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At the regular meeting of the City Government, held 
February 25, 1888, His Honor the Mayor laid the fol- 
lowing communication before the Aldermen and Council 
in joint convention assembled : 

50 State St., 

Boston, Feb. 6, 1888. 
To the Honorable the Mayor and City Council of Con- 
cord^ New Hampshire : 

Gentlemen : In behalf of my sister, Clara M. Fow- 
ler, and myself, I wish to make a formal announcement 
of our intention to present to the City of Concord a library 
building, for the use of the Public Library, as a memorial 
of our late father and mother, Asa Fowler and Mary 
C. K. Fowler. With this end in view, we have pur- 
chased the estate on the corner of North State and School 
streets^ and have made a contract with Mr. E. B. Hutch- 
inson to alter the house into a library building, according 
to plans furnished by Mr. C. Howard Walker, architect, 
of Boston. The building is to be ready for occupancy 
August I, 1888. Our object in notifying you at this time 
is two-fold : We wish the City Council to have actual 
knowledge of the proposed new library building before 
the question of the annual library appropriation comes 
up before them ; and we would like to have a committee 


of citizens appointed by you to act as an Advisory Build- 
ing Committee, such committee to be also authorized to 
agree upon the terms of the deed of gift, and to accept 
the same in behalf of the city. We would suggest the 
names of the Hon. B. A. Kimball, Hon. William L. 
Foster, and Charles R. Corning, Esq., as members of 
this committee. 

Respectfully yours, 

William P. Fowler. 

On motion of Councilman Parker, the communication 
was accepted, and referred to the Mayor and three mem- 
bers of the City Council. 

The chair appointed Councilman Parker and Alder- 
men Rolfe and J. C. Ordway, who, with the Mayor, 
constitute said committee. 

Subsequently, on motion of Councilman Fernald, the 
vote adopting Councilman Parker's motion was recon- 

On motion of Councilman Dwight, the Mayor, the 
Hon. B. A. Kimball, Hon. William L. Foster, and 
Charles R. Corning, Esq., were appointed the Advisory 
Committee asked for in the foregoing communication. 

The Advisory Committee organized with the Hon. 
William L. Foster chairman, and Charles R. Corning, 
Esq., clerk, and proceeded to discharge its duties. The 
committee held several meetings, at which matters per- 
taining to the plans of the library building were fully 
discussed and suggestions made, in which both Mr. 
Fowler and Mr. Walker, the architect, fully acquiesced. 
At the last meeting the deed was unanimously accepted, 
and the record thereof was sent to the City Government. 


At the regular meeting of the City Government, held 
October 27, 1888, His Honor the Mayor laid the follow- 
ing report before the Board of Aldermen and Council in 
joint convention assembled : 

The committee appointed by the Council in conven- 
vention as an Advisory Committee in the matter of the 
Fowler Library Building made the following report, 
which was unanimously adopted : 

To the City Council: 

Concord, October 15, 1888. 
At a meeting of the Advisory Committee, held at the 
office of the Hon. William L. Foster on the evening of 
October 15th, Mr. William P. Fowler, in behalf of him- 
self and Clara M. Fowler, presented to the city of Con- 
cord a deed of gift conveying to said city the Fowler 
Library Building, which deed of gift was, on motion of 
the Hon. John E. Robertson, unanimously accepted. 

William L. Foster. 

John E. Robertson. 

Benjamin A. Kimball. 

Charles R. Corning. 

Alderman John C. Ordway introduced the following 
resolution, which was unanimously adopted : 

Resolved^ That the thanks of the city be tendered to 
William P. and Clara M. Fowler for the munificent and 
timely gift of a Public Library Building, so generously 
presented by them to the city ; that the same be accepted, 
with a profound appreciation of the great benefit con- 
ferred upon its citizens, and that the terms of acceptance 
agreed upon by the Advisory Committee, appointed for 
that purpose, be fully agreed to and ratified. 

<Ci^ &OlOtttimm(f 1887, 1888 

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" 2— JOHN E. FRYE. 


















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a younger generation that does well to make endur- 
ing record of their worth of character and to emulate 
their virtue. 

A multitude of honored and honorable names oc- 
cur to me as I recall the past. Every profession and 
every calling had eminent examples to present, and 
I should be tempted, did not the occasion press upon 
me its limits, to indulge in a train of reminiscence 
which would weary your patience. If to-day we 
offer our grateful tribute to the memory of those of 
whom this structure — the mark of a generous filial 
devotion — is a fitting memorial, we do not detract 
from the good repute which we honor in the rest, 
but rather add to it. For he who stands in a worthy 
company a recognized equal and peer, really in- 
creases the sum of its worth, as the good estate of 
each augments the common wealth. In the com- 
munity of character, when one member is honored, 
all the members rejoice. 

I spoke of the duty which had been assigned to 
me. I regard it as no less a privilege, for it hap- 
pened that these two friends of ours were among 
the earliest to welcome me and to open their hearts 
and home for my reception when I came to make 
here my first venture in active life. The acquaint- 
ance then formed was the beginning of a lifelong 
friendship. The added years deepened my respect 
for the sterling man, — both of law and letters, — who, 
then diligent in his profession, rose step by step till 
he stood at the head ; for the accomplished woman 


who was his companion both in heart and mind, who 
stimulated his ambition and gratefully shared his 
well earned honors and abundant success. To re- 
peat to you now the story of their life is to tell over 
again a familiar tale. It seems scarcely needed 
among the friends and neighbors with whom all 
their active and useful years were spent. But for 
the boys and girls of the present day, who are to be- 
come the men and women of the next century, the 
fathers and mothers of future generations that are 
to receive the benefits of the library here established, 
and for those generations themselves, it may be well 
to draw at least the outline of their career. 

The son and daughter to whose loving interest the 
city owes this beautiful and commodious building 
have had a very clear conception of what would be 
most appropriate to commemorate parental virtue. 
In thus honoring father and mother they assuredly 
honor themselves. Memorial gifts of such a charac- 
ter as this are more than twice blest. A library, with 
its treasures for the enrichment of young and old, 
with a wealth that outlasts all changes and endures 
for all time, kieeps fresh forever the memory of those 
who have been its benefactors. 

What, now, do the names that are inscribed on 
yonder wall represent? Asa Fowler was born in 
Pembroke, — almost within sight of this place, — on 
the 23d of February, 181 1. Working on his father's 
farm, having, like other country boys, his eight or 
ten weeks of winter schooling and little more than a 


year s instruction at Blanchard academy in his native 
town, he was able by diligent study to prepare him- 
self for the Sophomore class of Dartmouth college, 
which he entered in 1830. Graduating in 1833, he 
taught an academy in Topsfield, Mass., for a short 
time; then read law, beginning his studies in March, 
1834, with James Sullivan and Charles H. Peaslee; 
entered upon the practice of his profession in Con- 
cord, in February, 1837; ^^^ was married July 13, of 
the same year, to Mary Cilley Knox. Thencefor- 
ward this city was his home, and here he frequently 
received the marks of his fellow-townsmen's confi- 
dence and esteem, serving them for twenty years on 
the school committee, and in the legislature for five 
years, — wherever, indeed, his wise counsel and clear 
judgment were required. 

The state, too, acknowledged his ability and worth. 
He w^s clerk of the senate for six years, 1835- 
184 1, in his early life; he was speaker of the house 
of representatives for one year, 1872; he was solic- 
itor for Merrimack county for four years, 1 861-1865 ; 
he was a member of the commission for revising the 
statutes, 1865-1867; he was once a candidate for 
governor, 1855, nominated by a party which had a 
brief but honorable history ; and, finally, his official 
life may be said to have culminated in a term of 
nearly six years service, 1855— 1861, as an associ- 
ate justice of the supreme court. He retired from 
practice in 1877. His closing years were solaced by 
congenial studies in English literature, by the appre- 


ciative enjoyment of foreign travel, — visiting Europe 
in 1878 and again in 1883, — and the agreeable asso- 
ciation of friends who shared his literary tastes and 
his cordial hospitality in his happy and well ordered 
home. He died at San Rafael, California, whither 
he had gone with his daughter, in quest of health, on 
the 26th of April, 1885. 

Mary Cilley Knox, great-granddaughter of Gen. 
Joseph Cilley of Revolutionary fame, was born in 
Epsom, September 15, 18 15. She received her 
academic education at New Hampton, in the institu- 
tion which numbers among its alumni and alumnae 
some of the best and fairest of New Hampshire men 
and women. She was remembered long afterward 
for her proficiency in study, both of literature and 
art. Upon her attendance at the observance of the 
semi-centennial anniversary of the academy, not 
many years ago, she received a hearty greeting from 
her former associates, as one in whom the lapse of 
years had not weakened the ties of affection and 

She was married to Mr. Fowler, as already stated, 
in 1837, and after an unbroken union of nearly fifty 
years, died on the nth of October, 1883, leaving 
husband and children to mourn the departure of one 
who had been a sagacious counsellor as well as a 
loving wife, and an affectionate companion and friend 
as well as a wise parent. All this is but a bare re- 
cital of commonplace events. There was a far deep- 
er experience, which is full of interest and signifi- 


cance. For through the years which these events 
mark, a structure of character was rising from its 
deep foundations, firm, compact, and strong, till it 
stood forth, in its simple integrity, beautiful, com- 
plete, and enduring. 

It is no derogation from the originality of Judge 
Fowler's manhood to say that it was in part the pro- 
duct of the institutions of his native state. Born, 
nourished, and reared in one of her substantial coun- 
try homes, educated in her schools and college, win- 
ning his way to fame and fortune, and spending his 
active and professional life wholly within her borders, 
he undoubtedly owed much to the influences and 
forces with which New Hampshire trains her sturdy 
sons. But if in some respects he was her debtor, 
in others she owed much to him. For the state is 
always indebted for her fair repute to the men and 
women whom she rears. Here, certainly, beneath 
the shadows of these granite hills, and up and down 
these lovely valleys, live sons and daughters, — 
a goodly family, — of whom any mother might be 

From the beginning, until now, the history of the 
nation would miss some of its most illustrious char- 
acters and events if the deeds of New Hampshire 
men and women were left unwritten. Both Asa 
Fowler and Mary Knox were of the good stock; and, 
after all, it is blood that tells. Their virtues were 
thoroughly characteristic. Thrift, industry, indepen- 
dence, strength of mind, clearness of thought, per- 



sistence of purpose, a firm substratum of common- 
sense, an accurate perception of the reason why, and 
an unshaken resolution in converting reason into 
reality, — the features are unmistakable. Add to 
these the sound learning which the New Hampshire 
academy and college give, the graceful culture which 
continued study and wide reading impart, the patri- 
otic and public fidelity which is the product of a. 
deep-seated love of liberty and justice, and the man- 
hood and womanhood that are here commemorated 
are plainly apparent to our judgment. 

Certainly it is no ordinary manhood, no common- 
place womanhood. There was a thoroughness of 
knowledge as well as a strength of character in Judge 
Fowler which made him a man of mark in your com- 
munity and throughout the state. He had a certain 
native ruggedness of nature which well comported 
with his stalwart frame. His speech was incisive 
and direct, his action serious and resolute. There 
was no sophistry in his logic. His conscience dealt, 
with no question of casuistry. His judgment was- 
rarely at fault, and his decision of a case seldom* 
required a review. 

