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Cittrofetr ^tijools Commission:


" The ancient virtue is not dead,
An 1 long ifliiy it endure !
May wealth iu England never fail.
Nor pity for the poor ! "

Mr. (Jludiito)ie's Speech at Greenwich, S9th Oct., 1871.





Part I. The Act and its Admixistkation .... 3

„ II. The Commissioners and their Principles . . 18

,, III. How they Exercise their Powers . . 26

„ IV. The Case for Parliament 36


I. Extract from Mr. Forster's Speech . . . .46

II. Extract from Journal of House of Lords . . .50

III. Extract from Appeal for Help to the .... Mission

District in London 51

rV. Eeport as to the Grey Coat Hospital . . .54




The Act and its Administeation.

In a recent article* the Saturday Review drew atten-
tion to the fact that 24 only out of 3,000 endowed
schools had been dealt with up to February by the
Endowed Schools Commissioners, and the Daily
Telegraph some time agof suggested that the work
of the Commissioners would probably be finished
about the time of the Greek Kalends. We take
leave to suggest that it should be finished at once,
and the Commissioners, instead of drawing between
£14,000 and £15,000 a year from the taxes levied
upon the people, sent about their business " to live
" in time to come by their honest labour," to use the
words of Lady Dacre when she founded Emanuel
Hospital. :|: We have stated our thesis at the com-
mencement, and propose to demonstrate it.

We do not desire to convey that no more than
twenty-four schemes have been made up to this
moment ; but there is no authentic statement of the

* December 23rd, 1872. f February 2n(l, 1872.

X Their powers expired on the Slat December, 1872, but
have been extended for twelve mouths by an Order in Council of
the 27th November.


operations of the Commissioners to refer to since
February. Many schemes have probably been forced
after that date upon unwilling neighbourhoods
unable to resist them : Ripon, for example, where,
in place of an excellent free grammar school, the
citizens are now liable to pay £15 a year for a son's
education, because the Lord President does not think
the existence of perfectly free schools is right.

In the course of the last Session of Parliament, the
Commissioners presented to the Privy Council a
report of their proceedings, which was laid before
Parliament. It is avowedly intended to be not
only the justification of their remarkable career, but
to contain the reasons for the prolongation of their
existence. The cause of education in England, and
the protection of the poor, alike demand that the
other side of the question should be heard. If we
do not imitate the example of the Commissioners in
writing a book of 125 pages, it is because we are
sensible of the enormous demands upon the time of
public men in these days of shortened hours of labour
and increasing work ; but none the less we ask for
this brief consideration of the subject the attention
which its importance demands. It must never be
forgotten that it involves an income of £3710,000* per
annum, before their appointment under the protection
of the law, but now without any.

The examination of this question cannot be com-
plete without also referring to the course pursued
by the Committee of Council on Education ; and, if
"' Fide Appendix, post p. 47

we speak unreservedly and plainly, it is because the
assumptions of tlie Commissioners, after they have
had a full opportmiity of learning how the country
views their proceedings, must be very differently
regarded now, to what they were at the outset of
their existence.

It is not too much to say that they proposed to
deal with all educational establishments in such a
way, as the possession of despotic power could alone
carry through, and that they have paid and pay
little or no regard to the many expressions of dis-
appointment and indignation with which their
proposals are everywhere received.

The Government, and particularly Mr. Forster,
the Vice-President of the Committee of Council, will,
no doubt, not like to admit the total failure of their
plans for dealing with the question of secondary
education ; but if Mr. Forster has chosen to work
with mifit tools, and to support the Commissioners
in their proceedings, he cannot escape from the

Rightly to understand the matter, it is necessary
to go back to the appointment of the Commissioners.
They are no part of the ordinary Government of the
country, but simply the creatures of a temporary
Act of Parliament. In December, 1864, a Com-
mission was appointed to inquire into public schools,
understanding principally thereby numerous endowed
grammar schools spread over England, and many
of which, from causes not necessary for the present
purpose to set forth, were in a declining state.

