Dedication of the Paxton Foundation, November 9, 1878
- from the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Monday Morning, November 11, 1878
THE PAXTON FOUNTAIN.
ITS FORMAL PRESENTATION TO THE CITY.
Interesting Exercises at the Capitol on Saturday, Witnessed by a Large and Enthusiastic Crowd. Music, Speeches, Original Poem Oration, Etc.
A large crowd of people, variously estimated at from 2,000 to 5,000 persons, was present at te exercises attending the unveiling of the Paxton Fountain, Saturday afternoon. The front and side spaces of the Capitol Square were densely packed, while the street and pavement immediately in front were crowded along the whole square. Windows and doors of buildings in the vicinity were also occupied throughout the whole of the services, and the balconies and windows of the Capitol were thronged with gaily dressed ladies and their escorts.
The exercises were begun about 3 o'clock, by music by Kramer's brass band, from the upper balcony of the Capitol, which was charmingly rendered and heartily applauded. Shortly afterwards Mayor Sweeney, Mr. Paxton, the State Officers, proceeded from the Governor's apartments through the Capitol building to a rough platform which had been erected directly in front of the main entrance, upon which the exercises were to take place.
Dr. T. H. Logan called the large assemblage to order, and announced that the ceremonies of the day would be opened with prayer by Kev. D. A. Cunningham, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. Rev. Cunningham pronounced a fervent invocation, to which the large assembly listened with bowed heads in silence.
Following the prayer, Dr. Logan in a few fitting words introduced to the audience James W. Paxton, Esq., who was received with applause, and who said:
"Mr. Mayor, Gentlemen of the Committee and Fellow-Citizens:
"When I communicated to the city authorities my presentation to the city of a fountain, and received their assent to its location on this spot with a resolution of thanks, I did not expect or desire that any further formalities would ensue, and have protested against them whenever suggested. But you gentlemen of the Committee who have this matter in charge, thought and decided otherwise, and now in conformity to your programme I do formally present to the city this fountain.
"If it shall be considered an ornament to this good old town of Wheeling, of which, as a native citizen, I am truly proud; and if it provesome slight source of enjoyment to our people, and more especially if it delight the children, the little children, God bless them! whose bright and happy faces I shall hope to see often gathered about it then will my design have been accomplished, and a long cherished hope to do something in that direction will be realized.
"If pleased thus, Mr. Mayor, to accept for this city this gift, and with it my best wishes for yourself personally, and for each of you gentlemen of the committee, and for all of you whom I have the honor to call my fellow-citizens."
At the conclusion of Mr. Paxton's remarks, which were loudly applauded, the band again discoursed some music, after which Mayor Sweeney delivered the following
ADDRESS OF ACCEPTANCE.
"Not very frequently since the settlement of this city has she been the recipient of public benefactions. The original owners of the land upon which we stand, did, in laying it out in squares, set aside certain portions of it to the public use and possession for streets, alleys, commons, market spaces, cemeteries and wharves; not really donations, because paid for by the purchasers of the lots contained in the city.
"One pure donation was indeed made by Mr. Noah Linsley, still ministering, as far as it can possibly be made to do, to the benefit of the community; and a few years ago another was made bv Dr. Richard Blum, who presented to the city a handsome drinking fountain.
"In the cities and towns of Europe beautiful and artistic monuments of taste and skill abound; fountains, statues and equestrian and groupe figures are placed in public squares, in parks, and in streets, and at their intersections; not always placed to commemorate events or mark localities, but erected to cultivate and gratify a desire and taste in the public mind for the beautiful and ornamental.
"Such works are generally made in size to suit the spaces selected for their location. Very large and very elaborate fountains are placed in large spaces; for example, the grand fountains at Versailles, for which the supply of water for one hour is said to cost several thousand dollars, and which are perhaps justly considered the finest, as they are the largest in the world, are in a park containing hundreds of acres, and can be viewed from every side and seen from great distances. Smaller works are appropriate in streets and small squares.
"A few cities in our own country are now possessors of similar works of art. Boston has recently erected a fountain in 'Boston Common' which, in size and style, is, as I am informed, similar to this winch we now surround. The fountain, a larger one than this, and which many of you may remember to have seen at the Centennial, in the wide space between the Main and the Mechanical Halls, was sold to, and erected in Washington City. New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and other cities are also in possession of similar works, and notably, Cincinnati has the finest and most costly one yet set up in the United States and it was the gift of a generous and liberal citizen.
