I really believe we have succeeded in squashing Whitmore, he seems subdued today, though he poses as a martyr and I gather rather that Hall disapproved of his execution. I expect that I am unpopular for the moment but it will pass.
We had a very lengthy and somewhat dull paper on ‘Ants’ by Wade in Nat. Hist. Soc. this afternoon, Low tells me I looked bored, I certainly was so but hoped I had concealed the fact remembering the dictum of — was it Thackeray? — ‘the true gentleman is he who never appears bored.’ The Spectator today quotes a delightful remark of the Prince Regent on Sir Robert Peel: ‘He is not a true gentleman, he divides his coat-tails before he sits down!!’
I spoke to the amazing Smurthwaite today and told him my books didn’t seem to have been dusted this term, he said ‘oh that’s Sorley, it’s really his business but I spoke to him today about it, however I’ll get my duster and do it!!’ He manages to do for his own pleasure three quarters of the fagging of the House, always the first to answer ‘Halls’ etc. Consequently this evening my table was dusted and arranged with mathematical precision, everything arranged in severe straight lines. I regret to say I didn’t go up-fields today, it was so wretchedly cold but wandered up St. Martin’s Lane way, left my address at various print-shops; at the last of these the man discoursed on the good qualities of the Dean and how he admired him!
I went to tea in College this evening with Benvenisti, the party consisted of Barrington-Ward, Low, E.S. Wood, Charles Trealt who left last term, myself and later Heaton-Ellis, a sweet and pleasant party. Gow (Jim) put his head in in the middle and asked about the match. Cuthbert Gow also (for a short time) came in, I wish I could like him better, we both try I think to be pleasant to each other but he has an unpleasant habit of interjecting ‘words of one syllable’ in the most of his remarks which irritates me. Barrington-Ward told us that he is ‘working’ the Dean and he is going to see him, his own idea is to prevent all formality such as stifling the Dean up in the Old Library to talk to us, he is very anxious if possible to meet at the Deanery in a sort of conversation and let the Dean just talk to us as he felt inclined. Also Barrington-Ward said he would only ask those who would be really interested and only a very select few. This sounds delightful, and if the Dean agrees and will talk to us sometimes on Abbey history etc. it will be an exceedingly interesting experience.
We talked on Gow and Gowisms, such as the famous day when I was in the Transitus, and we were struggling through some Livy, when Gow suddenly said ‘hullo, that’s a very fat sparrow out there’!! Barrington-Ward told the story of Duckworth and the smoking chimney. The Matron had lit a fire three days before the beginning of term and Duckworth sent round and said the smoke was blowing into his house and spoiling his new paint and the fire must be put out. The Matron who knows and cares nothing for Deans or Canons sent back a message to say that unless the Headmaster gave her orders she wasn’t going to put it out. Duckie then sent and said she was to come and see him at once, which she refused to do, and Duckie went off in a rage to Gow, who soothed him. I do not know any story which illustrates better Cathedral life and the dislike which the old type of Canon, of whom Duckie is the last, had for the school. As Gow remarked on another occasion, ‘Duckworth’s getting an awful old dog on the Chapter!’ We talked on till six and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, I think I shall have to give a little tea party in Inner sometime soon. This evening I went into The Raynors‘ but found Mrs Raynor had gone to bed with a head-ache so only talked to Muriel for a few minutes.