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Ah, what would we not give if those structures had been builded with the strength of the Pyramids of old Egypt and as beautiful as the structures of lofty-souled Greece, to stand through the march of years as teachers to the youths and maidens growing to maturity, as sacred treasures of the early days of the American People, as lasting monuments of the brave achievements of the noble Fathers of the Republic.
In the times when those buildings were raised it was little thought that in years to come they would be among our most sacred treasures. If it had been known, how differently would they have been builded. Yes, we were only living from day to day then. But how are we living now? Are we building for any generation beyond our own? Are we even building truly for ourselves?
There is today a nation of ever-increasing greatness and power. I do not need to tell you that it is your nation; your loyal hearts have already told you so.
The future of that nation stretches bright before us. But there is a duty, as yet unperformed, beckoning us; a duty which is individual as well as national; the duty of building as we would live, nobly and truly and greatly, and for the generations yet to come; building so that our lives may be purer, that our children may be nobler, and that the history of our achievements may not sink into forgetfulness.
A nation which has achieved such progress along commercial and industrial lines ought to point the way in things of Art, and become a shining light among the powers of the world. From a poor and feeble settlement along the rocky Atlantic we have grown to a great people. We have pushed across the continent until we look upon the blue stretch of the Pacific. Aye, we have dared the waves and braved the perils of conflict, to plant our flag upon the other side of the world. Shall we rest thus, or shall we mould into lasting stone the tale of our lives and deeds ?
ADDRESS TO SENIOR CLASS.*
Members of the Graduating Class :
We hear a good deal, now and then, of the "self-made man," a most pernicious and misleading phrase. The man does not live who can truly say, I am self-made. However one may have missed the important instruments which our modern life has provided for the development and perfection of character, and been thrown upon those hard devices that have their origin in the secret chambers of his own intelligence and will, he still cannot affirm that he is indebted only to himself for what he is and what he has accomplished. The man who has benefited least of all by the extraneous helps of the world will be obliged to confess, when he looks back with candor upon his past that he has not been the final arbiter even in his own choices, but that he has been guided and led by a force that is almighty and irresistible. I am sure this must be your own testimony if you are frank and truthful. It may be, indeed, that you are where you like to be, and that your own wills have consented in every step you have taken thus far. Still I am sure that you must recognize that you are who you are by appointment, and that you have been borne forward on a vast and mighty current, which neither oar nor sail could turn aside or overcome. In other words, you have been chosen for what lies immediately before you.
When, therefore, you look out upon your future you must realize that the instrumentalities, both those that are divine and those that are human, which have given you your present vantage ground, have brought you here for action and have arranged for you this most auspicious setting that your action may be effective. Here you are, and your first and most imperative duty is to bow in recognition of the fact that you are the children of God and must wait for his law, which is perfect and inviolable. Here
*Extract of Baccalaureate Sermon delivered by President Capen, June 16, 1901, in Goddard Chapel.
you are, in the great and complicated mechanism of human society, face to face with a thousand problems that affect most vitally the destiny and welfare of the race. To turn back or falter now is cowardice. To fail in your duty to the civil and social order which prevents humanity from any backward movement and transmits civilization with all its accumulated blessings to the future, would be pusilanimous. Here you are, touching elbows with countless human beings, every one of whom is as weak and helpless as yourselves, when he undertakes to go alone, but strong and mighty for heroic effort when he has the help and sympathy of his fellow creatures who are embarked with him in the same great enterprise of human life. To neglect or refuse a helping hand to your fellow-workers in God's great mills, to your fellow travellers in the solemn journey to the grave, would be not only to misconceive the object of your existence, but to substitute for philanthropy and generosity, selfishness and meanness.
Above all, you must work for large and enduring ends. Life is too short and too serious to be wasted in pettiness and triviality. I do not mean, of course, that you should demand for every performance a great theatre and a vast audience; nor do I mean that you should desire to make every act of your life, not only spectacular, but of the character and quality by which epochs are made. I refer rather to the spirit and purpose of your activity. The father's provision for his children, the mother's care of an infant, the daily work for daily bread, may be so performed as to become the very stepping-stones to the kingdom of God. Let me remind you that if you work in this spirit your work will remain—it will be for eternity and not for time--for eternity, because it will be taken up into the composite of human experience and be transmitted from generation to generation so long as humanity shall endure; for eternity, because your own souls will be transformed and uplifted by it, and because having entered into the mysterious fabric of character it will be the one substance which you will carry with you beyond the confines of the grave.
I need not assure you that wherever you go, or however you
fare, your Alma Mater will follow you with most affectionate interest. Her wisdom has tried to guide you thus far. Her love has endeavored to find a lodgment in your hearts. In every possible way she has sought to put her impress upon you, and now, as she sends you forth, bearing her honors, she gives you most hopeful and tender salutations and bids you the Godspeed and farewell.
PEACE AND SERVICE. *
Heigh-ho for a cool sylvan dell
I'll watch the furcate swallows' flight
*Class Poem read in Goddard Chapel, June 14, 1901, by Frank Howe Benedict.
And he trustingly lay him down
The starry night was well nigh spent
o death-like hour, oppressive in thy calm ! Full oft I've wandered here with thee and told The trees, the winds and far retreating hills The longings of my soul, my heart's desires; But they, like hollow caverns mocking me, Return my voice and leave me as before, My heart benumbed with mortal restlessness. Couldst thou but bring me youth, I'd ne'er again Devote my noonday in the search for peace; But liberty and love and life should crown The darkest day. I'd struggle, fight and pray, For those whose love I might secure; action Should glorify my heart and take away The pain of watching, waiting for that time When God shall crown my life with that for which The world hath ever sought, immortal peace.
Men sailed the sea in years agone in search