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The following is the inscription on the pediment:
Christopher Gustavus Memminger,
of the Present Public School System in Charleston.
with the Approval of the Legislature of South Carolina,
In Grateful Appreciation of his Services for
Heaven doth with us as we with torches do:
Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues
As if we had them not."
Upon the organization of the new board of school commissioners the committee who undertook the arrangements for the memorial were continued in their office and Ex-Mayor Courtenay was added to the number.
It was this committee that arranged all the details for the unveiling yesterday afternoon. Owing to the limited space in the council chamber it was found absolutely necessary to issue invitations to only such a number of ladies and gentlemen as could be comfortably seated in the chamber. There were present the teachers in the public schools, the trustees of the College of Charleston, of the High School, the academic board of the South Carolina Military Academy, members of Mr. Memminger's family, the senators and representatives from Charleston and a few distinguished guests, among whom was Dr. Green, of Boston; a member of the board of trustees of the Peabody fund, and Col. J. H. Rice, State superintendent of education.
Five o'clock yesterday afternoon was appointed as the hour for the unveiling ceremonies. At that time the council chamber was well filled by the invited guests and the members of the city council, for all of whom chairs were provided.
On the rostrum were Mayor Bryan, Judge Simonton, Ex-Mayor Courtenay, the Rev. A. Toomer Porter, D. D., D. M. O'Driscoll, C. F. Panknin, G. W. Dingle, H. Baer, Julian Mitchell, the Rev. Dr. G. R. Brackett, the Rev. R. N. Wells, the Hon. James Simons, Mr. H. P. Archer, Dr. Samuel A. Green, of Boston; Col. J. H. Rice, State superintendent of education; Miss Simonton, principal of the Memminger School; Miss Daisy Smith, Judge Magrath and Ex-School Commissioner L. E. Cordray. At a few minutes after 5 o'clock the folding doors of the clerk's room parted and forty young ladies of the Memminger School filed into the chamber and took position on the east side of the hall, where they sang "My Country, 'tis of Thee." At the request of Mayor Bryan, Dr. A. Toomer Porter then offered up a prayer, which was as follows:
DR. PORTER'S PRAYER.
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom and knowledge: We thank Thee thạt Thou didst make man in Thine image, and though greatly marred by his fall that he still possesses faculties for acquiring the knowledge of things temporal and eternal. We thank Thee that Thou hast endowed some of Thy creatures with strength of mind and largeness of heart by which their ability and interest are given for the welfare of their fellow-men. We thank Thee that among us one was raised up whose zeal for the improvement of his kind led him to give his great intelligence to the improvement of our schools and to the elevation of the standard of general education. We have come to dedicate to his honor, and thereby to perpetuate his memory, this marble bust that future generations, appreciating the reason of this distinction by his fellow-citizens, may hold him in grateful remembrance, and that this tribute may stimulate others to give their talents for the welfare of society. May we all learn that it is righteousness which exalteth a nation, and that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
But, vanity of vanities, all is vanity, aye, infirmity, death and the grave are the lot of all. Into these Thy servant, whom we would honor, is now passing. We commend him to Thy love and mercy, and pray that his good work may be remembered in that day when we shall all be judged for the deeds done in the body, and shall be rewarded as they be good or evil. We commend our schools, children and teachers; these to whom the interest of education are entrusted, our city, our State, our country, to Thy guidance and protection, and offer all our petitions through the mediation of Thy only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
The young ladies then sang "Old Friends and Old Times," during which the bust and pediment were unveiled.
MISS DAISY SMITH'S ADDRESS.
Upon the conclusion of the song Miss Daisy P. Smith, a graduate of the Memminger School, delivered the following introductory address, with much feeling and grace:
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the City Board of School Commissioners, To me has been accorded the privilege of voicing the sentiment of all our citizens on this interesting occasion, the unveiling of the image of him who for three eventful decades has been the guiding spirit in our educational interests.
There are times when words are incompetent for the expression of the heart's emotions and when the voice is too feeble to call an echo from the recesses of feeling which nature guards most jealously. Especially true do we find this now that we have the privilege of expressing our appreciation of one who has fought so nobly for the youth of
Charleston, who took up the children's cause and concentrated all his energies on the establishment of a system of public schools, where the young might cultivate their minds and hearts and fashion them in the mould of which he unconsciously furnished so bright an example.
In 1855, Colonel Memminger and Messrs. Bennett, Bee, Bryan, Magrath, Lebby, Russell, Furman, Richards, Buist, Jervey and others remodelled the old system of State free schools and established the graded-school system, which to-day signalizes our State and city as a great source of public education and advancement. When the sun of their lives had reached its meridian they consecrated heart and hand to their noble work, and "pressed forward toward the mark of the high calling" assigned to them, with only the aid of hope and faith.
But there is one amidst this group of honored men whose name is engraved most deeply on the hearts of the pupils and graduates of the Memminger School, whose love and patronage have been especially theirs, and whose life has for long years been blended with theirs as the patriarch of one large family. His name is graven at the portals of its halls; he is held in grateful remembrance by us all, but especially by those who have had the good fortune to come beneath his guidance and protection. Colonel Memminger fully comprehended the depth of woman's nature, and realized the fact that the world cannot rise by man's elevation alone; that in accordance with Divine law, the intellectual (as well as the material) world is held in its true orbit by the combined influences of two varied but equivalent forces.
