IN his speech at Nottingham on Tuesday evening Lord Salisbury made a most important reference to the subject of what is called free education. He said:—“There is another question which we have heard a good deal discussed, and that is with regard to what has been, in my opinion, improperly termed free education. I should rather call it assisted education, because I do not know that anybody, however extreme his views, would desire that all the inhabitants of this country, whether rich or poor, whether capable of paying for the education of their children or not, should enjoy free education for those children at the cost of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. On the other hand, I have before expressed the opinion—I expressed it four years ago, before the two last general elections, at Newport—that by making education compulsory, by forcing the people to send their childien to school whether they ask it or not, you were incurring a certain obligation to relieve the burden of that compulsion, where the circumstances of the parent were such that it was too heavy for him to hear. We believe that considerable progress in that direction may be made. We have already introduced measures to that effect in Scotland. I believe that with perfect consistency with sound principle, and merely recognizing the fact that where you enforce a duty upon a man you are bound to make it as easy for him as you can—I believe that it will be possible considerably to extend that principle in England, and very greatly to relieve the difficulties of the working man in that respect. But allow me to say that I consider the question as to its rapidity, and as to its progress, to be a question for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If he has got the money I have no doubt he will do it, but if he has not got the money he will not. But it is an object to which I believe a great deal of the money of a Chancellor of the Exchequer may very fairly be applied.” The Government is to be congratulated on the pledge thus given to consider the matter.

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    Notes. Nature 41, 84–87 (1889).

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