HL Deb 03 April 1865 vol 178 cc630-68

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

Petitions against the Bill of Masters, Fellows, and Scholars of St. Mary Magdalene College, Cambridge; of Edward Allesbey Boughton Ward Boughton Leigh; of Persons educated at Eton; of Warden and Scholars of New College, Oxford; of Governors and Trustees of Shrewsbury School; of Trustees of Rugby School; of inhabitants of Harrow, and Pinner—presented.


said, he had two Petitions of considerable importance to present against the measure. The first was signed by twelve Professors and eighty-one Tutors and Lecturers of the University of Oxford, and constituting, he was told, fully three-fourths of the whole educational staff of the University. It was not signed by a single Head of a House, or by any member of the University, except those actually engaged in the business of teaching. The Petitioners stated that they had witnessed with concern the introduction of the Public Schools Bill, by which it was proposed to vest in certain "governing bodies" large powers for the present reform and management of the Schools in question, that no permanent governing bodies, and particularly not such governing bodies as were contemplated in the Bill, could be advantageously intrusted with the making of new statutes for the public schools, nor with their future regulation; and thus, since they were composed for the most part of former masters, who, however distinguished for literary or scientific acquirements, had no practical knowledge of education; the Petitioners expressed an opinion, in regard to which he entertained some doubt, that the duty of making laws and regulations for the government of these Schools should be intrusted to an Executive Commission appointed for a limited time, and not connected with the Schools, and similar to those enjoyed by the Oxford and Cambridge Commissions; they thought that schools were most advantageously dealt with on the responsibility of the Head Master, and they added that those schools had flourished most which were least interfered with by the governing body; the Petitioners apprehended that the residence of one or more of the governing body in or near the School would weaken the authority of the Head Master; and they prayed their Lordships to withhold their sanction from the Bill, especially those clauses relating to the powers and constitution of the governing bodies of schools. The other Petition against the Bill was from parties whose rights of property were seriously interfered with by the measure. It was from the Wardens and Commonalty of the Mercers' Company. The Petitioners set forth that St. Paul's School was founded in 1512 by Dean Colet, a member of that body, and son of a mercer, who gave the Company certain estates absolutely for the payment of a sum of £79 8s. 4d. for the education of 153 boys—a very moderate sum, as it seemed, for that purpose; they stated that Dean Colet gave the surplus property to the Company; that since his decease the value of these estates had much increased; that the Company had, however, never applied the surplus to their own use; that there had, on the contrary, been a deficiency, and that, for many years past, they had applied a sum of £7,000 a year towards the purposes of education in connection with the School; that the School House having been burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666, it was rebuilt by the Mercers' Company out of their private resources; that in 1861 a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the management of Public Schools and made a Report, in which they recommended that the claims of the Company to the surplus income arising from the estates left by Dean Colet should be settled by a judicial decision, and they represented that until that was done it would be premature to bring any scheme relative to the school before Parliament; the Petitioners complained that, notwithstanding this Report, the present Bill contained clauses which would injuriously interfere with their rights, and which would prevent them from disposing of property with which they had a right to deal; that this was a scheme affecting the private property of the Mercers' Company, the right to deal with which it was proposed to vest in another body; the Petitioners represented that it was unjust to deprive them of the power of managing St. Paul's School; and they prayed that the measure might not pass into a law, or that if it should obtain their Lordships' assent the clauses affecting their rights and interests might be expunged there from. This was a petition from persons who were well entitled to express their opinions, and whose interests ought not to be jeopardized without the fullest consideration.


My Lords, in moving the second reading of a Bill, founded upon the recommendations of a Commission issued under Her Majesty's letters patent in 1861, for the purpose of inquiring into the endowments, emoluments, studies, management, and teaching of certain Colleges and Schools, I think it will not be useless or out of place if I briefly recall to your Lordships' recollection the circumstances under which that Com mission was issued, and the spirit in which it conducted its inquiry. It is most erroneous to suppose that that spirit was hostile in general to the schools and colleges which were the subject of inquiry. This Commission was due to my lamented relative, Sir George Cornewall Lewis, of whom Eton was justly proud—a man who had attracted the marked admiration of his contemporaries—and whose loss was deeply mourned by all. In common with other thoughtful men he came to the conclusion that our old public schools were not keeping pace with the age, and that, relying on their ancient renown, their well established reputation and undoubted usefulness, they had become to a certain extent stagnant and unmindful of the requirements of a time characterized by remarkable mental activity and by general improvement in the systems of education. He therefore thought the moment had arrived for inquiry into the causes and remedies of defects which were unquestionable, and to which public attention was aroused. The inquiry, however, was undertaken and conducted not with a desire to condemn, but in that spirit which prompts men to improve and to render as far as possible perfect, that which they hold in the highest respect. My Lords, the Commissioners were named by my lamented Friend; and putting myself out of the question—which I do unaffectedly—I say they were well entitled to the confidence of the country. Eton, Westminster, Rugby and Harrow could not have named more efficient, able, and friendly representatives; and we had the advantage of associating with us as our Secretary the distinguished Professor of International Law at Oxford. We began by issuing printed questions in a tabular form to the authorities of the schools, and subsequently to professors and tutors of colleges, all of which were answered with a readiness and a completeness which deserve our hearty acknowledgment. We personally visited the schools, we examined 130 witnesses, we held 127 meetings, and produced four blue-books. [A laugh.] Noble Lords may laugh, but I will undertake to say that those books did not meet with the usual fate of such literature, but; were read and commented on throughout I the whole country, and the interest they excited was unquestionable. Our Report and the recommendations it contained were the result of long and careful inquiry and of much anxious discussion; and I was, therefore, sorry to find that my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Derby) gave these recommendations a very qualified approval and that he applied to them the well known lines— Sunt bona, sunt quædam mediocria, sunt plura mala Quæ legis. I confess that I heard my noble Friend with regret, the more so because on such a subject the well earned fame of my noble Friend as a scholar gave, if possible, additional weight to his opinion. I also heard with regret that my noble Friend thought we ought not to have brought in a Bill this year, and ought to have remained another year without doing anything, in order to give the authorities of the different schools time to consider whether any of our recommendations could be introduced with advantage into the institutions over which they presided. My Lords, twelve months have elapsed since that Report was issued, debates have taken place in both Houses; and I announced that we would postpone any legislation on the matter until this year, in order to give full time for consideration, and for spontaneous adoption by the school authorities of such portions of the recommendations as they approved; and, as I said before, the question attracted general attention throughout the country. In introducing a Bill, therefore, this year on the subject, I think there is no undue haste on the part of the Government and no unfair pressure; and I cannot agree with my noble Friend in thinking that the delay of another year is necessary—because it would be an absurdity, or rather an insult to the governing bodies and the learned Head Masters of these Schools, to suppose that in the course of twelve months they would be unable to make up their minds as to the expediency or the usefulness of our recommendations, if they intended to take those recommendations into consideration at all. I say that if they did not do so in the first year, still less would they do so in the second, when they might fairly assume that the Government was negligent, that Parliament was indifferent, that the question had become stale, and that no legislation whatever was likely to be attempted. But facts are better than arguments in such a case as this, and I can give a practical proof that no such delay would be necessary, because within three months after our Report was issued, the enlightened and accomplished Head Master of Rugby School, whose time and energies are as sorely taxed as any other Head Master in England, issued, after consulting with the Masters, an elaborate report to the Trustees of the School, pointing out which part of our recommendations he should advise them to accept and to act upon. Dr. Temple said that there would never perhaps be so good an opportunity of introducing reforms into the School, and he therefore proposed to the Trustees to bring into immediate operation that part of the recommendations which he thought would be beneficial. I think, therefore, that if within three or four months Dr. Temple came to this conclusion, there would be no impossibility in other Head Masters making up their minds as to the expediency of pursuing the same course. I will go further and say that from the many and anxious inquiries addressed to us as to the intentions of the Government, I feel certain that the feeling would have been one of bitter disappointment if legislation had been postponed for another year. When, the—refore, my noble Friend complains of the recommendations of the Commissioners and the undue haste of the Government, I hope I am not wrong in attributing this criticism to the exigencies of the first night of the Session, when my noble Friend is under the necessity of finding fault with each paragraph of the Speech. At all events, I am sure I should be wrong in attributing to my noble Friend any desire to give a party character to a subject which of all others should be kept out of the political arena and clear of political strife, because the question at issue—namely, the method which should be adopted in our public schools for the formation of character, and the fitting of 3,000 English youths for the high positions which they will be called on to fill—is a question of national interest.

