September 16th, 1848 (Saturday)

September 16, 2010

Mrs Hill came to see her sons, as she is soon to go to Italy. She is wonderfully happy at the idea of leaving them here, since she must leave them somewhere. Very grateful to oneself. Before going away she gave to Mrs Burky, to place on my table, a model of a fragment of the Temple of Jupiter, a very pretty thing. It is a comfort to find parents supporting one in the treatment of their sons. The change in her boys is simply marvellous. They are turning out nice, gentlemanly, orderly boys, – and therefore find themselves very happy, being much attached to their College.

The influence of this place is telling most wonderfully upon all the boys. They enjoy it immensely, and numbers of them say that the time slips away very rapidly. They delight in their music lesson, their great ambition being to sing in Chapel. Getting on well with their band, and are fulfilling their engagement to be industrious and steady. Scholarship on the advance, and general behaviour vastly improved. In fact there is a very high tone of feeling among them. Falsehood and low language are thoroughly discountenanced. Elliot (major) was heard to say to Gibbs the other day, “What low, vulgar school have you been at, Gibbs?” Gibbs had just used a coarse expression. This boy came to us, starved, dirty, full of odious tricks, – such as, forcing huge pieces of bread into his mouth, sucking his fingers at meals, and other horrors. He would shrink from any one of us, especially if we happened to move an arm when he was up at lesson: which he imagined would surely be stirred only to give him a blow on the head. He is now tolerably clean, fat, and is assuming the appearance of a gentleman.

In fact, the whole 36 of them are a fine, manly, distinguished set of fellows, very obedient and respectful, very cheerful, full of animation and spirits, brought to quiet in School, and decorum in Chapel, – and yet without the slightest trace of artificialness, – all the result of self-control, and this brought about by the ‘genius loci’, – and the refinement of the society of gentlemen, of music, and above all, – of the daily prayer. Bold, manly, vigorous, at their games, – a word of grave reproof brings tears down their cheeks, – even from the oldest and biggest. They are evidently very proud of their College. The Chapel and organ are sources of great satisfaction. Altogether, we have quite succeeded in creating a domestic system, enlarged and invigorated by the peculiar influences, which can only be got in a good school. The great thing acquired is, – the subordination of all the members to the head, and the sympathy of members, – members and head, – with each other. No wonder that the poor fellows are so happy with such a system, – and what a blessing to have diffused so much happiness among so many.

(I have been so engaged this term, that I am in great arrear with my journal, – so that what I have just written was the result of subsequent experience. In fact Gibbs had not yet arrived. However, I take brief notes of matters as they occur, so that accuracy will not be sacrificed.)

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