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.
Fellow Tradesmen : When the formation of this society was conceived it had no higher purpose than to unite us for mutual protection and companionship, and on that basis it has proved itself a useful and social union. From a small membership it has risen to the dignity of a thoroughly organized, popular and powerful association, perfectly able to carry out its proposed beneficent measures, and enjoying a fund of prosperity commensurate with its usefulness. We have now been in existence for five years, and within that period no less than twenty-five similar organizations have been formed in this county alone; so that the dry-goods trade of this section has been greatly benefited and improved by our co-operation. To-night we celebrate the fifth anniversary of our society, and I am happy to announce that its records have never yet been sullied by the business failure of any of its members, nor saddened by the hand of death. We meet, therefore, under peculiarly gratifying circumstances, for the exchange of our congratulations upon the success of the movement, with high hopes for-the future, and to commemorate the fame of those distinguished manufacturers and merchants of America who have made dry-goods the great element of mercantile prosperity that it has now become. Gentlemen, I therefore heartily propose as a toast - "All honor to the Dry-goods Merchants of America - Living or Dead!"
A Landsman's Response to the Toast of " The Navy."
Mr. Chairman, and Gentlemen: It was rather remarkable that the committee should have designated me, above all others, to respond to this important toast. For my marine experiences have been limited in number and extent, and while they have sometimes proved exceedingly unpleasant to myself, I must acknowledge that they have been a source of considerable amusement to my fellow-voyagers. For my navigation has been strictly confined to steam-vessels, in which I rated as a first-class cabin-passenger, with my fare paid and state-room secured in advance; and in all my voyages I have never encountered worse marine disasters than wretched attacks of sea-sickness.
Fortunately, however, my knowledge of naval affairs has not been restricted to my own experiences. As the years have rolled by, I have frequently been thrown into the society of many distinguished gentlemen who belonged to the United States Navy, and am ready to bear testimony to all the good qualities claimed for this sterling branch of our government defenses.
Around the names of Decatur, McDonough, Biddle, Bainbridge, Lawrence, Perry, Chauncey, Elliott, Farragut, Dahlgren, and a host of other true "hearts of oak," circle brilliant halos of fame for their gallant services by sea and land, and all patriotic Americans point to them with proud appreciation. Gentlemen, these men are dead, but their victories illumine our history as a nation with a lustre that charms the mind of youth as it reads the story of their triumphs.
We may praise our army for its deeds of valor on the tented field, and well does it deserve the highest encomiums for its gallantry; but I have noticed that in numerous sieges on the sea-coast without the aid of the Navy the success of the Army would have been exceedingly doubtful. And in the list of noble vessels whose names we love to cherish, stand the veteran "Constitution" (our "Old Iron-sides"), the "United States," the "Chesapeake," the " Wasp," the "Hornet" and the "Monitor."
Gentlemen, I must not dwell too long in recalling the past. We hear the press occasionally sneering at the apparent insignificance of our Navy in "these piping times of peace." Let them sneer; for there never was a time, as yet, in our history when the United States needed a Navy that she did not have it, with a force of fighting men to make it glorious. In the future, as in the past, I look for the renewal of this phenomenon at the proper time, and I believe there will never come a period in our national existence when our Navy will yield its prestige to a foreign or domestic foe, or fail to add new laurels to its victorious record.
Response to the Toast of "The Army."
Mr. President and Gentlemen: It devolves upon me as a duty to reply to the sentiment just offered. To a soldier, duty should ever be a pleasure; and as one of the great Army thus brought to the front, I willingly and proudly respond to the good wishes embodied in this toast.
I could have wished, gentlemen, that some one else had been chosen to perform what I am called upon to do, for it would probably have been done far better. I see before me many who could more eloquently speak of the value and exploits of our military organization, because they have been longer in it and have seen more service.