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DINNER TO THOMAS BARING, ESQ.
On Thursday, the 16th of September, 1852, an entertainment was given at the Revere House, by the Committees of Finance and of Accounts of the city of Boston, to Thomas Baring, Esq., M. P. The more immediate occasion of the dinner was the successful termination of the negotiation for a loan of a million of dollars, made on account of the waterworks of the city. The mayor presided, and though it was understood there were to be no set speeches, most of the persons present were called upon. In reply to a call from the chair, Mr. Everett spoke as follows:
I THANK you, sir, for informing the company that your call must be altogether unexpected to me. No preparation, however, is necessary on such an occasion as this; the feelings which belong to it suggest themselves spontaneously. I beg to assure you, sir, of my cordial concurrence in all that has fallen from you in honor of the name and house of Baring. Like several gentlemen here present, I have reason to entertain the warmest feelings of personal regard to that name and house. Our respected guest, even if he were not too well known to us to need any recommendation, could not have brought a stronger one than that which he carries in his name. His position and character at home, as a merchant, a citizen, and a member of Parliament, fully entitle him to our friendly regards as an individual; while the family to which he belongs is, on public grounds, associated with more than one important event in the political history of the United States.
I will advert only to the share of the late lamented uncle of our friend in the negotiation of the treaty of Washington. When I went to London in November, 1841, as minister of the United States, the relations of the two countries were in a highly embarrassed and threatening condition. Questions of the most difficult kind had been accumulating for twentyfive or thirty years. The North-Eastern Boundary dispute had, in fact, existed for a still longer period. It had proved too strong for some of the ablest administrations which were ever intrusted with the government of either country; it had exhausted nearly all the resources of diplomacy; and it was of such a nature in itself, that an unfortunate occurrence on the frontier might at any time induce a rupture. There also was the very delicate affair of the “ Caroline," and the arrest and trial of McLeod, which seemed fraught with the most alarming consequences; while the two governments were brought to a direct issue on the coasts of Western Africa, in reference to points of international law, on which the sensibility of the American people has ever been most easily touched. I allude to these difficulties, now happily, in common with others not less formidable, amicably settled, only to tell you, Mr. Chairman, not merely how they weighed upon my mind when I went to London in 1841, but also what relief I experienced on being informed by Lord Aberdeen, that the Queen's government had prevailed upon Lord Ashburton to go to the United States, as a special envoy, to make a final and decisive attempt at a general settlement.
Too much praise cannot, as I think, be bestowed upon him for consenting, at a time of life when he might well have claimed to be emeritus, to cross the Atlantic in midwinter, and put his reputation at stake in a negotiation incumbered with so many difficulties. But he came in the true spirit of honorable conciliation. He was met in the same spirit by Mr. Webster, the United States' Secretary of State. They negotiated, not to gain advantages for their respective countries at the expense of justice, but to devise a basis of settlement equally advantageous and honorable to both. Bringing this spirit to the task, one after another of the formidable questions to which I have alluded, was equitably disposed of, and in four months from the time the negotiation commenced, the Treaty of Washington was signed. I believe I express the general opinion of well-informed men in saying, there were not two other individuals at that time in the service of the United States and Great Britain, so likely to accomplish this great object in a manner satisfactory to both countries. I could say more on this subject if time and place admitted further detail.
With respect to the more immediate occasion of this friendly meeting, though I suppose it would be rather out of order to advert to matters of business, I rejoice that our respected guest has the opportunity, from personal observation, of forming an opinion of the ability of the city of Boston to meet her engagements. I should wrong her to speak of her disposition to do so. One might say to the inquirer who asks what security she can give, “ look around you.” Our laws make the property of every citizen liable for the debts contracted by the city. Every house, and every warehouse and the property they contain, is pledged to sustain the public faith. .
