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by collecting a few books, those persons left the management most wisely to the readers themselves, and required them to pay for the support of the fund and purchase of new books. Cottage Libraries upon a somewhat similar plan are beginning to be formed in some parts of England. There is one at Taunton, where the contributors pay only a penny a week, and above a thousand issues of books have been made to 80 persons in the course of a year. The only officers are a treasurer and librarian, who attend every Saturday evening, to exchange the books and receive subscriptions. They also select the books; a faulty arrangement in my opinion, unless the officers are themselves chosen by the readers. The obvious and the sound plan is to establish some general regulation respecting the kind of books to be purchased, (which must, in some degree, depend on the circumstances of each association,) and then to let each contributor choose in proportion to what he pays, or to let several join in choosing a book equal in price to their united contributions. If the rich patrons of the scheme wish to interfere with the choice, it should be either by giving books, or choosing in proportion to their pecuniary contribution. But I confess I should be better pleased to see such libraries, after they are once established, left wholly to the support of the readers, who are sure to care for them if they pay for them, long after richer patrons would tire of the details.
An excellent plan was about ten years ago adopted by Mr. S. Brown, of Haddington, for instructing the
towns and villages of the county of East-Lothian, in succession, by means of the
same books. It began with only a few volumes; but he now has 19 Itinerant Libraries of 50 volumes each, which are sent round the different stations, remaining a certain time at each. For these there are 19 divisions, and 15 stations, 4 divisions being always in use at the chief town, and 2 at another town of some note. An individual at each station acts as librarian. There are 700 or 800 readers, and the expenses, under 60l. a year, are defrayed by the produce of a sermon, the sale of some tracts, and subscriptions, in small sums averaging 5s. This plan is now adopted in Berwickshire, by Mr. Buchan, of Kelloe, with this very great improvement, that the current expenses are defrayed by the readers,
pay twopence a month, and I hope choose the books. These libraries have given rise to a scientific Institution, as we shall presently see; and it is peculiarly gratifying to observe that the original scheme from which the whole has followed, was merely a library for religious tracts, established ever since 1810; and into which were afterwards introduced, in perfect consistency with the primary object, some literary and scientific works.
It is, however, not only necessary that the money of the working classes, but their time also, should be economized; and this consideration leads to various suggestions.
In the first place, there are many occupations in which a number of persons work in the same room; and unless there be something noisy in the work, one may always read while the others are employed. If there are twenty-four men together, this arrangement would only require each man to work one extra day in four weeks, supposing the reading to go on the whole day, which it would not; but a boy or a girl might be engaged to perform the task, at an expense so trifling as not to be felt. This expedient, too, it may be observed, would save money as well as time; one copy of a book, and that borrowed for the purpose, or obtained from a reading society or circulating library, would suffice for a number of persons. I may add, that great help would be given by the better informed and more apt learners, to such as are slower of apprehension and more ignorant; and discussion (under proper regulations) would be of singular use to all, even the most forward proficients; which leads me to observe,
Secondly, That societies for the express purpose of promoting conversation are a most useful adjunct to any private or other education received by the working classes. Those who do not work together in numbers, or whose occupation is of a noisy kind, may thus, one or two evenings in the week, meet and obtain all the advantages of mutual instruction and discussion. An association of this kind will naturally combine with its plan the advantages of a book club. The members will most probably be such as are engaged in similar pursuits, and whose train of reading and thinking may be nearly the same. The only considerable evils which they will have to avoid, are, being too numerous, and falling too much into debate. From twenty to thirty seems a convenient number; and nearer the former than the latter. The tone ought to be given from the beginning, in ridicule of speech-making, both as to length and wordi
A subject of discussion may be given out at one meeting for the next; or the chairman may read a portion of some work, allowing each member to stop him at any moment, for the purpose of controverting, supporting, or illustrating by his remarks the passage just read. To societies of this kind master workmen have the power of affording great facilities. They may allow an hour, on the days when the meetings are holden; or if that is too much, they may allow the men to begin an hour earlier on those days; or if even that cannot be managed, they may let them have an hour and a half, on condition of working half an hour extra on three other days. But a more essential help will be the giving them a place to meet. There are hardly twenty or thirty workmen in any branch of business, some of whose masters have not a room, workshop, warehouse, or other place sufficient to accommodate such a society: and it is quite ne
cessary that the place of rendezvous should on no account be the alehouse. Whoever lent his premises for this purpose, might satisfy himself that no improper persons should be admitted, by taking the names of the whole club from two or three steady men, who could be answerable for the demeanour of the rest. Any interference beyond this would be unwise : unless in so far as the men might voluntarily consult their masters from time to time; and their disposition to do so must depend wholly upon the relations of kindness and mutual confidence subsisting between the parties. If any difficulty should be found in obtaining the use of a room from their masters, there seems to be no good reason why they should not have the use of any school-room that may be in their neighbourhood ; and one room of this kind may accommodate several societies; three, if the meetings are twice a week; and six, if they only meet once. I shall presently illustrate this matter further when I come to speak of the Glasgow Institution.
