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and the room converted into a saw-pit;' yet it has visitors, (St. John's College, Cambridge,) who, probably from ignorance of the evil, had taken no step to correct it before last winter. So, the property of the Huntingdon school is grossly misapplied; the land is let to accommodate the trustees, and is made the means of supporting a political interest in that borough; yet the charity has visitors in the persons of some of those very trustees, who are thus by the exemption in the act, secured against all inquiry. It should seem too, that St. Bees school is equally exempted. · But that its affairs merit investigation clearly appears by the evidence; for we there find that leases of its land were granted at a remote period, for 1000 years, at a very low fixed rent; that at a more recent date, the valuable minerals were leased at a mere trifle (31. 14s.) for the term of 8 or 900 years, to one of the trustees; that one of the present trustees now enjoys the lease; and that a decided majority of the others are clergymen, holding livings under him, and supporting him in his management of the concern. As none of them has made any attempt to set aside a lease which every one must perceive to be utterly void, and as one of their number has expressed his apprehensions of engaging in a contest with so powerful an adversary, it may be presumed that such considerations alone could deter them from performing what was obviously their duty to the charity; and the inference is irresistible, that this was exactly a case which demanded the interposition of the commissioners. Certain estates devised for the purposes of education at Reading, appear to have been let as late as 1811, for nearly the same rent that they fetched in Charles the Second's reign. It is now considerably raised ; but some of the lands seem still to be much underlet ; at any rate an inquiry would be highly beneficial where such negligence appears so recently to have prevailed : yet all examination is precluded by the proviso; for there is a special visitor. The hospital at Croydon, founded by Archbishop Whitgift, is protected from investigation by a similar appointment; but the evidence plainly shows, that all is not right there. The estates are valued by the surveyor of the house itself at 2,6731. a-year ; yet they are let for 8601.; , and down to 1812, they fetched no more than 3361. A free school too, is specially appointed to be kept for all the inha
: An attempt was made to deny this; but it seems to be the result of the evidence taken together. At any rute, it is admitted, that the proper. school-room was wholly disused, except for keeping lumber and working materials.
2 The rent is about 1001., the value of the tenements being above 80001. 2-year.
bitants of Croydon; but none has within the memory of man been taught, although the master receives his emoluments, teaching another school for his own profit, and although the inhabitants have established a seminary upon the new plan, to give education at their own expense to the poor of the place, in the very schoolroom which Archbishop Whitgift devised for their gratuitous instruction. These abuses, I verily believe, are unknown to the distinguished prelate who is visitor of the hospital. Whoever fills his station in the church, has, beside the ordinary functions of his province, the superintendence of a vast number of charitable institutions in various parts of the kingdom ; and it is quite impossible that his eye should be always fixed upon the abuses which silently creep into each. Until they are denounced to him, he must of necessity be ignorant of their existence, and the office of accuser is a thankless one at the best. The visitatorial power is only put in motion at stated periods ; and even then, if no one comes forward to complain, credit is naturally given to the members of the corporation for doing their duty and obeying the statutes. But on the other hand, the assistance of such a body as the commissioners in supplying the want of accusers, and in discovering latent abuses, is precisely that which a conscientious visitor would desire. He can feel no jealousy of any encroachment upon his rights, for these remain as before, the only difference is, that he has now to exercise his office with a more perfect knowledge of the matters within his jurisdiction, the inquiries of the commissioners having brought to his notice all the points to which his superintending power should be directed for the purposes of reformation. I think we have a right to assume that the Archbishop of Canterbury viewed the bill in this, its true light, from the very liberal and candid support which his grace was pleased to give it.
Nothing, indeed, can be more groundless than the jealousy which appears to have been raised by it in other quarters. In what respect could the proceedings of the commissioners interfere with any person's functions, whether as trustee or as visitor ? They were only empowered to inquire and to report; to discover abuses, and to lay them before parliament and the country. Here their authority ended; they could make no order whatever for correcting the mismanagement which they detected, were it ever so glaring. To search for the evil, and expose it to the light, was their whole office; the remedy was reserved for parliament, if it required legislative interference; but in the first instance, it was left to the parties themselves, whose conduct had been investigated, and if they failed to amend their ways, the visitors were unquestion, ably entitled to interpose as if the act had never passed. To
describe the commissioners as coming into conflict with the visitors, was a gross misrepresentation of the powers and functions of both. Yet it was entirely upon this misrepresentation, that the clause exempting charities specially visited was built. The pretext that it was authorised by the example of the statute of Elizabeth, is utterly unfounded. The commissioners of charitable uses, under that act, have powers which would interfere directly with those of special visitors; for they are not merely to investigate, but to make orders and decrees; they are in fact to sit as a court, and they are entitled to try issues of fact by a 'jury. The clause exempting charities specially visited from their jurisdiction, was therefore necessary to preserve the visitatorial power according to the founder's intentions. But what founder ever dreamt of preventing any inquiry from being made into the state of his charity? What founder could, were he alive to see it, be otherwise than gratified by an investigation, the result of which can have no possible tendency but that of enabling the visitor appointed by himself to exercise with full effect; the powers of superintendence conferred by him for the express purpose of correcting all abuses in the trusts created by his foundation ?
