Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

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the nobility and gentry, no one of whom ever wrote
a treatise on any subject, promoted a useful inven-
tion, or handled a single musket in defence of their
country. One of these ladies, since 1833, has
pocketed more than £10,000; another, since 1803,
above £16,000 ; another, since 1784, above £28,000 ;
and two ladies belonging to the same family,
£38,096. One family, consisting of four indivi-
duab, one of whom is a lady, since 1787, has swal-
lowed np no less than £86,000 of the national re-
sources ; and two individuals, belonging to another
family, the sum of £60,816. About a dozen indi-
viduals, belonging to seven or eight families, have
consumed no less than £280,000 wnin^ from a na-
tion ground down under the load of excessive taxa-
tion. What, then, would be the amount o[ all the
mms which have been expended on the thousands of
individuals wbobe names have been recorded in
the pension list during the last 50 years I And, be
it remembered, that most, if pot all, of these per-
sons are possessed of independent fortunes^ are con-
nected with the higher circles of society, and
scarcely a dozen of them have performed a single
action that entitled them to sucn remuneration —
while many worthy individuals, men of science and
philanthropy, who have promoted knowledge and
the best interests of society, have been left to pine
in poverty, and to pass tbeir lives in an inglorious
obscurity. — Another item which mi^ht be saved,
and devoted to the purpose of mental improvement,
is the immense snms which have been expended in
olectionetrin^ contests. In some instances, no less
than forty thousand pounds have been expended by
a Kingle family in endeavoring, for selfish purposes,
to obtain for a friend a seat in Parliament, which
were wasted in promoting bribery, perjury, broils,
contentions, rioting, and drunkenness. In the late
elections (January, 1835) we have reason to believe
that several millions have been expended. Sup-
posing that there were only 550 contested elections
—that only two individuals were opposed to each
other— and that the average expense of each candi-
date amounted to £3,000, the whole sums wasted in
this manner would amoiut to three wUUions three
ktmdred thousand pounds. In one or two instances
it is asserted, that the expenses incurred by a single
candidate were no less than twelve and fifteen
thousand pounds.— The expenses, too, connected
with sinecure offices, which have been bestowed on
wealthy individuals, would be nearly sufficient to
pay the annual interest of the sum reauisite for
establishing all the institutions to which I have ad-
verted. It nas been cakolated, that the incomet of



only eleven persons connected with the ** Peel and
Wellington ministry," along with some of their
friends— derived from sinecures, places, and pen-
sions—amounts to about £88,0()0 per annum, be-
sides their official salaries as ministers of the
crown. The Duke of Wellington alone— including
pensions and interest of grant— is said to cost the
country £33,104 a-year.- Almost all the money ex-
pended in elections might be saved, if proper laws
and regulations were adopted, and if electors were
vanSoTwXj permitted to act as rational beings, and to
vote according to the dictates of their consciences;
and if only half the expenses usuallv incurred on
such occasions were devoted to nobler objects, it
would form an important iUm in the expenses re-
auisite for establishing philanthropic institutions.
As to sinecures, either in church or state, it is no-
thing short of bare-faced robbery of the national
wealth, and an insult offered to an enlightened
people, that such offices should exist ; and. particu-
larly, that they should be bestowed on thoie who
are living in splendor and luxurious abundanea.

