I take this early opportunity of addressing you my unfeigned and most sincere thanks for the very flattering and truly honourable testimony which you have borne to my moral character during my residence in Carbonear, and since I first landed in this country; and while I regret the unfavourable reception which your address to the Commissioners of education of Conception Bay has received at their hands, I rejoice at the opportunity which it affords me of coming forward, and, in the [face] of day, asserting my claim to that character which you have done me the honour to set forth--True, it seldom becomes one to say much of one’s self, yet I deem there is a time when, [and] there are circumstances under which it behoves a man to speak of himself,-- that it is not only excusable to do so, but that the man who would neglect it through false or unworthy delicacy, should stand arraigned at the bar of personal and social duty to answer for the double [?] of injustice to himself and contempt for the public. Yes, when one’s character is arraigned either directly or indirectly, when an insidious attempt is made to rob one of that which none can give, and which none should be suffered to pass with impunity in the attempt to take away,--that which is dearer to a man than any other consideration on earth;--when the murderous dagger is snatched from the sheathe and [bade] to ply in dark design from behind the curtain; then, indeed, does it behove a man to stand forth, and, ere his blood has satiated the vile assailant, repel with becoming energy, the life seeking weapon; such, gentlemen, precisely is my case.
Indeed, I feel the more strongly impeled to vindicate my character on this occasion, that I have the pleasure of seeing your very strong testimonial lying before me; I say the more strongly impeled because of your testimonial for under other circumstances I might, perhaps, have treated the pusillanimous impugners of my character with contemptuous silence: I might have treated them in a manner consonant with the opinion I have long entertained of them, I might have treated them in exact conformity with the light in which I view them:--like the joints of the caterpillar they move in abject possibility to the head; or like the magnetic needle they are whirled to the pole of a base [intollering?]:--thus they call virtue, but it is in [?on’s] adding one drop more to the [patsoned?] cup intended for their [?man] , thus, in the language of my text,
Virtue’s self by knaves is made
A cloak to carry on their trade
Such is the light in which I view them such, perhaps might have been the manner in which I would have rested them; but now my motives of self-defence are of the most urgent nature to assert my character in a duty I owe you—to perform their duty becomes imperative on me—from such duty I shall never shrink.
Now, before producing the vouchers of character, which I have brought from home, before advertising to the scenes between which my life at home were divided, I shall here take leave to premise a few observations; In the first place, then, I am equally willing and ready to enter into a comparison of character with any of the Commissioners, and let that comparison be continued through every scene and through every action of my life. In to such a comparison I am well aware they will not have the hardihood to enter; for as sure as darkness yields to to [sic] light, and as sure as the sick of corruption and infamy cannot endure the effulgence of day so sure would the Commissioners grievously suffer by the comparison. Again, the first thought must naturally arise within your minds my Friends, is, on what grounds have the Commissioners slighted your unanimous demand, and rejected as unworthy the situation of Teacher him whom you have considered in every point of view as qualified for such an office; under what pretext have they hurled to the winds the strong and universal call which you have made regarding an appointment over which as you yourselves have justly conceived [it], you and you alone should have a decided [control]; otherwise, that is, if such [control] were not lodged in you, the responsibility of bringing up your children in the path of virtue, and in favour with God and man, would no more devolve upon you than it would on the Laplander or the Parter. Then, on what ground have the Commissioners refused your just demand? Is it that I am a drunkard? No it can’t be so, since I have been drunk in my life; I have never spent an hour drinking or carousing in a public house since I was born; and I am a most cordial enemy to the excessive use of ardent spirits. Is it that I have been neglectful of my duties as teacher since I came to Carbonear? No, the people of Carbonear, and especially those of them who have entrusted me with the education of their children, can certify to the contrary; never have I converted to any other business one half hour of that time which should have been devoted to the duties of my calling; lounging on counters, or tipling in grog shops have never been my practice; nor have debauchery and drunkness employed my nights. What then? Am I a violator of the public peace, or a [canting] incidendiary ruffing and disturbing the harmony of Society? No, most certainly not; a more strict observer of the laws, perhaps, could