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that they are shooting every peasant whom they find by the roadside with a pistol hidden in his pocket. It is admitted that they are laying whole cities under contribution for millions, and leaving the open country behind them as bare as an Eastern plain after the passage of a flight of locusts. It is acknowledged that they have burned village after village to ashes. It is not necessary to believe with some that they are conducting the war with unprecedented savageness; we might even accept the assertion of others that the leniency of the victorious armies is unexampled. But similar atrocities have only for many centuries been committed by professional soldiers. The Prussian army is a civic army, and the question is as to the future state of a nation which has had the flower of its manhood trained to civil life by this bloody apprenticeship.
“ Are these the men who are to obtain and preserve for Germany the liberty for which she is panting—liberty which has for its first condition respect for the rights of others ?
“ It is apparently inevitable that every army in Europe should borrow something of the Prussian system. More men in every community will be taken from civil life and trained to arms; a much greater number of soldiers will every year be restored to civil life and to ordinary occupations. The change will be hailed with clamorous delight by the effeminate persons who have adopted Mr. Carlyle's worship of force, and the English Radicals are beginning to talk as if a popular army seemed to them a triumph of liberalism. Yet few things can be clearer than that the substitution of civic for professional armies is a moral declension.* For by professional armies the essential immorality of war is reduced to a minimum. The soldiers of such armies, formed into a class apart, are able to cultivate a number of artificial virtues which go far to neutralize the moral poison which is generated in the exercise of their profession. They do not contaminate the rest of the community. They have freely consented to all that they do and suffer, and the spectacle of war, so long as it is confined to their operations against one another, becomes much less shocking when it is viewed as the mere following of a professional business. The nation looks on at their combats like a Roman populace at a fight of gladiators. Unquestionably it is not the better for the amusement; but the sovereign people is not thoroughly demoralized until, like the worst of the Emperors, it descends into the arena and itself takes part in the contest. A community employing in war the flower of its intellect and physical vigour has simply gone back pro tanto to the savage state. It has abandoned the greater number of the securities by which the evils of war have been palliated, and promised, till the last few months, to be palliated still further.'
W. R. GREG.
* I am glad to find something in which I can agree with Mr. Frederick Harrison. He also “thinks that the plan of turning the nation into soldiers is one essentially retrograde and savage.”
THE LONDON SCHOOL BOARD.
the best, attempt that has been made to call into being the spirit and the form of municipal life in London. Fifteen years ago, the long-neglected condition of our streets and sewers, and the imminent danger to public health caused by the pollution of the Thames, compelled the Government of Lord Palmerston to create a Metropolitan Board of Ways and Works. The elaboration of the plan devolved on Sir Benjamin Hall, who filled at the time the office of Ædile in the administration, and whose acquaintance with the practical evils and difficulties to be dealt with had been acquired by long experience as a metropolitan representative. The late member for Marylebone was at once a Radical and a Courtier—one of those described by the late Mr. Henry Drummond as ready to promise on the hustings and “to vote in the House for any number of impossible motions” requisite to insure popularity; and in official or social intercourse to give any number of proofs that might be required, that he was what is called “a safe man, having no nonsense about him." It must be fairly owned that the task assigned him was not easy. Vestryhood had for generations flourished as a calling in unpruned luxuriance; and its interwoven roots and branches had so completely overspread the whole of the urban and suburban region, as to be incapable of sudden extirpation, and difficult even to break through.
To constitute an entirely new self-acting system for the government of the capital, irrespective altogether of the complicated and anomalous parochial organizations already existing, would have required a dead lift of power which neither the Commissioner of Works, nor the easygoing Premier of 1855, was in the least disposed to make. Vestryhood was to be supplanted without being uprooted ; and the expedient was consequently resorted to of tying up its more limber boughs and training them over trellises of ingenious construction, leaving those of sturdier growth all the more scope, and room for the display of their importance. Groups of small parishes were associated together in districts, while the larger ones were told, with a fine semblance of respect, that they were too important not to stand alone; and the jealousy of the city was appeased by a solemn disclaimer of any thought of interference with its distinctive usages and traditions. And then, in the hope of propitiating German predilections, a scheme was devised of indirect or secondary voting, whereby the parochial bodies which had been declared too ignorant and corrupt for any useful purpose of local administration, were given the power of choosing the members of the new Metropolitan Board. In this way the inhabitants of London, whose property and industry were subjected to a new and, as the event has proved, an onerous burden of taxation, were ingeniously left out of the scheme, except in so far as they might inappreciably influence its general tendency and character by the votes they gave, as ratepayers, for the vestrymen by whom, from amongst themselves, the new taxing body was to be chosen.
