Trusty Servant May 2019 No.127 - Page 14

No.127 comparison with the special terrors which faced Lowe as a nearly- blind albino in an almost totally unsupervised mob of teenage boys. ‘The ordeal I had to go through was… really terrible. For the purposes of relieving the weary hours of enforced society I was invaluable. No one was so dull as to be unable to say something rather smart on my peculiarities, and my short sight offered almost complete immunity to my tormentors.’ It was a cruel apprenticeship, but Lowe later reflected that it qualified him for a life of enduring determination: ‘I had effectually solved the problem as to whether I was able to hold my own in life, and proved by a most crucial experiment that I was not too sensitive nor soft for the business.’ And yet in the midst of this almost unremitting darkness, Lowe finds The Trusty Servant words of praise for his tutor, Mr Wickham: ‘I never shall forget the pleasure in the midst of all I had to endure to find that there was some one, and that, a person placed so high above me, who did not despise me for being unlike other people, and who took a hearty interest in my success.’ The abuse stopped eventually – ‘even the most delightful amusements pall by repetition’. And in due course Lowe became a prefect. Prefiguring Churchill’s remarks on headmasters compared with prime ministers, he declares that his position gave him ‘infinitely more power, with infinitely less control, than I have ever had since.’ He left Winchester for Oxford in 1829, where he was greatly influenced by the reformist Benjamin Jowett. He qualified for the bar and sailed for Old Commoners 14 Australia in 1842, where he combined his legal career with journalism and politics. In 1850 he returned to Britain and became a leader-writer for The Times; once he was elected as the Liberal MP for Kidderminster in 1852 (Calne from 1859), this journalistic pulpit helped him rise quickly within party ranks. He swiftly established himself as an archetypal Victorian reformer, with great range: his 1856 Joint Stock Companies Act was the foundation of modern company law with its broadening of limited liability; his 1859 Public Health Act provided for the compulsory vaccination of children; his 1862 Revised Education Code introduced payment by results - school grants made conditional upon results in an annual examination by inspectors of pupils in the Three Rs (a one-size-fits-all Gradgrindian