April 1st – Thursday

Sewell came to my lodgings in New College Lane in the Evening, & told me that he had been to Bristol, but that, from enquiries he had made, he had reason to fear that Mr. Miles was going to live at Ford Abbey; he therefore felt very reluctant to ask if he was going to sell it. However, his journey was not for nothing; for he went to a man in the city, with whom, a year or two before, he had seen 8 magnificent old chairs, which were just the thing for us. He found that only one was sold, so he instantly secured the remainder. Proceeding to Gloucester, he called on a person there who had sold him several bosses, & corbels, and other things of that kind, obtained from old churches which had been furnished with new fittings. The box containing these articles had remained with the vendor so long that he began to think that the buyer would never appear. Sewell found from him that right good carvings could be executed at a very reasonable rate indeed. His expedition, then, promised more fruit than mine.

Went over to his chambers with him, where we found a heap of letters. One from Lady Dunraven to say that Clearwell would be let, but no engagement of sale given. One from a Mr. Hearne, mentioned that he had been (or was) at Lord Derby’s, where Sewell’s journal was the subject of conversation; that it excited great interest, but that there was some apprehension that since the conclusion of it, matters had not been going on satisfactorily, which compelled the author to retire. Mr. Hearne, who was a former acquaintance, begged of Sewell to let him know what the truth was. How very important to find people, & people in such high quarters too, taking such an interest in Church education on a Collegiate basis. This was clearly encouraging. A letter also from Lord John Thynne to say that our scheme seemed most important, but that he must know more of its nature & details, before he could express more than general approval. One from Mr. Bowyer acquainting us that his brother consented to the 21 years’ lease; — just what Sewell expected. We determined to go to Radley to see what we could do with the house, & what, & where, should be our temporary buildings, should we close with the Bowyer family. There was also a note from Mr. Rawlinson, which seemed to put Chadlington out of the question, — so after some discussion, Clearwell being thought too much out of the way, (especially with only a leasehold tenure,) and Kneller Hall being my dread for different reasons, we settled to pursue the Radley negotiation.

Sewell also got a letter from a clergyman at Torquay, who lodged in the same house with Plunkett, of Ennis, announcing the poor fellow’s death. He was deputed by the ‘Founders & Governors of the Irish College’ to write to me in January 1843 offering me the Chaplaincy. He was threatened with consumption & went abroad the same year, where he remained for a long time, but at last returned to his native country. He was a man of some talent, & of great worth. The expense of ill health & travel were so serious, that he began to try his pen, in the hope of realizing something to diminish poverty, but in an effort to prepare a paper for Blackwood suddenly expired.

April 2nd – Good Friday

To-day a most warm letter from William Palmer, who is overjoyed at our scheme; will do everything in his power for us. Our spirits cheered not a little.

April 3rd – Easter Even

Sewell & I went in a fly to Radley, accompanied by Mr. Underwood, an Oxford Architect. All somewhat puzzled to find suitable places for our buildings, so as to be near the house, & yet be little seen. We rather settled on turning the outside yard into a chapel site by taking away the Brewhouse, a very unpretending affair at one end, — thus giving a space of 100ft. by 28 ft. The Hall & School room (one building 100ftx25) we proposed having on the East side of the offices, & close to them. This being Market-Day the man at the gate had gone to Abingdon, (I imagine), carrying the keys of the house with him. How to get in, therefore, became a question, &, as it turned out, one not without its difficulties. One person made his way down a grating; another through an aperture caused, either by Time, or by a much more mischievous agency, that of little boys and girls; — but both came back in a minute or two like ferrets out of a rabbit-hole, finding a short passage as well as an empty chamber. However, by the employment of a ladder, and other burglarious expedients, we at last effected an entrance. Mr. Underwood said that it was one of the finest houses he had ever seen, splendidly built, and the roof, (though strongly suspecting its soundness) in capital order.

On our return we desired him to draw out estimates for a chapel of brick, with a contrivance for recessed windows, and a roof of good material & style, which he said could be screwed together, taken down, & placed upon our permanent buildings thereafter. This power encouraged us to go to more expense than we should otherwise have done. We also begged of him to go with Mr. Johnston (who, he said, was one of the best builders in Oxford) & examine every room, & draw out an estimate of all repairs, cleaning, papering, & painting, necessary; — this he said he would do on Wednesday next. The wind was very sharp, so that to put all our cloaks in requisition was a simultaneous anxiety. The windows rattled, the doors clapped, & gusts of cold air swept the corridors. It is to be hoped that this is only expressive of a desire, and not of a hatred, of a tenancy. There were plenty of crows, but as they were on all sides, the omens may not be bad.