My Lords, it is not my intention on the present occasion to advert to the defects and shortcomings of these Schools. They must be familiar to those of your Lordships who have read the Report; they have been largely commented upon by the press; and I think I shall best consult the wishes and feelings of the House if I confine myself to an endeavour to explain the Bill which is immediately under your consideration. The Bill, I trust and believe, will in no respect interfere with the great feature of our public school system—the system of government and of discipline, resulting in that manliness, that self-reliance and independence of character, that love of freedom combined with respect for authority, which give to our public Schools in England so large a share in moulding the character of our national life. We do not forget that the object of a public school education is no less to form the character than to develop the mind—indeed, I may perhaps say it is still more so, because between the ages of ten and twenty the character is formed for good or for evil, and receives an impulse and direction which undergoes no essential variation; whereas, after the age of twenty, a man may and often must learn, and the promptings of ambition or the pressure of self-interest will compel him to correct the deficiencies of his education. But, I will ask your Lordships, is it necessary that when a boy of nineteen leaves school—I know there are great and brilliant exceptions, but I am taking the average boy—is it necessary that when a boy of nineteen has learnt to be manly and self-reliant, and has been imbued with the character of an English gentleman, he should at the same time be unable to construe an easy sentence from the Latin or the Greek, should be unacquainted with the history and literature of his own country, should know no modern language besides his own, and be scarcely able to write even that correctly—that he know nothing of physical laws, and, in fact, after having passed the best years of his life in learning, should have learnt so little? I do not think this is right, and I think your Lordships will all be of opinion, not alone from the results of our inquiry, that a defect must exist somewhere. I may say that the aim of the Commission was to place in the hands of the teaching and governing bodies of the Schools, and of parents and of the public generally, the information of which we were possessed. Before this, one School knew little of the system pursued at others. We, therefore, thought it essential that the information given should be ample and unreserved, and we trusted to the pressure of public opinion to carry into effect the necessary reforms; but we never for one moment entertained the idea of reforming the discipline and government of the Schools by direct legislation. Nor, if we had done so, would the Government have sanctioned such a contrivance. We felt that in order to carry into effect the necessary reforms the task should be intrusted to those who are properly responsible—the governing bodies of the Schools. The governing bodies, who know the practical working of the system, are the most competent judges of when, and how, and to what extent, modifications of the existing system would be judicious. It seemed to us that the province of Parliament was to confer sufficient power on the governing bodies, and to take care that it was accompanied with commensurate responsibility. This, my Lords, is the principle of the Bill, and its scope is limited to the definition of the governing bodies and their relations to the Head Masters. We consider that improvement of the governing bodies was necessary, because as at present constituted we did not think they are equal to the discharge of the duties imposed upon them. It is hardly necessary to refer to the changes which have taken place in the functions of these governing bodies since the foundations of the Schools. The foundations themselves are of very early date; one was established at the close of the 14th, and another at the beginning of the 17th century; one during the reign of Richard II., and another during that of James I.; and, naturally, the enormous developments which have since taken place in the size of the Schools have produced corresponding changes in the governing bodies. In the alterations which we thought necessary to introduce we did not aim at uniformity; but there are some principles that are common to all governing bodies. They should be permanent—they should not be too numerous; but they should, at the same time, be protected by the number and character and position of their members from domination of whatever kind, whether of local, of personal, or professional influence. We desired that they should comprise men conversant with the world, with the requirements of active life, and with the progress of general science. There are powers of two kinds which we desire to give to the governing bodies; some of them to be used at once, others according to circumstances and to the necessities which may arise. The foundations in course of time have undergone vary important changes, and it is highly necessary that these changes should cither be confirmed or modified by some competent authority, instead of being left, as now, in a condition which must naturally give rise to a conflict of authority. We think it essential that at old foundations, such as Eton and Westminster, there should exist extensive powers of amendment. But where, old constitutions having been construed according to usage or necessity, there has arisen a lamentable absence of moral obligation, there is necessarily a great absence of security that changes, when advisable to be made, will be undertaken with definite views and under due responsibility. Your Lordships will find in the clauses of this Bill provisions by which all statutes, amended or new, shall be laid before Her Majesty in Council, and that five Privy Councillors, two of them members of the Judicial Committee, shall be appointed to whom such matters shall be specially referred. All such statutes likewise must be published. There are thus abundant safeguards against their hasty adoption or any interference with the rights of individuals. We also propose to give the governing bodies the power of framing regulations with regard to the management of the Schools. These regulations at present vary to a considerable extent. In some schools, again, there is a direct control over the foundation; in others, the control is neither direct nor undisputed. In some cases, therefore, the governing bodies interfere where they are not properly responsible; in others, they refrain from interfering where they ought properly to do so. I know that the section to which I am now alluding, which gives power to governing bodies to make regulations, is one that has excited a great deal of interest, from the fact that there are those who fear it may operate prejudicially. I should be extremely sorry if I thought that it would undermine the authority of the heads of the different schools. We are fully alive to the importance of making the Head Master independent within his proper sphere, and of leaving his management of the School in all the details of education unfettered. But there are some matters upon which the Commissioners thought, and the Government have agreed with them, that some power of interference should be vested in the governing bodies. For instance, we have thought it desirable that the governing bodies should have a voice— With respect to the number of boys other than boys on the foundation in the School, their ages, and the conditions of admission to the School. With respect to the mode in which the boys, whether on the foundation or not, are to be boarded and lodged, and the conditions on which leave to keep a boarding-house should be given. With respect to the payments to be made for the maintenance and education of the boys other than boys on the foundation, including fees and charges of all kinds, and to payments by boys on the foundation in respect of anything which they are not entitled to receive gratuitously; and with respect to the application of the moneys to be derived from those sources, and of moneys paid out of the income of the foundation on account of the instruction of boys on the foundation. With respect to attendance at Divine service, and, where the school has a chapel of its own, with respect to the chapel service and services. With respect to the times and length of the holydays. With respect to the subjects of study and the general discipline and management of the school. With respect to the general disposal (otherwise than by way of mortgage or alienation) of any surplus income belonging to the school in such manner as may, in the opinion of the governing body, best promote the efficiency of the school as a place of education. These are all matters in which we thought the interference of a discreet and well constituted governing body might be beneficial; and I may also add that those recommendations are all founded upon the evidence we have received. But I beg your Lordships to remark that these are not powers necessarily to be used, but discretionary powers. In some schools the governing bodies, feeling satisfied with the conduct and success of the Head Master, wisely abstain from all interference; but there are other cases in which interference, or rather the knowledge that the power of interference exists, may operate most beneficially. Despotism is never safe or prudent, no matter in whose hands it may be placed; it is always liable to abuse, unless some checks be imposed upon it, or unless it is attended with corresponding responsibility. All these matters are left to the governing bodies, and I am bound to say that within the duties of their sphere, and acting according to their instructions, they, as well as the Head Masters, have rendered service. We have also thought it necessary to deal with some of the privileges of the foundations; because, upon careful inquiry, it appeared that sometimes they did not fulfil either the local, personal, or general intentions of the founder. As the details of these proposals have excited a good deal of remark, I will, with your Lordships' permission, read a short extract from the Commissioners' Report with respect to the foundation at Harrow. The Commissioners say— There are at both Harrow and Rugby, boys who, as the sons of residents, are educated at charges to the parents much lower than the rest, and much below what may be called the cost price of the teaching they receive. A foundation boy at Harrow receives, like others, instruction in school, but he does not, like others, pay for it; and thus the expense of teaching one class of boys is borne by the parents of another class, directly or indirectly, or by the masters themselves. It is, however, to be observed that the parents of the boys who are thus privileged are chiefly—at Harrow almost exclusively—strangers to the neighbourhood, who have come to reside there temporarily for the mere purpose of obtaining, at little expense to themselves, a good education for their children. The question we have to consider is, whether the maintenance of the local privilege in favour of these persons, and of the few permanent residents who desire a public school education for their sons, is recommended either by respect for the founder's intentions or by any other sufficient reason. We think that it is not. That such a privilege as we have described should be enjoyed by the class which now chiefly enjoys it was certainly not intended or contemplated by the founder; we cannot, from his expressed intentions, infer that he would have deemed it desirable, nor does it appear to be a legitimate adaptation of them to the circumstances of the present day. That persons of small means should be enabled to educate their children well and cheaply is, no doubt, a public advantage, provided this is done without either indirectly throwing an increased charge upon others, or curtailing the just remuneration of the teacher. But this, in our opinion, is already sufficiently met by the admission of home-boarders, who differ from foundationers only in paying a fair price for the instruction they receive. We shall recommend, therefore, the abolition in these cases of the local privilege, duo precautions being used to prevent hardship to persons who may have taken up their residence in a particular place with the view of availing themselves of it. With respect to the introduction of men of literature and science into the governing bodies, much objection has been taken and much difficulty has arisen; but I can safely say, upon the part of the Government and the Commission, that having no intention to cast the slightest slur on the existing bodies, they were of opinion this should be done solely as a matter of principle having regard to those different branches of study, the establishment or more vigorous prosecution of which at our public schools they deemed to be desirable; and this provision of the Bill has been introduced as applicable to this view of the subject. We saw no reason why men who had devoted themselves to science and literature should necessarily be devoid of common sense and judgment; and I am sure if your Lordships had the opportunity which the Commissioners enjoyed—and I say "enjoyed" advisedly in the fullest sense of the word—of hearing the evidence of the Astronomer Royal, Sir Charles Lyell, Professor Faraday, and other eminent witnesses, and learning how powerful were their arguments in favour of endeavouring to ascertain the individual capabilities of the boys, instead of compelling all boys to run invariably in the same groove; how full of hope and promise they were that the process which they advocated would prove successful, and how moderate their demand was that a certain time should be allowed to be abstracted from what may be called the more normal studies—I think you would be of opinion with the Commissioners, that no governing body would be the worse for the change in this respect which we propose. I am myself a member of a governing body, and I most heartily desire the prosperity and welfare of the great school with which I am connected, and I feel it would be of the utmost advantage that my Colleagues and myself should have the assistance of men eminent in letters and science. But, whatever may be your Lordships' decision on this point, I beg it to be distinctly understood that we cast no reflection whatever on any of the members composing the present governing bodies, and that it is simply as a measure of general expediency that we make this proposal, and as a proof that we desire to recognize the honour due to science and literature.

