Valedictory Address: “Valedictory”The University Monthly
28, 8 (June 1909): 224-233. (UA Case 68, Box 2)
Your Honor, Mr. President and gentlemen of the Senate, Mr. President and members of the Associated Alumni, Mr. Chancellor and members of the Faculty, Fellow Students, Ladies and Gentlemen :
‘All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players.”
In our contribution to the great drama which is being enacted nothing is more distinct than the succeeding stages in which we play our parts. Nothing is more important at the outset than a definite conception of the ultimate goal, and, when we have formulated a clear purpose, and a great overwhelming, all-inclusive passion has seized us, all the separate strands that lie along the pathway of the future may be taken up and woven into a strong cable. If we have no such ideal, nor conception of the meaning of things, we tend simply to play with the threads and break them, and, at last, have neither the strands nor cable.
The first is what we are perpetually doing in life; looking forward to some goal or reward of our efforts, placing there their pillars of Hercules, with their time-known inscription “Ne plus ultra,” and toward that end bending all our efforts. As we approach this limit, however, it becomes to us only another starting place, “vistas of things unknown and undiscovered” burst in upon us from the other side which tend to draw us out and we shift our goat to yet another stage.
This day will mark such a transition in the lives of another quota of students in our University. This day was made our goal; toward it we have looked with expectancy and put forth our best endeavour,
“Time ne’er forgot his journey”
and it has been ultimately reached. We have listened to the “Well done” of our Chancellor, but, even now, other scenes and other pursuits await us, and whisper that we have made simply a beginning. Our goal has receded and we must now employ our cherished theories to cope with the sterner realities of that larger life of which this has been simply a preparation.
Four years have passed by on the ever revolving wheel of time since twenty-seven of us gathered as strangers in these halls with this goal in view. These years have been for us replete with rich experiences. We have shared in the rich heritage of the past, and have been brought face to face with the highest ideals the world has to offer in the realm of thought and culture, the unique opportunities of the up-to-date student of the twentieth century have been ours and they have made us, not only broader in intellect, but have contributed to the necessary ground work of a moral character, our sympathies have deepened, our interests have extended to a wider range, and we have been led more and more to think upon whatsoever things are true, and honest, and just, and of good report When we add to this the inspiration that we have been classed to-day with our graduates and have been afforded the same opportunities as the scores of them who have won the laurels of success and are gracing the proudest positions in the land, we need not falter as we go forth ; and yet, as we bid farewell to our Alma Mater, which seems at this moment almost “endowed with a personality of her own,” it is with deep feelings of regret. Only these who have experienced it know the significance of college life and the strength of the ties which bind college men together, and unfeeling indeed must he be who does not feel a pang of sorrow at the thought of these bonds soon to be broken. It is therefore by no means with reluctance that we pause for a moment and take a brief retrospect of the past.
One of the regrettable features in the history of each class is the great change in its personnel which all seem destined to undergo. Some discontinue their studies mid-way in the course to participate in the sterner activities and conflicts of life; some leave the University to return at a later date and join the ranks of another class; while others complete their college course elsewhere. Such things, to rather an exceptional degree, have changed the class of 1909, while there is one other, deeper and more inevitable cause, which has operated in our midst. We miss from our members today one of the brightest and most promising members of the original class who, early in our Freshman year, laid hold upon
“That golden key
That opens the palace of Eternity.”
For him whom we admired as a student, and cherished as a friend and classmate,
“Life's poor play is o'er,”
“God’s finger touched him and he slept’
As a Freshman class we numbered twenty-seven. Of these only; seventeen began the Sophomore year, but the number was increased, to twenty-five by the Senior matriculants and returning students. We fully realized those losses which are peculiar to the Sophomore class. As Juniors we numbered only twenty, and now, at the end of our Senior year, seventeen are ready to graduate, and have received from our Chancellor the expression of approval for work accomplished, eleven of whom were members of the original class. Our course has not been marked by any special chain of events apart from the average experiences of the college Class, and so a brief survey will suffice.
