During his time at Downside, the young Ullathorne added manual labour to his daily routine of prayer and study; this is the Benedictine way - a blend of the ethereal and the earthly.
One of the many things that strikes me upon reading his autobiography is that, in that era, some 180 years ago, it appeared that young people were thrust into senior posts remarkably early.
Of course, WilliamUllathorne was a very obvious candidate for greatness but, straight from his schooling, and still a green deacon, he was sent to Ampleforth (it was a great school then) to hold a senior and responsible post (Prefect of Discipline) and then, shortly afterwards, Professor of Theology.
And, as the young Deacon Ullathorne began his duties he was faced with an issue of graffiti - have things changed so very little in the education system?
This is his account as he began his pastoral role at Ampleforth:
Cardinal to act as agent as well as protector ; and so, to my individual satisfaction, I escaped from what I thought a premature ordination.
However, I was not destined to continue my studies ; but with the Rev. Mr. Sinnot, a deacon as well as myself, I was sent to assist the new Prior in restoring the Monastery and College of Ampleforth after the great desolation caused by the events above referred to.
Soon after arriving there I was appointed Professor of Theology to a small class ; but by the time I had prepared the first lesson the Prior had changed his mind, put an Irish Franciscan to that office, and appointed me Prefect
of Discipline over the school.
Although those who remained constant to the Order after the great desertion stood firm, yet there was still a flavour remaining of the
spirit in which they had been trained.
The new Prior was from the old house of Lambspring, and an old missioner, and was not accepted with perfect cordiality, still less the two members from Downside.
This spirit communicated itself to the school, which had too intimate relations with one or two Religious.
So no sooner had the new Prefect appeared, than there was chalked up on the walls, " No Hunt, No reform." I let the students have their little triumph for the day. But the next morning, after prayers, I let them know how surprised I was to find a college of boys with the manners of a pothouse. I observed that if one or two of them had chalked the walls in a style insulting to an entire stranger, the rest must have concurred, or they
would have removed the disgrace fastened on the whole school.
" I will not be severe with you," I said, " without necessity : I will give you till the next recreation hour to get the walls cleaned of their disgrace.
If it is not done by then, I will stop all the school work until I find out the
offenders. If I fail I shall conclude that the whole school is involved in the guilt, and shall punish by decimation."
At the next recreation the walls were quite clean.
Soon after, I expelled one of the older students and flogged a younger one, after which we became good friends and understood each other".