Josiah Meadows ’23 Latin Salutatory

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The Value of a Harvard Education

Josiah Meadows ’23, Latin Salutatory

DE FRVCTIBVS INSTITVTIONIS HARVARDIANÆ

ORATIO SALVTATORIA CANTABRIGIÆ NOV-ANGLORVM IN COMITIIS ACADEMICIS HABITA A. D. VIII. KAL. IVN. ANN. DOM. MMXXIII. REIPVB. AMERICANÆ CCXLVII. COLL. HARV. CCCLXXXVII.

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Præses admodùm colende, præses designata, socii inspectoresque honoratissimi, professores tutoresque doctissimi, condiscipuli sodalesque carissimi, vos deniquè quotquot adestis auditores spectatissimi—salvete omnes!

Per quattuor propè sæcula, anniversario ritu in hanc aulam convenimus ad hunc diem festum celebrandum. Quandoquidèm permulti clari oratores in hæc rostra escendêre ut hoc in conventu celeberrimo dissererent, grato ac summisso animo ad hoc officium accedo. Nunc dicere licet mihi aliquid commune esse cum viris illustribus qui ante nos fuêre atque hìc stetêre, uti cum Vinstonio Churchill et Johanne Kennedy ac Forresto Gump.

Ne vetus consuetudo majorum has sollennitates Latinè incipiendi pereat, egregiâ Romanorum linguâ vos salvere jubemus. Forsitan quispiam quærat ‘quamobrem nostrâ ætate orationem Latinam habere oporteat?’ Cui respondebo: lubentèr hanc arripimus occasionem Yalenses facundiâ vincendi, cùm isti in comitiis suis Latinè loqui omninò nequeant. Si qui alumni Yalenses in nostrum numerum fortè correpserint, profectò inter se murmurant, “What in the world does this mean?”

Hoc quadriennio felicitèr peracto, vobiscum, auditores ornatissimi, de fructibus doctrinæ Harvardianæ disserere velim. Imprimìs, per hanc institutionem Harvardianam cives artis rhetoricæ periti fiunt. Ad academiam nostram advenimus imaginibus Demosthenis, Ciceronis, divique Chrysostomi—principum eloquentiæ—de altis Theatri Sandri fastigiis nos intuentibus. Vigiliæ eorum sempiternæ haud ignari, in dicendi exercitatione eos æmulari conati sumus. Quàm gravia erant ea de quibus disputavimus! Quorum unum præbebo exemplum: eo die quo domûs attributæ nuntiantur, unusquisque nostrûm, novâ fidelitate permotus, laudibus domum suam extollit. Certavimus de magnificentiâ domûs Eliotianæ, Dunsterianæ, Adamsianæ, Vinthropianæ. Ii quoque qui ad aulam quadratam (eheu quàm longè remotam!) quasi in exsilium ejecti, præstantiam domuum suarum vehementèr defendunt. Haud rarò autem dicuntur tanquàm Socrates inferiorem causam efficere superiorem.

Sed non solùm dicere, verùm etiam cogitare didicimus. In jure et rebus politicis, cogitavimus communia; in medicinâ et physicis, naturalia; in literis et poësi, pulchra; in astronomiâ et mathematicis, æterna; in philosophiâ et theologiâ, τὸ ἀγαθόν. Deniquè, in disciplinâ celeberrimâ rerum œconomicarum, cogitavimus de…pecuniâ?

Quæ quidem exercitatio cogitandi haud facilis fuit. Quidam nostrum sedulò animos intendimus in Renati Cartesii philosophi decretum, Cogito, ergo sum. At paulò pòst, dictum simile didicimus: Covido, ergo Zoom.

