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The Christian student online

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before that of the parent

To those who have been studying, this hour brings tiie birth of application
as distinguished from acquisition. Whatever you may yet learn is to be in your
testing-time. For into a testing world we all are bom. Floored by the earth
and domed by the stars, life puts us before the testing court in which circimi-
stances, conditions, men, try and test as the assessors of the Great God. To us
whose most fruitful years are behind us, it is pathetic to look into the faces
which have all their work before them, the whole scroll of their mature life
fresh and unwritten upon. We who are older, alasl must look backward as
well as forward. We live in history, and you in promise and prophecy. In
looking at us you feel the pathos of decaying forces and fading blooms. In
looking at you we say, with Mrs. Browning :

I hear a sound of life ; of life like ours ;
Of laughter and wailing, of grave speech.
Of many plaintive voices innocent;
Of life in separate courses flowing out
Like our four rivers to some outward main.

In thinking of the subjects which might be helpful at this hour, the condi-
tions force one on me. Others have hovered near. One has made its nest in
my brain, and I can dislodge it only by speech. It is 'The High G>urt of
Scholarship." Who can know the unrest of our toilers, their leagues and their
struggles, the ferment of foreign ideas and prejudices in the minds of recent
immigrants and their descendants, without seeing that the future is to have its
commotions before it has its calm? The American citizen of the next twenty-
five years is to have most difficult problems forced on him for solution. There
are to be great changes in the unwritten law of custom — ^vast changes in formal
legislation. The masses are in moods which mean attack upon traditions. Some
of the oldest bases of social order are marked for undermining. Others are
being examined to see if 'they shall be permitted to remaia Nothing venerable
or sacred escapes scrutiny. The skeptical spirit which once attacked religion
now undermines the established order of modem civilization. The question of
property in land, of the proper basis of taxation, of the scope of government,
of limit to personal wealth, of the rights and powers of corporations, of the
vanishing line between state and general legislation, education, communication,
commerce, all are under scrutiny, if not under change. Nothing }s now taken
for granted. Few say, "That which has been shall be." The test of permanence,
the prophecy of enduring, is with most minds the relation of the institution to
the greatest good of the greatest number. Committed to the principle of
universal su£frage, the free movement of American society brings all these ques-
tions into speedy, pressing, and contemporaneous importance. Men, by long
possession of power and the habit of interest in public questions, will have the
larger share in their settlement; but women, as they receive the higher educa-
tion, are certain of a large place and importance in their determination. But,
whether they claim it or not, whether power in all functions of citizenship be
conferred on them or not, influence must come to them through the larger
education granted through institutions like Boston University; by the enlarge-
ment of their powers through successes in the multiplying careers opening to

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14 The Christian Student

them; by their just iasistence that, in the changes looking to the betterment of
men, women shall have their interests considered and their share of freedom
and help. A wave is moving forward which may be temporarily arrested by
the delay necessary to inspection and deliberation and by some temporary barrier
of the compromises which settle nothing. But the wave will not lose its momen-
tum until Uiese problems shall have been borne well on toward final solution.