Our Freshman year, with the usual surprises and events which become sacred to the memory of the College man, comes vividly before us. It seems but yesterday that we climbed the hill for the first time as students aid, by the aid of the mysterious document which had been carefully spiked in the grove, and the painful care of the sophomores, found the rear entrance and spent our first day in the lecture halls. We have never complained of the reception which we received for the following night the entire student body was “At Home” to our class. The entertainment for the occasion was of the most lavish nature. Through the magnanimity of the Sophomores we were even allowed to participate in the exercises and, during the evening, were formally introduced to the code, of unwritten laws. During the next few weeks some slight differences of opinion arose in our own ranks regarding the prerogatives of Freshmen which made this period for some one or two, who are not with us today, a veritable-struggle for existence. They soon began, however, to enter more into the spirit of the matter and we were willing one and all to admit that in College life “The first great law is—To obey.” As the weeks advanced our exaggerated fears were soon dispersed, new and enticing fields were opened up before us and our hopes and ambitions became intensified. The year was one of the best; it will always be recalled with pleasure and has played a unique part in the moulding of our lives and characters.
During the year the matter of initiation was vigorously discussed in the Literary and Debating Society and a new and less rigid form was drawn up and adopted. We feel firmly convinced that such a step has been to the best interests of our University, and yet a mild form of introduction, such as has been given for the past two years, managed by a competent committee which will not countenance those acts which savour of rashness and rowdyism, or are in any way beneath the dignity of a gentleman, makes a desired contribution to our experiences here and gives an additional charm the college days. The duty befalls those who are to succeed in senior control to see that no elements are introduced which would tend in any way to injure the name and standing of our college.
We entered upon the Sophomore year “proud of our student profession.” A brief sojourn had developed a loyalty to all that pertained to U. N. B. and a feeling of responsibility in maintaining her honors. Custom had made us the leaders of the Freshmen, and we were painfully vigilant lest harm should in any way befall them. We were no exception and had at that time any overdue amount of self-reliance, yet it is to be hoped that we stood for the enforcement of our unwritten laws in such a way as would tell in promoting a clean, well-ordered college life.
It is not easy to describe the changed attitude and feeling of the Junior and Senior years. There comes a deeper and fuller insight into the meaning and real purpose of college life. Studies possess a new charm, responsibilities increase and the sphere of influence broadens. As Seniors the size of our class has interfered in some degree with our work as leaders in the student societies, yet we have weighed well our attitude towards the various activities and cheerfully tried to do our duty to the college.
It has been aptly said that no second ticked off by the clock has all its meaning in itself but, as the seedlings, which seem devoid of form and beauty, contain the making of the flower and fruit, so each unit of time is a prophecy, a potentiality, a something that contains within itself an unexpressed meaning, and therefore the future alone will say to what degree we have used the opportunities which during these four years have been placed at our disposal, and the promonency of our influence upon the University.
Much of the time at college must be spent in the purely academic subjects of the prescribed curriculum and yet, the primary object of a college course is to fit us for the duties of life, and the development which coined to us from study is one-sided when not supplemented by that which is derived from an active participation in college affairs and the student societies. The undergraduate who does not link himself with some of these and give them an unqualified support has not only missed one of the most enjoyable phases of college life but has failed to develop some traits of character which make us readier men in the practical contact with the world This phase of our work has been prominent during the year and eminently successful. A brief summary of the activities may now be in order.
The Literary and Debating Society which embraces the Athletic and Financial Associations and the publication of the MONTHLY, is of primary importance. The business meetings have been well attended and the voting of monies and the question of student management vigorously discussed. The weekly debates have covered a wide range of subjects and were heartily enjoyed by all those who took part. It is to be regretted that, as in former years, they were not participated in by as large a number as should be the case. Knowledge loses much of its power when stored away in the minds of those who are not able to stand on a public platform and give it a clear and forcible expression. Many of our most distinguished graduates, those who are making themselves felt as leaders in the world, were active supporters of the Debating Society and look upon the weekly debates as an important factor in our course. The college man who desires to fit himself for an efficient public service can ill afford to miss the opportunities which they offer. King has said;
“And whereso’er the subject’s best the sense Is bettered by the speakers eloquence”
We entered as usual the Intercollegiate League and debated the representatives of Mount Allison College in this city. The subject was “Limited Reciprocity with the United States”. We regret that our college did not secure the decision but feel that our efforts were amply repaid by the discipline of manly contest and research upon the question. The four sessions of the annual Mock Parliament, which close the regular meetings for the year, were of the most successful nature. There was an abundance of healthy fun interspersed with some brilliant discussions upon the vexing problems of Dominion Polities. These sessions, with the annual Mock Trial, are capable of giving a valuable insight into the official phraseology and methods of our legal and political life and should secure a hearty support.
