MEMORIAL Hall was filled to overflowing on the afternoon of Commencement Day, and not a few had to stand while partaking of the annual feast. General Devens presided, and after the dinner had been disposed of commenced as follows : -
"BRETHREN. - We are accustomed at our festival to renew to each other our expressions of mutual regard, and to renew also our recollection of the time when in these halls we were trained for the duties of active life. We welcome cordially the body of young men who this day have been added to our numbers, in the hopes that they, in their turn, will uphold the ancient name and fame of the University, will show that it has a right to exist in the men whom it produces from year to year. As arms are for those who can use them, so education is for those who can make it valuable; and we trust that it will prove that the influences here have developed high culture, have inspired manly thought, have incited to pure and noble lives.
"There is a word, too, of farewell as of hail, that I would willingly leave unspoken, - a farewell for those whose records are written, whose annals are rolled up, and whose faces we are to see no more. During the past year there are numbered among them the good, the learned, and the brave, - Quincy and Motley and others, who, in their time and place, have led noble and truthful lives. I leave to each class, and to each circle of friends, the recollections that come, and must come of necessity, on a day like this. Yet, though I do not undertake to recall them by name, perhaps I may be permitted to make one exception in this hall dedicated to the memory of those who gave their lives for the Union, and recall him who was our marshal the first time that we came here, who was as truly a martyr of the war as if he had fallen on the field; though permitted a few years of painful life, yet was very vigorous, courageous, and faithful in spirit. You remember well the slender figure, the expressive countenance, and manly spirit of Bartlett. [Great applause and three hearty cheers for Bartlett.] You recall, I doubt not all of you who were here on that day, the words that he uttered on that occasion expressive of anxiety, now that the conflict was over, that there should be a reconciliation full and complete. You remember how his slender frame thrilled with emotion as he urged that without this there could not be that more perfect union which the Constitution was ordained by the lathers to form. It was on a wintry day that we laid him to his final rest among the snowy hills of Berkshire, towering above the sea; and as we left him there we knew that no truer or braver or kinder heart was beating among living men." [Great applause.]
After referring to the recent electoral difficulties, General Devens introduced President Eliot, who responded in the following words : -
"MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN, - You will bear me witness that I am not in the habit of reading a speech at the Commencement dinner; but on this exceptional occasion I propose to read part of an appropriate address which I have found written for me by another hand : -
"'To the President of the United States: Sir, - It is with singular pleasure that we, the President and Fellows of Harvard University in Cambridge, embrace the opportunity which your most acceptable visit to this part of the country gives us. of paying our respects to the first magistrate of the United States. .... Permit us, sir, to congratulate you on the happy establishment of the government of the Union, on the patriotism and wisdom which have marked its public transactions, and the very general approbation which the people have given to its measures At the same time, sir, being fully sensible that you are strongly impressed with the necessity of religion, virtue, and solid learning for supporting freedom and good government, and fixing the happiness of the people upon a firm and permanent basis, we beg leave to recommend to your favorable notice the University intrusted to our care, which was early founded for promoting these important ends. .... While we exert ourselves in our corporate capacity to promote the great objects of this institution, we rest assured of your protection and patronage.
"'We wish you, sir, the aid and support of Heaven while you are discharging the duties of your most important station. May your success in promoting the best interests of the nation be equal to your highest wishes! And after you shall have long rejoiced in the prosperity and glory of your country, may you receive the approbation of Him who ruleth among the nations.' Thus Joseph Willard, President of the University in 1789. to George Washington, first President of the United States. ....
"We greet the Chief Magistrate of our country, not as a stranger, but as a former student of the University, who returns to the fair scene of his youthful studies bringing sheaves of honor with him. We salute in him our beloved country, the beautiful, sweet mistress of us all. In her service Harvard has never counted any sacrifice too costly. Founded when Charles I. was King of England, this institution shared to the full the poverty and hardships in which the nation was cradled. When President Washington visited the College the whole value of the land, buildings, collections, and securities belonging to the President and Fellows was less than the sum of the bequests and gifts which have been paid to our treasurer in the single year since we last sat at these tables ($225,000), There were fewer students then than teachers now. It is delightful to think of the future which awaits our University if the rapid progress of the last twenty years shall be maintained. We would always associate our University with our country. They were poor, straitened, and humble together; together they shall grow rich, free, and powerful." ....
As President Hayes arose to respond he was loudly cheered, and when the applause had finally subsided he spoke as follows : -
"GRADUATES OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY, - This is your day. I will not, as I ought not, take up any part of this valuable time. You will therefore excuse me, I am sure, if I take my seat after saying, in the briefest way, the formal words, I assure you that I have a very grateful appreciation of this hearty greeting. I know, I know, how little it is deserved. God grant that during the remainder of my term I may be able to do something to deserve it!"
