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Establishment of the Society in Dublin—and in Cork.
Catholic families, which are at least eight to one, have scarcely a Bible among them, perhaps not one in five hundred families, and no exertions making to distribute them, except by a few clergymen, who go not beyond their own parishes, and those very few indeed.”
2. The “Dublin Bible Society” was instituted in the year 1806; and in the following year assumed the designation of « The Hibernian Bible Society." The formation of a similar institution at Cork almost immediately followed ; and both received that liberal assistance from the Parent Society, which the peculiar circumstances of Ireland so loudly claimed.
Of the absolute necessity which existed for these and similar institutions, the following melancholy proofs may be adduced :
Extract from the Report of the Hibernian Bible Society for 1808. “ During the time your Committee have been in office, they have had repeated proofs of the necessity and usefulness of the society. A very general desire to purchase and read the Bible prevails in Ireland; and yet, in several parts of the country, the Bible cannot be obtained, at least by the lower classes. A letter from a clergyman, in a very populous district of the north of Ireland, stated to your Committee, that, in his neighbourhood, the Bible could not be procured for any money. From this circumstance the society may judge what must be the case in those parts of the land where the people are less instructed, and where, of course, it might be expected that books would be very scarce."
This general statement is illustrated by the following fact:
“A young man, aged about twenty-one, was very early bound to a linen-weaver. Having learned to read, and a New Testament happening to lie neglected in his master's house, it became the constant companion of his leisure hours. His apprenticeship being finished, he proposed going to see his brother, a militia-man quartered in Castlebar, in the county of Mayo; and begged of his master the New Testament, as the reward of his faithful services. The master, knowing his attachment to the book, refused giving it on any other terms than his further servitude for six months. The young man, judging that a Testament might be procured on easier terms at Castlebar, declined this; and, when arrived there, made dili. gent inquiry in all the shops to find one to purchase; but, alas! in vain : not a Testament was for sale in this, the principal town of a populous county in Ireland! He could not live without it. The Testament, the much-regretted Testament, never was absent from his thoughts. He could dream of nothing else, and frequently awoke to regret that his desire of having it in his possession was only a pleasing delusion. Finding no rest, he returned to his master, and agreed to serve him half a year for the Testament." +
These reports, from different quarters of Ireland, were confirmed by an eloquent writer; who observed," You
• First Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society: Appendix, No. X111. and xiy.
| Eighth Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society : Appendix, Na, lvis General Rules of the Hibernian Bible Society.
might have travelled from one extremity of the kingdom to the other, and, avoiding the chief towns, visit every cabin in your way, without finding, perhaps, three hundred perfect Bibles among three millions of people. I speak,” he adds, “ from personal knowledge of the country.” The reader will be better prepared to estimate the nature of this deplorable deficiency, when he learns, on the same authority, that “ you cannot delight a poor Irish peasant so much with any thing you can bestow upon him, as with a present of a Bible: he hides it in his cabin, and reads it with an eagerness that cannot be conceived."*
3. GENERAL RULES of the HIBERNIAN BIBLE SOCIETY. I The designation of this society shall be, “ THE HIBERNIAN BIBLE SOCIETY;" the sole object of which is, to encourage a wider circulation of the Scriptures in Ireland.
II. The copies of the Scriptures to be circulated by the society shall be of the authorised version, unaccompanied by any note or comment.
III. Each subscriber of one guinea annually shall be a member.
IV. Ministers of all denominations, who shall transmit annual collections from their congregations, shall be members.
V. Each subscriber of ten guineas at one time shall be a member for life.
VI. A Committee of twenty-one members, resident in or near Dublin, shall be annually appointed to transact the business of the society ; shall All up whatever vacancies may occur in their body; and shall be empowered to make by-laws for the regulation of their own proceedings. Fourteen members of the Committee shall be eligible for re-election the ensuing year.
