Danvers (Mass.).

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

. (page 14 of 22)
Online LibraryDanvers (Mass.)Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 → online text (page 14 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Library shall be obtained, which shall also be free to the inhabitants,
under the direction of the committee.

That a suitable building for the use of the Lyceum shall be erected,
at a cost, including the land, fixtures, furniture, &c., not exceeding
Seven Thousand dollars, and shall be located within one third of a mile
of the Presbyterian Meeting-House occupying the spot of that formerly
under the pastoral care of the Rev. Mr. Walker, in the South Parish of
Danvers.

That Ten Thousand dollars of this gift shall be invested by the town's
committee in undoubted securities as a permanent fund, and the inter-
est arising therefrom to be expended in support of the Lyceum.

In all other respects, I leave the disposition of the affairs of the
Lyceum to the inhabitants of Danvers, merely suggesting that it might
be advisable for them, by their own act, to exclude sectarian theology
and political discussions forever from the walls of the institution.



m

143

I will make one request of the committee, which is, if they see no
objection, and my venerable friend Capt. Sylvester Proctor should be
living, that he be selected to lay the corner stone of the Lyceum
Building. Respectfully yours,

GEORGE PEABODY.

After the announcement of the donation by Mr. Peabody, Me.
Proctor remarked substantially as follows : —

Mr. Chairman —

1 scarcely know which to admire most, the liieraJify of the gift,
or the modesty of the giver. A princely donation like this, for a pur-
pose like this, to a place like this, is no ordinary occurrence. We
hear of the donations of Girard, of Smithson, of Buzzy, and of others,
in amounts larger than this ; but where is there one, all things consid-
ered, that will begin to compare with this ? Look at the sentiment
accompanying it : " Education — A debt due from present to future
generations." What more simple ? Still, what could be more expres-
sive .'' Look also at the recognition, by Mr. Peabody, of the Village
School, under the shadow of the steeple of the old Church, where he,
and I, and many others present, were first taught to lisp their A, B, C,
and see how readily he admits, it was there "he imbibed the princi-
ples which have been the foundation of the success, which Heaven has
been pleased to grant him, during a long business life." Can there be
a higher eulogy than this, upon our New England system of Free
Schools .?

When a boy, sir, I knew Mr. Peabody Avell. Our ages were such
that we went to the same school, and developed our physical energies
on the. same play-grounds. From the first, he was manly and honora-
ble, as he ever since has been. Nothing small or mean about George
Peabody. If anything wrong was done, he was the last to be sus-
pected of doing it. I say this, sir, for the information of those of my
young friends who seem to think there is something manly in being
forward to do mischief; in being most active in overturning; outbuild-
ings, or breaking the windows of retired gentlemen, or disturbing the
repose of discreet young ladies. They mistake, entirely, who indulge
any such ideas. Peabody never did any such things. While I knew
him, he was a civil, well-behaved, trustworthy young man, — and now,
my young friends, you see what he has ripened into ; — the first among
the foremost of Americans in London ; a nobleman by nature, of rank
second to none other.

It has been my good fortune, sir, to have repeated communications
from Mr. Peabody since he became a man. As early as 1835, when
he resided at Baltimore, the citizens of South Danvers undertook to
erect a monument to the memory of those of our fellow-townsmen who
were killed at Lexington, on the 19th of April, 1775. When we had
raised by subscription $700, and ascertained that the structure designed
would cost $1000, I advised him of the facts, and received from him a
prompt reply, saying that " he was happy to learn that his fellow-
townsmen of Danvers were about to do, what had been too long
neglected, and that my draft on him, at sight, for whatever might be



IM

needed to complete the design, should be duly honored." The work
was completed, and the draft was paid.