What the Metropolitan Board of Works has accomplished, and wherein it has fallen short of the expectations held forth by its ennobled author, this is not the place to inquire. In many important instances it has certainly done well. Great improvements have been undertaken and completed during the last fifteen years in various parts of the town, which probably could not have been otherwise accomplished. The cost, on the other hand, has been prodigious; for the past year the expenditure amounted to no less a sum than £399,306, equal to a rate of fivepence in the pound; and the objections on the score of partiality and caprice that from time to time have been raised against the decisions of the Board have been innumerable. The net result, perhaps, may best be stated in the phrase that, as an institution, it is neither loved nor trusted, though its energy and intelligence are appreciated as fully as they deserve. The less favourable result is very generally attributed to what is deemed the cardinal fault in its constitution, to which reference has already been made. The members are not responsible to the people whose incomes they tax, and whose houses, by a stroke of the pen, they level to the ground;
and even though it were demonstrable that every shilling of every rate they impose, and every rafter of every home they dilapidate, was justly taken away, their authority is weakened, and popular repugnance is strengthened daily more and more by this inherent blemish and flaw. This is not the less true because what is regarded prevalently as the essential vice of the system, is that which above all else recommends it to the Central and Supreme Executive. In this respect Whigs and Tories are wholly indistinguishable. The lady who asked the second Lord Shaftesbury what religion he was of, got for her answer,
" that all sensible men were of the same religion ;” and when she pressed to know what that religion was, had to be content with the rejoinder that "sensible men never say.” It is even so with our bureaucrats of every sect and party.
At a general election, or in moving for a Committee of the whole House, you cannot tell which of them is the most loud-spoken in his professions of confidence in the good sense, discrimination, and independence of the great body of the people. But this is the exoteric form of speech, intended for the newspapers; the esoteric meaning must be conveyed in a dialect so different, that the student or historian may
well be pitied who attempts to translate from one to the other : the latter being the language of the statute in each case certain to be made and provided. Illustrations might be cited in abundance were it worth while. It is more important for our immediate purpose to note that when the next attempt was made at municipalizing the metropolis for another and different purpose, exactly the same aversion from, and jealousy of, popular control was manifested, to the serious detriment of the public, and the inevitable defeat eventually of the object in view. In 1866 great complaints arose, many of them well founded, though some undoubtedly the fruit of reckless or deliberate exaggeration, as to the neglect of the sick poor. The Poor Law department, at first incredulous, and then apathetic, became suddenly possessed with the idea that the loud cry raised inconsiderately against all local administration of relief might, if dexterously turned to account, afford a pretext for greatly extending the absolutism of its rule, and the consequent scope of its stifling patronage and paralyzing power. A Bill was accordingly framed by the then President of the Commission, and carried by him through Parliament, with the emphatic support of the leaders of opposition, to deprive the local bodies of the control and care of certain numerous classes of the infirm; and creating, as was said, for their protection and maintenance, a Metropolitan Asylums Board, having considerable taxing powers and administrative privileges. This Asylums Board was constituted partly of nominees of the Crown, and partly, like the Board of Works, by indirect election. A peremptory veto was reserved
by Gwydyr House upon the acts of the new Council for the Sick; and substantially the Act of 1867 may be regarded as carrying further than had been ever attempted before the principles of irresponsible nomination as opposed to the free spirit of local self-rule. The reactionary tendency of the measure in this respect did not escape notice and challenge by the metropolitan members, but their protests were overborne by the combination of officials and ex-officials with which, in almost every session, they have occasion to contend. How the Asylums Board has worked, and is working, may be on some other opportunity examined; but it is not immaterial to remark that when the change of parties had placed Mr. Goschen in Mr. Hardy's room, the administrative policy of 1867 was steadily carried further, until by successive encroachments the discretionary power left to London Boards of Guardians has been reduced so low as to render the more intelligent and independent class of citizens averse from undertaking the once honourable, but now humiliating and painful, duty. By degrees these Boards are likely to be sunk lower and lower in local estimation, which is probably what was intended and desired ; and when the proper point of debilitation shall have been reached, Gwydyr House, with a departmental sneer, will be ready “ to relieve” the citizens of each locality from the further discharge of functions in which, it will be said, they have ceased to feel any interest or concern.
Such were the precedents that the authors of the Elementary Schools Bill had before them with regard to London when framing the proposed measure. It has been said that at first they would not have been indisposed to have left the metropolis wholly out of the Bill, in the hope of thereby lessening the amount of antagonism it was likely to encounter. But this inartistic device was not likely to meet with approval; and the next best thing that might have been done was not done. Following literally the distribution of parishes and unions made by the Poor-Law Commission for the purposes of District Schools, it was proposed in the Bill as originally introduced that to the District Poor-Law Boards should be delegated the charge and oversight of the new Primary Schools. These Boards being nominated by the Poor Law Commission and the guardians, instead of the ratepayers, another stride would have been taken towards disfranchisement of the people in local affairs. The poorer districts would have been obliged to rate themselves in proportion to their ignorance and inability, while those that were better to do, and had infinitely less need of Primary Schools for the poor, would have been allowed to escape all reasonably contributive share of the load that ought manifestly to be borne in common. By none of the high contracting parties who across the table agreed to the general scheme of compro