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Xlvth Commencement

Xlvth Commencement image
Parent Issue
Day
27
Month
June
Year
1889
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Another college year has rolled around and this week the greatest University in all the west is eelebrating its 45th annual commencement exercises ia our city. The alamni of many years are here to assist their younger brethren in their start; fathers' and mothers, sisters and brothers, sweethearts and friends are here to be present at the time when their beloved ones will receive the coveted sheep-skin for which they have labored during the three or four long years just past. The city is crowded, as usual, with strangers and the exercises and festivities of commencement week have caused Ann Arbor to put on a holiday appearance. The baccalaureate address has been delivered ; the various graduating classei have held their class-day exercises ; the alumni have gathered in their annual reunions; the seniors have given their swell reception ; and to-day over four hundred young men and women will receive their diplomas and go forth to battle with the world. PRESIDENT ANGELL'S ADDRESS. On Sunday evening nearly 2,509 pereons gathered in University Hall to listen to the baccalaureate address delivered by President Angelí to the graduating classes. The hall was draped in the University colois, maize and blue. On the stage were seated Pres. Angelí, Prof. D'Ooge, Prof. Stanley and the members of the Choral Union. The members of the graduating classes marched in and filled the seats in the front and ceter of the anditorium. Gounod's " Sanctus " was sung by the Choral Union, followed by reading from the scriptures and prayer by Prof. D'Ooge. Miss Winchell sang a sola, "A Song of Penitence," after which Pres. Angelí aróse and delivered the address. He said : My young friends of the graduating classes : I wish to impress upon you the special obligation of all educated persons to be actively and systematically engaged in holding themselves and others up to the highest standard of honor both in private and in public life. You are doubtless ready to concede that such an obligation rests upon all men. But that in an emphatic and exceptional sense it bimds those who like you have enjoyed special and exceptional privileges of higher education, that in such sense it is binding on you, is the thought which I desire to press home on your m inds and consciences to-night. Let me say at once that by honor I mean much more than honesty, though of course I include honesty as a necessary element in honor. We hear loud commendations of honest men in these days. The fact is a doubtful compliment to the times. It shows how low is the Standard of conduct, when men are praised for not stealing. By honor here I mean that nice sense of right, which makes one abhorrent of the least dalliance with wrong. It makes its possessor shrink back from the very trace of iniquity like modest maidenhood from grossness. Let me remind you that this obligation presses on you with peculiar forcé for two reasons. First, on account of your exceptional training. You have had the good fortune to be set apart for special equipment and discipline of the mind and the heart. God in his distinguishing goodness has granted you . opportunities for culture, which few enjoy, opporlunities which many a youth sighs for in vain. This training has armed you with new power. And unless you have been grossly derelict, it should have armed you not only with intellectual power, but with moral power. I know it is easy to overstate the moral valué of intellectual culture. It is perkaps more frequently overstated than understated. Intellectual culture is not religión. It may even increaso one's power for evil, if one is determined to do evil. Yet obviously there is a sense, in which uaivorsity 'instruction is conduciye to moral growth and to the strengthenine of that sense of honor which I am commending to-night, and is morally helpful to those who desire or are even willing to be helped. So from all literatures, from all bodies of law, from all sciences,from all philosophies reverently studied, there stream forth wholesome tonic influences on the conscience and heart. They usher us into the presence of the master minds of the race, impart to us something of their majesty and nobility, and lift us to a higher plane of thour.Ht and purpose and resolve. But more than this. If those who are set to instruct in our colleges and universities are worthy of their positions, there must flow from their lives, from their presence and bearing in the classroom, from the whole spirit of their teaching, a stimulating moral power Their unconscious moral influence is constantly felt.evenif they do notconsciously strive to make their moral inliuence feit in all their relations with their pupila. Now I may say without fear of contradi ction that almost without exception the boards of instruction in all American colleges and univereities have always been made up of reverent, God-fearing men. They need dread comparison with no other class. The result has been, as I believe, that the graduates of our