not be found in any part of the Queen’s dominions than I am, nor does society own a more peaceable member. This is saying a good deal, but it is saying it in the face of day. What then is the cause of the Commissioners’ hostility to me? It is indeed a strange cause, but yet not more strange than horrible; yes, horrible on account of the intolerant sentiment which pervades it, and in this age of superior enlightenment too when the poisonous vapour of intolerance should dry up before the rays of universal liberty. I shall however, refer the mention of it till the conclusion of this address, and pass on at once to a review of my character at home. My life at home consisted of three principals scenes; (I divide it in this manner in order that there may be no mistake as to the precise career which I pursued before I came to this country) my character was exhibited in three different forms; first, as a literary student; secondly, as a Medical Student and thirdly, as a private Tutor. It is not a little unfortunate to the Commissioners, though happy for me, that I am able to [for?ty] my character in each of these spheres, with the most respectable and honourable testimonials. I shall, therefore, commence with my academical career, and give the testimony borne to my character by a Doctor of Divinity, by one who has ranged widely through the fields of literature and philosophy [sic], who has filled the professors chair not only in some of the Irish Colleges but likewise in some of those of the Continent of Europe, ad this with exceeding great to himself and advantage to his pupils; a gentleman as remarkable for his genuine piety and zeal in the ministry for his extensive learning superior talents, and gentlemanly demeanour;--I shall give the testimony of the Very Rev. Doctor Magrath, the Vicar General of [Ossory].
Hear, then what he says; it is contained in a letter written by me in the seventh year of my accademical [sic] studies under him
Grove, March, 7, 1834,
I know the writer of the above, Thomas Talbot, he is an inhabitant of the parish of Ooning, he has received a good education, is of correct moral character, and I think him qualified for the ecclesiastical state.
P. MaGrath, P.P., V.R.C. Ooning
This speaks a good deal; no less than that I was qualified to be admitted into the priesthood, to be enrolled among a body who of all others require, and amongst whom is to be found the utmost purity of moral character; the most unsullied integrity of morale conduct; and by whom am I esteemed thus worthy? by no less a personage indeed than an illustrious dignitary of the Roman Catholic Church, and one who once at once, in no ordinary degree, its ornament and its strength. He could not possibly mistaken my character, since it was developed under him from my twelvth [sic] to my twentieth year.—He deemed me fit for the sacred order; yet the Education Commissioners of Conception Bay do not deem me worthy if the most humble [?tion]. Well, indeed, may I exclaim, O tempoera! O mores!
The following is from another Clergyman, and learned professor in an Irish College.
Ballypatrick, May 12, 1835.
I know Thomas Talbot of the parish of Ooning, he is an ecclesiastical student, and during my residence here of nearly two years, he has obtained several literary prizes in the various departments of Classics and Philysophy [sic]; his character is purely moral and exemplary.
B. Scott, CC P.L.E.
So much for my accademical course I now turn to the last scene of my life, that of Medical Student,--Let the following speak for me.
Mr. Talbot has lived with me as Medical apprentice for fourteen months during which he has given me the utmost satisfaction, being an attentive, obedient and correct young man; I regret exceedingly to part with him. He has taken out a Diploma in the Dublin Medical Hall, an he possesses a capability of making rapid progress in hisprofession
John H. Leech, M.D.
Carrick on Suir, 4th April, 1836.
Now for the last scene of my life while in my own country.
The bearer (Mr. Thomas Talbot) lived with me, (as Tutor) for nine months during which time he conducted himself remarkably well, I think he is very capable of teaching the Classics, he leaves me at his own request.
Harristown, April 10, 1837
Now shew me the Commissioner, nay shew me the man that can say so much for himself. Shew me the man that can produce such honourable testimonials of character, and from gentlemen [?] of the highest respectability in their various spheres; two of them being eminent and illustrious ecclesiastics, and learned professor of literature; one a medical gentleman of high standing in his profession, and another gentleman of extensive estates and no less extensive acquirements, a gentleman who [?] in the highest sphere, no less for his birth and hereditary possessions than for his mental acquirements and moral [rectitude] and refinement, a gentleman who holds claim on the proudest blood of English nobility, in a word a gentleman whose equal is not to be found in Newfoundland. To indulge in such a strain may be deemed by the pigmy Commissioners as an indication of much vanity in me; they may esteem it so, but I presume every wise and rational every just and honest man will consider it otherwise; for me I rather think it is an honest pride resting on solid base.
