Page images

thing has been said in regard to the strength of Dr. Cogswell's statements and in regard to his veracity. For his sake I hope that both suggestions are true. But I desire to call your attention to this: You remember the special report made by the Board of Visitors, and you remember Dr. Cogswell's answer to that report to the effect that both were put in a sealed envelope and handed to the Board with instructions not to open the envelope until this investigation was over. Among other things stated in the special report was a statement by Mrs. Evans

and it is needless to speak of that woman's standing or her veracity or integrity where she described the poor old women in the hospital. She found them there in the month of January without any flannel underclothing, and she called it to Dr. Cogswell's attention; and you remember that it was some time before she succeeded in getting the flannels sent to them. That was mentioned in the report, and in answer to Dr. Cogswell, said for he took the charges up seriatim in their orders, and, (there is no use mincing matters) I admire his English, but I am wondering at his audacity - This statement is false and the one who made it knows it." There was a direct charge of falsehood placed at Mrs. Evan's door. It was equal to saying to the lady, "You lie, and you know it.”

[ocr errors]

Now, gentlemen, do you believe that Mrs. Evans told a lie and that Dr. Cogswell told the truth? Why, there cannot be the minutest doubt as to where the truth is and where the lack of it is. I say that all Dr. Cogswell's statements and all his assertions must go with that statement, because the old maxim still holds, Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus,” that is, false in one thing, false in all. I am willing to test Dr. Cogswell's veracity by that statement, am willing to put Dr. Cogswell and Mrs. Evans face to face, and if you find she has told the truth, that disposes of every particle of Dr. Cogswell's testimony.

I said to you that silence was confession.

Colonel Whiton, Mr. Gerrish, Mr. Devlin, Dr. Roche-all of them have been kept off the stand.

Somebody has wondered why Dr. Jenks, the chairman, has not testified. I have never wondered; I do not now. I know Dr. Jenks, have known him for many years, and I have been glad to look upon him as a friend. I wish to speak of the man, of every man, as I find him. I know Dr. Jenks to be a man of extraordinary ability, a man of remarkable courage, a man who has the puritanical instinct at its best; for if he had lived a couple of hundred years ago, he would have been worthy to have stood by the side of Miles Standish - he has every one of his traits, and perhaps more. I believe Dr. Jenks to be an honest man, and it is because he is an honest man that he has kept off the stand. Dr. Jenks would not come here to lie. He wouldn't lie for anybody, and he knows that many of the statements made here, notably in reference to the food, in reference to the abuses, in reference to the violation of law as to the letter-box, in reference to the violation of decency as to the vermined clothing he knows that in the main the charges are true, and therefore Dr. Jenks wouldn't lie. He wouldn't lie for anybody he is an honest, able, fearless man.

But you may say, "If all this be so, how do you account for the dreadful abuses?" Why, Mrs. Evans accounted for them very vividly the other night. When a man reaches the age of fifty, it is hard to break him of his habits. Dr. Jenks' entire life has been given to finance, and he has had nothing to do with people of the kind sent to our institutions until he got upon the Board of Commissioners. Now, I don't know that Henry Grattan ever said a more terse or a more true thing than when he spoke of Henry Flood, and his failure in the British Parliament, for you remember of Flood, who was a very eloquent man, and figured notably in the Irish Parliament, and after the Union passed over and became a member of the English Par

liament. The House was crowded to hear his eloquence, to watch his oratory, and listen to it. But they were a little disappointed, and when the news came to Grattan, he said, “Ah, you cannot transplant an oak at fifty." You cannot. You cannot change a man at fifty. Dr. Jenks has carried out faithfully and well the demands and the orders and the purposes of a higher authority of the Mayor. He has been kept on that Commission against his will, for he tendered his resignation long ago, because of his great financial ability. It was not with the Mayor, I am sorry to say, in my judgment, so much a question of humanity, as of dollars and cents making a good financial showing. But that, as we know, is all wrong, and it is against the spirit of the age.

I can say so much for Dr. Jenks, and, in my judgment, that is the reason, and the very reason, why he kept off the stand. I wish the doctor were here, I am sincerely sorry that he is sick, but I would like to call his attention and that is why I wish he were here to one of the most beautiful as well as one of the shortest stories in our English tongue, as dainty a morsel as ever came from the delightful pen of Leigh Hunt. I think if the doctor will study it that it will bear fruit:

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a dcep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, like a lily in bloom,

An angel writing in a book of gold:

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,

And to the presence in the room he said,

What writest thou?" The vision raised its head,

And with a look made of all sweet accord,

Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one who loves his fellow-mcn.
The angel wrote and vanished. The next night

It came again with a great wakening light,

[ocr errors]

And showed the names of those whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

If the doctor in the future will give less thought to finance and more thought to the misfortunes of his fellow-men, I am sure that his place upon the pages of the recording angel will be more satistactory to him in that light to come which none of us can escape, and none of us should wish to escape, than his showing upon the financial ledger.

