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from the Government or independent members, or whether, if any united opposition be threatened and formed, the Houses will decree-consistently with all the other antecedents in charity legislation—that endowments shall be held sacred for all the purposes of mischief and mismanagement, but that they must be preserved against the sacrilege of rational adjustment, or useful application.
What are the principles upon which charitable endowments should be applied ? The general answer we should offer is this,-1. When the founder's intentions are at the present day found to be rational, useful, and wise, let them be enforced diligently, intelligently, and in the spirit in which they were conceived. 2. If his intentions, on the other hand, are either in themselves, or have become from lapse of time or change of circumstances, irrational, useless, or mischievous, let the funds bequeathed be applied for the benefit of society, after such a mode as its members (or those commissioned by them to decide on such questions) shall decree. Frequently a simple adjustment of the funds is only required, and they can often be well administered on the cyprès doctrine; but whenever it is obviously more beneficial to make a radical change in the object of a trust, it is as obviously the right and the duty of society to effect the best they can devise. This latter doctrine was boldly asserted in the Bill which the Commons cut up. It was proposed to enact, that it should be lawful for the Board to frame and approve of schemes for the application of any charitable funds to the promotion of charitable purposes different from the terms of the trust in the several following cases ; viz., “where it appears to the said Board that the charitable purpose for which any fund has been given by the founder has failed; and where the said Board are satisfied that the fund, as administered according to the charitable trust affecting the same, creates or increases pauperism or immorality; where, in the opinion of the said Board, the fund of any charity administered separately is insufficient for the purposes for which it was given by the founder, but may, under a scheme approved as aforesaid, be effectively employed in union with, or in aid of, any other charity, whether supported by endowment or by voluntary subscriptions, or partly by endowment and partly by voluntary subscriptions, or in extending the benefits of any such other charity ;-where in the case of any charity founded more than sixty years before the approval of the scheme in relation thereto, the said Board are satisfied that the charity has no beneficial results, or that the benefits are insignificant, having regard to the income thereof, and that the income of such charity may, under a scheme so approved as aforesaid, be beneficially applied to other charitable purposes in the district or districts where it is administered.”
A strict watch ought to be set upon the natural effects of time upon the wants of society, as well as against the constant parasites of endowments—corruption and robbery. The well-known recital in the great statute of Elizabeth 1 states in unequivocal terms that the endowments of charities at that time were in an insecure condition, and were not "employed according to the charitable intent of the givers and founders thereof, by reason of frauds, breaches of trusts, and negligence in those that should pay, deliver, and employ the same ;" and the first Charity Commissions were then set on foot. There was, however, no shrinking in Elizabeth's reign from meeting the evils, which were notorious, in an efficient and prompt manner. The commissioner then had ample powers, and freely used them. All subsequent experience, indeed, demonstrates that, useful or mischievous, charitable trusts are peculiarly liable to abuse and loss; and no one, therefore, openly denies the advantage of having an efficient Board to control them. But we do find, whenever we come to the altering, modifying, or reconstituting a mischievous, useless, or absurd foundation, that the tongues of the foolish are loosed, and the words of the superstitious spring up as grass, and the mistake or folly of a man is rendered to certain minds sacred by his death; nay, some even refuse to believe that a testator or living founder could have been wise enough to have adapted to the change of circumstances his bequest, if the control over it could have been continued to him after he had left the world.
1 43 Eliz. c. 4, “ An Act to redress the Mis-employment of Lands, Goods, and Stocks of Money heretofore given to Charitable Uses."
? See Duke's Law of Charitable Uses.
VOL. I. NO. I.