Our aim, I may add, in this Bill has not been to introduce details on which legislation could not be well brought to bear. Our first object was to place the future Government of those schools in able and competent hands; the next to guide, to a certain extent, the bodies so constituted, admitting at the same time that there is no system of education and discipline which will not require much attention. I trust the proposals we make will recommend themselves to the notice of your Lordships and that you will permit this Bill to be read a second time. It was the province, as it is the duty, of the Government to introduce a measure to give effect to the recommendations of the Commission, and we are of opinion that the petitions which have been laid on the table this evening afford some proof that, in proposing a moderate measure, and steering a middle course, we have done justice on the one hand to the existing authorities, and on the other to those who have protested against their shortcomings; although we may have at the same time exposed ourselves to a double fire from those who advocate opposite views upon this question. On the present occasion I will express no opinion on either side, and will only say that when the Bill goes into Committee after the Easter recess, it behaves the Government to take into their consideration whatever Amendments may be proposed in the same spirit in which I am sure they will be brought forward, and with the same anxious desire by which we are all animated, cordially to co-operate in the endeavour to achieve the national object of giving to the rising generation and generations yet unborn all the adavntages which a sound public education can confer.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Earl of Clarendon.)


said, he readily acknowledged the moderation, candour, and fairness of the statement which had just been made by his noble Friend. Of the Bill, however, which that statement was intended to explain he could not speak with equal satisfaction. Some of the changes which were proposed in it were not in his opinion changes in the right direction, and others would not, he thought, effect the objects which the Government professed to have in view. The Bill was introduced by his noble Friend in his double capacity of Chairman of the late Commission and one of Her Majesty's Ministers, and recommended by this authority he should very much regret if any person in that House moved its rejection on the second reading. He thought it behaved their Lordships to go into Committee upon it. But in Committee it would certainly require a sifting, a thorough examination—the more so since, as he would beg their Lordships to observe, the Bill was not so much a single measure as a congeries or collection of Bills containing different provisions applicable to different schools. He (Earl Stanhope), in the first place, took exception to the provision relating to the appointment of members of the governing bodies by the nomination of the Crown, which applied to some schools and not to all. If there was one advantage which more than another had hitherto distinguished the public Schools of England it was their complete exemption from the influence of party spirit. He did not ascribe to the present Government that they would be actuated by any party motives in the appointments which they might make; but there had been times in our annals—and that at no very distant period—when party spirit might have formed an element in the making of those appointments; and the introduction of such a spirit even in the smallest degree in the case of those public bodies was, he thought, extremely to be deprecated. As things at present stood no questions were asked as to the politics of those by whom our public schools were governed. Nor was any distinction made between the sons of the most opposite politicians who were educated at the school. But even assuming, for the sake of argument, the principle of Government nomination as one which it would be well to adopt, why, he should like to know, was it to operate in the case of some schools and not in the case of others? That was a point on which he should like to have some explanation, and he trusted it would be furnished by his noble Friend. There had within the last few days been circulated in a printed form a representation from the Provost and Fellows of Eton, in which they said— While it is left to the trustees of Harrow and Rugby to elect their own governing body no reason has been assigned why the addition to that of Eton should not be left in the hands of the present members of the College. And again— While the Election of the Warden of Winchester is placed in the hands of the governing body the appointment of the Provost of Eton is transferred from the College to the Crown. So much for that part of the Bill; but there was another portion of it also to which, in his opinion, very strong grounds of objection existed. As it stood its operation would be to sever that connection which had so long subsisted between certain Schools and certain Colleges at Oxford or Cambridge. Now, that connection had, he believed, been productive of very great advantage on both sides, as was very clearly pointed out in the case of Shrewsbury School and St. John's College, Cambridge, in a letter which had a few days ago appeared from the Master of that College in The Times newspaper. Under these circumstances it appeared to him to be extremely inexpedient that such a connection should be altogether swept away. Then, again, he could not understand the provision by which it was proposed to deal with the right of visitation. Was it contended that such a right of visitation as at present existed in these cases—in which, for instance, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London were, he believed, joint visitors at Harrow School—was not likely to be attended with advantage? In what manner, he would ask, was it now proposed to deal with that right of visitation, for the Bill, as he believed, was silent on that point? Then, passing to another branch of the subject, he confessed that, notwithstanding the remarks of his noble Friend, he was inclined to regret the entire abolition of the rights of foundationers at the public Schools. At Harrow, and some other places, it was proposed to preserve existing rights, but that in future the privilege should cease altogether. As far as concerned persons who went to reside at particular places, merely in order that their sons might enjoy these advantages, this provision might be fair; but as to bonâ fide residents and those locally interested, he thought that it would be productive of hardship. In saying this he wished to guard himself against being supposed to go the length of a Resolution which had been adopted at a Meeting of the Vestry of Harrow held on the 6th of March, to the following effect:— The Vestry protest more earnestly against the proposed alteration in the existing rules which prescribe a necessary local connection between the parish and those chosen to be governors—regulations which they are well aware have not been fully carried out at the two last elections. It appeared from the concluding words that the object of the Vestry was not the continuance of the present practice, but the renewal of one which was already in great part obsolete. It appeared, above all, that according to their view, or to a legitimate deduction from it, even the most unfit man, if he had property in the parish of Harrow, was better qualified to be a governor than the most fit man who had no such property connection. Was it really possible to put forward such a claim in the present day? It might find currency among those who were locally concerned, but it would be a matter of surprise if it should receive the support of a single Member in either House of Parliament. Looking to the whole subject, and to the difficulties which surrounded it, he was inclined to think that it would be better to leave the decision of these questions to an Executive Commission—he did not mean a Commission with unlimited power, but one similar to those to which the reformation of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge was intrusted, and which had discharged their duties with signal success. Of Oxford he could speak in some degree from personal knowledge, and he would appeal to the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) whom he saw opposite, as to the good effects in practice which had resulted from the work of that Commission. The establishment of a Commission of that kind was the more to be desired because the governing bodies of these schools were to be re-constituted. He did not desire to see an uniform system applied to all schools; on the contrary, he should deprecate any levelling measure, or the sweeping away of all special usages or particular distinctions; but still, there were many points to which the supervision of a central body might be applied with advantage. Take the case of the subjects of study. New subjects might have to be added, as in the case of modern languages or natural sciences. Old subjects might have to be omitted—as in the case of that most preposterous practice surviving in no one country but this—the practice of Greek composition. In the case, then, of any changes being made—as they should be, but not till public opinion was fully ripe, and went cordially along with the change proposed—these changes could not, of course, be limited to any one school, but must apply, if at all, to everyone of them. The aid of a superintending body or central Commission would then become absolutely necessary. Nay, more, it would be indispensable, in such cases, to take a comprehensive view, not only of all the schools together, but also of the Universities and schools as combined to one common end. This last point had been extremely well put by Dr. Kennedy, than whom no abler or worthier man had ever, perhaps, presided over any any of our public schools. Dr. Kennedy, the Head Master at Shrewsbury, had last year published a letter in reference to the question to which he (Earl Stanhope) had just now referred—the question of Greek composition in verse and prose; and he pointed out that since schools were held as preparatory to the Universities, it would be impossible to discontinue that practice at schools so long as prizes were granted for it, or examinations were held comprising it at Oxford or at Cambridge. He (Earl Stanhope) was also most anxious that the necessary improvements should, if possible, be made by the governing bodies themselves, as was the case under the Oxford and Cambridge Acts, rather than he forced upon them by external legislation; and that object might, he believed, be best attained by means of such a Commission as he had suggested. Their Lordships might rely upon it that of all reforms none was so so safe or so lasting as self-reform. It was only when the ruling powers continued to refuse to reform themselves that it was justifiable to enforce their compliance by a power from without. With such views, then, he would go into Committee. He would oppose certain portions of the Bill in Committee, without, however, being in any way influenced by that party spirit which he agreed with his noble Friend (the Earl of Clarendon) ought to he entirely deprecated by their Lordships in examining a question of so much importance.