He was by nature and conviction opposed to the 
national wrong of slavery and the social evil of in- 
temperance. All good causes which had for their end 
the improvement of human conditions and the pro- 
motion of human welfare found in him a strong and 
sincere advocate. No shuflBing or evasion marked 
or marred the action of his mind. Straightforward 


and open as the day, he made and held his position 
without equivocation. Liberal in his religious opin- 
ions, he was firm in his convictions. Leaving little 
to traditional belief, and less to forms of words, he 
formed his own opinions, and held them with un- 
daunted spirit and unswerving loyalty. Withal, he 
loved nature and he loved good books: history and 
science, as might be expected, but poetry and art 
and the more graceful forms of literature as well. 
The old writers satisfied his reason : the younger 
and later captivated his fancy. In his early life he 
showed the bent of his mind in his conduct, with 
other friends, of a literary gazette. In his maturer 
years, and after his retirement from practice at the 
bar, he was an active, interested, and always interest- 
ing member of a literary association, over which he 
presided with consummate ability and tact. 

Thus he soothed and softened the asperities of 
public life by the quiet enjoyment of his well chosen 
library, and forgot the contests of the forum and the 
weariness of the court-room in the ** still air of de- 
lightful studies," in happy converse with the wise 
and witty of all time. If he sometimes appeared 
stern, he was yet more often indulgent. But in all 
things he strove to be just. A love that was deep 
but not demonstrative tempered his life with its 
warmth of feeling, and moulded his character in 
forms of hidden beauty, which, if not readily discern- 
ible, were still no less real. A well equipped, a thor- 
oughly furnished, a full rounded manhood, worthy of 


being kept in long remembrance, and gratefully cher- 
ished by many generations to come, was thus the 
well matured fruit of his more than three score years 
and ten. 

**A virtuous woman is the crown of her husband," 
says the Hebrew sage, and **her price" is declared 
to be ** above rubies." The term was used as in- 
cluding those commendable qualities of womanhood 
which, in the early days, characterized the head of a 
household. I have spoken of Mrs. Fowler as shar- 
ing in the hopes and success of her husband. She 
also shared to the full in his public spirit and in his 
literary tastes and studies. She was an active mem- 
ber of that patriotic association of American women 
who saved Mount Vernon for the republic. She 
was ready with her generous help to promote the 
success of those benevolent organizations that seek 
the relief of poverty and old age. She was es- 
pecially interested and effective in the measures that 
were adopted for the establishment, enlargement, 
and maintenance of this library. She knew and 
could fully appreciate good books. Her comments 
were always original and often brilliant. 

From a girl Mrs. Fowler had shown capabilities of 
a no common order, and a versatility of thought and 
action which was simply marvellous. She could 
break a colt in the pasture, keep with accuracy her 
father s accounts in his business, manage a house- 
hold with a perfect knowledge of every detail, wheth- 
er in drawing-room or in kitchen. With equal facil- 


ity she could gratify a correct taste in drawing and 
music, and could read with a full intellectual compre- 
hension a beautiful poem, or a profound treatise on 
philosophy or religion. As a cordial hospitality 
marked her social life and her intercourse with 
friends, so did she give welcome greeting to every 
new thought that bore credentials of value ; and her 
love of good literature served to freshen and invig- 
orate her spirit. Her womanhood thus had its 
gracious aspect and its graceful lines. When days 
of weariness and wasting sickness came, there were 
happy memories to brighten and cheer the waning 

I have made prominent in these brief notices of 
Mr. and Mrs. Fowler their literary taste and their 
enjoyment of good books, because I wished to em- 
phasize the appropriateness of this memorial of their 
lives. Surely, nothing can be better adapted to 
keep their memory green in the community in which 
they held so conspicuous a position. No fitter, no 
more lasting, monument could have been devised, 
no more important gift could have been bestowed 
upon this fair city. ** The pyramids may forget their 
builders," says Lowell, on a similar occasion, ** but 
such memorials as this have longer memories." 
Their history is written in the grateful remembrance 
of many generations. The sense of fitness in this 
memorial is made more apparent by the fact that 
Judge Fowler was one of a committee — of whom 
one member, the Hon. Sylvester Dana, alone sur- 


vives — that reported at the town-meeting of 1852 
the desirability of establishing a public library in 
Concord, and providing for its organization. Thus 
it may be said that he was one of the progenitors 
of the enterprise, for it was to his advocacy and his 
judicious counsel that the city is largely indebted for 
the library itself. The parent's design is consum- 
mated by the children's action to-day. 

It is well to erect a statue upon the public square, 
to commemorate the statesmanship of a faithful ser- 
vant of the commonwealth, or the valor of a loyal 
defender of the nation's life. The pulses of patriotic 
feeling are stirred by the sight of it, and the moral 
enthusiasm which the thought of self-devotion there 
embodied arouses is awakened in many a heart. 
We honor the gifted orator, the brave soldier, the 
public benefactor, in the granite, the marble, the 
bronze. It is especially well to establish institutions 
and houses of charity, and to commemorate in the 
hospital and the home for the helpless the names of 
their founders. The noiseless work of benevolence 
goes on, to breathe its blessing upon all surrounding 

But these have sometimes but one story to tell. 
The library has its many voices, and speaks in many 
tongues, for it is the spirit that gives the utterance. 
Daily and hourly the lesson is taught, whether it be 
by biography or history, by science or art, by philos- 
ophy or religion, by books of adventure and travel, 
which open the unknown regions of the earth, or of 


domestic life, which reveal the treasures of the heart, 
by those works of the imagination or fancy which in 
poetry and fiction disclose the beauty of common 
things, or the heroism which every-day life may wit- 
ness, — the lesson is taught, that the manhood and 
womanhood that God has given to us are the most 
sacred, the most beautiful, the most potent, the most 
enduring, of all earthly things. The lesson also is 
taught, that, above all human life and all human 
endeavor, governing the one with a beneficent sway, 
and ennobling the other and making it fruitful to all 
good and great results, is the Divine power, com- 
bined with the Divine wisdom and love, which 
makes single lives prophetic and heroic; which leads 
on the advancing march of human civilization ; which 
shines in sun and star, guides the planets and the 
systems of moving worlds, makes the laws of the 
universe like the ** personal habits of Deity," and 
gives to science the authority of revelation ; which 
discloses the truth that human knowledge, love, 
thought, and hope are the reflections of its own sur- 
passing glory ; which sings in the poet*s song, re- 
veals its beauty in the artist's pencil, and shows how 
human imagination has a creative potency kindred 
with its own ! Human literature thus becomes the 
record of human life in all its aspects, and tells, with 
equal fidelity, the story of Divine Providence, justi- 
fying the ways of God with man. 

I am aware that, in speaking to you of the value 
of books, and of the unalloyed pleasure which a taste 



for reading gives, I am saying nothing which is orig- 
inal or strange. The exercises of to-day signalize^ 
not the establishment of a new library, but the 
removal of one, which already numbers its score and 
more of growing and useful years, to a new and 
more congenial home. The familiar volumes will 
look down upon you, in their new surroundings,, 
with the same friendly greeting. The added conven- 
ience, not to say the unaccustomed luxury, of their 
habitation will only make them more cordial in their 
welcome. For books are friends whom prosperity 
does not elate. They never cut an acquaintance, 
when once it has been made, nor pass one by, how- 
ever humble may be its character, with a superciHous 
consciousness of having risen in the world. They 
are almost the only friends that are free from the 
jealousy of others. They do not frown upon us 
when we neglect them, and they give a ready re- 
sponse, without an allusion to our former estrange- 
ment, whenever we see fit to make advances for a 
renewal of friendly intercourse. They are always 
genial and always generous. 

" Conversation with books," says Montaigne,. 
**goes side by side with me in my whole course,, 
and everywhere is assisting to me ; — it comforts me 
in my age and solitude ; it eases me of a trouble- 
some weight of idleness, delivers me at all hours 
from company that I dislike, and blunts the point 
of griefs, if they are not extreme, and have not got 
an entire possession of my soul. To divert myself 


from a troublesome fancy, 'tis but to run to my 
books. They presently fix me to them, and drive 
the other out of my thoughts. They do not mutiny 
at seeing I have only recourse to them for want of 
other more real, natural, and lively conveniences. 
"^1 hey always receive me with the same kindness." 

The witty Frenchman is supplemented by the 
Italian poet. Petrarch says, — *' I have friends whose 
society is extremely agreeable to me. They are of 
all ages and every country. It is easy to gain access 
to them, for they are always at my service. Some 
teach me how to live, others how to die. Some, by 
their vivacity, drive away my cares and exhilarate 
my spirits ; while others give fortitude to my mind, 
and teach me the important lesson how to restrain 
my desires, and to depend wholly upon myself. In 
return for all their services, they only ask me to 
accommodate them with a convenient chamber in 
some corner of my humble habitation, where they 
may repose in peace : for these friends are more 
delighted by the tranquillity of retirement than with 
the tumults of society.'' 

** Consider," says Emerson, in full accord with the 
others, '*what you have iii the smallest chosen 
library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men 
that could be picked out of all civil countries in a 
thousand years have set in best order the results of 
their learning and wisdom. The men themselves 
were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of 
interruption, fenced by etiquette ; but the thought 


which they did not uncover to their bosom friend is 
here written out in transparent words to us, the 
strangers of another age." But by this act, not of 
condescension, but of genuine good-will, do not the 
authors themselves offer to us their friendship? I, 
for one, should hesitate to force my company upon 
an eminent author uninvited. For I should become 
to him but little more than what Mr. Emerson used 
to call *' a devastator of his time.'' There are people 
enough ready to spoil his day without my presence. 
But when he writes a book and publishes it to the 
world, he invites me to share his inmost intellectual 
life, and I gladly and gratefully accept the invi- 
tation. Then he becomes gracious and kind, and 
entertains me with a generous hospitality. Nay, he 
comes into my home as an honored guest, and his 
visits are those of a dear and valued friend. 

In earlier days, as many of us doubtless remem- 
ber, Dickens's works were published in monthly 
parts, and so successfully that the example was fol- 
lowed by other authors. I recall now, — as doubtless 
also some of yourselves, — the delight with which 
these monthly parts were received, with what joy 
they were anticipated, and with what real happiness 
they were read. It was almost like the coming of 
a lover across the sea. Wittingly or unwittingly, 
an author whom I admire writes to me, and for my 
enjoyment, even if he does not know how his book 
reaches my hands. Though I may be but one of 
many thousands, I am made to feel that I am treated 


as well as the most honored guest. This is the ad- 
vantage of the kind of society which books offer to 
us. No one can feel slighted by inattention. There 
are no wall flowers ; and one can pass a delightful 
evening with the most courteous of hosts, for the 
shyest and most bashful are at once placed at ease, 
and receive as kind and polite a treatment as the 
most favored and intimate. There is no small ad- 
vantage in this to the modest reader. For to feel 
the assurance that the best authors of the past or 
the present days are one's dear friends, is to become 
conscious of some noble possession. Life is digni- 
fied, and the passing years have a new character. 

''All round the room my silent servants wait, 
My friends in every season, bright and dim ; 
Angels and seraphim 

Come down and murmur to me sweet and low, 
And spirits of the skies all come and go, 
Early and late : 

From the old world's divine and distant date, 
From the sublimer few, 
Down to the poet, who but yester-eve 
Sang sweet and made us grieve — 
All come, assembling here in order due." 

There is sometimes a question, however, whether 
or not an author's real character can be ascertained 
by his writings. Does he speak to us from the 
centre of his being, or only from the outside ? Per- 
haps a doubt of this kind may have been the motive 


which induced a Western correspondent to write to 
Longfellow the curious request, — ** Please inform 
me whether or not your feelings were in sympathy 
with your immortal thought when you wrote *The 
Bridge/ " The man himself, — or, possibly, the wo- 
man, — seemed not to have any sense of the humor 
or the absurdity of the thing. Perhaps there was 
an honest purpose beneath it, and the subject sug- 
gested by it has been often discussed with a greater 
or less measure of wisdom. 

