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Bill for abolishing the punishment of death for privately stealing from the person to the value of five shillings. The second attempt to remove the capital penalty from those convicted of stealing privately in shops, was rejected in 1816. But Romilly persevered, and Mackintosh followed him, till the most odious of these barbarisms of a past state of civilisation were swept away. But we do not find that Romilly or Mackintosh were urged on by any wide-embracing association for the promotion of social science. The first inquiry into the charities of England and Wales is due to the boldness, the acuteness, and the perseverance of Henry Brougham. He saw the monstrous abuses of the whole system. He had no society to back him, to instruct him, when he broke down the mal-administration of a century, and showed the nation that it had a vested interest in endowments which, in 1835, were found to amount to a quarter of a million sterling, and whose value for educational and other public ends has been since doubled and trebled. The early efforts of the same great reformer for extending the area of education, and improving its quality, were not prompted by any educational association. When law reform was a name almost unknown in Parliament, he held the House of Commons in breathless attention to a speech of six hours, whilst, with a masterly grasp of the whole scope of future improvements, he laid bare so many enormities which have now been redressed, and sketched so many practical amendments which have now been accomplished. There was in 1828 no Law-amendment society to shape the course of his proceedings. When Huskisson, in 1823, emancipated a small portion of trade from its rusty shackles, he had no aggregate commercial wisdom to urge him on to his work. He was denounced as a hard-hearted political economist, who would ruin masters and operatives by the removal of protective duties. When Peel carried his most salutary institution of the London Police, he was incited and supported by no association for the protection of persons and property. The example of Mr. Nicholls in a large parish; the official inquiries of Mr. Chadwick and other commissioners, into the abuses of the poor-laws, were the precursors of that legislative action which carried through the greatest boon to the labourer, in setting him above parish-pay. The Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor was recommending stale bread, and other palliatives of misery, much of which was produced by bad laws worse administered. There was no society to inquire into the defects of the postal system. It was thought perfect. Rowland Hill, by unequalled energy and selfreliance, gave us the penny-postage. Need we go further to point out that individual dissemination of sound opinions, individual exertions in Parliament, and the healthy action of the Legislature, have effected all the great social reforms of our time. The most powerful association of this æra, the Anti-Corn-Law League, was almost a solitary exception to the course of other reforms. It was a most effective instrument for working upon public opinion. But even that might have worked for years in vain, had not one tardy convert, whose political influence could alone convert a theory into an acknowledged truth, broken down the barriers between starvation
and plenty, and with that great victory, surrendered his hold of political power once and for ever.
Have the statesmen of England so degenerated in thirty years, has the Reform Bill so altered the character of the Legislature, that individual action in Parliament upon vital questions affecting the condition of the people is henceforth not to be looked for? Unhappily for us, Lord Brougham, who, more than any man of his age, has a right to proclaim that the constitutional mode of redressing grievances, of carrying through measures of public improvement was effective, now says that this old mode must be supported by some combined action of wise men out of Parliament, brought to bear upon the whole range of what is to be called 'Social Science,'-an action not subsidiary to parliamentary action, but going before it, prompting it, teaching it, cramming it. Members of Parliament, Lord Brougham says, now give themselves up to the consideration of mere local questions. They have abdicated their functions of being the representatives of the nation, and choose to hold the secondary office of being the representatives of the county, city, or borough which returns each member. This doctrine of representation was sedulously inculcated, when the despotic government of Charles I. was looking with horror upon the large views which went before the Long Parliament. It was the tone of the Court Members in Charles's second Parliament, when James Howel, elected for Richmond, wrote to the Corporation that he would follow the directions of his brother member,' "in anything that may concern the welfare of your town, and of the precincts thereof, either for redress of any grievance, or by proposing some new thing that may conduce to the further benefit and advantage thereof; and this I take to be the true duty of a parliamentary burgess, without roving at random to generals.' (Howel's Letters.') What place England would now hold amongst free nations, had not her