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

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of Maryland and Virginia, and in the most inclement season of the
year. The burden of the extensive operations of the house rested
principally on him ; and, from his earliest youth, the cares and per-
plexities, the struggles and disappointments, which usually advance but
with mature manhood, had been drawing forth and perfecting those
peculiar traits of character, of which his childhood gave promise, and
for which, as a man, he has been so highly distinguished.

And here, might we invade the sanctuary of his early home, and
the circle of his immediate connections, we could light around the
youthful possessor of a few hundreds of dollars, — the avails of the most
severe and untiring efforts, — a brighter halo, than his elegant hospitali-
ties, his munificent donations, or his liberal public charities, now shed
over the rich London Banker.

We will venture to state, in general terms, that, before he was twenty
years old, he had shared his limited means with his widowed mother
and orphan brothers and sisters, and, at the age of twenty-four, he
voluntarily charged himself with their entire support ; educating the
latter, and fulfilling to them the part of the most indulgent parent.
For their sakes, he was willing to forego the atti-active but expensive
pleasures, which a city residence continually presented him, and cheer-
fully practised any self-denial, that he might bring them forward to
respectability and happiness.

His first voyage to Europe was made in November, 1827, for the
purchase of goods ; the firm having for some time previous imported
their own supplies. During the next ten years, he crossed the Atlantic
several times, and was entrusted with important financial negotiations,
for the government of his adopted state. He embarked again for
England, February 1, 1837, and has not since been in his native
country.

In July, 1843, he retired from the " firm of Peabody, Riggs & Co.,
New York and Baltimore," and established himself in London, where
he has since continued, in a very extensive commercial and banking
business.

It has been asked, " What is the secret of his success .?" We answer,
(in the language of one most conversant with his business life,) " He
has entered into no giant speculations, nor, in general, have his gains
been disproportionate ; but he has realized large profits from his legiti-
mate and extensive commercial pursuits, and from investments in
various stocks of the United States, when generally discredited by the
public ; his entire confidence in the integrity of the defaulting states,
and in the ultimate payment of their debts, never deserting him in the
gloomiest period of their history."

Having decided on a certain course, he has always been remarkable
for the power of bending all his energies of mind and of body, to the one
object of pursuit. It was thus, when, at the age of sixteen, he entered
on his chosen profession. He then laid down for himself certain rules,
involving the principles of justice, integrity, good faith and punctuality,
which he considered, not only as morally binding on himself, but, as
due to his fellow-men, and indispensable to his reputation as an hon-
orable merchant."



197

A strict and unwavering adherence to these principles in every ex-
tremity, and the blessing of Providence on a course of patient, severe,
unremitting and persevering industry, with habits of economy as regards
himself, and of uncalculating liberality towards all, who have needed
his assistance, constitute, we believe, the great secret^ by which he has
attained to the pecuniary and social position, which he now occupies.

His habits of punctuality have been proverbial. He recently stated
to an intimate friend, that in all his business life, he had never failed to
meet a pecuniary engagement.

Far seeing in matters relating to his peculiar calling, of long expe-
rience, and of acute observation, he has been able to judge correctly
of causes and results, and, generally, to foresee alarming crises in
season to prepare for them. In August, 1836, in conversation with the
friend above alluded to, he remarked, " I am confident, that the rage
for speculation, which has characterized the last two or three years,
must produce disastrous results ; accordingly, I have written to my
partners to keep everything snug, and, without reference to new sales
or new profits, to get in outstanding debts, and be prepared for the
emergency."

How far his predictions were well founded, the dreadful panic of
1837 soon proved. The consequence of this caution was, that he
passed through that fiery ordeal unscathed, and had the satisfaction to
aid many others to do the same.

His exertions, however, have not always been crowned with equal
success. In common with other commercial houses, he has sustained
many severe losses, some of them doubly aggravating, being the result
of treachery or ingratitude in those, in whom he had confided, or whom
he had particularly obliged.

From these losses, (says one,) although greatly sensitive to the first
shock, he has arisen with an unprecedented elasticity of resolution,
and has redoubled his efforts, until every deficiency has been made up.

