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and by other indefatigable workers in the cause of popular education. Among those who contributed money towards the erection of a suitable building for the accommodation of the students who attended the lectures, we find the familiar names of Wilberforce, Gilchrist, Mill, Richards, Grote, Bentham, Hobhouse, and Burdett. Huskisson endeavoured to obtain some assistance from the State for a work which, in one of his speeches, he describes as "likely to be attended with beneficial results both to artisans and to the public, provided it be directed to the teaching of those branches of science as will be of use to the mechanics and artisans in the exercise of their respective trades'." His efforts were unsuccessful, but so great was the success of the movement that between twelve and thirteen hundred workmen, paying one pound each, entered their names for the several courses of lectures, "crowding," we are told, "from great distances in the worst weather, and after the toils of the day were over, to slake their thirst of knowledge"; and it was then predicted that this desire for knowledge would "assuredly prove the source of improvements in the next age, calculated to throw all that has yet been witnessed into the shade?" Some of the most enthusiastic supporters of popular education still hesitated to give more than a guarded expression to their belief in the advantages of bringing scientific knowledge within reach of all classes of the community; and this is scarcely to be wondered at, when we read in the St James's Chronicle of May 1825, with reference to Birkbeck's scheme, that suggestions "more completely adapted to the destruction of this Empire could not have been invented by the author of evil himself." It is unnecessary that I should tell the story in all its details of the growth and development of the School now known as the London Birkbeck Institute. It has passed through many
1 Godard, p. 67.
* On the Scientific Education of Operative Mechanics, by Lord Brougham, Edinburgh, 1824, p. 20.
Godard, p. 75.
vicissitudes. It has been more than once on the point of failure, but throughout its history of 75 years friends rallied round it at critical moments. It now forms part of the City Polytechnic. Its aims and objects are very similar to those of its first founders, but the training it affords is far more liberal than could have been anticipated by those who laboured to create it.
About this time a very successful attempt was made to establish in Edinburgh an institution on the basis of the Andersonian School at Glasgow. The "Edinburgh School of Arts" was founded in 1821, with the object of imparting to the working classes a knowledge of scientific principles. The constitution of the Edinburgh School was somewhat different from that of the Mechanics Institution generally, the control and direction being left to a greater extent in the hands of the educated classes. Care was taken, however, that a certain proportion of master mechanics should always be upon the governing body so that no regulations might be made which would be in any degree hostile to the habits or feelings of the working classes.
The lectures were delivered by men of established ability. Dr Fyfe lectured on Chemistry and Mr Galbraith on Mechanics; and it may interest the Farriers' Company of London to know that a course of lectures was organised on Farriery and the Veterinary Art. Nasmyth, who was a student at the College from 1821 to 1826, calls it "our first Technical College."
In the notice of the opening of the School of Arts of Edinburgh, published in September 1821, occurs the following statement: "The great object of this Institution is to supply, at such an expense as a working tradesman can afford, instruction in the various branches of Science which are of practical application to mechanics in their several trades, so that they may the better con.prehend the reason for each individual operation that passes through their hands, and have more certain rules to follow than the mere imitation of what they
have seen done by another. It is not intended to teach the trade of the carpenter, the mason, the dyer, or any other particular business; but there is no trade which does not depend, more or less, upon scientific principles; and to teach what they are, and to point out their practical application, will form the business of the establishment. He who unites a thorough knowledge of his art with that dexterity which practice and practice only can give, will be the most complete, and probably the most successful tradesman'."
It would be difficult to find a better definition of Technology than this, or a clearer expression of the aims and objects of technical instruction. Even our difficulties of to-day were anticipated eighty years ago; for we read in the article, from which I have already quoted, contributed by Lord Brougham to the Edinburgh Review, October 1824, that "The experience of the first year" of the working of the School of Arts, "and particularly the fact that the students were of no less than 48 different trades, convinced the Directors that the best plan was to limit the lectures to the general principles of those sciences which are of universal application to the arts, and not to attempt, as had at first been intended, teaching the principles of the arts in detail."