There are some who contend, — and with a show of 
truth, we must admit, — that an author writes simply 
as he is moved by his peculiar genius at the time, 
and has no intention, as there is no pressing need, 
of letting the world know what manner of man he 
really is. If I should say that it is not every author 
that is consistent in his daily life with what he utters 
with his pen, he might retort upon me that it is not 
every preacher that practises what he preaches. 
But the tu quoque rejoinder never disposes of the 
subject. Undoubtedly, men of genius have their 
infirmities and faults, and it may be a somewhat 
ungenerous task to dwell upon them. 

Perhaps the mild criticism which Emerson passed 
upon his friend, Bronson Alcott, may be accepted as 
an admirable statement of the case. Emerson ad- 
mired his neighbor very much, but he was not blind 
to his weaknesses. He was ** obliged to confess 
that his friend could not deal with matters of fact." 
'* He looks at everything," says Emerson in his jour- 


nal, ** in larger angles than any other, and by good 
right would be the greatest man. But here comes 
in another trait: it is found that, though his angles 
are of so generous contents, the lines do not meet. 
The apex is not quite defined. We must allow for 
the refraction of the lens, but it is the best instru- 
ment I have ever met with." 

We are sometimes provoked into unfavorable 
criticism when we discover, through the perhaps too 
conscientious faithfulness of the biographer, some 
glaring fault in one whose writings have commanded 
our warm admiration. But, as Mr. Emerson says, 
'*we must allow for the refraction of the lens." If 
we have to separate the man from the author, we 
still can enjoy the fruits of his genius. If Goldsmith 
and Leigh Hunt were careless about paying their 
debts, and Bulwer quarrelled with his wife, and 
Dickens found, after many years of domestic inter- 
course, that the mother of his children was '* incom- 
patible," and Carlyle was ** a gey man to live with," 
and Shelley went off with Mar^' Goodwin, and 
George Eliot lived with a man who was not her 
husband in the eye of the law, and Byron was the 
victim of many vices, we still can appreciate the 
excellence of their literary work. Scott may have 
had a pardonable vanity to found a family and build 
a house which should become historic ; but what 
a wholesome, healthy, even, heroic man he was! 
Wordsworth may have been at times too self-con- 
scious in his simplicity ; but no one among modern 


bards has opened up the depths like him, and so 
disclosed the 

'' sense sublime 

Of something far more deeply interfused, 

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, 
And the round ocean, and the living air. 

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man." 

Coleridge may have clouded both his mental and 
moral sense with the fumes of opium; and Lamb, 
gentle, lovable, and rare in his self-devotion, may 
have occasionally indulged in cups that both inebriate 
and cheer, — ^but I would by no means on that account 
banish them from my shelves. Burns might now 
and then fall a prey to both appetite and passion ; 
nevertheless his song sometimes rises sweet and full 
of melody as a lark's, and pours down from aloft 
its rich music to entrance all that hear. We must 
judge these friends of ours — as we would also judge 
one another — at their best ; and if we cannot alto- 
gether overlook their faults, we will not certainly 
depreciate or disparage their virtues. Integrity of 
manhood and womanhood is a rare quality, and when 
we find it, we will evermore be grateful for it, and 
thank God that He has sent into the world singers 
whose notes come pure and clear from depths of 
purity within their own being — writers whose words 
stir our hearts to noble emotions and devout aspira- 
tions — authors whose books have in them the ele- 


ments of immortality, because they illustrate what is 
most generous and most worthy of the human soul. 
Every book that is written by a true man or woman 
has something in it of the best quality of its author, 
and so may become immortal. We may even some- 
times be disposed to believe, with Hawthorne, that 
** every new book, or antique one, may contain the 
* Open Sesame ! ' — the spell to disclose treasures 
hidden in some unsuspected cave of truth." 

Happily, with the best of American authors there 
is no need to make exceptions. Irving, Cooper,. 
Dana, Bryant, Prescott, Longfellow, Motley, Emer- 
son, Hawthorne, Whittier, Lowell, Holmes, are 
never to be mentioned with bated breath. We read 
their biographies and trace their careers with admir- 
ation, and are glad to find, both in themselves and 
in their books, all that is charming and attractive. 
They are generous and pure, amiable both at home 
and abroad, pursuing life and performing its duties 
with a manly simplicity worthy of all praise. It cer- 
tainly is honorable to the character, both of our lit- 
erature and our literary men, that we can thus speak 
and feel. If yet there be an occasional deviation — 
for we do not seek 

'' A faultless monster which the world ne'er saw" — ^ 

we still would evermore rejoice in our knowledge of 
those who, with ourselves, have known of the strug- 
gles and strivings and infirmities of our mortal life» 


and can sympathize with us in our failures as well 
as in our successes. 

The victories that have been won for us on the 
field of our national literature are for the glory of 
our national life. Military exploits may for a time 
engage the popular attention, but literary achieve- 
ments are all for time, and command a grateful com- 
memoration when the beating of the drum, and the 
blare of the trumpets, and the roar of the cannon 
have died away to silence. The sneering question 
of the English critic, *' Who reads an American 
book ? " has been fully answered ; and now both 
the book and the author are held in well deserved 

In all departments of literature, American writers 
have won an honored place. In biography, history, 
philosophy, art, adventures, science, fiction, poetry, 
religion, we can find authors at whose feet we gladly 
sit, and to whose books we gladly give the place of 
honor. We need look no longer to the old world 
for our models. We are freed from our subservience 
to foreign conventionality and our fear of foreign 
criticism. An American library, as it seems to me, 
should especially favor American literature ; and 
when we once have ascertained the wealth we have 
at our command and already in our hands, we shall 
feel a wonderful content in counting over our treas- 
ures. It is true, that genius can call any country its 
own, and is not limited by any boundary lines. It 
is not entered at the custom-house, and cannot be 


excluded by any an ti- Chinese law. It is cosmopol- 
itan and universal. Yet we are especially gratified 
when we can claim as fellow-countrymen, American 
by birth and nature and character, the men of genius 
who bid fair to make illustrious this, our own prov- 
ince, in the world-wide republic of letters. 

As there are different classes of books, so there 
are different classes of readers. ** Some books are 
to be tasted," says Lord Bacon, ** others to be swal- 
lowed, and some few to be chewed and digested ; — 
that is, some books are to be read only in parts, 
others to be read but not curiously, and some few to 
be read wholly and with diligence and attention." 
There are corresponding .kinds of readers — those 
who taste, and taste to criticize ; those who swallow, 
and are but little better for what they have taken ; 
and those who study carefully and diligently, that 
they may not only amass a wealth of learning, but 
also make it effective by assimilation, and fruitful by 
its wise employment in human concerns. 

There are, also, different methods of reading. 
Some read every word, and one word at a time ; 
others read a sentence or a paragraph at a glance; 
and I have even known of one or two who seem to 
have the faculty of seeing the contents of an entire 
page by simply looking .up and down its lines. Some 
persons also have a remarkable power of memory, 
and they can tell, even after the lapse of years, the 
precise page in a book where a certain specified sub- 
ject is considered, and even the line upon the page. 


I have known a lawyer who could give, without a 
moment's hesitation, the exact reference to a case as 
reported, without having seen the book in which it 
appeared for a considerable period of time. It was 
not only in law that he was thus versed, but there 
was also no single branch of literature with which he 
was not more or less familiar. 

Such persons are omnivorous readers, and nothing 
comes amiss. But most of us must be careful in our 
selections ; and as we are debarred by one cause or 
another — the lack of time or the want of opportunity 
— from such indulgence of the intellectual appetite^ 
we have to exercise our judgment as best we can in 
making our choice. We certainly would be grate- 
ful for all books of reference prepared by those who 
are competent to make original investigations. The 
historian and the philosopher help us greatly, and 
the poet and the novelist bring in upon the dull 
routine of duty the light of imagination to brighten 
the daily task. 

Some people — writers of note and ability — have 
recently amused themselves by giving lists of what 
they thought the best hundred books for the general 
reader. The results are curious, and of sufficient 
variety, as showing the differences in judgment to be 
noticed in men of wide reading and extensive learn- 
ing. But can any one really select reading which 
will commend itself to all alike ? There are a few 
standard books which every one must read, who 
wishes, as Dr. Johnson suggests, to enjoy life or 


to endure it." And there are the Bible and Shake- 
speare, which are a library in themselves when right- 
ly understood. It is certainly a most felicitous ar- 
rangement here to set apart a room for the especial 
study of Shakespeare. 

But beyond these there is such a diversity of tastes 
as to make it extremely difficult to say what one 
shall read, and what one shall omit. Hamerton 
says, — ** The art of reading is to skip judiciously. 
Whole libraries may be skipped in these days, when 
we have the results of them in our modern culture 
without going over the ground again. And even of 
the books we decide to read there are almost always 
large portions which do not concern us, and which 
we are sure to forget the day after we have read 
them. The art is to skip all that does not concern 
us, whilst missing nothing that we really need." 
Emerson gives these practical rules: **(i) Never 
read any book that is not a year old. (2) Never 
read any but famed books. (3) Never read any but 
what you like." Dr. Johnson once said, — *' A man 
ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what 
he reads as a task will do him little good. A young 
man should read five hours in the day, and so may 
acquire a great deal of knowledge." Shakespeare's 
Tranio tells his master that 

" No profit grows where is no pleasure ta'en ; 
In brief, sir, study what you most affect." 

Mr. Darwin turned aside from his laborious applica- 


tion of mind in scientific studies to enjoy his novel, 
although he could not read poetry with any interest. 
** Novels," he said, ** have been for years a wonder- 
ful relief and pleasure to me, and I often bless all 
novelists." Yet novels and novelists are to some 
good men objects to be shunned, and there are those 
who think an indulgence in fiction but little better 
than ** intellectual dram-drinking." But there are 
novels, and novels. To read Scott appreciatively is 
to come in contact with a great and generous soul ; 
and to read Thackeray is to look into the deep things 
of life. 

**I have often been astonished," says Sir John 
Lubbock, **how little care people devote to the 
selection of what they read. Books are almost 
innumerable ; our hours for reading are, alas ! very 
few. Yet many people read almost by hazard. 
They will take any book they chance to find in a 
room at a friend's house ; they will buy a novel at 
a railway stall, if it has an attractive title. Indeed, 
I believe even the binding, in some cases, affects 
their choice. The selection is, no doubt, far from 
easy. I have, indeed, sometimes heard it said, that 
in reading every one must choose for himself, — but 
this reminds me of the recommendation not to go 
into the water until you can swim." On the other 
hand, a plea is put in by the late Lord Iddlesleigh 
for desultory reading, as it may often happen that a 
casual sentence or two dropped into the mind, here 
and there, and at an odd moment, may become 


the fruitful seed of profitable thought. Thus do 
men of eminence in intellectual things differ in their 
opinion ; and one of modest pretensions may well 
shrink from deciding the question. Of one thing I 
believe we are all reasonably sure : it is injurious, 
both mentally and morally, to fritter away one's time 
in reading without any definite purpose, and thus to 
indulge in intellectual dissipation. 

There is, in short, reading for instruction, and 
there is reading for diversion. There are books to 
stimulate, to encourage, to arouse our noblest emo- 
tions and thoughts. There are books to widen the 
horizon of our minds and our lives, as they open to 
our minds the broad fields of knowledge which have 
been cultivated for centuries. There are books which 
soothe and rest and comfort our souls when wearied 
with the struggles and the toil of life. There are 
books which amuse, delight, and captivate us, when 
we need to turn away from severe study and ex- 
hausting labor. There are books which reveal to 
us the beauty that lies around our feet in this world 
of ours ; the grandeur of this life which God has 
given us, in which to serve His truth, promote His 
glory, and make His kingdom real; and the im- 
mortal hope which brightens the earthly course of 
man, and outlives death and the grave. 

