Z. L. BICKNELL, ESQ., TOAST-MASTER.
The mother of many noted sons. The Bicknells claim a large place at the household hearth, and a warm place near the motherly heart; we rejoice in her prosperity, and see in it the good, healthy growth of Bicknell blood in her ancestral stock.
RESPONSE BY T. H. HUMPHREY, ESQ.
MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
This ancient town has indeed been the mother of many noble sons and daughters, of whom she may well be proud. Her history of more than two hundred and fifty years, has been neither an uneventful nor an unimportant one. Her own modest records give the names of many of those children to whom she owes her present prosperous condition, yet they chronicle but few of their deeds, while other tongues and other pens have neither been silent nor idle in proclaiming their praises.
Many are the names among her children of once numerous and honored families, that are now known only in the musty leaves of parchment, or upon the less enduring gravestone. Many more are the names of those who were born upon her soil and nurtured by her fostering hand, and who have carried to other places the remembrances of their birthplace, where they have contributed by industry, skill and upright bearing, to the success and renown of the towns of their adoption. They carried away, with her lessons of integrity and thrift, the mothers blessing, and they send back, from time to time, the kindly greeting of well loved children to an honored parent. In their character and life they uphold the reputation of the mother who bore them, and bear faithful witness of her fidelity and love. But none the less dear and esteemed are the names of those sons and daughters who have remained by the old homestead, and who have stood by the mother through good and through evil report, who have shared her peril and her prosperity; and who have, in ten generations, lifted their venerated town from a few scattered dwellings on the borders of the sea, to its present proud and prosperous position,the product of theft toil and privations, and the fulfilment of their hopes.
It is not for the parent to single out as the object of special eulogy, any one of her numerous offspring, all equally her own, and all perhaps equally deserving of her regard; but she can hardly refrain from uttering words of affection and commendation as the birthday of any one of them approaches, and the brothers and sisters all heartily unite in these evidences of good feeling, when, otherwise, there might spring up jealousies and discontent.
And, so, to-day, does "Old Weymouth "welcome with peculiar assurances of regard, this festival day of one of her always present families, who came among the earliest, and who, from that day to this, have never failed to strive with generous emulation in extending the usefulness and renown of their ever honored and cherished mother. The name of Bicknell, from the day of Zachary the elder, whose early death cast a gloom over the infant settlement, from the day of John the patriarch, his son, down through the generations to the present time, has been one of credit and power, to which its compatriots could point with pride and satisfaction. Not only has it done its part in sustaining the dignity and reputation of its birthplace, in the persons of those who remained at home, but it has sent out its shoots into the far corners of the land, and there transplanted branches have as well, sustained the record they carried with them; and Weymouth, to-day, gladly recognizes the value of their services.
And it is with no ordinary feelings of satisfaction and enjoyment, that the mother expresses her hearty sympathy in the object of this gathering today, as she offers her sincere congratulations to the members of the family who live within her borders, with her cordial welcome to those who come to this festival from other homes, to enjoy the hospitality of the paternal hearthstone.
May the mother and the children never lose this assurance of mutual confidence and esteem, but may the bond of union grow stronger and stronger with the passage of the years.