This Commission expeditiously discharged its duty.
In less than three years (December, 1871) it presented
a report extending to no less than ten thick volumes,
and making many suggestions for giving life to the
grammar schools ; but it acknowledged in emphatic
language the respect due to founders' wills.

The Government accordingly introduced a Bill
into Parliament in the Session of 1869 authorizing
the appointment of three Commissioners to reform
abuses. No speech had been made upon the occasion
of the first reading of this Bill, and great was the alarm
felt when its sweeping provisions came to be known
throughout the country. The well-managed schools
objected to be mixed up with the bad, and to have
the same measure meted out indifferently to all.
The opposition would have assumed such formidable
dimensions, that Mr. Forster found it necessary to
commend the further progress of the Bill to the
country, by a carefully prepared and elaborate speech
in moving the second reading. To what he then
said, speaking with the weight and responsibility of
the Minister of the Crown, not only in charge of the
Bill, but with whom its execution, after it became
law, would entirely rest, we beg particular attention.

The speech is too long to quote in extenso here,
but the " ipsissima verba " are given in the
Appendix,* as extracted from Hansard. Suffice it
to say that the speech obtained for the Bill general
approval and sympathy. In it Mr. Forster laid
before the House in forcible language, supported by

*■ Vide pod page 47.

extracts from the Report of the Schools Inquiry
Commission, many gross cases of neglect and abuse
of school endowments ; but immediately after the
statement of those cases came his assurance (after-
wards rejDcated to the trustees of the Bristol Schools),
that the Bill was not intended for good schools; and
further on in the same speech was the expression of
his lioj^e that it was possible to reform bad schools,
and ' ' that, when freed from the abuses which had
" arisen in their administration, they would be pro-
" ductive of great good in the future." The whole
tenor of this speech disarmed an opposition which
would have been sufficiently powerful to prevent the
Bill passing, if there had been the least notion in the
public mind, that a general scheme of confiscation
was to be entered upon by the persons entrusted
with the execution of its powers.

It is true that some of the members who heard
Mr. Forster were disquieted by doubts, and, as the
result has shown, were prophetic in their utterances.

Mr. Howard, for instance, " believed it would be
" a great national disaster should gentlemen be ap-
"pointed Commissioners who had imbibed educa-
*' tional hobbies or crotchets, or who were under the
" influence of narrow or stereotyped views for dealing
" with so great and comprehensive a subject."

Mr. Locke too ' ' looked with dismay upon the
" enormous expense to which the public and schools
" might be put in appealing first to the Privy Council
" and then to Parliament."

Mr. Goldncy said "the stupid children ought to


" be educated as well as the clever ones ; " and Mr.
Walter "objected (as well he might) to the limit of
'' forty days for presenting an address condemning
" the scheme." He is probably satisfied by this
time that, instead of being negative addresses, they
should have been affirmative.

This Bill no doubt gave very ample powers to the
Commissioners — "stringent and di'astic " they call
them, — and such powers as it is believed have never
before been given by Parliament to any persons, and
never must be again ; those powers may have been
necessary to be in the hands of the Commissioners
where a bad school had to be dealt with, but their
possession does not justify their exercise upon good
schools ; and for the Commissioners to apply them to
good schools, and for Mr. Forster to sanction such
application, is a breach of public faith, which no
consideration whatever can justify. Acts of Parlia-
ment are not our only laws in the affairs of life.

Yet, with a perversity of jDurpose for which
nothing, but the desire to make their office last as
long as possible, can account, the Commissioners at
once proceeded to attack the well-managed schools,
and gave no attention to the bad ones ; nay, more,
they proceeded with the exercise of their powers, not
as if they had to reform abuses in grammar schools,
but as if they had come into possession of the entire
educational endowments of all England, to refound
them at their pleasure; and they have the temerity to
allege, in effect, that the Act under which they derive
their powers has bodily incorporated into it the


entire report of the previous Inquiry Commis-
sioners, and made that their guide.* Nor is this
amazing pretension the only one put forth by the
Commissioners. They assert it not only to be their
right, but their duty, to take possession of and
divert every endowment given for providing elemen-
tary or, as they call it, primary education, and apply
it for secondary or middle-class education. f

