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52 Mr. Estlin on Objections to Mechanics' Institutes.
correct knowledge of the principles which regulate the rate of wages, and thus to remove the most common cause of misunderstanding and discontent. The opponents of these societies will see that they are not limited to any particular trade; but that they consist of persons engaged in all branches of industry, and that a knowledge of the state of trade in general will be acquired. It will be seen in our Institution that masters and workmen join together; a union which must be the means of affording a correct idea of their mutual interests; and the promotion of a friendly feeling between them must be the inevitable consequence. The only combination which these institutions will give rise to, will be one in pursuit of useful and innocent information. Can it indeed be seriously believed, that a society established for the improvement of the mind, and for the purpose of enlivening the few hours of relaxation from labour, by means of a library, by occasional lectures on scientific subjects, and by private information in branches of useful knowledge, can have a tendency to favour among the labouring classes a lawless conspiracy (I will not call it combination) to deter their fellow-workmen by threats and intimidation from selling their labour for whatever they please, and thus endeavouring to deprive them of that liberty which is the birthright of every Englishman? The strong arm of the law is vested with full power to inflict the severest punishment upon the misguided perpetrators of these outrages but a still more powerful engine is at work to arrest the progress of such infatuation and ignorance-Mechanics' Institutions. Another objection is, that those who acquire the increase of knowledge which these societies are intended to communicate, will become dissatisfied with their station in life. It must, however, be remembered, that it is not two or three, but a large mass of individuals whose minds are thus to be improved; and the idea is almost absurd of a whole class of society wishing to leave the sphere of life in which they are placed, and to rise to a superior one. A few discontented persons (and those perhaps possessing least solid information) may think themselves fitted for a higher condition but they will soon find how difficult the task is of thus bettering themselves: and by seeing they are surrounded by those as intelligent as themselves, who are contented with their station, they will learn the wisdom of being satisfied with the state in which Providence has placed them. Should, however, some, with latent talents, called forth by the instruction they have received,
be enabled, by persevering industry and the honourable exercise of their genius, to rise to superior rank, they will meet with the cordial welcome of every liberal mind in the station, whatever it be, to which they may have risen; and it will be a credit to Mechanics' Institutions to have been the means of rescuing from obscurity, talents which may prove importantly serviceable to society. No great share of sense or observation is necessary to convince every man of ordinary reflection, that different ranks must exist in society; and that he who discharges the duties of that station in which he is placed, in a proper manner, is sure of being respected, contented and happy.
"I must not omit to mention one more objection; it is believed by some, that these institutions will lead to a revolution in the country (I do not wonder at your smiling). If the possession of the knowledge which they will diffuse will enable the members to live without the necessaries of life, some danger might be apprehended from the release from all useful occupation of so large a number of human beings. But while food and clothing must be obtained, habitations procured, and families provided for, that labour which alone can command the supply of these necessaries will never be neglected. Of a desire to produce a change in the condition of the working classes, the promoters of Mechanics' Institutions must plead guilty: they contemplate a CHANGE from ignorance to information-a REvoluTION from the ale-house to the library! And while these objects are judiciously and steadily pursued, with a constant view to the best interests (as regards both this world and the next) of those for whose benefit these institutions have been established, our well-intended efforts will be smiled upon by Providence, and crowned with the amplest success.'
There is another advantage practically resulting from Mechanics' Institutions, not taken notice of, for obvious reasons, by Mr. Estlin; and that is, the friendly union which it brings about between the different classes of society. The leaders in forming these societies, and indeed in supporting them, must of necessity consist partly of persons of more education and influence than the mass of the people, for whose benefit they are designed; now the co-operation of these with the humbler inquirers afterknowledge appears to us to be of itself a great, an incalculable good.
Address of the British and Foreign Unitarian As80ciation.
