Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

which has founded a library for the use of its members, receives, on the publication of every work, a copy upon large paper, to be deposited in the library.

“A general assembly composed of deputies of the different des partments is held every year in the month of August. In this assembly laws are made and resolutions passed. The execution of these laws, the management of the affairs which occur in the intervals of the annual assemblies, the correspondence of the departments, and the business of finance, are confided to a college of ten members, who bear the name of Directors in chief of the Society; to whom is joined a General Secretary.

“ The whole Society, considered as a body and united in one point, makes choice of means the most proper to accomplish its views, and the general direction is charged with proposing and explaining these means. The whole Society as a single body labours in the theoretical part, whilst each department in particular is using its best exertions to put those methods in operation which have been generally approved, and to realise the theories proposed. It hence follows, that the labours of the Society must in the first place be regarded in their connection with the Society in general, and in the second place in relation to the particular departments.

“The Society cousiders it as a duty in the first place to endeavour to destroy all false and hurtful ideas, and to substitute for them others more enlightened, and which shall correspond as much as possible to the wants of every one.

“In considering religion as the principal foundation of all moral reform, the Society began by publishing a work upon the proofs of the existence of God, derived from reason, and on the moral - consequences which result from it, and by a demonstration that the characters of a divine revelation are found in the books of the Old and New Testament.

“We have spoken above of the two principal duties, with the execution of which the Society has charged itself

. With regard to the first, it has patronized and published discourses on the falsehood, immorality, and mischief of certain prejudices, on the subject of fortune-telling, magic, ghosts, astrology, &c. It continues also to attack other false and erroneous ideas disgraceful to reason.

“With respect to the second, it is especially anxious to place in an agreeable point of view the principal duties which are imposed upon men. Many works tending to this end have been published. The Society has exhibited the portrait of the good man: it has displayed to the artisan and to the domestic servant

their particular duties; from it the inhabitant of Holland learns to know himself. It demonstrates the utility of the love of la ' bour, develops the social duties, and places under the eyes of young people, in an amusing and instructive manner, the obligations which are imposed upon them. Always indefatigable in the exercise of its duties, it offers to the eyes of its fellow citizens the most striking picture of the connexion which exists between truth and happiness; it shows by the most instructive demonstration, that religious sentiments are the sources of temporal and eternal happiness; it traces the inimitable character of the great Saviour of men; it teaches men to know the perfections of the Creator by his works, and gives even to the most simple people the means of being acquainted with nature in its immutable laws. To influence those who are principally affected by their senses, it borrows the charms of poetry in a collection of pretty and popular songs. If the Society labours for the moral wants of riper age, it occupies itself no less, and even still more, with what regards the culture of the future race. The discourses upon moral education and upon physical education sufficiently prove this assertion. The great number of elementary books which it publishes from time to time afford further proof. These works become so much the more known, since in many schools they have been substituted for others less proper for the instruction of youth. Let us pause for a moment on the great revolution which the influence of this Society has produced upon the instruction which the young Hollander receives in the schools. The old method, ill suited to obtain the end of public education, though hearing the authority of a long series of years, was deemed imperfect. It is by the influence of the Society that the method of teaching has become more analogous to the true progress of the development of the intellectual faculties. This Society teaches schoolmasters in what manner to inculcate at a very early period, in the minds of youth, the principles of the social virtues, and takes care to furnish them with the means. instrukts parents in the true interests of their posterity, and proves to them incontestably, that if we would form useful inembers of civil society, we must cultivate the minds of young people and give them a taste for virtue The Society of public Utility points out the means and the manner of uniting instruction in the most necessary kinds of knowledge, with a gradual development of the intellectual faculties. It strives as much as possible to exclude from the lessons which are given, every thing dry and fatiguing, and to supply their place with agreeable precepts more conformable to the natural sprightliness of childhood.

It

“This Society has not neglected the noble task which it undertook, of recompensing worthy actions, and is always discharging it: witness the medals and honourable certificates which are annually distributed at the general assembly. The nations of Europe have applauded its generous efforts, which tend to secure public felicity, and to guarantee the happiness of the future race. If this Society in general labours to propagate sound knowledge and pure morality, if it strives to overcome ancient prejudices, the departments of this body in particular no less concur in seconding these useful views. To each assembly of any department one of its members holds a discourse on some point of morals, of history, &c.; and at such meetings even skilful natural philosophers often perform experiments, the object of which is to overthrow all prejudices respecting the phænomena of nature, and to illustrate those points which are incomprehensible to the great bulk of the people : on these occasions the pretended secrets of quackery, by means of which the people are still so often imposed upon, are unveiled. Sometimes the matter is enlivened and rendered more agreeable by the charms of poetry; and by a tacit agreement among the orators, the bounds prescribed by the Society are never exceeded. It is there that the workman, the artisan, the cultivator, and other individuals of the illiterate class, come to learn, and to cherish the duties which accompany the titles of father, husband, son, subject, and citizen.

