May 31, 2009
This evening Mr Johnson put the Oxford Chronicle of the 29th into Mrs Burky’s hands, containing the extract from the Church and State Gazette alluded to earlier which was accompanied by some editorial remarks of their own, whose absurdity and untruth were about equal. The document is on the opposite side. We laughed heartily at it; & yet it is scarcely right to laugh at the wickedness of others; for surely he who propagates a false or injurious report of his neighbour without examination is guilty of a grave sin.
May 30, 2009
Went twice to Church at Radley, but the Vicar did not call. Neither has he ever returned Sewell’s visits; all which certainly looks unfriendly. Sewell wrote last week to Mr Bowyer, expostulating on this way of going on, & expressing a hope that the Vicar is not resolved on being uncivil. He lives in Oxford & comes out to do the duty. The services were conducted in a more rubrical way than in any Church that I have been in since I came to England.
Sewell, who had been to London yesterday, appeared just as we were locking up the house for the night. He had made several purchases of articles, many of which I saw and wished for, when last there. Seven historical pictures at Falcke’s, & four very fine portraits of great masters, – together with silvered sconces for the East end, & some other matters, – he succeeded in obtaining. Also a very fine wrought iron-chest, with a most elaborate lock, at Pratt’s, & at the same place a magnificent piece of carved work in three compartments, representing passages in the life of our Lord. This was very costly, the sum asked being £140, & put into perfect repair £190 – but along with the panels purchased from Hobson will crown our Chapel.
We need not pay for these things for nine months, by which time we have good hope of quite sufficient funds. We are the more confirmed in this from a conversation Sewell has had with Mr Markland, who is a person of very great influence, & has raised very large sums of money for different objects connected with the Church. He has just accumulated £14,000 for one charitable purpose, & he says that he will now beg for us. He says that he does not gather by tens and twenties, but by hundreds and thousands. Altogether, we have ceased to be uneasy about funds, having several openings through which, please God, money will come in. We have the deepest cause for thankfulness to a good Providence, who has indeed ‘given us our daily bread,’ and raised up friends for us in a wonderful way.
Mr Barrow, of Queen’s, will be delighted to come on the 9th if he can possibly escape from a Scholarship examination, which is fixed for that day. He had a talk with Sewell about Mr Jones of that College, who had been already mentioned by Mr Marriott, & who, he thought, would be a very suitable person for us. He was a 1st or 2nd class man, & an Ireland Scholar.
Received £500 from Anthony. Sewell says funds are rising, & the money market getting somewhat relieved from its pressure. The news of this day cheered us greatly. I could scarcely sleep with happy thoughts.
Semi-popery in Oxfordshire. Our readers will recollect that we have from time to time drawn public attention, in the columns of the Church and State Gazette to the proceedings at St Columba College, Stackallan, Ireland. We have now, on the authority of an Oxfordshire correspondent, to communicate the astounding fact that the Rev. W. Sewell, of Exeter College, Oxford, has taken, on lease for twenty years, the mansion of Sir George Bowyer, Bart., Radley house, near Abingdon, Berks, and within four miles of the University of Oxford; and that St Columba College, with its warden, Mr Singleton, its fellows, and whole establishment, is to be forthwith removed to this locality, where the practical example of real Popery may prove fatal, as it appears is the case with St Columba, to the attempt at bastard imitation which has been made. The mansion is to be fitted up with the due Anglo-Catholic appendages; and choral services substituted for the simple performance of divine worship most congenial to Protestant ideas. Let the Bishop of Oxford see to this without delay, or we promise him he will afterwards have more work on his hands than will be quite convenient. Compulsory fasting is a part of the discipline of this Romanising establishment. – Church and State Gazette
[We learn on good authority that a matronly lady reached Oxford on Monday evening, who enquired for the residence of the Rev. Mr Sewell, and has come to take the management as dame, as Radley Hall, near Abingdon, where we hear a chapel and dormitory are in the course of erection, under the superintendence of Mr Pugin. The lady has for some years been similarly engaged in a convent at Wexford, Ireland. We give this lady full credit for honesty and consistency, as a Roman Catholic, but what can be said as to the honesty or consistency of men, Protestant in name, - paid from Protestant funds, to teach Protestant doctrine; when found in such an association as this? The law was quick enough in pouncing on Mr Shore, for hasty expressions, or even an orthodox exposition, when rubically out of place. Where is the Bishop of Oxford, the son of the author of Wilberforce's practical view?]
