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These twenty-three institutes number 3440 members. The aggregate of the number of members of Mechanics’ Institutes in Yorkshire, connected with the Union, now amounts to above 9000 persons. There is a further gratifying circumstance, that the increase of members has, in the short space of two years, been one-fourth. Comparing the number of members with the number of the gross population of the districts in which the institutions are founded, it appears that one in every fifty-four persons is a member of one of the Mechanics’ Institutes, while in some of the smaller towns - I may mention Pateley bridge and Ackworth one in every seventeen of the inhabitants is a member of a Mechanics’ Institute. Why should the larger towns not take a lesson from their smaller contemporaries? Then I find that various methods are adopted in these institutions. One locality finds that one system suits its operations better, while another seems better suited to a different atmosphere. But one great benefit and advantage of this union, and of this annual gathering, is, that it admits the several members to compare notes with each other, to find what has succeeded in one place, and what has failed in another, what is attracting members in one district, and what is repelling them in another, — what tends, in one place, to give a serious and practical character to the operations of the institutes, while, in another, anything which may be looked upon as of a more frivolous or derogatory character may, in its turn, be avoided. I am happy to find that, in all these institutions, several schemes most advantageous and most profitable have been established. In some of them there are all the varieties, while in others one or two obtained a greater vogue. I find that, in thirty-eight institutions, there are libraries which have 38,000 volumes, with an issue, in one year, of 173,000 volumes, made to 7900 members. With respect to evening classes, they seem to me to be one of the most profitable, and one of the most unobjectionable modes of operation which these institutes can assume. One third of the members of the associated institutes are, in the evening classes, receiving instruction in the various branches of knowledge. Eighteen of the institutions have given 235 lectures during the past year ; twenty others have given 150; and the whole thirty-eight insti. tutions have given nearly four hundred lectures during that period. In some towns and cities there are young and kindred institutions which go under the names of “ Youths' Guardian Societies,”
“Mutual Instruction Associations," and “Mutual Improvement Societies ;” and I would respectfully advise the members of Mechanics’ Institutions not to feel any jealousy or grudge of these kindred societies, if they should exist in any town, and should, on the first sight, be thought to detract from the apparent numbers of the Institute itself. Depend upon it, that in this, as in higher matters, all that are not against us are with us ; all that are seeking the same object — that are seeking to refine and elevate the taste, the intellect, and the soul, are most useful adjuncts and allies to Mechanics’ Institutes, whatever name they may bear. Then I think that the members of these Institutes have exercised much wise discretion in not confining their branches of occupation to the severer sciences to the drier, if they are the loftier, branches of learning, but have included within their range the domain of the fine arts, and some of the more polite accomplishments. I find that in many of these institutes there are drawing classes. At Halifax, there is an Art-Union for the pupils of the drawing classes, which is thrown open to the town; and in Huddersfield and Leeds, Schools of Design have been established in connection with the Mechanics' Institutes. Now, I rejoice extremely that this should be the case ; and I would hold cut this example to general imitation, because it seems to me that the delightful arts of drawing and of painting, provided they do not withdraw those who pursue them from those occupations which are necessary for them to follow, are pursuits which not only contribute to enlarge and exalt the taste, but it seems to me that an improved and inventive facility of design must tend greatly to promote the special pursuits of which such districts and such towns as these are the theatre. Where is it so much called for to make yourselves instructed in all the witcheries of design and in all the wonders of colour, as for the use of those looms, the products of which must arrest the giddy caprice of fashion, and captivate the fastidious glance of beauty? Where is it so proper to elicit all the combinations and inventions of the fancy as in that town which is the mart of the fancy trade ? I do not mean that you ought to attempt to transfer to your tweeds, to your lastings, to your cassimeres, to your waistcoats, and to your trousers, the matchless outlines of a Raphael, or the glowing tints of a Titian, any more than I should expect that lectures given on the art of poetry should turn out so many ready-made Miltons and Shakspeares, or lectures on astronomy so many Newtons and Herschels. But I entertain the conviction that a sound knowledge and appreciation of the principles of science will make you appreciate more rightly the real force of truth and reason, and also that a sound knowledge and appreciation of art will tend to fix in your mind, and to bring out in the products of your hands, the indelible stamps of proportion and of beauty. Then I find that in some of the Institutes there are classes for acquiring a competent knowledge of modern languages: and this seems to me to be a pursuit highly desirable in this age, in this country, and in this district. Why, the carriers and agents in the highways of commerce are, in some sense, the citizens of every clime, and are free of every community; and why should not our young men be able to drive their bargains, whether it be for the fleeces of Spain or for the oils of Italy, in the harmonious and soft tongues of those regions? I do not know whether my excellent friend, your worthy President, Mr. Schwann, would expect me to apply the same epithets precisely to his native tongue, but I am sure you all must be alive to the importance of rivetting, as closely as possible, the ties between the people of this country and the great German family. I also observe that in other of the Institutes there are classes set apart for acquiring a knowledge of the principle and practice of singing; and this, I think, in its place, is a very good pursuit too. I believe that the West Riding of Yorkshire has long been famous for its warblers. You will recollect that it is said that
