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justify the remark, that in establishing this Free Public Library, we are but carrying forward another stage, and that a great stage, towards its ultimate consummation and perfection, that noble system of popular education which our fathers founded. It has originated in no mere design to furnish a resort for professed scholars, where they may pursue their studies, or prosecute their researches, historical or classical, scientific or literary, important as such an object might be. It is to be eminently a library for the people, — for the whole people.

Doubtless, in the gradual accumulation of such a library as we hope to see here, or as we hope others at least will see here, when this spacious area shall be filled with books, and when, perhaps, the building now about to be erected shall have been extended to the utmost limits of this ample lot, — doubtless, in the gradual accumulation of such a library as future generations will witness and enjoy here, - no books will be excluded because they may not seem to be of immediate, general, or popular use or interest. No books, certainly, will ever be rejected in this land of universal education and intelligence, as being beyond the comprehension or capacity of the people. That comprehension will be subjected to no narrow gauge, nor that capacity measured by any reduced or stinted standard. Those who shall have charge from time to time of making its collections, will not be likely to forget that we are no dwindled or degenerate offspring of a race, which John Milton so nobly and so justly characterized, when he said, - “Lords and Commons of England, consider what nation it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governors ; - a nation not slow and dull, but of a quick, ingenious and piercing spirit; acute to invent, subtile and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point the highest that human capacity can soar to.”

Here, doubtless, in due time, will be found works of the deepest philosophy and science; and, until the name of Bowditch shall be lost to our remembrance, it will hardly be suggested that others beside professed scholars may not be able to turn those volumes to the best account, and even to add new ones of their own. Here, without question, in due time, will be found books in every language and tongue which is read or spoken beneath the sun; and, while the living example of an Elihu Burritt is still before us, no one will doubt that others beside what are called the educated classes may be eager to decipher their mysteries, and may find no characters too difficult for their mastery. The least popular books of the collection may still find their best readers coming forth from the forge or the forecastle.

But as a general rule, and for the present at least, our professed scholars and students will look to the libraries of our Universities and Athenæums and Academies of Science, for the volumes which may aid them in their special investigations and pursuits.

The Library whose corner stone we are now about to lay, in its primary and principal design, is to furnish entertainment and instruction for the whole people. Central in its situation, the dwellers in all quarters of the city may approach it with almost equal facility. Standing on the margin of our beautiful Common, it will reflect and reproduce some of the peculiar and truly republican features of that charming play-place of our children, and pleasure-ground of us all, where we see, at this moment, the choicest seats and most inviting shade ranged along the trodden paths, and by the side of the broad and beaten tracks; - and whose crystal fountains — though now and then they may leap to the skies and sparkle in the sun and waste themselves in glittering spray, to furnish a holiday spectacle - find always their better use and their daily beauty in ministering to the refreshment of the wayfaring and the weary.

And this, fellow-citizens, is to be our intellectual and literary Common, — beneath whose roof and within whose alcoves fountains of living waters shall be ever open, and upon whose tables shall be always spread a banquet of wholesome and nutritious food for every mind, with a cover and a cordial welcome for every comer, and where no guest, whatever his garment, so it clothe an honest man, shall be excluded or disdained. “ Free to all, with no other restrictions than are necessary for the preservation of the books" these are the noble terms of its greatest benefactor. It may never vie, indeed, with the sumptuous Libraries of the Old World, in the magnitude or magnificence of their structure, or in the costliness and rarity of their contents. We have aimed at no imposing façades, or splendid colonnades. But it is confidently believed, that, by the skill of our ingenious architect (Mr. C. H. Kirby), few buildings will be found to equal it in practical appropriateness and convenience; and that, through the discriminating care of the distinguished trustees of the library, - our Everetts, and Ticknors, and Shurtleffs, who, like the Irvings, and Astors, and Cogswells of a sister city, are devoting themselves so assiduously to this particular province, - no collection of books will ultimately surpass it in its adaptation to the improvement and instruction of a free people.

* Letter of Joshua Bates, 1 October, 1852.

Here, especially, will be collected without delay, whatever may throw light on the great practical arts which have characterized our age and country, and whatever may assist our ingenious mechanics and inventors, -- second to none throughout the world, — in their attempts still further to simplify the magic processes, and to perfect the marvellous implements and engines, by which difficulties and distances may be annihilated.

