After the second play Williamson sent for Hotham and told him that he understood that he had requested Mr Hudson to ask his Majesty to give us an extra week’s holydays, at the same time that his attendance at the play was requested, and as the King has accordingly desired that an extra week might be given he should not allow Hotham to act on the third night, in having what Williamson called the impudence to make such a request.
Added by Somerton H.B.
One of the Seniors, Hotham, having written to Mr Hudson, a gentleman attached to the King’s household and formerly at Westminster, to be, that if he had an opportunity, he would request the King to attend the representation of the Adelphi, he accordingly made the desired application to his Majesty who in the most gracious manner answered, that he should have been most happy to accept the invitation of Mr Hotham, but that his indisposition prevented him from coming; this was communicated to the Dean by Sir Herbert Taylor in a letter, upon which Williamson immediately sent for Hotham and told him, that he considered his conduct had been most impertinent in writing to Hudson, without either his or the Dean’s knowledge, and said that as a punishment he should not allow him to act in the two remaining nights, this transaction having occurred after the first play. Williamson however, most likely fearing there would be an uproar on this account on the nights in question, sent for Hotham again on the following day, and said he rather supposed that the application to the King had been made by others, before Hotham wrote, and that therefore he should allow him to act, but set him 400 lines to learn by heart. Any comments on this conduct are quite unnecessary, it is in strict accordance with all Dr Williamson’s other actions, when he meddles in these sort of affairs, for what Hotham chose to write in a private letter to a friend could not possibly by any business of Williamson’s.
In consequence of the daily decreasing state of the school both in number and size, and the bad effects these evils entail on the power and importance of the fellows themselves I have thought it right to give a few reasons for this, which have fallen under my notice during my stay at Westminster. In order to warn the future possessors of this book, (as much as it is in my power) against the continuance of these abuses or the formation of fresh ones. The principal reason (as I conceive) of this much to be lamented decrease in the school are 1st the expense of education at Westr and the great cheapness of it at other small schools (district and others) and this too acting upon, the low state of the landed interests, which combined, either entirely prevent a certain class of individuals* from sending their sons to school at all, or else induce them to give the preference to cheaper establishments. To this may be also added the overstocked state of professions which oblige the above mentioned class of persons, to choose inferior situations for their sons, and which need comparatively little or no education, these reasons and the immense increase of schools of all kinds, and the multitude of private tutors throughout England, as well as the rapid march of puritanism in all classes (which induces those afflicted with its tenets to commit their sons to the charge of clergymen of their own opinions) will account of the decrease in numbers of the school. Now let us trace the effects of that paucity of numbers upon the school. 1st the decrease in physical force on the part of the fellows must necessarily diminish their authority and necessary successful resistance to infringements on the part of the masters. 2dly the scarcity of fellows gives the Ushers and Masters more time to examine individually into the proceedings of each boy * and thereby to have more hold of him than he otherwise would have. 3dly The great scarcity also prevents the so close union between the different bodies of the school (viz Home Boarders, King Scholars and Boarders) as is absolutely necessary in order to pressing ahead against the innovations of masters. For as there are fewer fellows, any broil between even two boys of different bodies maybe productive of an estrangement of the whole set, whereas in the fuller state of the school such petty disagreements would pass unnoticed. I will now conclude with urging the proverb so universally adopted at the French Revolution, and which maybe better applied to a conservative subject ‘Union is Force’. Let the school (small as it is) unite together in a common cause, to resist innovations, maintain the most trifling rules, and stand up for their own rights, and I do not yet despair of seeing better times dawn on Westminster which desirable object and “consummation so devoutly to be wished” will never be attained without these precautions and now should future readers lay to m charge any vanity in laying down this advice, let them attribute it to my ardent desire for the welfare of the school, and my dread of its entire ruin.
* I mean the better sort of tradesmen and others of a like stamp.
* Every person who has any regard for their sons, must think, that the more they are looked after, the better; That, therefore, which is here pointed out as a fault, is on the contrary, a very great advantage.
