Entries July & August 1848

July 1st, 1848 (Saturday)

A sharp white frost this morning early. Sewell brought out Dr and Mrs Woolley, a Mr Bond, Kingdon, and one or two others: besides a Mr Machonochio a sound man from Wadham. Dr Woolley is the head of a large school at Rossyl, near Fleetwood, where he is very anxious to introduce as much of our system as possible, but is embarrassed by a Council, or some such drag, – who fetter him effectually, as they hold the purse-strings.1 However he is making way. He told me that Newland who had been placed with him on leaving Stackallan, at first went on very well, but after his father’s death turned out a bad boy, conceited and deceitful, and, not being able to make anything of him, sent him home. This shows how true was our estimate of him, – which perhaps even Mr Darby might admit now. The whole party seemed highly pleased with all here.

Such excitement as there is now among the boys. The carrier is announced with a great deal box, containing the instruments. And now such delight, and such a noise. They seem as happy as possible. It is curious to see how little of the wildness of joy there is about going home; – their feelings seem to preserve just the sort of balance one likes to see. Willis’ uncle was here the other day, and asked him was he not in delight at the idea of going home; – to which he said ‘not particularly,’ or something of the sort; – and yet he has been punished more severely than any other boy in the school.


1: John Woolley was appointed headmaster of Rossall School in 1844. He was not a success there, and left shortly after Singleton met him, in 1849. He then became headmaster of Norwich Grammar School. In 1852 he was appointed the principal of newly founded Sydney University in Australia, which he insisted should be a fully secular institution. See entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


July 2nd, 1848 (Sunday)

Sewell came out. Says that Dr Woolley told him he had heard that the discipline had deteriorated at Stackallan; – which only confirmed our own strong impressions. Indeed I all along knew how it would be.

Says, too, that someone has written a flaming account of our ‘Gaude’ to Durham; – and that Dr Pusey is very grateful for our attentions to his son. Mentioned that one of the masters of Marlborough, who was here yesterday, is determined to use his influence with Mr Wilkinson to get up choral service there, being so struck with the effect of it here. Thus we hope to influence other schools, and so to affect the education of England.

Had a long talk with Reynolds, – told him how much I was pleased with his improvement, and gave a good deal of affectionate advice, suitable to his age and case. I have become greatly attached to him, and I do hope he will turn out a good man. Still I fear moral weakness a little.

Have had also a talk with Elliot, – and intend to see all the elder boys privately and singly.

The result of the examination which began on Friday is very satisfactory; – scholarship is decidedly advanced. In fact, all the boys are unquestionably improved in every respect, for which God make us thankful.


July 3rd, 1848 (Monday)

Tomorrow being the first day of Grand Commemoration at Oxford, the city is quite full, and multitudes are to be over here this week. Shoals of visitors today; – Lord and Lady Camden; (Gainsborough family), Robert Carew; Mackarness, with all his family, and his future consort, highly rejoiced to see Monk and self; – Miss Sheppard an elderly, good lady, – a warm friend; – with several others. Lord and Lady Camden very sound, earnest people, – greatly struck. Robert Carew much pleased, – quite amazed at the organ; – found an old acquaintance in Lord Camden. In the middle of tea Charles Elrington made his appearance. He was our Senior Prefect at Stackallan. How rejoiced I was to see him, and he to see us! His brother, Captain Elrington, accompanied him. After all the company was gone, I was able to get a little quiet talk with them, which was a great relief. Found them in the chapel, enraptured with the organ which Monk treated them to. They would have stopped up all night to listen, if Monk would have gone on playing. Indeed, they said they would not go to bed at all, rather than be late for chapel in the morning.


July 4th to August 18th, 1848

Singleton spent most of July and August, 1848, in Ireland. His diary entry is one continuous narrative covering the period from 4th July until 18th August

July 4th, Tuesday

I wanted to be off at 6 o’clock, in order to get to Didcot in time for train to reach Liverpool before sailing of packet for Kingstown, – thus saving a day. I was anxious to have Morning Prayer before, and yet was a little reluctant to get people up soon enough. Still Sub-Warden had no doubt, so we had service at 5 ¼ o’clock without difficulty, and I accomplished all I wanted.

