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once observe that the whole meaning of a society such as this is lost. The medical man and the clergyman join the general society to read books of general and not of special interest. If the clergyman wishes for his book of theology, and the medical man his medical authority, the one must form a clerical library, and the other must form his medical society. But in that case he must be content with limited numbers and limited means, exactly in proportion as the object of association becomes limited and definite. Precisely so with this Society. I do not say that the members of this Institute have not a perfect right to form unions amongst themselves; but once give utterance to this principle, that it is the duty of the committee to furnish food for all tastes, then you will have, not a society but societies, not an institution, but a knot of clubs.
I call your attention to another point. In this paper, your committee hold it to be their duty to afford mental amusement for all tastes. Again I say, I will not rigorously press the exact meaning of words. It is a duty always to endeavour to ascertain what men mean, instead of ungenerously binding them by their words, which are often inexact. And, indeed, on looking at the titles of these books "of amusement," I find that
some are any thing but amusing, but are books which require great exercise of intellectual faculties. But still some remark must be made on this idea of works of amusement. It is the duty of the committee, in part, to furnish books of amusement. I said so in my opening address. I was greatly sneered at for saying so. Many wellmeaning and religious persons said I had forgotten my place as a clergyman in speaking of works of fiction as fit for labouring men. They were shocked and startled that I dared to reckon it a matter of rejoicing that there is a moral tone in that well-known publication which is dedicated to wit and humour, or that I even named it. They were scandalized that I could find any thing of moral significance in the works of Dickens. I stand to what I said. I do not like to characterize that kind of language severely ; otherwise I should call it cant. It exhibits a marvellous ignorance of the realities and the manifoldness of human life. I am prepared to say that works of fiction and amusement must and will be read, and that they ought to be read. There is a deal of religion in an earnest, hearty laugh that comes ringing from the heart. That man is a bad man who has not within him the power of a hearty laugh. Therefore it cannot be denied that it is part of the duty of the commit
tee to furnish works of amusement; but I cannot but acknowledge that it is a matter of surprise and regret, that, even by an oversight, the committee should have represented it as their duty chiefly to furnish works of mere mental amusement. Your Rule declares that "The objects of this Institution are to provide means for the moral and intellectual improvement of its members." What has become of that high moral tone which characterized your first addresses to the public? Where are the men from whom I have heard, in the room below, language which did my heart good, and made me feel proud of my country, which made me compare it triumphantly with the language that men of the working classes were holding on the other side of the water? Men of the Brighton Working Man's Institute! how comes it that the language of your publications now is so immeasurably inferior in moral tone?
Once more, you owe it to the cause in which your society is enlisted, to reject peremptorily these infidel publications.
Every man, if he is not deterred by feeling for his own character, is deterred by feeling for his cause. There are many things that a soldier will do in his plain clothes which he scorns to do in his uniform. You have a cause, and I must
acknowledge that the cause has received a severe blow by the proceedings of your last public meeting. I must admit, as I said before, that free institutions are looked upon now with eyes of jealousy and suspicion by many who lately felt towards them very favourably. I have heard again and again this taunt," These are your friends, the working men; this comes of your philanthropy." And others, in a less bitter spirit, have said, “I fear you will be disappointed in your hopes of these working men." My friends, the working men! Would to God they were my friends. Would to God I were more their friend. I look back once more two thousand years, and dare not forget Who it was that was born into this world the Son of a poor woman, and probably laboured for thirty years in a carpenter's shop, a Working Man!
In reply to that sarcasm, I observe, it is to be remembered that the first use a man makes of every power and talent given to him, is a bad use. The first time a man ever uses a flail, it is to the injury of his own head and of those who stand around him. The first time a child has a sharpedged tool in his hand, he cuts his finger. But this is no reason why he should not be ever taught to use a knife. The first use a man makes of his affections, is to sensualize his spirit.
Yet he cannot be ennobled, except through those very affections. The first time a kingdom is put in possession of liberty, the result is anarchy. The first time a man is put in possession of intellectual knowledge, he is conscious of the approaches of skeptical feeling. But that is no proof that liberty is bad, or that instruction should not be given. There is a moment in the ripening of the fruit when it is more austere and acid than in any other. It is not the moment of greenness, the moment when it is becoming red, the transition state, when it is passing from sourness into sweetness. It is a law of our humanity, that man must know both good and evil; he must know good through evil. There never was a principle but what triumphed through much evil; no man ever progressed to greatness and goodness but through great mistakes.
There have been great mistakes made in this society, and there are many difficulties; but you will weather the difficulties yet. The mistakes will become your experience. Nay, I believe that the discipline of character which many of you will have gained by this struggle with an evil principle, and the practical insight which it has given you into the true bearing of many social questions, in which I personally know that wild and captivating theories have been modified in