The school-house has been the support and the supporter of the Bicknell race.
Illiteracy is unknown among our name, and the schools of America have reason to rejoice in the Bicknell educators, who have not only learned, but taught the three Rs, and have in various spheres illustrated the grand truths of intelligent thinking, temperate living and consecrated service.
RESPONSE BY MR. THOMAS W. BICKNELL.
That the Bicknell blood has good qualities, we have abundant evidence in the intelligent company before us, which is only a tithe of the same sort of the great army of our name and blood, who are at their homes. That it has the elements of that superior grade, which inspires poets and teachers, there is also the clearest proof from family history and from our experiences of this memorable hour; and if the samples of genius today displayed by the Bicknells but reveal the latent talent of the family, we may never know how many "mute, inglorious Miltons," or Aschams may have "lived unwept and died unsung." Our learned historian has modestly stated that the literary element in our Bicknell stock was monopolized by Zachary and Thomas of the third generation, while John was left without this most! valuable birthright. That our honors are tolerably easy and that the talent and scholarship were quite evenly distributed, however, is manifest in the fact, that Johns sons and daughters claim the historian, the chaplain and the poets of the day, while the children of Zachary and Thomas share the other honors. Now as near as I can learn the facts, the school-masters honors are also as equally distributed along the several lines of our descent, and all of our teachers that are not with us at the home circle to-day are "abroad" on missions of valuable service to men. It is quite remarkable what a host of instructors of youth has sprung from the loins of Zachary and Agnes. I believe there are teachers of our blood in half the States of the Union, and they are unusually good and successful ones too; and there are reasons for it. For first, the Bicknells are an intelligent race. While we have never known a criminal of our name, we have never known an illiterate Bicknell. The Bicknell who was ever obliged to make his mark for his autograph has been among the unknown, while hundreds have made their marks on unruly and troublesome boys. A natural love of, and desire for, knowledge is a characteristic of our people, and added to that element of intellectual acquisitiveness, has been that other sure qualification of a good teacher, a benevolence that leads to the quickening of other minds to possess the same truth. To acquire but not to hold, has been a principle of the Bicknells, universally, no misers in wealth or knowledge. Freely receiving and freely giving have been the practice of the family.
Another element possessed in large measure by our race is the natural power to govern. Home rule has been an ancestral principle. Well-ordered homes show that we are born-rulers. The ideal of our family discipline has been to foster early self-control; hence the ability to control others. Firmness as well as mildness have characterized the spirit of the parental training. With such early influences, what but the well-poised governing power could be the out-come, a peculiar gift for the true teacher. Abundance of good sense and good nature is possessed by the Bicknells. Wise fools we have not in our households. God gave to every child of our race, five talents more or less, and his practical judgment, tact and skill have enabled him to make a gain on his capital in trade. Always hopeful, he has been the inspirer of hope and courage to others. Besides, the good teacher must possess his soul with patience, and did the wives or husbands of a Bicknell ever see one of the family out of patience. If so, I hope the case will be reported at our next re-union. These, and other qualities I have not time to mention, contribute a well balanced teaching character, and the men and women of our name who have taught at the home circle, and in the school-room in the days since Zachary, are many and distinguished.
Among those who have come under my own special notice, are, the many talented Quincy, our historian, of Hingham; the veteran William, of Buckfield, Maine; Simeon, the noted principal of a Vermont Academy, of an earlier day; Mrs. Ames, our accomplished poet of the day, now in Pennsylvania; Joshua Bicknell Chapin, of Rhode Island, teacher, physician, and lately State School Commissioner for several years; and if I may be allowed to refer to my own teaching life, I may say that I have taught in all grades of schools from primary to the college, have superintended the State schools of Rhode Island for nearly six years, and have published teachers journals and magazines for nearly twenty years. It is a noted fact also, that eight of the ten children of one of our families have taught more or less successfully. These are but fractional parts of the great whole which includes some of the most talented, earnest and self-denying of our name. May our future record be more brilliant with the histories of those who at home or at school shall be the constant teachers of the true, the beautiful, and the good.