April 26th, 1847 (Monday)

April 26, 2009

Sewell went to Dr Radcliffe this morning, who received him stiffly enough. The old gentleman seemed to have a thorough horror of anything approaching to a school; and not without some reason; for it appears that the last tenant of Radley Hall, was a Schoolmaster, whose boys, if not himself too, were chiefly dissenters, and caused the Vicar very much annoyance. It was evident to Sewell that he was under apprehensions for our Orthodoxy, as he dwelt upon the sufficiency of the Prayer-book and Articles, as if implying a fear of our going beyond them. Sewell, however, managed to pacify him, and left him much softened. I believe he has met with crosses in life, and this may account for his being somewhat σκνθρωπος.1

Sewell, James Edwards Sewell, his sisters, and I, got out to Radley, between Flying it and Walking it. The second-mentioned was much struck with the place, and thought it an admirable locality, and remarked that he felt no doubt that we should get the requisite funds, and that we must succeed. This is satisfactory, as he is a man of sound and clear judgement, very anxious for our success, but dispassionate and cool.

We made a change in the arrangement of the Rooms, abandoned that mentioned and reverting to the original one, so far as it affected the Wardens accommodation, whose bedroom would otherwise be unsatisfactory, the proposal being to take it off the Boys Study. This would bring him too near to them, so that he could hardly help overhearing their conversation. Besides, there would be no fireplace: not that the loss of a fire would be worth a thought, but that ventilation would be imperfect. The arrangement, then, (of the ground floor,) stands thus: – Common Room, – Second Common Room, in which to receive Visitors, – Prefects and diligent boys study, – Room for any boys that might have colds, or be otherwise too poorly to go out to School. The regular Infirmary is to be moved to the top of the House. Further, as our Dormitory is to be a chief, striking, feature of our system, and as the low rooms above stairs will never give it the character which is essential, and as we shall want these different rooms for fellows and other purposes, – we agreed not to demolish the partitions, but preserving them as they are, – to erect a Dormitory on a proper plan outside the House, only, of course, employing the upper storey until the new building shall be fit to occupy. We also determined to bring all our buildings to the front, as being more cheerful, and more easily accessible; and accordingly measured with my tape the different distances, so as to keep out of the way of the trees.

Edwards Sewell told us, on our way to Radley, that the Warden of his College (New College) had just mentioned that he had received the Report about Stackallan lately issued by the Trustees, with a request for his Subscription, and had enquired from Edwards Sewell why his brother and others had withdrawn. To this Edwards Sewell replied that it was owing to the College having abandoned certain principles to which it had been pledged. The Warden expressed considerable dissatisfaction at the tone of their remarks touching myself, and announced his intention of withdrawing his support. We afterwards heard that he had formally done so, and chiefly on this ground. The passage alluded to is this: ‘The great difficulties occasioned by the sudden and unexpected resignation of the late Warden and some of the Fellows, have now been happily overcome.’ This is not true, but it is unfeeling. They forced us out by changing the Statutes in the face of repeated pledges given, and received, to the contrary.

I walked back with Edwards Sewell. Agreed that in Ireland they will say that Sewell and I abandoned Stackallan in order to set up a scheme of our own in this country. Some people may add, – in spite and in rivalry. The story will bear its own refutations, which will be enough for those who care either for our characters, or the merits of the case: and what line others may take ought not to be of much concern. The fact is, – that the mass of mankind take no pains either to think or to speak fairly. We must not look to man for justice or comfort.


1: Apparently a very obscure term; a loose translation would perhaps be “sullen”.

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