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Life and Letters of
Thomas Thellusson Carter
Warden of the House of Mercy, Clewer,
Hon. Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, and
For Thirty-Six years Rector of Clewer.

Edited by the Ven. W. H. Hutchings, M.A.
Archdeacon of Cleveland.

London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1903.

Chapter 1. Early Years

THE Rev. Thomas Thellusson Carter, son of the Rev. Thomas Carter, for many years Vice-Provost of Eton, and of his wife, Mary, daughter of Henry Proctor, Esq., the younger son of a family long established at Clewer, was born at Eton on the nineteenth of March, 1808, in a house which still stands at the entrance to Keate's Lane. [Mr. Carter was fond of telling how an ancestor, Henry Proctor, meeting Charles I. on his last journey to London, pulled off his hat to the Royal prisoner, and was hustled into the ditch by the guards for so doing.] His father was at this time Lower Master, and it was perhaps for that reason, and also because of the misery suffered by an elder brother when sent to one of the rough preparatory schools of those days, that the child began his Eton life when just six years old. This was less strange than it now appears, for some day-boys from the town then came so young, that on winter evenings nursemaids might be seen waiting outside the archway of Lower School to take them safe home.

One of Mr. Carter's earliest recollections was of being led by his father up the school on his first entrance. Another is of the great assemblage in the year of Waterloo, when the Prince Regent received the allied sovereigns and their generals at Frogmore. The Eton boys were invited to attend, and his family were accustomed to relate how he was taken up and kissed by Blucher, as being one of the youngest boys who were present at that wonderful gathering.

Among the treasured mementoes of these early days, is a water-colour sketch by William Evans "of Eton," representing Thomas Thellusson Carter as he appeared at the Montem of probably 1817, a little fair, round-faced boy in a light-blue jacket and trousers, and blue cap with white ostrich-plumes.

The school was then in a state of indiscipline hard to realize, and Mr. Carter was still a small boy when the outbreak known as the Great Rebellion took place, and the Upper School was wrecked. He remembered seeing a brick thrown at the head of a master who was looking from his drawing-room window, half hidden by the blinds, at the tumult below. He remembered also the "bed of justice," when Dr. Keate, standing amid the ruins of his shattered desk, expelled the five ringleaders in the presence of the assembled school. Order was restored with a firm hand, but the standard of manners and life was still low. Bear-baiting and cockfights were among the tolerated amusements; quarrels were settled by savage fights in the playing-fields; in one instance with a fatal result. Religious teaching was represented by a curious institution called "Prose." On Sunday afternoons the boys assembled in Upper School, and after an inaudible prayer, recited by one of the collegers, Dr. Keate read a portion of Blair's Sermons.

In T. T. Carter's early life, other and gentler influences predominated, for the twelve years of his school life were spent under his father's roof.

"This unbroken attachment to home, instead of a boy's usual separation from it, has, I have no doubt, had its effect on me," he wrote long afterwards. "Its loving care and thought for us all, one remembers with deepest thankfulness."

Many still living can remember the Vice-Provost in his venerable age, his kindly smile and ready sympathy, and the unfailing interest with which he watched the progress of his grandsons, as one after another they passed through Eton. They remember also Mrs. Carter's stately presence, her fine features and bright, beautiful eyes, her keen pleasure in travel and in all new and interesting sights, her delight in flowers, and the love of art which she inherited from her father and transmitted to more than one of her children.

Both parents did their utmost to make their house a truly happy home to their large family. They formed a bright, merry party, and "Tom "was the favourite with all. "He was the brother to whom we all looked," writes one of his five sisters, who still survives.

The home was the centre of a cheerful society; books of all kinds abounded; a small but choice collection of pictures, of which the foundation had been laid by Mr. Proctor, was formed year by year. As the young people grew up, tours to Wales and Scotland were planned for their holiday pleasure.

The journal of one of these tours, kept by their son at the age of seventeen, for the pleasure of his parents, is still treasured.. It is written in a clear, delicate hand, very different from that familiar to his friends in later years, when the writer worked under pressure of a large correspondence, and was illustrated by a sister, who became an excellent amateur artist. This book shows that the love of beautiful scenery, which to the end of his life was one of Mr. Carter's chief delights, was already developed.

"The road, winding round the base of a hill, brought us to a most enchanting view," he writes of Loch Fyne. "Immediately beneath lay the lake, spreading to the right into a large bay. On the banks was the town of Inverary, looking like a fairy city, and on the right of which was the castle and the whole range of the park, terminated by the fine peak of Dunnachoich, clothed with wood; mountains rose in the background, and toward the left, till they were lost in mist. The lake was perfectly calm, and I never saw the reflection so beautiful. Every tree, every leaf, was entire, and the whole town seemed to sleep in the lake."

