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by the honest and genial influence which they have a tendency to spread around them, that I trust the intelligence and conscience of the times in which we live may be so fostered and so united, that every form and kind of tyranny may be effectually put down and banished ;- the tyranny of opinion, the tyranny of classes; the tyranny of the few, the tyranny of the many. And it is by the salutary control which an instructed and enlightened public will be competent to exercise over the conduct and march of affairs that you will be best able to guard yourselves, on the one hand, against undue and vexatious interference on the part of governments and rulers, and on the other hand against the abuses and neglect of local and individual interests; and that you will be able to attain that which ought to be the true aim of a nation's management, the pursuit of the best ends by the most efficient methods.
YORKSHIRE UNION OF MECHANICS INSTITUTES.
Hull, June, 1848. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I have to assure you that it is with very great pleasure that I find myself associated with you on this occasion. Though I am not so able as are many of those by whom I am surrounded to give you an account of the recent proceedings of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutions; though I am still less competent, from
any actual experience, to enter into the concerns of the Athenæum of Hull; yet I trust that you will consider that I am not out of place on this occasion. For I will beg to remind my East Riding friends among you, that I have the honour to be an office- holder in this riding. But we do not, on this occasion, consider ourselves to be limited by the boundaries of ridings, or even of counties ; and it is with no small pleasure that I see, upon this occasion, associated with us, my friend the Earl of Yarborough, and any coadjutors he may have brought with him from the county of Lincoln. I know that he and his tenantry, to say the very least, are prepared to compete with the whole world in the science and the practice of farming; and it is gratifying to find that there is no field of improvement, no branch of progress, in which they are not willing to lend a helping hand. It was said of old, by the great French king, when he put his grandson upon the throne of Spain, that there were
thenceforth to be no Pyrenees; so we, when any object of rational import, or any opportunity of social intercourse is to be imparted, may henceforth say, “ There shall be no Humber.” Now, with respect to this special occasion which has brought us together, I always must feel, that a person who wishes to recommend any institution or undertaking to general support and acceptance, ought to be careful lest he should seem unadvisedly to exaggerate its pretensions, or to put them in a false light. So I do not, on this occasion, though I think the advantages to be derived from Mechanics' Institutes, and other similar enterprises, are very great and very various, yet I do not affect to place them upon the same level as the observance of industry and honesty in the course of business; or, in the daily habit of our life, as the cultivation of domestic virtues, or household charities, or the all-comprehensire relations which subsist between man and his Creator. I should also think that person a very injudicious friend to Mechanics' Institutes who should pretend that, in your reading-rooms and lecture-rooms, the means were afforded of turning out your members as finished scholars, or ready-made philosophers, or of conferring those distinctions which must always be the reward of the midnight oil of the student, or the life-long researches of the experimentalist. But, if it be the object how to raise the toiling masses of our countrymen above the range of sordid cares and low desires to enliven the weary toil and drudgery of life with the countless graces of literature, and the sparkling play of fancy, – to clothe the lessons of duty and of prudence in the most instructive as well as the most inviting forms, — to throw open to eyes, dull and bleared with the irksome monotony of their daily task-work, the rich resources and bountiful prodigalities of nature,
- to dignify the present with the lessons of the past and the visions of the future, · to make the artisans of our crowded workshops and the inhabitants of our most sequestered villages alive to all that is going on in the big universe around them, and, amidst all the startling and repelling distinctions of our country, to place all upon the equal domain of intellect and of genius; if these objects -- and they are neither slight nor trivial — are worthy of acceptance and approval, I think that they can be satisfactorily attained by the means which Mechanics’ Institutes place at your disposal; and it is upon grounds like these that I urge you to tender them your encouragement and support. Then, if
Mechanics’ Institutes are entitled to general favour, if institu: tions such as the Athenæum and the Mechanics’ Institute of this place are a credit and an ornament to the district in which they are placed, it does not require any expression of argument to prove to you that such an institution as the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes must have a tendency to increase and diffuse the praetical benefits for which the separate branches are designed; for it is the means of spreading, on every side, the most useful information,- of pointing out the best models, — of conducting to what are the most praiseworthy objects, and the most ready means of successfully prosecuting them. It enables the inhabitants of our smaller manufacturing villages to know what has been successfully effected in the great commercial emporiums of Sheffield and Leeds ; it enables the farmers and yeomen of the Wolds to know what is achieved under the graceful towers of Beverley or around the crowded quays of Hull. I believe I am correct in the assertion that Yorkshire alone — that the district comprised in the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics' Institutes, contains a greater number of those institutions than any other, with respect to its area and population, in the whole kingdom. I find that the total number of Mechanics’ Institutions in the Yorkshire Union is 86, and the aggregate number of members 15,860. As might be expected, these institutions present to us a variety of features.
