§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN
in rising to call attention to certain defects in the "Public Schools Act, 1868,"and the position of assistant masters under that Act; and to move—That a Select Committee be appointed to consider whether any alteration is desirable in the existing relations between the Governing Bodies, Head Masters, and Assistant Masters of the seven schools under the operation of that Act,said, he hoped he should be acquitted by the House and the Government of any disrespect or want of courtesy for not having postponed his Motion. He 1421 should have done that readily, if there had been any general expression of a desire that he should do so. So far, however, from that being the case, he had only, on the preceding day, received many representations, all of which were to the contrary effect. He knew that in bringing the question forward he incurred some responsibility. There were many who would meet him with the remark—"Pray let our Public Schools alone. The less they are interfered with from outside, the better for them." There was so much truth in that remark, if it was applied to a constant and unnecessary interference, that he could well understand the feeling with which it was made, and the dislike which was entertained to a Public School discussion in that House. But there were exceptional cases, in which such a discussion was not only desirable, but imperatively necessary, and the present was, in his opinion, one of them. An evil had arisen directly out of the legislation of recent years, and to that evil he wished to call the attention of the House. When Parliament, selecting seven of the principal Schools in the country, determined to make them the subjects of special legislation, several consequences immediately of necessity ensued. In the first place, anything that was private in the character and constitution of those schools was so far swept away, that they became emphatically the Public Schools of the country, in which the public had a right to take an interest, and which were brought more directly within the control of public opinion and under the eye of public criticism. In the second place, being governed by the provisions of an Act of Parliament, which, as a first attempt at legislation upon the subject, could hardly be expected to be perfect in all its details, these seven schools became at once a fair and natural object for Parliamentary inquiry from time to time, in order that it might be seen whether the working of that Act had answered the anticipations of its promoters. And, thirdly, having been ranked and recognized among the acknowledged institutions of the country, the public had a right to expect that the same constitutional principles which permeated our whole Government would be found henceforth existing and flourishing in these Public Schools. If then the subject was one fairly open to public 1422 criticism and Parliamentary inquiry, he should have owed no apology to the House if he had merely come there to show some defect in the machinery established by the legislation of 1868. But the matter was of wider and graver import: he should show that a body of men, most hard working, meritorious, and valuable to the education of the country, had, by recent legislation, been placed in a position wherein they were compelled to give their services under conditions more stringent, galling, and onerous than was the case with any other body of their fellow-countrymen, or with any similar body of men in other countries. He should show that in this country, which prided herself upon the possession of equal laws for all her subjects, and of constitutional liberty greater than that possessed by other countries, there existed in one class of her public institutions—and in one alone—a despotism unknown in the similar institutions of other countries, and an absolute power as injurious to him who wielded it as to those who had to submit to its exercise. He should point out, moreover, this strange anomaly, that they who doubtless wished their sons to inherit that independence of thought, that freedom of speech, those general principles of liberty which stamp the English character, had been content that the men to whom they entrusted the education of those sons should be obliged to submit to a system under which their tongues were tied, their very thoughts suppressed, and their independence crushed out beneath the pressure of a degrading thralldom. And when he should have shown that this was no whim, no fancy, no crotchet of his own, but a real evil—living, present and active in our Public Schools—threatening their future welfare; grievously felt by those who were doing the educational work within them, and acknowledged even by those in whose hands this absolute power was placed, he should not only stand in need of no apology but should have earned the gratitude of those who cared for the educational efficiency of our Public Schools, in affording to Parliament an opportunity of removing a grievance which its own legislation had created. It was unnecessary to inform the House that the class of men to whom he had alluded were the assistant masters of our Public Schools, in the name and by 1423 the authority of a great majority of whom he introduced this subject. They were the men upon whose shoulders really rested the fabric of our Public Schools; they bore the burden and heat of the day; they had adopted the education of youth as a profession, and their heart was in the work. Upon the result of those men's work depended the future career of very many of those who would hereafter possess in this country all that social power and influence which followed the possession of monied and territorial wealth. It was not surprising that such men should feel something of the responsibility of their position, and should desire that in the exercise of their duties they should be as much recognized and protected by fair and equal laws as the members of any other profession. Before refusing this, Parliament was bound to show something so exceptional in their position as to justify a refusal which could not otherwise be maintained. There was no greater mistake than to speak of the assistant masters of Public Schools as if they were mere teachers in private establishments. After they had acquired houses, they much more nearly resembled the heads of Colleges, affiliated to a University, or the masters of a number of small schools incorporated together. They were part and parcel of the Public School system, and after they had become established at their several schools each of them occupied a position from which his sudden removal could not but operate injuriously to the school. Their complaint was that by the provisions of the Public Schools Act they were not only subject to such removal, but might be turned adrift without knowing the reason why, without the statement of any definite charge against them, and without any opportunity of justifying themselves and vindicating their character. The effect of this state of things could not be better described than in the words of the Petition which he had presented—That a sense of insecurity has arisen, and has been gradually increasing among your Petitioners since the enactment of the aforesaid clause; and that this feeling is likely to operate to the detriment of the Public Schools by disturbing the cordial relations which have generally existed between Head Masters and their assistants, and by discouraging men of high attainments and independent character from accepting or permanently retaining appointments from which they may at any moment be 1424 removed by the simple fiat of their immediate superior.
The Petitioners went on to say that they—
Entirely disclaim any desire to interfere with that authority of Head Masters which is necessary for the maintenance of discipline in their several schools, but they respectfully submit that this will in no way be impaired by the concession to your Petitioners of such security in their profession as a body of educated gentlemen may not unreasonably claim.
