« السابقةمتابعة »
publicity is the very principle upon which Mr Brougham's mcasure is constructed. But can any one doubt, that it is attained by his measure in a far more eminent degree than by Mr Parry's? Thousands of copies of cach foundation are circulated through the country; and, wherever the property of any charity is situated, or the objects of it are to be found, we may rest assured the interest felt in the subject being the strongest, the information contained in the Parliamentary Papers will find its way thither in some shape or other. A pamphlet, a notice in a periodical work, a paragraph in a county paper, a private letter, a remark in conversation, will carry the fact to the place of its natural destination; and in a little time the matter will be discussed, and the original and authentic document will either be found on the spot, or consulted by some one employed for the purpose by those on the spot. It is a vulgar and a just remark, that what is said of a man behind his back, somehow or other gets round, if not to his face, at least half way as it were, or into his ear. So, we may be assured, will trustees, or 0ther persons who have the management of funds inquired into by the Commissioners, sooner or later, hear of whatever has been reported of their rights, their duties, or their conduct. Mr Brougham stated, that the precaution had been taken in printing the Education Digest, of throwing off separate copies of each county, for local distribution; as a small book, containing all that has local interest, is of more sure and easy circulation, than a large one, the bulk of which concerns other parts of the country. The Reports of the Commissioners, being made half yearly, are, in the same manner, confined each to a few districts, and are thus of easy access to those districts. This plan of Registration, then, secures publicity in a degree infinitely greater than Mr Parry's costly Register Office. "Who would not be deterred from entering a great massive building, and running the gauntlet of officers and clerks, in order to satisfy his curiosity, --coming, too, perhaps, from the border of Lancashire to York for the purpose ? The other plan carries the publication home to the spot, and distributes it exactly where it may be of the greatest use. If any thing is wanting to prove its superior efficacy, ask a person who feels conscious there is a flaw in his title, or a blot in his conduct, whether he had rather have those tender matters registered in a record however accessible, in manuscript however legible, and under a set of clerks however civil and diligent-or published in a printed book, and distributed all over the country ;-We believe he will at once exclaim-- Any thing but hateful printing.' In a word
if once printed, it becomes the property of all the newspapers ; and is read, or may be read, by all mankind.
The same measure secures all existing donations and endowments from perishing through time and accident, almost as effectually as their Registration. The press is, indeed, by multiplying copies indefinitely, by far the best preserver, for a great length of years. For a century or two, Registration may keep the original deeds, and they may be lost if left in private hands; but if copies are multiplied, the knowledge of their contents is preserved for ever; while no actual record can preserve with certainty for a succession of ages.
In like manner, Mr Brougham's plan affords all that protection to honest and diligent trustees which they so well deserve; and furnishes the means of securing them from the groundless clamours of ignorant and malicious persons. It effects this object indeed more fully than the proposed measure; for while nothing can be better than a published authoritative document, to which a man may appeal if traduced, it is far more satisfactory to have the security that the publication originated in a thorough and accurate investigation before a respectable tribunal, than to show a record, furnished possibly by the party himself, with studied concealments, of which he may have taken the risk, braving the penalties of the law, in consideration of the advantage he derived from breaking or evading it. Perhaps he has made a full registration; he is an honest and conscientious trustee; and meant the title to be placed beyond all suspicion. But his slanderers will not fail to say, that he furnished the evidence himself, and that no examination sifted the endowment in its foundation.
This leads us to mention one very manifest superiority of the measure adopted by Parliament; which Mr Parry wholly overlooks, and which also suffices to give it the preference to his own. Compare the powers of the two systems in rescuing lost donations; or saving such as are on the point of being lost. Mr Parry's here scarcely works at all, and must often be wholly inoperative. There may be often no persons to whom the penalties would now attach; consequently no registration can be expected: and frequently the person, unwittingly possessed of'a deel which he ought to have deposited, on finding his liability to the penalty, will escape from it by destroying the instrument. In short, to render the Registry effectual, Boards of Commissioners would be as necessary as Registrars and Clerks. The scheme does not execute itself.
The same objections apply, with some others, to the second branch of Mr Parry's plan, the Annual Returns. It is a mighty
easy thing for the Legislature to order a hundred and fifty, or two hundred thousand persons of all kinds, corporate bodies and individuals, in publick and in domestic stations, official and private characters of all ranks and of all degrees of acuteness and information, to deliver in at stated periods attested accounts of their conduct for the last twelve months. In estimating the powers of a directory, or even penal statute, to command obedience, it is well to examine how similar enactments have operated before; and surely the working of the last Charity Registration Act, (52 Geo. III.), as we formerly proved, was not such as to encourage a very sanguine expectation of similar mechanism being very easily put and kept in motion for the future. But that was a single statute, requiring one act to be performed by the trustees and managers. The proposed plan would require a yearly, that is, an almost constant activity on the part of those persons, in addition to their other duties; and all thcir labours, it should be recollected, are gratuitous;-a consideration which we now mention, not to prove that Parliament should
spare them any new trouble, but to show that, as always happens with even the best men in such circumstances, they will by every means seek to evade the performance of the additional work cast upon them.
