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porary critics freely commented on the humiliating position of the Ministry. Yet posterity dwells with greater satisfaction on other circumstances. For the Whig Ministry in 1839 gave the country penny postage, and laid the foundations of universal education.
The first of these great reforms has no proper place in this biography. The last of them was chiefly and essentially the work of Lord John. Education was no new topic for him. Twenty years before, in advocating Parliamentary Reform, he had dealt incidentally with the subject.
\Ve have been very lately told that education, which ought to be a blessing, has been injurious to the population of manufacturing districts. Sir, the fault is not in education; it isin the time and the circumstances which have accompanied it. Had the people received instruction when they were rich, it would have taught them frugality; had they received political rights at the same time, they would have learned the value of legal liberty. But they have received education when they were sinking into poverty, and they have received it without being admitted to political power: they have eaten of the tree of knowledge, like our first parents, only to be conscious of their nakedness.
The statesman who, in his youth, could use this generous language, advocated, in the closing years of his life, the insti
municipalities the powers hitherto exercised by grand juries of levying money. The Speaker held that the amendment was inconsistent with the Commons' privileges. Lord John thereupon circulated the following memorandum :—
‘ WILTON CRESCENT: August 9, 1839.
‘The question of privilege is an effectual bar to our taking the Bill of the Lords. It would not be right to desert our Speaker after the strong opinion he has expressed.
‘ But, as it seems to be the wish of the Cabinet, and of the Irish Liberals, to settle this question, we might to-day discharge the order for considering the Lords’ amendments, and bring in a new Bill, exactly similar to the Bill of the Lords. So many as are of that opinion say Aye, the contrary say No.‘
Lord Melbourne, Lord Minto, Lord Morpeth, and Lord Lansdowne replied Aye, with more or less explanation. Lord Cottenham, Lord Duncannon, Lord Normanby, as well as Lord Palmerston, Lord Howick, Mr. Poulett Thomson, Mr. Spring Rice, and Sir John Hobhouse, replied No. And the Bill was. of course, abandoned. The votes of the Cabinet, and the reasons of each member for his vote, are still preserved among the Russell papers.
tution of free schools. He was in the van at twenty-seven years of age, and he remained in the front rank at eightythree.
At the time of the Queen’s accession to the throne, the education of the poor was deficient both in quantity and quality. Many populous places had no schools; the schools established in others could not, ‘except in language of gross flattery, be characterised otherwise than as pretended schools.’1 Two great societies, indeed, had been formed to promote the education of the poor. The British and Foreign School Society, formed in 1808 under high patronage, had endeavoured to encourage elementary education, and had included in its course scriptural instruction. The friends of the Church,three years afterwards, founded the National Society, ‘to educate the population in the principles of the Established Church.’ But, if education were, from its earliest foundations, cursed in this way by the presence of religious differences, it gained the great advantage of religious rivalry. 'The two societies were supported by persons who cared not one jot for what Mr. Carlyle called ‘the mystery of the alphabetic letters,’ but who cared mightin for the predominance of their own opinions. Thus National Society and the British and Foreign School Society both flourished; and in 1833 Lord Brougham, who had been a warm friend of education, persuaded the Cabinet to propose, and Parliament to sanction, a grant of £10,000 to each of them.
The question of educating the people after 1833 was not entirely neglected by a Reformed Parliament. But it passed gradually out of the control of the Government. Lord Brougham brought forward a measure on the subject in 1837; and Lord John, from good feeling, and Lord Melbourne, from policy, hesitated to take it out of his hands. But after the session of 1838 it became evident that the question was one which could only be dealt with on the authority of the Government; and, during that melancholy week in which Lord John was watching by his dying wife’s
1 Lord Brougham on December I, 1837.
bedside, he made up his mind to deal with it.1 The heads of the scheme which he drew up for the purpose were embodied by him in a letter addressed to Lord Lansdowne as President of the Council, and afterwards published in a Parliamentary Paper. They were subsequently explained by Lord John himself in the House of Commons at the commencement of the session. He proposed that the grant of £20,000 should be raised to £30,000; that a Committee of Privy Council should be formed to superintend the funds devoted by Parliament ; that a normal school should be established where the young of the Established Church and of various religious sects should be educated together; and that the schools should be inspected by competent persons. The Queen, on his advice, in approving the scheme, expressed her wish that the youth of her kingdom should be religiously brought up, and that the rights of conscience should be respected.
