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Of the old feudal and decrepit carcass,
Not the least powerful agency through which the Church is atfecting commercial standards and business life to-day is the Catholic college. Modern business tends to make men self-assertive, egotistic, strongly self-opinionated. The struggle is for the strong and its success to the strong. The fight of business inevitably produces or accentuates those characteristics that are highly virile, and, as a consequence, the modern business man of America is probably the most highly developed type of egotism in the history of mankind. Obviously, to affect such a man much in his way of thinking you must do it before business grips him, and the most impressionable years of life are the
Our Catholic colleges are graduating men who achieve business success, and who at the same time are preserving high standards of business morality, because of four reasons--four reasons that cannot, or do not, exist in the same fullness in non-Catholic schools.
First, health. With rare exceptions, no man can be a great business success without good health. Health does not mean
a robust physical constitution. If it did, one might in denying the wide application of my statement point me to a Jay Gould, a Harriman or a Rothschild—all men of inferior physical development. But it does mean at least a sound body. No man can stand the wear and tear of the business life of our cities sufficiently well to achieve moderately great success without an abundance of good health.
Our Catholic colleges build well and wisely the health of their students. Regularity of hours, both of play and study, evenness of tasks, wholesome food and attractive surroundings, go far to give to our Catholic graduates that foundation of physical vigor which counts so much in the business world. Go on the campus of our Catholic and non-Catholic colleges and note the difference in the physical appearance of the boys.
It has been said with striking truth that every great business is but the lengthened shadow of one man. If you will take any great business house anywhere in this country you will find in all of its rantifications the handiwork and brain work of one individual. An immense stock of good health is absolutely necessary for the man who does the work of so many, for the man who by tremendous exertion sets the mental fashions for thousands.
1 Too many of our non-Catholic colleges, to use a phrase of Mr. Roosevelt's, though not used in connection with this subject, tend to out-civilize civilization. This may not strike you so forcibly—those of you who are accustomed alone to the campus life of the western colleges. But we must remember that a very large proportion of their students come from an active outdoor life at home and have splendid health to begin with. To illustrate, finally, how important physical vigor is in business success, we have but to recollect that the great captains of industryin nearly every case men of sound bodies-came in most instances from the soil and not the tenement. And our Catholic colleges, supreme in their splendid regime of vigorous, rightful living, are furnishing men with one requisite at least of business success—health.
Secondly, the Catholic college equips her boys with a fundamentally sound education. No graduate of a representative Catholic college need ever mention her name in any gathering of university men on this side of the Atlantic but with pride, need ever think of her thoughts other than thoughts of love and loyalty and respect.
There is, perhaps, no field where the intellectual training of a college shows more strikingly than in debating. The debating victories of our Catholic schools have become so noted that President James, of the University of Illinois, was moved to comment especially on them in the course of a magazine article a few years ago.
It pleased me much to have an expression of opinion on the work of Catholic education from no less an eminent observer than the late Dean Ames, of the Law School of Harvard University. A certain graduate of a Catholic college wrote me to find out if he could enter Harvard Law School on a Science degree without taking an examination. The late Dean—and I suppose no educator of his time knew more of the qualifications of American colleges than he--said that a graduate of that college, no matter in what course, whether in a course closely kindred to the law or not, could enter Harvard Law School without a question, and if he forgot to bring his diploma along the Dean would take his word for it that he had one. And I presume he might have said that of many of our Catholic schools.
There is no better test of what our Catholic colleges have done than the splendid work of this convention. If our schools can produce the builliant and profoundly learned men to whom you have listened with such great pleasure and profit the past two days—to whom you have listened to-night-what may we not reasonably expect, in those cases where these distinguished men are educators in the sense of active teachers, from the young men who come under their tutelage in our Catholic colleges throughout the land?
