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BRITISH AND FOREIGN SCHOOL SOCIETY.
In a preceding Number, (vol. XIX. p. 19.), we intimated to our readers, that the Publishers of this Work were ready to receive contributions for the support of that great system of Education for the Poor, which was first set on foot by the patrons of Mr Lancaster, and is now carried on upon an improved and far more comprehensive plan by persons of all religious persuasions. We now beg leave to repeat this offer and invitation; and to submit, for the information of those to whom the subject may not be familiar, the following short statement of the present state of this undertaking.
THE importance of the British System of Education to the best interests of mankind is so universally acknowledged, that no arguments are now requisite to recommend it to public no
The British and Foreign School Society is established for the promotion of schools in all parts of the world; and as it is apprehended that many benevolent persons, who would be gratified with its success, are not acquainted with the pecuniary burthens which retard its progress, the following particulars are respectfully stated.
During the first ten years of the labours of the founder of the British System, by reason of having no established committee nor funds adequate for the building of school rooms, training of masters, and making the requisite preparations for the diffusion of his plan, he became involved in debt, and experienced difficulties which threatened the absolute ruin of his af fairs, and the entire suppression of his method of instruction.
At this juncture, in 1808, he was extricated by the prompt exertions of a few persons, who at sundry times have advanced above 60007., and have also devoted much of their time and personal exertion to support so useful an establishment, without which it is probable that the world would not now have been in possession of this valuable Institution.
By these exertions a great number of schools have been esta blished in England, Ireland, and Scotland; and the system has been introduced into Asia, Africa, and America, by persons trained and qualified at the Parent Institution. In less than seven years many thousand children of both sexes, have been rescued from ignorance, and have been directed into the paths of virtue and piety.
At this important period the most unexpected facilities pre
sent themselves for the spread of the British System throughout Europe. The anxiety of benevolent persons on the Continent ought to be regarded as an imperious call upon the sympathy and assistance of Britons, to furnish the prerequisites of quali fied schoolmasters, and lessons in the various European languages. It must be obvious that so great a burthen for the public good ought not to be suffered to press on a few disinterested individuals, and that some effectual means ought to be taken to place the funds of so important an Institution on a respectable footing, and enable the Committee to extend the bless ing of universal education to every part of the world.
Hitherto no active steps have been taken to accomplish this desirable object. Those who advanced their property to save the plan from destruction, have waited in patience, and have laboured to promote the general good, in the fullest confidence, that when the public should be convinced of the importance of the work, they would then liberally contribute to place it upon a firm foundation. That period is now arrived. Persons in
The Rev. Dr Schwabe, the Foreign Secretary of the Society, is now in Germany establishing correspondences. Hopes are entertained for the introduction of the system into Russia: And the following extracts of letters received from France, exhibit the anxiety which prevails in that country for a mode of instruction, which this Society can supply.
Extract of a Letter from the South of France.
"I return you thanks for your very agreeable present of a stereo. type New Testament of the edition of London 1807, printed at the expense of the Bible Society.
"Among us, the scarcity of copies of the Holy Bible is not so great as of those capable of reading it. It is a deplorable evil. It is true that a great part of the people in our southern provinces is deprived of the Bible, because they cannot read it. The principal desire of the friends of religion is, that there should be established among us a greater number of inferior schools, where they should teach at least to read, and where children might be admitted gratis."
Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman near Bourdeaux.
"It is then absolutely necessary, if we have not the guilty project of annihilating all the fruits of our bloody sacrifices, to make known to the paternal Government of France the necessity which exists for the establishment of primary schools for children of both sexes, in which they should be taught to respect religion. For this purpose, a foundation should be obtained from the Government for a seminary, where they should prepare young people for the importaut work of schoolmasters."
general are convinced of the great utility of the British and Foreign School Society; and it is presumed, that an appeal to their generosity will not be fruitless, when it is considered that far larger sums are easily raised for objects of inferior importance.
The sum required to relieve this society from its difficulties, and place it upon a respectable and efficient foundation, is estimated at 10,000l.; and it surely would be thought an unwarranted reflection on British liberality to say that for such a purpose it would be difficult to raise such an amount. The plan now proposed is, that 100 individuals should each of them undertake to raise the sum of 100l. among their friends, to be applied to the firm establishment of the British and Foreign School Society. If this can be accomplished, the annual subscriptions of the public will be sufficient to carry on the Institution; and no impediment would remain to the most active exertions for diffusing the blessings of knowledge to the population of the whole world.
The Finance Committee strongly recommend to the friends of universal education the adoption of this plan; and will be happy to receive the names of such gentlemen as may be willing to unite in this effort.
It is proposed, that as the money shall be received, it shall immediately be invested in the public funds in the names of SAMUEL WHITBREAD, M. P., JOHN JACKSON, M. P., SAMUEL HOARE, jun., and WILLIAM ALLEN, as trustees; and if in the course of two years, reckoning from 1st Jan. 1815, it does not, with accumulated interest, amount to the sum of 10,0007., the contributors shall receive their principal and interest, if they desire it, or it shall be applied in such way as each shall direct.
Communications will be thankfully received by the Treasurer, Mr WILLIAM ALLEN, Plough Court, Lombard Street; and the Secretary, Mr JOSEPH Fox, Argyll Street.
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