I felt very much fagged after I reached Ireland, and was 2 or 3 weeks before I felt any fresher, to signify. Slept a good deal in the daytime, and by degrees came round. A whole year’s increasing toil, and anxiety, with insufficient sleep at night, is enough to knock up any one. However, have good cause for thankfulness that one held out so well, and that the chapel service was never once interrupted.

Wrote to Nugent Wade soon after my getting to Kingstown, remonstrating in the strongest way against Gabbett’s being received at Stackallan, and absolutely turned into a Teacher. Also complaining of the sad defect of discipline; – adding that neither Sewell nor oneself could feel any true confidence so long as the present weak government lasted. He replied that he had mentioned the case to Todd, who agreed with him very decidedly in the main, and had written to Morton about the matter of Gabbett, who took what he said very well, but answered, that he (Morton) had always understood that Gabbett had apologised to me. Tood said that as to public acknowledgement of his offence, though he believed Gabbett was ready to do even this, it appeared to be unwise to resuscitate an angry controversy. Wade added that, as to discipline, he would soon be going over to Ireland, where he would look carefully into the matter; and that, by and bye, in his capacity of honorary fellow, he would have considerable influence, even in internal concerns. To this I replied that Gabbett had never made me an apology, which could deserve the name, – for though he confessed regret for some things he had done, – he charge me with treating him ill: – in fact, wrote in such a way that I could not take any notice of his letter. Further, that, though it might be true that it would be undesirable to awake once more a newspaper strife, – it was perfectly plain that an expelled fellow should never be received into his College again, – still less, – be restored to the office of teacher. That however private intercourse might be resumed on true repentance, such a mark of public confidence, – the public being ignorant of the change, was simply monstrous; – that I could answer for myself, and I thought for Sewell too, that we would never raise a finger for the College, – if this proceeding was to be countenanced.

Paid a visit during vacation to Templeshanbo, [in County Wexford] where I found that the discipline of Stackallan was even worse than I thought. It appears that Mr Stevenson was very popular with the boys, and had great influence, so that some of them had become Repealers, so far as striplings can be said to be patriots or rebels. One, at least, had become so, to my own personal knowledge. When he was expelled, the boys absolutely accompanied him all the way to gate with cheers.

Guns and pistols were tolerated, – and one boy blew himself up with gunpowder, and was very severely hurt. Another fell off an ass, and broke his arm. Now, making every allowance for exaggeration, authority and order, and law and wisdom, are evidently at a very low ebb. It is quite clear that matters must sooner or later come to a crisis. Reverence seems to be gone; the boys turn the Warden himself, and all the Fellows, into ridicule. If the College is to be kept standing, something must be done to remedy this disastrous state of things.

During Vacation had a gratifying proof from one of the students to the effect of St Peter’s upon him. Alfred Hill wrote me a letter to say that he had heard that Ireland was in a very disturbed state, and that therefore he and his brother were very anxious to hear of my health and safety, begging of me to be so good as to write and let them know. Yet he was the first boy flogged after the College began, for the ‘emente’ mentioned at the beginning of last term. They were both warned that they would be sent away unless they improved very decidedly and very soon. They are now, both of them, good boys, and we have got fond of them, especially Stanton.

[13th August] Left home on Saturday evening the 13th August, got up to London on Monday evening, slept at Bloomsbury Square, at Henry Sewell’s; – not at home, but came next day. Had a talk about Sackallan and its discipline. Very sorry to hear of the state of things, for takes a high view of the majesty of law, and the immense moment of obedience. Wade does not, unfortunately, see matters in the same strong light that we do. Henry Sewell and I agreed that Morton was in the way of management and success, – and that it would be a good thing if he were to retire from any cause.

[14th August] Agreed to return to Henry Sewell after I had been at Rochester, whither I was strongly pressed to go by Mr Day, (father of our boy) and which I consented to do in a great measure with the view of going on to Canterbury. Mr and Mrs Day very glad to see me, – in fact, seemed to think it quite a compliment that one should pay them a visit at all. Much pleased with their son, as he is with the College.

