Copyright
Nicholas Murray Butler.

Scholarship and service; the policies and ideals of a national university in a modern democracy online

. (page 12 of 18)
Online LibraryNicholas Murray ButlerScholarship and service; the policies and ideals of a national university in a modern democracy → online text (page 12 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


of justice. Those who have offered their lives are
now to be called upon to offer their minds and their
souls. The sacrifices of war are over, but the sacri-
fices of peace are only now to begin. These are sacri-
fices that will put behind us selfishness, greed, and a
willingness to exploit the souls and the bodies of other

men. These are sacrifices that will turn our minds

329



230 THE NEW CALL TO SERVICE

away from bigness, from numbers, and from accumu-
lations, to character, to quality, and to spiritual power.
We should no longer think of large nations and small
nations, but only of free nations, joyfully competing
together in service to mankind and in revelation of
new and unsuspected powers of helpfulness and prog-
ress.

Patriotism will not be superseded by sentimentalism.
Patriotism will have both a deeper and a finer meaning
than it has ever had before. Love of country will not
grow less, but greater, because of the demands that
each country has made upon its sons, and their ready
and willing response to its call. A new international
order will not supersede nations; quite the contrary.
It will build upon them. The part which each free
nation can play in the new international order will
depend primarily upon its own self-consciousness, its
own self-respect, its own pride, and its own zeal for
service.

You have aided, and powerfully aided, in giving to
the world a peace that is to be based upon justice,
and that will last so long as justice rules the hearts
and guides the conduct of men. There can be no
lasting peace without justice, and justice is the only
sure, the safe and quick path to durable peace.



XXIII
COLUMBIA AND THE WAR



Address at the annual meeting of the Association of the Alumni
at the Columbia University Club, New York, November n,
1918



COLUMBIA AND THE WAR

Whoever selected this evening for the annual meet-
ing of the Association of the Alumni of the College
was either in the confidence of the German Emperor
or in that of Marshal Foch. He either knew on what
day the former gentleman would go by automobile
into a neighboring country, or he knew on what day
the latter gentleman would lay before the public the
most minutely specific terms of unconditional sur-
render that the world has ever been permitted to read.

We find ourselves assembled nominally to deal with
our own affairs; to discuss matters that are of imme-
diate interest; and then we find the whole world in a
heat of enthusiasm over one of the very greatest and
most epoch-marking events in history. It is a little
difficult, I confess, to keep anything to-night from
running into the current of thought which is bearing
on its bosom the hopes of the world. After all, our
relation to what has been going on and to what is
now going on and what we hope will go on is thor-
oughly typical of the historic Columbia. Despite all
the admirable records that have been kept, despite the
best endeavors of every recording officer to keep track
of the happenings, I doubt very much whether the
historian ever will be able to catch anything more than
a fractional part of our university's service to the
nation and to the world at this great time of crisis.

233



234 COLUMBIA AND THE WAR

You know the lengthening line of gold stars upon our
service flag, and each one of those gold stars represents
one of the bravest and the best of the men who have
gone out from our company in the last decade or two.
Then there are stars that are happily not gold, which
indicate the service of those who are living and who
are now, fortunately, likely to escape the risk of death
or serious injury in these hostilities; but those figures,
taken by themselves, the service flag looked at by
itself, can give you no sort of appreciation of the living,
intimate contact that our men have had and are having
with every part and parcel of the conduct of this great
enterprise. What interests me most about it is that
every time a new piece of news comes, it indicates that
one of our Columbia men has had that combination of
qualities which has led him to be called upon to do
something that particularly required initiative, cour-
age, unselfish devotion, and the power of leadership;
and those are the things which, for one hundred and
sixty odd years, we and those who have gone before
us have been striving to develop in this company of
ours, and those are the things which in very large
measure we have developed.

You cannot overestimate the service rendered by
our teaching staff. They all came promptly forward,
without criticism or demur, to meet these new and
strange and difficult conditions which have been
brought about by the emergency of the hour. But
there is even a brighter side to it than that. I have
had some of our colleagues come to me and say: "Mr.



