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could seek a life apart without sharp rigors of conscienco, or college instructors casily forget that they were training citizens as well as drilling pupils; and Princeton is not likely to forget that sharp schooling of her youth, when she first learned the lesson of public service. She shall not easily get John Witherspoon out of her constitution.
It was a piece of providential good fortune that brought such a man to Princeton at such a time. He was a man of the sort other men follow and take counsel of gladly, and as if they found in him the full expression of what is best in themselvesnot because he was always wise, but because he showed always so fine an ardor for wliatever was worth while and of the better part of man's spirit; because he uttered his thought with an inevitable glow of eloqnence; because of his irresistible charmi and individual power. The lively wit of the man, besides, struck always upon the matter of his thought like a ray of light, compelling men to receive what ho said or elso seen themselves opaque and laughable. A certain straightforward vigor in his way of saying things gave his style an almost irresistible power of entering into men's convictions. A hearty honesty showed itself in all that he did and won men's allegiance upon the instant. They loved him even when they had the hardihood to disagree with him.
He came to the college in 1768, and ruled it till he died, in 1794. In the very middle of his term, as head of the college, the Revolution came, to draw men's minds imperatively off from everything but war and politics, and he turned with all the force and frankness of his nature to the public tasks of the great struggle, assisted in the making of a new constitution for the State, became her spokesman in the Continental Congress; would have pressed her on, if he could, to utter a declaration of independenco of her own before the Congress had acted; voted for and signed the great Declaration with hearty good will when it came; acted for the country in matters alike of war and of tinance; stood forth in the sight of all the people a great advocate and orator, deeming himself forward in the service of God when most engaged in the service of men and of liberty. There were unbroken sessions of the college mean while. Each army in its turn drove out the little group of students who clang to the place. The college building becamo now a military hospital and again a barracks for the troops; for a little while, upon a memorable day in 1777, a sort of stronghold. New Jersey's open counties became for a time the Revolutionary battleground and field of maneuver. Swept through from end to end by the rush of armies, the State seemed tho chief seat of the war, and Princeton a central point of strategy. The dramatic winter of 1776-77 no Princeton man can ever forget, lived he never so long-that winter which saw a year of despair turned suddenly into a year of hope. In July there had been bonfires and boisterous rejoicings in the college yard and the village street at the news of the Declaration of Independence-for, though the rest of the comtry might doubt and stand timid for a little while to see the bold thing done, Dr. Witherspoon's pupils were in spirits to know the fight was to be fought to a finish. Then suddenly the end had seemed to come. Before the year was out Washington was in the place, beaten and in full retreat, only three thousand men at his back, abandoned by his generals, deserted by his troops, harily daring to stop till he had put the unbridged Delaware between himself and his enemy. The British caine close at his heels, and the town was theirs until Washington came back again, the third day of the new year, early in the morning, and gave his view halloo yonder upon the hill, as if he were in the hunting field again. Then there was fighting in thio very streets, and cannon planted against the walls of Old North herself. 'Twas not likely any Princeton man would forget those days, when the whole face of the war was changed and New Jersey was shaken of the burden of the fighting. There was almost always something doing at the place when the soldiers were out, for the strenuous Scotsman who had the college at his heart never left it for long at a time, for all he was so intent upon the public business. It was haphazard and piecemeal work, no doubt, but there was the spirit and the resolution of the Revolution itself in what was done-the spirit of Witherspoon. It was not as it someone else had been master. Dr. Witherspoon could have pupils at will. He was so much else besides schoolmaster and preceptor, was so great a figure in the people's eye, went about so like an accepted leader, generously lending a great character to a great causo, that he could bid men act and know that they would lieed him.
The time, as well as his own genius, enabled him to put a distinctive stamp upon his pupils. There was close contact between master and pupils in that day of beginnings. Ho lectured upon taste and style, as well as upon abstract questions of philosophy, and upon politics as a scienco of government, and of public duty as little to be forgotten as religion itself in any well-considered plan of life. He had found the college ready to servo such purpose when he came, because of the stamp Burr and Davies and Finley had put upon it. They had, one and all, consciously set themselves to make tho college a place where young men's minds should be rendered fit for affairs, for the public ministry of the bench and senate, as well as of the pulpit. It was in Finley's day, but just now gone by, that the college had sent out such men
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as William Paterson, Luther Martin, and Oliver Ellsworth. Witherspoon but gave quickened life to the old spirit and method of the place where there had been drill from the first in public speech and public spirit.
