Stevens 1894-09-27

Text, letter

The Diocesan Conference which commenced yesterday in the Sheldonian Theatre under the presidency of Bishop Randall, of Reading, the coadjutor of Bishop of Oxford was continued this morning under the Right Rev Dr Stubbs, Bishop of Oxford. There was a good attendance of members, among whom were very many whom I knew. We all seemed to be getting whiter. I met Montagu who, indeed, was perhaps the least altered of my old friends and acquaintances whom I saw. I sat in the ladies’ gallery, not being a “Member”, and for a long time could not hear one word in five. But afterwards I got near the Rostrum, where I seemed to some to be in it. Perhaps they thought I was going to read an Essay or a Prize poem or make an oration. But I was able to hear what was said. The chief subjects discussed were “Cremation”, the reservation of Church Registers in the care of the Parochial Clergy, instead of handing them over to the Parish Councils, Free and open churches, The maintenance of Church Elementary schools. The question raised by a motion of Rev Edward Marshall of Sandford St. Martin to the effect that directions should be given to the Diocesan Inspectors in the Diocese not to ignore the “Higher Criticism” in the syllabus of Religious Instruction, he referred especially to the Book of Genesis, and said that the Rev Mr Adams, the paid Diocesan Inspector, told him he never examined children in that Book, whereupon Mr Adams jumped up and declared to the Bishop that he “never said such a thing.” This caused much amusement and laughter. Mr Marshall declared that he had so, and was proceeding to relate when, where, and in whose presence it was said, amid a little remonstrance from Mr Adams when the Bishop stopped them both to the general satisfaction. Mr Marshall found no seconder.

I then went to the Wardens’ Lodge at New College to Luncheon, going in with the Bishop who promptly and heartily shook hands with me. The Warden looked much older than when I last saw him, which was in my own house at Sibford. He was very kind. There were present, besides myself the Bishop, Sir John Mowbray, MP for the University, Mr Ramsay of Swalcliffe, Mr Gepp of Adderbury, Canon Carter of Sarsden, Official Principal, Canon Teesdale of Bodicote, Hillgrove Coxe son of the late “Bodley” Coxe, who was a Fellow of All Souls’, and for many years Keeper of the Bodleian Library. There were also one lady only present, and two or three gentlemen whom I did not know. Hillgrove Coxe, singularly enough, had the offer of Sibford 20 years ago, whilst I had the quasi offer of March Bolden. I declined March Baldon, which was in the gift of the Trustees of Sir John Willoughby, then a boy at Eton, because of the smallness of the income, only £150, with a good new house. A former Willoughby, many years ago, had appropriated a considerable amount of glebe, belonging to the Rectory. A Willoughby who was at the time Rector and brother of the Patron took the matter into court and a private Act of Parliament was passed with the view of causing restitution to be made, but the time for acting under this Act, specified therein, was allowed to pass without anything being done. The Court of Chancery ordered the patrons to spend £2000 in building a new Rectory, but nothing else was done. The Receiver of the Estate, a Barrister in Park Lane to whom I had been introduced by Rev Taylor Jaswell, who had resigned the Benefice, not wishing to occupy the House, invited me to call on him, which I did. I had a long talk with him, and told him I would gladly accept the Living if the proper restoration of glebe etc were made, but not otherwise, as I had the offer of Sibford which was of more value, an important matter to a family man. But nothing was done, the Receiver saying it was not in his power, without an order of Court, to do anything.

Hillgrove Coxe did not accept Sibford, because of its distance from Oxford, his father being then in a precarious state of health, but after a time, he accepted March, Baldon, where he did not stay long, I came to Sibford. My Friend Meyrick succeeded H O Coxe, père, in the Vicarage of Wytham.  Hillgrove Coxe has a Living near Benson, a very good one. His sister married John Wordsworth, then a tutor of Brasenose, now Bishop of Salisbury. She died a year or so ago.

After the conference this afternoon, I read in the union “Parker’s room” about the tomb of Gaius Cestius, also Story’s “Roba di Roma” and Hare’s “Walks in Rome”. Found that the Temple “Diis Ridiculis” of our Roman guide is the Temple or Shrine “Diis Redicolis” to commemorate the goodness of the “Gods of return” in making Hannibal return to endeavour to raise the siege of Capua, long after the Battle of Cannae. Walked to St Philip and St James’s Church. Dined in Hall with Hughes at 7.