Danvers (Mass.).

Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 online

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increasing reputation caused his removal to the principal shire town of
the county. "A careful, regular, and indefatigable student," his learn-
ing and logical powers gave him great weight with the court ; while a
uniform atrability, ready wit, unequalled tact, earnest manner, and
eloquent speech, all combined to win for him the favor of the jury
and the success of his cause. At Nisi Prius, few men with whom he
was called to compete equalled him, certainly none of his own age
and terms at the bar excelled him. In 1844, Mr. Ward was appointed
an associate Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. Striking as had
been his success as a counsellor and advocate, his success as a judge
was even more marked. Although fresh from those sharp forensic
encounters in which he had engaged with such warmth and manifest
pleasure, and which are supposed to develope habits of thought and
traits of mind not the most favorable for the proper discharge of the
judicial functions, and although he was taken away before he had
hardly more time than would seem to have been requisite to adjust his
robes of office, yet such had been his training, such were his natural
powers, his aptness and fitness, that he presented at once a model
example of judicial character and excellence, and made and left a
broad and shining mark. To quote the criticism of a high authority,
"Judge Ward, at the time of his death, was the youngest judge of
any court of record in Massachusetts, and had held a seat on the bench
for only the short term of four years ; and yet it is true of him, that
he had lived and served long enough to acquire a reputation which is
rarely attained for legal learning and skill, and to fui'nish a model of
judicial exactness and accuracy, of facility in the despatch of business,
and of courtesy and impartiality in his intercourse with counsel and
all parties in court, which has been acknowledged in terms of striking
commendation by the bars of all the counties. *****
As a counsellor and judge, he was remarkable for a quick and ready
perception of the points of a ca"se, of the proper application of princi-
ples and precedents, and of the bearing of evidence. His views were
conceived and expressed with a remarkable clearness ; and it was
never difficult for him to make palpable, alike to counsel and to juries,
the precise state of the law, and the material testimony, on which he
saw that a case must turn. In criminal cases he was eminently suc-
cessful in assuring the counsel, on both sides, that they should have
the full benefit of every rule of law, and that exact justice would be
dispensed in the mode of conducting the trial. *****
Judge Ward was compelled to terminate abruptly a term of the Munic-



136

ipal Court, (at Boston,) when he returned home to pass through his
last struggle with the excruciating disease which, for several years,
had threatened the early termination of his life. It serves to increase
our admiration of his judicial career, and especially of the cheerful
spirit which he always exhibited, to be thus reminded that the heavy
labors which devolved upon him were mostly performed while he was
in a state of bodily infirmity, an 1 often under the torture of the most
acute suffering." Such, sir, was the professional character of our
former neighbor and friend, whose loss is so much to be deplored.
Most of you remember what he was in other relations, how active and
useful a citizen, how upright and honorable a man, how amiable and
attractive in social life; if not, go ask of his brethren, who still cherish
with peculiar fondness the recollection alike of his public usefulness
and private virtues. I esteem it an especial privilege to have had the
opportunity, long desired, of recalling him in this public manner, and
of testifying my affectionate regards for the memory of one who was,
with more truth than the poet could say,

"My guide, philosopher and friend."

I have thus, Mr. President, in a humble way, in such a manner as
my poor judgment suggested, performed the task you assigned me.
I have not alluded to some names which perhaps should have been
mentioned ; I selected those which by common consent towered above
all. I can only add that there have been others of the legal profession
in our midst, from time to time, of great ability and worth, whose
services secui*ed the patronage, and whose virtues won the confidence
and commanded the respect of their fellow-citizens. Nor, sir, have I
time to dwell upon any of those general reflections which naturally
occur to the mind upon such a review as we have had. Certainly
here, too, as in everything that relates to our local history, there is
good cause for congratulation. Let us hope that the future will be as
honorable as the past. Let us, each and all, and those who come after
us, so live and act, that when another hundred years shall have passed
away, those who then celebrate this day and review the generations
which have gone, shall find in the retrospect equal cause for rejoicing
and pride.

