Page images

is no lack. We may trust the instincts of our people, without any help from academic sources, to resist foreign interference and defend national honor. We understand, without being reminded of it, that this land is our heritage and this Western civilization is our problem. But the day is past when national pride and patriotic devotion can show itself only by awakening the memories of international antagonism. We are in no danger of invasion. Our foes are those of our own household. Our difficulties are those which we share with other nations. They are evils incident to the struggle for the democratization of government, or that are consequent in its rapid development; that follow as a consequence of the congested life of great cities, or grow out of the complicated machinery of industrialisin. We who believe in the stability of government as an ordinance of God should stand by each other in all civilized lands on account of the dangers common to all. I believe that the universities have something to do toward helping on the cause of good feeling between the nations, and particularly between those two nations that are so closely bound to each other by the ties of blood, the bonds of a common speech, a common law, and a common religion. Part of the history that we commemorate, and of which we are proud, is the place that Princeton took in the struggle for independence against the motherland. And now I trust that Princeton, as she enters upon a new era in her history, will do her part toward the formation of a public sentiment that shall make it impossible for the clash of arms ever to be heard again between the great nations of the English-speaking world. I hope that she will do something to stimulate the development of the international conscience, to widen the range of international law, and to hasten the day when international disputes shall be settled by arbitration. International law rests on a basis of morality. It is essentially a university study, and I should like to see Princeton take a high place in connection with its development.

But, as I have already implied, the questions which give us most cause for anxiety are national and not international. The question with us is whether the popular will is still on the side of constitutional government; whether the public conscience will stand by the financial integrity of the nation; whether great cities can have good government; and whether the ten commandments shall continue to regulate social behavior. It is true that a campaign of education is needed. But it is an education beyond that which the statistician and the collector of facts can give us. It is an education beyond that which appeals to our selfish greed. It must be an education which goes to the roots of our moral life. For purposes of convenience you may intrust the science of ethics to one man, and of politics to another, and of jurisprudence to a third. The economist may study the laws of industrial activity, and the student of social science deal with the pathological conditions of societythe poverty, the moral pollution, the crime; but when we come to ask whether the remedy is to be found in laissez faire, or the interference of the State, or in moral measures, we shall find that no department is isolated and distinct; that our metaphysics, our ethics, our jurisprudence, our economics, our politics, our social science all overlap each other; that all are comprehended in the one idea that all end in a moral universe. I do not like the phrase Christian socialism, and I certainly do not agree with the opinion entertained by those who use it most. But if Christianity is true we can not afford to ignore what it has to say, and there can be no sound public opinion upon these great ethical problems which does not make acknowledg ment of the binding obligations of the laws of the Kingdom of God.

But there is another work which the university is expected to do, and this, though it does not so completely fit the imagination of the ambitious professor who dreams of fame, is nevertheless the greatest work which it can do. It is the province of the university to traiu men, by means of a liberal education, for the active duties of life. It is given only to a few to add to the world's stock of knowledge. It is only at rare intervals that we shall succeed in turning out a great thinker who will make his mark upon his age. But our colleges and universities are contributing every year to the moral and intellectual forces of the world a body of young men whose aggregate influence is enormous. It would be a mistake if we should ever come to undervalue this work in Princeton, or assign it a second place. There may easily be too many men engaged in the special work of the scholar; there are only limited opportunities for a career in science, but there is an unlimited demand for men who can bring to the discharge of the ordinary duties of citizenship the advantages of a liberal education. The best work of Princeton is represented to-day in her 3,916 living graduates. They are our letters of commendation. It is, of course, not to be expected of the average graduate that he should be a technical scholar. But we have done something if we have opened the eyes of his understanding that he may know what the world of thought and learning means. We have done something if we have helped him so to widen the area of his selfhood and adjust it to the world he lives in that he can enter into appreciative relationship with the true, the beautiful, and good. We have done something if we have so impressed his moral nature that he is able to have worthy ideals in regard to his own life and a comprehensive sense of the