Besides the savings which might be made in the
public expenditure, there is a still greater sum which
might be saved from various items in the private
establishments of wealthy individuals, which mi|fht
be devoted to national improvements. The saving
of a single bottle of wine a-day, would amount to
£50 a-year; the discarding of an unnecessary ser-
vant, to nearly the same sum ; keeping four horses
instead of six, would be a saving of at least £60;
and discarding a score of hounds would save more
than a hundred pounds a-jrear. There are thou-
sands in our country, who in this way could save
£500 a-year, to be devoted to rational and benevo-
lent purposes, without feeling the least diminution
of their 8en.<niive enjoyments. There are hundreds
of thousands in the middle ranks of life who could
save £20 a-year, by discarding unneussarv luxuries,
in regard to houses, furniture, food and clothing,
and itt\ themselves just as comfortable as before ;
and there are many more among the lower ranks
who could save several pounds every year, which
are now wasted either in folly or intemperance, and
find then»elves richer and more comfortable at the
the close of the year than at any former period.
Let us suppose, what is perhaps not far from the
truth, that there are 50,000 individuals, or the ^
part of the British ixypulation, who, at an average,
have incomes of £3,000 per annum, and could de-
vote £300 a-year to public purposes— some much
more, and some less; this would amount to fflrn^
millions a-vear. There may next be reckoned
about 900,000 with incomes, at an average of £300
per annum, who couki devote a similar proportion
namely £30 per annum ; which would amount to
six millions. Supposing the population of Great
Britain to be 16,000,000, and that only one-fourth
of this number, nameljr 4,000,000, have it in their
power to devote a certain portion of their income
to the purposes alluded to, there would still remain
3,750,CK)0 of the lower classes, who might be sup-
fMKsed, on an average, able to devote one guiuMa
a-year to the same objects, which would amount to
neariy four millions. So that twtntif'five millions
of pounds might be raised o m me Wy ft>r literary,
philanthropic, and religious purposes, without any
one feeling the loss of any sensitive enjorment, but
on the oootrary, enjoying the purest gratification in
beholding improremenis going forward, and the
plans of benevolence gradually accomplishing.
Fassing many other considerations of this kind, the
only other item of expenditure I shall notice i«, that
which is spent In the purchase of ivtrtteMS liqu^n^
which are for the most part detoted to the purposes
of hUmpetemet. Aocording to an estimate made



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190



MORAL IMPROVEMENT OF MANKIND.



by Mr. Bockiogbam and the Committee appointed
by Parliament to investigate the state of intemper-
ance, it appears, that, within the limits of Great
Britain and Ireland, there is a loss sustained by the
use of ardent spirits amoaniin^ to nearly ^^Jifly
millions sterling per annum f" It is stated, that, in
the cixy of Gla^ow alone, the sum expended in in-
toxicating drinks " is nearljr e<|aal to the whole
amount expended on pnblic institutions of charity
and benevolence in the entire united kingdom/'
This item alone would be more than sufficient for
all the purposes of philanthropy and of universal
improvement. I shall only add further, that, were
all the bishoprics in England reduced to £2,000 a^
year, the balance wonld famish several hundred
thousands of pounds a-year which mip:ht be devoted
to educational purposes; and both religion and edu-
cation would be promoted by such an arrangement.
Still, our bishops would have more than doable the
income of the Protestant bishops on the Continent,
and would likely perform more substantial services
than they now do to the cause of religion. Con-
versing lately with an intelligent Prussian gentle-
man on this subject, he informed me that the clergy
in Prussia of the same rank, with vicars and rec-
tors in the Church of England, have an income of
from £100 to £250, reckoned in British money ;
and that the salaries of the bishops are only from
£300 to £500, and that they are far more actively
ensaged in the services of the church than the
bisnops of England.

Thus it appears, that there is, in reality, no want
of resources for establishing an efficient system of
moral and intellectual education on the most splen-
did and extensive scale. Instead of fony millions
in all, we could raise forty millions per annum, and
would ultimately be gainers by such a sacrifice, in
the diminution of crime, the protection of property,
the progress of improvement, and the mcreased
physical and mental powers of our population. We
nave the power and the means to promote the refor-
mation or society, and even the renovation of the
world at large, if we had the will to apply them.
But this is the grand desideratum. To attempt to
convince some of our dukes and marquises, our
bishops and souires, our fox-hunters, horse-racers,
and fashionable gamblers, that it is their duty to
contribute of their abundance for such an object,
would be as vain as to beat the air, to speak to the
hurricane, or attempt to interrupt the dashings of
a cataract by the breath of our nostrils. But there
Is one class of the population to which I would ad-
dress myself with some hopes of success— nameljr,
members of the Christian Church on whom Provi-
dence has bestowed a considerable portion of wealth
and influence. Many of these have already come
forward with a noble liberality in the cause of mis-
sions and of general philanthropy; and they re-
quire only an additional stimulus to excite them to
still more liberal exertions in the cause of human
improvement. But the generality of Christians
seem to have forgotten the Divine declaration
" The silver ix mine, and the gold is mine, saith the
Lord of hosts,''~and that a goodly portion of the
wealth which God hath bestowed upon them, ought
to be dkrecily consecrated to his services. The
church itseli has hitherto been too remiss on this
point, and has not been carefbl to enforce upon the
consciences of its members, their indispensable ob-
ligation to devote their treasures to the promotion
of religion and of pnblic improvement. How many
nominal Christians do we see living under the iii-
flnence of that *' comtausness which v, idolatry ,"~
boarding up hundreds and thousand of pounds, for
the purpose either of avarice or ostentation, or un-
der pretence of providing fortunes for their fami-
lies, while it^is with the ntmost difficulty that a single



