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Oration, poem, speeches, chronicles, &c., at the dedication of the Malden town hall on Thursday evening, October 29th, 1857 online

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which look as though an earthquake had jostled them out of
place — and the owners were either too poor to replace, or in-
different concerning their positions, we may see wide streets and
richly shaded avenues ; and residences with a depth of front that
shall protect them from the sweepings of every wind that blows.
Let any one stand here in the square, which is about as near
square as a crooked-neck squash, and see what an utter lack of
all symmetry and regularity strikes the eye. It is positively
painful to see the angles and corners and sides, all mingled into
one confused mass. The public square, which should be the pride
of every town, is any thing but our boast. We once had a charm-
ing lake, whose waters the soul could drink, and which served as
a relief to the eye of the weary one, and which was indeed a dia-
mond of the first water, sparkling like a gem upon the bosom of
rustic beauty. That was sold, yes, sold to the highest bidder, and
its waters with the land upon its borders, which it was vainly
hoped the town would preserve from profanation, was allowed to
be sacrificed to the spirit of the almighty dollar. Now we have
no public square, we have no retreat of beauty, where childhood
and lovers and old age can congregate. If, instead of expending


our public money upon streets that are never travelled, and upon
others laid over marshes with broken backs, that cannot sustain
them — If instead of trying foolish experiments, we would beau-
tify our streets with trees, improve our side-walks — widen and
straighten our lanes and squirrel tracks, lay out a public square
or two — we should diminish our taxes — enhance the value of
every man's estate in our midst, and what is of far greater im-
portance, it would broaden the path for a larger public spirit in
the right direction. It would dissipate purely selfish interests
— our town would become a source of an honorable local pride
and attraction, and Maiden would no longer drag her slow-
length along, in the march of improvement with her sister towns,
receiving only the dust which their more rapid strides throw
back upon us, but we could proudly point the stranger to our
public institutions, rich in architectural beauty — our cemetery,
whose attractions and sweet repose shall rest upon the soul like
a benediction — our rural walks, and public squares, all of which
shall be ours to admire, ours to enjoy, — ours to elevate, and
ennoble. All this, Mr, President, we can do — the possibilities
lie all about us. Thus shall we truly honor our town, and dis-
charge our duties.


C. C. Coffin, Esq. chairman of the school committee, was
then called upon. He said,

Mr. President : — The orator of the evening has most felici-
tously alluded to the habits, the customs, and the condition of
society in this town as they were in ancient times ; permit me
then, sir, to take up the subject again — going back over the
path of years, not so far as he has been, — but a quarter of a
century, that I may notice a few of the changes made in mat-
ters of education.

My appearance upon this platform in response to your call,
reminds me of my school-boy-days, and the system of education
then in use. I distinctly recollect my first attempts at oratory
in the old school house of my native town, amid the granite


hills. The circumstances of the occasion will never be forgot-
ten ; for my heart by some unaccountable anatomical proces8,
jumped into my throat. You, sir, can undoubtedly say by
heart, the eloquent words I uttered upon that occasion, com-
mencing :

*' You'd scarce expect one of my age."
I remember that I was taught to thrust out my arm, so — to let
the audience know I was that high, — about four feet in statue,
and then at the passage :

" And if I chance to fall below

Demosthenes or Cicero,"
I was instructed to make a similar gesture about eighteen inch-
es from the floor, to let the audience know, that that was the
possible oritorial difference between Cicero and myself.

And then at the lines: — [ Laughter.

" Don't view me with a critic's eye,

But pass my imperfections by,"
I swept all criticism behind me with a magnificent motion. I
recollect that, because it was suggestive of my first attempt at
learning to swim. [ Renewed laughter,]
And then at —

" Tall oaks from little acorns grow,"
I pictured the brave old monarch of the forest, throwing out its
giant arms, by pointing to the zenith. O, sir, that was rare ora-
tory. It would have been no violation of the ten command-
ments, if the audience had worshipped it, for the likeness of it
never was seen or heard of in heaven above, or the earth be-
neath, or in the waters under the earth. [Great laughter.]