American colleges have gone forth into the world and do still go forth as a body with a nice sense of right and hoxior, with a higher sense than they wou have had but for their college training. The college graduates do in fact carry into actual life lofty ideáis of public virtue and manly character. As a rule, they scorn a mean thing in politica], professional or official life, they dislike a sneak, they spurn a dishonest, craftyfellow.they arecapable of generous, self-sacrificing efforts for others,theirsympathiesandenthusiasms in politics are with the high-toned, humane, incorruptible leaders. But in the second place the university gradúate should hold himself strenuouly under obligation to impresa his generation with the highest sense of honor, because of the influence which his special training enables him to wield. Other things being equal, the disciplined and furnished minds are those which mav lead and ghould lead a community. Power carries with it responsibility. As soon as you step over our threshold and mix with men, you will be at confronted with the question whether you are to cling to your high ideáis of honor and to lead all who will follow you, or whether you will abandon your true gods for the false gods of the world, and be led by the throng who worship them. You will find everywhere maxims of politics, examples of professional life, which will shock your sense of honor. You will be contemptuously told that your fine theories are all inapplicable to the hard facts of actual life, that you can never get on with them, that the main end of life is to get on. You will be assured in a patronizing way that all this fine talk about honor in public life is the nonsense of men, who do not know the world, of boukmen, of clergymen, of schoolmasters and professors, who may have an abundance of useless knowledge, but who live for the most part in dreamland. You will hear that plausible díabolism that you must fight fire with fire, that one can never cope with the chicanery and craftiness of men sare by using yet deeper chicanery and subtler craftiness than theirs. That is a maxim which Satan might be proud of inventing, a maxim which contains the seeds of heil. Yet all over this land- I appeal to men familiar with political life to say if I exaggerate - you will find men, otherwise good men, to whose palm no ill-gotten dollar ever sticks, men who will not slander you to save their right hand, who would be astonished at being deemed anything but good men, who yet in politics will allow themselves to be governed by that nefarieus maxim. And the examples of these men will be pleaded to you. Sunh are the maxims, such are the staadards, which will be too often set before you. And the bribes of success on these principies will all be spread before you in alluring array. Now what reply do you propose to make to these appeals ? How do you expect to meet this crisis ? Will you like some I have seen, whose ambition was too powerful for their conscience, pull down the white flag of truth and honor, under which you hope you are enlisted, and bind yourself to the service of trickery and cunning? Or will you stand firm by those lofty principies, which you have so far cherished, and spurn all success which can be purchased only by the sacrifico of them? It costs you no effort to answer now. But in the fires of temptation much of your strength may evapórate. Depend on it, you may be sorely tried in your faith and your firmness when a depraved but loud-mouthed public opinión is howling on your tracks, and hounding you on the right hand and on the left. I trust however that every one of you may have grace given nto him to withstand every assault of the adversary, and having done all to stand, nay, to charge upon this phalanx of vicious maxims, to fulfil your true function as an educated man of leading and ele vating the very society which had striven to drag you down to its low level. That is the responsibility, that is the duty, which belongs to you by virtue of your position. If now it is clear that such is the responsibility, such the duty which rests on you, the question next arises, by what methods you can best meet the respnsibility and discharge the duty. I say, First, Begin with yourself and make sure that you have strong views of the wrong you are to avoid and combat. Get right notions of the sinfulness of these equivocations, evasions, tricks, which you are asked to practico. This you must do in the solitude of your heart. Out of it are the issues of life. I have spoken of the helpful influences of your associations. But they can merely help. There is a central point in the moral universe where all right, all wrong are seen in their true relations and perspective. Out of that point everything is more or less disturbed. That central point is where God is. Place yourself there ; become in harmony with him. See that not only all dishonest things, but many things which are called merely dishonorable, are sins against God. In the next place, clinging courageously to your noble ideáis of truth and honor, strive to realize them in your actual work in life. Many of you will for a longer or shorter term be