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COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS AT WELLESLEY COLLEGE
The last weeks of a Senior resemble in one respect the first weeks of a Freshman: they are too complexly active, too bewildering, for thought. Professors, ex-*" ammations, literary work, friendships, relatives, sweethearts, and plans of life whirl through a Senior's head and set it whirling with them. Then, as always, after exaltation comes depression. Clearing up after anything is a searching test of cheerfulness; and clearing up after four of the richest years that youth can know, sending away your furniture from the room you love, bidding good-by to scores of fellow students whose lives have been very near your own, and doing it all with the reaction
ary weariness that follows prolonged excitement, is sad business, even for a sound-minded girl who is eager to do her part in a newly opening world. On the morning after Class Day in Cambridge, some years ago, an uncommonly healthy Senior who had played in the University football team and who could not be charged with maudlin sentiment, got up at five, sat on the steps of University Hall in the middle of the College Yard, and wept. Before he went away, he said, he must have the Yard for once to himself: —
"' T were profanation of our joys
In this reaction, when you have shuffled off the coil of your last college days and find yourself face to face with a new life or with the return to an old one, you are prone to ask, "What has it all been for? Am I fitter for the life I must live than if I had been living it four years already? College has been fascinating, no doubt; but many fascinating things do not pay. I have opened several doors to knowledge, and have learned that, work as hard and as long as I may, I can never see the thousandth part of that to which a single one of them may lead; I have formed friendships that will last; I have won something with which I would not part for money and without which I can ' no more imagine myself than I can conceive myself annihilated. These college years have become an inextricable part of me; yet am I, after all, happier and better than if I had never tasted their sweetness — had never caught glimpses of ideals that in everyday life may be my rebuke and my despair?" In a small degree you feel as men and women feel when they wake to the truth that their elders have moved on; that they themselves are now the older generation to whom the younger turns for counsel; that other people will lean on them, and that the days when they may lean on other people are gone and gone forever.
When we say "What is it for?" let us first take care to recognize, as college people should, many things for which a life is worth living besides what is commonly called practical. Lowell reminds us that the question "What is it good for?" "would abolish the rose and be answered triumphantly by the cabbage." "The danger of the prosaic type of mind," he adds, "lies in the stolid sense of superiority which blinds it to everything ideal, to the use of anything that does not serve the practical purposes of life." Now a man whose scheme of life is a cabbage scheme, who can go through college with no glimpse of the vision without which all is dark and dead, is too abnormal for our purposes to-day: and if this is true of a man, it is truer of a woman; for in every part of life women take more kindly to the ideal. Yet if a college graduate tries to earn a living by raising cabbages, or by keeping hens, or by any other unimaginative occupation, I believe (so deep is my faith in college training) that he or she will make up, even in such a prosaic field, for the years that might seem lost. "They jump farthest," says Ben Jonson, "that fetch their race largest." President Hyde has pointed out that the apparent delaying of a life work by the years at college is like the stopping of a stream by a dam to give it accumulated power. He speaks of men; but what he says applies to women also. Those persons who disparage a college education for men point to the self-made men of business who have climbed high: but of these self-made men the best openly express as the great regret of their lives their want of a college education; and of the worst, many, I suspect, grieve in their heart of hearts for the education they decry. They think perhaps of social advantage, of culture, of knowledge;