September 21st, 1848 (Thursday; St. Matthew’s Day)

September 21, 2010

Mrs Gibbs came with a son of hers, a London merchant, seeking to obtain admission for a younger son. She is Mrs Crawley’s sister, and the family are worthy, excellent people, and wealthy. Among them they have restored Clifton Hampden Church. Don’t particularly like the account of the boy, but have consented.

Mrs Balfour (sister of the Principal of Brasenose) also came. A clever, rather masculine lady. Greatly struck with things, and was continually saying; “why didn’t we think of such a place before?” Told her of a scrape that her son had lately got into. One morning as Savory was passing down the School, he saw a few words written on Medley’s slate, and took it away from him till I came in. When I saw them I was quite shocked. They were terribly irreverent. Questioned Medley upon the matter, who said that he was only telling another boy of expressions which he had heard in the playground, but which were too bad to speak. Gave him a good rowing, of course, for daring even to write such words, or propagate such wickedness in any form, – and told the boys that I was resolved to find out the culprit who had used them. The same day went again into School, and, seated in the Great Chair, delivered a solemn lecture on the sin of profaneness, ending by saying that the culprit must be discovered; but that the language being so shocking I could not pollute my tongue nor their ears by repeating it. The plan I adopted was, to send the slate round, beginning with the eldest (Reynolds) calling upon each to say, as it reached him, whether he had used the words or not. It traversed nearly the whole body until the third from the bottom cried out, or rather said in a subdued tone, “Yes.” “Who said ‘Yes’?” “Balfour”. “Balfour, come hither.” So up came the poor boy, looking the picture of misery. Made him a most grave address, which made the tears stream copiously and silently down his cheeks, – his eyes fixed all the time upon the speaker. Saw he was very much grieved, and with the hope of all taking warning by the occurrence, let him off without further punishment. Have no doubt this will have a good effect upon the whole school. Not that I ever heard of a profane word being used, but still, serious offences occasionally occurring supply opportunities of bringing in and pressing right principles, and, though nor necessary to break bad habits, will help to confirm good ones.

Mr Chenevix Trench dined with us. Greatly pleased with his son’s improvement in appearance and demeanour. Surprised at the diminution of his grimaces. The boy has a frightful habit of winking his eyes, squeezing them shut till you would imagine they must be forced into his head. For this we have been carrying on a system of continued persecution, and not without effect, though his tricks seem almost overpowering. Shortly after he came he was in Mrs Burky’s room, at her table, when she caught him at his grimaces, and instantly attacked him in a sudden, gruff way (which was designed) – “Why, what ever are you winking your eyes at me in that way for?” To do him justice he bears all this worrying with great patience and good temper.

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