October 6, 1871

Cincinnati, Ohio


Fellow-Citizens:  It is altogether fitting that the citizens of Cincinnati should feel a deep interest in the occasion which has called together this large assembly.  It is well to do honor to this noble gift, and to do honor to the generous giver.  This work lends a new charm to the whole city.


Longfellow’s lines in praise of the Catawba that grows on the banks of the beautiful river gives to the Catawba a finer flavor, and renders the beautiful river still more beautiful.  When art and genius give to us in marble, or on canvas, the features of those we admire or love, ever afterward we discover in their faces and in their characters more to admire and more to love. This work makes Cincinnati a pleasanter city, her homes more happy, her aims worthier and her future brighter.


But this fountain does not pour out its blessings for Cincinnati, or for her visitors and guests, alone.  Cincinnati is one of the central cities of the nation, and of the great continent.  It is becoming the convention city.  Witness the national assemblies in the interest of commerce, of industry, of education, of benevolence, of progress, of religion, which annually gather here from the most distant parts of America.  This monument is an instructor of all who come.  Whoever beholds it will carry away some part of the lesson it teaches.  The duty which the citizen owes to the community in which and by which he has prospered – that duty this work will forever teach.  No rich man, who is wise, will, in the presence of this example, willingly go to his grave with his debt to the public unpaid an unprovided for.  Many a last will and testament will have a beneficent codicil, suggested by the work we inaugurate today.  Parks, fountains, schools, galleries of art, libraries, hospitals, churches, whatever benefits and elevates mankind, will here receive much needed encouragement and support.


This work says to him, who with anxious toil and care, has successfully gathered and hoarded, do not neglect your great opportunity.  Divide wisely and equitably between the few who are most nearly of your own blood, and the many who in kinship are only a little further removed.  If you regard only those reared under your roof, your cherished estate will soon be scattered, perhaps wasted by profligate heirs in riotous living, to their own ruin, and you and your fortune will quickly be forgotten.  Give a share – pay a tithe to your more distant and more numerous kindred – to the general public, and you will be gratefully remembered, and mankind will be blessed by your having lived.


Many reflecting on the uncertainty of the future, will prefer to have their benefactions distributed and applied while they are still living.  Regarding their obligations to the public as sacred debts, they will wish to pay as they go.  This is commendable, perhaps it is safest.


But at some time and some how the example here presented will and must be followed.  All such deeds are the parents of other similar good deeds.  And so the circle within which the blessings flowing from this fountain are enjoyed will forever grow wider and wider, and the people of distant times and places will rejoice to drink, as we now do, healthful and copious draughts in honor of its founder.


Here this matchless structure will link together in perpetual and grateful remembrance the names of Tyler Davidson and Henry Probasco.  Ever honored be these names in the city which this noble gift has so greatly honored.