You will observe that, from this point of view, tradition and prescriptive
right will have slight influence. In a country like England, where social
eminence and political power have long been mated, it may easily happen that
prejudice may fortify old methods and make progress find her way through the
tangle of an ancient and untrimmed forest That insularity in Englishmen
which Taine both admires and derides, is no matter of insularity alone, but of
assimilated blood and tendency. The elements which have made up the English-
man and added Saron and Norman blood to the Briton, have had time to work
out their results in the most strongly individualized nation on the globe. The
American loves the Englishman for the things which he has in common with
him, and enjoys chaffing him and sparring with him because he is so mudi like
himseli If John is proud and obstinate, Jonathan is conceited and persistent
If John, as he has a right to be, is somewhat puffed out by his citizenship in
a world-wide empire, Jonathan is inflated by the vastness of his home resources
and by his outposts in the islands of the sea. Both know that war between such
near relations would be wickedness, and would be of the fiercest because both
have hot hearts. The Englishman and his kin are the modem Romans. The
old Roman combined the dignity of noble traditions with the practical instincts
of a trading people" (Mahaffy). The old Roman is best understood by men of
English blood. In the coarser elements of character, in directness and love of
truth, in a certain contempt for aesthetics and speculation, in blunt assertion of
the supremacy of practical questions, in a want of sympathy with and a stupid
neglect of the requirements and character of other races, the Romans were the
forerunners of the English and the Americans in history. The English are a
people to whom every man of knowledge jrields precedence, if not unstinted
admiration. From these people came our old educational methods and some of
our foundations. It was originally a class education. It was not, and is not
yet, that of the average English citizen, but is open to them as th^ are drawn
to it Modified for a time by the inbred reverence for the aristocracy, the
educational type will soon make the new English scholar at once interpreter and
court of appeal for all the English people. Hitherto, almost all political reform
has found a rugged opponent in the English scholar. His decision has steadily
been for the things of the past In this he is surpassed only by the disappearing
graduate of the Chinese Hanlin.

But observe, our problem being different, the trend of educated thought is
different Our Lowell writes of democracy as glowingly as does the Scotch
Carnegie. Our scholars have produced most of the reformers of the nation. The
poets of highest culture have been the prophets of freedom. Culture with us
has broadened not only intellectual but political sympathies. Where state univer-
sities exist the people have been lavish of appropriation because they have felt
that the state universities have bred men who could perceive, follow, and reach
popular aims. The men of wealth who have been enriched by knowledge they
could employ but could not attain, have felt warmly also toward our older educa-
tional foundations not under state control No such account of giving to

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education has ever been seen as that which the last few years record. Men do
not i>ay for what they do not believe in. Measured by the paying and the giving,
highly intelligent but not cultured men believe in the university as earnestly
as in the church. From the scholar's standpoint the church will retain its high
place by injecting the ethical element into society and by lifting that element
above the inspirations of utilitarianism; sending men from its altars with God-
given breathings which compel them to recite and remember the rules of conduct
laid down first by the Divine Spirit, but confirmed as the final law by every
student of natural ethics and every scholar in sociology. The nature book whose
canon is not yet complete will convey eventually to the student the same ideals
and win confirm the ancient laws. It will evoke the Divine at the call of the
studious souL It will find God's way of working. It will light the progress of
man by releasing from burning coal die sunlight of long-gone eons ; transforming
it into the whirl of the d3mamo, which, with equal marvel, puts the energy of
Niagara's down&dl into the hands of a toiler who by the touch of one finger
bakes a biscuit and, at the same moment, forces a reluctant metal from a
refractory ore; crystallizes carbon into gems, drives the interurban traffic of
counties, and gives neighborly speech to friends separated by the width of our
It is this

Broadening of the Idea of Scholarship

which compels me to believe in it as a final court for the testing of ideas and
plans, which compels me to say that the scholar will win. What the college did
for me was done at a time when the ancient languages were the chief bases of
culture; when neither modem languages nor sciences had anything like the place
in education they have now. The resources of the country were imperfectly
known and still more imperfectly appreciated. The instrument which tdls us of
the gases burning in the chromosphere and which makes the universe a unit by
finding through the spectroscope the earth elements in the distant stars, was not
yet, I think, invented. So I was taught to believe that to write good Latin verses
and be able to recognize and wisely translate the force of Greek particles was
more, as a culture force, than a modem tongue or the mastery of the calculus.

