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mises are ready. A letter now before me relates an interesting
anecdote for the encouragement of this design. 6 We have be" in our employment a common cutler who found leisure in a
“ bad time of trade to amuse himself with entomology, and who " has made great progress in arranging a collection of insects 6 for our museum. Another youth in an obscure station is pre
paring specimens of our Flora for the same. Ingenious me"chanical models have been repeatedly brought before us by persons from whom little beyond ordinary handicraft could “ have been expected.” The first two circumstances here mentioned strongly confirm the opinion which I have expressed elsewhere", and which was grounded on actual observation of Mr.
Fellenberg's establishment in Switzerland, that a high degree of releed
intellectual refinement and a taste for the pleasures of speculation, without any view to a particular employment, may be united with a life of hard labour, even in its most humble branches, and may both prove its solace and its guide.
There are other Mechanics Institutions respecting which I have not the details, as the very thriving one at Aberdeen, which has a library of 500 volumes, a valuable apparatus, and a lecture-room for 600 students, where extensive courses on chemical and mechanical science have been delivered. · The correspondence of our London Institution with different parts of the country shows that similar plans are in contemplation in various districts of England. It should seem that a little exertion alone is wanting to introduce the system universally; and this is the moment beyond all doubt, best fitted for the attempt, when wages are good, and the aspect of things peaceful.
To encourage good men in these exertions—to rouse the indifferent and cheer the desponding by setting plain facts before them, has been the object of these details. The subject is of such inestimable importance that no apology is required for anxiously addressing in favour of it all men of enlightened views, who value the real improvement of their fellow-creatures, and the best interests of country. We bound
upon this weighty matter to be instant, in season and out of season. I now speak not merely of seminaries for teaching mechanics the principles of natural and inathematical sciences, but of schools where the working classes generally may learn those branches of knowledge which they cannot master by private reading.
It must be a small town indeed, where some useful lecture may not, with a little exertion and a little encouragement, be so established that the quarterly contributions of the students may afterwards suffice to continue it. Moral and political philosophy may be acceptable even.
* Evidence before the Education Committee, 1818.
where there is no field for teachers of chemistry and mechanics; and where no lecture at all can be supported, a library may be set on foot, and the habit of useful reading encouraged. We constantly hear of public-spirited individuals; of men who are friendly to the poor and the working classes; of liberal-minded persons, anxious for the diffusion of knowledge and the cultivation of intellectual pursuits. But no one has a right to assume such titles--to take credit for both zeal and knowledge-if he has done nothing in his own neighbourhood to found a popular lecture, or, should the circle be too narrow for that, to establish a reading club, which, in many cases, will end in a lecture. For such a club, there is hardly a village in the country too small; and I have shown that towns of a very moderate size may support a lecture. After the success of the experiments already made, indeed, it seems little less than shameful that there should be any considerable town without establishments for popular edu
I speak from the actual history of some of the instances which I have cited, when I say that one man only is wanted in each place to ensure the success of the plan. Where there is such a man, and workmen in sufficient numbers,—there are all the materials that can be required. He has but to converse with a few master-workmen; to circulate, in concert with them, a notice for a meeting; or if it be deemed better to have no meeting, let them ascertain how
will attend a class; and the room may be hired and the lecturer engaged in a month. The first cost will be easily defrayed by a subscription among the rich; or, if that fail, the collection of a library will be made by degrees out of the money raised by the students. The expense of providing apparatus ought not to deter any one from making the attempt. "I have shown how much may be done with but little machinery, and a skilful lecturer can give most useful help to private study, by drawings and explanations, with hardly any experiments at all. The facilities too will increase; the wish for scientific education will beget an effectual demand, and teachers will present themselves to supply the want. Already it would be a safe adventure for a lecturer to engage in, where there are great bodies of artisans. In any of the large manufacturing towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire, a person duly qualified to teach the principles of mechanics and chemistry, and their application to the arts
, would now find it easy to collect a large class, willing and able to remunerate him for his trouble; and it is highly probable, that, before long, there will be established, in each of those places, permanent teachers upon private speculation. But, great as the disposition to learn already is among
the working classes, and certain as a lecture would be of attendants wherever it was once set on foot, there is still a necessity for the