The Borrowdale mountains seen from Skiddaw at sunset "appeared like a sea of gold when stormy." The scenery of Derwentwater "is past all description. . . . The mixed splendour of the south end is excessive, and the dark clouds which alternately displayed and concealed it, rendered it still more beautiful." The journal abounds with passages such as these, showing a sensitive feeling for natural beauty not often seen in a boy so young.

He delighted not only in the scenery, but in the active exercise and rough and sometimes dangerous climbing necessary for the full enjoyment of a mountain country, and was gifted with a steady head and firm step, which he retained till far advanced in life. On one occasion he was caught by the sea near Whitby, and returned with unhopedfor speed to the anxious watchers, having climbed up the cliff, which the sailors had told his parents was impossible.

These household pleasures did not injure Mr. Carter's school life, or take him too much away from the society of his fellows. He played cricket and hockey, and was a proficient in fives, which in those days was played against the chapel wall, the deep buttresses of which formed the courts. Another favourite amusement was wood-turning, in which he was very skilful, and which he practised industriously, when the weather was too bad for outdoor games, at Rogerson's lathe. Of his studies, no record remains, but he took and kept a high place in the school, and left it Captain of Oppidans.

A letter from a young visitor, the sister of the Rev. William Oxenham, of Harrow, then lately married to his eldest sister, gives a pleasant glimpse of his family life at this time.

"Eton College, October 16, 1826.

..." I have had so much to do and see here that I have had little leisure for writing. . . . L. and Tom and I drove to Sandpit Gate and saw the royal animals, and beauties they are! We first saw thirteen kangaroos hopping about in a paddock, then some lovely peacocks of all colours, then a pig deer, which is very pretty, notwithstanding its name. Then Mr. Lewis, a very interesting looking young artist, came out and took us into another paddock, where under a shed, overshadowed by fine oaks, stood his easel and a picture he was painting of the animals and their keeper, old Clarke, who was standing by with a Java deer, which was just sketched in. Close by was a shed, in which was a beautiful white stag from the Burman Empire, and in an adjoining paddock, also railed off, two extraordinary birds, called emus, as large as ostriches and more odd looking, . . . The whole was enchanting, quite like a fairy-tale. ... I saw the cottage, but not the king, though Mr. Lewis said he was expecting him every moment. We could not wait, which I thought tantalizing to a degree, but they all indulge me in the slightest wish so much that I would not say I wished it, for I knew Tom wanted to be at home, as it was the day before he went. He was a great loss to our party; I think he has one of the most delightful dispositions I ever met with. L. is a dear girl, not the least like what I had imagined; in fact, they are all very engaging, and Mrs. Carter quite a mother to me. . . . We had a delightful musical evening here on Friday; Venua played exquisitely on his violin, E. C." (probably the Rev. Edward Coleridge) "on the violoncello, and Mr. C. Yonge on his flute, L. on the harp, and E. on the pianoforte."

In 1826 Mr. Carter went to Christ Church. King's College, Cambridge, would have seemed his more probable destination, but for the fact that his place in the school was so high for his age, that in order to try for the scholarship he must have been placed in a lower form. This his father's tender pride would not suffer, and to this seeming accident he owed his Oxford training. Few details of his University life can now be gathered, for all those who shared it have passed away. No doubt many letters were exchanged between the boy and the home which he had never before quitted for more than a few weeks, but none have been preserved, except three boyish epistles to his sisters. One of these, written shortly after his arrival at Oxford, gives his first impressions of his new life.

"Christ Church, April 30.


"Conceive a room about eighteen feet long by fifteen broad; at one end the door, with a bookcase on one side, at the opposite end a long row of cupboards, painted yellow and white, or rather by this time having degenerated into no colour at all. On one side is a Saxo-Gothic fireplace, with a bookcase, and at each extremity a door, more suited to a barn, one leading into a servants' room, and another into my bedroom. On the opposite side the ceiling falls in a direct slope on a wall of a few feet in height. In the slope are two windows, against one of which rises an angle of stone and mortar, perfectly excluding all apology for a view, and through the other a few square inches of the 'empyrean vault of heaven' is discernible through a plenitude of iron bars. . . . The fireplace is exceedingly hot and the windows very cold, so I have the advantage of a West Indian sun and a Siberian frost, concentrated into me. My bedroom affords just room enough to turn in. The bed is too short by a considerable number of inches, but that is a trifle. Altogether I shall be very comfortable by next term. I have now settled myself, and shall begin to read to-morrow. By-the-by, I find my books scratched very much, by what I know not, except it may be bad packing; also be it known, that, instead of twelve bottles of Bucellas, I have only received eleven.

