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the discussion of their proceedings, unless the funds are directly misapplied. Thus I take it to be clear, that neither Whitgift's hospital nor Pocklington school, could have been examined by information or petition to the Lord Chancellor, although large revenues are expended, in the one case, upon the education of a single child, and in the other, to make a complete sinecure for the master. In the case of a richly endowed school at Berkhamstead, his lordship admitted that he could not interfere, although he saw the master teaching only oneboy, and the usher living in Hampshire1 But even as to direct breaches of trust, a court of equity affords most inadequate means of inquiry. No prudent man will easily be induced to involve himself in a chancery suit, where his private interests are at stake. To expect that any one will do so from the love of justice, and a sense of duty towards the public, is in all, but a few extraordinary cases, truly chimerical. Nor will the facts disclosed in the committee's report, tend to lessen this very natural dislike of such proceedings. We there find the parish officers of Yeovil ruined by their attempts to obtain justice for the poor; a respectable solicitor and a clergyman in Huntingdon, expending large sums of their own money in the same pious work, and rewarded by the general contempt and even hatred of their fellow citizens; a worthy inhabitant of Croydon, exposed to every kind of vexation for similar exertions, and his coadjutor falsely and maliciously indicted for perjury; and, not to multiply instances, the venerable head of a college at Oxford deterred from exposing the St. Bees case, by the dread of a conflict with his powerful colleague, before a tribunal where a long purse is as essential as a good cause. You, better than any man, are acquainted with the defects of this remedy; and you are no less impartial than competent to decide upon them. Elevated to an eminence in the court of chancery, which no other advocate, perhaps, ever attained in any department of forensic life, you can hardly be supposed to feel prejudice against its proceedings. Yet to you I will venture without hesitation to appeal; and I am confident you will admit that abuses which are fated to florish in the shade, until a suit in equity exposes, and a decree extirpates them, must live and grow until they work the ruin of the institutions to which they cling.
I have now gone through the principal changes which his majesty's ministers thought proper to make in the bill; and when their magnitude is considered — when it is perceived how little of the original plan was left — when it is found that the commissioners
1 2 Ves. and Beumes, 138. His lordship was obligeil to decree the money received for fines, then about 5000/., to the master and usher, according to the foundation, leaving their conduct in the office to be examined by the- visitor.
were to be chosen by the crown, deprived of the usual powers of inquiry, and prevented from directing their attention to the objects which most demanded investigation—it will naturally be asked, why the friends of the measure consented to accept of so mutilated a substitute for it; why they did not at once appeal to parliament and the country, from the decision of a cabinet which had clearly shown themselves unfriendly to all effectual exposure of the abuses universally complained of? I must take upon myself, in common with several persons whose opinions I deeply respect, the responsibility of having been willing to accept a law, the inadequacy of which we admitted, rather than allow the session to pass without obtaining any thing at all. Various considerations influenced this decision. The manifest hostility to the whole measure, which appeared in the house of lords, was not among the least of these. Vehemently opposed upon its principle by the chief law authorities, and a formidable body of the prelates—feebly and reluctantly supported by the ministers of the crown—the bill had been sent to a committee only by a majority of one ; and some who gave their voices for its commitment, in the hope apparently of its complete mutilation, announced their intention to throw it out on the third reading, whatever changes it might undergo; thus consenting to prolong its existence for a moment, that they might first mangle what they were bent upon destroying. When it came out of the committee, the amendments had indeed so entirely defeated the whole object in view, that no man, how great soever his wish to conciliate and accommodate, could think of lending himself to the unworthy farce of passing such an act. The committee, upon learning the scope of those alterations, which left the bill a mere dead letter,1 agreed with me in resolving to reject it, and proceed in the house of commons by way of address. There being very little reason to doubt that the address would be carried, the enemies of the bill in the lords consented to re-commit it, to give up several of their amendments, and to withdraw their opposition to the third reading. Such being the feelings entertained by the lords towards the whole plan—feelings of which an adequate idea could only be formed by a near observer of the temper in which it was discussed } and so great being the difficulty of obtaining
1 The two provisions which principally tended to defeat the object of the bill, and which were afterwards given up by their lordships, were these: the commissioners were only authorised to inquire into abuses respecting which they had information previously laid before them upon oath; nay, they could not summon a witness without oath being first made, that he had material information to communicate. They were also prohibited from asking for any paper, unless it wholly related to a separate charity, and where it contained other matter, they were not allowed to call for extracts or copies of the parts relating to the charity.
the assent of their lordships to the inquiry, even crippled and confined as it now is ; we felt compelled to rest satisfied with the little we had thus reluctantly obtained from them, apprehensive that any other course might involve the two houses in a serious difference of opinion, alike prejudicial to the public weal and to the success of the measure in question. Nor were we without hopes that the experience of the act when put in force, might quiet the unfounded alarms which prevailed among their lordships; and prepare them for an extension of its powers at a future time.
