The license for the chapel came by post. It empowers the Warden and his Chaplain to celebrate Divine Service, including Holy Communion.

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Gibbs came. While I was in Ireland last vacation, Roby (the butler) went away, and testimonials were forwarded to me in favour of a man named Sims. I confess to some misgivings when I saw him on my return. But a lady of fortune, with whom he had lived for years, having written strongly in his favour, assigning as here reason for parting with him that she was giving up her London establishment, seemed to cut away all a priori antipathies. However, I very soon perceived the odour of drink on him in the morning, which was sufficiently alarming. Then the Servitors told Mrs Burky that he used to go 4 or 5 times a day to the cellar on private expeditions, the object of which no one who could see his face, or hear his voice, could doubt for a moment. At length, last night, he took drink till he was more than fuddled. So I hurried him off to bed, and did not go to my own until his candle was extinguished.

This day summoned him, and informed him that it was impossible to keep in an office of authority over the servitors, a man who was ever more or less stupid from beer-drinking, and whose influence, so far as he had any, must be most mischievous. He denied that he was unfit for his duty last night, whereas he was not only unable to walk without reeling, but when standing close to the pantry fire, he had thrown down a [clothes] horse, or a chair, or something of that kind, and glass cloths which were hanging to dry ignited, and were half burnt before he knew his danger.

He was proceeding in an effort to convince me that he was the soberest, best behaved, man in England, – but I cut the matter short, by telling him that it was quite obvious he was a hoary sot, and requesting him to leave the house before the dangers of candle-light returned; adding that he had better not apply to me for a character, for that I should do what his late employer did not do, – give him a true one.

White has been here this long time tuning and settling the action of the organ. He went away today. The tune of the great organ is the most perfect I ever heard. When there are scores of pipes sounding, the effect is almost that of one single tone. But the trouble and time which it takes is immense, and therefore the cost most serious, so that no builder could venture on such accuracy. Only that Monk and I relieved each other at the key-board it could not have been done at all.

September 25th, 1848 (Monday)

September 25, 2010

Mr Bowels came to explain a disappointment which we have just met with, and which Gibbings caused by a letter yesterday. Mr Bowels was to have been ordained yesterday by the Bishop of Oxford for Mr Houblon’s curacy, and Gibbings was to have joined us at Michaelmas. Owing to some carelessness, or accident, or something not understood very well, – Mr Bowels is not to be ordained till Christmas, so that Gibbings cannot be here till next term. For more reasons than one this is annoying. The daily service is entirely dependent upon myself, so if I get ill I literally know not what we should do. A cold or sore throat might derange the whole system, than which nothing could be worse. Any feeling of poverty, or incompleteness, or uncertainty, would lower the College at once in the estimation of the boys. There is great majesty in unvarying law, which knows no infraction. However, Providence will order things right: hitherto I have had the blessing of immunity from almost all ailments.

Mr Henry Sewell came to spend tomorrow here. Told us that for £40 we could get a fine telescope, which belonged to Dalton the philosopher, and which is said to have cost £200. I believe an effort is to be made somehow or other to get possession of it, though where so large an affair can be put I know not.1


1: John Dalton, the chemist, whose primary contribution to science was the theory of atomic weights. It is unclear whether the telescope was actually bought, but it is not listed in the inventories of the College’s goods drawn up in 1856 and 1862. See entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

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.

Got a letter from the Bishop in reply to one that I had written to him, asking permission to celebrate the Holy Communion once a month in the Chapel. Gives full consent, saying that we ought to have it more frequently than once a month. “sees no difficulty about the alms; we might from time to time send any gift which we please to the parish contributions.” Ends by “praying for God’s blessing on us and our good designs.” How kind he has been from the very beginning! Already we are in a position far beyond what we ever reached at Stackallan, – far beyond what they stand in now. This has crowned my wishes. To have the College a family and a parish the Head both Father and Priest, is the perfection of government. May God make us thankful.

A cousin of Mr Sharpe came with a letter of introduction, – Dr Henry, an Irish Presbyterian, one of the National Board. He only stopped a few minutes, having mistaken the distance from Oxford, and being obliged to be in London immediately. It was to help to counteract his influence, that Mr Sharpe contributed so largely to St Columba’s. He (Dr Henry) seemed struck, and said he hoped to come again. Large, unpolished man.

Sewell engaged a Mr Crowther to bring over his oxy-hydrogen microscope to exhibit to the boys, – which was done in the Schoolroom to their great delight. The gambols of mites, and the heavings of a diminutive leach, scarcely half of which could be seen, were the most attractive of the sights. What struck me most was the process of the crystallization of salts. The man was a very vulgar, ignorant, creature, who, when he began to play the Divine, became offensive. However, we had a very pleasant hour.

