|Our James McAvoy as dear Tom Lefroy in 'Becoming Jane' 2007|
Saturday, 7 December 2013
This is Part 2 in my study of "Truth" and here is what I found in the "Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy". It is in Chapter 4, pages 76 to 78 specifically, but I highly recommend reading the entire chapter for more details. I was astounded when I read it because it is exactly what I had lately thought of myself and he wrote this almost 200 years ago. This quote is rather long but it does tell the story. You may read the entire Memoir here: Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy.
Certain it is that the law may and does in some measure restrain the progress of crime, but it cannot reach the root of the evil or the source of crime. The law cannot change the nature or the habits of men, and our experience of the operation of the law since the year 1776 is demonstrative of this fact. It is no impeachment of the law that the evil has not been eradicated, nor any reason why we should abandon the law, or cease to carry it into execution. So long as men continue to commit crimes, the law must be shown to be supreme, and punishment should follow crime. But whilst we may naturally be indignant at the crimes which now exist, our feelings of humanity ought to lead us to find out, if possible, the source of the evil and its remedy, and we are happily not left without the means of doing so, for Scripture teaches us that the source of the evil lies in the absence of the fear of God, and of the influence of true religion, and we have on the same high authority the true and only remedy for the evil in that divine maxim, which should be impressed upon the minds of all " Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." But, gentlemen, woeful experience has proved the converse of this great truth, for it is in the way in which they should not go that unhappily the lower orders of the people are too often trained up. To your own experience, gentlemen, I would put the question, 'What sort of training do the lower orders get ?' 1 am bold to say, that if my own children or the children of any of you whom I have the honour to address were so trained, they would probably become the same pests of society. I do not speak of these things theoretically, as I have made the disturbances of this country the frequent subject of my consideration during the last fifteen years, and I give it as my opinion, that until a well-ordered system of education is introduced, not the mere mechanical art of reading and writing, but a system calculated to impress upon the young mind as far as is in the power of man, to write upon the young heart, the great truths of Christianity truths which all sects and parties concur in acknowledging; unless such be done, it is idle to hope for peace, loyalty, or tranquility in this country; society will, as it is doing at present go on from bad to worse. I trust, gentlemen, that you whom I now address will take this matter seriously to heart, in pity, at all events to the rising generation, how- ever you may despair of the reform of those who now seem hardened in crime. I do not mean to dictate to you, gentlemen, it would not become me to do so from the place where I now address you ; I direct my observations to you as country gentlemen, and to you who now have schools on your estates, I would earnestly suggest the necessity for improving the present system of education, and no longer allowing the children of the peasantry to drink of the poison imbibed at the hedge schools, but to see that they are at least instructed in the fundamental truths of the Christian religion, which, you must allow me to remind you, forms a fundamental part of the law of the land. Without this, gentlemen, I see no means by which we can look for the fear of God and the principles of religion having their due influence upon the rising generation, nor do I see any other means of striking at the root of the evils which now afflict our unhappy country.
Whew, and this is just a "small" excerpt of an eye-opening chapter. I must find time to read the entire Memoir for who-knows what else is in there. Tom really was "something else" as we say now-a-days. As for Truth, "you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free"!
Linda the Librarian