HC Deb 08 August 1881 vol 264 cc1266-300

, who had the following Resolution on the Paper:— That the retention by the Governors of the United Westminster Schools of Mr. Goffin as head master of that public institution, after he had, by a Select Committee of this House specially appointed in 1879 to inquire into his conduct at the request of the Governors of the Schools, been found guilty of a systematic course of fraud, falsehood, and subornation, is a public scandal, and as such demands the immediate attention of the Education Office and Charity Commissioners, said, it was with great regret that he was compelled, in the interest of public morality, to call the attention of the House to this case; but the issues involved were so grave, and so affected, not only the whole system of science instruction provided and paid for by the State, but so directly impugned the honour and authority of the House of Commons, that he had no alternative, even at this period of the Session, but to bring the matter before the House. He was afraid, however, that if he had been able to put his Resolution it would have been regarded as couched in strong language; and, therefore, unless he laid before the House the full details of the accusation it might appear so incomprehensible as not to be worthy of credit. It was necessary, in the first place, that the House should remember the principle on which these science and art examinations were conducted and the method of payment consequent thereon. All moneys paid through the Education Office or the Art and Science Department to managers of schools for the support of schools or classes were dependent upon the results of certain prescribed examinations. In elementary schools these examinations were conducted in person by the Education Inspectors and they ranged over the whole year. For art and science there was a different system. The examinations were conducted by printed papers issued at a certain given date to all the schools and classes in the Kingdom; the examinations were held simultaneously, and all the papers were then sent back to the Art and Science Department, were examined by the various Professors at South Kensington, and for every child or individual who passed a certain test in any one or more given subjects a payment of £1 per head for each subject so passed was paid to the school or class in which he had been taught. A certain interval must necessarily elapse between the date at which these examination papers were distributed by South Kensington and the day upon which the examination was held, and during that period the secretary or committee of the School of Arts were specially responsible for their safe custody. As an additional precaution against fraud, two members of the committee were requested to personally vouch by their signatures that the regulations and conditions of the Department had in every sense been complied with. Upon the faithful fulfilment of these duties depended the whole system of examination; if the committee thoroughly performed their self-imposed duties, nothing could be simpler and more satisfactory than its working; if they neglected them, the examination might become a fraud of the worst description, inculcating deceit and dishonesty into the minds of the children examined. The payments made for teaching science far exceeded those paid for elementary instruction. Few elementary schools obtained for all the subjects taught under the Code a payment of £1 per scholar, whereas every pass in science brings in £1, and many students take up several science subjects at a time. During the time he was at the Education Office, a good many instances of fraud in connection with these art and science examinations came before him; in almost every instance they were the result of negligence on the part of the committee or governing body of the school. Of the unhappy cases by far the worst were the frauds of Mr. Goffin, the present head master of the Westminster United Schools. These schools were established by a scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners, and were supported by funds previously administered by the Corporation of London. They were among the largest middle-class schools in the Metropolis, containing over 600 boys. Being secondary schools, they were not under the Education Department, and the only authorities having any indirect control over them were the Charity Commissioners. Mr. Goffin, an elementary certificated teacher, was in 1874, at a salary of £500 per annum, appointed head master of the schools by the Governing Body, of whom the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir Sydney Waterlow) was the chairman. Mr. Goffin proceeded to establish art and science classes in connection with South Kensington, and the payments made for such teaching through the Governors were, in 1875, £86 to Mr. Goffin, £8 to an assistant; in 1876, to Mr. Goffin £355 10s., to the assistant £41—total, £396 10S. In 1877, to Mr. Goffin £386, to the assistant £65—total, £451. These payments were all made upon the certificate of the Governors that all the precautions and regulations of the Department had been fulfilled to the letter. Very shortly after he (Lord George Hamilton) was appointed Vice President of the Council. In May, 1878, two days after the science examination, Colonel Donnelly, the head of the Science Department, was visited by a man, who said, that, as a matter of duty, he felt compelled to inform him of what was going on in the Westminster Schools. Though not a master himself, he had a brother in that Institution, who told him he believed that by some means Mr. Goffin got hold of the papers before the examination, as the "tips," which was the term given to his lessons just previous to the examination, were undeniable answers to the questions set. His brother, to test the nature of these "tips," got the notes of a boy taken at a chemistry lesson just previous to the examination. These notes were given to a master of the name of Hall, who was going up for the same examination, but had not been present at this lesson, as soon as the chemistry examination was over. On comparing the notes with the examination paper, Colonel Donnelly's informant discovered that they were eight direct answers to eight of the questions set, the number of questions to be answered at this examination being limited to eight. The name of the boy who took the notes was unknown to him. Colonel Donnelly was much startled by this information. If the notes were authentic, Mr. Goffin's guilt was clear; and if one master had knowledge of the contents of the examination papers, it was not unlikely that others might have obtained similar information. Colonel Donnelly immediately took with him to the schools two experienced Inspectors, Mr. Iselin and Captain Abney, and they informed Mr. Goffin of the nature of the charge they had to make without mentioning the name of their informant. Mr. Goffin denied that he was guilty. An examination of the boys took place, characterized by much shuffling and prevarication on their part, and certain of their note-books with difficulty were secured. The evidence thus obtained was, in the unanimous opinion of the officers, conclusive proofs of the authenticity of the notes; for the note-books corroborated the notes in all particulars. Colonel Donnelly expressed himself in strong terms with regard to the shuffling answers of the boys, and sent the notes to him (Lord George Hamilton). When he said that he submitted this matter to experts at South Kensington, he hoped the House would recollect that there was a combination of talent there such as there was, perhaps, not to be found in any other Department, including Professors Huxley, Roscoe, and others, whose names were of European celebrity. Throughout the whole of this painful case complete and absolute unanimity prevailed among these gentlemen concerning the charge against Mr. Goffin; while, on the other hand, the opinion of men of immense practical experience in the Education Department at Whitehall had been equally clear. He (Lord George Hamilton) went through the case with the utmost care, and in his opinion the internal evidence was overwhelming; but before coming to any final decision, the Department communicated with the Governors, asking for their views; they, in turn, asked for a more detailed charge, which was given them, though he declined to part with the evidence and note-books of the boys; but, at the same time, suggested to the Governors a visit to South Kensington to enable them to see the nature of these documents. The Governors then held a perfunctory inquiry of their own, and, endorsing all Mr. Goffin's statements, they forwarded the result of their labours to South Kensington, threatening the Department with a legal action if the charges were not withdrawn. He went through the defence of the Governors, and he found that, so far from overthrowing, it most conclusively established Mr. Goffin's guilt. He declined in any way to withdraw the charges. A protracted correspondence ensued. Finding that the Governors were impervious to anything the Department could say, its decision was made absolute; and all Mr. Goffin's certificates were withdrawn. The threatened legal action was not brought. In the course of that year Mr. Goffin became one of the committee of the National Union of Elementary Teachers, and, in consequence, the whole power of that very influential body was used on his behalf. Petitions were sent to almost every Member of Parliament with an elaborate defence of Mr. Goffin, and when Parliament met in the ensuing year the hon. Member for Maidstone (Sir Sydney Waterlow) gave Notice of a Motion on behalf of the Governors for a Select Committee