Elm and Craigie House and Elmwood and our cis-Atlantic Westminster
at Mount Auburn
might presage, have begun to fulfill themselves in that high place, as regards civic and ethical values, out into which Cambridge
has been girding her loins to march, and unto the realization of which her plainest and humblest people, and her most intelligent and highly endowed, are alike consecrated.
Thus, moreover, was it, that when, four or five years ago, there broke into Cambridge
speech—so suddenly, with such energy, and with such large significance, that these can hardly yet be realized—the phrase, ‘The Cambridge Idea,’ that spiritual ideal, that conception of a city of God on earth, that indefinable aspiration through which alone either individuals or communities may come to their highest, found a language and a watchword which held within itself the secret of our city's destiny.
—Should I be quite true to my profession, or to a habit which I have had in Cambridge
during the best years of my life, if I failed, as I close, to drop into a few sentences of special exhortation in naming a very particular type of reasons why we should all be dedicated to ‘The Cambridge Idea,’ and should go forward with our whole might into the realization of that measureless and as yet unimaginable future which, through its puissance, lies before our dear city?
For students are coming hither by the ten thousand, from decade to decade.
They will not be able to resist that into which it is possible for ‘The Idea’ to make Cambridge
Orators, poets, jurists, statesmen, educators, scientists, artists, reformers of the time that is to be, will be ever among us. As they shall stroll up and down the Charles
, as they shall linger in our entrancing places,—like the Cam banks at the elder Cambridge
, like the Long Walk
, like the terraces at Edinburgh
,—shall we not, by what we shall make Cambridge
, so build the ennobling, the true, and the beautiful into their lives that, through them, we shall bless inestimably the whole world?
That, brothers, is our task.
But, one asks, will the greatest genius whom all this shall enrich be a university man?
Probably not. Probably he will be the child of some poor operative in one of our Cambridge
factories, or of some artisan or small tradesman among us. But the beautiful and noble Cambridge
will touch his soul, and the divine mystery of existence will work itself out in him and