[The following circular Address, which is in course of distribution, is inserted in the Christian Reformer at the special request of the General Committee of the Association. The plan of the Society was given at large in our last Volume, the No. for June, pp. 192-198. Since then, the Rev. THOMAS COOPER, late of Hanley, has been appointed Under Secretary, and Mr. HORWOOD, Accomptant, Basinghall Street, Collector for both Town and Country. Rooms have also been engaged for the Association in No. 3, Walbrook Buildings, near the Mansion House, where Mr. Cooper attends on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from the hours of 11 to 4, to give information, to receive communications, &c. All letters for the Secretaries are requested to be addressed to his care.-Any persons having the means of distributing the following Address to advantage, may be supplied with the number of copies they may want on application to him.-The readers who are well-wishers to the Association will see the necessity of instant attention to the recommendations and requests of the Circular. There may be many persons willing to sub-7 scribe to the Society, but able to do it only in small sums, to which they may not wish to have their names prefixed: these will find no difficulty in putting their donations into the hands of some common friend who may be disposed to act as Local Treasurer.-Besides the Unitarian Fund and the Unitarian Association, there is reason to expect that the UNITARIAN SOCIETY for the distribution of Books, the parent Unitarian Society, will unite with the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, the Committee of that Society having resolved to recommend such incorporation to the General Meeting which will be held in a few weeks.We understand that the names and subscriptions, some very liberal, of many Unitarian District Associations and Congregations, as well as of individuals, have been already reported to the Secretary and General Committee.-Subscriptions will also be received by the Secretary, Rev. RoBERT ASPLAND; by the Foreign Secretary, Rev. W. J. Fox; by the Solicitor, Mr. EDGAR TAYLOR, Temple; by the Treasurer, JOHN CHRISTIE, Esq., Mark Lane; and by the Deputy Treasurer, Mr. THOMAS HORNBY, 31, Swithin's Lane, Lombard Street.]
THE General Committee of "The British and Foreign Unitarian Association" are desirous of giving publicity to the constitution of this Society, with which the Societies known by the names of "The Unitarian Fund" and "The Unitarian Association for the Protection of Civil Rights," are incorporated; and at the same time of explaining the objects contemplated by the founders of the new and extended Association, the mode of its organization, and the means by which resources may be obtained for carrying into effect its various plans.
The idea of a general union of Unitarians for the promotion of their common objects was suggested by the practical inconveniences experienced in conducting the business of the several distinct societies, as well as by the great expense of these separate establishments.
It is obvious that no society limited to one specific objeet can command the attention and confidence that are necessary for great and successful exertions; and also, that when the general exigencies of the cause are not under one view, and the resources that may be obtained are not capable of being apportioned and distributed according to the relative importance of the occasion, an income which, judiciously applied, would be all-sufficient, may prove in the event altogether ineffectual.
The managers of the several Unitarian Societies in the metropolis, had in reality felt that the time was come for altering their plans of operation, and in some respects for new modelling them; and a reform being necessary, it seemed desirable to lay at once the foundation of a broader society than had previously existed, which should comprehend the various great objects for the promotion of which Unitarians have entered into association, and constitute both a point of union and a centre of action. In conceiving the design of such an extensive and important Institution, it was, however, seen to be necessary that a choice should be left to societies and individuals as to the particular objects to which their liberality should be applied
With these views "The British and Foreign Unitarian Association" has been established, and the exposition of them will, it is hoped and believed by the General Committee, give general satisfaction to their brethren throughout the kingdom, and secure such extended, zealous and prompt co-operation, as will form a new era in the history of our denomination.
The experience of all other religious societies in London has convinced the General Committee of the expediency of opening a public and permanent office, under the superintendence of a resident officer, as Under Secretary, upon a salary. By this arrangement, they calculate on providing the means of transacting with regularity and dispatch the multifarious business which has been hitherto committed to
many separate hands; on establishing a central point of union with the Unitarian Societies in the country, of whatever description; on removing the inconvenience and confusion, so much complained of, arising from numerous officers, collectors and subscription lists; and on saving the expense of printing and the trouble of distributing so many distinct reports, which, from the nature of the case, have often related to subjects of minor importance.
While "The British and Foreign Unitarian Association" proposes to embrace all objects properly Unitarian, it is provided in its constitution that any of the Metropolitan Societies uniting with it shall, if it be so determined, preserve their distinct funds, with the usual rights and privileges of their several subscribers, and that the business of each Society, as far as it is really distinct, shall be managed by a Sub-Committee appointed out of the General Committee the same objects will therefore continue to be pursued, but with the advantage of unity and simplicity in the management, so essential in some cases to promptitude, and in all cases to effectiveness.
Hitherto, "The Unitarian Fund" and "The Unitarian Association for protecting Civil Rights," are the only societies that have formally united themselves with "The British and Foreign Unitarian Association." Whether either of the Book Societies will enter into the Union is at present uncertain; should they retain their individuality, the present "Association" may possibly establish such communications with them as may be mutually useful ; but in either case it is contemplated that the Association" shall have a book department of its own, with regard to which it appears to the General Committee that there is abundant scope for serviceable exertion. The plan of this department is not yet matured, the General Committee being anxious, before they finally determine upon it, to receive the friendly suggestions of their brethren throughout the country, many of whom have long expressed their approbation of the general principle on which it is to be formed. They deprecate the thought of hostility to any