The proper commencement address is timeless, classic. How vainly speakers seek to be original when addressing the young, when in fact old ways are best. The following example, excerpted from the annual commencement of Orgulous College, given by Dunstable Fretley, is widely regarded as an address containing all essential points and, moreover, not very lengthy. -- Ed.
Good morning, gentlemen, and upon my word ladies. When did we do that? You have heard me introduced as novelist, social critic, philosopher, essayist and space cadet, but it is in none of those capacities I address you today baroop excuse me. I wonder if an usher could find some of that fizzy sort of water. As one grows old, his tum-tum is none of the best. Baroop. Thank you.
Rather it is as an old Orgulan that I welcome this chance to speak with you as you leave old Orgulous to enter the great world. You are well prepared. That is well.
For these are not easy times. It is not too much to say they are perilous. And yet at the same time these are times of great challenge, in which the course of the republic, and perhaps the survival of the world as we baroop know it are matters to be decided.Perhaps by Orgulans.
As you know, the college is well represented in councils of state. In the press. In the learned professions. The assistant to the deputy undersecretary of, let me see, ammhhh, is an Orgulan. So is the special assistant to the ombudsman of The New York Times. And needless to say, so is our beloved old Timmons Brockleigh who has served with such distinction for three terms now in the Idaho legislature. But enough of glories; let us think rather of challenge and opportunity.
Was it not Saul, in his interview with the Witch of Endor, who asked for fore knowledge of his state, and of wars? Was it not Lee, who prayed at Gettysburg, unfortunately with an unsatisfactory outcome, for courage to face what must be faced? ywas it not our own dear President Dinwiddie who sought guidance -- and sought the facts -- when he built the great Commons hall of the college in 1902? It is a matter of pride, by the way, that I can assure you the Commons will be roofed this summer, thus perfecting the structure in accord with President Dinwiddie's brilliant conception so many years ago. And, if levity is permitted on so solemn an occasion as this, I believe this will stop those merry sayings of students who for so many decades have joshingly complained of supper at Commons on days it rained. Eh, there have been great days here, and perhaps what we gain in high tech we lose in camaraderie.
But with these and other great figures of the past, we too ask:
What of the future?
I am put in mind of Othello speaking. And I say to you, as he did, to keep up your swords -- the dew will rust them. There is a time to fight, men and women of Orgulous, and the time now faces you. Not with swords, God forfend, but with the learning you have gained of the law, of accounting, of mathematics, of salesmanship, of the classics. And, yes, time to fight with the insights you gained in Commons, partaking of so many meals and oft in weather.
Of such training as you have had here are heroes made. I wonder if there is some more of that fizzy water. The spirit is still strong, I like to think, but I confess the flesh is weak. Baroop.
When I last saw Nehru, if I may intrude a personal anecdote, he said to me, "Good evening. How are things going?" And many a time since then I have thought he put it well. It is indeed evening, and one can but wonder how things are going. Not on the surface but down deep. Baroop.
The answer eludes us, as it did King David in his day. Always the question, rarely the answer. Thus it is.
And yet I face the future undismayed. I see the new generations rise up to take the baton in the great race. Some of us may not survive Thermopylae. But some will. That is the promise of mankind. The promise of Orgulous.
Into the breach, as Henry said. Once more into the breach. All generations are called on to fill breaches as well as breeches, though we should not become too large for the latter.
Slim chance of that. Slim chance an old Orgulan will exceed his proper sphere. And yet we must not sight too low. Always the high ground, always the dream, always the hope of the stars, and into the breach.
You forgive me if I am moved beyond my custom baroop. This is a touching moment for an old man of Orgulous. I see the banner there, with the great seal of the school upon it and the beautiful old motto. Dum dingo batto. Whilst I ding, I bat.
Shakespeare said readiness is all. I say there is a need for battiness also, in the sense of readiness to take up the hat, even as we ding. Indeed, this is in sum what the master of Avon meant, the preparedness to take up the bat and hit the ball with such force, such skill, as to make a goal.
I say God bless you always. I wonder if the usher might have a Tum. Thank you. And in conclusion I say God bless you, princes orgulous, if I may make a pun from Shakespeare. Do not hesitate to ding, but he ready always to bat.
And now I am asked to invite you all to a reception in the Commons, where a painting of President Dinwiddie will be unveiled, and where, upon completion of the roof within the year, it will hang to be an inspiration into the future. Thank you all.