« AnteriorContinuar »
the voluntary system on the one side, and the nonjuring high-church on the other, has proceeded from the bishop of Exeter. "I should rejoice," said he, in the answer to lord J. Russell's letter, above-quoted, "to see instituted a confer66 ence between the Committee of Council on Education and "the Bishops, for the purpose of devising measures to carry "into effect your Lordship's very just and moderate prin"ciple, and, at the same time, to give to the Church that public recognition of her being the fit guardian and admi"nistratrix of national education, with which your Lordship's "principle can be so well reconciled." We cannot entirely assent to the general proposition, that the Church is the Guardian AND Administratrix of national education. Where she is the administratrix, the State is the guardian: where the State is the administratrix, the Church may be the guardian. But these principles, and their special application, might with great propriety have been discussed at such a conference. We regret that the proposal did not emanate from the Committee of Council; we regret still more, that, having emanated from the bishop, lord John should have treated it lightly.
Instead, however, of any approach to the joint action which the theory of the constitution prescribes, and the necessity of the case demands, we have nothing to record but eager, incessant conflict. The powers which, being united, might save a generation of our countrymen from shameful ignorance, which might extinguish the smouldering fires of popular commotion, and defeat, in the name of religion and common sense, the monstrous lies which now work uncontrolled upon the public mind,-the powers which are bound to accomplish these tasks, the one by its duty to heaven, the other by its duty to the world, have only strength to paralyse each other. It is a civil warfare, a conflict which leads to self-destruction; and the public enemy, which is Ignorance, wallows over the land, debasing the tastes, misdirecting the energies, destroying the souls of the people; because, whilst this controversy lasts, three quarters of our strength are for party, and hardly one quarter for truth; three quarters of our alacrity to baffle the foe, and one to
to teach their duties and their trades, are taught a farrago of revolutionary dogmas, by other emissaries than government inspectors, and are practised in the exercise of fire-arms. If the signs of the times go on to lower around us, we shall be in the condition of Holland, if the repair of her dykes and break-waters were neglected: the artificial defences of civilization, the ramparts of public law, the land-marks of religious truth, have not been extended as the huge tide of population rose; the fierce elements of which human society is wrought, and over which the noble structure of our empire is erected, are already in commotion: unless the great and old principles upon which the polity of England rests are vindicated, we are at the mercy of the ocean. Men will ask what the Church and State of England have given them, if they have not given them education. The passion of destruction hardly needs such a pretext; say rather, it needs the effects of education,-fixed principles, and the nation's gratitude, in order to restrain it. If you would protect yourself from crime, hasten to invest the aggressor with a sense of his responsibility for good and evil; arm his own conscience with principles, pour truths upon his mind: they, and they alone, will disarm him if he know that he is stronger than you; but, being so disarmed, you are safer in the sympathy of your brother-man, than in your most absolute authority over him.
We observed, at the commencement of these remarks, that the time was come when at least the march of education was recognised as an imperious necessity. We have traced some indications of the course which either party has pursued: if they had conflicted less, the purposes of both would have been more easily and adequately fulfilled. After the survey we have attempted to take of the measures actually before the country, we might be tempted to relapse from the high hopes with which the contemplation of these beginnings inspired us into a despondency proportioned to the resistance and frustration which has met them; nevertheless, we are filled with more sanguine anticipations. It was a just remark of Mr. Coleridge, that the surest source of political prophecy lay in the speculative opinions of men, just merging into the age of full manhood, on the great questions of religion and philosophy. In the gradual recognition of what
is permanently true lies the antidote to ephemeral falsehood, to party intemperance, to the sting of invective, to the stratagems of controversy. The question of education does not rest with those who have at various times pressed forward to the front ranks, and used it, as they have used everything, for selfish declamation, which cannot veil from the public eye the scandalous abuse of high talents, or the frequent outrages of truth, decency and morality. Neither is it in the hands of those who would train the human mind on dry formularies, and supply by routine what no mere routine can impart. Neither will the English people accept a system of education which does not cohere with the institutions to whose defence they are in the main devoted. Lord Brougham, the National Society and the theorists of this or that method may stir the question, but they cannot advance it. Its successful promotion can only rest on the gradual growth of that mutual reliance, and that joint determination to act, between the ranks and powers of society in England, which a better understanding of their several principles and necessities may secure.
