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hope for that general diffusion and that permanent prevalence of morality, of virtue, of religious faith, and of the fear of God in our land, which may render it possible that our free republican institutions can be maintained. I say possible, for if there be any thing written, as with a sunbeam, on the page of our manifest destiny, -a manifest destiny, which, to this extent, I fully and firmly believe, -- it is this: that, without the influences of religion, there can be no reliance for morality or virtue; and that, without morality and virtue, there can be no reliance for Republican Liberty.
I rejoice, then, Mr. President, in all the evidences of your prosperity and success, as exhibited in the report which has been read by my reverend friend, Dr. Kirk. I rejoice to learn that your resources for the present year are larger than ever before, and that there is every reason to hope that your labors will be more abundant and your successes more signal; and I could not easily have forgiven myself, either as a Christian or a patriot, if I may pretend to either title, had I declined to accede to the request of your committee, and to offer you my humble but hearty God-speed in all your efforts for the future.
BOSTON MECHANICS AND BOSTON
A SPEECH MADE AT THE TRIENNIAL FESTIVAL OF THE MASSACHUSETTS CHARITABLE
MECHANIC ASSOCIATION, OCTOBER 11, 1854.
I THANK you sincerely, Mr. President, for the privilege of being present on this occasion, and for the pleasure of sitting down with the mechanics of Boston, and with their wives and daughters, at this most agreeable entertainment. I thank you, too, for the opportunity of listening to your own instructive and excellent address; and I thank you still more for the kind and complimentary manner in which my name has just been presented to the company. Sir, I am always proud to be recognized and designated as an honorary member of this Association, and the more so when I recall the circumstances under which that distinction was conferred upon me.
It was in no hour of political triumph, or of personal success. On the contrary, it happened to be just after a protracted and memorable contest for a second term of the Speakership at Washington had resulted in my defeat, — it was then, that your certificate of honorary membership reached me. And, certainly, if I had needed any consolation for a most welcome escape from the confinement of that arduous and laborious post, it was abundantly administered. I would not be thought to depreciate other honors, of which I have had more than my
share: - I would by no means disparage the title of an M.C., which the unmerited favor of my fellow-citizens allowed me to enjoy for a period of ten or eleven years, and in which so many others, worthier than myself, are still rejoicing. Still less would I underrate the dignity of an M.A., which it was once my good fortune to receive from a neighboring University, under the hand and seal of
the venerable Ex-President at my side (Mr. Quincy). But I can truly say, that neither of these additions, separately, ever gave me half the real pleasure which I derived from the two combined, when the mechanics of Boston the bone and muscle of my native city, the heirs, not merely to the professions, but to the principles, and some of them to the blood, of such men as Paul Revere-- pronounced me not unworthy to be added to the chosen few upon their honorary roll; and thus entitled me to the M. C. M. A. of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association.
But more than enough of these personalities. We are assembled here to-day, at what must be considered as eminently a Boston festival. It is emphatically a city festival, and such a one as can only can be witnessed in a great city. Our brethren in the country have festivals of their own, peculiar to themselves, at which the cultivators of the soil meet together to rejoice over the rewards of their labor and their skill, and to display the rich triumphs of agriculture or of horticulture. We have seen not a few of such festivals, of the highest interest and attraction, in our immediate neighborhood within a few weeks past. Our own beautiful Common, indeed, has recently been made the scene of a brilliant display of fruits and flowers. But we all know that they were borrowed flowers, and fruits not our own. They came from the gardens and orchards which adorn the charming environs of our city.
