From the knowledge and the learning of the scholar there ought to be developed an abiding faith. What is the teaching of all history? That which is necessary for the welfare and progress of the human race has never been destroyed. The discoverers of truth, the teachers of science, the makers of inventions, have passed to their last rewards, but their works have survived. The Phoenician galleys and the civilization which was born of their commerce have perished, but the alphabet which that people perfected remains. The shepherd kings of Israel, the temple and empire of Solomon, have gone the way of all the earth, but the Old Testament has been preserved for the inspiration of mankind. The ark of the covenant and the seven-pronged candlestick have passed from human view; the inhabitants of Judea have been dispersed to the ends of the earth, but the New Testament has survived and increased in its influence among men. The glory of Athens and Sparta, the grandeur of the Imperial City, are a long-lost memory, but the poetry of Homer and Virgil, the oratory of Demosthenes and Cicero, the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, abide with us forevermore. Whatever America holds that may be of value to posterity will not pass away.
The long and toilsome processes which have marked the progress of the past cannot be shunned by the present generation to our advantage. We have no right to expect as our portion something substantially different from human experience in the past. The constitution of the universe does not change. Human nature remains constant. That service and sacrifice which have been the price of past progress are the price of progress now.
This is not a gospel of despair, but of hope and high expectation. Out of many tribulations mankind has pressed steadily onward. The opportunity for a rational existence was never before so great. Blessings were never so bountiful. But the evidence was never so overwhelming as now that men and nations must live rationally or perish.
The defenses of our Commonwealth are not material but mental and spiritual. Her fortifications, her castles, are her institutions of learning. Those who are admitted to the college campus tread the ramparts of the State. The classic halls are the armories from which are furnished forth the knights in armor to defend and support our liberty. For such high purpose has Holy Cross been called into being. A firm foundation of the Commonwealth. A defender of righteousness. A teacher of holy men. Let her turrets continue to rise, showing forth “the way, the truth and the light”—
“In thoughts sublime
that pierce the night like stars,
And with their mild persistence urge man’s arch
To vaster issues.”
REPUBLICAN STATE CONVENTION, TREMONT TEMPLE, BOSTON