And the Revolution, when it came, seemed but an object lesson in his scheme of life. It was not simply fighting that was done at Princeton. The little town became for a season the center of politics, too; once and again the legislature of the State sat in the college hall, and its Revolutionary Council of Safety. Soldiers and public men whose names the war was making known to every man frequented the quiet little place, and racy talk ran high in the jolly little tavern where hung the sign of Hudibras. Finally the Federal Congress itself sought the place and filled the college hall with a new scene, sitting a whole season there to do its business—its President a trustee of the college. A commencement day came which saw both Washington and Witherspoon on the platform together--the two men, it was said, who could not be matched for striking presence in all the country-and the young salutatorian turned to the country's leader to say what it was in the hearts of all to uttor. The eum of the town's excitement was made up when, upon that notable last day of October in the year 1783, news of peace came to that secluded hall to add a crowning touch of gladness to the gay and brilliant company met to receive with formal wel. come the minister plenipotentiary but just come from the Netherlands, Washington moving among them the hero whom the news enthroned.
It was no single stamp or character that the college gave its pupils. James Madison, Philip Frenean, Aaron Burr, and Harry Leo had come from it almost at a single birth, between 1771 and 1773—James Madison, the philosophical statesman, subtly compounded of learning and practical sagacity; Philip Frenean, the careless poet and reckless pamphleteer of a party; Aaron Burr, with genius enough to have made him immortal and unschooled passion enough to have made him infamous; “Lighthorse Harry” Leo, a Rupert in battle, a boy in counsel, highstrung, audacious, willful, lovable, a figure for romance. These men were types of the spirit of which the college was full—the spirit of free individual development which found its perfect expression in the President himself.
I'rinceton sent upon the public stage an extraordinary number of men of notable quality in those days; became herself for a time in some visible sort the academic center of the Revolution; fitted, among the rest, the man in whom the country was one day to recognize the chief author of the Federal Constitution. Princetonians are never tired of telling how many public men graduated from Princeton in Withspoon's time—20 Senators, 23 Representatives, 13 Governors, 3 judges of the Supreme Court of thelnion, 1 Vice President, and a President; all within a space of twenty years, and from a college which seldom had more than 100 students. Nine Princeton men sat in the Constitutional Convention of 1787; and, though but 6 of them were Witherspoon's pupils, there was no other college that had there so many as 6, and the redoubtable doctor might have claimed all 9 as his in spirit and capacity. Madison guided the couvention through the critical stages of its anxious work with a tact, a gentle quietness, an art of leading without insisting, ruling without commanding, an authority, not of tone or emphasis, but of apt suggestion—such as Dr. Witherspoon could never have exercised. Princeton men fathered both the Virginia plan, which was adopted, and the New Jersey plan, which was rejected; and Princeton men advocated the compromises without which no plan could have won acceptance. The strenuous Scotsman's earnest desire and prayer to God to see a government set over the nation that should last was realized as even he might not have been bold enough to hope. No man had ever better right to rejoice in his pupils.
It would be absurd to pretend that we can distinguish Princeton's touch and method in the Revolution or her distinctive handiwork in the Constitution of the Union. We can show nothing more of historical fact than that her own president took a great place of leadership in that time of change and became one of the first tigures of the age; that the college which he led and to which he gave his spirit contributed moro than her share of public men to the making of the nation, ontranked her eller rivals in the roll-call of the Constitutional Convention, and seemed for a little a seminary of statesmen rather than a quiet seat of academic learning. What takes our admiration and engages our fancy in looking back to that time is the generous union then estalılished in the college between the life of philosophy and the life of the State.