Education in those days was conducted differently from what
it is now. The principle then was, that a free use of the ferule
made boys smart, and the principle as carried out certainly ac-
complished the object, as I remember to my sorrow. [Cheers.]
I remember the school books of that day. My first was "the
New England Primer, or an Easy Guide to the Art of Read-
ing," a book two and one half inches long, one and a half
broad, and a sixteenth of an inch thick — which in the space of
four pages, put us through from A to abomination. [Laugh-
ter.] Then there were the illustrations with marginal read-


ings — one where Adam stood beneath an apple-tree, and in the
margin the couplet :

'« In Adam's fall
We sinned all."

The idea uppermost in my mind, was that Adam had been
up in the tree stealing apples, and had a tumble. [Renewed

Then there was the Moon — a jolly faced old fellow laughing
at the stars, with the information that
" The moon gives light
In time of night."

A remarkable piece of information I

Then there was John Rogers, going home to glory, in a
flame of fire — leaving " nine small children and one at the
breast," to mourn his fate. Then came the Catechism — dry,
hard, theologic food. Strange sir, that the book-makers should
have given knotty subjects, which have set the world by the
ears for eighteen hundred years, and which even now are in dis-
pute, to children just out of the alphabet I But that was the
system then.

After this came the wonderful American Spelling Book, by
Noah Webster, Junior, Esquire, with a picture of the author
on the frontispiece. I never shall forget its delightful fables,
of the young sauce-box in the apple tree, who would not come
down when the old man in a cocked hat, wanted him to,
but who was brought to his senses by the stoney arguments of
the gentleman.

I am aware sir, in this I am talking to the recollection of the
older portion of the audience ; but I trust I shall be pardoned
by the other portion, in dwelling a moment longer upon that
charming book of which I knew every word almost by heart.
Especially do I remember the Milk Maid, who counted her
chickens before they were hatched ; who determined to have a
new dress — in which respect she was not so very different from
the ladies of these days — [Laughter ] who declared that as
*' green became her complexion best, geeen it should be — that
she would wear it to the fair, where all the beaus the country
round would aspire for her hand in the dance ; and who with a


self-complacent toss of the head spilled the milk, and lost her
chickens, and new green dress. [ Laughter.] A warning to
ladies for all time, not to count chickens before they are hatch-
ed — at least I suppose it was intended for them, for I never
saw the man who supposed that he was to draw an inference
from the fable. [Cheers.]

In Arithmetic we had that wonderful problem :

" As I was going to St. Ives,

I met seven wives ;

Every wife had seven sacks,

Every sack had seven cats,

Every cat had seven kits,

Kits, cats, sacks and wives,

How many were going to St. Ives."
I never could get that through my head. [Great laughter.]
Lindley Murray was our grammarian. We had great times
in passing, and the only object was to pass over it as fast as we
could. [Merriment]

It is said, .though I cannot vouch for the truth of it, that one
young lady in a declension of nouns, declared that kiss was
both common and proper, and that it was not common to de-
cline a proper one ! [Renewed mirth.]

Mr. Chairman, I could dwell upon those old time themes
with pleasure; but I have adverted to them merely to contrast
them with the present. And yet, sir, it is not necessary that I
should speak of the present, as it speaks for itselt. The common
school system of Massachusetts to-day ,is her crowning glory. To
her, it is richer than the diadem upon a monarch's brow. The
poorest child in our midst, who feels the sacred flame warming
his soul into a desire to attain knowledge, may, in common
with the rich man's son, ascend from the A, B, C, of the prima-
ry department, up through the elementary course, till he stands
a candidate for admission to the classic halls of Harvard. This
is more to the Commonwealth, than hoarded gold or marble
palaces. This it is which makes Massachusetts, to-day, the
brightest star in this glittering constellation of States, and which
in proportion as it is prized and cherished, will make her glori-
ous through coming years.


The President next called upon Hon. Wm. J. Eames, of the
Governor's Council. Mr. Eames then responded as follows :

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

After the able oration, the eloquent poem, and excellent mu-
sic from our own village choirs, to which we have just listened,
the inspiring words, and smooth cadence of which still linger on
the ear, I fear that anything I may say will come like the
" Benediction which follows after prayer ;" or perhaps, like the
" Finally bretheren," after a long discourse.