On getting into his room, Sewell found a letter from Mr. Sharpe, mentioning a scheme of his own, which he thought might be made to combine with ours, and which the funds that he expected to raise himself, along with those at our disposal, would be sufficient to set a-going. His plan was suggested by Wilberforce’s ‘Parochial System’, and aimed at getting a Society of Clergymen together, established on a collegiate foundation, under rule, & so on, — whose duty it should be to minister among the neglected multitudes in a prescribed part of London. This was a proposal to which neither Sewell nor I could assent, and though it was most gratifying to see his zeal in doing good, we felt that we had little chance of obtaining large assistance from him, unless he were got to see the demerits of his project. This Sewell hoped to do, and therefore he determined to go & see him on Monday. He already saw £3000 in our purse: my vision extended not so far, but then I am near-sighted. He has the happy habit of annihilating time, space, & distance; he turns difficulty into facility, and disappointment into certain assurance of what one wants. I hope in this case that his clair-voyance may rival that of Mesmerism. After all, great things are never accomplished by any but gallant spirits, disdaining to be crushed or cowed.

April 4th – Easter-day. 1847

A letter from Captain Beaufort, inclosing a cheque for £20, a proof of the sincerity of the hearty good wishes, which accompanied it. This being our first visible, tangible, property, I begged leave to set my eyes on it, — &, to say the truth, I did not detect any reluctance in Sewell to pull it out of his purse. The first watch that a boy gets engages the attention of hands, eyes & ears, to the long exclusion of graver thoughts; the tick under the pillow seriously contests the mastery with sleep itself. There is no very essential difference between the boy and the man.

April 5th – Easter Monday

Sewell went to London to call on Mr. Sharpe on the subject of his letter. He impressed upon him the difficulty of his project, — how that the Parochial system would necessarily prevent its operation, — that a Collegiate establishment, such as he contemplated, would cost a very large sum of money annually, — the endowment of it would involve an enormous capital, — for that it had no means to fructify. He showed him how our scheme, if it were to succeed at all, must soon pay its own expenses, and eventually realize a considerable surplus, which would not only place itself on a firm basis, but also develop similar or kindred institutions throughout the country; — that ours was the remedy which struck at the root of the disease, by bringing the gentry of the country within the influence of Church teaching & discipline. He seemed to feel the force of this; — Miss Sharpe, who was present, certainly did. From her Sewell learnt what a munificent person he is. He remains single, in order that he may have the more to spend in the service of humanity & Religion, — and this he does in so generous a way that even his sister, a genuine Churchwoman, is obliged to restrain his energies. He is, besides, a man of information and talent, and very fond of architecture. What a blessing that he is not a low Churchman or a Dissenter, though it is not often that such a plant grows in anything but good, catholic soil.

Sewell saw a magnificent Graduale in a shop in Oxford St. It belonged to Bishop Heber who gave £200 for it, but it was offered to Sewell for £40. I confess that his account of it made me long not a little for its possession for our Library. I find latterly that my corporate desires have become very big & strong.

April 6th – Easter Tuesday

Called with Sewell on Johnson, the builder, & explained to him the kind of buildings we should want: he seemed to understand us thoroughly, & to be quite competent to our business.

April 7th – Wednesday

A letter to me from Gibbings, in answer to one I had written to him, offering him a fellowship in the new College. I knew his habits & state of mind too well to have the least expectation of his accepting it, but I could not but pay him the well-deserved compliment of the choice. He declined on the ground that his father would not give his consent, — that he shrunk from preparing boys for an English University, — & that he preferred parochial to classical teaching. All these reasons (at least the 1st & 3rd,) seemed perfectly satisfactory to us.

Sewell had a letter from Mr. Sharpe, offering the use of a temporary wooden chapel for a few years, until he should require it for his own immediate scheme. Price not to exceed £300. He also enquired whether we had any offers of ‘gifts of plate’.

A letter also about Ford Abbey, rather implying a possibility of its being let or sold, — but the writer (some man of business,) could not consult Mr. Miles himself, as he was gone on a yachting expedition. Sewell wrote encouraging further enquiries. Walked with Sewell to Radley, where we found Underwood & Johnson taking an account of all repairs, &c. necessary through the house. Agreed with them that the plan, mentioned [April 3rd] would not answer, as it would cut off convenient access to the offices, creating a serious difficulty about coal-holes; — buildings to be detached, & in the space where the Venison safe is. Thought of raising this last mentioned structure to the height and dignity of a Bell-tower. Its figure is hexagonal.