COLUMBIA AND THE WAR 235

President, I am perfectly delighted that I have been
able to get into this war at last. I did not see how I
could ever do it. I am too old. I did not see how I
could go to Washington and take up any form of
clerical work or administrative service. I am not
quite suited for that, but here is a chance for me to
go into the preparation of men and officers to take a
part in this contest, and I am happier than I have
been since the war began." That comes, gentlemen,
from men who are no longer young, that comes from
men whose intellectual interests and habits are remote
from the kind of instruction which they are now called
upon to give; but it comes also from their hearts,
from their devotion, from their patriotism, and from
their desire to see to it that there shall be no dissenting
voice when the roll of Columbia is called by Him who
takes account of national service. I can tell you
anecdote after anecdote to illustrate that fact, and I
ask you to believe that our teaching force to a man,
from the oldest to the youngest, has asked for nothing
but an opportunity to lend a hand in this enterprise.

Just now we find ourselves in the face of a most
threatening situation. If I were an artist with the
brush, I could ask nothing better than an opportunity
to paint two pictures and to set them in contrast one
with the other. I should like to paint a picture called
Militarism: the Beginning, and I should like to show
the German forces, armed, insolent, confident, riding
into Belgium on August 4, 1914. I should like to
show them trampling old men and women and children



236 COLUMBIA AND THE WAR

under foot. I should like to show them committing
unspeakable outrages, beating down great temples and
libraries and universities and churches and public
buildings. I should like to show the harried city of
Louvain in minutest detail. Then, over and against
that, I should like to paint a picture called Militarism :
the End. And I should like to show His Excellency
Herr Erzberger, with his accompanying generals and
admirals, blindfolded, riding in an automobile with a
white flag to the headquarters of Marshal Foch. I
should like everybody in this broad land and every-
body in every high school and college to look on those
two pictures, and then have some intelligent teacher
draw the lesson and tell what it means. He could tell
us of this great towering structure of Prussian mili-
tarism. He could describe to us how high it had been
builded and how wide its influence reached, and how
tremendous were its ambitions and its lusts. Then he
could tell us how it threw itself, all panoplied and
armed, against an unthinking and an unprotected
world. Then he could tell us the story of those last
four years and three months, ending with that picture,
and show to our young men the humiliation, the
shame, and the disaster to one hundred and twenty
millions of German-speaking people that the architects
of that great structure have brought down upon them.
It has cost the lives of at least ten million human
beings to bring that structure down, and every one of
those ten million human beings, however humble or
however great, ought to be remembered forever as a



COLUMBIA AND THE WAR 237

hero, because each one of that great company was part
of the price that the world had to pay to get rid of
this thing forever. And, gentlemen, it is gone ! Be-
lieve me, there is no power on earth that can revivify
it or rebuild it.

To-night we are looking out toward a new world.
It is my sober opinion that the next sixty days may
prove to be the most critical sixty days in modern
history. We have now torn down this accursed thing,
and the process of upbuilding is going to begin; and
the question before every thoughtful man in this world
is: Shall that upbuilding be on the lines of human
experience, on the lines of human order, on the lines
of human liberty, and on the lines of human justice,
or shall it be an attempt to install, instead of the
kaiser, the inverted autocracy of a mob ? That,
gentlemen, is the question which the next sixty days
may decide. We saw what happened to the Slavic
people when the Romanoffs fell and the bonds of a
common loyalty and a common religious faith were
broken and new and greedy tyrants were set loose to
feed upon them. In this case we are dealing with a
different people. We are dealing with the long-disci-
plined and the long-enslaved Teuton, and we are
dealing with him at a moment of highest emotionalism.
The relief which the liberal-minded Teuton might
have hoped for some day in an inconceivably distant
future has suddenly dropped upon him out of an open
sky; and that political and social collapse which the
disorderly element in society, the preying element, is