Some years ago there was criticism from certain quarters aimed at the utility of our studies—at the curricula of our Catholic colleges. It was said we were old-fashioned, that we clung too closely to the selective instead of the elective method. It seemed to us that a boy of seventeen was incompetent to select what was best for him from a possible choice among anywhere from one to a hundred subjects offered in a curriculum. It seemed to us that if experience should ever count for anything anywhere it should in the educational field. If we wish law, or medicine, or a piece of good work of any kind done, we go to a man of experience. And yet the ultra of our opponents would disregard the educational experience of centuries and let him of reg-top trousers and wonderful hat band do wholly for himself what the experience of hundreds of years can do at best but imperfectly for him.
We are glad to see that this notion of widely applied free election has gone like other educational fads to the scrap heap, and that even Harvard, the most advanced of those contending for free election of studies, under a new administration, no longer believes that the child is father of the man in educational thought. The free elective system is conducive to good polo playing and good bridge-whist, but neither of these graceful accomplishments is highly merchantable in the commercial world.
I knew a man under the free elective system-and he was to succeed his father as the head of a great industry-who had a business training in Elizabethan poets, philosophy of literature, effect on Art of the Renaissance and landscape gardening. And this is not an isolated example; even in this particular case he told me he had selected the course with great care as to its possible mental hardships, and had given the result of his thought to some of his friends who followed him blindly, as I suppose we are all wont to follow men of inspiring genius. Our Catholic colleges have always stood, and do to-day, for a carefully selected course of studies free from the educational craze of the passing hour-a system that tends to give to the commercial world men of fundamentally sound mental training.
Thirdly. The next great service Catholic schools are doing for business life is furnishing young men of splendid democracy. Our schools are graduating men who can be strong and yet just —who are highly successful and yet who do not lose the sense of obligation of service io mankind. I make no exception--the greatest force for true democracy in American life is the Catholic college. There is no place of activity in our life where democracy is so pure, so simple, so uplifting, so all-pervading as in our Catholic colleges. It is the only place I know of where man stands as man, and not as clothes or wealth or social position.
Neither creed, nor birth, nor wealth, nor plumage are availing in the honorable strife for standing among his young fellowmen. Who can measure the beneficial far-reaching effect on our business life, our business morals, and our governmental ideals of thousands of men scattered here and there all over this land, imbued at the most impressionable age of their lives with a standard of true men-values, with a kindly feeling for men, with a spirit of genuine democracy? Do you suppose even fifty years of most strenuous grinding business activity will ever obliterate this splendid acquisition of these men? If there is
one thing America in its present money-madness needs, pleadingly needs, it is fellow-feeling. And our Catholic colleges would be justified if they contributed just this one thing, which they do contribute in fullest measure to the commercial worldthe spirit of a common, honest democracy.
Fourthly and lastly—the greatest contribution of the Catholic college to business life is God's law for the dealings of men. do not mean to say that Catholic business men have any monopoly of business virtue. They certainly have not. Many of the most upright business men under all circumstances are men of other religions, and, in many instances, men of no religion at all. But I mean that in the long run, day in and day out, in good times and in times of turbulent business temptation, the man who comes from four years of training amid ennobling and pure inAuences, in a word religious influences—is more likely to be honest, more likely to take into account the law of God instead of always the law, or lack of law, of man, than is he whose training has been non-religious or anti-religious. Some schools either directly or indirectly teach their boys to
on the principle that to be honest tends to uplift the face. I do not believe that any such creed, as being honest else the race will retrograde, proves very strong moral support when in a crisis every instinct is to financially massacre that race. hours of great business temptation it takes something harder won than that pretty sentiment, something less easily forgotten, to sustain weak humanity. It requires the centuries' proved wisdom of Him who was crucified for mankind--the divine inspiration of Him who laid down the rule of conduct for all men, in all places, in all temptations. These are necessary to sustain weak men in strong times.
The Catholic colleges through their men are imposing a law higher than man's cunningly devised statutes to govern the marts of commerce. And, further, they are endowing their boys with intelligence and acumen, so that in the race for wealth they will not suffer in a material sense by taking into account the rights of others. For indeed it would be a sad plight if to be honest would mean ruin and loss of business success.