"It may well be a matter of pride to us, that Wheeling is not among tho last to be invested with so positive a mark of progress toward a front rank among her sister cities, and of congratulation that she has citizens who can and do manifest their love for her in substantial ways.
"Mr. Paxton: On the reception of your letter of Sept. 10th last, expressing tour intention to present to the city the fountain here finished and now by you delivered, the Council had appropriate official action, and appointed a joint special committee from among its members, with instructions to convey to you in suitable form the said action of Council. The committee has caused the proceeding of Council to be properly engrossed, attested under the corporate seal, and signed by the members of the committee. The committee discharges the duty confided to it, in now formally presenting to you this transcript."
THE DEDICATORY PRAYER
was made by Dr. A. L Mayer, the Jewish Rabbi, and was as follows: "A good name is better than precious oil; he who gains it, his memory will never be effaced, for a good name lasts beyond the grave. This much can be said of our much esteemed fellow-citizen, James W. Paxton, Esq., who has generously donated this beautiful fountain to our city, which we are going to inaugurate to-day.
"By this magnificent gift the esteemed donor has created for himself an enviable monument.one that will justly cause him to be held in grateful remembrance by the citizens of Wheeling, all of whom, I doubt not, would be glad to express their sense of obligation to Mr. Paxton for his thoughtfulness on their behalf. We hope that the Lord, our common Father, will bless him and take out of his hand the cup of bitterness whereof he has been compelled to drink. May it be that no more in his life time shall lie be afflicted in his household.
"This gift, we feel confident, will prompt other noble minded men to follow Mr. Paxton's example. We pray that it may appeal to the generous impulse of many of them, causing them to put forth a veil filled hand in support of some deserving charity in our midst.
"As we now dedicate this work of art aa an ornament to the city—as an educator of the eyes and the souls of our population, let us invoke the Almighty that water may flow out of this fountain for generations to come, to revive the fatigued and resuscitate the weary, and thus teach men to seek the water that flow from the fountain of eternal salvation."
His Honor the Mayor then formally dedicated the Fountain, in the following words:
"I do now, by order and authority of the Council of the City of Wheeling, declare that this Fountain shall be known as the Paxton Fountain, and that it is now formally accepted by the said city, and dedicated forever to the use and pleasure of the inhabitants thereof.
"The materials of which this work is constructed are indicative of durability; its artistic design is a suggestion of beauty; its flowing waters are typical of purity; may it remain as an inspiration of strength, beauty and purity, to all those for whose benefit it is now dedicated."
The crowning feature to which the preceding exercises led, the unveiling of the fountain, followed, and a buzz of admiration went up from the assembled multitude as the covering was lifted and the beautiful work of art exhibited. The water was turned on, and in a moment several crystal streams were springing into the air, to the inspiriting strains oi a selection by Kramer.
AN ORIGINAL POEM.
Mr. Wm. Leighton, jr., was introduced to the audience by Dr. Logan, and read the following original poem:
In mad career.
Are dancing here
The spirits of the water;
Quaint shapes appear to laugh and jeer
As down the bright drops patter.
ln hollow way
Beneath the clay.
Their tinkling feet have run.
To greet the day with frolic play
Up-leaping to the sun.
These elves hate fled
To grace our jubilee,
To gayly trip with fairy tread,
And caper airily—
Do they not cry
As forth they fly,
"Thanks to the one who gave
This gleaming stairway to the sky,
And winged the shining wave”.”
Hath done her part,
Obiedient to the will
And generous thought of his large heart
Who gave to us her skill.
And beauty's queen,
Herself, Is seen—
Greek Venus, the divine,
Half hid by screen of falling sheen,
A veil of crystalline.
As pure as white
The waters bright
ln crystal streams outpour,
Their sparkles write, in words of light
This legend evermore;
Who stops to drink
Upon the brink
Of our overflowing brim,
Need never think his lips should shrink
From what we pour for him.
No poison foul
Is in our bowl
To madden heart and brain,
No wicked bane to kill the soul,
And fill each sense with pain.
