Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/500

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484
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

their faces half averted and their eyes half closed at the contemplation of such enormity. No wonder that our established clergy raised their smoothly-shaven chins in meek abhorrence of such impiety, and displayed their white neck-cloths, the emblems of the pure sentiments which surged beneath. Perhaps the strangest thing in the whole of this history—and it shows that there must be something radically wrong in the constitution of the universe—is that this wicked enterprise weathered the storm, and that the parent institution is by far the most important educational establishment for adults in the metropolis, while its progeny may be found thriving in almost every provincial town of any size throughout Great Britain. Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon. Here is an educational institution which, without any help from nobleman or priest—save that which they conferred by staying away—is not only succeeding, but getting over the "religious" difficulty by leaving theology to be taught elsewhere, and solving the problem of female education by simply opening its doors on equal terms to men and women. This "godless" college is now educating 2,712 students of both sexes; its curriculum is as wide and its teaching as thorough as that of any institution with which we are acquainted; and so completely have the bogies which frighten the outside educational world been exorcised, that even a thought of them never seems to cross the minds of the students who, after their day's toil, come down to instruct themselves in literature, science, and art, and to take part in the management of their alma mater.

How was it that Lord Carnarvon cast his benignant smile on such an institution? Times, it is said, change; and we change with them. Has the leopard of obscurantism, then, changed his spots? His lordship's speech furnishes a complete answer to this. It shows that the Tory oligarchs are as thoroughly opposed as ever they were to the work of education. They are acting over again the old fable of the sun and the wind. Force has failed, and they are trying to gain the same end by persuasion. The difference is purely one of engineering. They have tried the granite wall of direct resistance only to find it shattered by the heavy artillery of the democracy, and their hope is now in the yielding earthwork of patronage. Lord Carnarvon and his compeers love popular education as the Duc de Broglie loves parliamentary government. They will resist giving it at all as long as possible; and, when this cannot be done, they will push themselves to the front and undertake the supply of the article, taking care to do as fraudulent tradesmen do with their milk, skimming as much of the cream off, and adding as much water, as they can without being detected.

The whole gist of Lord Carnarvon's address was an attack on scientific education. Not that he objects to science if kept within proper bounds. He does not find fault with "those like the late Mr.