would then and there have dealt very shortly and sharply with the Dolopēs. Mark you, I was not Dolopizing to him; but he was addressing me as an imaginary historical culprit, endeavouring to impress upon him some knowledge of an obscure Greek tribe. Now, I quite agree with him. I, too, decline to hear anything more about the Dolopēs, while there are such important things in this world to be attended to in preference to the Dolopēs. Oh that men would sometimes consider the shortness of life!

Again, I go back to early training. Surely the first thing, after moral training, that we should insist upon, is, a training that would make every child understand something of the world in which he is to live and take an active part. Now I must tell you a story that I have often told before ; but it affords an excellent illustration of the absolute madness which sometimes prevails in our training of the young. I was asked to examine a large school of girls, to ascertain their proficiency in education. I tried them in various things; and, as you may imagine, I am a very mild examiner, not being prone to expect much accurate knowledge from anybody about anything. I found them lamentably deficient. Somebody by my side, who knew the locality, whispered in my ear, “ Try them in Ezekiel.” That was more easily said than done, for I must confess that a knowledge of Ezekiel is not one of my strong points; but it did turn out that they were well up in their Ezekiel, at least in the guesses as to the meaning of that prophet's obscure writings, though they were ignorant of anything that could be of any practical service to them in after-life.

Sir Arthur. I quite agree with you, Milverton; and I do not think that what I am going to say contains any exaggeration. I maintain that about three-fifths of all we teach had better not be taught at all.

Milverton. I daresay. I should like to say something more to you upon this subject, to give another illustration of what I mean. Now I look upon the adulteration of what we eat and drink as one of the greatest evils in the world. I know that you are all with me on this subject, because you were so when we talked of it once before. I declare to you that horror-stricken as I am at war, I believe it would be worth while to endure a great war, if by that means we could get rid of the adulteration of food and drink. You, even you, who are supposed to be tolerably cultivated men, have no idea of the pernicious effect upon the moral and physical well-being of your fellow-creatures, produced by this adulteration.

Now, do you suppose that this practice of adulterating the prime articles of food, would hold its ground if there were more general culture ? Not for a day. The present Parliament contains many

men of scientific knowledge; but even if we were to have a parliamentum indoctum, a very ignorant body of men for legislators—that is, as far as science is concerned—and even if culture did not reach them, a larger extent of knowledge amongst their constituents would compel legislators to think of, and to legislate upon, this great matter. Do you see those white chimneys in the distance? They are the chimneys of our doctor's house. He keeps all the milk-sellers for miles round in due order by means of his lactometer. I do not, however, expect that this general culture which I advocate, will make everybody severely scientific

Ellesmere. And lactometrious—

Milverton. But it will make them understand the mischief of adulterated food and drink. The demand will become wise. People will not expect to buy some article of food as genuine at a price at which it cannot be genuinely supplied. And with a wise demand will come an honest supply.

I will say no more upon this subject. I confess it is one that I am liable to expatiate upon too largely. I know that I am often ridiculed for dwelling so much upon what people are apt to call “ trifling matters.

Ellesmere. Yes, you might have some name in literature if you Dolopized more, and wrote big and fine words about remote, obscure, and useless things; and, by the way, nobody would Dolopize better if he once took to Dolopizing. How grandiloquent Milverton would be on some obscure point in history or metaphysics ; and how he would persuade himself, and endeavour to persuade his readers, that this obscure point he was labouring at, was “the be-all and the endall” of human thought and endeavour !

Mauleverer. You have no notion how curry-powder and mustard are adulterated; and I could even tell you something about eggs which would astonish you.

Ellesmere. Well, I see we are to have no talk about the war this afternoon; and so, notwithstanding the east wind, let us go out. I find there is so much to observe in every little creature and thing, that I long to see, for myself, their ways of going on. I am now enamoured of tadpoles. I find they can teach me so much. By the way, this lady has been very silent during the conversation, which, as it treated largely, though indirectly, of bread and butter and comestibles of all kinds, I should have thought would have elicited Words of domestic wisdom from her and Mrs. Milverton.

Lady Ellesmere. I have the grace, John, not to interrupt a conversation, when I can add nothing to it.

Ellesmere. Come along, all of you, and, as we walk, I will tell you about certain mischievous small creatures that can sting very

severely, notwithstanding their smallness. I suppose we must leave Milverton behind, as all his culture has not enabled him to bear up against the east wind. Some day I will give you a lecture upon the athletic side of things.

