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SPEECH OF MOORFIELD STOREY

MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: -I might well hesitate in this company of his old friends and neighbors to speak of Emerson, for what can I say that is not already known to you all ? Nor is it easier to say the fitting word after all that you have heard to-day and all that many of you heard last night from lips that are far more eloquent than mine. I am encouraged, however, by the reflection that the better we love and honor a man, the more welcome is appreciation, even from strangers. We like to know that his quality was recognized by every one. I feel, however, a sense of personal obligation to your great teacher for the lesson that he taught me, and your Chairman's invitation came as a challenge to bear my testimony in recognition of my debt which I could not well refuse. I speak to-night, not as a contemporary and an equal, but simply as a representative of the younger generation which his words influenced profoundly. And I am glad that I have an opportunity, at this late hour of a long day spent in celebration, to speak briefly. I am satisfied that you will thank me for setting those who may come after me that good example.

I well remember the evening, early in my college course, when I first met Mr. Emerson. It was at his own table, and I have never forgotten the grave and gracious simplicity of his manner. He appeared

anxious rather to draw from me my opinions on the questions which he suggested than to express his own. Then and always he seemed to ask of each newcomer, " What have you to tell me?His attitude was that of a learner, and conveyed a subtle suggestion that the ideas of his visitor might be of interest to him, which was at once unexpected and delightful. A friend of mine, now an eminent philosopher, has confessed to me that he was so beguiled by a similar appeal to himself at his first interview with Mr. Emerson that he launched into an exposition of his philosophic creed which, upon reflection, he felt must have been more interesting to himself than it was to his hearer. My memory retains the look and the gracious manner of my host, but, mercifully perhaps, does not recall my response.

It was from the writings of Mr. Emerson, however, that during our college life many of us learned our most valuable lessons. The vital thought which he thus expresses,

“ Nature arms each man with some faculty which enables him to do easily some feat impossible to any other, and this makes him necessary to society," with its corollary that each is bound to discover what his faculty is, to develop it, and to use it for the benefit of mankind, was in itself a liberal education. It meant that every man, able or dull, superior or inferior, white, brown, or black, had his right to his chance of success, and it followed that no other man had a right to take that chance

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away or to insist that his fellow man should be remade according to his ideas. He who has learned to be himself and to act upon his own convictions, regardless of personal consequences, “safe in himself as in a fate," and who does this naturally and simply, not claiming praise for being what he is, any more than the plant asks praise for blooming, has grasped the highest conception of duty.

Again, I learned from Mr. Emerson that the moral laws of the universe are as inexorable as the physical laws which govern the solar system, that they “ execute themselves," that "in the soul of man there is a justice whose retributions are instant and entire. He who does a good deed is instantly ennobled. He who does a mean deed is by the action itself contracted. Thefts never enrich; alms never impoverish."

He who really believes this has an abiding faith which will enable him to view without impatience the crooked workings of the world and to wait with serenity for the inevitable punishment which waits upon wrong and the certain triumph of right, content to do his part while he may and indifferent to the insignificant question whether he lives to see the punishment and the triumph or not. Such seem to me in part Emerson's faith and his conception of duty, and happy he whose strength enables him to make them his own.

Not merely, however, in the supreme moments of life, and in the great crises of human affairs, does

Emerson help us. We may find in him a practical recognition of smaller troubles, and he teaches us, if not to avoid them, at least how to see them in their proper perspective. When, for example, we realize a long cherished ideal, and after a life of labor in the city, acquire a farm, we feel the truth of such words as these :

“If a man own land, the land owns him. With brow bent, with firm intent the pale scholar leaves his desk to draw a freer breath, and get a juster statement of his thought in the garden walk. He stoops to pull up a purslain or a dock that is choking the young corn, and finds there are two; close behind the last is a third; he reaches out his hand to a fourth; behind that are four thousand and one. He is heated and untuned, and by and by wakes up from his hideous dream of chickweed and redroot to remember his morning thought, and to find that with his adamantine purposes he has been duped by a dandelion. A garden is like those pernicious machineries we read of every month in the newspapers, which catch a man's coat, skirt, or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg, and his whole body to irresistible destruction."

There is a profound truth in this statement which every man who has tried farming recognizes. If I were to criticise it at all, I should say that he underestimates the number of weeds.

While we are considering the relation between tariff and treaty, we may read with advantage such

passages as this: “Do not legislate. Meddle, and you snap the sinews with your sumptuary laws. Give no bounties; make equal laws; secure life and property, and you need not give alms."

Against the panegyrics of war, which seem now to be the fashion, it is well to weigh his calm sentences :

“ It is the ignorant and childish part of mankind that is the fighting part. Idle and vacant minds want excitement, as all boys kill cats.” . . . In certain regions “of man, boy, or beast, the only trait that much interests the speaker is the pugnacious. And why? Because the speaker has as yet no other image of manly activity and virtue, none of endurance, none of perseverance, none of character, none of attainment of truth. Put him into a circle of cultivated men where the conversation broaches the great questions that besiege the human reason, and he would be dumb and unhappy as an Indian in church. ... If the search of the sublime laws of morals and the sources of hope and trust in man and not in books, in the present and not in the past, proceed ; if the rising generation can be provoked to think it unworthy to nestle into every abomination of the past, and shall feel the generous darings of austerity and virtue, then war has a short day, and human blood will cease to flow."

Citizens of Concord, yours is a great inheritance. You breathe an inspiring air. You celebrate at fitting times the first scenes in a great struggle for human freedom. The Minuteman marks the spot

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