VII. The Committee shall add to their number such members resident in the country as they shall judge expedient.
VIII. The annual meeting of the society shall be held on the last Thursday but one in April, when the committee, treasurer, and secretaries, shall be chosen, the accounts presented, and the proceedings of the foregoing year reported.
IX. The Committee shall meet on the first and third Tuesday of every month, or oftener; shall call extraordinary general meetings of the society, when expedient; shall, in the intervals between the general meetings, appoint all officers of the society; and shall be charged with procuring for the society suitable patronage.
X. The Treasurer and Secretaries for the time being shall be members of the Committee.
XI. The minutes of every General and Committee Meeting shall be signed by the chairman.
XII. Each member of the society shall be entitled, under the direction of the Committee, to purchase Bibles and Testaments at the society's prices, wlich shall be as low as possible.
XIII. It is the desire of this society to co-operate with every other society engaged in circulating the Scriptures in Ireland.
4. Whoever takes the trouble to collate these regulations with those of the British and Foreign Bible Society, will per
Letter to Dr. Gaskin, quoted in Dealtry's “ Vindication," p. 43, first edit.
By-Laws of the Committee of the Hibernian Bible Society.
ceive the points of difference, especially in reference to the
ing business with the AUXILIARY SOCIETIES, &c.
II. Benefactors of ten guineas, not purchasing according to Regulation I., may purchase annually to the same amount with annual subscribers of one guinea ; and benefactors of 501. to the same amount with annual subscribers of five guineas; and so on, to benefactors of any larger amount.—This Rule shall not be considered as affecting the privileges of the present life-subscribers, but only as regulating the privileges of future benefactors.
III. As the nature of the connexion of the Branch Societies with the Parent Society will, after these Rules come to be acted upon, be altered, and become similar to the connexion of the societies auxiliary to the British and Foreign Bible Society with that society, it will be expedient that the name Branch Society be relinquished, and that the name Auxiliury Society be substituted ; the name Branch to be appropriated to extensions of Auxiliary Societies in towns or villages within the district of the Auxiliary Society, and holding immediate communication with it.
IV. Auxiliary Societies, and Associations in immediate connexion with the Parent Society, shall obtain their stock of Bibles and Testaments exclusively from the General Depository, and shall be entitled to receive Bibles and Testaments, estimated at cost prices, to the full amount of all money remitted by them, whether collected from contributions, or from the sale of books : and they shall be requested annually to devote to the general purposes of the society such part of their funds as they may be able to afford.
V. It shall be competent for any Auxiliary Society to apply for a gratuitous grant of books; and for the General Committee, if they see fit, to
VI. To enable the General Committee to make gratuitous grants of Bibles and Testaments to those districts of the country which are most ne. cessitous, it shall appeal to the Christian charity of its subscribers, and of those Auxiliary Societies and Associations that are in more highly favoured districts, to leave a balance annually in its hands for that purpose ; submitting it, however, entirely to their own judgment.
“ Parent Society," throughout these By-Laws, refers to the Hibernian Bible Society.
By-Laws of the Committee of the Hibernian Bible Society,
VII. When an order for books is given by any Auxiliary Society, it shall be fulfilled, as a matter of course, to the amount of the money remitted, provided the society have the description of books ordered.
But when a gratuitous grant of books is required, the Committee shall transmit a list of queries to be answered, and the request shall come before them in the form of a memorial.
VIII The Auxiliary Societies shall each have districts of country assigned to them, to be determined chiefly by themselves, but under the advice of the General Committee ; from which districts they shall take their names, and in which they shall respectively be entrusted with the whole management of the society's business—as, the establishment of depositories, the cir culation of the Scriptures, either by sale or gratuitous distribution, the fis. ing of prices, defraying of local expenses, &c.; and so long as any Auxiliary Society does not exceed in its demands the money remitted by it, the General Committee shall not interfere with it in these respects, otherwise than in the way of kind inquiry, exhortation, advice, and assistance : but when grants of the Scriptures are required, the Committee shall feel themselves at liberty to make what stipulations they may judge expedient.
