« AnkstesnisTęsti »
from within, to master the mind, to subject its various processes to healthful action, the early fruits of this experiment, the feeling of self-satisfaction, the consciousness of growing, strength, the force of good habit, will be inducements to its continuance more powerful than any exhortations. These are the arts, this is the patient and laborious process, by which, in all times and in all professions, the foundations of excellence and of fame have been laid. Is it possible to consult the works of any man of real eminence, who has left a record of the discipline by which his own mind was trained, without finding abundant proofs that it was not by trusting to the inspirations of genius, but by constant perseverance, and vigilance, and care, that success was obtained! Take as an eminent example of this, the account which Cicero gives of his own early education. Mark the intentness on one object-mark how every occupation, amusement, foreign travel, society, the conversation of the lightest hour, all were made ancillary* to the one great purpose of improving the mind, and fitting it for the high functions to which its faculties were to be applied. Speaking of himself, he says:- During this whole time I have been engaged night and day in meditating upon every class of study. ... So given was I to this great teacher, Diodotus, and to his many and various pursuits, than no day passed without the practice of exercise in oratory. ... Both friends and physicians exhorted me to give up pleading, but I thought it preferable to run any risk, rather than lose the glory I hoped to attain as a speaker.”. Observe, I beseech you, when the same great man was engaged in foreign travel, how different were his occupations from those of many who trust to the inspiration of genius, and who complain of the want of success without having resorted to any one of the means by which success is to be attained! Again he says: “When I reached Athens, I spent six months with Antiochus, a most noble and experienced philosopher of the old school, and, under this first-rate author and teacher, I again renewed that study of philosophy which had never been intermitted, which had been cultivated from my earliest youth, and had ever been on the increase.. After this, I travelled throughout Asia, accompanied by some first-class orators, with whom, by their own consent, I assiduously practised. Not content with this, I came to Rhodes, and again studied under Molo, whose pupil I had been at Rome. ... I may seem to have said too much about myself; but the purport of my whole discourse is, not that you should marvel at my wit and eloquence, in which I am far deficient, but at my toil and industry.” When such records of perseverance in study and in mental discipline are presented to us, they abate, in some degree, our wonder at the accomplishments and acquirements which were the legitimate results.
* Subservient, from ancilla, a female slave.
How to Grapple with and overcome Difficulties.
I have said that the field for exertion is boundless ; I have said the avenues to distinction are free; and that it is within your power to command an entrance to them. I repeat, with the earnestness of the deepest conviction, that there is a presumption, amounting almost to certainty, that if any one of you will determine to be eminent, in whatever profession you may choose, and will act with unvarying steadiness in pursuance of that determination, you will, if health and strength be given to you, infallibly succeed. Yes, even if what is called genius shall have been denied to you, you have faculties of the mind, which may be so improved by constant exercise and vigilance, that they shall supply the place of genius, and open to you brighter prospects of ultimate success than genius, unaided by the same discipline, can hope to attain. There may be -there are, no doubt-original differences in different persons, in the depth and in the quality of the intellectual mine; but, in all ordinary cases, the practical success of the working of that mine depends, in by far the greatest degree, upon the care, the labour, the perfection of the machinery which is applied to it. Do I say that you can command success without difficulty ? No; difficulty is the condition of success. Difficulty is a severe instructor, set over us by the supreme ordinance of a parental guardian and legislator, who knows us better than we know ourselves, as he loves us better too. Pater ipse colendi haud facilem esse viam voluit. * He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill
. Our antagonist is our helper. This amicable conflict with difficulty obliges us to an intimate acquaintance with our object, and compels us to consider it in all its relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial.” These are the memorable words of the first of philosophic statesmen, of the greatest orator of modern ages, at least if it were allowed to judge of oratory by the compositions it has bequeathed to posterity, without reference to the aid it has derived from the authoritative position or the physical qualifications of the speaker. They are words which, if this office hath authority in your eyes, should have especial weight with you ; for their
illustrious author, Mr. Burke, from this place,t and on an occasion similar to the present, might have exhorted the youth of this university by the example of his own life, as well as by the eloquence of his precepts, to seek the antagonist which is also our helper. Enter, then, into the amicable conflict with difficulty. Whenever you encounter it, turn not aside; say not, “there is a lion in the path ;” resolve upon mastering it, and every successive triumph will inspire you with that confidence in yourselves, that habit of victory, that will make future conquests easy.
