A final source of patronage that benefited Bridge was the Patron's Fund administered by the Royal College of Music. Sir Ernest Palmer (later Lord Palmer of Reading) donated £20,000 to the College in 1903 (plus an additional £7,000 in 1906) and the income generated by these sums was to be used in several ways: to promote the first performance of compositions by British composers under forty years of age; to help British performers gain a hearing in public; and to provide travelling scholarships for talented young musicians. Bridge's music was chosen for performance at several of the scheme's concerts including the first, held at the St James's Hall on 20 May 1904, when both The Hag and the symphonic poem Comes the Mid of the Night were given. This was the première of the latter, Bridge's first full-scale essay in orchestral writing, and, although the performance was a success under his direction, the piece was felt to be too extended for what it had to say. However, rather than the works themselves, it was the composition of the programme that came under more serious attack. Why, for instance, had two works by Bridge in particular been chosen when it would have been fairer to allocate one of the performances to another young composer?16
William Wallace, in a letter to The Times, added fuel to the controversy several days later. Why were so many of the works chosen composed by Royal College of Music students when the fund was supposedly open to all? Why should the College have the supreme jurisdiction in selecting the music? Indeed,
no musician can close his eyes to the fact that the Royal College of Music is associated with a certain phase of thought which is academically antagonistic, if not openly inimical, to every modern tendency. It is idle to point to a performance of a work by Wagner, Tchaikowsky or Richard Strauss at some College concert.17
While not strictly true, Wallace's remarks were not, as we have seen earlier, that wide of the mark.