IX. It shall be recommended to Auxiliary and Branch Societies to give to their subscribers and benefactors the same privileges which are given by the General Committee to subscribers and benefactors of the Parent Society.
X. The Committee shall use every practicable means to procure the formation of Bible Associations, and Penny-a-week Societies, in aid of the society. When such an Association is formed within the district of any Aux. iliary Society, it may be connected with it on the same general principles on which the Auxiliary Societies are connected with the Parent Society: and, unless it choose to form a depository of its own, the subscribers to the Association may enjoy the privilege of purchasing at the depository of the Auxiliary Society, on the same terms with its own subscribers. Auxiliary Societies may make gratuitous grants to Associations, on the same principles on which the General Committee may make them to Auxiliary Societies. Ifan Association be formed in any district where there is no Auxiliary Society; or if, where there is one, any circumstances may exist that would render it more expedient that it should correspond immediately with the Parent Society; it may be united to the Parent Society on the same footing as if it were united to an Auxiliary Society.
XI. The General Committee shall endeavour to keep up a stock of such descriptions of Bibles and Testaments as the Auxiliary Societies and subscribers may require.
XII. Auxiliary Societies shall be requested to transmit their lists of subscriptions and donations, actually received, to the General Committee; and these lists, if desired, the General Committee shall publish, separately and literally, in the Annual Report. Public notice shall be given on the report, annually, that such lists, intended for publication, must be transmitted previously to the first of March in each year.
XIII. The General Committee shall use all its endeavours to procure such information as may interest the Committees of the Auxiliary Societies and Associations, and assist and stimulate them in their duties ; and transmit it promptly and regularly to them.
XIV. The General Committee shall deliver all books, sold or granted by them, free of expense of carriage within the city of Dublin.
6. In the spirit of these regulations, an address was printed and liberally circulated, calling the attention of the Auxiliary Societies and Associations in connexion with the Hibernian Society. public to the magnitude and importance of the object; suggesting a plan of operations for extending the Auxiliary System; and inviting persons of all denominations to come forward and carry it into execution. Of the beneficial effects which have already resulted from those judicious measures, the following extract from the Sixteenth Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society is a satisfactory evidence :
“ Ireland has proceeded on the system of improved organization, noticed in your last report ; and the result has been, that, in the course of the last year, the Hibernian Bible Society has doubled its circulation of the Scriptures, formed new Auxiliary Societies, revived old ones which had become inactive, and witnessed generally the manifest indications of great and increasing prosperity.”
The importance of those measures, and of the results to which they have led, will be more fully appreciated by referring to the language of the Committee in their report for 1810:
“ The demands for Bibles and Testaments during the last year were so great, that, had it not been for the liberality of the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Committee would have been compelled to put a stop te their proceedings."
Now that the resources of Ireland are called forth, and that plans are devised for the more general establishment of Auxiliary Societies, and especially of Bible Associations, throughout the country, it cannot be doubted that she will not only meet the exigencies of her own population, but, ere long, be in a condition to contribute her assistance to the general purposes of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
7. The number of Auxiliary Societies in connexion with the Hibernian Bible Society, is thirty-five; of which fourteen are County Societies :—and of Bible Associations, twentyeight. The total number of Bibles and Testaments issued, from the formation of the society to the 31st of March 1820, is 254,048. In the list of patronage, it is highly satisfactory to observe, the Lord Primate of Ireland, the Archbishops of Dublin and Tuam, and nine other distinguished prelates of the Irish Bench. The officers consist of a treasurer, three secretaries, an assistant secretary, and collector.
The following extracts, to which many other similar testimonies might be added, will demonstrate the beneficial effects of this institution:
From the Report of the Sligo Bible Society :“ The word of God has forced its way into the most unenlightened parts of your county. Villages, glens, and mountains, denied by nature the