Memorandum of the Merchant Taylors' Company.
The Royal Commissioners to inquire into the condition
of Livery Companies having sent to the Merchant Taylors'
Company, for their perusal, the evidence taken on the first
eight days of their inquiry, the Company deem it to be
their duty, no less than their right, to point out substantial
mis-statements of fact, and erroneous conclusions drawn
from them, which two of the witnesses have laid before the
The charges against the Company have not been stated
with an explicitness such as might reasonably have been
expected in so serious an inquiry, but they are to be found
rather in a multitude of insinuations spread over some 20
pages, which, however, so far as they are capable of taking
any form, seem to take the following:—
1. That the Merchant Taylors' Company have appropriated moneys of which they were trustees;
2. That they have also misconducted themselves in their
capacities of landlords,
3. And as governors of their school; and this conduct is
rendered all the more heinous, as in so acting they
are doing violence to the rights of the London poor.
Each of these charges will be met and answered in turn.
It may, however, be convenient here to dispose of the
question whether the poor have any, and what, special claim
on the funds of the Merchant Taylors' Company.
It is obvious that the purpose of some of the witnesses is
to represent the livery companies as corporations created
by the poor, and for the special benefit of the poor; as being
the recipients of wealth accumulated from yearly contributions levied upon the poor freemen in former centuries.
This representation, the Merchant Taylors' Company have
here to submit, has no historical foundation. These guilds
in their initiation were promoted, and during their continuance have been fostered, by the middle as distinct
from either of the other two classes; individual members
may have ascended from a lower to a higher class in society,
but the guilds themselves have continued to be, as they
now are, middle-class institutions.
The only way in which the poor can now in any sense be
said to be connected with this Company is as recipients of
their bounty, and as enjoying the funds which have been
accumulated heretofore by the middle as distinct from the
Merchant Taylors' Company.
Their relations with the Company may be either those of
beneficiaries of a trust created for them by men of the
middle class, in which capacity they may be honestly said to
have received the whole, if not more than the whole, of
what is due to them; or they may be considered as the
recipients of a bounty which the Company, in recognition
of the duties of the rich towards the poor, have voluntarily
and spontaneously made to them, but in neither case can
these voluntary benefactions be allowed to ripen into a legal
claim upon the funds of the Company.
Clode's Memorials of the Merchant Taylors' Company, p. 214.
As has been before stated, the allegation that the Company
must be considered as the heirs of the accumulated contributions of the poor in former times has really no historic
foundation. That the Company used, under the name of
quarterage," to levy contributions upon the whole of their
members, including the freemen, who were generally of the
poorer class, is perfectly true, as will be seen from the 13th
Ordinance; but it is also equally certain, that so long as
any portion of these contributions were so raised from the
poor, the whole, and not only the proportionate part which
had been derived from the freemen, was expended upon the
poor; and so far from the Company being in possession of
any accumulations derived from such a source, they are
annually out of pocket by the transaction, as, while the
wholesome custom of contribution has been discontinued,
the Company's disbursements under this head continue.
Wealth, in the hands of a man or of a guild, may be
coveted under the beneficent plea of using it for the
alleviation of poorer men's burdens, but the security for
property would be lost if poverty was a justifying plea for
I.—To revert, then, to the first of the special charges
against the Merchant Taylors' Company, viz., that
they have appropriated moneys of which they were
As the answer to this charge involves principally the
correction of certain mis-statements of Mr. Beal, this may
be perhaps the best place for the Company to explain how
it is that they come to attach so much weight to Mr. Beal's
utterances as to deem it necessary to devote no small portion of this paper to answering them.