Ample as this is to protect a debt ten times as great as any that is ever likely to be contracted, the aggregate of the property, now existing in the city, is but a part of the security which-Boston offers to her creditors. Her numbers and with them her resources are doubling in periods of twenty years. Security equal to all that now meets the eye is waiting its hour to spring into being, at the call of enterprise, thrift, and skill. It sleeps in the quarry and the clay-pit; it reposes beneath the rich strata of the iron, the coal, and the copper mine; it lives and moves fathom deep beneath the surface of the ocean; it waves in the forest, and whitens in the cotton field, and foams and dashes at a thousand waterfalls; the fertile land yields it at home, and the wide ocean wafts it from every resort of foreign trade. These are the elements of our prosperity, which, woven together by the hand of inventive and untiring industry, will, under the smile of Providence, double the aggregate of the wealth of Boston in the coming twenty years. I will mention only one statistical fact. By the valuation of 1780, the entire property of Massachusetts, then including Maine, amounted to eleven millions of dollars. By the valuation of 1850, the property of Boston alone was estimated, if I recollect aright, at two hundred and seventyeight millions. No one, I think, will consider me extravagant if I calculate that in 1870 the valuation will be five hundred million dollars.
But, sir, I must leave this train of reflection and end as I began, with expressing my cordial sympathy with you on this occasion; which leaves us nothing to regret but that our respected guest is obliged by his duties elsewhere, to make us so short a visit.
On the 22d of September, 1852, another dinner of a more public character was given to Mr. Baring by a large and highly respectable company, consisting principally of the leading merchants of Boston, the Hon. S. A. Eliot in the chair. In reply to a toast by Hon. William Appleton, Mr. Everett spoke as follows:
MR. ELIOT AND GENTLEMEN :
Our excellent friend and representative (Mr. Appleton) who has just sat down, has not only declined to make a speech himself, but has aimed such a point-blank shot at me as nearly to silence me. I must, however, thank both him and the distinguished guest of the evening for their most obliging notice. The voice of kindly appreciation from the honored and intelligent, especially when sanctioned by a company like this, never palls upon the ear nor fails to reach the heart. But I will not consume another moment of your time by any thing personal to myself, even in the way of acknowledgment. We are at home, and we wish to make our respected guest feel at home. We will discuss what concerns ourselves exclusively, another time.
I am greatly indebted to you, sir, for giving me an opportunity to join you in this tribute of respect to Mr. Baring, who is, on every ground, entitled to the favorable opinion and friendly regards of this company. This is a topic on which delicacy forbids me to say, on the present occasion, all that might with truth be said at another time and place; besides that our respected guest has made it almost impossible for me to give utterance to my feelings, without seeming to engage with him in an exchange of compliments. This, however, I may say without impropriety even in his presence, that he is a respected and most efficient member of a family and house which now for nearly or quite a century have stood before the public, not merely of England and America, but of all Europe and the furthest East, in a position of high responsibility and importance; exercising an influence on the commerce of the world, and contributing to the stability of its financial relations; exposed to the searching scrutiny of mankind, sharpened by the strongest inducements of public and private interest, in times of difficulty and peril; and all this without ever having the shadow of a reproach cast upon their good name. Of all the millions, I had almost said the uncounted millions, which have passed through their hands, not one dishonest farthing has ever stuck by the way. Through times in which the governments of Europe have been shaken to their centre, - in which dynasties whose roots strike back to the Roman empire have been overturned, and emperors and kings have been driven into exile, the commercial house of which our friend is a member, (connected as I believe it has sometimes been with the great financial arrangements of the day, to an almost fearful extent,) has stood firm for a hundred years on the rock of honor and probity, beyond reproach and beyond suspicion.
I need not remind you, sir, that there are the most grateful associations between this country and the house and family of Baring, not merely of a private and commercial, but of a public nature. I have within a few days, and in the presence of some of those whom I have now the honor to address, expressed my feelings of affectionate attachment to the memory of the lamented, let me add, beloved Lord Ashburton. However grateful the employment and appropriate to this occasion, I will not now revert to that topic.
All personal feelings apart, I think you do well, Mr. President, to pay this tribute of respect to the virtues of practical life, not perhaps duly estimated as the subject of public honors, even in this community. You do well to show on a