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of the young men of affairs who went out with Witherspoon's touch upon them is obviously not of the average breed of any place, but the special fruitage of an exceptional time. Later generations inevitably reverted to the elder type of Paterson and Ellsworth, the type of sound learning and stout character, without bold impulse added or any uneasy hope to change the world. It has been Princeton's work, in all ordinary seasons, not to change but to strengthen society, to give, not yeast, but bread for the raising.
No one who looks into the life of the institution shall find it easy to say what gave it its spirit and kept it in its character the generations through, but some things lie obvious to the view in Princeton's case. She had always been a school of religion, and no one of her sons, who has really lived her life, has escaped that steadying touch which has made her a school of duty. Religion, conceive it but liberally enough, is the true salt wherewith to keep both duty and learning sweet against the taint of time and change, and it is a noble thing to have conceived it thus liberally, as Princeton's founders did. Duty with them was a practical thing, concerned with righteousness in this world, as well as with salvation in the next. There is nothing that gives such pith to public service as religion. A God of truth is no mean prompter to the enlightened service of mankind; and character formed, as if in His eye, has always a fiber and sanction such as you shall not obtain for the ordinary man from the mild promptings of philosophy.
It is noteworthy how often God-fearing men have been forward in those revolutions which have vindicated rights, and how seldom in those which have wrought a work of destruction. There was a spirit of practical piety in the revolutionary doctrines which Dr. Witherspoon taught. No man, particularly a young man, who heard him could doubt a cause, a righteous cause, or deem religion aught but a prompter in it. Revolution was not to be distinguished from duty in Princeton. Duty becomes the more noble when thus conceived the "stern daughter of the voice of God," and that voice must ever seem near and in the midst of life if it be made to sound dominant from the first in all thought of men in the world. It has not been by accident, therefore, that Princeton men have been inclined to public life. A strong sense of duty is a fretful thing in confinement, and will not easily consent to be kept at home clapped up within a narrow round. The university in our day is no longer inclined to stand aloof from the practical world, and, surely, it ought never to have had the disposition to do so. It is the business of a university to impart to the rank and file of the men whom it trains the right thought of the world, the thought which it has tested and established, the principles which have stood through the seasons and become at length a part of the immemorial wisdom of the race. The object of education is not merely to draw out the powers of the individual minds; it is rather its object to draw all minds to a proper adjustment to the physical and social world in which they are to have their life and their development; to enlighten, strengthen, and make fit. The business of the world is not individual success, but its own betterment, strengthening, and growth in spiritual insight. "So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" is the right prayer and aspiration.
It was not a work of destruction which Princeton helped forward even in that day of storm which came at the Revolution, but work of preservation. The American Revolution wrought a radical change in the world; it created a new nation and a new polity; but it was a work of conservation after all, as fundamentally conservative as the revolution of 1688 or the extortion of Magna Charta. A change of allegiance and the erection of a new nation in the West were its inevitable results but not its objects. Its object was the preservation of the body of liberties, to keep the natural course of English development in America clear of impediment. It was meant, not in rebellion, but in self-defense. If it brought change, it was the change of maturity, the fulfillment of destiny, the appropriate fruitage of wholesale and steady growth. It was part of English liberty that America should be free. The thought of our Revolution was as quick and vital in the minds of Chatham and of Burke as in the minds of Otis and Henry and Washington. There is nothing so conservative of life as growth; when that stops, decay sets in and the end comes on apace. Progress is life, for the body politic as for the body natural. To stand still is to court death.
Here, then, if you will but look, you have the law of conservatism disclosed; it is a law of progress. But not all change is progress, not all growth is the manifestation of life. Let one part of the body be in haste to outgrow the rest and you have malignant disease, the threat of death. The growth that is a manifestation of life is equitable, draws its springs gently out of the old fountains of strength, builds upon old tissue, covets the old airs that have blown upon it time out of mind in the past. Colleges ought surely to be the best nurseries of such life, the best schools of the progress which conserves. Unschooled men have only their habits to remind them of the past, only their desires and their instinctive judgments of what is right to guide them into the future; the college should serve the State as its organ of
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recollection, its seat of vital memory. It should give the country men who know the probabilities of failure and success, who can separate the tendencies which are permanent from the tendencies which are of the moment merely, who can distinguish promises from threats, knowing the life men have lived, the hopes they have tested, and the principles they have proved.