It moves her sons very deeply to find Princeton to have been from the first what they know her to have been in their own day--a school of duty. The Revolutionary days are gone, and you shall not find upon her rolls another group of names given to public life that can equal her muster in the days of the Revolution and the formation of the Government. But her rolls read since the old days, if you know but a little of the quiet life of scattered neighborhoods, like a roster of trustees, a list of the silent men who carry the honorable burdens of business and of social obligation, of such names as keep credit and confidence in heart. They suggest a soil full of the old seed, and ready, should the air of the time move shrewdly upon it as in the old days, to spring once more into the old harvest. The various, boisterous strength
in all thought of me Dreton men have bee thing in continement
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of the young men of affairs who went ont with Witherspoon's touch upon them is obviously not of the average breed of any place, but the special fruitage of an exceptional time. Later generations inevitably reverted to the elder type of Paterson and Ellsworth, the type of sound learning and stout character, withont bold impulse added or any uneasy hope to change the world. It has been Princeton's work, in all ordinary seasons, not to change but to strengthen society, to give, not yeast, but bread for the raising:
No one who looks into the life of the institution shall find it easy to say what gave it its spirit and kept it in its character the generations through, but some things lie obvious to the view in Princeton's case. She had always been a school of religion, and no one of her sons, who has really lived her life, has escaped that steadlying touch which has made her a school of duty. Religion, conceive it but liberally enough, is the true salt wherewith to keep both duty and learning sweet against the taiut of time and change, and it is a noble thing to have conceived it thus liberally, as Princeton's founders did. Duty with them was a practical thing, concerned with righteousness in this world, as well as with salvation in the next. There is nothing that gives such pith to public service as religion. A God of truth is no mean prompter to the enlightened service of mankind; and character formed, as if in His eye, has always a fiber and sanction such as you shall not obtain for the ordinary man from the inild promptings of philosophy.
It is noteworthy how often God-fearing men have been forward in those revolutions which have vindicated rights, and how seldom in those which have wrought a work of destruction. There was a spirit of practical piety in the revolutionary doctrines which Dr. Witherspoon tanght. No man, particularly a young man, who heard him couid doubt a cause, a righteous cause, or deem religion aught but a prompter in it. Revolution was not to be distinguished from duty in Princeton. Duty becomes the more noble when thus conceived the "stern danghter of the voice of God," and that voice must ever seem near and in the midst of lite if it be made to sound dominant from the first in all thought of men in the world. It has not been by accident, theretore, that Princeton men have been inclined to public life. A strong sense of duty is a fretful thing in continement, and will not easily consent to be kept at home clapped up within a narrow round. The university in our day is no longer inclined to stand aloof from the practical world, and, surely, it ought never to have had the disposition to do so. It is the business of a university to impart to the rank and file of the men whom it trains the right thought of the world, the thought which it has tested and established, the principles which have stood through the seasons and become at length a part of the immemorial wisdom of the race. The object of education is not merely to draw out the powers of the individual minds: it is rather its object to draw all minds to a proper adjustment to the physical and social world in which they are to have their life and their development; to enlighten, strengthen, and make fit. The business of the world is not individual success, but its own betterment, strengthening, and growth in spiritual insight. “So teach us to number our clays that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” is the right prayer and aspiration.
It was not a work of destruction which Princeton helped forward even in that day of storm which came at the Revolution, but work of preservation. The American Revolution wrought a radical change in the world; it created a new nation and a new polity; but it was a work of conservation after all, as fundamentally conservative as the revolution of 1688 or the extortion of Magna Charta. A change of allegiance and the erection of a new nation in the West were its inevitable results but Dot its objects. Its object was the preservation of the body of liberties, to keep the natural course of English development in America clear of impediment. It was meant, not in rebellion, but in self-defense. If it brought change, it was the change of maturity, the fulfillment of destiny, the appropriate fruitage of wholesale and steady growth. It was part of English liberty that America should be free. The thought of our Revolution was as quick and vital in the minds of Chatham and of Burke as in the minds of Otis and Henry and Washington. There is nothing so conservative of life as growth; when that stops, decay sets in and the end comes on a pace. Progress is life, for the body politic as for the body natural. To stand still is to court death.
Here, then, if you will but look, you have the law of conservatism disclosed; it is a law of progress. But not all change is progress, not all growth is the manifestation of life. Let one part of the body be in haste to outgrow the rest and you have malignant disease, the threat of death. The growth that is a manifestation of life is eqnitable, draws its springs gently out of the old fountains of strength, builos upon old tissue, covets the old airs that have blown upon it time ont of mind in the past. Colleges ought surely to be the best nurseries of such life, the best schools of the progress which conserves. Unschooled men have only their habits to remind them of the past, only their desires and their instinctive judgments of what is right to guide thein into the future; the college should serve the State as its organ of
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sto me, is the real, 11 the probabilities of failure and success, who can separate the tendencies which are 2021 study of the an permanent from the tendencies which are of the moment merely, who can distin is that it is not de guish promises from threats, knowing the life men have lived, the liopes they have 22 terature that sti tested, and the principles they have proved.