to investigate the case. In the meanwhile he received so many communications from persons whose opinions he respected, that he went with the utmost care into the whole case more than once, and the evidence began so to accumulate, both as regards Mr. Goffin's antecedents, as well as his conduct at these schools, as to induce the belief that for many years past he had carried on a system of wholesale fraud. In 1865 he was master at Exton, Oakham. Heavy payments were made to him for passing small children through a number of science subjects. Doubts were excited in the minds of the Examiners from a curious identity of mistakes in certain papers. The suspicion was indignantly repelled at first by the committee; but on the 16th of October, 1865, they admitted the charge in the following terms:— Inasmuch as you wrote to the committee, through me, questioning the fair dealing of the main examinations, though the points referred to were honourahly carried out, yet they direct me to inform you a communication was made last week by the boys—viz., the questions contained in the working paper, and laid before them on the night of the examination, were all known to them, and learnt by heart. I have further to acquaint you that the teacher has resigned his post as schoolmaster here, and the class consequently has broken up. Mr. Goffin next attracted attention at a school at Woking. Children of tender years were taught from six to 12 subjects of science at a time, and succeeded in passing in many of them. Again the suspicions of the Department were aroused. Seven separate Inspectors' Reports were made commenting on the complete ignorance of children under viva voce examination compared with their uniform mecha- nical answers at the written examinations. Constant cases of copying occurred. Mr. Goffin still contrived to baffle discovery by the adroitness of his replies, and in 1874, mainly on the recommendation of the managers of this school, he was appointed head master of the Westminster Schools. He had letters which he would not read from managers both of the Working and Exton schools. Both were much to the same effect, pointing out how Mr. Goffin had deceived them, how thorough their confidence in him had been, and how he had concealed his faults by a most extraordinary power of lying. But that after he was gone his system of fraud had become the talk of the place. By a mere accident he (Lord George Hamilton) received information which induced the Department to believe that if an inquiry on oath were instituted such an exposure would ensue as would open the eyes of the blindest, and accordingly he moved for a Select Committee, as it was the only means by which he could institute such an inquiry. It was appointed in July, 1879, and Mr. Lowe (now Lord Sherbrooke) became its Chairman, and the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Sydney Waterlow) representing the Governors. The constitution of the Committee was perfectly impartial, and, with the exception of himself and the hon. Member for Gravesend, no one knew beforehand of the nature of the evidence to be brought before the Committee. They determined to examine witnesses on oath, because they believed that if either party were disposed they could raise the question in a Court of Law by bringing an action for perjury, for whereas the evidence given before a Select Committee was privileged so far as libel was concerned, jet the witness was subject to the same penalties for perjury as in a Court of Law. Mr. Goffin from the outset had always asserted that he was the victim of a conspiracy, into which teachers, pupils, inspectors, clergymen, and school managers seemed all to have entered. The Committee, therefore, determined to allow no one but the witness under examination to be in the room, and thus, by subjecting every witness to the most rigorous examination, prevent the possibility of the conspiracy, such as Mr. Goffin complained of, from accomplishing its purpose. The course of procedure thus adopted by the Committee was especially favourable to the special line of defence of Mr. Goffin, that he was the victim of conspiracy. He should, in the interest of the Department, have preferred an inquiry open to the public, at which the skilled, experts of the Department could themselves have conducted their case. As it was he was placed at great disadvantage. The hostile attitude of the Governors precluded him from making the necessary preliminary inquiries by which he could before this Committee have ascertained what teachers and boys were willing to speak the truth concerning Mr. Goffin's practices. He, therefore, summoned such witnesses as he thought were likely to speak the truth, though several, he knew, were hostile witnesses. The oral evidence extracted from them was overwhelming; but the documentary evidence was even stronger. Teacher after teacher admitted that when unfit for examination they had been taught the answers to questions set to enable them to pass; document after document in Mr. Goffin's own handwriting was produced giving direct answers to questions set, and only to such questions; and letters in Mr. Goffin's handwriting even more criminating were produced. Boys came up who had passed from three to six subjects in science when under 12 years of age by being taught the answers by heart overnight to the questions set, while it was a matter of physical impossibility that they could have made the attendances necessary to qualify them for the subjects they passed in. But it was not merely the nature of the evidence, but the manner in which it was given, that carried conviction. Every witness was severely cross-examined, yet the information obtained from the reluctant fitted with a nicety and accuracy in unforeseen details that no premeditation could have insured. He had no hesitation in saying that if they could have gone at much greater length into the case they could have obtained revelations far more startling. But the evidence they obtained during the two or three days when they examined witnesses was deemed so conclusive and so far more than sufficient for the purpose in view, that they did not consider it necessary to take further evidence. The whole of the evidence was sent to Mr. Goffin, and he had a week to prepare his defence. On one point alone the evidence was slightly defective, for, although the authenticity of the notes given to Colonel Donnelly was distictly proved by several witnesses, the Committee were unable to find the boy who took them. Mr. Goffin came up and was examined all day. They were reluctant to examine him on oath, but he insisted. With characteristic audacity, he selected what he believed to be the weakest point in the case against him, and upon it hinged his whole defence. He alleged that he was the victim of a conspiracy, and that the outcome of that conspiracy was the concoction of these notes by certain of the conspirators whom he mentioned by name, and it was because he could not by fair means have given the information which they contained that they were concocted to ruin him. These assertions were made on oath. He further said that inquiry ought to be made for the boy. If the boy was in the school why was he not forthcoming? If not, he was entitled to assert that the notes were not authentic. He made these and other statements; but he did not get any direct evidence to rebut the charges brought against him, though he gave us a long list of witnesses, the inferences from whose evidence, he said, would, in his belief, disprove what had been said against him. It would have been the duty of the Committee to have examined all these witnesses so long as any doubt remained on their minds; but the next day, by the merest accident, the authors of these and other notes were discovered. In looking through the examination papers of the chemistry class, which had been in the hands of the Department since the examination, an officer belonging to South Kensington was so struck with the extraordinary similarity between the symbols, formulas, and writing of one paper and the notes in question as to make him think that the boy whose name was on the paper was the author of the notes. The boy was sent for, and he at once admitted that the notes were his, and taken at a lecture given by Mr. Goffin just previous to the examination. They compared his notes with his examination papers. It was absolutely impossible for these notes to be similar to the examination paper by accident, for the answer to every single question on the examination paper was in these notes. It was impossible for anyone to have concocted them who had not seen the boys' examination paper. He (Lord George Hamilton) was examining the boy, Jones by name, and he had a suspicion that the name of the boy was known to some of the masters who had taken these notes. So he said to this boy— (Question 2,046.) 'After you had given these notes to Mr. Hall did anybody ever talk to you about them? Did you ever hear anything more about them?'—(A.) 'I forget now.' (Q.) 