Considering the character and position of the men who filled the post of assistant masters in the Public Schools, he thought the House would be disposed to allow that they would not present themselves to Parliament as Petitioners unless they felt warmly upon the subject. Their feeling was not only warm, but it was very widely spread. Two schools alone out of the seven had at all shown reticence in the matter. The younger masters at Charterhouse had abstained from signing, though he had no reason to believe that their feeling was hostile to the Petition. The other exception was Eton. The House would easily understand the reason of this. There had been a feeling among Eton men that this Motion might be converted into an attack upon their Head Master on account of recent occurrences, and although such was by no means his intention, the feeling had doubtless operated to deter many masters from affixing their names to a Petition which might be made the foundation of such an attack. As it was,16 good men and true from Eton had signed the Petition, among whom were some of the best and most rising masters of the School. In the other five Schools the feeling had been almost unanimous. At Harrow, Shrewsbury, and Westminster every assistant master had signed it. At Winchester it had been signed by every assistant master but one; and at Rugby by 17 out of 20, so that the complaint came before them endorsed by more than two-thirds of the whole body of assistant masters, and had every claim upon their attention. He owned that he was confronted by the Report of the Commissioners of 1864, who thought Head Masters ought to have uncontrolled power of appointing and dismissing their assistant masters. Doubtless, the Commissioners expressed that opinion, but it was founded on no evidence whatever, and, indeed, they took no evidence on
the point. Besides, it was very natural for the Commissioners to entertain that opinion, for, as they themselves remarked, up to that time no assistant master had ever been dismissed from any of those Schools, because under the old statutes there were checks in every instance, except, he believed, at Westminster. Part of his argument was, that since those checks were removed by the legislation of 1868 cases of dismissal had occurred. Whatever might be the opinion of the Commissioners in 1864 we now had experience which they did not possess, though he need not use that argument, inasmuch as many parts of their Report were not compatible with the recommendation which he had just quoted to the House. He found several passages in which they leaned against the uncontrolled power of Head Masters and spoke of assistant masters not as the servants of Head Masters, as they seemed often now to be considered, but as their counsellors and advisers. Take, for instance, their Report about Eton. There, under the old system, the control of the Provost over the Head Master had been as they said, "active, extensive and minute." The Fellows of Eton had given strong evidence in favour of the maintenance of this control. A general wish had been expressed—
That the Head Master should have full scope in questions of detail, and in the ordinary administration of the school, but not that he should be absolutely uncontrolled. There is also a pretty general wish that some voice or influence should be definitely assigned to the body of assistants or some of its chief members.
The Commissioners also said that—
The want of regular meetings for consultation and of recognized opportunities for making suggestions and freely discussing them has worked prejudicially in the relations of the assistants towards their heads, and towards each other, whilst it has probably retarded very much progress of improvement in the School.
Therefore, the Commissioners strongly recommended that there should be a School Council composed of the assistant masters, and that the duty of that body should be to give advice and offer suggestions to the Head Master. Another recommendation of the Commissioners was that this Council should have the power to address the Governing Body apart from the Head Master, and this surely was not compatible with the fact of the
Council being composed solely of nominees, subject to dismissal at the caprice of the Head Master without any appeal. A Council of this kind would be valueless unless it contained some element of independence, and, therefore, when the School Commissioners recommended in one paragraph the appointment of such a Council, and in another paragraph that the Head Master should have the sole power of appointing and dismissing the assistant masters, he was forced to the conclusion that among the numerous details which they had to discuss, they did not give full consideration to the question as to what the status of the assistant masters ought to be. It was a point which had required to be tested by experience, and that experience they had now acquired. And now he came to the most difficult and delicate part of the case. If no instance of hardship could be adduced, it might be said fairly enough that the complaints of which he was the mouthpiece were ill-founded and that the fears which he expressed for the future were idle and visionary. Consequently, it would be his duty to allude to facts which had actually occurred and to individuals who had suffered from the legislation of 1868. Two Public Schools had afforded striking examples of the evils of which he complained. In December, 1870, the then Head Master of Rugby dismissed two assistant masters. This was at a time when the Public Schools Act had been passed, but a new Governing Body had not yet been appointed. The matter, therefore, came before the old Trustees, who had themselves recently appointed the Head Master, and who could not be suspected of any bias against him. Of the two assistant masters who were dismissed, one was foundation master, and had an appeal under the old statutes. He did appeal, and the Trustees, after fully hearing the case, refused to sanction the dismissal. But his colleague, whose case was precisely similar, not being a foundation master, had no appeal, and consequently he had to go. Here was an unfairness and an inequality, but the Public Schools Act removed this inequality by increasing the unfairness. It took away the right of appeal from the foundation masters, so that now every assistant master at Rugby was equally under the complete control of the
Head Master, who was only bound to notify the fact and the grounds of a dismissal to the Governing Body who could not interfere. Let them mark how this complicated the relations between Head Masters and Governing Bodies. In September, 1873, the same Head Master dismissed another assistant master. The Governing Body was appealed to, but it had now no power to intervene and the assistant master had to go. But what followed? The body of assistant masters loudly complained and subsequently he was informed that, without hearing the case, the Governing Body dismissed the Head Master, whose successor reinstated the dismissed assistant. He was not there that night to enter into the grievance of the Head Masters, though he was willing also to give them an appeal; but he contended that the Rugby cases he had quoted showed clearly that the relations existing between the Head Master, the Governing Body, and the assistant masters were of so unsatisfactory a character that an inquiry with a view to amend them was desirable, if not absolutely necessary. He now came to the case of Eton. Well, he had been told by those kind friends who always told one such things, that he must take care what he said about Eton, because there was a prejudice against him for having interfered in Eton matters. He was too old a Member of the House of Commons to be guilty of the bad taste of talking about himself; but as he had been subjected to much abuse on this subject he might, perhaps, be allowed to make two remarks. Upon the two occasions on which he had interfered with Eton matters he had done so not by his own wish, or to serve any possible personal object; but at the earnest request of others who could not well speak for themselves. He was made acquainted with the notice of dismissal served upon Mr. Browning immediately after it had been given, and he immediately deprecated publicity in the interests of the School, and strongly urged private mediation in every form. His advice was followed for nearly two months, but the Head Master remained inflexible, and when publicity became unavoidable he thought he should be showing a cowardice, which he hoped was foreign to his nature, if he had refused, at the earnest request of Mr. Browning and his friends, to be the medium through which publicity should
be given to the case. And as he had been accused of being a prejudiced partizan in this case, he might say that two or three years ago his prejudices were so warmly in favour of the Head Master that nothing but the inexorable logic of facts and events could have induced him to change his opinion. Having made these remarks, he would put everything personal aside. He would altogether put aside the merits of the case between Dr. Hornby and Mr. Browning. What he was concerned with was the manner of the dismissal. He would even suppose, for the sake of argument, that there were good and valid reasons for Dr. Hornby's giving notice of dismissal on the 15th of September to a master with whom he had been on perfectly good terms two days before. But let the House mark the sequel and they would no longer wonder at the apprehensions entertained by the body of men whom he represented. Mr. Browning appealed to the Governing Body. Dr. Hornby denied that he had any appeal. To the same Body went at the same time a remonstrance from 35 parents whose sons either were at Mr. Browning's house, or were about to go there, and who would be put to great inconvenience by his dismissal, asking the Governing Body to investigate the cause of that dismissal. Now what was the position of the Governing Body? Half the world believed even now that they fairly heard both sides and endorsed the Head Master's decision. It was no such thing. That was part of the hardship of these cases. A trial was supposed to have been held which never was held at all. The Governing Body came to a resolution, that it was—
Not competent to them to enter upon the question of the legality of Dr. Hornby's conduct in giving notice of dismissal to Mr. Browning," but they "requested Dr. Hornby to furnish them with a statement of the circumstances under which he resolved on taking that step," and subsequently they came to the conclusion "that no case existed for action on their part.
