Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Aug/1871) - The Opening of the Convalescent Home
THE OPENING OF THE CONVALESCENT HOME.
Thursday, as the Mayor of Huddersfield very appropriately remarked, will be a red letter day in the annals of this neighbourhood. The ceremonial at Meltham, in its every incident, has been a great success. It inaugurated one of the noblest works to which human agency and aspirations could address themselves, and every means used to give it becoming eclat told and worked in well. Over the character of the act, with which the name of Charles Brook is for ever memorably associated, we have nothing at present to say. As interpreters, and in a sense, the acknowledgers of the public sentiment, we have already spoken. We have endeavoured to convey the deep sense of appreciation, in one direction, and of gratitude on the other, which Mr. Brook's noble act has evoked ; and in our own regard, as in his, we do not desire "to improve the occasion" to the extent of confounding our heartfelt acknowledgements with fulsomeness. As in the case of Wren's historic monument, to all who go to Meltham we say "circumspice!" "Look around." The testimony of that pile, devoted to the noblest purpose that the Almighty has placed within the power of humanity to carry out, speaks far more eloquently, than even honest praise could. There is a degree of acknowledgement which gratitude itself cannot trespass on without a breach of good taste, or a positive offence against those whom it is desired to compliment. We would guard against this. As representatives of the press and of the public, we would be understood to say to the donor of the Convalescent Home all that an act so philanthropic and so munificent was entitled to ; further than this we are not prepared to go — it would be unworthy of ourselves ; it would be still more unworthy towards Mr. Brook.
We can, however, speak of the circumstances attending the ceremonial, for these are what afforded an interpretation of the popular feelings with regard to it. In these days, it is not every man who builds a church, who opens a park, or who endows a hospital, that can secure for the act the ratification of that approval which is only to be secured by the public respect, as founded upon his private character. Any one walking in the procession of Thursday, and who, critical of what he saw before and around him, wished to understand how the people felt, could not but have been impressed with the quiet and respectful regard with which Mr. Brook was watched, rather than greeted. This was a singular feature of the ceremony. There was no cheering ; none of the usual demonstrations of populace explosiveness ; but as the carriage in which the Founder of the Home sat, slowly made its way, the interested eye and the occupied face of every one, as he passed, testified to the feelings "not loud but deep" that he excited. It was that sort of quiet homage, which none can secure but those who get at the core of the public heart; and which to win, in all its honest spontaneousness and fervour, is worth a King's ransom, as it is the fitting and special reward of a noble life. The people were there. And these, not defined by the hundreds who work in the mills, who worship in the church, who recreate themselves in the park, and who learn in the schools provided for them by Charles Brook ; but that wider circle, represented by the holiday makers of Huddersfield, who crowded, by road and by rail, to do him honour. And the clergy, numerously represented, were there, with the Corporation, and those orders and societies which form such a feature of our social life. No popular element was wanting, and the demonstration was such as did full justice to the man and the occasion. We are happy in being able to state as much. Referring to minor incidents, we must do justice to the way in which the proceedings were carried out. The management of the whole ceremonial was conducted well. No hitch, that we are aware of, occurred, and this was as much observable in the appropriate brevity of the speeches as in the admirable way in which the dinner arrangements were carried out. Everyone seemed to enter into the occasion, and to help in making it the great success that it proved to be ; and so, as a day of enjoyment, as in the higher character of its being a day when the noblest charity of the district was inaugurated, Thursday, as we have before said, will be marked as a red-letter day in our local annals.