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PRESENTATION OF A STEAM PRESS AND ENGINE
TO JOSEPH BARKER,
THE EVANGELICAL REFORMER. On Monday, July the 6th, this long-expected Festival took place. Dr. Bowring, M.P., Dr. Bateman, F. F. Gibson, Esq., from London, many friends from Leeds, and the neighbourhood, assembled at Wortley, the residence of Mr. Barker, and where he has his printing establishment. A cold dinner was provided by Mr. Barker's family, in one of the large rooms of his warehouse. The repast was simple, and truly characteristic of the individual who was the object and occasion of this social gathering. The boards which formed the table, on which the dinner was spread, were supported by piles of printed sheets—the legs of the table made of tracts, Shortly after the repast, Dr. Bowring repaired to the printing-room. He put on the first sheet, and Dr. Bateman took it off ; it was held up to the view of those around, and hailed with cheers, both inside and outside of the building. At the conclusion of this ceremony, Dr. Bowring repaired to the yard, and delivered a brief but suitable address to the assembly, and was followed by Mr. Barker. The weather being unfavourable, prevented a longer out-door meeting, but Mr. Barker and many of his friends spoke during the afternoon at Wortley.
At six o'clock, tea was provided in the Music-Hall, at Leeds. As many as could be accommodated took tea. The number was afterwards increased, and filled the orchestra, gallery, and every vacant nook in the room. It is computed that nearly 700 persons were present. It was proposed by the Rev. Edward Higginson, of Wakefield, and seconded by J. S. Hincks, Esq., of Leeds, that Dr. Bowring should preside as Chairman.
Dr. BOWRING, on taking the chair, said he congratulated the people on having sent from among them a man of themselves, When he came to the metropolis, they saw plainly in him a searcher after truth, and a lover of truth. They saw in him an active mind, a strong head, and an honest heart; and they began to enquire what they could do to strengthen the hands of such a man. No doubt they met with much resistance. Many sat in severe judgment, and thought that the power of truth should advance just as far as they had proceeded, and stop where their course had been arrested. They, therefore, administered to them many counsels of caution, and bade them beware what they were doing. But they who knew that, among the mighty things of this earth,
truth was the mightiest of all, knew that where a strong human intellect was engaged in the pursuit of truth, that power was to be strengthened, that man was to be aided ; and, taking this view of their duty, they were anxious only to do and patiently and confidingly await the result. The whole world was moved by the power of the press ; mechanical power, mental power, the power of thought and action, the press represented them all. And if the press were put in honest and courageous hands, the great mission committed to us all would be advanced and accomplished. It had been a matter of great delight to him to receive, for such a purpose, the contributions coming in from all sides upon him. But while he saw that a great pleasure was experienced by the givers, he felt that a great responsibility rested on the receiver. The power they were about to confer was a mark of the highest confidence ; but he rejoiced to believe that that confidence had been worthily and wisely placed in the hands of Joseph Barker. They lived in a wondrous age. Men were beginning to comprehend their interests, to sweep away their prejudices, to understand each other better than before. National hatred was beginning to disperse itself before love. They began to see, that as there were different climates and soils, and different riches and productions—some parts of the earth having their riches on the surface, and some whose wealth was entombed in mountains and valleys—they began to see that mankind were made to exchange with each other the blessings of so vast and varied a Providence, and to live in love, not hatred, towards one another. And if we knew even our own interests, how we might best and most effectually serve ourselves, we should find that our greatest happiness resulted, not from the successful development of gigantic destructive powers, but from the development of kind, of benevolent, of Christian affections. He called to mind the time of his boyhood. England was then engaged in frightful, horrid, cruel, and destructive wars-spending hundreds of millions to prevent other nations from being governed as seemed to them best. Millions of human lives had perished, and more than those who had perished had been agonised with varieties of suffering and sorrow; and, at the end of the war, we erected monuments to the memory of those whom we had sacrificed, and poured out hypocritical prayers to God, as if that Great Being could have gazed with complacency on this assassination of our fellow-creatures on the grandest scale, or with benignant eye on this compendium of every crime and folly. A quarter of a century had passed since ; peace had come among us, with all its blessings and beauties. Instead of wasting eight hundred millions in war and bloodshed, a