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I rejoice to find myself face to face with this body of intelligent men and intelligent women, who are engaged in this good work. I am proud that I, a layman, so to speak, an outside barbarian, one who has not the wedding garment on, can stand here and tell you how I honor you in my heart. You have a right to feel some exultation, some gratulation in what you and the educators of America have done in general, for the cause of education – I speak more particularly of New England, that portion of my country with which alone I am acquainted. So far as purely intellectual education is concerned, it seems to me we can hardly go further than we have now reached in New England. But man lives, not alone by the intellect - no, nor woman either. To train up a man or a woman to the true stature of manhood or womanhood, there are other parts of the microcosm of man that require training, besides the brain. The body, for instance. I rejoice at what I hear of the impulse and interest given here to physical training. In that respect we may take a lesson from our mother country; at least from her favored classes. There, physical education is attended to, not merely in that which gives strength to the muscles, but to the general rule of life, and especially in careful attention to diet, wherein we have much to learn, in New England.
I was glad to hear from a native of Germany. I have been in his own Prussia, and I am glad to stand here and say that all that he said, so far as a hasty examination can justify me in saying it, is true; that no New England man can go there and not find much to admire. Let me tell you, they beat us in one respect — in the cultivation of the affections, and in the happiness to be derived from them, especially in the domestic circle. There is a grace, a perfume thrown over domestic life in Germany, like the dew upon the flower. It is a never failing, perennial source of happiness. Permit me to say we have something to learn in this respect. We do not get all the happiness we ought to out of the domestic affections.
Again, there is that great country of France, which we are accustomed to look at through English eyes, which has no representative here to-night. There is one respect in which we may take a lesson from France. The people of New England are highly moral; they are eminently comfortable in a material sense. There is great abundance, great prosperity ; but I do think - and it is a conclusion not rashly come to that of all the people in the world, the people of New England are the most discontented. I cannot tell why, but it is in my mind the truth, that we are, in New England, a discontented people. Now what I would have the educators of New England borrow from France, would be, what I would call a taste for happiness, which seasons every day with happiness, and gives a power of extracting happiness from moderate fortunes. The cheerfulness, the happiness of the poor in France, was to me a perpetual refreshment, and in some degree a perpetual rebuke.
These are my observations, thrown off at the moment. They have no other merit than their sincerity. Ponder upon them if there be anything in them worthy, and apply them in the task that lies before you.
Now I cannot take leave of you without saying a single word with especial reference to at least one half of my audience, — the female teachers. I am too old for the language of galantry, and I have too much respect for true womanhood to use such language, were I not so old. But I do say, Mr. Chairman, I never can find myself before an audience of female teachers of America, without feeling my heart swell and my eyes suffused, with respect - I had
almost said reverence. I look upon you as an army of soldiers, — yes some of you may be called martyrs. You who are contending against the hosts of ignorance ; who are patiently plucking out the weeds of vice, and making the desert blossom, often with failing health and spirits, are applying yourselves to the hardest task — that of elevating the lowest of humanity, out of which we may at last bring forth the perfect statue of a finished man. All honor be to you! If your names be not found written upon the tablets of marble, where all may read, they are written in the book of God's remembrance. If earthly hands have no laurels for the faithful female teacher, heavenly hands are twining palms for her; and it may be said of her, —
“ Her glory was not that of mortal clay,
That with the fleeting season dies;
For you and such as you these words were written. But I will not call down your thoughts from the serene heights to which the glorious words of the poet have taken you; but I will say, hail, and farewell, and may the benediction of heaven fall on your heads like the dews. (Great applause.)
The PRESIDENT. I will say one word. It is simply this. Let us devoutly thank God for the great pleasure and success attending this present convention. And may we all go to our several fields of labor, resolved to work as in the presence of God, to do that which he has given us to do, looking to him, and to another world, for our highest reward.
The Institute then joined in singing the Doxology, “ Praise God from whom all blessings flow," &c., and was adjourned sine die.