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Akin to this is the duty to strive for the industrial and social improvement of the State. Though I believe this is the best day in the history of the race, I am persuaded that there is much injustice and inequality which go unrebuked and uncorrected. There are industrial problems of a serious and intricate nature which sooner or later must be solved. It will take a clear brain and an honest conscience to solve these problems justly and peaceably. The solution will not be what many expect and hope, and it will demand wise and brave words to tell the truth and the whole truth. These questions must be approached in the spirit of the student searching for the truth, and not of the demagogue seeking platitudes to please the popular ear. Perfection is never found in extremes. Honest conservatism must be the attitude of the liberal mind in its relation to all these problems. A custom or law is not right because it is old; neither is it best because it is new. It will take both heart and brain to find the truth. The trained intellect is broad. It sees every phase of the question, and is comprehensive in its vision. It is impartial and rational. These are the elements of mind necessary to draw right conclusions.
The social problems of vice and crime, of poverty and disease must be solved, and the laws that underlie the social and physical life of the race must be brought to light. Knowledge is not only power, but freedom and liberty. Every new generalization is an epoch in human life, an era of the emancipation of the race from some thraldom.
Not only should the university man devote his powers of heart and brain to the fashioning of political ideas and social and industrial policies of his people, but even more ought he to strive for the conservation and development of the ethical and religious ideas that underlie the life of the nation. I should neglect my duty and fail in the task which I have set for myself if I failed to bring this fact to the attention of this company. The man who tries to trace the development of any people or of the race, and leaves unnoted the influence of its religious ideas, has failed to find the key to the problems which the people may present. The real source of national life, like that of personal life, lies deeper than the economist and statesman usually expect. Take away the religious ideas, and you leave the social fabric without an enduring foundation. That nation has not lived, and that nation can never live, which has not as the
source of its life some definite religious ideas. There has been but one nation bold enough to make the experiment, and though it soon abandoned its gigantic folly, the fruits of that folly still corrupt its social and political life, and it lives today in the pity of mankind. To the influence of religious ideals upon the life of the race, every writer of philosophic history gives positive testimony. To this effect is the testimony of no less personages than Guizot and Schlegel. A modern critic of great insight and broad culture says: “The real perils of the race are not material; they are always spiritual, and no peril could be greater than the loss of faith and hope in the possibility of attaining the best things. The belief in the reality of the ideal, in personal and social life is not only the joy and inspiration of the poet and thinker, but is also the salvation of the race.” It must be recognized that the religious instinct is intuitive, wrought into the very fibre of being. Abstract virtue never vitalized any civilization, and never will. To leave out of account this fact in our efforts in behalf of a symmetrical development of the race will result in a civilization that has neither strength nor beauty. Let the University men and women of this State guard well the ideals of their people. Let them look beneath the surface, and finding the source of national life and strength, let them strive for their conservation and development. But let not that view be superficial. Before them are the records of the race; let them think well before they accept or reject any theory or principle.
The path of human progress has been a long and bloody one. You can trace the footsteps of the race as you might follow a wounded animal by the blood upon the way. And even today, with all our boasted material development, wisdom and humanity, how much is there that grieves the heart and puzzles the mind; how much of want, of woe, of injustice, inequality and pain! I believe that every day our life grows larger and better, but how much wisdom and patience the future requires! “To find right. remedies and right methods; here is the great function of knowledge; here the life of one man may make a fresh era straight away, in which a sort of suffering that has existed shall exist no more," says a great writer. The race is waiting day after day for men with brain and heart, with courage and conscience, for some new Columbus who has the wisdom, the patience and the courage to emancipate his people into larger life. There are laws of life still buried in the brain
waiting for some savior of the people, with lancet and lens to call them into life by the self-same words, “I say unto thee arise.” There are principles of justice yet unrecognized, economic and industrial policies unaccepted, waiting for some one wise enough and brave enough to introduce them into the practical life of the people. In the field of physics, of chemistry, of medicine, of surgery, there are laws whose discovery will liberate and bless the race, while in the broad field of human life, society is waiting for the practical application of those nobler ideas of human conduct to all the duties and relations of life. The life of the State and of the race must be broadened and deepened, its liberties must be larger and its ideals purer and higher.
To the accomplishment of these things, I would summon you. The call is to the cultured, broad-minded, high-souled sons and daughters of our alma mater. That call comes not from me, but from those heroes of Texas who saw the visions and dreamed the dreams in the days of the past. As their mouthpiece, I would give
I their message in the vigorous words of the gifted Kipling to his own and our kindred people:
“Go to your work and be strong, halting not in your ways,
PHASES OF THE UNIVERSITY.
