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retain them without knowledge :— -build upon that rock, or, though you build splendidly, you build in vain.
As it has fallen to my lot to address you upon the present occasion, I know not what better, or more appropriate to the present occasion* I can do, than to discuss this sentiment of the prophet; and to examine into the effects which knowledge produces upon the welfare of mankind: I do not mean knowledge in general, but that species, and degree of it, which is produced by the education of the poor;--by such investigation, the young people, who are assembled here to-day, will better perceive the nature, and scope, of those advantages they have received; their charitable guardians will be more confirmed in the utility, and importance of their good works; and those who object altogether to the education of the poor, may, perhaps, in the progress of such investigation, be induced to re-consider the validity of those objections upon which their opposition is founded. I rather prefer this course, than
* The anniversary at the Foundling Hospital.
to make general observations on human misery; because, by satisfying the understanding that the thing is right, it becomes more probable that we shall excite something much better than temporary feeling; -benevolence, founded upon reasonable conviction, and leading to judicious exertion.
The most common objection to the education of the lower orders of the community is, That the poor, proud of the distinction of learning, will not submit to the performance of those lower offices of life which are necessary to the well-being of a state : this objection, indeed, I only mention, that I may not be thought to have passed over any objection, for nothing can be more mistaken than to suppose, that the laborious classes of the community are laborious from choice, or from any other principle than that of imperious necessity;-a necessity with which education has no more to do than with the motion of the planets, and the flow of the tides;—every person secures to himself as good a situation in society as he can; and it is essentially necessary to the hap
piness of the world, that he should do so.Those whose lot, and heritage fall among the lowest, fulfil the duties entailed upon them, and ever must fulfil those duties, from the dread of want for themselves, and for others dearer to them than themselves: Our poorer brethren do not toil because they are ignorant; neither would they cease to toil because they were instructed; the fabric of human happiness God has placed upon much stronger foundations; they labour, because they cannot live without labour; this has ever been sufficient to stimulate,and to continue the energy of man,and will, and must ever stimulate it, and secure its continuance, while heaven, and earth remain.
The next objection, urged against the education of the poor, is, that the most ignorant poor, in country villages, are the best; and that the poor, of large towns, as they gain in intelligence, lose in character, and become corrupt, as they become knowing; but the country poor, it should be remembered, are the fewest in number; they are not exposed to all those innumerable temptations which corrupt the populace of large towns; this,
and not their ignorance, is the cause of their superior decency in morals, and religion; it is uncandid to oppose the poor of a confined village to the poor of a wealthy, and a boundless metropolis; but taking subjects of comparison from the same spot, and under the same circumstances, do we find that the ignorant of that place are better than the instructed of that place ?-Does any man's experience enable him to assert, practically, that there is a connexion between uncultivated minds, and righteous actions? If we want to make a human being do that which is just, is it necessary to make him think that which is sordid? If we wish him to lift up his soul, in pious adoration, to his Saviour, and his God, is it necessary to brutalize that soul which his God has given, and his Saviour redeemed? Is there, can there be, any human being who wishes that, these children, who come here to return their thanks for the Providence that has watched over them, had been forsaken, passed over; left to the influence of such principles as those by which the minds of the deserted poor are impressed?-No reasonable doubt can be raised; it cannot, with any colour of justice,
be contended; every effect of their education which we witness, is a solid gain to society; if temperance can be so called; if truth; if honesty; if a solemn, and deep, adoration of the name, and of the laws of our Saviour Jesus Christ are worthy of that appellation.
In considering the effects of educating the poor, we must not merely dwell upon the power, but upon the tendency which we have created to use that power aright; not merely ask if it is a good thing for the poor to read, but to read such books as are full of wise, and useful advice.-A mere instrument for acquiring knowledge may be used with equal success, either for a good, or a bad purpose; but education never gives the instrument without teaching the proper method of using it, and without inspiring a strong desire to use it in that manner; it raises up powerful associations in favour of righteousness; it gives a permanence of opinion, not to be blown about by every idle breath of doctrine, and some deep life-marks, by which a human being may recover himself, if ever he does wander. To teach a child how he many acquire knowledge, is neither a