« PreviousContinue »
the feelings of humbler and less enlightened individuals ! How would rural parishes and petty corporations and men of quiet and retired habits have trembled, not (as may be tauntingly alleged) from consciousness of guilt, but from apprehension of vexation at the approach of these stern' imprisoning Commissioners! Hence mutual distrust; hence secret delations; hence rival attempts to get before each other with information not always fastidiously correct, with the view of diverting to a distant object the fury which each dreaded for himself.
Huntingdon and St. Bees afford pretty pregnant instances how the powers of the Commission might have been applied on the eve of an election, and the Commission would necessarily have survived five or six elections at the least. It would have been a goodly sight to see the various propitiatory offers from many a decayed borough, just roused by a well-timed intimation of inquiry in the course of the last Session of the Parliament !- Not in the hope of prevailing so far as to obtain a total immunity from visitation (duty and patriotism must have frustrated that expectation), but merely that it might be deferred, in their particular case, till about the twentyfifth year of the Commission.
In the Universities and Great Schools, consequences not less evil must have followed. There would have been an end to the peace and good government of such societies from the moment that a tribunal so composed and so empowered should have been set up to over-bang them, for the purpose (ingenuously avowed) custodiendi ipsos custodes. Of the supersession of the rights of visitors, whose appointment by the will of founders must be held a part and condition of their bequests, we have already spoken. But with the resident governing authorities the interference would have been still more direct and still more mischievous. What wilful boy would have been flogged, without seeking his revenge by an anonymous impeachment of the master? What refractory youth at college would have paid the penalty of an unperformed imposition, without sending up to his friend at the Temple or Lincoln's Inn a billet to be dropped into the Lion's mou th, enouncing the abuses of the domus fund, or the intemperance of the fellows' Combimation-Room? The results of such denunciations would ere long have come down in dark intimations of a detachment of this ambu- . latory brotherhood being on its way from Town. Anon, it would have been buzzed through the cloisters that a couple of them had actually arrived, and were at that moment junketting in the buttery. Presently, it would be known that the late.college-porter, who had been dismissed for incorrigible drunkenness two years ago, had been recognized, among the confidential followers of the Hermandad, on the outside of the stage; and that the sub-master, a worthy but strict man, who had pronounced that sentence of elimination, was 0 0 2
already, already put under a course of severe secret interrogatory, (or examination'; no matter which.) Next morning the conveyance of this respected individual to the Bridewell, for having steadily refused to consider himself as absolved from his oath by a construction of the statutes at which his moral and grammatical conscience revolted, would be a signal for the cessation of all discipline. It would then perhaps have depended upon the accidental prevalence of affectiou or dislike towards the governing part of the society, and of a turbulent or a generous spirit among the youth, whether the first ebullitions of licence should manifest themselves in acts of insubordination against the resident authorities, or of scarcely less reprehensible irreverence towards the sacred persons of the intrusive visitation.
It is idle to argue that such investigations can do no harm --for that, if nothing is found amiss, the Society comes out the purer from the fire.--As if it were sport to be put upon trial! as if every possessor of property, corporate or individual
, must rejoice to produce his title-deeds for inspection in order to shew how perfectly they were drawn! as if it were quite pleasant to have either to consent to, or to decline such trial or such production with no other arguinent to sway the decision than imprisonment thrown into the declining scale! As if Mr. Clarke must have had a most delightful journey when summoned (by such billets-doux as we have cited) to leave his home at four and twenty hours notice, and hasten to the Committee! As if Dr. Wood could have felt himself undishonoured by inquiries which brought his probity into question, though they could not throw a stain upon it that would stick! As if Dr. Goodall never passed a more agreeable afternoon than that in which the serious imputations of the mal-adniinistration of Eton College were relieved by the tea-table gossip about Professor Porson's pretty hand-writing !
Such then was the original plan of the Commission, for not having adopted which precisely as proposed, the Government have been reproached and reviled : for having restrained which within some limits of time; for having subjected it to occasional revision both by the Crown and by Parliament; for having conformed it to the analogies of precedent, and brought it within the scope of the Constitution, they have been held up to public odium and suspicion as enemies of all wholesome inquiry, and protectors of all imaginable malversation. Our readers are by this time enabled to judge for theniselves of the degree of credit which is due to so shameless, so senseless an accusation. But we confess we are not ourselves entirely satisfied with the conduct of the Government in the whole of this transaction. We should have been still better satisfied, if the alterations made in the original plan of the learned Chairman had been made, luce palam, by open debate in the House
of Commons, rather than by private communications in the lobbies. The consequence of the mode which was followed bas been, that the original plan has never been discussed at all; that the public only learn that it was altered; but of the grounds, and the scope of those alterations there is no account but what is to be found in the learned Chairman's own publications. How faithful that account, it has been our endeavour in some degree to shew. But a subsequent shewing is comparatively without effect-it is too much like a justification. The Bill, as first framed in the intention of the mover, ought, in our opinion, to have been taken to pieces before the eyes of the world in its earliest stages. The public would then have gone with the government in the process of the alterations, and would have heard and appreciated the reasons for them as they arose. If delicacy towards the mover, and a desire to avoid mixing politics with charity were (as we verily believe) the motives of this forbearance, the Government see their reward. But they had yet a higher duty to perform. At the same time that they obviated misrepresentation, and rendered such an impression against themselves as has been attempted to be created, impossible; they also would have exhibited in the Bill, as originally conceived, a scaring specimen of the monstrous projects which (when the times are unhappily favourable for such conjunctions) political ambition begets upon popular reform.