The first quarter of the century and particularly the years 1815-1825 was marked by the foundation of Mechanics Institutions in all parts of the country. There was scarcely a large town in England in which efforts were not made, and with singular success, to establish schools on the basis of the London Institute. They were founded in all the chief manufacturing towns, and the movement extended to Dublin and Cork, to Aberdeen, Hawick and Ayr. We read that Institutions "sprang up as if by magic," and that in "a short time temples of Science were reared in every corner of the land.” In the year 1841 the total number of such Institutions was 220, of which about 36 were in the Metropolis and suburbs.
1 Brougham, p. 14.
It was an interesting movement, resulting from the first general recognition of the interdependence of Industry and Science, and was favoured by the sense of repose and satisfaction that followed the termination of the Napoleonic wars. The movement, although of undoubted service to the cause of education, was somewhat premature, and looking back from the vantage ground of our present experience, it is not difficult to discern the reason why so many of these Institutions failed to fulfil the objects for which they were originally established. Writing of the Edinburgh School some years after its foundation Mr Nasmyth says: "In these days when so many of our so-called Mechanics Institutes are merely cheap reading clubs for the middle classes, and lectures are delivered for the most part merely for a pleasant evening's amusement, it seems to me that we have greatly departed from the original design with which Mechanics Institutions were founded." The history of most of these Institutions is very similər. Some of them, such as the Institutes of Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds, kept alive long enough to be converted into Technical Schools. The Edinburgh School of Arts has developed into the Heriot Watt College. Others, however, led a languishing existence and degenerated into clubs, or changed the character of their work or ceased to exist. Very few succeeded to the extent expected by their founders, and yet their failure was in no way due to any fault in their conception, nor in their objects. It was due in the first place to the want of adequate funds, and secondly and equally to the absence among the workmen, whom they were intended to benefit, of the rudiments of primary education.
No public Institutions with such aims and objects could succeed without State aid. They depended entirely on voluntary support; and when their means failed they were compelled to sacrifice their ideals to their necessities. They consequently degenerated, as Nasmyth has pointed out, into cheap Reading Clubs for the middle classes, and places of literary entertainment. But, even if they had been adequately
endowed, or otherwise financially aided, their progress would have been seriously retarded by the fact that there did not exist at that time a body of artisans sufficiently educated to profit by the instruction. They were destined, therefore, to fall into the hands of the middle classes and of the more intelligent foremen and managers connected with the Engineering and Building Trades. Mr J. H. Reynolds of Manchester, in a letter he has kindly sent me on the origin of the Manchester Mechanics Institution, says: "It was simply impossible, except to a select few, to convey any knowledge of the principles of Science as applied to industry, to a body of workers a very great number of whom had never before been to school. I have myself, when a young man, taught reading, writing and arithmetic to working-class youths as a regular thing in the Sunday School in Manchester. In 1879 I became the Secretary of the Manchester Mechanics Institution, and I well remember the feeling of despair which came over me when I realised the real condition of affairs. There were a boys' and a girls' day school, and a number of evening classes, all in a moribund condition, the place heavily in debt, a governing body of directors without money, elected by the members and students. I could see no way open; when one day I got the Programme of the City and Guilds of London Institute establishing examinations of a distinctly industrial and technical character, and I at once induced the directors to establish classes to meet the demands of these examinations. I have a vivid recollection of your visit to me, and of the hope with which you inspired me, when you said that the City Guilds Institute would grant immediate aid if certain things were done. This is nearly 20 years ago and the fruit of it all is seen in the finest building for a Technical School in England." I have ventured to quote this extract from a long and interesting letter, for although it anticipates to some extent our history, it shows very clearly the causes that prevented the Mechanics Institutions from fulfilling the expectations of their founders. But