'Try and think. Did anybody ever send to you about these notes? '(A.)' I was in the class one day—in Mr. Kent's class—and he said to the boys—"Have any of you given any notes to anybody?" and I said "Yes, sir, I gave notes to Mr. Hall." He said, "That is nothing;" and that is all.' Another boy in the same way identified notes which were almost as remarkable as those he had just referred to. It might seem to the House a serious matter to convict a man upon the evidence of a small piece of paper; but the House must understand what these notes were. Of course, any practical teacher could anticipate with more or less confidence the class of questions which might be set; but no one could guess the exact terms of the questions. In arithmetic it would not be difficult to anticipate that a Rule of Three sum might be set; but no one could anticipate what the exact terms of the sum would be. In the examinations on chemistry anyone might fairly anticipate that a question relating to the active atomicity of certain substances might be asked; but the substances of which this question could be asked numbered many hundreds. The Examiner named five; and not only were the selected five hit off in the notes, but they were arranged in the identical order in which they occurred in the examination paper. On the theory of probabilities, the probability of such a feat being honestly performed was a thousand billions to one. Stating it in a material shape, it was about the same as hitting on a particular drop of water out of all the water that passed Teddington Weir in a month; or, to put it in sporting phrase, like "spotting" the winner of the Derby for the next 10 consecutive years by giving his number on the card, assuming that there were 30 starters each year. The authorship and authenticity of these notes having been established to the satisfaction of the entire Committee—who in this case were judge and Jury combined—they were unanimously of opinion that the case was over, otherwise they would have heard every witness Mr. Goffin wished to call. Sir Sydney Waterlow, as representative of the Governors, acquiesced in this decision, and moved a Report expressing his conviction that Mr. Goffin was guilty; but the majority of the Committee were of opinion that it did not go far enough, and, after some discussion, the following Report was agreed to. If Sir Sydney, on the part of the Governors, had shown any reluctance or doubt as to Mr. Goffins guilt, the Committee would have prolonged the case until he was convinced. The Report was as follows:— Your Committee are satisfied from evidence taken on oath and from documents laid before them—(a) that Mr. Goffin, the head master of the United Westminster Schools, did disclose to his pupils in certain science classes, just previous to the examinations, the answers to a largo number of questions in the examination papers; (b) that the information which he thus gave was of such a nature that he must, before imparting it to his classes, have known the contents of the examination paper; (e) that the registers containing the attendance roll of the pupils of Mr. Goffin were, in certain cases, falsified by Mr. Goffin and his assistants to obtain payment of pupils who had not made the necessary number of attendances; (d) that the statements in the petitions signed by pupils and teachers on Mr. Goffin's behalf, and presented to the governors of the United Westminster Schools, were false, and were known by some of the signatories to be so. Previous to his appointment in 1874 as head master of the United Westminster Schools Mr. Goffin was master of St. John's School, Woking. Tour Committee have taken evidence as to his system of teaching science there, and from that evidence it is clear—(a) that a large number of pupils, including mere children, were enabled to pass examinations in a great number of science subjects, of which they knew scarcely anything, by being systematically taught by heart on the day of, or the day previous to, the examination, answers to the questions set; (A) that fraudulent fabrication of the attendance registers was systematically practised in order to obtain payment upon the pupils, who, by another fraud, had been enabled to pass the examination. The investigations now held, have disclosed the fact that Mr. Goffin has carried on a course of fraud in a manner and to an extent which must have greatly lowered the tone of morality among a large body of scholars and teachers. Your Committee record their emphatic opinion that fraud thus reduced to a system and almost elevated to the dignity of an art, requires the immediate attention of the Education Department with a view to the adoption of such further precautions as will prevent a repetition of these disgraceful practices. Your Committee further express a hope that the Department will deal as leniently as their public duty will allow with the teachers who, in the course of this inquiry, have by their evidence exposed themselves to the charge of complicity with some of Mr. Goffin's proceedings. He should like to know whether a stronger Report could be made against anyone than the Report he had read? During the discussion of the Report, there was some difference of opinion amongst the Members of the Committee as to the punishment to be awarded, some Members being of opinion that Mr. Goffin should be committed for perjury, and that a recommendation to that effect should have been made to the Speaker; but, ultimately, another view prevailed, and it prevailed on this understanding alone—first, that the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir Sydney Waterlow) should dismiss Mr. Goffin as soon as he could assemble the Governors, and he (Lord George Hamilton) undertook to consult the Legal Advisers of the Government as to whether or not it would be possible to bring an action for fraud against Mr. Goffin. He accordingly consulted the Law Advisers of the Crown, and he found that there was an insuperable obstacle to such a course, as all the money ultimately received by Mr. Goffin had been paid to the Governors of the Schools, upon their certificate that all the regulations of the Department had been complied with, and he (Lord George Hamilton) was told that there was a technical plea which could be set up which would preclude Mr. Goffin being prosecuted for fraud. In October, to his amazement, he received a letter from the Governors, in which it was stated that at a meeting, with the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Sydney Waterlow) in the chair, they unanimously came to the conclusion not to abide by the Report of the Committee, but requested the prosecution of Mr. Goffin in a Court of Law. He (Lord George Hamilton) then pointed out that it was not possible for them to do it; but that if Mr. Goffin wanted to go to law he had only to bring an action for perjury against the witnesses whose veracity he impugned. But what did Mr. Goffin do? There was one course which he might adopt, which everybody knew would be futile except for the purpose of throwing dust into the eyes of the public. If he had brought an action for perjury against any of these witnesses, he would have been cross-examined, and the case would have been tried on its merits. He might have brought an action against Colonel Donnelly or the other officers for Reports which, they had made to him (Lord George Hamilton) as Vice President of the Council. But he did not do that; he brought an action for libel against Colonel Donnelly, not for Reports made to Mm (Lord George Hamilton), but for the evidence which he gave before the Select Committee. The case was almost laughed out of Court; but it served Mr. Goffin's purpose. For 18 months he (Lord George Hamilton) was prevented from bringing his case before the public, and the Governors accepted the excuse and rehabilitated Mr. Goffin in his position. Then came the blackest part of the case, to which the House, he was sure, would pay very great attention. The Committee were very painfully impressed—and he hoped the Members of the House who were Governors of the School would excuse him—by the immense power which Mr. Goffin had. To use the words of a witness—"he was king of the school." A letter was put in, written by the secretary, in which he naively remarked—"The Governors will not do or order anything without first consulting Mr. Goffin." He could appoint whom he chose, dismiss whom he chose, and the rise of salaries was altogether dependent upon his opinion. The manner in which Mr. Goffin exercised his power was shown in the evidence. The Committee were very painfully struck by the terror these witnesses had of Mr. Goffin. One of them had a question put to him, and he said—"Must I speak the truth?" Another witness, who was a material witness, was asked to explain how he came to sign a petition which he knew to be false, and he replied—"I have a wife and two children dependent upon me. I did it under fear; I did it under protest." It would be recollected that all these witnesses were forced witnesses—reluctant witnesses. They had orders served upon them to attend the Committee Room; and he was sorry to say, in consequence of the Governors of the School allowing Mr. Goffin to remain as head master of the "Westminster School, all the witnesses who had given evidence against him were under his thumb, and a very heavy thumb it was. There was a letter from one of these witnesses, named Thompson, and he wrote to Colonel Donnelly to the effect that, since the Select Committee, he had been subject to a great deal of annoyance, both in school and out, at the hands of Mr. Goffin, and he wanted to know how to stop "this intolerable persecution?" It seemed to him (Lord George Hamilton) that the House was bound in honour to redress these grievances. Another witness swore on oath that Mr. Goffin had told him that, if any master gave any evidence concerning the lessons given previous to examination, the Governors would at once dismiss him. He (Lord George Hamilton) did not know whether the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir Sydney Waterlow) would be able to repudiate that charge; but he was informed on good authority that the salary of almost every one of the masters who stood by Mr. Goffin had been raised since the inquiry. Thompson, the man who wrote to Colonel Donnelly for protection, was one of the best teachers in the school, and he had looked at the reports of various