April 9th – Friday

Letter from Mr Sharpe, offering us the gift of £300 for our chapel; — as also a silver urn, to be kept, or exchanged for other plate, or sold, as we pleased. Sewell wrote a letter of hearty thanks. It is quite clear that, at present, we cannot expect a large sum from him. Our hopes, then, rest mainly upon Miss Coutts & Mrs Sheppard, — & therefore agreed that if they do not contribute thousands, we cannot expect to open in August. However, we shall wait till the 1st of May before we despair even of this.

April 10th – Saturday

Mr Henry Sewell came to Oxford. He argued rather against the tenure of Radley, but we told him that upon the whole we thought it best to venture, upon which he ceased to object, & having done his duty, then resolved to carry out our wishes to the best of his ability. All three went out to Radley. Henry Sewell proposed the plan of turning the top storey into a Dormitory, by throwing down the lath and plaster partitions. This we had formerly contemplated, but discarded the idea because Sewell thought the rooms too low, which would interfere with ventilation, & impair the dignity of the main feature of our system. We had therefore agreed to employ 3 rooms on the ground floor for this purpose, which would give 30 cubicles. However, the objections which many Parents would feel against a ground floor, & the difficulty of restraining a mischievous boy at night, without entirely fastening up the windows, — made us lean to the revived notion. This involved an entire new arrangement of the house. A fine suite of apartments, previously intended for the Warden’s use, were set apart for the whole Infirmary system, which we resolved to place upon a first-rate footing. The Warden was to occupy a room next to the Common-Room, & his bedroom was to be taken off a sort of saloon, where the last tenant held school. The remainder was to be devoted to a study for boys, who might wish to follow any quiet pursuit, for which it is well adapted, as it is furnished with a glass-door, opening outwards. It will answer well also for those boys who might not be engaged in singing in the evenings, — & thus prevent the necessity of their going out of the house to the school-room. The room adjoining it on the other side, we did not allocate to any particular purpose, but it has struck me since, that it would do well to receive Visitors in. We were much inconvenienced at Stackallan by strangers invading the Common Room, for want of another place to go to.

Henry Sewell much admired Radley, & quite admitted that it had a great deal to recommend it. This was quite satisfactory from so cool a judge.

We dined in the Bursary at Exeter, (Monk included,) and Mr James Edwards Sewell joined us in the evening, on his return from a New College ‘Progress’. The conversation turned mainly upon our relations with the Bishop. Henry Sewell & James Edwards Sewell were decided advocates for throwing ourselves much more into his hands than we three (the rest) were at all disposed to do. Our experience in Ireland convinced us that the power conferred by the church should be the limit of our concessions: he was to be treated with every courtesy, but we were to maintain that independence which the church seemed to recognise. It was urged that we ought immediately to mention to the Bishop what we were about, but some of us thought that until we got the necessary funds it might be premature. However, it was a question. Henry Sewell & James Edwards Sewell stated positively that there was no possible doubt of our getting the money. Our spirits good this evening.

April 11th – 1st Sunday after Easter

Sewell got a letter from Miss Sharpe, rejoicing in our Scheme, & begging our acceptance of £15, — adding that her anxiety was somewhat selfish, as she had a young relative, whom she hoped to see hereafter under care.

Sewell wrote the sketch of a letter to the Bishop, in accordance with the suggestion of the last evening. It was to be carefully discussed before despatched, but seemed to me to be safe in its general tone.

Dined in Hall at Exeter. Sewell was called out of the Common Room, & returned with Mr Bowyer. Sewell & Henry Sewell were to go away early to-morrow so his coming at that time was very opportune. After Coffee, the four of us retired into the Bursary. Mr Bowyer mentioned that the persons interested in his father’s life did not care a farthing whether the house was let or not, but that we should probably get it, along with about 7 acres of garden & pleasure grounds, for £100 a year. The land just mentioned is held by a Mr Goold, who occupies a pretty house near the garden. We made some inquiries into this case, as we felt that so close a neighbour, especially if independent of us, might be an embarrassment. Mr Bowyer, however, said that though he had long been his father’s gardener, he was a great rogue, and must be got rid of. It appears that he, and all the tenants of the property, are tenants at will. This is of great consequence, as they will befriend, rather than molest, us, when once they discover the feelings of their Landlord.