* “ The father (Jove) did not wish the task of cultivation to be an easy one." - VIRGIL.
| Mr. Burke had been Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow.
Classical Knowledge. The name, the authority, the example of Cicero, conduct me naturally to a topic which I should be unwilling to pass in silenceI allude to the immense importance to all who aspire to conspicuous stations in any department of public or learned professional lifethe immense importance of classical acquirements, of imbuing your minds with a knowledge of the pure models of antiquity, and a taste for their constant study and cultivation. Do not disregard this admonition, from the impression that it proceeds from the natural prejudice in favour of classical learning, which education at an English University may have unconsciously instilled, or that it is offered presumptuously by one who is ignorant of that description of knowledge
which is best adapted to the habits and occupations of society in Scotland. Oh, let us take higher and more extensive. views! Feel assured that a wider horizon than that of Scotland is opening upon you—that you are the candidates starting with equal advantage for every prize of profit or distinction which the wide circle of an empire extended through every quarter of the globe can include. Bear in mind, too, that every improvement in the means of communication between distant parts of that empire is pointing out a new avenue to fame, particularly to those who are remote from the seat of Government. This is not the place where injustice should be done to that mighty discovery, which is effecting a daily change in the pre-existing relations of society. It is not within the college of Glasgow that a false and injurious estimate should be made of the results of the speculations of Black, and of the inventive genius of Watt. The steam-engine and the railroad are not merely facilitating the transport of merchandize,--they are not merely shortening the duration of journeys, or administering to the supply of physical wants,--they are speeding the intercourse between mind and mind-they are creating new demands for knowledge—they are fertilizing
the intellectual as well as the material waste-they are removing the impediments which obscurity, or remoteness, or poverty may have heretofore opposed to the emerging of real merit. They are supplying you, in the mere facility of locomotion, with a new motive for classical study. They are enabling you with comparative ease to enjoy that pure and refined pleasure which makes the past predominate over the present, when we stand upon the spots where the illustrious deeds of ancient times have been performed, and meditate on monuments that are associated with names and actions that can never perish. They are offering to your lips the intoxicating draught that is described with such noble enthusiasm by Gibbon. "At the distance of twentyfive years, I can neither forget nor express the strong emotions which agitated my mind as I first approached and entered the Eternal City. After a sleepless night, I trod with a lofty step the ruins of the Forum ; each memorable spot where Romulus stood, or Tully spoke, or Cæsar fell, was at once present to my eye, and
several days of intoxication were lost or enjoyed before I could descend to a cool or minute investigation.” I need not recall to your recollection the earnest and eloquent exhortations to the study of ancient, and particularly of Attic, composition, which have been delivered from this seat. I need not remind you of the
manifold facilities which that study affords you towards the com1 prehension of the structure of modern languages, and towards the
formation of style on the purest models ; nor need I tell you how indispensable it is to the understanding of a thousand allusions to the usages and expressions and annals of classical antiquity, which are scattered with happy prodigality through some of the finest of modern compositions-allusions that have a voice to the wise"* --that are intelligible to those, but to those alone, who have been initiated in these delightful mysteries. Let me, however, attempt to bring from the examples of public life a practical confirmation of the truth of these maxims, and the wisdom of these exhortations. I ask you simply to pass in succession the names of those who have stood most conspicuous in the great arena of public competition, and to remark the proportion borne to the total number by those who have been eminent for classical acquirements. I purposely exclude the remoter periods of our history, pregnant as they are with examples in favour of the position I maintain ; because, when education was in a great degree confined to classical learning, the possession of it would almost necessarily accompany other superior qualifications for high public