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down to us this great inheritance. Let us strive to furnish ourselves, from the storehouse of their example, with the principles and virtues which will strengthen us for the performance of an honored part on this illustrious stage. Let pure patriotism add its bond to the bars of iron which are binding the continent together; and as intelligence shoots with the electric spark from ocean to ocean, let public spirit and love of country catch from heart to heart.
OPENING OF THE BRATTLE HOUSE.*
We are assembled this evening on an occasion of considerable interest to this community; not certainly as important as that which brought some of us together last week, (the 17th of June,) nor as that which will call so many of our fellow-citizens together in all parts of the country next week, (the 4th of July,) but still an occasion which, to the inhabitants of this part of Cambridge, and in the relation of fellowcitizens and neighbors, is not unworthy of the notice we are taking of it. We are assembled to express our good wishes to Mr. Willard for the prosperity of this spacious house of entertainment, which he has opened for the accommodation of the public. We feel that in so doing we perform a sort of duty, although a duty it is true of no very arduous kind. It is not often that the performance of duty is attended with less call for self-denial, than when we have nothing to do but to eat a good dinner. I suppose, in fact, that self-denial is not the principle which generally carries men to public houses; though in some benighted parts of the country they may have to practise it when they get there. But that this will never be the case in the Brattle House, I think there is sufficient assurance in what we have witnessed this evening.
The BRATTLE HOUSE, gentlemen; - and what name more appropriate could be given to a place of entertainment, es- . pecially to one built on this spot? If the traditions of the
* Remarks made at the opening of the Brattle House, in Cambridge, 28th June, 1850.
past are at all to be depended upon, good cheer may be regarded as the very genius loci, the tutelary divinity of the place. The beauty of these grounds is mentioned in the histories of Cambridge. In Dr. Holmes's account* we read, “ The gardens of Thomas Brattle, Esq., are universally admired for the justness of their design, and for the richness, variety, and perfection of their productions. In no part of New England is horticulture carried to higher perfection, than within his enclosure. A wall adjoining his grounds, made in 1792, and shaded by handsome rows of trees, is a work of neatness and taste, and is at once convenient and ornamental to the town.” That the beauty of Major Brattle's trees is not exaggerated, we are all witnesses. It would not be easy, I think, to find any thing that surpasses in beauty, the magnificent row of lindens, which still adorn the place. Of the hospitality that was dispensed under Major Brattle's roof, our fathers and grandfathers have told us. Even the wayfarer and the traveller beheld the promise of it, in the gardens and the orchards, the trellises and the walls, (loaded with the richest fruits of every season,) in the poultry yards and the fish-ponds. Times have changed, gentlemen, and men and things have changed with them. Major Brattle and his fish-ponds, and gardens, and his good cheer, have passed away; and I believe that there are now but few living, certainly in this part of the world, of his kindred. But his name is likely to be perpetuated, and his liberal hospitality kept up, on a much enlarged scale in the Brattle House. His beautiful lindens will afford their grateful shade to coming generations; and I trust I shall give offence to no one present, if I add, that it is a pleasing circumstance and a happy omen, that, while scarce any thing else is left of Major Brattle's establishments, the noble spring of water, which furnished one of the chief attractions of the place, still pours forth, and will, I trust, to the end of time, continue to pour forth, its limpid and refreshing abundance.
A good deal has been said, gentlemen, and justly said, in
* Mass. Hist. Coll. Vol. VII. p. 5. First Series.
connection with the opening of this house, of the importance to the public of a good place of entertainment. This idea seems very early to have taken possession of the public mind in Cambridge. In the extracts from our ancient records, contained in Dr. Holmes's History, we read, that in 1652, “ the townsmen (selectinen) granted liberty to Andrew Belcher, to sell beer and bread for the entertainment of strangers and the good of the town." This was the first step toward the establishment of a public-house; and you see that “the good of the town" is expressly named in connection with the accommodation of the stranger. I do not find that our chronicles plead the same motive for a measure of still earlier date, in reference to which the worthy fathers of the town seem to have acted on the principle of taking care of “number one." “ It was ordered in 1648, that there shall be an eight-penny ordinary provided for the townsmen (selectmen) every second Monday of the month, upon their meeting day; and that whosoever of the townsmen fail to be present within half an hour of the ringing of the bell, (which shall be half an hour after eleven of the clock,) he shall both lose his dinner, and pay a pint of sack, or the value, to the present townsmen.”
But we need not go to old chronicles, gentlemen, to prove the importance in a town like this of a good house of public entertainment. In every such community, besides the want of a place of social resort on various public occasions, strangers are constantly arriving, and when they ask, (and I think there are but few of us who have not heard the question,) which is the best public-house, and are told that there is none, bad or good, it seems very much like saying to them, in rather milder words, “ do your business, stranger, as soon as you can, and go away." I would not have it thought that the citizens of Cambridge are destitute of private hospitality. They are always glad to welcome to pot-luck those who come to see them; but a great many persons come to a town as large as this, who have no friends, no acquaintance; and if no house of entertainment exists, persons of this class receive much such a welcome as used to be given in some places in our country, within the memory of man, to all new-comers. The selectmen used to wait upon them and with a great deal of municipal courtesy, politely “warn them out of town.”
In no place could the want of a public-house, felt in all towns, be more felt than in a community like ours, the seat as it is of a University, which is frequented in its different departments by four or five hundred young men. Their relatives and friends are of course drawn hither at all times, and especially on our public days. All that the college undertakes is to provide them mental fare; but a little bodily fare is also needed; and such is the connection of the intellectual and physical principle, in these degenerate days, that the former does not go far, if wholly unaccompanied by the latter. I have known gentlemen coming to Cambridge to attend the committees of examination obliged, when the duty was prolonged two or three days, to go into Boston every night, and return to Cambridge in the morning.
Gentlemen, I regard a good, well-kept house of entertainment, with very kindly feelings. It has been the fortune of my life to be a good deal away from home, in my earlier years and as a single man. Necessarily living much in publichouses, I have known by experience how much comfort, in health and in sickness, may be enjoyed in them. I cannot, indeed, echo the sentiment of Shenstone, expressed in the beautiful lines written by him in the inn at Henley, and repeated with emotion by Dr. Johnson:
“ Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round,
Where'er his stages may have been,
His warmest welcome at an inn.”
I don't say this, gentlemen. It is, I suspect, a bachelor's feeling, for Shenstone you know was a bachelor; and Johnson, who admired these lines, had but little experience of comfortable family life. But I will say that next to a happy home, nothing comes so near it, as a quiet, well-regulated house of entertainment.
And having alluded to the bachelors and the married men, our friend Mr. Willard will allow me to recommend to him, in