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Great Captains, with their guns and drums,
THE OBERLIN NEWS PRRS
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The best teaching is by example. Ideas are most potent when embodied in living men, and thus invested with personality. The surest way to foster any noble sentiment is to select some event which illustrates it, or some hero who personifies it, and to set apart for that event or that hero a commemorative day. Let the artisan lay aside his tools, the matron her household cares, the student his books, and the very children their play. Let the pressure of routine be lifted; let our souls expand, and our best feelings assert themselves, while the great lesson is impressed upon our hearts.
American patriotism is reenforced by four such commemorative days. The sun of July is greeted by earth-shaking cannon and sky-piercing rockets, which assert with boisterous acclaim the independence of a new nation.
The breath of May sweeps over a more quiet gathering. It brings flowers—as though kind nature were a sharer of our grief-ftowers for the humble grâve of the private soldier; and it reminds us of the million arms that can strike as one for the defence of a righteous cause.
The dull sky of November is a fitting background tor the festival of household cheer. Thanksgiving teaches us to love our homes, to revere a pious ancestry, and to worship God.
And there is one other national day. The snows of February remind us of the spotless fame of him who was our first great national representative and leader.
This is a most important anniversary. Aristotle reminds us that praise is an inverted precept. To say, " Do thus and so,” is a precept; to say, " He is noble because he hath done thus and so," is praise. It is a worthy task therefore to praise, to eulogise such a man as Washington. What does our country need more than those precepts regarding public service and leadership which come to us from a life like his?
Doubtless we shall make the best use of this occasion if we interpret it broadly and liberally. We need not confine our thoughts to a single name—although that were amply sufficient—but may make of this a kind of “Leader's Day." We cannot set apart a day for each of our great men,-there are too many, thank God, even in our first century- but we may group them all with Washington who was the first.
One year ago we listened to a description of the Father of his Country which I am sure we can never forget. It would be presumptuous for me to touch that theme to-day. I ask your leave, therefore, to present a kindred subject - the Preserver of his Country, ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
Our great representative leaders are perhaps our chief national possession. They are not ancient landmarks, but beacon-lights for the future. They have set a standard of public and private excellence. Aeschines, the second orator of Greece, has left us the profound maxim that
“The people become like to the Statesman whom they crown."
Happy is that people which has, in the saints, or martyrs, or heroes whom it reveres, noble ideals.
Every nation, too, is judged largely by its great men. We judge Rome by Julius Cæsar, and Sweeden by Gustavus Adolphus. If men ask what the British Islands can produce they are pointed to Cromwell or to Gladstone. If we inquire for the flowering of their race the Frenchman will perhaps name Lafayette, and the German will say, “Look at Luther."
We could scarcely be a nation without possessing some such champions as these-without being able to contribute one or two names at least to the world's list of great men. How invaluable was the character of Washington in securing our first recognition among foreign peoples ! The toast of Benjamin Franklin had a significance which give it a claim to be often repeated. The embassador of England had eulogised his country as the sun in the heavens, traversing the entire globe, and blessing every land. Then the representative of France arose and likened his country to the moon, treading a pathway as majestic as that of the sun, and shining with a more refined lustre. Franklin stood up in his turn, and the resources of comparison seemed to be exhausted. Will he compare the United States to some star, or to some comet? “Gentlemen,” said the American, "I propose to you the name of George Washington, the Joshua at whose bidding the sun and the moon stood still.”
What men has America produced since the time of Washington who have caused the sun and the moon to stand still? I believe that there has been at least one.
It is nigh four hundred years since the keel of Columbus grated upon the beach of San Salvador. It would be hard to show that any event in secular history has been more important than that. New worlds are not found every day. The devising of a path of commerce from this planet to the moon could not affect the life of man so much as did the discovery of this new