Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

sound onward forever. Corresponding with this stupendous order of events, we are endowed with a faculty of mind, by which we can recognize and appreciate our power over the fortunes and destinies of distant times. By the aid of this faculty, we can see that whatever we undertake and prosecute, with right motives and on sound principles, will not return to us void, but will produce its legitimate fruits of beneficence. On this faculty, then, as on eagles' wings, let us soar beyond the visible horizon of time; let us survey the prospect of redoubling magnificence, which, from age to age, will open and stretch onward, before those whose blessed ministry it is to improve the condition of the young; let our thoughts wander up and down among the coming centuries, and partake, by anticipation, of the enjoyments which others shall realize. If we ever seem to be laboring in vain,—if our spirits are ever ready to faint, amid present obstruction and hostility,then, through this faculty of discerning what mighty results Nature and Providence will mature from humble efforts, let us look forward, in faith, and we shall behold this mighty cause emerging from its present gloom and obscurity, expanding and blossoming out into beauty, and ripening into the immortal fruits of wisdom and holiness; and as we gaze upon the glorious scene, every faculty within us shall be vivified, and endued with new and unwonted energy.

What, then, though our words and deeds seem now to be almost powerless and hopeless; what though bands of noble followers should rise up in our places, to be succeeded again and again by others, whose labors and sacrifices shall seem to fall and perish like the autumnal leaves of the forest; yet, like the annual shedding of that foliage, which, for uncounted centuries, has been gradually deepening the alluvium, throughout

the vast solitudes of the Mississippi valley, increasing its depth and its richness, so shall the product of our labors accumulate in value and in amount, until, at last, beneath the hand of some more fortunate cultivator, it shall yield more abundant harvests of excellence, and righteousness and happiness, than had ever before luxuriated in the "seed-field of Time."

[ocr errors]

LECTURE VI.

ON DISTRICT SCHOOL LIBRARIES

I PROPOSE, in the following lecture, to consider the expediency of establishing a School Library in the several School Districts of the State.

The idea of a Common School Library is a modern one. It originated in the State of New York. In the year 1835, a law was 'passed by the Legislature of that State, authorizing its respective school districts to raise, by tax, the sum of twenty dollars the first year, and ten dollars in any subsequent year, for the purchase of a Common School Library. No inducement was held out to the districts to make the purchase, but only a mere power granted; and the consequence was, that for three years this law remained almost a dead letter upon the pages of the statute book. But in the year 1838, Governor Marcy, in his inaugural address to the Legislature, recommended the appropriation of a part of the income of the United States deposit fund, or surplus revenue, (so called,) to this object. The recommendation was adopted, and the sum of $55,000 for three years, was set apart to be applied by the districts to the purchase of a District School Library. The towns were also required to raise an equal sum, to be united with the former, and to be applied in the same way.*

* By a law of 1839, this provision for three, was extended to five years; and by a law of 1843, it was made perpetual, with the following modifications: Whenever the number of children in a district, between

How much more does such an act of permanent usefulness redound to the honor of a Governor or a Legislature, than those party contests which occupy so much of public attention for a few days or months, but are then forgotten, or are only remembered to be lamented or condemned!

By the law of April 12, 1837, the Legislature of Massachusetts authorized each school district in the State to raise, by tax, a sum not exceeding thirty dollars for the first year, and ten dollars for any subsequent year, for the purchase of a library and apparatus for the schools. Few districts, however, availed themselves of this power; and, up to the close of the year 1839, there were but about fifty libraries in all the Common Schools of Massachusetts.

Being convinced of the necessity, and foreseeing the benefits, of libraries in our schools, I submitted to the Board of Education, on the 27th day of March, 1838, a written proposition on that subject. In that communication it was proposed that the Board itself should take measures for the preparation of such a Common School Library, as should be adapted to the wants of the schools, and should at the same time be free from objection on account of partisan opinions in politics, or sectarian views in religion. I had been led to suppose that one of the principal reasons why so few libraries had been purchased, under the law of 1837, was the jealousy entertained against each other, by members of different political parties and of different religious denominations. Though

the ages of five and sixteen years, exceeds fifty, and the number of volumes in the library shall exceed one hundred and twenty-five; or when the number of children in a district, between the same ages, is fifty, or less, and the number of volumes belonging to the library shall exceed one hundred, then the district may appropriate the whole, or any part of its distributive share of the "library money” “to the purchase of maps, globes, blackboards, or other scientific apparatus, for the use of the school."

« VorigeDoorgaan »