There has been I am sorry to say a row between the Monitors and Masters about the old moot point of whether Monitors shall punish offences which take place in the presence of Masters. A short time ago, James the Q.S. Capt. came up to me upon coming from Morning Abbey, and said he required our attendance at a Monitors’ meeting at 9.30. a.m. He further explained to me that two small Townboys, Nesbitt and Churchill, had been disgracefully behaving themselves during Abbey, in the afternoon of two days before, namely Saturday. At 9.30. we all appeared in library, where H.N. Robson the head of Rigaud’s, advised us not to have the boys up into library until we had asked Scott’s opinion for Mr James had declared that all offences committed in Abbey were to be taken cognisance of by him. Accordingly, James and myself went to Scott, and without using any names, asked if such an offence could be punished by Monitors, quoting Mr James’ words to Dr Scott. Scott replied in the affirmative, adding that he did not recognise an such rule as the one that the masters contended for, and which I have mentioned at the top of this page. But he told us not to act, until he has spoken to Mr James, so as to prevent the possibility of an “explosion”. – With this decision we were well content – The next day Mr James and Jones both set upon me in the latter’s study, and tried to wring from me, all we had been doing; at the same time alleging that some injustice was being done, as the two boys denied the charge. Of course I was much surprised at what seemed to me such extraordinary conduct; for since the Monitors had taken no active steps, the affair was not public, nor had Mr James any right to take any notice of it. The next day (Wednesday) Robson and Poland went alone to Dr Scott and Robson tried to persuade him that the two boys were innocent. That afternoon Dr Scott sent for all the Monitors and explained to us that he thought us right in punishing such an offence. He further said that the Masters some years before had urged the introduction of the above-mentioned rule, and then his answer had been to them, “the head-master I supreme in matters of discipline.” This he said he meant to repeat to them, when he called his Masters’ meeting. He also told us that the two Bous had come to him to state their innocence. It then transpired that Robson had informed the two boys of the measures being taken, and advised them to have recourse to Scott, if they thought themselves innocent. He had also informed Mr James of the matter, which now explained to me that Master’s hitherto incomprehensible behaviour. This conduct of Robson’s appears to me, as to the majority of the Monitors, exceedingly ill-directed; For if he disagreed with us he ought to have informed us of that fact at the Monitors’ meeting, or at any rate, have openly given us notice of the information he was going to give to Mr James and the two Boys; instead of acting against us secretly, and so leaving us in the dark as to his real motives.
Dr Scott at the same time told us that it would never so to introduce such a rule as that depriving the Monitors of a right to act when Masters were present: He said that Masters could not see everything. And the thought no school could be properly governed, without the conjunction of the head-boys, to repress disorder, and encourage discipline …… After this we heard no more for some time; but a short time since, Mr Jones triumphantly assured me that Dr Scott compelled by a threat of resignation on the part of one of the Masters, had sanctioned a rule, and promised to frame it, to the affect that we were to be deprived of all power to punish when in the presence of Masters. Jones also told me that I was wrong in what I had sone myself, a few days before up the house, namely that I had tanned a fellow for misbehaving at prayers, a Master being present – This I would not allow. I then informed James (the Capt) of what Jones had said to me. – Nothing more was then heard of the matter for about another week; Scott neither told the Monitors anything, nor James personally. However about the 20th inst. of October, Scott gave James (the Capt) and myself, the following rule.
“When a Master is in charge of any form or number of boys, no offence then committed except such as the master himself could not have been cognisant of, shall be dealt with by any boy in the way of discipline. And in any such case the offender shall have the option of having the matter laid before the master in charge at the time.”
N.B. In my opinion this rule entirely releases the Monitors from any responsibility; because nearly every offence committed may be said to be done beneath the eye of a Master. The Masters will not govern the school with us, let them govern the school without us. Scott seems to me to have behaved with great weakness in the matter, although perhaps he may have been driven to it by the Masters’ threat of resignation. The Masters throughout have behaved in the lowest manner possible, especially Mr Jones and James who have taken the leading part.