[15th August] Next day went by omnibus to Canterbury, and on the following visited St Augustine’s. All the buildings at present proposed have been completed. The three sides of the quadrangle have a good effect, – especially the dormitory. The building that meets your eye on coming under the grand old gateway is the most imposing by far in the entire group, which turns out to be the library. The chapel proves a very much smaller structure, in fact, far too small for their object, and I do not see how it can be extended. The truth is, – it has been the offspring of mere sentiment. The site was exactly occupied in former times by the Abbot’s private chapel, and therefore it must be exactly occupied by the College chapel now, – in disregard of the obvious fact, that what might have been ample for a single, private family, might be insufficient for a numerous society. Even as it is, the limits are too narrow for the number which their buildings can accommodate. The wood-work in it, and in fact everywhere else, is very poor and ill carved, though of oak. The Warden’s chair in the Hall is a fine old thing, – the best I ever saw.

The students’ chambers are small, and studiously comfortless. I don’t believe that people become a whit better fitted for missionaries by having a small hole for their bed, and a dirty looking washing place in the corner of it. We don’t find that the younger branches of the aristocracy make bad curates, because they have once enjoyed the luxuries of a wealthy home. Altogether, the College, thought containing much that is pretty, and to some people striking, appears to be the work of second rate heads.

[16th August] The next morning returned to London, and went with Henry Sewell to Hampton Court, which we agreed would do uncommonly well for a College, though we did not profess to see any chance of St Peter’s being established there. Had a great deal of talk about Colleges, and law, and punishment, and got back very much fagged.


August 19th, 1848 (Saturday)

At breakfast Henry Sewell produced a card, which proved to be Dr Todd’s, who had called yesterday, while we were at Hampton Court, and was now at Spring Gardens. Henry Sewell was to call after breakfast, and there was some discussion about my going with him, but upon the whole it was thought better not to affect fraternity until the Primate had sanctioned the return to their first principles. So when Henry Sewell went to Todd, I passed on to the Abbey.1 His account of affairs is still favourable. They have drawn up an appeal for help, mentioning their purchase of Hollypark, and the necessity of building chapel, dormitories etc. without delay. They sent me a copy, and hope that Sewell and I will sanction the College now. The document is not objectionable, excepting in 2 or 3 points, – which do not vitiate the whole.

Henry Sewell and I came down in the afternoon train. I stopped at Abingdon; – he went on to Oxford. Found all well; – Sewell a little fagged, but nothing to signify. During Vacation he determined to move the old, tumble-down barn near the garden up to the back of the offices, by way of a school-room. It is an excellent move. All the timbers are of stout oak, and are quite sound. The roof is massive and powerful, and the construction being good, is quite handsome. At the east end there will be a dais, and some old stained glass in the windows. The chamber is 106 feet long inside, and will accommodate readily 80 boys, even with the ample elbow room which we allow to each. If hereafter we should erect the school-room originally projected, so as to hold 200, this room will always be valuable for some purpose or other; – perhaps as Servitors’ Schoolroom and Hall. Outside of the west end we shall have a lavatory, so that the boys can always come with clean hands into school. This building is quite close to the new dormitory, which is to be proceeded with the moment the former is finished.

The potato rot has infected our whole crop, which turns out to be a sad failure. Those sown early are better than the later, – but, altogether, there is not a quarter of average produce.


1: Presumably Westminster Abbey.


August 21st, 1848 (Monday)

Sewell and Henry Sewell came out from Oxford, and I returned with them. Sewell and I called on the President of Magdalene, who talked freely about the death of his sister, Mrs Sheppard. She left no will, so her property comes to the President, as nearest of kin, – but he hands it over to his College to disburse in charitable objects, and for this reason. Dr Sheppard had been a Fellow of Magdalene, and had long ago made a will leaving the bulk of his property to his College for purposes of charity. This the President told him would not stand, as the law would not recognize such generalities. I think that he died intestate, and that thus the property fell to his widow. She was a most conscientious old lady, and lived on means independently of this sum, so as to reserve it for good objects. It appears that she touched very little of it, mainly supporting these good objects from the annual proceeds, arising from the funds and landed estates. There is a very large amount to be disposed of; – they say £100,000. As St Peter’s is an object in which she was deeply interested. We shall have a strong claim on a share. We have many friends among the Fellows. However all is in the hands of Providence. Mrs Sheppard had given us at different times £2000.