In the failure of American credit, he was deeply interested person-
ally, and, with other Americans abroad, shared the mortification which
was felt on account of that disastrous event. His position as an
American and a merchant, in the metropolis of Great Britain, was at
this period, a most trying one ; but, in the darkest hour of his country's
adversity, he stood up manfully for her defence. His letters on " Re-
pudiation," and his efforts to sustain, or to restore American credit
abroad, constitute the brightest page in his history. For these efforts,
he is justly entitled to the deepest gratitude of his countrymen, espe-
cially those of his adopted state. Maryland has acknowledged her
obligations to him in a public and graceful manner, as honorable to
herself, as it must be grateful to the feelings of him, who felt so keenly
for her pecuniary credit, and did so much to protect it.

The business relations of Mr. Peabody are, at the present time, very
extensive and complicated. He attends personally to all its most im-
portant transactions, and to many of its details. We have been in-
formed, that he devotes, on an average, fourteen hours out of every
twenty-four to business.

With all these demands upon his time, he is always ready with a
warm greeting to his friends from this side of the Atlantic, and, by the



198

public and social assemblies of his countrymen, with invited British
residents of distinction, he has done much to promote a kindly feeling
between the two countries.



The following extracts, from an account published in London, of
the proceedings at the Parting Dinner given by Mr. Peabody, will be
found interesting to his townsmen : —

On the 27th of October, 1851, Mr. George Peabody, of London,
gave a parting dinner, at the London Coffee House, to the American
gentlemen connected with the Exhibition. The guests consisted of
the Americans known to be in London, and also of many English
gentlemen.

The hall was appropriately and beautifully decorated, under the
direction of Mr. Stevens and Mr. Somerby. Behind the chair, was
placed Hayter's full length portrait of Her Majesty ; on one side of
which was Stuart's Washington, and on the other. Patten's portrait
of H. R. H. Prince Albert, each the size of life. The national
ensigns of Great Britain and the United States, appropriately united
by a wreath of laurel, were draped about these paintings ; and pen-
nants, kindly furnished by the Admiralty for the occasion, completed
the effect.

The chair was taken by Mr. Peabody, at 7 o'clock. Mr. Davis
officiated as first Vice Chairman ; and the side tables were presided
over by Mr. Stevens and Col. Lawrence, respectively, as second and
third Vice Chairmen.

The elegant and sumptuous dinner fully sustained the high reputation
of Mr. Lovegrove's house.

After the cloth was removed and grace said, Mr. Harker, the toast
master, announced the Loving Cup* in the following words : —

*' The Right Honorable Earl of Granville, His Excellency the
American Minister, His Excellency Sir Henry Lytton Bulwcr, The
Hon. Robert Walker, The Governor of the Bank of England, Sir
Joseph Paxton, Sir Charles Fox, and Gentlemen all, — Mr. Peabody
drinks to you in a loving cup and bids you all a hearty welcome !"

* The Loving Cup, which went round the tables, was one whick Mr. Pea-
body had just received from a friend in America. Its form may be seen in
the wood cut annexed. It is made of oak, from the homestead of Mr. Pea-
body's ancestors, at Danvers, near Salem, Massachusetts. It is richly inlaid
with silver, and bears the Family arms and the following inscription: "Francis
Peabody, of Salem, to George Peabody, of London. 1851."

[By the kindness of Col. Francis Peabody, of Salem, the Committee are
enabled, at their solicitation, to obtain a representation of a massive Silver
Loving Cup, which he received from Mr. Peabody in 1850, as a family as well
as international memorial. It is highly wrought, having embossed figures in alto
relievo on one side, and on the other, the inscription, "George Peabody, of
London, to Francis Peabody, of Salem. 1850."]



199

The loving cup was then passed round in the usual manner, and due
honor done to this ancient custom.

The dessert having been served, Mr. Peabody rose and announced
successively the three following toasts, each being prefaced by a neat
and appropriate speech :-—

" The Queen, — God bless her V

"The President of the United States, — God bless him !"

" The health of Hia Koyal Highness Prince Albert, Albert
Prince of Wales, and the rest of the Royal Family."