A library like this furnishes food, nourishment, 
entertainment, inspiration for all, and its catalogue 
ranges readily 

'' From grave to gay, from lively to severe." 


Here, indeed, all tastes will find the opportunity of 
gratification. Here young and old will have con- 
genial company and an agreeable resort. Here the 
finest and bravest souls will mingle their best 
thoughts with the life of every day for its ennoble- 
ment and consecration. Here the wit and wisdom 
of the ages will have their home, and give their 
cordial salutation to all lovers of good letters, of 
whatever condition in life. How happy the thought 
which has thus found unique and generous expres- 
sion in this beautiful and spacious monument of filial 
devotion, this enduring memorial of public virtue 
and parental love ! May it stand unimpaired through 
the years to come, to fulfil its mission to this com- 
munity in enlightening the mind, in cultivating pure 
tastes, in enhancing the enjoyment of elevated pleas- 
ures, in stimulating the growth of character, in 
strengthening all noble motives and dignifying all 
familiar life ! 

After the beautiful rendering, by the choir, of the 
anthem, ** To Thee, O Country," the Mayor intro- 
duced Mrs. Abba Goold Woolson, of Boston, Mas- 
sachusetts, formerly of Concord, who read the fol- 

POEM. 37 


A little, brave New England town 

They built in early days, 
When they had cut the forest down, 

And cleared the grassy ways. 
In seemly order, side by side. 
The buildings rose in modest pride. 
With drooping garden-boughs between. 
And trellised vines, and plots of green; 
Each hearthstone laid for household cheer 
And sober feasts throughout the year. 

Outside their homes, in earnest mood. 
They labored for the common good ; 

They made their highways straight and broad. 
And trees transplanted from the wood. 

To shade the springing sod. 
A council hall for stern debate 
On matters that concerned the state. 
And many schools and churches, stood 
To make men wise, and keep them good. 

And so, intent on grave affairs. 

With honest toil. 
They gave themselves to daily cares. 

And turned the stubborn soil. 
Wealth was not there to flaunt her power. 
Nor poverty in dens to cower ; 
But all like helpful brothers dwelt. 
Together worked, together knelt, — 
With little time to waste in mirth ; 
Mindful of heaven, but more of earth. 


In time there came, to claim a home, 

A pilgrim-group, of foreign mien, — 
Like straggling gipsy bands that roam 

By village lanes and meadows green ; 
Born under other skies than ours, — 
A land of song, and sun, and flowers. 
In gait and speech and flashing eye, 
With gracious look, and bearing high. 
They seemed to speak of far-off" climes. 
Of southern lands, and elder times. 

They gave a greeting, as they came. 
And told their names with conscious pride. 
As though with noble blood allied. 

And not unknown to fame. 
Learning, in mantle frayed and brown. 
Upon an open page looked down, 

Nor raised for once her eyes : 
Then grave Philosophy, intent. 
Who scarcely saw which way she went, 

Off'-looking to the skies : 
And Science, young, with sturdy pace 

Advancing, bold and free. 
Looked neither off" to empty space 

Nor dropped his gaze to see 
The storied page which Learning read, — 
So rapt she did not hear his tread. 
He spoke not with the sauntering band. 
But kept aloof, the while he scanned 
— Upheld within his steady hand — 
The pebble flecked with mosses brown. 

The leaflet from the wayside tree ; 

POEM. 39 

And bent his brows with haughty frown 
If they, his elders, crossed his path ; 
Nor strove to hide his scornful wrath 
At sight of Poesy. 

For he, the tricksy, venturous child, 
With eyes in-looking, deep and wild, 
Danced here and there, a wayward elf. 
Humming his carols to himself; 

But turning back anon. 

Ere far his steps had gone. 
With sudden start, and hurried stride, 
To cling his comrade's skirts beside ; 
Nestling his hand within their own. 
As loath to find himself alone. 

No money had they in their purse : 

Footsore they came. 
They neither hammered, delved, nor spun, 
Nor boasted aught that they had done ; 
Nor did they fear a stranger's curse ; 

Or hold it cause for shame 
To beg for shelter, food, and fire. 
Enough to stay their life's desire. 

The boon was asked with careless grace. 
As who should say, '' Another place 
Awaits us, but we deign to stay. 
Since here we halted on the way. 
Vouchsafe the paltry gifts we need, 
And you shall find us friends indeed : 
If forth we go, to wander free. 
You are the poorer then, not we." 


The citizens, for very shame, 

At mention of each sounding name, 

Forbore the vagrant band to chide : 
They gave them liberty to take 
The roof another's needs forsake. 

And there in peace to bide ; 
To grasp whatever fruits might be 
Unplucked by honest industry ; 
To seek the shade when days were warm, 
And house themselves from wind and storm. 

And so to any roof they went. 
Which plenty spared and sufferance lent : 
And each so well his part did bear, 
Contented with his meagre share. 
That soon the town with truth confessed 
It ne'er had held a worthier guest. 

But Poesy, when others stood 
Snatching betimes their scanty food. 

Was roaming far and wide ; 
Pulling the wild-rose from the ledge. 
Or asters from the wayside hedge. 
And lingering in the wood. 
To weave a garland for his head ; 
By many a passing fancy led 

To pond and river-side. 
Watching the sunset's purple state, 
Till home was reached, alas, too late. 
Oft went he supperless to bed. 

Blowing his finger-tips for cold, — 
To rise at night, when all was still. 

POEM. 41 

And play upon his reedy flute 

— Left all the day unblown and mute — 

Such rapturous airs, so sweet, so bold. 
High floating over vale and hill, 
That all who heard them in their sleep 
Saw visions which the angels keep 
For weary mortals, who would fain 
Some glimpse of Paradise obtain : 
Then back to chilly bed he crept, 
And soon, with tired eyelids, slept. 
Nor did he deem his lot unblest. 
Since tender fancies warmed his breast. 
And music wafted to the wdnd 
His woes, and left content behind. 
But ere he slept, the pitying Muse 
Fed her dear child with honeyed dews. 
Gathered where sparkling waters shine. 
With sweet ambrosia, food divine. 

They held such converse, deep and high, 
This stranger band, as years went by. 

That friends they won among the few ; 
Who saw fresh glories in the sky. 

And subtler meanings drew 
From changing aspects of the field, — 
The viewless crops their furrows yield ; 
Ungarnered, till at length they find 
A storehouse in the thinker's mind. 
A joy serene was taught to age. 
Who learned to con the studious page. 
To ponder with a deeper glance 
Each passing deed and circumstance : 


And sometimes to their halls would stray 
Young men and maids, from idle play. 

In time, these wondering pilgrims came 
To brighten homes of generous aim, 

Responsive to some high behest : 
And honored thus throughout the year, 
In days of leisure, hours of cheer. 

There grew in many a youthful breast 

A liking for each gentie guest ; 
Till finer manners, nobler thought, 
A grace and culture, thus were taught. 

One home, whose portals open flew 

Whene'er these pilgrims came. 
Whose honored seats the master drew 

Beside the hearth's bright flame, 
Sent forth to other homes the ray 
Whose light still broadens unto day. 
There Learning, Truth, Philosophy, 

A cordial greeting found, 
With converse flowing free ; 
The pulse to quicker life was stirred. 
Thought flashed, and flew the winged word : 

And deep discourse went round. 

Alas ! for us the fires no longer glow 

Upon that hearthstone ; friendship's joy is fled : 

Swift to salute us comes no welcoming voice. 

No hastening footsteps with the well known tread. 

At eve no more do favored loiterers sit, 

By love detained, around the shining board. 

POEM. 43 

While queenly mistress, 'mid the play of wit, 

Rules the bright feast, and adds the trenchant word. 

The tones are hushed that bade our hearts rejoice. 
The shafts of wit are sped ; 

And strangers o'er the threshold come and go. 

Nor heed, nor know 

Where linger mute reminders of the dead. 

Trained in that household, which fond memory sees 

As erst the happy home of lettered ease, 

Two almoners extend a willing hand 

To bless for aye the pilgrim band. 

They bid their feet no longer roam. 

But here to find a lasting home ; — 

One free to all ; since none may stay 
The flood where minds their thirst would slake. 
The power that should exclusion make. 

And raise a bar to keep away 
The poorest lad from Learning's shelf, — 

To youthful Burns and Shakespeare say, 
** No boys with neither friends nor pelf 
Have entrance here ; the books are ours," 
Would dwarf a soul's commanding powers, 
Would rob the world, and rob itself. 

To sire and matron long revered 
This fitting monument is reared ; 
And brighter filial love shall shine 
When burning here on Learning's shrine. 
Brother and sister, side by side. 
Have come to ope the portals wide : 
They greet the wanderers, — now no more 
Stray exiles on a friendless shore. 


We see them pass, and give them cheer, 
These pilgrims loved for many a year. 
Who shall not honor them, who sees 
Their stately dwelling 'mid the trees? 

Ah ! Learning, Truth, and Poesy, 
You now are hosts, the guests are we ! 
Well may you turn to bless the hands 

Which give such largess from their store ; 
His soul, which all your dower expands. 

Can tender you no more. 
Than when he plans with patient care. 
Your home within this temple fair. 
For her, so loved, — we know her well ; 
The half nor you nor I may tell ; 
To me a pleasure, her a pain, 
To voice the praise our hearts contain ; 
I sometimes think, when her I find 
So gay and brave, so true and kind, 
' T is Rosalind herself again 
Come back to solace mortal men. 

And now, in turn, the pilgrims shall dispense, 
From this their treasure-house of garnered thought, 
A priceless bounty, — till their guests are brought 

To hold communion with the minds of yore ; 
To soar beyond the narrow bounds of sense, 

And realms of hidden knowledge to explore : 
No longer prisoned in the passing hour. 
They move where time and space have lost their power, 

These laden shelves, with their historic lore, 
Transport you to the empires of the dead : 

POEM. 45 

Spread the wide page, and you shall hear no more 
The echoing street without, the hurried tread 

And throbbing life of this our modern land : 
The rolling centuries are backward whirled : 

Beneath the gateway of the Past you stand. 
And glide into the morning of the world. 

For you the cities of the East again 

Their busy throngs recall ; 
You see their reapers bending o'er the plain. 

Their masons on the wall ; 
And cruel armies issue from the gate 

To smite some trembling land ; 
Or, home-returned, with victory elate. 

They lead a dusty band 
Of lowing oxen, weary prisoners bound. 

No more to wander free. 
Sad-faced, while jeering thousands press around, 

Shouting anew to see 
'Mid standards thronging high, and banners torn. 
The gleaming spoil of palaces upborne. 

Whirled onward in the crowd's exultant tide. 

Rushing with eager pride. 

You mount with them the lofty palace floor, 

To pause, awe-struck, beside the presence-door, 

Where tower, in stony calm, with lifted wings. 

The mighty shapes of dread Assyrian kings : 

Then entering, undismayed. 

While war's strange trophies at his feet are laid, 

And shields are clashed, and piercing trumpets blown, 

You prostrate fall before great Sargon's throne. 


Or, in the river-plain, amid the bloom 

Of Babylon's low gardens, you shall stray, 
While evening's gathering stillness lulls each sound, 

Save that of dashing waters far away. 

And mournful winds that through the willows play : 
When festal lights no longer break the gloom. 

There in the hush profound, 

From dungeons underground, 
As near the palace walls your footsteps roam, 

You start surprised to hear. 

Unseen, and yet so near. 
The sobbing captives, where, in fetters bound, 
Jerusalem's sad princes dream of home. 

