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plication-to' men appointed by Parliament, bound down by sufficient securities for the fulfilment of their engagements, and, therefore, capable of being brought to account for every defalcation arising from misconduct or negligence.
The position here laid down, rests upon a double principle. It is based on the responsibility of the Parliament to the people, and of the officers of public institutions to the Parliament. Of its justice none can doubt: of its expediency, the history of every public institution in Ireland, constituted, as too many are, like the Dublin Society, will afford the best illustration. Take the Charter-school Society, for example. It started upon the jointstock principle, of private benevolence and Parliamentary support; the former being to the latter, much in the same ratio as in the Dublin Society. Well, it ran its course; it was patronized, for a time, but it was, at length, weighed in the balance, and found wanting. Look, again, at the Association for Discountenancing Vice; at the Farming Society, already noticed; and, as affording a still more striking illustration of the principle, at the Kildare Place Society. Like the Dublin Society, this last undertook the task of regenerating Ireland; and its specific was Scriptural education. Like the Dublin Society, it expended much of its funds on buildings: like it, also, it failed in the attainment of its object. In short, turn where we will, we feel fully justified in asserting, that there is no instance of a voluntary association, to which Parliament has entrusted the expenditure of the public money for the interests of the people, in which the money has not been misapplied, and the government either left without redress, or driven into Chancery for the recovery of the trifling assets that might still survive.
But, allowing, for a moment, that, in some cases, the legislature might be justified in such an unguarded delegation of its trust, the conduct of the Dublin Society, at least, has been such, as to deprive it of every claim to public confidence. The evidence, now before the public, presents such a constant scene of mismanagement, in every department, and at every period, in which its proceedings could be ascertained, that, to continue to repose confidence in such a body, would be beyond the stretch even of Tory favouritism. Nor is this all. The same evidence contains such flagrant instances of misreprésentation and contradiction, as to render whatever is favourable to the Society, not merely suspicious, but absolutely inadmissible. To give one or two instances only :-Mr. Isaac Wild, in his evidence on the Leskean collection of minerals, says, that its arrangement has remained unaltered, from the time of its purchase, in 1792, as a memorial of the state of mineralogical knowledge at that time;
VOL. II.-NO. III.
and that, under such arrangement, it cannot fail to be of very great use to students, in the present improved state of the science. On the other hand, Mr. Richard Griffith, the ex-professor of mineralogy, when questioned on the same subject, states, that the collection has been so disarranged, that it would be difficult for students to find out the places of the minerals, as marked in the catalogue; and he winds up his evidence on this head, with the following emphatic declaration :
“ Q. Then the intention of the Leskean collection is by no means attended to by the Society, although they so religiously keep up the arrangement nominally?
“ A. I admit that to the fullest extent."
Again, in a letter or memorial, addressed to the Irish government, for the purpose of obtaining an addition to the annual grant, to be employed in enlarging the buildings, the Society is made to say, that its 66 extensive museums are stored with objects illustrative of nature, science, and art; that the establishment is not merely resorted to by the youth of Ireland, but by the numerous students, who, since Dublin has acquired celebrity, by the excellence and cheapness of its anatomical schools, annually arrive from England, Scotland, and from the British colonies and dependencies:”—That, “ with respect to the museum, it contains collections in the several departments of natural history, and an interesting assemblage of antiquities, and works of art, and, in particular, it contains a large collection, every day encreasing, of the mineralogical productions of Ireland.”
Now, it is only necessary to refer to the evidence of the Society's own selected witnesses, to be convinced of the gross exaggeration contained in these official statements, made, it must be observed, for the purpose of prevailing on the government to sanction the application for an increased grant of money,--statements, in which the deviations from truth rise above each other in a regular climax, topped by the daring panegyric on that same mineralogical collection, so emphatically denounced by one of its own witnesses, as "a disgrace to the Society.”
The truth is, the whole thing has been a job from beginning to end - from the moment of its conception, in the brain of its original deviser, to the present hour. The ostensible object of the society was, to increase the comforts and happiness of the Irish people, by the extension of their agricultural and manufacturing resources; the real object was, without relaxing the severity of the penal code, to secure to the landed gentry an increased amount of rent, tithe, and local taxes, all of which ultimately lodged themselves in the pockets of the aristocracy. But this object has failed. The people, instead of suffering themselves to be trampled into subserviency, have struggled incessantly against the pressure, and have at length shaken it off. The crisis of 1829, brought about by the agency of a man, with whom the boast of Pericles would be no exaggeration, taught them to feel and to respect their own power. They can now stand erect before their oppressors: and though the contest is not yet over, though much, perhaps, of individual suffering remains to be endured, the victory and the triumph cannot long be delayed. This the Society feels: and accordingly, its aspirations are now limited to the humbler task, of providing a comfortable retirement for itself. Even the medals and the trumpery are abandoned: the only ambition of the managers is confined to the improvement of their residence, and the enlargement of their buildings, where their wives and their daughters may listen to lectures adapted to the calibre of their intellectual organization; may walk round the museums and galleries, in wet weather, to show their country cousins the butterflies, and the Lapland hut, and the colossal elk; and on sunshiny days, may expatiate on the lawn, with the exhilarating reflection, that the country annually pays a hundred and fifty pounds an acre, for their exclusive gratification. This is the humble limit of the job at present. The Society, indeed, protests against such a conclusion. The managers ask, through the mouths of their own witnesses, have we not professors, and schools, and a botanical garden, and a statue gallery, and a museum ?—To be sure they have. There must be something to show, in return for what they have received, something to afford the Chancellor of the Exchequer a decent pretence for pouring the public money into their lap. They have, indeed, professors, or more properly lecturers, with scanty salaries, and not less scanty abilities: they have a library without readers, save only among the favoured: they have lectures without hearers, save only among the triflers, who would lounge away an hour before dinner, and obtain a topic of conversation for the evening. They have, moreover, a museum, where there is neither room for the specimens, nor specimens for the room : and above all, they have a botanical garden, of which, they exultingly declare, the citizens of Dublin may be justly proud !—“ Justly proud,” indeed! A stranger asks what has been done for the country, and the Society glibly replies,—“ Look to our botanic garden, its size and beauty"! We say in return-Look to the people; look to their raggedness and destitution : and when the peasant's cottage and potatoe plot shall be what they ought, it will be time enough to talk of spacious grounds, and beautiful gardens, for the citizens of Dublin. But, to look at the matter in another light :-how
comes it that every other city and town in the empire, ambitious of improvement in the study of nature, can maintain a botanical garden out of its own unaided resources, while that of the Dublin Society, supported by large grants of public money, and still acknowledged to be far inferior, in scientific value, to the neighbouring garden of Trinity College, pleads poverty, and calls for enlarged means to make it respond to public expectation? Edinburgh has its botanic garden: so has Liverpool, Belfast, and Manchester. Who pays for these ?-Not the public. The members subscribe, and the institution is creditably and economically managed.
In short, we repeat it, Parliament, which ought to have shewn itself the rigid guardian of the public purse, had no right, in the first instance, to delegate its power, to transfer its responsibility, except to agents appointed by itself, acting under its immediate inspection, and subject to the consequences of negligence and malversation. It had no right to delegate its trust to any irresponsible body, and much less to one which has proved itself so reckless--to adopt no harsher term--in the expenditure of its funds; which, after lavishing upwards of three hundred thousand pounds, in the space of thirty years, has nothing but a botanic garden, and a pile of useless buildings to produce; and which, on being called upon, at the eleventh hour, for an account of its stewardship, has recourse to the most disreputable arts, in order to make out some kind of a bill of particulars. But, if the corrupt Parliaments of former times could thus betray the interests of the people, can we believe that the reformed legislature of the present day will continue to sanction the misdoings of its predecessors ? If we know the spirit of the present House of Commons, we say emphatically that it will not. The recommendations of the Committee may be impotent, or otherwise ; but the evidence, which formed its groundwork, remains: and it is the duty of the government to take it into immediate consideration. Let Parliament, then, look to this. Let it withdraw its patronage from a Society, where everything is loss to the public, and everything gain to the members. Let it exert its energies in behalf of Ireland, unmoved by the clamours and by the interests of those who have been living only for themselves; and the regeneration of the country, and the prosperity and the happiness of her people, will not be far distant.
Art. XII.-1. The Vespers of Palermo. A Tragedy, in Five
Acts. 2. The Siege of Valencia. A Dramatic Poem. By Felicia
Hemans. London. 1823. 3. The Forest Sanctuary, with Lays of Many Lands. By Felicia
Hemans. London. 4. Records of Woman, with other Poems. By Felicia Hemans.
Edinburgh. 1828. 5. Scenes and Hymns of Life, with other religious Poems. By
Felicia Hemans. Edinburgh. 1834. . 6. Poetical Remains of the late Mrs. Hemans. Edinburgh.
1836. 7. Memorials of Mrs. Hemans, with Nlustrations of her Literary Character, from her Private Correspondence. By Henry F. Chorley. 2 vols. London. 1836.
is that the taste for poetry is on the decline amongst us; and
song, there is something like a disposition to fear, that, amid the progress of utilitarian objects, there is danger of its total extinction in the land. If the question, thus raised, were to be decided by the degree of attention which the bard of our day is enabled to command for his inspirations, as compared with the enthusiasm which hailed the songs of his brethren twenty years ago, there would certainly be some reason for these gloomy anticipations. But the poet should be the last to despair of the indefeasible ascendancy, and final triumphs, of his art. A more philosophical view of the matter will assuredly convince him, that there is nothing, in the immediate neglect under which it lies, whence any inference is to be drawn as to its ultimate decline. Its outward fortunes, like those of everything whose manifestations make their appeal to the public taste, must be subject to the fluctuations of the national mind; but its essential influence, as an interpreter of all the natural and moral aspects of the world, and as speaking to the universal passions of the human breast, has a sway as old, and must have one as enduring, as nature and passion themselves. The history of the art in all times, and wherever it can be distinctly traced, exhibits, like that of all other moral and natural powers, a series of sleeps and awakenings, replacing each other in the necessary sequence of action and reaction; and presents examples of its revivification from trances so long and death-like, as to make all future despondency on the subject of its fate idle and unphilosophic. It is abundantly evident, that the taste for poetry is but in one of those natural and temporary lulls, which