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They find themselves, at the opening of their seventh year, with a deficit of nearly a thousand dollars, the severity of the last winter having made a more than ordinary demand upon their treasury; and, while they are about to make a fresh appeal to the liberal patrons of the institution for the means of conducting it through another winter, they desire to obtain from the city the relief of a free office. Not less than a hundred and seventy persons, under the direction of this association, have voluntarily given their time to visiting the poor, and to the collection and distribution of the funds which have been expended, during the past year. They propose, with God's blessing, to persevere in the work as long as they shall be sustained by the community; and they feel that the sanction and patronage of the Municipal Authorities would be worthily bestowed upon an institution so wide and general in its operations.

But, while they urge this petition in their own behalf, they would gladly have their sister associations included in the same measure of bounty and relief; and would renew the expression of an earnest hope, that an edifice, dedicated and consecrated to the care of the destitute, and large enough to accommodate all who are engaged in so excellent a work, may at no distant day, by hire, purchase, or erection, or by the appropriation of some building already in the possession of the city, be added to the proud list of the public buildings of Boston. It need not be a costly or elegant edifice. Its object and occupation would give it a beauty far above any architectural embellishment; while its cost, whatever it might be, would be more than repaid in the economy which it would be the means of ultimately introducing into the administration of our whole charitable system.

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BOSTON PROVIDENT ASSOCIATION.

A SPEECH MADE AT THE MUSIC HALL IN BOSTON, DECEMBER 22, 1857.

It was no part of my original purpose, ladies and gentlemen, to detain you from the rich entertainment which awaits you this evening, by any remarks of my own. I am fully sensible that there is but one voice which can satisfy the expectations which have thronged this hall. But my distinguished friend who has so kindly consented to lend to the aid of the Poor, at this hour of their utmost need, the attraction of that matchless eloquence which has never been wanting to any good causehas intimated a desire that a few preliminary words should not be omitted, explanatory of the general character and objects of the Association in whose behalf he is about to address you. And you will all agree with me, I am sure, that no one is so well entitled as himself to prescribe the exact course of proceeding to be pursued by us all, on an occasion which will have owed all its brilliancy and all its success to his own powerful intervention. In accordance with that intimation, therefore, I willingly encounter the risk, I should rather say the certainty, of a contrast from which any one miglit well be pardoned for shrinking, while I endeavor to state, in the briefest and simplest manner, a few of the distinctive features of the Association over which I have the privilege to preside.

And, in the first place, let me say that it is an Association whose organization and objects contemplate nothing more limited or local than the whole city of Boston ; that its comprehensive scheme of charity recognizes 110 discrimination of age, sex, color, creed, or national origin, -embracing all the poor, young and old, male and female, native and foreign, Protestant and Catholic, who may be found within the sphere of our municipal jurisdiction, and merging every distinction of sect, party, or nationality in the single design of relieving want and suffering, wherever they are brought to light.

In the second place, it is an Association which aims at a thorough investigation and scrutiny of every individual application for aid; and which seeks, systematically, to arrest the contributions which are so often yielded to clamorous importunity, or wasted on profligate imposture, and to divert them to the succor of the really destitute and deserving.

In the third place, it is an Association which looks especially to the prevention and suppression of professional street begging, with all its pernicious and corrupting influences upon the young, who are so often employed on its errands of deception; and which proposes a mode in which the benevolent and charitable may employ their alms to the fullest extent which their impulses or their sense of obligation may dictate, without incurring the danger of encouraging, increasing, and prolonging the very wretchedness which it is their object to alleviate.