Would you escape to happier scenes than this ? 
You then shall tread where proud Persepolis 

Rears in the vale her lofty, pillared halls ; 

Walk through her spacious courts, when lightly falls 
And lifts the silken curtain in the breeze, 
Revealing blooming vistas, where the trees 

Tremble at dusk with song of nightingales, — 

Ere from the horizon sails 
The full-orbed moon, to brighten all the sky. 
Riding supreme on high. 

There at the noontide, slumberous with the heat, 
The charmed beholder sees 

In clustered ranks the roses red and sweet. 
And diamond-dust from swaying fountains blown 
O'er glowing turf and rim of sculptured stone. 

And now a sailor, speeding home again 
To Athens o'er the main. 

POEM. 47 

You swiftly pass the shining Cyclades, 
Set in their foamv seas ; 

And standing at the prow, 
When leaps the bounding skiff to every wave, 

You face the flying spray, and shade your brow. 
Eager one glimpse to save 
Which sends assurance to your straining sight 
That still the snowy temples crown the height : 
And shout for joy, when o'er the billow's crest. 

First glimmers from afar,— 
Ere rocky coast-line darkens on the West, — 

The twinkling splendor, like a drowning star, 
Which shows where mighty Pallas lifts on high 
Her flashing spear against the azure sky. 

O'er Gibbon's stately page you linger then, — 

And pass Rome's prouder day, 
To mark, recorded by his faithful pen. 

The waning strength of her imperial sway. 
No victor's hour her splendors shall restore ; 
The haughty legions can return no more 
Along her highways ; but a savage horde. 
Bearing to southern lands the conqueror's sword. 

In vengeance issue forth 

From forests of the north. 
And sweep where Caesar's armies trod of yore. 
Onward they pour defiant, trampling down 
The waving field, the terror-stricken town, 
Till art and culture from their seats are hurled. 
And havoc wastes the Mistress of the World. 

The centuries pass : and arts, revived once more, 
Teach the dark world what they had taught before. 


Kindling anew on Learning's blackened shrine,. 
From ancient fires, the saving spark divine. 
Then states and kingdoms, springing side by side. 
Fan the bright flame ; — a brotherhood allied, 
By sweet civility and Christian laws. 
To foster Learning as a sacred cause. 

Such tales these volumes tell, — 

How nations rose and fell. 

What virtues strengthen, and what crimes destroy ;. 

And, by such lessons taught, the thoughtful boy 

Will come to see how tyranny and wrong 

Can rear no firm dominion, mild and strong. 

Then shall he cherish in a patriot's breast 

Love for this land, the youngest and the best. 

Which builds her power on blessings that endure,. 

On freedom, won alike for rich and poor. 

Seeks peace and plenty, turns from wasting war. 

Yet grasps the sword to save a righteous law. 

Perchance from elder times you haste away 
To see what pictures greet the eye to-day. 

Forth with the traveller you lightly pace 
Through distant realms, on Fancy's flying feet. 
Scaling all heights, a rover free and bold ; 

The while you keep your place 
Beside the hearthstone, housed from wind and cold. 
Your eye, intent upon the printed sheet. 
Shall foreign lands and hidden deeps explore ; 

You gaze where billows beat. 
Blue as of old, round Psestum's templed shore ; 

POEM. 49 

And note, 'twixt crumbling pillars reared on high, 
The wind-rocked flower, awave against the sky. 
You climb steep pathways, dark with mountain 

gloom ; 
Or tread the moorland, sweet with purple bloom ; 
Or move with exiled bands, that sadly roam 
Toward frozen steppes, despoiled of friends and 

home ; 
Or breast with wheeling birds the welcome breeze 

That sweeps the Afric coast. 
Bringing cool draughts from wide Atlantic seas 

To shake a rustling host 
Of swinging boughs, and tufted, verdurous plumes ; 
Where, in a garden lone. 

Terraced adown the slope, 
Geranium thickets toss their scarlet blooms, 

And Moorish casements ope 
Fronting the wave, with every curtain blown, 
And wind and morning make the spot their own. 
Or, pleasure-led, upon a brimming tide, 
Float where the Danube rolls its flood beside 
The empty halls of Presburg's ruined pile ; 
See bright Valencia's orange orchards smile ; 
And watch the sunset glow 
Fade from Granada's mountain-wall of snow : 

Or scan the shadowed steep 
Of glad Sorrento, if, engulfed below. 
Where green the waters glide 

O'er toppled wall and villa sunken deep, 
Haply a slanting beam may chance to show 
The home of Tasso, whelmed within the tide. 
Such journeys swift, such devious flight, he tries 
Who looks at Nature through the traveller's eyes. 


Revolving suns to other lands shall bring 

Decay and darkness to succeed the Spring ; 

But neither blight nor Winter's chill may come 

Where art and letters have their sheltered home. 

Here bloom perennial lingers in the vales ; 

The airs are soft ; the sunlight never pales. 

Whatever blasts may sweep the western hill, 

In Chaucer's verse the dew-drops sparkle still ; 

The turf springs fresh and cool ; the daisies glow, 

Though planted there five hundred years ago. 

From Herrick's garden fade the daflfodils, 

And, fading, bloom for aye ; with fragrance thrills 

Our wondering sense when we behold once more 

The lovely rose which Saccharissa wore : 

Still steps the courtier down the shaded walk. 

Plucking its fairest blossom from the stalk, 

To add a beauty to the dainty line 

That tells his lady she is all divine. 

Grave Wordsworth leads us forth to lonely lakes 

Whose placid depth the mountain shadow takes. 

With Keats we tread where summer splendors throng, 

And Shelley's skylark floods the air with song. 

Though science flout and ignorance deride, 

Imagination shall her sway retain ; 
Here Poesy w^ill sit by Shakespeare's side. 

Spirit and Master, in their own domain ; 
And that great soul who in his wisdom knew. 
As never man before, how nobly true, 
Tender, and loyal, womanhood might be, — 
Most truly gentle when most brave and free, — 
This poet's heart, that felt the subtle power 

Of grace and beauty, wit, and smiling youth. 

POEM. 51 

Yet turned from all, in manhood's later hour, 
To greet plain constancy and simple truth, — 

The bard supreme, to woman's heart endeared. 
Shall have within these walls his lasting shrine, 

By gratitude and fond allegiance reared, 
A tribute rendered to his gifts divine. 

And o'er the threshold, seeking here to know 

The hidden import of his every phrase. 
All day, with reverent step, shall come and go 

The maids and matrons, uttering still his praise ; 
Finding no word that courteous lips may speak. 
No gallant deed, but seemeth cold and weak 
Beside the glowing portraits that he drew 
Of those pure souls his loving fancy knew. 

And when the night has closed these swinging doors. 

And home and revel call the throng away. 
With silent step, across the vacant floors, 

A troop of shadowy figures seem to stray ; 
Their floating garments brighten in the gloom, 
When sails the rising moon o'er elm and birch. 
Sending its beams within the darkened room. 
Betwixt the towers of the Norman church, — 

Built like Matilda's abbey, far away. 
What wonder that the eye of fancy sees 
In such an hour, such sacred haunts as these. 
The gentle sisterhood of Shakespeare's line. 
Step from their nooks to bow before his shrine ? 

Faithful Cordelia, — honor dwells with her ; 
Portia the wise, and Rosalind's sweet grace. 
Hiding love's rankling wound with laughing face ; 

Gay, sparkling Beatrice, and Perdita, 


And winsome Imogen, and all the race 

Of noble wives and most unhappy queens, — 
Poor Constance, wild with wrongs ; and Katherine, 

Whose sturdy pride on simple justice leans ; 
And she who, scoffing, dared her Love to win 
Through crime a kingly crown ; and then apart. 
Sparing his troubled sight what conscience sent 
To haunt her pillow, paced with shuddering breath, 

Wringing her snow-white hands. 
And Anjou's Margaret, of lion-heart, . 
Defying fate, till, every arrow spent 

And high hope shattered, in her father's lands 
She sat, a listless exile, waiting death. 
The world has wept with them since Prospero 

Summoned their spirits from the vasty deep 
To tell what griefs the human heart can know. 

What bitter woes in royal tombs may sleep. 

Full many a sorrow added to its own, 
And many a joy, the scholar's heart has known. 
Seeking for knowledge in the world of books. 
How cold and dead, to outward vision, looks 

The volume known to fame 1 
Yet smouldering fire and blasts of quickening strength 
Wait in its pages, leaping forth at length 

To touch the soul responsive to its flame. 

And if, in future years, some idling youth. 
For whom the shop, the anvil, and the plow 
Have no enticing call, — if such as he, 

Startled by words of truth 
Within these alcoves slumbering even now. 

POEM. 53 

Shall find at last his prisoned soul set free, 

His heart no longer mute, 

And striking then the poet's quivering lute. 

Awaken melodies of wondrous power. 

Unheard till that glad hour ; 

And, in immortal verse. 

Which years to come and nations shall rehearse 

— So sweet the matchless strains — 
Picture for aye these level intervales. 

The sandy, pine-dark plains, 
The palisaded bluflfs, the impetuous stream, 
The granite ledges, and the chestnut woods, 
With charm that never fails : 
Or, in impassioned dream. 
Which takes no note of nature's solitudes. 
Reveal the spirit's moods, — 

The same in every age and every clime ; 
Voice the keen agony that Sorrow knows 
When fates, relentless, deal their cruel blows : 
Sing of Love's flame, and Hope's bright rhapsody. 

And soaring Faith sublime ; 
To minds untaught a quicker life impart. 
From ignorance set free ; 

With trust in Heaven sustain the sinking heart ; 
Teach wealth with poverty its goods to share ; 
For scorn, send pity ; courage, for despair ; 
Till the brave carol dry the sufferer's tear. 
The friendless toiler cheer, 
And, sweeping on with accent deep and strong, 
Arouse the world to lessen human wrong, — 
If this the poet's mission, this his song. 
Who will not deem the voice divinely given, 
A seraph pleading from the courts of heaven ? 


When such a singer, from some humble home, 
In happy years to come, 
A spell of genius o'er the land shall cast, 
And crown the city with his splendid fame. 
His townsmen, reckoning sordid gain and loss. 
And hoarded stores of generations past. 
May prize their wealth, but count it all as dross 
Matched with the proud possession of his name. 

And should no honor come, nor wealth, nor power. 

The while he lives, 
He will not lack his life's sufficient dower, 

The cheer which comfort gives. 
Nature shall solace him with beauty, born 

His finer sense to feed ; 
The clouds his chariot, and the wind of morn 

His coursing steed. 
And when he pines for converse sweet and high, 

Unrecognized, forlorn, 
Apollo's self, descending from the sky. 

Shall lead him on 
To join the Muses where they sit and sing, 
A happy band, by Helicon's clear spring. 

But if no kingly bard, from heaven sent. 

With glimmering beauty deck the common fields, 
Forth from these walls, with influence unspent. 

Shall flow the blessed power which knowledge wields ; 
The sweet humanities can never roam 

To leave your borders ; agencies divine, 
In lonely farm-house and in city home. 

These books will prove, to gladden and refine. 
And loftier purpose shall their pages preach, 

Luring mankind to live a braver life : 


A true philanthropy these halls will teach, 

Calling our youth from wealth's ignoble strife, 
And saying, — Fortune is a sacred trust : 
Use it to make men wise, and merciful, and just. 

Then men shall see that all the outward realm. 
Whose charms material our senses hold. 
Is but the shadow, lustreless and cold ; 
That thought, and spirit, and the soul's ideal 
Are life's strong pilots, sitting at the helm, 
Bearing us on, through Error's passing shows. 
To what alone is absolute and real, — 
The final verities which Heaven knows. 