Again, sir, when the Church of the South Society, a new structure,
that occu])ied the site of the one that he describes as the " Presbyterian
Meeting- House, where the Rev. Mr. Walker formerly was pastor,"
was destroyed by fire, the Society, with much exertion, having just
about completed the same, my friend on my right* joined me in a note
to Mr. Peabody, stating the facts, — to which he replied, with an appro-
priate expression of his sympathies with the occasion, accompanied by
a bill of exchange (or Jijty pounds sterling, for the use of the Society,

Such, sir, has been my knowledge and experience of George Pea-
body, of London. You may well suppose, sir, when I received from
him a private note, accompanying the envelope that contained the
donation, with a request that it should not be opened until the company
were seated at dinner, because it contained " a sentiment of interest to
the people of Danvers," that I imagined it to be a rich sentiment. I
did indeed, sir, so imagine. But 1 frankly admit, it exceeds my high-
est imagination.

And, sir, what was peculiarly gratifying to me, the same note, that
gave me this information, also authorized me to subscribe in his behalf
the sum of ffty dollars, towards the erection of an appropriate monu-
ment at the grave of our late fellow-townsman, the venerable Gen.
Gideon Foster, who died at the age of 96, with a character for indus-
try, honor, and integrity, rarely equalled.

Such, sir, are a few of the acts of this ?nodel of a man, that Danvers

feels proud to call her own. May those, who are still of Danvers,

show themselves to be worthy of his bounty. May it be received and

managed in a manner most gratifying to the giter. May no local

jealousies, or meaner passions, be sufTered to enter here. May those

of Danvers, in ''Jifty-Lico, show themselves to be worthy their sires of

'Seventy-Six.

<

P. R. SOUTHWICIv, Esq., here rose and spoke as follows :

Mr. President : — I rise, sjr, to pass a slight tribute of respect to that
distinguished gentleman whose' interesting letter has just been read to
us ; a gentleman with whom so many of us were familiar in our early
years, — whose enterprise and liberality, whose private virtue and moral
worth, excite the deepest regard and admiration, not only in his own
country but in Europe.

I hope, sir, that you or some other gentleman more familiar with
the history of George Peabody, Esq., will favor us with the details of
his progress from his boyhood to the high position which he now en-
joys, the highest position in the mercantile world which any living Amer-
ican has ever yet reached. I will detain you only by alluding to those
traits in that gentleman's character which afforded me and my friends
so much pleasure before he left us, and during his residence in Balti-
more, and which he carried with him and still retains on the other side
of the Atlantic. I will only say of Mr. Peabody's early advantages in

■* Hon. Robert S. Daniels.



145

life, that he owes nothing to the influence of birth or fortune. Though
of highly respectable parentage, he claims no alliance to the aristocracy
of wealth or power adventitiously bestowed. From his youth, his
mind was imbued with sound principles. Early convinced of the value
of time, he rightly estimated the importance of improving the opportu-
nities and advantages of education with which he was favored, and we
find him early distinguished by those habits of industry and by that
purity of moral conduct, which have ever since been preeminent in his
character. He has been promoted entirely by his own exertions and
merits. At home and abroad, in his youth and in his manhood, indus-
try, decision and perseverance characterize every stage of his life.

I have already said Mr. Peabody enjoys the highest reputation as a
merchant. He exhibits the most perfect example of assiduity, sagacity
and foresight in his business transactions. Perfectly familiar with the
currency of every part of the world, thoroughly acquainted with the
resources, the financial condition, and the banking systems of different
nations, enjoying the entire confidence of corporations and individuals,
his mercantile transactions are confined by no sectional limits, and he
extends his operations with perfect freedom and safety in every direc-
tion. His judgment is clear, deliberate, and peculiarly discriminating.
He regards " pimctuality as the soul of business," and never violates
the most trivial engagements. His intercourse in his business connec-
tion with others is always attended with frankness and candor, and
we rarely if ever meet with a merchant of eminence so entirely undis-
turbed by the jealousy or envy of others. He never exhibits in his
business transactions any of those little tricks and concealments which
indicate a weak or a dishonorable mind. He holds in abhorrence that
meanness of spirit, which, for a little apparent profit, would insinuate
evil of another, or even consent, by silence, to a mistaken estimate of
his worth. He has none of that jealousy which fears a rival in every
person pursuing the same end, nor of that arrogant self-esteem which
owns no fallibility of judgment. In all his intercourse with his mer-
cantile brethren he is gentlemanly and respectful, and secures their
esteem not less by his acknowledged abilities than by his modesty and
courtesy. The free expression of opinion uprightly formed, he believes
to be the right and duty of an honest man, and to the exercise of which,
by others, he is unusually tolerant. His opinion is of the highest au-
thority, but it is given with so much modesty that he never gives
offence even where there might be a difference in judgment. There is
nothing haughty or arrogant in his character, and the feelings of respect
which his acquaintance excites arise from his dignified deportment
combined with native simplicity of manners.

