to say where we were wrong, for that a deliberate condemnation by such a respected person as the Bishop of Lincoln would almost incline him to reconsider his course. At the same time he complained in strong language of any members of the Bench decidedly disapproving of our course, and not coming forward to put us down.

To counterbalance this unfriendly demonstration, Sewell got a letter from Mr Bowyer from Bishopstow, saying that ‘he had had a great deal of talk with the Bishop of Exeter about St Peter’s; that he took much interest in it, and was particularly pleased with the account which he gave him, of the chapel and of the handsome manner in which Divine Service is to be celebrated; and that he will visit us next summer.’ Thus we are by no means left destitute of Episcopal support.

1: John William Burgon was a Biblical and Classical scholar and an antiquarian. As an undergraduate he won the Newdigate Prize for Poetry in 1845 with his poem Petra which included the line “A rose-red city, half as old as time”. He was elected to a fellowship at Oriel College in 1846. As an antiquarian he was interested in heraldry and in the history of the Colleges of Oxford University. He was ordained in 1849. His churchmanship was reactionary rather than reformist, and he was only obliquely connected with the Oxford Movement. (See entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.)

November 4th, 1847 (Thursday)

Messrs Dean, Heathcote and Pollen came out, just in time for dinner. Showed them everything, and rejoiced their hearts. Dean said that he knew different persons, who seemed anxious to send their sons, but wished first to see some parent who had a son here. This is not un-natural, but it is fortunate that all mankind do not take precisely the same view. Mentioned that he had given an introduction to a Mr Halse, a Fellow of All Souls, and that if he came we should be attentive to him, as he took an interest in education, and might possibly give us money.

The three bells arrived from Mears of Whitechapel, and have been deposited safely on the ground in and by the Tower.1 Their weights are as follows:

cwt qr lbs
B 9 2 20
A 11 3 21
D 30 3 21

They are provided with tolling hammers, as well as with peels and clappers, so that we can sound them as we please. The Tower is a very beautiful structure, built of plain brick, and thoroughly German in character and proportion. It is 13.6 square, and 60 feet in height to the top of the ridge-tile. There is thus abundant height for bells, and a clock, if we should hereafter be rich enough to buy, or fortunate enough to receive the present of, one.

While standing inspecting the arrangements for raising ‘Peter’ (as we call him) off the cart, saw about 8 gentlemen coming up towards the Offices, and looking rather bewildered. While I was meditating sending them about their business, (for we are much annoyed by undergraduates and others trespassing, so that we have to warn them off repeatedly,) one of the group came forward and announced himself as Mr Halse, and requested permission for the party to see the College. I at once took them over it. All were, I believe, fellows of All Souls, and very gentlemanly men. Had a good deal of conversation with Mr Halse, who asked me about St Columba’s, was evidently pleased with what he had just seen, and begged to be allowed to bring a friend of his to see St Peter’s.

Accompanied him part of the way down the drive, when I suddenly heard the first stroke of the great bell. While it was in suspension, before being lowered from the cart to the ground, Mr Johnson took up its clapper and struck a blow. The sound was very fine, rich and deep. “There”, said I, to Mr Halse, “is the first sound of the great Peter of Radley”.

1: George Mears was the pre-eminent bell founder in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century. His company, now known as the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, then operated under variations of the name of Mears and Stainbank or George Mears and Co. It had produced some of the most famous bells in the world since at least the reign of Elizabeth I, including the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia in 1752. In 1847 George Mears had begun work on Big Ben, although it was not completed until the 1850s. Before the casting of Big Ben, the largest bell in England was “Great Peter” of York Minster.

November 6th, 1847 (Saturday)

Sewell came over with Mr Audland of Queen’s and two other Gentlemen. I am getting tired of saying that people are struck and delighted, – but they were particularly so. He brought a letter from a Mr Scratton, whom Mr Marriott of Oriel had recommended for a fellowship. We had received one before, which did not lead us to think that he would be a catch by any means; but in the present he expressed some unsound views of confession, so that altogether we determined not to pursue that matter.