We should, however, submit, that the greatest compliment one could pay the memory of the departed benevolent, is to believe that they were always minded to do the best for humanity with that property, for which they had no longer any use themselves, and which, moreover, society had permitted them (as a matter of convenience, not of right) to bequeath, subject to certain rules, express or implied. Surely we may give our predecessors credit for the best intentions, and we should employ the propertypublic or private—which once they enjoyed, and had to pass on in the course of nature, according to the most urgent necessities of the present dwellers upon the earth, and in the most profitable and benevolent manner. Whatever conventional rules of law we may make for the sake of convenience as to the schemes to be adopted with respect to the foundations of the worthy dead, the right, we apprehend, exists in the living society to order its application in a way, either foreign to, or analogous with, the wishes of the founders, “as then advised.” Nevertheless, we foresee that many will they be who will stand up, in and out of the House, and appeal to the prejudices of mankind in favour of “doles," and all sorts of pauperizing payments (especially if they occur in a borough represented by a member who knows the value of such eleemosynary practices). These appeals will be made, perhaps, not so much because of an ancient belief that such charities are not so mischievous as political economists now declare them to be, but on the ground that we should never violate pious duty towards a deceased benefactor, by departing from his expressed desires. They, however, who hold such a view as this should remember that the Court of Chancery and Parliament have the right to “violate," expensively and wastefully, the wills of the deceased, who certainly never contemplated that their funds should go in large costs to solicitors, or fat fees to Chancery counsel.
If the true principles upon which charity funds should be administered are understood and conceded, there only remains the duty of confiding to proper and lawful hands ample means of consistently carrying out these principles in every parish and district. It requires a Man or a Government with both a heart and a will to complete the work, by giving to the Charity Commission the position and powers which we have shown are positively requisite. Will the law as to charities be left as it now is? Will the Charitable Trusts Acts remain among
the numerous statutes which afford us examples of certain legislative characteristics of the day, which we take chiefly to be these ;—the talking upon all subjects, the touching of many, and the thorough treatment of none ;—so that if a principle be truly affirmed, it is cowardly compromised forthwith; and if Truth is embraced eagerly, it is only that she should be afterwards abandoned at discretion ?
There yet remains, however, to us one veteran Law Reformerthe Lord Brougham who struck the first heavy blow at charity abuses. Will he give them their coup de grace now? He has supported the feeble, wandering steps of governing bodies, as they have for these thirty years been alternately doing a little and being done a great deal. He has seen admitted all that he affirmed a quarter of a century ago; and the errors now found in the practical mismanagement of the Legislature do not lie at his door. To Lord Brougham, then, we may now once more look to make a perfect system out of the faulty measures which we have been discussing. No one knows better than he in what they are defective, and no one could declare it more powerfully. He carried the stronghold of the enemy long ago, but left a feeble garrison in it to repel the little attacks of the beaten foe. This they have done very unsuccessfully, and chiefly by small bribery, a bit of a principle surrendered here, and a practical provision yielded there. The statutes require comparatively but a little verbal amendment to make them of immense value. The difficulties to be encountered we know; they consist of the confederacy interested in continuing abuses, the general debility of the Government, and the constitutional mechanism by which every facility is offered of spoiling or defeating a good Bill in its progress to maturity, and foisting on the public statutory shams and absurdities.
Art. VII.-MEMOIRS OF MRS. FITZHERBERT, WITH
AN ACCOUNT OF HER MARRIAGE WITH H.R.H.
GEORGE THE FOURTH.
THE experience of late years has proved that the prayer to
be to the living, but may even more properly be supposed to issue from the tomb. The decease of every remarkable person, and of many who were but little celebrated during their day, has, for some time past, become the occasion of publishing whatever anecdotes could be collected by the dealers in gossip, and of all the letters that could be obtained, however manifest it might be that the stories were unfit to be recorded, or the compositions to see the light; and in most cases the memory of the departed individual has suffered, whether the proceeding originated in the desire to gratify public curiosity, or in the mistaken design of raising him in public estimation; insomuch that Death has been sometimes said to be now armed with a new terror. We must at once admit that the very respectable and well-meaning author of the work before us, falls not within the scope of these remarks, except so far as regards the injury he has done those he meant to serve. He has been actuated only by his affection towards his deceased relative, and by his zeal for the religious opinions which, in common with her, he professes. But it must be further allowed, that his advocacy both of the individual and of her religion is singularly unfortunate; for with the purest intentions possible, his book, in the opinion of all considerate and impartial readers, must appear not a little prejudicial to both. But it is only in one respect that the work comes within our province—the matter of law which it contains; and no doubt this is of more than ordinary importance.
Mr. Langdale appears by several parts of the book to be