Mr. Peabody's moral sensibilities are exalted and refined ; but if any
one quality of his heart prevails that acts as a presiding divinity over
the man, it is his benevolence. The citizens of his native town, as
well as in every community in which he has lived, will never forget or
cease to feel the influence of his generous acts. The various acts of
his munificence, both public and private, I will not detail to you here.
They are already a by-word upoa your lips. Although the hand of
time may obliterate the pages upon which the gifts of our valued friend
19 s



146

are recorded, we trust that his memory and the objects of his generous
care will be cherished till time shall be no more.

The proverbial benevolence of Mr. Peabody prompts him to seek
out rather than to shun adversity, and when it is discovered he never
" passes by on the other side." His heart is alive to all the tender and
generous sensibilities of our nature, throwing the drapery of kindness
over the chamber of affliction, and lighting up, by the sunshine of his
benevolence, the sky overcast by distress and adversity. In public
improvements, in the various efforts for moral elevation and intellectual
advancement, or for advancing the interest and comforts of all around
him, the heart and hand of George Peabody are readily enlisted. He
is the ardent and active friend of social order, and of the substantial
institutions of society. To the presence of his benevolent affections
he is indebted for that graceful and easy politeness, that unassuming
suavity of temper, which are so conspicuous in his intercourse with'
others, and which so justly and eminently entitle him to our gratitude,
and secure for him unrivalled esteem, affection and respect. On the
character of such a man as George Peabody we can dwell only with
delight and satisfaction. It has no shades ; no dark spot, which his
friends would desire to conceal or remove ; no eccentricity to detract
from its merit. His well-balanced mind leads him to right views upon
every subject. His acute moral sense has always kept him in the path
of rectitude. He possesses honesty that cannot be corrupted, and'in-
tegrity that cannot be shaken by adversity. His inflexible moral prin-
ciples are written upon his countenance, upon every word that falls
from his lips, and upon every action of his life.

Such, Mr. President, is George Peabody. The town of Danvers
ought justly to be proud of that favorite son whose life and character,
whose urbanity of manners, and whose mercantile experience, are
producing a beneficial influence upon the mercantile character, of
Great Britain that is entirely beyond a parallel. May his example
stimulate all our young men who are pressing forward in the path of
high and honorable distinction.

The following sentiment was then given :

Our Fellow Townsman, Sylvester Proctor, Esq. — Venerable for his years and
'honored for his virtues. It is a proud distinction for him to sit in the seat at
our festival designed for George Peabody, of London.

It should be remarked that Mr. Peabody requested that the seat he
would have himself occupied at the table, if he had been present,
should be assigned to his venerable friend, Capt. Proctor. It was in his
apothecary shop that Mr. Peabody learned the first rudiments of trade,
and where he passed several years of his boyhood before entering upon
the larger sphere of operations, which has given him such a name in
the mercantile world. Capt. Proctor was accordingly so seated.

The next sentiment was —

TTic Historical Department of the Essex Institute — The rich and safe depos-
itory of incidents in our local history, — a richer depositpry is found in the
-experience and reminiscences of its presiding head.



147

JUDGE WHITE, President of the Institute, being called upon,
responded substantially as follows : —

Mr. President : — At this late hour it will not be expected that I
should attempt making a speech. I can do little more than to express
my congratulations and my thanks, which I would most heartily do.