Their own conclusion is summed up in these words:
"It is difficult to see what advantages the elemen-
'' tary scholars get from an endowment if it only
'' meets those expenses which must otherwise be met,
'' and are met, perhaps, in the next parish by other
'' resources." In vain do the trustees of this class of
endowments plead that it is undisguised confisca-
tion to pervert them from the plain j^urpose
to which the bounty of a former parishioner
gave them. Neither this argument, the preamble of
the Act under which the Commissioners are actinir,
which says that the main designs of the founders
are to be carried into effect, nor the founders'
direction, nor the intention of the Legislature in
passing the Elementary Education Act, have
the least weight in their eyes; indeed, so strong
is the desire with which they are animated
to dispossess somebody or something, that they
have not the common justice to let poor children

* See House of Commons Paper, No. 297, Session 1871,
pp. 10 and 18; Copy Correspondence Emanuel Hospital; and
Report of the Commissioners, p. 9.

t See Report, pp. 27-30, and Paper S, p. 72.


remain In schools in which they arc lawfully placed
until the expiration of their time, but they actually
command their being turned out the day the scheme
becomes law. Since the days of acts of attainder,
these are the first retrospective laws we have had in
this countr}^. But "these three" stick at notliing,
and in the case of the Grey-coat Hospital, at West-
minster, although it was pointed out to them that
part of the endowment even of the charity would
be forfeited if the Governors did not fill up the
places as they became vacant, the Commissioners
refused to alter their decision : perhaps, as that
excellent charity is close by Victoria Street, they
hoped to have ocular proof of at least one scheme
being in work, by meeting some j)Oor little orphan
girl turned out into the street as they walked down
one morning to their office there. For gentlemen
who were confessedly hunting "the pious founder"
con a?)iore, this could not but be an exhilarating sight.
No wonder the Commissioners have made but
slow progress. Not one word was ever breathed in
Parliament of an intention to confiscate endowments
for primary education doing their duty, nor the
various meritorious hosj^ital schools ; reform of
abuses in grammar schools was held out as the
object to be dealt with by the Commissioners, and
even "blazing principles" (without which, accord-
ing to some, there can be no Government long
in power), would have recoiled at the universal
confiscation thus contemplated by the Commissioners.
The widespread distrust and aversion engendered


by their violent and arbitrary policy is an impassable
barrier now to the success of their work. A spirit
of moderation alone could have won the confidence
of the public and the assistance of localities where
they had to work, and without which success was
impossible. Even if their schemes are tyrannically
forced down the throats of Englishmen, in the face
of protests against them, tliey have afterwards to be
worked; and no one but a visionary philosopher will
look for success without a large measure of public
sympathy and hearty support. We believe that
Mr. Forster and the Government intended that
the Endowed Schools Commission should enter upon
the important work confided to it in a spirit of
moderation. There was am^^le scope for vigorous
reforms in the condition of a large number of
endowed schools and charities. In many cases the
trusts were mischievous, or no longer ajiplicable to
the circumstances of the present age. In others
were exhibited all the vices of maladministration,
extravagance, and malversation of the funds. The
public hoped and believed that the Commission
would at once apply itself to redress this state of
things, leaving useful and well-managed foundations
untouched, and use its energies for the cor-
rection of proved abuses. But, when the names of
the Commissioners came to be known, the pub-
lished opinions of certain of its members and
officials completely disappointed this expectation,
and their manifestoes, notably Papers F and S,*