The estate is very large, extending nearly from Oxford to Abingdon, and formerly a great part, if not all, belonged to the Abbey of Abingdon, one of the richest foundations in England. In consequence of this, we discovered unexpectedly that Radley is extra-parochial, the Vicar does not attend the Bishop’s Visitation, and the proprietor is the Ordinary. By the law, as it at present stands, any exempt jurisdiction can be brought under Episcopal control by an order in Council, but Mr Bowyer had not heard of the issue of one in the present case. It is fortunate, however, that the letter to the Bishop was written, and also not sent, before we heard of this intelligence.

Mr Bowyer recommended us to go to Dr Radcliffe the Vicar, who resides in Holywell St., and tell him all about our plan, — a reasonable suggestion. He said we should find him a gentleman, a scholar, & a good Churchman. This gives us hope that we shall get on very well with him. Indeed, Sewell says that we should not meet any where in England with the kind of opposition which worried us in Ireland. Mr Bowyer then referred Mr Henry Sewell to his Solicitors, Messrs Grimaldi, Staples, & somebody else, — most respectable parties, Henry Sewell knowing Staples very well: also to some firm, solicitors to the persons interested in his father’s life, whose characters were understood to be less satisfactory. On our mentioning that before we finally closed our engagement, it would be well to pause, lest the Bishop might be indisposed to us, or we might be disappointed in funds, — Mr Bowyer said: — ‘Wait as long as you like.’ He also was contented to enlarge the extent of our permanent site saying ‘50 or 60 acres, less or more.’ How very comfortable to be dealing with such a person, instead of Lord Boyne or Mr Lyons.

Our satisfaction however, was somewhat diminished by finding him an advocate of the theory – that there can be two branches of the Catholic Church in the same place, & at the same time, each differing on the most important matters of doctrine. He seemed entirely to obliterate all distinction between ______ and _______. In talking of writers on the Canon Law, he complained bitterly of Van Espen being ‘very Anglican’, showing pretty clearly whither his own reasonings or affections were tending: and also took to himself the credit (?) of converting Lord Adare & the Bishop of Exeter to his view. Now as this view seemed to us to be a first & real step towards Rome, we felt the necessity of guarding closely our power of purchasing the contemplated site, lest we might in future be embarrassed by a Romish Landlord, who would feel ill disposed enough to an Anglican College. However, there was much force in a remark of Sewell to this effect, — that, if he were a clergyman, & honestly maintained these notions, his case was hopeless; but that lawyers feel themselves at liberty to play with theories at pleasure. I hope he may be only playing.

April 12th – Monday

Mr Henry Sewell went to London, and is to see about the lease. Sewell went to the Isle of Wight. I shall hear no intelligence till the latter end of the week, when he comes back; but if we can’t have patience we are not fit to found a College.

April 14th – Wednesday

A letter from Mr Telford, — delighted at the prospect of an English St. Columba’s, — lamenting that poor Ireland’s ‘worst enemies, almost her only ones, were her own sons.’ Much pleased with the plan of the Organ, but suggested a few alterations, chiefly in the way of addition; — ‘determined to spare no trouble to make it as near perfection as an organ can be,’ — & ‘cannot tell me how proud he is of this order.’ I replied, sending him a full scheme, adopting nearly all his suggestions, and directing him to prepare everything for future completion, but leaving out several stops of pipes, till I could command sufficient funds. However, even without these it will be a costly & a glorious instrument, & he says he will have it done by October. This is of great consequence, in order that the boys may carry home word at Christmas, — that their College has one of the finest organs in England.

April 15th – Thursday

Moved out of my lodgings to let a more advantageous tenant in, — but had not far to go, as I succeeded in getting 2 rooms next door. The difficulty is, that I cannot engage a set for a whole term, not knowing when I might leave Oxford. If we get Radley, I shall, please God, move out thither as soon as possible; however, I have taken these for a month.

Sewell came in the evening, having returned rather sooner than I expected. No letters of consequence, excepting one from Mr Hornby’s son, who had been a contemporary of Sewell’s. Nothing could be more earnest than his hopes of our success, though he was unable to do more than wish us well. There being no letters from Mrs Sheppard & Miss A.B.C. – a good sign rather than the reverse: the former is clearly consulting her brother, the President of Magdalene. Sewell told me that many persons in the Isle of Wight would be likely to send us boys; — that we must open on the 1st of August, — for that any deficiency after my money was out, he would undertake to make up on his own responsibility, as he had no doubt whatever that funds would come in after his Journal should have been sent round. It is to contain a preface, announcing our intention of rearing an Institution like that which the rest of the work describes. I feel quite sure, from the interest excited by the book wherever it has been read, (hitherto this has been done very privately,) that numbers will contribute to us. Upon the whole, I felt a stronger feeling than ever this evening that we should (D.V.) have a College.