In the third place, it is evident that as want of time prevents the operative classes from pursuing a systematic course of education in all its details, a more summary and compendious method of instruction must be adopted by them. The majority must be content with never going beyond a certain point, and with reaching that point by the most expeditious route. A few, thus initiated in the truths of science, will no doubt push their attainments much further; and for these the works in common use will suffice; but for the multitude it will be most essential that works should be prepared adapted to their circumstances. Thus, in teaching them geometry, it is not necessary to go through the whole steps of that beautiful system, by which the most general and remote truths are connected with the few simple definitions and axioms; enough will be accomplished, if they are made to perceive the nature of geometrical investigation, and learn the leading properties of figure. In like manner, they may be taught the doctrines of mechanics with a much more slender previous knowledge both of geometry and algebra, than the common elementary works on dynamicks pre-suppose in the reader. Hence, a most essential service will be rendered to the cause of knowledge by him who shall devote his time to the composition of elementary treatises on the Mathematics, sufficiently clear, and yet sufficiently compendious, to exemplify the method of reasoning employed in that science, and to impart an accurate knowledge of the most useful fundamental propositions, with their application to practical purposes; and treatises upon Natural Philosophy, which may teach the great principles of physics, and their practical application, to reachers who have but a general knowledge of mathematics, or who are even wholly ignorant of the science beyond the common rules of arithmetic. Nor let
it be supposed, that the time thus bestowed is given merely to instruct the people in the rudiments of philosophy, though this would of itself be an object sufficiently brilliant to allure the noblest ambition ; for what higher achievement did the most sublime philosophy ever aspire after, than to elevate the views and refine the character of the great mass of mankind—at least in later times, when science no longer looks down as of old upon the multitude, supercilious, and deeming that great spirits alone perish not with the body? But if extending the bounds of science itself be the grand aim of all philosophers in all ages, they indirectly, but surely, accomplish this object, who enable thousands to speculate and experiment for one to whom the path of investigation is now open. It is not necessary that all who are taught, or even any large proportion, should go beyond the rudiments; but whoever feels within himself a desire and an aptitude to proceed further, will press forward; and the chances of discovery, both in the arts and in science itself
, will be thus indefinitely multiplied. Indeed, those discoveries immediately connected with experiment and observation, are most likely to be made by men, whose lives being spent in the midst of mechanical operations, are at the same time instructed in the general principles upon which these depend, and trained betimes to habits of speculation. He who shall prepare a treatise simply and concisely unfolding the doctrines of Algebra, Geometry, and Mechanics, and adding examples calculated to strike the imagination, of their connexion with other branches of knowledge, and with the arts of common life, may fairly claim a large share
in that rich harvest of discovery and invention which must be reaped by the thousands of ingenious and active men, thus enabled to bend their faculties towards objects at once useful and sublime.
Although much may be done by the exertions of individuals, it is manifest that a great deal more may be effected by the labours of a body, in furthering this important measure. The subject has for some time past been under consideration, and I am not without hopes of seeing formed a Society for promoting the composition, publication, and distribution of cheap and useful works. To qualify persons for becoming efficient members of this association, or co-operating with it all over the country, neither splendid talents, nor profound learning, nor great wealth are required. Though such gifts, in their amplest measure, would not be thrown away upon so important a design, they are by no means indispensable to its success. A well-informed man of good sense, filled with the resolution to obtain for the great body of his fellow-creatures, that high improvement which both their understandings and their morals are by nature fitted to receive, may labour in this good work, either in the central institution or in some remote district, with the certainty of success, if he have
botually in the reading of uneducated persons; a word may
only that blessing of leisure for the sake of which riches are
chiefly to be coveted. Such a one, however averse by taste or els habit to the turmoil of public affairs, or the more ordinary strifes 2015 of the world, may in all quiet and innocence enjoy the noblest
gratification of which the most aspiring nature is susceptible; he
may influence by his single exertions the character and the forpate tunes of a whole generation, and thus wield a power to be envied dlatego even by vulgar ambition for the extent of its dominion--to be ches el turished by virtue itself for the unalloyed blessings it bestows.
Fourthly, The preparation of elementary works is not the
only, nor, at first, is it the most valuable service that can be renet de dered towards economizing the time of the labouring classes.
The institution of Lectures is, of all the helps that can be given,
the most valuable, where circumstances permit; that is, in towns and are of a certain size. Much may thus be taught, even without any the brother instruction; but, combined with reading, and subservient
i les to it, the effects of public lectures are great indeed, especially in cu cabin the present deficiency of proper elementary works. The stu
dents are enabled to read with advantage; things are explained
to them which no books sufficiently illustrate; access is afforded le to teachers, who can remove the difficulties which occur perpe
often suffice to get rid of some obstacle which would have impeded the unassisted student's progress for days; and then, whatever requires the performance of experiments to become intelligible,
can only be learnt by the bulk of mankind at a lecture, inasout much as the wealthy alone can have such lessons in private, and
none but men highly gifted can hope to master those branches of
The branches of knowledge to which these observations chiefly apply, are Mechanical Philosophy and Chemistry, both as being more intimately connected with the arts, and as requiring
more explanation and illustration by experiment. But the Main thematics, Astronomy, and Geology, the two former especially,
are well fitted for being taught publicly, and are of great practical
Nor is there any reason why. Moral and Political Philosophy should not be explained in public lectures, though they may be learnt by reading far more easily than the physical In all plans of this description, it is absolutely necessary that
expenses should mainly be defrayed by those for whose benefit they are contrived. It is the province of the rich to lay the foundation, by making certain advances which are required in the first instance, and enabling the poor to come forward, both as learners and contributors. But no such scheme can either take a deep root, or spread over the country so as to produce its full measure of good, unless its support is derived from