James starts out his address at the Clerc Memorial dedication with a quote by Laurent.
" Gratitude is the remembrance of kindness received, the memory of a heart penetrated with a sense of profound respect and affection, and with measureless devotion."
I believe that this quote was made during one of Laurent’s Abbe Sicard demonstrations. It was an attempt to help the audience understand that a Deaf person could conceive of abstract concepts and to demonstrate Laurent’s level of education. Audiences of his time would not generally believe that a Deaf person was as intelligent.
Speeches about Laurent and of the time seemed to include generous parts of the origin story that is so familiar to us. About the men that had a great impact on Laurent and the way that he came to meet Thomas Gallaudet. It is indeed an exciting and fascinating story so we do not begrudge James his opening.
“Laurent made this comment at one of the London demonstrations on the “3d of July, 1815, when asked, what is gratitude ?" An audience composed of individuals of the highest standing in the social and political circles of England had assembled in London to listen to a lecture of the Abbé Sicard in exposition and illustration of the new French system of imparting instruction to the deaf and dumb. This system, originating with the Abbé de l'Epée, had been elaborated and improved by his successor, Sicard, in whose hands it had produced results, especially in the case of his now celebrated pupils, Massieu and Clerc, that excited the wonder and admiration of Europe.”