These toasts were received with the greatest enthusiasm, and with
the customary honors, the band playing God Save the Queen and Hail
Columbia.

Appropriate and excellent speeches were made by Mr. F. P. Corbi\,
of Virginia, Mr. Abbott Lawrence, Earl Granville, Mr. Robert J.
Walker, Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer, Mr. Davis, Mr. Riddle, and Mr.
Stansbury.

Mr. Bates, of the house of Baring & Brothers, then toasted —

" Mr. Thomas Hankey, Jr., the Governor of the Bank of England."

The Governor, on rising to reply, was loudly cheered, and concluded
his speech as follows : —

Allusion has been made to rival feelings, and may 1 not give a
strong proof that none such exist in this city, excepting in that generous
rivalry, which is the truest stimulus to exertion, when I remind you
that the Gentleman who has done me the honor to propose my health,
and who, I am sure, will allow me to call him my friend, is an Ameri-
can, though standing at the head of one of the largest and most widely
known English firms .'' The house of Barings is known not only in
Europe and America, but in every part of the globe ; and Mr. Bates,
the present acting head of that well known and respected house, is, as
I have before observed, an American. He alluded to my connection
with America, a connection which I ever regard with feelings of the
greatest satisfaction ; for I have been thereby thrown frequently into
communication with Americans, and I have never received from them
anything but friendship and kindness.

I have twice visited, and travelled in, the United States. On the
last occasion, in 1834, I met a gentleman on bogird the sailing packet
with whom I made acquaintance, and whose acquaintance I have kept
to this day ; that gentleman was Mr. Peabody, who has been kind
enough to invite me to witness his reception of his countrymen in this
truly hospitable manner. I am proud to consider him as a colleague
and brother merchant of London : and I am not the less proud of it
when I hear from the lips of so many of his own countrymen, as I
have done on this day, that they consider his high and unimpeachable
character, his abilities, his integrity and his industry, as great an orna-
ment to their country, as we are glad to consider him to ours. Long
may he enjoy the fruits of his well earned independence, and long
may he continue equally respected on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Governor sat down amid prolonged cheering.

Lord Granville then rose again, and stated that he had obtained
permission to say a few words more, and that he should make the
opportunity available for proposing a toast, the propriety of which all



200

would recognize, and which he was assured would be welcomed with
unequalled enthusiasm. His Lordship concluded a very truthful and
graceful tribute to Mr. Peabouy, by alluding to the prominent and
distinguished part which that gentleman had taken in advancing the
interests of the Exhibition, and to the still more prominent position
which he had achieved for himself by his unwearied efforts to promote
the happiness of Americans in this country, and to foster a kind and
brotherly feeling between Englishmen and Americans. His Lordship
also alluded particularly to the regret which he had experienced at
having been unable to attend the supcrh fete given by Mr. Peabody on
the last anniversary of American Independence, and characterized that
fete as marking an auspicious epoch in the history of international
feeling as between England and America. In conclusion, he proposed
" The health of Mr. Peabody."

After the prolonged and reiterated cheering with which this senti-
ment was received had subsided, Mr. Peabody rose and said :

My Lord and Gentlemen, — I may most sincerely assure you, that
my feeling, at the present moment, is one of profound humility.
Gratifying as is this spontaneous expression of your approbation and
regard, and grateful as I am to the noble Lord, and to you all, for your
undeserved kindness, I feel sensible of my entire inability to convey to
you, in suitable language, the acknowledgments which I would wish to
make ; and I feel this humility and my inability the more strongly,
after listening to the eloquent speeches which have been made this
evening.

Gentlemen, — I have lived a great many years in this country without
weakening my attachment to my own land, but at the same time too
long not to respect and honor the institutions and people of Great Brit-
ain ; it has, therefore, been my constant desire, while showing such
attentions as were in my power to my own countrymen, to promote, to
the very utmost, kind and brotherly feelings between Englishmen and
Americans. (Cheers.)

