Page:Household Words - Volume 12.djvu/419

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"Familiar in their Mouths as HOUSEHOLD WORDS"Shakespeare.


HOUSEHOLD WORDS.

 

A WEEKLY JOURNAL.

CONDUCTED BY CHARLES DICKENS.

 


No. 297.] SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1855. Price 2d.
Stamped 3d.


 

CHARTER-HOUSE CHARITY. 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 en- deavour to put the most liberal construction possible upon the conduct of its chief pro- moter. The genius of one of our best authors has touched lovingly of late upon Carthusian discipline so 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 Char- terhouse 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 re- mained 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. Thack- eray shows what a Poor Brother of Charter- house 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 de- scribed from substantial evidence and personal j inspection the real nature of a Poor Brother's i position. Since that time it has not changed I for the better, whatever efforts may have j been made to produce amendment. The Poor Brothers themselves have drawn up a ! case, in which they temperately express their i sense of their position to the governors. The master of Charterhouse, Archdeacon Hale, ! lias replied to the casein a pamphlet. Some- | body has put forward in another pamphlet j the story of a Poor Brother's expulsion, and J somebody else in yet another pamphlet has ! advised the complete destruction and reform j of the degenerated charity. In the mean- , time, there has also been a charity commis- ; sion before which the Charterhouse success- ! fully 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 th.e 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 educa- tion 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, how- ever, " 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 master whose 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 containingmore than thirty rooms, with daily dinner and wine is the Rev. W. H. Hale, whose attention is dis- tracted 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 gentle- man, subject to the Archbishops of Canter- bury 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 Charter- house 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 uf five pounds a-year for washing, have consisted VOL. XJJr 297