6. The man that hath not music in his soul
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.” And so I believe that to sing gaily, cheerily, and in tune from the heart, it is almost necessary to have a good conscience. The graver pursuits, the severer walks of knowledge, carry their own recommendation with them. They must recommend themselves to all intelligent and inquiring minds; and, believe me, those who have pursued them in earnest — those who have dived most deeply into them, find that they bring with them their own reward. I do not feel it necessary, in addition to what I have said, to guard myself against attaching to knowledge, to science, to art, to fancy, and to genius, any undue or exaggerated value; I know that good and acceptable as they all are, yet there are better things even than these — things more important for man's happiness, and for
'man's virtue. I know that all you can ever read, and all you can ever learn, must fall short of a good temper and a good conscience. By a good temper I mean such a temper as will make you willing workmen, kind husbands, and affectionate fathers; and I will add for I learn with great pleasure that some of the institutes have adopted the valuable and powerful aid of female association and help, such a temper as will make you considerate wives and conscientious mothers; and by a good conscience, I mean such a conscience as will make you and keep you good Christians and good citizens. Well, gentlemen, by the side and in comparison with such attributes and qualities as these, I willingly admit to you, that the loftiest soarings of the intellect, and the brightest imaginations of the fancy, are poor and valueless. But surely it is a very vulgar and a very stupid error, to neglect or to repel anything that is good, because there may be something better.
We are not apt to refuse a shilling, because we should think it still better to have a sovereign. We know that a shilling added to a sovereign will make a guinea ; and so will knowledge enhance even the true value of virtue; and knowledge, like the shilling, very often tends to make up the whole sum of man's real sovereign virtue. And so, Ladies and Gentlemen, whom I am happy to look upon as the combined friends, and patrons, and members of Mechanics’ Institutes, I trust that you will add to your knowledge, virtue; and that, in fostering and extending the range of these institutions, you will do what in you lies to make the toiling, heaving, straining mass of the population--too likely to be led astray, - too likely to be corrupted by evil associations and bad companionship, if left without the softening and elevating influences of taste and knowledge, - a cultivated, an educated, and if so, all the more probably, a contented and a virtuous people.
BRADFORD MECHANICS' INSTITUTION.
October 6th, 1846.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I believe that it now becomes part of my pleasing duty to open the proceedings of this evening, and in doing so I cannot refrain from observing at the commencement that I believe, though I have in several instances been in the town of Bradford, upon occasions of political excitement and upon the eve of contested elections, yet that it has never fallen to my lot before to visit Bradford on what I may be allowed to call a purely social occasion. And I have felt, that considering what the importance of this town and district is, and the conspicuous place which it fills in the manufacturing history of our country, its being in fact the seat and capital of one of the principal branches of our manufactures, the worsted manufacture of the country, and its having exhibited, perhaps, a more striking and prodigious growth than any other town whatever within the limits of the kingdom,- having, as I am told, from the beginning of the century, when it scarcely amounted to 5000 inhabitants, now risen to the ample dimensions of 100,000,-and, remembering further that it has been my agreeable duty to attend in other towns in your neighbourhood, having been at Huddersfield, at Halifax, at Leeds, and at Wakefield, upon occasions not in any way connected with politics, - I did feel glad that the time was at last come when Bradford was no longer to be an exception to that rule. In a town circumstanced as this is, among all the toiling, struggling, panting hives of men, women, and children which it includes, where so much of time and thought must necessarily be engrossed by the strain of the daily task, and by the care for the daily meal, I do think it most desirable and most salutary to have some common neutral ground, restricted to no condition, limited to no class, sacred to no denomination, but where all alike equally, and at all times, can meet together, without any restraint save that of mutual self-respect without any laws save those of good manners, for the salutary and noble purpose of acquiring in the first place useful information ; in the next place, of gaining some proficiency in any elegant accomplishment; or, in the last place, of partaking in innocent recreation. I think that in a community so situated it is most desirable not only to furnish facilities for your becoming proficients in study, and in the acquisition of useful knowledge, but also to provide means of enlarging the sum of human cheerfulness and contentment. I am glad, therefore, that you
should come to the Bradford Mechanics’ Institute, that you should come to its libraries, that you should come to its lecture rooms. I wish that all those who feel so proper and honourable an ambition should come here at one time with the view of acquiring some knowledge of the wonderful workings of nature, such as they