238 COLUMBIA AND THE WAR

always waiting for, has come without an instant's
warning. The German people must work out their
own salvation. Their autocratic government was un-
able to stand the strain of defeat, or to hold the support
of people and army in the moment of disaster. The
German people are, as Bismarck told them over and
over again, children in politics. Whatever their ac-
complishments may have been in other directions,
they are children in politics, and they are not ready
to be called upon with startling suddenness to fill this
great gap in their constituted government. Whether
they can do it or not, whether they will succumb even
for a time to such a series of forces of destruction as
has ruled and is ruling in Russia, or whether they will
rather have some such experience as that of the Paris
Commune of 1871 after the disaster of Sedan, remains
to be seen. But, gentlemen, the victors in this war,
having been the cause of the pulling down of govern-
ment, have a duty toward the building up of govern-
ment. We cannot let these great peoples float about
on the ocean of to-day as derelicts. We owe such
assistance, such guidance, such policing, such protec-
tion as will give these wretched people a chance to
get on their feet with a free government of their own.
It is not to our interest to have them given over to
chaos, it is not the world's interest to have them given
over to chaos. That means more war, desperate war,
bloody war, war not only of nations, but of classes and
groups. We owe the world constructive leadership in
building the governments that are to take the places of



COLUMBIA AND THE WAR 239

those that have been overturned. That means, gentle-
men, that we should not delay one hour to make of
ourselves and our Allies the beginning of a League of
Nations to enforce justice and to protect international
order. When those in big places say that this league
cannot be formed until they meet at the peace table,
they are talking what seems to me to be little short of
madness. Who are coming to this peace table ? Who
is coming to represent Russia ? Who is coming now
to represent Germany ? Who is coming to represent
Bavaria, Baden, and the rest ? There is a perfectly
plain path for the victorious nations. They have been
banded together in this great league. They have put
their armies under one command and their navies
under one command; they have pooled their financial
resources, their food, their munitions, their economic
resources. It is now a simple matter for them to con-
stitute themselves into a League of Nations, not with
an elaborate constitution, but with a few simply
declared purposes for which they have been fighting.
They can then say to the neutral nations to Holland,
to Denmark, to Sweden, to Norway, to Spain: "We
shall be glad to take you into our league." Then get
these new peoples who are trying to organize them-
selves, and whose political existence and belligerent
rights have been recognized, the Czecho-Slovaks, the
Jugo-Slavs, the Poles, and say to them: "Give us your
programme, show us your plan; point out to us what
territory seems to belong to your people because it is
occupied by them or has historic and traditional rela-



240 COLUMBIA AND THE WAR

tions to them. Let us examine its economic aspects,
its elements of economic independence. Let us see
what can be done about your government. If you
believe in our purposes, hold your Constituent Assem-
bly, arrive at your own form of government, adopt
your own constitution. When those questions are
settled in the spirit of justice and sympathy and order,
we will admit you too to the League of Nations as
independent members of the brotherhood of states."
After that we can say to the Teutonic peoples: "As
an organized world, we are now ready to take up your
question with you. You sang hymns of hate. We
do not propose to do that. You attacked the world.
We have thrashed you and shown you that you could
not dominate us. Now, then, let us see what are the
elements among you for a free and orderly and liberty-
loving and responsible state; and, when you have
shown us that, whether it takes five years or fifty,
when you have washed off your hands the blood of
Belgium and Serbia and France; the blood of the
widows and orphans and hospital-ships; and the blood
of the Lusitania and the Sussex and the rest; when
you have cleansed your hands and your souls; and
when you have done those things which free and self-
respecting people must do, then we will take up your
application for membership in the League of Nations,
but not until then."

It all depends, gentlemen, upon whether we propose
to have an orderly world to go forward in progress
and peace and happiness along the lines for which this



COLUMBIA AND THE WAR 241

war has been fought, or whether we propose to senti-
mentalize about it and to trade away the great advan-
tages that have been won for the race and not for any
special nation, and so face the prospect of our grand-
children having to do it all over again.