With the spirit of a knight, he fought for woman's elevation, build、 ing, with the granite blocks of a thorough education, from the foundation, slowly, but surely upwards to the position of his ideal, a basis worthy of all noble women. He loved his ideal and wrought to mould it perfectly. He became her friend and the protector of her rights, but not such rights as we hear demanded from the rostrum; not these, for by her endeavor to fill such offices, woman loses her characteristic privileges, those of being the gentle influence in the chaos of violent force and will, the loving sister, gentle wife and tender mother, calling forth the softer side of his nature. For these he worked and opened to them the doors of an advantage which is all too sadly neglected while the opportunity lasts.
Could the girls of our State realize the value of the privileges offered them by these institutions of learning; could they appreciate the lustre which education gives to woman, our halls would ring with triple the number of voices that quiver through them now, and the image which stands unveiled before us to-day would be the object of a purer devotion than that which inspired the pagans of ancient days.
Many are and have been interested in us, and many have furnished as great pecuniary assistance as Colonel Memminger, but none beside him have labored for thirty long years to influence public opinion, with
standing the storm of opposition in two sessions of the Legislature, and meeting and defeating all obstacles with an indomitable will. He faltered before no foe but age. We reverence the silvery head which, until lately, bent faithfully and lovingly o'er its task.
We cannot realize how hard it must be for the once active brain to be no longer busied in the interests it loved so well, or for the hands to lie idle while their work becomes that of others; but it seems as if it must be like unto the sadness of the mother when she sees her child go forth from her care and watchfulness, and feels that the silken cords which bound mother and child as protector and dependent are loosened forever. But through the halls of affection and gratitude his spirit shall walk a welcome guest, and every lineament of his countenance shall be graven, not only on thy chaste stone, oh, statue! but on the tablets of loving hearts.
JUDGE SIMONTON'S ADDRESS.
Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen of the City Council,—This occasion is full of interest, yet mournful, for we stand within the shadow of the grave. You crown the effort we have made in recognition of the merit of a most worthy and most venerable fellow-citizen.
In November, 1885, Mr. Memminger, pressed by the infirmities of age terminated his connection with the city board of school commissioners. For more than the life of a generation he had filled the post of chairman, and had led the board by his counsels. His associates could not permit the occasion to pass without an expression of the value of his long and arduous service to the community in this important position. On the motion of Mr. Mitchell, it was resolved that a bust of Mr. Memminger in marble be procured to be placed in some conspicuous location. The General Assembly of the State, without a dissenting voice, sanctioned this use of the public money. Mr. Memminger gratified the wish of the board. The services of Mr. Edward V. Valentine, of Richmond, whose genius had illustrated the tomb of General R. E. Lee, were secured. This exquisite work of art which has just been unveiled is the result. We have before us the living, speaking, characteristic likeness of Mr. Memminger.
If any man in this community deserves this marked expression of public gratitude for public service, that man is the Hon. C. G. Memminger. Himself a conspicuous example of the great advantage of early and careful intellectual training, he has more than repaid his debt to them by becoming the educator of this community.
From the earliest period of her colonial history, this Commonwealth has realized the necessity for public and free education. By private munificence and public bounty it was sought to supply this necessity. Free schools were founded when the colonists were contending for existence with foes without and foes within our borders. And so all along
her progress South Carolina kept up her care for the education of the masses. But, for the want of a proper system and of needed discipline, these efforts did not produce the success they deserved. Our free schools, even in the more dense population of towns and villages, reached no high standard. They were resorted to only when it was impossible to secure private instruction. In 1855 a board of commissioners was selected for this city, filled with men of more enlightened and progressive views on the subject of education, among these were Mr. Memminger and Mr. W. J. Bennett. It must always be remembered that to Mr. Bennett also must be accorded full praise as a pioneer in the new work of the board. These two gentlemen realized that a change of system was needed in the schools. With great earnestness and care they investigated the whole subject. By personal visit and examination they became satisfied with the education of the public school system which has done so much for New England. They induced its introduction into our schools. Their active energy inaugurated the system. Their watchful çare fostered, encouraged and established it.
Mr. Memminger, at that time, was one of the leaders of the Bar, and was enjoying a very large practice. Notwithstanding the absorbing cares of the most absorbing profession, he entered with his whole soul into the work of the schools. He devoted much of his valuable time in promoting, maintaining and finally in placing on a permanent basis our present admirable system. He achieved wonderful success. His influence has extended beyond the limits of this city. All over South Carolina are springing up graded schools based upon the same system. Evrywhere is felt the reviving breath of new life in our public schools.
Our Board, Mr. Mayor, have signified by this marble bust their appreciation of Mr. Memminger's work as their leader and associate. His real monument, more enduring even than this beautiful and perfect marble, is the admirable schools, the pride and ornament of this city, erected, aided, improved and established by his energy, and the thousands and tens of thousands of children educated and to be educated within its walls.
This is not the time nor is this the occasion for any eulogy upon Mr. Memminger. Your thoughtful kindness has given us a place for our testimonial. It is most proper that he should occupy a niche in this hall, filled with memorials of our distinguished men. A great lawyer, he was the contemporary and no unworthy rival of Petigru.
He realized the hope of Hayne, to which that great man sacrificed his life. He pierced the mountain ranges of Western North Carolina, and opened a passage for the iron horse to the ocean.
He gave of the wealth of his intellect, and many valuable hours to the public weal, and ranks with Enston among the public benefactors. In behalf of the City Board of School Commissioners, I now leave this bust in your custody. No more appropriate place can there be for