صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

to 44,000. M. Parry's notion of 100,000, is indeed wild and hecdless beyond description. It is grounded in complete ignorance of the facts ;. and involves the monstrous supposition, that for every endowment comected with education, or the support of poor children, there are twenty-four wholly devoted to other purposes.

The labours of the Commissioners may not only be abridged much more than Mr Parry imagines, but they may in future be rendered more easy and expeditious, by such devices as practice will certainly suggest. Abuses range themselves under classes; from the similarity of endowments, and the identity of the motives to pervert or neglect them, always at work. The investigation will thus become easier and shorter as it proceeds; and the sifting of one case will often save inquiry into another. Above all, it may be hoped that discretionary powers will be given to the Commissioners, to abandon certain inquiries altogether, when they have ascertained that the object of the Charity is extremely small. A rent-charge of ten shillings may demand as much investigation, as any of the important abuses brought to light by the labours of the Education Committee; but as soon as it can be ascertained that nothing more is due to the Charity, than this, or some such trifling income, with its arrears, the Inquiry should be dropt at once; and be left to the ordinary course of law, if any private individuals choose to pursue it. Some unthinking persons proposed, when the Bill of 1818 was before Parliament, to exclude from the jurisdiction of the Commis, sioners all very small endowments; wholly forgetting, that, before inquiry, it is impossible to tell whether the low revenue of the endowment be not itself the result of its mismanagement.

* The following details on this subject may be interesting to Sta. tistical Inquirers, and they serve to confirm the estimate in the text, By the returns under Mr Gilbert's Act, printed by order of the House of Commons in 1816, it appears that in five counties, Bedfordshire, Berks, Bucks, Cambridgeshire and Cheshire, there are 4041 charitable donations of all kinds. The endowments connected with education in the same counties are 346. Supposing this proportion, in the rest of England, to be the same, we should have about 45,000 for the number of charitable donations all over England. The endowments connected with education, however, are by far the most considerable. Those endowments, in the first four of the above counties, have, by the Returns referred to, a revenue of 6626l. a year—the whole endowments for the same counties having only an income of 19,3761. The education endowments are therefore each about seven times richer than the others.

· Another of Mr Parry's objections appears to be extremely unfounded. We allude to the apprehension which he entertains, that the public will grow weary of the Inquiry. If abuses are from time to time detected, and if the good effects of the investigation, in tacitly preventing abuses from continuing, are constantly made apparent, we can have no doubt, that as much interest will be kept alive in the community, as is sufficient to watch the proceedings of the Commissioners, and as much as she success of the Inquiry demands. A measure may be

pronounced positively bad, which cannot carry itself into execution, but depends upon a constant renewal of the popular feeling in which it originated. That feeling might be very useful at first; it might be indispensable to the commencement of the plan : But its continued operation would most probably do mischief; and a scheme must be useless, or worse, which depended for its success upon the repeated exertion of such an influence.

The other evil effect ascribed by our author to the protracted Inquiry, that no practical remedies can be applied till its conclusion, is wholly chimerical, and could only have been suggested by a very hasty view of the subject. Every one who has made himself conversant with its details (and we are far from denying their complicated and multifarious nature), must have perceived, that the prevailing abuses are reducible to a few very general classes. The defects in ancient endowments are nearly the same everywhere, arising from a change in the circumstances of society; and the manner in which advantage has been taken of these defects, or of certain ambiguities in old foundations, either by the negligence or the malversation of trustees and agents, is alike in almost all cases. To take a prevailing example-Grammar schools are found in situations where originally there was a demand for instruction in the learned languages, either from the size of the places, or from the kind of learning required by the Catholic Church, supplied with ministers as it was from the inferior classes of the community. Many of these towns have in process of time decay and everywhere the demand for persons capable of reading the Ritual in Latin has ceased. Hence many, if not most of those schools, are reduced to a mere shadow of their ancient prosperity. The abuse operates everywhere in exactly the same manner-A person is chosen, who finds the title of Endowed Master' advantageous in attracting private pupils to his school. Eight or ten, and sometimes none at all, apply to be taught Latin upon the foundation; but the master offers to teach it, if any schoVOL. XXXIII. NO. 65.


lars present themselves. English and writing and ciphering, however, he will not teach, unless they are expressly ordered in the statutes. The foundation is thus sacrificed to the boarders, from whom his chief emolument is derived; and we constantly see trustees expending money in enlarging and repairing a vast house for the accommodation of these boarders, though they think themselves precluded from having an usher to teach the branches of learning now in demand among the poor, or from requiring the well-endowed master to teach those branches himself. There is the strongest reason to believe, that in all the old endowments, where an usher is provided, he was meant to teach reading and writing,-except in a few cases, where boys were required to have learned these branches before they entered on the foundation. But be this as it may, can any one doubt that the proper remedy of an act, perhaps only a declaratory act, touching the powers of trustees of grammar schools, might be applied as safely, and as effectually, after half a dozen such cases had been examined, as after the Commissioners had reported upon every grammar school in England and Wales ? If the prevailing abuse were in the first instance rectified, and any new cases of mischief, not reached by that remedy, should in the course of investigation be discovered, sufficiently numerous to require legislative interference, a new act might easily provide the appropriate additions to the original measure.