April 16th – Friday

Sewell & Mr Underwood called. The expense of papering, painting, &c. at Radley will be £600. However, some of this can be deferred for the present. We agreed upon the dimensions & general plan of the chapel, which Mr Underwood is at once to reduce to shape, & submit the drawings to us without delay, so that no time may be lost.

Went to Exeter, where Sewell showed me a specimen of carved oak cornice, just executed and sent from Gloucester. It is a scroll wreathing round a straight, knotted, branch of a tree. It is quite new to me, & looks very well, and will do for our dining Hall, & many other purposes, though rather heavy, & not rich enough for the canopies in the Chapel. The price so moderate, that it is plainly our course to get what we want worked at once to our taste, rather than waste time in looking for old carvings, and waste money in repairing & putting them together.

Sewell found a letter from Lord Charles Thynne to say that he had heard from Lady John Thynne of our projecting a College & wanting to know all about it, as he had a boy of 9 years old, for whom he was anxious to find a suitable school. Also one from Tripp, from Stackallan, giving an account of the way in which the National Fast had been observed by the boys, who had abstained from dinner, & gone without butter for breakfast, in order to save for the poor. They subsequently made a large collection for the Offertory. All this is very satisfactory & is easily traceable (under God,) to the firm stand that we made for the important principle, which lies at the bottom of it, and all similar sacrifices.

April 17th – Saturday

Sewell wrote to the Bishop of Oxford, inclosing the letter alluded to before, which served to show his Lordship the real state of our feelings towards him, and the Episcopal body generally. It was cautious, not implying any prostration of ourselves at his feet, but simply exhibiting a dutiful spirit, and rather insinuating that we should be sorry to be the means of Sir George Bowyer’s losing his rights as Ordinary of Radley.

Despatched a very long letter to Mr Hardwicke at Rome; was glad to find that Sewell thought it just the sort of affair to be sent. It contained a minute account of what we were doing, which we knew would be very interesting to him, and I added the wish that he might yet be engaged in designing a fine Gothic College for us.

Saw at Herbert’s, the Upholsterer’s, a serge of excellent make, which when dyed of a good drab, or fawn, colour, would do admirably for curtains for the cubicles in the dormitory. It will be somewhat expensive, but then it has this important advantage, that it will not readily ignite, if carelessness or accident were to bring a candle into contact with it. We found also 2 or 3 very quiet patterns of carpets, very suitable for our sitting rooms.

Dined with Sewell and two of his sisters in the Bursary; amused them with an account of our adventures at Stackallan with boys, who affected to be sick when they were well, or sicker than nature made them. This led us to talk of the means by which boys actually do become fit subjects for the Infirmary, — and this naturally suggested all the delights of the Fruiterer, and the dainties of the Pastry-cook. I had always thought that it was our duty to check luxury and extravagance in this, as well as in every other way; and that we should teach them that we are not allowed by religion to eat and drink for the sake of mere enjoyment; and, consequently, that when they are furnished with an ample supply of the best food, all feasting upon supplemental delicacies was plainly self-indulgence, in fact, a form of gluttony. I mentioned this, but acknowledged that I had legalized the purchase of fruit at Stackallan, because I found the ‘sons of Zerniah too hard for me.’ Still I urged that the view one took was palpably founded on the Gospel, the grand oracle of education. Sewell put forward the strong point, that it placed the poorer boys in painful comparison with those that were more wealthy.

All this, however, was most distasteful argument to the ladies, who pleaded hard for the poor, oppressed, little fellows, but Sewell and I seemed deaf to eloquence, even though coming from female lips: — they were doomed to hear, perhaps, of such things as Confectioner’s shops, blushing apples, weeping tarts, jam exuding puffs, but neither to see, feel, nor taste, their glories. I must say that the production of the advocates so far bowed to their penetration, that they admitted that a perfect system must exclude all these costly, sickening, selfish, — I had almost added – dirty, indulgences. Why should not our system be perfect? At least, why should we not try to make it so? Why should we not teach our alumni, whose souls and bodies are in our keeping, that they must learn to curb their tendency to intemperance, just as we teach them to control all other passions, that endanger the health of both? Do we not place restraints upon a love of amusement, — upon a love of dress, — and upon other inordinate affections? And why not then upon a love of eating? And if so, are not the ‘irritamenta gulae’ to be kept at a distance from the frail disciples of discipline? Inebriety seems almost entirely to have absorbed the ill fame of its next of kin, — gluttony is scarcely thought to be a sin at all.

