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THE YORKSHIRE SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND.
MEETING AT THE FESTIVAL CONCERT ROOM, YORK.
[OCTOBER 30TH, 1861.]
T a Meeting in aid of the Yorkshire School for the Blind, His Grace the ARCHBISHOP OF YORK presiding, the EARL OF CARLISLE moved the first resolution :
"That subscriptions be entered into and promoted throughout the county for the purposes of opening the doors of the Wilberforce School to the many blind persons needing instruction who are as yet excluded from it, and for facilitating the efforts of the blind and skilled adults to obtain a livelihood." In bringing this resolution under your notice, I may premise that I am not quite sure that I should be willing to examine closely whether a mixed feeling has not brought me here to-day-the claims of positive abstract duty on the one hand, and the claims of memory and association on the other. I hope, however, in the short time during which I shall presume to occupy the attention of this meeting, to show that on both these accounts there were very good grounds for coming. I will begin with the claims of memory. The meeting at which I last assisted on this subject and in this place, which was the meeting also which originated the Wilberforce School for the Blind, and which took place now twenty-eight years ago, is still at this moment most present to my eyes. In the chair sat one whom it was my good fortune to call my kinsman-the Archbishop of the dayArchbishop Harcourt-whom your Grace so worthily replaces, and in whom there was very much which your Grace's own character vividly recalls. On the right hand of the chair, in the place I now occupy, stood the then Lord Chancellor of England, Henry Lord Brougham, who, after a life of unequalled energy, was then in the highest position which he as a British subject could attain, and who, if it had not been
for what I trust is a mere passing indisposition,* would have been here to-day to reawaken the echoes with his eloquence, and to rekindle the flow of that ardent philanthropy which glows as warmly at the age of eighty as it did in the hundred fights of the Forum and the Senate. On that day there was announced to us the munificent liberality of Lords Fitzwilliam and Feversham; and on that day, too, we hailed the first early promise of a dawn too soon withdrawn from us in the first public essay of the young Lord Milton; and I at least cannot forget that here too sat my own honoured father. These several distinguished persons were brought here by a wish certainly to provide for the necessities of the blind poor, but also by an especial desire to connect that work of mercy with the memory of one just taken away from that scene which he had so long conspicuously occupied-whom Yorkshire had so long regarded as her foremost ornament, England as her purest patriot, and, not unduly to limit the range of his influence and his fame-the world as its best benefactor-of William Wilberforce, whose son is here to-day to represent him in the tones of his melodious voice, and in the fervour of his benevolent heart. So much for the claims of memory and association in connexion with this institution. In respect to the claims of present positive duty, I thankfully feel that very little need be said by me, both because the matter is so obvious in itself, and because it turns so much upon figures and statistics which have already been placed very amply before us. Into that dominion, therefore, I do not propose to enter, but I will put it to you all whether this is a matter in which Yorkshiremen ought to be content to be so far behind. His Grace has very forcibly reminded you that in this respect, in connexion with your
* Lord Brougham, who was prevented by indisposition from being present, addressed a note to the Archbishop, in which he stated-" I need hardly say how I lament my inability to go to York. The subject is most interesting. Indeed, the name of the school commands my most fixed regard. It remains ever in my bosom one in which veneration and love strive for the mastery."
The following noblemen and gentlemen were present at this important meeting:-The Bishop of Oxford; Viscount Falkland; the Right Hon. T. Sotheron Estcourt, M. P.; Mr. R. Monckton Milnes, M. P.; Sir J. B. Johnstone, M. P.; the Hon. E. Lascelles, M. P.; the Hon. and Rev. the Dean of York; Canon Vernon Harcourt; the Rev. W. Wilberforce; Mr. Childers; Mr. G. Leeman; Lord Mayor of York, &c.
blind poor, the whole county of Yorkshire does infinitely less than the one Lancashire town of Liverpool. Well may our pale rose blush at the comparison. With respect to the adult blind poor, I believe the county does absolutely nothing, and I need not tell you how much as a class they are entitled to consideration and compassion. Taught just enough by education and training to be aware of the duty and the dignity of exertion-able in a great measure to become profitable to themselves and to the community at large, yet unable, by the obvious circumstances of the case, to meet the wholly sound and seeing part of the community on an equal footing, this only can be accomplished by special appliances, by associated labour, by such machinery of workrooms and workshops as it is now proposed to establish. We have the best reasons for thinking that, with these appliances, the labour of the skilled adult might be made wholly self-supporting. I will here only say, in passing, that however large-as large I hope they will be-the additions may be, in consequence of the division of the pecuniary resources of the institution, I trust that enlargement will not induce any who are concerned in its management to dispense with the utmost available economy. I have asked you whether in this matter Yorkshire ought to lag behind; for you surely cannot doubt that the blind poor are proper objects to call forth your best and tenderest sympathies. Why are they among us? You have heard of the frightful number of those who are afflicted with this great calamity. You know from the highest of all sources that it is not to be attributed to their sin or to that of their parents; and, while we may reverently hope that the same Almighty Being who has visited them with this immense privation has also in His unstinted abundance immense resources of compensation for them; and that, although they may not gaze upon the variegated face of nature, sometimes, perhaps, their ear may be tuned to a more exquisite sense of melody, and the fresh breeze of heaven may play upon their cheeks with a purer and more thrilling touch; though they cannot distinguish the gorgeous hues of sunrise and sunset, yet sometimes to them may be given a more unclouded sunshine of the soul; though, saddest of all, they may not watch the lineaments of the human countenance, yet they may have a fuller consciousness of a deeper and richer emphasis in the accents of friendship and of love. While we hope, I say, that there may be much of this compensatory process vouchsafed to them, yet in their presence among us, to limit the case to ourselves, there can be no mistake. They
are here as the most prominent and expressive objects to call forth our sympathy, our tenderness, our active and Christian aid; and though we cannot, like the Divine Master we profess to serve, by a word of power, or by a gesture of command, call the light of day to visit their sightless orbs, yet we shall most really imitate and adopt His example if we do our utmost to surround these orphans of the senses with all the alleviations, the comforts, and the compensations which their case admits of, and thus endeavour in some degree to make our bounty keep pace with their bereavement.
"PRAY WITHOUT CEASING."
Go when the morning shineth,
Go when the eve declineth,
Go in the hush of night:
Remember all who love thee,
A blessing humbly claim,
Thy great Redeemer's name.
But if 'tis e'er denied thee
In solitude to pray,
Should holy thoughts come o'er thee
When friends are round thy way;
E'en then, the silent breathing