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from being placed in conscious communion with nature, with kindred mind, with the spiritual world, with God himself.
It is in this way that we realize all that imagination has dreamed of the hidden virtue and occult qualities of things. The enlightened knowledge of their material properties inspires the mind with a mysterious elevation, and endows it with spiritual treasures, beyond all that alchemy or astrology could promise. In reference to the science of the stars, I am ready to repeat what the old poet has said of their influence:—
“I'll not believe that the Arch-architect
With all these fires the heavenly arches deckt
If they do not teach us our nativities, they teach us, what it more imports us to know, that “ the hand that made” us and " them is divine.”
On the other hand, the utterly ignorant person leads the existence of a brute beast, of a poisonous weed, of a dull clod. Napoleon said that he supposed there were persons buried in the gloomy depths of Paris who had never heard his name, or had no distinct idea who or what he was. I fear that there is many a poor creature roaming our streets, who has no idea, I do not say of the history or geography of the land in which he lives, but no idea of moral relations, none of the duties of parent and child, of magistrate and citizen, - no idea of life, of time, of eternity, of Christ, or of God.
Who does not feel, that, so long as this is the case, true charity is not to feed the hungry, but to impart spiritual food to the starving soul. This, sir, is the great object of your institution and of your labors; an object compared with which the benevolence which begins and ends in almsgiving deserves not the name of charity.
But I must crave the indulgence of the audience for having taken up so much of their time, at this late hour, with a train of remark in which their own reflections, prompted by the report of the evening, will have anticipated me.
FESTIVAL OF THE ALUMNI OF HARVARD.
I BID you a cordial welcome to these academic festivities. We fulfil a long-cherished desire in holding this joyous meeting of so many of the children of our venerable Alma Mater. We indulge the fond hope that this day's success may lead to a regular celebration of the feast of the Alumni. We trust, if it have not yet arrived, that the time is near at hand, when a periodical if not an annual festival of this kind shall bring together, from the North and from the South, from the East and from the West, from all the borders of their dispersion, the grateful children of Harvard, to renew the kindly associations of early days, and to pour into the cup of life, in which time and fortune and care have mingled their various ingredients, one sweet drop of balm from the academic Gilead. We are all aware of the difficulties which have of late stood in the way of such a meeting as we now witness. I am sure you are all sensible to the courtesy of a portion of our brethren who have removed, the present year, the chief of those obstacles.
The duties of the chair, on the present occasion, have at once been rendered in some respects more difficult, and in some respects easier of performance, by the rich intellectual treat which we have enjoyed on the other side of the street. Comparatively easy, inasmuch as I shall readily be excused from attempting to go over any part of the ground which has
* At the dinner table on the 22d of July, 1852, being the annual celebration of the Alumni of Harvard College.
been so ably travelled by the orator of the day;* but still difficult, in performing even the humble part which custom assigns to the chair on an occasion like this, to gain audience from ears in which the charm of such a voice is still lingering. He has treated with so much taste, judgment, and power, — with such choice of learning and beauty of illustration, — all the appropriate topics of the occasion, that common prudence teaches me not to attempt to say in other words what he has said in a manner not to be mended.
" To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
Instead of engaging in any such foolish attempt, I ought rather to apologize to you, brethren, for being here at all. I feel that it is little better than high-treason against that impersonal despotic sovereign who has lately set up his throne among us under the name of “ Young America.” A few weeks since, I received a letter from a literary friend at the South, a careful student of our language, asking of me if I could, by chance, give him any information as to the etymology and real meaning of the phrase " old fogy.” There was an inquiry to put to a man who entered college forty-five years ago this Commencement! It was like questioning a man whose father had fallen into the hands of justice, as to the comparative strength of manilla and hempen rope. I, however, put as good a face as I could on the matter; I answered that I was aware, in a general way, what the phrase implied; it was the essence, the quintessence, of all that is obsolete, square-toed, and behind the age; that in the language of our school-boy declamation, “the atrocious crime of being fifty or sixty years old was one not to be palliated or denied : " but, as for throwing any light on such a subject, I should as soon think of throwing light on the dark side of
the moon. Whether the phrase comes from “fog,” (watery vapor,) to indicate the cloudy stupidity which of course settles upon a man who has reached that very uncertain period of life which is called “a certain age;" whether it is from “ fog," as signifying the yellow, withered grass, which covers the fields in autumn, and appropriately symbolizes
“ The lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose,”
who, though turned of fifty, presumes to take up the room on Commencement days ‘and at Alumni feasts, which were better left to the young and verdant, - I say, brethren, on these points I did not undertake to decide. In fact, I was rather nettled at having the inquiry addressed to me. I thought my friend might have sought the information of some one who could speak from experience, if any such individual could be found, which, however, may be doubted: for as “enough,” applied to money, means a little more than a man has; so I suppose “old fogy” (though I really know nothing about it) means a person at any rate a little older than the one of whom the inquiry is made. Of course, brethren, it does not include any one at this table; least of all, any of us youthful fellows, who entered college as lately as 1807.
But short as the time is since I entered college, (only half as long as that which has elapsed since the close of the seven years' war,) it has made me the witness of wonderful changes, both materially and intellectually, in all that concerns our Alma Mater. Let me sketch you the outlines of the picture, fresh to my mind's eye as the image in the camera, which the precincts of the college exhibited in 1807. The Common was then uninclosed. It was not so much traversed by roads in all directions; it was at once all road and no road at all, a waste of mud and of dust, according to the season, without grass, trees, or fences. As to the streets in those days, the “ Appian Way” existed then as now; and I must allow that it bore the same resemblance then as now to the Regina Viarum, by which the consuls and proconsuls of Rome went forth to the conquest of Epirus, Macedonia, and the East.