May 25th, 1847 (Tuesday)

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

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