Exeter College (University of Oxford).

Registrum Collegii exoniensis. Register of the rectors, fellows, and other members on the foundation of Exeter college, Oxford. With a history of the college and illustrative documents online

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Online LibraryExeter College (University of Oxford)Registrum Collegii exoniensis. Register of the rectors, fellows, and other members on the foundation of Exeter college, Oxford. With a history of the college and illustrative documents → online text (page 17 of 61)
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Politics, of the three parts of the British Constitution to the three
Persons of the Trinity.

When A. P. Stanley came up to Balliol in 1834, Moberly at Balliol,
Johnson at Queen's, and Sewell at Exeter were spoken of as the three
best college tutors in Oxford. Sewell's lectures were very interesting,
partly because he wove in whatever he was thinking about, with little
regard to the subject of the lecture. Once, when we ought to have
been construing the Georgics, he spent nearly the whole hour in
discussing Newman's Theory of Development. ' There are litde
machines,' he said, ' which will develop a small portrait into a large
one, preserving the proportions. But if the machine so enlarged the
nose and dwarfed the rest, that you could see little else but nose,
it could hardly be called a legitimate development. Yet that is
Mr. Newman's idea of development. He has really taken his idea
simply from the actual growth of the Roman church, and almost
ignores the existence of the Greek church, merely saying it is a case
of arrested development like China.' It is curious to note that R. H.
Froude^ wrote as early as Aug. 1835, 'You lug in the Apostles'
Creed and talk about expajisions. What is the end of expansions.?
Will not the Romanists say that their whole system is an expansion
of the Holy Catholic Church and the Communion of Saints ? ' Sewell
adhered to Keble's rule Quod pri?nuj?i, verum. He was fontl of saying

' Newman's Letters ii. 333.
^ History of Rationalism i. 290 ; see ii. 236.

' Newman's /.£//e;-j ii. 127; see 241 Newman himself on 'developing in new


that the same end might be arrived at by a variety of means, some-
times quite opposite means. Thus the Baptist's ascetic life, and our
Lord's presence at feasts were both means to the same end. So
again S. Paul recommends celibacy as good in a time of mission
work and persecution, but in a settled church it is better that the
clergy should be married, and the parson's wife and daughters are
often his best curates. Miss Mozley was gratified by finding Newman '
once (though in a bantering tone) say, ' Parsons' waives are useful in
a parish, and that in a way in which no man can rival them.' But
Newman spoke satirically of the married clergy in Loss and Gain.
Ward's sudden marriage, after his fierce denunciations of that state,
was a great shock to the party.

Sewell said, ' They call a miracle a suspension of the Laws of Nature.
Why, we are always suspending those laws. Iron naturally sinks in
water, but we bend it into shape, and use the law of displacement of
fluids, and the iron ship floats. But properly speaking no law is
suspended, we do but fight one law of nature by another. And this
is what most of our improvements come to.' When some spoke
slightingly of the ' Evidences,' Sewell said, We need all the help we
can get. The men in S. Paul's ship did not ride at one anchor only ;
no, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. He
upheld the divine right of kings, but with a reservation. Kingship
arose, he said, often from force or fraud, but long possession sanctified
it. Three generations are enough for this. Even if the Jacobites
might rise against George I or George II, yet George III had the
divine right. If Cromwell had made himself king, and his son Richard
had succeeded, and then Richard's son, that son would have had the
divine right. This did not please some of our Stuart devotees who
held that the divine right lasted for ever in one family. But, subject
to this reservation, he upheld the theory of Passive Obedience.

What the men most complained of was his forcing them into the
schools before their sixteenth term; which, as they then came into
residence only in the fourth^ (sometimes fifth) term after matriculation,
gave them too little time ; and this, when other colleges such as
Balliol fixed no such limit. One man went to Alban Hall rather than

' Newman's Letters ii. 211 ; see Wordsworth 344.
^ Newman's Letters i. 27.

1 2


submit to the rule, and got his first class from thence. The College
rule was not really so strict, but Sewell so applied it.

