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That such reports as these have gone abroad into the world, no man, who is conversant in it, can be ignorant. And, however desirous the friends of the University may be to throw, with averted eyes, the veil of filial respect over parental infirmity; however little they may be disposed to give credit to insinuations, which they are willing to hope are either groundless, or, at least, greatly exaggerated, by charging upon all what is applicable only to few; yet they cannot but press
it in the strongest terms upon every member of this learned Body, in his several station, more especially at this time, to guard against every thing, which may give even the smallest semblance or colour of truth to them. For, should that phrenzy of reform, which so strikingly marks the temper of the present day, extend its wild progress in razing, or modelling anew, the venerable structures of antiquity, who shall dare to say, that the strong hand of power, invited by the lust
of rapine, or impelled by the suggestions of malevolence, may not* a second time lay hold of such injurious representations, as plausible handles for rescinding, abridging, those privileges and advantages, which are the pride and ornament of our present establishment?
But, even supposing apprehensions of this kind to be, as, I trust they ever will be, groundless under the government of a Prince equally distinguished for his love and knowledge of polite literature; yet there are other motives, of a more generous nature, which ought to stimulate every member of this learned body to a full and vigorous exertion of his abilities. The flame of science burns bright in a sister kingdomt, and seems ready to rival, if not eclipse, the splendor of these antient seats of the Muses. She has al
* See the Proceedings of the Commissioners in the times of Puritanism. + Scotland.
ready the reputation, at least, of excel: ling * in one branch of knowledge, of great and immediate importance to man kind; and it cannot be denied, that the palm of historic excellence is justly bestowed
upon her numerous writers, by the united suffrages of the best and most impartial judges. There are other institutions also in our own kingdom, which, though not yet grown to full maturity, are rising rapidly to eminence, and are eagerly supported by those, who are no friends to those principles of civil and ecclesiastical polity, which it has been the glory of this place, at all times, firmly to profess and maintain. Nor, again, is it to be dissembled, though much to be lamented, that the sons of many of our most distinguished families are sent abroad to seek for culture in foreign climes, and bring back with them those baneful seeds of infidelity, which have
been so widely disseminated through the land. Whether this arises from the caprice of fashion, or from some supposed defect in the plans of academical institus tion at home, I will not take upon me to determine ; but of this I have the fullest conviction, that all these combined circumstances call loudly upon every one of us to support the credit of our common parent; which can only be done by the strictest attention to discipline and im provement in learning and virtue. For, though we can boast of every advantage, which can recommend, or adorn, a place of education ; though our fabricks are ve-, nerable and commodious; though our institutions are wise and salutary, and our emoluments and immunities honourable and ample; though we can display a semi ries of names, the most illustrious which ever graced the page of history, to animate us in the pursuit of science; yet all, these will be of little avail,, unless we make it appear to the world, by our dist
tinguished pre-eminence in every branch of useful knowledge, that we apply them to their proper uses, and that as we have freely received, so also we freely give. For, however the tree may be planted in a rich and friendly soil ; however its branches may be stately, and its foliage thick and umbrageous ; yet, unless it blossoms also, and, like the tree of knowledge, brings forth fruit " good « for food, and pleasant to the eyes, « and to be desired to make one wise," the united voice of mankind will agree in one short and equitable sentence of condemnation, “ cut it down: why cumbreth « it the ground?”
But as it is my earnest wish, so also it is my firm persuasion, that this will never be our case. And, whilst I recite the names of our most illustrious Founders and Benefactors, I trust that every academic breast will glow with a generous ardour of deserving by his future