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What delighted me more, however, than even the proficiency of the pupils in the several branches of learning in which they were examined, was the delivery of an address to the Society for Mental and Moral Improvement by one of the senior boys, who had been its first-elected president, but who had since been succeeded by another in rotation of office. This society was composed entirely of the pupils of the public school No. 15, and was first founded by them, as their own voluntary act, on the 17th of May, 1836, with a president, vice-president, secretary, and three directors, all elected annually by the members themselves. A copy of the constitution of this young society of moral and mental reformers was presented to me at the school, and from it I transcribe some few of its articles.
"1. To become a member of this society, the scholar must sign this constitution, and thereby pledge himself to avoid the following vices, viz. : 1st. Profane swearing; 2d. Falsehood ; 3d. Fighting and quarrelling; 4th. Dishonesty, gambling, and theft; 5th. Ungentlemanly conduct at all times and places.
“2. The practice of smoking or of using tobacco in any of the common modes of indulgence, being in itself ungentlemanlike, and, moreover, tending to produce habits of intemperance, is forbidden by the pledge involved in joining this society.
“3. The amusement of playing at marbles being at best a filthy one, it is important to consider whether it has not also more important evil consequences. It frequently leads to fighting and quarrelling, and is, moreover, a low species of gambling, which in time may lead to gambling of a more serious kind. It is therefore forbidden by the pledğe of this society.
4. No scholar shall become a member of this society who is irregular in his attendance at school, who is frequently deficient in his school exercises, or who appears indifferent to his moral respectability or mental improvement.
“5. The election of the president and other officers is restricted to a choice from the highest classes of the pupils, and this choice must be approved by the teacher before it can become valid.
«6. The board of directors have alone power to expel or suspend members for misconduct.
“7. No member shall be capable of holding any office within two months after having been found by the board of directors guilty of any offence against the rules of the society. Any officer so convicted shall immediately be degraded from his office, and a successor shall be appointed by the board of directors to supply his place until the next regular election.
“8. A faithful report of the proceedings of the society, and a register of the conduct and proficiency of its members, kept by the secretary, shall be presented to the patrons at every visit which they shall make at the school.
“9. The scholars whose names are signed hereto agree to support this constitution, and to conform to all the pledges herein contained, and generally to exert all their moral influence to improve the intellectual eharacter of each other, and to elevate that of the school."
LAST DAY AT NEW-YORK.
The names of about fifty pupils were signed to this document, and, from inquiry made in several quarters, I ascertained that during the two years that this society had been established, it had been productive of the best effects, have. ing never interfered with the studies of the boys, while it stimulated them to increased exertions for superiority of char. acter as well as attainments; in this sense it had been productive of double good, and had received the approbation of the teachers and parents, as well as that of the boys them. selves.
The meeting lasted till near midnight, yet it continued to be animated and orderly to the end. I had always felt a deep interest in the success of every plan for spreading the blessings of education more extensively among all ranks of society, from a conviction that to ignorance the greatest proportion of vice and misery existing in the world is to be attributed, and that the most effectual means of lessening the amount of both is to increase the extent of education, and add virtue to intelligence, so as to incorporate morals with instruction, by precept and by example. But my intercourse with American schools and American patrons of education had greatly strengthened this feeling; and ac. cordingly, overpressed as I already felt myself to be with occupation, I could not refrain from acceding to the solici. tation of the friends of education here, that I should write for them a series of articles “On the principles, means, and end of Education," and thus assist towards the support of the most important object that can engage the thoughts, the pen, or the tongue of man, the proper cultivation of those faculties with which the great Author of our being has created and endowed us, so as to make the exercise of them redound most to his honour, to our own enjoyment, and to the general happiness of our fellow-creatures.*
On our return home from the school, late as it was, we found nearly the whole family of our fellow-boarders waiting to receive us, and bid us farewell before they retired to rest, as we purposed leaving before daylight in the morning by the steamboat for Philadelphia. This mark of attention and respect was extremely grateful to our feelings; and, indeed, we found ourselves, after a four months' residence at New-York, much more at home and in the bosom of friends than we had thought possible in a strange land. There were many, however, in this circle, with whom we sympathized so cordially in sentiment and feeling that it was impossible not
* These essays will probably form the subject of a separate volume.
to experience deep regret at parting with them, and even with those in whose opinions we did not always coincide, there was so friendly an understanding, and so much goodnature and forbearance, that we found it a hard matter to say “Adieu."
Voyage from New York to Amboy by Steamboat.- Journey from Amboy to Camden
by Railroad --Crossing the Delaware in Ice-boat to Philadelphia.- Visit to the Pennsylvanian Convention, then sitting.–Nature, Object, and Proceedings of Conventions. -Temperance Festival at the Arch-street Theatre, given as a Public Welcome to myself and Family.- Preparations and Arrangements for the Entertainment.- Opin. ions of the Press on the Temperance Festival.-Departure from Philadelphia by Railroad for Baltimore.-Halt at Wilmington.-Deputation headed by Judge HallPassing from the Free into the Slave States.- Arrival at Baltimore. Temperance Meeting there.-Journey by Railroad to Washington.