But he was sometimes as fanciful in his lectures as in his books.
C. H. Pearson w-as shocked at his dictum that the highest class of
animals, the vertebrate, was constructed as a type of the Cross.
Marcus Southwell was once so annoyed that he said, * Why does he
call it lectures on Plato, on Butler and so on, when it is all lectures
on Sewell.' His etymologies were more than pre-scientific. Once
he derived periwig from the Greek TreptotKoy, ' a house round the head,'
' the w is the Greek digamma, represented as usual by omicron.' Every
one was taken aback, and only one man ventured to say, with hesita-
tion, ' I — I thought that periivig was another form of the French
perruque.' Sew'ell laughed and said, ' Of course you are right.'
Another time, after some similar derivation, Mackenzie Walcott, who
had little regard for his brother Wykehamist, said, respectfully, ' Might
we not. Sir, on these principles, derive teapot from tepeoJ

It was at one of these lectures that Sewell burnt a book which he
thought obnoxious, in 1849, the last time a book has been publicly
burnt in a College hall. The scene is thus described by the owner
of the book, Arthur Blomfield \ now R. of Beverston and R.D.
of Dursley, Glouc: — 'I had just bought the "Nemesis of Faith,"
or as it was called, " Faith with a Vengeance," when on Tuesday
morning, Feb. 27, 1849, I, an undergraduate of Exeter College,
attended a lecture in hall. The Rev. William Sewell, Sub-Rector of
Exeter College (not "Dean of the Chapel") was lecturer. He de-
claimed loudly against Froude's " Nemesis of Faith." Hearing, on
my own confession, that I possessed it, he requested me to bring
"that book" to him. No sooner had I complied with his request
(Sewell was my college tutor) than he snatched the book from my
hands and thrust it into the blazing fire of the college hall (not
" quadrangle "). I see him now, with hall poker in hand, in delight-
ful indignation, poking at this, to him, obnoxious book. In a few
hours this " burning of the book" was known all over Oxford. As
your article justly remarks, " the burning only served as an advertise-
ment." '

It was a sight to see Sewell lecturing, or rather talking, in the hall.
' Letter in Daily A^ews 2 May 1892.


He used to stand with his back to the great hall fire, and his gown
gathered up in his left hand. His gown and surplice were usually
nearly as ragged as those of Pusey and Burgon, which were said to
be a grief of mind to their lady friends. But let us be just to them.
They were thinking of other things, it is doubtful whether they ever •
thought about their dress. Sewell used to tell a story about himself,
which illustrates the communistic system that prevails on a College
staircase. Often you do not get your own glasses, teacups, spoons,
forks, &c., but those that happen to be ready to the servant's hand, no
matter whose they are. But this does not often extend so far as in
Sewell's case. One Saturday his laundress said to him with a curtsy.
Please, Sir, you want some new shirts. Why, INIary, he answered,
looking down at his wrists with justifiable pride, this seems a very
good shirt. Yes, Sir, she replied, with another curtsy, but, for some
time you have been living oti the staircase (i, e. wearing other people's
shirts). This communism had its objectionable side. A man on the
staircase, who was fond of natural history, kept a hedgehog, unknown
to Sewell, and the creature sometimes strayed. One night, Sewell,
hearing something scuttling about the room, jumped out of bed to see
what it was, and came with his bare foot down on the hedgehog :
naturally, for some little time, he did not walk quite easily.

Sewell objected to University Commissions \ He said the Colleges
could and should reform themselves. All old laws tend to become
obsolete, and much is gradually dropped or adapted to new require-
ments. Let the Colleges make the necessary changes, throw open
the close fellowships and scholarships, at least in part, and public
opinion would support them. Unfortunately there were two objections
to this view — plausible as he always made his views ; first that the
favoured districts would not give up the close endowments without
an Act of Parliament, and secondly that a large part of the Oxford
fellows opposed an obstinate no7i possumus to every change, and
appealed to the intentions of the founders, which few of them carried
out either as to residence or study. The only resource to compel
the performance of the trust, or to carry out the changes made
necessary by the lapse of time, was to call in the intervention of the

* Pattison's Memoirs 75, 244, 255, 304, Newman's Letters ii. 238, 296 abuses
in Colleges, Stanley's Life i. 418, 433-4, founders' wishes.


sovereign power, the State, which was done at last in 1854. Even
then only 3 Colleges, Exeter, Lincoln, and Corpus, availed them-
selves of the privilege allowed them of drawing up their own
statutes. The remaining Colleges left it to the Commissioners to
draw up ' Ordinances ' for them. Sew-ell wrote a squib called The
University Commissio7i or Lord John RusselPs Postbag (an idea taken
from Thomas Moore), issued anonymously at Oxford in 1850 in
4 parts, and J. T. B. Landon wrote, anonymously, two supplements
to it, called Eureka, 1850 and 1853.

