54 History of Wake Forest College
chemists, geologists, civil engineers, our editors and authors. In our recent
anomalous political condition we have been importing our politicians and our
legislators. Shall we, when the brighter day shall dawn, import our men of science
and education? Shall the South thus succumb when our youth of noble and varied
gifts are here, and should be held well in hand for the great emergencies of our
coming future? Alas, that we should enter the market thus to barter away so lightly
our intellectual birthright. I confess to you, young gentlemen, that this is the darkest
feature of the frowning cloud which hangs over our future-this I say, that we do not
appreciate now in the crisis of our fate, the supreme importance of a thorough
education, for every available young man and woman in our midst. How are we to
organize, how are we to marshal our forces and fight our battles in the fields of
history, of science, of politics and religion in all our organic and social life without
a numerous and thoroughly trained host to the manor born and to the manor true as
steel, I cannot see.
But you, young gentlemen, you who have already attained and now stand
equipped, you shall be needed. Go out then like men, young men, feeling that you
have a work to do, not fearing but hopeful, strong, buoyant. God is good. Do not
distrust Him. Give yourselves no time for despondency. "He that observeth the
winds shall not sow, and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap." Life is a great
battle and victory or defeat must come.
But this is not all. "There is a battle to be fought, a victory to be won," which
affects another state. In that fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith,
and then as you lay down the helmet and the shield at His feet, the crowning-time
will come and the joyous "Well done" shall greet you. Dear young men, may God's
good Spirit and abundant grace go with you. Farewell.
Our chief interest in the College in these years is the students
themselves. How did they rise superior to the great disaster that had
overwhelmed the South? Where they cowed and submissive or
rebellious and resentful? Or did they accept the result of the war as
final and set themselves to get the training that would fit them for
leadership out of despondency and ruin into a brighter day and a new
order when the South should again be respected and on an equality
with the other States of the union? It is in this last light that the
records of the Literary Societies for those years reveal these students
of the darkest days of Reconstruction.
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