greater sum than that had been saved to the purposes of the civilization of the country. We had covered the whole land with means of communication, and made advances in the arts, and conveniences, and ornaments of life, greater than in the ten preceding generations. England, instead of being the threatener of the world, was in the position to offer it a great and glorious example in all that was good and great. Little by little, they had at last discovered that the sun which shone for other har vests, now shone for them; and that the choicest blessings which had distinguished other and distant lands, might now be conveyed to their own hearths and homes. While thus mininistering to the spread of good principles, they had been successful in impeding bad. The strongest of Governments had desired to pass a tyrannous and oppressive law ; but strong as that Government was in the affections and the gratitude of the people-gratitude rightly be. stowed, in return for a great measure of justice-yet opinion, it was found, would no longer trust that Government, or any Government, with the power to wield the arm of oppression ; and the attempt of that powerful Government to do so, brought it in ruin to the ground. This was a lesson which would not, and could not be forgotten ; and it was encouraging to them, who sought to move the world by moral means, to observe the growing fate of all efforts to substitute, for the law of justice, the precautions of force. Of all these moral influences, the greatest was the free, the irresistible, the omnipotent press. To that we owed our exemption from all the tyranny and oppression which had been inflicted upon mankind in the ages of the past ; and should owe all the advance in civilisation and liberty which we anticipated in the future. But the press had not yet been turned to full account by the people ; and he felt a peculiar gratification in that day assisting to consign a press—a press intended for the cause of the people, for the interests of the people—to a man of the people. And he most solemnly trusted, that never from that press would issue a single sheet which would cause the blush of regret or shame to rise upon the face of any man, woman, or child, concerned that day in its bestowal-one sheet that should lead to a feeling of sorrow that confidence had been placed in Joseph Barker. By the press the individual addressed millions ; that which passed in secret became known to the world, and the meditations of a solitary mind influenced the weal or woe of countless multitudes. From the press came all the knowledge that they had of past times ; to the press they were indebted for all the security with which life was surrounded in the present ; and through the press would be communicated to their children, and their children's children, any evidence that they had striven to do their duty. Sometimes he contrasted the privileges of the present generation, as to knowledge, and the means of knowledge, with the almost forlorn condition, in these respects, of our forefathers. A thousand years ago, when the Anglo-Saxon race had the ascendancy in the land, there were not twenty libraries in the country, not one of those twenty that contained one hundred volumes: few of the volumes they did contain were of any value, and where they were, there were not in the whole of the British Island a thousand people who knew how to read the contents. The other day, when on a visit to the place of his birth, he was looking over the MSS. which belonged to a great Saxon Bishop of the West; they consisted of hymns to the Virgin Mary—some annotations on the prophets, of little value—a work on astronomy, which taught that the earth was the centre, round which the sun and all the heavenly bodies revolved—and a few fragments, on astrological science ; but not in one could he find a single page applicable to the proper business of life, or calculated to promote the welfare of those who were privileged to read them. But, now, what did lie find ? Machines turning out a thousand sheets of printed knowledge in an hour! millions who had far more knowledge than the monarch of those days ; and, more surprising stili, that all this was but the beginning of effects still more important, and changes still more delightful. It was because they were not yet satisfied, notwithstanding all its great performances, with what the press had hitherto done, that they placed that press in the hands of their honest and truth-seeking friend, to realise a better result even than that great one which they were but now celebrating, to secure cheap bread to hungry minds. His heart leapt within him, when he found that the choicest flowers of the great garden of literature, the greatest and best authors of our country, could be placed in the hands of the reader for eightpence a volume; that that eloquence which had elevated so many spirits, that consolation which had soothed so many sorrowing hearts, that pure enjoyment which was to be found among the poets,—that that ripe knowledge, which was the result of years of patient study, could be made accessible to all ; and he deemed it a great privilege, that he should have been in any way instrumental in giving effect to so magnificent an object.
