The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 36
Votes of Thanks
Votes of Thanks.
Dr. Richardson: Sir Charles Reed, ladies, and gentlemen,—You have heard the duty that is imposed on me, and a most pleasant duty it is; but a word or two by way of observation before I pass to its discharge. I have sat here to-night with mingled pleasure—I had almost said a pleasure amounting to pain—to hear the remarks that have been made on this little effort of mine towards your great cause. (Cheers.) I wish to say at once that all credit for the origination of that book rests not with me, who have been, as it were, the mere instrument of bringing it forth, or the gardener who went into the garden to pluck the flowers, and so arranged them as to be acceptable to those who should read it, but all the credit belongs to the National Temperance League—(cheers)—who first of all conceived the project, and then asked me to be their servant, and thereby made me their debtor, to carry it out. I am very much inclined to think that Mr. Rae first suggested it—(cheers)—and when he came to me I had some little doubt, in the first instance, as to whether I should undertake the writing of this small treatise. It seemed to me that possibly my mind had not been trained in teaching that class of scholars for which this book was intended; but, as page 29 the duty was earnestly urged upon me by the League, I accepted the office on these grounds:
First, I had learned, in the time in which I had been attached to the cause of total abstinence, what Dr. Valpy French has so admirably stilted, that education itself, in a general way, was by no means a check to the progress of intemperance. On the contrary, I found that many of the most educated men, in a certain sense, were those who largely indulged in intemperance of a certain kind, at all events, and that in fact they were the most dangerous of all the community in respect to the cause of temperance, because by their learning, and the ability with which they could put their words into the best case, they fostered and maintained that which was wrong. (Hear, hear.) Well, then, I thought that as a mere educational work for myself this exercise was good. But there was another matter which influenced me that has been referred to—I mean the effect which a manual of the kind suggested might have upon those who taught.
I, as a teacher, have been all my life not merely a teacher. I never give a lecture, I never give a course of lectures, but what I come out of that lecture, or that course of lectures, as much instructed from the labour pursued in gathering the materials for it as any of the people who have listened. So I thought if this book could be put into the hands of schoolmasters, and they themselves should begin to learn from it, then a double object would be gained.
There was another reason led me to the work, and that was the earnestness which has been shown for about twenty years past for the movement you are inaugurating to-night. So far back as 1857, Mr. Thomas Knox, of Edinburgh, gave expression to this earnestness in a series of admirable letters, the publication of which long preceded the report of Convocation, to which allusion has just been made. I find that through the whole of the temperance ranks there was even then this desire that something should be done towards the education of the young. Well, then, last and not least, the welfare of the young themselves came naturally before my mind; and if I have done anything in this small effort—for it lias not been a great effort, except in matters of arrangement and a little time—if it has helped ever so little this important cause, the reward I have obtained is far greater than anything which I can express. I would say, as I say in the preface of that book: "It is but a spark given to make a larger flame, and that my best hope is that it may itself soon be lost in the great blaze which will be created by and through its lessons." And if there is one thing that will give an impulse to this educational movement, that will mark this event to-night, and make education in the paths of temperance easy, it is the fact that one of the most accomplished, one of the most learned, one of the most liberal and open-minded men at this time on the bench of bishops of this kingdom has presided over this meeting. (Cheers.)page 30
Sir Charles Reed put the motion, which was carried amidst hearty cheers.
The Right Rev. Chairman, in responding to the resolution, said: I think I ought to say that, when just now, according to the order of proceeding that was put into my hands, I called upon Sir Charles Reed to address the meeting, 1 was not at all aware of the way in which he was going to use the opportunity, and so put me in the somewhat absurd -position of asking somebody to say something in my praise. (Laughter.) Of course, I cannot but be grateful to him and to Dr. Richardson for the very kind language they have used. The part that I have taken, although it is in a certain sense a prominent part, yet, as you know very well, is a subordinate part. It is so in almost all the arrangements of this world. You almost always find that you have to employ two sorts of people: there are the ornamental people who get all the pay and all the honour, and there are the useful people who do all the work. (Cheers and laughter.) One of the great, and, I suppose, one of the fundamental principles of society is that these two parts should never be confused, and that you should never employ an ornamental man for a useful purpose, nor a useful man for an ornamental purpose. (Laughter.)
In accordance with this great rule, I accept very heartily and gladly the thanks that have been given me to-night; but, at the same time, I cannot help feeling that, if I had the opportunity of doing a great deal more than it is possible for me to do for the promotion of this cause, there is no cause to which a man could more wisely devote his life than the promotion of temperance amongst his fellow-countrymen. (Cheers.) I am always very glad indeed when any chance is given me of coming in such a character as that in which I come to you to-night, to take the advantage of that chance, and to do what little I can do for the great cause in which so many are labouring with all their might. And in the present instance I feel a double interest in what has now been proposed. I feel a double interest in it because it touches this cause just at the very point where my own feelings are most readily roused.
I have all my life had a great deal to do with education. (Hear, hear.) I have all my life had a great deal to do with the instruction of the young. I always feel more at home in talking to boys than in talking to men or grown-up people generally. I always feel as if I could understand them and they could understand me a great deal better than when I have to do with those whose characters are already formed, and the sum of whose knowledge is for the most part made up. And it is a very great satisfaction to me to be able to express my hearty interest in the proposal that is made to-night to bring to bear upon the education of the young the importance of the acquisition of the knowledge which page 31 we owe so very largely to the labours of such men as Dr. Richardson. (Cheers.) I am very glad, indeed, that I should have had the opportunity of coming before you in this capacity, and I trust that this meeting will be the beginning of a very real work. No doubt our purpose at present is to endeavour to introduce instruction, especially in those branches of physiology which particularly touch upon this matter: but we hope that a great deal will grow out of this. We hope that although we may begin with the elementary schools, yet we believe that this teaching will assuredly penetrate into schools of a higher rank. We hope that this knowledge—although we may endeavour to diffuse it more widely there at first—may be the common heritage of all Englishmen before we have done with it. (Loud cheers.)
We hope that Canon Hopkins's expression of a little while ago will become a fact, that in all schools, of every rank, pains will be taken to make all understand what is the true character of the dispute in this matter. We have heard so very much about these drinks being necessary—about these drinks being absolutely required by some people for the weakness of their health, and by other people for the severity of their labours—that it is time to have done with all that, and let us put the question on its true footing. There is nothing in the general way to be said for the use of these stimulants except the pleasure which they give for the moment. (Cheers.) How limited that pleasure is, everybody knows. (Cheers.) With what consequences that pleasure is attended, it is very important to point out. But at any rate, let us have it clearly understood by the feeblest intellect that we can reach, that that is the one thing, and the only thing, that can be said in favour of using these stimulants at all, and that all other arguments may as well be put aside altogether, for science has pronounced against them. (Cheers.)
The evening, I think, has been very profitably spent in listening to all those who have looked at this matter from such very different points of view; and I shall always remember the honour you have done me in allowing me to take the chair on such an occasion, and shall look upon it hereafter as a very great honour to myself that so great a work should have been inaugurated under my presidency. (Loud cheers.)
His Lordship then pronounced the benediction, and the meeting dispersed shortly after half-past nine o'clock.
Just published, cloth boards, 1s. 6d.
The Temperance Lesson Book. Designed for Reading in Schools and Families. By Benjamin W. Richardson, M.A., M.D., LL.D., F. R.S.
W. Tweedie & Co., Limited. 337. Strand.