#druip in the aristocra This college gave the country at least a liandful of such men in its infancy, and its a toitr, and you will president for leader. The blood of Joli Knox ran in Witherspoon's veins. The
- Tastal recoguize its great drift and movement of English liberty, from Magna Charta down, was in all
La trcoguize them as his teachings; his pupils knew as well as Burke did that to argne the Americans out
one. It is the ge: of their liberties would be to falsify their pedigreo. “In order to prove that the same thinking which des Americans have no right to their liberties,” Burke cried, “we are every day endeavoring to subvert the inasims which preserve the whole spirit of our own;" tlie very
po the face of a fiairs. antiquarians of the law stood ready with their proof that the colonies could not be taxed by Parliament. This Revolntion, at any rate, was a keeping of faith with the past. To stand for it was to be like Hampden, a champion of law though he vithstood the king. It was to emulate the example of thio very men who had founded tho Government, then for a little while grown so tyrannous and foutletfa hafists creat sie esperiences of peony Letter school of revolution than colonial assemblies.
s wil teire and the is easier than to falsify the past; lifeless instruction will do it. If you robit of vitality, stiffen it with pedantry, sophisticate it with argument, chill it with unsympathetic comment, you render it as dead as any academic exercise. The safest way in all ordinary seasons is to let it speak for itself; resort to its recorıls, listen to its poets and to its masters in the humbler art of prose. Your real and proper object, after all, is not to expound, but to realize it, consort with it, and make your spirit kin with it, so that you may never sbake the sense of obligation off. In short, I preparation for leadership in the world's affairs, if you undertake it like a man and not like a pedant.
Age is marked in the case of every people, just as it is marked in the case of every work of art, into which enters the example of the masters, the taste of long generations of men, the thought that has matured, the achievement that has come with
The child's crude drawing shares the primitive youth of the first hieroglyphica; but a little reading, a few lessons from somo modern master, a little time in the old world's galleries set the lad forward a thousand years and more, make his drawing as old as art itself. The art of thinking is as old, and it is the university's functions to impart it in all its length; the stift and difficult stutis of fact and experience of prejudice and affection, in which the hard art is to work its will, and the long and tedious combinations of cause and effect out of which it is to build up its results. How else will you avoidl a ceaseless round of orror? The world's memory must be kept alive, or we shall never see an end of its old mistakes. Wo are in danger to lose our identity and become infantilo in every generation. That is the real menaco under which we cower everywhere in this ago of change. The old world trembles to see its proletariat in the saddle; we stand dismayed to find ourselves growing no older, always as young as the information of our niost nnmerons voters. The danger does not lie in the fact that the masses whom we havo enfranchised seek to work any iniquity upon us, for their aim, take it in tho large, is to make a righteous polity: The peril lies in this, that the past is discredited among them, because they played no choosing part in it. It was their enemy, they say, and they will not learn of it. They wish to break with it forever; its lessons aro tainted to their taste.
In America, especially, we run perpetually this risk of newness. Righteously enough, it is in part a consequence of boasting. To enhance our credit for originality we boasted for long that our institutions were one and all our own inventions, and the pleasing error was so got into the air by persistent discharges of oratory that every man's atmosphere became surcharged with it, and it seems Dow quite too late to dislodge it. Threo thousand miles of sea, moreover, roll between us and the elder past of the world. We are isolated here. We can not see other nations in detail, and looked at in the large they do not seem like ourselves. Our problems, we say, are our own, and we will take our own way of solving them. Nothing seems audacions among us, for our case seems to us to stand singular and without parallel. We run in a frea field, without rocollection of failure, without heed of example,
It is plain that it is the duty of an institution of learning set in the midst of a free population and amidst signs of social change, not merely to implant a sense of duty, but to illuminate duty by every lesson that can be drawn out of the past. It is not a dogmatic process. I know of no book in which the lessons of the past are set down. I do not know of any man whom the world could trust to write such a book. But it somebow comes about that the man who has traveled in the realms of thought brings lessons home with him which make him grave and wise beyond his fellowe, and thoughtful with the thoughtfulness of a true man of the world.
het onds, and thoughts
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This, it seems to me, is the real, the prevalent argument for holling every man we can to the intimate study of the ancient classics. All literature that has lasted has this claim upon us; that it is not dead; but we can not be quite so sure of any as wo are of the ancient literature that still lives, because none has lived so long. It holds a sort of leadership in the aristocracy of natural selection.