"I am now very nearly settled, but I must own that I feel rather solitary, having always been accustomed to the pleasures of home; and in addition to that, though I know a great many men as Eton men, yet I scarcely know one intimately, and indeed have not found one of my most particular Eton friends. That will come round in time. Pusey, Freshfield, et cetera, have called on me, and even the gaunt form of Plumptre's cousin made his way very kindly up into my room yesterday, and asked me to breakfast to-morrow. About a fortnight ago I was asked to go down in the Christ Church boat; I accordingly went, and I found myself imperceptibly brought into a regular course of training. Coming up the same evening, I was put between the stroke and a man who is general teacher. Since that I have been down every day, and am to pull in the second boat. The other day we went down to Abingdon. I have got to know by this several very pleasant men, and have found it altogether very satisfactory. Consequently I have not opened my bats, and I do not know whether I shall, as playing here is very inconvenient. . . . The other day I wined with one of the Goulds" (afterwards his brothers-in-law), "and met Merivale; my father will know who I mean. Also tell him that I heard Durnford up in the schools, and he did capitally, I believe, in everything, and is reckoned certain of his class. [Richard Durnford, afterwards Bishop of Chichester.] ... Pray write as soon as you can, as you cannot tell the pleasure it is to me. I look forward to Montem most anxiously."

Soon after, he writes to his eldest sister, then staying with the parents of her future husband, the Rev. W. Oxenham, in Devonshire.

"Christ Church, May 11.

"By degrees I have been entirely reconciled to this life, and now like it very much, as I have become acquainted with various very agreeable men, though I find scarcely any Eton friend. As cricket is particularly inconvenient, I have become a sailor. I am rather tired of the boat, as it has become a bore, and I shall shirk it when I can. The races have begun, and continue twice every week, and I am obliged to pull in them, as I at first agreed. So much for myself. Your letter was sent to me from Eton, and I pitied your situation greatly, though you must feel differently. ... I expect to go (to Eton) to-morrow. I went a short time ago to Short, and he told me that he certainly would not give me leave till Monday, even if the Dean did, and told me I was a great fool for going at all. So I put him down in my estimation next to the Provost and Polehampton; but, however, he told me to-day that the Dean had given somebody else leave for a longer time, and thought I might get it also. So he is an angel. I have been to one large party at Mrs. W.'s, and I was so sickened that I will never go to another, ... I thought of proposing blind-man's buff; but, however, the ladies looked over prints, and the gentlemen played with their fingers, till there was some music, which was amusing."

To the same sister he wrote in the year following--

"Christ Church, March 22, 1827.


"Most humble and contrite I have taken up the pen, trusting for forgiveness to your generosity alone, as I have nothing to say for myself. . . . My conscience was pricked immensely at the receipt of your parcel last week, but I did not write immediately, that I might give you my opinion of your first essay in preserves, and for that reason dared to transgress your positive order. I am really much obliged to you for thinking of me, for I did not deserve it. The contents were very good, considering you are young in the world. ... I have been going on in the old monotonous way, except now and then a stupid party at------'s. I was greatly disgusted a short time ago at not being able to get a ticket for the Woodstock ball. W. had promised me one, but on the Sunday before, when I went to demand it, he had not even one for himself. The consequence was, it was too late to get one anywhere else. ... Of course, you know that I am singing away like a nightingale, and that I have a tenor voice, and that I already come one octave and a half with great effect. . . . Tell Oxenham by his recommendations I have been attending Buckland, to my great amusement, though this (mineralogy) is the less interesting of the two."

