(Written by Norman A. Barnes)
(Teacher's end of year Commencement Speech)
Our winter term is ended: our school is about to close. The time has arrived when teacher, and scholar, must say Farewell. When we must separate and go to our several homes; some North, some South, some West, and some out of town. Perchance you will listen no more to the tinkling sound of these bells, no more will you have me to stand before you as your tutor - no more shall I have the privilege yea the unspeakable pleasure of calling you pupils - of assisting you in time of trouble - of urging you up the hill of science in pursuit of that which alone is power which is the pearl of great price - which you can neither buy nor sell - which only can be acquired by steady application and perseverance by long and wearisome hours of work of reflection and application - yes intensely so or you will never reach the goal. On Monday morning Nov. 9, 1863 I entered this building as Teacher - it was a lovely morn the earth was still performing her revolutions - the sun, which is the earth's ecstasy, shed his rays upon her in effulgence the little birds the peoples' delight were uttering their shrill yet sweet and melodious notes of music as if to inform us they had not quite forsaken us and all nature looked gay - thus it was and had you been passing along yonder road about the hour of 8 you would have beheld a being slowly plodding along toward this school house underneath his arms were books of all descriptions almost his continence was somewhat changed and judging from it you would have readily seen that he was in deep thought as he traveled on and so it was he was in deep thought making resolution &c &c .... thinking of this thing now of that wondering whether he should succeed imagination would prevent trouble and fancy with all his followers would picture a failure and he looked sorrowful but still something within seemed to speak in a melliferous sound saying - have hope - this consoled him - this gave him courage and he commenced his duties - as your tutor thus it was time flowed into the abyss of eternity / Scholars were obedient and studious no trouble presented itself - no difficulties arose but all passed on smoothly without a ruffle - nothing to mar our happiness and we all felt contented and satisfied / until Jan. 3, 1864 when the swift winged messenger - Death and his attendants came hovering over one of our number and with the bow which fails and the hand of surety did he send an arrow dipped in death and Evah Lewis's frame was lifeless. She was gone no more to return - she was our hearts delights how she participated in our sorrows and joined in our plays - how eager and attentively did she and her mate peruse these precious books these little helpers of learning - promising to become a woman to live to a great age as any of us - to all appearance yet in spite of all human efforts to save she was laid in the narrow house which awaits each of us viz the grave and Imogene was left alone - thus were our hearts made sad - sorrow and grief showed itself when we entered the schoolroom the day after her burial 足 her vacant seat told us plainly of the frailty of life / Time passed on we continued to grow in knowledge - Still attentive - still industrious / and soon most of you were ciphering where you were never before / when recess came the time for recreation we played and heartily to and when assembled in the schoolroom for work we worked - Education and Learning has been our motto - no fights - no harsh language has been among us but we have played peaceable and happily together I might mention 1 or 2 who have been a little prying & pickive at others but the majority has been kind and affectionate toward each other and I venture to say that not in another school in town can be found such kind and lovely dispositions as I might pick from among you scholars present - it is a great advantage to a school to be thus blessed and favored At length Monday Feb. 15, 1864 dawned upon us and our hearts were made to bleed once more - again did the angel of death visit our number and snatch from our embrace little but lovely Richard Langdon Upson - again did the monster Death sever the cords of friendship that linked us together - what a
Barnes Museum 85 North Main St., Southington, Ct.
favorite among us -none could help but love him - he was ready at all times to work or play - a kind word for every one he had at all times - a perfect favorite among us in fancy we can go back and see him as he entered that door enclosed in his blue cloak - his hands enclosed in mittens and in his hand his dinner pail - we can imagine him in his class how excited and eager did he peruse his primmer in pursuit of knowledge the last day he attended school I shall never forget it -when my mind with an indelible stamp as it is stamped there never to be erased in life that afternoon how attentive he was to all that was said and when recess came how he with a monstrous doughnut in his hand and the fragments of another in his mouth did he dance and hop feeling so happy little dreaming that that was his last afternoon in school - but so it was that night I was taken ill and it was the last time I ever saw Richard alive his last words as he passed out of the entry were I shall be here again on Monday good night teacher - and home he went. The last time I ever saw Richard was when I help lay his body in the ground.
In the midst oflife we are in death - how frail is life - Several others we have been very anxious for fearing they would leave us also fearing they would be stricken down while young - but it has been our pleasure to see them with one or two exceptions recover - but two of the brightest sparks of this school during the past term have been extinguished - they can never come to us - but we shall go to them / The scholars during the winter past have been very obedient and mindful to my rules and regulations and for which you have my heartfelt and sincere thanks no inflections of punishment has been administered to any extent - if any scholar has at any time been reproved or corrected or spoken to in a harsh manner when they were not to blame or censured in any way when they were not in fault I ask his pardon - hoping he or she will readily grant it for we wish no unkind feelings to exist from scholar toward teacher after we part It has been my aim this winter to have a good school - to have each scholar learn something to know something more than before - And the question is have we had a good school - I shall not attempt to answer this - but shall leave it for you - you can readily tell whether you have learned anything 足 whether you are more advanced in learning - Let each scholar ask themselves these questions - have I been faithful have I received any benefits from this winters school - have I tried to please my tutor and others - questions similar to these there you can answer them to yourselves and the main point is settled - is established But now the time has arrived when we must bid each other a farewell and return to our home - Oh scholars what a word is home and a kind Mother to greet us - these Methinks no words in the English language contain such touching allusions or possesses such momentous meaning as the trio Home Mother. Home how it thrills the spot around which cluster the gentle recollections of easy life the scene of our sports mid whatever associations we wander home can never be forgotten home is home though but a hovel or hut - and what makes home so pleasant as a kind mother - what is home without a mother - Mother how endearing her name - it tells of one who watches with tender and anxious solicitude over her child from the cradle to the grave - who rejoices in the success and mourns over the misfortunes of her cherished one - when a young man or woman goes forth upon the field of life with a mother's kiss upon his or her brow - tis a loss that labor of years can never entirely repay Much might be said in relation to teacher and scholar but we have not time and now as if by magic spell Teacher or schoolmates we must say farewell pray accept these trifling presents as a tribute of my respect toward you intrinsic they are but they come from pure motives Farewell
Barnes Museum 85 North Main St., Southington, Ct.
Commencement speech written by Norman Barnes, 1843-1911, after his first year at Marion School, 1863-64.