In the first place, Mr. Beal speaks in a certain sense
ex cathedrâ; he is, in the opinion of one at least of the
Royal Commissioners, (fn. 1) the leading authority upon municipal matters, and, from his unique collection of literature
upon the subject, he is not only justly thought to be in
possession of the means of acquiring accurate information,
but also, when he gives it, it is usually received as such :
he lectures also to the working classes upon this subject;
and as the audiences are crowded, (fn. 2) and are reported to be
so unanimous as to "assent universally to the ideas there
expressed," it is a satisfaction to feel that in stopping error
here, it is stopped at the fountain-head.
In the second place, the Commissioners themselves
appear to have accepted, to some extent, his assistance, if
not guidance, by giving him peculiar facilities for prosecuting his inquiries into the affairs of the city companies
with a view to framing his indictment against them; and
the man entrusted with such a task should be proved, not
only to be honest, which, in Mr. Beal's case, needs no
demonstration, but accurate, which Mr. Beal certainly
Upon what evidence, it is asked, does this first charge
rest? Apparently upon the misdoings of the Merchant
Taylors' Company in regard to Donkyn's Charity.
It is proposed to give, first, Mr. Beal's version of this
affair, and then the true one, remembering always that even
for an erroneous mis-statement in such a matter there can
be little excuse, as the whole history of this case is public
property, and not only public property, but this very case
of Donkyn's Charity has been singled out (fn. 3) by Mr. Beal
himself for especial study, as a leading one upon the whole
question of charitable trusts.
So far as any connected account can be garnered from
Mr. Beal's somewhat incoherent statements, it would seem
that a more than usually vigilant Attorney General (fn. 4) haled
the recalcitrant Company to the judgment-seat, and did
not relax his grasp until the Company had disgorged the
whole of their ill-gotten gains. Since that day Mr. Beal
inclines to think that the race of Attorney Generals has
declined, and that it will be a long time before we have
another of equal pugnacity.
The true facts are as follows:—
Robert Donkyn, by his will, dated 1570, gave to the
Master and Wardens of the Merchant Taylors' Company, in
fee, certain lands and tenements, with their appurtenances,
to the intent as to the rents and profits thereof, to make
certain specific payments thereout; and he directed the
whole of the residue of the rents to be gathered into the
Company's stock, to repair and, if need be, rebuild the said
tenements at their discretion.
The year after Donkyn's death, after providing for all the
specific payments, there remained a residue of 9l. 13s. in
the hands of the Company, which was carried to the Company's corporate account, and, until 1862, this was regularly done; at the same time it should be said that all the
expenses of repairings or rebuildings were discharged out
of the same fund. (fn. 5)
Now, in the first place, it should be noticed, in passing,
that at the time when the residue was carried to the corporate account, viz., in the year 1571–72, it is more than
probable that the Company were absolutely right in so disposing of it, for the question of what should be done with
residues in such cases seems to have been decided for the
first time in 1610. (fn. 6)
Memorials, p 657.
In the second place, it should be noticed that, even supposing they were wrong, it was in the power of the Crown,
under the Statute of Elizabeth (43 Eliz. c. 4.), to call them
to account, and to have a full inspection of all their deeds
for that purpose; and the fact that the Crown, at a time
when it kept a vigilant eye upon the doings of the City
Companies, never thought it worth while to interfere with
them, is some, if not conclusive, evidence that their disposition of it was right.
Coming to later times, we shall find that so far from the
Company's keeping back or concealing anything in this
matter from Commissioners or others appointed to inquire
into their disposition of this income, they have always been
ready and willing to make such a disposition of it as the
law or its officers should deem right, and (even incredible
though it may seem to Mr. Beal) have themselves instituted
those proceedings against an unwilling and recalcitrant
Attorney General which Mr. Beal supposes the vigilant
Attorney General to have instituted against them.