My heart is still warm to that old culture. It linked the present with the
past and unified the thought of the world by a common medium of expression.
It gave to those who acquired it a knowledge of words and a delicacy and
fullness of vocabulary which I believe now to be more laboriously acquired.
This it did by opening to their source two of the great streams which have
flowed into, expanded, deepened, purified, the river of English speech. It made
men familiar with those languages from which our modern scientific vocables
are taken. Greek and Latin have been the precious metals from which these
scientific vocables have been minted. The traveler, the tourist, who knew these
and the annals of the nations who used them, found history through them coming
out of the mythical into the real, and gained humility and openmindedness as
through these literatures he came to know that no new thoughts except those
inspired by modem science can be found anywhere. The statesman of the elder
day, as our national problems appeared, found warning if not solution of their
difficulties in knowing how the Greek states met these questions, or how the
Roman republic or empire stmggled with similar conditions. The poets sought
the simplicities and accuracies of Homeric narration; corrected their faults by

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the De Arte Poetica; measured their lines by the Greek measures, gave music
thereto by the ancient cadences, or phrased their growing affections by the hot
sentences of Sappho. They tested, as did Macaulay, the power of the English
language to paint the Fight at the Bridge and to preserve the nervous vigor of
the Latin stories. The orators painfully dissected the construction of Cicero's
Orations, and learned from him the relative values of denimdation and persua-
sion. As they grew old th^ read the philosophy of his 'l>e Senectute," and as
their friends passed away, th^ estimated their losses by his treatise on friendship.
If they rested on the border line between science and mythology, they foresaw
the coming scientific study of nature in the mythical personages of Apollo^
Aurora, and the like.

These scholars of fifty years ago lived in a more genial, an easier, a more
poetical atmosphere than the scholar of today, who has founded his culture on
one modem tongue and ten modem sciences. Th^ were not so dazed by the
impossibilities of knowing all. As th^ lived chiefly with the ghosts of ancient
literature and thought, and talked in the words of dead languages, they were
quiet, thoughtful, retirmg men for the most part, and did not even look for the
standing place for a world-moving lever. Many absorbed not a theological but
a literary fatalism from the Greek drama whose choruses sing so often of the
certainties of fate, and they grew less and less sure of being able to move out
of their chosen path, less confident of the value of experiment, more certain of
the worth of precedent We cannot imagine one of those old-time scholars
blowing to eager ears a trumpet-blast on all great questions as does the president
of Harvard; suggesting himself, by political and historical knowledge, as a
candidate for president, as does Woodrow Wilson, of Princeton; becoming an
authoritative source of economic knowledge like Hadley, of Yale; or cheerfully
cudgeling vigorous and commanding prejudices like Day, of Syracuse. I doubt
whether any graduate of the older school would not have been stripped by that
older education of that joy in hitting well-selected heads which exhilarates
Theodore Roosevelt

These older teachers were revered. They had moral influence. They were
stimulating to all gentle culture. Occasionally, like Eliphalet Nott, they became
of Elijah quality in their denunciation of national sins. But they were not, nor
were they expected to be, such scholars as are asked for and are trained today.
For them the circle of sciences did not exist They saw the separate scientific
arcs, but did not see that they were from the same cirde. Not yet had it
appeared that through all nature ''an eternal purpose runs." Geologic records
and the fossil remains of prehistoric life were to them sports of nature or
mysteries of creation. A few men like G. P. Marsh began to see that while
men modified the earth, men were more modified by the earth. But each change,
each species, each advancing step, each national decay and destruction, were
items for record indeed, but not for them evolving and illustrating a general law.

The distinct gain of modem knowledge is that it is believed to be under one
law, and that no department of knowledge can be wholly set off as independent
Geology suggests botany ; both suggest zodlogy. The astronomer must today sit
at the feet of a chemist, or no spiral nebula or sdmetar-like comet will tell
him half its story. The prospector for metallic wealth wastes his time unless
the geologist confirms his hope that a true matrix may be found where he seeks
it, or a mineralogist turn the rusty dust of a chloride into the red gold. Have
not I read within a week that it was Agassiz who was again and agun the

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The Christian Student 17

final court for mining values? How many times does an obituary of some
relatively unknown man tell us, for the first time, of the lawyer who was the
tutor of lawyers, the daily instructor of judges, the teacher and dispatch writer
of secretaries of state, the monitor and guide of secretaries of the treasury,
the master in irrigation and forestry, whose aid no secretary of the interior
can dispense with; the geologist whose reports dignify the messages of his
superior, the electrician whose knowledge enriches a great corporation, yea, the
private secretary who writes the speeches of a rich but unlearned senator and
surprises the constituents of a cong^'essman by giving to that congressman's
addresses a breadth of knowledge and an elegance of style which even his most
enthusiastic followers never suspected him of possessing.

