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Dispense and diffuse it-gild empire like day,
The discovery of the art of printing and of manufacturing paper, gives us a vast ascendency over our ancestors in the propagation of knowledge. Dr. Darwin very properly, and very elegantly, calls the " PRINTING PRESS” the most useful of modern inventions; the capacious reservoir of humaa koowledge, whose branching streams diffuse sciences, arts and mo:ality, through all nations and ages."
Let us suppose Coofucius, Socrates and Seneca, were permitted to resume the possession of their former bodies and estates; and remain on the earth for five years. Would they not be transported with ecstacy, on bebolding a paper-mill and a printing press. And yet would they not weep with regret and wonder, to find how lew of the inhabitants even of civilized and apparently enlightened portions of the earth, are in possession of the inestimable moral precepts which they had, with so much labor and solicitude, prepared and bequeathed to mankind? Seneca possessed an immense quantity of wealih. Would he not seize the opportunity with rapturous avidits, and invite his two benevolent colleagues to share with him the happiness, of enlisting, with his treasures, every papermill, printing press, type maker and printer, that they could find, and devote the five years, totally, to the propagation of their wisdom to the remotest regions of the Globe.
" It is a truth which cannot be too strongly impressed, that of all our.exe'tions for the benefit of our fellow creatures, the education of the poor is the most efficacious."
[Motr.] Finally, that ignorance is generally the radical source of vice and poverty, with their consequent train of compli. cated calamites ; and that intelligence generally produces results directly the reverse, are truths no longer problematicalFacts have shown their claims to the conside eration of the legislator and the moralist. It now oply remains to ascertain the most expeditious, economical, and practicable method, by which the universal diffusion of useful knowledge can be accomplished.
In the early period of my youth, a gentleman of ihe law, who resided in the vicinity of my father's house, at New-Lebanon, (N. Y.) kindly invited me to make as much use of his excellent library as I wished, ob. serving that he was pleased to see young persons attached to reading, and glad to encourage them in the improvement of their minds. I accepted the privilege with gratituile, and improved it with persevering assiduity, as far as my leisure permitted, for several years. I also purchased shares in two public social libraries. At the age of 17 years, convinced of the inestimable bene: fits of reading useful books, I anxiously desired that they might, if possible, he extended to the great mass of the human family ; and endeavored to discover some ef. fective plan for this purpose. Indigence, which in most nations involves the majority, appeared to present the greatest obstacle. Hence the suggestion occurred that governments, or associations of in-lividuals, might promote the object, by establishing in various districts, free circulating librarics, to be equally accessible to all class: es and sexes without riscrimination. With a view to confirm the practicability of ihe project, as well as to ben. eft the youth of the vicinity, I commenced a subscription of money and books, for the establishment of a free jurenile library. * The association consisted of the vouth of both sexes, from the age of 12 to 21 years, under the title of " The juvenile socicly for the acquisition of knowledge." As there is seldom a youth in that district of country, that has not been taught the art of reading, the acceptance of the privilege was unanimous, and its effects evidently
* Dr. Moses Younglove, of the city of Hudson, patronized the library by a donation of about a dozen volumes of books, and addressed to me an encouraging letter, dated at Hudson, 19.h September, 1804, which he concludes thus :
"I am much gratified ta) find your endeavors promising of ll. tility, so far beyond what I anticipated when you first consulted me ; for considering your youth and inexperience, I then feared your sagacity would be insufficient, but I must do you the justice to acknowledge the contrary result. * From your friend,
66 M. YOUNGLOVE."
salutary. The society and library continued to acconiulate for several years. The permanency of the institution has, however, been since interrupted by the frequent rotation of the office of librarian, and by the difficulty of enforcing a compliance, with the bye laws. These in. conveniences might be avoided by locating the libraries permanently in school-houses or academies, or in the care of some civil magistrate, and hy having the bye laws confirmed by the legislature. The choice of suitable books to be purchased or admitted in donations, ought to be decided by a competent committee. Well selected free public libraries, it is believed, would form a very important auxiliary of public instruction, in all our schools, academies, hospitals, alms houses, caafonments, bridewells, goals, state prisons, penitentiaries, work hou. ses, &c. &c.
The utility of this method of promoting moral improvement might be rendered doubly extensive il governments, or societies were to procure the execution, upon a large scale, of several of the most essential books on the conduct of life, and furnish them to all free library companies, at prime cost.