duties of citizenship. We have rendered no small service to the world if, as the result of our work, the men who go out from our halls are so appreciative of whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report, that they may think on these things. It needs no argument to show that the complete man is he whose culture culminates in religion. The utilitarian view of education, which regards it as a means to an end, is not to be despised. I should not be so unpractical as to overlook the fact that education helps a man to make a place in the world; to win fortune, fame, and power. But a large place must be given to religion in the profit and loss account of life, for what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? University men are in an ever-increasing degree to be the influential men in this nation. These are the men to whom we must look to be the standardbearers of a high morality; to set an example of unselfish living for worthy ends; and that their influence may be good in the ratio that it is great, it is necessary that their moral and religious natures shall be trained as well as their intellectual powers. We might well feel discouraged if the educated men of this land should cease to be religious. And if the graduates of our universities should turn their backs upon the religion of their fathers we might well exclaim, "If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness."


This leads me to say, in a closing word, that the religious thought of the univer sity must inevitably affect the popular religion. University men set the intellectual fashion of the day in religion, as in other things. I do not mean by this, of course, that religion will hold its own by the grace of university authorities any more than I believe that God depends on the good will of the philosophers for the popular recognition of His authority. Believing as I do in revealed religion, I do not believe that it will be destroyed by the labors of a few professors of historical and literary criticism. But there may be, as there have been, times of religious declension and relative loss of faith. And it is a matter of great moment to religion whether the intellectual atmosphere in the university is favorable to serious religious thought. I should like to see a less absorbing interest in sport and a more serious intellectual tone. I would not cut off social pleasure from university life, but I would not have a university career degenerate into a period of indolent enjoyment. I would not take life too seriously, but I would not make it a jest. There is reason to fear that men may become skeptics, but there is more reason to fear that they will lapse into indifference. There is a one-sided culture that may prove itself the enemy of all that is deepest and best in our nature. There is a type of Hellenism that ends in a Pagan rehabilitation of the flesh, where the sensuous love of beauty slides easily into sensual disregard of morals. There is a scientific devotion to material facts which may end in the atrophy of the finer elements of our spiritual nature, which involve our poetry, our sentiment, our hope, our trust in the Father in heaven. There are tendencies in university life that awaken anxiety in thoughtful minds. And yet I do not think that the religious influence of the university is only or even chiefly negative. From the time of Wickliffe, in Oxford, and Huss, in Prague, until the present day, the universitives have been centers of religious movements. We have had Puritanism and Rationalism and Sacramentarianism. Christianity has been attacked and it has been defended by university men. There have been periods of negative theology and periods of apologetic. And with the thought of the day on all questions centering in and involving religious problems, one can not help believing that the university will soon be the center of another religious movement. It will not be patristic, and it will not be Puritan in form, but it must be constructive. It will attempt the synthesis of modern thought in history, philosophy, and criticism in reference to the problem of Christianity. The process may not go on as we could wish, and there may not go into it all that we could desire, but the work will proceed upon the basis of the written Word and the Word made flesh. The Logos will be the key to our metaphysic, our history, our social philosophy, our theory of life. The men who engage in this work will rebuild the edifice of faith upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.

I do not know what part Princeton will have in this religious movement, and which-dare I prophesy it-may open the twentieth century. It would be strange if she should have none. The fathers of this institution have laid the foundations deep and strong. It is ours to build thereon. Let us take heed how we build thereupon. Let us especially be careful not to undo the work already done, for other foundation can no man lay than that that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. But whatever be our place in the sphere of religious ecclesiasticism, let us hope and pray that in the sphere of practical religious life Princeton may keep the place she has always


No part of our work is more important than that which addresses itself to the devotional side of our nature and that centers in our chapel services.

There have been in past days great seasons of religions awakening in this college. I pray God that times of refreshing may come again. There has always been here a body of earnest, spiritually minded men. There were never more than there are to-day. Christianity, as we understand it, is more than a series of precepts. It is a way of salvation. We preach Christ Jesus and Him crucified. We believe that He is the propitiation for our sins and that we have redemption through His blood. Through all the hundred and fifty years of the history of the college of New Jersey this message has been faithfully proclaimed in her pulpit, and it is the earnest prayer of all who love her best and have served her most that the day may never come when it can be said of those who hold high place in Princeton University that they are ashamed of the gospel of Christ.


