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A Tractarian at Work: A Memoir of Dean Randall

By J. F. Briscoe and H. F. B. Mackay

London: Mowbray, [1932]

Chapter II. Winchester

RANDALL went to Winchester as a Commoner in the spring of 1836. His father considered him a very respectable Grecian for his age and a good Latinist. He was ill during a large part of his first year at school, but he worked hard and sent his parents cheering accounts of his progress and the growth of his feeling for his school. Letters in 1838 from his father and his grandfather show that he was giving great satisfaction to two affectionately exacting critics. He was enjoying himself thoroughly, working hard, saying his prayers steadily, and making a quiet stand against the use of bad language.
As time went on the letters from Winchester grew long and entertaining, and were handed about with pleasure in the circle at Binfield. Letters from home were looked for with even greater eagerness at Winchester, and Mr. Randall has to defend himself at length for keeping his son waiting for a reply.

In the autumn of 1839 Richard wrote to tell his grandfather of his approaching Confirmation. Mr. Richard Lowndes replied:

No, my dear Richard, you shall not wait a long time for an answer to your letter. I was so pleased with it that I wished to answer it by Return of post but was prevented.

I admire the Engraving and your explanation of it, without which indeed I could not have made it out.

The College sleeping rooms must be very well adapted to their use, for they appear charmingly gloomy and dark and well matched by their opposite neighbour.

Pray how do your new buildings get on, when will they be fit for the reception of such Illuminati as they are intended for? I fear the Excess of Light may prevent Sleep, but what then, even the slumbers of the learned have their value.

It is yet a Mystery how the Account of Lord Brougham's death was sent abroad or by whom fabricated, but the Count seems to have exonerated himself of Blame. It would have been a grievous thing to have had such a man die in a ditch by the ignoble heels of a Post Horse.

I do not claim any acquaintance with Miss X. or her gallant brother; though lame, he has a British Heart under his Girdle.

I am right glad that neither the Queen Regnant nor the Queen Dowager have found their way to Winchester. Four months out of twelve are a sufficient store of Holydays.

But nothing in your letter, my dear Richard, gives me more pleasure than to be told that Dr. Mob. gives you a good character, and it is the more valuable because I think he is somewhat chary in the Article of Commendation. [Dr. Moberly, Head Master of Winchester; Bishop of Salisbury, 1869-85.]

In point of years I think you are quite, if not rather too young to be confirmed, but I daresay you will be competent in point of understanding. The Ceremony of Confirmation is not a mere form. It is an important Era in a boy's life. He then discharges his sureties from their obligation and enters into a solemn Recognizance before God to take care of his own Life and Conversation.

Of the Confirmation itself no record remains, but in reply to the boy's letter describing it, his mother wrote:


Your very interesting letter gave us all the greatest pleasure, how kind Dr. Moberly seems to have been to you all but particularly so to you, and how happy you must feel that you have so conducted yourself as to meet his approbation. You will, we hope, receive the Sacrament first at your own Father's Table. We shall have four children to present at the Holy Feast, May we all, dear Boy, grow better and more fit to partake of so great a benefit.

A few lines on is a message for Lay ton. 'Tell him I have ordered him a Satin waistcoat for the dance.'

A letter from his father on his sixteenth birthday has some good advice for 'a chap whose Tails are on the point of sprouting.' 'Such an one,' says his father, 'is sometimes rather too apt to fancy himself to be somebody; because why? The presence of the Tails appear to be conclusive Evidence that there must be a Body from which they grow.'
Randall had asked his father to select his recitation for Speech Day, and Mr. Randall goes on:

How did you like the speech I picked out for you? I thought the tyrannous and bloody vein of it would suit your tragical Taste very well. I think when you come home you must treat us with it that I may judge whether you have any chance of a Silver Medal.

A pot of Roman coins had been found in the parish, and Mr. Randall had secured some for Richard's collection--and he ends his letter:

To conclude in sober Earnest, God bless you, my dear Boy, and confirm and strengthen you in all Goodness, that every Year of your life may find you advancing nearer and nearer to the Measure of the Stature of the Fullness of Christ.

The year at school following the First Communion was a very good one. Mr. Randall received a letter from the head master just before the summer holidays which he posted back direct to Richard.