That is the question, gentlemen, of to-morrow. Are
we ready ? Have we the courage, have we the devo-
tion, have we the leadership, to organize this world for
order, for peace, and for progress, or must we, even in
the slightest degree, risk a repetition of the horrors of
these past years ? I trust, as the world and its na-
tions approach that problem, that everywhere, in the
army of those who study, in the army of those who
teach, in the army of those who lead, in the army of
those who give direction, in the army of those who
accomplish, everywhere there will be found the same
type of Columbia man who has been carrying the flag
through the dangers of war on land and sea.



XXIV
THE CONQUESTS OF WAR AND OF PEACE



Address at the Victory Celebration of the Students' Army Train-
ing Corps, South Court, Columbia University, November 12,
1918



THE CONQUESTS OF WAR AND OF PEACE

Soldiers and Sailors of the United States:

We are met to celebrate and to take note of one of
the great turning-points in the progress of the human
race. It may, perhaps, be doubted whether at any
time more momentous and far-reaching consequences
have hung upon a great decision. The decision, which
was military in form, is much more than military in
fact. It does not mean merely that one great group of
armies has conquered another. It does not mean
simply that one great group of people has subdued an-
other. It means that one great group of ideals of
human life and conduct have conquered another, a
lower and much more material group, I believe, for-
ever. The ideals that have conquered on the field of
battle, that have inspired the peoples and guided the
armies of the nations of free men, are the ideals which
long ago took possession of Great Britain, of France,
and of the United States, and to the progress and ap-
plication of which we owe all that we are and all that
we hope to be.

You had been chosen by the people of the United
States to participate in this great contest, and you had
been put in training with a view to becoming officers
and leaders of men in this stupendous contest. But it
so happened that, before your training was complete,

245



246 THE CONQUESTS OF WAR

before you could reach the battle-field, the great fabric
that military autocracy had been so long in building
has come tumbling to the ground, its foundations
undermined and taken away forever. But, soldiers
and sailors, just because this contest was military in
form and a contest of ideas in fact, just because of that,
your training has only just begun. The nation's need
of your service has only been hinted at, and your
opportunity to serve America, her Allies, and the free
world will be far greater than we have ever known or
expected.

See into what a new world you are entering as
soldiers and sailors in training ! You are entering
into a world great portions of which must be policed,
great areas of which must be held under strict military
discipline and control, in order that the forces of dis-
order, the forces of rapine, the forces of destruction,
the forces of organized selfishness and greed may not
prevent these peoples from whom we have stricken the
shackles of autocracy from founding their own free,
liberal, and advancing governments.

We know what has happened during the past twelve
months to the people and the country that once were
Russians and Russia. We see signs of disorder and
dismemberment in the great empires of Austria-
Hungary and of Germany, and now we are to enter
upon the task of reconstruction. We have had to beat
down, in order that we might prepare the way to
build up. Now each one of you, as an American
soldier or sailor and as an American citizen, is called



AND OF PEACE 247

upon to subject himself to the stern discipline of
preparation for reconstruction and for peace.

Your answer to that plea will be a test of your
characters. The emotional interest, the great excite-
ment, the tragic experiences, the tremendous risks and
losses of war are now withdrawn. Therefore, without
that great emotional assistance, you are left face
to face with opportunity, with duty, with need for
service, and your characters will be tested by your
action, as your courage would have been tested had
you gone overseas to take your place on the line of
fire.

America has never so greatly needed as now youth
of discipline, of self-respect, of clear understanding of
issues and problems, of power for productive service
and work. All those things are coming to you in your
daily life, in your daily drill, in your daily exercise,
and in your daily study. Everything that you have
done will be of immediate and direct use and applica-
tion in dealing with the problems of to-morrow, when
you will have to steel yourselves to deal with them by
force of will and without the driving power of a strong
emotion which the experiences of war naturally fur-
nish.

