October 3rd, 1847 (Sunday)
Messrs Bowyer and Grimaldi dined at the Vicarage, and came to the College in the evening. Mr Bowyer said that he was quite ‘ecstatic’ with the Chapel, so much being done with such simple materials. They came up to the Music School, where I superintended, in Monk’s absence, the chanting of the servitors. Afterwards Howard and I sang for them. They were highly gratified.
October 5th, 1847 (Tuesday)
Poor Howard was summoned suddenly into Oxford to see his father, who was dead before he arrived. He was a very old man, the father of the Royal Academicians, and a painter of high merit. I was quite grieved at Howard’s distress. Still, his death was quite tranquil, and he had lived to see his youngest son happily settled, and to rejoice in his connection with the College.
It is curious that Sewell had been for some time at Bonchurch to see his mother, who was dangerously ill from an accident (fracture of the thigh) and when he returned on Sunday, Monk was gone home to attend his grandmother, who, it was feared, was on her death bed.
October 6th, 1847 (Wednesday)
Commenced the Bell Tower, which is to be a simple building of brick, narrow but lofty, – 13 ft wide, and about 50 ft high, terminated by a roof with four valleys. The design is Howard’s, after the German style. I am sure it will look charming. At first it was to have been built joining on to the Venison Larder, for the sake of good grouping, and accordingly the foundation was sunk until a bed of gravel appeared. Mr Johnson, however, was much perplexed at a settle which he had observed in the Larder, and for which he could not account. The foundation appeared to have slightly given way. He therefore determined to sink lower, and thus lighted upon as fine a deposit of building sand as could be found anywhere. This happened most opportunely, for Davis had just told him that he must desist from drawing gravel and sand from the Park. What now came ready to hand is better than any he could get elsewhere, and the few loads drawn from a distance cost him five shillings a load: a load here stands us in about 3d. – After sinking a few feet, water appeared in abundance; – another great convenience. How very fortunate that we had not built on this spot; the tower would infallibly have come down.
We were of course obliged to choose another site, – which we fixed at a few yards distance, where we found stiff clay. The excavation is filled up with a great mass of concrete, and the brick work in the centre is grouted with hot liquid mortar. Above the plinth the walls will be 18 inches thick, and will be tied together with cross beams which bear several floors. Thus, he says, that the work will never stir, and that we are quite welcome to swing the great Bell; no ordinary comfort.
We feel rather a malicious satisfaction at the idea that the Archbishop of York will be compelled to hear its deep sound, swelling over the river into his Grace’s study. By the way, his ‘major-domo’ came to see Mr Johnson here, who is a friend of his. We gave liberty to go through the house, and he was amazed at the way everything had been done. His Grace heard all about it the same evening, – I have little doubt. Yet we must not be angry with him. His great age necessarily indisposes him to new schemes, and his intimacy with the Primate of Ireland still more to our’s. The Bishop of Ripon, however, has written kindly.
When Sewell was at the Island,1 he met Dr Jelf, who renewed his expressions of admiration, – saying that this was the place of all others where he would like to be. It is quite curious how many persons of station have looked upon a Fellowship here as quite a thing to be sought for. Every one is struck, and all seem entirely to understand the reasons for doing things in the style we have done them. On matters of taste people are very apt to cavil, and certain to differ; but they seem quite taken by surprise, and to have no thought of objections. If it were possible to be surer of what we are abundantly sure of already, each day would add to my conviction, that, claiming some margin of allowance for minor errors, the thing has been done in the only way it could be done. This may seem like commending ourselves, but I wish to place our conviction on record.
Sewell has been to Marlborough, which is a fair example of a school of the same age; and though much better than he expected, it is sadly deficient in tone. The masters don’t take their meals with the boys, but they have a late dinner, and a Common Room meeting afterwards. They are building a nice Chapel, but are going to curtail the services. The masters’ rooms are like vulgar bed-rooms; the boys are not clean-looking in their persons. The dormitory is clean, but there is scarcely room to pass between the beds, so that there must be close air, and want of decency. Yet in many respects it is better than any large school in England. The error seems to be, (if one can speak without having seen it,) their not setting out upon the principle, as a fundamental one, that man is to be educated for the world to come primarily. To make a boy a scholar with the positive view of making him a Christian is the secret of education; – and a secret it unhappily is: – but matters are plainly on the mending hand.
