« AnteriorContinuar »
impart instruction; but to be effective for good, it must be imparted in the spirit of meekness, not fancying that we are by nature either better or wiser than they.
Now this school of ours-this "Summer School of benevolence" —has a very large constituency, and exerts a very wide influence. Its teachings go out all over the world. We give forth no uncertain sound; our sound is heard through all the ends of the earth. I hope and believe that this Conference will go on from one year to another, increasing in value, and in power and influence, and that it will, as heretofore, meet for the free and untramelled expression of opinion, committing itself to no wild, visionary theories or hobbies of anybody; an open school of discussion, free to everybody and anybody who wishes to come here and sit and listen and learn. We are all learners, and glad to hear a word from anybody who is able to give us any thought, suggestion, or argument of any kind or description.
The reason why we are so much obliged to the people of Boston for their interest in our work, is because we know the position which Massachusetts and the city of Boston occupy in the estimation of the American people. We know how many good things have originated here; we know how the heart of Boston and Massachusetts have always been on the right side of every public question. We know how much influence the voice of Massachusetts has in the United States; and for Massachusetts and the city of Boston to receive this Conference and welcome it and endorse it, is to add an additional guaranty of its future success. We have received these attentions; we are grateful for them; and we shall carry away with us in our hearts the warmest recollections of this city and of its people.
Prof. WRIGHT, of Wisconsin: Mr. Wines has admirably set forth the position of this Conference as a school of practical philosophy. He has failed to say that it differs from another school in the fact that it has no fixed habitation, but is a travelling school of philosophy, migrating to different portions of the country to carry its influence in different circles and sections. In the absence of Mr. Elmore, the President elect of this Conference, who is called away by the sad duty of carrying home the dead body of his friend Mr. Hunt, it is perhaps appropriate for me to invite those present to attend the next session of this Conference, as far as possible, at Madison, Wisconsin. You will not find a city as large as Boston, nor as old as Boston, nor a State that is so full of things of historic interest, or of interest in the line of charitable or cerrectional institutions. But you will not find us a frontier State. We are not in the West; we are in the interior. We are only one-third of the way to the West; and members of the Conference will find that we have the characteristics, not of a frontier State, but of a comparatively old State. You must bear in mind that we are furnishing today a larger proportion of emigrants to
Western States than Massachusetts gives, and that we are thus helping to carry the ideas of the East further West in the living torches of persons whose minds are already enlightened. The territory of Dakota is being very largely settled, as well as the States of Minnesota and Nebraska, by citizens of Wisconsin. We can offer you this in Madison: A capital city, unrivalled in the Union, or perhaps anywhere in the world, for its beauty of location on a hill between two lakes. We can offer you the courtesy of our legislative halls and capitol. We can offer you opportunities for discussion which will not be so broken in upon by all the diversity of interests and things to see that you have in Boston. We can work three sessions a day in Madison instead of one session, and hold ourselves straight to this work. I cannot promise you things that are only in contemplation; things which Mr. Elmore and others are considering and will try to get. We will try to treat you with courtesy there and afford an opportunity for the Conference to make you happy.
Mr. M. D. FOLLETT, of Ohio: While sitting here, Sir, I have thought that neither philosophy nor any school that teaches anything of thought can be foreign to us here. Although not practically connected with any institution, I have seen many criminals, charged with crime, many charged with the highest offences in the land, and have never yet found any thoroughly corrupt. While I have sat here and have seen these noble men and women, as they have talked of their plans and have told us of their institutions and appliances, I have said, these are not all. There is something beyond it. There is something that to my mind speaks here in the very countenances, in the tones, in the thought and in the heart of those that have this work in charge; and I care not what be the system so long as we have the right persons with the right notions. I have a message sent from one who was once in a lunatic asylum, but is today sane. She says, "Do not mention my name;" but she asks me to say to this Convention three things, which have already been very thoroughly set forth here. One was, supervision of the asylums, and visits, not at stated times, but at any time; another was the character of the attendants, that they might not take from the poor and feeble patients the little delicacies that a father, a mother or a sister has sent in, to take the place of the coarser food that is provided, as, she says, "I have seen done day after day to the child of a man who stands high in the estimation of the United States today." The last word was that the child might freely communicate with the parents and other friends at home.
I want to thank the people of Boston and the officers of this institution and those who have contributed so much to our pleasure.
Gen. BRINKERHOFF: I had not intended to say anything just now, but I have received a communication which seems to require
an early announcement to the Conference. Before making it, however, allow me to express my feelings in regard to the resolutions that have been offered. I desire also to say a word in respect to what the gentleman on my right (Professor Wright) has said of his own State. I hope all the delegates of this Conference will be present at Madison, Wisconsin, next year. Through the modesty of my friend from Wisconsin the half has not been told of the attractions we may expect. To those who have not visited Madison I can give assurance that they will find it the most beautiful location for a city upon the American Continent, and simply to see it is well worth the journey. In this lake-beaded city you will find, not only a beautiful landscape, and a delightful atmosphere, but you will also find a people that can appreciate the Conference. I have no hesitation in saying that the Conference of 1882, so far as Wisconsin and Madison are concerned, will be a great success. [Applause.] You can be sure that everything
will be done to make it successful.
