OUR BUSINESS MEN.

Industrious, honest, energetic, successful.
They are all busy "B’s without a drone in the hive, and lay up more honey than money.

vthinrle.gif (1213 bytes)

RESPONSE BY MR. ALFRED BICKNELL, BOSTON.

MR. PRESIDENT AND COUSINS ALL:

It certainly gives me very great pleasure to meet so many of our family here to-day. We had hoped for a pleasant day and for a goodly number, but this day and this large audience exceeds our most sanguine expectations. I accept it as an augury of a pleasant and useful and far-reaching work for our Association in the future. I have always felt a pride in our name, and in our family reputation so far as I knew it; but not until since I have been engaged with our President and others in this work, have I understood so fully the solid basis for a just pride. As letters from different sections of the country came to us, all telling the same story,—no black sheep, no bummers in our camp, all self-supporting, reliable, square-dealing people,—I confess I was decidedly elated, and with reason too. You know that the saying "An honest man is the noblest work of God" is generally accepted as truth. But I am inclined to think it will bear some modification. I question whether an "honest family is not nobler?" And I think we can properly claim that ours is an honest family. What better title to nobility do we need? What characteristic does "gentle" blood properly impart if not to cause its possessors to follow the teachings of the "golden rule"? And in a remarkable degree I am sure that our great family in all the years that have elapsed since the "ASSURANCE" cast anchor in Boston Harbor and in all the localities up and down this broad land in which we have lived and labored, I am sure that our family have followed this precept in their every-day practice very faithfully.

You have asked me, Mr. President, to speak to the sentiment "our business men." Now, you all know that there are at least two maxims, or rules, by which business men are governed in their daily dealings. For those who are governed by one only can I respond. We have a class of business men, much more numerous than I could wish, very smart, intelligent in every thing appertaining to money making, keen and sharp in trade, who will tell you that to "buy as low as you can, and sell as high as you can" is a business duty. They hold that "all is fair in trade," and are always ready with some excuse, plausible to themselves, for any scheme of sharp practice or over-reaching by which they can "make a dollar." They are shrewd, sagacious, unscrupulous, careful to technically observe the requirements of statute law, holding that such compliance completes the sum of their obligations to their fellow men. Such people represent one class. I cannot answer for them. You know them, and no doubt somewhat of their operations. They may be rich, many of them are, but their riches are of the kind that sometimes take to themselves wings. Their level of business principles, I do not believe in. And my pride in our family is predicated largely upon the fact, as it seems to me, that our folks have not been governed by such influences. We have on the contrary recognized the rightfulness, the justice, the duty of giving an equivalent for all our acquisitions. It is said that "exchange is no robbery," and among people honestly organized it is true. But it is sometimes possible for worldly shrewd people by the exercise of a little business diplomacy to exchange a dime for a quarter! It is greatly to the credit of our family that we have not engaged in nor encouraged that practice. You have heard the story to-day coming from all quarters, no criminals, no paupers, no imbecues in our family. We may add, with our hearts swelling with honest pride, no swindlers, no sharpers, no Shylocks, either. As I thank my God for his great favor as evidenced in this fruitful land, this advanced civilization and all these instrumentalities for individual and associated improvement and elevation, so I thank Him fervently for the greater favor shown our family in their organization and development in the matter of personal integrity. Many a marble column bears the record of the virtues of the great and good, but as for me no prouder inscription could I ask than the simple words, "He was an honest man." Far be it from me to deprecate the accumulation of wealth by proper means. Be sober — prudent — cautious—industrious— frugal—pains-taking—but not sharp.

I know that every one of our name and descent is familiar with the prayer of Agur,—" give me neither poverty nor riches." Whether they realized it or no, I see clearly that the spirit of that prayer, like the keynote in music, has run through our family since those far away days, hundreds and hundreds of years ago, when our very name itself was evolved from humble beginnings—and if our good Historian with the effective assistance of our President and of our English Cousin, whom we are all delighted to meet here to-day, shall have the skill and patience to trace our genealogy back far enough, I am confident that they will find that Agur himself was a Bicknell, or had Bicknell blood in his veins! But I trespass upon this precious time, and I will close by giving you my version of the underlying principles that I feel have controlled our family practices hitherto, and which I hope will govern, not us alone, but eventually, the whole human family:

Every day, in every trade,
Act the vows on Sunday made,
Make your every word and deed
Prove the soundness of your creed.
If word or purse must suffer loss,
Keep your word good at any cost;
Your gold may vanish in a day,
True words and deeds will live alway.

vthinrle.gif (1213 bytes)

RESPONSE BY MR A. J. BICKNELL, NEW YORK.

MR. PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF OUR FAMILY:

The business men of our branch of the Bicknell family have, so far as I know, been only moderately successful, but I am pleased to add that as business men their record is good.