1: ie, the Isle of Wight
October 7th, 1847 (Thursday)
Messrs Bowyer & Grimaldi called again. The former mentioned that he had seen Mr Hope, to whom Sewell had written but had never received any reply. He is much interested in the College, but wishes to know more about it. Sewell having been on Round’s Committee operates against us, as people imagine, most absurdly, that he is trimming to the Puritans. We think that we shall yet be supported by that class of Churchmen, who were inclined to extremes, but have now become more moderate from seeing the lengths to which some have gone, and they were tending.
Sewell came into my room in the evening with Monk, & talked of the expediency of inquiring whether Mr Bowles of Milton Hill, near Abingdon, would do for a fellow. He was a 2nd class man of Queen’s, (I think) & had been a musical pupil of Monk’s, while the latter was in Oxford. Sewell had heard a good character of him, & at his suggestion Monk, who likes him much, asked him & his brother (a Demy of Magdalen) to dine & sleep on Michaelmas Day. They came, & we thought the elder quiet & gentlemanlike, but not striking. He is a great admirer of this place, and being musical, & a gentleman, & a Scholar, – we agreed that it is desirable to inquire further. Accordingly, Sewell is to invite him here to stay Saturday and Sunday. Mr Bowyer knows him intimately, & said so on Sunday, in a way that Sewell & I thought very marked, as if he guessed at the object of our inquiries. We imagine, too, that the gentleman would like to come himself. However, we shall see. One thing is clear, – that there will be great competition for our fellowships.
October 8th, 1847 (Friday)
The Vicar gave out last Sunday that the Bishop would hold a confirmation in Abingdon on the 25th, and as Reynolds has never been confirmed, & has told me that he would wish to be, I wrote yesterday to the Vicar, who lives in Oxford, – the following letter: – “Dear Sir, – There is one of our students, a boy of 16 years of age, who has never been confirmed, and would like to avail himself of the coming opportunity to receive the sacred rite. Shall I send him to you to be prepared for the Bishop? Or shall I prepare him myself, & present him to you hereafter for examination and approval, if you consider him fit? If you will kindly inform me of your wishes, they shall be attended to by, Dear Sir, very faithfully your’s, R.C. Singleton.” I wonder what he will think of this: it is at all events respectful.
The number of failures among commercial men in London & elsewhere is so great that Sewell thinks we shall have more difficulty about money than we had expected. The crisis is deplorable; the money market in an extraordinary state. However, He, whose is “the cattle upon a thousand hills,” can support us, if He will it.
October 9th, 1847 (Saturday)
This is my 37th birthday; so, remembering the uncertainty of life, I executed my will in presence of the Sub-Warden & Monk.
Mr Lowe came over to dine, along with a Mr Harper, a clerical friend of his somewhere in these parts. He told me that this gentleman would give any thing to come here in any capacity, & even for nothing. Such is the attraction of the place.
Also Mr Dennison rode over from Oxford, where he happened to be for a short time. He is a Fellow of Oriel, & is brother to the Bishop of Salisbury, & domestic chaplain to the Bishop of Bath & Wells, – a clever man, and a sound churchman. He is most deeply interested in our success, & was so struck with the design, and the way in which it is to be, & is, carried out, that he expressed great admiration, & said that, “Though he was a poor man, he must send us something, & become an annual subscriber”. He was anxious to know the real state of things about Stackallan, which Sewell entirely laid before him; telling every thing, down to the Trustees refusing to tell me officially that Dr Elrington’s letter, announcing their determination & the Primate’s to cancel the obligation to fast, was not official. He wholly approved of our conduct, and said, “You were in a cruel position, but most right to maintain silence,” – feeling what a terrible exposure of the Primate the defence of ourselves would have involved. Said that he thought the Bishop of Oxford would never have consented to our Statutes, and that his giving in could only have arisen from Sewell saying that “no earthly consideration should ever induce him to found a College upon any other principles”. This shows two things, – 1st, that the Bishop of Oxford had consulted the other Bishops; and 2nd, that his becoming a Visitor was, under God, owing to the boldness of commencing our proceedings, & carrying them on so far, before we had secured his approval. This very step we had taken with the utmost deliberation, & with this exact view. What a blessing that the point was carried! It is impossible to estimate its consequence to the English Church. Had we been beaten we should have been almost in despair of her righting herself. And so Mr Dennison seemed to think, for he said, “what a comfort that we are not falling back into indifferentism”. Sewell begged on him to convey our gratitude to the Bishop of Bath & Wells for his kind letter, and to say that amid not a little timidity & coldness we felt it a real support to be warmly backed by a Bishop. Mr Dennison is a man of weight, so we made a point today.