This is literally true. The Merchant Taylors' Company
were plaintiffs, not defendants, in the case of Donkyn's
How this came about the following short history of the
facts will show:—
The Royal Commissioners may be reminded that from
1828, in which year the Commissioners of Inquiry, acting
under 58 Geo. 3. c. 91, printed their report relating to the
Merchant Taylors' Company's charities, Donkyn's will, and
the dealings of the Company with the property devised
under it, have been absolutely public property; and that if,
after such a full disclosure, no action was taken against
the Company, it can only be accounted for by the supineness of the Attorney General, according to Mr. Beal's
theory, or, what is perhaps more probable, by the fact that
the point as to the disposal of the residue was not so clear
as to warrant any proceedings against them.
The year 1853 saw the appointment of the present
Charity Commissioners; and it is, perhaps, not unreasonable to imagine that if any flagrant act of misappropriation
was taking place, they were the persons, armed as they
were with the very fullest powers of search and discovery,
and having the reports of the Commissioners of Inquiry
before them, to correct the error and place matters upon
their right footing. It certainly never occurred to the
Company, who saw what was going on elsewhere, to account
for the Charity Commissioners' inaction by assuming that
they, in company with the Attorney General, were suffering
from an inordinate lethargy; they thought, perhaps unreasonably, but still perfectly honestly, that no reform was
made in their administration of the charity because none
was needed, and they still went on carrying the residue,
whatever it was, to their corporate funds.
At last, in 1862, the present Charity Commissioners
issued their order for Mr. Hare, their inspector, to examine
into all the charities held by the City guilds; and, in performance of this duty, Mr. Hare, in or prior to January
1863, came to the Company's hall; he saw the will in
question, and in the year 1864, in his report to his board,
writes as follows :—"The construction always adopted by
the Company, and which seems to have been acquiesced
in by the Commissioners of Inquiry, is that the residue,
after keeping the estate in repair, is given to the Company for their own use;" and he then adds, that "it
may be a question for the consideration of the Board
whether the actual construction of this gift should be
determined by any legal proceedings, and whether the
Company should be required to render the account of
the estate as of an endowment wholly charitable."
But the court of the Merchant Taylors' Company,
desirous of doing what was right, did not wait for this
report, as in fact, they never knew of its existence until
Mr. Hare referred to it in his evidence before the Royal
Commissioners. The doubts contained in that report
Mr. Hare mentioned verbally to the Company's officers as
early at least as 1863; whereupon the court, on the 28th of
January of the same year, ordered the residue to be held
intact for the charity as from 25th December 1862, and
empowered their clerk to consult Sir R. Palmer as to the
proper construction to be put upon Donkyn's will.
The opinion of Sir R. Palmer was given in the ensuing
March, and was to the following effect,—"That, subject to
the provision for the 12 poor men and 12 poor women
(the donees of the specific payment mentioned above),
the Company are to be considered as trustees of the
property, and, as such trustees, bound to render to the
Charity Commissioners an account of the rents and
profits arising therefrom."
The Merchant Taylors' Company lost no time in acting
upon the opinion here expressed, and, as early as April
of the following year, had submitted to the Charity Commissioners, for their sanction, a scheme disposing of the
whole of the residue to charitable purposes. This scheme,
however, the Charity Commissioners did not feel able to
accept, on the ground that it proposed to devote the
residue in question to persons of a higher class than the
original recipients of the charity; and, in January 1865,
they referred it back to the Company for reconsideration.
It would not be unreasonable to imagine that, upon
the refusal of this kind, made at a time when the Company were under no legal obligation to defer to the
opinion of the Charity Commissioners, the Company
would consider that their duties were at an end, and that
it remained for the Commissioners to take the initiative in
any further proceedings; but so far from this being the
case, the Company cheerfully accepted the decision of the
Commissioners, and applied themselves to the task of
seeing how best they might meet their wishes.
With that object in view, a conference was held with
the Charity Commissioners, in which it was suggested and
conditionally agreed that a convalescent home should be
established by the Merchant Taylors' Company, to be
ultimately supported out of two funds—those of Donkyn
(which are the subject of the present memorandum) and
of the prison fund (the history of which fund is with the
Royal Commissioners)—so soon as the equitable rights
affecting the same should be decided.
