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abuses that Mr. Brougham undertook to investigate. He was cheered, at the outset of his labor, by the unanimous applause of all parties. He found approbation, and encouragement, and support every where. Even the Ministers condescended to say, that they wished Mr. Brougham were always as well employed. The sky was clear ;-the sea calm ;—the breeze blew fair. Everything seemed to bode well. In a little time, however, all this encouraging prospect was overcast. The questions connected with national education, remote as they are in their nature from party considerations, became, nevertheless, from causes that our limits do not allow us to state, party questions. The Ministry now began to think it a dangerous thing to commend a measure that had originated with so active an opponent as Mr. Brougham; and they naturally tried to retrieve the error that had betrayed them into temporary fairness, by hindering, or at least embarrassing its farther progress. A multitude of small writers opened their little batteries upon Mr. Brougham. He was charged with designs hostile to the two great Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He intended, they said, to convert them into schools for paupers. He was accused of a wish
to make himself a dictator in this country, by establishing a grand inquisition, and placing himself at its head.' well be supposed, that Mr. Brougham was not alarmed by these attacks. In 1819, he introduced a bill recommending a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the condition of charitable endowments, to complete the work which the Education Committee had begun. In the debate that arose upon this bill, the objections to the measure were arranged principally in two classes; the one, founded on the pretence, that the powers granted to the Commissioners would enable them to pry into the private titles of the kingdom; the other, on the
1 assumption, that a sufficient remedy for abuses, if any there were, already existed in the Court of Chancery, under the statute of Charitable Uses. On the first class of objections, Mr. Brougham commented with deserved severity. Under
• the flimsy pretence,' he says, of great tenderness for the sacred rights of property, I am well aware that the authors of the outcry conceal their own dread of being themselves dragged to light as the robbers of the poor; and I will tell those shameless persons, that the doctrine which they promulgate of charitable funds in a trustee's hand being private property, is
utterly repugnant to the whole law of England.' And this proposition, we think, he conclusively demonstrated, but we have not space for the steps of the process. We shall give, at greater length, a part of his reply to the second class of objections, not merely because it is vivid and powerful, but because it is a vivid and powerful description of a Court, in which Mr.
a Brougham himself now presides as Lord High Chancellor of England.
' It is enough to observe of the remedy under the statute of Charitable Uses, that it leads him who pursues it, sooner or later, into the Court of Chancery; and, in truth, as the law now stands, that well known Court is the only refuge of those who complain. See then the relief held out to us by those who oppose, or threaten to oppose this measure, and who bid us resort to the ancient laws of the land! It is admitted to be true, that glaring abuses every where prevail; true, that hardly a parish or a hamlet can be found where complaints are not heard ; true, that the highest judicial authority proclaimed the extent of the grievance; true, that a Committee of the House of Commons, thirty years ago, vehemently urged you to afford redress. But your remedy is at hand, say the objectors,—what reason have you to complain? Is not the Court of Chancery open ? Come, all ye who labor under the burden of fraud and oppression, enter the eternal gate of the Court of Chancery! True, you are the poor of the land,—the grievance you complain of has robbed you
of every thing; but, though pennyless, you are not remediless; you have only to file a bill in Equity, and the matter will take its course ! Why, if there be nothing in the reality, there is something in the name of the Court of Chancery, that appals the imagination and strikes terror into the unlearned mind. I recollect the saying of a very great man in the Court of King's Bench.
The Judge having said of his client, “ Let him go into a Court of Equity," Mr. Erskine answered, in an artless tone of voice, that made Westminster Hall ring with laughter, “Would your Lordship send a fellow-creature there?” There may be some exaggeration in the alarms created by the bare name of this Court; but, as long as it exists, a barrier is raised against suitors, who only seek redress for the poor, though no bars of oak or of iron may shut them out. Yet that the prevailing panic has some little foundation, I will show you by a fact. This remedy has only once been resorted to since 1787, and I am now enabled to state the result. The commission was executed in 1803; and in 1804, decree was made, and the Court was petitioned to confirm it. Exceptions were taken as usual. Much and solemn argument
was held, and I will venture to say from what I know of that Court, the case was most learnedly and plentifully debated. In 1808 the matter was deemed ripe for a decision, and, to use a technical but significant expression, it has stood over for judgment. Now in the language of the profession, “this is my
If any one tells me that the statute of Charitable Uses affords a remedy, I answer, that the grossest abuses being every where notorious, this remedy has been only thrice resorted to for above half a century, and only once within the last thirty years ; and I bid him look at the fate of that one attempt to obtain justice.'
Notwithstanding Mr. Brougham's argument and eloquence, his bill did not pass, except after material modification, and being shorn of a great part of its original efficiency. The power proposed to be given to the Commissioners was limited, their sphere of action narrowed, and some classes of charities, in which abuses were known to exist, altogether exempted from investigation. The original bill proposed the appointment of eight Commissioners by Parliament, to be distributed into four Boards of Inquiry.
