Reading Mercury, 28 March 1885 wrote:Accident at the Grammar School.—A distressing accident happened last week to a pupil at the Wycombe Grammar School, named Norman Hoather, a son of Mr. W. H. Hoather, manager of the London and County Bank. It appears that one of the other pupils had in his pocket a pistol loaded with powder and a bullet. The pistol dropped out of his pocket without his being aware, and was picked up by another boy, who, not knowing it was loaded, playfully held it up in front of Hoather and discharged it, with the result that his face was much burned and his eyes injured. Fortunately the bullet had dropped out of the pistol as it fell to the ground, or the consequences would have been even more serious. The unfortunate boy was attended by Mr. Reynolds, surgeon, and has since made satisfactory progress. It is hoped that there will be no permanent injury to his eyesight.
The newspaper refers to it as an "accident" but this downplays the astonishing fact that a boy should have brought a loaded pistol into the school. I suppose people think of such incidents as being a product of the modern world, so it is chastening to learn of such a thing happening so close to home. So much for 'Victorian values'!
(P.S. the named boy, full name Richard George Norman Hoather, was aged only 10 at the time of this incident. He went on to marry and have children, and lived to the age of 64. Subsequent census entries do not record him as being blind, so hopefully there were no long-term consequences of his injury.)