examinations, and he saw that the boys in his form had done better than a good many other boys. He had made more than one application for an increase of salary, had been referred to Mr. Goffin, and refused. He had also been threatened with the loss of his lodging, and lately Mr. Thompson had been relegated to the lowest form. It was the knowledge of these facts which had induced him to bring this case before the House. Lord Sherbrooke had urged him for some time to bring the matter forward, and to take the first opportunity he could. As soon as Lord Sherbrooke saw that there was a chance of doing so, his Lordship wrote to him to say "He was very glad that at last an opportunity had occurred of bringing forward the scandalous case of Mr. Goffin, and the scandalous conduct of the Managers of the School." The Governors of the Schools, he believed, relied very much upon the results of some examinations which had taken place since the Report of the Committee, and he had seen the Report of the Examiner upon these examinations; but if they took the results of those examinations, and compared them with the number of passes which his pupils obtained previously when the "tipping" system was in force, they would see that there was great difference between the two. He was very much obliged to the House for so patiently listening to him, and he could assure the House that a more unpleasant duty than that which he had performed it was impossible to conceive. If he could have induced the Governors to have co-operated, his task would have been very much easier, as it was with extreme regret that he had been compelled to deprecate their conduct, as some of the Governors were his personal friends. He had no doubt that they wished to discharge their duty; but it appeared to him that they had lamentably failed. They were entrusted by Parliament with the guardianship of a great public educational institution. How had they performed their functions? They had allowed a wholesale system of rascality and fraud to be carried on under their very noses by their head master. When he was detected they sided with him, and they allowed themselves to be made parties to an inquiry which almost amounted to a sham, which whitewashed this Mr. Goffin. When a Select Committee of the House of Commons, at their special request appointed to inquire into the case, report unanimously Mr. Goffin to be guilty, they rejected that decision; and when, later on, Mr. Goffin deliberately shirked his right of raising an action in a Court of Law, they deliberately supported him in his shuffling. Without one syllable of the sworn testimony of 14 witnesses being disproved, with documents, letters, and notes in his own handwriting conclusively proving his guilt, the Governors deliberately re-instated Mr. Goffin in his position as head master of the School, where, under the œgis of their protection, he was able to bully those who gave evi-against him, and increase the salaries of those who stood by him, or were convicted with him. There were 700 boys in this school, and the great majority of them were intended for commercial pursuits. Could the Governors think that these boys would have any other fact impressed upon their minds than that if there was one policy in this world which it was not advantageous to pursue, it was that connected with honesty and truth? These were the facts, clear and uncontroverted, on which he asked the opinion of the House; and he hoped that in the discussion which ensued the speakers would make it clear that the House of Commons did not consider the fraud, falsehood, subornation, and perjury were the proper qualifications for the head master of a great middle-class school.


said, he never addressed the House under circumstances more painful to himself. This subject was brought forward by one of the foremost of the Conservative Party, by one from whom he had received personal kindness; but the interests of what he believed to be truth and justice required him to take the line which he proposed to take, regardless altogether of the immense authority and departmental experience of the noble Lord, and of the very strong prejudice which must at this moment exist against Mr. Goffin. The noble Lord had not told the House who Mr. Goffin was. He was a man of preeminent ability, a man of most unusual scientific knowledge. When he said of pre-eminent ability and scientific knowledge, he meant he was a man who had taken the highest distinction in eight different sciences. Not only that, but he had unusual aptitude for teaching. There were many sound scholars in the world; but the gift of teaching was very rare. They all knew very well that if in their great public schools there was any man who stood out amongst the list of untrained head masters, distinguished by this gift, how his memory was cherished for many years. That capacity of teaching Mr. Goffin had, in addition to very great scientific knowledge, which he (Mr. Warton) believed no living man could equal; he had a rare faculty of impressing his pupils with a wonderful love of knowledge, which led them to prosecute their studies with great devotion and ardour. The House must bear in mind that this was a school which was distinguished for science, and therefore it was not unusual for a man of such ability, with such apparatus at his command—it was not at all surprising that these boys, taught by him, really succeeded in a way likely to astonish people who were accustomed to boys taught by more ordinary men. Let them take a specimen in other fields than the examination at Westminster. He would take the examination for the Oxford Local Examination; on one occasion there were only 31 boys sent up altogether from the different schools; of these 31 boys seven passed, and of these seven, six were pupils of Mr. Goffin, and that number was all he sent up. In 1880, again, in the January Oxford Examination, there were 40 boys sent up, and out of those 40, 11 boys passed, seven were pupils of Mr. Goffin, and that number was all he sent. They were told about the way in which this case ended before the Committee; he was not there to say one word against the Committee. He was not prepared to say that as the evidence was presented to them, so worked up by the Department that they could very well have come to any other conclusion, and the case looked black—very black indeed. They were told that there was a previous case at Woking, and they might trace the very same agency there. It was quite possible for men of pre-eminent ability to have enemies who, perhaps, did not scruple to take revenge. Mr. Goffin was a man of a highly delicate organization, and of a nervous temperament—a man on whom the advancing years had worked very great injury to his health and happiness; and when a man like Mr. Goffin was brought in contact with Lord Sherbrooke, they could imagine there would be very little sympathy for Mr. Goffin, who came before the Committee faint and ill, with this charge hanging over him. Those who had read the evidence would remember that Mr. Goffin was asked, in the tone of a Judge addressing a criminal, whether he desired to make any statement. He replied that he had been forbidden by his medical advisers to appear at all, and he wished to be excused. Lord Sherbrooke said—"We do not call upon you to give evidence; but I understand that you wish to make a statement." Mr. Goffin replied in the affirmative. Mr. Goffin was tried not as an ordinary criminal would have been, in which case the prosecutors would first have to make out a case. He was called upon for a defence before the case of the prosecution was made out. Four or five times had this Motion been likely to come on, and on two of those occasions, if it had been brought forward, it would have been brought forward as a substantive Motion; and on those occasions he put down a Notice of the Previous Question, and he had a similar Notice down that night, although, of course, he could not move it. It was no part of the duty of the House to interfere with the wish of the Governors of the School. The evidence of the Committee had not turned away the love and affection of those who esteemed Mr. Goffin; it had not turned away that affection and that feeling on the part of the Governors of the School. What took place after the condemnation of the Committee? There was a meeting held in the school, at which some 600 or 700 boys were present, and 400 parents, and 14 of them addressed the meeting, and they all of them expressed their confidence in Mr. Goffin, and resolutions were passed in his favour. If that was the feeling of the parents and of the boys, if that was the feeling of the Governors of the School, it was not for the House to say whether or not they should continue to give their support to Mr. Goffin. It was not a question, he contended, for that House. The Governors of the School did not wish, and the parents of the boys did not wish, to have anything more to do with the Department; they were convinced of Mr. Goffin's innocence, and under Mr. Goffin the school had acquired a reputation for science. He held in his hand an examination of the boys in the upper sixth form in practical chemistry, not an examination which was seen before, and out of a class of 31 boys, 23 passed, getting the maximum marks, and the average of the 33, although reduced by one boy, who was backward, was 91. After such examination as that the school could afford to dispense with the Department. He did not ask the House to judge; but he said the parents were right and the Government were wrong. The House had nothing to do with it; and he asked the House not to give a vote, but to suspend its judgment until some proceedings were taken which would show what ought to be done.