The Poetical Works of P. B. Shelley. London: Moxon.
In a large and handsome octavo volume recently published by Mr. Moxon, containing the entire poetical works of Shelley, the editor has ingenuously repaired the mistake of her preceding edition in four smaller volumes, and printed Queen Mab as it originally appeared for private distribution. To the poem itself indeed we attach no importance, neither do we believe it will find many readers. It belongs essentially to the past, and to a past with which the world will not readily again sympathise, even should the opinions and sentiments embodied in this extraordinary production be hereafter re
useless to the public, as unjust to the departed, and as rendering the intellectual history of the author more than ever imperfect. To the psychologist every record is valuable of a mind whose disturbing forces were the speed, the intensity, and the depth of its own sensations and conceptions: and such a record becomes more valuable the nearer it approaches to the untamed and exuberant sensibilities of youth, before experience has chilled them with distrust, or opposition, harshly, selfishly and ignorantly directed, has converted them into a torment to their possessor, and into weapons of sarcasm or sophistry against the world. The seeds of the characteristic and kindred faults of Shelley's mind, as well as the rudiments of much that was excellent and singular in him, are to be found in Queen Mab;-his carelessness of consequences and its accompanying presumption; his metaphysical acuteness, and his political ignorance and rashness; his fine perception of the harmony of verse; his intuition of the truth and dignity of the poet's vocation; his inexperience in life, and in the laws of action and character. We need only refer to the Editor's Note' for whatever relates to the history of this poem, the immaturity of the feelings and knowledge with which it was written, the season of life at which it was produced.
Another subject of regret, however, has not been removed; and of the little that can ever be related of a life spent for the most part in solitary study and speculation, something is still kept back from the public. This is the more to be lamented, since in her editorial notes Mrs. Shelley has shown herself as competent to commemorate, as she had been faithful in cherishing, the virtues and genius of the departed. We cannot understand wherein lies the difficulty of telling a plain tale about one whom all who knew him intimately agree in representing as unequalled for the truth, gentleness and candour of his disposition, the variety of his attainments, and the energy and fertility of his intellect. If the obstacles proceed from a mistaken delicacy or reserve in his family, we would exhort them to remember Gibbon's injunction to the Spensers, "to consider the Faery Queen as the most precious jewel in their coronet ;" and in any case to weigh the possible inconvenience of the truth against the real disadvan
tages of popular rumour and imperfect knowledge of the circumstances suppressed. We are willing to take Mrs. Shelley's assurance, that “ no account of these events has ever been "given, at all approaching reality in their details," and that "the errors of action, committed by a man as noble and ge"nerous as Shelley, may, as far as he only is concerned, be "fearlessly avowed; in the firm conviction, that were they "judged impartially, his character would stand in as fair and "bright a light as that of any contemporary." Meanwhile, an uneasy interest is created by these allusions and omissions, infinitely more prejudicial to all parties concerned than a direct and unconditional avowal of the truth.
For these defects, however, Mrs. Shelley is not responsible. She has amended what it was in her power to correct, and in all other respects has faithfully and ably discharged the duties of an editor. Our estimation of Shelley as a poet is hardly less high than her own, but, as will be seen, it is different, both in its objects and its causes. We have thought it in many cases superfluous to point out his excellencies; but much more important to supply what Mrs. Shelley has very naturally omitted, the reasons why Shelley, more richly and variously endowed than perhaps any of his contemporaries with the elements of a great poet, has produced no great work, nothing which retains the impress of completeness, or which even, like the Wallenstein and Wilhelm Tell, is overcast with the shadow of some higher manifestation of art near at hand. But had the deficiencies of Mrs. Shelley as an editor been as many as her merits really are in the edition before us, the following passage from the last of the Editor's Notes would have at once disarmed censure and secured indulgence: "With this last year of the life of Shelley these notes end. "They are not what I intended them to be. I began with energy and a burning desire to impart to the world, in worthy language, the sense I have of the virtues and ge"nius of the Beloved and the Lost; my strength has failed "under the task. Recurrence to the past-full of its own 66 deep and unforgotten joys and sorrows, contrasted with "succeeding years of painful and solitary struggle, has shaken "my health. Days of great suffering have followed my at