Commons paid some attention to 'generals,' will be obvious to every school-boy reader of her history. Where she is tending, Lord Brougham informs us, not in the tone of lamentation, but with the proud confidence that an invention has been thought of, matured, and is ready to be put into complete operation, for neutralizing the short-comings of Parliament, and making its members perform those duties which they neglect, "Local interests are well represented, as they ought to be; for any system would be most imperfect which made the wants and the wishes of each place merge in those of the whole community. But it is undeniable that, with some distinguished exceptions, the general result is the confining men's cares to their immediate constituencies in discharging their parliamentary duties. In the theory of the constitution, beyond all doubt, it is in contemplation of law that they represent the whole country, and are to consult its interests. But practically, and in fact, they are too apt to regard themselves as representing the place that returns them, and this unavoidably leads to confining their views within narrow bounds. They do not devote much of their attention to subjects of a more general character-they do not of themselves study measures of that catholic description, or volunteer their exertions to carry such a policy into
effect. But the same persons-and they form a very considerable portion of our whole representatives, as things are now ordered→→→ would be far from showing any indisposition towards men whose labours might cast light upon such important subjects, and point out both the wants of society in these respects and the means of supplying them. This help would assuredly be well received by all well-intentioned representatives of the people, as it would be honestly and frankly, but respectfully, offered; and the exertions of the Association which we are now engaged in forming will be invaluable in this view."
Assuming that these ignorant well-intentioned representatives of the people would kindly receive such instructions or suggestions of The Association,' we may venture to doubt whether if some one, even in this degenerate state of the House of Commons, who had thought long and anxiously upon a great measure of improvement comprised in some division of the quinary system of Social Science,' -and having carried it through, as all important reforms must be carried through, with intense devotion, with clear exposition, with ready answer to objections, and with that practical acquaintance with the legislative temper and the public feeling without which such attempts are abortive, we may doubt whether he would scarcely receive with perfect complacency the boast of 'The Association sure to be made "This is our thunder.' Lord Brougham can afford to give up some praise; and he therefore tells us, that of the nine Bills presented by him to the House of Lords in 1845, six of which are now law, two were suggested by the Law-Amendment Society. He points out, however, that the great measure of Local Judicature, and that which arose out of the Common Law and Real Property Commissions, were adopted prior to the Society's foundation. It is not within our province to go into a critical estimate of this Society's labours. It has a defined object, and within its limits it may have rendered valuable assistance to the technical improvement of existing laws. But that no large and vital reform of jurisprudence can be shaped into such a practical form as the Legislature would receive, without the most arduous devotion of some one or two leading minds in Parliament, is a selfevident proposition to which the example of every great legislator, and not the least, that of Lord Brougham himself, is the best testimony. The proposed education of Members of Parliament is a new function of the schoolmaster. Where shall he begin? Shall he lead them by easy steps up to the first great principles which even the journalists, whom legislators sometimes affect to despise, must have mastered before they can dare to write upon every-day subjects? There is not an improvement in political philosophy, whether in Jurisprudence, Education, Public Health, Social Economy, Punishment and Reformation, which had not been suggested, discussed, worked out, by great writers, long before public opinion was in the slightest degree prepared to receive it as a law. There is not a practical application of that philosophy, the grounds of which are not now familiar to all readers of newspapers, if they be not unusually ignorant. Whether the members of the Lower House, in their
almost exclusive devotion to local objects, as alleged, would gladly accept the first lessons of political philosophy from new associated interpreters of received wisdom, with statistics made easy and history taught in short manuals, we are not qualified to decide. There can be no doubt that some members would be better for a little elementary instruction; but upon the whole we are inclined to hope that there are many who, in their study of Social Science, have even got beyond those Pinnock's Catechisms from which Lord Eldon quaffed rich draughts of general knowledge; and a few who do not wholly believe that Political Economy ended with Adam Smith, Law with Blackstone, History with Hume, and Mental Science with Dugald Stewart.
