Page images
PDF
EPUB

The only person who assisted me in raising subu scriptions, was Elizabeth Fry, wife of Joseph Fry, of the Poultry, London. She solicited her immediate friends and connexions, and was successful in obtaining about twenty-six guineas; with this kind assistance I was encouraged to go cheerfully through the toilsome drudgery of raising subscriptions for the second year, in which I was so successful as to double the amount as well as the number of free scholars. Improvements in the modes of tuition had been made to good purpose, in those two first years, and a regular system of order established. Though a system of order was easily established, a new system of tuition was another thing; and to this I found myself most unexpectedly and gradually advancing.

The institution is greatly indebted to two gentlemen of the parish in which I live; but, as I fear, I am not at liberty to mention their names, I can only say, they have, by their generosity, exempted the school-house from all rent, for several years.. Gratitude requires that this should be known, as, in consequence, I have been enabled to expend the money I should have employed in rent, &c. in making experiments relative to the education of the poor. It is to be understood, this relates only to part of the premises connected with the institution. The other part is on lease for fifty-nine years; and I have constantly paid the ground-rent, thirty gui

B 2

neas

neas per annum, without making any charge to the public for it. Most experiments, whether on the improvement of education, or on any other subject, are attended with expence, which increases with the number of trials. Many such experiments have been made, which proved quite useless, and

such as I should never attempt again. In other cases + I have often gone the wrong way to work, and acci

dentally stumbled on the very object I was in quest of. The result has been a new and efficient system of education; the principle of which is not only adapted to large manufacturing districts, but, with little variation in the mode of applying it, to all the poor of the country, and to village schools.

Hitherto, none of the active friends of the institution regarded it in any other light than a wellconducted school, with some few improvements in the modes of instruction. In fact, those who befriended it most, either never came to visit it, or never entered into its detail when they did. The Duke of Bedford and Lord Somerville were the first who visited it, and entered closely into its de

Lord Somerville told me, he saw its importance from the first. I have a letter from the Duke on the subject, wherein he expresses himself thus: after describing his first visit, he says,

" The advantages of the institution struck me so forcibly, . they were so obvious and apparent, that I could not hesitate to give every encouragement in my power

to

+ tail.

you to

to so laudable and beneficial a plan of education; which cannot but tend to better the condition, and improve the morals, of the lower classes, in a very eminent degree. Fully and earnestly convinced of this important truth, I cheerfully authorize call on me for further assistance, whenever you think fit.” The Duke, and his friend Lord Somerville, have since shown every kindness to the institution that could be wished. May their names ever be dear to every Englishman, who is a real lover of his country. It is no wonder that I feel myself bound to express my honest gratitude in this public manner. But for their repeated, timely, and liberal assistance, the design would not so rapidly have extended in its various branches. When they first visited the school, they began the subscription for buildings needful to enlarge the school-room; more scholars were daily applying for admittance, and the premises were so contracted, that many more could not have been admitted. It would have been a painful circumstance to me, to have refused admission to such; and I could not have received them without an extension of the premises. I had mentioned my wishes to several friends on this subject. They were persons not wanting in benevolence, but as they never came near the institution, which they had all previously befriended, they did not enter into my views readily. Nor were they aware, that if the work was not begun in the proper time, it must be suspended twelve months longer. One

B3

friend

friend did not like to take the responsibility, of standing first in a subscription, upon himself. Another, very properly, did not like to stand before his father, who was out of town; and a third was indisposed. Thus deprived of the energy of my most active friends, the design remained dormant for want of a leader; but that office was amply supplied by the generosity of those two noblemen, after whose example the subscription, dated Third Month, 1803, was raised. I had no person to aid me in soliciting subscriptions; and calculated, that I might travel about three hundred miles, backwards and forwards, at many different times, to obtain them. If I could, with propriety, have done entirely without public aid, as, in the outset, I intended doing, it would have been more agreeable to my wishes. It was my intention to erect the first building at my own expence, but I found, the sum which I could properly dedicate to that object, was inadequate.

The reader will be sensible, on perusing this, of the reason for inscribing this book to the Duke of Bedford and Lord Somerville; and, though dedications are often founded in flattery, this has for its basis, gratitude and truth. But it was not alone in the subscription just alluded to, that they have shown their cheerful benevolence; for in the spring, 1804, I proposed to them extending the school from three hundred and fifty to seven hundred boys. For this purpose, it was calculated the sum of at least

one

one hundred rand : eighty pounds was needful; and that, if it should appear proper, when the experiment had been tried, the subscription should remain open,

to enable me to extend it to a thousảnd. The extension to seven hundred boys was made at a very trifling expence above the estimate.

. It seems likely, the sum wanted to erect the buildings, needful to make the proposed 'exten sion to one thousand boys, will be about three hundred pounds. The reason of the difference in the estimates for extending the school to seven hundred; and that for one thousand, is, that in a former case, a contiguous building, already erected, was made use of to aid the design; and thus saved part of a greater expence, which otherwise must have been incurred. The extension of the school from three hundred and fifty to above seven hundred children, was a most extraordinary thing; and proved, after a thorough trial, the utility of the system and order established in the institution. Above four hundred children were admitted as scholars in about six weeks; and yet this surprising increase of numbers had no unpleasant effect on the order of the school. This great increase appeared, to some of my

friends, who were not fully acquainted with whạt the system would bear, as likely to overwhelm every thing with confusion; but I had the pleasure of establish

ing

B4

« PreviousContinue »