Page images
[ocr errors]

creeds of faith, words, and names, but in the practice of every heavenly virtue. “Let your light so shine before men, as to glorify your Father which is in heaven,” is an injunction that commands our endeavours to obey it. How happy will that day be, when men strive to show their faith by their works

that faith which works by love, and which coveteth no man's gold, silver, or apparel; but that all may follow that Holiness, without which none can please God.

It is proper the reader should know why I take up so much of his time on this subject. I consider a sectarian spirit as the source of dissension and persecution. I write thus, not only to expose its evil tendency, and caution others, but as a declaration of my own sentiments, which become of a little importance to the reader, as connected with my peculiar plan of education, and the institution in which it hath pleased Providence to place me. Yet I believe a man may espouse and defend religious opinions peculiar to himself and his friends, in that charity which is not puffed up, which thinketh no evil, and which vaunteth not itself; but that same charity will teach him to avoid controversy, strife, and all that leads to bitterness. It is on this principle I have hitherto acted, and wish to continue to act. I desire to avoid making the education given to such a large number of children in my institution, a means of instilling my own peculiar religious tenets into their minds, and prefer the more noble grounds which I have recommended. I am a member of the society of Friends called Quakers*. I wish to avoid bringing my peculiar religious opinions into public controversy, and do not intend to do so, unless compelled; though I hope I may say, without ostentation, that I shall not be ashamed or afraid to vindicate them. Yet I sincerely hope, the moderation of my Christian brethren in other societies will spare me this trial. I am not vain enough to set up as arbiter of the religious opinions of others, but wish all men would agree, as much as it is in their power, to do good; and, when doing so, cast all their sectarian opinions out of sight. For, whenever the Divine legacy of peace shall prevail on earth, it will be preceded by mutual condescension, love and unity, among men; without which, proper care cannot be taken of their youth in general. As an additional inducement to make the preceding observations, I have at times been involved, much against my will, in more private controversy and argument on religious topics than was at all agreeable to my feelings.


* A name originally given to the society in contempt and re proach.





Borough-Road, George's Fields,


In the year 1798, I opened a school for the instruction of poor children, in reading, writing, arithmetic, and the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures; the children were taught at the low price of fourpence per week. I knew of no modes of tuition but those usually in practice, and I had a practical knowledge of them. The number of children who attended the school at that time, varied from ninety to a hundred and twenty. Being thus engaged in the study of education, with full liberty to make what experiments I pleased, whenever I found a poor child whose parents were unable to pay for his instruction, I gave him education gratis. This class of children increased so much, that above thirty names were on the book as free scholars, in a short

time; time; and it is very probable no two children knew that there were other free scholars in the school besides themselves. I attended the school

I aţtended the school personally, retaining an assistant. It was not unattended with expence of wages, rent, taxes, rewards, &c. As the income arising from the pay-scholars was much diminished by the education I gave to so many, gratis, and there were still many more objects of benevolence in the school and neighbourhood, I was anxious to find an expedient which would enableme to extend the usefulness of the institution, without additional expenceto myself; and soon found two liberal-minded persons, who readily seconded my views*, Thomas Sturge, of Newington Butts; and Anthony Sterry, of the High-street, Borough. They had been in the practice of paying the usual price to other schoolmasters, for the education of some children, whom they met with in their endeavours to relieve distress. I prevailed on them to enter into a subscription for the education of poor children, in lieu of pay. Nothing but example was wanting; and, as soon as that was obtained, I easily raised the sum specified in the first year's account annexed. The subscription was quite of the nature of a contract: of every guinea subscribed, fifteen shillings per annum was considered as the price of each child's education; and the remaining six shillings was to be expended in books, rewards, and school expences. * At Midsummer, 1801.


« PreviousContinue »