Imágenes de páginas

A modern writer has observed: “The idea of forming a superior race of men has entered little into schemes of policy. Invention and effort have been expended on matter much more than on mind. Lofty piles have been reared; the earth has groaned under pyramids and palaces. The thought of building up a nobler order of intellect and character has hardly crossed the most adventurous statesman.”. And the late Poet Laureate, Dr. Southey, observes: “The ancient legislators understood the power of legislation, but no modern Government seems to have perceived that men are as clay in the potter's hands.” The modern legislator may, however, be equally conscious of this truth, but he labours under considerable disadvantages—he cannot abolish old institutions and remodel the Commonwealth - he has to contend with difficulties arising out of a complicated and artificial structure of society, the foundations of which were laid in a far less enlightened age, and which has been built up at different periods, according to the exigencies of the times, and upon no preconcerted plan. But in locating three or four hundred families on the land, and forming them into a distinct community, an opportunity, in selecting their institutions, is afforded of freely profiting by the past history of the world, and of superadding, to whatever can be derived from the genius of ancient Greece, the discoveries and experience of the intervening period; when with these advantages are combined the Light of Christianity, alone sufficient for our guide, it must be

some egregious mismanagement that would prevent the general character of the assembled body being gradually orecast in a new and less imperfect mould. *

Manifestations of Design are apparent even in the progress of society, for there is a coincidence in the events of the world: the art of printing was invented soon after the dawn of the Reformation, and at the period when improvements in machinery have enabled man to supply his bodily wants with greater facility, leaving him ample time to improve the higher faculties of his nature, great advances have also been made in the discovery of superior methods of imparting knowledge, and in a more enlarged acquaintance with his mental powers.

The Author gratefully acknowledges the kind encouragement received from the Clergy in different parts of the country, who have done him the honour to inspect the preliminary plan described in the following pages, and especially the judicious and important suggestions of the Clergy and Laity in the Metropolis, who assisted in completing the Prospectus.

* The idea of the Self-supporting Institution is no novelty: a similar suggestion will be found in a Pamphlet entitled “A College of Industry for 300 Poor Fellows,” published by John Bellers in the year 1696, and referred to in Sir Morton Eden's large Work on the Poor Laws.



Qu'en revanche il éclate quelque part un grand développement d'intelligence, et qu'aucun progrès social n'y paraisse attaché, on s'étonne, on s'inquiète. Il semble qu'on voie un bel arbre qui ne porte pas de fruits, un soleil qui n'échauffe pas, qui ne féconde pas.-Guizot.

Tempore crevit amor, qui nunc est summus habendi;
Vix ultra, quo jam progrediatur, habet.

That in the richest, most powerful, and extensive empire in the world—the most advanced in the pursuits of literature and philosophy, and in the culture of the arts and sciences-pre-eminently distinguished for the piety and benevolence of its ministers of religion, and for the zeal and number of its holy band of missionaries—spreading Bibles and Tracts innumerable in all countries, and proclaiming the glad tidings of the Gospel even in the remotest corners of the globe,—that in such a country, and in the nineteenth century, an attempt should be made to describe the principles and

practices of a Christian Commonwealth, might seem to demand no ordinary apology.

That apology will be found in the extreme poverty, severe sufferings, demoralisation, and appalling misery extensively prevailing, and too well authenticated in the voluminous Reports of Parliament. To some deeply-seated and widely-extended errors alone can such an extraordinary anomaly be traced.

To combat error, when it could be dissipated simply by the promulgation of its opposite truth, is often a needless, protracted, and painful warfare; but there may be occasions when no alternative is left—when, for instance, endeavours are made, not to announce recently-discovered truths, but to awaken attention to those which are admitted “to be so true that they lie dormant in the understanding along with the most despised and exploded errors :"—when such truths are repeated by rote in our youthful lessons-formally uttered in our Church Service and in the performance of sacred rites, unheeded in the prayers preceding the deliberations of the Senate, and when offered up on the most solemn occasions their reiteration, under ordinary circumstances, would be considered so common-place and puerile as to excite a smile of surprise, or pass unnoticed.

When, however, endeavours are made to expose the fallacy of incongruous systems, formed in utter disregard of these important but neglected truths; the authors and votaries of such systems, jealous of their own reputation and judgment, may be eager to defend them, and the public attention be at length aroused to inquiries of vital interest to the general welfare.

Of all the prejudices that obstruct the perception of moral truth and the laws of justice, by far the most influential and most widely extended are those which originate in the modern school of political economy-perplexing our codes of morals, occasioning false views of religion, and paralysing the efforts of statesmen at a period when there is the greatest need of energy and wisdom in the councils of a nation saturated with wealth, yet contending with all the evils of poverty. While errors, fatal to all real improvement, are promulgated as incontrovertible truths from the Professors' Chairs of Oxford and Cambridge, and of all the Universities, and advocated by a nnmerous Club, of which the most active men of the two great political parties are members ; who shall presume to question the validity of their dicta ? and accordingly Christianity has only to mourn over the fate of little children, when the Legislature gravely decides, that unless—immured in unhealthy manufactories—their wearisome toil

« AnteriorContinuar »