It never has been, in my remembrance, not as far as I can understand in the remembrance of any other Sixth T.B. To have any Holiday Task set at Whitsuntide Holidays but this year, May 10th 1844 Dr. Williamson gave us a subject as unusual “Nelsonis Columna” to compose a set of verses on by after the vacation; 3 weeks 3 days. And when reasoned with on the subject still persisted in his mistake. His answer was that “if a Holiday Task was not set, by me, it was so by accident, as it is quite usual to set a Holiday Task at Whitsuntide, as it is at any other time. The exemption from Holiday Task in the past of the QS is because they are obliged to stay over the 3 or 4 days for their Election”. Now Holiday Tasks in my humble opinion are under any circumstances, most disgraceful imposition on, but most especially in the present instance, where the master is decidedly making an innovation. I suppose now it will be continued, but I dare say not without another attempt to convince Dr. Williamson of his mistake.
J. Preston O.P.
March 1 – 1842
A quarrel between the TB & QSS which lasted some time began this day in consequence of Beasley a Bishops’ Boy in the Sixth having licked a Second Election.*
The facts are as follows –
The Captain* having head that this fellow in the 2d Election has been licked, sent to Beasley saying that he wished to speak to him. He went accordingly alone and unarmed, not the least suspecting what the QSS were about to do. When he arrived at College doors the Captain met him & hit him several times with a stick. Most of the QSS were there ready as they said afterwards to set on Beasley if the Captain had not been sufficient of himself with his stick to lick his unarmed enemy whose only offence was wearing a purple gown instead of a black one. But Beasley seeing about 30 to 1* thought it better to refer to Williamson at once & after a great deal of palaver & bother it ended in the Captain sending an apology to the Head of the T.B. Peace was now nominally restored, but the QSS refused to have Beasley in the boat which was to race with Eton which again occasioned a deal of quarrelling & letters were sent to Eton to say that the boat which was preparing to race them was not the Westminster proper boat unless Beasley rowed in it.
Several letters appeared in Bell’s Life upon the subject but as Beasley was taken ill about a week before the reach took place it at once put an end to any doubt concerning his rowing in the boat.
W.G. Andrewes Prin. Opp.
* W.K.R. Bedford, but who stepped in [&] impeded him whilst running after some other Boy.
It was not however Bedford’s fault at all that this disgraceful occurrence came to such a height, but of some other Under Election.
* He had offered to fight anyone of them on the spot, singly, but as in all probability they did consider themselves a match whilst alone, they preferred the unfair and disgraceful way related here.
Col. Lowther was kind enough to ask Williamson for leave up to Lord’s cricket ground to play a return match with Mary-le-bone which with his accustomed generosity he refused.
F Byron Prin. Opp.
Vide Cricket Ledger
In consequence of the Etonians having been defeated last year at Datchet Bridge they again challenged us to row them. The preliminaries having been all settled at the Eton Montem by the respective Heads of the Water, it was agreed by both parties that the Race should take place Tuesday July 31st (the Match day) the Etonians breaking up on the Monday preceding… It was also agreed that the intended Race should be kept a profound secret as Williamson was known to be hostile to Boat racing. Notwithstanding all our caution a paragraph appeared in the Bell’s Life Newspaper stating that “A match was to be rowing between Eton and Westminster from Westminster Bridge to Putney July 31st and by this or some other means our Purpose became known to Williamson. In the 1st School on Monday morning Williamson sent for the Captain and told him he understood that it was our intention to row the following day and as it was contrary to all Rules of the School he must insist on our giving a pledge not to row or that he must take his own measures to stop it. Upon the Captain’s refusal to give any such pledge he immediately commenced proceedings by stopping the early play for the next day (the Match day) and by ordering the Q.S. to be locked up at ¼ before 7. During 6th lesson on Tuesday he told us (the 6th) that we must attend a Mathematical lecture in School from 11 ½ to 1 and again from 5 till 7 after afternoon lockers. However, in the course of some conversation with him it was discovered that the pledge required was only “not to row on the match day” which pledge was accordingly given and therefore we conceived ourselves at liberty to row that evening. However during lockers Williamson sent for the head of the T.B. and the Captain and told them that any boy who rowed in a match with Eton would be severely punished. But the Eight being determined at all hazards to row at 5 o clock sallied forth. But unfortunately 3 of the crew having to go to Williamson to say some imposition he took this advantage to detain 2 of them there till far too late to think of rowing this added to the circumstance that the Fathers of 2 of the crew came down to Westminster during the afternoon and expressly forbid their sons to row in the match entirely broke up the Crew. But determined not to disappoint the Etonians we offered to make up the boat again and row them which they very generously refused saying that it would be no honour then for them to beat us. Betting was 6 to 4 on the Westminsters. The Crew was as follows –
Maule – Steerer
For further particulars vide Water Ledger
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
Williamson having proposed as a subject for an English Prize poem a translation of the chorus in the Hecuba several fellows tried for it and the best exercise being declared by Williamson to be that shown up by a Townboy, it was of course expected that he would have the prize, but in the interval the Townboy having got into some row Williamson refused to give him the prize though it was understood to be unconditional. He at the same time gave prizes for the 2nd and 3rd best translation both done by King’s Scholars. This is recorded here as a lasting monument of Williamson’s good faith and as an encouragement to Townboys in future to exert themselves. I may as well also mention that *Bishop Burton left a sum of money to buy an annual prize for Townboys but which prize has never been given, Mr Williamson perhaps finding the funds of the school in the low state to which he by his bad management has reduced it insufficient for himself and friends.
C. Bewicke Head Boarder
* This ought to be Francis Burton Esq who left £5 per anum for the purpose before mentioned.
Added by C. Bewicke Head Boarder
The Townboy alluded to was Bewicke himself, his modesty probably having prevented his mentioning the circumstance.
Added by C.D. Osborn HB
A dispute arising between the TB and KS as to the length of time, which was had a right to stay in the cloisters, (the KS claiming an equal division, whereas the TB always previously had a ¼ of an hour more than the KS) Williamson, to prevent any bad consequences, took the matter into his own hands, and decided that the KS had no right whatever to claim the ¼ of an hour from the TB –
The TB however on consideration thinking it but fair that there should be an equal division granted the KS as a favour the time required –
T. Blackall H.B.
Vide No. 7 wh happened whilst Williamson was at school as a boy
A dispute having arisen between the TB and KS whether the latter is protected by being in the Sixth form from fighting a TB in a lower form was decided in the affirmative.