said, that it having been his privilege to be associated with the noble Earl who had introduced this Bill as a Member of the Commission upon Public Schools, he was anxious, in the first place, to avail himself of the opportunity of stating his entire concurrence with nearly all the conclusions at which the noble Earl had arrived. He felt it to be his duty to support the Bill, reserving to himself the right of proposing in Committee—supposing their Lordships to read the Bill a second time—such modifications as he might think the various provisions of the Bill required. Looking at the general scope of the Bill, he thought the Government bad exercised a wise discretion in confining its provisions to two objects—one being the modification of the governing bodies, and the other the removal of certain local privileges. The other details of the Bill would more properly form the subject of discussion in Committee, where the various clauses would have to be re-considered. The noble Earl who had just sat down (Earl Stanhope) stated his preference for the appointment of an Executive Commission on the ground that it would lead to greater uniformity.


observed, he had expressly stated that he did not wish for uniformity.


said, he was sorry he misunderstood the noble Earl; still, he thought the appointment of an Executive Commission must in the result tend to greater uniformity than the plan proposed in the Bill. It must be observed that it was only proposed by this Bill to modify, and not to overthrow, the existing governing bodies of these Schools. The governing bodies would be, in the main, the same as formerly; certain additions would be made to them, and certain persons would be removed from them, but the main staple would be the same, and the additions would bear but a small proportion to the existing bodies. Then any reforms which might be introduced would be greatly influenced by the traditions of the Schools. Whether such modifications as were suggested should or should not be made appeared to him to depend upon the question whether the public schools were at present in a satisfactory condition. In his opinion a more beneficial application of the funds at the disposal of those bodies might, in many cases, be made, He did not think any noble Lord could read the Report of the Public Schools Commission and the evidence taken before them, without seeing that much was required to be done to adapt our public schools to the requirements of the time. He did not think that the tendency of this Bill was to reduce the influence or fetter the discretion of the Head Master. At any rate such was not the wish or intention of the Commissioners. On the contrary they distinctly recommended that, as well upon certain specified subjects placed under the control of the governing body as upon all subjects affecting the instruction or management of the school, it should be incumbent on the governing body "not only to consider attentively any representation which the Head Master might address to them, but to consult him in such a manner as to give ample opportunity for the expression of his views." He regretted that a provision to give binding force to this recommendation was not introduced into the Bill. The constitution of the existing governing bodies differed according to the origin and constitution of the several schools. In some, as Eton, Westminster, and Winchester, the school forms part of a collegiate or ecclesiastical foundation, and the Government, as well as the property, is vested in certain principal members of the foundation. In the case of Harrow and Charterhouse the governing body were appointed under the charter; at Rugby and Shrewsbury by Act of Parliament. Eton was governed by the Provost, Vice Provost, and a number of Fellows. In speaking of that School, he (the Earl of Devon) wished to express his concurrence in the opinion expressed by the noble Earl with respect to the readiness of the authorities at Eton to give the fullest information on all matters affecting that foundation. In Winchester the governing body consisted of a Warden and six Fellows; and in Westminster of the Dean and Chapter. If improvements were to be introduced into these Schools, they could not satisfactorily be carried out without a change in the governing bodies, and the alterations proposed in the Bill with regard to the governing bodies would go far to enable those Schools to do more efficiently those duties they had so long and so honourably discharged. Among these duties were those of regulating the number of boys, their board and lodging, the school fees and charges, the attendance at Divine service, the length and times of the holydays, the subjects of study, and the general disposal of any surplus income belonging to the Schools. For these purposes, the proposed composition of the respective governing bodies appeared to him, on the whole, well adapted. The second branch of the Bill dealt with certain local rights of gratuitous education, the abolition of which, saving existing rights, appeared likely to be beneficial to the schools. He was not disposed to offer any opposition to this change, which appeared to be justified by the change of times and circumstances. Under these circumstances, he felt bound to express his general concurrence in the Bill.