The publication of the UNIVERSITY MONTHLY is also an important feature of the Societies work. During the year the issues have been regular and timely. The editors have given it their best thought and, with an abundance of literary and technical articles, it has been brought perhaps nearer than ever before to the ideal of a college journal. The MONTHLY serves as a link in binding together the sons of U. N. B., and offers to the undergraduate an opportunity of developing the art of journalism, which has become a valuable asset in our national life.
Another phase of college activity which, rightly used, can be made a powerful complement to our scholastic attainments is Athletics. A vigorous physical life is basal to intellectual endurance, self-control and self-mastery. In the large universities chairs are being established for the object of adapting physical training in its broadest sense to the needs of college men, but in our smaller institutions the place of this must be filled very largely by voluntary exercise in the gymnasium and on the athletic field. It is therefore gratifying to know that in this respect the year has been in a large measure, successful.
Football practice was well attended and a strong enthusiasm maintained throughout the season. Nine match games were played in all, which resulted in four victories for U. N. B., while two of the remaining five were ties. In basketball, for which our facilities are unsurpassed, a vigorous interclass series of games was played in which the Juniors carried off the highest honors, and in eight games with the leading provincial teams our representatives met with only two defeats. In hockey too the year has been unsurpassed. Several matches were placed with the City teams, in which the showing was good, while in the Intercollegiate series the championship was easily secured. The Collegiate Sports on the 24th were attended with the usual amount of interest, while a strong team will enter the Intercollegiate meet to be held tomorrow at Moncton.
The Engineering Society was reorganized on a slightly different basis and has had a prosperous year. Papers have been read before it at frequent intervals by practicing engineers on subjects which are vital to every member of the Society. It has proved in this way valuable supplement to the regular course of the Engineering Departmentment.
The Glee Club was able to enlist the theatrical talent of the College and, on the 23rd of April, the supposed birthday of the “bard of Avon,” presented his comedy, “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” In the signal success of this attempt the Club wishes to express a hearty appreciation of the services of Professor Geoghegan, whose untiring effort, wide experience and perfect knowledge of the English drama made him an invaluable help. It is to be regretted that there have been no regular meetings for the purpose of song, and the class of 1910 should see that these are re-organized next year.
A Forestry Society has been organized among the students in the new Department of Forestry, with Dr. Fernow, the eminent Professor of Toronto University, as honorary President. The membership is as yet small but earnest and it adds another element to the new course which we feel is destined, under the able leadership of Professor Miller, to play a large part in the life of our Province.
The organized Societies of the Ladies Department have also bad prosperous year. The “Delta Rho” has held some interesting and instructive debates, while the Ladies’ Society has contributed much of the social life of the College. The growing importance of this Department of our University is worthy of special note. During the years the ladies have shown a deep interest in all that pertains to student life and a willingness to ably assist in all its functions, white from their numbers have come some valuable contributions to our record in scholastic attainments. In our own class they have nearly equaled us in numbers and must be given a first place in the honors of the day.
The Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A. have had an active and, it is hoped, an altogether successful year. Educationists are coming more and more to feel that the ultimate aim of education is one with the aim of religion, which is nothing less than the perfection of personality or the development of character, in this the Christian Association has something to offer which needs no apology. The great issues, that face the college student in these days are not such as can be carelessly set aside. The weekly meetings of the year, addressed by the strongest men available, have touched upon some of these vital themes and, it is hoped, have helped some to find a satisfaction in that triumph of principle which it was their object to secure.
We surrender the leadership of these various Associations to the class which is about to succeed as, feeling confident that you will be mindful of the past records, and in doing your part, will exercise a strong control.
