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BAND OF HOPE RECORD.
A PLEA FOR BAND OF HOPE LIBRARIES.
By E. J. OLIVER.
“Knowledge,” saith the wise man, "is power," and as individuals or communities grow in knowledge, so does their power increase in an equal proportion. It is no argument against knowledge that many of its possessors have used it for a bad purpose, or that its power for evil is equal to its power for good. Fire, when used aright, is one of the great blessings of civilization, and no sensible person would say, that because of the frightful consequences that have at times resulted from it, we should cease to make it minister to our requirements.
The alphabet once mastered, a prospect boundless as the mighty ocean, lies before us. Step by step we climb the hill, and every time we advance, the beauty of the view increases. Temptingly hangs the rich fruit on the surrounding trees, lovely are the flowers, and delightful the fragrance they exhale. Is it to be wondered at, that we should pluck those nearest to our hand, nor stay to enquire too curiously as to their ultimate effect. With our minds informed, and our eyesight dazzled by the loveliness of the scene, we seek not for wisdom, but only crave for food wherewith to satisfy our newly awakened desires. Of quantity there is no lack—turn which way we will, we have but to put forth our hand, and take of the abundance so lavishly provided. But quantity is one thing, and quality is another. As at this period we are incapable of judging for ourselves, it s needful that those who have travelled in the same path, and gained experience, should point out that which shall be for our dvantage, and whlle gratifying the taste, form and improve the aind.
The quantity of worthless periodicals that issue from the ress, is truly alarming; and not only are most of them of a olish and trifling nature, but many are positively vicious, and ul of impurities clothed in fascinating forms; thus, insidiously ndermining all pure thought and feeling. Boys and girls will ad, and halfpenny journals and low novels in penny numbers, e unfortunately too often the companions of their leisure hours. o they gain knowledge by the perusal of such works? Yes,
but it is a knowledge that shall corrupt their minds and hearts, a knowledge that shall be one of the greatest allies of the powers of darkness, and that shall render them powerless to acquire that higher, and better knowledge, without which, man is little better than the brutes that perish. Would that it were possible to sweep them entirely off the face of the earth, or to subject the authors and publishers to heavy penalties ! But as we cannot do this, the next best thing is to provide good and cheap reading in such an interesting form, and in such quantity, as to rival the wretched trash that fills the market. The importance of such a proceeding has been felt, and much has been, and is still being done, to bring about such a desirable result. But it is not enough that we have a supply, we must do our best to create a demand. Those who have been accustomed to the highly coloured sensational literature, that freely abounds in the cheap periodicals, will not willingly leave it for the more ennobling food we would provide. Such being the case, we must bring it to them and point out its beauties, and there is no better way of doing this, than through the instrumentality of our Bands of Hope.
We cannot fully estimate the importance of supplying the young with good reading. The impressions they receive at this period will remain with them, more or less, throughout their lives, and must have a great influence in forming their character. The mind insensibly takes up, and absorbs into itself, the spirit of a book; and although we may not observe it at the time, and the words we read may pass from our memory, yet, if the book has been read with any interest at all, a certain something which we cannot define, remains with us, and may have more power over our thoughts and feelings, than we imagine. It has been well said, that our earliest impressions are often the most lasting; and those books which will make the deepest mark upon our hearts, for good or evil, will be those we read in the spring-time of our days, before the storms, and cares, and trials of the world have overtaken us.
It is then that we lay the foundation on which the whole after structure shall be raised; and according to the quality of the first stone, so shall the whole building rise in beauty and strength, the admiration of all beholders; or like some squalid and ruined hut, excite no emotions, but those of scorn and contempt.
There are many ways by which a persevering Conductor might get a small library together. A request to friends may often secure à volume or two-quarterly entertainments, the proceeds of which shall be devoted to the purpose-small contributions by the children themselves--these, and many other, plans if adopted and persevered in, would be sure to be successful.
