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[341]

Wycliffe was, no doubt, a learned man. But the learning of his day would have burned him, had it dared, as it did burn his dead body afterwards. Luther and Melanchthon were scholars, but they were repudiated by the scholarship of their time, which followed Erasmus, trying “all his life to tread on eggs without breaking them;” he who proclaimed that “peaceful error was better than tempestuous truth.” What would college-graduate Seward weigh, in any scale, against Lincoln bred in affairs?

Hence, I do not think the greatest things have been done for the world by its book-men. Education is not the chips of arithmetic and grammar,--nouns, verbs, and the multiplication table; neither is it that last year's almanac of dates, or series of lies agreed upon, which we so often mistake for history. Education is not Greek and Latin and the air-pump. Still, I rate at its full value the training we get in these walls. Though what we actually carry away is little enough, we do get some training of our powers, as the gymnast or the fencer does of his muscles; we go hence also with such general knowledge of what mankind has agreed to consider proved and settled, that we know where to reach for the weapon when we need it.

I have often thought the motto prefixed to his college library catalogue by the father of the late Professor Peirce,--Professor Peirce, the largest natural genius, the man of the deepest reach and firmest grasp and widest sympathy, that God has given to Harvard in our day, whose presence made you the loftiest peak and farthest outpost of more than mere scientific thought, the magnet who, with his twin Agassiz, made Harvard for forty years the intellectual Mecca of forty States,--his father's catalogue bore for a motto, Scire ubi aliquid invenias magna pars eruditionis est; and that

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