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complished men and women, supervised by a Board of Commissioners selected from among the representative men of the city, guide the tottering steps of infancy, and furnish every appliance for a thorough common school education.
I am much indebted to Miss Agnes K. Irving, the accomplished Principal of this noble institution, for a beautiful volume containing the proceedings of the Centennial celebration held October 18, 1890. From its interesting pages I extract the following salutatory address, written by Thomas M. Hanckle, Esq., and delivered by Master J. Elliot Alex, a little orphan boy of nine years.
This address well expresses the character of the institution and the spirit of the people who, for more than a century, have kept a sacred fire burning upon its holy altar.
That is a beautiful and touching custom of happy families which celebrates the birthday of each loved child of the household, and by smiles and gifts and gentle words, and merry sports, loads each passing hour with the beauty and the fragrance of domestic affection.
On such a day, father and mother unite their thanks, as they recall the hour in which they received the sweet, bright gift of God.
On that day the happy child feels a dignity in his little life, and year after year learns to value more and more, the tender love which has followed him all his days, and with anxious yearnings, has watched for his growth in wisdom as he grows in stature.
Most fitting and grateful then is this Centennial celebration of the day on which the noble city of Charleston, adopted as her own, the poor and forsaken orphans of the city and gathered them for all time within the merciful arms of her love and protection.
It is the Orphan's Birthday-the day of his adoption.
Nearly one hundred years ago, the last blow was struck which completed the venerable pile around which with generous pride, the warm affection, and the benevolent interests of Charleston were clustered so long.
Her people, still staggering under the shock of the Revolution, found time to conceive the plan of this noble charity; and her citizens, still impoverished by a wasting war, found means, with frugal zeal and willing hands, to build the home of the fatherless.
On that day more than one hundred children orphaned, helpless,
destitute and friendless, were gathered within its walls, and the Orphans' Home began its career of mercy and usefulness as an Institution of the city.
On that day the event was honored with public rejoicings, with mutual congratulations, and with thanksgiving to God.
And to-day we celebrate, not only the Orphan's Birthday, but the day-spring of a wise and liberal charity.
Anniversaries like these are the resting places of memory.
As the revolving years tell the age of the world, and record its history, so do anniversaries like these, mark the progress of each lesser life and preserve its memories. Well may we celebrate this day, then, with solemn procession, with the swelling strains of music, with songs of joy, and hymns of praise.
On this bright festival day of commemoration and rejoicing, kind and respected friends, do the adopted children of the city bring you greeting. They greet you with congratulations that health and pros.perity have been the portion of our city and our Institution.
They would rejoice with you, that each passing year has but served to make the foundations of our "House" deeper and stronger—to give new energy to its mission of mercy, and to lend a new grace to the peaceful annals of its walls.
They are glad to greet those whose generous aid supports our Institution, and the children, and the children's children of those who laid its foundations.
And they are happy to say that they bring with them the testimonials of their teachers and guardians, that they have endeavored to profit by the many advantages by which they are surrounded.
We greet you, children of happy families, who have come to unite in our festival, with our youthful sympathy. Like you. we, too, are endeavoring to fit ourselves for the life that lies before us, and we trust that we shall one day meet you in the fields of labor, or wherever else our duty shall call us, ready to do our city and our State true and unselfish service, and to express our gratitude by our acts.
We greet you, Mr. Mayor, and gentlemen of the Council, with our thanks for the liberal supplies you have so cheerfully voted for our support; for the interest you have always manifested in our welfare, and for your presence to-day to give dignity and importance to this occasion.
We greet you, gentlemen of the Board of Commissioners, with our congratulations on your wise and successful administration of this noble charity, and with our warmest gratitude for the untiring zeal and tender care with which you have watched our comfort, our improvement and our happiness. To you, Reverend Sirs, who from Sabbath to Sabbath break to us the “Bread of Life,” we bring our heartfelt greetings and thanks.
We bring our warmest greetings to you, our beloved Principal, Teachers and Matrons, and to you, our dear and kind Physician.
We have no words to express all we owe to you.
In your wise and gentle hands the cold charity of the world has been warmed into the melting tenderness of home and household. The God of the Fatherless alone can give you your wages.
Again, we greet all that are present here to-day, with the prayer that this day, so eagerly anticipated and so keenly enjoyed by us, may be to them, a day of mingled peace and blessing in all their happy homes.
It was at this Home that the orphan boy of Nayhingen found a sweet solace for the woe that had deprived him of a father's care and a mother's love, and it was here that the impress of manly virtues became fixed in his mind. Here it was that the foundation was laid upon which the youth and the young man afterwards erected the splendid superstructure of his character. Here that he found a friend in Mr. Thomas Bennett, who took him, at the age of eleven, into his own family, and became to him in every sense a foster-father. There is somewhat a parallel in the childhood life of Mr. Memminger and that of Sir Michael Faraday, the great English scientist and successor to Sir Humphrey Davy. Both of these eminent men were the recipients of benefactions at an early age, and both were led to their benefactors by a chain of circumstances that I am not disposed to consider accidental. "There's a divinity that shapes our ends," says Shakespeare in Hamlet, who would thus account for the moral forces constantly at work in our humanity and inciting us to action. "There is a fatality in being," says another; and yet another, greater than all, whose teachings Mr. Memminger accepted in his mature age, who assures us that even the "sparrows" have the supervising care of a great Creator who, in the appointments of his Providence, is not alone the Author, but who is the Director of all the issues of life. It is immaterial whether we accept the explanation of the one or the other, the fact still remains as a fact long observed that men often fail in