Sewell did a considerable thing in founding the Colleges of
S. Columba near Dublin and Radley near Oxford. His books are
forgotten, but his memory will survive as the founder of Radley. A sad
disregard of economy in carrying out his ideas loaded him with debts,
which marred the happiness of his later years, and severed his
connection with Radley College over which he presided ; but the
work was taken up by other hands, and continues to flourish.

J. B. Morris, a fair scholar and theologian, was one of the most
curious men of that excited time. In 1842 he gained the prize
for an ' Essay towards the Conversion of Learned and Philosophical
Hindus.' Newman says of him\ 'he is a most simple-minded,
conscientious fellow, but as little possessed of tact or common sense
as he is great in other departments. He had to take my church in
my absence. I had cautioned him against extravagances in S. Mary's
pulpit, as he had given some specimens in that line once before.
What does he do on S. Michael's day but preach a sermon, not
simply on angels, but on his one subject, for which he has a mono-
mania, of fasting; nay, and say that it was a good thing, whereas
angels feasted on fesdvals, to make the brute creation fast on fast
days, so I am told. May he {salvis ossibus suis) have a fasting horse
the next time he goes steeple-chasing. Well, this was not all. You
may conceive how the Heads of Houses, Cardwell, Gilbert, &c.,
fretted under this; but the next Sunday he gave them a more
extended exhibition, si quid possit. He preached to them, totidem
verbis, the Roman doctrine of the Mass ; and, not content with that,
added in energetic terms, that every one was an unbeliever, carnal,

^ Newman's Letters ii. 291, 4 Nov. 1839. See Mozley ii. 305, Pattison's
Memoirs iS.^, 222.


and so forth, who did not hold it. To this he added other specula-
tions of his own still more objectionable. This was too much for any
Vice-Chancellor. In consequence he was had up before him ; his
sermon officially examined ; and he formally admonished ; and the
Bishop written to. The Bishop is to read his sermon, and I have
been obliged to give my judgment on it, which is not favourable, nor
can be. I don't suppose much more will be done, but it is very
unpleasant. The worst part is that the Vice-Chancellor [Gilbert] has
not said a single word to me, good or bad, and has taken away his
family from S. Mary's. I cannot but hope that he will have the good
sense to see that this is a mistake.'

Morris and some others led a very ascetic life. All through Lent
Morris took no food till sundown, and then only two handfuls of peas
which he immersed in a little saucepan till they were soft enough for
mastication. Dalgairns nearly lost his life at the close of the Lent of
1840; for 36 hours before Good Friday he had abstained from food
altogether ; late on the evening of Holy Thursday his scout found him
lying on the floor, and he would not have recovered from his swoon
but for prompt help. Froude {Retnains i. 49-50, 212) remarks
that fasting incapacitated him for work or thinking.

Morris' conversation consisted largely in turning the English Church
into ridicule. He passed his time in rooms in the front Tower, reading
the Fathers, and cutting jokes upon our stepmother, the Church of
England. Just before his secession the Bursar named him University
preacher, to show that his brother fellows did not mistrust his loyalty
to the Church. He accepted the nomination quite cordially, and
went over almost immediately. The College naturally thought this
an ungenerous return for their confidence. But Morris found
that his convictions were no longer such as were consistent with
the obligations incumbent on a fellow of the College at that day,
and he resigned his fellowship. Morris lived in London during
the latter part of his life, in very poor circumstances. Old friends
would make him come and dine, but after two or three times, when
he found his attempts at converting them a failure, he would refuse
to see them again. His special devotion was to the Virgin, and he
wrote a book called Taleetha Koomee, to show how Christ's words
' Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise ' were a type and prophecy of the


Assumption of the Virgin. Once when walking with a friend by
a fine new church, his friend said, ' Who will be worshipped there,
Morris, in fifty years' time ? ' and he answered, ' Either Mary, or Mary
Anne ! ' Other persons have shared Morris' belief that posterity will
run into one of two opposite extremes, and that either Romanism
or Socialism will be the dominant power in the future. But the
dilemma is a very unsafe argument.

He was the last believer in the Phcenix \ and his letter about it
is a good illustration of the fanciful reasoning of that time. ' If
an animal existed which served a particular prophetical function
when the reality had been in one Person, there might be no more
need of it, and so it might become extinct, if it is extinct . . . All dis-
pensations of Providence contain anomalies, and so the anomalousness
of the Phcenix seems to be almost positive evidence to induce one to
believe it.' The reader who consults the writings of that troubled
time may smile or sigh over them. IMorris was a very likeable man.
T. Mozley^ says, ' My sufferings at the hands of " Jack Morris " I have
already described. But people love those most they have taken most
pains with. What would I give to have a day with him now, and
hear his searchings and ramblings into the region of the supernatural !
not but that all nature was supernatural in his eyes.'

