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ed expressly for this school-was on the platform, and its quality having been tested in presence of the audience by the most skillful players, was found to be eminently satisfactory. Mr. J. Erastus Lester tendered it to the school in the following address :
Gentlemen of the Committee, Teachers, Scholars and Friends :-It is no unpleasant task that I have to perform. Actuated by the pleasant memories of days passed in this school, cherishing the teachings of those, some of whom are still here guiding the steps of youth, filled with a lively interest in you all, both teachers and scholars, it were but pleasant again to testify my love for Bridgham School. I am here to speak for certain ladies and gentlemen, the donors, who have seen fit to testify their love for Bridgham School by making it this valuable gift. Whatever I may say will form no set speech, but will be only the promptings of the hour—the thoughts which the occasion may furnish. I have therefore to ask you to lay aside the weapons of the critics, and don the garb of friends laboring in a common cause. Let me speak first of the history of this enterprise. Many of us who came here upon examination days and other occasions, when the scholars were assembled singing, were impressed with the conviction that this hall ought to be graced .by a piano, and we would counsel together as to the means of carrying out such a project ; but, alas! it was a long ways between our counseling and the five or six hundred dollars which would be required to get the instrument. But there chanced to be here one morning a gentleman of large benevolence, whose hands and heart are in every good work-I need hardly name Dea. William J. King-and, upon hearing the scholars sing so sweetly, he said, I will head a subscription to buy a piano for this school with $20. Immediately upon that friends flocked in in abundance. They gave most liberally, and in a short time the necessary funds were raised. But having the money, there was another task to purchase the instrument. I must mention that Messrs. Henry Baker & Son lent valuable aid to the committee in the selection of the instrument, which we have the pleasure of presenting to you to-day. We present it to you because of our interest not simply in you, but in the common school system. We know that the Republic demands edncated men, and that the children of the poor as well as the rich must receive intellectual culture. Not only our country but society demands of us educated men and women, fitted to perform the various duties which fall upon us in life. Away with the narrow ideas that only the children of the rich are to be educated, -rather call in the poor and open the door to all. Let every child drink of the pure waters of knowledge. As necessary to the existence of our form of government is our common school system as the old prophet thought that of Rome was to the world :
" While stands the Coliseum Rome shall stand,
And when Rome falls—the world."
And we know, too, that education includes something more than the " bread and butter" sciences, the obtaining of just education enough to get a living. It includes the cultivation and refinement of the higher powers of man. Taste is a sentiment of the soul, a quick perception of the beautiful and the sublime in nature and in art—and it is this taste that we would cultivate. We cannot grace the school-room with the master touches of Guido and Titian, or the “ Zenobia ” of Miss Hosmer. But we can do something. Now to the uncultivated, the daub of a sign painter is as interesting as a master stroke of Raphael, and the monotonous tones of Yankee Doodle has as much harmony as the concertos of Litz or Steibal.
Music is one of the fine arts, and is one of the most effective means of refining and cultivating the taste, and teaching the young mind to appreciate and admire the beautiful and grand in nature and in art. There is music and harmony throughout the world. There is music
" When comes still evening on, and twilight grey
Hath in her sober livery all things clad.” There is music when
“ Morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime,
Advancing, sows the earth in orient pearl.”
There is music in the storm when the angry winds howl through the naked forests and our snow-clad hills; there is music in the gentle zephyr as it floats over the plain; wafting the fragrance of a thousand blossoms; there is music in old ocean when it rolls its waves mountain high on the rocky shore. Yes, there is music in all the world; for music is harmony, and harmony is Heaven's law.
Such has been the motives which have prompted the gentlemen to make you this gift, as an aid and a help to educate and refine your minds. Let the noble art of music be taught the young and good, and only good will be the result.
Gentlemen of the District Committee :-To you we give this piano in charge, that it may be preserved and protected for this school, and it is our wish that it may be a help to you in perfecting the education of the children in this school.
And you, sir, Principal of the school, and your teachers laboring with him, please accept this gift for the school as a token that the donors appreciate your services and labors.
And you, my young friends, who are made to-day the happy recipients of this gift, we present it as a testimonial of their interest in your welfare and prosperity. Keep it and cherish it. Use it for good. Cultivate and refine your taste, and we, the donors, shall see that this gift has made you advance your studies, love your books more, respect your teachers more, and work harder, this shall be our full reward.,
Gen. Charles T. Robbins responded in behalf of the Committee of the District, expressing its gratitude in a very graceful and appropriate manner.
Addresses were also made by Mr. Francis B. Snow, Principal of the school, Dea. King, (who proposed to give twenty dollars towards the next piano which shall be placed in any of our public school rooms,) Rev. Mr. Leach, Prof. Greene, Chairman of the Committee on Music in the School Committee, Mr. Edwards, of Boston, and Deacon Snow.
Prof. Paul Bishop, of Boston, and Miss Adeline Windsor, of Providence, executed some very brilliant and difficult music upon the new piano, exhibiting its capacities in a striking manner. Miss Windsor presided at the instrument during the afternoon and accompanied the singing of the scholars.
The following resolutions were passed by the school at the close of the exercises :
Resolved, That we tender our grateful thanks to Dea. King, and all the donors who have contributed in any way towards the procuring of this instrument, and to Messrs. Henry Baker & Son, for their services in its selection.
