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courage and discretion with which this duty is discharged, and the firmness with which all attempts, whether open or insidious, are met, to throw the responsibility of its performance upon others, the character and reputation of the Board will depend. Already the jealousy of centralization has shown itself in more ways than one. When Parliament agreed to pass the Schools Bill of last session, it was upon the understanding and in the belief that the new species of Municipal Councils about to be called into existence in the cities and towns of the kingdom would form a self-acting and self-reliant power for good, social, moral, and intellectual.
It did not mean
these Boards as temporary or as trumpery screens to hide the doings of the hard hand of central bureaucracy. It set them up as local and responsible bodies, to think, and speak, and act, not identically, but rather according to the diverse wants of their varied and varying localities; not servilely in obedience to the whimsical dictates of the minister whom party preference or parliamentary convenience might place in office at Whitehall, but frankly and stoutly, as Englishmen ought, of that which they know, and of that whereof they can testify. The Statute very wisely reserves an appellate jurisdiction to the Committee of Council to guard against exceptional laches or misconduct; and prescribes sufficient checks and conditions for the exercise of its ultimate authority. But Parliament certainly did not intend that the Board should be mere collectors of rates, to be spent, or not to be spent, according to the whim of the minister, against whom in each special case they must be powerless to contend. The circular issued late in December to the Chairmen of School Boards throughout the kingdom, has been construed, nevertheless, as indicating a different view of the respective rights and duties of central and local authority. After reciting the steps that had been taken during the earlier part of the year to obtain information respecting the amount of school accommodation existing in each place, and of the nature of the deficiency requiring to be dealt with, their lordships proceed to explain that it would be for the Board to pursue such inquiries further should they think fit, and to report the results to the Central Department. But instead of concluding with a hope which would at least have been considerate and courteous as well as constitutional, that the newly-elected bodies would vindicate their fitness for the independent functions assigned them, “My Lords” indulge in a peroration, which, for self-complacency and superciliousness, is a model in its way:
“I am to remind you that while my Lords are anxious to obtain the co-operation of the Board, and to have the benefit of their suggestions as to the best means of supplying sufficient school accommodation for the Borough, they are unable to divest themselves of the ultimate responsi
bility of determining and declaring the amount, if any, of the deficiency which will have to be met. They must therefore reserve to themselves the power of making such further inquiry as on carefully considering the Report and Returns now called for, they may deem to be necessary; after which they will issue a Requisition to the Board in accordance with the terms of the 12th section of the Act.
“F. W. SANDFORD, Secretary.' In other words, these Boards, which the country had been taught to look to with pride and hope as new centres of local improvement and progress, are officially informed, before they have had time to stumble or trip, that a driver is above them who is able to make them go whichever way he will, to pull them up short at any time he pleases, and generally to make the world understand that they are not to have any will of their own. If such a construction be indeed warranted by the obscure words of a long and complicated statute, Parliament will have to mend it by setting clearer bounds to ministerial caprice, and affording better means of defence against whimsical and fluctuating opportunities for oppression. If not, it were better to abandon, frankly, the pretence of elective local control in matters of education. If we are to be Prussianised, at least let us know it. It will save no end of heartburning, waste of time, and disappointment. There is, no doubt, much to be said for the cast-iron system that would crush down all local individuality and diversity, and prepare the next generation effectually to be rendered uniform tools of ambition or meek instruments of power. Only let us understand clearly what we are about and whither we are drifting. An Appellate Court of Judicature is undoubtedly essential to keep those of First Instance up to the mark in activity, knowledge, and care: it is further indispensable, in order to give redress against abuses of subordinate authority. But Courts of Appeal are for the trial of exceptional cases; not for the supersession or subversion of ordinary tribunals, or the lowering of them in the eyes of the community. Wise judges in appeal are far from being covetous of work, or greedy of pretexts for exhibiting their superior power. They overrule, but they do not overbear; and hence it is that there is little or no disposition to question the rectitude and justice of their decrees. But administrative centralism is insatiable and untiring in its eagerness to supplant all independent authority that is subordinate to it. Its creed is neither Whig nor Tory; its party is neither aristocratic nor democratic; its faith is in bureaucracy; its priesthood is the hierarchy of clerks; its theory of government is anything for the people, but nothing by the people. We have seen what such a system, after eighty years, did for France. Let us pray that it never may be suffered to establish its domination in England.
