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16 April, 1858. MY DEAR GENERAL,
The case of the Prizemen of last year has been before the Council three times. The facts have been gone into, and the Council do not find that they can reopen the question. The decision was the decision of the late Council and Board of Examiners. On Wednesday, the 7th, Mr. Johnson, who had himself contributed ninety pounds to the Fund, brought the case forward, and a long reply was forwarded to that gentleman. I enclose a copy for H.R.H. the Prince Consort's information.
Your's truly, General the Hon. C. Grey, fc. fc.
C. WENTWORTH DILKE.
Society of Arts, Adelphi,
13th April, 1858. The complaints of Messrs. Wells, Dawson, and Pearce, respecting the Prizes awarded to them by the Society in 1857, had been twice considered by the Council before your letter dated 31st March was received.
Entirely agreeing with you that “no misunderstanding should exist on so vital a principle as the fulfilment of promises,” the Council, on the receipt of your letter, have considered the grounds of their former decision, and the allegations and arguments of the Prizemen above-named.
The Council are fully sensible that to young men in the position of those who commonly enter into competition for the Society's rewards, it cannot be a matter of indifference whether the pecuniary value of the Prizes is much or little.
A regard for the slender resources of many of the Candidates was one of the principal causes which led the present Council to revert to the original plan of confining the Society's own Examinations to Examinations by paper, and so arranging the business part that they might be held in all parts of the Union.
The arguments put forth by Messrs. Wells, Dawson, and Pearce, are two:1st, that the first class Prizes of 1857 ought not to have been less than Ten Guineas each, because they were of that amount in 1856; and 2nd, that the whole of the Prize Fund collected in the Session of 1856-7 ought to have been distributed among the Candidates in 1857, because of the terms in which that fund was adverted to in the Programme dated 10th of November, 1856.
The first part of these arguments is devoid of foundation. There was no general Prize Fund distribution in 1856. There were only certain special Prizes offered for certain special objects by a few members of the Society, and the Programme of the 10th of November, 1856, contains no statement that ought to lead to the inference that the special Prizes of the previous summer or fixed Prizes of the same amount would be distributed in 1857.
The second argument is not wholly without any appearance of a foundation, but its foundation can be shown to be unsound. It is true that the Programme of the 10th of November, 1856, contained the words, Prize “Fund for 1857.-The following Donations have been received towards a “Fund to be distributed in Prizes to successful Candidates at the ensuing Exami“ nations of the Society of Arts, to be held in London and at Huddersfield in
June, 1857,” and that there then followed a list of Subscriptions amounting to £362. This was a first list of Subscribers, and other names subsequently added augmented the amount to £534.
Can anyone suppose that it was the intention of the Council, or that the words above quoted could really mean, that the whole of this amount was to be distributed among the Prizemen whatever their number might be ? No one
could possibly suppose that this was intended. The attention of the Council was, however, directed to the terms in which the Prize Fund was spoken of in Programme of the 10th of November, and on December the 12th, and ever afterwards, all those words which were open to misconstruction were omitted, and the Fund was simply called the Prize Fund without any further particularity.
The Board of Examiners of 1856-1857 and the Council of the same Session considered and determined what should be the distribution of the Prizes in 1857, and in pursuance of that authority the Prizes were adjudicated and given.
There are now a new Board of Examiners and a new Council, and it is proposed that the whole matter of the distribution should be re-opened, and that there shall be a new distribution, on a new basis, never before contemplated by the Society ; if this were to be done what would be the grounds for hoping the new decision would be satisfactory to the Candidates ?. On what principle could the re-distribution be made ? The amounts of the Prizes were matters not of principle but of discretion; the discretionary power was exercised by the proper authorities, and the Council must decline to disturb what was done.
Though not material to the real question at issue, it is as well to remark that the three gentlemen who addressed you are mistaken as to the real amount of the Fund in question. Your very handsome donation of £90 was (as you know) for the general purposes of the Examination, and not exclusively for Prizes. The anonymous contribution of £10 was for a special object and was not claimed. Several of the sums of 10 Guineas which appeared in the list were, the Council regret to say, never actually paid. The Council are sorry to trouble you with so long a reply to your letter.
The business of the Examinations is not free from difficulties. The Council, as you justly say, have no motive but the general good, and they will be glad if by explanations they can give general satisfaction.
I am, dear Sir, your obedient servant,
P. LE NEVE FOSTER,
REMARKS ON THE EXPLANATION OF THE COUNCIL.
In reference to the Prizes in 1856 the Council omit to state that a Prize of 25 Guineas was awarded by the Society to the best Candidate in 1856. Surely if the Society in 1856, with the limited means at their disposal, rewarded the best Candidate with a Prize of 25 Guineas, it was but reasonable to expect, when a Prize Fund of £500 was at their command, and the Examinations were more meritorious, that the best Candidate in 1857 should at the least receive an equal reward, and that the other Prizes should be in proportion.
After quoting the statement from the Programme respecting the Prize Fund the Council ask,
,—" Can any one suppose that it was the intention of the Council, or that the above words could really mean, that the whole of this amount was to be distributed among the Prizemen whatever their number "might be?” I would here observe that the Council entirely pass over the important question of merit in the Prizemen and simply raise the question of number. Yet even on this ground how do the facts stand? In 1856 the Prizemen were 7 in number, while in 1857 they numbered 36; this fact, it is submitted, when taken in conjunction with the comparative merits of the two Examinations, furnishes the strongest reason why the Prize Fund should have been distributed in 1857 in accordance with the Programme above quoted.
