The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prevalebit. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 1881. Mechanics’ Institute.
TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 5 p.m. ]
Many persons who are employed in skilled and other labor must feel that Ashburton is singularly devoid of any proper institution for the instruction of the mechanic after his hours of labor during the winter months. Now that our long evenings are fast approaching, we should like to see some steps taken towards the formation of a Mechanics’ Institute, or something of the sort, in this town. We shall be told that our Reading-room and Library were erected for the purpose of instructing our mechanics, by enabling them to meet in a reading-room to peruse a few papers or to take out a book. This was all very well a few years ago, but now things have changed. We want to find some place in our midst where instruction can be given to the many young workmen now employed here, who have to spend their evenings in idleness, Our Library is now frequented
by a different rank of persons than those whom we wish to educate, and therefore is not altogether what is required. An institution is wanted that will encourage the intermixing of the employer with the employed, and to teach people that we cannot better one class of the community without at the same time conferring a benefit upon society at large. We should endeavor to encourage— The first parental virtue, public zeal, Which throws o’er all an equal wide survey, And, ever musing on the common weal, Still labors, glorious with some great design. There are many boys in Ashburton who are now serving their apprenticeship to some business or other, and their number we hope will always be on the increase. Now that the education of children is improved, something is wanted to keep that improvement ever elevated in their character, both intellectually ahd morally, as they grow to manhood. It is of no use trying to confine the institution we speak of, to one particular class. That would be mischevious. The education of a free people like their property, will always be directed most beneficially when it is in their own hands. As before stated, we want the employer and the employed to help each other, and to meet together on an equal footing, in order to satisfactory carry out an institution for the education of young working men. We can see no difficulty in having an institution in Ashburton, which shall be formed for the ostensible purpose of giving lectures, of holding debates, and instructing the young men, during the winter months. It would not be too great a task for our merchants and business people, who employ adults in any capacity, to come forward and help their employees to acquire a greater degree of skill in the practice of their trade. We know many men who owe their present prosperous condition to scientific knowledge, gained at meetings of mechanics. Public lessons (we will not call them lectures, that being too dignified a term), given gratuitously, or for a small remuneration, by an occasional employer, would, we feel sure, be largely attended and do much good. All religious or political topics should be excluded, and by this means discussions, which are to many undesirable on such matters, would be avoided. We do not want to make our young men philosophers and poets, but we want to make them feel that they have within themselves mental energy and power, which can be utilised. It is those who feel the want of some instruction during their apprenticeship, besides their ordinary duties, who are entitled to help from their masters, and we see no better way of encouraging local industry than imparting to our future workmen every information and instruction we can possibly afford. It will, we feel sure, answer well to have some sort of instruction as that pointed out by us, and we hope soon to see that a Mechanics’ Institute has been opened in Ashburton, where class and creed can meet on equal terms. Let master and man ever think of elevating their social position, and conferring benefits on their fellow creatures, and, with the poet, we will ask them to exert themselves so that — Our needful knowledge, like our needful food. Unhedged, lie open in life’s common field, And bid all welcome to the vital feast.