Now, he confessed that the action of the Governing Body had always appeared to him somewhat extraordinary. The Head Master held his office at the pleasure of the Governing Body. This appeared to imply, not only that the Governing Body had the power to dismiss the Head Master, but that they had the power of investigating any charge made
against him, which, if proven, might lead to his dismissal. Well, here was a charge made of an unjust dismissal of an assistant master. The Governing Body might have been right if they had refused to admit the locus standi of those who complained; but he could not see how they could have been right in practically admitting that locus stand by calling upon the Head Master for his reasons, and afterwards declining to investigate the case. Yet that was what they did. He saw his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Spencer Walpole) in his place. He was a member of the Governing Body of Eton. Would he perform a simple act of justice to-night by stating what the Governing Body held to be the law on the subject, and whether it was not a fact that the Governing Body simply intended by their resolutions to declare that they had no power to sit as a Court of Appeal in the case of a dismissal of a master, and that unless they were prepared to dismiss the Head Master they had no right to interfere. He wished his right hon. Friend would tell the House something more. When it became known that the Head Master had furnished his reasons for the dismissal, the dismissed assistant and his friends earnestly demanded that those reasons, constituting the charges against him, should be furnished to him, especially as he had sent to the Head Master a copy of every document which he had submitted to the Governing Body. The request was not an extravagant one, but it was refused. But it was currently reported, and was believed to be true, that there were some members of the Governing Body who had sufficient love of good old English fair play to hate the Star Chamber secrecy in which their proceedings were shrouded, and to hate still more the idea of allowing a man to be condemned and punished without being even permitted to see a copy of the indictment against him. It was said that these men were bold enough to propose that the charges furnished by the Head Master should be made known to the accused, and that their proposal was only defeated by a majority of 1. He should like an account of this matter from his right hon. Friend. But, whatever might have been the action of the Governing Body of Eton in this case, this much was certain, they did not—
perhaps they could not—prevent the dismissal of Mr. Browning, but within a few weeks of that dismissal six of them—being a clear majority—gave that gentleman strong testimonials in support of his candidature for another office, and one of the most eminent—namely, the Master of Trinity—declared that with regard to the late "painful misunderstanding" at Eton, nothing had come to his knowledge to shake his belief that, as Head of another school, Mr. Browning would in all probability be eminently successful. Now, Mr. Browning's case to-day might be the case of any other assistant master to-morrow. To this hour neither he nor his friends were aware of the real reasons of his dismissal. He (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) had his own theory, and other people might have their theories. The one certain fact remained that an assistant master of many years' standing and of high reputation, and one who had since received high testimonials from the majority of the Governing Body of Eton, had been dismissed at three months' notice, and that no opportunity had been given him of knowing and meeting the charges against him so as to vindicate his character before the public. He respectfully put it to those who were fond of advising us to "wash our dirty linen at home," and who professed to detest Public School scandals, that the surest way to perpetuate these scandals was to maintain a system by which a man had only the alternative of an appeal to the public Press or to a Court of Law in order to free himself from mysterious charges made by those who were reluctant to submit them to the open light of day. And now, if the grievance which was felt by those for whom he now pleaded was a real and tangible grievance, was there any valid reason why Parliament should not grant a remedy? One difficulty stood in the way. There was a general and strong feeling among Public School men and among others in favour of maintaining the authority of Head Masters, and there was a fear that this authority might be weakened or impaired by an improvement of the status of assistant masters. This feeling in favour of authority was a natural feeling; it was one which he shared, and if he thought that legitimate authority would be diminished or jeopardized by conceding that which he asked, he should
hesitate long before he counselled the concession. But authority unrestrained was not always either the best kind of authority or that which was most likely to be permanent. Authority exercised arbitrarily and harshly had a tendency to weaken itself, and if by the imposition of a wise and moderate check we could prevent such harsh and arbitrary exercise, we should not weaken, but should, on the contrary, render more robust and permanent that legitimate authority which we all wished to support. There was no man more decidedly anxious than he was that the Head Master's authority should be absolute in all matters connected with the discipline and internal regulation of the School. He would continue to him the power to appoint the assistant masters, and even give him the power of dismissal at three months' notice until an assistant should have served a probationary period of, say, two years; but there should be a period at which the assistant should be held to have become one of the permanent staff of the School—a recognized member of the profession, and then, inasmuch as the School was a Public School and not the private establishment of any Head Master, the removal of one of the staff ought not to be effected without some more constitutional process than the mere ipse dixit of the Head Master, without reason given and without appeal permitted. He should have a strong case if he relied only upon the arguments of the Petition which he had read to the House. But he had still stronger claims upon their consideration. He was about to quote the opinions of the Head Masters themselves, and their opinions ought to be known in a matter in which their authority was involved. And he was bound to say that from a Head Master's point of view some concession was absolutely necessary, in order to remove an undue amount of responsibility from the shoulders of Head Masters, and, at the same time, to put an end to the feeling of insecurity and uneasiness which certainly existed to a very large extent among their assistants. Dr. Hornby's opinion upon this point was stated in one of his published letters upon the 18th of October last year. He said—
As to the appeal to the Governing Body, I wish you all success. I should be only too glad if there were an appeal, and if you can get one thus, or through the action of Parliament, I
shall rejoice. I have often said this of late years, feeling how valuable it would be to a Head Master. Indeed, it is almost necessary in such serious cases as this that he should have some superior to whom he can justify his course.
The assistant masters of the seven Schools held a conference upon this subject early in the present year, and obtained the opinions of the other six Head Masters. They were disappointed in only one instance. Dr. Haig-Brown, of Charterhouse, wrote in December—
I have always thought that there ought to be a right of appeal against the dismissal of an assistant master, and have frequently expressed an opinion to that effect, quite independently of recent occurrences at Eton.
But by January 28th some strange and occult influences had brought Dr. Haig-Brown to believe that the opinion he had "always thought" and "frequently expressed" had been wrong, and he curtly wrote—"Some recent occurrences have led me to alter this opinion;" and in answer to a last appeal, he plainly said that he thought—
the clauses in the Public Schools Act which regulate the appointment and tenure of Head and assistant masters contain wise and salutary provisions," and he believed that "any alteration of either of these clauses in the sense of your Petition would be prejudicial to the best interests of the Schools.
Now, without any wish to undervalue Dr. Haig-Brown, the views of a gentleman who stated one thing in December as his deliberately-matured opinion and then put forward an opinion diametrically opposite in January would probably have less weight with the House than if they had been advocated consistently from the first. Dr. Scott, of Westminster, thought the power of dismissal which the Head Master of Westminster had always possessed, ought not to be taken away, but added—
At the same time I feel strongly that no master of standing and proved efficiency ought to be dismissed without due notice given, and definite reasons" to be "communicated to the master whose interests were affected, so as to afford him the opportunity of reply and defence, but not of reversing the Head Master's decision.
