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VOLUME THE FOURT H.
The still increasing success which attends our humble endeavours, to enlighten the minds, and stimulate the inventive powers, of the productive classes of the community, is a source of many gratifying reflections. It serves to assure us, not only that we continue to perform an acceptable service satisfactorily, but that it must, even already, be conferring its benefits on the nation. Mechanical invention, and not mere labour, is the great source of national wealth; and in proportion as we have contributed to rouse the former into action, and to assist its efforts, we must have substantially advanced the latter. Labour, to be productive of abundance, must be skilfully directed. “ The simple labourer," as Dr. Alderson, the enlightened and respected President of the Hull Mechanics PREFACE.
Institute, has justly observed, “can do no more than supply the immediate wants of himself and family, however earnestly or assiduously he may be employed in collecting what is spontaneously produced; but wealth is that additional product which the labourer, by the assistance of mechanical invention, is capable of creating.” But for mechanic invention, man would have been still, as in the earliest stages of society, “grubbing in the earth for roots to obtain a scanty meal, or quarrelling with his brother for a piece of dead game." But for mechanic invention, what would have become of “ all our great men, our princes, and nobles of the land, who neither toil nor spin? They are but the ornaments that decorate the grand temple that wealth has pride in exhibiting; they only indicate wealth ; they, with all their possessions, add nothing to the riches of this country--they owe all their consequence to the wealth created by mechanic invention; their estateş do but furnish the raw material, out of which mechanic labour prodụces wealth, and from which, if their owners employed only simple labour, and relied wholly on their own hands to convert what they find into food, they could but procure enough, vast as their possessions may be, for a bare subsistence." To ji
It has been said, indeed, that instead of the torch of knowledge, we shall kindle only that of envy, But when did it ever happen that knowledge made men worse ? that the cultivation of peaceful pursuits
made men discontented and turbulent? The emulation which the light of Science calls into being is a spirit very different from that of envy. The one prompts men to aim at superiority in real worth—the other would reduce all to a dull and base equality. Let the Arts and Sciences remain as they are, since they yield us enough as they are,' is the wish of the one party;
let them be improved, since they can never produce too much,' is the wish and prayer of the other. Men will never, perhaps, reach perfection, but they should be always aspiring after it; and the nation which employs most assiduously the greatest variety of means for the purpose, will be the surest of outstripping all others in the race. “ Cherish,” says M. de Boufflers, “the genius of invention in a country, and there you will establish an imperishable prosperity. Every discovery and invention that is made will exalt it amongst its competitors, and its superiority will increase exactly in proportion as the blessings of philosophy and peace are spread over the world.”
To fill the higher orders of society with alarm because of the progress of the lower in intellectual improvement, is one of the expiring efforts of Ignorance to lengthen her reign upon earth. She would, by the help of Power, make cripples of those whom she can no longer “ in leading strings retain.” But never was any alarm more unfounded : the more the labouring classes are enlightened, the more clearly they must perceive the claims which the higher
orders have on their attachment and respect--the more inclined they will be to give a “hearing ear" to the following excellent lesson taught them by the same gentleman whose strong opinion of their importance we have already quoted. “Let us not,” says Dr. Alderson, “ decry the higher orders of society, or consider them as useless, because they are not productive labourers.' No! without them the mechanic could not carry on his business to that certainty, nor with that security, which is absolutely necessary. We must have watchmen and guards. Besides, the very establishment of Kings, Lords, and Commons, soldiers, magistrates, and professional men, is of infinite use in the chain of national society. We are, each of us, stimulated to increased action ; our inventive faculties are put upon the stretch; and we unremittingly exercise our talents in the hope of obtaining some of those distinctions in society which every establishment holds out as rewards to merit.”
Happily, the alarms which ignorance would instil are shared by but few. The higher orders, generally, are favourable to the extension of knowledge of every description to every rank of people ; and to not a few among them we owe our thanks for much active assistance in these pages to promote their peculiar object-the improvement of the mechanic classes.
It is still, however, to the contributions of Me'chanics themselves, and to the practical knowledge