Page images


The educational policy of the new Administration was a subject of some anxiety. From the remarks of Mr. Napier, the Irish Attorney-General, on his re-election for Dublin University, and the promise of a select committee on the National School system of Ireland, it was apprehended that the Government contemplated concessions to the Protestant-ascendency party. Distinct assurances, however, have been given, that the proposed committee shall deal only with the objectionable details, and not at all with the essential principles, of that system. It will be found difficult, perhaps, to observe that distinction; and we may therefore anticipate an edifying inquiry into the operation of the mixed school system.—The Manchester and Salford Education Bill has not benefited by the attempt to carry it as an item of private business. An adjourned discussion on the second reading—a discussion in which nearly every speaker expressed an opinion somewhat different from every other speaker ; the whole presenting a mass of hopelessly irreconcileable objections—terminated in the appointment of a select committee to investigate the alleged necessity for that, or any similar local measure; an inquiry from which the Voluntaries must take care that their evidence is neither excluded nor underrated—an inquiry that may prove the turning-point of public opinion upon the whole question.

Out of doors, four distinct ripples of opinion may be observed. The Parliamentary Reformers held a conference and public meeting, on the 2nd and 3rd inst., in St. Martin's Hall, Long Acre: their deliberations were interrupted by a knot of that school of Chartists which we had hoped was extinct—the impracticable, rude, and inflammatory; and both conference and public meeting revealed the presence of the strongly democratic element, consenting to forego manhood for household suffrage, but rather consenting to than cordially concurring in the wisdom of the compromise ; all that is earnest in the movement aiming beyond it. The capital and labour question is thrust into prominence, and kept painfully conspicuous, by the strike in the iron trades: the most remarkable feature of which is a novel onelong-suffering, patient, self-respectful resolve on the part of the operatives, and the active sympathy of some in the wealthy and professional classes. The Anti-Maynooth movement continues to run in a double stream—the one simply Protestant, the other Anti-state-church; and the former not infrequently, as at Southampton and Glasgow, swallowed up by the latter. Lastly, the belligerent and pacific spirits make parallel furrows on the public mind : patriotic gentlemen, both of town and country, band themselves into rifle regiments, and will not believe that their courage is vain-glorious ; while London, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, and even Birmingham, protest, at the instance of the Peace Congress committee, that the young men of this generation shall not be the victims of a conscription.

All these diverse currents will presently disappear in the whirlpool of a general election. The note of preparation' is sounding in nearly every constituency of the empire. Half-hearted Liberals are beseeching electors not to insist upon pledges for the ballot while the bread-basket is in danger of reconquest by the tax-eater. Radical candidates are plied by men in fustian jackets with novel and perplexing questions about the relation of the employer and employed. Conservative Free-traders are threatened at

[ocr errors][merged small]

Liverpool and elsewhere with the loss of Protestant votes because they cannot pronounce the No-Maynooth Shibboleth, and with the vengeance of Roman Catholic electors for supporting the Aggression Bill. Truly,

mischief is afoot.' Now do shuffling expediency and timid servility reap their due reward, in the contempt of honest men of every colour! Now do the upright and faithful receive the earnest support or respectful opposition of wise and good citizens ! And now should all who have definite principles of civil or religious polity, prepare to serve and advance them, as their judgment may dictate best. Nonconformists are traditionally of this character. Their ecclesiastical professions indicate their political sympathies, and should direct them to concerted political action. In every general election since the time of Daniel Defoe, it has been an item in the stateman's calculations, How will the Dissenters go ? Nevertheless, until 1847, they never went alone -- never acted with the individuality, concert, and boldness that alone can elevate a class into a party, and make a party a power in the state. Will they not repeat the experiment this year? The position of free-trade — the comparative retirement of ecclesiastical questions — is no reason for answering in the negative. A Nonconformist electoral organization would assure the Freetraders of the amount of support Dissent will give them, and thus be a positive addition to their strength; to the Parliamentary Reformers it might render the same service; and for the non-endowment principle, the primary object of the organization, it would be entitled to demand consideration in return. Forty members were pledged to that principle at the last general election. We have no reason to suppose that the number will be increased on this occasion, unless some special concerted effort is made. Of the Nonconformist candidates in the field, several will only replace men of similar views—as Mr. Edward Miall at Rochdale, Sir James Anderson at the Stirling Burghs, and Mr. J. B. Smith at Stockport. In every case, candidates should be called upon to promise their vote for the abolition of church-rates, and against further grants to religious bodies. Speaking generally, a candidate not up to this mark should be refused Dissenting support; and the liberal electors should be required to consult the convictions of their Nonconformist fellow-citizens to this extent. The Irish Priesthood Endowment scheme seems to have been abandoned by English statesmen of all parties; but as the Irish brigade will certainly hold the balance of parties in the next parliament, and can hardly be expected to be scrupulous in the use of that power, there is no security that such a measure would not be carried as the price of their support in the face of opposition as decided as that to the act of 1845. Were the Nonconformists of Great Britain in their proper attitude, there would be no need to ply them with considerations of possible contingencies. Fidelity to principle, like love of country, does not wait for overt aggression.