said, that, with the permission of the House, he would, in the first place, say a word personal to himself. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) had stated that, as a Member of the Committee, he had, with others, assented to their Report. The noble Lord had also told the House that he had proposed a Report of a very different character. A division was taken on his Report, showing the effect which the evidence had on his mind. The Report prepared by him expressed the opinion that the evidence laid before the Committee justified the Department in suspending the certificate of Mr. Goffin. That was as different from the Report prepared by the Chairman of the Committee (Lord Sherbrooke) as light from darkness. Now, he was willing to admit, and he thought all the Governors admitted, that Mr. Goffin had been guilty of "cramming" to an extent which was an injury to the school, to the Department, and to the system under which money was paid for results, and that the Department was therefore justified in taking away his certificate. But the Governors were of opinion that Mr. Goffin had not been guilty of any worse practice, and that there was not a tittle of direct evidence that he had had in his possession a copy of the examination papers beforehand. No single witness was called to show that. The whole tenour of the evidence against him was to show that because the boys gave certain answers they must have been "coached" up by someone who had seen the questions. There were 30 witnesses outside the doors of the Committee Room waiting to be called at Mr. Goffin's request to show how men practised in "coaching"—a better word, he thought, than "cramming"—could prepare their pupils; and yet the Committee would not allow any one of those witnesses to be called in Mr. Goffin's defence. He felt it only right to say those few words in justification of the course pursued in relation to the Committee.


May I ask—


said, he did not interrupt the noble Lord when he was proceeding with his argument, though he made statements with which he could not concur. He did not propose to follow the noble Lord over the course of the examination which took place before the Committee, because, if he did so, he should have to give question after question, and answer after answer; but he ventured to say that if the Committee itself was an unfair tribunal, it would be very difficult indeed, in a House like this, at this period of the Session, to bring evidence on the one side and evidence on the other, to enable the minds of Members of this House to be in a condition to judge which side was right and which side was wrong. The Board of Governors came to a resolution that the decision in Mr. Goffin's case by the Parliamentary Committee could not be regarded as final, owing to the fact that the inquiry was conducted with closed doors; that Mr. Goffin was not allowed to be present, except when giving evidence, nor to be heard by counsel, nor permitted to cross-examine the witnesses against him; and that while more than 20 witnesses were ready to give evidence on his behalf only one of them was allowed to be heard. They, therefore, requested the Department to give Mr. Goffin an opportunity, as he desired, of vindicating his character. The answer to that resolution, contained in a memorandum, said that if the Governors were dissatisfied with the unanimous decision of the tribunal to whom they appealed, it rested with them to carry Mr. Goffin's case to another Court. The charges had not been withdrawn; on the contrary, the suspension of Mr. Goffin's certificate had not been made absolute, and yet legal proceedings had not been taken. The noble Lord said Mr. Goffin had obtained nearly £400 as fees by fraud. Surely, if that was the case, the person who so obtained the money ought to be punished. The Governors were advised that the Department had had ample opportunity to prosecute Mr. Goffin in a Court of Law, where the examination would have taken place in public, and witnesses would have been called for and against the defendant, whose counsel would have been able to cross-examine the witnesses. He (Sir Sydney Waterlow) moved a distinct Resolution in the Committee that the proceedings should be open. The noble Lord had said that was a great public question. He admitted it. It would raise the very grave question whether the present system of payment by results, or practically offering almost a bribe to the masters of large schools, by the temptation of nearly doubling their salaries, to "coach" a small number of boys and to give them marked attention, to the prejudice of the great mass of the scholars, was justifiable. Since Mr. Goffin's certificate was taken away the Board had seen a marked improvement. Attention was more evenly distributed, and the condition of the mass was immensely improved. It would, he repeated, raise the question of the system of almost bribing the masters to do that which was undoubtedly to the prejudice of any large school. But he would proceed. The answer of the Council went on to say that if, with a view of justifying their conduct in retain- ing Mr. Goffin at the head of the institution, it should prove that he was guilty of the grave charges that were Brought against him, it would be for the Board to take such steps as they considered advisable. The Governors of the School gave Mr. Goffin to understand that unless he should commence legal proceedings in order to have the charges that had been made against him properly investigated, he must expect to be dismissed. Mr. Goffin took the advise of a most learned counsel, and was advised to take action against his prosecutor, who, he might say, was his persecutor. What did the House think the Department said? They did not merely refuse to prosecute the man themselves, but when the man turned round to prosecute, with the assistance of his friends from one end of the country to the other, the Department turned round and pleaded privilege, so that all possibility of trying this question in the manner in which it ought to be tried was lost to Mr. Goffin. Therefore, the Governors felt they ought to throw back the onus on the Department of proceeding against him for obtaining public money by false pretences. The noble Lord had told the House that in the beginning he (Sir Sydney Waterlow) raised a discussion as to whether the Committee should be conducted with open doors. He put on the Paper of Business of this House a Notice of Motion, asking the House to believe that, from beginning to end, the Governors were anxious to have an open and fair trial of this man. The noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) and Mr. Lowe (now Lord Sherbrooke), who were defending the Department, were virtually in the position of judges and prosecutors at the same time. Medical testimony was given that Mr. Goffin was lying on a sick-bed, and he (Sir Sydney Waterlow) appealed to the Committee to allow him to appear by counsel. They refused absolutely, and declared that he should not be represented by counsel, nor should he be in the room when the witnesses were called against him. He asked hon. Members would they like to be deprived of their power of defence and of cross-examination? He was sure they would not. They refused to hear from any one of the witnesses that were called to give evidence any statement on the particular fact on which everything turned—namely, whether it was pos- sible for the boys to have given the answers they gave without having seen the papers. There was not a tittle of evidence that these papers had ever got out of the hands they belonged to. The noble Lord had discussed the question of payment by results. That was not the question before the House at all, though he hoped the time might soon come when they should have to discuss that question. The more the noble Lord insisted, as he did insist, that the case was so clear that it was quite impossible for anybody to have any doubt about it, the more willing he ought to be to allow the case to be tried in a Court of Law. The noble Lord also said that there was the strongest possible evidence that it was absolutely impossible that the master could have made the notes he did without having had supplied to him the printed examination paper. There were a score of men to be called—men of experience in these matters—not one of whom was called. Well, then it had been urged that Mr. Goffin should have appealed against the decision of the Court on the question of privilege. Let any hon. Gentleman present who knew anything as to the state of the law on the question give his opinion, and he thought he would agree with the learned counsel in the case that it would have been useless to have appealed against the decision of the Court on that point. He should not be wrong in reading a few lines from the judgment of Mr. Justice Field about the case. He said the Court was of opinion that the plea of privilege was a good one, and a perfect answer to the plaintiff's case. That was to say, it shut up the plaintiff entirely, and gave him no opportunity of going on. The plaintiff, no doubt, suffered from that which, on the face of it, was a serious libel upon him, and it was desirable he should have opportunity of investigation. Further on the Judge said it was a bad thing and a hard thing for individuals that anyone should be at liberty to say that a man was committing a crime, and that the law could not call upon him to prove what he said. Now, he (Sir Sydney Waterlow) should like to ask the noble Lord whether he proposed next Session to bring in an Act of Parliament to alter the Act relating to this school? If he did, then discussion would take a larger range than it could at present. The Governors took the greatest possible care before they appointed Mr. Goffin as head master. His testimonials were of the highest character, some of them being from Inspectors connected with the Education Department. The school rapidly filled, and, at the present moment, there were 690 boys in a school only built for 600. There were applicants far exceeding the number of vacancies that arose. No doubt, the school possessed many advantages for giving a sound education to boys intended for commercial life. The best way to judge of a school was to consider whether the boys were properly educated and were sought after; and he might say that there was scarcely a public company seeking clerks that was not asking for these boys. Mr. Goffin passed 92 per cent of the boys sent up for examination. In order to test the qualities of the school, the Governors last year appointed Examiners of the highest character, and of the greatest possible talent and ability, and they took care that the masters should have nothing to do with it. Let him read a few lines from the Report of the Examiners as regarded the written examination in chemistry. They found that 23 boys out of 31 had determined a difficult matter correctly. The whole Report was of an eminently favourable character. What he asked for, and what he asked of the Government, was that they should proceed with their accusation that Mr. Goffin had been guilty of obtaining nearly £400 of public money. He could not do more than ask the Government either to prosecute the man, or allow Mr. Goffin to go on with his action for libel and slander. He therefore asked the Government to bring up an action in such a way as might be best calculated to bring to light these charges.


