February 20th, 1848 (Sunday)

February 20, 2010

Elliot’s love of mischief is becoming quite tiresome. He has been painting or inking Clutterbuck’s ear or ears. Besides all that I have said, Sewell gave him a very serious talking to yesterday about this idle propensity, saying that the next thing we shall hear of his doing will be boring holes in the panelling or breaking the carvings in Chapel. I therefore called him to my room, and told him that I was amazed at his so soon reverting to the habit, the indulgence of which had so lately brought him into trouble; that one of our objects, as he knew, was to make the boys gentlemen, and as gentlemen are not mischievous, so boys must be taught not to be mischievous; – that his age and size made his example of great consequence in the school; – that the same reason rendered it difficult to punish him for childish pranks. In fine, – that though I would take charge of young men, and also of boys, I would not consent to embarrass myself with one who combined in one person both young man and baby; that, therefore as he stood in the way of our making the College what we wanted, I should forthwith get him out of it, – and accordingly should write to his mother tonight to take him home.

This decision astounded him. He begged for mercy; – said that “he had no idea it would be thought so serious a matter”. “What,” said I, “and do you think the mode in which the College treated the late outrage was mere trifling? Do you imagine that the sound flogging was an empty joke? If you do, you make a grievous, a fatal mistake, – a mistake that will cause your mother a deep and lengthened pain, – a pain inflicted by her own son.”

When I talk to a boy about grieving his mother, I usually think that I have drawn my last arrow. Elliot cried bitterly, and then exclaimed in agony “I am disgraced if I am sent away.” “Yes, that you are, without a doubt.” “I do solemnly promise to be more careful in future, if you would try me.” “What security have I that you will keep this promise any better than the last?” “I never thought of it in the same serious light that I now do.” Believing that a sufficient impression was made, I replied; – “Well, all that I can engage is, not to make up my mind irrevocably till Post hour: in the evening you shall hear my determination. You may go now; I have nothing further to say at present.” In great agitation he asked; – “Please, Sir, may I go to the dormitory?” “Yes, you may.” Thus was the matter terminated till evening. The Sub-Warden was in the room all the time.

In the evening I wrote to his mother to say that his mischievous propensity seemed scarcely, if at all, checked, and that I had made up my mind to send him home, giving her quietly to understand that I felt I had been deceived; – but that in consequence of his grief and penitence I had determined to try him once more, begging of her and Dr Elliot to write to him in aid of my object. Brought him to my room, told what I had done, and concluded the matter with a lecture and advice. He seems thoroughly frightened and impressed.

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