The chief political topic of the week has been, of
course, Free Education, Mr. Haworth, who often represents the more advanced Conservatives, has in this instance taken up the cudgels for the reluctant Tories, and commenced in last Satur- day's Times an attack on the Government for deserting their party, and playing into the hands of the enemy,—an attack, however, which has not proved very promising, and has elicited remonstrances and protests from the Tory Democrats. "Here and there," wrote Mr. Haworth, "approval was expressed among County Members, who view the proposal as a popular appeal to the constituencies, and as foreboding an Election in the autumn; but among the great body of men on our benches who have some other political creed than that of maintaining our place on the right of the Speaker's chair, I have found a very general feeling of despondency and alarm." Mr. Howarth's objection is, of course, chiefly on the score of the Voluntary schools, whose religious constitution will, he thinks, be swept away, by the next Radical flood, under the plea of local con- trol, and he holds that the Tory resistance can have no strength in it after "the astounding enactment that a man may transfer the burdens which duty and honour enforce upon him, and which he is able to bear, to the shoulders of his neighbours." This plea Mr. Howorth reiterates in a letter to the Times
published yesterday, and adds that if the State defrays the parents' fees, it ought a fortiori to compensate them for the loss of the child's earnings,—which is only saying that if we help the parent at all, we ought to take all his burden off him. Is this good sense ? We do not allow him to neglect ordinary sanitary rules in his home, and yet we aid him by State help in establishing various sanitary and class precautions, paying an army of inspectors out of public money to protect the health and life of factory workers and miners, instead of charging those who have the benefit of them with the cost. Is it not at least as true that the miner could pay a considerable premium for his own protection, as that the parent can pay a considerable premium for his child's education P And is it not at least as important for the nation at large that our children should be protected against the explosiveness of ignorance, as it is that our miners should be guarded against the explosiveness of fire-damp ?