My Lords, in common with many of your Lordships, I feel very great difficulty with regard to this measure. It seems to me to be the desire of many noble Lords that the second reading of this Bill should be agreed to; and yet there seems to exist a doubt in the minds of many whether the Bill will really accomplish the objects for which it is intended. I must confess I sympathize very much with the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope), who said it would have been the better course if this subject, as in the case of the Universities, had been referred to an Executive Commission, and I cannot see that modifications in the governing bodies directly made by Parliament will better accomplish the purpose. If I remember rightly, when the Universities were reformed, there was a great change made in the governing bodies of those institutions, and an Executive Commission was appointed to carry out certain fundamental changes which it was supposed would be better in their hands than in those of the governing bodies from year to year. I cannot help thinking that in the case of the changes which may be required in these public Schools it would have been better if the precedent of the reform of the Universities had been followed as closely as possible. Without intending any offence, I think I may say that this Bill is especially framed for the reform of Eton. No doubt it will appear invidious to make this assertion; but I believe that those who most heartily desire that Eton may flourish will be those who evince the greatest anxiety that the institution may arrive as nearly as possible at a state of perfection. The hold which this great School has upon the affections of the country, can never, I think, be diminished. As the education imparted at Eton is, so in a great degree will the education of the country be. The Universities themselves will be affected by the condition of this School. No one can consider its traditions, its noble buildings, the list of great names which it has produced, without honouring the place and understanding the desire of the parents of this country to enrol their sons among its members. It is the fashion in some quarters at the present time rather to disparage Eton. Some of the evidence produced before the Commission speaks strongly of a state of things among the generality of the boys which is by no means creditable. Still no one will, I think, forget how much the country owes to the School, and how much Eton at the present time contributes to the education of the country. My own experience as the tutor of a college at Oxford induces me to say that no young men more distinguished themselves in obtaining open scholarships at the University than the Etonians; and I have no reason to think that the present race of Etonians is inferior. I should be ungrateful were I not to say that there is no School in the country where young boys are better attended to, their characters more watched, and all that is good within them better developed than at Eton. The boys and the masters of Eton are possessed of that sort of feeling which a young man experiences on first becoming a member of Christ Church, and viewing on the walls of that college the list of statesmen, divines, and men of letters who have adorned it; or which induces others to regard the time when they became Fellows of Trinity as the proudest moment of their lives. That sort of feeling fully accounts for the great popularity of the place, and the desire of parents that their sons should be educated at an institution where there is so much in the recollections of the past to incite them to exertion; and for this reason, therefore, Eton will ever be the leading School of the country. But in proportion to the strength of this feeling, the more imperative is it that the School itself should be brought as near perfection as possible, and if we feel that there are some defects, we are anxious to see them remedied. Among the admitted evils of the present state of that and other public schools is the system of double government, and the absence of any direct and adequate responsibility; by which it may happen that a man placed in a very responsible position, and selected to fill that position on account of his merits, is to have a man sitting opposite to him to prevent him from carrying out that which, in his conscience, he regards as desirable. This opposition is not offered from any feeling of obstructiveness, but arises simply from the fact that a man naturally does not believe in the possibility of his successor im- proving upon the system which he himself has maintained. This is a defect which, I think, Eton, in common with some other of the public schools, labours under—that there is not sufficient responsibility devolved upon one man. Now, besides this great difficulty of the double government, there is also the great difficulty attendant upon the limited sphere from which the Head Master is selected. Whether the statutes of the college require that the Head Master should be selected from so narrow a sphere, I do not know; but as a matter of fact, the competition is very limited. No doubt admirable men are selected in spite of this limitation. No doubt Eton possesses Masters in every respect worthy the position they occupy, and fully deserving the regard which is extended to them; but this is the result of accident, and it can surely never be right that the highest place of education in this country should be so circumstanced as practically to have only one or two men from whom the Head Master can be selected. These are evils which it is very important to have remedied. A man who from his childhood, from the time when he was ten years of age, joined a school and has continued in the same place till he is sixty, never leaving it except during his three years residence at the University, and even then consorting with those who come from the same school, is naturally exceedingly averse to change, though the change may be imperatively called for. As this is the result which may naturally be expected, it is no shame to this great place of education that it requires some changes. I think we may be convinced that the whole machinery of the place is such that it would be totally impossible that any great change should take place unless some one steps in to alter the constitution of the School. It is a curious question whether this Bill does alter the constitution of the School or not. On the one hand we are told that this is a most revolutionary measure—that you are going to introduce the authority of the Crown to sweep away all the old arrangements of the School. But let us consider what is the real state of the case. You have at present six Fellows, a Vice Provost and a Provost—that is, eight persons—and you are going to add to those eight persons, who are all Etonians, and who have most of them been Masters of the School, another who is Head of the Eton College at Cambridge, three other gentlemen who are to be nominated by the Crown, and two others who are to be elected by the existing body. So that you have eleven persons who are exactly similar to what they are at this moment; and are you to suppose that the three whom you are to introduce will be so powerful as to overrule the others and revolutionize the School? I cannot participate in the great alarm that seems to be felt that this great institution will be shaken by the introduction of those three nominees of the Crown. But then comes another grave question. The eminent Head Master of Eton sees another danger, and to my mind it is a grave one. At present he has to deal with the Provost; but according to this proposal, he will have to deal with the governing body. That is a danger which is greatly apprehended by all the Head Masters with whom I have had an opportunity of communicating. The governing body is, in the first instance, to be resident—one member is to reside for nine months, and most of the others for three months at least, and they are to have much more definite power than before. In fact, they will have nothing else to do but to interfere, and they are called upon by Act of Parliament to interfere as much as possible. I hold in my hand also a statement from the Masters of Harrow, who are all alarmed at the proposed constitution of their governing body. Now, no doubt these rights of interference are probably possessed by the governing bodies at this moment; but then they are not stirred up by Act of Parliament to interfere, and no doubt you wish by this Bill to stir them up to do so. The present governing bodies might be used for that purpose if necessary, but you do not pot it into everybody's head to be perpetually using such powers. The eminent Head Master of Rugby, whose authority has been before quoted, has written to me in some alarm about these men of science whom it is proposed to introduce, and he is not a man likely to be easily alarmed. He says that what the School needs is trustees of good sense and knowledge of the world, and he fears that these four men of science would be perpetually tempted to justify the necessity for their appointment by trying to do what the Head Master ought to do if be is fit for his post. But that would be to diminish the Head Master's sense of responsibility, and I am confident in the end the School would lose more than it would gain. These are some of the difficulties with regard to the measure. But there is the further difficulty of dealing with persons whose property is very much interested—the difficulty with respect to the boys on the foundation at Harrow and Rugby. That something ought to be done with regard to these foundationers, I have no doubt; but whether they ought to be swept away may reasonably be questioned. But, at all events, I think all who are interested in this matter are entitled to be heard. It has always struck me that persons of moderate means among the upper classes—clergy, professional men, half-pay officers, and others—are with regard to the education of their sons placed in a great difficulty, to which such persons are not exposed in other countries. In Germany, France, Scotland, and other countries there is a facility of education for persons of moderate means which does not exist in England, and these foundation.0, whatever be their other advantages or disadvantages, certainly do open a means of education at moderate expense for such persons. Now, I think that the present system might be modified very much and greatly improved, and that if persons who are interested in the matter were heard before an Executive Commission the whole arrangements of the schools might be far better matured than they have been in the plan proposed. At the same time, far be it from me to throw the slightest impediment in the way of the reform of these schools, and if it be thought that to read this Bill the second time and afterwards consider it in Committee is the best mode of securing the great objects which the Commissioners have at heart, and for their careful inquiry with regard to which the country feels grateful, I shall be only too happy to promote their view.


