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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 36

Sir Charles Reed's Speech

Sir Charles Reed's Speech.

Sir Charles Reed, who was heartily cheered on rising, said: Ladies and gentlemen,—I feel great disinclination to take any prominent part even in so interesting a meeting as this to-night, because it is only recently that I could have felt myself entitled to take a place upon this platform. (Cheers.) I have attended meetings every year of the Band of Hope, and I have done as much as was possible to inculcate temperance principles amongst children. My zeal in that respect will not be at all diminished, while I hope my interest in the instruction of those who are considerably removed from our elementary schools by social status will greatly increase.

I have always felt that the friends of temperance would do well to consider some systematic arrangement by which facts likely to be apprehended by children could be placed intelligently before them; but in our school system we have never had, till recently, in this metropolis, an organisation by which and through which we could, upon the voluntary principle, still command a kind of influence over our teachers. No teacher can be constrained in this matter, for I perfectly agree with Mr. Wright that a teacher must understand and must appreciate that which is to be taught before that instruction can be given, so that it is likely to be intelligently received. But a School Board can do a great deal in allowing teachers to know that it is their strong desire that the children should not go uninstructed in the laws of health and in other matters pertaining to their physical welfare; and it can also do this—it can allow to be circulated through those schools the best works treating upon the subject of temperance.

Now, in the presence of my friend, Mr. Wright, I should be very chary indeed of uttering one word in the way of boastful feeling, because we all know that Birmingham leads the way in everything. (Laughter.) I am sure he will be hardly comforted to know that, before Birmingham saw this excellent book of Dr. Richardson's, the School Board for London had already introduced it. He prizes that book; so do I. I have read it; my children have read it. Many through my influence will read it; but let me tell Mr. Wright that, though he has to wait in Birmingham for instruction from that book, very probably the School Board for London and its teachers have had no need to wait.

There is another book which, if properly taught, teaches the same thing. (Loud cheers.) Whatever there is of truth in the page 28 book of my friend, Dr. Richardson, finds its place in that other book, and no teacher can do his duty who teaches that other book and fails to impart the teaching which is contained in this book. (Cheers.) There I find the value of high moral training in every school in the land, and to every child in every school, based upon the foundation of God's Holy Word. (Cheers.)

Ladies and Gentlemen, I apologise for having entered upon a question already very interesting to me, for, though I have not been amongst you as one of your body, yet I claim to have been all through, an earnest friend of temperance. My duty, however, now—and a most pleasant one it is to discharge—is to propose that you will with acclamation pass a vote of thanks to the right rev. bishop who has so kindly presided at this meeting. (Cheers.) Nothing could have been more fortunate for us, and nothing more advantageous to the cause, than that a gentleman of his high standing, of his great learning, and of his social position should have come to take the chair at a meeting like this. (Cheers.) We are not for the first time about to teach temperance principles in our schools, but we are about to do it for the first time in a systematic manner—(cheers)—and, therefore, this may be called—and I congratulate the right rev. bishop on having presided over this meeting—an inaugural meeting in reference to that very great and important question. I beg to propose "That our best thanks be given to the right rev. bishop for presiding on the present occasion." My friend, Dr. Richardson, will second that motion. (Cheers.)