guinea can be squeezed from their pockets for any
object of benevolence or public utility 1 Almost
every one seems to reaiKjn, like the Duke of New-
castle, that he has a right ^^to do what he pleases
with his ovmt" not considering that be is responsible
to God for the use he makes of his riches, and for
every shilling he withholds from bis service.

Under the Mosaic economv, the Jews were en-
joined to devote a tenth part of their substance to the
Levites and the Priests, or, in other words, for the
purpose of supporting education and the worship of
God ; for the Levites were the principal instructors
of the people. Under the Christian dispensation,
the same proportion, if not more, ought to be volun-
tarily ofifered for carrying forward those plans which
have a tendency to promote the honor of Gkxl and
the eood of mankind. In certain cases, where a
wealthv individual has no family of bis own, I con-
ceive It is his bounden duty to devote at least the
one-half of his riches to such purposes. Till suck
views and practices become more general among
Christians, we must still look forward to a distant
period for the arrival of the Millennium. For the
purpose of hastening the approach of this gloriotis
crsj we are told, m ancient prophecy, tnat the
" kmgs of Tarshish and of the isles, shall bring pre-
sents, and offer gifts''— 4hat " the flocks of Kedar
and the rams of Nebaioth," shall be brought as ac-
ceptable ofierings to the altar of Gk)d,— that " the
glory of Lebanon, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the
box together, shall beautify the place of his sanc-
tuary,"— and that, " they shall come on camels and
dromedaries, and bring gold and incense, and show
forth the praises of the Lord.*' Such offerings are
expressions of our gratitude to God for the bounties
of hl^ providence and the riches of his grace, and
of our desire to co-operate with him, in bringing into
effect the purposes of his will and the predictions of
his word ; and no one who is indifferent to such ob»
jects ought to a.ssume the character of a follower of
Jesns. And, let Christians remember, that by car-
rying forward such a system of education as that to
which I refer, they are using the most efficient means
for promoting the extension of the gospel. For the
gospel can never be universally understood or ap-
preciated till the young be universally educated. —
It is owing to the* want of education, and the igno-
rance and vicious habits that result from it, that
multitudes refuse to enter within a place of worship,
and when they do come, are incapable of fixing their
attention on religious objects, or of understanding
the truths delivered.

In the above statements and remarks. I hare taktn
for granted, that the government of this or of any
other country, might afford, from the national fond^
a grant of money adequate to the establisthment or
allthe institutions to which I have alluded— whether
infant schools, Sabbath evening institutions, semina-
ries for the higher branches of moral and intellectual
instruction, or preceptoral colleges for the training
of teachers. But although no government were to
feel the least interest in such institutions, it is tj» Me
potoer ofthepeople^ and within the range of the means
they actually possess, to establish them, indepen-
deiitly of any extraneous support This, I trust,
will appear irom the considerations stated in the
preceding paragraphs. Let a general " agitation"
be excited on this subject— let the importance of it
be clearly proved and illustrated— let the necessity
of doing something more than has hitherto been
done in this respect be fully established— let a e#a-
vicHon be deeply impressed upon the minds of the
influential classes of society, of the utiliif of such
exertions for counteracting immorality and crime,
for improving the social state of human beings, and
preparing ihem for future felicity-~let societies be
formed and subscriptions entered info for this par-



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MORAL IMPROVEMENT OF MANKIND.