* See Eeport, pp. 44-72


soon confirmed this mistrust. Their pohcy was
at once seen not to be limited to the institution
of necessary reforms, but as conceived in a
spirit of revolution. It contemplated a general
reversal of trusts, however wholesome and bene-
ficent their purpose ; a sweeping disestablishment
of the existing governing bodies ; and the ultimate
abolition of all provision for the gratuitous educa-
tion and maintenance of the children of the poor.
It was declared that the wills of founders must
be treated as waste-paj)er, and that endowments
must be forcibly released from '' the grasp of the
"dead hand." Gratuitous education was declared to
be a cause of demoralization to the poor, and it was
intimated that henceforth it would only be given as
the reward of educational merit established in com-
petitive examination. It was seen at once that the
whole tendency of the views of the Commissioners
was to abolish the gratuitous education of the poor,
and to apply the funds to the establishment of cheap
schools for the middle classes. It was no marvel if
the great body of trustees, governing bodies, and
school managers — looking upon themselves as the
appointed guardians of the rights of the poor —
should rise in revolt against a policy which contem-
plated the wholesale confiscation of the endowments
bequeathed expressly for their benefit.

The Commissioners protest that they have been
egregiously misunderstood ; but the condemnation
they have provoked rests not merely upon a paper
programme, but upon the practical exhibition of


their policy in the various schemes they have put
forth from time to time. We defy contradiction
when we say that the purpose and effect of their
Emanuel Hospital scheme, for instance^ is to cut off
the })rovision for the gratuitous education of the
poor, and employ it for the establishment of cheap
schools for the middle classes. Tlie only qualifi=
cation to the general character of the scheme is the
proviso by which the child of a poor man may gain
a free schooling if he can establish his educational
superiority in a competitive examination with middle-
class- children, who may have been undergoing the
process of "cramming" for months beforehand,
for which the poor man cannot afford to pay.
With this exception, there is hardly any mitigation
of the general intention of the Commissioners to
appropriate the endowments distinctly bequeathed
for the benefit of the poor, to lessen the cost of edu-
cation to the middle classes. They reply that
the Elementary Education Act does away with the
necessity of maintaining this provision for the indi-
gent classes. No more wrong-headed interpretation
could have been given to that Act. Parliament and
the country intended by passing that measure to
supply the existing voids in education ; but these
Commissioners, by seizing and diverting all endow-
ments for elementary education, proceed to quadruple
that void, and much the country will thank them for
it, if they should be (may it not be so!) successful.
What do the London ratepayers think of the taxes
they have at present to submit to for the London


School Board's operati»»ns, at present only in its in-
fancy ? But what will the outcry be when the taxes
for education come to be levied all over the country,
because the Endowed Schools Commissioners have
taken away the endowments for primary educa-
tion ? Do you doubt their intention to do this ?
Eoad again their Report and Paper S.*

Without further j^ursuing that view of the question
which affects the ratepayer, it is obvious, on the
equally important view of it which affects the poor,
that a cheap education in a public school is no
equivalent to a poor man for the gift of a free
education, with lodging, clothing, and maintenance
for his child. Nor will he be any more satisfied
with the exchange, because he may be told that
if he is all the -worse for it, the class immediately
above him is all the better.

What a preposterous thing to tell the poor man
that it demoralizes him to subsidize his scanty
means with an endowment for his children's educa-
tion, but that it is a most excellent things for the
class above him ! What affection it will give him
for the institutions of his country, when they take
away from him the endowments expressly given to
him, and transfer them to the middle class !

He will certainly ask, if the grasp of the dead
man's hand is to be no protection for the security
and safety of estates left in trust for his benefit and
his relief, why should it any longer protect the

Eeport, pp. 27-30, 72.


private inheritance of Lord Lyttelton and his com-
peers ? As a keen observer lately said, upon observ-
ing the Marquis of Ripon and Lord Lyttelton in the
Council Chamber at Whitehall, striving to take away
the grasp of Lady Dacre's hand from Emanuel
Hospital, he wondered whether those great lords
remembered for a moment that it was a dead man's
hand that had entailed their estates and possessions
on themselves, and whether they reflected that it
was a dead man's hand which had placed their
coronets upon their brows, and their ermined robes
upon their shoulders ; and whether, when the grasp
of the dead man's hand had been removed, and every
Act of Parliament and charter which had insured
the possession of his property to the object which
he gave it, had been abrogated at the instigation of
these noble lords he should live to see the children
of some Citizen Odger, who had passed Lord
Lyttelton's competitive examination, smoking their
clay pipes among the stately ruins of Studley Royal,
or desecrating the classic groves of Hagley ; the
same law which protects the estates and titles of
their fortunate possessors being treated of none effect
to prevent the poor man's inheritance of charities
left in trust for him, being confiscated.

