President Eliot addressed the first meeting of the Graduate Club last night on "The Scholar's Satisfactions in Life."
In every subject, said President Eliot, there is apt to be a word that needs definition. By the word scholar, is not meant the young student, but the man who devotes himself to observation, recording, discovery; the man who is going to be a scholar as long as he lives. In the last fifty years there has been a great change in the world's conception of a scholar. A scholar used to occupy himself with philosophy, literature, or some kindred work, but now we see scholars in a great variety of fields. It makes no difference what the scholar's field of work is, the spirit of work, the habit of mind is the same.
We must enlarge on the eighteenth century definition of a scholar. A scholar of the present day is not a bookworm, or a mere absorber of the learning of other people, but he is a pioneer in knowledge, an investigator capable of research. A scholar is not a recluse, and though he may be more or less withdrawn from the world, it is only to live on a grander scale, and with large hope of serving mankind.
What then are the satisfactions in life for the scholar? The first is the satisfaction of doing something thoroughly. Professional and business men are denied this satisfaction, but the scholar may learn all there is to know about his subject, and then turn to something else.
Another satisfaction comes from a scholar's deliberate work, done with a view to the product of a lifetime. A third satisfaction is the independence in the work of a scholar. He works by himself, has his own methods and habits, and although he likes sympathy from workers in his own line, he is not dependent on the co-operation of many people, nor is he under the pressure of public opinion.
A genuine scholar never makes money getting the primary aim of his life. He needs an assured livelihood, of course, but that once obtained, he puts aside all thought of accumulating wealth. One of the greatest pleasures of life is giving away. A scholar has knowledge to give away, to furnish to mankind, and that is a great deal better than to give away money.
How far then does the influence of the scholar reach? The great scholar has an immortality of his own, and the small scholar has an immortality proportionately large. After an examination of all the different callings that there are, the scholar's calling seems the happiest of all.