« PreviousContinue »
right, not only in the end they aim at, but in the way they take to reach that end.
Yes, this School has been, is, and I hope long will be, a center where great lawyers perfect their achievements, and from which young men, even more inspired by their example than instructed by their teaching, go forth in their turn, not to imitate what their masters have done, but to live their own lives more freely for the ferment imparted to them here. The men trained in this School may not always be the most knowing in the ways of getting on. The noblest of them must often feel that they are committed to lives of proud dependence—the dependence of men who command no factitious aids to success, but rely upon unadvertised knowledge and silent devotion; dependence upon finding an appreciation which they cannot seek, but dependence proud in the conviction that the knowledge to which their lives are consecrated is of things which it concerns the world to know. It is the dependence of abstract thought, of science, of beauty, of poetry and art, of every flower of civilization, upon finding a soil generous enough to support it. If it does not, it must die. But the world needs the flower more than the flower needs life.
I said that a Law School ought to teach law in the grand manner; that it had something more to do than simply to teach law. I think we may claim for our School that it has not been wanting in greatness. I once heard a Russian say that in the middle class of Russia there were many specialists; in the upper class there were civilized men. Perhaps in America, for reasons which I have mentioned, we need specialists even more than we do civilized men. Civilized men who are nothing else are a little apt to think that they cannot breathe the American atmosphere. But if a man is a specialist, it is most desirable that he should also be civilized; that he should have laid in the outline of the other sciences, as well as the light and shade of his own; that he should be reasonable, and see things in their proportion. Nay, more, that he should be passionate, as well as reasonable,that he should be able not only to explain, but to feel; that the ardors of intellectual pursuit should be relieved
by the charms of art, should be succeeded by the joy of life become an end in itself.
At Harvard College is realized in some degree the palpitating manifoldness of a truly civilized life. Its aspirations are concealed because they are chastened and instructed; but I believe in my soul that they are not the less noble that they are silent. The golden light of the University is not confined to the undergraduate department; it is shed over all the schools. He who has once seen it becomes other than he was, forevermore. I have said that the best part of our education is moral. It is the crowning glory of this Law School that it has kindled in many a heart an inextinguishable fire.
(Address by Victor Hugo, author, poet, and publicist (born in Besançon, France, February 26, 1802; died in Paris, May 22, 1885), delivered Paris, May 30, 1878, on the one hundredth anniversary of Voltaire's death. Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who was present, tells us that the oration was delivered from notes, written in an immense hand on sheets twice as large as foolscap, from which Hugo, then seventy-six years of age, though looking ten years younger, read without glasses. “He used much gesture, and in impassioned moments waved his arm above his head, the fingers apart and trembling with emotion. Sometimes he clapped one hand to his head as if to tear out some of his white hairs, though this hardly seemed, at the moment, melodramatic
... His delivery was as characteristic as his literary style, and quite in keeping with it, being a series of brilliant detached points.
Never was there a more powerful picture than his sketch of 'that frightful international exposition called a field of battle.' "]
A hundred years to-day a man died. He died immortal. He departed laden with years, laden with works, laden with the most illustrious and the most fearful of responsibilities, the responsibility of the human conscience informed and rectified. He went cursed and blessed, cursed by the past, blessed by the future; and these are the two superb forms of glory. On his death-bed he had, on the one hand, the acclaim of contemporaries and of posterity; on the other, that triumph of hooting and of hate which the implacable past bestows upon those who have combatted it. He was more than a man; he was an age. He had exercised a function and fulfilled a mission. He had been evidently chosen for the work which he had
done by the Supreme Will, which manifests itself as visibly in the laws of destiny as in the laws of nature.
The eighty-four years which this man lived span the interval between the Monarchy at its apogee and the Revolution at its dawn. When he was born, Louis XIV still reigned; when he died, Louis XVI already wore the crown; so that his cradle saw the last rays of the great throne, and his coffin the first gleams from the great abyss.
Before going further, let us come to an understanding upon the word abyss. There are good abysses: such are the abysses in which evil is engulfed.
Since I have interrupted myself, allow me to complete my thought. No word imprudent or unsound will be pronounced here. We are here to perform an act of civilization. We are here to make affirmation of progress, to pay respect to philosophers for the benefits of philosophy, to bring to the Eighteenth century the testimony of the Nineteenth, to honor magnanimous combatants and good servants, to felicitate the noble effort of people, industry, science, the valiant march in advance, the toil to cement human concord; in one word, to glorify peace, that sublime, universal desire. Peace is the virtue of civilization; war is its crime. We are here, at this grand moment, in this solemn hour, to bow religiously before the moral law, and to say to the world, which hears France, this: There is only one power, conscience in the service of justice; and there is only one glory, genius in the service of truth. That said, I continue.
Before the Revolution the social structure was this:
By the side of religion, justice represented by the magistracy.
And, at that period of human society, what was the people? It was ignorance. What was religion? It was intolerance. And what was justice? It was injustice. Am I going too far in my words? Judge.
I will confine myself to the citation of two facts, but decisive.
At Toulouse, October 13, 1761, there was found in the lower story of a house a young man hanged. The crowd gathered, the clergy fulminated, the magistracy investi
gated. It was a suicide; they made of it an assassination. In what interest? In the interest of religion. And who was accused? The father. He was a Huguenot, and he wished to hinder his son from becoming a Catholic. There was here a moral monstrosity and a material impossibility; no matter! This father had killed his son; this old man had hanged this young man. Justice travailed, and this was the result. In the month of March, 1762, a man with white hair, Jean Calas, was conducted to a public place, stripped naked, stretched upon a wheel, the members bound upon it, the head hanging. Three men are there upon a scaffold, a magistrate, named David, charged to superintend the punishment, a priest to hold the crucifix, and the executioner with a bar of iron in his hand. The patient, stupefied and terrible, regards not the priest, and looks at the executioner. The executioner lifts the bar of iron, and breaks one of his arms. The victim groans and swoons. The magistrate comes forward; they make the condemned inhale salts; he returns to life. Then another stroke of the bar; another groan. Calas loses consciousness; they revive him and the executioner begins again; and, as each limb before being broken in two places receives two blows, that makes eight punishments. After the eighth swooning the priest offers him the crucifix to kiss; Calas turns away his head, and the executioner gives him the coup de grâce; that is to say, crushes in his chest with the thick end of the bar of iron. So died Jean Calas.
That lasted two hours. After his death the evidence oi the suicide caine to light. But an assassination had been committed. By whom? By the judges.
Another fact. After the old man, the young man. Three years later, in 1765, at Abbeville, the day after a night of storm and high wind, there was found upon the pavement of a bridge an old crucifix of worm-eaten wood. which for three centuries had been fastened to the parapet. Who had thrown down this crucifix? Who committed this sacrilege? It is not known. Perhaps a passer-by. Perhaps the wind. Who is the guilty one? The Bishop of Amiens launches a monitoire. Note what a monitoire was: it was an order to all the faithful, on pain of hell, to declare what they knew or believed they knew of such