This college gave the country at least a handful of such men in its infancy, and its president for leader. The blood of John Knox ran in Witherspoon's veins. The great drift and movement of English liberty, from Magna Charta down, was in all his teachings; his pupils knew as well as Burke did that to argue the Americans out of their liberties would be to falsify their pedigree. "In order to prove that the Americans have no right to their liberties," Burke cried, "we are every day endeavoring to subvert the maxims which preserve the whole spirit of our own;" the very antiquarians of the law stood ready with their proof that the colonies could not be taxed by Parliament. This Revolution, at any rate, was a keeping of faith with the past. To stand for it was to be like Hampden, a champion of law though he withstood the king. It was to emulate the example of the very men who had founded the Government, then for a little while grown so tyrannous and forgetful of its great traditions. This was the compulsion of life, not of passion, and college halls were a better school of revolution than colonial assemblies.
Provided, of course, they were guided by such a spirit as Witherspoon's, nothing is easier than to falsify the past; lifeless instruction will do it. If you rob it of vitality, stiffen it with pedantry, sophisticate it with argument, chill it with unsympathetic comment, you render it as dead as any academic exercise. The safest way in all ordinary seasons is to let it speak for itself; resort to its records, listen to its poets and to its masters in the humbler art of prose. Your real and proper object, after all, is not to expound, but to realize it, consort with it, and make your spirit kin with it, so that you may never shake the sense of obligation off. In short, I believe that the catholic study of the world's literature as a record spirit is the right preparation for leadership in the world's affairs, if you undertake it like a man and not like a pedant.
Age is marked in the case of every people, just as it is marked in the case of every work of art, into which enters the example of the masters, the taste of long generations of men, the thought that has matured, the achievement that has come with assurance. The child's crude drawing shares the primitive youth of the first hieroglyphics; but a little reading, a few lessons from some modern master, a little time in the old world's galleries set the lad forward a thousand years and more, make his drawing as old as art itself. The art of thinking is as old, and it is the university's functions to impart it in all its length; the stiff and difficult stuffs of fact and experience of prejudice and affection, in which the hard art is to work its will, and the long and tedious combinations of cause and effect out of which it is to build up its results. How else will you avoid a ceaseless round of error? The world's memory must be kept alive, or we shall never see an end of its old mistakes. We are in danger to lose our identity and become infantile in every generation. That is the real menace under which we cower everywhere in this age of change. The old world trembles to see its proletariat in the saddle; we stand dismayed to find ourselves growing no older, always as young as the information of our most numerous voters. The danger does not lie in the fact that the masses whom we have enfranchised seek to work any iniquity upon us, for their aim, take it in the large, is to make a righteous polity. The peril lies in this, that the past is discredited among them, because they played no choosing part in it. It was their enemy, they say, and they will not learn of it. They wish to break with it forever; its lessons are tainted to their taste. In America, especially, we run perpetually this risk of newness. Righteously enough, it is in part a consequence of boasting. To enhance our credit for originality we boasted for long that our institutions were one and all our own inventions, and the pleasing error was so got into the air by persistent discharges of oratory that every man's atmosphere became surcharged with it, and it seems now quite too late to dislodge it. Three thousand miles of sea, moreover, roll between us and the elder past of the world. We are isolated here. We can not see other nations in detail, and looked at in the large they do not seem like ourselves. Our problems, we say, are our own, and we will take our own way of solving them. Nothing seems audacious among us, for our case seems to us to stand singular and without parallel. We run in a free field, without recollection of failure, without heed of example.