After a short speech by Governor Rice, Mr. George Bancroft was introduced, and after a few laudatory remarks upon his class ('17) he went on to say: -
"No class can furnish so many lives at so late a day as ours. Our class graduated sixty years ago, and more than one third are still living. What changes we have seen! Our country has extended from shore to shore. Spain and Portugal have national forms of government, Italy regenerated, Germany, after an eclipse of two centuries, coming out of the cloud, and now, as I hope, the Christian armies are moving to the Bosphorus to restore, as I trust, the cross to the citadel of Sophia. I see a magnificent highway on which humanity is marching to her high and noblest destiny; and you, young men, are the persons that I call upon, to let us live with you. act with you, and encourage you, cheer you on, in order that you may accomplish for your country a name."
Postmaster-General Key was the next speaker, and again the hall was made to ring with the applause. He spoke very briefly as follow: -
"MR. PRESIDENT: The cordial greeting I have met here, as well as at all other points in New England where I have been, convinces me of the truth of what you have said. My friends, we have but one country now. It has no North, no South. It is undivided and inseparable."
The next speaker was Carl Schurz, who, after alluding to the fact that he received last year the degree of Doctor of Laws from Harvard, and therefore he was in this point, if not in public station, ahead of President Hayes, and after communicating the interesting news that the present administration intended to smooth the path of the scholar in politics somewhat, paid the following tribute to Professor Lowell: -
"Let me, if I am not trenching on the prerogatives of the President, offer a toast myself, and ask a gentleman, one of the professors of this University, a fair illustration of the word that the office should seek the man and not the man the office, and in this case I may say, if reports speak truly, the office had to knock several times at the door before it was bidden to come in, - a gentleman whose selection for a post abroad, where he will have to tread in the footsteps of Washington Irving, has done honor to Harvard University, honor to him, and honor to the administration which made it, and will do honor to the country. I mean Professor Lowell of Harvard University. Him I call upon to respond to the toast: 'The highest use of learning is one of the most potent of the agencies to produce the highest order of public life.'"
Mr. Lowell, in responding, incidentally remarked of Professor Sibley that he [Mr. Sibley] had given more to the cause of education, in accordance with his means, than anybody else ever gave in his lifetime, and closed by saying that
"He would not detain the alumni longer, and certainly would not detain the government of his country longer. He felt, too, that they cared little to hear him often, as they had approved of his appointment to a foreign mission which would necessarily keep him away for a long time. He was reminded, too, of something which he had read in his diplomatic instructions, and it was fortunate that he had not thought of it a moment sooner, and that was, that all persons in a diplomatic capacity are strictly prohibited from speech-making. They are allowed, indeed, to make a speech on a festive occasion, but it must be a festive occasion in the country to which they are accredited, and no other; and therefore, under the circumstances, he would be pardoned in closing his speech right at that point."
General Devens then called upon Senator Bayard, of Delaware, to respond to the toast proposed by Mr. Schurz, "The scholar in politics": -
"Senator Bayard said that the man who made the phrase 'Pleasures that come unlooked for are twice welcome,' was never called upon suddenly to make an after-dinner speech. His steps had been bent thither by invitation of one of the societies, before whom on the morrow he might perhaps say something in response to the heavy idea of the toast. If pleasures unexpected were twice welcome, so indeed were distinctions and honors, and of them he had just tasted. Coming there, an interested and sympathetic auditor of their exercises, he did not know that an honored degree of the University was to be bestowed upon so unworthy a person as himself. But the less his merit the greater their bounty, and thus could they measure what was due to them by their generosity to him. The name and fame of fair Harvard were not theirs alone, and he had always had his share, as an American citizen, in its honorable name and fame. He felt the honor that had been conferred upon him, and with it a responsibility, for in the title was a new claim for upright and honorable action. If not a son of Harvard, he was her adopted son, and he felt the sense of brotherhood He should not forget the honor, and he should strive in the future to show that they had not bestowed it upon a man insensible to all that it justly needed."
After a few remarks by Bishop Lee, of Delaware, of the class of '20, Mr. Choate of New York made, as usual, a witty speech in regard to his class and the recent changes in the College.
"The class of '52, to which he belonged," he said, "had come up to celebrate its quarter-century, and one thing had come to their knowledge they were proud of, and that was, that however little else they had done, they had produced one grandfather. In this department of usefulness they would report progress, and ask leave to sit again. Two or three points in the affairs of the College had attracted his attention. He had observed with increased solicitude the difficulty which presented itself to their juniors and sons for finding admission to the University, and especially the difficulty of getting out. What was to be done if after a man got into college he could not get out? He was afraid if the present tests were applied to the alumni, many would long remain within the classic shades. The emerald green of the College Yard, from the old President's house to the remotest corner of the delta, would soon be whitened with the bones of the alumni who died in ineffectual struggles to effect their escape from the college."