Oration by Prof. WOODROW WILSON.

Princeton was founded upon the very eve of the stirring changes which put the Revolutionary drama on the stage-not to breed politicians, but to give young men such training as, it might be hoped, would fit them handsomely for the pulpit and for the grave duties of citizens and neighbors. A small group of Presbyterian ministers took the initiative in its foundation. They acted without ecclesiastical authority, as if under obligation to society rather than to the church. They had no more vision of what was to come upon the country than their fellow-colonists had; they knew only that the pulpits of the middle and southern colonies lacked properly equipped men and all the youth in those parts ready means of access to the higher sort of schooling. They thought the discipline at Yale a little less than liberal, and the training offered as a substitute in some quarters a good deal less than thorough. They wanted a "seminary of true religion and good literature,” which should be after their own model and among their own people.

It was not a sectarian school they wished. They were acting as citizens, not as clergymen, and the charter they obtained said never a word about creed or doctrine; but they gave religion the first place in their programme, which belonged to it of right, and confided the formation of their college to the Rev. Jonathan Dickinson, one of their own number, and a man of such mastery as they could trust.

It was by that time the year 1768; Mr. Dickinson had drawn that little group of students about him under the first charter only twenty-one years ago; the college had been firmly seated in Princeton only those twelve years in which it had seen Burr and Edwards and Davies and Finley die, and had found it not a little hard to live so long in the face of its losses and the uneasy movements of the time. It had been brought to Princeton in the very midst of the French and Indian war, when the country was in doubt who should possess the continent. The deep excitement of the stamp act had come, with all its sinister threats of embroilment and disaffection, while yet it was in its infancy and first effort to live. It was impossible it should obtain proper endowment or right and equitable development in such a season. ought by every ordinary rule of life to have been quite snuffed out in the thick and troubled air of the time. New Jersey did not, like Virginia and Massachusetts, easily form her purpose in that day of anxions donbt. She was mixed of many warring elements, as New York also was, and suffered a turbulence of spirit that did not very kindly breed true religion and good literature.


But your thorough Presbyterian is not subject to the ordinary laws of life, is of too stubborn a fiber, too unrelaxing a purpose, to suffer mere inconvenience to bring defeat. Difficulty bred effort, rather, and Dr. Witherspoon found an institution ready to his hand that had come already in that quickening time to a sort of crude maturity. It was no small proof of its self-possession and self-knowledge that those who watched over it had chosen that very time of crisis to put a man like John Witherspoon at the head of its administration, a man so compounded of statesman and scholar, Calvinist Scotsman and orator, that it must ever be a sore puzzle where to place or rank him, whether among great divines, great teachers, or great statesmen. He seems to be all these, and to defy classification, so big is he, so varions, so prodigal of gifts. His vitality entered like a tonic into the college, kept it alive in that time of peril-made it as individual and inextinguishable a force as he himself was, alike in scholarship and in public affairs.

It has never been natural, it has seldom been possible, in this country for learning to seek a place apart and hold aloof from affairs. It is only when society is old, long settled to its ways, confident in habit, and without self-questionings upon any vital point of conduct, that study can effect seclusion and despise the passing interests of the day. America has never yet had a season of leisure quiet in which students

could seek a life apart without sharp rigors of conscience, or college instructors easily forget that they were training citizens as well as drilling pupils; and Princeton is not likely to forget that sharp schooling of her youth, when she first learned the lesson of public service. She shall not easily get John Witherspoon out of her constitution.

