December 19th, 1848 (Tuesday)

December 19, 2010

College broke up: the number of boys being 36. Went to Gloucester on my way to Dublin.

Found my mother very ill, and spent a miserable Christmas. Matters, however, mended afterwards, and one got into much better spirits. Not a little cheered by affectionate letters from some of the boys, especially from Reynolds and Elliot. With these two, who are fast becoming young men, I have taken the greatest pains ever since they came hither. Both are full of faults, yet are very different characters. Reynolds is timid, close and reserved, quiet-tempered though somewhat pettish, inclined to subterfuge, – though not without affection yet particularly cold. Elliot is high-tempered, open and truthful, manly, and most particularly affectionate. The way I have treated them is this. I have first made them afraid of me, by showing the greatest firmness and resolution whenever they do any thing wrong, never passing it by. On such occasions I mostly bring them to my room, and speak in the most open, plain, terms possible, – and almost always with great affection. Seeing that one has but a single object in view they will bear my saying any thing. Such scenes have always ended in contrition, and sometimes in tenderness. When a boy sees that you love, without fearing him, – that you heartily desire his benefit, and spare no pains to accomplish it, – that you are just and even in your government, – he will do any thing for you, – unless you find a really bad boy, and devoid of affection.

I mention the case of these two because they are the two eldest boys in the College, and occupy a prominent position, their characters being more brought out by these circumstances than those of the younger.

My object in writing this journal is scarcely at all for my own sake, but rather for that of my successor in the Wardenship, if it should please God to grant the College stability enough to see another Warden, – which may He grant for Christ’s sake! May there be a line of them as long as England’s life!

It may be well then, for my successor to have the benefit of my experience, whatever view he may be disposed to take of the principles and acts of one’s government. This, so far as I know myself, is my sole motive in keeping up the laborious work of writing day after day. How long it can go on I cannot say, but when the duties of office increase, it will be hard to continue it.

My successor then will not charge me with egotism, though he may find me talking a great deal about myself in whatever page he opens. Nor will he now object to my inserting extracts from letters concerning these two boys, as they are introduced solely to show the working of the system. Whatever influence for good has been attained, is simply owing to the effort to teach as the Church teaches, and to guide the young according to the principles laid down in the Bible. I do trust that the spirit of individualism, which was Arnold’s bane,1 has not found its way within these walls. There is, indeed, but little food for vanity or self-complacency, when a person tries to merge himself in a body, and to think that, whatever he may be enabled to do for good, he is only a tool in Higher Hands, – nothing beyond the slave of the Church. For all proud thoughts of self, which I desire heartily to abhor, – I pray God to grant me deep repentance, and full pardon.

This explanation I give once and for all, lest the very repletion of it might wear the appearance of that which I disclaim.

1: Thomas Arnold of Rugby School

The diary now contains a series of extracts from letters from parents. These and the diary entry dated 19th December 1848 were assembled and written in retrospect during the Christmas vacation December 1848 to January 1849. Singleton’s fear that pressure of work would not allow him to continue to keep the journal systematically was proved correct almost immediately upon his return to the school. The original journal stopped at this point, with later entries being scribbled on two sheets of paper. The fine copy which Singleton prepared for deposition with Radley College contains a note to this effect dated February 27th 1874, in which he states his intention of copying the loose pages into the journal. This he has done, with annotations against some of the entries dating from 1874.


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