+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error


WE have no wish to write of charity in an
uncharitable vein, and now that we again
find ourselves forced to dwell upon the public
scandal of the Charterhouse, we shall
endeavour to put the most liberal construction
possible upon the conduct of its chief
promoter. The genius of one of our best authors
has touched lovingly of late upon Carthusian
disciplineso lovingly and tenderly, indeed,
that readers of future generations who
shall hang with generous emotion over the
deathbed of Colonel Newcome, will be apt to
see in the gown of a Poor Brother of the
Charterhouse a badge of honoured poverty, that
must, at any rate in Mr. Thackeray's days,
have been most fit clothing for a ruined
gentleman in whom the spirit of honour
remained fresh and young. We would not have
a line unwritten of that chapter which in the
room of a Poor Brother of Charterhouse
closes, in a spirit of generosity and human
tenderness, a novel that the nation will not
fail to take to heart and cherish. Let it be
felt rather that, in the Newcomes, Mr. Thackeray
shows what a Poor Brother of Charterhouse
should be in theory, and is in fiction;
and let the master and the governors betake
themselves with all speed to the task of
wiping out the sad discrepancy that now
exists between the fiction and the fact.

Three years and a half ago (in number one
hundred and sixteen of this journal), we
described from substantial evidence and personal
inspection the real nature of a Poor Brother's
position. Since that time it has not changed
for the better, whatever efforts may have
been made to produce amendment. The
Poor Brothers themselves have drawn up a
case, in which they temperately express their
sense of their position to the governors. The
master of Charterhouse, Archdeacon Hale,
has replied to the case in a pamphlet. Somebody
has put forward in another pamphlet
the story of a Poor Brother's expulsion, and
somebody else in yet another pamphlet has
advised the complete destruction and reform
of the degenerated charity. In the meantime,
there has also been a charity commission
before which the Charterhouse successfully
resisted any attempt to make critical
investigation of its management.

Now, we by no means desire to back
every grievance that we find urged in the
pamphlets we have mentioned, or to refuse
credit for their good intentions and good
deeds to the governors and master. The
foundation was established for the free education
of forty poor boys and for the sustenance
of eighty ancient gentlemen, captains, and
others, brought to distress by shipwrecks,
wounds, or other reverse of fortune. It was
liberally endowed, and the founder desired
that its bounty might be more extended as its
means increased. Its means have increased,
and although purely of lay origin it has fallen
more and more under ecclesiastical control.
At first the master was a layman; but after
the appointment of the third master it was
ordered that the office should thenceforth be
held by a minister of the church, who,
however, "shall neither have nor accept of any
place of preferment or benefit in church or
commonwealth, whereby he may be drawn
from his residence, care, or charge." That
order has remained in force to this day when
the masterwhose salary was fixed in the
time of his predecessor at eight hundred pounds
a-year, with various pecuniary extras; who is
provided with a residence containing more than
thirty rooms, with daily dinner and wineis
the Rev. W. H. Hale, whose attention is
distracted by the cure of many thousand souls
as vicar of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, in the
vicarage of which parish he is supposed also
to reside; who is resident canon of St. Paul's;
and enjoys other pluralities to the extent of a
sum that, in all, amounts to something like
four thousand pounds a-year. By this gentleman,
subject to the Archbishops of Canterbury
and York and the Bishop of London,
Charterhouse is virtually managed, for the
other governors are busy statesmen who can
rarely interfere in affairs which belong only
indirectly to their necessary business. To
the business of the great churchmen Charterhouse
affairs belong very directly, inasmuch
as the institution has become, in fact, a notable
church seminary. The school has been
cherished. To the forty poor boys of the
foundation have been added several times
forty others, who pay liberally to the masters
for their board, while the foundation boys,
clothed, fed, and charged only one item of
five pounds a-year for washing, have consisted