The Commission which has been appointed will, we trust, be found to have entered with exemplary diligence upon the business allotted to it; and we anticipate from its labours the most satisfactory results. We think it not improbable that the range of its in. quiry may be beneficially extended, although, to occupy this wider field of action, and at the same time to assign to its labours any reasonable limits, it seems necessary that its number should be enlarged. We can easily understand why three should be a better (as it is a more usual) quorum than two, in any matter involving the probability of difference of opinion; but of all the alterations indeed which were made in the bill by the House of Lords, that which extended the quorum from two to three (the whole number of commissioners remaining the same) appeared to us the most questionable.
As to the object with which these inquiries should be pursued, we fear we shall continue to differ essentially from the Honourable Chairman of the late Committee. To bring back the application of diverted revenues to the original purposes of those who bequeathed thenı, is, in our view, the only legitimate object; not to seize them into the hands of the state, and parcel them out anew according to the lights of modern refinement. We have stricter notions of property. The misapplication, or even the abuse of a ο ο 3
trust fund by its trustees does not, in our opinion, put the public in the place of the testator's beir at law.
As to the intention announced of moving the new parliament early in the session, to re-appoint the Committee on the Education of the Lower Orders, with additional powers--for the express purpose of touching' the Universities and Great Schools, which are exempted from the jurisdiction of the Commission; of summoning other Heads of Colleges in Oxford and Cambridge to undergo the same sort of treatment as Dr. Wood; of printing their different statutes, from perfect or garbled copies, (as it may happen,) and interpreting them with the same fidelity as those of Trinity College'; and of publishing their account-books at the national expense, to be audited by the world at large harmless as these purposes may be, we confess we are not reconciled to then by the assurance that it is not intended to follow them
immediate measure. We have seen how well an interval of repose can be employed in pronouncing sentences of abuse and malversation, without or against evidence; and we see that all persons who, from whatever cause, are inimical to the two Universities, and to the Established Church, of which they are the two main supports, contemplate the prospect with extreme delight.
So confidently do they anticipate success, that they have already begun to differ upon the division of the spoil. Mr. Jeremy Bentham, in his late lucid work upon Church-of-ENGLANDISM, is of opinion that the Colleges should be appropriated to tlie support of superannuated officers of the land and sea-service, whose half-pay might in consequence be saved to the country. A more recent writer in the Monthly Magazine, looks forward to the expected
Parliamentary Visitation as the means of planting the dissenters in the two Universities. But these gentlemen seem to be counting the fruits of victory before the battle has been won, or even fought. Buonaparte, before the battle of Waterloo, when he beheld the Duke of Wellington stationed on the opposite height, exclaimed, 'Ah! pour le coup—je les tiens donc—ces Messieurs Anglais!'
We yet trust that the new Parliament will not put the Universities and Great Schools upon their trial. It is not seemly that the venerable establishments for ENGLISH Education should be called to plead for their existence (an existence in many instances as old as that of Parliament itself, in all perhaps as deeply interwoven with the habits and interests of this country); and to stand an inquiry, not whether they answer the purposes of their institution, but whether those purposes might not be advantageously changed. We are satisfied that these establishments, with all their faults, do mainly contribute to make England what it is. We do not presume to disparage the more material, statistical, metaphysical erudition of our neighbours. We meddle not with them we beg only that
they will not meddle with us. We assure all whom it
may concern that the ample revenues of our Royal and Christian foundations shall never (while we have life to struggle for them) go to the support of schools for the professors of no particular religion. They must be contented to see still flourish in our schools the old heresies of classical and biblical learning, with enough of the exacter sciences, but very little of Ontology or Cosmogony. They must endeavour to tolerate the abomination of even long and short, and the divinity of the Church by law established. Within these limits is it worth their while to reform us? Out of these limits, they will attempt to force us in vain.
But if we cannot be improved, we hope we shall not be given up to be insulted. It is not seemly, we say, that these magnificent establishments should for no stateable object, and for no assignable crime, be exposed, in the persons of their most eminent conductors, to the scornful interrogatory, to the ungenerous insinuation, and, worse than all, to the humiliation of vapid pleasantries, as disgusting to good taste as to just feeling.
Thus England's monarch once uncover'd sat,
While Bradshaw bullied in a broad-brimm'd hat. Once—but not again. We trust indeed that the attachment' of the nobility and gentry of England to the scenes of their early instruction, an'attachment' stigmatized as "romantic,' but not more “ romantic' than wise, will rescue those seats of liberal learning from a second disgrace and persecution ; seeing, as they cannot but see, the spirit in which that persecution originates, and remembering that for high establishments, as well as for exalted individuals, there is but one step from degradation to destruction.
* In Art. IV. of our Thirty-sixth Number, on ‘African Discoveries,' is the following passage :~ The last victim (would he might be the last !) that we have to mention is LIEUTENANT Srokoe of the Navy. This brave officer was severely wounded when our little squadron so gallantly defended itself against an overwhelming force on lake Erie ; and when taken prisoner was marched several hundred miles into Kentucky, handcuffed like a felon.'
From a letter to the editor of a reprint of our Review in America, it would seem that this passage has given offence to the friends of Captain Perry. This officer and his friends however may be assured that none was meant. Whatever necessity there might have been to march Lieutenant Stokoe into the interior, we could not suppose Captain Perry to have been his conductor ; but the fact is precisely as we have stated it; and when the unfortunate officer above alluded to rejoined Admiral Sir Henry Hotham, the marks of violence were apparent, and his wrists were still swelled, and suffering from the fetters.
The friends of Captain Perry will do us the justice to believe that we never confounded him, even in thought, with the Porters and Jacksons of his country, whom he regards, perhaps, with little less detestation than ourselves. On the contrary, we believe him to be a brave and humane officer; and it is this persuasion alone which has induced us to recur to a circumstance which was wrung from us, in the first instance, by a sense of duty, and which we now desire finally to dismiss from our minds. 0 0 4