Yes, friends and fellow-citizens of Danvers, with my whole heart,
full and overflowing, I congratulate you upon the complete success of
your great celebration, — a celebration which will form an important
era in your annals, and to which the Essex Institute will be indebted
for some of its richest incidents of local history. Your honorable
efforts to commemorate the virtues and achievements of the founders
and fathers of Danvers, have been crowned with all the success you
could have desired. Your extended procession this morning was con-
ducted in admirable order, and presented a brilliant and beautiful
pageantry to the eye, and, what is more, a most touching spectacle to
the heart of every beholder. Its moral associations imparted a dignity
to it. The costumes of the fathers brought up at once their self-deny-
ing virtues, their holy lives, and brave deeds ; and the long array of
little children, — those countless " buds of promise," — carried us into
the uncertain future, with mingled hopes and fears, impressing upon
us the importance of training them to be worthy of their ancestry.
Your interesting and appropriate services in the church left us nothing
to regret but the want of time to listen to the muse of the day. And
here, at these widespread festive boards, eloquence, poetry and song,
wit, humor and joyful feeling have conspired to honor both you and
your fathers, and to delight us all.

But especially, and most of all, would I congratulate you, my friends,
upon the richest incident of the day, — the noble benefaction which has
just been announced, — truly a noble close to a noble celebration. For-
ever honored be the name of George Peabody, your distinguished
fellow-townsman of London, for his bountiful gift, and its wise appro-
priation. Well does he deserve the bursts of grateful enthusiasm
which you have so spontaneously given him, and which your children
will catch from you. This gift, so appropriated, is in the very spirit
of your celebration, — in the very spirit of the fathers whose memory
you venerate. The expressed sentiment, accompanying the gift, con-
secrates it the more entirely, and will the more endear the name of the •
high-minded donor. That " education is a debt due from the present
to future generations," was a fundamental principle with our sagacious
forefathers, manifested in all their conduct. To the steady operation
of this principle are we chiefly indebted for our choicest blessings.
If we value these blessings, let us never forget the means of perpetuat-
ing them. George Peabody is doubly your benefactor, by reminding
you of your high obligations, and, at the same time, enlarging your
ability to fulfil them.

I fully assent to all that has been so eloquently said here in praise of
your privileges, your virtues, and your blessings. No people on this
earth, I believe, are more truly blest than the people of Danvers, and,
I may add, of all the towns within the original limits of Salem. How
shall we account for this great and happy distinction in their lot ? Very



148

readily. No people ever had better or wiser ancestors. The founders
of Salem, who were the founders of Danvers, were selected from the
best men of their day and generation. They were real men of God,
and the seed they planted here was the true seed of God. It took deep
root, and has borne fruit continually, and will bear it so long as we
appreciate its value, and strive to preserve it in the spirit of the original
planters. You do well to honor their memory, and to cherish their
spirit. This you owe to them, to yourselves, to your children, and
to your children's children. All praise is due to you for the generous
zeal and public spirit which you have manifested in this splendid, this
heartfelt celebration. I thank you most cordially for the privilege of
enjoying it with you. And I congratulate you upon the proud satisfac-
tion with which you will look back upon this day, and forward to the
approbation of posterity.

I have no time to dwell upon the virtues of our venerated forefathers,
or even to name them. Nor is this necessary. They are known to
you all. John Endicott, their intrepid leader, — the noble pioneer gov-
ernor, whose fame will brighten with the flight of time, — is identified
with the people of Danvers. He was admirably qualified, by his moral,
intellectual, and physical energies, for the grand enterprise to which
he was destined by Providence. And he, with his faithful compeers,
will be remembered with increasing enthusiasm of gratitude for centu-
ries to come.

I beg leave again to thank you, Mr. President, and the Committee
of Arrangements, for the high gratification I have enjoyed to-day, and
to conclude with the following sentiment, which is my fei'vent prayer :

The onward prosperity of Danvers — May the next centennial celebration be
enjoyed by a people as richly blest as the present, and as justly proud of their
ancestors.