It is plain that it is the duty of an institution of learning set in the midst of a free population and amidst signs of social change, not merely to implant a sense of duty, but to illuminate duty by every lesson that can be drawn out of the past. It is not a dogmatic process. I know of no book in which the lessons of the past are set down. I do not know of any man whom the world could trust to write such a book. But it somebow comes about that the man who has traveled in the realms of thought brings lessons home with him which make him grave and wise beyond his fellows, and thoughtful with the thoughtfulness of a true man of the world.
This, it seems to me, is the real, the prevalent argument for holding every man we can to the intimate study of the ancient classics. All literature that has lasted has this claim upon us; that it is not dead; but we can not be quite so sure of any as we are of the ancient literature that still lives, because none has lived so long. It holds a sort of leadership in the aristocracy of natural selection.
Read it, moreover, and you will find another proof of vitality in it, more significant still. You shall recognize its thoughts, and even its fancies, as your long-time familiars-shall recognize them as the thoughts that have begotten a vast deal of your own literature. It is the general air of the world a man gets when he reads the classics, the thinking which depends upon no time, but only upon human nature, which seems full of the voices of the human spirit, quick with the power which moves ever upon the face of affairs. "What Plato has thought he may think; what a saint has felt he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man he can understand."
I believe, of course, that there is another way of preparing young men to be wise. I need not tell you that I believe in the full, explicit instruction in history and in politics, in the experiences of peoples and the fortunes of governments, in the whole story of what men have attempted and what they have accomplished through all the changes, both of form and purpose, in their organization of their common life. Many minds will receive and heed this systematic instruction which have no ears for the voice that is the printed page of literature.
It used to be taken for granted-did it not?-that colleges would be found always on the conservative side of politics (except on the question of free trade), but in this latter day a great deal has taken place which goes far toward discrediting the presumption. The college in our day lives very near indeed to the affairs of the world. It is a place of the latest experiments; its laboratories are brisk with the spirit of discovery; its lecture rooms resound with the discussion of new theories of life and novel programmes of reform. There is no radical like the learned radical, bred in the schools, and thoughts of revolution have in our time been harbored in universities as naturally as they were once nourished among the encyclopedists. It is the scientific spirit of the age that has wrought the change. I stand with my hat off at every mention of the great men who have made our age an age of knowledge. No man more heartily admires, more gladly welcomes, more approvingly reckons the gain and the enlightenment that have come to the world through the extraordinary advances in physical science which this age has witnessed. He would be a barbarian and a lover of darkness who should grudge that great study any part of its triumph. But I am a student of society and should deem myself unworthy of the comradeship of great men of science should I not speak the plain truth with regard to what I see happening under my own eyes. I have no laboratory but the world of books and men in which I live; but I am much mistaken if the scientific spirit of the age is not doing us a certain great disservice, working in us a certain great degeneracy. Science has bred in us a spirit of experiment and a contempt for the past. It has made us credulous of quick improvement, hopeful of discovering pauaceas, confident of success in every new thing.
Let me say this is not the fault of the scientist. He has done his work with an intelligence and success which can not be too much admired. It is the work of the noxious, intoxicating gas which has somehow got into the lungs of the rest of us from out the crevices of his workshop-a gas, it would seem, which forms only in the outer air, and where men do not know the right use of their lungs. I should tremble to see social reform led by men who had breathed it; I should fear nothing better than utter destruction from a revolution conceived and led in a scientific spirit.
Do you wonder, then, that I ask for the old drill, the old memory of times gone by, the old schooling in precedent and tradition, the old keeping of faith with tho past, as a preparation for leadership in the days of social change? We have not given science too big a place in our education; but we have made a perilous mistake in giving it too great a preponderance in method and in every other branch of study. We must make the humanities human again; must recall what manner of men we are, must turn back once more to the region of practical ideals.