I think it will please you so much that I will not delay your pleasure till you come home. I do not know what may be Moberly's general scale of character; but in my experience I never saw so high a character given from Winchester. Nevertheless though I am very much pleased, I am not at all surprised at it, for I am sure it is deserved. And I also hope and believe that you are a Person of whom such a character might be safely given, and to whom it may be safely communicated; that you will neither be puffed up by the favourable opinion entertained of you, nor fancy that you have reached so high a Point that you can afford now to take Jubilee, and be idle. Many fellows have fallen into that Error; and it is a most ruinous one; but I am not afraid of your being entangled in it. You will not be silly enough to set up for a clever idle Fellow, who can do well when he likes, but also very seldom does like to exert himself; and who for the most Part ends by having no more Power than he has Will to buckle to any Work. And I am sure that you will always remember that the Power of acquiring knowledge is the Gift of God, and to be accounted for to Him and that it is therefore a religious duty to use it industriously, and with a View to qualifying ourselves to render Him Service in whatsoever Condition of Life he may be pleased to place us. This consideration will keep you humble, and make you diligent, and prevent you from being spoiled, as some have been, by the very Praise that was meant to encourage them in all Goodness.

Dr. Moberly was head master throughout Randall's time at Winchester. He was a very good head. The scholarship was at a high level. The numbers at that time, Commoners and College together, were about two hundred and twenty.

Randall greatly loved Winchester. Up to the end of his life he delighted to talk about it and his life there. 'There is no other school fit for a boy,' he wrote in Oxford days to his sister. He retained the most vivid recollection of the characters of his companions and the incidents of his school life. As an old man he would often greet a new acquaintance with, 'I was at Winchester with some one of your name,' and give a vivid little note of the boy's appearance and personality. Cricket and football he never cared for. Swimming was his favourite exercise at school, and all through his travelling journals in later years, swimming opportunities are carefully recorded. A long swim he accomplished in the Itchen was long remembered. His brother Leslie, the future Bishop of Reading, carried his clothes, and the feat was much remarked at the time. Long walks he delighted in in his early years; they gave opportunities for his chief pleasures, good conversation, beautiful scenery, and the study of architecture. Riding and, until a gun accident disabled his right hand, shooting were delights of vacations.

His school character may be summed up in the sentence that it gave the deepest satisfaction to one of the wisest of head masters. The friendship between Dr. Moberly and Richard Randall was of so intimate a character that it attracted the attention of the school, and there was a period when the boys felt and showed some jealousy of it. 'Moberly knows enough without you,' was once said to Randall in his prefect days when 'cloister-pealing' gave the lower boys their prized opportunity to say what they thought of the prefects.

Randall was a very steady worker, but his chief delight was in poetry and romance. He devoured both, and made many poetical essays of his own. His father grew rather impatient of the stream of effusions in the style of Pope, Byron, and Scott, but he could not check their flow. All through his life verse-making was a pastime in hours of recreation, and the joys or sorrows of Randall's friends were commemorated by many a whimsical or graceful copy of verses.

He enjoyed his prize-day recitations immensely and took great pains over their delivery. His father usually chose the prose or verse passage and helped him to a conception of his part. For example, in 1841 the passage chosen was Henry V, Act ii, scene 2--the King's address to the conspirators at Southampton, and Mr. Randall wrote:

Remember that you are a King; deeply injured and offended, grieved and disappointed at your Friends' Treachery;

but still with your Royal State and Power unimpaired; and now past the Danger of the baffled conspiracy. Therefore all must be dignified; no whining nor yet ranting. In the part addressed to Lord Scroop there may be a little Passion; as the Reproof works itself up into Expostulation. But when you come to pass the sentence, you must return to the limits of sober Gravity; severe, inflexible, yet temperate.

The following letter to Randall from his father gives an interesting picture of the occupations of a conscientious village priest.

