We are all of us creatures of antecedent circumstances. A man does not come into the world able to make entirely his own future. He is morally responsible, but his life and character are often controlled by circumstances anteceding his very birth. There is nothing more interesting than the perpetuation of family characteristics. The same thing is true of the place where men are born, of where they spend their lives. This is also true of the place of education. The man who comes to Yale University does so as a free agent, but if he once enters, a silent and irresistible influence comes upon his own being independently of its choice. He cannot overcome the power. It works on every part of his manhood. We are members of one family in the largest sense. Even the son who perverts the influence of Yale to his own destruction, is not the same as if he had never come here. He is not only a ruined man, but a ruined son of Yale also.
The first element in Yale life is a certain large minded and fair minded love of truth. Lux et veritas is our motto. But in the search after truth there are two tendencies. The seeker for fight, who finds a form of thinking handed down by the fathers, may accept it because of its very antiquity. Progress is the law of the world, let me be free from prejudices of old ideas. These tendencies are inharmonious. But the fair and large-minded man lies between these two. The man who follows that is a creature of hope and remembrance. He does not think that the best way is to be blind to the past and future. He is a conservative and a progressive man. He holds fast to all the good of the past while reaching forward into future. Progress is safe only when thus made; and this, I take it, is the characteristic of a Yale student.
A hospitability for new ideas has characterized the Yale men of the past, and I commend the Yale spirit to you in this regard. Yield yourself to this influence of the University. Be earnest, honest and fair-minded students. Manliness and the manly sense of duty is allied to this. It is the second element of the Yale student. The rules of the university life are justified largely on this ground; they are the expression of manly living. The gentleman of leisure, even of elegant leisure, is not so far as my observation extends, the manly man.
In conclusion he said: The genuine Yale man is a gentleman, not necessarily the man of cultured manners and versed in the nicer requirements of social life, but the man who has the spirit of reverence for what is good of kindness towards others, of gentleness and self sacrifice and honor and truth The peculiarities of our social life lead to a certain boyishness of manner, but I do not for one moment doubt that the tendency of our life here is toward true gentlemanliness.
One question returns to us, then, What ought a Yale student of to-day to be? I answer, just what the Yale men of the past have been. He should be a man whose prime quality only and foundation of character is manliness, the sense of duty so all controlling that he is reacy for duty's call whenever and wherever it comes to him. That manly sense of obligation to God and men which puts work before pleasure and inspires the soul to meet with a spirit of a conqueror what is distasteful.
He should be a large-minded and fair man in his search for truth in all his studies and investigations. The truth should be his light, and the end of his seeking should be the perfect light. He should judge all, both men and things, according to their true value, holding wealth and station in less esteem than character, the purpose of his education from its beginning to its end.
He should rightly adjust the emotional and intellectual elements of his life, giving to neither exclusive-influence in his thought or action, but while seeing truth with a clear mind, he should grasp at its feeling with a heart for many and the experimental knowledge of what friendship is.
He should be free from all pretence and hypocrisy, honest and earnest aiming to be, not to seem esteeming no honor desirable except that which comes in return for character and service.
He should be full of reverence for the divine truth, and no self-conceited sceptic or enemy, with a mind open to conviction and a heart large enough for that thankfullness and love, and every Christian virtue. He should, in a word, be ready to take the lessons which the common mother reads to him from all her past life, and give them their own transforming and elevating power with in his soul. - Boston Herald.