Resolved, That we express our thanks to Mr. J. Erastus Lester, who has taken upon himself so large a portion of the labor of making arrangements for this celebration; and to Prof. Bishop, Miss Windsor, and all who have assisted in these exercises.- Providence Journal, March 28.
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RHODE ISLAND SCHOOLMASTER.
THE NEXT STEP FORWARD.
THOSE persons who honestly believe that the abolition of separate schools for colored children means the utter ruin of our school-system, mụst tremble at the narrow escape which the system has just had at the hands of our Legislature. That one-half of our Legislators and a very large and increasing number of our most enlightened citizens, on whom it is impossible to fasten the charge of fanaticism, should be resolutely bent on a measure that seems to some to involve the destruction of one of our most valued institutions, is an ominous state of things. Surely an absurdity, enormous even to ridiculousness, lies somewhere, - either in the arguments and demands of the advocates of reform, or in the terrors and machinations of the opponents of
Even if the question were not a moral one, as it most conclusively is, involving on the one side justice, and on the other, a great wrong, we should yet not be destitute of the means of decision, if we considered what action is most in harmony with the great progressive tendencies of the Nation, in accordance with which it has advanced in civilization an infinitely greater distance during the last four years than in its whole previous history. If the negro were at this day a chattel, sold on auction-blocks in Charleston and New Orleans, and we at the North were still, as of old, politically subservient to the slave-lords of the South, questions concerning the rights of colored citizens would be slow and difficult in finding expression, and would be thrust aside with the old scorn which has only just ceased to be connected with the name of abolitionist. But now that the North has waked from its base torpor, is waging successfully an exterminating war against slavery in the form of treason, and in South Carolina the negro is enlisted by the United States to fight against the obsolete oligarchy that once ruled the country and made a beast of him,-in this new world of moral revolution, questions of justice come to light and will not be put down, though prejudices founded on lingering remnants of respect for Charleston and New Orleans continue for awhile to utter their prophecies of woe.
It requires no special insight into the future to enable any one to see that Rhode Island is not always going to prate of superiority and inferiority of races, and that she will soon outgrow the puerile prejudices to which alone conservatism now appeals. In view of the admission of colored children into the common schools, as an inevitable event, whether, in the opinion of any persons, for good or for evil, a duty devolves on every teacher and on THE SCHOOLMASTER as the professed guide of the teacher in his relations to his school. We are sorry to have heard from one or two teachers expressions so petulant and contemptuous, that we were constrained to believe them more strongly pledged to make good their forebodings of evil, than to put forth sensible effort to present the question in the light of reason and truth. We believe, however, that the great majority of the teachers of the State are influenced by motives and governed by principles altogether too high to admit of their becoming panders to a prejudice which is of base parentage, and which is doomed to die away very speedily unless fostered by interested men.
At the present period of our history, the plain and honorable course, both for States and for individuals, is to obliterate with the utmost celerity all vestiges of the shame which lay on the nation during so many years of dishonor. Every citizen who witnessed the insidious efforts of the slave-power to acquire the dominion of the nation, and, by his silence, abetted this iniquity, has a duty to perform to himself as well as to the commonwealth, to step to the van of public opinion, in whose rear he has so long marched, and, if he has faced danger in no more formidable way, yet to encounter the little odium that still remains connected with reform, and fight against the prejudice which still clings to him after four years of purification. Is a man always to subserve public opinion, and so be always an average man, a mere inert atom of a mass,— or is his opinion itself an organic element of this larger public opinion, for whose influence he is inevitably responsible? There is a great exhilaration in taking the lead, which no manly ambition ignores. Going to the front is an inspiriting phrase, and the deed is specially honorable. But we have a front, and a straggling rear, too, here in Rhode Island, and moral cowardice is disastrous here as well as physical cowardice in the actual field. Public sentiment cut loose from its base of supplies four years ago, and now that it has concluded to establish a new base in justice and the political equality of all men, it is very pitiful that the march should be delayed by the faint-hearted and the unbelieving.
Conceding that the admission of colored children into the public schools would produce a brief dissatisfaction among a small portion of the community, and this is all that can be conceded, -can this dissatisfaction be for a moment set over against the complaints of a whole proscribed class, that has all civilization on its side ? It is an awful thing to brand a man with inferiority; to say to him, “ You and your children are not equal to us; even if you show patriotism, courage, virtue, genius, you will still forever hopelessly remain an inferior being." Yet we had better continue to say this to every colored man, than disturb the feelings of a small portion of the community!
But we hear that the patronage of a certain class of citizens is more important to the welfare of the schools than that of some other class. We are reminded that certain people's prejudices must be held sacred, while other people's prejudices may be neglected with a reasonable prospect of impunity. Proprietors of private schools, like salesmen in shops, have to resort to all sorts of complaisance to secure the patronage of those persons who make the largest bills and pay them the most readily. But we have yet to learn that it is for a public-school teacher to know anything whatever of classes of people, or that he has any right to regard the education of one child as more important than the education of any other child.
The “colored question” will not be put to rest by the affirmation that the negroes are well enough educated in their own schools. Their eyes, being quite human, are dazzled by the “glittering generality,”—“All men are created free and equal." We rejoice that they are restless under their social proscription. We bid them be of good hope, for the signs are fair that Rhode Island will yet abolish the disgraceful feature of its school-system by which they are proclaimed unworthy of the privileges of other citizens.