said, that as he was the only Member of the Committee which inquired into the charges against Mr. Goffin who had not spoken, he wished in the strongest manner possible to corroborate the statement made by the noble Lord, who had done a great service in bringing the subject before the House. He had supported his hon. Friend who had just sat down (Sir Sydney Waterlow) in the Amendment he proposed to the Report of the Committee; and his hon. Friend now declared that that Amendment simply expressed an opinion that the evidence laid before the Committee justified the Department in suspending the certificate of Mr. Goffin. He (Mr. Errington) confessed that this was the first time he had ever heard a suggestion that that was the sense in which the words of the proposal of the hon. Gentleman were intended to be taken. He thought the interpretation hardly just, because the subsequent words of the Amendment were that the Committee desired to record also an emphatic opinion that the declaration made by the masters required the serious attention of the Education Department, with a view to the adoption of further precautions in order to prevent the examination papers from becoming known outside the Department before the examination took place. That meant that the papers had become known outside the Department before the examination. He (Mr. Erring-ton) had supported that Amendment with the distinct understanding that it condemned the conduct of Mr. Goffin quite as strongly as the Report of the Committee did. The question really was whether a man of the skill and experience of Mr. Goffin, by mere experience, could have guessed and interpreted the questions in a fair and legitimate manner, and taught them to his pupils accordingly. The hon. Member for Gravesend said the Committee refused to listen to certain witnesses who were in waiting to prove that what Mr. Goffin had done might have been done, more or less, merely by skill and experience; but the Committee had got far beyond that. He agreed with the hon. Member that if that question had been opened the Committee ought to have listened to the evidence Mr. Goffin proposed to call. He (Mr. Goffin) had denied the authenticity of the notes which formed the accusation against him. He denied them categorically, and said they were a forgery, and the result of a conspiracy against him. The noble Lord the then Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lord Francis Hervey) pinned him exactly to that declaration. He asked him if the notes were authentic, and whether he agreed with the conclusion of Professor Roscoe that it would be impossible to have framed the questions in a particular way without access had been had to the questions of the Examiners. Mr. Goffin said he thought so, and that he should have agreed with that. Therefore, Mr. Goffin's own admission was that the answers could not have been given through any mere experience and knowledge of tuition. It must be remembered that at that time there was no direct proof, although there was internal evidence, that the notes were authentic. That link in the evidence was still wanting. Therefore, Mr. Goffin thought himself perfectly safe in adhering to his old line of defence, and in saying that the notes were not authentic. If they were authentic, then the case against him would have been conceded. A remarkable point was that, having narrowed the issue down to that, the missing link was in the end obtained, and the Committee got evidence which convinced them that the notes were, beyond all question, taken at the lecture given immediately before the examination, and for the purpose of teaching the pupils the questions that were to be asked. They had obviously the assurance of Mr. Goffin that if the notes were authentic he could not have given the answers without having a copy of the Examiners' questions. That brought the question to a very narrow issue. The question, as far as the public out-of-doors were concerned, regarded the form of procedure. The noble Lord admitted that many of the Committee at first sight were reluctant to accept the particular course of procedure proposed by the Chairman of the Committee; but the hon. Baronet who had just sat down, and who had condemned that course very strongly, ought to remember that strongly as he felt against it he was not inclined to divide the Committee against it. Although reluctant to assent to the form of procedure, which was not, perhaps, usual, but which was forced upon the Committee by the necessities of the case, the hon. Baronet, like all of the Members of the Committee, had on consideration agreed that it was the most expedient course to adopt. He (Mr. Errington) was sure the Committee adopted it with regret; but they felt on consideration that it was the best and most satisfactory course they could take. He agreed with the noble Lord that that course had a most satisfactory result. It enabled the Committee to come to a conclusion which they could not have come to as certainly, or without the greatest difficulty, if they had adopted any other course. The hon. Baronet had repeated the charge against the Education Department, that they had not brought an action against Mr. Goffin for having obtained by fraud a large sum of money. No doubt, the Committee were of opinion that the money was obtained by fraud; but it was paid over to the trustees, and, therefore, an action for fraud would not lie. If these were the only grounds that could be urged in defence of Mr. Goffin, he thought the case of that gentleman was a very weak one indeed. No doubt they must all feel pained in joining in a vote of censure against a body which was so much respected as the Governors of Westminster School; but he must say that he thought that every word contained in the proposal which the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex had placed on the Paper was fully justified. It certainly appeared to him to be a scandal that, when an inquiry of this kind was asked for, and after it had been concluded in the way it had, the Governors of Westminster School should think themselves justified in absolutely ignoring the decision of the Committee, and in maintaining Mr. Goffin in the important place he occupied, notwithstanding the gravity of the charges against him. At any rate, they ought to have suspended Mr. Goffin, or have insisted upon some practical course being taken by that gentleman for the vindication of his character. The Governors called upon the Department to prosecute Mr. Goffin; but the last decision having been against Mr. Goffin, that gentleman was bound to take action against the Department. It was quite true that Mr. Goffin did commence an action; but it was of such a nature that everybody knew beforehand it would be ridiculed when it came into Court. He thought it was a great pity that, owing to the Forms of the House, they had not now an opportunity of affirming, by their decision— That the retention by the Governors of the United Westminster Schools of Mr. Goffin as head master of that public institution, after he had, by a Select Committee of this House specially appointed in 1879 to inquire into his conduct at the request of the Governors of the Schools, been found guilty of a systematic course of fraud, falsehood, and subornation, is a public scandal, and as such demands the immediate attention of the Education Office and Charity Commissioners.