Dr. Ridding, of Winchester, wrote—
I hope that you may be able to obtain the relief you desire. I quite think there is reason in your dissatisfaction. I think that masters who are established at a school have a claim to some substantial tenure and a satisfactory status.
The Head Masters of the other three Schools—Harrow, Rugby, and Shrews-
bury—wrote still more strongly. Mr. Moss wrote from Shrewsbury—
I cordially concur in your Petition to the Houses of Parliament that some change may be made in the 13th clause of the Public Schools Act.
Dr. Jex Blake, of Rugby, said—
My wish for my own colleagues is that they should have an appeal in case of dismissal, and at the next meeting of our Governing Body I shall ask them to secure this in the case of Rugby.
The last letter with which he would trouble the House was from the Head Master of Harrow, Dr. Butler, written in the spirit and feeling of a man worthy to preside over one of the greatest of our English Schools. He said—
In reply to your letter I have no hesitation in saying that I concur in the spirit of its arguments and of the Petition which accompanies it. I am clear that at the great Public Schools it is desirable that the assistant masters should have some greater security in the tenure of their offices than they at present possess. In what precise form that security may best be given I need not now attempt to define; but unless some reasonable modification of the law as it now stands can be devised, I apprehend real practical dangers to the best interests of education. I think the position of assistant master will get a bad name at the University, and that first-rate men will more and more fight shy of it. A great School officered by a second-rate staff would soon cease to be great. I sincerely hope that your Petition will have a kindly reception in both Houses of Parliament.
Here, then, was a clear majority of the Head Masters themselves in favour of some check upon this power of dismissal, and a still larger majority, in fact, almost unanimity, in favour of giving an opportunity of defence and vindication of character to any accused assistant master. But he might be asked, what check did he desire or what check could he devise which would not unduly interfere with the authority of the Head Master? He did not think the question difficult of solution. When an assistant had been two years in the school, he would have him only removable by the Governing Body upon the complaint of the Head Master. The Governing Body should have no power of interference between the Head Master and the assistant masters, but their power should be called in by the Head Master, if he found himself unable to control an assistant. It should be provided that the charges should be made known to the accused, that both sides should be fairly heard, and it should be expressly enacted that the de-
cision of the Governing Body should be final. He would rather himself have the appeal to an Education Minister, but this would, at least, be a step in the right direction. When they had done this, they would not have done as much as was done in Prance and in Germany, for the protection of those engaged in educational work, but they would have effected an immense improvement and put an end to a great injustice. A common answer to any such proposal as this was to abuse Governing Bodies in what he must call a foolish and unreasoning manner. It must be remembered that Parliament had given these Governing Bodies several curious duties to perform, and some of them they might not have done very well. Doubtless, they were not perfect, but this was just one of those functions which they would be likely to discharge satisfactorily. These cases had occurred only since the old checks had been removed. If these were re-imposed, they would, probably, cease to occur. In that case the Governing Bodies would not often be called upon to act. Assistant masters with the terror of a Governing Body before them would be very unlikely to run counter to the Head Master; and he, with the knowledge that he had the power of the Governing Body behind him, but that that power would be exercised fairly and impartially, would not invoke it lightly or without good and substantial grounds. And now he had almost completed his task. Imperfectly, no doubt, but to the best of his ability, he had brought forward the case of a comparatively small, but a valuable class of men, who, labouring under a grievance imposed upon them by our legislation, came to ask for a remedy. No doubt it might be inquired why, having not only stated the grievance, but suggested the remedy, he did not embody that remedy in a Bill and submit it to the House of Commons. His answer should be clear and explicit. He had two reasons for abstaining from the introduction of a Bill. He felt, in the first place, that the prominent part which he had played in the recent transaction at Eton would unfairly prejudice any measure upon the subject which might be introduced by him. He would not have the House suppose that he regretted having taken that part. On the contrary, he regretted nothing save his inability to prevent, either by private
intercession first or public protest afterwards, an act of grievous injustice unprecedented in the annals of Public School life. And he had another reason. The Public Schools Act of 1868 was brought in and passed by the Government of the day. If defects in its working had been pointed out, if improvements had been fairly suggested, it was better that the removal of those defects and the adoption of those improvements should be accomplished by the Government rather than that the task should be left in the hands of a private Member. Her Majesty's Government could be exposed to no suspicion of being actuated by private or personal motives. He earnestly asked the Government to give a favourable consideration to his proposal. True it was that, if they refused they would have nothing to dread from the Petitioners. They would not load the Table of the House with constant Petitions. They would not seek to obtain by agitation that redress which they now respectfully, but earnestly, asked at the hands of this House. But they would go back to their work—all important as that work was—dispirited, sick at heart, and grieving, because the House would have decided that they alone, of all Englishmen, should remain the slaves of irresponsible authority. They would grieve for their own condition, because that would be hard enough, but they would grieve still more for the effect which that decision would have upon the Schools in which they took so deep an interest. They knew that discipline must be maintained, but they knew equally well that irresponsible authority was not necessary for the promotion of discipline. Head Masters were not all first-rate men, and the existence of independence of thought and of intellectual vigour among the general body of masters was invaluable, and often made a School flourish in spite of a second-rate Head Master. But such an Head Master was only too apt to view with alarm and suspicion the existence of talent which he had not the capacity to understand and utilize, and this system directly tempted him to rule down everything to the dull, dead-level of his own mediocrity. By this means he might, indeed, preserve discipline; but it would be at the expense of almost everything that was good and valuable to the life and progress of the School.
He made his appeal to the Government. He pressed them for no early decision—he asked for no hurried legislation. He merely laid before them the Petition of the great majority of assistant masters at our Public Schools, endorsed as it was by the opinions of the majority of the Head Masters of the same Schools, and fortified by the recent action of the Endowed Schools Commissioners in the case of the Masters of Endowed Schools. He asked that the subject-matter of the Petition might be referred to a Select Committee, in the sincere belief that the outcome of such a Committee would be a recommendation which, while it settled once for all a question which ought not to be left unsettled, would tend in no small degree to promote the welfare, the good government, and the efficiency of our Public Schools. He begged to move the Resolution on the subject of which he had given Notice.