But I should be doing injustice to my own feelings did I no*
thank my fellow citizens for this cordial reception, and respond
in a few words to the call you have made upon me.

I do not rise to make a speech — in the ten minutes you have
allotted me, that would be impossible — but rather to congrat-
ulate the inhabitants of Maiden, and you Sir, as the Chairman
of our building committee on the completion of this beautiful
and substantial structure. I need not tell this assembly how
much I have desired, and how ardently I have labored for the
erection of a building like this. A few years ago, and we were
behind other towns in the number and character of our public
buildings, but now as we look upon our elegant churches, large
and convenient school-houses, and add to them this edifice : I
think we have reason to be proud of the public spirit that caus-
ed them to be erected, and to rejoice that " our lines have fallen
to us in such pleasant places, and that we have so goodly a her-
itage." We have come up here to participate in these dedicato-
ry exercises not as political, or sectarian partisans, but as mem-
bers of one family with a common object and a common destiny.
"We meet to encourage a free and social intercourse among all
our people, to bind ourselves more strongly together in bonds
of fraternal love, and to destroy if possible the spirit of local and
personal jealousy wliich is the bane of any community. Let no


party bitterness intrude upon these festivities. Here, if no-
where else, let party strife be hushed. And here to-night let us
inaugurate an era of good will and brotherly love. I trust that
this occasion will tend to increase our love and veneration for
our native and adopted town, so that in the future, each of us
may be able to say of it, as of our State, and our country,

" Where 'er I roam, what other realms to see,
My heart untrammelled fondly turns to thee."

I am glad to be here to-night because in these days of ship-
wrecks on the sea, and financial wrecks on the land, it is re-
freshing to turn our thoughts to other and more pleasing themes.
Standing among familiar faces, listening to familiar voices,
it is natural, and seems appropriate to the occasion to inquire,
what will be said and done here in coming years. For one, I hope
to hear these walls echo to tlie classic eloquence of an Everett,
and a Sumner, to listen to the flowing periods of a Chapin, and
a Beecher, and to be made happier and better by the inspiring
music of Handel and Beethoven. And here, perhaps, on the
Sabbath day,

" The best, of all the seven,"
some minister of our holy religion may stand upon this plat-
form to proclaim that gospel " which maketh wise unto salva-
tion." Here also will come the grumbling tax payer, and the
liberal' citizen, to exercise the noblest rights of freemen. But I
am reminded by the allusion in your call that I am expected to
say something of the State, in which we live, the primal institu-
tions of which have been so ably discussed by the orator of the
evening. I can only say, that I am proud to be a native of old
Massachusetts. It has been my fortune to travel somewhat in
other lands, and to reside some years in the youngest State of
this republic, whose rivers run over golden sands, yet I never
found a son of Massachusetts who did not love the State that
gave him birth, and who, if he was fortunate enough to obtain
a competency there, would not hasten home to enjoy it, and this
may, I think, be considered among the better feelings of our na-
tures, for who is there that does not sympathize with the spirit
of those words which say

" Lives there a man beneath the sun,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land 1


Mr. W. H. Richardson, Jr., offered the following sentiment :

The Buildinsr Covimittee — They have nobly discharged the trust
assigned them, and richly deserve the plaudit, "Well done,
good and and faithful servants."

After the reading of the sentiment, Mr. R. then called on Mr.
G. L. Fall, to respond. Mr. Fall answered to the call, and
spoke in words nearly as follows : —

Mr. President, and Ladies and Gentlemen : Nothing could
exceed my surprise in having my name called to respond to the
sentiment offered by my friend Mr. Richardson, for he knows
very well, sir, that I make no pretentions to public speaking— r
no, not before a small gathering, much less before this large
audience of my fellow citizens, who have had the pleasure of
listening to the eloquent and instructive oration, the poem, and
the several gentlemen who have interested them this evening.
A proper response to the sentiment would require some statis-
tics, which I cannot give at this time, correctly ; and if I could,
I should be doing injustice to my associates on the committee,
not having exchanged a word with either of them upon the
gubject. But they will justify me in saying, that the duties
of the committee have been very arduous. Soon after the com-
mencement of our labors, the committee found many embarrass-
ments in their way. By vote of the town, our public square
was the nucleus around which the inhabitants had drawn a line,
and in the location of the building, we could not go beyond it.
Within that circle, we found a fe^v desirable lots, but the
price asked for them was double what we had reason to suppose
it would be. To determine the location of the building, the
material of which it should be constructed, and the plans, and
and general arrangements for the present and future interest of
the whole town, caused much anxious solicitude with the com-
mittee. Our own meetings have been many, for aught I know,
" three score and ten." If any have complained, I am sure