“A kick, that scarce would move a horse,

May kill a sound divine," as Cowper says; and the misnamed curry-powder and mustard which have some effect, I daresay, upon the highly-cultured Milverton, are swallowed with impunity by the robust and ignorant Ellesmere—no, by the way, not so ignorant, now that he has had his fortnight's severe training in the realms of infinitesimal science. [We all went out for a walk, except Mr. Milverton; and I wish

readers could have heard all the droll absurdities that Sir John Ellesmere uttered during the walk, finding out resemblances between the habits of those animalculæ which he had studied, and the ways of his particular friends. Inanimate dust, as might be expected, he chiefly compared to useless learning.]

my read


Co-operative Agriculture : a Solution of the Land Question, as

exemplified in the History of the Ralahine Co-operative Agricultural Association, County Clare, Ireland. By WILLIAM PARE, F.S.S., &c. London: Longmans, 1870.

T is with no sort of scorn that I have put this title, “ An Irish

Utopia," at the head of my article ; still less do I wish to hint unbelief in the wonderful story which Mr. Pare has to tell us. No one can fancy for a moment that he conceals anything that he knows, or garbles a single fact. There are points on which one would gladly have more complete information. The accounts, in particular, of the undertaking are not clearly set forth-wanting among other things, a balance-sheet, on which might be seen at a glance the whole income and expenditure. And the inferences drawn from the facts are often questionable. Sometimes, I think, Mr. Pare misinterprets them, sometimes misses their obvious meaning; but that he is thoroughly trustworthy cannot be doubted for a moment. And a very beautiful story it is, this story of Ralahine, and pathetic withal; the more so, as we have it here told without any sort of attempt at fine writing. One doubts the existence of

Happy Valleys." The interior of these paradises often will not bear examination. Yet it seems beyond a doubt that there did actually exist, for some two or three years, in that terrible desert of Irish crime and misery, which one shrinks from traversing even in books, one happy and peaceful spot, where there were plenty, and content, and virtue; where men ceased from doing violence and

coveting; from which even sickness was banished. Whether the conditions of its existence were perfectly sound and permanent; whether the economical laws by which even Utopia must be governed were duly regarded; whether the order of the society thus constituted could have withstood those shocks of trial to which all human things are subject, I shall have occasion to inquire hereafter. But it is plain that a great success and a significant was achieved ; that, though there may have been elements of failure in the undertaking, there was something also of permanent strength and truth in it; something which profoundly concerns this generation, indeed all generations; something which gives us a glimpse of a social order in the future, which would, indeed, be an object worth striving and working for. The struggles of politics sometimes seem to us barren and profitless; we grow weary of efforts which do not appear to effect the one thing which we want to do—to make the great multitude of men happier and better. It is with a sense of relief, of a reality grasped amid many most wearisome unrealities, that one turns to the spectacle of a community that emerged, though it was but for so brief a space, out of this dead level of want and degradation which it is so heart-breaking to see without being able to move.

The county of Clare, in the year 1831, seemed by no means suited for the scene of an earthly paradise. All the old causes of Irish turbulence and discontent, religious, social, and, above all, agrarian, were at work. Their effect had been aggravated by the excitement of the time, by the agitation of emancipation just won, of reform that had yet to be fought for. “In the counties of Clare,” says the Annual Register for that year, “Roscommon, Galway, and Tipperary, the law seemed no longer to exist. Murder, robbery, searching for -arms—these things, too, done by bodies of men who could be met only by military force—were the ordinary occurrences of the day." . Among the landed proprietors of Clare was one John Scott Vandeleur, the owner of two estates, containing together about 1,300 English acres, the smaller of which, called Ralahine, he held in his own hands, farming it by the help of a steward. Mr. Vandeleur was not an ordinary Irish squire; though not free from some of the most lamentable weaknesses of his class, he was a man of intelligence and energy. Seven years before the date of the experiment which Mr. Pare’s book describes, he had made the acquaintance of Robert Owen, then lecturing in Ireland, and had been impressed by his views, by which, indeed, he evidently shaped his own plans. These plans he had begun to carry into execution in 1830, when they were expedited by an event which, to many men, would have been a cogent reason for abandoning them altogether. His steward at Ralahine, Hastings by name, a man given to small acts of tyranny and insolence, which

« ElőzőTovább »