This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
My Dear Young Friends: I have been listening with much pleasure to your recitations to-day, and with no less delight to the encouraging words of your teachers whenever you faltered in your answers. For I remember when I was a boy, like some of you little ones, I was always very sorry to have the teacher speak harshly to me, if I could not, at first thought, answer correctly to his question. But when he spoke kindly to me, he always encouraged me, and I could more quickly remember what I should say.
Boys and girls, you are very much like men and women in your likes and dislikes, and you feel, quite as keenly as I should, any harsh or unjust word or action on the part of your instructor. In old times, years before you were born, we had no such noble schools as you have. We had but few books, and I think, now, they could not have been as attractive and interesting to study as those I see lying upon your desks. We used to deem them very dull; and then, too, our teachers were not so wise and skillful in imparting instruction as yours are in the public schools to-day. They were usually young men attending college, and teaching to earn money to pay for their education; sometimes they were cross to us, and at others they were very unjust in punishing us for not learning faster than we did. Our school-houses were also very inconvenient places, and often really uncomfortable for teachers and pupils.
But now all this has been changed by the improvements of the age, and the school-houses and books and teachers are all of a better class, so that learning may be made pleasant and much more easily gained. If a boy could read, write and cipher through the " rule of three," it was quite as much as he had reason to expect from the district school. Perhaps he could not spell half the words in the spelling-book aright, nor write a ten-line letter without making fifty mistakes, nor cipher a sum in compound addition correctly. But now you may easily master all these things and many more and better ones, and if you pay proper attention to the lessons you receive, you can go into the high-school, and there gain a sensible, practical education that will either fit you for the business of life, or prepare you to take a higher course in college.
I spoke about cross and harsh teachers. I do not know of any in this school, and I do not think there are any here. But if they never speak harshly to you, they may yet feel very sad that some one of you is not doing what you ought to do, - that is when you play on the sly in school-hours, when you whisper, and when you neglect your studies. Now, if you are obedient and studious children, you will make the teacher happy and have the satisfaction of knowing you are doing right.
You young people should recollect, and I trust that you do, that in a few years you will be on the stage of action, doing the work of men and women. Will you be successful? That will depend upon what you know. And what you know then will largely depend upon what you learn in this school. The years are going by very quickly, and you will be obliged to put your knowledge to the test very soon.
I say this because some young people do not know the value of school. They look upon the school-yard and the school-room as one vast play-ground - not you - but some boys and girls I have known - and they never wake up to a sense of what they need, and what they have lost, until it is too late.
Have a mark, young people; aim for it, and you will rise vastly higher than you will if you have no purpose in life. Your teachers are here to assist you. They are not here to punish. They do not want to spend their time in governing you. They desire to aid in the securing of that education which shall fit you to do your work nobly in life.
It is pleasant to witness the opportunities you possess. It is very satisfactory to see the drill, the system, and methods pursued in your studies and recitations: and I doubt not it will be equally satisfactory to witness your success in after-years, the result of your attending this school.
By James G. Blaine when visiting Chicago Board of Trade.
Gentlemen: I consider it a compliment that this welcome should be extended to me by a commercial body whose business is conducted amid a torrent of confusion which it would seem as hopeless to attempt to check as it is to stem the flow of the Atlantic tide. Remembering that well, I thank you very sincerely for the cordiality of your reception. I had the honor, nine years ago this very month - or possibly the month of October - to have a similar reception in this room. It had just then been completed, as I remember, and it was considered and believed, at that time, to be far beyond any anticipated needs of the commerce of Chicago. To-day it is so far behind that yon are building a new and grander and larger structure, and well you may. Within the past week I have visited five cities to the west of you, and I find them all directly tributary to Chicago as the Queen City of coming years. They look to this as the Mecca of their commercial pilgrimage, and every frontiersman tells the story of its greatness, and every arrangement that adds to his herds is increasing and prospering the growth and business and building up the commerce of your city.
Ten years ago you were waiting for telegrams from London as to prices of produce before you could trade. To-day London is waiting for telegrams from New York and Chicago. We have ceased to wait for Europe to fix a market. You have such absolute control of it that you make Europe wait till you fix the prices. But, gentlemen, it is a dangerous thing to get on the strain of what Chicago is to become. This much is certain: That it is to be the second city of this continent - that it is to outstrip every other commercial centre except New York. I hope no Chicago man of this generation will take offense at this exception. But that it 's to be second only to New York is to see clearly the prophecy of present facts, and that should be open to no objection.
I see a majority of you are young men. You will grow older by-and-by. I see very few gray hairs among you, but occasionally a bald head. You know a preacher once said that a man in his church who was bald got it through the truth glancing off the top of his head. I venture you have had some such experience to increase the want of hair on the Chicago Board of Trade.
I thank you sincerely; I thank you more than I can express for the cordiality of your reception.