"I went to Christ Church in 1827. [The absence of letters is made up for by an account of these years written by himself many years afterwards in a precious volume of notes compiled for his children.--ED.] The same loving care that had watched over me all my earlier years then decided for me what has always been a cause of great thankfulness. Dr. Pusey was then, or just afterwards (1828), Hebrew Professor, living, where he always remained, in the corner house of Tom Quad. Gladstone was in the year behind me. So also was Hamilton, afterwards Bishop of Salisbury, and Charles Wordsworth, afterwards Bishop of St. Andrews. Vowler Short, afterwards Bishop of St. Asaph, was my tutor; Longley, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, the Fellow and Senior Censor. Newman was at Oriel, and for the last (about) two years of my time Vicar of St. Mary's. But it was the object of the College authorities to prevent our going to hear him preach, and the Chapel services were so arranged as to make it impossible. Hurrell Froude once came to my rooms to meet Nutcombe Oxenham "(brother of W. Oxenham, and for many years Vicar of Modbury), "otherwise I knew nothing of the Oriel men. Their fame had not as yet begun to be thought of among undergraduates. Pusey, my father's pupil at Eton, was kind to me. I was occasionally at his house. But I was unconscious at that time of any such influence as afterwards so affected me. There was then no private intercourse between tutor and undergraduate. I believe Jelf, some years afterwards, was the first to break through this class distinction. I would add a few words concerning my Christ Church tutor, Vowler Short. There was a fatherly kindness in his dealings and intercourse, though, as before stated, there were at that time no familiar or friendly communications between tutor and pupil. The only private advice I remember ever receiving from him was on asking him to give me hints for writing sermons. He told, as an example, his plan of writing his sermons, and his idea what they should be; that they should resemble a jelly-bag--a good round base, tapering smoothly down to a point; that he divided his sermons into three heads and a conclusion, and taking a head a day, as he rode, each separately worked out and thought of during the ride.

"Stacey, Fellow of New College, an old Eton private tutor and friend of ours, asked me continually to dine with him on Sundays, and a most pleasant engagement it was. Evensong (New College choir was then second only, if second, to that of Magdalen College), then dinner with the Fellows in Hall, and wine afterwards in their common room. I was quite at home with Stacey. Mr. Wingfield, the surgeon, was also a family friend, and his wife, a great musical amateur, gave very pleasant evenings.

"In the summer term I joined a party of men in hiring a four-oared boat, and latterly I pulled sixth in the College Torpid. Tennis was too expensive, though I sometimes played. I attended with great pleasure Auckland's Geological Lectures. While I was at Oxford, Scott's novels began to come out, and it was one of the delights of that time. Previously, while at school, Mrs. Radcliffe's Romances had been one's only food of this kind. My favourite reading as a boy had been the 'Seven Champions of Christendom.' I slept with it under my pillow. After this time I enjoyed Richardson's novels; but Scott carried the day.

"My tutor was disgusted at my deciding not to work at Mathematics after my Little Go. I had no mind or head for it. Classics and Philosophy were enough for me. The greatest boon I owe to Oxford teaching is the knowledge and love of Butler's Analogy, then the authorized standard of Philosophy, though no longer so. To my mind it has always been the true philosophical ground-work in support of the Mosaic and Christian dispensation and religion generally.

"We were, at the time of my leaving Oxford, on the very verge of the Tractarian movement, but as yet there was, as far as I knew, no sign of its approach. All had been as it was at Eton, a mere routine of Chapel going; at Christ Church on week-days a shortened form of Latin prayers. To be often late in coming in, after the closing of Tom Gate, which was at 9 p.m., seemed the only thing that brought reproof or question as to one's conduct.

"I passed my last examination early in 1831, half a year later than was intended, in consequence of my awaking on the morning of the day I was to go into the schools with an attack of jaundice. After my examination I went abroad with Charles Woodcock "(a lifelong friend, for many years Rector of Chardstock) "and Burr, friend of his. It was an expedition of pleasurable excitement of no ordinary kind. We walked through part of Belgium, and up the Rhine as far as Coblentz. In one of the inns on the Rhine, happening to find an English paper, I there first saw the Class List." His name was in the First Class of Classics (Lit. Hum).

"Woodcock had to return, leaving me and Burr, and we two went down the Tyrol to Venice. We then approached Venice by sea, its towers gradually rising above the waters.

"On my return home, I was to have met my father, mother, and sisters in Switzerland, but an émeute in Paris unhappily hindered their expedition. I returned alone, walking over the Albula Pass.

"The year after this, I think it was, I stood for a Fellowship at Oriel. I should never have thought of this, but was persuaded by a friend of ours, Jenkins, an Oriel Fellow, afterwards Greek Professor at Durham. I failed, as might have been expected; but so did Henry Wilberforce, who was also a candidate. Eden won it, one of the 'twelve good men' of whom Burgon wrote. He became Tutor at Oriel."

In the winter of 1831-32 he went to Paris, "thinking to learn French, and took lodgings with a French family in the Rue de Bac; but the Woodcocks were passing the winter in Paris that same year, and the temptation was great to leave the French family, and think that a French tutor on the Tuileries' side of Paris might sufficiently serve my purpose; and so I made the change, and lost my chance of learning French."

The only family tradition which can be added to this account is of his having been sworn in as special constable during the machine riots of 1830, and being called out at night, in company with his friend, Mr. W. Evans, the well-known artist, to some riotous scenes in the neighbourhood.

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