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Family Notices




WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 1872. THE debate in the House of Commons, last even- ing, upon Mr. DIXON'S motion, will naturally at- tract considerable attention in Wales. Supported as the member for Birmingham has been by the inhabitants of the Principality, from whom numer- ous petitions of an influential character, in favour of his views, were sent in, there can be no doubt respecting the interest which the question of Un- sectarian Education possesses for the intelligent and industrious population of this thriving dis- trict. Mr. DIXON boldly asserted that the provi- sions of the Elementary Act were defective, and its working unsatisfactory that in fail- ing to secure the general election of School Boards it was undeserving of countenance that in not rendering obligatory the attendance of children at school, in dealing partially and irregu- larly with the remission and payment of school fees by School Boards, in allowing the payment of fees out of rates to Denominational Schools, and in making dogmatic teaching possible, it was sin- gularly obnoxious, and should be either greatly modified or re-enacted, in a totally different form. He also declared that these permissive powers had been the means of provoking religious discord throughout the country, and of vio- lating the rights of conscience. An echo to his remarks will be heard in every quarter of the land, and nowhere will the voice of the people protest more loudly an entire concurrence with these opinions than in our own locality. But this exponent of principles advocated by a large body of Nonconformists and the whole of the admirers of religious freedom, was met, as we led our readers to anticipate lie would be, by an opposition as embittered as it was undoubtedly factious and demonstrative. Mr. FORSTER moved as an amend- ment, "that the time which has elapsed since tha passing of the Act of 1870, and the progress made in the arrangements under it, are not such as to enable the House to enter with advantage on a review of its operation." As we said yesterday, this temporising policy met with many supporters on both sides of the House, and the unctuous de- light with which the Opposition seized the op- portunity of advancing their own plans, while coincidently placing the Government in a position y 11 compelling the acknowledgment of obligation to an enemy, was made manifest in more than one of the speeches delivered by the Tory members. It was in vain that Mr. HENRY RICHARD, who seconded the motion, brought all his powers to bear upon the question. The hon. member for Merthyr, although listened to with respectful at- tention, was unable to do more than simply sup- plement the arguments of Mr. DIXON, and strengthen his case without in any material way influencing the results which foregone conclusions, on the part of the maj ority, had rendered inevi- table. The consistent, sturdy championship of the cause, however, is none the less to be appre- ciated. That spectacle for the gods, good men struggling against adversity, was assuredly to be .9 witnessed in the House last night, and nobly the representatives of Unsectarian Education sustained the unequal conflict. In a long and elaborate speech, Mr. FORSTER sought, with the earnestness of a special pleader, to prove that suf. ficient time had not elapsed since the passing of the Act, to thoroughly test its merits. The question of principle was altogether ignored by the right honourable gentleman, and the propriety of main- taining the stability of the Government unimpaired, urged by implication on the House. That a minis- terial victory should be achieved, is by no means surprising; and the matter being for the present settled, so far as the legislature is concerned, the decision, which after all establishes nothing more than that the measure must still be regarded as a tentative one, will be accepted simply for what it is worth, by the advocates of Unsectarian Education. We regret the issue, because delay in such a matter is dangerous. Moreover, the circumstance will afford the detractors of Liberal-Dissenters ground for charging them with a desire to sacrifice the party with which they have been so closely connected, for the sake of a mere crotchet, and of rejoicing at their defeat. Although we need not warn the thoughtful against being cajoled by subtle refinements of reason, intended to gloss over what to our opponents are unpalatable truths, there is some chance of timid people being led astray by specious tactics and ad captandum arguments. Among these the absurd allegation of ingratitude holds a prominent place. But there are limits to obligation, and grateful feelings must not be permitted to supersede a sense of duty and an honest regard for conscientious conviction. The supporters of Mr. DIXON have done their duty, and whatever complications may arise out of the movement, they may rest assured that the principle for which they contend will ulti- mately triumph, and that the perplexities of the hour will give place to tranquil satisfaction before another session of Parliament has closed upon us.