Spirits lowered by the terrible crash in the commercial world, but revived by today’s visitors.
Made my first step in the new capacity of gardener, by putting down 150 cabbage plants. We shall get on very well with James, who is only a labourer, but has worked in the garden for 27 years.
October 10th, 1847 (Sunday)
After Mattins the Vicar stopped me and said that, in answer to my note, he shold be quite contented with my preparing Reynolds for confirmation, but wished him to be sent to be examined on the 24th, before he gave him a ticket. He made no offer to shake hands, but I ungloved and forced him to be civil so far: however, we all remarked that he looked pleasant. It is rather hard to be treated with such marked coldness by our Clergyman, in spite of every due effort to please him. From Sewell’s first visit he has been rude. He has never been inside our doors, though he occasionally passes them, and on one occasion was invited in by the Sub-Warden. We cannot make any farther advances to him, for he would in all probability repudiate them, and look upon civility as cowardice.
Mr Bowyer says that he (Mr Bowyer) is quite assured of our anxiety to be every thing that we ought to him, – but that we ‘can do nothing; – for that he is an old man, and cannot bear to be put out of his way; that he has always been Master here, unfettered by anyone, – apprehends interruption’; – and so on. We must therefore go on quietly, forgiving the prejudices that we cannot remove, and showing all kindliness that we can; – and perhaps he may be softened and come round, and, if not, it fortunately does not much matter for he carries no influence with any one.
October 12th, 1847 (Tuesday)
Sewell received £100 from a lady, who would not allow him to disclose her name. This is a subject of thankfulness; thus our spirits are kept up. We are not taught to pray for wealth or independence, but for ‘daily bread’. Port Royal flourished on precarious supplies, and perished at last, not from want of funds, but from the hostility of the Jesuits.1
1 The Jansenist school at Chevreuse, near Paris, which introduced a revolutionary approach to education in the late seventeenth century. Its pupils included Racine and Pascal. [Article in the Catholic Encyclopedia]
October 13th, 1847 (Wednesday)
Nine stalls arrived, which had been given to Mr Bowyer. They originally came from Cologne, and formed part of the parcel, out of which Mr Bowyer supplied the twelve in the chancel of Radley Church. They are handsome and good, being apparently of the date of James 1st. I daresay we shall put tem into the chapel first of all, until we can complete the beautiful Gothic stalls, a few of which are now in Margett’s hands. Afterwards the Ante-Chapel may receive them.
October 15th, 1847 (Friday)
The slating finished to-day, and the plasterers will complete the scratch-coat inside tomorrow. The stone ridge-work in progress.
October 16th, 1847 (Saturday)
Robert Elrington, who had 3 brothers at Stackallan, came unexpectedly. Talked to me about his Uncle’s Pamphlet on Education in which it seems that he has given in his adhesion to the National system in Ireland, at the same time declaring that his objections to it remain unaltered. Will men never learn that their only duty is to support truth & practise it? But the man, who sacrificed the discipline of the Prayer Book to Irish Protestants, was not likely to fight the battle of Education against Irish Papists. Thus it is, that one principle after another is surrendered to the clamour of the wicked by men who know not their own strength, if they had only the courage to stand firm. I hear that Dr Elrington is greatly lowered in the estimation of the Irish Church, and I am glad to hear it. Robert Elrington is to send me the tract.1
Howard returned more cheerful than I could have expected. It is such a comfort to have him back again amongst us. Our numbers are so few, that we can ill afford the absence of one, especially of one so amiable and so social as he.
1: A few suggestions addressed to the clergy upon the present state of the question respecting national education in Ireland. By Charles R. Elrington, Dublin 1847. Elrington had previously addressed this issue in 1838 in Remarks upon some statements made in a digest of the evidence on the national system of education in Ireland … in a letter to the Provost of Trinity College by Charles Elrington. Dublin, 1838.
