Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

there was a run upon them, but they stood firm, and met all demands. The seizure by Charles II of £1,300,000 deposited by the Goldsmiths in the Exchequer, all but ruined them, but clamour and pressure compelled the royal embezzler to pay six per cent. on the sum appropriated. In William's reign, interest was granted on the whole sum at three per cent., and the debt still remains undischarged.

Enough historical evidence has probably been adduced to justify the broad assertion that, whereas bonâ fide apprenticeship, as opposed to colourable servitude, has become extremely limited, the available records of all the more important Craft Guilds conclusively show they were mainly brought into existence for the regulation and government of trade. It is further clear that they were enriched exceedingly by their members, so that they might efficiently instruct apprentices, train artizans, admit to the freedom all persons practising a trade in any capacity, and benefit and assist such as might require it. It is, moreover, apparent that during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, having become extremely wealthy corporations, their industrial, commercial, civic and national power had grown to an equal extent. Although, in the nineteenth century, these influences have considerably abated or become obsolete, what is their position and prospect? The report of the City of London Livery Companies' Commission, issued in 1884, clearly demonstrates that during the past few years they have again become thoroughly alive to the necessity of inaugurating and supporting new schemes of industrial and commercial instruction. In the aggregate the London Companies are now spending £75,000 yearly upon educational work. Of this amount, £50,000 goes in general instruction in their own thirty to forty schools, which they have built and endowed in various parts of England. In this connection the Cloth-makers, Grocers, Drapers and Merchant Taylors are conspicuous benefactors. Their endowments for both sexes at the Universities and the London Board Schools also form a praiseworthy part of the sum named. A certain number of the Companies further contribute £25,000 annually to support the City and Guilds of London Institute, brought into existence to provide adequate technical training, which is very efficiently undertaken at the Finsbury College and the Central Institute. Towards the latter, £100,000 was freely subscribed for the new building at South Kensington. To the Royal College of Music £13,000 has been given, while the Merchant Taylors of recent years have provided £140,000 for their highly organised middle class schools at London and Great Crosby. Then again, the Companies jointly appropriate as much as £90,000 every year to other benevolent and public objects, not of a strictly educational, but very useful, character. To the Technical Colleges of Huddersfield, Bradford, Keighley, and Leeds, the Clothworkers' Company have generously devoted large sums of money to encourage the woollen trade, of which they have proved such worthy representatives.

It is fully evident, therefore, that the enormous accumulated wealth of Trade Guilds is, to a considerable extent, being wisely used at length to resuscitate and sustain afresh the crafts and commerce of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors. That it is slowly, but rightly, flowing back again to those channels for which it was early intended, cannot be seriously doubted. Although hope too often tells a flattering tale, the increased financial help of the London companies, with respect to the better training of the hand and eye in conjunction with the brain of the artizan, bids fair to be a prominent and advantageous feature of the fast approaching twentieth century.

SOME ASPECTS OF EDMUND BURKE.

BY AUSTIN TAYLOR, B.A. OCTOBER 21st of the year just passed (1894) was a memorable day in the annals of our country. On that day it fell to the lot of the present prime minister to unveil a statue to Edmund Burke, for six years member of parliament for the city of Bristol. By that solemn act of oblivion the great western seaport proclaimed that all was once more as it should have been between the illustrious dead and the still living constituency—that his principles, his methods, his political aims were not at variance with her more matured political instinct. Just as, during his six years' connection with the city, Burke had on occasion been in advance of his constituents, only to be caught up later by their more informed political judgment, so now, though long since in the tomb, the general tenor of his aims and aspirations has finally commanded the admiring assent of a later Bristol. I cannot forbear the thought that some recognition of this nature is still wanting from his countrymen at large. Burke is always quoted with respect; his political dicta pass current among us ; his is an illustrious shade amongst the brilliant group of statesmen who, towards the close of the last century, witnessed the birththroes of two great republics ; but his hold on the minds of present-day Englishmen is not, somehow, in proportion to his merits as a thinker. A carefully culled selection of rhetorical passages for use on speech days and prize competitions is, no doubt, a compliment to his power of language, but to one who deserves the foremost place amongst political and social philosophers, the compliment is but dubious; it is as though one were to confine one's admiration for Shakespeare to his beautiful descriptions of scenery, or one's appreciation of Bacon to his quaint powers of expressing himself by apothegm. I must own that it is difficult to understand why Burke is not more appreciated by, and more familiar to, the public of our own day. He had, it must be owned, one great defect, that, namely, of bringing to bear general principles upon particular facts. This, to the average Briton, is, I fear, an inexcusable fault; he, the average Briton, much prefers to decide a given fact by immediate arguments, pro or con. If, having mastered particular facts, he is willing to ascend therefrom to a general principle, that is quite another matter, but the particular question must first be decided. By way of illustration, not, certainly, by way of analogy, the boa-constrictor at the Zoo, who recently swallowed sixteen or eighteen feet of a friend, did so because he found the head and fangs of his companion embedded in the chicken which he had himself begun to swallow. Probably, had the eighteen feet of boa-constrictor been presented first in order, he might have thought twice about the experiment; so with the Englishman, he must have his chicken first. If at any time he consents to assimilate a general principle per se, it must only be as Mrs. Cadwallader consented to put up with her husband's sermons. She began by liking the end of them, and, as she could not reach the end of them without going through the beginning and middle, her power of association finally enabled her to support the whole of the infliction.

Perhaps another reason for his want of popularity lies in the fact that Burke's order of mind was, and is,

« ForrigeFortsett »