The world is going to have an experience that it has
never had before. It is going into a year of life with-
out a spring. The millions of youths who represented
the spring are gone. Our own service flag is covered
with gold stars, each one of which has wrung our
hearts as we put it there. We are now about to make



248 TEE CONQUESTS OF WAR

a new type of service flag and to look to you men who
are going to take the places in the public life, in the
business affairs, in the many undertakings of America,
of those whom the holocaust of war destroyed, to you
and your contemporaries, the youth of your age all
over this land, to come and take the leadership in
solving the problems of to-morrow. The old men, the
tired men, may counsel, but it is too late to ask them
to take up this stupendous burden. The world of
to-morrow belongs to the young. The world of to-
morrow belongs to you. The world of to-morrow be-
longs to those like you in the schools and colleges all
over this land, and in France and Britain and Italy and
the rest, where they are all inspired by the ideas that
have given you your place in this university and your
place in this war.

What a prospect, gentlemen, what a prospect !
What an opportunity and what a responsibility !
Take every ounce of training that you can get. De-
vote yourselves day and night to the work of this
camp and this university for so many months or years
as may be needed to bring you to a point where you
are consciously ready to go out and take up your
share of the responsibility which is yours.

Then remember that you are going into a world
where men must think, where men must have sym-
pathy, where men must have patience, where men
must know how to build. We cannot leave all that
has been destroyed to lie across the path of history as
a desert waste. We must now make it to blossom



AND OF PEACE 249

like the rose with peoples, with industries, with happy
homes, with sound ideas; and it may be, God willing,
that when years have passed, it will have been your
happy lot to find that you were prepared effectively
to bind up the wounds of a broken world, and, under
the guidance of your beloved country and your coun-
try's flag, to play a most leading part in putting this
new world upon a foundation that cannot be shaken.

I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart, not
only upon what this day so tremendously marks, but
upon that to-morrow which beckons you to conquer it
as well.



XXV
CLEAR THINKING



Address on Commencement Day, June n, 1902



CLEAR THINKING

Over eight hundred young men and young women
go out to-day from this university. Most of you
will never return as students. For nearly all the
period of formal preparation is now closed, and you
are to prove your quality as educated men and women
by the use you make of your training here. That
training has been singularly diverse, and its diversity
fittingly represents the broad range of the intellectual
interests of to-day. Some of you have given four glad
years to the liberal arts and sciences in Columbia
College or in Barnard College, and are the richer in
nature and in opportunity for contact with those
fertile subjects of study which have nurtured genera-
tion after generation of our forefathers. Others have
grown into a comprehension of the fundamental prin-
ciples which underlie the several learned professions
law, medicine, teaching, engineering, architecture, and
the rest and have become skilled in following those
principles to their various and several practical applica-
tions. Still others, with a scholar's career in view, led
on by that scientific curiosity that is but another form
of the childlike wonder which gave rise to all science,
have gone far along the road toward the boundary of
present knowledge in some chosen field, and have even,
perhaps, experienced the thrill which accompanies the
feeling that to go farther is to venture upon as yet

253



254 CLEAR THINKING

untrodden ground. You have all, I trust, caught the
earnest, helpful, democratic spirit of Columbia Univer-
sity, and have thereby grown in personal character
and in reverence for the truth because of your life
here.

Various as your studies have been and varied as
your accomplishments are, there is one art in which
you should all have gained practice, even though its
complete mastery is still distant or, perhaps, reserved
for the few. I mean the art of clear thinking.

To think clearly and straight is not easy, but by
few standards can sound mental training be so well
measured as by this. Clear thinking implies trained
powers of observation, analysis and inference, and a
balance between intellect and emotion which is not
often inborn. Clear thinking can be gained only by
practice. Logic is its form, scientific method is its
instrument, sanity and mental poise are its presup-
positions. That tranquillity of mind which Seneca has
described in a noteworthy essay is an important aid.
All these things your education should have brought
you in some measure, whether that education has been


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryNicholas Murray ButlerScholarship and service; the policies and ideals of a national university in a modern democracy → online text (page 12 of 18)