25 March, 1839.


I confess that you have had some reason to complain of my not having answered your long and entertaining letter of the 24th February, but I beg you to understand that my Silence was not altogether my own fault, for I had lent your letter to be read by some of the young people, who had not brought it back; the consequence of which was, that the letter not being before my eyes in the proper repository of unanswered letters, I forgot I had ever received it, and but for your reminder, you would never have got an answer at all. You must know that I am at present quite as busily engaged as you are. Besides the ordinary necessity of furnishing a Prose Task every week, I have undertaken to give a weekly service with a Lecture every Wednesday evening, which though I cannot say that it occupies much time in preparing, yet it takes up the time of an evening in the Delivery. However, I am pleased to observe that it is interesting to the people, and as they attend it very diligently, I hope it may do some good. We have managed to light up the church very nicely with lamps, and candles in the chandelier, and in clay candlesticks; so that it makes a very chearful appearance; and on the outside, the light shining through the windows produces such a charming effect, that anybody who sees it must be almost irresistibly tempted to walk in. These occupations with my usual sick visitations, are what I shall set down as equivalent to your school business, but then I find also that I am not out of fagging, as you are. I shall never get into the smooth water of Senior Part any more, till I am so far senior in age as to be past work myself, and have you or some other junior to work for me. Here we have had all the Lists of the Coal and Clothing Clubs to settle, and lots of other parochial business. This very morning we had a sitting of three hours in the vestry, about the appointment of new Overseers and Surveyors, and other matters, and next Monday will be occupied entirely with auditing accounts, appointing churchwardens, and (not the least fatiguing part of the business) dining with them when appointed. So you see the Life of the Parish Priest is not altogether one of doing nothing, nor yet of peaceful study--as for that, indeed, it has become almost unknown to me, for I have so little time for reading that I am ashamed of my own ignorance--because I have been obliged to go to Reading so often lately, to attend Meetings of the Society for the Education of the Poor in the principles of the Established Church. I hope they will be educated into the possession of sound and useful knowledge; but it seems that what they gain, I must lose. Well, be it so; 'knowledge puffeth up, but Charity edifieth.' I shall very soon be quite out of any danger of being led astray by knowing too much. Furthermore, you are aware that there has been a great lire at Warfield, by which Mr. Furlong's house and furniture was burnt. There is a subscription raising in the neighbourhood to replace his loss, and your Mother and I having taken as active a part as we could in promoting it, we have ridden one day, and walked another, and written and talked, and read letters and listened to talk of other people's, absolutely beyond measure. So much for the disposal of my time. If you have been as much occupied, I dare say you will cut a figure at the examination--probably a better one than I shall. We are expecting Jim and John home on Thursday for Easter Holidays; they are to stay till Wednesday in Easter week. All are well here; if they have any messages they must write them themselves, for which I leave them the other turning down. Kind wishes to Rd. Lowndes and Layton, and I remain your affectionate Father,


Nobody has a word to say--so the blank remains unfilled up. I will supply it with, God Bless you, and give you grace to live like one who seeks his Blessing, and then you will be sure to have it.

In August, 1842, after leaving Winchester, Randall went for a holiday abroad with his uncle Mr. W. Loftus Lowndes and Mr. Lowndes' family.

They left London for Dover at 7.30 p.m. Randall and Richard Lowndes had the box seat to Rochester. 'After a petit souper' at Rochester, Randall changed places with another cousin and proceeded inside to Dover. 'The whole journey was delightful, but the postboys awfully slow.' They appear to have inspected Canterbury Cathedral in the middle of the night.

'Mem: made a shameful noise at Sittingbourne. Arrived at Dover 7.15. First view of Dover beautiful, sunrise do. Bathed in sea, got dreadfully wet.' They bathed from a tarry boat and the next entry is--'Came home--cleansed with butter.' After a good breakfast they saw the Castle and had a splendid walk, during which there was 'much indifferent punning on all sides, especially the Uncle.' The merry party examined the new railway with great curiosity. Randall confesses to being tired at bedtime but read Campbell's Pilgrim of Glencoe and other Poems, and has energy left for a literary criticism. 'I'd not advise any one else to do the same. They are shameful--great pity he should have published them--they may injure his fame (if possible). Good night, Journal, au revoir.'

Next morning the travellers were abroad at half-past eight. They had a beautiful and calm passage but the packet was a slow sailer owing, as Randall scientifically remarks, to the boiler being too low in the water. Randall did not suffer, but he prudently 'berthed occasionally' and the rest of the party all the time, some of them 'afraid to move or even to talk or laugh.' Under these circumstances of constraint it must have been a relief when the packet reached Ostend at five o'clock. Here Randall remarks that the beer was very good and brought in in wine bottles, and that he saw a Roman Catholic Church for the first time--' not remarkable for anything but its pulpit which appears to be supported by two flying figures carved.'