EARLY on the morning of Wednesday, the 21st of February, we left New-York for Philadelphia. The air was intensely cold, the thermometer being 80 below zero; and the East River was filled with floating ice, while many of the larger vessels and smaller craft at the wharves were completely imbedded in thick masses of it. The steamboat in which we started was large and commodious, the passengers numerous, but not inconveniently so, and we breakfasted in the large cabin below more satisfactorily than we had done for many days past on shore.
Our passage down the harbour was very interesting; and as the rising sun lighted up the spires and public buildings of New York, and the forest of masts that fringed the shores of the island on either side began to display their numerous flags, the picture became as lively and interesting as it was at our first approach to the city in October last. A four months' residence had made us acquainted, however, with so many agreeable, intelligent, and benevolent individ. uals, with whom intimacy had grown into friendship, that we found our parting look upon the scene of so much sympathy and pleasure less joyous than our first view of it; and we left behind us sincere and fervent wishes for the peace and prosperity of their city.
The ice was so thick and impassable in the inner channel to Amboy that we were obliged to go by the outer channel, nearer the sea; and, sweeping round the shore of Staten
Island, we reached the landing-place of South Amboy about ten o'clock, the ice being so thick as to make it difficult to approach near enough to the wharves for landing.
Here we found the commencement of the railroad to Phil. adelphia ; and, embarking in the cars provided for that purpose, we set forward on our journey. These cars are not so comfortable in their arrangements as the carriages on our English railroads. They are very long omnibuses, sufficiently broad to admit a passage up the middle, on each side of which is a range of seats going across the breadth, each capable of accommodating two persons, who sit with their faces towards the engine, and not facing each other, as in omnibuses generally. The car in which we sat had twenty such cross-seats on each side the central passage, and there. fore contained eighty passengers. In the centre of the car was a stove, well supplied with fuel, which warmed the whole interior, and rendered the atmosphere agreeable.
The rate at which we travelled was about sixteen miles an hout ; the road was good, but the scenery was very monotonous and uninteresting, being mostly uncultivated land, covered with small trees and brushwood, and the few villa ges through which we passed were neither picturesque nor beautiful. The dreary season of winter would account for much of this, it is true ; but even in summer the route must be regarded as monotonous.
About two o'clock we reached the small town of Cam, den, on the Delaware, nearly opposite the City of Philadel. phia; and, embarking there in a steamboat of a peculiar construction, with iron stem and keel, called an ice-boat, we literally cut our way through the solid masses of ice in some places, and broken pieces in others, some of them from twelve to fifteen inches thick, and, safely reaching the other side of the river, we landed at Philadelphia before three. Apartments were provided for us at the United States Ho. tel, where we were met by a large party of friends to wel. come our arrival in the city, and to offer their services during our stay.
On the following morning, Feb. 22, I was taken to the State Convention, then sitting in Philadelphia, at the close of a very long session, and I was much gratified by the sight. Conventions in America are public assemblies of the delegates of the whole people, called together for the express purpose of considering some great question of public interest. Such a one as this occurs but rarely, and it was therefore ragarded with the greater interest, and clothed with the greater importance. No Convention for the revision of the Constitution had sat in Philadelphia since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and nothing but what was considered an urgent and general desire would have led to the organizing such an assembly at all. The present Convention was called to consider the propriety of revising the Constitution of Pennsylvania ; and the majority of the inhabitants of the state being in favour of some revision, the Convention was a popular measure. The General Government of the country has nothing to do with its formation. It originates with, and is conducted wholly by, the people of the state, who, through its machinery, exercise this revising power. The delegates are elected by the inhabitants of each county, who send a number proportioned to their respective population. The delegates chosen are generally the most intelligent and influential men of the district from whence they come. They are armed with full powers of deliberation and decision, and their expenses are paid out of the state or county funds. On assembling, they elect their own president, fix their own order of proceed. ings and times of sitting, and every disputed point is settled by the votes of the majority.
This Convention had been sitting for several months from day to day, though its only business was to examine the Constitution of Pennsylvania, debate each provision of it in detail, propose and discuss amendments, and come to conclusions by votes on the propositions made. This was the last day of its sitting, and its proceedings were very animated, yet, at the same time, dignified and orderly in a high degree. The room in which they sat was the Musical Fund Hall, occupying an area of about the same length, but at least twice the breadth, of the British House of Commons (that which has been used as such since the old house was burned); an area capable of seating comfortably a thousand persons. This room was neatly fitted up for the business of the Convention, by an elevated station for the president, who could overlook and command the whole cham. ber, by a competent number of desks, and appropriate seats for the members, and a gallery and corridors for visiters and strangers. Several gentlemen spoke on various amendments then before the Convention, and did so always with much good sense and often with great ability. There was a quiet earnestness about the whole proceedings which was calculated to make the most favourable impression on a stranger; and in the Hall itself, the costume of the grave