My Lords, my noble Friend who moved the second reading of this Bill adverted to an observation which I made at the commencement of the present Session, from which he seemed to think that it would be a part of my quasi-official duty to find fault with this measure. Upon that occasion I certainly did make use of an expression which was perhaps too strong—rather stronger than I was justified in using. On that occasion I said, in speaking of the Report of the Commission, Sunt bona, sunt quœdam mediocria, but I beg my noble Friend to observe that I said sunt mala plura—not sunt plura mala. I then spoke under the impression that my noble Friend was about to introduce a measure giving effect by the authority of Parliament to the recommendations of the Commissioners, and I thought if that were the case that it would be much better that time should be given to the various colleges and schools to see how far they could accommodate themselves to those recommendations, how far they were adapted to their own case, and whether they could conscientiously assent to them. The right rev. Prelate who has just sat down (the Bishop of London) has said quite correctly that the main object of the Bill is to attack Eton; and I and every Eton man must feel grateful for the terms in which he spoke of that great college, the justice he has done to it, and the tribute he has paid not only to its general excellence, but to the classical attainments of those who go from it to the University. But my noble Friend seemed to think that something had been done at Rugby. He said that in Rugby they had considered what recommendations could be adopted, that what had been done in one school might be done at others, and he intimated that no steps had been taken at Eton to comply with the recommendations of the Commissioners. Now, I received only a few days ago a letter from the Provost of Eton, some part of which, perhaps, my noble Friend will allow me to read. [The noble Earl then read some passages from the letter, in which the writer stated that it was not true that they had been idle since the Report came out; that several arrangements with regard to leases had been made at a sacrifice of £1,200 or £1,500; that they had opened some exhibitions for oppidans; that they had relieved the scholars from certain payments, were prepared to go further in the same direction, and that, in short, there was no part of the recommendations which was mere questions of money which they were not ready to carry out as soon as possible; that the Head Master had formed a scheme by which French and mathematics would be no longer neglected, but that they could not alter in a few months things which had been going on for 300 years.] I hope this will be my justification for the statement which I have made that it was desirable that some time should be given to the various schools in order to enable them to act upon the recommendations of the Commissioners of their own accord. But my objection as to the precipitancy of the measure does not apply to the present Bill, because, whatever its defects or merits, it does not really carry out any one of the recommendations of the Commissioners. It does not of itself make any alteration in the system of teaching, the course of studies, or the management of the schools. But what it does is this:—It attempts to constitute a new body which shall have power to deal with certain regulations and to make statutes. With regard to the composition of that body I must say that I think the proposal extremely objectionable. I am at a loss to understand why the authorities which we find in possession of the governing power under this Bill should be so different in their composition; why there should be nominees of the Crown in one school and not in another; why there should be representative scientific men in one school and not in another. I confess I do not entertain any apprehension that the three nominees of the Crown at Eton and the scientific men will overbear the eleven others who are members of Eton; but I think that the system and principle of introducing any Crown nominee whatever, or any interference on the part of the Government of the day with these great Schools, whose chief characteristic hitherto has been the entire independence which they have maintained, is clearly objectionable, and equally objectionable whether the number be three or thirteen. Whether it be three or thirteen is, in point of fact, very different, but the principle is just the same—it is the admission of the vicious policy of interference by the Crown with the governing bodies of these Schools. Now, with respect to these scientific gentlemen. How are they to be appointed? I do not know whether it is intended that these scientific gentlemen should pass a competitive examination. Are these governing bodies, who may have three or four vacancies, and who may have half-a-dozen scientific candidates for the stipendiary fellowships, to institute a competitive examination before they appoint; and how are they to decide that a man is distinguished for literary and scientific attainments? At Eton the stipendiary Fellows are to be "distinguished for literary or scientific attainments, or have done long and eminent service to the School as Head Master, Lower Master, or Assistant Master." At Winchester the qualification is the same. At Shrewsbury the nominees of the Crown qualified are to be "graduates of Oxford or Cambridge, and men eminent in science and literature." When we come to the Charter House, Harrow, and Rugby, we find that there are to be additional governors, who are to be "persons distinguished for literary or scientific attainments." I have the honour to be one of the governing body of the Charter House, and I may speak with some degree of pride of those who are my Colleagues. We have some among us who are quite as capable of judging of the qualifications of the Master and the management of the School as the most scientific persons who can be introduced under this Bill. There are among the governing body the two most rev. Prelates, the right rev. Prelate who has just addressed your Lordships, and who has some acquaintance with the management and discipline of public schools, two ex-Lord Chancellors, Sir George Turner, we had the late Sir Cress-well Cresswell, and others, who are quite as capable of managing an institution of that kind, and of seeing that it is properly conducted, as any persons distinguished for literary and scientific attainments. I agree with the right rev. Prelate when he said that if you introduce scientific persons into the governing body of these Schools, there is considerable danger that they will attempt to put forward that particular study in which they have obtained eminence. I do not propose to enter at the present moment into any discussion of the governing bodies as proposed to be constituted under this Bill. I will, therefore, only express my conviction that the introduction of nominees of the Crown and of men distinguished for literary or scientific attainments are two very objectionable provisions, with both of which I trust your Lordships will deal when we go into Committee. But what I wish distinctly to understand is, supposing these governing bodies to be constituted, and that we have confidence in them, with what object are the powers intrusted to them only conferred for two years? I can understand why this limit was adopted in the case of the University Commission, because it was required that certain statutes should pass, and if they did not pass before a certain time the Commissioners themselves were to pass the statutes and supply the deficiency. My noble Friend, however, distinctly stated in his opening speech that it was not intended to put any pressure upon these governing bodies, even if they thought fit to make no change whatever.


said, that the noble Earl had misunderstood him. The powers of the governing bodies were limited in time, for the same reason that the Oxford and Cambridge University Commissions were limited—in order that, if any statutes required to be altered or amended, it should be done at a future time.


This is a very important question. We know that there are certain things which the governing bodies of these schools may do; but what I want to know is, whether it is expected that these bodies shall do the things that are laid down for them under pressure, and whether, if they do not do these things for themselves, they will be done for them—which is the sort of pressure that was placed on the authorities at Oxford. I lay great stress upon this, because a measure which I should consider perfectly unobjectionable if the governing body are left free to adopt or not to adopt these changes, I should regard as highly objectionable if Parliament is to lay down certain things as desirable to be done, and to say that, if they are not done, it may be necessary to introduce another Act of Parliament to compel them. I will take the case of the Charter House, for example. There are two provisions, one subjecting the election of nominees by competitive examination, and the other the removal of the Charter House from its present site, which, I say, are highly objectionable. I venture to say that no governing body of the Charter House would ever recommend either of these two propositions, and if they are put down in the Bill as things which the Government expect to have done, and which will be done for the governing body if they fail to do them for themselves, I shall object to see them both introduced into this Bill. If, however, these changes are to be purely voluntary, and if it is to be left to the governing body to admit them or not, then it may be an advantage to leave matters as they stand in the Bill; but then the governing bodies must be left absolutely uncontrolled in the exercise of their discretion as to any one of the propositions laid down in the Bill. My Lords, I have no intention of offering any opposition to the second reading, and I will not, therefore, enter upon a discussion of the details of the Bill; but, agreeing with the right rev. Prelate that it is most important that the parties whose rights are affected under this Bill should have a full and fair opportunity of being heard, I should have supposed the Government would not object to refer this Bill to a Select Committee, where these various clauses may be fully and fairly considered, where the parties interested may have an opportunity of stating their case before your Lordships, and where the various clauses may be more freely discussed than before a Committee of the Whole House. I would have made a Motion to that effect, but I am given to understand that the Government had been led to believe that no opposition would be offered to the second reading, and that they did not come down to-night prepared to discuss the question whether the clauses of the Bill should be examined in a Committee of the Whole House or before a Select Committee. I do not wish to take them by surprise, but unless they assent to a Select Committee, it will be desirable when the Motion is made to go into Committee on the Bill that an Amendment should be moved for referring the Bill to a Select Committee.


My Lords, having had intrusted to me petitions from Harrow and Eton, I think it right to make a few remarks. The observations which have been made on the constitution of these governing bodies only confirm me in the impression that it is more desirable that an Executive Commission should be appointed than that this Bill should be referred to a Select Committee. I agree with the noble Earl opposite (Earl Stanhope) as to the success which attended the Oxford University Commission. Having been a Member of it, it is not for me to pass a judgment upon it, but I may say that when it was first issued it caused universal dismay; but before that Commission ceased to act that dismay disappeared, and one of the most gratifying circumstances occurred at the conclusion of our work. A large deputation from the University came up to ask for the extension of our powers. The eminent success of the Commission was very much owing to the opportunity it afforded to the members of different bodies to come before us and state their objections, by which means we were able at last to bring them over to our views. The same apprehension and dismay which took possession of the University of Oxford has now taken possession of the Head Masters of public schools, and I think that the best way of dealing with the matter is by the appointment of a Commission similar to those of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. I agree with much that has been said about the members of the new governing bodies. It is quite true that many of the governing bodies of our public schools have powers similar to those proposed to be given to them by this Bill—such, for example, as the power of directing the studies and controlling the management of the schools. But, as has been observed, these powers are in abeyance, and it would be most unwise to exercise them, and if the attempt were made great inconvenience would result. The governing body at Rugby tried at one time to interfere, but the attempt was wisely not persevered in. I may also mention that twenty-five years ago the trustees of some of the newly founded proprietary schools made a similar attempt. They had elected as Head Masters, men of distinguished academical reputation; but the interference of the governing bodies or trustees was so distasteful to the Head Masters that the efficiency of the schools was seriously impaired. That would, I fear, be the case if the governing bodies exercised the powers proposed to be given to them by this Bill, and they will do so if Parliament passes the present measure. Referring to Harrow School, I would remark that it appears to me the privileges of the foundation boys will be destroyed and the main object which John Lyon, the founder, had in view will be defeated. It is true that the present condition of the school is very different from that which the founder contemplated and desired. The sons of tradesmen and farmers are deprived of the privileges which they used to enjoy, and it would be difficult now to satisfy their just demands; but I trust matters will be arranged in a satisfactory way. But I must say I think it very hard on such persons as half-pay officers and poor widows having sons to educate, that they should not have a share of the advantages of our public schools, and the opportunity of educating their children there. It is the that John Lyon did not contemplate this; but it has grown up in process of time, and I believe that the custom is very beneficial to the school itself. According to the testimony of the Head Master, the home boarders are now much more amalgamated with the other boys than they used to be, and are brought much more into contact with their schoolfellows; they are engaged much more in the amusements of the school, and the home influence which is exercised over the rest of the boys is very beneficial. I should, therefore, be extremely sorry to hear of any rule excluding this class of persons from the privileges they now enjoy at Harrow. There is another power of interference with which the governors would be invested—the power of dismissing the master. At present, of course there is a power of dismissal for misbehaviour, but it seems to be intended that the governors should have the power of dismissing at their will and pleasure, and that is a power which should be hardly vested in them. One objection to the existing state of things is that these governors must now be persons who have property in the parish. That is, no doubt, too great a limitation; but I think some of the governors ought to be resident there, and should take part in the regulation not only of the school, but of the charities connected with it. I know no person more fit to perform those duties than the vicar of Harrow; and I believe it would be an injury to Harrow to say that the governors should be persons who had no local influence. It is not my wish, in making these observations, to interfere with the improvement of the public schools of this kingdom. There is no doubt they admit of improvement; but it is a little Utopian to suppose that any Act of Parliament, or any Executive Commission, would enable every youth who quits these schools to construe Latin with ease and elegance. As the old proverb says, you may lead a horse to the water, but cannot make him drink. In conclusion I would say that I strongly incline to the Executive Commission rather than to the Committee upstairs; but in any plan that may be adopted I need hardly say that I shall be most anxious to promote the great object which this Bill has in view.