But in the turmoil of the Tractarian movement the proper work of
the University and of the Colleges had not been wholly neglected.
There were other men who were carrying on the regular teaching
of the College with very different aims and interests ; and Frederick
Denison Maurice refers with deep gratitude to the kindness and
generosity shown him by Jacobson (afterwards Bishop of Chester)
and J. L. Richards (afterwards Rector^). Jacobson, a friend of
Sterling, had arranged that Maurice should enter at Exeter, and
be allowed to count his Cambridge terms. Jacobson writes, 'As
to your talk, about not keeping next term— were }ou not just
beginning, before the long vacation, to do something like an ordinary
mortal? Is there a chance of your doing half as much at home?
Would anybody but a feelosofer the likes of you have set to w^ork

' NoUs and Queries 7. vi. 481 (1888).

' Reminiscences ii. 10, 229.

' Their letters in Maurice's Life i. iii-J ; and see 99, 131, 179, Nat. Biog.


to write a new three-volume novel [Eustace Conway]. As to money
I have no doubt that I shall be able to help you. Indeed I know that
I shall without any inconvenience ; so don't go and borrow di^honestly,
neither stay away rusticating and psychologizing, but come here
and mind your books like a good boy. I see every reason for your
coming, and so did Sterling.' Richards writes, ' I hope you will allow
me to do for you what I have done before now for other pupils,
which is, advance any money you require for your immediate use, and
that you will come up and keep the term, I recommend you to get
the examination over as soon as possible. It might be more for your
interest to aim a little lower than your merits might justly entitle
you to aspire to, than to encounter the anxiety and expense which
a lengthened time of preparation must entail.' The confidence and
friendly tone between Maurice and the tutors shows how the Tutorial
system acted when properly worked. Maurice soon betook himself
to the real work of his life, a prolonged effort to reach the mind
of the working man, and help him to improve his condition. He
thought that the Church of England, as an institution, ought to grapple
with contemporary forms of social evil, so as to exhibit Christianity as
.the true source of every effective social amelioration. If the move-
ment had affected him, he soon took his own line, and after 1848
many others did the same. ' Experience like a tide soaks all absorbing
in,' and the present leaders of the movement have their minds opened
to the claims of Criticism \ and still more to the position of Labour and
the need of a higher organization of work. When Canon Scott-
Holland refers to Maurice's Kmgdojn of Christ as authoritative ; when
Mr. Gore presides over a meeting in Exeter College hall, held in 1893
to consider the claims of labour, and Mr. Tom Mann is one of the
chief speakers, it is clear that the old views have changed. The early
leaders took no interest in the efforts of Maurice and Kingsley to im-
prove the condition of the working classes in London and elsewhere ^
The interest in the controversy between the Churches of England
and of Rome began to flag. The secession of 1845 cleared the air,

' Stanley said to Pattison, ' How different the fortunes of the Church of England
might have been if Newman had been able to read German.' Newman confesses
the failure of the movement in his Anglican Difficulties ; see Stanley's Life, i. 370.

^ Newman's imagination was attracted {^Letters ii. 285) by the account of the
Capuchin in I Promessi Sposi.


and the political events of 1848 turned men's minds into other
channels. They no longer discussed such questions as, whether the
Church of England was bound by the four first or six first General
Councils, whether England was in a state of schism or no, whether our
position was one of continuous appeal to a General Council, &c.
The question too of University Reform and the relation of the Profes-
soriate to the Collegiate or Tutorial system attracted general attention.