Railway travelling was still a novelty--its features are carefully noted. The first class carriages were labelled diligences, the second class char-à-bancs; there was a sort of passage between the first class carriages, and the guard sat on the steps outside; the stations were execrable; 'I wish the Co. could see our English Stations.' The bell for starting rang for about five minutes without intermission. 'The country,' writes Randall, 'is flat, marshy, uninteresting, a sort of England very much underdone.'

On reaching Bruges Randall retired to bed after drinking a glass of seltzer water and sugar. This terrible beverage notwithstanding, he passed a good night, and being in a foreign land was ready to be thankful for small mercies. 'I thanked my stars I was not too long for the bed and not much troubled by creepers.'

The boy's first day on the Continent is described with enthusiastic minuteness; he went into nearly every church in Bruges and has something to say about most of them: he describes and criticizes the pictures, and is above all enchanted by the life in the streets. He notes the women in caps and cloaks, the soldiers who are small, slatternly fellows, the remarkably pretty girls. 'The chambermaid's name is "Pauline" but she by no means answers to the Romance of it.' After dinner the party went to 'a sort of Greenwich Fair,' and when they were tired of buffoons and archery, walked by the canals, saw dozens of windmills, and came home to good tea and seltzer water.

The next day--the Feast of the Assumption--they went on to Antwerp and saw some of the ceremonies in the Cathedral. Randall notes:

The Robes and Crown of the Virgin here were excellent. What a pity England will not similarly decorate her churches. Why should she not? There is willingness abroad which is admirable. Is our religion colder? We certainly can afford it.

On the same day he notes:

I read a great part of Cowper's 'Borderers' which seems but little inferior to his other works. . . . After a good dinner we walked by moonlight on the banks of the Canal which is at this [point] most highly picturesque and delightful. The shipping and water seen by moonlight, the dresses of the men and women here and there interspersed, the Tower of the Cathedral in the distance, and the ancient high-roofed houses of the Town form a picture worthy of the best of painters or the most eloquent of writers. Would I could do it justice but my wing is not yet strong enough.

After a day at Liège the travellers started at 6.30 in the morning by char-a-banc for Aix-la-Chapelle. The horses were bad and the heat almost intolerable. The road as far as the Prussian frontier was paved with stones 'like the streets, only worse.' At the frontier Randall watched the business of the custom house with British indignation. 'Our luggage was searched in a most ungentle-manly manner though at the same time in a way which could do no possible good.'

At Aix-la-Chapelle they regained the rail and Randall has further notes on railway carriages. The Prussian carriages were more airy and roomy than the Belgian; they had a net, too, near the roof to hold hats, very convenient. 'But the most remarkable part of the arrangement is a little bag or pocket on each door containing the key of the carriage attached to a chain, sealed with strict injunctions in French and German not to break the seal, except in case of urgent danger.' Cologne was examined with great interest, but the journallst remarks that there are a hundred separate and well-defined stinks in this town and that Coleridge has surely underrated them. Throughout the tour all bathing possibilities were eagerly utilized, and at Cologne the swimmers astonished the natives by their English style, 'particularly the dog action.' A carriage was chartered at Cologne and the party drove up the Rhine to Mayence by easy stages. Many pages of the diary describe the beauties of the scene and the architecture of castles and the decorations of churches. The weather was broiling, and the hot moonlight nights on the Rhine moved Randall to verse, and he adorned his journal with a long Ode to the Queen of Night.

Frankfort and Heidelburg were much enjoyed, but after a minute description of the Cathedral of Worms Randall pronounces the town to be the dullest he ever saw, so dull indeed that he and his cousins were on the verge of being reduced to playing pitch ha'penny for something to do, when they luckily discovered a billiard table. The journey continued by Mannheim, Carlsruhe, Strasbourg, and Basle to Miinster through the beautiful Miinsterthal. Randall attempts a description of the valley--'A scene,' he exclaims, 'such as nature has rarely surpassed and art can never equal and which requires the pen of a Scott or a Rogers to do it justice.'

Next morning his thoughts are elsewhere.

Thursday, Sept. 1st. Wonder how the partridge shooting goes on in England; here they have no certain time for commencing their partridge destruction, but go out as soon as harvest is over.

They got their first sight of the Alps at Berne, and Randall tries a description of the scene at sunset.

