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God is to be built; and you, gentlemen and ladies, build as of straw and stubble, if that foundation is not first laid –
You spring from men whose hearts and lives were pure,
As you work on the home intrusted to you to make its future better than its present, to make it true to the idea which the ancients called the City of God, see that in your own examples, every little plan for social life, every scrap of copy you write for the village newspaper, every word you speak in the daily exchange at the post-office, every hint you drop in the joke of a charade at an evening party, every plan you form for more spirited social order, are all aimed and shot home for the purity of the moral atmosphere of the town. It is all that boys and men, girls and women, may be more manly and more womanly. This is what the land requires and what the future requires. I might say that it is all they require. For, to him who seeks this first, all else is added. The land cares for a better Testament or a better Bible; it cares for better constitutions or laws; it cares for a simpler and more pure Civil Service, only as these things, for things they are, give it purer and better lives. By their fruits, all these things are to be tested; and the fruits are pure and manly men, pure and womanly women. Yes, and the reason why you see the men in my calling as cheerful and hopeful as we are, why we love our work and want to enlist others in it, is that this is our single aim, and there is no danger that any other calling shall divert us from an enterprise so grand. To build up the City of God, though we only carry a hod of mortar, is our only affair. To help his kingdom forward is our only business. We do not know half the temptations which come to men absorbed in other cares, because with us our daily duty is all in the infinite work; and, though one were in the commonest humdrum of daily ministry, he sees how he is uniting with God and building up his kingdom. That you may help the land to such fruits as pure and manly men, pure and womanly women, whatever your vocation, you go forth, as I said, the loyal knights-errant of the Idea. You stand for the Truth before this land. Every man who is working for it looks for your alliance as you draw near. The question is in the comparison little what particular calling shall be yours. You are men and women liberally trained, and because of that every man's eye shall be on you. This poor doctor, waiting to improve drainage, relies on you the moment he hears you have made your home there. This poor lawyer, struggling for the rights of a handful of Indians, looks at once to you. The preacher, frowning on profanity, striving to stamp out, intemperance, looks for aid to you as soon as you come near. Why? but because the degree we give you here means that you have been trained to be prophets to the Idea, to build on the eternal foundations for the infinite future.
Does any man say that this is transcendental or mystical? Let it be so. The highest transcendentalism, the noblest mysticism, is this lofty idealism, which is satisfied with nothing less than the perfect world. It is not satisfied with that which has been attained, but reaches forward to something better and more. It is because you are nothing less than children of the Almighty God, who can share his purpose, conceive of his purpose, and enter into his service, that it has been worth while to train you here, and give you the best armor for conflict, the best arms for victory. It is as you shall accept the situation, and enter into life as his children, that you shall be able to succeed in the enterprise of leaders. Are there ten such men and women? They could save even Sodom and Gomorrah. Who goes forward in that faith, why, she silences lions as Una in her purity, he treads upon scorpions as Michael on the archangel. He who knows God and sees him, as the pure in heart see him, he who talks with him by day and sleeps in his arms by night, he has entered into his house and found himself at home there. To him is given the glory of seeing the fruits of his training here. He goes hence, not in vain, to build the City of God for the home of man.
SIR WALTER SCOTT
[Address by John Hay, author, diplomat, Secretary of State in the cabinet of President McKinley (born in Salem, Ind., October 8, 1838; ), delivered in London at the unveiling of the bust of Sir Walter Scott in Westminster Abbey, May 21, 1897, Mr. Hay at the time being United States Ambassador to England.]
A clever French author made a book some years ago called the “Forty-First Arm-Chair.” It consisted of brief biographies of the most famous writers of France, none of whom had been members of the Academy. The astonishment of a stranger who is told that neither Molière nor Balzac was ever embraced among the Forty Immortals, is very like that which has often affected the tourist who, searching among the illustrious names and faces which make this Abbey glorious, has asked in vain for the author of “Waverley.”
It is not that he has ever been forgotten or neglected. His lines have gone out through all the earth and his words to the end of the world. No face in modern history, if we may except the magisterial profile of Napoleon, is so well known as the winning, irregular features dominated by the towering brow of the Squire of Abbotsford. It is rather the world-wide extent of his fame that has seemed hitherto to make it unnecessary that his visible image should be shrined here among Ergland's worthies. His spirit is everywhere; he is revered wherever the English speech has traveled; and translations have given some glimpses of his brightness through the veil of many alien tongues. But the vastness of his name is no just reason why it may not have a local habitation also. It is there