engaged in teaching. In the school tbere is room for impressing yourselves not only on the minds but on the character of your pupils. There is a wide spread impression that in our modern zeal for stimulating intellectual culture our schools have been less careful than those of our fathers in cherishing the sturdy virtues which are the glory of a man or of a aation. Some have ascribed the prevalent corruption largely to this fact. All are agreed that the remedy for the evil must to a great extent be found in our schools. Children are not to be left with the impression that the great end of life is to be able like Macauley to recite the names of the popes and arch bishops of Canterbury in order, or to perform any other feat of mer lectual dexterity; but that to be truthful, to be manly or womanly, to be reyerent, to be self-sacrificing, to have in short the temper and spirit of our Lord and Master, should be the chief aim in life. Those who are called to practice the healing art in any of its branches are brought into the most delicate and confidential relations with their patients. The duties which those relations bring to you furnish a congenial field for the most refined natures. I know of no profession in which a coarse, vulgar, dishoHorable man has any place. But certainly in none ishe more out of place than in that of the dentist, or of the physician, or of the surgeon, who are admitted to the innermost circles of our family life, and are intrusted with secrets confided to no other human beings. In all your life, private and professional, my young friends about to be practitioners, keep yourselves up to the high plane which this almost priestly relation to our households demahds. The courtsand the bar of this country have set up worthy standards of character and life for lawyers. These, I am sure, have been held up by the teachers of law in this University to their pupils. But we cannot be blind to the fact that many lawyers allow themselvei to dweil habitually in the territory nearest to the line which one cannot cross without being disbarred. The lack of clients, the love of sensationalism, or depraved inclinations lead too many to courses, which make it a mockery to speak of thom as offlcers of the cöurt, aiding in the establishing of justice and truth. No one here now expects to join that disreputable company. But under pressure of circumstances which you do not foresee, under the guidance of brilliant, bad men, who pooh-pooh your scruples, you may find thatbefore many months you will need all the reserved force of honorable resolves and of noble character which you have at your service, in order to adhere to your present exalted ideal of professional life. God grant that your reserved force may suffice for your needs, and that you may walkjwith clean hands and pure hearts in the professional path which has been trod by so many of the noblest men of our race. I trust that any of you who may be called into public service, as some of you will be in due time, will not abandon the lofty ideáis of character and life which you now cherish. It is for the young men just now stepping upon the stage of action to determine whether we are to have a purification of the political atmosphere, which good men" of all parties declare to be tainted. What the present generation of young men and the next shall do and say in respect to the elevation of political methods depends very largely n what you and the others who like you are just emerging from our colleges and universities shall do and iay. When the hour comes to test your fidelity to truth and virtue, may you come out even from the hottest furnace of trial with not so much as the smell of flre on your garments. Even in our religious life there is room for right-minded, educated young christians to do good work in elevating and quickening the sense of what is becomingand honorable and lovely and of good report. They can fight a good fight against the spirit of sensationalism, the resort to questionable devices for carrying on the church f God, the narrow andjealous and often dishonorable sectarianism, all of which mar the beauty and weaken the power of the church. God delights in no such blemished offerings on bis altar. Let us ever be striving to lift ourselves up towards the simplicity, the cheerful dignity, the catholic sympathy, the all-pervading love of the great Master. So shall the nominal church become the real church, the true Body of Christ, the glory of men, the delight of God. With these advantages, with these responsibilities, with these possibilities, you are now to set out. Your days may be many or few. That is of tomparatively little consequence. The important thing is that they be filled with worthy deeds, with true living which is inspired by the spirit of devotion to the highest honor, to justice, and to God. And so not without regret, but yet with hopefulness and conlidence, the University, henceforth to be loved and cherished as the Dear Mother of you all, sends youforth with her prayersfor your success and with her benediction on your heads.

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Subjects
Old News
Ann Arbor Register