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Library 1860. JAN 2 40
THE OLD LESSON.
cumstances, this doubtful and dangerous reputation; and one we call a
; great general, another a great statesman, another a great lawyer, and another still—a great rascal. The halo of glory, which“ the safe distance of half a century” wreathes around an event of the past, too often glimmers with fictitious beauty, and is mellowed by the mild obscurity which that distance only can impart. Thus the muse of history may tell a mutilated story, and while she records brilliant deeds, and hands down to us illustrious names, it is too often to extol the hero but forget the man. Even in the present, we know how natural it is for men to be influenced by intellectual display. We are carried away, willing and delighted captives, by flights of eloquence, and long after the orator has ceased, there linger about his production still, a peculiar charm and power, which all men have felt, but which we cannot describe. It is right that it should be so, for it shows the magnetic power of the human mind, and the grand results it can accomplish when directed towards a noble end.
To become a great orator, in a word, to become great in anything, for the mere sake of greatness, should not be our highest aim in life. We cannot all be orators, all statesmen, all lawyers, all public men in their varied capacities, but we all can and all ought, first of all, to be good citizens and good men. It is as private men that for the most part we must act. Here will lie the sphere of our greatest influence. We grow up in a community, identify ourselves with its interest, mingle with its people, help to shape its progress, help to uphold its laws, to cultivate its tastes, to increase its refinement; and, to do all this with anything like success, we must educate ourselves for the enjoyments of social life, and for the duties of citizenship. By-and-by, perhaps, we may have to discharge other duties-but they will all of them be the better performed, if we have first fulfilled the duties of a citizen. Many of us, it is true, will leave College to enter actively upon some profession. Politics, law, divinity, medicine open their avenues and invite us to make their study the work of our lives. If we enter upon the career which they open, to be first in our profession, to enjoy the honors of well earned superiority, is a powerful stimulus to active and continued labor ; but we must not rest satisfied even here. We did not lay aside our citizenship nor our individuality when we entered the pulpit or the bar, but their responsibilities have only increased with our progress; and when we think we have accomplished all that is worth accomplishing in our career, high above the honors of the bar and the rewards of a successful industry, stand the duties of the citizen and the man. These unperformed, all other success is of
comparatively little worth ; these first and always performed, all other success but adds to the dignity and the power of a truly noble life.
Our duties then as citizens, so soon to begin, demand at our hands an earnest and attentive consideration. How shall they be best discharged, is the question we ought to answer. It is moreover a practical question, and one which possesses for us, as students, a peculiar significance. Our advantages, our position as educated men, have of themselves laid new responsibilities upon us. They cannot and ought not to be ignored. Instead of denying what society expects, nay, reasonably demands, and thus giving ourselves up to a selfish enjoyment, our duty is to acknowledge the justice of her claims, and to prepare ourselves for their fulfillment. I do not argue that we have no duties which we owe strictly to ourselves-duties too, which concern no one else, and which ought first of all to be discharged. But I do say, that they all do not end with ourselves; they extend to society by virtue of the relations men mutually sustain, and by virtue of a common humanity. Moreover, if we throw out of consideration the good we thereby do to others, our individual elevation demands that they should be performed. We are so constitued that, in the very act of benefiting society, we are ourselves improved. Says Guizot, “Man is formed for society. Isolated and solitary, his reason would remain perfectly undeveloped. Against bis total defeat for rational development God has provided the social relations. In proportion as these are extended, regulated and perfected, man is softened, ameliorated, cultivated.”
Such, then, being the relations we sustain, and the duties we owe to society, it is our business in College, as well as elsewhere, to make such preparation for their fulfillment, as their importance and our own position demand. Of course, our first duty is a thorough education. That is the purpose for which the five hundred of us have made this College our present home. Here are the rare opportunities which the wisdom and experience of a century have provided. The mental vigor and discipline, which a careful study of the course would impart, will be of countless worth; but that study must not be altogether exclusive. We must, at times, go aside from it, or we will not obtain all the good which it is capable of affording. An unswerving and persevering application to the daily routine of College study, will discipline the mind and develop its powers; but it is not always unattended with serious evils. We are each day of our lives adding some new thought, and feeling some new influence, which go to make up the unity of our character. They are so hidden and so subtle, that we pass our College life almost unconscious of their power. If, then, in devoting our energies and our time to the discipline of the course, we neglect, as we are exceedingly likely to do, the cultivation of the other faculties of our being, we will not, after all, have obtained the highest nor the truest education. That will only have been reached, when we shall have properly developed, not only the intellect, but the moral and social faculties of our nature, giving to each a harmonious union with the rest, and thus imparting the highest excellence to all. Said a member of the Faculty, whose character and experience give additional weight to his words, “ The capacity of the intellect for great achievments is not separable from the capacity of feeling, but a great intellect is more or less acted upon and animated by strong feeling and determined will. The striking predominance of the intellect over the feelings, or the feelings over the intellect, prevents the growth of both. The whole soul must be educated in all its powers or it cannot be successfully educated in any one of them.”