Gentlemen, I shall now take leave to give to the public your address to the Commissioners of Education of Conception Bay in my behalf, embodying, as it does the most creditable testimony to my character, and coming as it does, from a mixed community, consisting of different religious persuasions; for it shall ever be my greatest pride to merit the just approbation of my fellow men, without distinction of creed or profession; and it may no [be?iss] here to observe that of the four credentials given above, two are from Roman Catholic clergymen, and two from Protestant gentlemen.—Now for your address To the Commissioners of Education of Conception Bay
We the undersigned householders and inhabitants of Mosquitto, finding that a School is to be established in our immediate neighbourhood, and for our especial benefit, under the auspicious of an Act passed by the Local Legislature for the dissemination of [?] in this Island, consider it our peculiar privilege to appoint to the situation of Teacher whomsoever we deem most worthy and best calculated to promote our interests in this respect. In accordance, therefore, with this our just opinion, we have well weighed what we thought to be the necessary qualifications of one to whose care we were to commit the education of our children and relatives and have accordingly come to the conclusion that Mr. Talbot of Carbonear, was the most fitting person to fill the [situation?], both on account of the literary acquirements, and the [?proachable] moral character he has sustained during his residence in Carbonear, and since he first landed in this country. Having [?] on Mr. Talbot and moved the subject to him we are happy to say he has accorded with our wishes. We therefore, propose him as Teacher for the Mosquito School.
Signed by  of the most respectable Roman Catholic and Protestant inhabitants of Mosquitto.
Thus is effected the climax of my character. How unlucky for the Commissioners that I am so fortified as to tend their malice and persecution abortive. Fain would they slight upon some [?] to derogate from the blameless tenor of my conduct; fain would they direct the magnifying lens of their depraved intellects to some fancied spot on the broad disk of my character: but thank God, I can defy the utmost malignity of the crawling faction; and at such consummation they shall never arrive. It shall ever be my honest endeavour to maintain a good character; and while I do this, I shall be esteemed by the virtuous, the good, and the wise, whose approbation alone I seek; indeed I would rather starve with a good character than be enriched and elevated with a bad one. But in vain so the Commissioners waste their bile; if they may indulge for a moment in plunging their whetted fangs into my vitals, it most only within the [?less] recesses of their secret conclave—the portals of the horrid place thee flung open, and the fowl misrepresentations, like shadow before the rising sun shall instantaneously vanish.
The cause whence arises the Commissioners’ hostility to me, and to which I have alluded above, is simply this, that I should dare, in my address to them offering myself as candidate for the mastership of the contemplated Grammar School in Carbonear, advocate the propriety and justice of throwing the list open to all Candidates of whatever profession or denomination, and of having, after due examination of the merits of the respective Candidates, a majority of the people without distinction of creed or calling. That I should attempt to advocate the right of all men, without regard to their colour or their creed, to an equal participation in the blessings and advantages of Society, has been exceedingly unpalatable to the impartial Commissioners; so much so that they have considered it sufficient cause to prostrate my character, and strangle me to death. But mistaken men, they were unequal to the task—While moral rectitude, and integrity of conduct shall meet the approval of men, and the attempt to render those inavailable to an honest livelihood their contempt and disapprobation, so long shall I triumph over malice and oppression. With regard to professors of different creeds I shall barely say; when I begin to estimate my fellow men, not by their [virtuous?] principles and moral character, but by their country and their creed may I that moment cease to exist. If such disposition is virtuous and to deny it would be the highest blasphemy, I have imbibed it from my earliest youth, I shall cherish it to my lastest breath.
Gentlemen, I am unwilling to dwell longer on this subject for however, gratifying it is to me to be thus able to hedge round my character by the very strong and respectable testimonial which I possess, against the insidious attacks of my enemies; yet, I must confess, the necessity of doing so, gives me more pain than pleasure; but I again beg to tender you my best assurance of the estimation in which I hold your creditable and very valuable testimonial; and of the gratitude arising [? ret?], which shall ever dwell within the breast of
Gentlemen, your much obliged, ever grateful, and most obdt. humble servant,
Carbonear, Oct. 9, 1839.