But while we do our best to stop the stream of trasliy literature, let us not run into the opposite extreme, and expect the children to delight in theological, or philosophical treatises. Ponderous and learned volumes, with high sounding titles, are all very well for those who can take their seats, by right of learning, in the temple of knowledge; but those who only behold the temple afar off, and whose footsteps are only on the first round of the ladder, must be urged to further effort by very different works from these. Judicious selections made from the Religious Tract Society; the Pure Literature Society; Mr. Tweedie's list of Temperance Publications; the Sunday School Union, &c.; will secure such a supply of good and wholesome literary matter, that shall be quite as interesting as “Sixteen Stringed Jack," and quite as instructive (to them) as the works of Archbishop Whateley, or John Stuart Mill.
THE VERY REV. DR. SPRATT, of DUBLIN.
By JAMES HAUGHTON, Esq.
This good man—whose name lias been for forty years or more associeted with many of the charitable associations existing in his native city, but who has, during the last three and twenty years, crowned a life spent in active benevolence, by his earnest, his persistent, and his able advocacy of the total abstinence reformation—was born in Dublin, in the year 1798.
Father Spratt is one of those benevolent spirits, whose mission is to calm down irritation; and in this good work he has taken a quiet, unobtrusive, but no mean part for the past quarter of a century.
When John Spratt arrived at an age when it was necessary to commence his school education, it was difficult, if not impossible, for Irish Roman Catholics, to receive even a very limited education in their own country. The penal laws against the religion of his fathers were then in full force, so that the lad was sent to the College of Cordova in Spain, vhere, we believe, he remained for several years.--He seems to have been arly destined for the priesthood; for we find him on his return to Dublin, 2 1821, engaged in the sacred office; in which he has with zeal and arnestness performed his duties to the present time. The wretchedness f the people committed to his charge, has, for many years past, caused im to labour heart and soul for their relief. He has been the founder of ome of our many charitable associations. His name has been long sociated with our “Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers' Society." He and the Protestant Dean of St. Patrick's are its honorary secretaries. His last labour of love in this direction, and one of which he is himself the architect is a “ night asylum for females.” It is situated in the Liberty-one of the poorest districts in Dublin; and many hundreds of destitute women receive shelter there every week. The institution is on a large scale, and was built many years ago, by a wealthy benevolent citizen, as a drying house for the poor weavers, who were then a numerous body in the district referred 10.
Father Spratt, by appeals to the people, has succeeded in obtaining voluntary contributions to sustain this charity; and when the funds admit of it, the inmates are given a breakfast of bread and milk, before they leave the institution in the morning. A night's shelier, is however, its main object.
The useful labours of the Very Rev. Dr. Spraut, have culminated the last three and twenty years, in the great cause of Teetotalism. Daily he is to be found at his post, at the Chapel house in Aungier Street, administering the “Pledge” to all comers; and every Sunday evening, during that long period of his life, with very few exceptions indeed, he has, to the knowledge of the writer of this memoir, atiended in the Old Chapel in Cuffe lane, now and for many years a temperance hall, exhorting the people, and encouraging them to shake off their drinking habits, which have been their ruin for many generations, and the curse of old Ireland for ages. Thousands cheerfully respond to his appeals.
In this labour of love, Father Spratt has been most successful; and although 1,100 public-houses in his beloved native city counteract his labours in this work of mercy, yet tho
ods of his fellow-citizens are annually rescued by him from those traps which lead myriads into sin and misery, and have reason to bless him, and do bless him, for their deliverance from the foulest degradation to which man is subjected, and from which he must be saved before his feet can ever be placed on the rock of prosperity and happiness. It is in vain that ministers preach, and that other benevolent men labour, in the cause of our down-trodden humanity, while the drink demon is abroad to counteract this work by sowing tares among the good seed they are scattering abroad.
Of late years Father Spratt confined his advocacy of teetotalism almost entirely to Dublin; but he has frequently visited many of our provincial towns, and is ready to do so again whenever invited by proper authority.
He more than once visited Drogheda, and Armagh, and Belfast. In this latter town he received, a few years since, a complete ovation-all its inhabitants turning out to hail his arrival. lle held an open-air meeting in the neighbouring town-Holywood—and for two days in succession he gave the “Pledge” in Belfast to many hundreds, in a large unfinished factory yard that was lent for the occasion.
In concluding this short and inadequate memoir, of a worthy and most excellent citizen, and a zealous and beloved Catholic priest, we would observe, that although much remains to be done before the great masses of the people of Ireland can be placed in a condition of happiness and comfort, yet that much was done by the late Father Matthew-our great