May 28, 2009
Mr Searle brought out a dress for his son, which was proposed as a pattern for that of all the Servitors. It is a loose coat with standing collar, and extending nearly to the knees, confined at the waist by a leather strap. We like it very much, & fixed upon a coarse Oxford grey cloth for the material.
Sewell surprised us again the evening. The few, whom he had asked to come on the 9th of June, have most gladly promised. We drew up a plan for the ceremony itself, which I shall, no doubt, mention hereafter. He saw Hobson of Gloucester today, who is to proceed at once with oak panellings, &c. for the Chapel. He also sent for Mr De La Motte & gave him a good rowing for his neglect: the culprit promised to amend. We had a talk with Mr Johnson, who intends to begin digging the foundation of the Chapel on Monday, so that we must get Mr Goold’s leave, as the site is part of the seven acres, which go with the house, but which he holds for the season. We called on him when Sewell was going back, & found him very ready to accommodate us in any way we pleased.
May 27, 2009
Captain Haskoll & I went into Oxford. Sewell had just received a letter from Richard Gibbings to say that Mr Nash would not sell the Library for less than £800, and that it was so near the day fixed for the auction that he doubted whether it could be sold privately at all. Gibbings strongly advised not giving more than £600, which seemed to us a very small sum for so fine a collection: but then books in Ireland are much cheaper than in England. Sewell wrote to say that he might offer £600, to be paid at the end of 6 months, for the whole, or if that would not be accepted, – he was at liberty to expend £200 in the Fathers & Standard Classics, provided they went cheap. I think that the auction will be allowed to proceed, and we shall not much regret it, as there is considerable interest in the gradual accumulation of what is valuable. Our prospects from Mr Swale & elsewhere we thought justified this step.
In the afternoon Sewell got a letter from Mrs Sheppard announcing the gift of £1000, 3 per cent Stock. Deo Optimo Maximae Gratiae.1 She likewise mentioned that she had given the same to Stackallan. How heartily should I rejoice in this, did I not fear that it will encourage them in their present course. Sewell does not share this fear: I hope he may be right.
Met Allen Cliffe coming out to Radley. I had not seen him for many years, except for a moment in Dublin, in Dame Street. He was very glad at my coming to England.
Dined at Exeter with Sewell & Captain Haskoll & Monk. A guest of Mr Tweed’s gave a horrible account of cruelty to a snake, which made the whole company to writhe, & quite knocked Sewell up for the rest of the evening. The gentleman seemed quite unconscious of the sufferings which he was inflicting on his neighbours, though every means were resorted to, which politeness would allow to exhibit their disgust. He only became the more minute in his details.
1: The greatest thanks be to God.
May 26, 2009
Went about the House & Offices with Mrs Burky, who was charmed with the abundant accommodation of every kind. Fixed with her the different apartments to be occupied by herself and the servants. This being the first fast-day since I came to Radley, Captain Haskoll & I observed it by taking a small breakfast, & having no dinner. At Tea in the evening, the door opened, & in walked Sewell & the Sub-Rector. The latter pulled something triumphantly out of his pocket, saying to me, ‘here is something you have forgotten.’ It proved to be a box of Lucifers, – which I had not forgotten. He however, detected one instance in which I was at fault: I had omitted a knife-brick; so that he had the triumph notwithstanding. Monk joined us afterwards, having come out by the Abingdon coach, which passes & re-passes the upper gate twice a day. This is very convenient, as it is a long walk into Oxford in hot weather. Our three Visitors returned in the cool of the evening, & we accompanied them a short distance. All, especially Ley, in good spirits.
Sewell had an interview with Archdeacon Cotton this day. The latter was amicable. He quite allowed that the College at Stackallan was different in principle from what it was; seemed to maintain that the Primate & Trustees were justified in doing what they pleased with it; – either had never seen, or had forgotten, the letters which I had received from the four Founders quoted in my last letter to Dr E., & establishing the fact that an agreement was made with me that fasting was to be compulsory on the Warden & Fellows; – had never heard that it was a law of the College from the beginning, imposed by the Founders, that no meals should be taken on any day in private rooms without the Warden’s consent; – in fact, seemed to know nothing, & to confess that he knew nothing, of the early history & constitution of it; – and yet he was one of those who drove me away for maintaining the pledges given by the Founders to the Subscribers, and to myself. What will become of an Institution if it be left in such hands it is easy enough to foresee.
He was amazed at the idea of our having a College in England to open on 1st August, & infinitely more amazed at the intention of inserting the Statute about fasting, which they put into the Columban Statutes (themselves) though they turned it out 3 months afterwards. He begged that Sewell would not adopt the name of ‘St Columba’, this being from a fear that our Popish Establishment might be confounded with their Protestant one; to which Sewell replied that he had no right to make any such request, but that, to ease his mind, we had already nearly settled to call ourselves ‘The College of St Peter, Radley.’
Sewell endeavoured to impress upon him that we were not their enemies, but that, on the contrary, though in their present position neither we nor others could give them any assistance, if they would set their constitution right, we should be rejoiced to hold out the right hand of fellowship, & do what we could for them. At the same time he protested loudly against their gross injustice in detaining presents without the donor’s leave, now that they had changed their principles: especially he mentioned the Communion Plate, the detention of which was absolutely monstrous. Dr Cotton seemed to have some apprehension of the real bearings of the case, & yet he complained of people withdrawing their subscriptions: nay, he went so far as to ask Sewell ‘whether he thought it would be of any use to apply to me for the £500 I had promised them!’ To this Sewell of course replied that it ‘would be of no use, & strongly recommended them not to try.’ Really this looks like downright infatuation.
It was comfortable, however, to find that, though the utmost plainness prevailed on Sewell’s part, the interview was quite friendly. Indeed the Archdeacon was twice moved to tears. But it is quite clear that the present authorities have no idea of the work which they have undertaken to manage; they are wholly incompetent to it. Cotton confessed that he could not comprehend Sewell’s conceptions, which were no other than those of the Founders. They are altogether in a most unseemly & false position, & I wish to be thankful that I am out of it.
May 25, 2009
Mr Johnson brought out our letters, among which was one from the Bishop of Bath & Wells, to Sewell, most cordially approving our plan; it was as strong an opinion as could be penned, & Sewell & I were not a little rejoiced.
In the afternoon we strolled about the Park, and talked most seriously, if not most sadly too, about our Chapel. The estimate for that mentioned earlier turned out to be far higher than we any of us expected; – above £1600, and yet no one could complain of the charges, which were all very reasonable. But this was a very serious sum to expend in the existing state of the finances; & yet what were we to do? We must have a chapel, & something good too, otherwise we should fail at once. We thought of getting up a simple shell, with the plainest & cheapest rafters that could be devised. Yet this would cost us nearly half the money, & would be very unsatisfactory, & besides would be worthless hereafter. Whereas the beautiful arching roof of stained Memel, of the other plan, would be put together with bolts, and might be available in our permanent College, were it to please God that we should build one. We thought of the disappointment of our Oxford friends were they to see a mean Chapel, & the striking effect upon the world of a suitable one. We dwelt upon the great encouragement we had already received, and of the fairness of the prospect before us, and asked each other would it not be a distrustfulness of Him, who had so graciously helped us hitherto, were we to shrink from what we honestly believed to be essential to our success? We then solemnly determined to build the wished for structure, & accordingly gave Mr Johnson the order in the evening, who said he would instantly set about it.
Captain Haskoll arrived this evening, so that I shall not feel lonesome. Sewell returned to Oxford, and on his table found a letter from the Revd. H. Swale of Settle in Yorkshire, to whom he had written at the instance of a Mr Trevor, a mutual friend. Mr Trevor recommended Sewell to send him a copy of the Journal with a note. Mr Swale’s reply was to this effect: – that he had long looked up to Sewell as his spiritual father; that his works (especially the Christian morals1) had been of the greatest benefit to him; that he rejoiced at the effort he (Sewell) was making to establish the College, to which he would feel it an honour to contribute; – that his hands were full this year, but that he had occasionally a large command of funds, which he hoped next year to help us with. In the mean time he collected £200 among his friends, and engaged to send it to us on Tuesday next. Sewell & I looked upon this as proof that our decision about the Chapel, (little knowing at the time what was awaiting us in Oxford,) was the right one: we trusted that the act of faith was approved. I did not hear of it till the next morning, but when I did I cannot say how happy I was. Captain Haskoll shared my joy heartily. He is longing to see the Chapel & the Organ. We get on together most comfortably, & as soon as the remaining Servitors came out, we shall have more employment. At present, indeed, I am fully occupied in copying out the Statutes fairly for the Bishop; – and with other matters.
