The World’s Famous Orations.
America: III. (1861–1905). 1906.
II. His Eulogy of McKinley
All our people loved their dead president. His kindly nature and lovable traits of character and his amiable consideration for all about him will long be in the minds and hearts of his countrymen. He loved them in return with such patriotism and unselfishness that in the hour of their grief and humiliation he would say to them: “It is God’s will; I am content. If there is a lesson in my life or death, let it be taught to those who still live and have the destiny of their country in their keeping.”
Let us, then, as our dead is buried out of our sight, seek for the lessons and the admonitions that may be suggested by the life and death which constitute our theme.
First in my thoughts are the lessons to be learned from the career of William McKinley by the young men who make up the student body of our university. These lessons are not obscure nor difficult. They teach the value of study and mental training, but they teach more impressively that the road to usefulness and to the only success worth having, will be missed or lost except it is sought and kept by the light of those qualities of heart, which it is sometimes supposed may safely be neglected or subordinated in university surroundings. This is a great mistake. Study and study hard, but never let the thought enter your mind that study alone or the greatest possible accumulation of learning alone will lead you to the heights of usefulness and success.
The man who is universally mourned to-day achieved the highest distinction which his great country can confer on any man, and he lived a useful life. He was not deficient in education, but with all you will hear of his grand career, and of his services to his country and his fellow citizens, you will not hear that either the high place he reached or what he accomplished was due entirely to his education. You will instead constantly hear as accounting for his great success that he was obedient and affectionate as a son, patriotic and faithful as a soldier, honest and upright as a citizen, tender and devoted as a husband, and truthful, generous, unselfish, moral and clean in every relation of life. He never thought any of these things too weak for manliness. Make no mistake. Here was a most distinguished man, a great man, a useful man—who became distinguished, great and useful because he had, and retained unimpaired, the qualities of heart which I fear university students sometimes feel like keeping in the background or abandoning.
There is a most serious lesson for all of us in the tragedy of our late president’s death. The shock of it is so great that it is hard at this time to read this lesson calmly. We can hardly fail to see, however, behind the bloody deed of the assassin, horrible figures and faces from which it will not do to turn away. If we are to escape further attack upon our peace and security, we must boldly and resolutely grapple with the monster of anarchy. It is not a thing that we can safely leave to be dealt with by party or partizanship. Nothing can guarantee us against its menace except the teaching and the practise of the best citizenship, the exposure of the ends and aims of the gospel of discontent and hatred of social order, and the brave enactment and execution of repressive laws.
Our universities and colleges can not refuse to join in the battle against the tendencies of anarchy. Their help in discovering and warning against the relationship between the vicious councils and deeds of blood, and their steadying influence upon the elements of unrest, can not fail to be of inestimable value.
By the memory of our murdered president, let us resolve to cultivate and preserve the qualities that made him great and useful; and let us determine to meet the call of patriotic duty in every time of our country’s danger or need.