Sewell brought out a letter from Mr Powles of Exeter to me recommendatory of a Mr Wood, whom Sewell is anxious that we should appoint; but we have not been struck by him, and are determined to wait, feeling that we must have a considerable number from which to select.

The service books have at last arrived. We were very anxious to have our own book, instead of the Columban one, chiefly for personality’s sake, but also because we did not consider it pure enough. We therefore cancelled seven half sheets, changing the choral responses, making some alteration in the Litany, and withdrawing several chants, substituting others, and raising the entire number from 90 to 100. The title page now presents a figure of St Peter, engraved by Linton of London, from a design by Howard, who took the main idea from an old book. I also got all the large paper copies on hands similarly treated, and I intend having three beautifully bound and presenting one to my mother, another to the Visitor and a 3rd to the President of Magdalen.

Sewell tells me that the day after Mr Halse was here he called upon him at Exeter, and expressed himself most highly gratified with his reception, and all he had seen; particularly admired the way in which everything had been done, – applauding the idea of the great bell, whose first tone he had heard; – in fact entering warmly into the whole thing. Amongst other remarks, he said that it furnished such a satisfactory reply to those who ask ‘What is Oxford doing?’ to be able to point to Radley. Asked leave to bring Lord Clive and others to see it.

Received a hamper of plants from F., from Ireland, including cuttings of climbing roses.

November 12th, 1847 (Friday)

Monk brought out a letter which Sewell had received from the Bishop of Lincoln, in answer to his reply. It is a painfully weak production; argument and tone equally lamentable. It amounts to this; – that fasting is right, and ordered by the Church, but that the effort to establish this, or the Church system generally, would probably end in a rival Episcopal Church being set up! Alas! Timidity is every where the ruling policy in high places. It is clear that if any reformation is to be applied to the Church of England, the Presbytery must move, and force the Bishops to move too.

November 20th, 1847 (Saturday)

Sewell came out with a party from Exeter. Mentioned that William Bowyer had lately dined at All Souls, and had spoken against me for refusing to show the Communion Plate to some ladies (I believe 2nd rate Abingdon people) whom he had brought to see the College, though Sewell had told him how we disliked curiosity hunters. He also complained that I did not come down and show them over the house. Mr Dean was fortunately present, and set matters in their proper light, – and Sewell has written to the Warden of All Souls, to explain that the sacred vessels of the Altar cannot be submitted to indiscriminating eyes; – that the Head of St Peter’s College cannot possibly waste his time with bringing strangers about the place; and that the secrecy and mystery, insinuated by Mr William Bowyer, have no reality whatever, as the Warden shall see if he will do us the pleasure of coming over. William Bowyer is very troublesome and intrusive, and Sewell intends to give it him very roundly when next they meet. We have been as civil as he has been annoying. Sewell has written to Mr George Bowyer, complaining of his brother.

Mr Grimaldi called to know if he, or Mr Bowyer, could do anything for us. Where could we have lighted on such a landlord or such an Agent? Sewell told him of William Bowyer, and he said we were quite right.

The Rector of Exeter called on me for the first time since I came to Radley; – apologized for his tardiness; – did not seem to take much interest in the place.

Sewell brought out an exquisite chest of such dimensions that it will serve to keep the ‘Liber Spei’ in. It is of wood, covered with stamped and gilded leather, and bound with bands of wrought iron. Its date may be of the 15th century. He exhibited it yesterday evening to the Architectural Society.

Two Altar Stools arrived from Markland at Bath, worked by his ladies, and handsomely mounted in walnut.

Also a box of books from Grant & Dalton, including Rymer’s Foedera and some of the fathers; besides some valuable books on Irish history for myself, as no such books would be bought by anyone else, and it is of consequence to have them in the College. Some of them very scarce, – such as Keating’s Hist. of Ireland and Ware’s works.

Sewell would become President of the Architectural Society the following year, in 1848. For a history of the society in this period, see The Oxford Architectural and Historical Society, 1839-1939, by W. A. Pantin (1940).