said, that after the turn the debate had taken he did not feel it necessary to make the remarks which he had intended when he came into the House. He rose at the same time with the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London), but he had been well rewarded by the eloquent address to which their Lordships had listened, which must have found its way not only to the hearts of all those educated at Eton, but of all who were interested in the education of the higher classes in this country. That Royal institution had through many ages set an example to the whole country; it might at the same time justly claim the praise attributed to it by the Commissioners—the formation in a great degree of the true English character; and it no doubt also exerted a favourable influence upon similar and less distinguished places of education throughout the country. He had heard the right rev. Prelate with the greatest pleasure, and trusted that what he had said to-night would long be remembered to the advantage of that great institution. He acquitted his noble Friend (the Earl of Clarendon) of any intention to enlist feeling against Eton; whatever his earlier impression might have been, the noble Earl must upon a closer inspection have done it proper justice. At the same time there were circumstances which justified the observations that had been made by the right rev. Prelate and the noble Earl opposite, and he trusted they would be attended to when the details of the Bill were considered. Their Lordships would have heard with satisfaction from the noble Earl that the Government were ready to adopt any reasonable Amendment, and that time would be given for the consideration of the Bill. At this moment, therefore, he did not think it desirable to go into the subject at any length, but would state his general impression that, notwithstanding the advantages held out by the Bill in some respects, it contained much which to his mind would in practice be attended with very serious objection. The great principles upon which the educational institutions of this country rested, and under which they had hitherto prospered, were certainly interfered with to a degree which did not seem necessary, and which would be attended with consequences very different from those which he was sure the Commissioners had at heart. It would tend, in particular, to lower the authority of the Head Master in the eyes of the boys to a very unfortunate degree. Unless, therefore, the Bill underwent very considerable alteration in Committee, and assumed a character very different from that which it bore at this moment, he should find it exceedingly difficult to give his vote for the third reading.


My Lords, I trust that, whatever Parliamentary arrangement is made with regard to this Bill, the possibility of establishing one Executive Commission will not be excluded from our consideration. It appears to me that that question of one Executive Commission as against the present Bill, resolves itself into this—whether it will not be far more convenient, far more consentaneous to the objects of the Commission, and far more sa- tisfactory to the people of this country, that this great matter should be arranged by one competent Commission than by what would he practically the establishment of seven separate Commissions, of which the competence may be somewhat doubtful. For, in truth, this Bill establishes seven Executive Commissions, one for each separate school, and the basis of each Commission is the present governing body with some small addition from the outer world. Now, if we can judge of this machinery from the experience we have any of us had of committees of institutions, or of governing bodies in general, it seems to me that to set about reforming any establishment by constituting the governing body of the establishment into a Commission, and adding two or three gentlemen from outside, is one of the most cumbrous methods, and one of the least likely to succeed, that can be imagined. It would surely be far better to leave the governing body of each of these schools as it is, and to intrust those bodies with the powers proposed to be conferred by this Bill. This extraneous element cannot, according to any condition of human nature, be received "with anything like reverence or amity; and I cannot believe it possible that these three or four gentlemen, imported into any of these governing bodies, can act in any way save as a solvent of the governing body altogether. From the very circumstance of their professional habits and long residence and connection with one school, the heads of such institutions must feel themselves in-cumbered by the introduction of new Members, and to suppose that they will be ready to receive the advice given to them by those literary and scientific gentlemen in any spirit of good will, is a supposition opposed to all my experience. I fear the position of these gentlemen, distinguished by literary and scientific attainments, will be extremely uncomfortable when they get into any one of these governing bodies. Besides, it is very difficult to determine how in this case literary and scientific attainments are to be estimated. It is altogether a matter of opinion. A great many men whom I think distinguished for literary and scientific attainments, I dare say your Lordships might think distinguished neither for one nor the other. The difficulties, therefore, which encumber this question seem to me to lead to one conclusion, which I trust during the Easter recess will commend itself to your Lordships' mind—namely, the appointment of an Executive Commission. Such a Commission, constituted in a manner agreeable to the opinion of Parliament and the public, could, I believe, perform its delicate and difficult duties as well as the Executive Commission affecting Universities. Generous indeed was the acknowledgment made by the right rev. Prelate at my side when he said that the establishment of that Commission had been an object of great fear, but now that it was a matter of vast satisfaction. The present question is one deeply interesting to the hearts of the people of the country; it is not only a question of the moral and intellectual character of the higher classes in this country, it is a question, I may say, of their political supremacy. The very lowest classes of the community are making advances in education, and with the eagerness shown on this subject, the generation to come may be still more active. It will be impossible, I believe, for the wealth, property, and rank of this country long to keep themselves in the same right government, and to have the same influence which they now exercise, unless great reforms be made in the public school system. It may be the destiny of some men, like the great statesman and politician who passed away yesterday morning amid the lamentations of the people, to win position by intellectual superiority and genius, with little aid from external education. But that power must be given to few—with the majority education must be the means of making them fit to govern their fellow men; and it is only by a judicious reform of these schools, by adapting them to the present circumstances of the time, and making them fit to rear up men, not merely accomplished, honest, refined, and proud of their word, but men capable of grappling with all the intellectual questions that can arise in connection with the political life of the country; it is only in that mode that these schools can become, as they ought to be, nurseries of wise politicians, and founders of the greatness of the Empire.


