A brief account of "The Wimbledon Village Club" will explain the origin and object of the two following Lectures.
"The design of the Institution is to afford to the inhabitants, and more especially the working and middle classes of Wimbledon and its vicinity, opportunities of intellectual and moral improvement, and rational and social enjoyment, through the medium of a Reading Room and Library, Lectures and Classes."
The Reading Room is supplied with Daily and Weekly Newspapers, Periodicals, and Books.
The Library contains upwards of Six Hundred volumes, all which have been presented to the Institution.
The Lectures are on various literary and scientific subjects.
To these have been recently added, Readings and Chat Meetings.
Readings, are three short readings from some popular author, by different readers, on the same evening.
"Chat Meetings are simplifications of a soirée, or a conversazione. They originated in the idea that many parishioners, having in their homes interesting objects, the examination of which would afford pleasure and instruction to their fellow-parishioners, would on certain occasions gladly take these objects to a room appointed for the purpose, and display and explain them."
Mr. Toynbee, the Fidus Achates of the Club, has, in his admirable "Hints on the Formation of Local Museums," well said—"The Wimbledon Club is admirably calculated to meet the wants of the working classes, as regards their recreation and instruction. While it furnishes amusement and instruction to all classes, it brings them together at its various meetings in friendly intercourse; the management of the Institution, and the organization of its several proceedings, afford a valuable experience to the Committee, who portion among themselves their respective work; and the preparation of the Lectures, &c., proves a healthy mental stimulus to those intelligent inhabitants who desire to take part in one of the most delightful of duties, viz., the conveyance to the minds of others an interest in those pleasing and elevating subjects from which, happily their own minds derive gratification."—"Hints," pp. 8, 9.
Should these Lectures again interest any of the large and attentive audiences with which they were honoured, I will consider myself justified in having consented to their publication, and feel happy to be the medium of imparting information, even on a secular subject, to those whom it is my duty, and is my pleasure, to profit and please.
It is scarcely necessary for me to say, biographical lectures are chiefly the result of reading and research; I have, however, somewhat fully expressed my opinions on the advantages of music, and very freely on one or two cognate subjects, and others incidentally alluded to.
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