November 23rd, 1847 (Tuesday)

Monk (who, for this term, attends the meetings of the Motett Society every Monday evening, and sleeps in Oxford) brought out word that Sewell had had a letter from Mr Bowyer, saying that we were quite right in refusing to show the communion plate, and that he had written to his brother not to be so intrusive.

(Poor F. left me for Plymouth to meet the ship which is to take him to Adelaide. I suppose I shall never see him again).

November 24th, 1847 (Wednesday)

brought out a note from Sewell, in which he says that he wishes me particularly to remark Mr Hill. He was a chorister and 2nd Class man, and is now a Demy. Sub-Warden and Howard were in Oxford, but Monk and I found him gentlemanlike, modest, and pleasing, though not attractive in appearance, nor brilliant in conversation. Howard knows him a little, and is surprised that he did not think of him for a Fellow before.

November 25th, 1847 (Thursday)

Mrs Symons, the Vice-Chancellor’s lady, came with Mr Goulburn, the Bishop of Oxford’s low church Chaplain, expecting to see Sewell. I showed them over the College, with which they seemed pleased, but did not say much. Very much obliged for my civility.

Edward Goulburn was appointed chaplain to Samuel, Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, in February 1847. He was a fellow of Merton College between 1841-1846. In November 1849 he was appointed Headmaster of Rugby School, a post he held until 1857. He introduced science teaching at Rugby. He was appointed Dean of Norwich in 1866. He was the descendent of Huguenots, who began his career as a evangelical, but gradually leaned more towards the High Church tradition, although he was never a ritualist. See entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

November 26th, 1847 (Friday)

The three bells have been safely placed aloft in their berths. They were struck by drawing the clappers with the hand, and are lovely.

November 27th, 1847 (Saturday)

Sewell brought out Dr and Mrs Hussey, John Ley, Miss Barnes, daughter of Dr Barnes of Christ Church, and a Miss Chapman. This is done in order to put an end to the absurd rumours which are current; – that we are a monastery, a mystery, only remarkable for austerity and horror of females. We sang for them, and all went away charmed.

November 29th, 1847 (Monday)

Lady Glasgow came with a party and a letter of introduction from Sewell. In passing through Oxford she earnestly begged permission to see the College. I believe much pleased.

November 30th, 1847 (Tuesday)

Sewell brought out Dr Bliss, Registrar to the University, Mrs Bliss, Miss Bliss, and another lady. All charmed beyond measure. The Dr., a nice old gentleman, when going away, shook one of my hands with both of his, and said he was most grateful for a delightful evening. Yet when the College was first mentioned to him, he shook his head, and declined sympathy with the efforts of extreme people, having heard all sorts of rumours about my asceticism, and so on. Sewell obliged him to confess that he (Sewell) had never joined himself to any party movement, – spoke at length about the fasting question, on which he admitted we were right, – and got his consent to paying us a visit. He is now our hearty friend. I have been raising serious objection to having lady parties; – but it appears that the University is under serious petticoat control, which was expressed to me in the form of a question: “Do you not know that ‘Universitas’ is on the feminine gender?” We are told then, that the only way to make head In Oxford is to get the women on our side, – and this we hear we have most effectually done. Indeed I can well imagine this, – for at tea Mrs Bliss (a lady, who asked me if “singing on the stairs of her own house was not a proof of her being happy”, a conclusion which I did not challenge) having heard that Mrs Cardwell had been here, called out to her elderly Sister in law; – “Oh Mary! Only think! Mrs Cardwell has seen the College, – we must go over and have a talk with her.”

Dr Barnes, or Dr Bull (I forget which) at a dinner in his own house railed at us pretty roundly, – at a subsequent one; sung his palinode.

The Dean of Christ Church has blustered, grumbling out that we are “too near Oxford”; – now I believe he has been found to yield to softer influences, and to become less fierce. In fact, we are told that the University will soon be quite with us. This is certainly a matter of some consequence at first, for it often happens that the hostility of people is a serious injury, though their friendship would be of no great service.