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country, than probably either the King or the Parliament will be inclined to adopt. Perhaps even the reports themselves, as published by the Committee,
reminded them rather too much of au Edinburgh Review, and they saw rather
more of the chairman than of the gen
tlemen who were associated in his
labours. Nor did it escape these calmer observers", that the Parliament was advanced to a period when a new election would be necessary; and a notion entered into their minds, that there might be some purpose of bribing a large portion of the people by a method already in practice with the liberales of other kingdoms; that of taking from one and giving to another; that of making a better application of an abused fund, and re-distributing it according to the presumed intention of the first donor; such presumption to be interpreted by the eight or nine gentlemen in the commission, assisted by the economical science of the honourable
gentleman." Letter to Scott, pp. 8-10. Now of this mode of argument we do not hesitate to say that it is in the highest degree ungenerous and unfair. The question ought to be tried on its own merits; and the Edinburgh Review, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, &c. &c., are not to be dragged into court with the accused person, in order to prejudice the public mind against him. If, indeed, the precise amount of the offence of some of these distinguished individuals, against some of our literary institutions, were accurately known by all the readers of this pamphlet, Mr. Brougham might, perhaps, sustain no injury by the company into which he is
thus gratuitously introduced. Adam Smith was certainly among the first eminent writers who called the public attention to certain notorious evils in the English universities. Dugald Stewart is a far less serious offender. Without accnsing particular establishments he has satisfied himself with urging on his readers the diligent pursuit of an important course of study, hitherto almost wholly neglected in the English schools and universities. And ought not the intelligent and candid, or even severe criticisms of such men to be carefully weighed by the public? And, indeed, might not even a committee of the House of Commons itself be ready to derive thence useful suggestions for the improvement of such institutions, if these improvements happened to be the subject' of inquiry? But let us divest ourselves of any prejudice which an attack of this kind is likely to create against the author of it, and proceed to examine his general argument.
The first point to which he directs his attention is, the demand of ministers that the appointment of the Commissioners should be vest. ed in the Crown.
And here, though we do not concur with our author in much that he has said upon this subject; yet we are disposed, for the reasons we have already given, to exempt ministers from any blame for hav ing chosen to reserve to the Crown the right to nominate to such of
The writer then proceeds to notice the several changes made in the bill, in its passage through the House of Lords. The first change to which he refers is described by him as a "reduction of the powers of the bill, as respected the enforcing of the production of all papers, and compelling every one to answer all such questions as would not immediately criminate himself.” (p. 15.) But we must be permitted to observe, that the mere statement
of this change involves a considerable inaccuracy; inasmuch as by the bill, in its original form, the Commissioners could call only for such papers as respected the application of the property in trust. An express limitation was placed to the production of papers. Where the whole of any document, relating to the subjects of inquiry, could not be produced without inconvenience or injury to the parties producing it, permission was given to present a copy of the parts required, instead of a surrender of the original paper. This simple fact is a reply to, at least, ten pages of ingenious discussion in the Letter to Sir William Scott; and it is a fact of which the writer had no right to be ignorant.
But our readers may be curious 1o see the reasonings by which he endeavours to shelter the trustees or governors of charities from the inquiry to which the bill proposed to subject them. "Amidst many abuses," says the author, "and those of the grossest kind, the great majority of such trusts was undoubtedly in the hands of trustees of the first rank and character. greater part of such trusts, more over, were merely honorary, and strictly offices of benevolence in those who undertook them; but, such persons were not the proper subjects of such an account." (p.15.) And why not? Is their rank to absolve them from the general obligation of fulfilling the task they have undertaken to fulfil? Is their character to be a substitute for the performance of their duty? Or is their irresponsibility, in time past, to release them from all responsibility in future? We conceive that much of this sort of reasoning is founded on the assumption that every trustee of a charitable foundation accepts his office simply for the benefit of the institution, and with cost and sacrifice to himself. But the truth is, that a large proportion of such trustees, though it is possible, or even probable, that
they may act from the most generous
that the trustee acts simply and exclusively for the public good, in undertaking the trust, as we have no doubt is, in numerous instances, the fact; yet, even in that case, we must contend, that he is the enemy, and not the friend, of the public, who undertakes a trust with no intention to discharge its duties; and, if he discharge its duties, why decline public investigation?