The next sentiment was —

The Imitative and Fine Arts — These are appropriately represented here by
the presence of one of our native citizens, the recollections of whose childhood
and youth are ensraved on his memory. We feel that his fellow-citizens have
a right to some of the proof impressions.

To this, GEORGE G. SMITH, Esq., of Boston, responded :

I suppose, Mr. President, that, according to custom in such cases, I
must take this kind sentiment as calling upon me to speak, and this, of
course, I am quite willing to do, — strange if I were not, amid the
wealth of incentives which are showered upon me by the scene around
us. Unfortunately, however, I do not feel myself exactly qualified to
speak, except upon what relates to the order to which I belong. What
I have to say, therefore, will be of the Operative, and his relations to
this occasion and to society.



137

What is it, then, which has so built up the prosperity of our native
town ? What is the secret of her progress in so short a time from
what she was to what she is? It is, is it not, the industry, skill, and
perseverance of her mechanics ? her men of toil ? her hard-handed
and clear-headed aristocracy of labor ? the only aristocracy which I
trust will ever obtain, within her borders, either respect or influence.

Why, let us look, sir, at the Danvers of the early part of the present
century ; she then contained, I believe, something short of 3U00 in-
habitants ; and in the manufacture of leather, for instance, — then, as
now, her principal product, — there were, as I well remember, from
Frye's mill up the stream, first Fitch Poole's and Ward Poole's tan-
yards, then Squiers Shove's, then Edward Southwick's, and then Den-
ison Wallace's ; and these were all on that road. There was one in
the lane, I believe the oldest of all, good old Deacon Poor's, where I
have an indistinct recollection of having seen some of the large tubs
still remaining, which tradition had handed down as having been for
many years the good deacon's only vats. And there were two, I think^
in New Mills. As for any other branch of handicraft, excepting the
time-honored manufactories of Danvers china, on Gape lane and South-
wick's lane, there was really nothing at all, of any extent. To be sure,
good old Uncle Henry Buxton had formerly carried on his trade of
buckle-making, in a little shop situated, I think, between the last Bux-
ton house and Deacon Poor's ; but we never saw any of the products
of his ingenuity, for, poor man ! his occupation was gone in our day,
and had been since that memorable morning when George, Prince of
Wales, made his appearance in London streets with shoe strings :
then luckles became unfashionable, and, of course, buckle makers were
no longer wanted.

The little shop, however, with its closed windows showing that its
trade was dead, was an object of great interest to the young America
of that day, and I remember we used to look at it with a sort of awe-
struck curiosity, arising, I suppose, from our indefinite ideas of the
unknown operations formerly carried on there.

But these good, sleepy, Rip-Van-Winkle days, however, had their
pleasant side. It was a pleasant place, then, this old town of ours,
when there were green fields and shady walks where now are dusty
streets and busy factories. I shall never forget the old back way by
the pond, with its locust trees, loading the air in the season of blossoms
with their honey-llkc fragrance. And the pond ; not as now, but un-
shorn of .its fair proportions, its green banks sloping gently down to the-
clear water, and bordered with bright rushes and flowery water plants.
But these contrastings of what was with what is, missing the old famil-
iar faces as well as the old familiar places, are unprofitable. What is,,
must be. Let us be thankful, then, for what we have, — in this occa-
sion particularly, — and enjoy it, as God means it to be enjoyed.

To return to our subject. In contrast to what I have described, you
have now about forty tanneries in the South Parish and in New Mills,
with about .3000 vats, in which are tanned some L50,000 hides per
annum, producing annually leather to the amount of perhaps half a
million of dollars, and giving employment to hundreds of industrious
workmen,

18 r



138

The shoe business, too, has grown up entirely within the last twenty-
five years, and adds, perhaps, half a million yearly to the value of
your products. I say nothing of other handicrafts consequent on these,
nor of manufiictories, which would of course greatly swell the aggre-
gate amount and value of industrial results ; I wish merely to call your
attention to the enormous increase from, say 1804, when your popula-
tion was between two and three thousand, and the value of your pro-
ducts perhaps $100,000 at most, to 1852, when your population is
more than 8000, and the value of your products certainly two millions !