In regard to one other gentleman who has appeared here I wish to say this: The keeping of the records have been much in dispute. You know very well by the testimony of Dr. Newell and Mr. Prescott and then by the testimony of General Donohoe and Commissioner Pilsbury, that those records were not regularly kept and that the rules for the transaction of business were being constantly broken, and that Dr, Newell's charges were true. General Donohoe was on the stand and tried to explain things as well as he could. We know, gentlemen, that General Donohoe would not tell an untruth for anybody. We know him to be a prominent citizen, an honest man, and a brave soldier. know that nothing we could say in his behalf would be too much. All the criticism I can make or would make is that like his service in the army, faithful, honest, and true- so has been his service to the Commissioners. Whatever they did he was willing to obey orders. And so, gentlemen, General Donohoe is not responsible for anything.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


I forgot in passing to speak of the other thing, to use the expression of a friend, a phantom funeral." You remember the case of the poor lady who went down there to get the body of her father and found, that the wrong body was delivered to her. At all events, she didn't get the

[ocr errors]

body, and was put to the expense of getting an undertaker and carriages and then nobody would reimburse her. That only proves the carelessness with which those things are done.

I think, gentlemen, that I have covered the case as well as I could, considering my engagements in the courts and elsewhere.. I wish that I could have given the time to put my argument in a symmetrical way, because I then could have abbreviated it very much. But we cannot always control events.

Now, Dr. Newell has been savagely attacked. If any man ever should be blessed Dr. Newell certainly should be. He went upon that Commission determined to devote his energy, his talents, and his time to raising the institutions up, to making them what they should be. He did not shirk any work at all, and the trouble was that he ran counter to this miserable financial policy of boarding paupers for $1.60 a week, incurred the wrath of the powers that be, and was decapitated. Dr. Newell lost his place, but he does not regret that. He can get along without it. Dr. Newell merely lost his place, but he gained something far better. He gained the esteem, the affection, and the gratitude of his fellow-men, and to-day he has the benediction and the blessings of the numberless unfortunate poor. I had sooner wear that than wear an emperor's crown.

Now, this Commission has the expenditure of between $600,000 and $700,000 a year. It is too much of a strain to put on any member of the Commission, or all of them together. There should be a regular purchasing agent who should be responsible for everything, and who should have that to attend to, who should have the duties of purchasing all the goods, and the business of the Commission should be run in a systematic way. While $600,000 or $700,000 a year is a large sum, yet the citizens of Boston are public-spirited enough and humane enough to make it double that if it should be necessary. The desire of the people of our good city is that the unfortunate paupers, convicts, and insane shall be treated in accordance not only with the progress and humanity of our age, but with what we deem a little better-in accordance with the philanthropic ideas and the sentiments arising from the great hearts and kindly souls of the good people of Boston.

Boston is and has been in the forefront in all things of this kind, and do you think, gentlemen, that she desires to lose her position now? No; she is determined to forge ahead.

I pray you to so consider this evidence as to reach a just and truthful conclusion. Do not shield anybody. The truth is of more consequence than the welfare or the fate of any individual. The truth you should get at, because if you fail in that respect to-day, another committee may fail in another respect to-morrow, and you will set a bad precedent.

Get at the truth in this thing. Insist that our institutions shall be brought up to the plain where we desire to place them; insist that they shall be properly officered, that they shall be properly run; that they shall be all that the foremost Bostonian desires them to be; and don't undertake to shield any officials or any individuals.

I said to you some days ago that if this investigation should result in simply turning some men out of places and filling the places with others, and nothing else should be done, I should regard my services here as an absolute and entire failure We are not seeking the punishment of any men; we do not desire to injure any set of men. We desire to have a radical change in the public institutions: in their tone, in the manner and spirit of conducting them, and we desire, also, to have a new House of Correction, and insist that the time has come when the public will demand it.

Gentlemen, I might say that I thank you for your patience with me and the attention you have given me, not only to-night, when I have been more tiresome than ever, but all through this investigation, when


perhaps my earnestness in the cause may have led me to appear in a wrong light, may have led you to think that I was going too far, because any words would be too feeble to express what I felt. You have been patient, all circumstances considered; you have been not only just, but generous.

My last words to you, gentlemen, are simply these that no matter what may happen to individuals, do, for the sake of humanity, for the sake of our city, our State, our nation, for the sake of your own conscience, for the sake of the common brotherhood of man do reach a just result and do let the world know that as soon as Boston has discovered abuses in her institutions she was only too ready, willing, and quick to remedy them.

Many a good Bostonian has bowed his head in shame and said, Ah, that this thing should happen, that the people of other cities and other sections should point their fingers at Boston, and say, 'Look at her! See what she has done, see how she has fallen!'"

I pray you, gentlemen, to apply a speedy and adequate remedy.

(This closed the hearings, and the committee adjourned at 11.54 o'clock P.M)


« PreviousContinue »