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the help afforded them in beginning such institutions, and quite ready to receive advice from those who render them assistance. But if the latter keep the management entirely in their own hands, they enforce the appeal to gratitude by something very like control; and they hurt the character of those whom they would serve. For this reason, as well as for promoting more effectually and generally the establishment of these institutions, it is of the last importance that the yearly expense should be reduced to such a sum as can be wholly raised by the students. What they receive in money from their superiors will then be given once for all at the outset ; what they receive from time to time in good counsel, and in teaching, either by lectures or publications, shows much real kindness, confers a great benefit, and ensures a grateful return, without bringing into action any of those feelings alike painful and injurious, which arise from the assumption of authority grounded on the mere differences of rank and wealth.

It is now fit that we advert to the progress that has already been made in establishing this system of instruction. Its commencement was the work of Dr. Birkbeck, to whom the people of this island owe a debt of gratitude, the extent of which it would not be easy, perhaps in the present age not possible, to describe; for as, in most cases, the effective demand precedes the supply, it would have been more in the ordinary course of things, that a teacher should spring up at the call of the mechanics for instruction : but long before any symptoms appeared of such an appetite on their part, and with the avowed purpose of implanting the desire in them, or at least of unfolding and directing it, by presenting the means of gratification, that most learned and excellent person formed the design, as enlightened as it was benevolent, of admitting the working classes of his fellow-countrymen to the knowledge of sciences, till then almost deemed the exclusive property of the higher ranks in society, and only acquired accidentally and irregularly in a few rare instances of extraordinary natural talents, by any of the working classes. Dr. Birkbeck, before he settled in London, where he has since reached the highest station in the medical profession, resided for some time in Glasgow as Professor in the Anderson College; and about the year 1800, he announced a Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy, and its application to the Arts, for the instruction of mechanics. But a few at the first availed themselves of this advantage ; by degrees, however, the extraordinary perspicuity of the teacher's method, the judicious selection of his experiments, and the natural attractions of the subject, to men whose lives were spent in directing or witnessing operations, of which the principles were now first unfolded to them, proved successful in diffusing a general taste for the study;

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and when he left Glasgow two or three years afterwards, about seven hundred eagerly and constantly attended the class.

For some time after Dr. Birkbeck's departure, the lectures of his able and worthy successor Dr. Ure were well frequented; and when the number of the students began to decline, probably from the circumstance of their having no direct share in the management of the Institution, the Professor happily thought of adding to it a library for the use of the mechanics, and entrusting the direction of it entirely to a committee chosen by themselves. This gave new life to the enterprise, and the Gas Light Company having in return for some services rendered them by the Professor, agreed to light the book-room two evenings in the week, a custom arose among the men who came to change their books, of remaining to converse upon the subjects of their reading, and an extraordinary impulse was thus given to their spirit of inquiry. The Library Committee, too, being chosen by the whole body, became in some sort its representative, and claimed to interfere in the management of the Institution. It soon happened that some of their suggestions were not attended to; and a difference, at first to be regretted, led to consequences highly beneficial; for a great number seceded from the lectures and formed an Institution entirely under the management of the mechanics themselves. It has been successful beyond all expectation; a thousand working men attended it last winter, while the numbers of the parent establishment were scarcely diminished. Out of these public associations has arisen one upon a more confined but most useful plan, applicable to every large manufactory. The Gas Light Company's men, between 60 and 70 in number, have formed themselves, on the suggestion of Mr. Nelson the foreman, into a club for mutual instruction; laying by a small sum monthly, they have collected about 300 volumes, and the Company giving them a library room, which they light and heat, the men meet every evening, to converse upon literary and scientific subjects, and once a week to lecture; any one who chooses, giving a fortnight's notice that he will treat on some subject which he has been studying. The books are of all kinds, with the exception of theology, which from the various sects the men belong to is of necessity excluded.*

It is somewhat singular, that although there are many towns in Scotland, and some within a short distance of Glasgow, where hundreds of artisans are collected, yet twenty years elapsed before the example was followed, and men profited by an experiment, which, for so long a period, was constantly before

* love this interesting information to an admirable letter of Mr. D. Bannatyne to Dr. Birkbeck, in the Mechanics Register. Mr. B. as early as 1817 strongly recommended to the country the extension of Dr. B.'s plan, in a valu. able paper which he contributed to Mr. M. Napier's Encyclopædia.

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their
eyes,

and attended with such reinarkable success.
not till the year 1821 that Edinburgh adopted the plan with
some variations, a part of which appear to be improvements.

The promoters of the measure began by drawing up a short sketch of the proposed institution, and causing it to be circulated among the principal master mechanics, with a request that they would read it in their work hops, and take down the names of such of the men as were desirous of being taught the principles of those sciences most useful to artisans. In the course of ten days, between 70 and 80 names were entered; and a private meeting was held of a few gentlemen who were disposed to encourage the experiment. These resolved to begin a subscription for the purpose. In April 1821 they circulated a prospectus among the mechanics, announcing the commencement of a Course of Lectures on Mechanics, and another on Chemistry, in October following,—with the opening of a Library of Books upon the same subjects, for perusal at home as well as in the room; the hours of lecture to be from eight to nine in the evening, twice a week, for six months; and the terms of admission to the whole, both lectures and library, fifteen shillings a year. A statement was then issued to the public at large, announcing the establishment of a “ School of Arts," with the particulars of the plan; and so well was it received, by all classes, that in September, notice was given of 220 mechanics having entered as students, and such a sum having been subscribed by the public, as enabled the Directors to open the establishment in October. When 400 had purchased tickets, the two courses of lectures were delivered by Dr. Forbes and Mr. Galbraith; to which one on architecture and one on farriery were added, with a class for architectural and mechanical drawing during the