In the same paragraph the Council admit that their statement with regard to the Prize Fund, dated Nov. 10, was open to misconstruction. Why then did not the Council on discovering this fact at once issue a distinct notice in their Journal to remove all misconception from the minds of the Candidates ? Had
they done this, the chief cause of complaint could not have arisen. The mere omission of words was, I submit, utterly insufficient on a point of such vital consequence. Such omission was not likely to be noticed, and in fact was not noticed by myself or by the Memorialists. Even if it had been, it would have been regarded rather as the avoidance of unnecessary repetition, than as an indication of the intention of the Council to change so important a feature of their scheme. I will even go further, and show by quotations from the Society's Journal that the impression was kept up to the last that the Prize Fund was a Special Fund for 1857.
In a Lecture delivered to the young men at Crosby Hall, on Jan. 15 1857, Col. Sykes, Chairman of the Council, being in the chair, Dr. Booth said:
“Many of you doubtless intend to come up to the Examinations of
“ the Society of Arts, which will be held at their House at the “Adelphi the first week in June next, to compete for a portion of the
“ £500 we have to give away in Prizes.” And again, in the Petition to Parliament presented by Col. Sykes, in June, 1857, it is stated, speaking of the Examinations :
“For this year (1857) a special Prize Fund, upwards of £500, has
“ been subscribed by the promoters of the scheme.” Singularly enough this encouraging statement appeared in the Journal on the day preceding that on which the Candidates were summoned to London to receive their Prizes. Their disappointment may be easily imagined when they then for the first time learned that those Prizes consisted of Books, nominally of the value of £4.*
I cannot forbear remarking on the inconsistency imputed to the Examiners in their having reported “a very marked improvement” in the Examinations, and at the same time having considered and determined that only one-fourth part of the Prize Fund should be distributed among the Candidates, and it is respectfully submitted that this requires explanation.
Before concluding I would draw attention to the following extract from the inaugural address of Col. Sykes, as Chairman of the Council, on the 19th of November, 1856:-
“ As an additional incentive to the Candidate for Examination beyond
“ the honorable Certificate of competency he might obtain, the
“ Council have thought it desirable to institute money Prizes.” This, I submit, is a distinct intimation that the Prizes should be in money, and yet, strange to say, they were given in Books; and, though apparently a small matter, such an arrangement considerably aggravated the disappointment felt by the successful Candidates, who were certainly justified in looking for a reward which would enable them to defray the expenses which they had been induced to incur.
The present Council lay some stress upon the fact that all the arrangements in connection with the Examinations were made by the late Council and the late Board of Examiners, and state that they “must decline to disturb what was done.” To this I would simply remark that the remainder of the Prize Fund is still in their own keeping, and as the merit of each Candidate is exactly known by the number and grade of the Certificates he obtained, there can be no real difficulty in apportioning the amount in a manner that will prevent even the shadow of a complaint.-R. C.
Even this small Prize was made an occasion of loss to the Candidates by the manner in which it was conferred. The Prizemen were summoned by letter to London to receive their Prizes, but no intimation was given as to what those Prizes were to be. By this injudicious step on the part of the Council the cost of attending in person to receive the Prizes was to some of the Candidates greater than the value of the Prizes themselves.
BARKER AND SON, PRINTERS, HATTER STREET, BURY,
MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY OF ARTS.
REV, J. BOOTH, LL.D., F.R.S.,
Late Chairman of the Council.
The following letter will explain why I have been compelled to have recourse to this costly and laborious mode of addressing the Members of the Society of Arts, instead of using the pages of the Society's Journal, which hitherto have always been unreservedly open, even to the humblest Member of the Society.
On the 11th instant I made a respectful application to the Council, through the Secretary, to be permitted to publish a statement in the Journal, with a view to justify to the Members of the Society the steps I had taken with reference to the proceedings of the Council. To this request I received the following reply :
SOCIETY OF ARTS, ADELPIII, LONDON, .. NOVEMBER 12, 1857.
Your request made to the Council through the Secretary to be allowed to insert in the Society's Journal a letter, explanatory of your resignation, has been submitted to the Council, and I am directed to transmit to you in reply the following resolution of Council:
66 That while the Council has no desire to prevent Dr. Booth from publishing, in the Society's journal, such an explanation of his opinions as he may think calculated to justify him before the public for ceasing to take any part in promoting the measures which the Council adopts, it is the duty of the Council to take care that the Journal shall contain nothing - which may tend to the injury of any of those great interests which the Society promotes; and that, therefore, Dr. Booth must submit to the Council for previous approval the manuscript of any document which he wishes to appear in the Journal.” I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,
Assistant Secretary. The Rev. Dr. Booth, F.R.S.,
The Vicarage, Wandsworth. As I am not prepared to submit the “manuscript of any document” containing an "explanation of my opinions” to a censorship, I am driven to this expensive mode of publication. The Vicarage, Wandsworth, Nov. 28, 1857. J. BOOTH,