Here follows the concluding part of Lecture XXIV, as delivered July 28, 1809, referred to in the Note, annexed to that lecture.
AND here, gentlemen, our disquisitions upon the second great division of the rhetorical science, that which teaches the disposition of the various parts of an oration, are brought to a close. At this stage of our inquiries a portion of our fellow laborers have arrived at the term of their collegiate life. While I am treating of the conclusion of a discourse, they are brought to the conclusion of their academical career. At the same time an event, which rooms me to a remote region, has suddenly arrested me in the course of these studies, and brings them also to a premature conclusion.
Two years have elapsed since you, gentlemen, who are now about to issue from the halls of science into the tumult of the world, first became my hearers. And this lecture completes the course, upon which you have attended. We have been fellow-students upon subjects in many respects new to myself, as well as to you. We are not part; and you, as well as myself, are to be separated from those of your success orders, who at a later period have become sharers in these studies. The situation, in which we respectively stand towards one another, is interesting to us all; and in taking leave of you, I trust you will indulge me with a few additional moments for the utterance of the sentiments, inspired by the occasion.
The period, to which those of you have arrived, who are bidding adieu to the residence with in these venerable walls, is perhaps the most critical and important of any moment of your lives. It is the hinge, upon which your future destinies are balanced. It is from this moment, that most of you, ceasing to be merely members of the family, become active partners of the state; efficient citizens of the commonwealth. Henceforth you are to unite the study of living man with that of ages expired. And so rapid is the succession of years, that you will soon find the balance of your feelings and of your duties pointing within irresistible magnet to futurity; and the growing burden of your hopes and wishes concentrated in the welfare of your success sores upon this earthly stage; of yourselves upon that, which is to succeed. If at this moment, in which so many circumstances concur to give solemnity to our feelings, I may be permitted to use with you the freedom, as I feel for you the solicitude of the parent, and to express in the form of advice those ardent wishes for your future happiness, which beat with every pulsation of my heart, I would intreat you to cherish, and to cultivate in every stage of your lives, that taste for literature and science, which is first sought here, as in their favorite abodes. I would urge it upon you, as the most effectual mean of extending your respectability and usefulness in the world. I would press it with still more earnestness upon you, as the inexhaustible source of enjoyment and of consolation.
In a life of action, however prosperous maybe it's career, there will be seasons of adversity, and days of trial. The trials of prosperity for themselves, though arrayed in garments of joy, are not less powerless or severe, than those of distress. The heart of man is, alas, liable to corruption from both the faces of fortune; and the vices of insolent success are as fatal to the moral dignity of the human character, as the reckless plunges of despair. It is only by absorbing all the interests and all the faculties of the heart, that passion spreads over it like a consuming fire. Form but the habit of taking delight in other objects than those, which merely affect your personal condition in the world, and you will be guarded from that dissipation of mind, which is the wretchedness of prosperity, and from that perturbation of the soul, which is the agony of misfortune. The mastery of our own passions can perhaps only be accomplished by religion; but, in acquiring it, her most effectual, as well as her most elegant instruments are letters and science. At no hour of your life will the love of letters ever oppress you as a burden, or fail you as a resource. In the vain and foolish exultation of the heart, which the brighter prospects of life will sometimes excite, the pensive portress of science shall call you back to be sober pleasures of her holy cell. In the mortifications of disappointment, her soothing voice shall whisper serenity and peace. In social converse with the mighty dead of ancient days, you will never smart under the galling sensation of dependence upon the mighty living of the present age; and in your struggles with the world, should a crisis ever occur, when even friendship may deem it prudent to desert you; when even your country may seem ready to abandon herself and you; when even priests and levite shall come and look on you, and pass by on the other side; seek refuge, my unfailing friends, and be assured you will find it, in the friendship of Laelius and Scipio; in the patriotism of Cicero, Demosthenes, and Burke; as well as in the precepts in example of him, whose whole ought is love, in who taught us to remember injuries only to forgive them.
The satisfaction of this intercourse with you I had flattered myself with the hopes of enjoying for a series of years to come; and it was my wish and intention to have added to these lectures, which you have heard, another, though a shorter course, more particularly devoted to oratory; which was essential to the completion of my original plan. I was deeply sensible also, that after filling up the outline, sketched in my first lecture, a severe and deliberate revision of the whole would be necessary to remove some of its imperfections, and render it more worthy of that unremitting attention, for which I must gratefully acknowledge my obligations to my hearers. From these dreams of hope I have been awakened, by a destination, of uncertain continuance, to a distant country. It is not without reluctance that I have yielded to this call, and resigned the privilege of aiding, I such instruction, as I could give, the studies of you, my young friends and fellow-citizens. In estimating comparatively be permanent dignity and importance of the employment, which I must abandon, with those of the occupation, which I am to assume, I cannot hesitate to prefer that, in which I appear before you. But as the one belongs only to the relations of private life, while the other embraces the complicated relations of the whole community, the duties of the citizen must retain their precedence over those of the individual; and point to the public service of the country, as that, from which an unsolicited call will admit of no refusal upon personal or private considerations.
This, gentleman, is my apology to those of you, who, having yet some portion of your time to pass in this temple of the muses, were entitled to my assistance in those parts of your pursuits, connected with the institution of this professorship. In comparing our losses by the separation, which is now to ensue, it is some consolation to me to reflect, that if mine, in losing you as pupils, is irreparable, yours, and losing a teacher, will be transient; and in a short time I trust more than repaired. Still greater is the gratification, with which I bear in mind, that I leave you under the literary guidance and aid of other instructors, all of whom feel the same ardent zeal for your improvements; and many of whom have the advantage of a longer experience in the art of instruction, and a more intimate association with your studies, then it has been or could be my fortune to enjoy. Most of all is my confidence in your future honor and usefulness in the world supported by the conviction, that it has an immovable foundation in your own characters; that you all feel the moral obligations, which a liberal education imposes upon those, to whom it is given; that science is only valuable, as it expands the heart, while it enlarges the mind; that the acquirements, which you can here obtain, are talents put into your hands; a deposit, of which the fruits belong not exclusively to your selves, but in common to your fellow citizens and your fellow-men.
Finally, gentlemen, though my inclination still lingers at the word, I must, however reluctantly, did you, one and all, adieu. I have heard of two lovers, who, upon being separated from each other for a length of time, in by a distance like that, to which I am bound, among the contrivances, which the ingenuity of affection devised, to bring them in fancy nearer to each other, mutually agreed, any given hour of every day, to turn their eyes towards one of the great luminaries of heaven; and each of them, and looking to the sky, felt a sensation of pleasure at the thought, that the eyes of the other at the same moment were directed towards the same object. Let me cherish the hope, that between you and me there will be some occasional, nay, frequent remembrance, reciprocated by analogical objects in the world of mind. Whenever the hour of studious retirement shall point our views to those luminaries of the moral heavens, which shine with such benignant radiance for our benefit and delight; when the moralists, the poets, and the orators of every age, shall be the immediate objects of our regard; let us in the visions of memory behold one another engaged in the same "celestial colloquy sublime."
Let us think of one another, as fellow-students in the same pursuit. Let us remember the pleasant hours, in which we have trod together this path of wisdom and of honor; and if at that moment the sentiment of privation should darken the retrospect, may it be your consolation, as it will be mine, that the only painful impression, which resulted from our intercourse, arises from its cessation; as the only regret, with which the remembrance of you can ever be associated, is that, which I now experience in bidding you FAREWELL!