none has had more cause of complamt than the seven ladies
most intimately connected with the committee. Arduous, and
at times perplexing, has been our duty, yet the committee have
been united; every vote has been unanimous, as the records
will show. In a few weeks we shall resign the trust committed
to our care, and shall give you this spacious building, which
will stand for ages, unless destroyed by the elements, or the
convulsions of nature.


At the call of the President, Mr. George P. Cox made the
following remarks. Mr. Cox was in the gallery, and had charge
of the singing, which was performed to the admiration of all

Mr. President — I came here to listen and not to speak, and
I need not tell you how well I have been paid for coming, in
listening to the able Oration, and fine Poem, which have been
pronounced this evening. I am not a speech maker, and were
1 one it would be the height of presumption in me to offer one
after the eloquent Oration of the evening.

But, Mr. President, I cannot refrain from offering to you,
and to the citizens of Maiden, my congratulations on the suc-
cess which has attended the efforts and labors of the Committee
chosen by the town to erect this Town House — success in its
LOCATION — success iu erecting these substantial walls without
harm or accident to any, and success in being able to present
to the citizens of Maiden so beautiful and inviting a room as
this, which is not equalled in this county, — a room where our
wives and daughters may assemble for social enjoyment, or lit-
erary entertainment ; and above all, where the citizens of Mai-
den may meet to do and perform those acts which none but
freemen can do — choose the officers of the town, the state, and
the nation.

With these few remarks, Mr. President, I will resume my
seat and give place to others.


The President then said that there was one more ' chapter '
to be given in these dedicatory services. He would therefore
call upon Mr. C. C. P. Moody, who was wont to chronicle the
passing events of the town.

Mr. Moody then said —

Mr. President, — Ladies and Gentlemen : It is important
that a speech, as well as a book, should have an introduction,
and I have oftentimes been amused to see what a funny intro-
duction some orators offer. One will very modestly tell you,
that he cannot make a speech, that he has really nothing to say;
and before you are aware of it, he has pulled from his pocket a
roll of manuscript, and he goes into a labored argument to prove,
what is patent to every one, that he has in truth nothing to say.
Another, when he has nothing else that he can offer, will say
that somebody who has preceded him " has stolen his thunder,''
or, "that he has taken the wind out of his sails." Now sir, no
one ever steals mt/ thunder any more than he steals my tobacco,
for I never have any of either ; but sometimes when occasion
calls for it, I have a little bottled lightning, and if any body
can get hold of that, they are at liberty to hold on to it as long
as it will do them good. But speaking of electricity, may I not
compare this numerous audience to one great electrical ma-
chine, highly charged with both negative and positive forces —
the speakers who have preceded me have given a tremendous
momentum to the great wheel of thought, and all it now needs
is a little friction that we may have some genuine heat light-
ning, and that you know never hurts any body. Allow me to
say, sir, that if you are not able to see fire, I am sure that the
keen optics of the ladies will see " sparks" in every part of the
house. (Sensation.)

Thus much for my introduction. I come now to the Chron-
icles OF THE Acts of the Seven Wise Men of Malden.


1 Now after much strife, the people said we will build a
house ; then they looked out seven wise men, and they said
these shall have the oversight of the same.

2 Now these are the names of the wise men : Gilbert, Eli-
sha, Gershom, Caleb, Daniel, Hubbard, and George.

3 Gilbert was not only an ancient and discreet man, but a
doctor of the law, and he walked in all the commandments of
the Methodists blameless.