Now this immense increase in amount and value of the products of
industry you certainly owe to your mechanics ; they have made it all !
It may be said, with the aid of capital. True ; but who made the
capital ? How was it made ? Was it created by any mysterious
process aside from the labor of human hands ? Not at all ; capital is,
and must always be, as much the result of hand labor employed in
some jvaij, as the building of a house, or the construction of a machine.

The mechanic, then, or rather the operative, — the Farmer, the Me-
chanic, and the Artisan, — they are in some sense now, and are getting
to be more and more, I say, the preponderating and therefore the influ-
ential class. Let us take the facts then which prove this growing pre-
ponderance of the operative.

In our own country, by the census of 1810, — the only one which as
yet has classified the professions, — there were engaged in agriculture
and manufactures, more than ninety per cent, of the inhabitants ; in
England, by the census of the same year, something like eighty per
cent. ; in France, in 1817, by the estimate of Count Laborde, about
eighty-two per cent. ; and in the city of Glasgow, in 1831, more than
fifty per cent., exclusive, of course, of agriculturists. And judging
from what has formerly taken place, this preponderance of operatives
has increased rather than diminished.

Now these data would, on merely numerical grounds, settle the
question ; but there is another element in the influence of this class,
which is gradually bringing about changes so important, that the mind
grows dizzy when it contemplates their possible, nay their inevitable,
results. I mean that ever-increasing intelligence which is continually
bringing more and more upon an intellectual level the various classes
of society the world over ; but particularly in this country. Who can
estimate the changes which this simple consequence of human ad-
vancement, too much overlooked as it seems to me, is destined to make
in the world. We cannot foresee precisely ivhat they will be ; they
will be gradual, no doubt ; they may occupy ages, for aught we know,
for their full accomplishment : but we do know, we can foresee, that
when the day arrives in which the term " educated classes" shall have
lost its meaning, because all classes are educated ; when the operative
class has all needed knowledge within itself, requiring no aid from any
other ; then — who can doubt it ? — the whole face of society must be
changed. And, however it may square with our present ideas, sym-
pathies, or prejudices, the fact is nevertheless certain, that in the
world's future, — in some shape or other, — the operative must be its
king.

I beg you, Mr. President, to believe that I do not make these



139

remarks in any wild spirit of radicalism. I am, in the ordinary sense
of the word, no radical, that is, no destructionist. I see far too much
of the mischief which untimely theories have done to the cause of free-
dom in other lands, to broach them here. I believe, in fact, that true
progress can go on only under an enlightened conservatism. I believe
in God's providence ; that he ^'■governs this world with gracious de-
sign ;" and I recognize his hand as evidently in this, to my view,
inevitable consequence of the law of progress, as I do in everything else.

There is another principle which the operative will come more and
more to see ; it is this : that his position has been, throughout the ages,
precisely that to which his intelligence entitled him. This, I think,
history establishes beyond a doubt ; and he will naturally conclude,
therefore, that, as it has been in the past, so will it be in the future.
Suppose, for instance, that the rude serf or mechanic of the Middle
Ages, (to go no farther back,) had been entrusted with the power, or
enjoyed the consideration, which is the operative's privilege here, and
now. What could he have done with them, but sink himself still
deeper in the abyss of degradation and sensuality to which his igno-
rance then necessarily confined him. With advancing intelligence,
come advancing privileges and respect. Has it not always been so,
and will it not always be so ? And will not the operative, as he gains
knowledge, voluntarily decline to grasp a power, or a social position,
which he cannot wield nor enjoy, while he has the certainty that, in
proportion as he becomes able to wield and enjoy them, they will, —
and, by the law of Providence, naturally must, — fall into his hands ?
And I look therefore upon this consequence of advancement with en-
tire trust that all will be well. True progress permits no violent up-
rooting of existing institutions ; its march will be gradual, — tranquil.
Wiser and wiser will its directors grow, from age to age ; and its full
consummation will be benevolence and peace.