Nor does the scholar have always to take the second place in the national
councils or work in secret to give fame to another. If he possesses natural
gifts, his scholarship enlarges them — gives them greater force and wider influence.
Was Charles Sumner less of a force because he was an almost pedantic scholar?
Was Wendell Phillips less of a reformer because he could lecture as a scholar
on the lost arts? While it is true that high scholarship and practical statesman-
ship are not often mated, yet they are so with sufficient frequency to prove that
the highest statesmanship sits at the feet of scholarship, as when a Gladstone
explained one day a subtle problem in national taxation, and the next presented
in faultless English a translation of that Homeric marvel, the shield of Achilles.

I am not claiming that scholarship is a full substitute for natural ability,
for natural strength of mind or character. The scholar may be unpractical and

But I wish to uphold, in an age when some clamor for practical education —
meaning by that a training which they can soonest utilize in money-making — ^the
place of

Culture as the Chief Reinforcement to Natural Strength ;

as the chief justice in the court of secular truth; as the chief adjutant to all who
seek knowledge of what man has been and will be outside of those spiritual
qualities whose culture God has reserved to his own Spirit and whose text-book
is Revelation. Outside of this Divine School the ag^'eements of scholars are final
Within this Divine School scholarship has its place in determining, weighing,
and fixing texts, in rectifying translations, in determining the age of manuscripts,
in correcting the errors of copyists, and fixing the bounds of interpolations. But
the message of God to man must be received and verified by meeting the condi-
tions of the citizenship of the divine kingdom. Within its limitations scholarship
speaks the final word. Taking the decades together, the scholar wins.

Having reached the youth of old age, it is impossible for me not to be
profoundly interested in the young people who go forth as graduates today. I
cannot follow you through the careers you have chosen, or may yet choose. I
cannot discern whether your drift is toward a noble or an ignoble goal. No man
can prophesy whether your culture is to lift you higher in right use, or plunge
you deeper by the wrong use of your powers. But, sure I am that, if growth
docs not cease, if you do not become too specialized, if, while seeking to be a
master in your vocation and of all which you ought to know, you will follow
the relations and connections of your special knowledge far enough to see how
all culture is related and how all can contribute to the nobilities of life — sure
I am, I say, that, whether you have studied ethics witii Huntington, philosophy

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with Bowne, literature with Black, law with Bigdow, science with G)it, Weiss,
Newell, medicine with Sutherland, the humanities with the younger Warreo,
or theology with the elder Warren, you may reach the cabn and fecundity of
the depths, which, like those of the ocean, are undisturbed by surface gales and
know only the movements compelled of the greater forces.

Such years will give fullness, but never satiety; healthy advance, but not
sudden and debilitating overgrowth; knowledge of weakness, error, sin, but
surrender to neither. In short, will make you, in your place and to your circle,
the court whose faculty is not only to admonish, but to premonish; not only the
prophet who warns by the past, but also who speaks comfortably of the future.

The American is, and must be, an eclectic Just as from his own soil he
eats the apple of the North and the orange of the South, the sugar of the snow-
nourished maples and the sweet of the sun-kissed cane, so he must be widely
elective and absorbent He cannot be insular; he must be continental He must
give out the broad glow of humor rather than the sparkle of wit He must be
by the forces which make him, by the inheritances which beget him, alert, rapid,
executive. He learns details, but also formulates principles. Left without the
direction and broadening of culture, his life is intensely practical, materially
victorious, rapidly empiric, slowly philosophical His love of art is likely to be
that of the complacent owner of costly pictures selected by a well-paid agent
By himself he would prefer the massive, the gorgeous, the multitudinous and
anachronistic immensities of the Venetian school rather than the calm-faced
Sistine Madonna. He is regal in his taste for splendor and barbaric in his love
for magnificence.

