Inaugural Address on the opening of the Winter Session of the Birmingham and Midland Institute (September 27, 1869).
Ladies and Gentlemen, - We often hear of our common country that it is an over-populated one, that it is an over-pauperized one, that it is an over-colonizing one, and that it is an over-taxed one. Now, I entertain, especially of late times, the heretical belief that it is an over-talked one, and that there is a deal of public speech-making going about in various directions which might be advantageously dispensed with. If I were free to act upon this conviction, as president for the time being of the great institution so numerously represented here, I should immediately and at once subside into a golden silence, which would be of a highly edifying, because of a very exemplary character. But I happen to be the institution's willing servant, not its imperious master, and it exacts tribute of mere silver or copper speech - not to say brazen - from whomsoever it exalts to my high office. Some African tribes - not to draw the comparison disrespectfully - some savage African tribes, when they make a king require him perhaps to achieve an exhausting foot-race under the stimulus of considerable popular prodding and goading, or perhaps to be severely and experimentally knocked about the head by his Privy Council, or perhaps to be dipped in a river full of crocodiles, or perhaps to drink immense quantities of something nasty out of a calabash - at all events, to undergo some purifying ordeal in presence of his admiring subjects.
Cf. Dickens writes on Children, on Schools