191

The only grant of moDey that was ever directly
gireo by the British ParliameDt for (be promotioa
of cdacation, was £90,000, which was conceded by
the House of Commoos in 1833 ; and Mr. Colqa-
hoan stated, in 1834, that ** the utmost that Scotland
required (ultimately) for the supply of education,
was a provision of £60,000 per annum." The pro-
posal of such pUifiU sums for so grand and extensive
an object, is little short of an insult offered to the
cause of education, and plainly indicates the imper-
fect and limited riews wnich are still entertainea on
this subject Some of our members of Parliament,
when they talk of education, appear to mean nothing
more than giving the mass of tne community a few
general instructions in reading, writing, and arith-
metic, according to the old inefficient system which
has so long prevailed. The only gentleman who
has broached this topic in the House of Commons,
and who appears to entertain clear and comprehen-
sive riews on the subject of education, is Mr. Roe-
buck ; bat, unfortunately, his proposals and his
Imninous exposition of this subject, seem to have
been, in a great measure, unappreciated and ne-
gleeted.

Supposing seminaries established to the extent
whicn the population of any country requires, a diffi-
culty still remains to be surmounted ; and that is.
How we shall be enabled to induce parents and
guardians of all ranks to send their children to the
different schools appropriated for their instruction 1
It would certainly oe eligible, in the first instance,
to try the effects of vwral masion^-io represent to
reluctant parents, in the most affectionate manner,
the utility and importance of rational and moral
instruction, both to themselves and to their oflspring
— the beneficial effects that would accrue to them
even in the present life, and the moral certainly
that they would be directed in the path which leads
to happiness in the life to come ;~and, in every in-
stance, where poverty, or a disinclination to pay
the fees, stood m the way, the children shouldf m
educated free of expense to the parents. For this
purpose, about ten millions more, for Great Britain,
would require to be annually raised, for defraying,
the charge of educating the cnildren of the poor, and
affording salaries for the teachers in every case
where salaries are requ ired. Few parents would be
found who would persevering ly resist the force of
such arguments. But, should moral suasion be in-
sufficient for this purpose, a law might be passed, aa
in Prussia, rendering it imperative on every parent
to have bis children, of a certain age, regularly at-
tending an appropriate seminary. Such a law would
not require to be rigidly enforced beyond the period
of a feneration, or even a period of twenty years.—
For the children, once thoroughly trained m morali-
ty and religion, and in all the branches of useful
knowledge formerly specified, when they arrived at
manhood, and had families of their own, would re-

2 aire no persuasion or extraneous excitement to in-
uce them to give their ofl^prin? all the education
that can possibly be obtained. The advanta^^es they
themselves have experienced from instruction, and
the relish for knowledge they have imbibed, would
be instead of a thousand arguments to impel them
to seize upon every means of instruction within their
reach ; and any individual who reasoned or acted
otherwise, would be considered as a phenotnenim in
society. Ignorance and its usual accompaniments;
obstinacy and self-conceit, are the chief obstacles
which prevent rational arguments from producing
their tmct, and which render compulsory measures,
in certain cases, expedient. But when a community
has once become thoroughly enlightened and moral*
iied, the path of doty is clearly perceived to be the
path of interest and of happiness, and compulsory
enactments are rendered unnecessary.



pose— and let a few seminaries of the description
referred to, be erected in different districts of the
country,— and I have little doubt that a ^irit of
Improvement in this respect would ere long pervade
the mass of the com munity. Although many would
stand aloof, and even spurn at such movements, yet
I trust there is still as much virtue, and liberality,
ahd philanthropy among as. as would lead to no
inconsiderable exertions in toe advancement of so-
ciety in knowledge and religion. For my own part,
I have no hesitation in pledgini^ myself to devote
one-fiAh of my annual income, in the first instance,
and ime-teiUh of it every year afterwards, for the
promotioa of the objects now stated ; proviaed three
hcmdred individoab in this or in any other country,
shall come forward and pledge themselves to dedi-
cate a similar proportion of their incomes to the fur-
therance of the same object* Such is the import-
ance I attach to the subject and the plans ander con-
sideration ; and I feel confident, from the improve-
ments now going forward and in agitation, that
something more extensive and efficient in this re-
spect than has ever been attempted, will, ere long,
be accomplished. There is a certain people, at whom
many of our British grandees and newroaper critics
are cUsposed to sneer, and upon whom tney affeet to
look down with a certain degree of contempt, who,
I am confident, will be the first to move forward in
this work of improvement They have already
made an advance in edocation beyond that of any
other civilized nation, but their ^em is not yet

