The following account comes from the University of Michigan's copy of the Illustrated London News, Vol. 48, contributed to the Internet Archive. It is in the issue of 28 April 1866, and has been formatted for the Victorian Web by Jacqueline Banerjee.
On Tuesday week Mr. George Peabody, the eminent benefactor of the deserving poor of London, attended at Guildhall, accompanied by the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress, at the request of the managing committee, to distribute the prizes gained by the successful competitors at the Working Classes Industrial Exhibition, which has been held there for some weeks. The ceremony took place at four o'clock, in the presence of a large company, among whom were many of the principal citizens; and the hall was illuminated for the occasion and tastefully, decorated with banners. On arriving at the hall Mr. Peabody was hailed with enthusiastic cheers, and took a seat assigned to him on the right of the Lord Mayor, on the platform at the east end of the building.
The honorary secretary then read the report, which stated that the aggregate admissions on payment during the thirty-five days the exhibition had been open were 41,576. Upwards of 2600 children of the different ward and day schools had visited the exhibition free. The number of prizes awarded by adjudicators chosen by the exhibitors was 193, of which ninety-nine were medals and ninety-four were honorary mentions. The number of exhibitors was 827, exhibiting articles, thirty-two only of which were ineligible for prizes. No prizes had been given or awards made but to the actual producers of the articles exhibited, in conformity with a rule laid down by the committee.
The Lord Mayor, addressing the meeting, said, if there was one thing more than another that could add lustre and interest to the proceedings of the day, it was the presence of their honoured and distinguished friend Mr. George Peabody. (Loud cheers). They were, indeed, deeply indebted to him for his presence on the occasion. He had great pleasure presenting to their notice their excellent friend Mr. Peabody (Cheers).
Mr. Peabody, who was greeted with acclamations, said:— My Lord Mayor, Ladies, and Gentlemen, — I beg to acknowledge with heartfelt gratitude kind expressions which the Lord Mayor has just used towards me. I assure you there is no man who feels such language with more sensibility or gratitude than I do, and I assure you I am extremely thankful and complimented by the kind manner in which you have received the flattering remarks which have just emanated from my friend the Lord Mayor. Contrary to my expectation, I am able, on the eve of my departure from these shore, to discharge a duty which your kindness has caused me to fulfil. Though a stranger to yon, and of another country, you were pleased to intimate to me that my presence among you this day would give you gratification (cheers); and on my part I am bound to say that, while I have been constrained to decline many invitations recently addressed to me, I have reserved to myself with peculiar satisfaction the opportunity of meeting the working men of London, whose representatives you are, in the midst of tho scene of their honourable rivalry and the display of their most meritorious achievements (Cheers). Such successful competition as that which meets its due reward this day must be productive of the highest advantage to the people at large, and all classes of the community will derive benefit from the elevating tendency of the persistent industry and skill displayed in the construction of theso works of art which are now about to receive the token of public commendation. Springing as I do from the people, and owning with you the Anglo-Saxon stock, I unfeignedly rejoice in this fresh evidence of the advancement of the industrial classes in the dignity of labour, and in those habits of self-reliance and honest independence which ennoble any people and afford the Burest guarantee of the true prosperity and moral greatness of any [409/410]country (Cheers). It is true that these prize) which I am about to distribute are the just reward oi your own personal efforts; but I hope you will allow me to remind you that in receiving your certificate of undoubted merit you will accept it also as an acknowledgment mile by you in this century which will be productive of good and redound to the advantage of future generations, who must profit by your laudable exertions in the field of scientific research, and in the open workshops of a nation's constructive skill (Cheers). Should the Great Disposer of all events give to me the happiness of returning to this country, I hope to see the complete success of projects designed by me for the permanent welfare of the deserving poor of this metropolis (loud cheers), and I may then enjoy farther opportunities of intercourse with those in whose welfare and happiness I have so great an interest (Renewed and prolonged cheers).
The prizes awarded to the successful competitors were then distributed. At the conclusion of the ceremony, which lasted a considerable time
Mr. Peabody, acknowledging a vote of thanks which had been passed by acclamation, referred to the delight he had experienced in meeting them and in seeing the great efforts accomplished by so many working people in this great city. I trust (he continued to say) you will go on and prosper in this good work until every working man in London shall feel that he is a man and has the dignity of a man, as much as any other individual (Cheers). It only rests with themselves to do so. Let them feel they are in a position to do things which they have the power to do, and they will not only accomplish what they intend to do but what will benefit to a great degree this great country and the whole world (Cheers). I feel delighted at the manner in which I have been received here to-day, and to see so many of that class of people who have accomplished so much. I say again, go on in the work you have begun, and you will find this hall will not hold one half the working people who will be entitled to receive medals for their scientific and other qualifications. On Friday or Saturday I shall be on my way to my native land, and I shall have nothing to carry with me but what will, I hope, be delightful to my countrymen and delightful to me (Cheers).
The Lord Mayor replied in an eloquent speech to a vote of thanks given to him; and a similar compliment to the Lady Mayoress closed the proceedings.
A meeting of exhibitors, over which Mr. Galloway presided, was held in the evening at the Guildhall, at which it was agreed that a testimonial written on vellum, and again, at a further meeting, a gold medal, struck from the die of the medal to be presented to the exhibitors, be presented to Mr. Peabody, in order to express their gratitude and their appreciation of the honour conferred upon them by his kindly condescending to distribute the prizes.
A deputation from the Fishmongers' Company waited upon Mr. Peabody on Thursday week, to offer him the honorary freedom of this Corporation, which the Court had unanimously resolved should be presented to him in a gold box of the value of one hundred guineas, to mark their high appreciation of his munificent gifts to the poor of London. Mr. Peabody stated that he accepted the freedom offered to him as an additional mark of the appreciation of the citizens of London of what he had been permitted to do in behalf of the poor of that city. The enrolment of the freedom of the company will be forwarded to Mr. Peabody in America, where he stated it would be preserved in his native town, for; he hoped, many generations, together with her Majesty's gracious gift, and other memorials of the kind sentiments of the English people towards a citizen of the United States of America.
Mr. Peabody took his departure from Liverpool on Saturday last in the Royal mail-steamer Scotia for America. A large concourse of people assembled at the landing-stage, where the tender to convey him to the Scotia was in waiting, and he was greeted with loud and prolonged cheers.
Created 23 May 2019