Passive Resistance to Mr Balfour's Education Act

Jeremiah Ratcliffe's 'Burning Issue', 1903

From 'Notes by the Way', Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald, August 1903
Andrea Newham

‘Mr Jeremiah Ratcliffe, of Belper, as a public speaker is nothing if not lofty.  The mountain top rather than the valley is his style, and particularly so when he is discoursing upon what he calls “burning questions”.  He was on one of these topics last Friday, this being no less than Mr Balfour’s iniquitous Education Act.  After pouring forth his immense indignation at the whole business, he made his subject still more a burning one by taking “this infamous Act” in one hand and applying a match to it in face of all his audience.  A dramatic climax, no doubt, but unless he burnt his fingers, he did no more harm than if he had applied the match to a cigar or a pipe.  Mr Balfour’s Act still exists, even though Mr Ratcliffe consigned a penny copy of it to ashes.’

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