Now, Mr. President, I am aware that these opinions of mine, founded
as I verily believe they are upon sotnid principles, may, nevertheless,
be wrong. I am aware that, as thousands wiser than I am have done,
I may have overlooked some element in the calculation, which should
entirely reverse its conclusions. But, as the more I think on what I
have said, the more firmly persuaded am 1 of its truth, and, moreover,
as I see so much in the scene around me to confirm this persuasion,
1 must be permitted to hold fast the faith till I am fairly beaten out of it.

I have said that I see much in the scene around me to confirm these
conclusions ; and is it not so.? In what other country, under heaven,
could we look upon an assembly like this, convened under circum-
stances of such perfect social equality .? Point me out, if you can, the
aristocratic element of this celebration .? Look at our good Orator !
He belongs to one of the learned professions, you say. True, but his
family was not one of the " Robe," as they used to say in France, be-
fore the revolution. His good father, — a stalwart specimen he was, too,
of our legitimate aristocracy, — would have found himself sadly troubled
I know by any other robe than his good, old, homespun farmer's frock
and trowsers. And my old and respected friend the Poet of the day,
whose well-remembered voice has awakened in my soul so many long-
buried memories, he will not claim kindred, either, with any other
aristocracy than this, I know.



uo

And it is just so with all of us ; the scent of the clay, or the shoe-
maker's wax, or of the tan, or the blacksmith's forge, or the carpen-
ter's shavings, or some taint of the sort, sticks to us all ; and are we
ashamed of it ? Not a whit. We rejoice, do we not, that we come
of a stock which was not born, as used to be said of old, merely " to
consume the fruits of the earth." We and our fathers before us have
been, thank God, producers, and not consumers merely ; and " so mote
it be," henceforth and forever, amen.

And now, Mr. President, I cannot look upon this scene, redolent of
happiness as it is, and fraught with early recollections, with bright eyes
" raining influence," and gray heads rejoicing in the glances of love
around them, and in the sense of security and peace, without giving
one thought to those institutions to which, under God, we owe it all.
Our Country, Mr. President ; our whole Country ! with no North, nor
South, nor East, nor West ! O for a little old-fashioned patriotism,
when we hear her named ! O for that spirit which led the young sons
of Danvers, in the times which tried men's souls, to brave, at their
country's call, danger and death in her service ! for less of exclusive
devotion to mere party ! and for more trust in God, that, without the
least necessity for violence, or bitterness of feeling, or extreme meas-
ures of any kind, he will, in his own good time, silently and gradually
remove all there is of imperfection or wrong, either in our institutions
or national character !

Mr. President : I have detained you too long, I am aware, but must
throw myself upon the mercy of my fellow-townsmen, and my towns-
women also, and endeavor, in some measure, to excuse myself by the
remark, that had I not felt the strongest interest in our town, and her
concerns and her people, and the influences which have made them
what they are, I should not have made so long a speech. 1 will close
with the following sentiment :

The Son of Labor all over the JVorld — Who touches the earth and it becomes
food ; who smites upon the rude matter and it becomes gold and silver ; who
lays his hand upon the cotton and the wool, and the rock, and the timber, and
the clay, and they become clothing and shelter. May his usefulness in the
future be only measured l)y his intelligence, and his intelligence by the love
and respect of his fellow-men.

The PRESIDENT of the day being about to retire, called upon the
first Vice President to take the chair. Mr. ABBOTT having left the
table, W. L. WESTON, Esq , second Vice President, was called, and
upon taking the chair expressed his regret that, by the absence of the
first Vice President, the duties of presiding over the assembly had
devolved upon him. Although in assuming the slation he felt much
embarrassment on account of his inexperience in such duties, yet he
should rely with great confidence on the candor and indulgence of the
company to sustain him in his new position.

It having become known among the guests that a communication
had been received from George Peabody, Esq., of London, the read-
ing of it was called for. It was preceded by the following sentiment,
the announcement of which, and the response it elicited, exciting an
intense sensation. The sentiment was —



Ul

Ou7- Fellow-Citizen, George Peabodt, of London — Holdino; the highest
rank timong Nature's noblemen, and distinguished in the great centre of the
Commercial World, he has always done much for the credit and honor of his
country, and has remembered, with kindnes* and affection, the place of his
birth. Danvers may well feel a just pride in the successful career of such a
son.

