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the management of the house, to have a discriminating eye to their respective cases. While he will do well to conduct it in such a manner, as to furnish reasonable attractions to the first-named class, and give that forlorn portion of our fellow beings a comfortable resort; he will act wisely not to go so far as to tempt the Benedicts (if the thing were conceivable) from their firesides. In medio tutissimus. He must hit the community, in this respect, between wind and water, or he may chance to find himself in water a little too hot for his comfort.
I remember, gentlemen, to have seen an account of a festival, somewhat akin to this, which was held a few years ago at the Mormon settlement of Nauvoo. An entertainment was given to the unfortunate Joe Smith, the head of that strange community. Among the toasts on that occasion was one complimentary to him, which set forth that “as a prophet in the church, a general in the field, a magistrate on the bench, or a landlord at the head of his table, he had few equals and no superior." Our friend Willard, I believe, lays no claim to this rather unusual combination of qualities; he sets up no pretensions to the prophetic, military, or magistratic character. But as a landlord at the head of his table, I think what we have witnessed and enjoyed this evening, will warrant us in saying that he has few equals and no superiors.
In taking my seat, gentlemen, I offer you the following toast, expressive, I am sure, of the general feelings of this company :
Success to the Brattle House; and may it prove an agreeable resort to the community, a welcome home to the stranger, and a source of prosperity to its enterprising proprietor.
CAMBRIDGE HIGII SCHOOL.*
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR Honor:
I CHEERFULLY comply with your request, that I would say a few words on the present occasion, although I am quite aware that this respectable company is not assembled to hear me. I may, in fact, with propriety use the words of a favorite little poem, which many persons have done me the honor to ascribe to me, but which was in reality written by a distant relative and namesake of mine, and, if I mistake not, before I was born. It begins,
“You'd scarce expect one of my age
To speak in public on the stage.”
This place and this day belong to the young; and after what we have heard from them, I need not say that they stand in no need of assistance from their seniors, to give interest to the occasion.
It is truly a pleasing spectacle. The specimens of scholarship afforded yesterday at the examination, and of reading, elocution, and composition which we have just witnessed, are highly gratifying. I have no personal acquaintance with the other public schools in Cambridge, but from what I have heard of them, I have no doubt they are entitled to the praise just bestowed on them by the chairman of the committee. Of the High School I have had considerable personal knowledge for two years; and from what I have myself seen of it, I feel fully warranted in expressing my entire concurrence in all that has been said in its favor by yourself, sir, and Dr. Wellington. In a word, I have no doubt that the schools of Cambridge would sustain a comparison with those of any other city or town in Massachusetts; and that surely is praise enough. Their condition in the aggregate is such, as fully to justify the policy pursued by the city government, in founding and maintaining them upon this liberal scale. At least it shows that the public gets what it bargains for, (what does not always happen); I mean a very efficient system of public gratuitous instruction. Whether that is a benefit or not, is a topic on which there will not be much difference of opinion in this assembly.
* Remarks made at the annual exhibition, in the City Hall, on the 25th of July, 1850.
The worthy chairman of the committee alluded to the University in this place; and as he made the allusion, the thought crossed my mind, to institute a comparison of the expense with which the University and the public schools of Cambridge are supported. It may enable us to realize how great an effort is made by the citizens of Cambridge to support their public schools. The annual expenditure for the support of our schools exceeds twenty thousand dollars, without including the building and repair of school-houses. Last year it was twenty-one thousand dollars. Now the University, as we all know, is by far the oldest and best endowed in the country; but the whole annual income of its funds applicable to the business of instruction, (I speak of Harvard College proper, and not of the professional and scientific schools connected with the University,) is less than that sum. All that the liberality of the State and the bounty of individuals for two centuries have accumulated on this favored seat of learning, in the shape of funds for carrying on the work of instruction, (and I do not include the cost of buildings, cabinets, and libraries in reference to the University, as I have not included the cost of school-houses, apparatus, and libraries in reference to the schools,) does not yield so large a sum annually, as the city of Cambridge appropriates to support this system of common school education.
The residue of the expense at the University, being rather more than one half of the whole, is defrayed by the term
bills of the students. At the schools every thing is gratuitous.
But, my friends, we will not say any thing more of figures and sums of money on this occasion, but allude to those attainments in useful knowledge “whose price is far above rubies.” If the sum laid out by Cambridge and the other cities and towns of the Commonwealth which make liberal provision for schooling, were ten times as great as it is, it would be amply repaid in the benefits conferred on individuals, and the advantage accruing to the public. Our little State of Massachusetts covers about eight thousand square miles. Not much of the soil is of high fertility ; we have no mines of the precious metals, and little coal or iron ; our climate is too severe or otherwise not adapted for any of the great agricultural staples, except Indian corn; and yet we have a population of a million. If the State of Texas were inhabited in the same proportion to the square mile, her population would equal that of the whole United States. At least I made a calculation some years ago, at the time of the first talk of annexation, that, according to the boundaries then claimed by Texas, she was twenty-six times as large as Massachusetts. How it would be with her present boundaries I do not know; I am not sure that she has any.
Well, sir, what is it that has led to this result, as far as Massachusetts is concerned? What has enabled our noble little State, on her rocks and her sands, and within her narrow limits, to rear and to support this rapidly increasing population; what enables her, besides constantly sending forth a swarm of emigrants, to keep at home a population far greater in proportion to her size than that of any other State ?
I take it that this result is mainly owing to the general intelligence of the community, promoted by many causes and influences, but mainly by the extension of the means of education to all the people. On this rock the corner-stone of the infant settlement was laid, (I speak of human things,) on this it has ever rested. I do not wish to claim any thing for Massachusetts which is not strictly her due. I cheerfully concede to other States the possession, in some respects, of superior advantages. I acknowledge much that is good in all. I bear cheerful testimony to the liberal efforts that have been made by some of them, and especially Connecticut and New York, in this same good cause; but may I not claim for Massachusetts the palm in this respect? If the genius of our common America should cast his eye over this great sisterhood of States, to see what they have done respectively for the education of their children, might he not apostrophize Massachusetts and say, “ many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all ?”
But I do not wish to overstate the matter, and to ascribe too much to popular education as the cause of our prosperity. A great many other things, I know, have contributed to it. We have a temperate climate; our winters braçe, while our summers are not long enough to enervate. Our soil, if not very fertile, nowhere generates disease. An extensive seaboard furnishes great facilities for commerce. Our granite and gravel make capital roads, and the former is an excellent material for building. Our abundant water power holds out great facilities to manufacturers. Then there are political and moral causes of prosperity of vast importance; free popular government, which extends an equal protection to all; a greater degree of practical equality than exists in any other highly civilized country; a traditional respect for the law; a high state of public morals; a pervading religious sentiment. All these are eminently conducive to the public prosperity. But I need not say, that some of these influences owe their existence to the intelligence which education has diffused and fostered in the community, and that all of them operate through that intelligence. It is the intelligence of a people that makes its natural advantages available.
There are other regions of the earth as highly favored as our State in all natural endowments. If you take a terrestrial globe and turn it round, so that every part of its surface which lies in the same latitude, this precious forty-second degree, (for our narrow little State does not in any part, I believe, run up to the forty-third or down to the forty-first, and for the most part does not fully cover the forty-second — the