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EIGHTY years ago or more, a gentleman with
many true opinions and some false opinions, but
always right-minded in the pursuit of what
he believed to be truth and justice, proposed
the formation of a Literary Fund to a small
club of literary men, who met at the Prince
of Wales Tavern in Conduit Street, Hanover
Square.  This gentleman, whose name was
DAVID WILLIAMS, was first an Unitarian
preacher, then a schoolmaster, and author
of a Treatise upon Education.  A writer
of warm-hearted (and here and there warm-
headed) books and tracts, he was a
sympathiser with the French Revolution: and,
at one time a fellow-labourer with the
Gironde.  Madame Roland mentions him
in her memoirs as a sincere, able, earnest,
honest man.  Although he lived when freedom
of opinion was not popular in England,
and had the misfortune to be included,
by a loose poetical bard, in one of Canning's
lampoons, among

          Creeping creatures, venomous and low;

nevertheless, David Williams was a hard-
working Worthy, ready to move upward,
from wrong to right, as he saw opportunity
the very last man in the world to
wish to be the founder of a stagnant

A very stagnant institution, commonly
known as the Literary Fund, however,
claims David Williams for a father.  It
lives by a routine of its own; it neither
stands on the ground he assigned to it at the
commencement of its life, nor has it advanced
to  better things by acting in any accordance
whatever with the expressed spirit of its
founder, or with the spirit of the times that
have succeeded him.

David Williams declared his belief that
a community once formed is, in almost
every possible circumstance, analogous to an
individual; and, as it acquires experience,
must use it, determining its nature as it
grows, ''by the avowal of all sentiments,—
good, indifferent, and bad ; for," he says, "the
community which restrains this avowal is like
the man who shuts up some of his senses."
The Literary Fund has gone through
some remarkable experiences; and, for the last
year or two, there have been not a few members
of its community determinately bent on
avowing their experiences, as the first step in
the direction of applying them to proper use.
In March, every year, and on the twelfth
of March, this year, the members of the
Literary Fund, founded by David Williams,
make their anniversary report to themselves.
On this year's occasion an avowal of sentiments
opposing its stagnant condition will be
made, and will be constantly repeated, until
all the lessons of experience shall have been
fairly and honestly accepted.

A little of the energy of David Williams
himself has to be fetched back from the
limbo of lost things, to effect this object.  He
worked incessantly.  His life was one of
constant struggle.  His wife dying early, he
went forth alone into the world, a writer
and a teacher; all that was orthodox in
Church and State, holding aloof from the
contamination of him.  When he was toiling
painfully for bread, the largeness of his
spirit, could not be confined within the limits
of his own low, narrow state; and, helped
by a few more who shared endurance of
contempt with him; who shared with him also
faith in the hearts of men; he conceived the
resolvefor with him the desire was the
resolveof founding an institution that should
comfort the poor scholar with help and
sympathy in the day of worldly suffering.
The same institution would, if developed
to the full extent of his desire, come to
possess a house, a "common centre of
communication and of action" with the power,
even, as he said, of supporting "a college for
decayed and superannuated genius."
His friend Benjamin Franklin doubted his
power of achieving anything for the
accomplishment of such aims, and so did
others; but  "I perceive,"  said Franklin,
"that our friend does not acquiesce in our
opinions, and that he will undertake this
institution.  The event, be it what it may,
will be honourable to him; but it will require
so much time, perseverance, and patience,
that the anvil may wear out the hammer."
Of perseverance and of patience an endless
store was cheerfully spent; and, in due time the
humble author, whom no grandee favoured,
had collected for his institution a permanent
fund of six thousand pounds, and an income of
eight hundred pounds a-year.  He then made