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precious of your whole lives. It is not the less true, because it has been oftentimes said, that the period of youth is by far the best fitted for the improvement of the mind, and the retirement of a College, almost exclusively, adapted to much study. At your
age, every thing has the lively interest of novelty and freshness; attention is perpetually sharpened by curiosity; and the memory is tenacious of the deep impressions it thus receives, to a degree unknown in after life; while the distracting cares of the world, or its beguiling pleasures, cross not the threshold of those calm retreats; its distant noise and bustle are faintly heard, making the shelter you enjoy more grateful; and the struggles of anxious mortals embarked upon that troublous sea, are viewed from an eminence, the security of which is rendered more sweet by the prospect of the scene below. Yet, a little while, and you too will be plunged into those waters of bitterness; and will cast an eye of regret, as now I do, upon the peaceful regions you have quitted for ever. Such is your lot as members of society; but it will be your own fault if you look back on this place with repentance or with shame; and be well assured that, whatever time-ay, every hour you squander here on unprofitable idling, will then rise up against you, and be paid for
by years of bitter but unavailing regret. Study then, I beseech you, so to store your minds with the exquisite learning of former ages, that you may always possess, within yourselves, sources of rational and refined enjoyment, which will enable you to set at nought the grosser pleasures of sense, whereof other men are slaves; and so imbue yourselves with the sound philosophy of later days, forming yourselves to the virtuous habits which are its legitimate offspring, that you may walk unhurt through the trials which await you, and may look down upon the ignorance and error that surround you, not with lofty and supercilious contempt, as the sages of old times, but with the vehement desire of enlightening those who wander in darkness, and who are by so much the more endeared to us, by how much they want our assistance.
In exhorting you deeply to meditate on the beauties of our old English authors, the poets, the moralists, and perhaps more than all these, the preachers of the Augustan age of English letters, do not imagine that I would pass over their great defects, when compared with the renowned standards of severe taste in ancient times. Addison
Addison may have been pure and ele
gant; Dryden, airy and nervous ; Taylor, witty and fanciful; Hooker, weighty and various; but none of them united force with beauty-the perfection of matter with the most refined and chastened style; and to one charge all, even the most faultless, are exposed—the offence unknown in ancient times, but the besetting sin of later days — they always overdid - never knowing or feeling when they had done enough. In nothing, not even in beauty of collocation and harmony of rhythm, is the vast superiority of the chaste, vigorous, manly style of the Greek orators and writers more conspicuous than in the abstinent use of their prodigious faculties of expression. A single phrase--sometimes a word-and the work is done the desired impression is made, as it were, with one stroke, there being nothing superfluous interposed to weaken the blow, or break its fall. The commanding idea is singled out; it is made to stand forward; all auxiliaries are rejected; as the Emperor Napoleon selected one point in the heart of his adversary's strength, and brought all his power to bear upon that, careless of the other points which he was sure to carry, if he won the centre, as sure to have carried in vain if he left the centre unsubdued. Far, otherwise, do modern writers make their onset; they resemble rather those campaigners who fit out
twenty little expeditions at a time, to be a laughing stock if they fail, and useless if they succeed; or if they do attack in the right place, so divide their forces, from the dread of leaving any one point unassailed, that they can make no sensible impression, where alone it avails them to be felt. It seems the principle of such authors never to leave any thing unsaid, that can be said on any one topic; to run down every idea they start; to let nothing pass; and leave nothing to the reader, but harass him with anticipating every thing that could possibly strike his mind.
It is but reciting the ordinary praises of the art of persuasion, to remind you how sacred truths may be most ardently promulgated at the altar—the cause of oppressed innocence be most powerfully defended—the march of wicked rulers be most triumphantly resisteddefiance the most terrible be hurled at the oppressor's head. In great convulsions of public affairs, or in bringing about salutary changes, every one confesses how important an ally eloquence must be. But in peaceful times, when the progress of events is slow and even as the silent and unheeded pace of time, and the jars of a mighty tumult in foreign and domestic
concerns, can no longer be heard, then too she flourishes-protectress of liberty—patroness of improvement--guardian of all the blessings that can be showered upon the mass of human kind; nor is her form ever seen but on ground consecrated to free institutions. • Pacis comes
otiique socia, et jam bene constitutæ rei
publicæ alumna eloquentia.” To me, calmly revolving these things, such pursuits seem far more noble objects of ambition, than any upon which the vulgar herd of busy men lavish prodigal their restless exertions. To diffuse useful information-to further intellectual refinement, sure forerunner of moral improvement—to hasten the coming of that bright day, when the dawn of general knowledge shall chase away the lazy, lingering mists, even from the base of the great social pyramid ;-this, indeed, is a high calling, in which the most splendid talents and consummate virtue may well press onward, eager to bear a part. I know that I speak in a place, consecrated, by the pious wisdom of ancient times, to the instruction of but a select portion of the community.
Yet from this classic ground have gone forth those, whose genius, not their ancestry, ennobled them; whose incredible merits have opened to all ranks the temple of science; whose illustrious example has made the humblest zealous to climb steeps no