§ Amendment proposed,
§ To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to consider whether any alteration is desirable in the existing relations between the Governing Bodies, Head Masters, and Assistant Masters of the seven schools under the operation, of 'The Public Schools Act, 1868,"—(Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ MR. SPENCER WALPOLE
said, his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) had addressed the House at considerable length, and in doing so had dealt out very severe animadversions upon the proceedings of the Governing Body of Eton—calling them, among other things, a Star Chamber—on the question under dispute. He deeply regretted that his right hon. Friend should have had recourse to such language as that, particularly in a case which, involved questions partly of private and personal interest, and partly of public concern. Now, in dealing with questions of this kind, private and personal interests were not well introduced to the consideration of that House, except so far as they might tend to explain and illustrate the public matter which was brought under its notice, and he, for one, would forbear from entering into them. His right hon. Friend would have done well to have recollected that there was danger, to say the least of it, that 1437 any one who in dealing with a public matter imported into the discussion private feeling and personal predilections would not be likely to bring to the consideration of the question that calm judgment which it demanded. His right hon. Friend, in opening the case, seemed to think that the Public Schools Act of 1868 had for the first time introduced into this country an absolute power and authority totally unknown to us at any period of the history of this country; But did his right hon. Friend mean to say that he had so partially and imperfectly read the Report of the Commission which brought under the notice of Parliament all matters concerning these Schools, as not to observe there was no point so strongly insisted on by the evidence and the Commissioners as that, with regard to the position of the Head Masters in Public Schools, these should always be given—and that Parliament should be required to give to them—absolute power in every matter connected with the discipline and management of those Schools? If his right hon. Friend would refer to the recommendations of the Commissioners with regard to Eton, Rugby, and St. Paul's, he would find that in all those cases the Commissioners stated their unanimous conviction that the Head Master ought to have the supreme authority; that in exercising it he ought to have complete power in the selection of the assistant masters, and that these powers should rest exclusively with him. His right hon. Friend did not really do justice to the case he had in view, when he thought he was advocating the reasonable feelings entertained by the assistant masters, and far different was the opinion of those gentlemen themselves. But it was not only in the Commissioners' Report that that absolute authority of the Head Master was recommended strongly as the chief means by which the teaching and discipline of the School should be maintained. The Bill, when discussed in the other House of Parliament, was referred to a Select Committee, and was brought here again on the Report. He had charge of the Bill. He recommended that it be referred to a Select Committee, and on that Committee there were many hon. Gentlemen who took great interest in this matter; but in all the Amendments they made they strongly insisted that this absolute power of the Head 1438 Master should not be interfered with. In one of the discussions which occurred on going into Committee on the Bill on the 16th of June, 1868, his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe), one of the most competent men in that House to give an opinion on the question, confirmed in the amplest manner the opinion so given by the Commissioners. He said—What, then, was their duty in this matter? It was to leave the greatest possible scope to those who managed the school—to the Head Master, in fact, to manage it as he pleased; and all they could do was to give parents the best means of knowing the manner in which their children were educated, leaving them to find out whether it was satisfactory or not. He should say form a Governing Body if they pleased—that was, a body to appoint a Master and remove him in case of misconduct or for the interest of the school; but when they had appointed him give him full power and control over it."—[3 Hansard, cxcii. 1643.]These observations clearly showed that on the general point the Master of the School should have absolute power, and that this was recognized and sanctioned by the authority of Parliament. Nobody could dispute that was the view of Parliament at the time the Act was passed. What had happened since to induce any change of opinion? His right hon. Friend said two cases had occurred—that of Rugby and that of Eton. He (Mr. Walpole) ventured to say these two cases, looking to the points on which they turned, were strong illustrations of the necessity of giving this power to the Head Master. The Rugby case, so far as he could gather it from the statement of his right hon. Friend was of this kind—there had been a great difference, not to say conflict, between the Head Master and some of the assistant masters; it had been going on for some time, and the Head Master felt he could not conduct the School as he thought it should be conducted so long as that conflict of opinion between some of his assistant masters and himself continued. That was the ground on which he dismïssed an assistant master; and if there had been an appeal to the Governing Body on such a point as that, they could not have decided it, because the Head Master told them he had lost all confidence in the assistant master, and therefore it was impossible for them to go on together. In the case of Eton, his right hon. 1439 Friend said Mr. Browning was dismissed, and he never knew on what charge. He was entirely mistaken. That charge did not rest on one single act which might have been the subject of appeal, but a course of action between the Head Master and the assistant master, by which the School suffered. The charge was stated in the letter of dismissal from the Head Master as follows:—I must remind you that in your case particular attention had been called to your violation of the rules last winter; that you had in consequence received a reprimand, and very definite instructions in writing as to your future course. I believe that your colleagues will be found to have kept within the regulations; but if there has been any violation of them (and I shall at once proceed to investigate this), it cannot in any way justify what you have done. For two or three years hardly a school term has passed in which I have not been compelled to undertake the very painful task of calling you to account for neglect of work or violation of rules. I feel that I have carried forbearance in your case beyond the limit which I ought to have observed in strict duty to the school. I have done so because of the extreme gravity of dismissing a master from Eton, especially one of your age and standing, and because I tried to indulge the hope that your conduct might yet be such as to make this extreme measure unnecessary. I feel, however, that after recent events, and after our conversation of yesterday, it is not possible for me to feel that confidence in you which is absolutely necessary to our working together, and to my entrusting you with the important duties which belong to an Eton master.He thought that after that it could hardly be said that Mr. Browning was not aware of the charge that was brought against him. It was a charge which plainly could not be determined by any Court of Appeal, because it turned on the question which such a Court could not decide—whether a Head Master could go on conducting his School when he had lost confidence in his assistants. His right hon. Friend said the Governing Body sat, in a secret chamber; that they never listened to the representations made to them; and that Mr. Browning had been wrongfully dismissed by the Head Master. But when they came to the question—Could the Governing Body interfere in such a case? he said they had no such power. Further, the Governing Body themselves decided that no appeal could be brought before them. So the cases of Rugby and Eton stood. But his right hon. Friend had dealt with private matters which he (Mr. Walpole) thought ought not to have been so pro- 1440 minently brought before the House, as they had really no proper means of judging of them. One point, however, he thought well worthy of consideration, and that was the way in which the assistant masters represented their case. It was said that since the Act had passed, and since the two cases referred to had occurred, they felt themselves to be in a position different from that in which they formerly stood; that they had a sense of insecurity and a feeling of uneasiness in their present position. But although the assistant masters did very temperately and properly address their Petition to the House, did they arrive at the conclusion that the power of the Head Master was an absolute power which ought to be taken away? Far from it. They said in their Petition that the authority of the Head Master was necessary for the maintenance of discipline in the several Schools, although they thought that that authority would be in no way impaired by the concession to them of such security as a body of educated gentlemen might reasonably claim. He would ask what was that security to be? On that the House was left entirely in the dark. His right hon. Friend said there should be a right of appeal; but no appeal could lie from an assistant master who had been acting out of harmony with the feelings of the Head Master in regard to what he was directed to do—no appeal to any Governing Body could decide whether the Head Master in such a case was right or not in getting rid of the assistant master. Then his right hon. Friend said—"Refer this matter to a Select Committee." For what purpose were they to refer it to a Committee? Were the Committee to rake up and go into all those charges and counter-charges as his right hon. Friend had done? He hoped the House would not consent to that. If his right hon. Friend had any plan in his own mind, he should put it into the shape of a Bill, and let it be discussed; but he warmly objected to a Select Committee. Were the Committee to try, as his right hon. Friend seemed to intimate, to find from one source or another how some kind of security, which could not possibly be explained, was to be given to the assistant masters? If that was his right hon. Friend's object, he (Mr. Walpole) said that the House never did grant a Select Committee for such a 1441 purpose. It required, in the first place, that grounds should be shown for appointing such a Committee; and, secondly, that their was a reasonable prospect of a practical result being attained. Neither of these things had been made out. The strong recommendations of the Commissioners were in favour of the absolute authority given to the Head Master remaining in his hands for the best interests of the School; and to raise a sort of mutiny on the part of the assistant masters, encouraging bickerings and strife between them and the Head Master, was the very worst thing that could be done for the permanent welfare of those institutions. He therefore hoped that the House would negative the Motion of his right hon. Friend and leave that matter where it was, on the lines upon which, for good reasons, Parliament had settled it, giving the Head Master the power of selecting and dismissing the assistant masters, and not allowing the Governing Body any power of interfering in the management, discipline, and teaching of the School which ought to be entrusted to the Head Master and to him alone.