October 18th, 1847 (Monday)
Gibbings came to pay us a visit of a few days. Mentioned that the Archbishop of Dublin had begun to patronise Stackallan, and was going to ordain one of the Fellows there. I wonder how the Bishop of Meath will like this.
Mr Arthur Tidman of Lincoln, a friend of Howard’s, came to dine & sleep. Howard wishes him to be elected a Fellow; but, though he is amiable and clever, is hardly gentlemanlike enough for us. He had heard rumours of one’s coldness & reserve, but was much surprised at the contrast between fame and fact.
Monk has made a kite for the boys, finding that their own attempts were clumsy and unsuccessful, and Howard has printed on it a fine, bold figure of Pegasus, mounted by a Petran with cap in hand, taking polite leave of sublunary concerns.1 Overhead is a scroll with ‘sic iture ad astra’. However, owing to malformation or mismanagement, the kite flew giddily, & at length reached the despised earth, ambition meeting downfall & fracture. The Muses were probably more distressed than the boys, who bear the catastrophe with good humour.
1: This is the first example of a generic name for the boys of the school. ‘Petran’ is nowhere else recorded. ‘Petreian’ appeared for a while in the 1960s as the title of a mildly subversive school magazine, countering the official magazine The Radleian. ‘Radleian’ has been the preferred term for a pupil of the school since the 1850s.
October 20th, 1847 (Wednesday)
Sewell had a letter from Mr Bennett of Knightsbridge, which was very encouraging. He says – ‘All I can do I will; but it seems to me that we have need of more decision, promptitude, and heart, in our Bishops. All our endeavours are paralyzed by the mere tacit approval of our Rulers, instead of being strengthened by their cooperation and lead.’ He mentions that ‘he himself is endeavouring to form a little Parochial establishment, connecting by close links, School, Church, and clergy in one; – but is thwarted by having it called a Monastery, although it provides for the education of girls, as part of its plan, and although he, ‘the head of it, is a married man. But,’ he adds, ‘in spite of this, and other prejudices, I am advancing.’ He goes on, ‘I do sincerely join with you, and sympathize with you in the work of St Peter’s Colege, and I will take care to mention it wherever I can.’
It is curious to see how all sound men agree about the pusillanimity of the bishops. It is a great trial to us, but we must not allow ourselves to be forgetful of the duty of patience and obedience.
Monk had also a letter from Mr Dusantoy, who, although of a cheerful and sanguine turn of mind, says he is becoming quite ‘down-hearted.’ Mentions a rumour, which he can scarcely help crediting, that Archbishop Manning and Mr Dodsworth are inclining Romewards.1 This is very melancholy, but only makes us the more firm, please God, to stand our ground. It is quite clear that the Church of England is in a very critical state, but I do believe that there is a powerful body of true Catholics within her bosom, to preserve her, with God’s help, from Rome and the Pope. May he strengthen our hands here that we may prove a nursery of Anglicanism! What need have we of every exertion and every help, when England is to be inundated by a host of Romish Bishops and other Ecclesiastics, whose mission is to pervert the whole population! How wise a step, – and yet where is our own organisation to meet it?
I had a letter from Hopson of Gloucester, to whom I wrote inquiring about the history of the old oak bedstead in my room. He says it ‘was purchased at a mansion called Bowden Hall, about four miles from Gloucester, and was sold at the sale of Miss Turbefield. It was stated in the catalogue that King Charles had slept on this bedstead, and that twenty pounds was paid for it by the late proprietress, who was a great collector of antique furniture.’ Whatever the value of this tradition may be, it is at least as good as that which stamps historical interest on half the curiosities we see.
Writing of old furniture reminds me that Margetts told Sewell some time ago that he saw the fine carved panels, which we got from Hopson, exhibited at Bristol, at 1s per head; – but that unfortunately two were abstracted at the time.
