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with ever-widening influence, to its present yearly contribution of great numbers of young men of generous training and a high sense of duty, fitted to teach by precept and by example a nobler standard of life to their less fortunate brothers; for four years spent here at that period of life when the mind is most open to elevating impressions cannot fail to imbue them with unfaltering loyalty to their alma mater, and with a noble pride in what she has been and what she has done,-in her lasting contributions to scholarship, and to literature, her generous culture, her catholic toleration of all seekers after truth, and her ineffable charm for all her
It seems to me there is no better work to be done at present by an American university than to again unseal those fountains of idealism where the human spirit has so often refreshed itself when weary of a too material age, to reawaken that enthusiasm for the moral law which we have all somehow lost, and to impress upon a people essentially noble, but now too deeply absorbed in the pursuit of wealth for wealth's sake, the advantages which the cherishing of ethical ideals may bring to all of us, even to those who pride themselves, above all things, upon being practical. It is for that reason that I venture to ask you to consider, during the time at our disposal, the value of such ideals in American politics.
While we must, of course, always insist upon the one vital distinction between true and false American patriotism, recognizing only as true that which possesses the ethical spirit, and rejecting as false that which does not possess it, we must also recognize that such a subject can be properly discussed only with that liberal and catholic feeling which makes the amplest allowances for difference of opinion; and upon an academic occasion like the present all discussion should be in a spirit
even more liberal and more catholic than might otherwise be necessary, crediting all others with the same patriotism we claim for ourselves, and displaying a charity satisfying the apostolic definition, which vaunteth not itself, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, andøyet rejoiceth in the truth. ·
It is assuredly the part of wisdom to recognize an existing situation with equal frankness whether it happens to meet our approval or our disapproval. Among the many wise sayings of Bishop Butler none was wiser than his declaring that
things are what they are, and the consequences of them will be what they will be "; and his question, like that of Pilate, has never been answered, “ Why, then, should we, as rational creatures, seek to deceive ourselves?”
There is therefore no reason why we should not cheerfully admit that the controlling consideration in the immediate present is that of money, and that the controlling aspiration of the vast majority of men who have received more or less of intellectual training is to follow Iago's advice and put money in their purses. In thus frankly confronting existing conditions it is not at all necessary to be depressed by them or to acquire “a moping melancholy."
There is, indeed, a sheer delusion cherished by unintelligent people, of which it is desirable that they should free their minds. They stupidly imagine that whoever finds fault with existing conditions in American society must necessarily think the past age better than the present; but the exact contrary is the truth. It is because we know, and are glad to know, that there has been a steady progress, alike in spiritual and material blessings, since men first lived in civilized society together, that we so earnestly desire such progress to continue.
We appreciate with cheerful thankfulness that the vast ma
jority of mankind are now living in far happier conditions, possess far better guarantees of liberty and peace, and are more fully enjoying the indispensable conditions of any life worth living than ever before; but this conviction only makes us the more ardently desire that that
should not now be stayed, but rather should be continued and with ever-accelerated speed, and our discontent is only with the unnecessary
obstacles to such continuance and acceleration. The men who desire the world to be better than it is contemplate with abundant pleasure the promise of the new century, opening, in spite of all its serious drawbacks, upon a brighter prospect for that religion of humanity which preceded it, and it is because they know that each succeeding century of the Christian era has been better than its predecessor that they are impatient of any apparent relaxation of that progress, and they are quite as often amused as annoyed by the very stupid apologies offered them for such relaxation. The human spirit has in different ages
and in different countries devoted itself to varying aims and objects: to religion, as in Palestine; to art and letters, as in Greece; to arms and law, as in Rome; to the aggrandizement of the Church, as in Italy in the Middle Ages; to maintaining the Protestant religion, as in Germany after the revolt of Luther; and in America to the doctrine of liberty and equality among men, ever since the landing at Jamestown; and it has been found entirely compatible with the divine order in the education of the world, and not at all disastrous to the welfare of the race, that different nations should cherish such wholly different aspirations, for the pursuit of each object has in almost every case been found to furnish a basis for further progress in good directions.
The fact, therefore, that this age is devoted to the making of
money as its chief ambition need not disturb us, for it is not at all certain that any better ambition could have been found at this time for the class of men engaged in practical business, It may, indeed, well happen that their labors are laying enduring foundations for far nobler standards of conduct, of effort, and of life than we are now enjoying; and, while it is true that so far these results have not been apparent, it is equally true that it is far too soon to expect them. In saying this I do not forget that Cicero declared that a general desire of gain would ruin any wealthy and flourishing nation, but I do not forget either that Mr. Burke, a far safer guide in the philosophy of politics than Cicero, declared that the love of gain is a grand cause of prosperity to all States.
Assuming, therefore, that we must deal with conditions as they exist, and present considerations likely to be acceptable to those to whom they are addressed, I have thought it might be useful to call the attention of our men of business to the commercial value of ethical ideas in American politics. If it is possible to satisfy them that the cherishing of such ideals may be of pecuniary advantage--may be, in truth, treated as a commercial asset—they may appreciate the wisdom of ceasing their efforts to destroy them, and
may be persuaded to help in the good work of maintaining them and of extending their beneficent influence.
It would, of course, be foolish to undervalue the animosity men of practical business and men of practical politics now cherish toward such ideals. They insist—and I have no reason to doubt they honestly believe that neither the business of the world nor its politics can now be successfully carried on if any respect is to be paid to such ideals.
A prosperous man is said to have recently declared that he had a great dislike for pessimists, and when asked what kind
of people they were, he replied: “ The people who are always talking of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, when everybody of sense knows you cannot conduct business or politics with reference to them.” how," he added, “ my pastor assures me they were only addressed to Jews."
It is a part of the creed of such men that the substitution of money for morals is the only wise course for practical men to pursue in these days of ardent competition and of strenuous efforts by each man to get rich faster than his fellows and at their expense; but this belief is probably in great part founded upon a total misapprehension of the character of the idealism which it is desired to recommend to their favorable consideration. They have persuaded themselves that we wish to insist upon the immediate practical application of the standards of conduct of a far-distant and imagined perfection,—that if a person invades your household and takes your coat you shall now follow him upon the highway and beg him to accept your cloak also; and if a reckless assailant smites you upon one cheek you
must now offer him the other for a like blow; while if you insist upon the wickedness of unnecessary or aggressive warfare you are supposed to imply that righteous warfare, animated by a noble purpose and struggling to attain a noble end, is unjustifiable.
What we ask is nothing impracticable or unreasonable. It is only that we shall return to the ancient ways of the fathers and again enjoy the elevation of spirit which was part of their daily lives. They were, as we ought to be, far from being blind to material advantages and far enough from being willing to live as idle enthusiasts. “ Give me neither property nor riches
with an emphasis upon “ poverty.” They sought, as we do, to acquire property. They