But if gluttony made people drunk as well as sick, they would soon confess its criminality. Yet the insensibility caused by drunkenness is neither the only, nor the first, nor the chief, part of its guilt, unless a man is to be considered comparatively innocent until he begins to reel. Why boys at school are to be visited with the severest punishment if discovered introducing fermented or distilled drinks, and at the same time permitted every liberty to overload their stomachs with all sorts of luscious, stimulating and unwholesome solids, — seems unintelligible, at least. The practical effect upon their minds will be plainly this, — Intoxication is a felony, greediness – a bare misdemeanour.

I am sure that Sewell and I are right. Middle courses are mostly wrong, in this case evidently so. If we tell the boys that food was given for our profit, scarcely at all for our pleasure, — that they are furnished with abundance for support, comfort, and (if it is to be insisted upon, for) enjoyment, — and that all beyond this becomes excess and extravagance, — that therefore we must prohibit all extraneous supplies, upon a principle of Christian obligation, they will understand the matter at once, and by being kept at a distance from temptation will soon acquiesce in our wisdom, or at least become contented with their lot. Thus we shall inure them to habits of self-command, and when they afterwards assume their several positions in life, they will be better able to comprehend St. Paul, when he condemns ‘banquettings, revellings, and such like.’ Let us have a Christian School, with the help of God, but for anything short of this neither Sewell nor I will raise a little finger.

Few after-dinner conversations have been more important than ours of this day. It is quite wonderful, almost appalling to think of the magnitude of the work we are about, and the effect of every decision we come to upon the welfare of hundreds, nay thousands. May God grant us a ‘spirit of wisdom, and counsel, and of the fear of the Lord.’

April 20th – Tuesday

Sewell had a letter from Lord Charles Thynne, plainly implying that he would send us his only son, if satisfied on some points, which we have always held to be imperative. The prestige of our first boy coming of titled people is not to be despised.

April 22nd – Thursday

A letter from the Bishop, to say that he will forward our design, and will consent to be our Visitor, if he approve of the Statutes; adding that he was not aware of there being one single exempt jurisdiction in the Diocese of Oxford. We are thus committed to the principle of the same individual being Ordinary and Visitor, but I believe that we cannot help it, as it is very desirable that we should give some definite proof of our being identified with the Church. We must have a Bishop, and the history of Stackallan shows that the Archbishop of Canterbury could not be depended on; and if we were to ask any one else but the Bishop of the Diocese, the principle would not be understood, and the air of the proceedings would be invidious. We must jealously guard a due independence of action in the College, by means of the Statutes. With a proper explanation of the Visitor’s functions, and a wholesome limitation of his powers, we may feel tolerably secure. However, Sewell and I are to have a serious talk over the matter today. It is quite clear that we must get the Statutes drawn up at once.

Sewell called upon Dr Routh, the President of Magdalen, about the application to Mrs Sheppard, and which the good lady had forwarded to her brother for his opinion. He received Sewell most cordially, asked many questions, and took a very warm interest in the undertaking. His age and infirmities made it extremely difficult for Sewell to convey all he wished about the College, but the President relieved him much by asking him for a statement in writing of the merits of the case. Sewell is going to have it printed, to save the venerable gentleman the labour of reading a small hand. It seems quite clear that something of consequence may, please Providence, result from this.

April 23rd – Friday

Called upon Mr De la Motte, who had been in London, and done nothing about our affairs. We must have patience.

Sewell called upon Dr Radcliffe, but he was from home. We think it best to communicate our plan as soon as possible to our future Vicar.

I went to Sewell’s chambers and there began copying from the Exeter Statutes those parts which might suit our case. Presently Sewell came in, and told me that he had just been at Merton about their oak-fittings there; and had heard from Mr Hobhouse that, a very few years ago, a quantity of beautiful bosses, carved in oak and elm, which they had removed during the alterations in their Chapel, had been sold for 3 pence a piece to some man, who came from London for them. I cannot express how grieved and vexed we were. To think of such treasures having been almost within grasp, and hopelessly torn from it by a money-making creature, who cleared £10 by the transaction, — it is quite shocking.