1: William Sewell. Christian morals. Published in The Englishman’s Library, vol. 10, 1840
May 24, 2009
Sewell began his reply to the Archbishop of Armagh, but soon found that he could not proceed without an inspection of the correspondence, which passed between the Trustees and myself soon after my leaving Stackallan. I showed it to him, & he was so shocked at what he read that he was quite knocked up for the rest of the day. It had such an effect upon him, that Radley changed its character & became a painful association.
Mrs Burky and her daughter arrived in the evening; the former over-joyed to be once more under the same roof with us. She said that she “scarcely ever dreamt of being so happy again”.
May 23, 2009
Walked into Oxford, (the poor boy [Henry] running half the way, for I rather dreaded the increase of heat, & so stepped out briskly,) & was almost overcome by the sun acting on a wearied frame & a stomach long empty. Went to Exeter Chapel, & afterwards breakfasted with the Sub-Rector, where I met Sewell & Ernest Hawkins.1 The former had fared hardly better than myself during the night, being too tired to sleep, & rising up lame with stiffness. Had some conversation about the College with Hawkins, who warmly approved it. He had brought with him the Church & State Gazette, which contained a most confused article about us, jumbling up all sorts of incoherencies; saying that the whole College of St. Columba was to be transferred by Messrs Sewell & Singleton to the neighbourhood of Oxford, a step which was deemed most dangerous to the University; & ending by a warning to the Bishop of Oxford to look sharply after the matter. This we deemed to be rather satisfactory, as it would help our becoming known. Sewell gives our neighbour, Dr Peter Morris of Kennington, the credit of being the communicator of this farrago to the Print above-mentioned. The reading of this brought on a discussion about the line that Bishops were in general taking on Church matters, Hawkins thoroughly agreeing with the independent line which Sewell & I mean to pursue, should his Lordship of Oxford take an unconstitutional course. However, we do not apprehend his giving us any serious trouble.
In the afternoon Sewell & I went out to Radley, bringing with us a respectable cold dinner from Exeter kitchen. We enjoyed the evening greatly, the place looking charming & our spirits being good. Henry & the maid not having made their appearance, we had to get all the dinner things ourselves. To a third party it would have been quite curious to see the Founder & Warden of a College, in the solitude of present emptiness, rummaging about for plates, & dishes, & spoons, & water, & bread, & salt – and sundry civilized expedients for partaking of dinner in a non-natural way. When all was got together, matters looked far from bad, though certain irregularities did unquestioningly prevail. The lettuce, for want of an appropriate dish, had to overshadow the cold tongue, which had to be carved by a knife & fork, already used in dissecting a veal pie. Such evils as these, however, were plainly not intolerable, at least under our present circumstances; indeed I am disposed to think that they rather added to the intensity of appetite. Monk came out in the evening to spend tomorrow with us, for these being the Whitsuntide holidays Sewell is free for a few days, and Monk has one at his disposal, though he must leave us in the evening to be at the Motett Society.
Sewell read me a friendly letter which he wrote to Archdeacon Cotton, saying that if a Trustee of St Columba’s were to leave Oxford without calling on him, it would be a very sad affair.
We discussed in the evening the question of our installation, the time, manner & persons to be invited to it, for it is clear that there ought to be some witnesses of so important a ceremony. As to the time; we agreed that it should be before the Colleges broke up, and also before I went to Ireland, for I promised on leaving it to return in summer to see my mother. This limited it to June. St Peter’s day is the Exeter Election; there was some objection to St John’s day; – the 16th is the Commemoration; – so that it was further limited to early in June; – therefore we fixed on the 9th, St Columba’s day. We drew up a list of earnest-minded men who would thoroughly enter into the spirit & importance of the act, & whom we intend to invite. We shall provide a cold dinner for them here, (at Radley,) so that the occasion may be cheerful as well as solemn.