The origin of this meeting was my desire to pay respect to those of
my countrymen who had been connected with the Great Exhibition of
1851, and to jiay a parting tribute to their skill, ingenuity, and origi-
nality, before their departure to the United States ; and I cannot but
feel that I have been extremely fortunate in bringing together so large
a number of our countrymen on the occasion. You will understand,
also, that I feel extreme gratification at the presence of our kind-
hearted Minister, and of those English Gentlemen whose social and
official rank, no less than their connection either with our country, or
with the Exhibition, renders them fitting representatives of national
feeling, and entitles them to our respect, and to my most grateful ac-
knowledgments. (Hear.)

The importance of maintaining kindly feelings between the people
of our respective countries, has been the principal theme of the elo-
quent speeches which we have heard this evening, and particularly that
of Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer ; but although, in some measure, a
repetition of what has been so much better said by him, I cannot for-



201

bear making a few remarks on the same subject. There has recently
been much excitement in America in reference to the maintenance of
the Union of the States ; an excitement that has placed the Union on a
firmer basis than ever. I have felt, that, important to us as is that bond
of union, there is another, which is no less important to the whole civ-
ilized world ; I refer to the moral and friendly union between Great
Britain and the United States. (Loud cheers.) May both these unions
still continue and gather strength with their gathering years.

Gentlemen, — Many of you, whom I see here to-night, will soon be
on the ocean, homeward bound, and there are many whom I may not
again have the pleasure of meeting before their departure ; but if I do
not meet you all again on this side of the Atlantic, I trust that I may
do so at some future day on the other side. After such gratifying
proofs of your friendly feeling towards me, I am persuaded that your
kindness will induce you to give me in your native land a warmer, but
not more sincere, welcome, than it has been in my power to give to
you here. I conclude by again offering you my warmest thanks.

This speech was received with inexpressible cordiality ; and at its
close, the company rose and greeted Mr. Peabody with " three times
three" cheers and " one more," with a heartiness not to be surpassed.



The superb fete referred to in the speech of Lord Granville is thus
described in the London Illustrated News, which has a fine engraving
of the Hall at Al mack's, where the entertainment took place, with the
decorations, &c. : —

Grand Entertainment to the American Minister — A superb
entertainment was given by Mr. George Peabody, the eminent Ameri-
can merchant, to many hundreds of his countrymen and our own, at
Willis's Rooms, " to meet the American Minister and Mrs. Lawrence,"
on Friday, July 4th, the anniversary of American Independence.

Mr. Peabody selected this anniversary for this immense gathering of
Englishmen and Americans, for the avowed purpose of showing that
all hostile feeling in regard to the occurrences which it calls to mind
has ceased to have any place in the breasts of the citizens of either of'
the two great Anglo-Saxon nations,' and that there is no longer anything
to prevent them from meeting together on that day, or on any other
occasion, in perfect harmony and brotherhood.

The superb suite of " Almack's" rooms gave ample space for the
guests. The walls were richly festooned with white drapery, entwined
by wreaths of flowers, interspersed at intervals with the flags of Eng-
land and America blended and interchanged.

At one end and the other of the spacious ball-room, were placed por-
traits of Queen Victoria and the illustrious Washington, each canopied
with the combined flags of the two countries ; and in various parts of"
the rooms were placed busts of her Majesty, the Prince Consort, Wash-
ington, Franklin, and other distinguished persons of either country.
The superb chandeliers were decorated with flowers to the number of
26 %



202

many hundreds ; and each hidy was presented, on her entrance to the
room, with a choice bouquet.

The guests began to arrive about nine o'clock, and by half-past nine
the seats appropriated for the auditory of the concert (with which the
entertainment commenced) were entirely filled. Ths concert itself
was of a high order ; and when we name Catherine Hayes, Cruvelli,
Lablache, and Gardoni as the performers, it is almost needless to add
that it passed off most brilliantly. After the concert, the seats were
removed, and the spacious ball-room was cleared for the dancers, who
commenced dancing at about eleven o'clock. Up to this hour, the
guests had continued to arrive. At about half-past eleven, the Duke of
Wellington arrived, and was met in the reception-room by Mr. Pea-
body, who conducted his Grace through the ball-room to the dais,
where he was welcomed by the American Minister. The band played
the accustomed recognition of " See, the Conquering Hero comes."
But the enthusiasm did not reach its height, until " the Duke," with
Mr. Peabody and the American Minister on either side of him, took his
seat in the centre of the dais, and directly under the portrait of Wash-
ington, when the assembly gave a prolonged burst of cheering. After
this had subsided, dancing recommenced, and continued until a very
late hour, interrupted only by the intervention of an elegant supper.