said, he had yet to learn that it was the duty of honourable men placed in such a posi- tion as the Governors of Westminster School to act contrary to their consciences, whatever decision a Committee of that House, acting in a different manner from that upon which other Committees usually acted, and ending in the examination and condemnation of a man with closed doors, after forbidding him to be present during the whole of the inquiry, and not allowing him to call the witnesses who were in attendance to speak in his favour—might have arrived at. He had heard with surprise some of the language which had fallen from the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) in regard to the Governors of the School. Perhaps the House would scarcely believe that the man who proposed the resolution read by the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Sydney Waterlow) that day, who had gone through all the evidence, who was not prejudiced in favour of Mr. Goffin, but rather prejudiced against him—that the very man who moved that Resolution, after hearing and considering all the evidence, was that eminent scholar and Divine, Canon Farrar. It was after becoming acquainted with all the facts that Canon Farrar, at the first meeting of the Governors, called to consider the question, proposed the resolution which had been read by the hon. Member for Gravesend, and it was passed unanimously by the Governors. The statement made by the noble Lord would have conveyed an impression which he thought, upon reflection, was not the impression the noble Lord desired to convey; but, undoubtedly, the impression produced on the mind of any stranger who heard the subject now for the first time would be that Mr. Goffin was a kind of charlatan, who, by means of fraud and underhand practices, had obtained a position he was not entitled to, and that therefore the Department, for a long series of years, had been endeavouring to entrap him. Now, reference had been made by the hon. Member for Gravesend to the position Mr. Goffin had occupied for many years. It was well-known to anyone who knew anything about teaching that Mr. Goffin was the first teacher of technical science in the country. That was admitted by every person connected with education in the country. It was difficult to find a man who held a different opinion, and they had evidence adduced in the course of the debate that when all the privi- leges previously enjoyed by Mr. Goffin were taken away from, and when the greatest care was taken by the Governors that no special examination should be held in the school, the boys educated in the school still continued to take the very highest position. He was not there to defend either the action of Mr. Goffin or the course of his life; he was there simply as one of the Governors of the School to defend the action of the Governors; and he declared in the most positive terms that, as honourable and conscientious men, they dared not dismiss a man to ruin and degradation until they were satisfied in their own minds of the truth of the charges made against him. The Governors were not in any degree partial to Mr. Goffin; but they were animated by one feeling—namely, that they ought not to absolutely ruin a man until they arrived at a satisfactory conclusion that there was no doubt as to the truth of the case preferred against him. He was anxious to trace the early part of the case. The noble lord had told him himself that he had made up his mind that Mr. Goffin was guilty.


begged the hon. Gentleman's pardon. He had never said anything of the kind. He might have told the hon. Gentleman that he was satisfied of Mr. Goffin's guilt after the proofs had been produced. He had certainly never said that he had made up his mind before the proofs were produced.


said, that what the noble Lord had said had certainly conveyed that impression to his mind. He would withdraw anything as to the actual words used by the noble Lord; but undoubtedly the impression conveyed to his mind was that the noble Lord had made up his mind as to Mr. Goffin's guilt. Perhaps the noble Lord would remember that his (Sir James Lawrence's) reply was—"I cannot condemn a man until I have got at all the facts." But it was not only the noble Lord, but the Department, which appeared to have made up its mind to crush Mr. Goffin long before the whole of the evidence came out. The first inquiry was conducted by Colonel Donnelly, and, to say the least of it, it was conducted in a most extraordinary manner. Instead of approaching the boys in a conciliatory spirit and in a gentle manner, as if he were really anxious to obtain the truth from them, to each answer given by the boys Colonel Donnelly said—"You are a liar; you are all liars." That was the course taken by the gentleman sent down by the Department to ascertain the facts of the case. The noble Lord said that the boys were in fear and trembling when they came before the Governors. That was quite untrue, and the Governors were able to obtain very clear statements from them. He was quite aware of the difficulty of getting any Government Department to confess itself in error, or that it had done injury to an individual. An instance occurred to him which he might mention to the House. When he first came into the House he was waited upon one day by a man who was one of the most trusted of the porters connected with the South Western Railway. The man said he wished him (Sir James Lawrence) to do him a favour. He had been a member for many years of the police force, and he had injured himself very severely in struggling with a burglar, the consequence of which was that he was laid up. The doctor made up his mind that he was malingering, and gave evidence before the Home Secretary to the effect that when he examined the man's leg he found traces of iodine upon the foot which he had not prescribed. The consequence was that the man lost his pension, and he was taken into the employment of the South Western Railway, and became one of the most trusted servants they had. Some years afterwards, on some alterations being made in the chemist's shop in which the prescription was made up, the original paper was found signed by the medical man who gave evidence against this poor fellow, in his own handwriting, and in the document appeared the very article "iodine," the prescription of which he had forgotten. He (Sir James Lawrence) went to the Home Office and laid the facts before them; but the only answer he obtained was that they could not undo what they had already done. The man did not ask to be reinstated in his position, but simply to have his character cleared. But an English Public Department knew nothing of that rehabilitation of character which other Governments and nations were always anxious to under- take, and until our Government adopted the course pursued elsewhere he feared that very much injustice would be done. He had detained the House much longer than he ought to have done; but he felt warmly in regard to some of the expressions which had fallen from the noble Lord, and which he considered to be quite unjustifiable. He held that no man had a right to impute motives or talk about a public scandal in regard to the action of men who held honourable positions. He thought that greater care should be taken by the heads of Departments, and by the officials under them, as to the manner in which the public conduct of other men, as conscientious as themselves, was construed. MR. RATHBONE said, he never rose with more pain to address the House upon any subject than he did on the present occasion. Many men whom he sincerely respected were among the Governors of the Westminster School; but it seemed to him that this was one of those cases on which it was most important that the House should express a clear opinion. A great deal of the arguments they had heard went to prove Mr. Goffin's great ability. There was no doubt that he was a man of wonderful ability as a teacher; and one of the most remarkable proofs of his ability was that he should have been able so to mislead the Governors of the School. [Sir SYDNEY WATERLOW dissented.] His hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir Sydney Waterlow) shook his head; but he really thought if his hon. Friend would only try to carry his mind back to the time when he proposed his draft Report, he would see at once that the line he had been taking to-night was absolutely inconsistent with that Report, and what must have been the state of his mind when he proposed it. Mr. Goffin swore positively that no such information ever came into his possession, and yet, in the Report proposed by the hon. Baronet, the Committee desired to record their emphatic opinion that the declarations made by the witnesses required the serious attention of the Education Department, with a view to the adoption of further precautions in order to prevent the examination papers from becoming known outside the Department before the time of examination. If that meant anything, it meant that Mr. Goffin had had the papers. It could mean nothing else; and, if so, Mr. Goffin was guilty of clear and deliberate perjury, and it was the duty of the Governors to have prosecuted him for that perjury. They were the only persons who could prosecute him for receiving money under false pretences, because it was from them he received it, and not from the Department. He imagined that most Members of the House had made up their minds that Mr. Goffin did commit these offences, and the noble Lord had shown that this was not the first offence. Then, what a frightful thing it was for the Governors of Westminster School to give their sanction and countenance to a man who had been guilty of a fraud in regard to which he must have taken the boys with him. The Vice President of the Council had told them to-day that he was going to remove some of the great temptations to fraud to which the elementary school masters had hitherto been subjected, and it was quite time that he should do so, for anyone who had been connected with public elementary schools knew how difficult it had been to maintain that high spirit of honour which was so important. But, at the same time, when they came to look at the effect of maintaining a man so able, so eminent, and so distinguished as Mr. Goffin in his position, after the Committee had distinctly come to the unanimous conclusion they did, he thought it was of immense importance that, by some means or other, the scandal of maintaining such a man in such a position should be put an end to. It was not merely that the Governors were called upon to prevent the scandal, but they ought to consider the effect of leaving such a man with power to persecute all those who had given honest and straightforward evidence against him.


