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THE CORNELL UNIVERSITY
HE regular exercises of Cornell University were suspended for the purpose of the Lincoln celebration, at which the Hon. Frank S. Black, former Governor of the State of New York, gave the commemorative address.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: MASTER OF TIME
HON. FRANK S. BLACK
HERE are subjects upon which nothing new can be said, but which still arouse the fervor awakened at their first enunciation. If the song was true when it started on its journey, it will be sung as long as human hearts vibrate and tongues retain the gift of speech. It will be lisped by those who are tottering on toward the end, and echoed by those whose hearts are filled with the promise and the glow of youth. If the product was genuine when it passed from the Creator's hand, it will neither be dimmed by age nor cheapened by familiarity; for honor is not decreased by contact, and truth is never out of tune. If none of the old stories are ever to be re-told, many a noble inspiration must be lost, and many a tender chord must remain untouched.
This is the age, I know, when the search is at its height for the new and marvellous, and in this eagerness the primeval forests are swept away, the bowels of the earth are punctured, and even on the remotest sea the observant eye detects the flutter of a sail. The watchword is energy, the goal is success, but in the fever of modern enterprise a moment's rest can do no harm. We must not only acquire, we must retain. We must not only learn, we must remember. The newest is not
always the best. The date or lustre of the coin does not determine its metal. The substance may be plain and unobtrusive, and still be gold. Whoever chooses without a proper test may die both a pauper and a fool. The paintings of recent times have evoked the praise of critics, and yet thousands still pay their homage to an older genius. Modern literature is ablaze with beauty and with power, and yet millions are still going to one old and thumb-worn text for their final consolation.
Remembering the force of these examples, it will be profitable sometimes to step one side for the serious contemplation of rugged, lasting qualities in whatever age or garb they have appeared. The hero of an hour will pass as quickly as he came. The flashlight will dazzle and blind, but when the eyes are rubbed the impression has passed away; but the landscape that comes slowly into view with the rising sun, growing more resplendent and distinct with his ascending power, and fading gently from the vision at the approach of night, will remain in the mind forever, to illuminate, to strengthen, and to cheer. And men are like impressions. There are more examples of the flashlight kind than there are fireflies on a summer's night, but there is no nobler representative of the enduring and immortal than he in whose name this event is celebrated. Whoever imparts a new view of his character must tell it to the newborn, to whom all things are new, for to the intelligent and mature his name and virtues have been long familiar. His was the power that commanded admiration, and the humanity that invited love; mild but inflexible, just but merciful, great but simple, he possessed a head that commanded men and a heart that attracted babes. His conscience was strong enough to bear continual use. It was not alone for public occasions nor great emergencies. It was never a capital, but always a chart. It was never his servant, to be dismissed at will, but his companion to be always at his side. It was with him, but never behind him, for he knew that a pursuing conscience is an accuser, and not a guide, and brings remorse instead of comfort.
His greatness did not depend upon his title, for greatness was his when the title was bestowed. He leaned upon no