Real it, moreover, and you will find another proof of vitality in it, moro significant still. You shall recognize its thoughts, and even its fancies, as your long-time familiars-shall recognize them as the thoughts that have begotten a vast deal of your own literature. It is the general air of the world a man gets when he re:uds the classies, the thinking which depends upon no time, but only upon human nature, Which seems full of the voices of the human spirit, quick with the power which mores ever upon the face of affairs. “What Plato has thought ho may think; what a saint has felt he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man he can understand.”
I believe, of course, that there is another way of preparing young men to be wiso. I need not tell you that I believe in the full, explicit instruction in history and in politics, in the experiences of peoples and the fortunes of governments, in the whole story of what men have attempted and what they have accomplished through all the changos, both of form and purpose, in their organization of their common life. Blany minds will receive and heed this systematic instruction which havo 20 ears for the voice that is the printeil page of literature.
It 1990 to be taken for granted-uid it not?--that colleges would be found always on the conservative site of politics (except on the question of free trade), but in this latter day a great deal has taken place which goes far toward discrediting the presumption. The college in our day lives very near indeed to the affairs of the world. It is a place of the latest experiments; its laboratories are brisk with the spirit of discovery; its lecture rooms resound with the discussion of new theories of life and novel programmes of reform. There is no ratlical like the learned radical, brril in the schools, and thoughts of revolution have in our time been harbored in universities as naturally as they were once nourished among the encyclopedists. It is the scientific spirit of the age that has wrought the change. I stand with my hat of at every mention of the great men who have made our ago an age of knowledge. No man more lieartily admires, more gladly welcomes, more approvingly rockons the gain and the enlightenment that have come to the world through the extraordinary advances in physical science which this ayo hins witnessed. He would be a barbarian and a lover of darkness who should grudge that great study any part of its triumph. But I am a student of society and should deciu myself unworthy of the comradeship of great men of science should I not spoak the plaia truth with regarii to what I see happening under my own eyes. I have no laboratory but the world of books and men in which I live; but I am much mistaken if the scientific spirit of the age is not doing us a certain great disservice, working in us a certain great degeneracy. Science has bred in us a spirit of experiment and a contempt for the past. It has maco us credulous of quick improvement, liopeful of discovering pauaceas, confident of success in every new thing.
Let me say this is not the fault of the scientist. Ho has done his work with an intelligence and success which can not be too much admired. It is the work of the noxious, intoxicating gas which has somehow got into the lungs of the rest of us from out the crevices of his workshop-a gas, it would secm, which forms only in the outer air, and where men do not know the right use of their lungs. I should trumblo to see social reform led by men wlio har breathed it; I should fear nothing better than utter destruction from a revolution conceived and led in a scientific spirit.
Do you wonder, then, that I ask for the old drill, the old memory of times gone by, the old schooling in precedent and tradition, the old keeping of faith witli tho past, as a preparation for leadership in the days of social change? We have not given science too big a place in our education; but we have madlo a perilous mistake in giving it too great a preponderance in method and in every other branch of study. We must make the humanities human again; must recall what manner of men we are, must turn back onco more to the region of practical ideals.
Of course, when all is said, it is not learning but the spirit of service that will give a college place in the public annals of the nation. It is indispensable, it seems to me, if it is to do its right service, that the air of affairs should be admitted to all its class rooms. I do not inean the air of party politics, but the air of the world's transaction, the consciousness of solidarity of the race, the sense of the duty of man toward man, of the presence of men in every problem, of the significance of truth, for guidance as well as for knowledge, of the potency of ideas, of the promise and the hope that shino in the face of all knowledge. There is laid upon us the compulsion of the national life. We dare not keep aloof and closet ourselves while a nation comes to its naturity. The days of wide expansion are gone, our lifo grows tense and disticult; our resources for the future lie in careful thought, providence, and a wise