Here, too, it is to be hoped, will be found, from time to time, whatever our people may be able to point to, as the product of their own intelligence, their own genius, their own institutions. Here will be seen the whole body of American literature, as it shall gradually unfold and develop itself under the influence of American liberty. "No book or pamphlet, certainly, which shall emanate from a Boston mind or a Boston pen, will be long wanting to its shelves. For here, as one after another of her sons or of her daughters shall employ the talent which her schools or her social advantages shall have enabled them to improve, they will themselves be seen hastening to lay the earliest fruits upon the maternal altar. In the admirable language of one of our early benefactors, — “Every son of Boston justly regards the city as an illustrious parent," * --- and here that parent may peculiarly be pictured as opening her lap to receive gifts from her grateful children,- at once the pledges of their love and the proofs of their worthiness.

And now, fellow-citizens, we should be ungrateful were we to forget, on this occasion, those among the living, and those among the dead, to whom we are indebted for the establishment and endowment of this institution. The building, indeed, upon whose walls we are standing, is intended to be, and is, wholly a city building. It owes its projection and its progress to the enlightened and liberal counsels of the successive city governments, who have made the necessary appropriations for the purchase of the site and for the erection of the edifice. It owes much to your immediate predecessor (Hon. Benjamin Seaver), and it owes still more to yourself, Mr. Mayor, and to your associates in the present City Council. I am persuaded, gentlemen of the two branches, that if the enterprising contractor (Mr. Nathan Drake), and the faithful laborers in his employ, shall fulfil the promise of these first beginnings, you will have no cause to regret what you have done. I am persuaded, that you will find few items on the list of your annual expenditures, - be your terms of service longer or shorter, - upon which you will look back with greater satisfaction or with greater pride, - nor any item for which the whole people of Boston, in all time to come, will be ready to acknowledge themselves more deeply in your debt.

* Letter of Jonathan Phillips, 14 April, 1853.

But we have other and individual benefactors to be remembered in connection with this work. And, first of all, it becomes us to name with the highest distinction, and with the most grateful regard and respect, that eminent and excellent merchant and banker, whom, though long resident in London, we are always proud to recognize and to claim as a native son of Massachusetts, — JOSHUA BATES, — whose munificent donation of Fifty Thousand Dollars, with its wise and well-considered conditions, put an end to all further doubt that this institution would have an immediate, prosperous, and permanent existence.

Amid all the cares and riches and honors by which he is surrounded in the distinguished position which his integrity and enterprise have so worthily won for him in the metropolis of Old England, - he has never forgotten his humble beginnings, his early friends, or his native soil. Let him be assured, that the metropolis of New England does not forget him on this occasion, nor will ever fail to hold his name and character in fresh and


grateful remembrance. We send him our greetings this day from these firm foundations of an institution which owes much to his unprompted and unstinted generosity, and we waft the best wishes of a hundred thousand hearts across the Atlantic for his continued prosperity and welfare.

In fit connection with this central figure in the group of our benefactors, we next recall a name associated in successive generations with not a few of our most valued seminaries of education and of science, and now worthily worn by one born and bred and still residing among us,

one whose excellent words I have just quoted, and who is present with us at this moment, to receive our cordial and grateful acknowledgments, — JONATHAN PHILLIPS ; — may he long be spared to witness the results of his large and timely bounty !

And there are others with us here on this occasion, whose early and liberal gifts of money or of books cannot be forgotten.

I need not name a late Mayor of our city (Hon. John P. Bigelow), who so handsomely diverted the amount which had been raised for a well-merited memorial of his own faithful services, to the purpose of conferring a fresh benefit on those who had thus sought to honor him.

I need not name the distinguished and eloquent orator and statesman (Hon. Edward Everett), who was seen, about the same time, in fulfilment of a previous and cherished purpose, gathering up the accumulated treasures of his long public life, and laying them at the feet of those in whose behalf he had already so successfully and so brilliantly employed them.

Others, too, might be referred to, among the living, and some of them among the present, who have made large and valuable additions to our collection, or who have rendered services to our infant library, more valuable than any volumes; and more than one might be named, had they not forbidden me to name them, who, in the double capacity of commissioner and trustee, or in the threefold capacity of commissioner, trustee, and donor, have identified themselves with the whole' progress and prosperity of the institution.

Nor can I omit to allude to that ardent and enterprising foreigner (Mons. Vattemare), whose offerings were the earliest of

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