At the close of the year 1869, the Corporation of London notified their intention of obtaining parliamentary
sanction for the use of the prison fund to establish a reformatory for boys, which led the Merchant Taylors, with
other companies, into a parliamentary contest, in the
session of 1870, to protect these funds from the Corporation representing the ratepayers of London.
However, not daunted by these difficulties, the Company, in January 1869, appointed a special committee to
consider and select a site for a convalescent home. This
committee consulted Dr. Gull, Mr. John Birkett, and other
medical authorities as to its position as inland or seaside;
and then, carefully considering nine different sites offered
to them, ultimately selected Fitzleet House, Bognor, where
the home is now established.
This estate was purchased, and taken possession of by
the Company early in the year 1870. The house was
immediately converted into a home, with 36 beds, now
increased to 50, and opened as such on the 5th July
1870, for poor patients from any of the London hospitals.
As the Merchant Taylors' Company had then pledged
themselves to carry on a convalescent home, how, it may
be asked, was it that they subsequently appealed to the
Court of Chancery for the proper construction of Donkyn's
will ? The answer almost suggests itself when it is
noticed that the Wax Chandlers' case, which was decided
in August 1869, wholly altered the law, and gave, as it
was thought, all residues devised in similar terms to the
trust devisees. Obviously, such a question could not
be left in doubt, and, under these circumstances, the
Company placed the papers again before Sir R. Palmer
and Mr. M. Cookson, who, in April 1870, wrote as
"We are of opinion that this case, though in some
respects more favourable to the contention of the Attorney
General, is not substantially distinguishable from the
Wax Chandlers' case; and that accordingly the Merchant
Taylors' Company must, while that case remains law, be
treated as entitled to the property levised to them by Mr.
Donkyn's will, or its present representatives, for their own
benefit, subject only to such deductions as are specifically
mentioned in the will.
"In coming to this conclusion, we have taken into
account the order of the Charity Commissioners of the
25th February 1870 (to which our attention was called in
consultation), and which treats the accumulations lately
invested in the purchase of the house at Bognor as trust
property. Having regard to the terms of that order and
the facts stated in the case, that since Christmas 1862
accounts of the receipts and payments in respect of the
entire property have been rendered to the Charity Commissioners, we think it expedient that the Company should
obtain an authoritative declaration on the point raised by
the case, through the medium of the Court of Chancery.
This may be done by filing a bill against the Attorney
General, for which, the claim of the Company being
adverse to the charity, the leave of the Commissioners need
not be first obtained.
"Lincoln's Inn, April 9, 1870."
Merchant Taylors' Company v. Attorney-General. 11 Equity Cases, p. 35. Ib., 6 Ch. App. p. 517.
A bill was accordingly filed, and the case was decided by
the court of first instance on the 3rd November 1870, and
of appeal in April 1871, declaring in both instances that
the residue was a trust estate. The words in which these
judgments were given furnish a justification to the Company, if such be needed, for their having taken the case
before the courts for decision. In the lower court the
judge (Lord Romilly) expressed his opinion that the litigation "raised a question which it was desirable to have
settled"; and in the higher court the Lord Chancellor
(Hatherley) described the case "as one of very great
nicety," in which he came to this "conclusion with considerable hesitation."
To complete the statement of facts as to the prison fund,
it should be mentioned that Parliament, in the session of
1870, threw out the Bill promoted by the Corporation of
London; and then came the question of appropriating
these funds to charitable purposes, which had to be dealt
with by the Court of Chancery. This was done in 1873,
by the reported case of Prison Charities, in 16 "Equity
Cases," p. 145, which resulted ultimately in a transfer of
these funds to the credit of the convalescent home.
The Company did not, as it will be seen, wait for this
decision before establishing that home, although the
scheme for that purpose was not finally approved and
sealed by the Charity Commissioners until the 6th March
See Memo. p. 389.; 911.