This scheme, so moderate, and in its ultimate effects so beneficial, aroused, in the session in which it was proposed, a storm of abuse. Lord Melbourne, alarmed at the prospect, tried to moderate his colleague’s zeal, pointing out to him the examples of men who, without education, had made good their advancement in life, and concluding with his usual question, ‘Why not leave it alone?’ The Government was compelled to abandon its project of establishing a normal school ; but, in Lord John’s own words—2
The throwing'out of one of our children to the wolf did little to appease his fury. The violence of bigotry and fanaticism excited the numbers brought together by party hostility. Lord Stanley, in a long and animated speech, proposed to overthrow
1 Lord John made his first appearance at_the British and Foreign School Society in 1824. He was one of the vice-presidents of the Society from 1824 to 186:, when he succeeded his brother, the Duke of Bedford, as its third president. The Society recorded after his death that, on behalf of his father and brother and in his own right, he occupied the chair on thirty-one anniversaries. Perhaps it ought to be added that on October 2, 1828, he laid the foundationstone of the Eastern Road Schools at Brighton, which in commemoration of the circumstance were. reopened as the Russell Institute in its Jubilee year—the year in which Lord John died.
2 Renal/action: and qug'gestiom, p. 374.
our whole plan, and to rely upon the Church as the recognised and legitimate teacher of religious and secular knowledge. On a division he was defeated by a majority of five.1 The grant of £30,000 in a committee of supply was carried by a majority of only two. In the House of Lords the Archbishop of Canterbury carried, by a majority of III, resolutions condemnatory of our whole scheme. . . . The Bishop of London, Dr. Blomfield, who was sincerely friendly to education, suggested to me that, if the State and the Church went on fighting, we should only injure one another, without promoting the great object we both had in view. Seeing the justice of this remark, I agreed to a meeting at Lansdowne House, where the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of London and Salisbury met Lord Lansdowne and me. After a conference we agreed to a treaty, of which the principal terms were—that the inspectors of the schools of the National Society should send their reports to the English Bishops as well as to the Committee of Privy Council, and that we should co-operate on the most friendly terms in the great work of education. In this manner the Committee of Privy Council was confirmed, and has lasted till the present year.
Such were the first beginnings of the great work which, gradually extended from year to year, led, thirty years afterWards, to arrangements for the compulsory education of all British people. And perhaps among his many great achievements Lord John never did anything which conferred greater blessings on his country than he accomplished by well and truly laying the foundations of the superstructure which has provided for the comprehensive education of the entire nation.
Yet the present generation may need to be reminded that, during Lord John’s tenure of the Home Ofiice, he laid the foundation of another work, which, in its ultimate results, has proved almost equally beneficial, by the formation of a rural police, by the regulation and improvement of prisons, by the better treatment of juvenile offenders, and by the gradual abolition of transportation.2
1 Lord Ebrington wrote on June 26, ' The last division on education [i.e. on Lord Stanley’s amendment] made me as much ashamed of the House of Commons as your admirable speech on the former night made me proud of our leader.’
2 It may perhaps be added that, stimulated by Mr. Hume's action in Parlia
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And this labour again was no new subject to Lord John. Ten years before he held office, in 182 I, he attended a meeting at Exeter Hall summoned to promote improved prison discipline and the reformation of juvenile ofi‘enders. In the course of his own speech at this meeting, he said—
Our country is now about to be distinguished for triumphs the effect of which should be to save and not to destroy, lnstead of laying waste the grounds of our enemies, we may begin now to reap a more solid glory in the reform of abuses at home and in spreading happiness through millions of our population]
A bold prediction for any man to have made in 182 I. But a prediction which largely owed its fulfilment to the labours of the prophet.
In 1835—his first year at the Home Office—Lord John himself had charge of a measure, which passed almost unnoticed through Parliament, for the better regulation of prisons and for the appointment of inspectors.‘Z On August 26, 1836, he wrote to his Under-Secretary, Mr. Fox Maule, that it was high time to improve the state of Newgate; and directed that convicted prisoners, belonging to the metropolitan counties, should be removedto the county gaols ; that London prisoners, who had been several years in Newgate, should be sent to a penitentiary; and that the names of all prisoners sentenced to death should be reported to the Home Office, in order that directions might be given for their isolation. In 1837 he largely extended the work which had been commenced by Sir Samuel Romilly, which had been prosecuted by Sir James Mackintosh, and which had been carried on by Sir Robert Peel, of purging the criminal code of many capital offences. In introducing this measure he entered at some length into the question of secondary punishment; and expressed ‘a doubt ment, Lord John in 1835 put pressure on Mr. Sydney Smith and Sir Hussey Vivian to afford facilities for the admission of the public to St. Paul's and the Tiwlgitman's Life 0frl/rr. Fry, p. 166.
2 This measure indirectly led to the great privilege case of Stockdale 1/. Han
sard. I have not thought it necessary to relate the history of this case in this biography.