After the applause called forth by the poem, 
William P. Fowler, Esq., of Boston, presented the 
Deed of Gift to the Trustees in these words : 

It is with feelings of sincere pleasure, not unmixed 
with sad recollections, that in behalf of my sister and 
myself I make the formal presentation of this build- 
ing to the City of Concord for the use of the Public 
Library. Our purpose in purchasing this estate and 
remodelling the house into a library building was 
twofold. We wished to erect a lasting memorial 
of our parents in the city of their residence, thus 
expressing our love for them and our gratitude for 
their abounding love and care, and their great gen- 
erosity to us. Their earnest efforts in behalf of the 
educational and literary advancement of their fellow- 
citizens were marked features of their lives, and ren- 


der it especially fitting that their memorial should 
continue their influence for good upon the intellect- 
ual life of the city for all time. Nothing is so sure 
to promote mental growth as contact with other and 
greater minds; and a library is the congregation of 
the master minds of all ages. The public library, in 
the establishment of which both our parents partici- 
pated, is now to be housed in a permanent and 
accessible building, thus perpetuating their memory, 
and prolonging their interest in the well-being of 

The second motive which has influenced us to 
make this gift is the desire that our native city should 
possess every possible stimulus to literary culture. 
We are glad to learn that love of books and fond- 
ness for critical study are already potent factors in 
the city's life. We gratefully acknowledge our own 
youthful advantages in the use of books, and would 
gladly extend those privileges to others as far as 
possible. We wish to secure a proper environment 
for the students of your valuable library; to enchance 
that library's usefulness by giving it an appropriate 
home and attractive surroundings; to bring every 
citizen within the circle of its influence ; to reach the 
young and old alike, — the great body of non-readers 
as well as the better educated. 

We have set apart a room for a museum, in the 
hope that a collection will be made there of such rel- 
ics of the city's history, its great men and great events, 
as will create a lively interest in the city's past, and a 

pr:pse:n^tatio:n^ of deed. 57 

patriotic pride in her fame. We hope, too, that a 
collection of paintings and sculpture may in time be 
added. Concord people travel much over land and 
sea, and may well bring back with them articles of 
beauty or curiosity, to attract and edify visitors to the 
museum room. 

We have also devoted a room to the accommodation 
of the numerous Shakespeare clubs of Concord, feel- 
ing sure that a local habitation will tend to prolong 
their useful existence. May this room help to perpet- 
uate here the present remarkable and commendable 
interest in the works of the greatest of English 

The provisions of the deed of gift are designed to 
broaden the benefits to be derived from the library 
to the greatest possible extent. Their great object 
is to create a public interest in the library, and a 
popular use of its resources. It should be thronged 
each day with citizens anxious to obtain that daily 
bread of culture which is the staff of intellectual life. 
We trust that every citizen will regularly use this 
library in some way, either by passing an hour in the 
reading-room, or by taking home a book from its 
shelves. They are your books. This is your house, 
your literary home, to come and go, and sit and read 
in, at your pleasure. That is the spirit of possession, 
of ownership, in which we would have you view this 
library building. May it prove a veritable fountain 
of learning, whose waters shall be a living spring of 
knowledge and an inspiration to lofty effort. 


The Hon. William L. Foster, on behalf of the 
Trustees, responded as follows: 

In the name and in behalf of the City of Concord, 
and of all the men and women and children thereof, 
for them and for future generations, the Trustees of 
the Public Library accept, with grateful thanks, this 
generous and beautiful gift. 

The means heretofore provided by municipal 
appropriation, aided by the bounty of two or three 
individuals, gratefully remembered, have been not 
merely inconvenient and unattractive, but also much 
too limited in space to serve the constant and rapidly 
increasing public demand. We have at present a 
circulating library of about eight thousand volumes, 
besides some five thousand books and pamphlets 
retained for reference within the library rooms. 

The number of our citizens who have availed 
themselves of the advantages of our circulating 
books has recently increased with great rapidity. 
In the year 1885 there were distributed 28,409 vol- 
umes; in 1886, 35,527; in 1887, 42,339 ; and in the 
year ending Aug. 31, 1888, 46,112. During the 
weekending last Saturday, 1,216 books were distrib- 
uted. Manifestly we have become a reading people. 

In the various departments, whether in works of 
history, biography, science, art, religion, politics, poe- 
try, or fiction, the city's trustees have endeavored to 
provide a wholesome literature. 

Heretofore no reading-room has been connected 


with the library. Your munificence has supplied this 
important deficiency. We hope to be able to furnish 
the reading-room with the best and most useful cur- 
rent newspapers and other periodicals, domestic and 

By the gift of this elegant and commodious build- 
ing, with abundant shelf capacity for some twenty- 
five thousand volumes, with a spacious and conven- 
ient reading-room, and another delightful apartment 
designed for the use of literary clubs, you have fur- 
nished us not only ample facilities for the enjoy- 
ment of our present possessions, but also larger and 
better means for the general diffusion of knowledge 
among all our people. 

Popular enlightenment and education are attained 
through three main agencies — the church, the public 
school, and a free library ; and probably it will not be 
universally conceded that a free library is the least 
of these in beneficent power and effect. 

Sir Francis Bacon, you remember, spoke of the 
wisdom that comes from History, the wit that is born 
of Poetry, and the power and force developed by 
Logic and Rhetoric; and he remarked that ** reading 
maketh a full man." 

In his first message to congress, Washington told 
his countrymen, — ** There is nothing which can better 
deserve your patronage than the promotion of 
science and literature. Knowledge, in every country, 
is the surest basis of public happiness;" and in his 
farewell message, he charged the people to **pro- 


mote, as a matter of primary importance, institutions 
for the general diffusion of knowledge." 

And General Grant, in a message to congress, 
exclaimed, — **I call upon the people, everywhere, to 
see to it that all who possess and exercise political 
rights shall have the opportunity to acquire the 
knowledge which will make their share in the 
government a blessing and not a danger/' 

President Garfield also spoke of the ** savory influ- 
ence of universal education." 

Similar sentiments were expressed by the framers 
of our state constitution, who declared in that docu- 
ment that ** Knowledge and learning generally dif- 
fused through a community being essential to a free 
government, and spreading the opportunities and 
advantages of education through the various parts of 
the country being highly conducive to promote this 
end, it shall be the duty of all legislators and mag- 
istrates, in all future periods of this government, to 
cherish the interest of literature and the sciences;" 
and accordingly our legislature, in 1849, enacted a 
statute authorizing towns and cities to raise money 
to procure books, maps, charts, periodicals, and other 
publications, for the establishment and perpetual 
maintenance of libraries **open to the free use of 
every inhabitant of the town [or city] where the 
same exists, for the general diffusion of intelligence 
among all classes of the community," and to pur- 
chase land, erect buildings, and provide for the com- 
pensation of officers and agents to be employed 


in the establishment and management of such libra- 

It is because you have so nobly responded to such 
calls as these, and by your generosity have given us 
this ** opportunity*' to. acquire and dispense ** intelli- 
gence among all classes of the community/' that we 
render you hearty thanks. 

We cannot doubt that* the City of Concord will 
recognize its duty, esteeming it also a privilege and 
pleasure, to provide by liberal appropriations through 
all coming time for the maintenance and support of 
this institution. 

You have given us in this connection a ** Shakes- 
peare room." We shall gladly assemble therein 
to read and study the works of the immortal bard ; 
and when we review the story of Antony and Cleo- 
patra, perhaps we may call to mind that Cleopatra 
was presented by her infatuated slave with two hun- 
dred thousand volumes, which afterward became a. 
part of the magnificent Alexandrian library. 

The reading-room and the Shakespeare room will 
furnish opportunities not heretofore afforded for 
social intercourse, and for conversation about the 
books we are reading and the ** books that have 
helped us." Surrounded by the atmosphere of books, 
we may compare impressions and exchange thoughts 
and opinions concerning them; and we shall have 
less of that sober feeling which we have all experi- 
enced, and which the poet Wordsworth expressed 
when he wrote, — 


" Often have I sighed to measure 
By myself a lonely pleasure, — 
Sighed to think I read a book, 
Only read, perhaps, by me." 

The ancients held their libraries in religious ven- 
eration. They were preserved in sacred places, and 
the earliest librarians were priests. The oldest 
library of which we have historical record was founded 
at Memphis by an Egyptian king. It was located in 
the royal palace, and was magnificently adorned by 
statues of the divinities. Upon its portals were 
inscribed the words, — **The nourishment of the 
SOUL," or, according to Diodorus, **The medicine of 
the mind." 

So, my friends, this building shall be a sanctified 
temple. It shall be for the suppression of idleness 
and vice, and for the inculcation of virtue ; — for harm 
cannot come to the souls of those who occupy or rec- 
reate themselves with good books. Here shall be 
found development for the intellect, enlargement 
and strength for the mind. Here we shall find the 
stimulus of honest work, and the inspiration of hope 
and ambition. Here we may solace ourselves with 
the sweet illusions of imagination. Here human 
hearts shall become wiser and happier; better and 
more fruitful ; more gentle and courteous ; less rude 
and selfish; more noble, less degraded; more blessed, 
less accursed ; — and the flowers and fruits nourished 
by these ** savory influences " shall not wither or die. 
They shall flourish through all the changes of time, 


surviving the season of youth and beauty, lasting 
through middle life, adorning and sanctifying the 
scenes of old age. This habitation shall thus be for 
us — as such places were for them of old time — a 
temple for the purification and the ** nourishment of 
the soul.'* 

The Mayor then called upon the Rev. F. D. Ayer, 
D. D., pastor of the First Congregational Church of 
Concord, to offer prayer. 


Our Heavenly Father, the lines have fallen to us 
in pleasant places, and we have a goodly heritage. 
In the midst of our mercies, and with every new gift, 
we desire to acknowledge Thee, and to give Thee 
thanks. We praise Thee for all the blessings of our 
civil and religious liberty; that Thou didst guide our 
fathers as they founded here the institutions of learn- 
ing and religion. Thou didst teach them to plant 
the school beside the church, and gavest loyalty to 
intelligence and virtue while they labored to advance 
the privileges for both. We remember with gratitude 
to-day the debt we owe to the early settlers of this 
town for the personal virtues that were theirs, for the 
homes they planted, for the schools they organized, 
and for the church of God that they loved. We 
praise Thee that from generation to generation those 
who have followed them have had the same spirit, 
and have here maintained those institutions that have 


marked our history. Aid us who have entered into 
this inheritance, and to whom come the duties and 
privileges of maintaining them, that we may be faith- 
ful to our day and generation, and may increase 
these blessings while we use them. Especially would 
we give thanks to-day, standing in this new gift to 
public intelligence, for those who founded this City 
Library, and who have watched over and enlarged it. 
We thank Thee that we are capable of using such a 
gift ; that we can receive the thoughts of others, and 
learn wisdom and good from those who have gone be- 
fore us, but have left their best thoughts in books that 
may keep us company. We praise Thee for all that 
this library has thus done in the years gone, — and 
our prayer is that with this beautiful and commodious 
building its usefulness may be enlarged ; that it may 
stand among the many useful institutions that bless 
our fair city, a perpetual fountain of light and knowl- 
edge. We give thanks for the life and labor of those 
whose names are linked with this gift ; for the life 
Thou gavest them, and that they held with us ; for the 
home, intelligent and hospitable ; for their influence, 
so many years in our city, in favor of all that is good^ 
true, and virtuous; for their unwearied labor in be- 
half of learning and charity; and for that interest in 
our weal that grew with the years. Let thy blessing 
abide upon this son and daughter, who in filial aff*ec- 
tion and in a like love to this people have purchased 
and renewed this building, and have now presented 
it to this city. May this fitting memorial of the 


parents, a monument more lasting than the granite, 
bear also their desire and influence along the ages. 
Reward them for their love to the departed and to 
us, and may this act of filial reverence and benefi- 
cent desire unfold in rich blessing upon their hearts 
while it blesses us. Now, as we devote this building 
to the uses of pure knowledge and growing intelli- 
gence, we ask that Thou wilt guard it: let it abide and 
be a delight to coming generations. Here let the 
young find inspiration and guidance to better living 
and more useful service ; here may weary Labor find 
an hour of rest, and gain new motive to endeavor, 
new power to achieve ; here may Leisure find a 
blessed companionship ; and here may the aged and 
ripened in life find a quiet rest and joy. Going out 
from these shelves, may wise teachers enter and find 
hospitality in all our homes. So, to all of us, may 
this library make perpetual our school-day, and aid 
to prolong our learning of useful truth to the end of 
life. Let thy blessing rest upon the Trustees of this 
library, and upon all the officers of our city govern- 
ment, in the discharge of their duties. Our Father, 
as we devote this building to its uses for ourselves 
and for those after us, with this and all our gifts we 
desire to consecrate anew ourselves to Thee and to 
labor for our fellow-men. We ask all, and give our- 
selves, in the name of the Beloved. Amen. 