upper classes coming forward to assist in making the first step. Those seminaries are still too new; they are too little known
among the artisans generally to be thought of and demanded by out: themselves; still more difficult would it be for them to set about o forming the plans for themselves. Even in the largest towns,
it is hardly to be expected that the workmen should yet concert measures for their own instruction, although sufficiently numerous to require no pecuniary assistance in procuring the necessary teachers. The present then is the moment for making an effort to propagate the system; and for giving that encouragement which
may at once spread those Institutions and render universally habitual the desire of knowledge that already prevails. Nor can the means be wanting among the upper, or even the middle ranks of society. There exist ample funds at present applied to charitable purposes, which at best are wasted, and more frequently employed in doing harm. I speak not now of the large revenue, a million and a half or more from endowments, which is almost altogether expended in a manner injurious to the community; not above a third part belonging to charities connected with education, and of that third by far the greatest portion going to maintain poor children, which is nearly the worst employment of such funds; while of the remaining two thirds, only a very small proportion is spent on perhaps the only harmless objects of common charity, hospitals for the sick poor, or provision for persons ruined by grievous and sudden calamities. But I allude to the large sums yearly collected in every part of the country to support charitable institutions; and, though given from the best of motives, yet applied to increase the number of the poor almost as certainly as the parish rates themselves. These funds are entirely under the control of the contributors; and to them I would fain address most respectfully a few words.
Every person who has been accustomed to subscribe for the support of what are commonly called charities, should ask himself this question. However humane the motive, am I doing any real good by so expending my money? or am I not
doing more harm than good ?' In either case, indeed, harm is done ; because, even if the money so applied should do no mischief, yet, if it did no good, harm would be done by the waste. But in order to enable him to answer the question, he must reflect, that no proposition is more undeniably true than this, that the existence of a known and regular provision for the poor, whether in the ordinary form of pensions, doles, gratuities, clothing, firing, &c., or in the shape of maintenance for poor children, in whole, or only in part, as clothing, has the inevitable tendency to bring forward not only as many objects as the provision will maintain, but a far greater number. The imme
diate consequence of such provisions is, to promote idleness and poverty beyond what the funds can relieve: the continued and known existence of the provisions trains up a race of paupers; and a provision for children, especially, promotes improvident marriages, and increases the population by the addition of paupers. It is therefore a sacred duty which every one owes to the community, to refrain from giving contributions to begin such funds; and if he has already become a yearly contributor, it is equally his duty to withdraw his assistance, unless one condition is complied with,—namely, that no new objects shall be taken into the establishment, but that those only who at present belong to it s!all be maintained; so that the mischief may be terminated within a limited time, and nothing unfair or harsh done towards those who had previously depended on its funds. I remember the time when money given to beggars was supposed to be well bestowed-a notion now exploded; yet even this exercise of benevolence is less mischievous than the support of regular establishments for the increase of paupers*.
The wise and considerate manner of proceeding which I venture to recommend, would speedily place at the disposal of charitable and enlightened individuals ample funds for supporting works of real, because of most useful charity. Let any one cast his eye over the Reports of the Education Committee and Charity Commissioners, and he may form some idea of the large funds now profusely squandered under the influence of mistaken benevolence. Of the many examples that might be given, let one suffice; its history is in the Report of 1816. The income was above 20001., of which 15001. arose from yearly subscriptions and donations. This large fund clothed 101 boys, and maintained 65 girls; but the expense of boarding and clothing the girls was of course by far the greatest part of it, perhaps 12001, Much abuse appeared to have crept into the management, in consequence of tradesmen acting as trustees, and voting on the orders to themselves, and on the payment of their own accounts. It was deemed right to check this; and a rule was adopted, at a meeting of trustees, to prevent so scandalous a practice for the future. It was, however, rejected at a meeting of the subscribers, for which, in all probability, the tradesmen had made a canvass, and obtained the attendance of friends. Nay, a most learned and humane Judge, who was one of the trustees, having afterwards proposed a resolution merely to forbid any trustee or subscriber voting on matters in which he was personally interested, it was rejected instantly, and therefore not recorded on the minutes;' whereupon his lordship abstained from attending
Letter to Sr S. Romilly, 1818,