April 24th – Saturday

Mr Henry Sewell came to Oxford bringing intelligence that there were no difficulties in the way of our getting speedy possession of our lease. Wrote, therefore, to Anthony to give him notice that I wanted my money. Also to my mother, letting her know what we were about. I am afraid she will be in a great fidget, and think I am going to be ruined. However, Sewell seems as anxious as I can be to relieve her of all groundless fear, so between us both, we may somewhat calm her mind.

April 26th – Monday

Sewell went to Dr Radcliffe this morning, who received him stiffly enough. The old gentleman seemed to have a thorough horror of anything approaching to a school; and not without some reason; for it appears that the last tenant of Radley Hall, was a Schoolmaster, whose boys, if not himself too, were chiefly dissenters, and caused the Vicar very much annoyance. It was evident to Sewell that he was under apprehensions for our Orthodoxy, as he dwelt upon the sufficiency of the Prayer-book and Articles, as if implying a fear of our going beyond them. Sewell, however, managed to pacify him, and left him much softened. I believe he has met with crosses in life, and this may account for his being somewhat ______π__.

Sewell, James Edwards Sewell, his sisters, and I, got out to Radley, between Flying it and Walking it. The second-mentioned was much struck with the place, and thought it an admirable locality, and remarked that he felt no doubt that we should get the requisite funds, and that we must succeed. This is satisfactory, as he is a man of sound and clear judgement, very anxious for our success, but dispassionate and cool.

We made a change in the arrangement of the Rooms, abandoned that mentioned and reverting to the original one, so far as it affected the Warden’s accommodation, whose bedroom would otherwise be unsatisfactory, the proposal being to take it off the Boys’ Study. This would bring him too near to them, so that he could hardly help overhearing their conversation. Besides, there would be no fireplace: not that the loss of a fire would be worth a thought, but that ventilation would be imperfect. The arrangement, then, (of the ground floor,) stands thus: — Common Room, — Second Common Room, in which to receive Visitors, — Prefects’ and diligent boys’ study, — Room for any boys that might have colds, or be otherwise too poorly to go out to School. The regular Infirmary is to be moved to the top of the House. Further, as our Dormitory is to be a chief, striking, feature of our system, and as the low rooms above stairs will never give it the character which is essential, and as we shall want these different rooms for fellows and other purposes, — we agreed not to demolish the partitions, but preserving them as they are, — to erect a Dormitory on a proper plan outside the House, only, of course, employing the upper storey until the new building shall be fit to occupy. We also determined to bring all our buildings to the front, as being more cheerful, and more easily accessible; and accordingly measured with my tape the different distances, so as to keep out of the way of the trees.

Edwards Sewell told us, on our way to Radley, that the Warden of his College (New College) had just mentioned that he had received the Report about Stackallan lately issued by the Trustees, with a request for his Subscription, and had enquired from Edwards Sewell why his brother and others had withdrawn. To this Edwards Sewell replied that it was owing to the College having abandoned certain principles to which it had been pledged. The Warden expressed considerable dissatisfaction at the tone of their remarks touching myself, and announced his intention of withdrawing his support. We afterwards heard that he had formally done so, and chiefly on this ground. The passage alluded to is this: ‘The great difficulties occasioned by the sudden and unexpected resignation of the late Warden and some of the Fellows, have now been happily overcome.’ This is not true, but it is unfeeling. They forced us out by changing the Statutes in the face of repeated pledges given, and received, to the contrary.

I walked back with Edwards Sewell. Agreed that in Ireland they will say that Sewell and I abandoned Stackallan in order to set up a scheme of our own in this country. Some people may add, — in spite and in rivalry. The story will bear its own refutations, which will be enough for those who care either for our characters, or the merits of the case: and what line others may take ought not to be of much concern. The fact is, — that the mass of mankind take no pains either to think or to speak fairly. We must not look to man for justice or comfort.

April 28th – Wednesday

Had a letter from Belleone, from Mrs Burky, to say that Anthony had given her notice to look out for another situation, as she was too expensive a servant. The poor woman wrote in great distress, begging me to look out for a situation for her. I wrote back word, that if she choose to be the Dame of an English St. Columba’s, I would take her, and her daughter, (who would be her own maid,) in a very short time. I am sure she will be overjoyed. How strange is that combination of events, which throws so unexpectedly into our hands the very person, who, in her capacity, would best suit us! One cannot but hope that it is a help of Providence, approving what we are about.