Here we may put together some notices about the more material
aspects of the College. There have been considerable changes in the
buildings during the last hundred years. In 1778 the Library was
rebuilt after a design by the Rev. William Crowe. On 8 May 1788 it
was resolved to remodel the front and windows of the College. On
10 June 1820 a new porch for the Hall, surmounted by a clock,
was completed: the porch cost £103 iis ^d, the clock £125 12s 2^;
a water tank also was constructed in the Library Court, for £88 I'js 3^/,
containing 350 gallons. In 1821 a servants' hall was constructed for
the use of the Common Room ^ and Bursary in the adjoining cellar,
with a passage under the Bursary, at a cost of £309 3^-. As far back
as 10 Nov. 1740 it was ordered that a lamp should be put up to
light the quadrangle (Wordsworth 688). Gas lights (Wordsworth
408, 410) appear in 1820, perhaps to cive way in turn to the electric
light in 1894. The new buildings east of the gate in Broad
Street were commenced 1833, and completed May 1834, they
cost £3574 lis ^d. In 1833-4 also the buildings from the Hall
round to the Chapel were new faced towards the Turl with Bath
stone, oriel windows inserted, and the tower considerably altered ; the
upper part of the tower was found to be so weak that the face of it
was made to recede somewhat, and four turrets added to carry oft" the
awkward appearance occasioned by the projection of the quoins ; the
garrets on this side were raised considerably ; the inner face of the
tower towards the quadrangle was also refaced. In 1836 the interior
of the Chapel was repaired and coloured and the glass cleaned.

In 1854 New Buildings were begun with a tower facing Broad

' The ' Common Parlor ' was used earlier at Cambridge than at Oxford. Our
first Common Rooms were at Merton and S. John's just after the Restoration.
See Clarke-Willis i. 225, Rogers v. 688, Oxford Architect. Soc. 1SS7, p. 115, Qu.
Rev. 1887, p. 432, Boase's Oxford i68, Wordsworth i^S, 663.


Street; they contained i8 sets of rooms in addition to a large room
over the gateway in the Tower, and the first contract was for £3976.
Next year the foundation of the New Library was laid, the first con-
tract being for £2988, exclusive of the foundations. (The commis-
sioners allowed first £4500, and then £1200 more, of the Library
funds to be thus used, see Reg. 1854, and 8 May 1858.) In 1856
a new Rectory House was built, together with eight sets of rooms
between the Rectory and the Old Broad St. Buildings ; the first con-
tract was for £5000. In 1856 the Chapel was begun, the first
estimate being for £7045, with £500 for a turret, and £405 for
doors, floor, &c. but all these estimates were much exceeded. The
architect was Sir Gilbert Scott, who had reported that the North wall
of the Chapel was in a very dangerous state, but there was great
difficulty in pulling it down. The first stone of the Chapel was
laid by the Bishop of Rupert's Land (David Anderson, an old scholar
of the College) 29 Nov. 1856. It was consecrated on S. Luke's day
18 Oct. 1859 (Cox 426) by the Bishop of Oxford in the presence of
the Visitor, Bp. Phillpotts. The money for these buildings had been
accumulating for some years, the late Rector J. L. Richards gave
£1000 and many persons then or previously Fellows of the College
gave £100 each (which was nearly the value of a year's fellowship at
that time), some of the Fellows also each giving a couple of the
marble or serpentine pillars, and great liberality was shown by old
members of the College ; the screen and organ were given by the
undergraduates. The organ has been twice reconstructed since that
time. The new Chapel occupies the site of the former Rector's house
at the east end of the old Chapel, in addition to the ground on which
the old Chapel stood. As part of an old City Ditch ran close to the
north side, very deep foundations were required, and many cardoads
of stone besides all the stone work of the old Chapel were used in
these foundations. The new Rector's house was built on the site of
the old S. Helen's Quadrangle, which included 22 sets of rooms, so
that there are only 14 sets of rooms gained in addition to the pre-
viously existing accommodation.

Many portraits were placed in the Hall during this period. In
1780 William Peters painted a picture of Walter de Stapeldon (said
to be copied from a portrait of Bossuet), and it was placed at the east


end of the HalP, In 1785 William Holwell painted a picture of
Sir William Petre and gave it to the College. In 1832 a portrait of
Bishop Prideaux was placed in the Hall. It is a copy from an
original picture at Laycock Abbey in Wilts, made by an artist called
Smith, who made another copy for Dr. Burton, the Regius Professor
of Divinity. Smith also copied the picture of the first Earl of
Shaftesbury at the Charterhouse in 1834. The portrait of Rector
Jones was painted by Phillipps 1833, but the engraving by Cousins,
who introduced some alterations, is a better resemblance. The
portrait of J. T. Coleridge was painted by Pickersgill in 1835, but
it is not so good a likeness as the engraving from Mrs. Carpenter's
portrait of the Judge. The portrait of Sir Charles Lyell is a good

Online LibraryExeter College (University of Oxford)Registrum Collegii exoniensis. Register of the rectors, fellows, and other members on the foundation of Exeter college, Oxford. With a history of the college and illustrative documents → online text (page 17 of 61)