It was a piece of providential good fortune that brought such a man to Princeton at such a time. He was a man of the sort other men follow and take counsel of gladly, and as if they found in him the full expression of what is best in themselvesnot because he was always wise, but because he showed always so fine an ardor for whatever was worth while and of the better part of man's spirit; because he uttered his thought with an inevitable glow of eloquence; because of his irresistible charm and individual power. The lively wit of the man, besides, struck always upon the matter of his thought like a ray of light, compelling men te receive what he said or else seem themselves opaque and laughable. A certain straightforward vigor in his way of saying things gave his style an almost irresistible power of entering into men's convictions. A hearty honesty showed itself in all that he did and won men's allegiance upon the instant. They loved him even when they had the hardihood to disagree with him.

He came to the college in 1768, and ruled it till he died, in 1794. In the very middle of his term, as head of the college, the Revolution came, to draw men's minds imperatively off from everything but war and politics, and he turned with all the force and frankness of his nature to the public tasks of the great struggle, assisted in the making of a new constitution for the State, became her spokesman in the Continental Congress; would have pressed her on, if he could, to utter a declaration of independence of her own before the Congress had acted; voted for and signed the great Declaration with hearty good will when it came; acted for the country in matters alike of war and of finance; stood forth in the sight of all the people a great advocate and orator, deeming himself forward in the service of God when most engaged in the service of men and of liberty. There were unbroken sessions of the college meanwhile. Each army in its turn drove out the little group of students who clung to the place. The college building became now a military hospital and again a barracks for the troops; for a little while, upon a memorable day in 1777, a sort of stronghold. New Jersey's open counties became for a time the Revolutionary battleground and field of maneuver. Swept through from end to end by the rush of armies, the State seemed the chief seat of the war, and Princeton a central point of strategy. The dramatic winter of 1776-77 no Princeton man can ever forget, lived he never so long-that winter which saw a year of despair turned suddenly into a year of hope. In July there had been bonfires and boisterous rejoicings in the college yard and the village street at the news of the Declaration of Independence-for, though the rest of the country might doubt and stand timid for a little while to see the bold thing done, Dr. Witherspoon's pupils were in spirits to know the fight was to be fought to a finish. Then suddenly the end had seemed to come. Before the year was out Washington was in the place, beaten and in full retreat, only three thousand men at his back, abandoned by his generals, deserted by his troops, hardly daring to stop till he had put the unbridged Delaware between himself and his enemy. The British came close at his heels, and the town was theirs until Washington came back again, the third day of the new year, early in the morning, and gave his view halloo yonder upon the hill, as if he were in the hunting field again. Then there was fighting in the very streets, and cannon planted against the walls of Old North herself. "Twas not likely any Princeton man would forget those days, when the whole face of the war was changed and New Jersey was shaken of the burden of the fighting. There was almost always something doing at the place when the soldiers were out, for the strenuous Scotsman who had the college at his heart never left it for long at a time, for all he was so intent upon the public business. It was haphazard and piecemeal work, no doubt, but there was the spirit and the resolution of the Revolution itself in what was done-the spirit of Witherspoon. It was not as if someone else had been master. Dr. Witherspoon could have pupils at will. He was so much else besides schoolmaster and preceptor, was so great a figure in the people's eye, went about so like an accepted leader, generously lending a great character to a great cause, that he could bid men act and know that they would heed him.

The time, as well as his own genius, enabled him to put a distinctive stamp upon his pupils. There was close contact between master and pupils in that day of beginnings. He lectured upon taste and style, as well as upon abstract questions of philosophy, and upon politics as a science of government, and of public duty as little to be forgotten as religion itself in any well-considered plan of life. He had found the college ready to servo such purpose when he came, because of the stamp Burr and Davies and Finley had put upon it. They had, one and all, consciously set themselves to make the college a place where young men's minds should be rendered fit for affairs, for the public ministry of the bench and senate, as well as of the pulpit. It was in Finley's day, but just now gone by, that the college had sent out such men

as William Paterson, Luther Martin, and Oliver Ellsworth. Witherspoon but gave quickened life to the old spirit and method of the place where there had been drill from the first in public speech and public spirit.