During the past year another name has also been added to our list of Rhode's Scholars. The appointee, Mr. Ralph Sherman, has our hearty congratulation and best wishes for a successful career in England's famous seat of learning.
It is to be regretted that the efforts of our energetic Chancellor to secure an increased grant from our Provincial Government for the maintenance of the University were, for the time being, unsuccessful. We live in an age of competition, progress and stupendous activities. In order to keep pace with the times, to maintain our efficient staff of professors, and to accommodate a growing student-body, there is need of additional funds and the question is therefore of vital importance. It is hoped, however, that our Government, in we have all confidence, will find it possible to meet the needs in the near future.
Since the beginning of our course some marked changes have taken place in the curriculum and in the personnel of our faculty. New chairs have been established in the Departments of Agricultural Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering and Forestry which, under the very efficient leadership which was secured in each, have done much to keep our course abreast with the activities of the times in which we live. Of the faculty which took its place in the academical procession today only two members have been present since the beginning of our course, our esteemed professors of the chairs of Classics and English. Those who have gone have left their impress upon us and their loss is regretted bat, in each case, the University must be congratulated upon the very scholarly and energetic men who have been secured to fill the vacancies.
The time has now come, your Honor, for that which is perhaps the hardest task of our whole college course—the farewells. To you, Mr. Chancellor and gentlemen of the Faculty, we feel the first obligation, and to you is due the first acknowledgment. With a truth which far outstrips the words did Tennyson say that he was a part of all he had ever met, and, in those cases where we have maintained at all time the proper receptive attitude, your love of duty, unceasing efforts and personal touch with our lives, have led us to set our affections on those habits of life which require intellectual honesty and moral integrity. Knowledge, the rich heritage of the past, has never been imparted to us simply in the abstract but ever related to that category of the real values in life which lead us “to feel the noblest, think the clearest, act the best;” and now as we step forth and try to crystallize in character and express in society the ideals which we have formed under your instruction, we assure you that we will never forget our experience here and the contribution you have made to our lives,
To the citizens of Fredericton we must also bid adieu. To the process of education, which is as big as life itself, you have also made a contribution. You have taught us the spirit which we in turn should show as we go out to make up a part of society. You have welcomed us to your homes and churches; heartily responded to our soliciting; well patronized our student activities and overlooked our midnight disturbances. We assure you that the friendship which we have formed is not one to be forgotten and that our farewell to you is on of the hardest. When tonight you hear it borne away in loud accents upon the midnight air it will assure you anew how deeply we feel our parting.
To the undergraduates, little need be said since what we are, and have been, is sounding in your ears. You have honored us as a class and ably assisted in our work; as today we shall mingle our voice with yours for the last time in the songs of our dear old Alma Mater, and shall give a parting hand clasp it will be with the assurance that the University spirit will lack nothing and that her name will be untarnished when you in turn shall lay down your charge. We know that you have caught today that fire of enthusiasm which has bound a hundred other classes in loyalty to U. N. B. The following lines will express to you the sentiment which we commend:
PLAY THE GAME
There's a breathless hush in the Close tonight;
Ten to make the match to win;
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his captain’s hand on his shoulder emote,—
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!”
The sand of the desert is sodden red,
Red with the wreck of the square that broke;
The gatling’s jammed and the colonel dead;
And the regiment blind with the dust and smoke,
The river of death has brimmed its banks
And England's far and honor a name,—
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks,
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”
‘This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind,
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”
Classmates, the efforts of four short years have now gained a meaning; the call of the nation has sounded to us and today a noble Alma Mater is bidding us to respond and go forth to do honor to her name. Life will not be all one ripple of laughter, the world will have many a, buffet, but when the dark clouds shall hover at times o’er our lives, let us recall this day and the pleasant times spent here and push on with a determination to justify the training we have received. Ours is an age of materialism and great activities and it would be difficult to express our national needs in any more appropriate words than the prayer of J. C Holland:
“God give us men! A time like this demands
Great hearts, strong minds, true faith, and willing hands.
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor, men who will not lie.”
Shall we be anything less than that?
And now to Faculty, Students, City and Friends it becomes my duty on behalf of the Class to say farewell.
“A word that must be and hath been—
A sound which makes us linger;—yet—farewell.”