What, then, could any trustees, individual or corporate,
do, more than the Merchant Taylors' Company have done
to carry out a beneficent object; and where does Donkyn's
case furnish a justification for Mr. Beal's contention that a
new municipality should be originated to take the City
companies by the throat and deal with them ?
II.—To revert to the charges of their misconduct as
1500.; 1472.; 1475.
The other witness to whom reference has been made is
Mr. W. Gilbert, who has requested the Commissioners to
take his evidence. He assures the Commissioners that
he has given a good deal of attention to the City generally, including the companies;" and his mission is to
show that "he has formed and expressed a strong opinion
as to the action of the City companies in connexion with
the poorer population of the City."
In general terms he accuses the City companies of
driving the poor out of their districts." Whenever a
house is destroyed and a new one is erected, in almost
every case, especially with regard to those of City companies, a clause is inserted that no person shall be
allowed to sleep upon the premises, thereby totally
prohibiting the poor (though why only the poor ?) from
In specific terms he formulates his accusation against
the Merchant Taylors' Company "by an example, to
explain better what he means."
He states his facts thus: that in Coleman Street the
Merchant Taylors' Company own a property which, some
10 years ago, they leased at 2,300l. a year "under a condition that the whole building should be pulled down
and about 200,000l. expended in building chambers, with
a strict clause in the lease that no one should be
allowed to sleep upon the premises."
When cautioned by one of the Royal Commissioners, lest
he should be imputing blame to the Company upon imperfect information, he repeats his accusation "from his own
personal experience" as a director in a large Assam Tea
Company, which, by the bye, has on another occasion
enabled him to furnish the Royal Commissioners with other
information. It is suggested by the same Royal Commissioner that the leaseholder, and not the freeholder, has
inserted this condition; but as his accusation against a
City company, and his raison d'être for appearing before
the Royal Commissioners, would fall to the ground if
Mr. Gilbert accepted this (almost obvious) explanation,
he answered, "No; the freeholders would not grant the
lease except upon that condition."
32 & 33 Vict c. 14, s. 11, and 41 Vict. c. 15. s. 13.
Now, whether the leaseholder has or has not inserted
such a condition is not known to the Merchant Taylors'
Company; but they do know that the terms in which the
Inhabited House Duty Act is framed did formerly, until
the Act was amended, oblige persons letting premises for
offices or warehouses to insert such a stipulation, not
against the poor, but to escape this very heavy taxation.
The facts are these.
The premises in question, prior to the re-letting referred
to, were used as offices and warehouses, in which it is not
probable that any persons resided, more than the occupiers
required there for their employments. Be that as it may,
the Merchant Taylors' Company did not seek or desire to
alter in any way the purpose for which the premises should
thereafter be used.
1875, July 14.; 1876, June 7.; 1879, July 14.; 1881, Feb. 20.
In the years 1875 to 1881 they granted ordinary building
leases of these premises to A. A. Croll, Esq., at a ground
rent, and with a covenant for an expenditure, not of
200,000l., as Mr. Gilbert asserts, but of 20,000l.
Whether Mr. Croll built offices or warehouses, with or
without residences for the rich or poor, was a matter as to
which the Merchant Taylors' Company made no stipulation whatever; and it may be added, that neither in this
nor in any other case, when granting a building lease, have
the Company ever inserted such a covenant as Mr. Gilbert
affirms them to have included in the leases in question.
III.—As governors of their school.
Before adverting to the statement of Mr. Gilbert on this
head, the Merchant Taylors' Company may be excused if
they preface these remarks by a short statement of their
recent action as governors of that institution. This statement, it is hoped, will furnish reasonable justification, if
such be needed, for their not having contributed as largely
as other guilds have done to the Technical Institute.
