This is the 1873 Valedictory Address for Dean Academy in Franklin, MA (now known as Dean College). It was delivered on June 25, 1873 by Louisa M. Sears of East Dennis, MA. This copy of the address was hand written by Louisa in a journal also containing her mother’s journal of an 1852 voyage by sea. The journal also contains three undated essays by Louisa.
After signing off on the address, Louisa writes “The original copy of this Valedictory before being cut-down” and then begins to pen the first line of the address again. It appears that the full handwritten address is just as Louise delivered it and that she then started copying down the unabridged version but stopped.
A full transcription of the Valedictory Address appears below the images.
Delivered by L. M. Sears
June 25, 1873
Friends and Patrons of Dean Academy
On this day, around which cluster so many pleasant memories of the past and so many high anticipations for the future, we have gathered to pay our last tribute of love to this noble institution. For three years or more have the lives of most of our happy band been centered here, and today we linger around these for familiar scenes for the last time the fount of feeling is stirred it’s very depths and the farewell word falters on our lips. Happy days! Gladly would we welcome your return that we might better improve the precious opportunities they afforded. But they are ours no longer the stream of time whose waters ever flow onward is hastening us to the ocean of eternity and we must pass on to take our place with the actors on the stage of the future. The halls we so jubilant with song and laughter no more shall echo with merry voices for their walls lie in silent ruined but could they speak from their sacred ashes today, they would tell of many pleasant months spent here by the happy inmates within them. From whose hands have been the happy recipients of so many benefactions and to whom do we owe these pleasant memories? Two men with open generous hearts. To you friends and patrons of Dean Academy we give our tribute of thanks poor though it may for the noble spirit you have manifested and abundant generosity you have shown in aiding and founding an institution whose influence will be felt-down to distant ages. Worthiest benefactors are those who promote the cause of education. Institutions of learning, libraries, galleries of art — all are necessary to progress.
May you see the golden fruits of your kindness. Look not to the present for such a fruit for we have come short of the true type, but look to the past and wait patiently for the unfoldings of the future!
Here let us turn aside for a few moments from the present and it’s visible forms in the past and its sacred dead. Any words that I may utter cannot add praise to one whose munificence has made him the object of perpetual gratitude. To enlarge his name seems but to gild fine gold.
Months have elapsed since his chair was made vacant and his pleasant face stilled in death, but he lives in the hearts of each of us today the same as when he was wont to meet with us. We leave the honor dead to sleep in his nursery bed. May perennial buds blossom on his grave emblematic of a fruitful and sunny life, but let us by noble acts try to make our lives like his.
Members of the Board of Trustees
No heartless expression of gratitude do we offer you today for we feel too deeply the priceless benefits we have received at your hands. But for you, we might today be wondering in unknown paths, struggling with difficulties such as our short stay here has taught so to meet with courage and patience. May our lives give thankful expression to the grateful feelings of each heart. You have striven faithfully to remove the heavy cloud which cast it’s dark shadow upon our pathway and already we see promises of the golden lining. … we have watched the gradual rising of the walls which give promise of an edifice even more attractive and desirable than the old we seem to see it’s halls throng with those who shall gather within them in search of knowledge.
We leave you with many good wishes hoping we shall be remembered with kindness and that you will look upon us with all charity and sympathy for you know that we have not had the stern realities of life to discipline us to adversity. There have been times when the darkness seemed to impenetrable, but we are happy today to think however dark may have been the past, it casts not its shadow on our future.
We rejoice in your success in securing such an earnest faithful guide for this institution. Would that we could express all the love and respect we entertain for him and his associate teachers. A year ago he came to us a stranger. He found us in doubt and fear almost discouraged, but scarcely had he announced his duties among us when we felt we had found in him not only an efficient guide and instructor but a true, devoted noble-hearted friend. When difficulties met us his hand was extended for our support, and when in trouble never have we turned from his presence without that comfort and counsel we sought. Under his guidance duty became a pleasure for there was always the blending of culture and genial qualities which drew all to him. He has made our short stay here most pleasant and profitable. While his life speaks words of wisdom his life is silently teaching his pupils the beauty of a self-sacrificing Christian spirit. Fain would we linger with him, but other duties await us and we bid him adieu.
We are truly sensible that the high mark of scholarship which he has striven so hard to sit before us has not been fully reached yet we hope that he will be able to see as do we that his labors of love will not be without their true reward.
The seed is sown, but the harvest time is not yet.
We bid you goodbye with many deep regrets. You have opened before us vast fields of learning which we can never hope fully to explore. You have born with us the burden of each day and while you have aimed to cultivate our intellectual nature you have not been neglectful of the moral. Words seem to be meaningless when we attempt to express our heartfelt thanks for your instruction and care. We give you the warm affection of our hearts, we cannot repay you.
The place you have gained in our hearts’ esteem we shall hold sacred in all time. We have lived together like members of one family having our common interest and our hearts ache now that we come to separate.
Oft will our minds wander back to this spot and we shall wish ourselves with you in your search for knowledge. At first you will miss our familiar faces, but with new acquaintances and in the interest of new friendships our absence will soon be unnoticed. In our past experiences we recall much that has been amiss. Let us warn you not to imitate our example in this respect. To the class that rises to take the place which we vacate today, we would say your future looks bright. Made the disappointments we have suffered be unknown to you. Profit by our failures, improve your time for study, count even your leisure moments as valuable. They are precious and if well used will secure for you a store of great thought. Do not think you can ascend to the temple of fame at one bound. You will secure an entrance to her doors only after much hard and untiring labor. You have friends to cheer you, books and teachers to aid you, and many little helps. Still your education and the discipline of your own minds must be your own work. Everything of much value is secured at the price of labor and toil. With these friendly suggestions we leave you. May the coming days mark your rapid progress, and your efforts be crowned with the amaranthine wreath of real knowledge.
The very deep affection we cherish for each other makes this closing our of our school life full of touching interest. The three years of our acquaintance has passed away like the sunbeam that gilds the wing of a passing bird. While they have been our happiest years, they have been years of labor in which we have sought that culture and discipline which shall better fit us for the opening and hopeful future. While our minds have expanded to the sunlight of truth and knowledge our affections have also strengthened into lasting friendships. I need not review our happy school life in all its details. We part and I will not make this last hour more sad by calling up the past.
Our attention is now called to fields of varied labor adapted to each waiting us on all sides. We pause on the shore of the dim future anxious to catch a glimpse of each life as time alone can unfold it. She will not now reveal the hidden mystery and it is best that she holds it secret lest knowing we might turn back in sorrow and disappointment. We now start out upon our new life. Each has his own cherished purpose. Hope is bright and the heart strong for its accomplishment, but we must not forget the dangers that lie in the by paths. Sirens whose songs has are as charming as the voice of Calypso are there to allure us to destruction. It is hard to say goodbye classmates and leave each to go his way alone not knowing where his path may lead. The ways of some may lead beside the sunny banks of the waters of peace and prosperity while others may pass through conflict and adversity, but what ever be our lot, let us meet it with courage and determination to conquer all obstacles. Remembering life is what we make it let us so live that the historic muse proud of our names will record them in letters of gold. Farewell the golden cords are broken, but if we live faithful to ourselves and our God, they shall again be reunited on the banks of the celestial river at the grand reunion where tears are unknown and farewell words are never spoken.
Louisa M. Sears
August 7, 1873
(Editor’s note: Thank you to Dr. Rob Lawson at Dean College for pointing out the correct spelling of Louisa’s name.)