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footmarks of a special Providence along the whole course of our history, was signed on the very day which we are now commemorating; — signed, not, indeed, within hearing or within sight of Bunker Hill, but signed, as an historical fact, with the roaring artillery of this raging conflict as its stern salute, with the blazing roofs of this devoted town as its awful illumination, and with the death of Warren creating at the instant the aching void in every New England breast, which nothing less than a Washington could fill.
The State to which I refer, and which was once entitled by the people of Boston assembled in Faneuil Hall,“ our noble, patriotic sister-colony, Virginia," is represented here to-day by one of her distinguished Senators in Congress, - a gentleman whom I have known personally in a sphere of common duty, — whose name is associated, in more than one generation, with eminent service in his native State and in the national councils, and whom I take pleasure in welcoming here, in your behalf, on this, his first visit to New England.
I present to you, fellow-citizens, the Honorable JAMES MURRAY Mason, a Senator of the United States from the Old Dominion.
I come before you once more, fellow-citizens, and with renewed gratification, to announce the presence of an accomplished gentleman, whose name is associated with the most enviable services and successes, both in the republic of letters and in that of laws, --- and who represents here to-day a sister State, whose history is illustrated not only by the virtues of its earlier Calverts, and its later Carroll and Chase and William Pinckney and William Wirt, but by the valor of its Smiths and Smallwoods, its Howards, its Tilghmans, and its Otho Williams; - a State which, through the inspired muse of one of its still more recent sons, has contributed “ The Star-Spangled Banner" to our national lyrics, and which has furnished one of the most gallant and chivalrous defenders of that banner in its Stephen Decatur.
This honored State of Maryland, I rejoice to say, is represented on this occasion by a gentleman whose voice has often been eloquently raised in our national councils, - whose pen has admirably portrayed, in a series of historical novels, some of the most stirring scenes in our Southern revolutionary campaigns, - and whose distinguished privilege it was, as Secretary of the Navy of the United States, to prepare not only the instructions under which the memorable expedition to Japan was led out by the gallant PERRY, but those instructions, also, under which that still more memorable expedition to the Arctic Seas was conducted, by the heroic and lamented KANE, — that youthful martyr in the cause of humanity and science, who is not unworthy to be remembered here to-day with yonder youthful martyr of patriotism and liberty.
I present to you, fellow-citizens, my valued friend, the Honorable JOHN PENDLETON KENNEDY of Baltimore.
THE ALUMNI OF HARVARD.
A SPEECH AT THE TRIENNIAL FESTIVAL OF THE ALUMNI OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY
AT CAMBRIDGE, JULY 17, 1857.
In view of the intellectual treat that the merest glance around these tables is enough to assure any one is still in store for us, I think you will agree with me that time enough has been wasted on what an old philosopher— who, I venture to say, nevertheless, did not live on air himself - denominated “the idle and useless habit of eating and drinking;" and I proceed, therefore, without delay,-- auctoritate mihi commissâ, - to prepare the way for that free course of sentiments and songs, of wit, and eloquence, and poesy, which is always the crowning dessert of every College feast. And I rejoice to know, by what I see on all sides of me, that whatever may be the short-comings of the Chair, there are those capable of catering in this line for the most refined and fastidious palates, and who can supply you, at your call, with the choicest fruits and flowers of every season and of every clime. My own part, as your unworthy President, will be a humble one. I am here only as a conductor; a mere medium so to speak, to put you in communication with some of the choicest social spirits, who are visibly and palpably present. If, in the performance of this service, my words should seem somewhat tame and sober, they will at least serve all the better as a foil to those who shall follow me.
We are here, friends and fellow-students of Harvard, from all professions and callings of life, from all parts of our own Commonwealth, and from many other parts of our beloved country, without distinction of political or of religious parties, in utter disregard of all divisions or differences, sectarian or sectional, in church or in State, to testify our grateful respect and affection for this venerable University.
If we have dissensions or controversies with each other about men or about measures; about the past, the present, or the future; about things remote or things recent, things visible or invisible, things in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; to-day and here we declare a truce to them all, laying them all aside in the august and reverend presence of this ancient Mother of us all.
We come to remember only our agreements; to show that good scholarship is not incompatible with good fellowship; to prove that there is at least one altar at which we can forgive and forget all personal animosities and offences; and to illustrate for one brief day, or certainly for one short hour, “how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
We come in the spirit so well expressed by that distinguished author, Sir Bulwer Lytton, in his eloquent inaugural on succeeding Mr. Macaulay, a few months since, as Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow, when he said: '“ I would fain link myself in lasting fellowship to every student amongst you, - and politics can but join us for the day; literature unites us through the ages.'
We are here to exchange counsels and congratulations with the living, dextræe jungere dextram, ac veras audire et reddere voces. We are here to pay a fresh tribute of regard and respect to the memory of the dead; of classmates and friends, teachers and benefactors, who have finished their course, and gone to their rest before us. And we are here to encourage and animate each other to do whatever remains to be done, for securing all, and more than all, the advantages we have ourselves enjoyed, to the generations who are advancing to fill the places which we shall soon have left.
And now, brethren, what can I take as the subject of our first sentiment, and of the few additional words with which I may venture to introduce it, but this ever loved and honored Alma Mater herself? Quid prius dicam solitis Parentis laudibus ?
Our own Association, as you know, is but of yesterday. It is still in its teens. Instituted in 1840, with the illustrious John Quincy Adams as its first President, and holding its earliest Anniversary Festival in 1842, with the hardly less illustrious Joseph Story as its first orator, its meetings and celebrations have hitherto been few and far between. My most distinguished and excellent friend, Edward Everett, who has delighted us all to-day by his surpassing eloquence, is but the fifth in succession of our anniversary orators. It was his own choice only that prevented him from being the first in order of time, as he always is the first-facile princeps - in order of merit.
But though our Association is young, our Alma Mater is old. Two hundred and twenty-one years have now elapsed since it was founded by the fathers of New England. And to what else may we more fitly and feelingly apply the well-remembered words of the poet:
“Thou grow'st old — who does not? but on earth what appears,
Who can adequately estimate all that she has accomplished, during this protracted period, for American education, literature, and learning? Who can reflect without a thrill of gratitude, at once to man and to God, upon the long and brilliant procession of graduates which has been seen issuing forth from her gates, since those gates were first thrown open upon this then bleak and desolate common, under the marshalship of her Dunsters and Chaunceys and Leveretts, her Wadsworths and Willards and Kirklands, - not to name a single one of the living, - to occupy, improve, and adorn every sphere of professional and of public service ?
We have somewhere been told that in the polity of that vast Oriental empire, which has so long been shut up to all the rest of the world, but of which the seals seem now at length to be in the way of being finally broken, “ Honor does not descend, but ascends.” If a man is made a mandarin by the Emperor of China, for his wisdom, learning, or valor, his parents become forth with entitled to all the respect and homage which are due to the mandarin himself, -- on the just hypothesis that his success and promotion are mainly to be ascribed to the instruction, the education, the good precepts and good example, which his father and mother have afforded him.