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cated machine , however showy , is in constant danger of getting out of order . Now a good reader , reading interesting books , in a comfortable room , is all the machinery our plan requires . I am sure also that you will not object to the facility this plan affords of founding a Mechanics' Institute in every small town in the kingdom . Persons , indeed , who , from aristocratical or
ecclesiastical purposes , ( I will not call them political or religious reasons , for I should be misapplying those venerable words , ) deprecate the progress of knowledge and of a taste for intellectual enjoyments among the people , will doubtless tell you that such a plan is dangerousj or that it is superficial ;* and will either pro pose to reject it altogether , or to wait for a convenient season . For there be many who altogether deprecate the progress of truth ,
and justice , and expediency among the people . And many say , indeed , that they are ready to forward the great work , but must wait till the clergy of the Established Chufch consent to undertake it . These latter remind us of that worthy person who f hobbled , for his heart was good ; could he go faster than he could V It is for you resolutely to demand the easy performance of a simple task , and , if it is not done by officials , civil and ecclesiastical , to do it for yourselves .
We hear a good deal , indeed , about ' Ministers of Public Instruction , ' about Primary Education , and about Normal Schools , &c . &c . &c . ; and then we hear not a little about the impossibility of putting these plans into effect in opposition to , or even without the
support of , the Church , as by law established . In answer to these large sayings and small doings , let the Mechanics' Institute only encourage the establishment of . such reading rooms as I have described , and let such a beginning be made in the rational enjoyments of the people , and then , not even an ignorance of . that primary instruction , the alphabet , will be able to raise a barrier
either of opposition or of delay . I am sorry to be obliged to add , on the other hand , that if we wait for what is called ' A System of National Education , ' being undertaken by the Lords Spiritual , and for a power and a love of study being communicated by orthodox methods , we shall wait a very long time indeed .
* I beg attention to the following observation . The general enthusiasm of meeting-houses and public spectacles on the one hand , and the frequent apathy of lecture-rooms and orthodox churches on the other hand , prove that provision ought to be made for exciting and exercising the imagination . Again , whatever portion of political enthusiasm proceeds from a mere desire of strong excitement , and it is impossible to deny that such a spirit is abroad , proves that provision ought to be made for exciting and exercising the imagination . This provision should be made
in two ways , first , by making all established appeals to the imagination more effective , namely , by making them not only more true , but altogether true ; secondly , by resorting to other wholesome appeals to the imagination which have been too long neglected . The former is a difficult , the latter is a very easy matter . Let it not be supposed that we would make imagination a tub for the leviathan . Say rather we would make imagination a blessed spirit to lend u % towards truth , in order that we may go on to justice .
77 ie Diffusion of Knowledge amo ? igst the People . 17
No . 85 . C
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1834, page 17, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2629/page/17/