§ SIR ROBERT ANSTRUTHER
said, he entirely agreed in the introductory remark of his right hon. Friend who brought forward that question—namely, that he incurred a grave responsibility in re-opening the question of our Public Schools after Parliament had so recently legislated upon it; but he regretted that that sense of responsibility seemed to have vanished from his right hon. Friend's mind the moment after he had expressed it. He would appeal to those hon. Members of the House who had been educated at Public Schools whether, when they were at school, they looked upon the assistant masters as "miserable slaves," as gentlemen living in the "degraded thraldom" that was pointed out by his right hon. Friend. He recollected many of his present friends who were assistant masters at Harrow, and he was bound to say that his right hon. Friend had painted them to the House in a light in which they had never presented themselves to him at the time he had the honour of being instructed by them. He admitted that his right hon. Friend had a very fair case; but he was bound to say that what chance he had of securing this Select Committee from the Home Secretary had 1442 been entirely dissipated by the manner in which he had handled the case. He protested against his right hon. Friend getting up in that House, and talking of the vindictiveness of Head Masters, and his description of the position of the assistant masters of Public Schools as one of degrading thraldom and of slavery under an irresponsible authority. As he had said, his right hon. Friend, starting at the outset with a good case, had so entirely overdone it, that if the Home Secretary did not refuse to grant a Select Committee it would not be his fault. The first point to which the proposed Select Committee was to address itself was the relations between the Governing Body and the Head Master. He could not conceive a more mischievous proceeding than that they should now nave a Select Committee to re-open the question of the relations between the Governing Bodies of those schools and the Head Masters. He believed that the best relations that could subsist between a Governing Body and a Head Master was, that they should select the best man they could get to put at the head of the School, and then leave him alone, and not perplex and harass him with interference in affairs which he was far more able to conduct than they were. His right hon. Friend next dealt with the relations between the Head Master and the assistant masters, and he certainly made out some sort of an argument for a change in those relations; yet he admitted that under the present system they obtained for the position of assistant masters men of the very highest standing, and who were deserving of the greatest confidence. But upon what facts did he base that great and amazing change which he desired to see? He referred to the case of Eton, in which he had taken a very prominent part; and considering the part he had taken with regard to those unfortunate proceedings, it would have been a great deal better if this Motion had been placed in other hands. He (Sir Robert Anstruther) deeply regretted the part which his right hon. Friend took in that matter; it was not for the well-being of Eton, and it would have been far better if he had maintained the opinion which he said he had at first held, and had left the Head Master of Eton to arrange affairs with the assistant masters without his intervention. The 1443 assistant masters of Harrow had, he said, signed this Petition. The were in a more favourable position, than the assistant masters and others of these great Public Schools. They, of course, held office at the pleasure of the Head Master, but the Governing Body had passed this statute—That all the assistant masters shall be appointed and hold their office at the pleasure of the Head Master, but in case the Head Master shall dismiss an assistant master he shall forthwith notify in writing the fact and the reason of it to the Governing Body, and it shall be the duty of the Governing Body to consider, though not in the way of appeal, any statement which shall have been presented to them by an assistant master who shall have been dismissed.That placed a very remarkable and, in his opinion, a perfectly sufficient, check on the Head Master, supposing him to be such a Head Master as his right hon. Friend had described—that was to say, one full of vindictiveness, an irresponsible tyrant, &c. [Mr. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN: I never used the word tyrant.] The whole tenour of his right hon. Friend's observations went to show that the Head Masters of the seven great Schools of England were tyrants to their assistant masters. He (Sir Robert Anstruther) had received a letter from the Head Master of Harrow, who was favourable to such an appeal as his right hon. Friend advocated, but Dr. Butler was able to say this—I am happy to say we have never had a case here of the dismissal of any master, or the contemplated dismissal. But I see plainly enough that the old state of the law cannot possibly stand.He submitted that although his right hon. Friend had, to a certain extent, a case when he commenced his speech, that case was practically destroyed before he sat down; and considering the magnitude of the interests involved, and how very undesirable it was that the House should constantly be tinkering at these great Public Schools, he trusted the Motion for a Committee would be negatived.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he deeply regretted not only what had taken place at the several Schools that had been named, but also the course of the discussions which took place with regard to Eton, and Rugby. The course which was taken, the examples that were set, 1444 the discussions that ensued, and the way in which everything was made public, did not tend to do good to the schools, improve the discipline of the boys, or to encourage the persons who sent their children to those Schools. He was in hopes that all those matters might have been considered closed. He was in hopes, to quote the words of an able writer on the subject—That, for the future, nothing would be heard in public of the Public Schools, but that they would set diligently to work to teach the boys, not only by the simple process of teaching, but by setting an example of that discipline which is so necessary.He, therefore, regretted very much that the subject had been re-opened that night in the way in which it had been, and he was bound to say that the remarks made by his right hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Spencer Walpole) showed in his (Mr. Cross's) opinion, quite clearly that the mind of his right hon. Friend opposite had been warped in this matter by the interest he had taken in one of the recent cases which had, unfortunately, happened. Whatever his right hon. Friend opposite might say to the contrary, he (Mr. Cross) thought that one of the most important matters in relation to Public Schools was that discipline should be kept up, and that end could not be obtained in a Public School, as they desired, except in one way. The best man that could be found ought to be appointed Head Master of a public school, and when he was appointed we ought to leave him alone and not meddle with him. If we found we were mistaken in the man, if he did that which he ought not to do, that would render him a fit person to be dismissed from his office, and we ought to dismiss him and appoint the best man we could find in his place. But whilst he was there, they ought not to interfere with him. He believed firmly that the only way of carrying on great Public Schools was to give to the Head Masters uncontrolled power in carrying them on. His right hon. Friend opposite had drawn a very strong picture of the Head Master. He had described him, if not as a tyrant, at all events as an irresponsible despot. He was not irresponsible; for, in the first place, he was responsible to the parents whose children were in the school. Next he was responsible to the voice of public opinion, and beyond that he was respon- 1445 sible to the Governing Body, because by the very same section by which he had the power to dismiss under masters, the Governing Body