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*Winchester, Mechanics’ Institution
Worksop, Reading Society and Mechanics' Institution *Findsor and Eton, Literary, Scientific and Mechanics' Wrexham, Literary Institute Institution
*Wrington (near Bristol), Literary Society *Wirksworth, Mechanics' Institution Wisbech, Mechanics' Institute
Yarmouth, Great, and Southtown, Young Man's Institute Wiveliscombe (Somerset), Mutual Improvement Society
Parochial Library and Museum, *Woburn, Literary and Scientific Institution
*Yeovil, Mutual Improvement Society
Hull, Chamber of Commerce and Shipping *Workington, Jechanics’ Institution
Liverpool, Chamber of Commerce
LOXOOX: PRINTED BY W, TROUNCE, 9, CURSITOR STREET.
Journal of the Society of Arts,
THE INSTITUTIONS IN UNION.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1853.
Journal of the Society of Arts.
the Society more experienced in its affairs, and more familiar with the subjects of arts, manufac
tures, and commerce, than I am. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1853.
The first point to which your attention must be directed is the epoch which the life of the
Society has attained. Its one hundredth session FIRST ORDINARY MEETING. is now opened. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16th, 1853.
In three letters published anonymously in 1721, The First Ordinary Meeting of the One Hun- proposals were made for the establishment of a dredth Session was held on Wednesday, the 16th society, to be called “ The Chamber of Arts, for instant, Harry Chester, Esq., Chairman of Coun- the preserving and improvement of operative cil , in the Chair.
knowledge, the mechanical arts, inventions, and The following Institutions have been taken manufactures." In 1748 Benjamin Franklin into Union since the last meeting of Council :
published his “Proposal for the Improvement of 300. Birmingham, Polytechnic Institution.
Useful Knowledge among the British Plantations 301. Bradford (Wilts), Literary Institution.
in America," by the formation of a society at 802. Buntingford, Literary Institute.
Philadelphia, to be called “ the American Philo303. Coalbrookdale, Literary and Scientific Institution. sophical Society," of which he volunteered to act 304. Derby, Railway Literary Institution. 305. King's Lynn, Free Library.
pro tempore as secretary. These publications 306. Market Drayton, Society for the Acquirement of Use appear to have produced a strong impression on ful Knowledge.
the mind of the originator of our society. They 307. Portsea, Watt Institute.
are entered at length in his handwriting in the 308. Preston, Literary and Philosophical Institution. 309. Stourbridge, Mechanics Institution.
Society's first minute book: and the schemes of
the three institutions are very similar. Mr. CHESTER, as Chairman of Council, then
The "public spirit" of William Shipley, who
is said to have been a drawing master, and brother ADDRESS.
to the Bishop of St. Asaph, “ gave rise to the SoIn the circulars by which this meeting was con- ciety" of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, in vened
, it was announced to the members of the 1753. Mr. Shipley first obtained the approval and Society that. Captain Owen would deliver the concurrence of Jacob Viscount Folkstone, of address which the bye-laws require to be read Robert Lord Romney, and of Dr. Isaac Maddox, by the chairman of the council, at the opening of Lord Bishop of Worcester ; and then proceeded a new session.
to enlist others. It is much to be regretted that, since the issue
The first meeting of the Society was held on of the circulars, Captain Owen has been constrained the 29th of March, 1754, at Rawthmell's Coffeeby the pressure of duties elsewhere, to resign the house, in Henrietta-street, Covent-garden. post of chairman. At the request of my colleagues There were present-Lord Folkstone, Lord I have undertaken to do the best that I can to Romney, the Bishop of Worcester, the Rev. Dr. supply his place. The difficulties which, under Stephen Hales, John Goodchild, Esq., Messrs. any circumstances
, I must have felt in 'accept- Laurence, Baker, Crisp, Brander, Short, and ing the office of chairman of the council of this Messiter, and Mr. Wm. Shipley himself, who Society, are greatly increased by the special cha- acted as secretary. They put forth this · Ano racter of the present session, and by my being
DRESS TO THE PUBLIC ;'' called upon, at short notice, and with very little
Some of the nobility, clergy, gentlemen and merleisure , to come before you with an address which lately met together in order to form themselves into a
chants, having at heart the good of their country, have ought to have been prepared by some member of society for the encouragement of arts, manufactures, and
read the following
commerce, in Great Britain, by bestowing rewards from each for the best drawings by boys and girls time to time for such productions, inventions, or improve under fourteen
of ments, as shall tend to the employing of the poor, to the
Great attention was bestowed upon the proincrease of trade, and to the riches and honour of this kingdom, by promoting industry and emulation; and, motion of what were then called "the polite arts." though at present their plan is not complete, yet it has
, Among the most distinguished of the British nevertheless, been resolved to make a beginning in man- artists who have received the Society's honorary ner following-viz., for cobalt, madder, and drawings, &c.