I need not tell you that the narrow limits of our peninsula afford no space for the cultivation of the soil, no space for any thing, indeed, but paved streets; and, by the blessing of God, we do not intend that any thing shall be seen growing in those streets, not even a blade of grass, notwithstanding the kind wishes to that effect which may be expressed by our friends and admirers in other parts of the Union. No, sir, the workingmen who are congregated in such masses on the few hundred acres which Boston covers, must find their employment in a different department of industry. Commerce gives occupation to some of them, but the great composing and characterizing element of city labor is ever the mechanic element. What, indeed, is a great city itself, but the grandest and noblest display of mechanic art ? Why, Mr. President, I overheard somebody inquiring, a few hours ago, whether there was any exhibition connected with this festival ? Any exhibition, sir ? What other exhibition could be desired, than that which our city itself supplies ? The houses in which we dwell, with the furniture which renders them comfortable and elegant; the shops and stores of our merchants; the ships and steamboats upon our wharves, with all their tackle and enginery; our music-halls and lecture-halls and market-louses and operahouses; and better than all, the churches in which we meet to worship God, with their massive towers or lofty spires, — these, after all, make up the best Mechanic's Fair, always open, without money and without price; and these display the true character and best results of mechanic labor and skill, far more adequately and completely than all the curious and countless fabrics which can be crowded into a crystal palace, either at home or abroad. Yes, sir, we may accept the reproach which the old poet awarded us when he said, “ Man made the town;" and hardly anywhere can the power and skill and genius of man be more readily and distinctly recognized than in the thoroughfares of a great town or city, on the outer and inner walls of its buildings, and along the borders of its piers and docks. Nowhere, certainly, it seems to me, could more striking evidence be found of the progress of mechanic art among ourselves, than in our own streets and along our own wharves at this moment. I need not point you to the magnificent warehouses which have recently risen on the water's edge; or to the splendid shops which have been opened in the more central parts of the city, - the ladies, I am sure, need not be reminded of them ; or to the sumptuous edifice just dedicated to the drama; or to the noble clippers which have been lately launched for the commerce of other countries as well as our own. These, sir, may be said to be the Exhibition of the year 1854; and who desires to see a grander one?
But there is something of sadness connected with these great movements of our modern mechanic art. What changes are they not working in the face of our beloved city! I am not an old man quite yet; but I confess it sometimes seems to me almost as difficult to realize that this is the Boston of my boyhood, as it was for Rip Van Winkle, in the inimitable tale of the inimitable Irving, to recognize his home, when he returned from that memorable visit to Sleepy Hollow. The old landmarks have been disappearing so rapidly, under the magic influence of commercial enterprise and mechanic art, that hardly any thing of the old town seems left. Here, indeed, is old Faneuil Hall. God grant that it may last for ever, its walls and foundations propped up and underpinned, as often as need be, by the best skill which the patriotic arms of Boston Mechanics can bring to it, a Cradle which shall stand stronger and stronger the oftener it is rocked in the cause of American Liberty! And there, a few rods off, is the old gable-end warehouse, with the date of 1680 still legible on its front, which I think used to be a feather store, and which one might have hoped that nothing harder or heavier than a feather would ever be permitted to press upon; but which, under the weight of other burdens, is but too evidently tottering to its fall. And there is the old Province House, a year or two older still, no longer sentinelled, as of yore, by British red-coats, but fairly barricaded by a couple of red brick stores,—where Ordway's Minstrels, I believe, discourse Ethiopian melodies, in halls which once echoed to the stately tread of royal governors, or the hardly less stately minuets of royal governors' ladies. And there, too, is the old State House, where James Otis made his immortal argument against Writs of Assistance, and where Samuel Adams confronted one of those very royal governors, on that memorable occasion so brilliantly described by Bancroft, when he told him that if he could remove one regiment he could remove both, and that nothing short of the total evacuation of the town by the regular troops would satisfy the people of Boston. Those regiments were long known by the name of Sam Adams's regiments. And, finally, sir, there is the old home of John Hancock, where he, doubtless, practised and perfected that unmistakable and matchless signature of his, which was the only signature under which the Declaration of Independence was originally promulgated to the world, and which was enough, of itself, to give assurance that there would be no repudiation of that immortal instrument.