said, that, deplorable as it might be to leave Mr. Goffin with power to persecute persons who were objectionable to him, it was, nevertheless, only a common practice even in connection with a respectable Government Department. Therefore, they could not condemn Mr. Goffin on that account. The noble Lord who had formerly been Vice President of the Council and Under Secretary of State for India (Lord George Hamilton) could, from his experience, quote many cases in which a junior member of the Civil Service had occasion to remember any unfortunate slip he might have made against his superiors for all the rest of his life. He (Mr. O'Donnell) had studied the case of Mr. Goffin, with the intention of bringing the matter before Parliament if he could conscientiously do so; but certainly the impression produced on his mind was that the case against Mr. Goffin was not made out. He did not think that sufficient stress had been laid on the peculiar nature of the study to which "coachers" or "crammers" directed their attention, when they were engaged in coaching a pupil for passing a particular examination. The first part of the duty of the crammer was to find out who the Examiners were, and, in the next place, to hunt up all the antecedents of the Examiners with the skill of a private detective. He would obtain information as to all the occasions upon which such and such an Examiner had acted, all the questions which that Examiner had put upon paper; and it was upon a wisely selected average of such questions running over a long period of years that a professional crammer proceeded in preparing his class for an examination to take place two months, six months, or one month hence, at the hands of that special Examiner. Only yesterday an old College chum of his own, now engaged in coaching, breakfasted with him. His friend complained that too many crammers, and the most successful ones, confined themselves to the business of teaching their pupils the answers to questions which, over a long space of years, the particular Examiners before whom they were to appear had been in the habit of asking of the pupils. For instance, this gentleman was a coach for some of the examinations for commissions in the Line, commissions given to Militia officers; and he said that among the Examiners at these examinations within recent years there had been Examiners who were also Examiners in the public Colleges, such as Woolwich and Sandhurst. The crammer knew very well that Mr. So-and-So, Professor of such and such a Department at Woolwich, was the Examiner; and he would, therefore, find out the class of questions that gentleman had propounded at Woolwich and Sandhurst over a series of years, and after he had found that out beyond all doubt, his pupils would be able to clear a majority of the questions asked. Cramming was a sort of art which had been brought almost to perfection in the present day. A short time ago there was an hon. Member in that House who was at the head of one of the greatest cramming establishments in the Kingdom. Unfortunately, the hon. Gentleman was deprived of his seat by the verdict of an Electoral Commission. He (Mr. O'Donnell) was sorry for that untoward event, because if the Gentleman to whom he referred had been disposed to give a brief lecture on the science and mysteries of cramming, he would certainly have been able to astonish a great majority of that House. It had been pointed out to him (Mr. O'Donnell) by an experienced crammer, in a moment of social expansion, that the more distinguished the Examiners with whom a crammer had to deal the more safe the crammer was in forecasting the questions that would be asked. Men of distinguished scientific attainments were the men who were most sure to have a dozen particular fads of which they were particularly proud. Having arrived at certain original views, they could not for the life of them help asking questions upon them year after year. He (Mr. O'Donnell) was of opinion that the whole system of competitive examinations required re-casting. It was something like the contest between big guns and iron plates; the guns had got ahead of the plates, and the crammer had got ahead of the competitive examination system. Looking at the imperfect nature of the tribunal before which Mr. Goffin went—and if there was one tribunal less satisfactory than another it was a Committee of that honourable House—looking at the imperfect nature of that tribunal, he was certainly utterly unable to come to any conclusion hostile to the good faith of Mr. Goffin. Mr. Goffin seemed to be a man of wonderful ability as a teacher, with a wonderful genius for getting at conclusions; and he was quite sure that during the period Mr. Goffin was engaged in preparing Westminster scholars under a strict cramming system, he would have made it his business to go through all the antecedents of the Examiners, and all the people the pupils were likely to come in contact with. Being a man of such ability, it was not astonishing that the pupils of Mr. Goffin, as a general rule, satisfactorily answered about 90 per cent of the questions put to them. He thought it would be most difficult, in all the circumstances of the case, for the House to draw any hasty inference as to the guilt of Mr. Goffin, or to come to any conclusion adverse to him.


said, he had no right to address the House again except by permission; but he would not detain the House for more than two or three minutes. The question had only been brought to his attention by the Notice placed on the Paper by the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton); and everyone who heard the noble Lord that night must feel that he had done good service in bringing it forward. When the question was brought under his (Mr. Mundella's) notice in the Department, he made an inquiry into the nature of the charges against Mr. Goffin, and the result of his investigation was this—that Mr. Goffin was guilty of the charge brought against him, and that it was really a sad thing that a body of Governors so eminently respectable as the Governors of Westminster School should have retained a man in such an important position. The retention of such a man was little less than a scandal, and it was setting a very bad example. He was the more sorry, because it was really teaching the country to believe that the Department were disposed to charge a man with fraud when there was no real and substantial ground for the accusation. He did not know that it was possible to constitute a fairer or more complete Committee than that which had been appointed at the suggestion of his hon. Friend behind him to investigate this case. It consisted of Mr. Lowthian Bell, Mr. Moore, Lord George Hamilton, Lord Francis Hervey, Mr. Errington, Mr. Rodwell, and Sir Sydney Waterlow. His hon. Friend the Member for Graves-end charged everyone who sided against Mr. Goffin with being the prosecutor. He spoke of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex as the prosecutor, then of Colonel Donnelly as the prosecutor; and he (Mr. Mundella) was afraid that he himself would now be looked upon as the prosecutor. Even Mr. Lowe, the present Lord Sherbrooke, was spoken of as the prosecutor, because he had happened to be Vice President of the Council, and it was supposed that he must necessarily be affected with some Departmental taint which would prevent him from fairly and honourably dealing with a question like that of Mr. Goffin. Surely the House would not suspect that Members of the Government and permanent officials were really anxious to convict any man of fraud? From what he could learn, such men as Professor Franklin and Professor Roscoe considered that the case against Mr. Goffin was proved beyond all doubt, and that it was a scandal that such a man should have been retained so long in the position he now occupied. There was no doubt that Mr. Goffin was a remarkably able man and an excellent science teacher; but he had all the less excuse for the course he had taken. It was not necessary that a man possessing so much ability should have recourse to fraud in the way in which Mr. Goffin evidently had had recourse to it in order to obtain money for his own school work. It was said that the Education Department ought to have prosecuted Mr. Goffin, and the hon. Member behind him (Mr. Erring-ton) repeated that cry. The hon. Member, however, knew that the Department could not do so. This transaction took place nearly three and a-half years ago—namely, in May, 1878—and how could they now prosecute Mr. Goffin? An indictment for fraud would not lie against him; that was very well known. The fraud was not committed by Mr. Goffin directly for his own benefit, but only indirectly, as the money went into the hands of the Governors. If a criminal indictment had been preferred against Mr. Goffin, his mouth would have been closed; they could not have cross-examined him, and they would have been deprived of the best means of getting at the truth. All he could say about the matter was this—that he thought the discussion which had taken place would produce a good effect. He hoped the Governors of the School would, on reflection, consider that it was a scandal to allow the present state of things to continue. He should certainly confer with those who usually advised him in legal matters, in order to see what steps could possibly be taken. He was afraid that nothing could be done by the Education Department; but, if not, the Charity Commissioners might consider whether it was not their duty to interfere. He did not care how eminent or able a man might be; if he committed such a fraud as this, he was guilty of a great mistake, and, in the interests of all public teachers, he ought not to be allowed to continue in the position he occupied. It was now time that this discussion should come to an end, and, as the House could not come to a conclusion on the matter, he would appeal to it to resolve itself at once into Committee, so that the Government might be allowed to take the Education Votes.


asked if there was to be a discussion upon the Estimates?



Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.