We shall consider it no small benefit of Mr. Brougham's bill, if only it serves to define and prescribe the duty of charitable trustees; if it teach them that it consists in something more than a name or a dinner;-in action rather than acquiescence;-in managing the helm at which they have chosen to place themselves, not in walking once or twice a year into a committee room;-not in signing unaudited accounts, and sheltering unexamined abuses, but in fulfilling, ex animo, the will of the founder. We should find no difficulty in presenting to the public, some scores of such trustees, whose rank and titles, like the ornaments cast on the Sabine
lady of antiquity, serve only to crush and extinguish the institutions which they are designed to sustain and adorn. And yet the dignity of these trustees, and their quixotic self-devotion to the interests of the institution, are, according to this author, to shield them from inquiry. Surely the common sense of the nation will not submit to this.
The writer says much, in another part of his letter, on the caution exercised by the legislature of the country in guarding the titles of private property from examination, and applies this fact to justify the limitation to the production of papers in the present amended act. Let us examine the justice of his argument. Is he not aware that, by the writ of subpoena, a witness may, in cases of private property, be compelled to bring all his papers into court, and submit to the discretion of the court whether any required paper shall be produced? Let the fact also, which we have already stated, be remembered, that the "titles" might, by Mr. Brougham's bill, have been reserved. The titles could have nothing to do with the application of the money. And let this fact also be called to mind that, even a flaw in the "titles," of almost any charitable institution of which the Commissioners were likely to take cognizance, would have been of little moment. For such abuses prevail chiefly in old institutions; and, in such institutions, the parties possessed would have had possession too long to fear the consequences of any defect whatever in the title. Sixty years peaceable possession has been considered, by high legal authority, as conferring too strong a title for all the powers or subtilties of law to undermine or impair. Besides, it was not required by Mr. Brougham's bill, that parties should produce their titledeeds, but only such extracts from them as referred to charities.
Combining these various consi
derations, we cannot but conceive that so intelligent an individual as the letter-writer to Sir W. Scott, has, on this point, set up a defence for his clients, of which he himself could hardly fail to perceive the fallacy. His tenderness for titles, &c. &c. therefore, if not insincere, is at least superfluous, inasmuch as the bill could neither drag them before the public nor attack them if there.
The author next undertakes to meet the arguments of Mr. Brougham, as to the limitation of the objects of the bill. Mr. Brougham complains, he says, of the prohibition to inquire into the state of education in general, and of the act being confined to the education of the poor. And it is true that Mr. Brougham has a single sentence on this subject in which he expresses an opinion, that the visiting Commissioners might, in some cases, have beneficially extended their inquiries to institutions of a higher class than those confined to the very lowest orders of society. It is doubtless a delicate matter to touch the great public institutions of this kingdom. And none would be more jealous than ourselves of encroachment upon the will of the original founders. But surely there is far less delicacy required where the object is to bring them back to the plan of these founders. And there is, at least, one point where such a return to first prin ciples, and such a recurrence to the mind of our forefathers, in our public institutions, is of the highest moment. We mean, as to the subject of religious instruction. Let the vast importance of these institutions be considered. Probably, full three-fourths of the nobility and gentry of this nation pass through a public school to their various high and influential posta in society. They consume six, eight, or ten of the most momentous years of life in climbing through its various classes. And, during this ascent, what is, generally speak
ing, according to the present system, done for their religious improvement? We had almost said, nothing. It is, indeed, true, that when the Dean of Winchester and others delivered their manly protest against the system of our large schools, the various masters produced a huge index of lectures given, at stated times, upon subjects connected with religion. But we venture to affirm, that these lectures are little more than nominal; and that in no instance is any serious attempt made to give them the character of lectures for the spiritual benefit of the pupils. They are, at the best, merely critical. The prayers in school are often conducted in the most indecent manner. And we are told, on good authority, that, even at Westminster, few, if any of the boys, are so placed as to be able to hear lectures which are said to be delivered to them. And in no one instance of which we have heard, is even the catechism of the church taught to any but a few in the under schools. As to this point, therefore, we conceive that we are justi. fied in having expressed an opinion that much might be gained by a recurrence to the principles of the founders of these institutions. Most of them are the offspring of religious times, and carry the stamp on their original charters of the devotion of their founders. A commission, therefore, which would rescue them from their present state of apostacy, and give them back their primitive simplicity and sanctity, (purified, we need not say, from the superstitions and religious fopperies which marked the times in which many of them were instituted) would indeed be rendering a most essential service to the community. We do not, of course, pretend to determine how far all, or any part of this, was in the contemplation of Mr. Brougham, in his proposed commission. Whether it was or not, the effect, at least, of the inquiry would be to bring CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 204.
things back in this important respect to the ancient standard.— But we pass on to the second limitation.