Sewell has been printing his Journal, and in sending it round to persons likely to send us money or boys, thought it best to accompany it with a letter rather than with a preface, as this would give it a more private air, and also attract more attention. It had, of course, to be lithographed, and this day a got a proof, which showed that the execution had been so wretched, that the printer was compelled to ask him to write it over again. This is very provoking, as it will not only cause him serious loss of time, and increase of labour, — but delay the circulation for a week. He has, however, made a few very decided improvements in it.

Sewell has been printing his Journal, and in sending it round to persons likely to send us money or boys, thought it best to accompany it with a letter rather than with a preface, as this would give it a more private air, and also attract more attention. It had, of course, to be lithographed, and this day a got a proof, which showed that the execution had been so wretched, that the printer was compelled to ask him to write it over again. This is very provoking, as it will not only cause him serious loss of time, and increase of labour, — but delay the circulation for a week. He has, however, made a few very decided improvements in it.

April 30th – Friday

Mr De la Motte brought the designs which we set him about, — some of them most successful, — especially the Stancheon and Finial for each Cubicle, — and the upright for the boys benches, surmounted by a cluster of oak-leaves and acorns, with a serpent half-concealed, most appropriate and beautiful. Some of the others required improvement.

Had a long consultation with Mr Underwood about our buildings, and settled many points of difficulty. He has been absent and ill, and therefore done nothing as yet, but is now ready to proceed at once. We met Mr Pollen of Merton College in the street, who was delighted at the idea of the College, and mentioned that we had a good chance of the fittings up discarded in their Chapel, — for that the proposal had been some time back to burn them, not liking them to fall into secular hands.

Mr Hobhouse called on Sewell, and mentioned that the President of Magdalen had just been speaking to him about Radley and our scheme, — saying that it seemed well deserving of his sister’s attention, — but that he hoped to hear some more particulars from Sewell shortly. Sewell is to all upon him tomorrow, and explain the cause of his delay in drawing up the statement for him: — viz. the length and care it required, — and the necessity of having it printed, as mentioned earlier. It is now finished, so that it will be in his hands early next week. Sewell says he will ask permission for me to call on the Venerable Head.

Sewell proposed to me this evening that instead of giving books as prizes to the boys, (which after all, I believe, no one reads, while they cost a great deal of money,) – we should have a magnificent blank book, in which the names of the successful candidates should be written with great ‘pomp and circumstance’. – and also a black one, for those who have been seriously idle, or misbehaved, during the preceding term. This ought clearly to be a very grim, horrid-looking affair: a register of evil cannot be black enough. We also thought of a superb book, for the names of those who, on quitting the College, had entitled themselves to the dignity of a place on its pages, by a course of previous virtue and good conduct. These are important thoughts.

I forgot to mention in its proper place that I yesterday purchased a very finely carved cabinet, or Wardrobe, for the Warden’s room, from Mr Mallam, opposite Christ Church. By the way he has 4 small panels, exquisitely carved, which he picked up for Sewell. They were covered with paint, which he has managed to remove completely. All these things will tell wonderfully, not only in giving dignity to the College, but also in exalting the tastes of its members and Alumni. Sewell says that I must not pay for the Wardrobe, as it is being secured for official effect, Domus must be at the cost of it. While my sitting-room will be very handsome, I intend that my bedroom shall be very simple, so that the individual and the Functionary shall be separable ideas. The bedstead of iron, no curtains, — deal furniture, — no carpets, — but a strip or two, where I must stand, — neither luxury nor asceticism, but the manly comfort, of which I hope the Christian need not be ashamed.

I also bought a magnificent proof of Chalon’s picture of the Queen in her robes, which I got by accident at less than half-price. Also Strange’s print of Charles 1st in company with the Duke of Hamilton; and its match, Henrietta and her children. These are the best impressions, taken out of the book. Also another print of Charles, a Bust view, purchased in Paris by an Oxford dealer. All these will give a loyal air to my sitting room, and help to teach the boys to honour the Crown, and to pay especial reverence to it, when worn by a Martyr.

Ordered furniture for my bedroom, and same for Mrs Burky’s, only giving her wood for iron in the bedstead, and the luxury of a pretty chintz curtain, the only one among the members of the College. Also two sets for servants, to be ready at any time we may require them.


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Last modified 29 January 2013