W. M. TORRENS.
PHILOSOPHY is one of those words which have traversed various
epochs of mental development, and have come down to us with different significations not strictly compatible with each other. Such words defy definition. In the general use of them the old and the new significations are both preserved. For an old meaning does not instantly drop off when a new meaning comes in; both continue to live as long as possible together. In such cases there are, in fact, two or more words to the mind, while there is only one to the ear or the
eye, and it depends on the context which word the writer is using. Any wisdom or knowledge above that of the multitude has passed by the name of Philosophy, whether it was moral, or Teligious, or scientific in its character. It was Philosophy that taught a man to rise above the tribulations of life. It was Philosophy that taught him to rise above life itself, above ordinary knowledge, into the fancied empyrean of the pure intellect. It was Philosophy that taught him to know the “causes of things;” meaning thereby what we now call the “order of phenomena.” Originally it embraced science, and if we open a history of Philosophy, we find ourselves conducted back to the hypothesis of Thales, that water was the all-forming, all-sustaining element. Even in times close at hand, it was customary to speak of the philosophy of Newton. At the present moment our most careful writers define the word by its
contrast with science. The aims and the method of science being determined, a kind of thinking that lies outside of these shall be denominated Philosophy or Speculative Thought. Questions which science cannot resolve, or which at present it makes no attempt to resolve, are relegated to this category. Such are the questions we ask about the Absolute, or Unconditioned Existence, or the First Cause of all Things; such are the questions we ask about the nature of mind, regarded as a substance, and the whence and whither of the human soul. These questions lie at the basis of religion. And if the future of the individual mind may be regarded as a fit subject of speculative thought, the future of this human terrestrial society may be inserted in the same list. One can hardly say that science has made herself complete mistress of this territory. We still debate what is the ideal of a perfect human society-what is the ideal to which we are tending, and the realization of which should be the aim of successive generations. While this debate lasts our Sociology cannot be altogether abstracted from the region of Speculative Thought.
I use the term Philosophy in this modern and restricted, but still somewhat vague, sense. Striking as the contrast is between it and science on some subjects, there are others in which this distinction grows fainter and fainter as we examine it. Philosophy, in its best aspects, may be but science in the making ;-a very slow making, it will be added. I include in it certain well-known theological and social problems; some that concern the nature of the individual man, and some that concern that organized whole, the human society, which has its own progressive movement.
At all events, in this present era in which we live, there is a field of inquiry called Philosophy, in which no man steps forward to teach, as he would teach in any department of science, as he would teach a system of astronomy or chemistry. No man can here present himself as the interpreter of a system of truths and doctrines which, whether complete or not, is the scientific creed of all his contemporaries who have studied the subject, the scientific creed, let us say, with some few diversities, of every university in the world. In this region of inquiry professor is arrayed against professor, and one eminent authority is neutralized by another authority equally eminent. Every teacher is therefore compelled to come before us with the results of his own personal inquisitions, with convictions which he himself has wrought out with infinite toil; working his way, he also, from the very beginning, both aided and embarrassed at every step by the thoughtful utterances of his conflicting predecessors. It is not necessary that he should claim to have a philosophy of his own in the sense of having an original system); but he, and indeed all men
who are concerned in the study, must shape the scheme they finally adopt by their own labours. They cannot learn it as they might their botany. They have to choose their theory of the universe out of several thrown before them.
Choose we must; we can hold a scheme of doctrine on no other conditions. The philosopher invites us to the discussion of questions that are not decided, on which each thinker must come to a decision for himself. Herein lies the troubled charm, the deep delight, and the peculiar mental discipline of philosophic studies. Science tasks the intellect of the student, and tasks it severely ; but so far as he is a student only, and not a discoverer, tasks it only in the apprehension of what another teaches. But in Philosophy every student is compelled, not indeed to be a discoverer, but to be a judge, and a judge in the last resort of whatever claims to be a discovery or a truth. There is here no arrogance in deciding against the highest authority, for, choose which camp you will, you are sure to find great champions arrayed against you, with whom individually you would blush to compare yourself. The most modest student finds himself in the place of a judge before whom great advocates plead ; he is bent on learning from them all he can, but at last he has to “take the papers home,” and there decide the point.
It is a high, and solemn, and somewhat painful self-reliance which Philosophy imposes. In other studies I am one of the school ; I enter and take my place in some social group; I step with lighthearted alacrity into a heritage of truths which have been gradually evolved by a succession of enterprising, laborious intellects. But here I am, against my will, isolated, individualized, compelled to begin the work again from the beginning, as if I were some solitary architect bridging chaos for the first time. Or let us say there are so many bridges, all of dubious security, and some mere wrecks and ruins, out of whose fragments you are invited to build afresh. You have neither ambition nor power to originate a Philosophy—you would so willingly know the truth on much easier terms; but it cannot be ; you must at least choose your teacher, choose your guide ; if you are capable of implicit faith, and desire only to submit to the Aristotle or the Plato of the day, you must still choose one out of several candidates for the spiritual supremacy ; you must, at last, be shut up apart, like cardinals in their cells, to elect, from your solitude, the one Infallible.
We hear Philosophy condemned because of its uncertainty. How often lately have its three thousand years of obstinate questionings been contrasted with the onward march of science ! But if Philosophy were certain it would become science, and cease to be Philosophy. Philosophy lies on the confines between night and morning; it is a perpetual dawn; it cannot also be the light of