But, in order to bring this branch of Mr Parry's project to the test, let us see how far it is calculated to fulfil its purpose, by exposing new abuses, which shall have escaped detection at the first registration, or have arisen since that period. This is a material point; for it is here alone that the scheme pretends to provide a remedy not directly afforded by Mr Brougham's plan. The criterion of experience is luckily at hand for deciding the question. Take any of the noted cases brought to light either by the Education Committee or the Commissioners, and see whether that abuse could have been either prevented or detected by the operation of the Registry. And, to be more indulgent towards its projector, we shall give him the benefit of the primary Registration, as well as the supplementary or yearly returns; and we think it very plain, that the whole efforts of the system would have permitted every material abuse detected by the Parliamentary and Statutory Inquiries, to pass unobserved, and continue unchecked. Let us take, for instance, the Huntingdon case, as now decided against the Corporation by the Court of Chancery. The abuse there was, that the Corporation let to their own members, the charity lands at very low rents. Being required to record the titles, they would
* See our Number for April last.
have no doubt sent a certified copy of their charter of incorporation, and the originals of the Charity endowment; they would then have given a schedule of the leases, rents, names of the tenants, metes and bounds of the tenements, repairs, deductions, and other expenses of management; it is probable they would also have certified, and not impossible that their surveyors would have sworn, that the lands were well let, and to good tenants, But all this would have left wholly untold the most material parts of the tale that the lessors and lessees were nearly in all cases the same; because, on the face of the Record, or of the yearly return, it would nowhere appear, that John-a-Nokes was a corporator as well as lessee under the corporate body; nor would it appear that this body continued so to manage those leases with regard to the contiguous property of a Noble Lord, as to influence the return of the members for the Borough. All these matters, and many more, came out by means of the examination in the Committee, and proceedings in Chancery-but they would equally have transpired before the Commissioners.
Again, take the Tunbridge case, brought to light by those Commissioners. It is alleged, that a Company in the city of London, being devisees in trust for a charity, expend 3001. or 4001. on the charity, and appropriate a residue of above 40001. to themselves. Not one tittle of this would have been disclosed by the scheme of voluntary, or even call it compulsory, registration and returns. The Company would have given a certified extract of their muniments-the part, namely, which directs so much to be paid yearly for the School; and would have stated, that it was a charge on certain estates, describing them, vested in or belonging to the Company. So, too, in the case of the Lowther School, described in a will copied by the Education Committee, endowed above a century ago with valuable estates, since sold by the heir of the founder, and abandoned for above three generations. No light could have been obtained by registration, because there were no persons upon whom the exigency of the statute could have operated.
Yet, though there may or there may not here be a case of gross abuse, no man can deny that it demands strict scrutiny. We believe enough has been said to show how ineffectual the plan is which Mr Parry would substitute for that adopted by Parliament; but we may add, that the latter is by no means without affording provision for preventing renewal of abuses once detected. The publicity once given to the rights of the objects of each charity--the duties of its managers--the value and the situation of its property-converts the whole neighbourhood into vigilant and well-informed guardians of the constitu
tion; and this, with the chance of the inquiry being in future renewed, if necessary, must operate powerfully to prevent the recurrence of the malversation or neglect. The things which yearly returns bring to light are far less necessary to be recorded than those which the Commissioners put upon record; because they are in their nature open to the knowledge of many persons of all the objects of the endowment-and of most persons in the neighbourhood.
It may now, in the last place, be fit to remind the reader of what Mr Parry has wholly forgotten, the great expense and consequent patronage to which his plan would give rise. Some objection may be made to the establishment of the present stipendiary Commissioners and their clerks; and much clumsy ridicule has been thrown upon the • large and liberal economy' of the plan. But it is insignificant, compared with Mr Parry's project, which is to erect in each county an office, with a good salary and a building, implying the existence of both clerks and inferior agents under him. The business would not be very trifling. In one county, Cheshire, there are 1500 charities; many have far more, but let us take this instance :-Provision must be made for keeping most securely the whole deeds and papers accumulated in all time past, down to the most trifling sscrap of a voucher, relating to those numerous 'estates and sums; and, beside arranging these, and making them constantly accessible, (which implies much room, many distinct compartments, and several clerks and servants), provision must be made for the yearly increase of the original documents by at least 1500 more papers of some length,—but, new leases and correspondence and estimates, and accounts included, we may rather say
four or five thousand new papers will pour in yearly; for Mr Parry must not forget, that, beside the sort of annual return required from Trustees, the taking from them the custody of their muniments implies, that every new deed or instrument relating to the property, must be likewise from time to time surrendered to the same safe keeping. Only see then what an expense, and, still more dangerous, what a patronage would thus be created in the county of Chester! Perhaps we do not overstate it, in supposing that somewhere about a dozen places, great and small, calculated to influence different kinds of persons, and all giving power most directly to the Crown, would be thus created in that district: And a proportionate addition would in like manner be made to influence in every
other counWere the benefits of Mr Parry's plan as great as they liave been shown to be inconsiderable; were it as superior to the one adopted, as we have proved it to be less effectual, we