To those, then, who place intellect immeasurably above the other endowments of the mind, this is an argument which they cannot well; overlook, for the highest development of the intellect necessitates the development of the rest. Even if no other reason were advanced, this alone is one, which hero-worshippers, and those who make mere brains the idol of their homage, cannot well reject, much less refute with a sneer. But to those who believe that there is something in the social qualities themselves, which beautifies and ennobles character, this argument has a special significance ; for it confirms the belief, that what God has given us for our rational enjoyment, is not a matter of such trifling worth as to be almost ignored, or at best, to perform the office of a convenient and humble servitor. To my mind, their value is founded upon and vindicated by higher and juster claims. They are so interwoven with our being and contribute so much to the good of others, as well as to our own enjoyment, that we shall not have performed our highest duty in life, if we neglect the obligations. which they have rightly and reasonably enjoined.
With some of us at least our connection with College will soon terminate. With others it will be prolonged a few years more-but for all, a short time, at farthest, will bring the close. If we are to believe the testimony of all mankind and that even of our limited experience, beyond this pleasant four years home there lies a selfish, battling, heartless world. We have got to live in it. Every possible tendency, almost, is exerted to make men selfish, grasping, hollow-hearted. We have got to fight against them, if we would live happy and successful lives. I call that a successful life, which finds its reward, not in VOL. XXVI.
wealth or honor or fame, but in the elevation of a common humanity, and the triumph of a just cause. In ages past such lives have sometimes been written in tears and blood. Men and devils have banded together to crush them. Dungeons and prison-racks and scaffolds have confronted them; but death alone has conquered. No, death even has not conquered, for above the prison's gloom, above the scaffold's beibgt, above, high above, the faggot's gleam, and the jeers and curses of the mob, has risen a voice divinely sweet and clear,—"a new commandment gave I unto you, that ye love one another," and then, clearer and sweeter still, “ inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”—That terrible day has past, but its lessons still remain. We are not called upon to be martys, but we are called upon, in a humbler sphere, to fulfill the glorious mission of an earnest and a useful life. When, therefore, in his preparation for that life, I see any one, but especially when I see a student, withdrawing from the influences of social intercourse, and shutting up within himself those elements of his nature, which God never gave him to abuse, I think that man mistakes the true objects of an education, and is growing old before his time. Let us rather-by all means let us rather, in the best years of our life, in our youth, filled as it is with the flush of hope and of future promise, give full play to the faculties of the mind and of the soul, cultivate geniality, friendship, and a love for the good ; for if so be, that by-and-by our lives may be tinged with sorrow, and disappointment may cast its shadows over us, there may be one period toward which we can turn with a quiet joy, and which, warming our hearts again with the emotions of youth, will teach us, that life is not all a waste, nor friendship all a dream.
I have attempted to justify the claims which the social faculties have upon us, in the formation of character. I have done so because the natural tendency of the College course is to develop the intellect alone. It is proper and necessary that it should be so. But it by no means follows that our sole duty here is to devote all our time and energies to its pursuit, for, with all our study and mental discipline, there is still another obligation to be discharged, which demands at least a recognition of its worth. Discipline of mind and formation of character ought to go hand in hand. While I value a cultivated intellect, I value also a cultivated heart; and when I vindicate, though poorly, the just claims of the latter, let me not again be misunderstood, and charged with offering “ a deliberate argument in favor of 'poor scholarship,' before an intelligent community, in a classic city of classic New England !"
W. H. F.
On Joseph Addison. A century and a half has passed away since a procession of mourners, in which the Tory bishop and the Wbig earl walked side by side, moved at dead of night along an aisle of Westminster Abbey, "round the shrine of St. Edward and the graves of the Plantagenets,” and left the coffin of Addison in the chapel of Henry the Seventh. For a single moment the contests of the Great Hall were forgotten in the sorrow of the Great Abbey, but the sorrow of the Abbey in its turn was speedily forgotten in the new contests of the Hall. The day was yet far in the future when the death of an English author should awaken a wider and sincerer grief than the death of an English sovereign. The people were still too deeply agitated with anxiety for the security of their laws and their liberties, to linger long round the grave of one whom they knew intimately only through the medium of their literature. Posterity has reversed their decision; and with what keener interest do we turn away from palace and parliament, from the crafty and dissolute Lord Treasurer and the admired and hated Captain General, from the infamous but quick-witted Wharton and the upright but dull-witted Harley, from the eloquent Halifax and the courtly Somers, to that simple christian scholar and gentleman, who received the highest offices with modesty and filled them with integrity, but who is remembered by us, not as Secretary of Ireland or Keeper of the Seals, but as the author of the Cato and the oracle of the Spectator. So let us turn to him, not to criticise either his character or his writings, not to enumerate his errors or ferret out his faults, not to inquire if his criticisms were always just or his philosophy always profound, if he never called names or drank too much sherry; but as, near the beginning of the last century, we might have stepped in, for a moment after the play, from Covent Garden to Button's, where he was sitting over his coffee and talking with Steele or Craggs or Swift, have seated ourselves noiselessly and taken up the Postman, lest he should notice our presence and grow embarrassed and silent, and so have listened to that charmed conversation which Steele says “was Terence and Catullus in one, but heightened by an exquisite something which was neither Catullus nor Terence, but Addison alone."
It would be difficult to name another celebrated writer who stood, in