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JOHN M. HOLLEY, ESQ., OF LYONS, N. Y.
I FEEL not a little embarrassment in addressing you. Not wholly a stranger, yet not quite a citizen-expatriated from my native town by residence, yet still a loyal townsman in affection and in the pride of originI came here to-day to listen, not to speak. Especially, among so many, whose minuter knowledge, and longer reach of memory, could so much better interest you, I cannot feel justified in detaining you long. But he would be unworthy to be ranked among your children, who would hesitate to bear the part assigned him in your proceedings, although it were but to strike a single chord, with whose tones your hearts could vibrate in unison, upon an occasion appealing so strongly to the feelings; knocking so earnestly at the door of the affections, whose heart can be cold ?
I can add nothing to what has been said already. The discourse, to which we have all been delighted listeners, has told us so minutely, so faithfully, and so well, of our origin, our progress, and the interesting
events in our history, that we can best improve the moment that is left us of this unreturning day, by endeavoring to prolong, for a little while, the general impressions it has left upon our minds, and treasuring them there for future enjoyment.
How full of interest is this occasion ! We are met to commemorate the origination of our native town-to revive the era of our social origin-to testify our reverence for the memory of our fathers, and to refresh the recollections, and brighten the associations, which bind together their children!
We stand together, to-day, on our native soil, to look back over the period of an hundred years, a space exceeding the ordinary limits of three generations; we stand together—the fathers and their children in the midst of the homes, the fields, the mountains, and the graves, which have witnessed all of joy or of sorrow, that life has allotted to most of us—to rekindle the long gone past, hallowed to us by all that is precious in the eye of patriotism, of social affection, of civil freedom. The remembrances that crowd upon our minds to-day, are rife of mingled pain and pleasure : pain, that the review we have taken, calls up before us so many of the departed, our fellow citizens, our brethren, our fathers, and all the griefs that wrung our hearts when they died: of pleasure and honest exultation, that these, our blood and kindred, have left us the boast of a worthy lineage, and an inberitance of blessings.
It is ever profitable to recur to the past. If its history be painful, it may yet be full of instruction; how much better then, when that history is the record of a
thousand virtues! Who were our ancestors, the immediate founders of the little community here assembled ? They were men of the soundest character, the manliest mould. We admire that hardy enterprise, which led them into the wilderness; that patient endurance, which enabled them to bear its early privations; that unconquerable energy, which subdued the stubborn barrenness of nature, as she flourished here a century ago, and brought these vales to teem with fruitfulness, and these hills to smile with culture. vere their intelligence and wise foresight, which assisted to plant civil and religious liberty in our land, and to organize social institutions upon just and equal, upon broad and stable foundations. Forever honored be their memories! Let the virtues they illustrated, be perpetuated among their descendants, whether lingering by the old hearths and firesides, or wandering in remote quarters of the earth, to the latest generations.
Some of the aged are still left among us; a few frosted heads and time-bent forms proclaim the primitive settlers. Venerable men ! the links which bind us to our social origin--the witnesses who tell us of the past ! Your race is almost run; you have acted your parts ; you
have transmitted to us the legacy of our social institutions, our liberty, our principles, without waste or detriment. The business of life, the burden of public duty, has fallen upon us of a younger generation. As one of that generation, may I not here, on this occasion, in their name, pledge to you and to all, our solemn promise, to preserve all that is precious in the inheritance you leave us; to emulate all that is worthy in the
example you bequeath us. We will not waste or destroy the least of so goodly an heritage; we cannot be so base as to bring shame upon so proud an origin.
We cannot forget, on an occasion like this, another fact in our history. We are a part of New England
-of glorious New England--whose name shall never perish from the records of renown, which tell the story of that resistance to oppression, of that desperate struggle for the establishment of civil and religious liberty, which was so nobly crowned in the success of the American Revolution--of New England, whose sons have scattered themselves, and the principles which were their best inheritance, into every part of this widespread country. Yes, in the language of one of her cherished sons,
every valley is vocal with the voices of her children; the bones of her sons have whitened the soil of every State from Maine to Georgia ; at this hour her blood swells every vein of this mighty republic.” If there be any thing of which a man may be proud, it is that he had his origin among her industrious, hardy, virtuous, free population ; that his birthright was that regulated liberty, and his nurture that manly training, which enabled him to win or to conquer for himself, all the good which civilized and instructed man may covet or enjoy.
If I might assume, Mr. Moderator, to represent the emigrant portion of your citizens, on this occasion, in their name I would thank you for calling us together, here, this day. You have summoned us back to our native town, and we again tread its soil with hearts all as filial and devoted, as that of the Scottish bard :