Dined at Exeter Hall with Sewell and brothers and sisters and children and friends.

A Mr White of Lincoln College, who has accepted a fellowship at St Columba’s, has written to Sewell, asking an interview, – but Sewell will not be here, so has written, cautiously, to say that he is not connected with that College now; – and this, lest Mr White should imagine that it is the place it was.


August 23rd, 1848 (Wednesday)

This being the first day of term the boys came back, – their number being now increased by a third: it was 22, – now it is 33. The new boys are:

  • Lumley
  • Pearse
  • Gurdon
  • Balfour
  • Moorsom
  • French
  • Kennard (Martyn)
  • Williams
  • Newland (Decimal)
  • Manning
  • Medley (son Bishop Fredericton)

The others do not seem at all sorry to come back: indeed, Captain Moorsom told me that one of the boys, whom he met in the omnibus (and whom we concluded was Sewell major) when he asked him whether he was not sad at returning to school, said that he was very glad. So said little Howard, and one or two more. This is very satisfactory. How plainly it shows that boys do not dislike discipline, when it is just, and even, and tempered with kindness. It would seem also to show, indirectly, that the chapel service is not found very irksome. I certainly have not heard the slightest thing to make me think they did find it so. Not that I should much mind if they did, – for a habit of prayer must be formed like every other habit, – by exercise. If adults, even, wait to say their prayers till they are inclined, they will often be put off altogether. Little boys, to be sure, cannot pray during the whole of a long service, – but they can keep quiet, and be reverent in manner, – all of which is a great gain. They can, also, witness the deportment of their elders, and see by them that they fall short of necessary goodness. Unless inattention be wilful, the mere atmosphere of the House of Prayer is wholesome to the souls of children. For these, and other reasons, I would not for the world dispense with the attendance of the smallest boy in the College from the Matins and Evensong.

We think that the new boys have a promising and gentlemanlike appearance. At all events, we cannot be much more careful than we are in the choice of whom we shall admit.


August 26th, 1848 (Saturday)

Sewell wrote to the Bishop to say that our numbers were increasing so rapidly that in a very short time there would be no room for us in the parish church, which indeed was sufficiently crowded as it is. That it would be a great convenience to have the privilege of Holy Communion in the College, for different reasons, and among them, on account of its infrequency at the parish church. That the time was come when he should ask his Lordship to excuse our attendance at the church, and sanction the service in our own chapel on Sundays.


August 27th, 1848 (Sunday)

The Sub-Warden came to me and said that there was not room for 6 or 7 of the boys in our pew, – begging to know what was to be done. On consulting the Fellows, it was agreed that it was impossible to take the whole number to church, as all the available spaces in the aisles and elsewhere was already occupied. Also, – that it was highly undesirable to break the body into 2 parts, – some going to church, and some to chapel, and that, as there was no doubt that the Bishop’s answer to yesterday’s letter would be favourable, we might safely risk the service for the whole College at home: – and if the Bishop disapproved, – we could only ay we were sorry, and would do so no more. So we had the full cathedral service, to the infinite delight of the boys, who had told the Sub-Warden in the morning, in high satisfaction, that it ‘was now quite impossible to go to the church.’ Poor fellows, – they had suffered a good deal in the summer, owing to their being cooped up in a sort of little transept on the south, into which the sun poured its fiery rays, so as to half-bake them. Besides, the aisle leading to their seat was lined with Sunday school boys and girls, whose odour was most offensive. Their delight scarcely exceeded ours, – for what with Mr Ratcliffe’s irreverence, the scandalous singing, the uncertainty of hours, – the women, both inside and outside staring at the boys, and so on, we were heartily rejoiced to be delivered from the obligation. Our Sunday was sadly broken in upon, and cut up, – so that we did not enjoy the day as we ought and would wish.

The private form of family prayer at 8 o’clock and in evening, will now be discontinued. This we have used, as the interval between 6 o’clock and 11, and between 4 and night, seemed too long to be without Common Prayer of some kind. We have long and patiently endured the inconveniences which going to church involved, – I dare say a discipline as necessary to us as wholesome.