And the Revolution, when it came, seemed but an object lesson in his scheme of life. It was not simply fighting that was done at Princeton. The little town became for a season the center of politics, too; once and again the legislature of the State sat in the college hall, and its Revolutionary Council of Safety. Soldiers and public men whose names the war was making known to every man frequented the quiet little place, and racy talk ran high in the jolly little tavern where hung the sign of Hudibras. Finally the Federal Congress itself sought the place and filled the college hall with a new scene, sitting a whole season there to do its business-its President a trustee of the college. A commencement day came which saw both Washington and Witherspoon on the platform together-the two men, it was said, who could not be matched for striking presence in all the country-and the young salutatorian turned to the country's leader to say what it was in the hearts of all to utter. The sum of the town's excitement was made up when, upon that notable last day of October in the year 1783, news of peace came to that secluded hall to add a crowning touch of gladness to the gay and brilliant company met to receive with formal welcome the minister plenipotentiary but just come from the Netherlands, Washington moving among them the hero whom the news enthroned.

It was no single stamp or character that the college gave its pupils. James Madison, Philip Freneau, Aaron Burr, and Harry Lee had come from it almost at a single birth, between 1771 and 1773-James Madison, the philosophical statesman, subtly compounded of learning and practical sagacity; Philip Freneau, the careless poet and reckless pamphleteer of a party; Aaron Burr, with genius enough to have made him immortal and unschooled passion enough to have made him infamous; "Lighthorse Harry" Lee, a Rupert in battle, a boy in counsel, highstrung, audacious, willful, lovable, a figure for romance. These men were types of the spirit of which the college was full-the spirit of free individual development which found its perfect expression in the President himself.

Princeton sent upon the public stage an extraordinary number of men of notable quality in those days; became herself for a time in some visible sort the academic center of the Revolution; fitted, among the rest, the man in whom the country was one day to recognize the chief author of the Federal Constitution. Princetonians are never tired of telling how many public men graduated from Princeton in Withspoon's time-20 Senators, 23 Representatives, 13 Governors, 3 judges of the Supreme Court of the Union, 1 Vice President, and a President; all within a space of twenty years, and from a college which seldom had more than 100 students. Nine Princeton men sat in the Constitutional Convention of 1787; and, though but 6 of them were Witherspoon's pupils, there was no other college that had there so many as 6, and the redoubtable doctor might have claimed all 9 as his in spirit and capacity. Madison guided the convention through the critical stages of its anxious work with a tact, a gentle quietness, an art of leading without insisting, ruling without commanding, an authority, not of tone or emphasis, but of apt suggestion-such as Dr. Witherspoon could never have exercised. Princeton men fathered both the Virginia plan, which was adopted, and the New Jersey plan, which was rejected; and Princeton men advocated the compromises without which no plan could have won acceptance. The strenuous Scotsman's earnest desire and prayer to God to see a government set over the nation that should last was realized as even he might not have been bold enough to hope. No man had ever better right to rejoice in his pupils.

It would be absurd to pretend that we can distinguish Princeton's touch and method in the Revolution or her distinctive handiwork in the Constitution of the Union. We can show nothing more of historical fact than that her own president took a great place of leadership in that time of change and became one of the first figures of the age; that the college which he led and to which he gave his spirit contributed more than her share of public men to the making of the nation, outranked her elder rivals in the roll-call of the Constitutional Convention, and seemed for a little a seminary of statesmen rather than a quiet seat of academic learning. What takes our admiration and engages our fancy in looking back to that time is the generous union then established in the college between the life of philosophy and the life of the State. It moves her sons very deeply to find Princeton to have been from the first what they know her to have been in their own day-a school of duty. The Revolutionary days are gone, and you shall not find upon her rolls another group of names given to public life that can equal her muster in the days of the Revolution and the formation of the Government. But her rolls read since the old days, if you know but a little of the quiet life of scattered neighborhoods, like a roster of trustees, a list of the silent men who carry the honorable burdens of business and of social obligation, of such names as keep credit and confidence in heart. They suggest a soil full of the old seed, and ready, should the air of the time move shrewdly upon it as in the old days, to spring once more into the old harvest. The various, boisterous strength

« PreviousContinue »