rewards are Nollekens, Bacon, Flaxman, Sir The meetings continued to be held at Rawth- Thomas Lawrence, Sir William Ross, Edwin mell's until the 10th of January, 1755, when Landseer, Allan Cunningham, Mulready, Wyon, Peele's Coffee-house was resorted to. That place Millais, &c., &c. Cosway, the painter, received the of meeting being “ found inconvenient,” a house first prize ever awarded, when he was only fifteen in Craig’s-court, Charing-cross, was taken by Mr. years of age. Nollekens is said to have derived Shipley, “expressly to accommodate the Sp- important assistance from the countenance and ciety," and the first meeting held there was on patronage of the Society. Sir W. Ross, who the 5th of March, 1755. In 1756 larger apart. subsequently received many rewards, obtained ments were engaged at Mr. Fielding's, in the his first prize in 1807, when he was only twelve Strand, opposite to Beaufort's-buildings ; and years of age, for a drawing of Wat Tyler. on the 12th of October, 1774, the Society as The Society did much to excite among the gembled for the first time in this building in the nobility and gentry a knowledge and love of art. Adelphi, which was erected for the Society by Among other measures adopted for this purpose, the Brothers Adam, on the site of Durham- gold and silver medals were offered for the best house, the residence of the Bishop of Durham. and second-best drawings, of any kind, by yonng
Viscount Folkestone was elected first president gentlemen, the sons and grandsons of peers or on the 5th of February, 1755, and occupied the peeresses, and by young ladies, the daughters or presidential chair until his decease in 1761. granddaughters of peers or peeresses. Many of Lord Romney was president from 1761 to these medals were claimed and received. Similar 1793; the Duke of Norfolk from 1793 to 1815; medals and money awards were given for drawHis Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex from ings by the sons and daughters of commoners of the 1815 to 1843, when the Society had the houour higher, middle, and lower classes. In many of of electing as its president Her Majesty's Con- these cases the maximum of age was fixed at foursort, His Royal Highness Prince Albert, than teen, sixteen, or eighteen years ; in others, no limit whom it may justly be said
of age was declared. Particular encouragement was “ Nemo est primarum artium magis princeps.”
held out to young persons who were desirous of
becoming artists; and great stress was laid, at an In 1847 the Society was incorporated by royal early period, upon the application of art to the charter for “bestowing pecuniary and honorary improvement of design in manufactures. Nor rewards for meritorious works in the various de- were the materials and mechanical appliances of partments of the fine arts, for discoveries, inven- art forgotten by the Society of Arts. It put tions, and improvements in agriculture, chemistry, forth many suggestions of desiderata; offered mechanics, manufactures, and other useful arts, many rewards, and rewarded many inventions for the application of such natural and artificial and improvements in that direction. The repuproducts, whether of home, colonial, or foreign tation acquired by artists whose works were seen growth and manufacture, as appear likely to and criticised in the Society's rooms, before and afford fresh objects of industry, and to increase after adjudication, occasioned an application to be the trade of the realm, by extending the sphere made for an exhibition to be held in the large and operations of British commerce.”
room. This was granted, gratuitously, for several To give you even a tolerable idea of what the years, and the first public exhibition of the works Society has done, since the twelve worthies be- of British artists in the metropolis was held at the fore-mentioned were first assembled at Rawth- Society's House in the Strand, in 1760; and mell's coffee-house, on the 29th March, 1754, “hence arose,” it is said, “ the annual exhibitions would be to relate the history of arts, manufac- of the rival artists." Indeed it appears that the tures, and commerce, of ideas, designs, discove- Royal Academy sprang from the Society of Arts; ries, inventions, and industries. from that time to for the minute-book contains a complete scheme the present. You will probably be satisfied to for the establishment of the Academy; and that receive a brief enumeration of some of the So- scheme expressly refers to the example of this ciety's operations, and of some of the subjects for Society. which prizes were offered or awards made. In 1776 the Society proposed to the members
the first meeting before mentioned, three of the Royal Academy, which had been instituted sets of rewards were offered-- 1st, 301. for the in 1768, that they should paint the Great Councilproduction of cobalt found in England; 2nd, 301. room, where we now are, and be remunerated by for madder grown in England; and 3rd, “151. the public exhibition of their works therein, The
Academy, with Sir Joshua Reynolds at its head, work, and writing to the blind ; to Captain Bligh refused this proposal ; but, in the following year, for introducing the bread-fruit into the West Barry, who had signed the refusal with the rest, Indies; for an universal standard of weights and volunteered to decorate the room without any measures, &c. &c. In short, the objects are remuneration at all. The “ Handbook of Lon- innumerable, and of every possible kind. don" states that when he made his offer he had The total amount distributed in premiums and but sixteen shillings in his pocket. His offer was bounties exceeds considerably the sum of 100,0001. accepted, and you see the result.
