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- WHY GO TO COLLEGE? - 4/4 -


more than a third of us are found in cities. But the electric-car, the telephone, the bicycle, still keep avenues to the country open. Certain it is that city people feel a growing hunger for the country, particularly when grass begins to grow. This is a healthy taste, and must increase the general knowledge and love of nature. Fortunate are the little children in those schools whose teachers know and love the world in which they live. Their young eyes are early opened to the beauty of birds and trees and plants. Not only should we expect our girls to have a feeling for the fine sunset or the wide-reaching panorama of field and water, but to know something also about the less obvious aspects of nature, its structure, its methods of work, and the endless diversity of its parts. No one can have read Matthew Arnold's letters to his wife, his mother, and his sister, without being struck by the immense enjoyment he took throughout his singularly simple and hard-working life in flowers and trees and rivers. The English lake country had given him this happy inheritance, with everywhere its sound of running water and its wealth of greenery. There is a close connection between the marvellous unbroken line of English song, and the passionate love of the Englishman for a home in the midst of birds, trees, and green fields.

"The world is so full of a number of things, That I think we should all be as happy as kings,"

is the opinion of everybody who knows nature as did Robert Louis Stevenson. And so our college student may begin to know it. Let her enter the laboratories and investigate for herself. Let her make her delicate experiments with the blowpipe or the balance; let her track mysterious life from one hiding-place to another; let her "name all the birds without a gun," and make intimates of flower and fish and butterfly--and she is dull indeed if breezy tastes do not follow her through life, and forbid any of her days to be empty of intelligent enjoyment. "Keep your years beautiful; make your own atmosphere," was the parting advice of my college president, himself a living illustration of what he said.

But it is a short step from the love of the complex and engaging world in which we live to the love of our comrades in it. Accordingly the third precious interest to be cultivated by the college student is an interest in people. The scholar today is not a being who dwells apart in his cloister, the monk's successor; he is a leader of the thoughts and conduct of men. So the new subjects which stand beside the classics and mathematics of medieval culture are history, economics, ethics, and sociology. Although these subjects are as yet merely in the making, thousands of students are flocking to their investigation, and are going out to try their tentative knowledge in College Settlements and City Missions and Children's Aid Societies. The best instincts of generous youth are becoming enlisted in these living themes. And why should our daughters remain aloof from the most absorbing work of modern city life, work quite as fascinating to young women as to young men? During many years of listening to college sermons and public lectures in Wellesley, I always noticed a quickened attention in the audience whenever the discussion touched politics or theology. These are, after all, the permanent and peremptory interests, and they should be given their full place in a healthy and vigorous life.

But if that life includes a love of books, of nature, of people, it will naturally turn to enlarged conceptions of religion--my sixth and last gift of college life. In his first sermon as Master of Balliol College, Dr. Jowett spoke of the college, "First as a place of education, secondly as a place of society, thirdly as a place of religion." He observed that "men of very great ability often fail in life because they are unable to play their part with effect. They are shy, awkward, self-conscious, deficient in manners, faults which are as ruinous as vices." The supreme end of college training, he said, "is usefulness in after life." Similarly, when the city of Cambridge celebrated in Harvard's Memorial Hall the life and death of the gallant young ex-governor of Massachusetts, William E. Russell, men did well to hang above his portrait some wise words he has lately said, "Never forget the everlasting difference between making a living and making a life." That he himself never forgot; and it was well to remind citizens and students of it, as they stood there facing too the ancient words all Harvard men face when they take their college degrees and go out into the world, "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Good words these to go out from college with. The girls of Wellesley gather every morning at chapel to bow their heads together for a moment before they scatter among the libraries and lecture-rooms and begin the experiments of the new day. And always their college motto meets the eyes that are raised to its penetrating message, "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister." How many a young heart has loyally responded, "And to give life a ransom for many." That is the "Wellesley spirit;" and the same sweet spirit of devout service has gone forth from all our college halls. In any of them one may catch the echo of Whittier's noble psalm,--

"O Lord and Master of us all Whate'er our name or sign, We own Thy sway, we hear Thy call, We test our lives by Thine."

That is the supreme test of life,--its consecrated serviceableness. The Master of Balliol was right; the brave men and women who founded our schools and colleges were not wrong. "For Christ and the Church" universities were set up in the wilderness of New England; for the large service of the State they have been founded and maintained at public cost in every section of the country where men have settled, from the Alleghanies across the prairies and Rocky Mountains down to the Golden Gate. Founded primarily as seats of learning, their techers have been not only scientists and linguists, philosophers and historians, but men and women of holy purposes, sound patriotism, courageous convictions, refined and noble tastes. Set as these teachers have been upon a hill, their light has at no period of our country's history been hid. They have formed a large factor in our civilization, and in their own beautiful characters have continually shown us how to combine religion and life, the ideal and practical, the human and the divine.

Such are some of the larger influences to be had from college life. It is true all the good gifts I have named may be secured without the aid of the college. We all know young men and women who have had no college training, who are as cultivated, rational, resourceful, and happy as any people we know, who excel in every one of these particulars the college graduates about them. I believe they often bitterly regret the lack of a college education. And we see young men and women going through college deaf and blind to their great chances there, and afterwards curiously careless and wasteful of the best things in life. While all this is true, it is true too that to the open-minded and ambitious boy or girl of moderate health, ability, self-control, and studiousness, a college course offers the most attractive, easy, and probable way of securing happiness and health, good friends and high ideals, permanent interests of a noble kind, and large capacity for usefulness in the world. It has been well said that the ability to see great things large and little things small is the final test of education. The foes of life, especially of women's lives, are caprice, wearisome incapacity and petty judgments. From these oppressive foes we long to escape to the rule of right reason, where all things are possible, and life becomes a glory instead of a grind. No college, with the best teachers and collections in the world, can by its own power impart all this to any woman. But if one has set her face in that direction, where else can she find so many hands reached out to help, so many encouraging voices in the air, so many favoring influences filling the days and nights?


WHY GO TO COLLEGE? - 4/4

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