But, mark you, the American genius for the practical, the acuteness grown
in the soil of competition, is not that which can meet the future with confidence:
Ideas are here our fathers never dreamed of. They are taking shape and inject-
ing themselves into practical politics. The anarchist who explodes his infernal
bombs has within him some dim conception of a humanity above the restraint
of legislation and beyond the need of penalty because self-governed in righteous-
ness. The communist here is not the communist of Ebenezer Elliott, the Comd he couldn't be bought It was honest
young Abe that made "honest old Abe." He was an example of simplicity,
fidelity, humility, reverence, and courage of the highest quality. God made the
great man what we call ''homely," but he was a whole man— wholesome and
whole-hearted. One word defines his quality and his policy. It is the word

His homely face, rugged and ridged, was a wholesome face, revealing honesty
and fidelity. At times it was radiant with humor; now and then shadowed by
solicitude. His eye was clear and keen and softened by the kindness of his
heart He was a prince among men, a genius in his mastery of men — self-
controlled, sagacious, generous, and there was enough of the saint in him to keep
his hand outstretched and uplifted toward the God of nations, the God of armies,
the gentle and loving Father of the whole race.

His wisdom was of a practical and everyday type. He was a master in
common sense — an uncommon endowment A vein of sentiment stole through
the rugged and unfailing wisdom of the man — the hero and the statesman that
he was, and pathos the most tender and sympathy the most delicate found daily
some form of expression. He represented really and effectively the so-called
common people and in the practical way proved himself an uncommon man. In
Grant, the reticent, were deeply hidden sense, skill, wisdom, and dogged persist-
ency. Lincoln was an American of the Americans — ^kingly and courageous. He
was wise in silence, none wiser than he in speech, but wisest of all in action.
He knew men and how to use them. He had reverence for God and knew how
to trust hinL

As a student Lincoln was vastly more than a reader. He thought about
subjects. Hearing a conversation among men when he was a boy, he would, as
he said, "go into my little bedroom and try to make out what was the exact
meaning of some of their, to me, dark sayings. I could not sleep when I got on
such a hunt after an idea tmtil I had got it; when I had got it I was not
satisfied until I had r^eated it over and over, and had put it in language plain
enough, as I thought, for any boy I knew, to comprehend. I^am never easy
now when I am handling a thought till I have bounded it north and bounded it
south and bounded it east and bounded it west" He said to Senator Wilson : "I
never let an idea escape me, but write it on a scrap of paper and put it in a
drawer. In that way I preserve my best thoughts on a subject" He once said :
"I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than yesterday."

A rare boy, a rare man, was Abraham, shrewd, tactful, harmonious — a rare
teacher — speaking to men in parables — great principles wrapped up in them.
Every passing day was a volume to Lincoln and every man he met, a chapter.
Lincoln did more than write history — ^he made history. He created material for
books; he made a new geography, in which the whole United States could be
painted in one color, with no dark shadow of slavery resting on any part

It was not in Lincoln's poverty and limitations that you find the secret of his
success. Our present president, Theodore Roosevelt, having everything to begin

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24 The Christian Student

with that Abraham Lincoln lacked at the start, proves that the level-headed son
of a high and honorable house on whom all educational and social opportunities
are lavished may be a brave, self-sacrificing and heroic soldier and statesman. It
is neither money nor poverty that wins. It is nxanhood. And both Abraham and
Theodore are good names to conjure by and commend to the bo3rs of our

It is well to erect memorial tablets, montunents, and statues in a city. They
vitalize dead history, turn the streets>into a schoolroom, develop munidpal and

Online LibraryMethodist Episcopal Church. Board of EducationThe Christian student → online text (page 39 of 41)