had an absolute power to dismiss him, if he acted without discretion in carrying out the powers which were entrusted to him. Whether in relation to the boys or the under masters, the Governing Body might step in and say he was no longer fit to be Head Master. The right hon. Gentleman had said that in the case of Endowed Schools relief had been granted to the assistant masters, but he thought the right hon. Gentleman had not followed that case to a consistent conclusion. This was the history of the transaction. The Endowed Schools Commissioners first began their work by directing that the Head Master should be appointed by the Governing Body without appeal, and then that the assistant masters should be appointed by the Head Masters and dismissed by him without appeal, but as time went on, and exception was made by the Commissioners early in their proceedings with reference to assistant masters who with the sanction of the Governing Body and the Head Master had laid out large sums of money in boarding-houses or other matters. That was the arrangement till 1873. What happened to the Endowed Schools then was exactly what happened in the case of Public Schools at the present moment. In 1873 the Commissioners were memorialized by a very large number of assistant masters of the chief Schools of the country, who urged on them the propriety of giving to all assistant masters the power of appealing to the Governing Body in case of dismissal. That matter was carefully considered by the Commissioners, who saw that the feeling was very strong among the assistant masters, while among the Head Masters there was a difference about the expediency of making the concession asked by the assistant masters, and ultimately the Commissioners in the scheme which they then made provided an absolute appeal to the Governing Body in all cases. But when the control of the Endowed Schools was transferred in 1875to the Charity Commissioners it was found that this did not answer, and the Charity Commissioners took the appeal away, and reverted to the old practice, including the exception he had referred to. Having said that, he would now 1446 say a word as to the assistant masters. He did not believe there was a set of men in England who performed more arduous duties, or performed them better than they did. But he did not think they would agree that their real case had been put before them to-night by the right hon. Gentleman. A proof of that was to be found in the fact that there was no difficulty in getting the very best men of the country to act as assistant masters. He thought that part of his right hon. Friend's case had broken down. He believed that what was necessary for the carrying on of Public Schools was that there should be a thorough understanding and confidence between the Head Master and the assistant masters. He believed that did exist in most of the schools in England, and that was the reason why they had so flourished. His right hon. Friend asked for a Committee to inquire into the matter. This was not a question for a Committee. The simple result of a Committee would be that they would have all the details of those two cases which had unfortunately happened filling the pages of Blue Books scattered all over the country. He believed that that would have a most mischievous effect, and he, for one, would not take any step which would produce that result. He hoped, therefore, the House would refuse to grant a Select Committee. He hoped the assistant masters would not think that by not doing so the House had no feeling for them. He thought that in working honestly with the Head Masters they need have no fear of any injustice, because they had two safeguards against it—namely, the effect of public opinion and the absolute control of the Governing Body.
§ COLONEL NORTH
said, the conduct of the assistant masters of Rugby School had been such that it was impossible for the Head Masters to get on with them. He considered if the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sandwich was carried, it would lead to the destruction of discipline in all our Public Schools.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that if a right of appeal were to be given to every under master, the Governing Body would probably be compelled to interfere with the administration of the school in a manner highly detrimental to its efficiency. Practically, there was always 1447 an appeal from the decision of the Head Masters dismissing under masters, to to the Governing Bodies of our Public Schools, inasmuch as the dismissal of an under master was an item in the conduct of the Head Master which the Governing Body could not fail to make the most searching inquiry into.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the idea of a Public School which prevailed on that side of the House seemed to be that it was an institution in which perfect discipline existed throughout, and they were ready to sacrifice to that end the whole individuality of the assistant masters. He supported the Motion, because he thought that the House should respect the rights of men who had spent 30 years of their life as under masters, and prevent them, after so long a period of service, being sent out into the world with their characters impaired, and without means, at the mere caprice of an individual.
§ MR. DALRYMPLE
opposed the Resolution. He said that the question before the House interested Public School men, and that that must be his excuse, if excuse were needed, for taking any part in the debate. The position in which Head Masters and Assistant Masters stood to one another required the utmost mutual confidence and forbearance, so that the discipline of a School might be maintained. He did not think a case had been made out for a Committee; but the discussion would be productive of good, for it was not desirable that the management of Public Schools should be matter of newspaper correspondence, and it was better that an appeal should be made to that House in a matter which arose out of the administration of an Act of Parliament. He (Mr. Dalrymple) was one of those who saw no reason for the change suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sandwich. The power of dismissal had been in the hands of Head Masters before the Act of 1868 was passed, and the system had worked well, and for the benefit of the great Public Schools. It had been asserted that Assistant Masters through fear of dismissal would conceal their feelings, and that their spirit of independence would thus be injured. Practical men of the world would not be induced to believe that a large number of distinguished men—and Assistant Masters 1448 were among the most distinguished men drawn from our Universities—necessarily of very different characters and temperaments would under any system smother and bury their opinions for fear of any consequences. It was contrary to all experience of the past to maintain that such could be the case. The best thing that the Trustees of our great schools could do was to appoint the very best men as Head Masters. When a Governing Body had selected the best men they could find—a man remarkable for graceful scholarship, for knowledge of men, for administrative power, for blameless life, and placed him over a great Public School, they ought to lay upon him the chief and undivided responsibility, giving to him the power of appointing and dismissing his Assistant Masters, with only such, security for their offices as mutual forbearance and consideration might be expected, and had often been found, to supply. It was for the interest of Assistant Masters themselves, and for the interest of the management and discipline of a school, that the responsibility should rest with the Head Master. The clause relating to Assistant Masters in the Act of 1868 had received the careful attention of Parliament, and he (Mr. Dalrymple) could not admit that a case had been made out for its alteration. The next clause to it related to Head Masters, and if a change were made in the position of Assistant Master, the case of Head Masters might claim attention also, since they held their office at the discretion of Governing Bodies, and a plea of insecurity of tenure might readily be established on their behalf also.