Of course, when all is said, it is not learning but the spirit of service that will give a college place in the public annals of the nation. It is indispensable, it seems to me, if it is to do its right service, that the air of affairs should be admitted to all its class rooms. I do not mean the air of party politics, but the air of the world's transaction, the consciousness of solidarity of the race, the sense of the duty of man toward man, of the presence of men in every problem, of the significance of truth, for guidance as well as for knowledge, of the potency of ideas, of the promise and the hope that shine in the face of all knowledge. There is laid upon us the compulsion of the national life. We dare not keep aloof and closet ourselves while a nation comes to its maturity. The days of wide expansion are gone, our life grows tense and difficult; our resources for the future lie in careful thought, providence, and a wise
economy; and the school must be of the nation. I have had sight of the perfect place of learning in my thought; a free place, and a various, where no man could be and not know with how great a destiny knowledge had come into the world-itself a little world; but not perplexed, living with a singleness of aim not known without; the home of sagacious men, hardheaded and with a will to know, debaters of the world's questions every day and used to the rough ways of democracy; and yet a place removed-calm, silence seated there, recluse, ascetic, like a nun, not knowing that the world passes, not caring if the truth but come in answer to her prayer; and literature, walking within her open doors in quiet chambers with men of olden time, storied walls about her, and calm voices infinitely sweet; here "magic casements, opening on the foam of perilous seas, in fairy lands forlorn," to which you may withdraw and use your youth for pleasure; there windows open straight upon the street, where many stand and talk, intent upon the world of men and business. A place where ideals are kept in heart in an atmosphere that they can breathe; but no fool's paradise. A place to hear the truth about the past and hold debate about the affairs of the present, with knowledge and without passion; like the world in having all men's life at heart; a place for men and all that concerns them; but unlike the world in its self-possession, its thorough way of talk, its care to know more than the moment it brings to light; slow to take excitement, its air pure and wholesome with a breath of faith; every eye within it bright in the clear day and quick to look toward heaven for the confirmation of its hope. Who shall show us the way to this place?
PRESIDENT CLEVELAND'S SPEECH ON THE SESQUICENTENNIAL DAY.
MR. PRESIDENT AND LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: As those in different occupations and with different training each see most plainly in the same landscape view those features which are the most nearly related to their several habitual environments, so, in our contemplation of an event or an occasion, each individual especially observes and appreciates, in the light his mode of thought supplies, such of its features and incidents as are most in harmony with his mental situation.
To-day, while all of us warmly share the general enthusiasm and felicitation which pervade this assemblage, I am sure its varions suggestions and meanings assume a prominence in our respective fields of mental vision, dependent upon their relation to our experience and condition. Those charged with the manageinent and direction of the educational advantages of this noble institution mest plainly see, with well-earned satisfaction, proofs of its growth and usefulness and its enhanced opportunities for doing good. The graduate of Princeton sees first the evidence of a greater glory and prestige than have come to his alma mater, and the added honor thence reflected upon himself, while those still within her student halls see most prominently the promise of an increased dignity which awaits their graduation from Princeton University.
But there are others here, not of the family of Princeton, who see, with an interest not to be outdone, the signs of her triumph on the fields of higher education, and the part she has taken during her long and glorious career in the elevation and betterment of a great people.
Among these I take an humble place, and as I yield to the influences of this occasion, I can not resist the train of thought which especially reminds me of the promise of national safety and the guaranty of the permanence of our free institutions, which may and ought to radiate from the universities and colleges scattered throughout our land.
Obviously a government resting upon the will and universal suffrage of the people has no anchorage except in the people's intelligence. While the advantages of a collegiate education are by no means necessary to good citizenship, yet the college graduate, found everywhere, can not smother his opportunities to teach his fellowcountrymen, and influence them for good, nor hide his talents in a napkin, without recreancy to a trust.
In a nation like ours, charged with the care of numerous and widely varied interests, a spirit of conservatism and toleration is absolutely essential. A collegiate training, the study of principles unvexed by distracting and misleading influences, and a correct apprehension of the theories upon which our Republic is established, ought to constitute the college graduate a constant monitor, warning against popular rashuess and excess.
The character of our institutions and our national self-interest require that a feeling of sincere brotherhood and a disposition to unite in mutual endeavor should pervade our people. Our scheme of government in its beginning was based upon this sentiment, and its interruption has never failed and can never fail to grievously menace our national health. Who can better caution against passion and bitterness than those who know by thought and study their baneful consequences, and who are themselves within the noble brotherhood of higher education?