The Duke of Wellington remained until past midnight ; and many
other of the more distinguished visitors remained until the breaking up-
of the party.

The whole of the ground-floor of Willis's Rooms was devoted to the
arrangements for supper ; and these rooms, like those above, were
decorated with flowers, flags, busts, and various other graceful and ar-
tistic objects.

It is but an act of justice to mention that the perfection of all the ar-
rangements is attributable solely to Mr. Mitchell, of Old Bond Street ;
that gentleman having received a carte blanche from Mr. Peabody,
availed himself of such unrestricted license to furnish an entertainment
so complete in its details and magnificent in its ensemble as rarely to
have been equalled.



We close this notice of our distinguished Townsman with an extract
from the Boston Post, of Sept. 19, 1851, furnished to that paper by its
intelligent correspondent in London : —

It seems that two towns in Massachusetts contend for the honor of
the nativity of George Peabody, the eminent London merchant. They
may well do it. Danvers, with its old historic memories ; Salem, with
its long line of distinguished men in the professions and in trade ; even
Essex County itself, full of the kernel of personal merit and renown in
her citizens for two hundred years, have occasion to boast no accidental
honor that is greater than that of having produced a man whose real
goodness and greatness of heart are surpassed only by the modesty of
his manners and the instructive quiet of his private life. It is rare in
our own country, that, without advantages of birth, or inheritance, or
education, or public place, a simple minded, unobtrusive, straight



203

forward man, becomes, by the few means that commercial life gives,
preeminent among his peers ; and it is rarer still, that in another coun-
try, and that country famous for individual wealth, a man like this,
among the m-erchant princes of that country's metropolis, should rise
to distinction. When such a case dees occur, there is no reason why
it should be concealed. That man's character which is elevated by
means of pure personal merit, becom.es, by the strongest title, the
property of the rising generation of his country, for their model and
example. And such a man is Mr. George Peabody.

Mr. Peabody has been a resident of London for many years. His
business would be called that of banking in the United States ; but in
Great Britain, where trade divides into more minute ramifications, and
every branch of it is classified, he is called a merchant, as arc also
Baring Bros. & Co., the Rothschilds, and other distinguished houses.
The difference is sim.ply that while these firms loan money, buy stocks,
exchange, drafts, hold deposits, &c., they do not themselves pay out
money, like the houses of Coates, and others, who are strictly hankers.
You may always find him at his business during the hours devoted to
it in London. He knows no such thing as relaxation from it. At 10^
o'clock, every morning, you may notice him coming out from the Club
Chambers, where he keeps bachelor's hall, taking a seat in the passing
omnibus, and riding some three miles to his office in Wanford Court, a
dingy alley in Throgmorton Street ; and in that office, or near by, day
after day, year in and out, you may be sure to find him, always cheer-
ful, always busy, following the apostolic direction to the very letter,
" study to be quiet and do your own business."

In personal appearance Mr. Peabody looks more a professional than
a business man. He is some six feet tall, erect, with a florid com-
plexion, and a fine bold forehead. He may be past fifty years in age,
though his appearance does not indicate it. He is ready, intelligent
in no ordinary degree, copious in power of expressing his views, and
truly sincere in everything which he does and says. In commercial
phrase, he is preeminently a reliable man, showing neither to friends
or enemies, under any circumstances, any phase of character which
will not be found stable in every event.

To his country, to her interests, her reputation, her honor and credit,
it has been his pride ever to be true. A more thorough American, in
heart, and soul, and sympathy, does not live. If he is known by any
one characteristic above all others, it is this. While others have been
flattered into lukewarmness towards our free institutions by the atten-
tions of the aristocracy of the mother country, or, in the desire to gain
the applause of the great, have acquiesced in those disparaging opin-


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Online LibraryDanvers (Mass.)Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 → online text (page 21 of 22)