Having been at the city of Philadelphia at the time the “ Pennsylvania society for promoting public Economy," was instituted I communicated a skeich of the above plan, in a letter dated the 4th June, 1817, to Roberts Vaux, Esq. one of the members of the Common Council of the city, who was the chairman of a committe, ap. pointed by the gcciety, on public schools. He informed me that the committee considered the idea new and valuable, and had instructed him to introduce it in his report of a system of public education which it was contemplated to adopt. He said they considered the plan particularly adapted for the benefit of numerous apprentices, who are prevented, during several years of their service, from attending public schools, by their occupations.
Having formerly publisher a small volume of anony. mous Essays under!he title of the “ Intellectual Flambeau," treating principally on morals and the diffusion of know. ledze,(from which, part of the materials of this pamphlet is derived, the following letters were addressed to me, which, as they contribute to elucidate the subjects.now under consideration, I think useful lo insert,
From Samuel L. Mitchell, L. L. D. &c.
New-YORK, June 12th, 1816. Sir,
The mail brought me, a short time since, a copy of your Intellectuał Falmbeau.' I find thereby that you have exerted your mind zealously and long in favor of beneficence and knowledge. It is agreeable to see your detached essays and fugitive pieces collected into a book. It was fine saying, gather up the fragments that none be lost."
It is a peculiar feature of our social condition in the Fredish dominions, that information is so generally spread among the people. There is another trait of character, of no less importance, the disposition to do what is right. The theory of those articles of our political constitutions, is derived from the consideration that our citizens, in the exercise of the elective franchise, are wise to understand, and virtuous to do, their duty. Anu wie inis state continues, we shall be the happiest nation on earth. But a being possessed of knowledge without virtue is a terrible creature, and comes up to my definition of a devil.
You have done wall to oppose the torrent of distilled spirits that is overwhelming the land, and threstening ruin to its hurnan inhabitants. The breaking of the levo ee at New Orleans, or the dykes in Holland, is not half so dreadful or destructive to the prospects of the proprie. tors respectively, as the breach of the barriers of temperance by whiskey and rum. They are the torment and poison of the moral world. Great indeed will be the merit of him who can apply an effectual antidote. In the distribution of praise in this world, sufficient credit is not given to the author of Mahomedan religion for havo ing forbidden the use of vinous liquors." But the effects of ardent spirits are by no means confined to the moral world. They extend to the physical part of man's constitution, and cause palsies, apoplexies, dropsies, drunkenness, madness, and a numlier of other woeg.
Coon, and he not weary in weli loing. Be not discouraged; but continue io render yourself happy in endeavors to better the condition of your fellow.creatures.' Accept the assurance of my esteem and regard.
SAMUEL L. DUTCHILL. J. TORREY, Jun. Esq.
From Isaac Briggs, of the Society of friends.
WILMINGTOX, Del. 6 mo. 12, 1816. Esteemed Friend,
With pleasure and approbation I have read thy little book entitled, “The Intellectual Flambeau;" and this declaration from me be deemed by the author of any im• portance, it is freely at his service.
It has long been my settled opinion that knowledge diffused among the people, is the best foundation for civil liberty and happiness; and the more extensively it is diffused, the broader and more firm is the foundation, and the more glorious the superstructure.
To perpetuate the blessing of liberty, let the education of youth be considered an important and honorable employment--let these who have plenty assist, gratis, those who have but little- let one youth be taught by precept and example, that in using our reasoning powers, truth is the only legitimate object, and that candor is always due to an opponent in argument.
Thus a soil may be prepared in the yeathful mind, from which will readily spring useful knowledge and the sweet charities of society and envy, malice, hatred and partyspirit would have little or no room to grow.
Collections of useful and instructive books in different neighborhoods would, in my opinion, powerfully promote all these valuable ends. A very light contribution from the purses of the rich and honorable would, in every neighborhood, without expense to the poorer classes, place much useful knowledge within their reach, and e. ven invite them to partake of it.
The scheme appears to me fully worthy of an experiment, fairly made and I am glad to find that my friend, the author of the Intellectual Flambeau, has devoted some of his time and talents to objects so interesting.
ISAAC BRIGGS. Dr. JESSE TORREY, Jun.
From Simon Snyder, Gov. of the state of Pennsylvania,
Ignorance is the dark hut broad foundation, upon which the tyrants of the bodies and souls of men erect their thrones. The general diffusion of knowledge is on the