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About The Hesperian / (Lincoln, Neb.) 1885-1899 | View Entire Issue (Feb. 1, 1895)
happiness, though I nevor heard anyone
complain of knowing too much. But neither
am I sure that happiness is the object of life.
At all events we muBt look for it elsewhere
in religion, philosophy, good health, good
morals, good friends. Knowledge may en
noble happiness. What so pathetic as the
swinish content of an Alaskan Indian? What
so transcendent as the serene enjoyment of
an Emerson? Experience (which is knowl
edge) will teach us after a while, that we
must be reasonably decent in order to be
reasonably happy. Civilization (which is
knowledge) teaches us every day that knowl
edge is power.
Formerly this power was monopolized by
the few. Formerly, also, this world, was
one vast tyranny. Latterly, also, we have
Magna Charta have gone in for self gov
ernment, have abolished slavery, poked our
nose into affairs, formulated constitutions.
The king these days who holds his job is
careful not to give offense. He may elevate
his nose, but that is not so serious as the
elevation of your head.
Ignorance could never have accomplished
all this. Ignorance never accomplished any
thing. But, by the way, what has all this to do
with the University of Nebraska?
The University of Nebraska is the culmi
nation of Nebraska's public, school system.
That system is the fulcrum of which public
opinion is the lever. It will lift our little
globe among the stars.
We have prisons, and lunatic asylums, and
reformatories, and police courts, and alms
houses, at one end of the teeter; at the other
we have tiie public school. Who shall say
now that thought is not ponderable?
Plutus sends his expensive offspring to an
expensive college, where he cultivates his
biceps and lets his hair grow. Samson-like,
the length of the hair is about the measure
of the man. The Sons of the People have
their University "a place where anyone
can learn anything" and it is more to them
than a hair tonic.
The people must learn. Knowledge with
them is a matter of self defense. For cen
turies we have been groping towards liberty.
But what is liberty? Its definition is be
coming more complex. It seems to us now
that very little learning was necessary to
know that slavery was wrong, and that the
way to stop it was simply to stop it. Old
wrongs were so gross, so flagrant, so palpa
ble, so obtrusive, and, withal, so easy of re
dress, that we wonder how they could ever
have been borne. But do the people suffer
wrongs to-day? If so, what? Who inflicts
them? Under what pretense of authority?
Can those wrongs be righted? If so, how?
Will individval rights be trampled in the
process? What are individual rights? What
limits shall be set to individual accomplish
ment and aggrandizement? What bounda
ries to society?
Yes, we suffer wrongs, but they are more
subtle, evanescent, harder to define, and
more difficult to locate, than those under
which our fathers groaned. And then after
the diagnosis, what remedy? We are bewil
dered. We rub our eyes. We knuckle our
foreheads. We heave sighs. Our hearts
are troubled. Modern problems will require
for their solution all that there is of knowl
edge and more than we have of wisdom.
The University is not a luxury to the people
of Nebraska, to be dispensed with or cur
tailed as they would an article of diet. It is
a sine quo non it is all the One Necissity.
As I glance over what I have written be
fore sending it to you, I find that in my
efforts to bo succinct I have only been ab
rupt. I have an idea it will road like a stac
cato polka. Never mind. Just imagine that
cadi sentence is a sub-head, which you are
at liberty to expand into a thesis.
Henuy D. Ebtaukook.
Pres. Andrew V. V. Raymond of Union
Theological Seminary, Schenectady, N. Y.,
will deliver the oration Charter Day.
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