Added by B.G. Astley
A Rowing Match having been agreed upon between Preston and Astley (TB) versus Savile and Drew (KS), Roberts through jealousy, on account of their not using his boats (which are considerably too heavy to race in) informed Williamson of it, who instantly stopped it, and set the parties concerned in it an Impositions of such a nature as to prevent them from racing for the remainder of the half.
An attempt having been made by the KS to take two boys in the Shell into College, in order to inflict some punishment upon them, a strong remonstrance was made against it by the Head of the T.B. and the remainder of the Sixth, and it was prevented from being put into execution.
This year (1833) Williamson, in consequence of a great many fellows being out of school with the Influenza, endeavoured to put a stop to our going on the water by sending a note to Roberts ordering him not to let out any boats to us. We however went on in a boat belonging to Searle as also the King’s Scholars.
Roberts told Williamson of it, who at first said he would pass it over in silence, but having altered his mind, the next day sent for the names of those who had gone on. These being given him, he set both KS and TBs 300 lines to learn by heart, kept us in at Easter, and made us shew ourselves every night at 6 oclock. He flogged our steerer (Astley) who was in the fifth, and when we went up to defend him, by saying, that it was not so much by his own as by our wish that he had gone on, he set us another 100 lines to learn. The names of the fellows in our boat were –
Astley for steerer
E U Sealy
On Friday March the 1st Williamson endeavoured to put a stop to the old custom of Ditch leaping, by having names in the different boarding Houses at ½ past 11. We however carried it into effect between ½ past 11 and two oclock.
E U Sealy
This year Williamson endeavoured to put a stop to the sixth dinner by a threat of severely punishing all who attended it. It was nevertheless carried into execution and was held at Ginger’s hotel in Bridge Street. Homeboarders as usual were invited. The dinner was served up in a manner to give universal satisfaction at ½ past seven and was kept up till ten. All the boarders attended with the exception of 4 who feared to join the party. Their names were Templer, Cornish, Parker and Harrison — Abm Borradaile President, T Blackall Vice President.
Williamson, having learnt from Preston that some of the K.S. came back from Putney, after the race, quite drunk, thought proper to punish two of the worst; namely, Hussey and Croke; the former of whom he put down in his election and gave the latter the choice either of being flogged or expelled; but he being a senior, very properly chose expulsion rather than degrade his election by being flogged.
P.P. Williams Head Boarder.
On the 27th of October Dr Goodenough deaf to all remonstrance, ventured to infringe upon the established usage off the school, by flogging a Sixth Fellow who had been shewn up for being intoxicated. In consequence of this it was unanimously agreed throughout the Town Boys that in order to bring him to a sense of misconduct and to cause him to redress the injury done to the Honour of the Sixth he should be hissed on his entering into School on the ensuing day. Circumstances which it is better to bury in oblivion than to mention, precluded us from carrying our resolution into effect; however having extorted a promise from Goodenough that he would never more inflict upon a sixth fellow similar punishment we were satisfied.
Charles Floyer Princeps Oppidanus
Further detail regarding this incident is provided in a letter from pupil Richard Dyott to his father General William Dyott:
‘Doctor Goodenough flogged a fellow in the sixth last Thursday which is not according to the rules of the school. He would not let his briches down of a long time but Goodenough said he might either do that or be expelled, so he flogged him and that is what Page never did, and he felt it so much as it was so much the more disgrace because he was so high up in the school; he seemed very much downcast all the evening, and Longlands, the usher of the house he boards at, called him into his room and talked to him about it till he went to bed. He never spoke a word but as the fellow that sleaps in his room thought; went to sleep directly but most likely not for when that fellow awoke about half past six saw some blood upon his pillow but he knew his nose bled frequently so he thought nothing was the matter. He got up at seven and called his companion but he never answered, so he went and touched him; his pillow was streaming with blood. He went and awoke his brother who went to the house keeper and she went to Longlands; he came up directly and found he had made an attempt to stab himself but hit the blow in his arm, besides that he cut his neck in three places which he did with a penknife and after that laid the knife under his pillow and feel down but luckily the bed clothes came up to the wound and stopped the bleeding or else he would certainly have died. Three doctors were sent for; he is getting rather better. This occasion very nearly caused a rebellion. We all hissed Goodenough which put him in a great passion.’