trusts. But take recent periods of our history--take the most recent preceding our own, when the means of acquiring various knowledge have been so extensive, that there is the opportunity for fair comparison between the several attainments which may have assisted the competitor for public honours. What are the chief names (I am speaking of public life) that have floated down and are likely to remain buoyant on the stream of time? Of the whole number, how large is the proportion of men eminent for classical acquirements and classical tastes! In the judicial station there are Lord Mansfield, Lord Stowell, Lord Ellenborough, Lord Tenterden. In political life, Lord North, Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, Mr. Burke, Lord Grenville, Mr. Windham, Mr. Canning-all pre-eminent for classical attainments. This, at least, is demonstrated, that the time devoted by them to classical studies had not obstructed their elevation. But surely there is a very strong presumption, from the proportion which they bear to the total number of distinguished men of their time, that classical learning, and the accomplishments derived from the study of it, must have given them great advantages in the competition for distinction. No doubt high, perhaps equal, eminence has been obtained in some few instances by men who have not cultivated, or who at least have not been remarkable for, classical acquirements; but is there not strong reason to believe that, in their case, success
A proverb applied to words used in the ancient mysteries, and could only be understood by the initiated.
would have been more easy and more complete, had such acquirements been superadded to their other qualifications? Do not, however, contemplate the men whom I have named merely amid the excitement of political or forensic contention; do not consider their classical knowledge merely as a useful instrument for the improvement of their style, and for gilding with the charms of happy illusion or learned illustration, the public displays of their eloquence. Follow them into the retirement of private life, witness the refined taste with which classical studies have inspired them, and learn to estimate the compensation they have offered for the loss of power, or for the interruption of active employment. Take as examples the men the most prominent in recent political history, the great rivals, Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox. In the case of each you have the most unexceptionable evidence as to the pursuits and studies in which they found relaxation and amusement, whenever the contentions and occupations of public life were intermitted. Lord Holland thus speaks of Mr. Fox in the preface to the “History of the Reign of James II.”—“During his retirement, the love of literature and fondness for poetry, which neither pleasure nor business had ever extinguished, revived with an ardour such as few, in the eagerness of youth, or in the pursuit of fame or advantage, are capable of feeling. Hence it was, that in the interval between his active attendance in Parliament and the undertaking of his history, he never felt the tedium of a vacant day. It was more difficult to fortify himself against the seductions of his own inclination, which was continually drawing him off from historical researches to critical inquiries, to the study of the classics, and to works of imagination and poetry. Abundant proof exists of the effect of these interruptions, both on his labours and on his mind. His letters are filled with complaints of such as arose from politics, while he speaks with delight and complacency of whole days deyoted to Euripides and Virgil." Still more recent testimony has been borne to the acqạirements, the tastes, the studies of Mr. Pitt, by one who, combining the character of a statesman with the highest acquirements of a scholar, is an authority inferior to none, as to the importance and value of classical accomplishments.
In a letter of the Marquis Wellesley, which has been made public within a few weeks, he says of Mr. Pitt:-“He was perfectly accomplished in classical literature, both Latin and Greek. The accuracy and strength of his memory surpassed every example which I have observed; but the intrinsic vigour of his understanding carried him far beyond the mere recollection of the great models of antiquity in oratory, poetry, history, and philosophy; he had drawn their essence into his own thoughts and language, and with astonishing facility he applied the whole spirit of ancient learning to his daily use. Those
studies were his constant delight and resort. At Holwood, in Kent, and at Walmer Castle, his apartments were strewed with Latin and Greek classics ; and his conversation with those friends who delighted in similar studies, frequently turned on that most attractive branch of learning. In