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for its full success. It requires greater conveniences, too, for consultation and co-operation with other Associations who are engaged in the same good cause. But I am persuaded, that we have not only got hold of the right clue to the difficult problem of relieving the Poor in a great metropolis like this, but that if anybody will look in at our Central Office, where I learn that an average of not less than fifty cases has been attended to daily, for some weeks past, he will be satisfied that a great work is in the course of being done, and of being well done, towards the solution of that perplexing and sometimes appalling problem.
But I have said enough, and more than enough, my friends, to fulfil the suggestion of the accomplished and consummate Orator, whose voice you are all impatient to hear, and I hasten to relieve you, not by introducing, - for he needs no introduction to any audience in this city, or in this Commonwealth, or anywhere on this wide-spread continent, — but, by simply announcing to you, the Honorable EDWARD EVERETT.
DEDICATION OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY.
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE DEDICATION OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY,
BOSTON, JANUARY 1, 1858.
It may, perhaps, have been anticipated, fellow-citizens, that in pronouncing the first formal word on an occasion like the present, — as it is my official privilege to do, – that in uttering the first articulate sentences which will have broken the silence of these secluded alcoves, and waked an echo along these vaulted ceilings, I should at once avail myself of the opportunity to give expression to some of those lofty and swelling sentiments which can hardly fail to be excited in every thoughtful and generous breast, by the most cursory consideration of the objects for which this building has been erected.
And, certainly, the opportunity is a most tempting one. Certainly, the scene before us is of a character to kindle emotions of more than common depth, and to inspire a strain of more than ordinary exultation.
Nor can I refrain from yielding to the impulses of the hour, so far at least as to bid you all welcome to this hall of good hope.
Welcome, fathers and mothers of our city: welcome, young ladies and children of the schools: welcome, lovers and patrons of literature and learning, of science and the arts : welcome, friends to good manners and good morals, and to those innocent recreations and ennobling pursuits by which alone vulgarity and vice can be supplanted: welcome, pastors and teachers of our churches and colleges : welcome, rulers and magistrates of our City, of our Commonwealth, and of our whole country: welcome, citizens and residents of Boston, one and all, to an edifice which is destined, we trust, to furnish a resort, in many an hour of leisure and in many an hour of study, not for yourselves alone, but for those who shall come after you through countless generations; and where shall constantly be spread, and constantly be served, without money and without price, an entertainment ever fresh, ever abundant, and ever worthy of intelligent and enlightened freemen.
But I may not forget, fellow-citizens, that the peculiar duty, devolving upon me at this moment, is rather that of submitting something in the nature of an official report than of attempting an occasional or holiday address.
I am sensible, too, that there are others on this platform, from whose lips the felicitations and exultations of the hour will fall more gracefully and more impressively than from my own,
and to whom, indeed, when the building shall once have been surrendered to the City, they will more appropriately belong.
I pray your indulgence, therefore, while I proceed, without further preamble, to a statement which is due to others as well as to myself, - which is demanded by my relations both to the City, and to my associates, and to all who have been employed on the work which we are here to inaugurate. And if, in the progress of that statement, or at its close, I should be found again indulging in a digression or an episode, not quite within the accustomed limits of a business communication, you will all pardon it, I am sure, to the emotions, which no citizen of Boston, or certainly no native son of Boston, under such circumstances and with such surroundings, would find it easy, or even possible, altogether to repress.
Mr. Mayor and gentlemen of the City Council:
On the twenty-seventh day of November, 1854, the Chief Magistrate of our city, for the time being, gave his official sanction and signature to a municipal ordinance, - “ For the establishment of a Board of Commissioners on the erection of a building for the Public Library of the City of Boston.”
On the 20th of December following, that Board was organized, and entered at once on the discharge of its duties.
On the 26th of January, 1855, a public notice was issued to the architects of Boston, inviting them to furnish designs and estimates for the building, agreeably to the requirements which had been carefully considered and agreed upon by the Commissioners.
On the 27th of April thereafter, - no less than four and twenty designs having in the mean time been received and examined, that of Mr. CHARLES K, KIRBY was selected, as entitled to the preference, and as the basis of all further proceedings, by the votes of a majority of the Board.
On the 15th of May, - Mr. Kirby's design having undergone such modifications as the Commissioners deemed desirable, sealed proposals were invited, by a public advertisement, for the brick, stone, and iron work, and for all the other materials and labor, necessary to complete the exterior of the proposed edifice.
On the fourteenth day of June, the Commissioners entered into a contract for constructing the entire framework of the building, with Mr. NATHAN DRAKE, an experienced mechanic of Boston, whose proposals were adjudged to be, upon the whole, the most favorable for the City.
On the seventeenth day of September, 1855, — it being the 225th anniversary of the Birthday of Boston, - the corner-stone of the structure was laid, with simple but solemn and appropriate ceremonies, in presence of the Municipal Authorities and of a great multitude of the people, by His Honor, JEROME V. C. SMITH, then Mayor of the city.
On the 28th of April, 1856, sealed proposals were invited by another public notice, for furnishing the materials, and performing the work, required for the interior construction and finish of the building, - agreeably to plans and specifications which had been carefully prepared by the architect and approved by the Board.
On the succeeding twenty-third day of July, contracts were signed by the Commissioners with Messrs. MORRISON & SHAW, carpenters; with Messrs. DENIO & ROBERTS, blacksmiths; with Messrs. WENTWORTH & Co., marble workers; with Messrs. PHILIP & THOMAS KELLEY, plaster and stucco workers; with Mr. LUCIUS NEWELL, painter and glazier; with Mr. ANDREW J. GAVETT, brass founder; and with Messrs. STRATER & BUCKLEY, plumbers, for furnishing the materials and performing the work, pertaining to their respective departments of mechanic art.
On the 20th of May, 1857, another contract was entered into with Messrs. MORRISON & SHAW, for preparing and setting up, agreeably to the admirable system of Dr. Shurtleff, all the shelving, which it was thought best to have arranged and set up at present, in both stories of the building. On the same day, a contract was made with Mr. WILLIAM SCHUTZ, for painting and decorating the walls and ceilings of the vestibule and principal apartments on the lower story; and on the 19th of June following, a similar contract was signed with the same artist for tinting and ornamenting this large Library Hall.
Several small contracts for incidental work, not important to be mentioned on this occasion, have been subsequently entered into by the Board.
And now, at length, Mr. Mayor and gentlemen, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord, 1858, — in the year of our city (anno urbis condito) 228, — in the year of the independence of our beloved country, 82, — your Commissioners have the happiness to announce, that these contracts have all been substantially fulfilled, and that the work committed to them has been accomplished; and they are here to exhibit the finished edifice to the authorities of the city, to deliver up the keys to His Honor the Mayor, and to ask for themselves, that, so soon as a few little matters of fixture or of furniture shall have been arranged, and so soon as their accounts shall have been duly audited and settled, they may receive an honorable discharge from the service in which they have so long been engaged.
It was at one time contemplated by the City Council, - as you are well aware, sir, — that this surrender of the building should be attended with a more stately ceremonial and a more sumptuous display than is witnessed here to-day; and it was confidently hoped by the Commissioners that every thing would be in readiness for that purpose on the seventeenth day of September last,
so that the same memorable municipal anniversary which had been so auspiciously associated with the commencement of the structure might witness also its final completion and dedication.
But unavoidable delays — unavoidable, certainly, so far as the Commissioners were concerned, and arising, in great part, from