« PreviousContinue »
There is no respect whatever shown to women in Ceyion. There are looli. od upon as an inferior race of beings, and not fit to be trusted, as will bo seen frem the following quotation from (Prattia Soloke) a Singhalese book by A very learned person.
Awoo doombere mayan poospan, swálhe warnanche kákeyo,
Mathsie pathe jalá driswá, nare chith-than thadrisiatha.
SKETCHES OF MEN AND THINGÊ
BY THE EDITOR.
“Achiel's amang ye takin notes,
The Mechanics Institute.
Foremost among the signs and sypes of Christianity and Civi. lization, the noble institutions of a free country, for alleviating the sufferings, lightening the sorrows and improving the moral, men tal and physical condition of its poorer classes-stand the “Me. chanics' Institutes.” Founded on principles of benevolence these truly philanthropic nurseries of England's liberty and England's happiness have gone on prospering and multiplying upon the face of the earth, until in our mother country there is scarcely, a city,' town, or even village which cannot boast its Institute where its bumbler citizens may find a constant fund of lasting instruction and innocent recreation. We have placed tbem
We have placed them among the types of Christian civilization. Have we 'not done right? What have the mighty conquerors of old to boast of equal to these subdners of the ignorance and evil passions of men ? Whose victories are the more lasting? The bold Assyrian and the prond Egyptian bad their mighi; walls and their gorgeous palaces. The Macedonian had bis conquests. The Greeks and the Romans bad their philosophy, their poetry and their triumphs. The Spaniards bad iber mines of gold and the Portuguese their fleets of discovery.
+ A kind of Fig-tree, which never bears flowers.
Be it so-Christian England feels no envy and though she has her heroes and victories and poetry; and discoveries, she vaunts them not, but points with humble pride to her Hospitals, her Refuges for orphans and widows, her Free Schools, and her Me chanics' Institutes.
Manchester may boast of having bad the first of these Institu. tións in England. It was established, we think, in 1819 or 1820 but was not of so comprehensive a nature as those of the present day. Lord Brougham was the means of the “ London Mechanics’ being started and it is certainly one of the most useful, because most comprehensive and cheap, of any in the metropolis. Every parish in London has now its own Institute formed on a scale of greater or less magnitude. We will introduce our readers to one of the unpretending suburban establishments.
It is a simple stone building, approaching nearer to the saxon style than any other, and stands some few yards back from one of the great northern outlets of the metropolis Ascending the stone steps you enter a spacious, well-lighted hall, on the walls of whicli are lists of the approaching courses of lectures, of the clasges in progress and of the monthly meetings of the committee, together with the rules of the society. Hali a dozen doors lead to the different class-rooms where languages, music, drawing, paintmg &c., are learnt by the members on certain evenings, and at the further end are folding-doors wbich conduct to the lectureroom or theatre. On each side of this door ascends a double flight of wide stairs leading to the library, exhibition and reading rooms of the Institution å spacious suite of apartments, open at
all hours of the day.
There are lectures three times a week, embracing every branch of art and science. The classes for mutual instruction are held four times in each week, and once a fortnight there is a concert, both instrumental and vocal, in the theatre, to which every mem. ber introduces two friends. No part of the system has worked 10 such advantage in attracting numbers of young men together to unile in an innocent unbending, as that of the concerts. The study of music is allowed by all to have a softening and refining infinence upon the mind of man, and most decidedly is it proved in this case. The attendants on the music classes are invariably known by a superior air and gentler manner : but it is not only themselves who are benefited; they carry their love of the art 10 their domestic hearths and the peaceful spirit of melody and happiness is diffused over their buible households.
The annual subscription for each member is but twelve shillings, get such is the effect of combination that almost every new work of value is added 10 its library, and amongst the lecturers are some of the first rate scientific men of the day, such as Drs, Lardner and Epps, and Messrs. Babbage, Buckingham, Faraday, Davy, Ure, Edward Taylor &c. &c.
We will suppose ourselves ascın ling the steps abont half past seven in the evening. We are not alone,--there are a good dozen following in our rear, and when we look around inside, we find the great liall thronged will groups as mulley as vumerous: but how ditterent to the assemblages in many other public places, -no confusion, no hurry, no noise: all are quiet and orderly, but evidently anxious and interested in something which is to take place. On reference to the notice near the door we find that the lecturer for the evening is to be Dr. Lardner who is to discourse upon Astronomy, a subject which he is well qualified to handle. Some of the young bystanders are enjoying in articipation the pleasure they are 10 derive from it: otlicis uie canvassing the Doctors abilities in comparison with Lewis and oiber Astronomers. Two or three lads are discussing with one much their sevior the merits of the previous evening's concert and are evidently rather divided in their opinions. In another and more retired corner of the spacious stone hall stands a group of hard-working mechanics ena gaged in deep, earnest conversation, but in reserved language. They are comparing the gratification they feel now that they have become members of the Lustilution to the empty, msatisfactory pleasures of the tap-room and the low theatre. It would do a misanthrope's leart good to behold the glow of delight beaning on their houest complenances as they dwell upon the lasting pleasure and comfort of the library and the lecture room. Besides, since iley have become readers they have belter clothes upon ibeir backs and their families possess many more comforts than when they spent their evenings and their carnings at the beer-shop. Before they were constantly iu difficulties, and the aid of the piwnbroker, was frequently in requisition. Now they have lasud of the stream of knowledge and they are both wiser and happier. They live temperately; coffee and tea !iave replaced strong drinks at their labies ever since they beurd Mr. l'araly's lecture on the effects of spiritous liquors, and the consequence is that 'they are stronger in body and mind. Their money goes much. further at the Tea dealers than it did al the Gin-sbop, and they bave now something left at the end of the week for a new frock for the little girl, or perhaps for a trip to Gravesend or Richmond instead of sauntering to the “ While Conduil."
But there is a bustle and a move towards the folding doors, just opened, and we must e'en follow the throng. The Theatre or Lec. lure Room is of a horse-shoe form and capable of containing a thousand persons with ease. Ai the square end of the room is a raised platform railed in and containing tables, gigantic charts of the heavenly bodies, and a lotiy black board upon which the lecturer may trace, by the aid of a chalk pencil at the end of a wand, whatever ligure he may require w show. The closely placed benches are rapidly filled with a motley; but respectable audience; and amidst the deep, busy whisperings it is easy to see that the allention of all is rivelled on the litle oaken door beneath the black board.
In a few minutes the door is Aung rapitty, but noiselessly open,
and the committee enter and take their seats in arm chairs within the enclosed circle, and just below the platform. They are followed by the lecturer, a gentlemanly, middle aged person, with small pleasing features, bright eyes generally assisted with spectacles, dark hair slightly curled and a profusion of rings, chains, &c. This is Dr. Lardner * one of the most elegant and agreeable lectuners of the metropolis. Astronomy is believed to be his most favorite theme, and he certainly handles it exceedingly well. We have heard him discourse upon a score of other subjects, but in no case did he please us so highly as in the present.
The doctor has a most fascina:ing address, with an uninterrupted flow of pleasing and powerful language. There is nothing like besitation or embarrasment abont him, as is but wo frequently the case with many of the most talented scientific lecturers of our day, whose tautology and nervousness cause much pain 10 their bearers. Lardner is peculiarly happy in his descriptions of the mighty wonders of the starry heavens, which are frequently brilliavų in the extreme, and forcibly remind one of Bulwer's poetically descriptive style. When he concludes there is a long puuse of anxiety; every breath is held, in the hope that there is still more to come, and when at last he bends gracefully forwards to his audience so that there can no longer be any doubt, the applause is general and hearty. The crowd begins to disperse. Some few who imagine that they are on sufficiently hiendly terms, press forward in the hope of exchanging but one word with him. Others content themselves with taking a nearer look at him ; while the majority break off into little knots 10 discuss together the merits of the lecture and the lecturer.
The Theatre is occasionally converted into a Concert Room where the members of the music classes perform some of the most difficult concerted pieces of all masters, ' in a manner not unworthy of the Exeter Hall or Westmioster Abbey Festivals, The utility of such reunions cannot be doubled, aud ihey must ir duc time materially assist in clevating tbe musical tastes of the British people, as yet far bebjud the other European nations. There can be no question but that the Festivals held during the last three or four years in various cilies of Great Britain, lave lended very sensibly io excite a more general relish for musical performances amongst the great mass of the people. In proof of this assertion louk over the advertizing columns of any olibe metropolitau jommals of the .present day and you will there see weekly announcements of concerts to be buklen at the various Literary and Scienuitic Justitutions and for which occasions many of the most popular vocalisis, buih male and female, are engaged. We know of instavices in which not less than forty pounds were paid for one nigbi's services of a few leading choral and glce singers, and that too by a secund-rale Institution. It may not be anniss to remark thai in no way have
• Since we heard him the learned lecturer has, we are sorry to say,
lost the respect of all good men and placed bimself without tbe pale of res. pectable society by the commission of a must beinuos ofence.
the good effects of these Iństitutions been evinced so much as ini the very improved conduct of the great masses of people who have assembled ai varionis cimes during the last ten years on occasions of strong political excitement. We no longer hear of London riots. No popular meetings, howevet large, row terminate as of old, with
outrage and disorder. Six years since when the Trades Unions matched in procession in Westminster, to-the number of eighty thoy. sand, not a single case of violence or robbery occurred: ihe inmense body of mechanics walked along the streets of ihe metropolis as orderly as though proceeding to church, and when their petition had been presented, dispersed quietly to their homes. These can be no doubt as to what cause we are to attribirte this changé; neither can we deny that ihe great source of our country's domestic hapo piness and prosperity is in her Mechanics Instilutes.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CEYLON MAGAZINÈ.
Sir,-The accoinpanying papers are a plain, unpretending and very literal translation of the “ Organs of the Brain" a drama of Kotzebue's which bas often caused me a hearty laugh from the extravagance of the satire and
- ridicule heaped in it upon cruniology. The translation was undertaken sin.
ply with a view
administering amusement to a family circle, and
made as literal as possible for the purpose of pointing out the tery great
affinity both in structure and turn of expression between the German langu.
age and its noblest daughter the English. If, Mr. Editor, you find them
on perusal calculated for the pages of the Ceylon Magazine they are beartily