תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

the classes below them, and shield its exercise with the secret Ballot, and thus muster together and send forward into action the army of democracy, then become irresistible by the combined effect of its enormous numbers and the destruction of the enemy's intrenchments! This is what the radicals of England aim at, and the true and indeed openly declared meaning of their agitation. And as all this could not but result finally in a republic, the cry of“ down with the monarchy" is in fact to be understood when we hear that of “down with the oligarchy!"

Whether to this complexion of state affairs we shall come at last, or to the other alternative of Napoleon the First's prophecy, Cossackism, i. e. government savouring of Russian Autocracy, is a problem the solution of which we shall not attempt. Meanwhile for the present, oligarchy seems to entertain no intention or idea whatever of letting itself be "put donn," and à fortiori will not consent to see the monarchy put down. And doubtless they are strong to resist. Strong not merely in constituted, well organized and well buttressed authority, and effective physical power, but in what is so potent with Englishmen, the moral force of old established custom and traditionary honor. And they have yet another and adventitious source of strength which has been pointed out by Lord John Russell in one of his most favourite apopthegms, viz. that "while the aristocraticorder in other countries has, (from its inaccessability) been the despair of the classes beneath it,” the aristocracy of these countries is "the hope” of the same classes with us. The detailed meaning of his apopthegm plainly is, that the accessability of aristocratic grades amongst us to the successful professional man, commercialist, or industrialist, enlists to a great extent their feelings and wishes in favour of an order thus placing its honors and privileges within reach of energy and ability irrespective of birth and connexion. But however true all this may be, we must not exaggerate its value, nor omit to take seriously into account the daily growing spirit of exaction and encroachment now pervading our denuocracy at home, and making its members less and less inclined as time goes on, to be propitiated by a few occasional promotions from their ranks. It is no answer to the apprehensions suggested by this consideration, to tell us that this exacerbation of the 'democratic spirit at home, is but a reflex and a consequence of the extravagance of the same spirit abroad. On the contrary, we have therefore the more ground for alarm. It is not the usual habit

of Englishmen to be impressionable by foreign influences. Thesturdiness of the native character, their very prejudices, tend all the other way; and have in a hundred instances that might be cited, absolutely interfered to prevent, or at any rate to delay, improvements, where the first idea or example of them was derived from abroad. The unusual impressionability or susceptibility in the present case can therefore be explained only by attributing it (with but too much probability) to the spontaneous fermentation in the popular mind of the old revolutionary leaven of the times of the Commonwealth. This process is quite noticeably increasing, instead of abating; and with it of course the predisposition to receive the impulses of foreign propagandism. And the latter may, how soon we know not, exchange its present inculcations by theory, for those by practice and example, in some of the darkly but distinctly foreshadowed convulsions of Europe.

How to prepare for such an emergency-an emergency that the death of a single man may bring upon us—how to guard against and prevent in these countries rash and disastrous imitations of the wild actions and events then developing themselves abroad, is the pressing difficulty of the moment. Education, from which so much was expected in the way of regulating and elevating popular impulses, has hitherto acted as Mr. Bright and his friends inform us, rather as a stimulant to misdoing, by rendering men more keenly sensible of the disadvantages of their position. And taking the most enthusiastic view of it, its operation at best can be but slow and its ultimate efficiency remote, when it has accomplished so little up to the present time. Something else more practical and immediately to be felt, is required by the urgency of the time. Concession there must be let us speak it out, concession on the part of those who have bitherto wielded the powers and moulded the destinies of the empire. If made in time, while vet men's minds are cool, a safe and wholesome limit for it may be defined. If obstinately refused, there is too much reason to fear that it will have to be made and perhaps before long, under a pressure of events that will preclude all reason and argument save the argument of force. But be it made now, or later, under circumstances favorable for a due consideration of the rights and interests of all, or under circumstances utterly precluding it, that concession must involve an alteration and re-adjustment of the relations between the various classes of society, and that alteration and re-adjustment cannot but bring us some steps further than we have yet been, on the road to democracy.

[graphic]

In that direction therefore must be the tendency of the new Reform measure, and it is for the statesmen of England frankly to recognise and accept this necessity, and give their chiefest attention now to the means of rendering safe and consistent with the maintenance of property and order, the inevitable further developement of the democratic element in the con. stitution.

ART. VII.-EDUCATION IN IRELAND.

1. Report of her Majesty's Commissioners, appointed to

inquire into the Endowments, Funds, and Actual Condition of all Schools endowed for the purpose of Education in Ireland, accompanied by Minutes of Evidence, Documents, and Tables of Schools and Endowments. Dublin: printed by Alex Thom and Sons, for Her

Majesty's Stationery Office, 1858. 2. Letter to the Right Hon. Sir George Grey, Bart., M.P.

G. C. B. Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State for the Home Department. By Archibald John Stephens, Esq., one of Her Majesty's late Commissioners of Inquiry into the Endowed Schools of Ireland. London : printed by Eyre and Spottiswood, Printers

to the Queen's most excellent Majesty, 1858. 3. National Education in Ireland. By William Dwyer

Ferguson, L.L.D., lately Assistant Commissioner,
Endowed Schools Commissioner. London : Seely and

Co. 1858. The Report of the Endowed Schools Commission is at length before the Houses of Parliament, and taken along with the evidence and statistics upon which it is founded, may be treated as a book of authority upon educational subjects. It is scarcely inatter of regret that all the Commissioners should not have signed the Report, although to some this will appear a miscarriage of the Commission. The truth is, that in exchange for the signatures of two Commissioners, we obtain their individual opinions, which are thus brought under public review, and in this way no aspect of the inquiry conducted by them, is shut out from the public by consents and compromises to which the public could not be a party. When the Commission was appointed its inquiries were not generally understood to have so wide a range as was opened to them in the course of the proceedings. The words of the Commission were, it is true, sufficiently large to include every description of educational endowment, public or private, but no one anticipated an inquiry into any endowments which had not previously attracted public interest. It was principally with reference to the Royal and Diocesan schools, or to the more considerable private endowments, like those upon the foundation of Erasmus Smith, that information was sought by the public. Usage in fact had for many years past affixed a popular meaning to theterm,“ Endowed Schools,” and limited its application to schools, in connexion with one board in particular, whose familiar name is borrowed from its place of meeting, Clare-street. Indeed the jurisdiction of that Board had been extended by acts of Parliament to many schools of private institution, and had the inquiry been confined by the terms of the Commission to the trusts administered by that Board alone, it was felt that the duties of the Commissioners would still have been laborious and profitable. The Commissioners, however, rightly acted upon a more comprehensive notion of their duties, and although to many they may appear to have travelled a field of the object of the Commission, they will be found upon examination to have kept within the verge of their authority. They were directed to apply their inquiries to the actual state and condition of all schools endowed for the purpose of education in Ireland, and to the management of the funds “ given, granted, or applied” for their support. Under a strict interpretation of this power it would have been competent for the Commissioners to found a jurisdiction upon the grant or donation of any sum however small, and to bring the school which had been or should have been its recipient within the scope of their inquiries. The Commissioners

« הקודםהמשך »