The Empire has not been proclaimed in France, nor the independence of Belgium or Switzerland violated. The return of Cavaignac and Carnot to the Corps Législatif, gives proof that the Republic is not forgotten, and that universal suffrage is never utterly unfaithful to its functions. Switzerland probably owes her safety to the largeness of her concessions and the power of her protectors. A Belgic jury have refused to sanction the suppression of the · Bulletin Français.' A dearth of cereal food causes severe distress in central Europe, and is as the warning voice of Providence to the men who deem his bounty to need restrictions. The war in Kafirland seems drawing to a close, the barbarians succumbing to a mode of warfare that has seldom failed in the history of campaigns and another war with Burmah is fairly commenced, which our Indian rulers may briefly terminate by the tactics they have just adopted with the Kafirs. Strange, that while some evils have been utterly exterminated, and some lower forms of life superseded by higher, the desolating art of war, the natural offspring of barbarism, should continue in vogue from age to age, and the disputes of civilized peoples be settled like those of savages, by brute force, only intensified in destructiveness and directed by intellect !


[ocr errors]


WORKING MEN'S EDUCATIONAL UNION.' Under this title has been established, during the last month, a society composed of members of various denominations, the object of which is to aid the efforts that are now being put forth for the elevation of the working classes, 'as it regards their physical, intellectual, moral, and religious condition. From a prospectus now lying before us, in which the special purposes and plans of the Union ''are detailed, we gather that the society is instituted, not with the view of interfering with, or superseding the efforts of, the various educational boards now in existence, but with the purpose of aiding and encouraging all these societies, as well as all local committees who may be in need of assistance, and, as far as possible, assissing generally in every effort for the education of the poor. The ' Union' proposes to accomplish these objects by the institution of popular lectures, libraries, mutual instruction classes, &c., and in aiding and encouraging their formation. The society is to be thoroughly unsectarian, the committee consisting of an equal number of conforming and nonconforming members.' It appears to be prosecuting its purposes with considerable energy ; and already we observe upwards of 5001. have been subscribed towards it. For ourselves, we heartily rejoice in its establishment. It has adopted the only right course of action for any benevolent institution, that of 'helping those who help themselves.' It will, therefore, directly encourage voluntary effort. We shall be glad to hear that it meets with such a degree of support as will enable it soon to commence practical operations. If its influence be judiciously exerted it will be a valuable auxiliary in the cause of national education.

THE CLUB FOR NONCONFORMISTS, which we noticed some time since, is now fairly established-on paper. At an influential meeting of gentlemen connected with the Dissenting body, held at Radley's Hotel, on the 17th ult., it was resolved at once to constitute it. The trustees and committee of management were therefore elected, and the committee empowered to make immediate arrangements for carrying on the business of the club in temporary premises, until a proper building should be erected. The provisional committee, however, judiciously recommended that no proceedings should be taken until 1,000 members were obtained. As far as we can gather from the report of the proceedings, no allusion was made to the degree of practical support likely to be secured, or whether there was yet any reasonable probability—anything more than a hope- of the thousand members being obtained We shall be glad to hear that there is, but have very little expectation of it. We observe that the club has received the title of the Milton' Club--a very happy selection of a name.


On Sunday evening, the 14th ult., the Rev. George Evison publicly renounced, in the church of St. Paul's, Bermondsey, the doctrines and communion of the Roman Catholic Church. It is also stated that Lord Beaumont, and his sister, the Hon. Miss Stapleton, have seceded from the Romish Church. All the parties in question have become members of the Established Church.