Medals were first given, on the motion of Mr. The reclaiming of bogs and fens, and of land Baker, in 1756. The first gold medal, which was from the sea ; the planting of wastes; the intro- designed and presented to the Society by Flaxduction of useful and ornamental trees and plants; man, was awarded, in 1758, to Lord Folkestone, and the improvement of agriculture and horticul- “ for eminent services ;" and the first silver one ture, have been from first to last promoted by the was presented, in 1757, to Lady Louisa Grenville Society with great zeal and success. Immense" for a drawing." plantations of oaks, firs, larches, alders, chesnuts, The Society's transactions, as distinguished and other trees are due to its efforts. The pre- from the books of premiums and prize-lists, were mium lists are full of notices of such objects as first published in 1783. Only the first fifty vothese : The cultivation of hemp; the introduction lumes, up to 1836, are indexed. It is much to of foreign grasses, and of roots for food for cattle; be desired that the whole series should be inthe improvement of agricultural implements—the dexed by some competent person. It contains encouragement of drill husbandry, drill ploughs, an immense amount of highly interesting matter, drain ploughs, and scarificators, horsehoes, root- and I cannot but think that if the contents cutters, strawcutters; the benefits of bone manure; were more generally known some patents the analysis of soils; irrigation, water meadows, would be seen to have been granted on intanks and carts for collecting and distributing sufficient data. liquid manures—all these occur before 1790. In For many years the Society promoted the im1783 we have the following offer of a reward" for provement of our fisheries, and the supply of the inventing a machine to answer the purpose of metropolis with fish by land-carriage. The large mowing or reaping wheat, rye, barley, oats, or fish-carts that used to travel, at what was thought beans ; by which it may be done more expedi- a tremendous pace, from the coast to London, tiously and cheaper than by any method now were the result of rewards offered by this Society. practised ; provided it does not shed the corn or To improve the trade and commerce of the pulse more than the methods in common practice, colonies ; to introduce into them useful trees, and that it lays the straw in such a manner as may plants, and animals, and also manufactures, trades, be easily gathered up for binding."
and useful arts, has always been a great object All kinds of arts, sciences, and manufactures with the Society. have been encouraged and improved. To show The Society has taken an active part in imhow very wide in its scope this Society has been proving our postal system-domestic, colonial, and at the same time how practical and sugges- and international ; in exposing unjust and injutive, I will enumerate a very miscellaneous list of rious monopolies, fiscal restrictions, and laws objects for which rewards have been offered : damaging to trade and commerce; in collecting Improvements in dyeing, tanning, tapestry weav- trade-reports and statistics in connexion with ing, spinning, lacemaking, designs for weavers, arts, commerce and manufactures ; in advocating embroiderers, and calico printers by boys and girls a decimalization of weights, measures, coins, and under seventeen; for papermaking, sextants, gun- accounts; in amending the laws of partnership; harpoons, sawmills, quadrants, miscroscopes; for in promoting education in art and science. encouraging poor operatives to improve the pro The Free Economical Society of St. Peterscesses in which they were engaged (under this burg was established in 1786, upon the model head many substantial rewards have been given and in consequence of the success, of our Society. to the poor weavers of Spitalfields and Bethnal Many of the institutions of the United Kinggreen), also for life-boats, all kinds of improve- dom are indebted to the Society of Arts for the ments in shipbuilding and architecture; for accu- first kindling of the interest which led to their rate maps of the counties ; for artificial mothers establishment. Wisely and rightly the governing of chickens, locomotive fire-engines, pumps, rising body of this Society has always rejoiced when the door-hinges, beet-root sugar, carding machines, interest which it has laboured to excite in any " factitious cotton," made from refuse of hemp, object has become sufficient to justify the estabalso called flax cotton;" to commercial lishment of a separate Society, which, by a more schoolmasters for teaching French, German, and exclusive attention to that object, might be exItalian ;' surgical instruments, drugs, culinary pected to produce more important and useful reimprovements, hydrometers, locks, time-pieces ; sults. As an example of what has been done in machines for teaching arithmetic, music, needle this way, I need only specify the formation of the