« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
In this room, also, I have delivered I think more than twenty lectures on natural history, to children who came to hear them on Thursday afternoon. During the latter part of this course of lectures, they were attended by between a hundred and fifty and a hundred and sixty young persons. Will not our opulent citizens, then, give us at least one such lecture room?
Again. There will still be many, who cannot be collected even for an evening service. There should therefore be ministers, whose peculiar duty it should be to go from house to house
poor; and to carry the knowledge, the excitements and comforts of our religion to those, who otherwise, it is certain, will at best live and die almost wholly without them. I do not hesitate to say, that this is an office which is quite as important in cities, as that of ministers for our churches.
Again. A missionary may do much to assist poor parents in keeping their children at school ; and this is an object to which I have given much attention. But an authority should exist somewhere, and he to whom it is entrusted should use it, to dispose of lads who own no master, who regard no law, and who, if not in a legal sense vagrants, because there is a place in the city which they call their home, are yet known to be profane, intemperate, dishonest, and as far as they may be at their age, abandoned to crime. I have often thought that a more useful office could not be instituted in the city, than that of a superintendant of the children who ought to be in our schools, with a power to compel those to be there, who are wholly beyond parental control, and who now live in the streets, about the markets, or on our wharfs. There
would be no infringement of rights in this compulsion, if the parents of these children shall consent to it. And they will not only give their consent to it, but their gratitude to him who exercises it.
Much might also be done for the prevention of pauperism, crime and misery, by the establishment of two or three private schools in different parts of the city, for the education of the children who are too old for the primary, and who are not qualified for the grammar schools. I know it is feared, that such schools will operate as a bounty upon the thoughtlessness and the negligence of parents, who are not disposed to avail themselves of our primary schools. But exclusively of these parents, there is a considerable number of those who bring children into the city, either from other parts of our own state or country, or from abroad, who must either thus be prepared for our grammar schools, or utterly excluded from them; and who, if thus excluded, will through their lives be as ignorant of letters as they now are. A school of this kind has been kept, till very recently, in Scott's Court, in Union street, and supported by private bounty. But, from want of funds, it is now broken up. I have known sixteen children to be sent, in one quarter, from this school to grammar schools; and without this school, these children would probably never have known how to read. Two or three individuals, without a very great sacrifice, might unite to support such a school. I would earnestly recommend this object to the benevolent among us; and will cheerfully offer my services for the superintendence of such a school, or of such schools. In this connexion, I am constrained to say a word or
two of the school for Juvenile delinquents. As the law of that institution now is, a child cannot be sent there, but after trial in open court, and conviction of a crime ; others
in court against him, the duty devolves on his parents; and, perhaps, on a widowed mother. But there are parents, whose hearts are almost broken by the evil conduct of their children, who yet cannot bring themselves to this dreadful measure, even by the hope of saving their children from utter ruin. Is this surprising? Besides, is it not apparent, that the influence must be very evil on the minds of children sent to that institution, that they are sent there as condemned criminals? This seems to me to be the most unfavorable circumstance in the prospects of the usefulness of that institution. I would not have children taken by force from their parents to be sent there; nor would I have any children there, who can be kept in the schools of the city. But if a child be vicious, if he goes to no school, and can hardly read, and cannot write; if he be wholly beyond the authority of his parents, and is contaminating other children with whom he associates ; may he not, upon the application of his parent to the Directors of the School, obtain admission there? For the prevention of pauperism and crime, I am persuaded that this institution, wisely regulated, may be one of the most important means that can be devised. But it is yet in its infancy; and experience, I doubt not, will bring into it important improvements, and make it a rich source of private and public blessings.
There is yet much to be learned respecting the moral police of cities. Missionaries may do much in collecting
facts, by which alone we can be guided to the true principles, by which cities may be most effectually secured against the evils peculiarly incidental to them. There is indeed much in the science of government, which is beyond the reach of human legislation, or of civil officers; much, the obligation of which devolves on the intelligent, the affluent, the moral and religious part of the community, in their capacity as private christians. Let us be as solicitous toʻunderstand and to practice our duties, as we are to understand and to maintain our rights, and if poverty and crime may not be banished, their amount may be very greatly diminished.-I shall gratefully engage in any service, which promises to conduce to an end so desirable. Very respectfully,
· JOSEPH TUCKERMAN. Boston, Nov. 5th, 1827.