The author is much surprised that Mr. Brougham should have desired to invest the Commissioners with power to inquire into the state of all charitable institutions, as well as of those more especially connected with education; and he proceeds to justify the House of Lords for a limitation to this effect in the present bill. Now it must be admitted, that the proposed object of examining into the abuses of all public charities was too large for any one commission. But when Mr. Brougham had incontrovertibly established the existence of enormous abuses in the distribution of charitable funds, was it not the part of those who objected to giving one set of Commissioners too much to do to move for the appointment of a second body? Why, if this vast stable of impurity is to be swept, do they stay one hand from entering on the work, be cause twenty are necessary to accomplish it? If they arrest the one, let them give us the twenty. The first set of Commissioners might, at least, have detected such ́ reasons for investigation as to render the appointment of a more extensive commission inevitable.
The author is equally disposed to justify the prohibition laid on the Commissioners against investigating the state of any charity pos-' sessing a special visitor. This is to us the most grievous of the "amendments,"so called, which were introduced into the bill in the House of Lords. Our readers have heard something of what Mr. Brougham has said on this subject; and little needs be added to his argument. Let us see what the correspondent of Sir W. Scott has to reply to it.
"Visitors are of two kinds, or rather
have two functions; the first, that of superintending, maintaining, and recu fying the moral administration of thei SM
"Now visitors of the first class, in the exercise of their moral administra
tion, are regarded by the law as so im mediately the representatives of the founder, and as persons so mach in trust, as it were, of his own original power for the use of his charity, that the law will as little interfere with them, as with his heirs in the management of their pris vate property. The visitor is here the successor and representative of the founder. The law, therefore, will not here say, "Yield your charity up to me, I can manage it better. The founder, as the master of his own property, left It for what objects he pleased, and delegated it, in after times, to his visitor. No court of law, therefore, not the legislature itself, can, upon just principles, supersede or control the visitor in whatever respects the government of the charity.
"But in the second function of visitors, that of receiving and managing the estate of the charity, the law regards them in the light of other trustees; and, as such, upon the allegation of abuse, will bring them to account in the Court of Chancery." Letter to Scott,
pp. 25, 26.
We find it impossible to concur with this reasoning, as it applies either, to the one class of trustees or the other. We readily acknow ledge, indeed, that the law, as it exists, supplies no adequate remedy for the negligence of visitors in the "moral administration" of charities; and one chief value of the commission, in qur view was, that it might provide a suitable remedy for this defect. The question is not, we conceive, what is the actual state of the laws on this point, but what ought to be their state? And, in order to determine this point, let the following considerations be weighed. There is this material distinction between property vested in the hands of trustees, for the benefit of private individuals, and money vested for public charities; that, whereas the investment of the first has, strictly
speaking, no moral object; the investment of the last is precisely for the accomplishment of such an ob ject. In the case of the individual, the law will interfere to controul the administration of the property; that is, to secure the only object of the trusteeship. By analogy, therefore, in the other case the law ought to interfere to regulate the moral as well as pecuniary administration of the trust. Besides, we cannot but adhere to the ground we have before taken as to this point, that every trustee for public purposes is solemnly responsible to the public for the discharge of his trust. Trustees are such, either voluntarily or by virtue of their situation. If voluntarily, they may at any time escape from duties which they are unwilling to discharge. If, by virtue of their situation, we know of no situation in the kingdom which invests = man with trusteeship, that does not furnish him with proper officers or instruments for the discharge of his trust. Take, for instance, the case of the bishops. They are, ex officio, trustees of many charities. But are they not possessed of facilities, by means of their chaplains, and archdeacons, and parochial clergy, of ascertaining the precise state of every charity over which they preside? If, therefore, their trusteeship is so far involuntary as to be an heirloom of office, ignorance at least (not to say negligence) is voluntary, be cause they may extricate themselves from it within a reasonable time after entering upon their diocese. They may, at the expense of the charities, institute the requi site inquiries, and compel the requisite disclosures, to enable them to discharge their trust. On the whole, there is something to us perfectly monstrous, in contending that any man may justifiably make his trusteeship a sinecure; or that he may be a party, as in fact he in such case becomes, in cheating the poor, of whom he is the constituted