There are natural laws and economic truths which command implicit obedience, and which should unalterably fix the bounds of wholesome popular discussion, and the limits of political strife. The knowledge gained in our universities and colleges would be sadly deticient if its beneficiaries were unable to recognize and point out to their fellow-citizens these truths and natural laws, and to teach the mischievous futility of their nonobservance or attempted violation.
The activity of our people and their restless desire to gather to themselves especial benefits and advantages lead to the growth of an unconfessed tendency to regard their Government as the giver of private gifts, and to look upon the agencies for its administration as the distributors of official places and preferment. Those who in university or college have had an opportunity to study the mission of our institutions, and who, in the light of history, have learned the danger to a people of their neglect of the patriotic care they owe the national life intrusted to their keeping, should be well fitted to constantly admonish their fellow citizens that the usefulness and beneficence of their plan of government can only be preserved through their unselfish and loving support, and their contented willingness to accept in full return the peace, protection, and opportunity which it impartially bestows.
Not more surely do the rules of honesty and good faith fix the standard of individual character in a community than do these same rules determine the character and standing of a nation in the world of civilization. Neither the glitter of its power, nor the tinsel of its commercial prosperity, nor the gandy show of its people's wealth, can conceal the cankering rust of national dishonesty, and cover the meanness of national bad faith. A constant stream of thoughtful, educated men should come from our universities and colleges preaching national honor and integrity, and teaching that a belief in the necessity of national obedience to the laws of God is not born of superstition.
I do not forget the practical necessity of political parties, nor do I deny their desirability. I recognize wholesome differences of opinion touching legitimate governmental policies, and would by no means control or limit the utmost freedom in their discussion. I have only attempted to suggest the important patriotic service which our institutions of higher education and their graduates are fitted to render to our people, in the enforcement of those immutable truths and fundamental principles which are related to our national condition, but should never be dragged nto the field of political strife nor impressed into the service of partisan contention. When the excitement of party warfare presses dangerously near our national safeguards, I would have the intelligent conservatism of our universities and colleges warn the contestants in impressive tones against the perils of a breach impossible to repair.
When popular discontent and passion are stimulated by the arts of designing partisans to a pitch perilously near to class hatred or sectional anger, I would have our universities and colleges sound the alarm in the name of American brotherhood and fraternal dependence.
When the attempt is made to delude the people into the belief that their suffrages can change the operation of natural laws, I would have our universities and colleges proclaim that those laws are inexorable and far removed from political control. When selfish interest seeks undue private benefit through governmental aid and public places are claimed as rewards of party service, I would have our universities and colleges persuade the people to a relinquishment of the demand for party spoils and exhort them to a disinterested and patriotic love of their Government for its own sake, and because in its true adjustment and unperverted operation it secures to every citizen his just share of the safety and prosperity it holds in store for all. When a design is apparent to lure the people from their honest thoughts and to blind their eyes to the sad plight of national dishonor and bad faith, I would have Princeton University, panoplied in her patriotic traditions and glorious memories, and, joined by all the other universities and colleges of our land, cry out against the infliction of this treacherous and fatal wound.
I would have the influence of these institutions on the side of religion and morality. I would have those they send out among the people not ashamed to acknowledge God and to proclaim His interposition in the affairs of men, enjoining such obe dience to His laws as makes manifest the path of national perpetuity and prosperity. I hasten to concede the good already accomplished by our educated men in purifying and steadying political sentiment; but I hope I may be allowed to intimate my belief that their work in these directions would be easier and more useful if it were less spasmodic and occasional. The disposition of our people is such that while they may be inclined to distrust those who only on rare occasions come among them from an exclusiveness savoring of assumed superiority, they readily listen to those who exhibit a real fellowship and a friendly and habitual interest in all that concerns the common welfare. Such a condition of intimacy would, I believe, not only improve the general political atmosphere, but would vastly increase the influence of our universities and colleges in their efforts to prevent popular delusions, or correct them before they reach an acute and dangerous stage.