Education, Education, Administration

  • John Maloney


It was ‘a great Economical Truth’, said Lowe, that ‘Education is no exception to the rules of Political Economy.’1 What he meant was that education should be subject to the principles of Adam Smith. And, like Smith, he contrasted free economical Scotland with politicised, endowment-ridden England. ‘In Scotland’, said Lowe, ‘they sell education like a grocer sells figs’.2


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  1. 1.
    Lowe to Sir John Simon, 31 October 1868, quoted in D.W. Sylvester, Robert Lowe on Education, Cambridge, 1974, p. 23.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    E.G. West, ‘Public versus Private Education’, Journal of Political Economy, 72, October 1964, reprinted in A.W. Coats (ed.), The Classical Economists and Economic Policy, London, 1971, p. 141.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    R. Lowe, Middle Class and Primary Education, Liverpool, 1868, pp. 7–8.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    These attitudes might have led Mill to call for a general system of State education. But universal State education, he wrote in On Liberty, ‘is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like each other … An education established and controlled by the State should only exist, if it exists at all, as one among many competing experiments, carried on for the purpose of example and stimulus, to keep others up to a certain standard of excellence’. Mill, On Liberty, quoted by Mark Blaug in A. Skinner and T. Wilson (eds), Essays on Adam Smith, Oxford, 1975, p. 585.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Lowe to Ralph Lingen, 13 February 1881, quoted Arthur Patchett Martin, Life and Letters of the Right Honourable Robert Lowe, Viscount Sherbrooke, London, 1893, vol. 2, p. 217.Google Scholar
  6. 20.
    Lowe, Primary and Classical Education (an expanded version of his Edinburgh speech), Edinburgh, 1867, p. 32.Google Scholar
  7. 25.
    Lord George Hamilton, Parliamentary Reminiscences and Reflections, 1868–85, London, 1916, pp. 157–8.Google Scholar
  8. 33.
    Hansard, 214, 1483–4, 6 March 1873. Lowe, with Gladstone’s support, succeeded in separating the teaching and examination functions in the Irish Universities Bill of 1873, though his cabinet colleague the Duke of Argyll and Scottish Universities MP Lyon Playfair opposed the separation on the grounds that education would be displaced by cramming. Lowe was killing two birds with one stone: the Act removed part of Trinity College, Dublin’s endowment to pay for the examining board. See Jonathan Parry, Democracy and Religion: Gladstone and the Liberal Party 1867–1885, Cambridge, 1986, pp. 135, 353–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 36.
    R. Lowe, ‘Shall We Create a New University?’, Fortnightly Review, 21, new series, 1 December 1877, pp. 160–71.Google Scholar

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© John Maloney 2005

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  • John Maloney

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