Be it yours to nurse with more than a vestal’s watchfulness, the sacred flame of our virtue now so smothered. Your task is unobtrusive; it is performed in the privacy of home, and by the gentle touches of daily love. But it is the noblest work which mortal can perform for it furnishes the polished stones (godly children), with which the temple of our liberties must be repaired. We have seen men building a lofty pile of scupltured marble, where columns with polished shafts pointed to the skies, and domes reared their arches on high, like mimic heavens. They swung the massive blocks into their places on the walls with cranes and cables, with shout and outcries, and hugh creaking of the ponderous machinery. But these were not the true artisans: they were but rude labourers.
The true artists, whose priceless cunning was to give immortal beauty to the pile, and teach the dead stones to breathe majesty and grace were not there. None saw or heard their labours. In distant and quiet workrooms, where no eye watched them, and no shout gave signal of their motions, they plied their patient chisels slowly with gentle touches, evoking the forms of beauty which lay hid in the blocks before them.
Such is your work; the home and fireside are the scenes of your industry. But the materials which you shape are the souls of men, which are to compose the fabric of our church and state. The politician, the professional man, is but the cheap, rude, day labourer, who moves and lifts the finished block to its place. You are the true artists, who endue it with fitness and beauty; and therefore yours is the nobler task.”