I desire also to express my hearty assent to everything that has been said by the gentlemen who have preceded me in regard to the royal welcome we have received in Boston. It has been my good fortune to have attended the sessions of the Conference for some years past, commencing at Saratoga, and then ranging along through Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland and Boston. Each year has been better than the year before, and the best of all has been in Boston. Boston at all times is a delightful place to visit, but its generous appreciation of the work in which we are engaged has made it doubly delightful.
To those interested in charitable or correctional work all our Conferences are interesting, for there is no place where we can learn so much as in listening to the experiences of those actively engaged in these fields in the different States. There can be no large progress made in anything except by a comparison of views with those who are engaged in a similar work.
There is no nobler work than that in which the members of this Conference are engaged, and there is certainly no larger field for Christian, or philanthropic effort than the relief of the unfortunate, and the reformation of the vicious. The care of the dependent and defective classes, for the most part, has gone into the custody of public institutions. and if we are to help them we must help these institutions. I can conceive of no nobler work than this. If I can be instrumental in causing but one step forward in the line of our public institutions, or in any one of them, I shall feel that I have not lived in vain; for one step forward means, not only the benefit of that one institution, but the benefit of all similar institutions, and that means help to thousands of unfortunates, not only in this generation, but in all future generations.
In this work of progress the National Conference of Charities and Correction is by all odds the most potential force, and I rejoice
to see it year by year growing in public estimation, and growing in numbers. That the Conference should receive large appreciation in Boston was to be expected, for the beginnings of progress in charitable and correctional work have been for the most part in the old Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and mainly in the city of Boston. To the people of Boston therefore, we express our thanks for the welcome we have received, and I think, also, we should express a special appreciation of the kindly courtesy we have received from Robert Treat Paine, Jr., in the entertainment of Thursday evening, at the Hotel Vendome. As was intended, it brought the members of the Conference together socially, and afforded them an opportunity to meet and know each other far more intimately than is possible in our daily business meetings. It was a precedent worthy of repetition hereafter in all our Conferences.
And now I come to an announcement which may as well be made here as anywhere. It is said that misfortunes never come singly, and the experiences of this Conference would seem to verify this rule. This morning, within the last half hour, I received a letter addressed to my colleague, Mr. Neff, of Cincinnati, who left yesterday, asking him to announce the death of the Hon. Charles Thomas, President of the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati House of Refuge, and a director from the organization of that institution in 1849, with the single exception of a brief interval whilst a member of the legislature. Mr. Thomas died suddenly of apoplexy, at the institution, Sunday, July 24, whilst in the regular discharge of his duties there.
Those of the members of the Conference who were present last year at Cleveland will remember Mr. Thomas. He took part in the discussion which had reference to the care of children. It was a subject to which he had given all the better years of his life. It was not my privilege to be very intimately acquainted with him, but I knew him in his work, and I know something of his history. He was a gentleman of means, and for many years had retired from active business. During these years he made the Cincinnati House of Refuge the work of his life. Major Henry Oliver, its Superintendent, said to me the last time I visited that beautiful institution, that Mr. Thomas was the man to whom they owed more for its success than to any one else. During the thirty odd years of official service as Director and President, he rarely missed a regular meeting of the Board, or was absent from the Sabbath exercises of the institution. As an estimate of those who knew him best, his associates upon the Board of Trustees adopted the following resolution:
"Resolved, That in order that this example may be preserved and kept ever bright and fresh in the minds of our inmates, ourselves and our successors in office, it is therefore recommended that the services in the chapel of this Institution on Sunday, September
25, 1881, be devoted to his memory, and that our President appoint a Committee of three Directors to make complete arrangements therefor.
"Further-We recommend, in honor to our deceased President, that upon Sunday afternoon of each year immediately following July 26, the services in our chapel be a memorial one to him and others of his helpers who died while laboring here, at which shall be read this report, or a similar paper, and other proper services be had, and a history of such proceedings be entered each year upon the Minutes of the Standing Committee."
Mr. Thomas was a member of the Legislature of Ohio and aided in the establishment of the Reform School for Children, at Lancaster, which has been the pioneer of the family system in the United States. He was a man of excellent business capacity, and this, added to his large benevolence and his sympathetic nature, made him a very valuable worker in his chosen field of labor; and now, in the full maturity of years, and at the House of Refuge, the place of all others he would have desired to be, he has been stricken down and has gone to his reward. Dying thus at his post of duty was a noble ending of a noble life. Thus day by day, during the sessions of this Conference, we have been impressed with the fleeting tenure of all things earthly, and of the importance of doing our work whilst the day lasts. We are indeed "such stuff as dreams are made of," and our years at the best are "as a tale that is told." Allow me, in conclusion, to move as the sense of this Conference, that our secretaries be instructed to convey to the superintendent and trustees of the Cincinnati House of Refuge, and through them to all friends of Charles Thomas, our heartfelt sympathies in their great bereavement.
The resolutions of thanks were then passed unanimously by a rising vote.
On motion of General Brinkerhoff the Conference adjourned at 1.30, P. M., to meet again at Madison, in Wisconsin, in July, 1882.