I must further mention as a reason for the line of conduct pursued, that we thought there was a mode of supplying indirectly the want of powers in the commissioners. They would have an opportunity of reporting the names of all persons who refused to be examined, or to deliver up documents in their possession. A dread of exposure to the suspicion which this concealment must create, would probably induce many trustees, however reluctant, to obey the commissioners while those who obstinately held out might be examined by the committee on its revival next session. In like manner, we presumed that the reports of the commissioners would direct the attention of the committee to all charities with special visitors; and that if parliament persisted in refusing to subject these to the scrutiny of the new board, the committee might proceed, as it had already begun, to examine them. Though we conceived that act, with all its imperfections, would do some good in the mean time, and lead to still further benefits hereafter. Convinced of the necessity of a thorough investigation, we thought that the sooner a beginning was made in it the better. Unable to get all we wished, we deemed it was prudent to accept what we could get, and not unwisely reject the advantages within our reach, because they were less important than we looked for, and were entitled to. An honest execution of the act, such as it was, seemed to promise material benefits to the country, provided the certain re-appointment of the committee next session supported the commissioners in the discharge of their duties, and supplied the defects in their jurisdiction as well as in their powers. But upon that revival, and upon the good faith with which the act should be carried into effect both by the minister and the board, every thing manifestly depended.
It is with great pain that I now feel myself compelled by a sense of duty, to state the disappointment of the expectations which, in common with the rest of the committee, I had entertained that his majesty's ministers would faithfully discharge the trust thus reposed in them. On so important a matter I cannot allow considerations of a personal nature to impose silence upon me, or to qualify the expression of an opinion which I have reluctantly been forced to
VOL. XIII. Pan. NO. XXV. B
adopt, that a full and searching exposure of abuses is not in the contemplation of those who have issued the commission. It would be acting from a false delicacy towards individuals, for whom in their private capacity I can feel nothing but respect, were I to abstain from frankly urging this complaint, and substantiating it by entering into particulars, how painful soever the detail may prove to me. Before I proceed, let me observe, that the attempts made to frustrate the bill entirely; the great mutilations actually performed upon it; the indisposition to pass it even in the least efficient form strongly indicated a disposition unfavorable to the inquiry, and excited the vigilance, if not the suspicions, of its friends towards the manner in which the powers conferred by it should be executed. We are now to see whether those unfavorable impressions have been confirmed or removed.
If the first object of the ministers had been to render the act as effectual as possible, they would naturally have listened to the recommendation of the committee in the formation of the board. It was known to every person that the individuals suggested by us, were selected solely, because they appeared to be the best qualified for the office. No suspicion had for a moment existed in any quarter indeed: the composition of the committee made it impossible to suspect, that party views had influenced us in the suggestion of a single name. At all events, there would have been no impropriety in the noble secretary of state conferring with some of us who had applied closely to the business. The prerogative of the crown is not supposed to suffer, nor the dignity of its ministers to be lowered, by freely communicating with members of the house of commons for other purposes. Where could have been the harm in consulting a committee indiscriminately taken from all parts of the house, upon a matter which had occupied so much of their attention? His lordship thought otherwise; of the gentlemen pointed out by us, only two have been put in the commission; and these, I have reason to think, by no means through our recommendation, but doubtless from the accident, a fortunate one for the public, of their having more favored patrons. Of the other paid commissioners, I have understood that some look forward to the duties of the office as quite compatible with those of a most laborious profession; while others are supposed to regard the existence of abuses generally, in any establishment, with an unwilling, if not incredulous mind. Nay, I have reason to believe, that one very respectable member of the board has publicly professed an opinion, that a great anxiety for the welfare of the poor is symptomatic of Jacobinism. Exclusive devotion to professional vocations, is a meritorious frame of mind; but does not perhaps very naturally point a man out as fit for a second occupa
tion. A fond disposition to find every thing right in our political system ; an aversion to believe in the existence of defects; a proneness to charge with disaffection those who spy them out; a tendency to suspect all who busy themselves for the poor as influenced by sinister motives, and even as contrivers of political mischief,—these, for aught I know, may be praiseworthy feelings; or amiable weaknesses; or excusable mistakes; and far be it from me to think the worse of any man who is honestly influenced by what may seem the least rational of such propensities. But then I must take leave to think that they form very indifferent qualifications for sitting at a board, the object of which is to pry into abuses, to expose errors and malversations, and to drag forth to public view, those who have robbed the poor of their rights. Persons under the influence of such impressions will enter upon their inquisitorial functions with a disposition to find ground of justification rather than of charge; will reluctantly open their eyes to truths which thwart their favorite prejudices; and feel desirous that their inquiries should convict of exaggeration the statements now before the public.
That the choice of my Lord Sidmouth has been guided by this consideration, or by any wish to quiet the fears of charitable trustees, I am far from asserting; on the contrary, I rather believe, that the usual motives may have influenced the appointments, favor towards similarity of political sentiments, and the wish to oblige political connexions. But it seems impossible to maintain that his lordship passed over certain names by mere accident. These omissions require further notice, as throwing light upon the spirit in which ministers are executing the act.
The committee had in their report strongly recommended to the attention of parliament, and of the ministers, two professional gentlemen, to whose voluntary assistance they had been greatly indebted during the course of their inquiries. I allude to Mr. Parry and Mr. Koe. Of their eminent qualifications to fill the place of commissioners, every one who attended to our proceedings was aware. The case of Mr. Parry was indeed peculiarly strong. It happened that he had for some years devoted himself privately to the very investigation which the board was to prosecute. He had been occupied in examining the abuses in the Berkshire charities, upon which he has just published a valuable treatise. He was the very man for the new office; he was a commissioner, if I may so speak, ready made to our hand; he was trained to the business by a lucky coincidence; he was by this accident, the only man who could be found to unite experience with the other qualities required; and all of which he also possessed. Nor had he any of the drawbacks which might be supposed to prevent his appointment. He had never mixed in politics at all; his connexions were ministerial; he