The exercises were brought to a close by the sing- 
ing of **Auld Lang Syne," in which the audience 



[From the Concord Evening Monitor, Saturday, Oct. 13, 1888.] 




The new Fowler Library Building, the munificent gift 
to the city of William P. and Clara M. Fowler, is now 
completed, the entire outlay, including the furnishing, 
being about $25,000. Its location on the corner of 
School and State streets is central, and its surroundings 
are all that could be desired. The propert}'^ was pur- 
chased from the L. D. Brown estate, and the building 
was the substantial brick residence of that gentleman. 
It was originally built in the most thorough manner, and 
as remodelled fron plans by Walker & Best, of Boston, 
will furnish ample accommodations for the city library 
fpr years to come. It is two stories in height, with a 
basement, is well lighted and ventilated, and can be 
enlarged, should occasion require, without injury to the 
architectural symmetry of the building. The changes 
on the exterior of the building have been unimportant, 
consisting mainly of the removal of the porticos and 
piazzas, and the remodelling of the roof projection ; but 
the alterations of the interior have been complete. The 


old partitions and stairways were removed, so that every- 
thing is new and in modern style. The lot is now hav- 
ing a new curbing put around it, after which it will be 
graded and turfed. 

There are two entrances, one from School and the 
other from State street, both of which are reached by 
granite steps, and both have porticos of handsome de- 
sign. The School Street entrance is the main one, and 
opens into a large vestibule, which contains niches for 
busts. This opens into a two-storied delivery-room, 22 
feet by 15 i, lighted with triple windows, the delivery- 
desk being on the right of the entrance. Placed over 
the entrance to the delivery-room is the following inscrip- 
tion : "This building was presented to the City of Con- 
cord by William P. and Clara M. Fowler, in grateful 
and loving remembrance of their parents, Asa Fowler 
and Mary C. K. Fowler, for fifty years residents of Con- 
cord, and always active promoters of the educational 
and intellectual improvement of its citizens." 

Opposite the delivery-room is the reading-room, 18 by 
30 feet, while the office of the librarian is on the right of 
the vestibule and adjacent to the delivery-desk. To the 
right of the desk is the library proper, 20 by 27 feet, two 
stories in height, with a winding iron stairway, and 
practically fire proof. It contains alcove book-cases 
with a capacity of 23,cxx) volumes. An open gallery, 
with a handsome balustrade 10 by 23 feet, adjoins the 
upper story of the library, and is designed for the accom- 
modation of foreign books. The second floor, which is 
reached from the vestibule by a broad oaken staircase, 
contains the trustees' office, i4 by 25 feet; a room, 
directly over the reading-room, which it is proposed to 
set apart for a " Shakespeare Club Room ; " and a cloak- 


room. The Shakespeare, librarian's, and reading rooms 
are fitted with fire-places. The basement will contain the 
heating apparatus, and rooms for storage and book-bind- 
ing purposes. 

The interior is handsomely finished in hard wood, 
mostly oak, and, with the ceilings painted in oil, pre- 
sents a rich and tasteful appearance. The ceiling of the 
main room is especially noticeable, and is finished in 
water colors by Strauss of Boston. Altogether the 
library building is one of which the city may well be 
proud, and for which Mr. and Miss Fowler, as well as 
their parents, in whose memory it is given, will always 
be held in grateful remembrance by Concord people. 

The contract for the entire work was awarded to E. B. 
Hutchinson, and it has been carried out in a manner 
most creditable to that gentleman. The very best of 
materials have been used, and none but skilful workmen 


An act passed by the general court, December 7, 1798, 
incorporated Timothy Walker, John Bradley, Jonathan 
Eastman, and their associates, by the name of "The 
Proprietors of Concord Library," and authorized them 
to raise money by subscription, donations, etc., and to 
hold property for the benefit of the library to the amount 
of one thousand dollars. A library of valuable books 
was collected, which was sustained, and proved highly 
useful for about twenty-five years. 

This seems to have been the first library of any great 
account established in Concord. After it was given up, 
libraries were established by book-sellers and others, 


from which books were loaned to readers for a weekly 

After the mills were built at Fisherville, a library was 
started by residents in that place, which is still in ex- 
istence. Nearly every religious society has a Sunday- 
school library, and some of the higher schools. The 
High School library was unfortunately lost by the fire 
which destroyed the High School building last spring. 

The citizens of Concord also have access to the State 
library, essentially a law library, but containing many 
valuable books on other subjects, and the library of the 
New Hampshire Historical Society, containing a mass of 
antique documents which it would be hard to replace. 
The Young Men's Christian Association also have a con- 
siderable library for the use of their patrons. 

By a law passed at the session of the legislature in 

1849, any town in the state, at a meeting duly called for 
the purpose, was authorized to raise and appropriate 
money for the purchase of books, maps, charts, periodi- 
cals, and other publications, and provide for the estab- 
lishment and perpetual maintenance of a public library, 
the use of which should be free to every inhabitant of 
the town. 

At the annual meeting of the town of Concord, March, 

1850, the attention of the town was called to the subject 
by an article in the warrant calling the meeting, and 
Sylvester Dana, Asa Fowler, Jacob A. Potter, Moses 
Shute, and Abel Baker were appointed ''a committee 
to report at the next town-meeting what action the town 
should take in relation to the establishment and perpetual 
maintenance of a public library for the free use of all 
the inhabitants thereof, and what sum of money they 
should raise and appropriate for that purpose." 


This committee made a report [see page 8i] at the 
annual meeting in March, 1852, in which, after setting 
forth the benefits to be derived from a public library, and 
the necessity existing for its establishment, they submitted 
the following resolutions, which the town voted to accept 
and adopt : 

Resolved^ That to promote the general diffusion of 
intelligence among all classes, and counteract the ten- 
dencies to dissipation that exist in every community, it is 
expedient that a public library, for the free use of all our 
inhabitants, subject to necessary rules and regulations 
for its proper management and careful preservation, be 
established and forever maintained in the town of Con- 

Resolved^ That the sum of one thousand dollars be 
and hereby is raised and appropriated for the, purpose of 
purchasing books, maps, charts, periodical and other 
publications, for the commencement of such library, the 
renting of a suitable room for its accommodation, and 
warming and lighting the same, and the compensation of 
such officers and agents as may be necessarily employed 
in its establishment and management, during the ensu- 
ing year. 

Resolved^ That a committee of three disinterested and 
competent citizens, to be denominated the Committee on 
the Public Library, shall as soon as practicable be ap- 
pointed by the selectmen, whose duty it shall be to expend 
the above sum in accordance with the foregoing resolu- 
tion, and make report of their doings at the next annual 
meeting, and that a like committee shall annually here- 
after be appointed by the selectmen in the month of 

Resolved^ That besides taking charge of the public 
library, and making and establishing rules and regula- 
tions for its control and the management of its affairs, 
which they are hereby authorized and empowered to do, 
and expending and accounting annually for all moneys 
appropriated for its support, and making an annual re- 
port to the town of the condition and prospects, it shall 
be the duty of the committee on the public library to 


solicit and receive, from citizens of the town and others, 
donations of money, books, maps, charts, and other pub- 
lications for the increase of said library, and to use their 
best efforts, by every laudable means, to promote and 
perpetuate its growth, prosperity, and usefulness. 

This appears to have been all the action taken by the 
town in regard to the establishment of a public library. 

At the annual meeting in March, 1853, the town voted 
to accept the city charter granted by the legislature in 
1849, under the provisions of which a city government 
was elected and inaugurated. 

No action seems to have been taken for the establish- 
ment of a library by the city government until August 
26, 1855, when an ordinance for that purpose was 

By this ordinance the sum of fifteen hundred dollars 
was appropriated, and ordered to be paid out of any 
money in the city treasury not otherwise appropriated, 
for the purpose of establishing, commencing, and accom- 
modating such library, a sum not exceeding three hun- 
dred dollars of which was allowed to be expended in 
procuring furniture, fixtures, and such other articles as 
might be necessary for its proper accommodation during 
the current municipal year, the remainder to be expended 
in the purchase of books, maps, charts, and other publi- 
cations for its commencement and increase. 

A board of trustees, consisting of one member from 
each ward into which the city was divided, was directed 
to be elected by the city government yearly, and their 
duties were prescribed, provision being made that they 
should receive no compensation for their services. 

The first board of trustees was elected April 5, 1856, 
and consisted of 


David A. Brown, Ward i. 
Thomas D. Potter, Ward 2. 
Simeon Abbott, Ward 3. 
Amos Hadley, Ward 4. 
William H. Bartlett, Ward 5. 
Artemas B.. Muzzey, Ward 6. 
Jeremiah S. Noyes, Ward 7. 

The board of trustees organized April 12, 1856, by 
the choice of 

Thomas D. Potter, President. 
Jeremiah S. Noyes, Treasurer. 
Artemas B. Muzzey, Secretary. 

September 23, 1856, Mr. Muzzey was appointed agent 
to select and purchase books for the library to an amount 
not exceeding one thousand dollars, and instructed to 
proceed in the discharge of his duties immediately. 

January 3, 1857, Mr. Andrew Capenwas chosen libra- 
rian, provided "he will serve for fifty dollars a year,"^ 
and the library was opened to the public shortly after. 

It was kept at first in the City Hall building, on the 
second floor, directly above the city clerk's office and the 
rooms of the city council, where it remained until early 
in 1876, when it was removed to the Board of Trade 

Mr. Capen resigned his position in November, 1857, 
and Frederick S. Crawford was appointed to fill the va- 
cancy shortly after. He held the office until February 
I, 1882, when he was succeeded by Daniel S. Secomb. 

Following is a statement of money received for the 
support of the library during its existence : 



First appropriation. City, 

Annual appropriations, amount. 

Avails of G. P. Lyon fund, 

Avails of Franklin Pierce fund. 

Received for cards sold, and sundries. 

Presented by the ladies of Concord, February, 






Out of this amount, $4,800 has been paid for rent, be- 
sides the running expenses of the library, and insurance, 
which has left a very moderate sum in the hands of the 
trustees for the increase of the library. 

The circulajtion of books and pamphlets, during the 
year ending September i, 1888, was as follows : 




March, 1888, 





April, " 





May, " 





,une, " 





July. " 





August, " 


Volumes given out during the year, 46,112 

•Greatest number given out in one day. May 19, 462. 