To take another example; for keeping in generals here is the sure way to go wrong. A very prevailing defect in charitable endowments, is the want of powers in trustees to sell and exchange real property, by which means either the Charity estate is not managed to the best advantage, or a private act of Parliament is necessary. So, where a failure, partial or total of the object, takes place, and funds accumulate without the means of profitably employing them according to the will of the founder, some general powers should be vested in trustees, subject to due checks and controuls. Even the cases of corrupt abuse of trust are much less various than might be supposed by those who think only of the multiplicity of forms taken by the selfishness and cunning of mankind, without looking at the definite course marked out for such propensities, by the similarity of the temptations in most cases of Charity trusts. It may safely be said, that nine in ten of those abuses fall under the heads of underletting the estates to themselves or their connexions; and of serving the establishment as tradesmen. To devise general checks on such practices, remedies which shall be cheap and effectual for such mischiefs, may not perhaps be easy ; nor is this the place for suggesting them. But we contend that the difficulty would not be lessened by multiplying the cases before us an hundred fold, and exposing them in all their details; for the evils are the same in all, -and they must be met by the same remedy, or checked by the same preventive, whether we are to legislate to-day, or some years hence, when the labours of the Commissioners shall have been brought to a close.

These remarks lead us naturally to the main objection urged against Mr Brougham's measure by this author—that it is only one of Inquiry-providing no security against the continuance of abuses, but only obtaining an account of them, and of all charity estates, upon oath. Now we think that this objection is buttomed on a most superficial view of the measure, and a very imperfect knowledge of the soundest principles of legislation. It is very material to turn our attention a little more closely towards these points.

We believe it may be laid down as a maxim invariably true, and of most universal application, that the best and most ef-, fectual plan of improvement, is that which does the smallest violence to the established order of things; requires the least. adventitious aid or complex machinery; and, as far as may be, executes itself. It is from ignorance of this principle, that the vulgar perpetually mistake a great scheme for a good onea various and complicated, for an efficacious one-a showy and ambitious piece of legislation for a sound and a useful law.Hence, too, their almost invariable discontent with the most salutary measures, grounded in knowledge of human nature; regulated by cautious circumspection; pointed towards attainable objects; and reaching these by safe and familiar courses. The history of human laws is full of passagns fatally illustrating this remark;—for unhappily the lawgivers themselves have too often belonged to the vulgar class of reasoners, whose errors we have just described. But it appears to us very manifest, that Mr Parry's criticism upon the measure in question, proceeds exactly upon the same fundamental mistakes. He quarrels with it because it is unpretending ;-it looks mean and paltry. Now we think we can show him, that this character belongs only to its mechanism; and not to its working and its almost necessary results.

The principal cause of abuses in charities, has always been the facility of Concealment. Some endowments were wholly unknown; the Education Committee brought one to light, which the oldest inhabitants of the parish had never heard of; and yet its funds were suflicient to endow a college. Others are constantly seen, but at such distance as the trustees think fit;


and from the entire ignorance of the foundation in which the public is, no suspicion of malpractices can be entertained. Many are suspected to be abused ;-but, without going through a Chancery suit, nothing like proof can be obtained, and the iniquity goes on in the dark. Not a few are abused through mere neglect on the part of the trustees, who are always gratuitous agents from the nature of their office, and suffer those under them to mismanage the concern, in ignorance of the fact: And some again are neglected, from the trustees really not knowing either the nature of their rights or their duties. Now the Inquiry of the Commissioners applies an effectual remedy in every one of these

Each Charity in succession is made to undergo a thorough scrutiny; and its whole affairs are sifted and exposed to the light, without the smallest expense or odium falling upon any individual. No one can now hope either that his malversations

ald any longer escape the hated eye of the publick; or that he can remain ignorant in his office, or negligent of its claims upon his activity. The essential part of the plan which consists in dividing the Board into five, all acting at one and the same time, both secures a great despatch of business, and gives an alarm all over the country, wherever abuse or neglect exists. There is no safety now for mismangement; no shelter for remissness. The wrong-doer cannot tell when the glare of day may be let in upon his misdeeds; nor is the sluggard secure against his slumbers being exposed, should they not be broken by its importunity. At one instant the Commissioners are heard of in Devonshire; the day after, a Board arrives in Cumberland, and another perhaps in York. So that as no man can tell when his turn may come, all are compelled to be on the watch. And not only must all take heed to the error of their way, and beware how they slumber any more than trip--they are led naturally to inquire themselves into many things which no one had ever before dreamt of examining; and involuntary errors are thus rectified, and defects supplied, as well as abuses corrected, long before the publick Investigation commences. Such is the natural operation of the measure; and if this be not a plan which is calculated to execute itself, we know no one that deserves the name and description. Such too, in point of fact, have even already been the effects of the Inquiry. All over the country, trustees are alive and on the alert; new regulations are made; bad courses of management are abandoned ; and restitution is anxiously, though silently made to injured endowments, in order that every thing may be right and straight to meet the expected Inquiry. It may

indeed be urged, as Mr Parry has contended, that these effects are of a passing or temporary nature. While the

« السابقةمتابعة »