I have mentioned a few instances of abuses brought to light by the labors of the committee, all growing up to maturity in charities which have special visitors, and which the commissioners are bound to overlook by virtue of the exemptions introduced into the bill. It may perhaps be thought that these have been already examined, and that our report, with respect to them at least, will be sufficient to produce a speedy reform. But I cannot quite indulge in this hope. We had not the means of sifting those cases to the bottom: we plainly perceived that much remained to be investigated in each. Thus, the sums to be refunded by the Yeovil trustees severally, we had no means of tracing. We were equally unable to ascertain how much in value of the St. Bees school property remained in the hands of the noble lord, who sustains in his own person the double character of trustee and lessee. It was in like manner impossible to estimate the arrears due to the poor from the worthy magistrates of Huntingdon, and the noble family whose political interest in that borough has been founded upon the misapplication of the charity estates. Nor did we see, in the past conduct of any of those parties, the slightest reason to expect that the publication of our report would of itself have the immediate effect of restoring the poor to their rights. On the contrary, an extraordinary pertinacity had been evinced by them all, in defence of their actual possessions, and in resisting every investigation of their titles.
Besides, there is every reason to believe that abuses of a similar
description, which we had not time to investigate, exist in all parts of the country. The parochial returns to our circular letters, have brought cases to our knowledge, which no board sitting in London could examine within a moderate period of time. Other abuses omitted in those returns may be reasonably supposed to prevail; and let it be observed, that the probability of abuses existing in any charity, is by no means diminished by the circumstance of a special visitor having been appointed. In general, the visitor resides at a distance; he is most commonly an official person with other duties to engage him, as the bishop of the diocese, or the head of a house at one of the universities ; he is usually directed to visit once in so many years; and if no term is specified, he is only by law obliged to visit every third year; above all, the exemption in the statute of Elizabeth, has increased the probability of mismanagement in such charities, by preventing them from ever being examined by a commission of charitable uses; while a great proportion of the other charities have undergone this investigation once or twice since their foundation. Now, the transference of the proviso from the statute of Elizabeth to the present act, has precisely the effect of confining the inquiries of the commissioners to those charities, most of which have already been examined ; and of making them pass over those which have never before been looked into, except by their visitors.
If any persons should still conceive that the eye of the visitor is sufficient, I would beseech them to consider two things—the slowness with which the knowledge of the evil reaches him, and the risk of his requiring superintendence himself. Abuses are, generally speaking, of slcw growth; they creep into public institutions with a sure pace, indeed, if unchecked, but they move on by degrees ; and those who are constantly habituated to see their progress, become accustomed to it, and cease to think of it. These, however, are chiefly the persons on whom the visitor must rely for his information; and, even where the change is more rapid, and the abuse more glaring, men who live on the spot are not likely to court the odious office of accusing their neighbors. The grand difference between the visitor and the commissioners is, that the former, for the most part, will only examine where there is a charge; whereas the latter are to examine at all events, and to find out whether there be ground for complaining although nobody may have actually preferred a complaint. Then what security have we against negligence or connivance in the visitors themselves ? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes ? True, the founders have entrusted them with the superintendence ; but, where no visitation is appointed, the founders have reposed an entire confidence in the trustees; and yet no one has ever contended that they should be exempt from the inquiries of the commissioners. What
good reason then can be assigned for investigating abuses committed wholly by trustees and visitors jointly? St. John's College is visitor of Pocklington school; for years the gross perversion of its ample revenues, known to all Yorkshire, had never penetrated into Cambridge. The dean and chapter of Lincoln have the patronage as well as the superintendence of Spital charity; yet they allow the warden, son of their diocesan, to enjoy the produce of large estates devised to him in trust for the poor of two parishes as well as of the hospital, while he only pays a few pounds to four or five of the latter. The bishop himself is a patron and visitor of Mere, and permits the warden, his nephew (for whom he made the vacancy by promoting his predecessor), to enjoy or underlet a considerable trust estate, paying only 241. a-year to the poor. The evidence shows that the visitors of the Huntingdon hospital are the parties chiefly concerned in misapplying its funds — being themselves trustees—occupying the charity lands for trifling rents — and using the estate for the election purposes. I am very far from asserting that the apparent negligence of St. John's College, the apparent connivance of the chapter and the bishop, and the apparent participation of the corporators, are incapable of explanation : but at least these facts show the necessity of an inquiry into the conduct of visitors as well as trustees; while the alterations made in the bill by his majesty's ministers shut out all inquiry, and prevent the public from receiving any explanation.
The exception of which I have been speaking is more to be lamented ; because the charities thus screened from the investigation of the commissioners, are in ordinary course of events, and as the law now stands, almost certain to escape every other inquiry. From the jurisdiction created by the statute of Elizabeth, they are wholly exempted ; and that of the court of chancery extends to them only in a limited degree. Where funds have been misapplied, the court will interfere, notwithstanding the appointment of a visitor ; but then its interposition is confined entirely to this breach of trust. It will take no cognisance whatever of any other neglect or misconduct on the part of trustees. They may have perverted the charity to purposes wholly foreign to the founder's intention; they may have suffered the school to decay, while the master reaped the profits ; they may, through folly, or even by design, have adopted measures calculated to ensure its ruin. - Still if there be a special visitor, who neglects or violates his duty, permitting or abetting the misconduct of the managers, courts of equity cannot entertain
1 The rev. incumbent states, that there are no poor in Spital; but the endowment is in favor of the “parish poor of Little Carlton and Skellings thorpe," the charge of maintaining whom appears, from the poor abstract, to be from 2 to 300l. a-year.