The river winds gracefully through the valley, its banks being exquisitely clothed with grass and trees. The light of the sun falls softly on the further bank of the river as also on the Cathedral and town in the distance and then shortly afterwards when everything else is in the shade, sheds its parting lustre on the snowy tops, or as Byron says 'the cold grey scalps' of the Alps. The rosy tint which at this time hangs about, or rather crowns the mountains, is past all des-scription, exquisitely soft and beautiful. Here we stood and gazed for some time, and then only departed when the sun hid his glory and the tops of the distant mountains were veiled in the gloom of approaching night.

He appends a marginal note:

Byron only speaks of the cold scalps, the line quoted is from Shelley.

It can be imagined how Richard Randall revelled in the delights of a tour in the Oberland, as yet unspoiled. Many pages of diary describe lakes and snow peaks, dawns and sunsets, glaciers and avalanches. There was one comically disagreeable experience, an expedition up the Faulhorn in bad weather.

After riding an hour and a half through the mountains by a very steep path, with fine views on all sides, it was decided that I should dismount for U. L. to ride. But oh! horrid, it began to drizzle so that R. L. and I were obliged to walk in mackintoshes which was dreadfully hard work. The rain got worse and worse and the ground more and more slippery so that the ascent was very difficult. At length having walked for about an hour and a half and being pretty well wet through for I had no coat on, I rode a little on L.'s horse, but riding so benumbed me that I was obliged to get off and walk again. Hardly had I dismounted when down fell my poor beast of a horse. The rain got fiercer at every step, the water was streaming down the path, the horses stumbling and falling every minute and we ourselves were wet to the skin and nearly weighed down by our streaming clothes--when to add to our misery the rain turned to snow, and we had to strive with a cold wind in our teeth. After walking on some time my face got so cold that in utter desperation I made a rush for the horses (which were some way ahead) to get my shawl; to my utter misery I found it preoccupied. I managed, however, to get sheltered behind C.'s horse till we got within sight of the hotel. We were all wet to the skin. We were shown to our rooms up some thirty stone steps and miserably dirty things they were. The beds were still worse but D. and I were so famished with cold that we seized on what things we could in shape of sheets, etc., and turned into bed. We had a fair dinner, chamoy steaks, etc. The beds were so wretched that had we not been tired we could not have slept. We got pretty well eaten in the night. By the by, I wonder who has won the wager.

They were all storm-bound for two days, but they got a great view before they left, the light on the mountains superb, the clouds floating beneath them like a sea. During their exploration of the Lake of Lucerne they fell in near Kussnacht with many persons returning from a pilgrimage to Ein-siedeln and singing their Latin hymns--'or rather/ adds the journalist, 'jabbering them over as quickly as they could.' At this point his gathering impatience with Continental Christianity masters him and he relieves himself in a great denunciation.

What an extraordinary religion is that of Rome. There is no heart, no spirit--all is form, form, form. Unmeaning vain repetitions of prayers, prayers unintelligible to those who thus recite them; ceremonies performed merely for their own sake, no warmth in their performance but all cold outward show. It seems scarcely possible that it should ever have entered into the heart of man to conceive such a religion.

The boy was evidently thinking a good deal on such subjects and trying to make up his mind; he pencilled 'very hard?' against this eloquent passage, and 'protestant'--when in another mood; and an evening walk on the hills above Zurich occasioned another outburst in a finer and worthier strain.

We walked till the moon rose and shone clear on all beneath. It was a lovely night and the town looked beautiful; there was the clear bright water of the Lake, gliding noiselessly past the buildings of the town, with scarce a ripple on its bosom, the moon reflected on its surface. There were the heavens, calm and cloudless, spangled with many and many a bright star, that looked kindly and smilingly on the peaceful Earth beneath. It was in short a scene o'er which an angel might have paused in admiration and forgot awhile in the air of holy peace which all things wore, the sin, the pollution of the earth. And may we not suppose that these sainted beings do gaze with delight at such scenes as this? Must we suppose that they who are of the heaven heavenly have no sympathy with us that are of the earth earthy? Should we not rather imagine that when we gaze on scenes like this with that calm delight, that abstraction from all things worldly, there is a mysterious link between us and these our saintly protectors, who are there hovering over us, directing our every thought to purity and holiness? Surely this is a holy and an acceptable creed.

Then comes an impatient query: 'But what is it to the purpose?'

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