Fly from the charms
And baleful harms,
Hound maddening cups that cling,
To soothing calms and healing balms
That pure waters bring!
If we may count
This noble Fount
Such lesson onto all,
Long may its sparkling waters mount,
Till Folly's weakest thrall,
Cleansed of the stain
Of sin and pain,
Shall bless his honored name,
Whose talisman hath burst his chain,
Bedeemed a life from shame.
Hon. J. H. Good was next introduced, and delivered the following oration:
"Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:—The presence of many people here to-day bears witness to their appreciation of the gift that has been tendered to our city. This day, this occasion, with its accompanying ceremonies, is one long to lie, remembered, and the man or the woman who now sees it, or the child who wonders in its bewilderment as it gazes upon the scene, will recur to it in future years as one of the pleasing episodes of an earlier life, when both old and young, rich and poor, came forth in unison of purpose to do honor to the man who had honored them.
"The good deed of the public benefactor .lies not with the body of its doer. There is a sentiment born of the act that lives and passes from decrepid man to buoyant youth, and old man to youth again, from memory to memory, long down the corridors of time. So with the gift that is crowned appropriately to-day. When the eyes that now see it, the tongues that now speak of it, and all who are here to applaud and appreciate it, are alike in the forgotten past consigned, there will still survive an eye to see, an ear to hear, and as many more to reproduce the unforgotten act that may teach the future by a past example. A public ornament is a public blessing, and yet so indifferent has been the popular mind with reference to all enterprises tending to the beautification of our city, that never since the date of her earliest settlement has there been a monument, a fountain, or a park to attest the refined taste of her citizens. Living at the base of barren hills, befogged by vapor and smoke, without a view save that of some dismantled wall which stands a surviving monument to its own decay. And where exists the apology for the neglect? Probably no city within the Union is possessed of greater natural advantages than our own. Situated in a district of country rich in nil the productions which contribute to the wealth of a people, possessed of the natural and artificial highways of trade, with a climate that adds vigor to the health and stimulates the physical economy to its greatest endurance, in all contributing the opportunities of a grand success that might well awaken the jealousy of more pretentions cities. Possessing all this, and by utilizing all the advantages afforded, we have reached the standard of a business prosperity that might well invoke the hand of art to crown the summit of our commercial and financial advance. Let it be done. Let it be inaugurated to-day. Let the spirit of industry extend its hand to the field of greater enterprise. Let the iron monument stand sponsor to the refined art, and out of the wealth of the inexhaustible interior let the beauty of the exterior world appear.
"It is a false economy which advocates retrenchment to the prejudice of the enjoyment of the people. As a rule, a city is the pride of its native inhabitants, and when around that citv is associated the resorts for pleasing and healthy recreation, where can be found the garden and the park, where the tired laborer can find repose and regain the relaxed energy of his nature, it wins the natural sympathy of the heart and holds him by the attachment of his own associations.
"There is one day in seven appointed for rest, but associate on that one the gloomy experiences of the preceding six, and the spirit of the proud man yields to the gloom of the unchanging day, a dispirited being to the monotony of his own existence.
"But the time has come and the example has been set which inaugurates a change in the policy of our people and in the pride of our city's inhabitants. We have seen the beauty, grandeur and magnificence of other places. We have seen the gardens, parks, monuments and fountains laid out, erected and maintained by the energies of a less opulent people who now boast in their pride and repose in the luxuries of their own creation, until we have determined that our city shall no longer remain the dark veiled maid of the night, but the white robed bride of the morning.
"To-day we inaugurate the beginning of a new life: throwing aside the sable garments of the past and assuming the dress of a more defined taste, we start upon the pathway of a refining future. To one of our most liberal citizens are we indebted for the change. From his hands have we received the gift before us. A piece of artistic work that reflects credit upon the mind that conceived it and the hand that executed its design; a model which displays the taste of its purchaser, and fills, in ever particular, the purposes for which it was intended. No other gift could have been more appropriate, or no other ornament greater adorn the spot upon which it is located. Here in the heart of our city, at the front of our Capitol, a site as well suited to the fountain as the fountain to the location.
