Harvard is rapidly becoming the national university of the United States. Our alma mater is the Minerva in the Pantheon of American letters. Our own Cambridge suggests its English namesake. The university on the banks of the Cam is one of the glories of England. Its ancient foundations have been enriched with the wealth of the kingdom. The beauty of its lawns, the splendor of its buildings, the extent of its libraries, the richness of its scientific apparatus, and the scenes which the presence of genius has made forever illustrious inspire every intelligent visitor with feelings of profound admiration. The University of Cambridge, with all its resources of material equipment and liberal discipline, is one of the great forces which are molding the national life and shaping the destinies of England. But the greatness of this university has been the slow growth of six and a half centuries.
After a lapse of half a dozen ages, Harvard will be richer in all of its appointments than the University of Cambridge is now. There is no country in the world that gives a larger share of its wealth to the advancement of letters than the United States; and in no part of our own land is there a greater munificence than in Massachusetts. Its citizens ennoble the acquisition of riches by devoting their affluence to the service of popular beneficence. Generosity has become a public sentiment. Indeed, it is already proverbial that no rich New Englander would dare to imperil his future happiness by failing to make a bequest to Harvard. This wise benevolence, so nobly characteristic of the public spirit of this Commonwealth, will yet enrich the foundations of Harvard beyond English precedent. Ampler revenues, increasing the corps of instruction, and furnishing appliances for the illustration of every department of human knowledge, will annually extend the usefulness of the university.
But Harvard is not only a great centre of polite learning, it is also a powerful factor in the civil life of the nation. Students from all quarters of the country throng its halls. Many of these youth will yet occupy public positions and control the political action of their States. The lessons which they will learn in Cambridge and Boston will never be forgotten. Respect for the dignity of labor, reverence for law, the value of the varied industries and thrifty economics which amass the means that philanthropy so grandly uses are nowhere better exemplified, and the salutary and harmonizing influences which the civil institutions of Massachusetts inspire will be felt to the farthest borders of our land.