I think it was this morning that Sewell got another kind letter from Mr Bowyer, offering us some bosses, and expressing great anxiety about the persons, whom we should appoint Fellows, and a hope that they would be the exponents of the true old Anglican School. This relieved our minds very much from the apprehension created by his early letters, & his subsequent conversation in the Bursary at Exeter.
1: Ernest Hawkins (1802-1868) was a fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. He held the posts as under-librarian of the Bodleian Library and curate of St Aldate’s Church, Oxford. Hawkins was appointed Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) in 1838, for which he traveled overseas extensively. He was sympathetic to the Oxford Movement, but was not notably outspoken on current issues of churchmanship. See entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
May 22, 2009
Sewell had a letter from the Archbishop of Armagh, which was not unfair considering the false light in which his Grace views things; for he has evidently been led astray by —, who has told him, what he before told Dr —, that in the original rules sent down to Stackallan there was no mention of the fasts. This is the reverse of the truth, as the copy of them in my possession fully attests. The Archbishop, being possessed of this erroneous notion, naturally enough objects to certain statements made by Sewell, and therefore is going to communicate with the Bishop of Oxford. However, we are not in the least alarmed, as the Bishop will understand the case in a moment, when we lay, not assertions, but documents, before him.
Breakfasted with Sewell in the Bursary, where I met Mr, Mrs & Miss Markland of Bath. On being introduced to the first, he enquired after ‘the young organist who went to St. Columba’s’. Sewell from the other end of the room cried ‘Here is the gentleman of whom you are speaking, Mr Monk – Mr Markland.’ Mr Markland was a warm friend of St Columba’s, & was rejoiced to hear of a similar Institution in England. He is an excellent man, sound Churchman, & has a most satisfactory horror of Sir Robert Peel.1
After breakfast I paid my bill at Brown’s, and went out to Radley, Mr Johnson having overtaken me on the road & given me a seat in his gig. In the midst of the labours of unpacking, who should appear but Sewell & the Sub-Rector of Exeter. They immediately set to work, & we delivered sundry chairs, &c. from the thrall of skeleton cases. The seven from Bristol are exceedingly fine. These with the magnificent walnut wardrobe from Mallam’s, gave Ley quite a new idea of our scheme. Indeed, the character of the place set off by the fineness of a spring day, the size & handsomeness of the House, told with great effect upon a cool mind, wholly a stranger to enthusiasm. He said it was a grand idea, & that ‘its very boldness deserved success.’ They were so relaxed by the long walk in the hot sun that we broached a bottle of Sherry, and drank refreshment to ourselves & success to Radley.
They returned in the afternoon & I continued my labours till night, assisted by Henry Searle the first Servitor who arrived. It was then so late that the girl, whom I had engaged to help me reside in such a hurry, found it hard to get milk & butter for tea; in fact the former she could not get at all, & the latter was not the best. When she went home I fastened the doors with due precaution, and then made the little boy sit down opposite me, while I helped him with his Tea. I could not think of leaving the little fellow to the solitude of a distant kitchen, knowing that if there were no rats or mice to enliven it, gloom & silence in a subterraneous apartment were too severe a test to impose on his nerves. I ate little but drank much, & then despatched Henry to bed with a charge to say his prayers.
I scarcely closed my eyes the whole night. I was somewhat solemn to feel myself, one may say, alone in a huge house, thus commencing a new era in my life, once more absolutely embarked in a College. The doubts, difficulties, perplexities, labour, and responsibility, attending the new situation, were no slow in crowding about me; but I was not cowed, nor alarmed, nor even dispirited. We have had sufficient external testimony to confirm the motions of our own minds, & when God blesses, no man has ground to fear. Got up at 5 o’clock, fagged enough, & roused Henry from a deep sleep, and asked him would he like to spend Whitsunday with his friends, (who live in Beaumont St., next door to my last lodgings,) which when he recovered his dormant senses, he seemed pleased enough to hear.
1: Probably to be identified as James Heywood Markland, 1788-1864. The son of an industrialist from Manchester, he practiced as a lawyer in London. However, his main interests were antiquarian, particularly book collecting. In 1841 he settled in Bath. He was a prominent supporter of church societies. See entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography