« AnteriorContinuar »
possible means, to communicate to his flock the doctrines and the precepts of the Gospel. This will, perhaps, not least effectually, be accomplished by supplying them with judicious selections of books. Hence, the establishment of Village-Libraries seems highly desirable; and the principles, upon which such an Institution may best be conducted, as well as the publications in which those principles appear most happily exemplified, become important topics of inquiry.
If its shelves are to be loaded with the County Agricultural Reports, Gregorys Gyclopadia, Dickson's Agriculture, Systems of Geography, Mavor's Universal History, Johnsons Dictionary, Hume's and Belsham's' History of England, The Monthly Magazine, The Annals of Agriculture, The Oxford Review, and The Journal of Modern Voyages and Travels *; a clergyman may pardonably hesitate to solicit subscriptions for their purchase, or to lend his vestry for their reception: because, however respectable some of these compositions may be, in other points of view, they have nothing to do with the promotion of Religious Improvement, which ought always to be his first object.
Mr. Riddel's plan, reported in a letter from Robert Burns to Sir John Sinclair+, seems little better adapted to the true interests of the students under contemplation. What, indeed, are we to think of th£ following selection; Blair's Sermons, Robertsons History of Scotland, Hume's History of the Stuarts, The Spectator, The Idler, The Adventurer, The Mirror, The Lounger, The Observer, The Man of Feeling, The Man of the World, Chrysal, Don Quixote, Joseph Andrews, &c. ? We see in it, along with some of the constitutional cha
• See the Monthly Magazine, xxiv. 28, 29.
t See his Works by Currie, ii. 272; and, for an interesting account of the Scottish Parochial Schools, &c. ibid. i. 4. and Appendix, No. 1. note A.
racteristics of the poet, the operation of prejudices national and personal in abundance; but, certainly, very little that is properly religious.
Neither of these collections then seems likely to achieve, for the more indigent orders of the community, any valuable ends. The claims of the soul appear, in both of them, to have been almost wholly neglected, and yet, if we believe that it will survive "the wreck of worlds," and subsist to eternity, its education may well demand the greatest portion of our regard.
It is not, however, by every species of religious disquisition, that this purpose would be equally promoted. The most popular and beneficial perhaps, next to the word of God, would be Tracts plain, interesting, and short. If, with these characteristics were combined the essential qualities of piety, fullness of ideas, and an accommodation to the various situations and contingencies of humbler society, there would be little wanting, with the Divine Blessing, to excite attention or to reward it.
That they should be rendered interesting in particular by incident, or dialogue, or general vivacity of composition, appears an indispensable requisite. The chief attention, upon this occasion, should be to select books, where narrative and precept are so intimately blended, that, in seizing the first, even gross apprehensions may imperceptibly lay hold on the latter. Such books the Cottager will read to his children, or his children to him, witi-equal instruction and entertainment; and, amidst their innocent questions, and his own simple replies, the evening will glide far more happily by, than if spent in the noise, or the idleness, or the profligacy, of the alehouse.
Neither would the writer of such works derive from them less benefit or less pleasure than his readers. They would not, probably, lead him to fame, or to emolument; but they might furnish him, whatever were his profession or place of abode, with many a copious theme for profitable meditation and discourse. In superintending the Institution, likewise, a minister would find it a delightful duty carefully to adapt its contents with judicious variety to the young, the gay, and the vigorous, the declining, the melancholy, and the aged. To assist in its formation, he would think it no trouble to crave the contributions of his wealthy and well-disposed neighbours. And, for whatever labour he might incur upon the occasion, he would feel himself more than repaid by the improved morality and extended illumination of his grateful parish.
Its mechanism should be extremely simple. The Clerk or Schoolmaster of the village might attend on Sundays for half an hour before the beginning of the service, to receive the books returned, and to deliver those required; entering their names, with those of their borrowers, and the dates of their delivery and their return, in a page divided into four columns for that purpose. From this, the Clergyman might, with slight trouble, draw up a list of the works which each of his parishioners had perused, and regulate his conversation with them accordingly. He might, likewise, through the agency of his librarian, unsuspectedly insinuate appropriate works into the hands of particular readers.
But, as it may be expected, that, to these observations on the Utility, Formation, and Management of a Parish-Library, I should subjoin a list of books; I venture, with some hesitation, to submit the following, promiscuously put together after having (as far as my leisure would allow) reconsidered the contents of the preceding Catalogue.
Selection from the Publications of the Society for Promoting Vhristin Knowledge, including, among others,
The Homilies, 12mo.
Bishop Gastrell's Institutes.
Duke's Lectures ou the Christian Covenant, &c.
Gilpin's Lives of Trneoian and Atkins.
— i'-our Last Dialogues.
Haiiway's Domestic Happiness Promoted. - >
The Pious Country Parishioner Instructed.
The Cottager's Religious Meditations. .
Porteus'Evidences of the Christian Religion, &c.
Sherlock's Trial of the Witnesses of the Resurrection.
Seeker's Lectures on .the Catechism.
Wilson's Principles and Duties of Christianity.
i Sermons (bound in 4 vols.)
———— on the Lord's Supper.
Mehnoth-s Great Importance of a Religious Life.
Peer's Companion for the Aged.
Village Conversations on the Liturgy of the Church of Eng-
• Select Prayers and Meditations.
, Family Magazine.
The Cheap Repository Tracts.
, Life of Colonel Gardiner.
Edgeworth's Parents' Assistant.
- Popular Tales
The History of Susan Gray.
The Vain Cottager, or the History of Lucy Franklin.
The Life and Death of Margaret Whyte.
The History of Betty Thomson.
The History of Mary Westley.
The Religious Tradesman.
Lindley Murray's Power of Religion on the Mind.
The Family Instructor.
Law's Serious Call (as abridged by W. Gray, Esq.)
Humanity to Animals.
Wakefield's Instinct Displayed.
Mrs. Taylor's Lessons to Servants.
The Savings' Bank.
NO. 35.—VOl. III. Z
Farmer Trueman's Advice to his Daughter Mary.
The Cottager's Monthly Visitor, bound up in Volumes, or
Portions of Volumes.
For those whose funds admit more extended parchases, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge have recently printed,
Burnett's History of the Reformation, abridged.
Gilpin's Lives of the Reformers.
Walton's Lives of Hooker, Herbert, and Sanderson.
Lessons in Humble Life.
Mrs. Burgess' Pilgrim Good Intent.
Bingley's Useful Knowledge.
Goldsmith's History of England, abridged.
— Natural History, abridged.
Anson's Voyages, &c. &c.
RULES FOR THE REGULATION OF VILLAGE LIBRARIES.
1. That the Books be placed under the care of the Clergy
man in each Parish, or by some person deputed by him for that purpose.
2. That a secure and dry place be provided for them, either
iu the Vestry, or the Parsonage-house. .3. That One Shilling per annum be paid by each Family making use of the Library, in order to provide against the unavoidable wear and tear of the Books.
4. That, although the Library is principally intended for the
use of the Poor, all the other inhabitants, who shall subscribe Half-a-Crown annually, shall have permission to read the books.
N. B. All sums, thus raised, shall be laid out in the r< binding, or purchasing of books for the Library.
5. That every book lent shall be returned at the end of a
Fortnight; to be re-lent to the same person, or exchanged, as he or she pleases. G. That a Register of Books lent be kept in the following form: