Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (Feb. 15, 1887)
One can soon feel that he is in a great intellectual center.
With a sort of awe he stands hack for this or that great man
to pass him, whom he has known only by his hooks; and sim
ply seeing whom is now quite' an event in his life.
The libraries demand especial notice, but want of space for
bids. Probably few students realize how great is the privi
lege of access to them until their college days are past.
No doubt many a student in Yale, as elsewhere, fails to ap
prcciatc his privileges. One may spend four "years here and
then during life be known only as a former successful oars
man or foot ball kicker. Many such a young man might have
been a blessing to his race, perhaps, had he lived in Nebras
ka, and spent less money during his entire college course
(earning it all meanwhile) than it costs him now to furnish his
room or meet his club expenses. On the other hand, a stu
dent from any western state who should spend a year or two
at Yale would fail to use his chances if that year or two did
not mean great things to him. R. L. M .
New Haven, Conn., Jan. 29, 1887.
THE BATTLF OF CHALONS.
Below we print the prize oration of the fourth annual
Chase and NVhcelcr contest in oratory, delivered by J. A.
In the middle of the fifth century of our era the name of
Attila was a synonym for all that is fiendish and cruel in war.
Plunder was his watchword; ruin and devastation his foot
prints. At his beck myriads rose and followed him in victory
to the heart of the Empire. From the Caspian to the Baltic,
from Asia far westward into Germany tribes had paid him
homage. Loyalty and enthusiasm were not the motives of al
legiance. The bond was one of subjection and slavish fear.
In his hand was the power to hurl an irresistablc horde of
savages upon his foes and crush them to the dust. He was
chief of chiefs among the Huns, the most barbarous not only
in their own time, but almost in the history of the world. In
their intense hatred of civilized man, in their scorn of his
knowledge and customs, in their insatiate love of pillage and
murder they were rightly the greatest object of terror that had
yet threatened the advancement of society.
Europe was peopled with Aryans. The Germanic, Slavon
ic and Scandinavian tnbes were of one race with those of
Greece and Rome, and like them were destined to. put forth
the full bloom and fruit of national civilisation. But the
race that came pouring into Europe in the third century after
Christ had no community with them. Brute force instead of
skill characterized its warfare. Wherever it turned the tribes
fled or became essentially Scythian. By the fifth century a
vast area was occupied by roving bands whose only purpose
was spoil and whose highest ambition was to make civilized
lands a hunting ground and human beings victims of the
sport. In those rude, fierce warriors was a terrible force
which under the leadership of Attila caused the boldest Van
dal to tremble and the haughty Caesars to bow and pay him
tribute. In 433 the Huns crowned him king and a more ter
rible warfare at once began. His power increased with each
successive inroad and threatened with ever more imminent
danger the almost prostrate nations that trembled at his com
ing. In 451 the Hun began his westward march. Six hundred
thousand warriors followed their fierce chief to ravage the
fertile valleys of Belgic Gaul. It was a crisis. The fire of
Greek genius that had burned brightly had long since died
away. The empire of storied Romulus had run nearly its al
lotted course. Its grand mission was accomplished. Within
its gamer was. the harvest of ages. The corn of Thebes, the
gold of Susa and the learning of Athens had enriched the
kernel of its civilization that in its decay it might be both
germ and nourishment of future kingdoms. It was the gold
en link between past and present. Yet as this long-impending
danger finally burst upon the Western Empire in one
mighty sweeping wave, it seemed as if the cargo of the old
Roman ship, rich with the spoil of nations, must go down in
the tempest of barbarism.
On came the scourge of God with his countless host. They
crossed the Rhine. They ravaged the land. They sacked
and burned the cities. Already the foremost had gathered in
siege before the walls of Orleans. Only a city and the Loire
now lay between them and the rich country to the southwest.
If the invader was stopped it must be quickly. Roman and
Goth must put aside their petty jealousies, and join against a
common foe. But the presence of danger welded the inco
herent elements. Timely aid saved Orleans, and the Huns
fell back to the broad plains of the Marne and Seine. The
Roman legions followed closely and at length the two antago
nists stood face to face. On the one hand was the fierce rab
ble of savages eager for the fight; on ihe other the Romans
and their allies, desperate in their knowledge of the interests
at stake. It was Scythian against Aryan. One was the race
of barbarism, For a thousand years it had been on the same
level. It had no government, no God. Its religion was the
worship of nature. Around a naked sword placed upright
in the ground the warriors danced and chanted their hideous
war-cries. The other was the race of progress. Its history
had been one continual development from a primitive state.
Step by step it had advanced to its present position, and if
unhindered must go on and on, the circle of its influence
spread farther and farther till it touch the uttermost shore. In
one there is an utter disregard of law, human or divine; in
the other the very highest form of both. For Rome was the
only nation in which the clear voice of the law was heard
above the unceasing clash of arms, and in its protection there
lingcicd the spark of Christianity that was to burn brighter
and brighter with succeeding time. One conquered to de
stroy, the other to build up. In one there was isolation, in
the other the grand idea of national unity. One was a dun
geon where passion wears the royal garb stained in the blood
of nations; the other an eternal lighthouse whose rays direct
the course of civilizatio through centuries.
When Aryan and Scythian meet one m st survive, the oth
er perish. If Attila succeeds, all is lost. Trade and manufac
tures must cease, schools of learning close, law and Christian
ity become meaningless words, and individual and national
progress give way to high handed revelry. If Rome succeeds
a new and more glorious era is assured. The outgrowth of
the national mind from its earliest dawn, the evolution of
many centuries, will still remain the basis of future develop
ment. Never did the sinking sun behold such a battle as it wit
nessed on the plains' of Catalauni. Never was Europe in
greater peril. The struggle was fierce and terrible, nor did it
cease till the field was shrouded in night. The earliest light
of morning gilded a field of human ruin. The legacy of
Rome to the future world was bought with the lives of count
less thousands. Like a lion at bay the human hydra stood
sullenly within his barricade, and, thwarted in his purpose.re
tjred beyond the- Rhine. The Hun had come and gone. Eu.
rope was saved.
You can find Jas. H. Hooper at the University. Give him
your number and he will call for your lauhdryihg.
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