SECESSION FROM THE ESTABLISHMENT. The Morning Advertiser' announces the secession from the Establishment of the Rev. William Bathurst, late rector of Berwick-in-Elmet, Yorkshire, whose living was valued at 1,0221. per annum. His resignation has been accepted by the Archbishop, and it is stated to be his intention to join a Congregational church. As in the case of another eminent Churchman, the Church of England doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration is stated to be the cause of his secession.

MEETINGS OF THE ANTI-STATE-CHURCH ASSOCIATION have been held during the past month at Huddersfield, Rochdale, Colne, Stainland, Carlisle, Kendal, Cockermouth, Boston, Northampton, Nottingham, Preston, Whitechapel, 'Walworth, &c. The third metropolitan meeting, held on the 18th ult., was extremely well attended.

THE SCOTTISH ANTI-STATE-CHURCH ASSOCIATION have also had a meeting in Glasgow, which is represented to have been one of the largest ever held in that city. The Provost presided, and Dr. Wardlaw and others addressed the audience.

THE ANTI-MAYNOOTH AGITATION, notwithstanding the appeal of the Protestant Alliance, has almost subsided. The only important meeting held since our last has been at Southampton, where an amendment, deprecating all interference by secular governments in matters of religion, was almost unanimously adopted, amidst loud and long.continued cheering.'

EXPULSION OF STUDENTS FROM NEW COLLEGE. We are sorry to see it stated that three students of New College have been expelled, or 'induced to retire,' from this institution, on account of holding opinions on the subject of inspiration different from those of the President and Council. The President (Dr. Harris), it is added, having earnestly endeavoured to reconcile their views with his own, 'felt compelled to enforce this step.' As no authentic account of the proceedings connected with the expulsion has been published, we forbear, for the present, any further mention of it. We have been given to understand that the names of the students are Mr. White of Bedford, Mr. White of Gosport, and Mr. Theobald of London.

NEW CHURCHES, ETC. BRENTFORD (Congregational church).-Albany chapel, in this town, which has been closed for some time past, was re-opened on the 5th ult. The Rev. J.C. Cane, late of Bognor, has become minister of the congregation.

PETERBOROUGH.-A new and handsome Baptist chapel was opened for public worship in this city on the 4th ult.

RocHDALR.—The Public Hall in Rochdale has been opened for divine worship in connexion wi'h the Congregational body. The Rev. R. Fletcher, late of Manchester, is preaching to the congregation.

MINISTERIAL REMOVALS, The following calls to church pastorates have been accepted : ALRESFORD (Congregational church).—The Rev. Kiddle, late of Pontypool. FALMOUTH (Baptist church).-Mr. Samuel H. Booth, late of Birkenhead. RYDE (Baptist church).-The Rev. David R. Watson, of Edinburgh. Tooting (Congregational church).— The Rev. F. F. Thomas, late of Whitchurch.


GLOUCESTER (Baptist church).-The Rev. G. Woodrow has resigned the pastorate of this church in consequence of severe illness.



MAY, 1852.

Principles applicable to the Improvement of the Masses.

THERE is an analogy between the labours of philanthropy and agriculture; and, it may be added, in their results. To render the earth subservient to the highest purposes of usefulness, it must be cultivated : the axe must fell the forest, the ploughshare turn up the soil, and the seed be sown to supersede, by a better vegetation, the wild luxuriance of nature. The moral state of man demands a similar process ; for the mind exhibits the signs of sterility and desolation, and the heart teems with a pernicious growth. The work of clearing, implanting, and renewing is required. There must be training, instruction, the correction of evils, and the formation of right views, principles, and feelings, in order to the production of those 'fruits of righteousness which are to the praise and glory of God.'

As there are different kinds of soil on the general surface, requiring, on the part of the agriculturist, a corresponding diversity of treatment, so there are various classes in society, to meet whose necessities, and promote whose improvement, different methods must be adopted; and the wisdom of the cultivator will consist in the nice adaptation of his means. Vast masses of human nature lie around us, and it must be remembered that we have not to deal with inert matter, but with intellect, reason, and moral power. The means of promoting the temporal and spiritual welfare of the people, therefore, must respect their mental functions, habits, conscience, and capabilities. The following principles are to be regarded :

I. Every man is capable of self-improvement. One great object of benevolence should be to convince the people of this, and to inspire the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »