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Establishment and design of the Thames Union Committee.

that, of the ships that entered the Thames, not one in twenty was furnished with a Bible. In pursuing this investigation, more than three hundred vessels were visited; and in no instance whatever were the inquiries treated with disrespect. The seamen appeared, indeed, surprised at these unwonted questions; but many of them expressed their grateful sense of the motive by which they were prompted, and declared their willingness to contribute towards the purchase of Bibles and Testaments.

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With the assistance of the late Mr. BENJAMIN NEALE-a man whose memory is endeared by numerous evidences of ardent benevolence and genuine piety-a plan was prepared, and submitted to the Committee of the Southwark Auxiliary Bible Society, by which it was unanimously adopted. Copies were subsequently transmitted to the Committees of the City of London, Blackheath, and East-London Auxiliary Societies; and having received their cordial approbation, the first meeting of the THAMES UNION BIBLE COMMITTEE was held on the 21st of June 1813. This society was composed of the secretaries and four representatives from each of the abovenamed Auxiliaries; and a temporary fund was raised, by a transfer, from the respective committees, of one tenth of the privilege to which they were severally entitled from the Parent Institution. Nearly twenty depositories were established on both banks of the Thames, from London Bridge to Woolwich, which were supplied with Bibles and Testaments in the several European languages hereafter specified, for sale to Mariners, at an agreed scale of prices, averaging about one half the costprice. At the request of the Committee, an "Address to Mariners," explanatory of the object in view, and intended to direct their attention to the sacred records, was prepared by the author, and published in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, and Danish. A framed notice, containing the words " BIBLES FOR SAILORS," in each of these languages, was placed in a conspicuous part of every depository; and the Committee secured a regular channel of distribution for the address, through the liberal assistance of a gentleman residing at Gravesend, whose official duty it is to visit every vessel which enters the port. A list of the depositories was annexed to the address; and sailors were thus informed where they might be promptly and cheaply supplied with the holy scriptures.

In addition to this general outline of the plan of the Thames

• This Address forms No. XI. of the Appendix.

By-Laws of the Thames Union Bible Committee.

Union Committee, it appears desirable to insert the Code of By-Laws, by which their proceedings were regulated.


I. The Committee shall meet at the Three-Tuns Tavern, Southwark, on the second Thursday in January, March, May, July, September, and November, at six o'clock in the evening precisely; and five members shall be a


II. As soon after six o'clock as a quorum is present, the chair shall be taken, and the business commenced.

III. The chair shall be taken by the Treasurer, or, in his absence, by such member of the Committee as those who are present may elect.

IV. The order of proceeding shall be

1. To read the Minutes of the preceding meeting, and to dispose of any business arising therefrom.

2. To call for a written Report from each District Committee; such Report to be taken into consideration, and to be received if approved. 3. To receive the Treasurer's Report, and any official communication which the Secretary may have to make.-After which, fresh propositions shall be taken into consideration.

V. The Committee shall be divided into the four following District Committees; to each of which a Secretary shall be appointed; viz.

1. Southwark,

2. City of London,

3. Blackheath,
4. East London;

which shall severally consist of the members deputed by these societies respectively.

VI. Each District Committee shall meet at least once in two months, and prepare a Report to the General Committee; which Report shall specify,

1. The stock of Bibles and Testaments at each depository within the district, and the number sold since the last Report, specifying the descriptions and amount received.

2. Any interesting facts or observations arising out of their inquiries at the depositories.

3. The names and address of all persons who have consented to open new depositories.

4. The amount of any subscriptions received for the purposes of this Committee, with the names and address of the contributors.

VII. Each District Committee shall take charge of, and superintend, the depositories situated within the bounds of that Auxiliary Society which they represent.

VIII. Each District Committee shall frequently visit the several de positories under their care, to inspect the state of the books; and, should any case appear to require it, they shall visit those mariners who have been supplied with the holy scriptures, and report the result.

IX. Each District Committee shall have the power of giving orders on the Secretary for such Bibles and Testaments as may be required by the depositories; and they shall arrange the proportion and the mode of gratuitous distribution.

X. No new business shall be taken into consideration after eight o'clock. The numerous applications at the depositories speedily and amply confirmed the melancholy estimate which originally

Beneficial effects of this establishment.

prompted the formation of this establishment; while they convinced the Committee, that the funds placed at their disposal were utterly inadequate to the increasing demand. The inability of foreign seamen to purchase copies of the holy scriptures, even at the very reduced scale of prices adopted by the Committee, was evident at an early period, particularly among the crews of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Greek ships; and it therefore became necessary to arrange some mode, by which the requisite supply of Bibles and Testaments for gratuitous distribution might be obtained, without encroaching on the annual income of the four Auxiliary Societiesbeyond the amount of their original agreement. The Thames Union Bible Committee naturally looked with filial confidence to the Parent Institution; and a liberal grant of Testaments in foreign languages was immediately made by the British and Foreign Bible Society, for the gratuitous supply of those destitute strangers. That they were most gratefully received and duly appreciated, the following anecdote from the Records of the Society will testify :

"The crew of a large Portuguese ship, consisting of nearly fifty persons of the Romish persuasion, had applied for, and been supplied with, Testaments from one of the depositories: the ship proceeded to the Brazils; but on her return to England was totally wrecked near Portland, the crew escaping with great difficulty. They proceeded to London; and, shortly after their arrival, went, accompanied by their Chaplain, to the gentleman who kept the depository, to whom they told their melancholy tale; adding, that though they had lost every thing, even their clothes, they regretted most the loss of their Testaments, and earnestly entreating a fresh supply; which was, of course, cheerfully granted."

The following instance will prove that the influence of the sacred volume on the minds of British seamen is not less evident nor less powerful :

"A pilot, residing in Southwark, called on one of the Committee for the purpose of purchasing a Bible. After he had obtained the wished-for object, he stated, that within the last few days he had witnessed two remarkable instances of the good effects of reading the holy scriptures. He had been engaged to conduct two vessels, successively, to the Downs; and being struck with the astonishing quietude and good order on board, he was anxious to know the cause: this he speedily discovered to be the same on board both ships the morning's toil commenced, and the evening's labour concluded, by the respective captains reading a portion of Scripture to the assembled crew, accompanied with prayer to the Almighty Father for his blessing and watchful care over them. From the Docks to the Downs he declared he did not hear a single oath nor profane expression; and before he resigned his charge, he could not help acknowledging to the respective masters, that in no instance whatever had he beheld the duties of a sea-faring life so well and faithfully performed."


These and many similar instances of beneficial effects

Tyne Union Bible Committee.-Liberality of the Cambridge Auxiliary. cheered and animated the Committee. Nor were they without some gratifying proofs that the example of London stimulated the out-ports to similar exertion. In the year 1814, the Committees of the Newcastle and North-Shields Bible Societies adopted the plan; and the TYNE UNION COMMITTEE was formed and organized on the model of that in the metropolis. An "Address to Ship Owners" was drawn up, and liberally circulated; wherein it was stated, that a partial survey of the ships entering the River Tyne had tended to corroborate the melancholy fact, that not more than one in twenty was furnished with a Bible. About the same period this important subject was brought under the consideration of the Committees in other sea-ports of England and Scotland; and it was evident that a growing interest was felt, which would ultimately manifest itself in the general adoption of the system, with such improvements as observation and experience might suggest.

It will be recollected, that the Thames Union Committee was composed of the secretaries and four members of the respective Auxiliary Societies which surround the port of London; and it will be readily believed, that the individuals selected for this interesting duty were not the least active and efficient conductors of those societies. The time and attention which these gentlemen could devote to this extraordinary engagement were consequently limited; and, in proportion to the extending claims, a conviction was gradually acquired, that some alteration in the constitution of the society was indispensably necessary. This persuasion was strengthened by their inability to provide for that personal and systematic investigation which is essential to success; and by the inadequacy of the funds placed at their disposal, to meet the exigencies of the case. In reference to this latter subject it should be observed, that a circular letter had been addressed to the Auxiliary Societies in the southern and midland counties of England, explaining the nature of the institution, and soliciting assistance. This appeal was promptly recognised by several Committees, and by none more liberally than that of the CAMBRIDGE Auxiliary. From the generous aid extended by the Parent Institution, it might appear that this was the source to which the Managers of the Thames Union Committee would have looked with confidence; but they felt that they had no right to encroach further on the general funds, before an appeal was made to that numerous and opulent body of individuals, the ship-owners of London, whose interests and duty were equally concerned in the object.

Whitby Marine Bible Association.

These and similar considerations occupied the Committee for several months; and towards the close of the year 1817, it was determined to adopt measures for establishing a general and independent society, on a scale sufficiently extensive to meet the pressing exigencies of the case. The practicability of the design had been fully demonstrated, and its beneficial tendency and effects had been decidedly manifested; the Committee had therefore the strongest ground of experience and observation on which to rest their claim. They felt that the object had become too important to continue merely as an appendage to other institutions; and "they resolved to call together some known friends of their undertaking, with a view to lay before them the destitute condition of the objects of their benevolence, and to obtain their counsel as to the best means of more effectually discharging the obligations of the community towards them,-of paying its debt of gratitude and justice to these invaluable instruments of its commercial greatness." After many meetings, and much anxious deliberation, it was the opinion of the gentlemen who were thus convened, that measures should forthwith be taken to establish in London an Auxiliary Bible Society, for the supply of British merchant ships with the holy scriptures ;-and that this society, while more immediately occupied in supplying the wants of the seamen belonging to the port of London, should also endeavour to procure the formation of similar institutions in every out-port of the empire." How far this design has been realised, will appear in the sequel.

To preserve the narrative unbroken, the progress of the "Thames Union Committee" has been traced to the period. of its dissolution, in consequence of the establishment of the Merchant-Seamen's Society. But before we enter on the consideration of the latter, our attention is claimed, in order of time, by other kindred and important institutions.

It is very desirable, in order to avoid confusion, that the designation of "Marine Bible Association" should be confined exclusively to those formed on board ships; and that the term "Society" should distinguish those established on shore for the supply of seamen. With this little exception, the institution which next demands our consideration merits unqualified praise; and only requires to be more generally known, in order to incite to similar exertion throughout the sea-ports of the kingdom.

2. The WHITBY Marine Bible Association was instituted in the beginning of the year 1816. The Committee attribute much of the success which has attended their proceedings to

• Address of the Committee of the Merchant-Seamen's Auxiliary Bible Society; London, 1818.

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