[Address of Sidney L. Samuels, LL. B., '90, at Dallas, University Day, October 21, 1899.]
A prominent clergyman once remarked that God might have made a better berry than the strawberry, but He didn't, which reminds me that God might have made a better set of persons than the alumni of the State University, but-speaking confidentially-if He did I think they would be hard to find. And seeing that we admit this ourselves, it must necessarily be true.
If the University is young, it is also scholarly; if it is new, it is new as electricity is new, but in its substratum of culture it is as old as the ten tables, as the language that Hengist and Horsa spoke on the shores of the Baltic. The patriarch in the autumn of his years is not among us to tell of some distant reminiscence of a generation dead, of midnight pranks in the bell-tower of some eerie old structure covered with lichen and creeping moss; of fights between town and gown, of scholar and barbarian. Time has not enabled us to grow the climbing ivy of these venerable traditions, but we shall plant the seed and other hands shall guide eager tendrils to the pegs on which school-life hangs the memories of the receding long ago. Wait a decade or two, and then we shall have the opportunity to collect improbable legends of our prowess, of our feats of strength, and have our tales gather verisimilitude as we proceed. Then will the groups think that we were a stirring lot of spirited fellows and that such a glorious period will never come again.
The past has the trick of throwing a glamor over bygones, and the gall of bitterness seems always to reside in the present. Retrospect is invariably sweet if sad; it dwells over the hills of recollection in the dreamland of other days, where elfin horns blow out tiny tender notes, where voices are but echoes with discordant strains forgot. Wrapped in these fleecy thoughts, all struggles seem as gossamer, and hatreds are absurd. Faces that have faded smile upon us, until roused from this reverie we find that the wings of the stage have lengthened, the aisles have expanded and that we are in a great broad theatre where the drama of reality is enacted to the end in the fierce glare of ambitious strife. Then it is that we put away the puppets of illusion and prepare to play our part. And unless all signs fail this part will be no inconsiderable one; the badge of the University will soon be recognized as a ganglion transmitting a nervous force throughout the body of the State. Already it has produced judges, congressmen and mayors, and, above all, has seated woman on the throne of learning.
We want a University with verge enough for every form of higher thought, and yet one whose portals are too narrow to admit a single prejudice. We are too far advanced along the lines of progress to allow any partisan or provincial spirit to prevail. The colors, whether of York or of Lancaster, Montague or Capulet, should alike be studiously ignored. The University is supported from the economy of all our people, and there is no room for the cant of the sectary or the chicane of the professional politician. Individuality should be kept on the uplands, free to grow in an atmosphere of limitless learning; and the miasma of mediocrity is not less offensive to our nostrils because it is a Texas product than if it arose from the marshes of the farthest state in the Union.
For the Presidency of the University, we are entitled to the best we can get, and it must be conceded that the selection of such an officer is at least of as much concern as the purchase of shoes or of wearing apparel. Shall we sink lower than the mercantile consideration which induces the merchant to go into that market where he can buy an equivalent of wares for a given sum of money? I am not of that band of sonorous patriots who believe that children should go barefoot because Texas produces no shoes, and be hungry because crackers are baked in alien stoves. Every field of intelligence demands its experts, and the University needs the services of an administrative scholar, a man with the golden ore of wisdom in his head, mined and worked by the severest study; who can speak with blood in his words, humanity and sympathy in his voice, and moreover, who brings with him the richness of renown in his reputation. If the desirable man can be found in Texas, search for him with a lantern, if need be, and drag him from his hiding place; if not, travel by every mile-stone of learning until a suitable person be found, though the culminating point be Nova Scotia. Go, if need be, from John o' Groat's to Land's End, and from the San Joaquin range of mountains to the cedar brakes of Shem. We are entitled to the best and by the grace of God, and the exercise of common sense, we will have it.
Critics have affected to minify our University by charging that we have no saintly shrines at which to kneel; that pica type is not blessed before the student begins recitation. We are thankful that we have no State piety, and that conscience is not regulated by law. Education is not branded, and the student body is not a herd to be driven inside a stockade and kept there under the penalty of the chastening rod and the catechism. If a system is demanded that will make the student an automaton or a mere cask, receiving apothecary's wares poured from some celestial bottle, then he had better be fed on catnip tea and a weak solution of corn starch.
As allied to this subject, I might be permitted to add that when the stars are weighed and meteors are harnessed, it will be time to