"But I have said that of all other gifts, none would have been more appropriate than the one presented. There is something even in the name of fountain, and its association carries back the mind to the remotest past. Beginning with the Creator we recognize in him the fountain of living waters, and when on earth the Church of God was founded it was known as a spring shut up and a fountain sealed, but when the Church and its mission failed and the Creator was mocked by the created, the fountains of heaven were broken up and the sin of the flesh fell a victim to the waters of the deluge. But there came a day when the Christian era dawned, and the repentant soul sought Christ as the fountain of Great Truth, believed in Him and lived forever. Truly there is a history in the word found recorded in the Book that left its authorship in heaven. Purity must be its meaning, because it had His name and origin in Him. Fountain is the source. The source is the beginning. I am the beginning, and the beginning is in God.
"The material and artistic fountain is by no means the invention of modern times, but finds its origin in the days wherein the profane historian has failed to venture, and from that remote period to this it has existed as a resort or an ornament, and by successive ages has been preserved as a legacy of the earliest antiquity. Far back in that buried past there existed a city to whose opulence the world contributed, whose streets were paved with gold and whose every monument shone lustre upon the magnificence of its superb grandeur, but with all this it was not complete until from the fountain of Gihon came the waters that supplied the city of the Great King. And when the immortal bard in his verse did sing of a Paradise lost and a Paradise regained; when this city, its walls and gates and temple, he, in his poetry, adored, all would have been imperfect in the verse and distateful to his muse had he failed to speak of the fountain of Enrogel as 'Siloam's brook that flowed fast by the oracle of God.'
"Coming to a later period, we see the refined taste of the Greek chiseled in the sculptured work of the world's most exquisite art; works that have withstood the test of competing skill and challenged the conception of more modern times to equal their perfection. Upon their monuments and temples and their greatest works of genius they gazed in pride and admiration, but at the shrine of their fountains they worshiped and imbibed its holy waters as the gift of their heathen deity. So with the Roman, who clothed in the pride of his country, knelt before the splendor of her great magnificence. And now, whilst others sing her praise and historians her greatest deeds record; whilst other tongues of her temples sneak, and other pens her monuments and edifices portray, it was Horace, the writer of Roman ode, who called in verse upon every praise, and in song sung only of the fountain of Banducia.
"It is true that whilst many of the lost arts lie buried, there is still left a skill, a taste and enterprise that marks the present and challenges in comparison the past. In England, in Germany and in France, each and all upon their beauty brag; each city, town and dale their hands of enterprise have made and their taste of sculptured art adorned. The chase, the garden and the park alike, each government protects, and from hill to dale, from the lowland to the mountain top, wherever the villa, the town or city stands, mark the spot, for there it streams the fountain.
"We are standing now before the temple of our State, within whose walls the sacred power of government resides, a power that may for good exist or to an evil tendency portend. It is there each citizen his homage pays, the rich and poor alike all equities invoke. It is there each patriot his loyalty declares, and swears his country to protect. May it like yonder water clear, onward with the stream of time, its purity maintain. May it like sparkling rain-drops in the sun, the sign of the holy promise keep, with honor fair its purity retain, a temple and a fountain!
"By the one presented to-day there is a lesson taught. At its base are 'Reveries' with heads inclined and energies subdued in pensive thought and dreamy mood, sitting waiting, waiting sitting, whilst world and time pass on together. The flowers of spring may come and in the fall be withered by the frost; the summer storm her thunderbolts may hurl, and winter, in his frigid blast destroy, but reverie is reverie forever. At the head of the fountain is the Goddess of Love and Beauty, who wears the magic girdle, and in her radiance lights the skies. Behold! as she in her magnificence arises, the majesty of form and the queen of all graces—away! with her magic wand, the jealousy of Juno to provoke, and Cupid’s darts, the warlike heart of Jupiter to conquer. A beauty worshipped by the world and courted by the gods.
"Let not our city like melancholy Reveries in indifferent mood and exhausted energy repose, but rather emulate that goddess fair, who from the deep her beauty and cleanliness obtained, and now, like her, let us hereafter be a goddess Venus, rising from the sea."
After music by the band, Rev. J. R. Thompson, President of the State University, pronounced the benediction, the closing act of the drama of the day, and the hundreds of waiting spectators slowly departed for their homes.
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