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which were written by him at various periods of his life, chiefly with the view of doing something to advance the Education of the People. Some, however, are to be regarded as purposeless recreations of vacant hours, or expressions of personal feelings and recollections. He has preferred mostly to select for this Volume of Varieties,' those contributions to several periodical works which are of an amusing rather than a didactic spher character.
The papers are selected principally pOrphans from the following periodical publications :
First Go balm Crie
November 7, 1844.
Books for all readers
Character of an Honest and Contented Burgess lidacti The Shepherd Boy
London Cries 2.
The May-Fly 41.
Windsor, as it was
[The following general remarks were published in 1828.
Since that period vast strides have been made in the attainment of the great object which was then almost for the first time attempted ; but the principles upon which the diffusion of sound popular literature should be built appear to the writer to remain unaltered. The paper is. republished with some omissions of a temporary nature.]
It is nearly twenty years since the first impulse was given to the general intellect of this country, by the introduction of a new mechanical system for teaching reading and writing, by cheaper and more efficacious methods than those previously in use.
It would be beside our purpose, at this period, when elementary education has become an established object with all the respectable and benevolent portion of society, whatever be their political party or religious denomination, to attempt to discuss the relative merits of either of those systems, which were originally so formidably opposed to each other. It is enough for us that the children educated under either system are well disciplined ; that the key of the treasures of wisdom is put into their hands; that their intellectual faculties are developed, so that, making allowances for all the temptations of individual frailty, the mass of the population may be directed to those pure gratifications of the understanding upon which their own self-respect may
be established. It is indifferent to us which system was first perfected, or which party had the purest motives in establishing schools for the poor. The education of the youth of these realms must now be universal ; it has become independent of the caprice of patronage or the fluctuations of benevolence. We must now carry our ideas beyond the Boys and Girls of Lancasterian or of National schools. We have now to see what provision has been made, and is making, for satisfying the demands for cheap and wholesome literature, which the general ability to unlock the stores of knowledge has created in the new generation around us.
It is somewhat remarkable that those who were most laudably and rationally anxious for the education of the people, do not appear to have formed anything like a correct estimate of what remained to be done, after some thousands of their fellow-subjects had gone forth into society, all with their newly-acquired ability to read, many with the most anxious desire not to let that ability sleep. Before these young persons, not the less ardent because they were almost wholly uninformed, were spread the vast fields of inaccessible learning.
“ The world was all before them, where to choose.” On one side they were surrounded by the well-meaning but tasteless and almost revolting puerilities of the Tract Societies; on the other, they were sorely tempted by the coarse stimulants of those writers who knew how to administer to ignorant enthusiasm all the incentives to political discontent. The times were favourable to the latter class of “ blind guides.” The existence of positive suffering was great amongst the manufacturing portion of the community; and the government evinced no temper which might mitigate the evil, or allay its exasperation of the spirit. To such of the instructed poor as turned aside from the excitements of political speculations, there were presented, as the only fountains of knowledge, the tedious columns of the provincial journal, as then conducted, or the dismal casualties of the village book-stall. Who has not had his pity moved to behold some per