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.)

Lord Norreys and the Dean of Westminster called from Nuneham. The former brusque and disagreeable. “What authority have you for this?” – “What for that?” were his remarks in the Chapel. As if we were not to have anything but what had occurred somewhere in the world before. Howard, to whom Sewell referred him for replies to his rude questions, took him very coolly, letting him know that we did things according as they suited us, and that we were not the slaves of any system. The Dean appeared to have a limited range of taste. Lord Norreys mentioned that Lady Lothian was thinking of sending her son, who was at Eton. In this latter point he was mistaken, – but still I have no fancy for the connection of people of rank, – at least for the present: by and bye we may be better able to bear it, when we shall be stronger and more independent. However, Lady Lothian is said to be a most excellent woman, firmly attached to the Church, in Scotland what the Marchioness of Bath is in England.

September 12th, 1848 (Tuesday)

September 12, 2010

Mr Harcourt and Mrs Malcolm, son and daughter of the late Archbishop of York, called accompanied by Mr Blackstone, member for [Wallingford].1 Mrs Malcolm a great friend.2


1: William Blackstone, MP for Wallingford, 1832-1852
2: The family home of the Harcourts was Nuneham Courtenay House, which is visible from Radley College in a direct line across the River Thames

September 11th, 1848 (Monday)

September 11, 2010

All the servitors, with the exception of David, have for a long time been going on with great carelessness, in their general duty and their music. So I got them together, and told them how grievously all those who had any authority over them were complaining of their misconduct, and complained myself that all my talking to them seemed to produce no effect. Then told them they must understand that from this day forth I should take a different course; – that they must be chastised until amendment came, – that since the tongue was powerless we should try what the stick could avail, – and that if neither counsel nor thrashing proved effectual, – they must be sent away. Warned them that I was in earnest, and to remember the immense loss it would be to them if removed from the blessings and comforts of this place. Informed them that our feelings had greatly changed towards them from what they had once been, urged the necessity of trying to regain their place in our regards, and ended by saying that I should henceforth cease to talk, but that on every complaint of any magnitude they were to expect a whipping. This done, Monk and Howard proceeded to administer a most sound castigation upon 5 of them. Joseph’s expressions of pain assumed the form of sympathy for his person; – “Oh my poor back” was his repeated exclamation. Only that the occasion was so grave, it would have been highly amusing.

Mr Telford came to tune the organ, and give it its final finish. Every new organ very soon after its erection gets out of order, – but after settling down for a few months, if then regulated, is sure to stand well, – of course, supposing it to be a good instrument originally. He is utterly amazed at its stupendous power, and says there is nothing like it anywhere that he has been. He has heard several organs lately in England, and they all seem to him to be thin and hungry compared with this. In fact, though ours sounds very glorious, yet it obviously requires a very much larger building than the present Chapel to do it justice: and this, please God, we may have one day. In the meantime, its loudness is to be somewhat depressed by putting a broad hanging of cloth inside the ‘great’ and ‘choir’ fronts. The ‘mixture is too hard, even more than the Great Reeds require, so it is settled to soften this stop. It was proposed, also, to take two or three of the cast iron weights off the bellows, – but this was rejected. Mr Telford is thoroughly satisfied with the way the instrument has conducted itself.

Nugent Wade came today, bringing with him the proposed new statutes for St Columba’s. Read them over in the evening, and found them very hastily put together, very defective, and recognizing a constant reference to the Visitor against which Sewell and I strongly protested. The law about the fasts was not what we could wish. For though there could be no hesitation about its meaning, apart from the controversy on the point, yet after that controversy had arisen, it was obviously necessary to guard the law from all doubt, misconception, and evasion. We (Sewell and I) thought, too, that we could see in the tendency of Wade’s language, a wish to leave it to the Primate to interpret it laxly, while the imposers meant the strict view to be taken. We felt this so strongly, that we declared positively that we would have nothing to do with the College, unless a full statement of the bearing and intention of the statute was laid before his Grace. Altogether, we are uneasy on the matter, – for there does not seem to be any mind among them all capable of managing an arduous business, as this unquestionably is. Yet I am sure that firmness would carry the day. If they were to say to the Primate that the discipline of the Church must be recognized in the College, as law, – and that if he refuse assent, they will give up the College, – there is little doubt what the issue would be. Indeed, Wade seems resolved to do so, – as he is on his way to Ireland, and is invited to the Palace at Armagh. I am not without misgivings about the management of the matter.