One who took a part in the Birmingham meeting, if we mistake not, has said that the most peculiar attribute by which men of genius are distinguished from ordinary men is, that they never grow old. To no man could this principle be more justly applied than to Lord Brougham. But it is natural that such a man, though not feeling the mental infirmities of age, should have some anxiety about the future occupation of that domain which he has, to a large extent, made his own. He is not, probably, about to abdicate whilst he can hold the reins, but he has serious thoughts as to the work to be done in years not very far distant. He will not name his successor, after the example of Charles V. He will not leave his empire to his lieutenants, as Alexander. He reposes all his future hopes of progress on societies, and especially on one great comprehensive society. In his desire to show the paramount importance of societies, he describes "the beneficial effects of united "action" in two societies of which he speaks from "an experience of some duration"-the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, and the Law Amendment Society. Having also "an experience of some duration" of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, we may venture to inquire if all its beneficial effects were produced by "united action ?" Describing the general character of the publications of the Society, Lord Brougham says:-" The committee which carried on these operations consisted of 60 persons among the most eminent in science and literature, ancient and modern, with members of three learned professions, and distinguished statesmen. Regular meetings were held to receive reports of sub-committees charged with preparing the various works composed either by their own members or by authors who were employed. Every matter was discussed by the general committee, both on the writings submitted and on the new works to be undertaken. The most severe examination had been applied by the sub-committees, but the proof-sheets were further submitted to the whole of the members, who had to consider both the substance and the manner of treating it; and even those who on any subject might not feel competent to criticise the scientific part, exercised a vigilant superintendence over the style, so that errors in composition and offences against correct, even severe, taste were sure to be detected. Now, the great number of our members, profiting, moreover, by the communications of about 70 local committees, and the advantage of constant intercourse among the members of the
central body, enabled the Society, in the twenty years of its active operations, to publish, not only with unbroken regularity treatises twice a-month, but various other works not given periodically. Above 200 volumes have thus appeared. The circulation of the scientific works frequently reached 25,000, of those in more general use 40,000, while of the Preliminary Discourse the circulation was 100,000, and of the weekly or Penny Magazine' it exceeded 200,000." Admitting the full value of this "united action," we ask if the whole literary operations are set forth when not the slightest notice is taken of individual action? Regular monthly meetings there were; sub-committees occasionally; proof-sheets read; corrections even of style in the matter submitted; but how were the materials for this "united action" provided? Works that have reached 200 volumes, nine-tenths of which were serial works, must have originated in some other creative power, and have been carried on unintermittingly by some agency much more effective, than a committee and sub-committees. The " severe examination ;" the "proof-sheets submitted to the whole of the members;" the discussions about subjects to be treated and the manner of treating them, may, to some extent, have sufficed with regard to the Scientific Treatises, small in quantity, and limited to specific subjects. For this series there was no responsible editor; and the committee accomplished their publication by "united action." The great work of the Society, The Penny Cyclopædia' (not mentioned by Lord Brougham), which during eleven years never failed of regular issue, had a responsible editor, of whom it is not too much to say that in the editorial qualities of ample knowledge, vigilance, and punctuality, no man ever excelled him. This editor marshalled two hundred contributors in every department of the encyclopædical range; and he was the sole judge of the value of their contributions, and the corrections and additions necessary to be made. Society, however, was of great use in doubtful questions, when proofs were submitted to members having special knowledge. In the same way the Maps, another permanent work of the Society, was under the direction of the most accomplished hydrographer of the age, who possessed unequal facilities for ensuring correctness. In the same way also, though in a humbler range, 'The Companion to the Almanac,'The Library of Entertaining Knowledge,'The Penny Magazine,' were produced under the similar editorial responsibility of the projector and publisher of those works, gladly availing himself of the machinery which the Society afforded for revision before publication. That the Society presented many advantages as a base of operations is unquestionable. It had the prestige of great names connected with it. Its members were of high intelligence and various learning; they were industrious; and, what was of equal importance, they confided in their editors. Had this confidence not existed, the periodical works could not have gone on a single month. They would have broken down under divided responsibility, and have been suffocated in the red-tapism of "a vigilant superintendence over the style, so that errors in composition and offences against correct, and even severe, taste, were sure to be cor