I think it almost unnecessary to explain the advantages of good lectures; but I may state that the accession of Howden to the Union is attributable to Mr. Child's lectures in that place. In the same manner, the exertions of Mr. Dunning have led to the accession of Market Weighton. I believe that the East Riding sub-union, in the most public-spirited manner, has seen the advantages of this method of providing instruction and amusement, and has hired a lecturer of its own. I am informed that in consequence of the facility and arrangements of the Yorkshire Union, the sum of 1131. has been saved by the respective institutions of which it is composed, by uniting in the engagement of well-qualified public lecturers, above what would have been paid by the separate institutions had they all separately engaged those lecturers. As might be expected, different modes of áttraction have been resorted to. At Leeds, I believe, no money whatever is taken at the door for the lectures, but they find that good lectures so increase the members, that they have no need to. resort to extraneous means of support. I believe I may congrathis place
tulate this institution at whose special invitation we are met in
- upon mixing wholesome recreation with the severer studies of literature. The Hull Athenæum has a cricket club of its own. At Saddleworth, the ladies enter so much into the spirit of the institution that, I am informed, they write essays which are read by their friends, the members of the institute. Leeds and Wakefield add to the attractions of the library and the lectureroom others of the Muses, and give monthly concerts. important benefits have been found in some places to result from the classes formed for adults, who are immersed in various occupations during the entire day, but meet together in the evening for the acquisition of those elements of education which they have not, perhaps, had the opportunity of acquiring in their youth. In this way at Huddersfield, an institution has met with much success, and working men may command great facilities for education, for sixpence a fortnight. I believe at Leeds the same facilities were
the same price was required, and, soon after the promulgation of the arrangement, there was an addition of two hundred members to the ranks of the institution. And I may now remark, which I do with sincere pleasure, that the London School of Design has consented to give elementary drawing-books to all the Mechanics Institutes which enter into the arrangements they have prescribed for the same. Already, I understand, there are drawing-classes established in twenty-seven institutions, and that the number of pupils therein is 682; and I cannot close the list of these various efforts and attractions which are displayed in the last year's labours of the Union, without being reminded that the Mechanics' Institute at Ripon has opened a commodious building for the purpose of carrying on, with increased facility, the various operations of that society. I am happy to find that my friend, the Very Reverend the Dean of Ripon, is here with us to-night, to give us an account of the spirit in which it is supported by those people who are happy enough to live under his presidency. In bringing before you these various details, I must enjoin upon all those who are here present, and may represent their several localities, to do all that in them lies to foster this wholesome spirit of competition and generous rivalry. Let us do what we can to communicate this electric impulse over all the varied features of our county's geography; let us speed it from mountain to valley; from forge and factory to meadow and to plough-land; from the
manufacturing village that just lines the moor to the wateringplace that enlivens the sea-board; from Scarborough to Saddleworth, from Wensleydale to the Spurn; and in inviting your contemplations to these wholesome exercises of effort and of progress, I cannot help asking you just to contrast these emulations and this success - not in the spirit of undue conceit or selfsufficiency, but to contrast them on account of the gratitude they ought to inspire for the benefits which they have brought upon this land, with the evils which now prevail over too great a portion of the Continent of Europe. I say this, not with the idea of infringing the wholesome rule which excludes any party politics from our festivities and public celebrations, but with reference to those more general politics which decide the destinies of our species : let me ask you just to consider, in contrast with your own condition, the general aspect of affairs as presented to us among so many tribes and kindreds of the great European Continent. Why you yourselves, at Hull, probably, can only bear but too faithful witness to the embarrassments, the inconveniences, and the losses, which result from the blockade of friendly seas, fitted and purposed to receive and to interchange the commerce of the world ; you yourselves can tell by the return of disconsolate vessels, how much harm is being inflicted by the blockade of the Elbe; by shutting the Sound ; by the insensate hostilities between Germany and Denmark. But there is hardly a community which is not too disastrously suffering from the heavings of these revolutionary whirlwinds and storms. The Russians are on the Danube, the French are on the Tiber. It really seems as if the nations of Europe, in some species of wild bacchanal, were seizing the torches of civil discord and of foreign war, and throwing them, in their furious glee, from frontier to frontier, from river to river, from rampart to rampart, and scaring all the peaceful haunts of industry with their uncouth dissonance and hideous glare. While such are the appalling sights and sounds of which we catch the reflection, and hear the echo, here in Yorkshire, here in England, while we abide in our accustomed occupations, and move on in our allotted spheres, under the broad and equal light of freedom, let it be our care to kindle the genial lamp of knowledge, and to transmit it from hand to hand, from institute to institute, from wold to plain, from class to class, from the workshop to the cottage, over every portion of our land, till there shall be no dark corner unilluminated, till there shall be no haunt of obscene revelry