The number eight was retained; but three instead of two Commissioners were assigned to each Board, and their appointment was assumed by the Ministry The Education Comınittee, still anxious, though niuch disappointed, to give what effect they could to the measure, recommended several persons known to have distinguished themselves in the investigation, to be of the commission. The men of their nomination were passed by without ceremony; wbile men were appointed, avowedly hostile to the measure, or devoted, with almost exclusive zeal, to professional pursuits. Mr. Brougham offered his own services. They were rejected with contemptuous silence. On this subject, our readers will allow us to use his own language. 'I was induced,' he says in his letter to Sir Samuel Romilly, to tender my services, by the strong representations of my fellow-laborers in the Committee. As the office conferred neither emolument, nor patronage, nor power; as it gave only the privilege of hard labor, of which my habits of life and my zeal for the cause made it very clear that I should cheerfully take advantage; I imagined that the most implacable species
I of malice,-ihe spite of peculators trembling for their unjust gains,-could hardly impute any selfish views to the application. I therefore stated openly in my place, that I was anx
ious to be an honorary member of this commission. I added, that even if my temporary retirement from Parliament were deemed an indispensable condition of the appointment, I still desired to have the option upon those terms; being of opinion, that I might render more valuable service to the country by devoting to the proposed inquiry the whole time which I could spare from professional avocations. Yet though Mr. Brougham thus publicly declared his readiness even to go out of Parliament, if he might be permitted on that condition to labor for the public good, men were found willing to assert that the sole spring, source, and motive of all his efforts in this cause was parliamentary ambition.
Crippled and maimed as the bill was in its passage, it nevertheless produced important results. The Commissioners appointed under it, made two reports, containing the substance of their investigations into the condition of a large number of charities. The statements of the Education Committee were fully confirmed; and, in the next year, the whole original measure of Mr. Brougham was carried through Parliament without a dissenting voice. And more. The powers of the Commissioners were enlarged, and their number increased beyond his first proposition ; to the infinite mortification of a number of scribblers, who had thought to render an acceptable service to the Ministry, by attacking that measure, which public opinion constrained them at last to adopt as their own. The reports of the Commissioners, made as well before as after this suppletory measure, are very ample, and contain a full account of the condition of a great portion of the English charities.
Mr. Brougham now thought the time come for a direct effort to effect that graud object to which all this inquiry was a mere preliminary. He brought into Parliament, in 1820, his celebrated bill for the general education of the poor ; providing for the instruction of all the children of all the people in common schools. This bill instantly became the object of virulent assault. Inflamed and contradictory accounts of it were spread among the people. The Churchmen were admonished that it would ruin the Establishment; while Dissenters were warned that it would annihilate the sects.
Every effort was made to array the religious feelings of the community in opposition to the measure. One writer actually went so far, to ascribe the whole scheme to the instigation of Satan, and seemed impressed with a vague notion, that Mr. Brougham
VOL. XXXIII. NO. 72. 31
himself must be, some how or other, an incarnation of the Prince of Darkness. Of this writer's ravings, we give a specimen, as a curiosity in controversy.
. And this reprehensible plan (Mr. Brougham's Plan of National Education) is proposed at a time when the enemy is, with malignant craft and industry, compiling and circulating far and wide manuals of the most blasphemous and seditious nature, for the use of those very children who are taught to read and write by the public benevolence. If the Madras System of Education, which more than combines all the mechanical advantages of the Lancasterian, with the addition of wholesome and daily instruction in Christian faith and practice, as admirably set forth in our Church Catechism and other appropriate expositions, is even endangered by these infernal machinations of the Devil and his inspired agents; how can we contemplate without painful apprehension, those naked schemes of education, which offer no effectual barrier against the infidel and demoralizing doctrines of the times! The enemy of mankind, whose element is sin, and whose good is evil, neglects no opportunity to sow his tares in a field so superficially cultivated, and so exposed to his incursions.'
It will doubtless astonish Americans to learn, that the study of the Bible, without note or comment, was a part of the plan of instruction so vehemently attacked. It is deeply to be regretted, that appeals to the religious sentiments of mankind should be so often made to arrest the progress of benevolence, or the diffusion of knowledge. Still more deeply is it to be lamented, that these appeals should be so frequently successful; that religion, the highest, the purest, the noblest of all the influences that can operate upon man, should so frequently become, in the bands of designing or ignorant men, the instrument of counteracting her own benevolent purposes. In the present case, they prevented an incalculable good to England. The progress of the Education Bill was arrested ; and Mr. Brougham's efforts in Parliament were, of course, suspended. Of this sore disappointment, he speaks in the Dedication of his Practical Observations on Popular Education, with that calmness and forbearance, which he has ever displayed, when either was a virtue.
'I have,' says he, brought the question of Elementary Education repeatedly before Parliament, when the lukewarmness of many, and by me ever to be respected scruples of some, have hitherto greatly obstructed my design.'