Page images


"It is with unspeakable delight that I contemplate the rich gifts that have been bestowedthe honest zeal displayed by private persons for the benefit of their fellow-creatures. When we inquire from whence proceeded these endowments, we generally find that it is not from the public policy, nor the bounty of them, who, in their day, possessing princely revenues, were anxious to devote a portion of them for the benefit of mankind- not from those who, having amassed vast fortunes by public employ. ment, were desirous to repay, in charity, a little of what they had thus levied upon the State. It is more frequently some obscure personage -some tradesman of humble birth-who, grateful for the education which had enabled him to acquire his wealth through honest industry, turned a portion of it from the claims of nearer connections, to enable other helpless creatures, in circumstances like his own, to meet the struggles he himself has undergone. In the history of this country, public or domestic, I know of no feature more touching than

this, unless, perhaps, it be the yet more affecting sight of those, who every day, before our eyes, are seen devoting their fortunes, their time, their labor, their health, to offices of benevolence and mercy. How many persons do I myself know, to whom it is only necessary to say there are men without employment, children uneducated, sufferers in prison, victims of disease, wretches pining in want, and straightway they will abandon all other pursuits, as if they themselves had not large families to provide for ; and toil for day and for nights, stolen from their most necessary avocations, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shed upon the children of the poor that inestimable blessing of education, which alone


themselves the wish and the power" to relieve their fellowmen!" I survey this picture with incxpressible pleasure, and the rather because it is a glory peculiar to England. She has the more cause to be proud of it, that it is the legitimate fruit of her free constitution. Where tyrants bear sway, palaces may arise to lodge the poor; and hospitals may be the most magnificent or

naments of the seat of power. But, though · fair to the eye, and useful to several classes,

their foundations are laid in the sufferings of others. They are supported not by private beneficence-which renders a pleasure to the giver, as well as a comfort to him who receivesbut by the haru-won earnings of the poor, wrung from their wants, and frequently by the preposterous imposts laid upon their vices.While the rulers of any people will hold from them the enjoyment of their most sacred rightsa voice in the management of their own affairs, they must continue strangers to those noble sentiments-that honest declaration of purpose which distinguishes freemen, teaches them to look beyond the sphere of personal interest, makes their hearts beat high, and stretches out their arms for the glory and the advantage of their country. There is no more degrading effect of despotism, than that it limits the charitable feelings of our nature, rendering men suspicious and selfish, and forgetful that they have a country. Happily for England she has still a people capable of higher things !"

{Practical Observations on the Education of the People.]



“I cannot sit down without once more adverting to a most interesting topic, to which I drew the notice of the House when I last had the honor of addressing them. Every day has discovered to the Committee (of Education) more and more proofs of the munificently charitable disposition of individuals in former times. What I wish you to do is, only to turn with grateful attention to the benevolence of your forefathers, and to endeavor to prevent the memorials of that benevolence from being defaced.

We are occupied in raising monuments to the glory of our naval and military defenders, and fashioning them of materials far more perishable than their renown; all I ask is, that we should protect from the operations of time, and from the injuries of interested malversation, those monuments of the genuine glory of our ancestors, those trophies which they won in a pious and innocent warfare, and left to com

memorate triumphs unmingled with sorrow, unpolluted by blood, gained over Ignorance, that worst enemy of the human race, and over her progeny, Vice!

Thus we shall perform a greater service to the public; we shall contribute to exalt the name and the fame of this country more than by all the other acts of public munificence in which, as a great and victorious nation, we have been justly indulging. Whatever may be attempted to impede the attainment of this object, I hope that we shall so vigilantly protect the Commissioners in the execution of their duty, as to prove to all persons that any efforts to frustrate the views of this House, and to defeat the hopes of the country, are vain; and I trust that all who have hitherto obstructed, or who may yet endeavor to thwart our views, whether from an interested dread lest their own malversations should be detected, or from scarcely less base fellow-feelings for the malversations of others, or from a silly and groundless fear of they know not what dangers that all who, on whatever grounds, hold out a protecting hand to corrup

« PreviousContinue »