Rightly, as they venture to think, the Merchant Taylors'
Company recognised in 1866 an opportunity of largely increasing the usefulness of their old school as a high-class
day school for the benefit of the residents in and about
London. These matters are stated plainly in the Master's
letter of the 23rd June 1866, to the governors of the
Charter House, which is printed at length, p. 426 of the
Company's memorials; but the paragraph to which attention invited is as follows :—
"In conclusion, I have only to add, that the Company
desire—whatever may be the result of this communication—
that I should express to the governors their thanks for the
opportunity offered to them of becoming the purchasers of
"All that the Merchant Taylors' Company have it in
desire to do is to supply the want which obviously must
arise—unless the governors of the Charter House are prepared to make some provision for it, after their relinquishment of that sphere of usefulness which, for upwards of
250 years, within the City of London, and partially towards
its citizens, the Governors of the Charter House have
occupied—a want arising from no fault in the citizens of
London, but necessarily resulting from the removal of an
ancient educational establishment far beyond the walls. To
aid in the supply of this want (so far as their corporate
means will allow) is the only motive that has induced the
Merchant Taylors' Company to give such anxious consideration to the proposals of the governors. How far the
Company may be enabled to accomplish this object is dependent in some degree upon the result of this negotiation;
but, whatever the result may be, I shall ever feel conscious
that my colleagues and myself have manifested every desire
to meet the proposals of the governors of the Charter House
in a candid and unselfish spirit."
At that date, and when the "Royal Commissioners on the
Public Schools" reported the annual cost of the school to
the Merchant Taylors' Company was (say) 2,000l. per
annum, they were left free and untrammelled by the parliamentary enactments which were extended to the other
schools, the subject of that inquiry. The confidence thus
reposed in them by Parliament, the Merchant Taylors'
Company venture to think, has not been abused. Since
that date they have sold their Irish estate, and devoted the
proceeds thereof, with other moneys, to the purchase of
the site and erection of the school in Charter House Square
at a cost of 91,600l. They have increased the number of
scholars from 250 to 500 boys: and their annual expenditure has been increased from 2,000l. to 7,724l. These
figures, it is hoped, will satisfy the Royal Commissioners
that the Merchant Taylors' Company are not indifferent to
the cause of education for the middle-class of London
But to advert to Mr. Gilbert's charge against the Company.
780, 555.; 1565.; Sic.
It is not, as against Eton and other public schools, alleged
that the Company's School was instituted for paupers; but
it is insinuated that it was founded for the sons of working
tailors, for Mr. Gilbert on being asked "if a proportion of
the Merchant Taylors' fund should be applied for the
benefit of the tailors generally?" he replies, "Yes; and
that used to be the case. If you look at Machyn and
Stowe's diaries, you will find they give a description
of a dinner at Merchant Taylors' Hall, and also describes
the Merchant Taylors' School, in which there was
not a boy in the school that was not the son of a
The dinner will not probably be thought worthy of further
notice by the Royal Commissioners, though that allegation
might be easily answered; but the statement in relation to
the school is one of graver moment.
Printed in p. 417.
As authorities for this strange assertion, Mr. Gilbert
refers the Royal Commissioners to two authors, both of
whom were members of the Merchant Taylors' Company;
but before dealing with these, let it be noted, as dates are
material, that the school was opened in the year 1561,
under statutes framed by the Company. Though the
number was limited to 250 boys, it was laid down in Rule
25 that " children of all nations and countries indifferently "
should be taught, and as proof that children of different
social grades should be accepted, Rules 5 and 6 should be
referred to, as these provided that 100 should be taught
freely, 50 paying 10s. a year, and 100 paying 1l. a year.
There is not a scintilla of evidence in these statutes or elsewhere that the Company had any intention whatever of
founding a class-school for tailors' sons.