JOHN W. PROCTOR, Esq., then rose, and, holding in his hand a
sealed packet, read the following letter : —

London, 26th May, 1852.

Gentlemen :

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, inviting
me to be present at the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary
of tlie separation of Danvers from Salem, on the 16th of June, or, if
not able to attend, to signify, by letter, my interest in the occasion.

I am very sorry that my engagements allow me to comply only with
the latter part of your request.

I should have the greatest pleasure in joining in your interesting
celebration there, if possible. The early associations of my life are
clustered around our ancient town. It was, as many of you know, in
a very humble house in the South Parish that I was horn, and from the
Common Schools of that Parish, such as they were in 1803 to 1807,
I obtained the limited education my parents' means could afford ; but
to the principles there inculcated in childhood and early youth, I owe
much of the foundation for such success as Heaven has been pleased
to grant me during a long business life. Though my manhood, before
coming to England, was spent in Baltimore, (which shares with my
native town in my kindest feelings,) I still cherish the recollections of
my earlier days, and anticipate, with much pleasure, a visit to the Old
Parish, that 1 may witness the great strides I am told you have been
making in wealth and improvements.

It is now nearly sixteen years since I left my native country, but I
can say with truth that absence has only deepened my interest in her
welfare. During this interval I have seen great changes in her wealth,
in her power, and in her position among nations. I have had the mor-
tification to witness the social standing of Americans in Europe very
seriously affected, and to feel that it was not entirely undeserved ; but,
thank Heaven, I have lived to see the cause nearly annihilated by the
energy, industry, and honesty of my countrymen, — thereby creating
between the people of the two great nations speaking the English
language, and governed by liberal and free institutions, a more cordial
and kind feeling than has existed at any other time. The great increase
of population and commerce of the United States, — the development
of the internal wealth of the country and enterprise of her people, have
done much to produce this happy change, and 1 can scarcely see
bounds to our possible future, if we preserve harmony among ourselves
and good faith to the rest of the world, and if we plant the unrivalled
New England institution of the Common School liberally among the
emigrants who are filling up the great valley of the Mississippi. That
this may be done, is, I am persuaded, no less your wish than mine.

I enclose a sentiment, which I ask may remain sealed till this letter



142

is read on the day of celebration, when it is to be opened according to
the direction on the envelope.

With great respect,

I iic^e the honor to be.

Your fellow-townsman,

GEORGE PEABODY.
To Messrs. John W. Proctor, Andrew Nichols and others.

The endorsement on the envelope was as follows : —

[The seal of this is not to be broken till the toasts are being pro-
posed by the chairman, at the dinner 16th June, at Danvers, in com-
memoration of the one hundredth year since its severance from Salem.
It contains a sentiment for the occasion from George Peabody, of
London.]

By George Peabody, of London :

Education — A debt due from present to future generations.

In acknowledgment of the payment of that debt by the generation
which preceded me in my native town of Danvers, and to aid in its
prompt future discharge, I give to the inhabitants of that town the sum
of Twenty Thousand Dollars, for the promotion of knowledge
and morality among them.

I beg to remark, that the subject of making a gift to my native town
has for some years occupied my mind, and I avail myself of your
present interesting festival to make the communication, in the hope
that it will add to the pleasures of the day.

I annex to the gift such conditions only as t deem necessary for its
preservation and the accomplishment of the purposes before named.
The conditions are, that the legal voters of the town, at a meeting to
be held at a convenient time after the 16th June, shall accept the gift,
and shall elect a committee of not less than twelve persons, to receive
and have charge of the same, for the purpose of establishing a Lyceum
for the delivery of lectures, upon such subjects as may be designated
by a committee of the town, free to all the inhabitants, under such
rules as said committee may from time to time enact ; and that a


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Online LibraryDanvers (Mass.)Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 → online text (page 13 of 22)