Least number given out in one day, June 26, 30. 

Greatest number in one week, week ending May 
19, 1,161. 

Least number in one week, week ending September 
10, 1887, 710. 

The yearly charge of twenty-five cents to each patron 
of the library was abandoned April i, 1888, as it was 
found to conflict with the provisions of the law authoriz- 
ing the establishment of public libraries. 

An appropriation having been made by the city govern- 
ment for that purpose, arrangements were made by the 

DEED. 77 

trustees of the library for the conveyance of books,, 
and their delivery to its patrons in Penacook twice a 

The number sent there now averages over one hun- 
dred per week, and is increasing. 


Know all Men by these Presents, 

That we, William P. Fowler, of Boston, in the County 
of Suffolk and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and 
Clara M. Fowler, of Concord, in the County of Merri- 
mack and State of New Hampshire, in consideration of 
one dollar and other good considerations to us in hand, 
before the delivery hereof, well and truly paid by the 
City of Concord, New Hampshire, the receipt whereof is 
hereby acknowledged, do hereby remise, release, and 
forever quitclaim unto the said City of Concord the fol- 
lowing described parcel of land situated in said Concord, 
together with the buildings thereon and the furniture in 
said buildings coiltained. Said parcel is described as. 
follows, namely : Beginning at the intersection of the 
east line of State street with the north line of School 
street, and running thence northerly by the east line of 
State street, eighty-eight and two tenths (88.2) feet, to 
land now or late of Nathaniel White ; thence deflecting 
eighty-nine degrees and fifty-two minutes (89° 52') to 
the right, and running easterly by land of said White 


ninety-six (96) feet, more or less, to a stake ; then turn- 
ing at about a right angle and running southerly parallel 
with the east line of State street ninety-two feet and ten 
inches (92!^), more or less, to the north line of School 
street at the westerly side of the post of the iron fence ; 
thence turning and running westerly by the north line of 
School street ninety-six (96) feet, more or less, to the point 
of beginning ; — meaning to convey the whole of the estate 
conveyed to us, June 29th, 1887, by Lurana C. Brown, 
by deed recorded in Merrimack Records, Lib. 279, Fol. 
28, except a strip off the easterly end thereof, next land 
of Mrs. White, of the width of thirty-six feet and five 
inches (36^^). To use the same, and the buildings upon 
the same, for a Public Library Building, in which shall 
be located a Public Library and Reading-Room, and for 
no other purpose ; except that the room known as the 
*' Shakespeare Club Room " shall be used, under proper 
restrictions to be prescribed by the trustees of the 
Public Library, as a place of meeting and study for 
any club or association, and the several members 
thereof, now or hereafter formed in said Concord for 
the purpose of reading and studying the works of 
William Shakespeare ; and except also, that, in the 
discretion of said trustees, the room known as the 
"Museum" may be used as a receptacle for a museum, 
which shall be accessible to the public under regulations 
to be prescribed by said trustees : Provided^ however^ that 
the use of the said Library, and of said Reading-Room, 
**Shakespeare Club Room," and "Museum" shall always 
be free to the inhabitants of said Concord, and that the 
library shall be open at seasonable hours every week 
day, and that the Reading-Room shall be open at season- 
able hours every day throughout the year : and ^pro- 

DEED. 79 

videdy also, that the inscription over the door leading 
from the vestibule into the delivery-room, and that over 
the entrance to the School street porch, shall always be 
and remain as and where they now are, namely, — Over 
the delivery-room door, the words "This building was 
presented to the City of Concord, October i8, 1888, by 
William P. Fowler and Clara M. Fowler, in grateful 
and loving remembrance of their parents, Asa Fowler 
and Mary C. K. Fowler, for fifty years residents of Con- 
cord, and always active promoters of the educational and 
intellectual advancement of its citizens ; " and over the 
entrance to School street porch the words ''The Fowler 
Library Building." 

To have and to hold the granted premises, with all 
the privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging, 
to the said City of Concord, to the uses and behoof for- 
ever, as herein before set forth, and none other : JPro- 
vided, however, and this deed is upon the express condi- 
tion, that if said building, or any portion thereof, or any 
portion of the granted premises, shall be at any time 
used for any other purpose than as above stated, or if 
any other of the conditions in this deed set forth shall be 
broken, then, and at the time of the breaking of such 
condition, the said granted premises shall at once revert 
to the grantors and their heirs, and the estate of said 
City of Concord shall thereupon cease and determine. 

And we do hereby, for ourselves and our heirs, execu- 
tors, and administrators, covenant with the said grantee 
that the granted premises are free from all incumbrances 
made or suffered by us, or either of us, except as afore- 
said, and that we will, and our heirs, executors, and 
administrators shall, warrant and defend the same to the 
said grantee forever against the lawful claims and de- 


mands of all persons claiming by, through, or under us, 
except as aforesaid, but against none other. 

In witness whereof, we, the said William P. Fowler 
and Clara M. Fowler, both unmarried, hereto set our 
hands and seals this eighteenth day of October, in the 
year one thousand eight hundred and eightj^-eight. 

Signed and sealed in the presence of 

Charles R. Corning. 
James H. Chase. 

CLARA M. FOWLER (l. s.) 

State of New Hampshire, Merrimack ss. 

Concord, October i8, 1888. 
Then personally appeared the above named William 
P. Fowler and Clara M. Fowler, and severally acknowl- 
edged the foregoing instrument to be their free and vol- 
untary act and deed. 

Before me, 

Charles R. Corning, 

Justice of the Peace. 

Received October 19, 9:15 a. m., 1888. 

Recorded and examined. 

Charles H. Ordway, 




Of a Committee (1852) appointed by the town of Concord, 
with reference to " the establishment and perpetual mainte- 
nance of a public library for the use of all the inhabitants there- 

The importance of that knowledge which is alone furnished 
by the study and perusal of standard books and publications 
will be denied by no one who justly appreciates the powers and 
necessities of the human mind. Upon the arts and sciences, 
and upon nearly every trade and profession, there are now an 
abundance of works, highly useful, not to say indispensable, to 
every one who would attain a thorough acquaintance with the 
business to which he is devoted. If to these are added those 
useful works of a more strictly literary and those of a miscel- 
laneous character (from which the mass of mankind derive 
most of their book knowledge) , we find, without entering the 
domain of fiction, a number so extensive as to preclude their 
acquisition by all persons in the ordinary circumstances of life. 
Hence has arisen the necessity of libraries, which in almost 
every age of the world have been collected by governments, or 
the united efforts of individuals, and have dispensed the light 
of civilization to vast multitudes, and transmitted to our gen- 
eration the history of far distant ages, that would otherwise be 
shrouded in impenetrable obscurity. 

While in a country like ours few collections of books can 
compare in extent with those gathered under royal patronage 
during successive centuries, yet they have proved not inferior 
to them in practical usefulness. Until recently the most exten- 
sive libraries on this side of the Atlantic were connected with 
colleges and seminaries of learning ; but as these were not ade- 
quate or adapted for the mass of the people, the enterprise and 
benevolence of individuals have been frequently elicited in 
founding libraries of a more general character. Many of these 


located in the cities now rival those connected with the most 
venerable of American universities. Of this description, though 
on a very limited scale, are the circulating libraries existing in 
many towns of this state. The advantages of all such institu- 
tions, however, are necessarily restricted, either to the proprie- 
tors, or to particular classes of the community, and the great 
mass of the people derive but little direct benefit from them. 
They are not, and from the nature of the case they cannot be, 
thrown open without charge for the accommodation of the 
entire population. Therefore exists the necessity for libraries 
of a more public and universal character, which, under the 
control and management of the municipal authority, are adapt- 
ed for supplying the wants of all. Libraries of this description 
are no new or untried experiments. In England, France, Bel- 
gium, Germany, and in some parts of our own country, they 
have become somewhat numerous. The town library of Bo- 
logne in France, containing 21,000 volumes, conducted upon 
the most liberal system and with great economy, has been 
established for more than half a century, and attended with the 
most happy results. The evidence taken in 1849 by a commit- 
tee of the British House of Commons proved the great moral 
and social value of libraries, in their tendency to restrain per- 
sons from crime, dissipation, and the brutal sports formerly 
so prevalent in that kingdom. 

The various reasons for founding a public library have a far 
more forcible application in this than in most other towns. A 
large proportion of our population consists of those who come 
from other parts of the state, and are here, with many of native 
origin, employed in occupations chiefly mechanical, A ma- 
jority of them upon their arrival are minors, whose tastes and 
habits remain to be formed. At the end of their daily avoca- 
tions, many of them, unaccustomed to spending their evenings 
in mental improvement, and perhaps feeling not particularly at 
home at the place of their temporary residence, are wont to 
saunter forth to the haunts of intemperance and vice, where by 
frequent resort their tastes soon become vitiated, and weaned 


from everything of an intellectual nature ; and they arrive at 
manhood uninformed, dissipated, — a curse instead of a blessing 
to society. This is no fancy statement. Its sad reality has 
been too often illustrated in the history of many a youth who 
has entered this town with the fairest character and prospects, 
and whose subsequent career has been the occasion of profound 
sorrow to his friends and of unmitigated shame to himself. 
Nor is this illustration by any means confined to those coming 
among us from abroad. In not a few instances our native 
youth, excuselessly neglected and left without the restraints of 
parental authority, have developed a similar history. Neither 
religious nor any other influences have availed to rescue them 
from a downward course. 

A public library under proper control, open during the 
evenings of at least the colder months of the year, would fur- 
nish a healthful resort and agreeable entertainment for this 
necessitous and much neglected class, and would tend greatly 
to mitigate, if not remove, the evils above set forth. It would 
also administer to the wants of our whole community of both 
sexes, who, under suitable regulations, might take out books 
for perusal. Indeed, the advantages of such an institution are 
so numerous and apparent as to preclude the necessity of 
recapitulating them. They are constantly manifested in the 
life and character of those well informed citizens who have 
been the beneficiaries of establishments of a less universal 
description in other places, — some of whom have derived 
nearly the whole of their education from the Mechanics' or 
Merchants' Library Associations located at Boston. 

The establishment of a library here adequate to the wants of. 
all ovir people will universally be admitted as desirable, and 
the only question is how far it should owe its origin and 
maintenance to the town. Nearly every argument for a system 
of common-school education at the public expense would apply 
in favor of an institution tending to perfect and render available 
the elementary knowledge acquired in the school-house. If it 
is a legitimate object of municipal government to sow the seeds 


of knowledge, surely it cannot be less so to look after and tend 
the plant, and encourage it to produce wholesome fruit. 

The legislature of New Hampshire in 1849 passed a law 
" providing for the establishment of public libraries" by towns^ 
voting to do so, which act confers all the requisite authority 

If a public library is commenced under the auspices of the 
town, it will unquestionably receive many accessions of books- 
from individuals, and be regarded as a worthy object on which 
to bestow legacies and donations in money. A gentleman 
residing out of the state has expressed an intention of making it 
a gift of four hundred dollars immediately upon its commence- 
ment. It will also be entitled to receive from the secretary of 
state '' a copy of the laws, journals, and all other works pub- 
lished by authority of the state." And it will not be neglected 
in the generous disbursement of public documents issued by 
the national government. 

For its organization and maintenance during the first year it 
is proposed to appropriate not over a sixth part of the amount 
which the town has, at some annual meetings, voted for the 
support of schools ; and this, it is presumed, will not be con- 
sidered excessive or burdensome by any who will fully esti- 
mate the benefits to arise from its outlay. 

In conclusion, the committee submit the following resolu- 
tions [see p. 73], embodying the results of their investigations 
upon this subject. 


March 9th, 1852. 

I mliniii 

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