May 26th, 1847 (Wednesday)

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.

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