P. 91 and see note p. 345.
But to refer to the authors quoted, Machyn's Diary
closes, as will be seen on referring to it, in the year 1562–3,
that is, within a few months after the school had been
opened. Had he made the assertion imputed to him, its
veracity might reasonably have been doubted, and the fact
questioned whether 250 sons of tailors could have been found
instanter, at the opening of the school doors, eligible to
enter. But leaving this question for others to decide, it is
certain that Machyn made no such assertion as is imputed
to him. He does refer to "tailors' sons," so that he had
his eye upon the craft, but his reference is not to the
scholars," but to the "wardens" of the Company, who
in the year 1555 he notes to have been all "taylors' " sons.
Stowe, in his "Survey," which work, it is presumed, Mr.
Gilbert means by his reference to it as a "diary," is equally
silent on the subject, and well it is for Stowe's reputation
as a chronicler that he makes no such ridiculous assertion.
Vol. I., p. 34.
Wilson in his school history, which an author of Mr.
Gilbert's reputation cannot be ignorant of, asserts that in
1567 the scholars came not only from the districts adjacent,
but from the counties of " Oxford, Northampton, Dorset,
"Somerset, and even York"; and this is nearer the truth.
However, the parentage of many of the earliest scholars in
Merchant Taylors' School is biography within the ken of
any tyro in history, and had the witness shown his authorities (if he ever found them) to any such friend, it is to
be hoped that he never would have committed himself
to the statement he has made to the Royal Commissioners.
Printed as 195 of Memorials.
For conclusive proof it may be mentioned that the Merchant Taylors' Company possess a printed record of all
entries in the school register from its opening until 1699,
thus covering a period long after Stowe's death in 1605,
and every page of this register furnishes a contradiction to
Mr. Gilbert's assertion. Taking the first 10 years, up to
1571, as a test period, one tailor's son only, "William
Hodgson, son of Robert, tailor," is entered, viz., on 12th
July 1566; and not even the majority of the scholars are
Merchant Taylors," though this term would not, having
regard to the terms of Henry VII.'s charter, necessarily
show the father to have been a "taylor." (fn. 7)
Passing from Mr. Gilbert's evidence, the Company confess that they have commented upon it with some degree
of severity; but they hope that their criticism will not be
taken for detraction: it was necessary to proclaim with no
uncertain note the fallibility of one who claimed to be an
expert upon the subject of municipal reform, and to bring
to the consideration of the subject a judgment ripened by
his researches into the usage prevailing in all the capitals
of Europe besides our own. If Mr. Gilbert has allowed
himself to be betrayed into such mis-statements with regard
to subjects upon which it is possible for any one to form
a correct opinion, is it unreasonable to ask that his statements elsewhere should be tested and weighed before
being accepted as facts?
But a word in conclusion. The Company wish it to be
distinctly understood that in thus entering the arena of
controversy they come not as defendants, since their conduct as a company needs no defence, and as for their
reputation as honest men they are content to leave it in
the hands of the Commissioners; but they come rather to
dispel the cloud of prejudice and aspersion which seems to
envelop the consideration of their case, and which is mainly
due to the intemperate and inaccurate statements of their
detractors. Mindful of this, they have confined themselves to a bare and they hope a conclusive contradiction of
material facts, and have never descended, so far as they
know, to the language of extenuation. Their war is with
error, not with individuals, and they hope that no word in
the preceding pages is calculated to give offence to any
one who is honestly and earnestly endeavouring to promote
the public good, even though it should be at their expense.
It is, however, with some difficulty the Company candidly
admit that they have brought themselves to include Mr.
Beal in this category, since errors, which in one of less
pretensions to knowledge would be venial, from his mouth
can be considered little less than reckless; in such a case
omission is more apt to be suppression, and mis-statement
Whatever misgivings, however, they may have had upon
this score they have been able to dispel by considering that
perhaps, after all, Mr. Beal is not to be taken at his own
valuation, and that though he has assumed the role of
omniscience with an airiness and jauntiness such as are
seldom seen in one who is alive to its duties and responsibilities, his claim to the title has yet to be established.
In behalf of the Master and Wardens.
Merchant Taylors' Hall,
10th August 1882.