But on his other hobby, that of school-reform, Milton was not only sympathetic, but when Hartlib came to talk with him, he found that most or all of Comenius's ideas had already independently presented themselves to the reflection or experience of the Englishman.
Petersburg, Lilienthal presented Uvarov with a report which convinced the Minister that the execution of the school-reform was a difficult but not a hopeless task. On June 22, 1842, an imperial rescript was issued, placing all Jewish schools, including the heders and yeshibahs, under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Instruction.
Behind the abrogation of communal autonomy they saw the smiling vision of a Jewish school-reform, leading to the Polonization of Jewish education, while in the far-off distance they could discern the promised land of equal citizenship. The efforts of the Jewish reformers of Warsaw were now systematically directed towards this goal.
The Commission even went so far as to work out a program of Jewish studies for the new type of school. See Vol. The labors of the Rabbinical Commission were submitted to the Jewish Committee, under the chairmanship of Kiselev, and discussed by it in connection with the general plan of a Russian school-reform.
It was not long, however, before the secret came out. The Russian Jews were terror-stricken at the thought of being robbed of their ancient school autonomy, and decided to adopt the well-tried tactics of passive resistance to all Government measures. The school-reform was making slow progress.
At any rate, Lilienthal accepted the proffered task. He was commissioned to tour the Pale of Settlement, to organize there the few isolated progressive Jews, "the lovers of enlightenment," or Maskilim, as they styled themselves, and to propagate the idea of a school-reform among the orthodox Jewish masses.
But there were two directions more especially in which Hartlib's zeal without knowledge abounded. These were a grand scheme for the union of Protestant Christendom, and his propagand of Comenius's school-reform.
At the instance of Uvarov, Lilienthal had entered into correspondence with Philippson, Geiger, Crémieux, Montefiore, and other leaders of West-European Jewry, bespeaking their moral support on behalf of the school-reform and going so far as to invite them to participate in the proceedings of the Rabbinical Commission convened at St. Petersburg.
Simultaneously it was announced that the Government had summoned a Commission of four Rabbis to meet in St. Petersburg for the purpose of "supporting the efforts of the Government" in the realization of the school-reform. This Committee was to serve Russian Jewry as a security that the school-reforms would not be directed against the Jewish religion.
Everywhere he pleaded for a mitigation of the harsh laws which were pressing upon his unfortunate brethren, for the restoration of the recently abolished communal autonomy, for the harmonization of the school-reform with the religious traditions of the Jewish masses. The Tzar was informed of the contents of these petitions, but it was all of no avail.