April 26th, 1848 (Wednesday)

April 26, 2010

Mr Sharpe and his sister came with their little cousin, Kennett. In the morning there had arrived from Miss Sharpe two tolerably large orange trees and 6 aloes, which give the place a finished and aristocratic air. They take the greatest interest possible in the College. Mr Sharpe had arrived but a few minutes before he was at the top of the campanile to see his “old friends the bells”, with whom he had formed an acquaintance at Mears’. Miss Sharpe, who is a florist, and has a garden of her own at Chiswick, was yet much pleased with our patch of flower beds, especially with the hyacinths, which are certainly the finest I ever saw grown in the open air. They brought down a great collection of little books of amusement for the boys’ library, which were the very thing we wanted, as those we had were of a sober class, chiefly. Such apologies as they made for (as they thought) the pettiness of the gift.

Sorry to see Mr Sharpe looking so poorly. Being junior partner, he is compelled to sleep at the bank every night, and inhale the noxious air of Fleet Street. The Messrs Goslin are so hard on him, that they will give no respite, coolly saying that he would not be overworked if he did not attend to so many other concerns, these concerns being works of charity. He makes money but to spend it in God’s service: yet if he spent it upon himself, I suppose they would be more merciful. However, he is allowed one month in the twelve to breathe a little fresh air.1 Is greatly charmed with the Chapel, which he never dreamt would, or could, be so effective; and also with the organ. Miss Sharpe could scarce tear herself away from its fine tones, though very little of it is available. Next month he is to get his holiday, when they will come and spend a day on their way to the sea-side. Told Sewell that his real object in coming down to Oxford last spring was to dissuade him from the attempt to get up this College, but that he was rejoiced, and that we must succeed.

Mr Kennard came yesterday, and expressed great regret at his having written in such a way as to leave the impression that he hesitated in placing confidence in us; – for that all he needed was further information about a place, of which only a few days ago he was in total ignorance; – and that even this was more for the sake of others than for himself. To all this I replied, that I more than justified his caution before taking so serious a step, as placing his sons in a place of education; – but that if he were right to be careful in committing, so equally was I in receiving; – and that therefore it was a duty which I owed to the College and to myself, not to admit any boy whose parents had scruples, which might cause a perpetual apprehension and worry, and perhaps end in absolute hostilities. That we had already refused to accept the sons of one person of rank in society, upon this very ground, that if there were not mutual and full confidence between parent and Tutor, to educate would be a fruitless effort. That when people talked of Romish tendencies, I made it a point not to talk to them of my private opinions or Mr Sewell’s; for that a ready answer might be made, – that persons, who had spoken and written soundly and vigorously enough against Rome, had yet gone over to the Pope. That my course was always to adduce the Statutes of the College, and show the ample security which they provide against unsoundness, in placing it under the Visitorship of a Bishop, as well as under the express canonical authority of the Ordinary, who could destroy it any moment that it went astray, by withdrawing his license from Warden and Fellows. That though it was easy for individuals to change, bodies were slow to alter, and therefore, if now sound, the progress to error must be gradual, during which interval an easy remedy could be applied. Mr Kennard expressed himself more than satisfied with this explanation, and begged “as a favour” that I would take his two sons into the College, for that he was anxious to throw them unreservedly into our hands, – which I consented to do, to his great satisfaction. However, I am to have a letter from Mr. Jones their former Tutor.

1: Singleton is referring to Goslings Bank, 19 Fleet Street. The Sharpe family had been associated with Goslings since at least 1794 and continued as junior partners until 1896 when Gosling and Sharpe became amalgamated with Barclays Bank, although they were excluded from any automatic hereditary element in the partnership. John Charles Sharpe served the bank from 1838 and was still active at his death in 1913 at the age of 95, “after a lifetime of religious as well as financial activity, strongly Anglo-Catholic and a supporter of good causes”. The History of Gosling’s Branch


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