4 Elisha was a meek and quiet man, and the people made
him president over all the money — moreover he had banded
himself with certain other men, and they had great buildings
at a city called Edgeworth, and men servants and maid ser-
vants, who labored much, because they made sandalls for the
multitude ; moreover he walked in the ordinances of the Bap-
tists, and was deacon among his brethren.

5 Gershom was one of the chief men of the town, and it
was so, that on a certain time the Democrats laid hold on him>
and said, because thou art a wise and faithful man, we will
make thee counsellor to the Governor, then shall no damage
come to us. Now when he went up to worship, he walked
with the sect of the Orthodox.

6 Now Daniel had been a wiiE man for forty years, and he
was cunning in all matters of lands and houses, so that he was
full of wisdom and knowledge, and no man could stand before

7 Caleb and Hubbard had long been of the chief fathers of
the town, and they were learned in all matters pertaining to
the wants of the people. Moreover, their knowledge was great
in stone, and mortar and timber. Now Caleb walked with his
brethren the Baptists, but Hubbard was of the sect of the Uni-

8 George, sir-named Vanevar, dwelt in the south country ;
the same was aforetime a mighty builder, but now he tilleth the
land, and hath great stores of money, and much goods in the
fruits of the earth, besides horses and cattle in abundance.

9 Now when the wise men had come together, and had
consulted long about the matter, they said, who will give us the
land that we may build the house, as the people hath com-
manded us ?

10 Then every man who had land, said, be it known unto
you, O ye wise men, that we will not give the land for nought,
as our fathers have done aforetime. Thou shalt give us a price
for it, yea so much, even a shekel a span, for so much as thou
mayest want.

11 Then the wise men were at their wits' end to know what
to do. They said, if we pay so much for the land^ then there
will be nought left for the building. Howbeit, they bought the
land of a certain Benjaminite and his sister, and it was a
goodly piece ; and after the people had considered the thing,
they said the wise men had done well.

12 Now not many days hence, when the people had all as-
sembled in one place, the moderator said, the wise men, whom
we have commanded to build the house, have sent in a writing
saying, give us twenty thousand shekels more of money, that we
may build the house.

13 Then there was a great confusion, some said one thing,
and some another ; and these are the names of some of the
men that gave their voice upon the matter : Andrew, sir-nam-
ed Lunt, an aged man whose eye was not dimmed, neither
was his natural force abated ; George, the carpenter, who liveth
over against the iron road that lieth to the west; Benjamin, sir-
named Hill, renowned as a 'squire, poet and philosopher, (and
the contest waxed warm between him and George); Daniel, sir-
named Perkins, one of the Anakims of the town ; Henry, sir-
named Hyde, a Democrat of the siraitest sect; Hubbard, the
money changer ; Gershom, a notable carpenter, and many

14 Now after much talk, the people said, " we are in for it,
let us give the money. " Then they made a vote, and Thomas
the scribe wrote it down in a book, that Phineas the Treasurer
should give the money from time to time, as it might seem fit
and convenient for the wise men.

15 Then when the time drew nigh that the foundations of
the house should laid, the wise men called upon the carpenters,
and the masons, and all the mighty builders in the land of Mai-
den and said, let every man say the sum that will suffice him

work — for the nether and upper stories, for the


foundations, the stones, and bricks, and mortar, and timbers,
and boards, and chambers, and courts, and windows, and fur-
niture, and lights, and ornaments, and roofs, and all things
pertaining thereto.

16 Then the carpenters, and masons, and builders, each
one considered the matter, and said within himself I should
like this job right well, and who knoweth but the lot may fall
to me. Then they took pen and ink and wrote down the sum
and handed it to the wise men — and so thus did they cast lots,
and the lot fell upon Jonathan, sir-named Clark. Then was
Jonathan glad, for he said I can make a good revenue from it.
Then said the wise men to Jonathan, go thou and do all this
work, and we will pay thee. Then Jonathan called to him one
Nathan^ and he said to him thou shalt help me in this work.

17 Now on the 4th month, on the 1st day of the month, in
the year when the women did greatly enlarge the borders of
their garments, and all barrels blushed because they were denu-

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Online LibraryMass MaldenOration, poem, speeches, chronicles, &c., at the dedication of the Malden town hall on Thursday evening, October 29th, 1857 → online text (page 4 of 5)