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XXII

PREFATORY ESSAY

a series of crimes which during the latter years of the 19th century have shocked humanity is conveyed by the admission that in Russia the outrages of Anarchism may to some extent be accompanied by not ignoble aspirations, and palliated in a degree by the wretchedness of their perpetrators. If Anarchism were confined to Russia there might be ground to hope that this form of mama mig disappear as rapidly as it has arisen. Unfortunately the disease has spread all over the mainland of Europe, and has not only reached British shores in the form of the Fenian outrages, but has crossed the Atlantic and found a domicile under the Stars and Stripes. The explanation of this state of things possibly is that the conditions under which Anarchism sprang up in Russia exist, though in a ar smaller decree, in all civilized communities. The inequalities of human existence, the contrast between wealth and poverty, the conflict between capital and labour, cannot fail to create a morbid state of min amidst individual members of the classes which have not drawn prizes in life’s lottery. Discontent with the established order of things is pardonable enough. But when discontent develops into outrages on innocent individuals, whose sole offence is that they hold higher stations or are wealthier than their fellows, discontent becomes a crime, and must be crushed in the interests of civilization. Anarc ism has driven the great mass of the middle class in all civilized countries to look with suspicion on all popular agitations, and this change of sentiment has been one of the main causes of the Conservative reaction which we consider to have been the distinguishing feature of recent history. To those who are old enough to remember the earlier days of the Victorian era, it is not altogether pleasant to note how many of the ideas and sympathies which held sway at that period have disappeared from want of sustenance, just as plants die for lack of water. It may be worth while to recall Vanished a few of these dispelled illusions. Where is now the cult of foreign patriots ? If any illusions. tQ the mantles of Kossuthj Garibaldij Schamyl, Ledrn Eollin, or Mazzini were to appear in England, he would be received with absolute indifference, or handed over to the police. If Dr Bernard were placed upon his trial nowadays, not all the successors of the late Mr Edwin James at the bar could secure his acquittal by the verdict of a London jury. Where is the amiable belief that selfgovernment under parliamentary institutions was a sort of universal panacea applicable to all countries at all times? Some words used by the late Prince Consort during the Crimean campaign, to the effect that representative government was on its trial, raised a tremendous outcry at the time of their utterance. If His Royal Highness had stated that the Ten Commandments were open to criticism, he could hardly have been exposed to greater animadversion. But the parliamentary system no longer excites the admiration it formerly obtained, and even Englishmen as a body have drifted back towards the belief of their forefathers, that the system works well in England, but not equally well elsewhere. Again, why are we reminded no longer that “the schoolmaster is abroad ” ? Since 1870 England has had as good a system of universal compulsory elementary education as British statesmanship could devise, but the most ardent educationalist would probably not deny that the results of the Board Schools have not fulfilled the expectations entertained at their inauguration. The public at large have ceased to accept the doctrine that mental instruction is the one thing needful to raise the moral, intellectual, and material status of the masses. No doubt popular enthusiasm on behalf of popular education has been impaired by the expense of the School Boards and by the extent to which the “ Educational Parliaments ”—to use the phrase of a bygone day—have disregarded the limitations placed upon their functions as the purveyors of elementary education. Still, the cost of the Board School system would have been overlooked if the public had not learnt to distrust the theory on which the system was founded. The education acquired in virtue of the Act of 1870, whatever its other defects or shortcomings, has no doubt made the Biitish people much moie of a newspaper-reading community than they were previously, and has thereby rendered them better citizens and more ardent patriots. But a conviction that this is so does not suffice to restore the enthusiasm with which popular education was regarded at the time of its introduction into England on the eve of the Franco-German war.