“Many departinents circulate among their poorer fellow citizens little useful tracts, the style and ideas of which are within the reach of the least enlightened individuals. We may quote among others the pamphlet on the abuse of strong liquors, on the dangers of libertinism and gaming, upon the means of perfecting the culture of the land, &c. Other departments have established libraries, where the poorer citizens may acquire useful knowledge from books selected for the purpose. Seminaries for the training of masters have been established in other departments, and have already produced excellent instruments for the national instruction. Many institutes of education for both sexes, established and maintained at the expense of some departments, flourish, and distinguish themselves advantageously, above all by the solid knowledge which they impart to the youth. Intimately persuaded that a noble emulation is the most powerful spring, and that every thing depends on directing it to a useful object, the Society proposed to distribute prizes to those young people who distinguish themselves by their application to the elementary sciences. This plan, adopted by many departments, has been crowned with the most happy success. Excited by the hope of an

[ocr errors]

honourable recompense, the young people make the greatest efforts to merit such flattering distinctions. Thus labouring in concert for the perfection of the human species in general, and the inhabitants of Holland in particular, the departments render their labours converging towards the great object and end of the system of society, the happiness of all.

“ From this faithful picture it is easy to appreciate the good which this Society has performed, and to judge of what it may yet be expected to accomplish.

-66 The number of members which compose it, many of whom hare advantageously distinguished themselves by their knowledge; the constant and invariable march of this body towards the end proposed; funds sufficient to meet the expenses required by such an institution; all this can but augur well of the final result.

“ To become still more useful to the less enlightened classes of the nation, the Society has absolutely renounced every thing which carries a scientific appearance. Unseduced by the splendour of other learned societies, it confines itself to labours no less noble, but of greater simplicity. It is anxious to promote the development and growth of true Christian principles in man; but it abstains from touching upon any dogma adopted by particular sects. It is disposed to subdue prejudice; but it neither advances nor patronizes any particular system. Its wish is to form good citizens; but it does not enter into any discussion upon political matters, and confines itself solely to demonstrate that the happiness of a state is founded on good morals, and on the respect and submission which is yielded to the constituted authorities. A glance upon the list of the works which this Society has published will prove that every thing is made to bear upon one principle. Every thing conspires to bear testimony in favour of the plan of the founder, who, after a pretty long career, time

ago closed a useful life, and carried with him to the grave the sweet satisfaction of having been permitted to behold his work crowned with the most happy and unexpected success.

The importance of a general combination for the execution of any great purpose has been long felt and acknowledged. In the present instance we have proofs of the vast and important consequences which it may produce; and we cannot but recommend this noble example in Holland to the most serious attention of the Committee of the British and Foreign School Society. We are persuaded that a similar plan brought forward by thein would meet with cordial support from the liberal and thinking part of the community.

some

British and Fureign School Society.

W.

B congratulate the friends of religious liberty, and those who have the best interests of the great mass of our poor population sincerely at heart, upon the progress now making by this important Institution. Long, too long, had its efforts been greatly eramped ; but we are now happy to find that the dignified and distinguished Patrons of the work, together with the Committee, so far from suffering difficulties to abate their zeal, have redoubled their exertions. They will, we are confident, rise superior to all opposition, and perform a service for their country, and for mankind at large, which shall distinguish the nineteenth century.

The General Meeting, in pursuance of the Rules of the Society, was held on the 24th of November, at the Free Masons' Tavern. His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent presided as Chairman. The Duke of Sussex was only prevented by indisposition from being present. His Royal Highness was supported by Messrs. Whitbread, Brougham, and Hume, The great hall was nearly filled by a most respectable audience.

To the firm, manly, and steady support of the Royal Dukes this Society, in a great measure, owes its preservation; and in the course of the Report which was read by the Secretary, we were happy to find that its illustrious President, though absent in a foreign country, is still anxious for the success of an institution which he has patronized from its commencement. The following Extracts from Letters to the Secretary, received from

the Duke of Bedford, dated from Cintra near Lisbon, were heard with strong marks of gratification :

“ I received with much satisfaction your detailed and very interesting letter of the 29th August, with its accompanying documents. I am most happy to learn that the great object we have in view, of promoting the work of General Education, is not likely to fail from the untoward events against which we have had to struggle, and that a spirit seems arising, which may henceforward bid defiance to all the efforts of prejudice and of malevolence.”

“ I was happy to see by the imperfect Report of the newspapers, that the “ British and Foreign School Society continued to prosper, and that the Anniversary Meeting had been so respectably attended: and I inclose a draft on my banker for my contribution to the Insti

« FöregåendeFortsätt »