He (the Chairman) often entered the house of the poor man, and asked what food was there in it, not for the perishing body, but for the immortal mind. They all saw the immense progress of machinery, how it was doing more and more of human handwork ; and he wanted to put more mind into the hand, thus redeemed, in part, from mechanical toil ; he wanted to see the human being something better than an unthinking, miserable, labourer in the field. He wanted the labour of the human being to be made more valuable than the labour of a horse. Man was born for something better than those material, mechanical, vulgar and common exertions which still engage, to the exclusion of nobler pursuits, so great a portion of his energies. Men were all born with equal hopes and equal rights, and he wished to see the people have fuller play and higher culture for their powers of thought. And how could they secure this to them, except by opening to them the minds of others, and unfolding to them all the eloquence and the strength in which those minds had so richly poured themselves forth? There was no man whose destiny was not high and exalted ; and when they found the people disposed to help and elevate thomselves, it was the duty of those who were possessed of greater advantages to assist in that happy and soul-elevating work. The Chairman then called on Dr. Bateman, the Secretary to the Steam-Press Committee, to read the Report.
By the Treasurer's account, it appeared that the total received, un to July 6th, was £634 2s. 9d., of which £390 had been paid Mr. Napier, for the printing machine; £100 to Mr. Hayley, for an engine and boiler, complete ; £44 12s. 10d. for fitting up the engine and press, including the erection of a chimney ; £3 10s. for advertisements ; leaving a balance of £95 198. 10d to be paid to Mr. Barker, for providing furniture for the press, and extra type.
Dr. BOWRING then rose, and addressed Mr. Barker thus :
In the name of that numerous body of subscribers, who have contributed to present this testimonial of respect to you, and in the presence of multitudes of your friends and admirers, who have felt greatly interested in your exertions in the time that is gone by, and look forward with interest to your course in the future, I present this press to you. You are a man who have interested yourself honourably and usefully in all those great questions which are connected with the improvement of the human race. You have seen many victories achieved by good over evil, and you will help us to get more. The Chairman then continued to observe, that we had seen the cause of Free Trade triumphant-we had seen what honours had been won by those excellent men who had devoted themselves to that great popular object, and, among these, it was
impossible to pass over the name of Richard Cobden, without pointing him out as one of the most encouraging examples of true greatness, of disinterested character, of boundless exertion, and of successful effort. He was a man who was proud of his origin, and that origin was a humble one. He had raised himself from one step of moral and social eminence to another. He had created the greatest political machine that was ever organised, and for no sinister and selfish purpose, but for the good of his country. He had asked and anticipated no reward, and, his work being done, retired for a time from public life, to enjoy the most delightful of recompenses, that which his conscience would give him, and the best of rewards, that which resided in the conviction that he had laboured in a just and holy cause, and laboured in it disinterestedly, Some men were made to be honoured, others were made to be loved, but it was the privilege of Richard Cobden to be equally loved and honoured. But something had to be done for Free Trade, and he said to all present, “aid us in that cause.” There was the cause of temperance that cause had been honourably served by their friend, their guest of the evening. It had effected a moral revolution—altered the character of a whole people-raised them from an abyss in which they were trampled upon and despised, to a position in which they were listened to and respected in the Senate of our country. He would say to them, “aid that cause.” They had spoken of a cause the cause of Christianitythe cause of peace. There was in the mind of communities still much of hatred and ill-will ; it became us to labour to tear out those tares, and to plant the seeds of good-will and love. The cause of peace was committed to the press and to the people, and he would say, “aid that cause.” The state of the people occupied the public mind intensely. The multitude was discovered to be swinish and degraded no longer ; their temperance, their intelligence, their improvement in knowledge, were giving them more and more influence. Once the great powers of this country were the powers of the Whig and Tory parties ; but now another and a greater power had risen up—the power of the middle classes, a power greater than all others, and one to which the Government of the country must pay deference, not to say reverence. He hoped more attention would henceforth be paid to the measures proposed by Government, than to the men that proposed them. He, for his part, was weary of sitting night after night, hearing rival statesmen calling each other names, and each endeavouring to prove his adversary worse than himself. He wanted their governors to be guided by great principles, that where there was a right it might be granted, where a wrong it might be redressed. He wished, in short, as a venerable friend of his had expressed it, that the end of Government should be to extend the greatest possible happiness to the greatest possible number. To elevate the condition of the people was one of the noblest functions of the philanthropist, and he said to them, “aid that cause.” The people had not received the aid, to which they were entitled, in educating themselves. This was another great duty confided to the
wielder of the press, and he said, “ aid that cause.” Then turning, in conclusion, to Mr. Barker, the Chairman, said—“In the belief that you will earnestly respond