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MR. BRIGHT AND THE EDUCATIONAL…

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MR. BRIGHT AND THE EDUCATIONAL POLICY OF THE CABINET. THE absence of the great Free Trader from political life has doubtless had a considera- ble effect upon the educational policy of the Government. Had Mr. Bright been in good health, the results which we now deplore might have been modified in a degree, if not prevented altogether. Nonconformists naturally looked to the right hon. gentleman as being, in a special sense, their champion, and the long silence enforced upon him at such a crisis has encouraged the Tories, satisfied the advocates of denominational elementary training, and distressed the friends of unsectarian education. At length, however, Mr. Bright has found a voice, and his counsels re-animate the party tempo- rarily deprived of bis valuable aid. It was no uncertain Bound that the Tribune of the I People uttered in Bingley Hall, and the world now knows not only that Mr. Bright looks upon Mr. Forster's Act as the worst passed by a Liberal Government since the Reform Bill of 1832, but that he is prepared to assist in its amendment at the earliest possible period. The great orator also as- serted his views upon the 25th clause with equal force and perspicacity. Indeed, he went further, and tendered what may be considered a half apology for his colleagues, who, as he thought, had been misled in their partial legislation upon the point by coming to hasty conclusions from ill-digested pre- mises. A little more caution, Mr. Bright believes, would have made it impossible for ministers to have blundered to the extent Dissenters have grave reason to deplore, and upon this hypothesis the re-association of the right hon. gentleman, as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, with the Cabinet is to be regarded with feelings of unmixed gratification. Now, we do not believe that the policy of the Nonconformist party should run altogether antagonistic to the ministry. We do not forget the many claims to sup- port which Mr. Gladstone has, still less would we undervalue the services he has rendered to the country. But principle is of more importance, after all, than ex- pediency, and the time has arrived when the Government must accede to the demand for compulsory unsectarian education, or be content to challenge the adverse votes of the more advanced of its supporters. The pro- gress of those doctrines upon which the cause of civil liberty and religious equality are based will brook no delay. Stagnation is utterly opposed to the healthy vitality of national life in its most ardent and virile aspect. The nascent energies of the country are now fully aroused upon the point, the agitation is spreading with intense rapidity, and the forces of the Establishment, divided as they are among themselves, will be powerless to check-still less to roll back- the rising tide of popular opinion in favour of free and unrestricted elementary training for the young. It is admitted now by the majority of the inhabitants of England, that as the State cannot patronize, favour, and aid all religious systems and organisations alike, it should recognize none as of primary importance. Its duty is to teach the chil- dren of the poor in the same sense that it provides the indigent and disabled members of the community with the elements of life. There must be no robbing Peter to pay Paul, and the members of one denomination, or of many, must not be taxed in order that a particular sect may disseminate its tenets and proselytise at another's expense. Mr. Bright evidently sees the signs of the times, and it is also sufficiently obvious that the Premier is now fully alive to the necessity of settling the question in a broad and com- prehensive spirit. We are glad, therefore, to find that the action of the National Edu- cational League, as regards its electoral polity, has been partially suspended, in the hope of leaving Mr. Bright untrammelled in his efforts to impress upon the Cabinet the absolute necessity of surrendering their un- tenable position with good grace, and of restoring unity to the Liberal camp. But it should be distinctly understood that this quiescent attitude by no means implies a total cessation of hostilities. It is a truce, and it is nothing more. If, at the opening of the session, no steps are taken by the ministry to meet the just expectations of the Nonconformists, the white flag will be hauled down, and a "split" which it will take years to heal-if, indeed, so serious a rupture as would then ensue could be healed at all-must assuredly be looked for. The advocates of unsectarian education have had enough of abuse and of temporising. They have been stigmatised as godless, impious, infidels, and have been treated as if they had broken all the tables of Sinai with fiendish delight. Moreover, the leaders of the Liberal party have insulted them too frequently by making pledges destined never to be fulfilled, in the vain expectation of deluding them into passive obedience to the dictates of a ministry content to hold with secular hares while running with denomina- tional hounds. Those pleasant illusions are now in a fair way of being dispelled, and from building castles in the air ministers must descend to the realities of the plain. Fancy pictures of what has been done, pro- jected with skilful hands upon the future, will no longer mislead the more advanced section of the Liberals into a belief that they are shadows of coming events. A bold out- spoken declaration of a wise and thoroughly enlightened educational policy is now looked for, and it must be made, unless the Govern- ment is prepared to fall. School Boards and Board Schools, secular training, compulsory attendance, and perfect religious equality, must be conceded; and the sooner Mr. Glad- stone and his colleagues leave the land of Promise for that of Performance the better it will be for all concerned in the settlement of the momentous issues involved. THE SWANSEA SHIPPING COMPANY. THE efforts lately made by the principal inhabitants of Swansea to meet the requirements of that impor- tant port have been alike praiseworthy and enter- prising. There is an evident determination on the part of the mercantile and shipping community to rise to the occasion, and to prove themselves willing to share in the almost unbounded prosperity which now characterises the various industries of South Wales. Among those who have put their hands to the plough in this matter, the promoters of the Swansea Shipping Company hold a foremost place. Formed under the Limited Liability Act, with a capital of a quarter of a million, its Board of Directors contains the names of men eminent for their public spirit and private worth. No doubt the purchase of ships will be conducted with a due regard to economy by practical men, while freights will be ensured with promptness in consequence of the special interest which is taken in the Company by the leading ship- pers of the port. It is unnecessary to dilate further upon the advantages of a scheme which, in a co- operative as well as in a general commercial sense, must commend itself not only to capitalists, but to the public at large. Merthyr, Aberdare, and other towns in our neighbourhood are largely interested in the development of shipping facilities at Swansea, and, as the shares are rising in the market, the in- ducements to invest are unusually great. F-Ill par- ticulars will be found in onr advertising columns.

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LOCAL INTELLIGENCE.

MERTHYR BOARD OF HEALTH.