The Mechanical Lectures had hardly begun, when some of the students, finding the want of mathematical knowledge, proposed to form themselves into a class, under one of their own number, a joiner, who had agreed to teach them gratuitously the Elements of Geometry and the higher branches of Arithmetic. This suggestion was warmly approved of by the Directors, and some assistance in books being given, thirty met once a week for Geometry, and once for Arithmetic; and adopting the plan of mutual instruction, they arranged the class in five divisions, each under the best scholar as a Monitor, and going over in one night the lessons of the night before. The number of this class being limited to thirty, those who were excluded formed another on the same plan, under a cabinet-maker, also a student of the School of Arts. The joiner's name is James Yule; the cabinet-maker's, David Dewar; and their successful exertions to teach their fellow-workmen are deserving of very great commen

summer recess.

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dation. Mr. Galbraith, the Mechanical Professor, adopted the plan of setting exercises to his pupils; and a list has been published of those who chiefly distinguished themselves by the number and accuracy of their solutions, being 25 persons.

The average receipts of the two first years were, from subscriptions, 4481. yearly, and from the students 3001. The average expenditure was about 6201., and a saving of 3001. was made towards building a lecture-room. The expenditure includes, for furniture and apparatus, 2161. a year; for books and binding, 110l.; and for expenses incident to the subscriptions, as advertisements, collection and meetings, about 701. ;--leaving, of current necessary expenses, about 2201. only: so that, if the extrinsic subscriptions were at an end, or were confined to the accumulation of a fund for building, the students could themselves carry on the establishment, and have a surplus of 801. a year for the wear and tear, and increase, of the apparatus and the library; and if their contributions were increased to a pound yearly, which would probably make very little, if any, difference in the numbers of students, an additional 1001. would be afforded for the better payment of the Lecturers, or, if they continue satisfied, for the establishment of new lectures. This statement is important, as confirming the calculation formerly given, and showing, that, in places where the rich are less liberally inclined than in Edinburgh, the same invaluable establishments may easily be formed and perpetuated, by a judicious encouragement given at first to the mechanics, and without the necessity of relying upon continued assistance from those who first promoted and aided them.*

As nothing can be more useful to the community of that great and enlightened city than the formation of this establishment, so nothing can be more honourable to the inhabitants than the zeal and the harmony with which all ranks have united in conducting it, and all parties among the rich in giving it their support. To Mr. Leonard Horner, in particular, with whom the plan originated and who has principally had the superintendence of its execution, the most grateful acknowledgments are deservedly due; and I trust I may so far use the privilege of ancient friendship, as to express my conviction that there is no tion in which his greatly lamented brother would, had he been preserved to us, have borne a deeper interest, and no object which he would more willingly have seen connected with his name.

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* It has been thought proper to vest the management of this institution wholly in the subscribers. Lo considerations, of which I cannot pretend to be a judge, may have rendered this necessary, but it seems, according to the most obvious principles, inconsistent with the prosperity and permanence of

the plan.

21

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The complete success of Dr. Birkbeck's plan both at Glasgow originally, and afterwards in a place abounding far less with artisans, very naturally suggested the idea of giving its principles a more general diffusion by the only means which seem in this country calculated for universally recommending any schemeits adoption in London. An Address was published by Messrs. Robertson and Hodgkin, in the Mechanics Magazine,

October 1823; and the call was answered promptly by Dr. Birkbeck himself, and other friends of education, as well as by the master mechanics and workmen of the metropolis. A meeting was held in November; the Mechanics Institution was formed; a subscription opened; and a set of regulations adopted. Of these by far the most important and one which in common, I believe, with all my colleagues, I consider to be altogether essential, provides that the committee of management shall be chosen by the whole students, and consist of at least two-thirds working men. The plan was so speedily carried into execution, that in January Dr. Birkbeck, our president, most appropriately opened the Institution with an introductory address to many hundred workmen, crowding from great distances in the worst season and after the toils of the day were over, to slake that thirst of knowledge which forms the most glorious characteristic of the age; nor was the voluntary offer of a course of lectures upon Mechanics less appropriate on the part of Professor Millington, who with an honest pride declared to his audience, that he had originally belonged to the same class with themselves. In the course of the year,

lectures were delivered by Mr. Phillips on Chemistry, Mr. Doichin on Geometry, Dr. Birkbeck on Hydrostatics, Mr. Cooper on the application of Chemistry to the Arts, Mr. Newton on Astronomy, and Mr. Black on the French language, to great and increasing numbers of workmen. About a thousand now belong to the Institution, and pay 20s, a year. Temporary accommodation has hitherto been provided at the chapel in Monkwell-street, formerly Dr. Lindsey's; and if upon such a subject we might make any account of omens, surely a scheme for the improvement of mankind could not be commenced under happier auspices than in the place which so virtuous and enlightened a friend of his country had once filled with the spirit of genuine philanthropy and universal toleration. But extensive premises have been procured in Southampton Buildings, for the permanent seat of the Institution; and the foundation has been laid there of a spacious lecture-room, and other suitable apartments for the library and apparatus. The sum required for these buildings exceeds three thousand pounds; and it has been generously advanced by Dr. Birkbeck. Others have made presents of money, books, and apparatus ; and I should mention with greater admiration the gift of a thousand pounds from Sir

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