Eerfect, nor aniversally extended. The subject,
owever, is exciting amonsr them almost universal
attention, and whenever a hint for farther improve-
ment is given, it will, I doubt not, be eagerly seized
apon, and speedily reduced to practice. They have
lately undermined, to a great extent^ the cause of
inUwtperiMeef and they have it now in their power
to consecrate the millions of dollars which were for-
merly spent in degrading sensuality, to the further-
ance or education, and the cause of national im-
provement.t If Britain does not soon arouse her-
self from her slumbers and moVe forward in the
cause of education, it will be degrading to the rank
she holds in the civilized world, to reflect, that she
is far excelled in this respect by a republic on the
one hand, and a despotical goveminentt on the other.



• To prevent misconceptions, it may be proper to
ftate. that the author's income, like that of Gold-
tmitn's " country clergyman," has, for eight years
past^ scarcely exceeded " forty pounds a-vear." ex-
clusive of the house in which he lives; but should
It be increased in future years, the same proportion
shall be allotted for the object now specined. and a
similar proportion shall be deducted from wnatever
profits he may derive from the publication of the
present volume, or any other that may succeed it. —
Three hundred gentlemen whose incomes average
£900 a-year, could, in the first instance, furnish a
sum to commence with, amounting to £12,000, and
every succeeding year, a sum of £6000 to carry for-
ward their operations ; so that, in the coarse of ten
years, £66,000 would be raised, which would be
sufficient to establish nearly seventy seminaries, with
their libraries, apparatus, and museums. However
romantic it may appear to some to expect such sa^
crifices, the sums now specified are nothing more
than what were paid as a tox on such incomes
during the late war with France ; and they are
now elicited only in the shape of a voluntaqr do-
nation.

t Here I allude to the N^rtkim Stales of Ameri-
oa, particolarly to Pennsylvania, New York, New
Jersey, Blaanchtisetts, Conneoticat, and Maine.

tProada.



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MORAL IMPROVEMENT OF MANKIND.



CHAPTER Xn.

ON THE TJTtLm OP ESmBLDBINO tSllDriRIBS FOB.
UNIYEBCIL EDUCATION.

YiRiouB insalated remarks on this topic have been
iDtenpersed in the preceding pages, and ** the ad-
^aota^es which would rettaU from a more general
diffbsion of knowledge among all ranks," have been
illustrated in a separate volnme.* I shall, there-
fore, in this place, advert to only two or three ad-
ditional considerations.

1. The establishment of schools for tmiversal
instroction. while it counteracted ignorance, and
improved tne intellect— ^^iw^ tend lo ike prevention
of crime, and might ultimately extirpKate those dis-
positions and a&ctions which led to it.

It was latelv stated in the TSmes newspaper, as
the result or a moderate calculation, that there
are fiftv thousand thieves and pickpockets in and
about London. According to tne statement of an
intelligent person, who acted several years as the
teacher of the boy-prisoners in Newgate, — there
are above fifty committals to this prison every week,
on an average^ or nearly 3000 in the year. The
persons committed, of course, are not all new of-
fenders, as the same individuals frequently return
again. But, although on this account we subtract
two or three hundr^ from this sum, the black ca-
talogue swells to a dreadful amount when we add
to it the number of prisoners committed to the peni-
tentiaries, correction houses, and other jails of the
metropolis. The trials at the Old Bailey average
9660 in the year, and they are said to be hurried
forward with appalling rapiditjr ; the average time

fiven to each case being only eight minutes and a
alf ; though many cannot occupy two, three, or at
most five minutes, as the average time now stated
includes trials that will last a day, and others that
occupy several hours. According to a Report of
a Committee of the Houm of Commons, there were
confined in prisons and bridewells, during seven
years, ending in 1831, 123,000 persons accused of
crimes, or at the rate of 17,438 per annum. Of
these, 05,000 were conmeUd of the crimes laid to
their charge, so that 12,142 wa.s the average amount
of the yearly convictions. It has been estimated,
in regard to juvenile delinquency, that more than
IjOO boys, in London alone, are employed in thiev-
ing, picking pockets, and committing all kinds of
petty depredations. It is also found, that crimes, so



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 102 of 121)