1: Henry Edward Manning was one of the most influential members of the Oxford Movement. He was also the brother in law of Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. In 1847 he held the post of Archdeacon of Chichester. He spent most of that year and the next in Rome, suffering and convalescing from a serious illness. During his time in Rome he had an audience with Pope Pius IX. In the course of the next few years, Manning struggled with his role in the Church of England. He was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1851. Eventually he rose to the post of Cardinal-Archbishop of Westminster. (Entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
William Dodsworth was a Tractarian clergyman and close friend of Manning, with whom he travelled extensively. In 1847 he was perpetual curate of Christ Church, Albany St., London, a centre of Tractarian preaching, where, under the direction of Pusey, he had founded the first Anglican sisterhood at Park Village West. Dodsworth resigned his cure and entered the Roman Catholic Church on 1st January 1851. He could not enter the priesthood because he was still married. Thereafter, he lived as a Catholic layman, writing a number of Roman Catholic tracts. (Entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
October 22nd, 1847 (Friday)
Mr Marriott, of Oriel, came with a Mrs Hill, whose son is curate at Bradfield, near Pangbourne.1 She had purchased nominations for two sons at Marlborough, but was determined to sacrifice the cost, for the sake of getting them hither, – being much dissatisfied with that place for many reasons. The numbers were too large, (near 500) and the Masters too few; – one of the boys had made but little progress, and the other none at all; – they were allowed to go into the town by themselves; – were compelled to join in bolstering matches; – and so on. Evidently very anxious to have them here, – to which I made no difficulty, owing to her introduction through Mr Marriott. So they are to come after Christmas. Much pleased with the College, and Mrs Burky.
Two gentlemen came over from Exeter to see Sewell, – one of them a Mr Paul, – who made inquiries with a view to his brother coming. They and Mr Marriott went in along with Sewell to Oxford after tea. Term has begun so we have lost Sewell for the present. He comes out, however, we hope, on the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, along with some friends.
1: Charles Marriott was considered one of the most influential members of the Oxford Movement, taking Newman’s place as a leader of the movement after the latter’s secession to Rome, and was instrumental in persuading many young men to remain within the Church of England. Marriott worked closely with Pusey as advisor on his controversial historical writings and on some of his pioneering foundations. In 1847 he was rector of Great St Mary’s, the University Church in Oxford. Marriott’s keenest interest was education: he supported Henry Stevens, the Rector of Bradfield who founded Bradfield College in Berkshire. In 1855 Marriott retired to Bradfield, where his brother was curate, and died there three years later. (Entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
October 25th, 1847 (Monday)
Sewell came out late in the evening of yesterday with his brother Henry. The latter was much pleased with progress. Agreed about the insurance of House, etc. Advised us to stave off large payments, owing to the frightful depression in the money market; – but that if, from the same cause, our finances by and by should become alarmingly low, – he had little doubt that he could negotiate a loan for us. He appeared not at all uneasy about our getting on.
Reynolds went to Abingdon to be confirmed. Meluish [sic] and Clutterbuck were to have accompanied him, but when it was time to start, one of them was found to have nothing but a straw hat, and the other a very shabby one of felt, – so I was obliged to interdict the walk. So they went back to their books, but I shortly went into School, and relieved the poor fellows, who had already been disappointed enough.
Yesterday evening, instead of catechizing the three boys, read out one of St Bernard’s epistles, clause by clause, and made Reynolds translate, which he did pretty well. The change pleased them; and the letter was a beautiful one.
October 28th, 1847 (Tuesday)
Mr Johnson the observer, Mr Wynn of All Souls, and Mr Pattieson of Trinity, came out with Sewell to dine. Greatly charmed and surprised.
October 29th, 1847 (Friday)
The servitors have behaved very ill in their dormitory, going into one another’s beds, to talk and eat apples. Have given them a tremendous scolding, and told them that they are in one’s charge just like the students, and that I shall treat them in the same way, and, that, painful as it is, I shall probably have to chastise them. All the culprits have shed floods of tears, excepting Joseph Capell, who is apparently immoveable. In fact, the grief that they have exhibited is so great, that I have just called them up to say that my object appears to have been secured, and that I shall therefore take no further notice of what has occurred. When I told them that I had a great affection for them they cried bitterly. Thomas, who is a very nice boy, when I said that I expected much from him, and was grievously disappointed at my error, was almost stifled with sobbing. Joseph was apparently more glad to escape a whipping than that I had forgiven him. I threatened him severely. I fear an indifferent boy.
Sewell came out with some friends.