With these views, my friends, the whole city is divided into twelve districts, corresponding, I believe, precisely with the twelve Wards; and these districts are subdivided into nearly two hundred separate sections. For each of these sections a Visitor of the Poor is appointed; and in our little Directory which is familiar to not a few of you already, and which will grow more and more so to you all, I trust, with every succeeding year

there are the names and residences of no less than one hundred and seventy-four persons, of all professions, and both sexes, who are voluntarily and gratuitously enlisted in the visiting service of the Association. Many of them are around and behind me at this moment. They are not here to be the subject of recognition or compliment. Their own delightful consciousness of performing their part in the great mission of Christian charity is better than any acknowledgment that we can offer them. But I cannot omit the opportunity of thanking them, in the name of the Managers and in my own name, and, may I not add, in the name of every friend of the poor, assembled here this evening, for all that they have done and are doing in so noble a cause. It is not too much to say, that upon their fidelity and vigilance, upon their prudent discrimination and generous self-devotion, the entire success of the Association depends.

The simple design of the whole organization, of which an outline has thus been given, is, that every one who is called upon, at his door or in his counting-room or by the wayside, to relieve a poor person - instead of giving his dollar or his dime directly to the applicant, in utter ignorance of his true condition and character, or instead of turning his face wholly away from a case of what may prove to be real distress should give him a ticket to the visitor of the little district in which he resides, and send his money to a common treasury, upon which that visitor may draw at discretion.

Once in every month, at least, these visitors make a detailed report to the Board of Managers at the Central Office, stating the number of visits they have made, and the amount they have expended, together with any cases of aggravated distress or of hardened imposture which they may have discovered ; and a general registration is thus kept up, which may at all times be consulted by those who desire to ascertain either the merits and wants of individuals, or the operation and efficiency of the institution. And at this Central Office, too, our General Agent and his assistant may daily be found, diligently inquiring into all cases which are presented to them, and dispensing the little stores which are placed at their disposal, - a pair of shoes, it may be, or a coarse shawl, a cast-off garment, a comforter, or one of those nice blankets which were recently sent in by one of our gallant volunteer companies, --- for the relief of some real case of suffering.

The system which I have thus explained is not original, my friends, with us in Boston. It is the same which was recommended substantially in a well-remembered discourse of the celebrated Robert Hall, at Old Cambridge, in England, more than half a century ago. It is the same which was practically introduced into the city of Glasgow by the eloquent and excellent Chalmers, many years before his death. It is the same which has been in successful operation for more than ten years in the city of New York, and in the neighboring city of Brooklyn.

There are others, perhaps, better acquainted than myself with the practical workings of the system, during the earlier part of the six years which have elapsed since it was established in our own community. Among them I may name my valued friend, the Hon. Samuel A. Eliot, who presided over the Association during the two first years of its existence, and who, I am happy to say, is now again officially connected with its management. Among them I may name the reverend pastor of the Old South Church (Dr. Blagden), who succeeded Mr. Eliot in the chair, and whom we are happy to welcome this evening on his safe arrival from Europe. Among them I cannot fail to name Professor Huntington of Harvard University, who held early and prominent relation to our organization, as he had previously done to a similar organization in the southern wards of the city. Among them, I may name, too, Dr. William R. Lawrence, second to no one for the zeal and efficiency with which he served the Association as its General Agent, at the outset of its operations, and still one of its active visitors

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and Mr. Francis R. Woodward, who, though more immediately connected at this moment with an excellent kindred association, over which my worthy friend Deacon Grant so fitly and faithfully presides, was one of our earliest and most active originators and officers.

Nor should I be pardoned for forgetting on this occasion that there is at least one among the recent and lamented dead, the Rev. Dr. Peabody of King's Chapel, — who gave to the original establishment of this Association, and to its subsequent management, the best thoughts and efforts of his years of health, and who did not cease to commend it as I can myself bear witness - to the especial regard and support of his friends in his declining hours.

Such names as these, my friends, are vouchers to the excellence of our system, which, I am aware, need no indorsement. But for myself, too, I can honestly say, that after no nominal or sinecure service, for several years past, as its presiding officer, I can bring to it the unqualified testimony at once of my judgment and of my heart. I will not presume to assert that the operation of a machinery so extensive is absolutely perfect. A larger experience and a larger fund is unquestionably necessary

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