260 History of Wake Forest College
is that it has brought back to the College as speakers alumni who have
gained a measure of success and recognition for their services. Most
of these were men whose interest in the College had been active, but
among them were several who seldom or never had visited the
College since their graduation, either from preoccupation with other
duties or from having their fields of labor in distant states. The
character of the addresses has been modified by the demands of the
occasion, and nearly all under many disguises have had the one
theme: the duty of alumni to their Alma Mater; the orators who
departed from this stock theme often gave moral lectures, such as
family training and the advantages of education which Dr. A.
McDowell combined for discussion in his address in 1868, selections
from which were made by Dr. W. G. Simmons and published in the
Biblical Recorder of June 24 and July 15, 1868. Sometimes the
alumni speaker would make a departure in another direction: one
sought to amuse his hearers with a lecture on hats, but the younger
men and women before him found talking to one another more
interesting. Rarely a thoughtful speaker would command attention. A.
T. Robertson did this at the commencement of 1919 when he
discussed "The College and the Man," and with his wit and wisdom
gained acceptance for the view that, although it is the biggest of jobs
and often the hardest, "the function of the college is to make real men
out of the raw material of boys."
Thoughtful and well received also
was the address of J. W. Lynch at the commencement of 1913, on the
subject, "The Residuum of a College Education." It was a masterpiece
of artistic oratorical construction, and in the judgment of the writer
among the best discourses made at the College.9 Not quite so
profound perhaps but no less inspiring and encouraging was the
account of the members of the class, that of 1890, which T. Walter
Bickett gave at the commencement of 1915, from the announced
subject, "Twenty-five Years and Twenty-five Diplomas." He had
constructed his speech from the answers to "twenty-four searching
questions" he had pro-
8 The address is published, Bulletin of Wake Forest College, XIV, 111ff.
Ibid., VIII, 125ff.