§ MR. RODWELL
said, he was disappointed at the turn of the discussion. The Resolution was temperate, and so was the Petition of the Assistant Masters; and it was a matter of regret that that which should have been discussed as a question of principle of great importance to assistant masters and the country at large should have drifted into a question of personal grievances connected with Eton, and should have been met in the spirit it had been by some hon. Members. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, who found fault with the tone in which the question had been introduced, seemed to fall into the very error he had deprecated. No answer had been given 1449 to the case made out by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sandwich, and the assistant masters would have reason to complain that their complaints and representations had been ignored.
§ SIR EARDLEY WILMOT
apologized at that late hour for standing in the way of the division, at which there appeared a great anxiety to arrive; but still he hoped the House would bear with him, while he made a few remarks, relative to the transactions at Rugby School, which had been commented upon by the right hon. Member for Sandwich and by other speakers who followed him, and he (Sir Eardley Wilmot) asked for the indulgence on the ground that he had himself been partly educated at Rugby, and, as a Warwickshire man, not only took deep interest in the School, but had many friends who had at various times taken part in its administration. He had listened with great attention to the able speech of the right hon. Member for Sandwich, in the hope of finding arguments in it, upon which might be based an alteration of the present statute, which gave the Head Master absolute power and control over the assistant masters; but the opinion he himself had always entertained of the sound policy of the Act in this particular, was even strengthened and confirmed by the statements made by the right hon. Member and by his narrative of the late proceedings at Eton. As the right hon. Member had cited the case of two assistant masters at Rugby, although his version of that transaction had been corrected already by the hon. and gallant Member for Oxfordshire (Colonel North), yet, perhaps, he might be excused if he referred more fully to the facts which led to that dismissal, as showing how important it was that the Head Master should be supported by the Governing Body in any attempt which he made in putting in force his power under the Act over his subordinates. As the hon. and gallant Member for Oxfordshire had already stated, 20 out of 21 assistant masters had openly rebelled against the authority of the Head Master, and being supported in their insubordination by the Governing Body, they ultimately prevailed. The facts were these—In 1869 Dr. Temple, the Head Master of Rugby School, re- 1450 signed his office on becoming Bishop of Exeter, and the Trustees, who were at that time almost all Warwickshire men, after much and careful deliberation and examination of the testimonials presented to them, selected Dr. Hayman, at that time Head Master of Bradfield School, as his successor. He (Sir Eardley Wilmot) knew from the best authority that the Trustees considered the testimonials on two successive days, and that the conclusion they came to was unanimous. But no sooner had Dr. Hayman been selected as Dr. Temple's successor, than a marked and undisguised hostility appeared against him in more quarters than one. Twenty out of the 21 assistant masters memorialized the Trustees against the appointment they had made, and among other complaints was one, that the new Head Master had made an improper use of old testimonials. The Trustees met to consider this memorial, and came to the conclusion unanimously, that the use which had been made of previous testimonials, was in no way censurable. The relations between the Head Master and his assistants gradually improved during the period the old Trustees continued to hold office, and between December 1869 and December 1871, when the new Governing Body assumed the reins of power, the Head Master received the uniform support of the old Trustees, who used all their influence in endeavouring to reconcile the assistant masters to the authority of their chief. Unfortunately, some restless spirits would not be quiet, and it must be regretted that when the Head Master found this to be the case, he did not enforce, at all events against those who continued in a state of half-concealed insubordination and cabal, the power of dismissal which the Act of 1868 conferred upon him. When the new Governing Body took the management of the school in December, 1871, matters grew rapidly from bad to worse. Nothing could be more improper than that the Bishop of Exeter and Dr. Bradley, both of whom had taken an active part already against the Head Master, should allow themselves to be nominated as members of the new Governing Body—but so it was—one was elected by the University of London and the other by the University of Oxford. But no sooner had they taken their seats at the Board, than more than one of the assistant 1451 masters who had met with scant encouragement from the old Trustees, began their attacks again against the Head Master. Repeated inquiries took place as to the grounds of complaint alleged, and in October, 1873, the Governing Body called on the Head Master to retract certain charges which he had made against an assistant master, and to tender an apology to him. He (Sir Eardley Wilmot) would not stop to examine whether this was rightly done or not, he only mentioned the fact, in order to say that the Head Master, on two several occasions afterwards, in conformity with the decision of the Governing Body, expressed his regret to his assistant master in the most unqualified manner, and, having done this, he trusted that the School would now be permitted to enjoy peace and quiet, as these late unhappy misunderstandings had greatly interfered with its prosperity and success. Notwithstanding that all matters in difference seemed now at an end, yet in February, 1873, the Governing Body re-opened the old grounds of complaint, notwithstanding a strong remonstrance from the Earl of Warwick, one of the Governing Body, who greatly disapproved the course of irritation the Governing Body were pursuing. Unfortunately, Lord Warwick left England about this time on account of ill health, and the Head Master lost the support of that highly esteemed Nobleman on the Governing Body. Later in the year Dr. Hayman found it necessary to give notice of dismissal to two other assistant masters for some reasons connected with the working of the School, and this act led to a wider breach than ever between himself and the Governing Body. More inquiries took place, and ultimately the Head Master was dismissed by the Governing Body in December, 1873. He (Sir Eardley Wilmot) had purposely omitted many circumstances which would tend to show that the Head Master had not had justice done to him; but as the House was anxious to close the debate, he had been desirous of making his narrative as brief and compressed as possible. His object in making these remarks was to show that if a Head Master and his assistants were interfered with, as was the case at Rugby, no Head Master could ever hold his ground. If despotism was ever commendable or desir- 1452 able, it was surely and absolutely so in the case of the Head Master of a Public School. Once let a Governing Body be the receptacle of the jealousies which must frequently exist between individuals under authority and those set over them, and the whole discipline and regular action and harmony of a Public School would and must receive a fatal shock. In the Rugby case a single man had to contend with a numerous and powerful body of inferiors, banded together for his degradation and disgrace, and when to this powerful combination was added the no less powerful influence of those on the Governing Body, who were at no pains to conceal their dislike of him, there was no wonder that he was worsted in a conflict so unequal and so hopeless as regarded an appeal in the case of the Head Master's dismissal. He was glad to hear so high minded a man as his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford rise, who had been himself a Rugby Trustee, and who had had practical experience of the working of the system, express himself favourably to such an appeal. But that was not the matter now before them. He (Sir Eardley Wilmot) could give no support to the Motion of the right hon. Member for Sandwich, as all the facts adduced that evening incontestibly proved to him that the Head Master's power over his assistants should not be in any way controlled or interfered with, and that the power given by the Public Schools Act of 1868 was salutary and sound in principle. He apologized for the length of his remarks, but felt constrained to make them, as he had always been strongly convinced, and he should never shrink from expressing that conviction and that opinion, that the late Head Master of Rugby had had great injustice done to him.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out remain part of the Question," put, and agreed to.