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home from London, at twenty-two: “I positively shrink from associating with the young men on account of their unbounded dissoluteness.” His
His memory, not inferior to that of Macaulay or Scaliger, he made strictly the servant of his thinking. Amid all the speculative tendencies of Germany he became a man of facts and affairs. Overflowing with details, he probed the facts of history to the quick, and felt for its heart. Fertile in theory, he preserved the truth of science so pure as “in the sight of God” not "to write the very smallest thing as certain of which he was not fully convinced,” nor to overstrain the weight of a conjecture, nor even to cite as his own the verified quotation he had gained from another. Practicing on his own maxim to “open the heart to sincere veneration for all excellence" in human act and thought, not even his profound admiration for the surpassing genius of Goethe could draw him into sympathy with the heartlessness and colossal egoism of his later career. In the midst of public honors he valued more than all his delightful home and literary life, and his motto was Tecum habita. Surrounded by pyrrhonism and bent by the nature of his studies toward skeptical habits, how grandly he recovered himself in his maturity, and said: “I do not know what to do with a metaphysical god, and I will have none but the God of the Bible who is heart to heart with us. My son shall believe in the letter of the Old and New Testaments, and I shall nurture in him from his infancy a firm faith in all that I have lost or feel uncertain about.” And his last written utterance, signed “Your old Niebuhr,” contains a lament that "depth, sincerity, originality, heart, and affection are disappearing,” and that “shallowness and arrogance are becoming universal.” After all allowances for whatever of defect, one can well point to such a character as an illustrious example of true and manly culture.
Shall I say that such a culture as I have endeavored to sketch, it is and will be the aim of Dartmouth Col. lege to stimulate? I cannot at the close of this discourse compare in detail its methods with the end in view, and show their fitness. The original and central college is surrounded by its several departments, partly or wholly professional, each having its own specialty and excellence. The central college seeks to give that rounded education commonly called liberal, and to give it in its very best estate. It will aim to ingraft on the stock that is approved by the collective wisdom of the past all such scions of modern origin as mark a real progress. By variety of themes and methods it would stimulate the mental activity, and by the breadth of its range it would encourage fullness of material, both physical and metaphysical, scientific and historic. It initiates into the chief languages of Europe. By the close, protracted concentration of the mathematics, by the intuitions, careful distinctions, and fundamental investigations of intellectual and ethical science, and by the broad principles of political economy, constitutional and international law, as
as by a round of original discussions on themes of varied character, it aims to induce precision and mastery. And all along this line runs and mingles harmoniously and felicitously that great branch of study for which, though often severely assailed because unwisely defended or inadequately pursued, the revised and deliberate judgment of the ablest and wisest men can find no fair substitute — the study of the classic tongues. Grant that it may be, and often is, mechanically or pedantically pursued : yet when rightly prosecuted its benefits are wide, deep, and continuous, more than can be easily set forth; and they range through the whole scale, rising with the gradual expansion of the mind. It comprises subtle distinctions, close analysis, broad generalization, and that balancing of evidence which is the basis of all moral reasoning; it tracks the countless shadings of human thought, and their incarnation in the growths of speech, and seizes in Comparative Philology the universal affinities of the race; it passes in incessant review the stores of the mother tongue; it furnishes the constant clew to the meaning of the vernacular, a basis for the easy study of modern European languages, and a key to the terminology of science and art; it familiarizes intimately with many of the most remarkable monuments of genius and culture; and it imbues with the history, life, and thought which have prompted, shaped, and permeated all that is notable in the intellectual achievements of two thousand years, and binds together the whole Republic of Letters. To such a study as this we must do honor. We endeavor to add so much of the æsthetic and ethical element throughout as shall give grace and worth. And we crown the whole with some teaching concerning the track of that amazing power that has overmastered all other powers, and stamped its impress on all modern history. The college was given to Christ in its infancy, and the message that comes down through a century to our ears sounds not so much like the voice of a president as of a high priest and prophet -- the “burden of Eleazar": "It is my purpose, by the grace of God, to leave nothing undone within my power which is suitable to be done, that this school of the prophets may be and long continue to be a pure fountain. And I do with my whole heart will this my purpose to my successors in the presidency of this seminary, to the latest posterity; and it is my last will, never to be revoked, and to God I commit it; and my only hope and confidence for the execution of it is in Him alone who has already done great things for it, and does still own it as his cause." God has never yet revoked the “last will ” of Wheelock. The college is as confessedly a Christian college as in the days of her origin; and in the impending conflict she sails up between the batteries of the enemy with her flag nailed to the mast and her captain lashed to the rigging
The college stands to-day, in its ideal and the intention of its managers, representative of the best possible training for a noble manhood. And I may venture to say, here and now, that if there be anything known to be yet lacking to the full attainment of that conception, if anything need to be added to make this, in the fullest sense, the peer of the best college in the land, it will be the endeavor of the Trustees and the Faculty to add that thing.
Dartmouth College is fortunate in many particulars : fortunate in its situation, so picturesque and so quiet, fitted for faithful study, and full of healthful influences, physical and moral ; fortunate in being the one ancient and honored as well as honoring college of this Commonwealth ; fortunate in enjoying the full sympathy of the people around and the entire confidence of the Christian community of the land; fortunate in the great class of young men who seek her instruction with their mature characters, simple habits, manly aims, and resolute purposes; fortunate in a laborious Faculty, whose well-earned fame from time to time brings honorable and urgent calls to carry their light to other and wealthier seats of learning ; fortunate in her magnificent roll of alumni unsurpassed in its average of good manhood and excellent work, and bright with names of transcendent lustre. The genius of the place bespeaks our reverence and awe: for to the mind's eye this sequestered spot is peopled to overflowing with youthful forms that went forth to all the lands of the earth to do valiantly in the battle of life. Across this quiet green there comes moving again invisibly a majestic procession of the faithful and the strong, laden with labors and with honors. In these seats there can almost be seen to sit once more a hoary and