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Improvement of the Labouring Class.


but it has been careful only to establish examples and models, mindful that any real improvement which was to take place must be the result of the exertions of the working people themselves.


Whilst formerly the great mental energies strove at universal knowledge, and that knowledge was confined to the few, now they are directed on specialities, and in these, again, even to the minutest points; but the knowledge acquired becomes at once the property of the community at large; for, whilst formerly discovery was wrapped in secrecy, the publicity of the present day causes that, no sooner is a discovery or invention made than it is already improved upon and surpassed by competing efforts. The products of all quarters of the globe are placed at our disposal, and we have only to choose which is the best and the cheapest for our purposes, and the powers of production are entrusted to the stimulus of competition and capital.

So man is approaching a more complete fulfilment of that great and sacred mission which he has to perform in this world. His reason being created after the image of God, he has to use it to discover the laws by which the Almighty governs His creation, and by making these laws his standard of action, to conquer nature to his use; himself a Divine instrument,

Science discovers these laws of power, motion, and transformation ; industry applies them to the raw matter, which the earth yields us in abundance, but which becomes valuable only by knowledge. Art teaches us the immutable laws of beauty and symmetry, and gives to our productions forms in accordance to them.


THERE is but one alloy to my feelings of satisfaction and pleasure in seeing you here assembled again,* and that is, the painful remembrance that one is missing from amongst us who felt so warm an interest in our schemet and took so active a part in promoting its success, the last act of whose public life was attending at the Royal Commission: my admiration for whose talents and character, and gratitude for whose devotion to the Queen, and private friendship towards myself, I feel a consolation in having this public opportunity to express.

Only at our last meeting we were still admiring his eloquence and the earnestness with which he appealed to you to uphold, by your exertions and personal sacrifices, what was to him the highest

From a speech at a banquet given by the Lord Mayor of York, October 25, 1850.

+ The Great Exhibition.

object—the honour of his country; he met you the following day together with other commissioners, to confer with you upon the details of our undertaking : and you must have been struck, as everybody has been who has had the benefit of his advice upon practical points, with the attention, care, and sagacity with which he treated the minutest details, proving that to a great mind nothing is little, from the knowledge that in the moral and intellectual, as in the physical world, the smallest point is only a link in that great chain, and holds its appointed place in that great whole, which is governed by the Divine Wisdom.

The constitution of Sir Robert Peel's mind was peculiarly that of a statesman, and of an English statesman : he was liberal from feeling, but conservative upon principle. Whilst his impulse drove him to foster progress, his sagacious mind and great experience showed him how easily the whole machinery of a state and of society is deranged, and how important, but how difficult also, it is to direct its further development in accordance

Character of the late Sir Robert Peel.


with its fundamental principles, like organic growth in nature. It was peculiar to him, that in great things, as in small, all the difficulties and objections occurred to him at first; he would anxiously consider them, pause, and warn against rash resolutions; but having convinced himself, after a long and careful investigation, that a step was not only right to be taken, but of the practical mode also of safely taking it, it became to him a necessity and a duty to take it : all his caution and apparent timidity changed into courage and power of action, and at the same time readiness cheerfully to make any personal sacrifice which its execution might demand.

If he has had so great an influence over this country, it was from the nation recognising in his qualities the true type of the English character, which is essentially practical. Warmly attached to his institutions, and revering the bequests left to him by the industry, wisdom, and piety of his forefathers, the Englishman attaches little value to any theoretical scheme. It will attract his attention only after having been for some time

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