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OF THE NEWPORT ATHENMJM & MECHANICS' INSTITUTE. The Institute was Established in 1841, for the diffusion of Useful Knowledge amongst its Members ; and was admitted into union with the Society of Arts, 18th of August, 1852. Yol. 1—No. 9. SEPTEMBER, 1864. Gratis to Members. NEWPORT, SEPTEMBER 1, 1864. Among the great objects contemplated in tlie establishment of Mechanics' Institutes, that of educating the working classes, if we may so speak, to a taste for those enjoyable and benefi¬ cial modes of spending their hours of leisure which have for years been open to persons of more ample means, must be regarded as one of no little importance. Books, newspapers, lec¬ tures, entertainments, and excursions in con¬ nection with these Institutions, are constantly being provided for the members, at a moderate cost, and before the era of " Penny Headings," it was reasonably thought that much had been done towards the attainment of the results hoped lor in their establishment; but the "Iron Age" is essentially one of progress, and Me¬ chanics' Institutes should not be permitted to lag in the rear of the improvements and liberal tendencies of the day. Some feeling of this kind must have animated the directors of the Newport Athen2etjm when they proposed to carry out a series of Penny Eeadings during the season beginning next October; and we are gra¬ tified to find that not only was the proposal made, but adopted, and a committee appointed, the members of which, we are assured, will spare no effort to merit the approval of the public. There can be little doubt that this Institution should have taken a prominent part in the original organisation of Penny Eeadings in Newport, and not have left it to individuals, however able, to provide those cheap and popu¬ lar entertainments for the people. Their suc¬ cess was not doubtful: we may even say it was certain, for the experiment had been tried all over the country, and had everywhere suc¬ ceeded admirably; but once started in the town, the directors did wisely to abstain from action during that season. Now however, the way is clear: those gentlemen who originated the movement in Newport have withdrawn from the " scene of former triumphs " in favour of the Athenaeum, and it only remains for the committee to prove their claim to that confi¬ dence so entirely bestowed by the public on their predecessors. Throughout the length and breadth of Eng¬ land, Penny Eeadings have taken a strong hold in public favour. They have cultivated a healthy taste for elocution and music, provided intelligent audiences for many who have needed them to develope natural abilities, and have above all, popularized a taste above the beer¬ house "concert-hall," and which laughs at the seductions of smoke-room "speechifying." In Newport none may venture to sneer at the " Penny Eeadings," for the working-men have learnt to appreciate their attractions, and those who stand a rung higher on the social ladder, have been glad to mix with them at those plea¬ sant gatherings. The fact is, the "volunteer" principle is a great ingredient in the popularity^ of the readings. The working classes here sit side by side with their neighbours, and the tradesmen of the town think it not beneath them to enjoy a capital two hours' entertain¬ ment provided not by " professionals, " but their own friends. 'Tis a cheerful picture—fa¬ miliar faces at the entrance taking " pennies," familiar faces in the hall looking pleasantly around, and familiar faces on the platform— such is the scene : whilst kindly greetings are hurriedly exchanged, and the rustle of fair ones'dresses gives warning that the long-expec¬ ted moment for the " commencement " has ar¬ rived. We have by no means exhausted the subject, but we have said nearly all we meant to say, and the little that remains is to tell the committee that, in our opinion, they have an agreeable task before them, and one they must carry out with prudence, tact, and energy.