Sed in inquisitione atque investigatione veri, inruptam copulam amoris invenimus, ut versibus Horatii poëtæ inscriptum est in portâ à cohorte academicâ anni MDCCCLVII ædificatâ, cujus juvenes, cùm horrido bello civili coörto adversùs sese armis dimicâssent, tamen in amicitiâ usque ad supremam diem permanserunt. Quamvis decorum est in solitudine ingenii facultates exercere, multò suavius est in amicitiâ investigare Veritatem Christo et Ecclesiæ. Hìc enim coluntur ὁμόνοιαἐλευθεριότης, neque ullo alio totius orbis terrarum loco artiore fidei et amicitiæ vinclo conjunguntur homines qui humanitati, virtuti, pietati student. Ex hoc constat summum institutionis Harvardianæ beneficium. Quamobrem magnoperè vos hortor, comites, ut has amicitias tum quoque colere pergatis cùm Almam Matrem reliqueritis, et quanquam hodiè id vobis dico, grates Deo Optimo Maximo, sapientiæ fonti inexhausto, persolvens ac dulcitèr de hisce splendentibus annis cogitans quibus ætate florentes fructi sumus, utinam ne supremum tempus sit quo dicimus, valete. Dixi.

THE VALUE OF A HARVARD EDUCATION

A SALUTATORY ORATION DELIVERED IN CAMBRIDGE OF NEW ENGLAND AT THE CEREMONIES OF COMMENCEMENT ON THE 25TH DAY OF MAY IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 2023 OF THE UNITED STATES THE 247TH AND OF HARVARD COLLEGE THE 387TH

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Esteemed president, president-elect, honored fellows and trustees, learned members of the faculty, beloved fellow classmates, and finally, to all the distinguished guests present—greetings!

For nearly four centuries, we have met in this yard each year to celebrate this joyous occasion. Seeing that many eminent orators have ascended this rostrum to address this august assembly, I approach this duty with gratitude and humility. One may now say that I share something in common with the illustrious men of history who stood here, such as Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, and Forrest Gump.

Lest the long-established custom of our forebears of opening this ceremony in Latin perish, I salute you in the magnificent tongue of the Romans. But perhaps some may ask why it is necessary to deliver a Latin oration in our age. The answer is simple: we gladly seize this opportunity to beat the Yalies in eloquence, incapable as they are of speaking Latin at their commencement. If a few Yale alumni have infiltrated our audience today, they are surely murmuring amongst themselves, “What in the world does this mean?”

This four-year period having happily come to a close, I would like to speak to you, distinguished guests, on the value of a Harvard education. First of all, a Harvard education produces citizens who are skilled in the art of rhetoric. Ever since we arrived at this university, the busts of Demosthenes, Cicero, and St. Chrysostom—the princes of eloquence—have stared at us from the gables of Sanders Theatre. Mindful of their ever-vigilant gaze, we strove to emulate them in the practice of rhetoric. How weighty were the matters we debated! Let me offer an example: on Housing Day, each one of us, filled with a new sense of loyalty, sings the praises of his house. We sparred over the merits of Eliot, Dunster, Adams, and Winthrop. Even those exiled to “the Quad” (alas, so far away!) vehemently defended the superiority of their houses. However, some may accuse them, just as they accused Socrates, of “making the weaker argument the stronger.”

But not only did we learn to speak, we learned to think. In law and politics, we contemplated the social; in science and medicine, the natural; in literature and poetry, the beautiful; in astronomy and mathematics, the eternal; in philosophy and theology, the Good. Above all, in the most popular field of economics, we contemplated…money?

This exercise in thinking was no simple task. Some of us spent great effort meditating on the principle of the philosopher René Descartes, “I think, therefore I am” (Cogito, ergo sum). But soon, we learned a similar dictum: Covido, ergo Zoom (“Covid, therefore Zoom”).

Yet through our common quest to discover the truth, we found the “unbreakable bond” of love, as inscribed in the verses of the poet Horace upon the Class of 1857 Gate—a class whose young men, though taking up arms against each other at the outbreak of a dreadful civil war, nevertheless remained in friendship until their dying day. Though it is noble to exercise the faculties of the mind in solitude, it is far sweeter to pursue the Truth in friendship for Christ and the Church. For here unanimity and liberality are cultivated, and in no other place in this world does a firmer bond of loyalty and friendship exist between people who are so dedicated to the pursuit of humanity, virtue, and piety. Herein lies the highest value of a Harvard education. Therefore, I exhort you, comrades, to continue cultivating these friendships even after you depart from our Alma Mater. And though I say it today, rendering thanks to Almighty God, the inexhaustible fountain of wisdom, and smiling upon these shining years we have enjoyed together in the bloom of our youth, let this not be the last time we say, farewell.

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