said, he did not think the precedent of the Oxford and Cambridge Executive Commission applied to the present case. It was absolutely necessary that each University in which twenty or thirty colleges went to make up a great corporation, should be visited by a Commission. But the public schools had no such relation one to the other; they all undertook the education of boys about the same age, and no one would dream of sending his son to them all one after the other, to complete his education. The noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon), in introducing the Bill, said there was no wish on the part of the Government to procure absolute uniformity among the Schools; yet the tendency of a single Executive Commission must be in that direction. The Commissioners would naturally plan for themselves some ideal of a complete education, comprising everything from classics to music, and they would desire to import into the course of every school as many of these various requirements as possible; and in doing this this they would not regard the fact that they were destroying the individuality and idiosyncracy of the school. There was an illustration of this tendency in the Report itself. At Merchant Taylor's School the Commissioners found that mathematics predominated in the educational course, and they recommended that one-third of the time devoted to such studies should be cut off. The reverse course was the one which ought to have been pursued, allowing different educational establishments to acquire a reputation for careful instruction in some particular branch; and then different classes of persons would be able to select the school and the special character of education which they thought likely to be of most service to their children in after life. As regarded the local claims proposed to be extinguished, it must be remembered that these were found at other schools besides those already mentioned—at Shrewsbury for instance. He was at a loss to know why those local advantages should be swept away merely for the sake of the small pecuniary gain which might accrue to any particular school. It should be borne in mind that the founders of those schools had a double object in view. They desired to benefit the immediate neighbourhod, and to make the county town in which the school was established the centre of education for the people of the surrounding country; while they at the same time sought to connect the school, as in the case of Shrewsbury, with a particular college or one of the Universities, in order that the local element might not deteriorate the character of the education afforded; and they desired that while the school should be beneficial to the neighbourhood it should be maintained in such a position as to be able to supply a number of students to the Universities of such persons as were desirous of a University education within a reasonable distance of their own homes. If, then, a balance were to be struck between the high classical school and the demand for what was called commercial education which was now made in most of our towns, the solution of the difficulty would, he thought, be found not in the destruction of the existing character of a school, but in the establishment of a separate department for the lower class of education required; but ho thought especial care ought to be taken to preserve the ancient character of the education which the upper and middle classes were desirous to secure for their children. There was also another point to which he wished briefly to advert. The Bill, as it stood, strongly invaded the connection which now subsisted between certain schools and colleges at the Universities, and which was of great advantage to both. Now, he could not understand how, because money had been left in trust to a local body, as at Shrewsbury, to supply scholars to a particular college, it could be regarded as fair that that college should be deprived of the benefit thus conferred, simply because the local body happened to be the trustee, instead of the college. He thought, indeed, it would prove extremely injurious to the future progress of education if it were supposed, by persons desiring to render a service to a particular foundation, that the Legislature would pay no regard to their intentions, but would treat their benefactions in a way very different from that in which ordinary charities were dealt with. In conclusion, he would simply express a hope that, bearing in mind the complexity of the interests which the Bill involved, and the inconvenient form in which some of its provisions were drawn, the Government would assent to its being referred to a Select Committee.


was anxious, as having been a Member of the Royal Commission, to say a few words on some of the points which had been raised in the course of the discussion. He would in the first place observe that the Bill was not the Bill of the Commissioners, and that they were not responsible for it. He had never seen it until it was printed, and although he approved its general scope, which was the general scope of the Report of the Commission, there were a few points in respect to which he should be glad to see some alteration made in its provisions. One of those points had reference to the Head Masters. One of the most essential parts of the recommendations contained in the Report, was that the powers of the governing body and the Head Master should be strictly limited and defined, and he should like to see the Bill in that respect rendered more in conformity with the recommendations of the Commission. Another point in regard to which also he thought some amendment might be made was one which was not noticed in the Report—he alluded to the election of the first governing bodies. The object which it was desirable to attain being to return a governing body in which there should be no predominant interest or bias, the first election of a preponderating number of the proposed governing bodies would, as the Bill stood, be placed in the hands of the existing governing bodies, and—without seeking to cast any blame upon them—it was impossible not to suppose that the objects sought to be obtained by the Bill might, as a consequence, be defeated, as they would naturally elect those who agreed with them in upholding the actual state of things. Now that, he confessed, appeared to him to be a serious difficulty; but he did not mean to propose that that difficulty should be met by increasing the power of nomination given to the Crown. Might it not be met by a provision to the effect that the first governing body of a school should be named in the Act itself? Thus the best governing body which it was possible to obtain would in all probability be secured, and to it might be safely intrusted the carrying into effect any new regulations. The appointment of those governing bodies was that which was looked upon by the Commission as the backbone of their recommendations. As to some of their members being nominees of the Crown in some cases and not in others, that no doubt was a fair question for argument. He thought that nomination by the Crown, instead of being derogatory or injurious to the public schools, would rather confer upon them a certain distinction and prestige in the eyes of the country, and place them with relation to other schools upon a higher level. Practically, the right of appointment in the case of the Provost of Eton had been almost exclusively exercised by the Crown. In their recommendation that some persons distinguished for literature or science should be added to the governing bodies of these schools, the Commissioners, he believed, meant to lay the main stress upon the selection of men of scientific acquirements. The reason for that was that, as natural science was about to be introduced as a branch of study, it was desirable that there should be in the governing bodies some gentlemen who might be referred to by their colleagues as authorities upon that subject. He regretted that the Bill dealt with St. Paul's School as connected with the Mercers' Company, because there was a legal question as to the rights of that Company, which ought, as the Report had recommended, to have been decided before Parliament was asked to legislate upon the subject. As to the local privileges of the residents of certain places, especially Harrow and Rugby, he was individually disposed to go even further than this measure proposed. These ancient privileges, in principle, were obsolete, and, with the exception of vested interests, were not deserving of the consideration of Parliament. He greatly regretted the introduction of those clauses of the Bill which provided that some of the scanty endowments of Harrow and Rugby Schools should be applied towards the general support of education in those districts. Education in this country had been dealt with in three divisions—those of the upper, middle, and lower classes. For the education of the lower classes ample provision had already been made. A Commission was now sitting to endeavour to improve that of the middle classes; and he thought that these great Schools ought to be reserved for the upper classes, for whose benefit they now existed. In America and other countries there was a mixture of classes in the same schools. That was not the case here, and he did not think that it was practicable here, even if desirable. The limitation of the power of the governing bodies to two years was confined to the making of statutes—upon the general powers of the governing body there was no such limitation. The Commission had recommended the constitution of such governing bodies as they thought would be in itself best for these Schools; he, for one, had certainly never meant to found those recommendations upon any great actual fault or misfeasance on the part of the existing governing bodies; and when a noble Lord said that the noble Earl who moved the second reading of this Bill had rested part of the case on the fact that Eton had done nothing to meet the recommendations of the Commission, he had rather overstated what his noble Friend had really said. He was himself far too much attached to Eton to come forward as a public prosecutor to prefer charges against that School; but he could not say that enough had been done either there or at any other of these Schools, hardly even excepting Rugby, to induce their Lordships to hope that the necessity for improving their constitution would be superseded by anything which would be done by the existing governing bodies.


in reply to what had fallen from the noble Lord who had spoken last, remarked, that an Executive Commission was not to be regarded as an alternative to new governing bodies, since part of its function would be to create new governing bodies. Even if an Executive Commission were not required at the other public schools, special facts, wants, and complications all demanded it at Eton. The new body proposed to govern Eton was universally condemned. The noble Earl, who led the Opposition, had insisted upon some, although not all of its defects. He (Lord Campbell), last Session, had attempted to point out the discordant elements of which it would be formed, and the absolute inaction towards which it tended. In the debate to-night not a speaker had defended it. If at Eton certain changes were required of the existing government, if the school was incompetent to make them, if the proposed body was yet more unsuited to the purpose, an Executive Commission became a necessary measure. The whole course of the debate had been to recommend it. More he would not add, since the hour of the evening did not warrant him in doing so, and since a deputation of Eton men would be likely soon to bring the subject more directly, and with greater clearness and authority, before the noble Lord who had presided over the Commission of Inquiry.


in reply, regretted that any noble Lord should suppose for a moment that he thought the Head Masters of the public schools were averse to the projected improvements in the regulations of those institutions. He had only particularized the Head Master of Rugby as being favourable to the alterations because that gentleman had published a very able letter approving them. He must say he had a very serious objection to an Executive Commission, as one body could not possibly govern so many Schools, and it would not answer to have seven or eight Executive Commissions to supply the place of the governing bodies proposed by the Bill. Another objection to an Executive Commission was that it would be the means of establishing a certain uniformity among the public schools which would be far from desirable. Besides, an Executive Commission was not a continuing body, and it was absolutely necessary that the Schools should be regulated by a permanent governing body, always ready to amend and modify the rules whenever such alterations were necessary. He could not help regretting the little favour men of literature and science had found in their Lordships' House. It was said, in the first place, that they were not discoverable, and, secondly, that if found they would not be of much use. Now, he had heard from several of the eminent men who had given advice to those who drew up the Bill that men of literature and science were not only easily found, but that they were also well deserving of confidence.

THE EARL OF DERBY inquired whether the noble Earl intended to consent to the appointment of a Select Committee to consider the provisions of the Bill.


said, the proposal to refer the Bill to a Select Committee had taken him by surprise, and therefore he could not give an answer to the question of the noble Earl without taking time for consideration.

Motion agreed to: Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Tuesday the 2nd of May next.

House adjourned at a quarter before Nine o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.