A sentiment, complimentary to the President of the Day, having
been ofl'ercd, Hon. ROBERT S. DANIELS responded :—

Mr. President : — I have listened with deep interest to the remarks
of gentlemen who have addressed this assembly. They have done
full and ample justice to all those distinguished citizens of Danvers
who took part in the stirring events of the Revolution, and in the early
part of the century, the completion of which we are now celebrating.
Those events, and the character of our townsmen who participated in
them, are a source of pride and pleasure to us all. But there are men
of more recent date, — men of the present generation, who have been
of us, and with us, and some of them now living, whose influence and
standing have been of the most elevated and favorable character ; many
of them I have had the pleasure to know, and have often been called
to act with, in many transactions relative to our municipal and other
matters. And, sir, may I be permitted to allude to some two or three
of them }

And first I will say of the President of the Day what I would not
say had he not retired from his place and from this assembly, that
he has discharged the duties assigned him on this occasion in a man-
ner so able and interesting and so characteristic of himself, as to ex-



149

cite the admiration and entire approbation of all our friends from
abroad, and to elevate himself still liigher, if possible, in the esteem of
his fellow townsmen. His dignity, impartiality, and ready wit have
added much to the pleasures of the day. The deep interest which he
has manifested in this celebration has endeared him to all his associates
in the preparatory arrangements. And we all hope that he may live
long among us, and continue his wise counsels and bright example in
the promotion of religion and vii'tue, and all those traits of character
which are calculated to adorn the possessor, and increase the happiness
of the human race.

And there is one who was recently with us, but is now gone to par-
ticipate, as I trust, in higher and purer scenes, — whom we all knew
and esteemed, — who was cut down in the midst of his usefulness, and
at a time when many of his fellow-citizens were looking forward to
his promotion to the highest honors of the State. You must be aware
that I allude to the Hon. Daniel P. King. Of a character so pure that
the breath of calumny, if ever hurled at him, must have fallen harm-
less at his feet ; of a life so uncontaminated with the evils and tempta-
tions with which he had been surrounded duinng his public life that he
secured the esteem and confidence of all his associates, he was a wor-
thy example for the young and ambitious to follow. He served his
countr}' and his fellow-citizens faithfully and honorably, and he died
regretted and beloved by all who knew him.

And there is one more of our native citizens to whom, under the
circumstances of the occasion, I feel at liberty to allude, and of whom
my friend* near me has spoken so justly and truly, and that is George
Peabody, Esq., of London ; and it was my fortune to have known him,
and have associated with him in some measure, before he left his na-
tive town — not so much, however, as my brother David, who, I
believe, was one of his most intimate friends. I recollect George
Peabody as an active, intelligent young man, of dignified deport-
ment, tall and commanding in person, — and I ask what has made
him what he is .'' a resident of London, of immense wealth, highly
respected and esteemed, throughout the world, for his high sense of
honor, his unbending integrity, his public spirit, his humanity, his gen-
erosity, and his elevated standing among the merchant princes of the
old and new world. There is no one here to-day (and there are but
few who have known how he has passed along from our common
district schools to his present elevated position) but that would say hiB
character, all the way through life, must have been distinguished for
industry, for integrity, for virtue, for honor, and all those characteristics
which command the respect and esteem of all persons, of all ages.
These are all necessary to a successful business career. Think of
these things, young men ! You probably cannot all be George Pea-
bodys, but you may attain to a desirable and respectable standing in
the community, — and some of you, if you will but adhere to the rules
of life, which must have governed him, may obtain wealth and an
honorable distingtion among your fellow-citizens, and a peaceful and
happy old age, filled with a glorious hope of a blessed immortality.
What town can point to nobler and higher examples, as incentives to

* Mr. Proctor.



150

stimulate our young men to a virtuous and correct deportment, than
Danvers, when she points to Daniel P. King and George Peabody.
May the next centennial celebration find many of your names enrolled
as high in the estimation of those who may meet on that occasion as
are those of Peabody and King at this time. I beseech you keep them
constantly in mind. It is an high aim, — but not beyond your reach.

The President then offered the following sentiment :

The Secretary of the Commonwealth — Known at home as the earnest friend
of improvement and progress, and in other countries as the ardent advocate of
peace and good will among the nations.

To this sentiment Hon. AMASA WALKER responded as follows :

Mr. President : — In making my cicknowledgments for the flattering
sentiments you have just announced, allow me to say that I accepted


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryDanvers (Mass.)Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 → online text (page 14 of 22)