Article #205 - School property for Lyceum use


To Pocopson Literary Association


            The committee appointed to ascertain of the Trustees of Marlborough School property their reasons for refusing the further use of the house in which to hold our meetings, to induce them if possible to rescind their act of expulsion – And to vindicate if necessary our character for good order and our right peaceably to meet in houses devoted to educational purposes, offers the

following  ?? .

            Two of our number have each had an interview with a majority of the Trustees from whom we learned that their reason for closing the house was two fold, to wit – Because of a design on our part as they apprehended to form a union with or to strengthen the society known as Progressive Friends, and because our meetings had a tendency to bring a class of disorderly boys upon the grounds belonging to Friends who conducted themselves disreputably by passing the time in play and in one or two instances quarrelled & used profane language, or in the language of one of the Trustees committee acted so as to be a disgrace to the neighborhood, so he had been informed. The Trustees disclaimed having any hostility to the Lyceum system, on the contrary one of them commended it as being highly useful when properly carried out, nor did they intimate that ours was not conducted in a reputable manner. Yet they assumed that the disorder without the house was inseparably connected with our meetings.

            In support of the first objection they could bring no evidence except the proposition to hold the Lyceum at Marlborough on the same day as the meetings of the obnoxious society

above named, and that one of the prominent members thereof had expressed a disposition to join us if our time of meeting should be changed so as to render it convenient for him to attend.

            Our reasons for the proposed change were explained so far as they had reference to the case in point, and we think the Trustees were satisfied that their apprehensions were groundless, and they certainly could not fail to perceive that to predicate their decision on a proposition that had not obtained the sanction of the Lyceum was at best very illogical. In reference to this charge we would state further that while our meetings are free for all, and while we would reject no one on account of religious faith, we certainly have no disposition to abandon our leading object to make common cause with one sect against another, and that it must be a matter of congratulation with every rightly disposed person that our platform is free and large enough to embrace the members & friends of the contending meetings. If we can succeed in keeping this platform

sacred to friendship & freedom of expression its beneficial and most happy results will richly reward us for all personal sacrifices.

            Having disposed of the first objection there remains to be considered the charge of disorder, and that not against the management of the Lyceum and its members, but as occurring in the neighborhood of our meetings by some idle boys. We endeavored to convince the Trustees that this charge was not sufficient to justify their action in the case, that if there had been disorder it had not come to our knowledge and it was respectfully stated that if opportunity should be granted to continue our Meetings the association could doubtless prevent the cause of complaint. This modest request to grant which would have been but simple justice or rather to repair an act of injustice, was not complied with. We are therefore to all appearances irrevocably denied the use of a school house for a purpose which is clearly within the scope of its leading object – a property which the ancestors of many of us assisted to accumulate, to which we may add that several of our members belong unto & have unity with their religious meeting and hence it may be argued with truth that respect for the rights of their own members should have induced them to have granted our reasonable request. Nay more instead of being expelled from a house devoted to educational purposes we had a right to the sympathy and counsel of all the friends of mental and moral improvement, in some of the states the growth of the Lyceum has been considered so important as to receive legislative aid. What a striking contrast is presented in our case. Instead of the sympathy which was our right to share in view of the endorsement of our object, and of words of encouragement for honest effort and of counsel or gentle reproof for errors of judgement or of actions our enterprise has been regarded with cold indifference – objectionable conduct noted from time to time, until finally without intimation of dissatisfaction or warning of any kind we find ourselves unceremoniously ejected for a reason which if good in our case will hold against any form of association, vacate every school in the land and disorganize society. Craven spirited and unworthy of freedom would we be did we not enter a manly protest against the monstrous injustice which so far as the Trustees have the power deprives us of a place in which to hold our meetings, for acts committed by persons who are acknowledged to be unconnected with us and who could easily have been controlled. By visiting upon us the penalty which should attach to the evil doer the Trustees have offered inducements as it were to mischievous or evil disposed persons to disturb us and not us only but all other societies.

            In their notice to the Lyceum they state that hereafter the house will be reserved for its legitimate purpose, i.e. for the purpose of a school but the Lyceum is a school for mutual improvement, in their leading objects the two are identical nor do they differ in any essential feature of organization making it necessary to have separate places of meeting the policy which would require it is contracted & selfish such as we would not have been willing to attribute to the Trustees.

            It will be observed that we have allowed the Trustees the full benefit which undisputed right to exclusive control of the house confers, nor have we called in question the character or extent of the alledged [sic] disturbances – altho both these facts are controverted – feeling assured that when all is granted which they claim our cause is still just and will be so acknowledged by an unbiased public. It grieves us that this act of proscription has been perpetrated by those with whom we have commingled in the various neighborhood relations of life and who profess to be our friends and the friends of Lyceum.

            In view of the facts of the case we feel that strong language of condemnation is justifiable. We prefer however simply to express the hope that the Trustees may become sensible of the injustice of their course, and while we believe them to have acted unworthily let us not dwell upon the subject until our own strength and power for usefulness is wasted, but having indicated our cause, press forward in the work unto which we are called, and demonstrate by deeds of kindness as well as by energy & firmness that we desire to overcome every form of evil with good.

                        Signed by Lewis Marshall

                                    on Behalf of com.

[Lewis Marshall’s signature appears to be in a different hand from the rest of the above.]