If this evil precedent of the removal of the
founder's dead hand be insisted upon, will it be
surprising, when comi)ulsory education shall have
more generally diffused knowledge among the lower
classes — as will be the case in another decade
— to hear the question why the revenues of the


dissolved monasteries should be retained by private
owners instead of being restored to the Church or to
the State ? By what other title than the "dead hand "
of King Henry VIII. do tlie noble possessors of
Bolton, Covent Garden, Croyland, Furness, Foun-
tains, Tavistock, Thorney, AVoburn, and many
other rich abbeys now hold them ? * Surely their
title, as receiving these grants for assisting that
clerical and educational reformer in the gratification
of his passion for Anne Boleyn stands lower than
than that of the poor of Westminster to Lady
Dacre's estates, the fruit of a life of self-denial and
Christian charity! Reflecting upon these ques-
tions, will the House of Lords, the guardians of the
rights of property, allow so fatal a precedent of
confiscation ?

Does this argument beg the question that the
endowments are to be taken from the poor and given
to the middle-classes ? What said Lord Lyttleton in
his place in the House of Lords? ''He admitted
" it would be the effect of the work of the Commis-
" sion to give the lion's share of the endowments
*' under their control, taken as a whole, to the middle-
*' class rather than to the highest or lowest class, "f
Do the facts in the test case, which the Commis-
sioners themselves have selected to try ther powers,
Emanuel Hospital, agree with Lord Lyttelton's

* One-twentitrth part only of the propt rty of the monasteiies
reached the State, ihe remainder -was di.>tjibiited amcDg Henry's

f nansflril, vol. 95, p. 1567.


avowed intentions ? Lady Dacre founded that
charity for the gratuitous education of poor children.
The bulk of the benefits henceforth are to be ob-
tained only upon payment of £25 a year. The best
of the working class do not earn, even now, more
than forty shillings a week, or £10-1: a year.
If the parent has but two or three children
to educate can he afford to pay £50 or £75
a year for them at the new Emanuel School?
But the middle-class father can. Is £25 a year less
than the value of the maintenance and education
the cliild will receive there ? What other conclusions
can possibly be deduced from these facts than that
Lady Dacre' s endowment will give to the middle-
class child an education at a price less than its value
— in other words, the parent's payment to the school
will be subsidized by Lady Dacre's money.



The Commissioners and their Principles.

Had it been known at the time the Bill was in
Parliament into whose hands its powers would have
been placed, and what sentiments they entertained,
small was the chance of its ever being read a second
time, much less reaching the House of Lords. The
sayings and doings of Lord Lyttelton and Mr.
Hobhouse, two of the three Commissioners, had not
at that time gone beyond the walls of the Social
Science Association. Mr, Hobhouse prepared the
way by reading a paper to that select body on the
8th July, 1869,* in which he laid it dowm, with
singular charity and philanthropy, that " To talk of
" the piety or benevolence of people who give proj)erty
'' to public uses, is a misuse of language springing
''from confusion of ideas. As a matter of fact, I
"believe, as I have elsewhere said more at length,
"that donors to public uses are less under the
"guidance of reason and conscience, and more
" under the sway of the baser jDassions, than other
" people." Alas ! poor Lady Dacre ! And further
on he says :'\ —

"Having now reviewed the princijjal doctrines
" and arguments on this subject, I am in a position

'' Journal of the ^'ocial Science Assoication, 18CD, p. 595.
i Ibid, p. COl.


''to state tlie two simple principles which should
''be established with respect to foundations.

" The first is that the public should not be com-
" pelled to take whatever is offered to it; . . . . the
" second j^rinciple is that the grasp of the dead hand
" shoidd be shaken off absolutely and finally."
Lord Lyttelton, speaking at the same meeting, after
listening to this instructive paper, said,* " that if
"himself and Mr. Hobliouse were allowed to do

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