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poetry is older than David, music is older than the Psalms."
The sole condition of legitimate borrowing is that one shall make improvement on what he has borrowed, so that he turns it into something more valuable.
You can never pay the debt which you owe unless you become better workmen and turn over to your day and generation happier conditions, more wholesome surroundings. You are justified as borrowers only that you might in turn become lenders, not lenders after the fashion of Shylock, but generous contributors to the community of the best workmanship and character and personality of which you are capable. The aim of education is the development of power.
The only legitimate use of that power is not for self but for service.
You shall become valued lenders only insofar as you are diligent users of what you have owed. The educated man is not the man that knows every bit of knowledge, but he is the one who knows how, -how to think, how to study, how to ascertain facts, how to deduce the proper conclusions, and how to have the proper determination to express those conclusions in action.
No man or woman can be valued lenders unless they are diligent workers. No man can be a slacker and make the proper use of what he has borrowed. In mediæval England there was a deadly sin known
by a name which has dropped out of the language. The name is gone, but the sin remains. The word is “accidia” and it signified laziness and sloth. Of the terraces of Dante's Purgatory, the fourth and central one was the terrace of Sloth. in this realm, “The power of my legs was put in truce.” It is his way of confessing the slack, halfhearted, halting pursuit of the good. The slothful live in sin, the sin of the “unlit lamp and the ungirt loin.” To love the good without fulfilling it in duty is to create within the soul the night in which no man can work, and even repentance cannot call back in a moment the days that might have been.
This sad realm is filled with a great company who always rush eagerly forward, as if to make up for what sloth had lost. A lazy man is glad of any excuse to throw down his task and gossip with any passer-by; and a busy man is often accused of discourteousness because he refuses to allow his work to be interfered with by mere talk.
The sin of slothfulness and of laziness covered by the name of accidia, mediævalists found indigenous with the preachers. But since the Cleric was the chief scholar of his time it is well that the warning be spoken to all scholars as well as to those of the cloth. Chaucer in his “Parson's Tale " says:
After the synne of envye and of ire, now wal I spoken of the sin of accidia; for envye blindeth the hert of man, and ire troubleth a man, and accidia maketh him heavy, thoughtful and wronful. Envye and ire maketh bitterness in herts, which bitterness is mood of accidia and taketh away from him the love of all goodness. This is accidia the anguish of troubled herts. Certes this is a dampnable sin for it doth wrong to Jesus Christ, and inasmuch as it taketh away the service that men ought to render."
In his “ Faerie Queene,” when Spenser describes the Chariot of Pryde, the portrait of Idleness, the rider of the first six beasts by which it is drawn, is avowedly that of a monk.
The first that all the rest did guyde
Was sluggish idleness, the nourse of sin
Arayed in habit black, and amis thin,
Like to an holy monck, the service to begin.” The man who means to be the valued lender must constantly be on his guard against the insidious sin of sloth. But what shall the lender make as his contribution ? He will desire to lend first of all the best that he has within himself, to express his own individuality. He will endeavour to be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, no matter what his work may be.
Chiefest of all he will be the lender of the sense of the ideal in an age that is pressed down with the consideration of the real. All the greatest work in the world has been done in the moments when workmen have had a sense of the unseen, when they have worked with a passion for the ideal.
All movements of reform and of progress and of modern development have been accomplished
only by those who have had the vision that looks beyond the stars.
The age in which we live is crying aloud for sons and daughters who will give the sense of the heavenly vision. Where there is no vision the people perish.
You shall personify the lender of the ideal when you seek to build up in your community the conviction that your nation is a borrower from all other nations and must be a lender to them. Do all that you can to blast away the bogie man of race prejudice. Proclaim it from the housetops that there are but two races of men, the borrowers and the lenders. Point out how even despised orientals lend a never-wearying patience and irradicable spiritual background much needed in the face of occidental haste and material madness. Emphasize the industrial and aesthetic value of the Japanese to our own civilization. Recognize the wealth of imaginative and idealistic power in the Hebrew and in the yet undeveloped Slav.
It is for the college young men and young women of this generation to loose the age from the slavery of the earth-bound and to give to it wings which shall bring in the conquest of joy and of happiness. As lenders of the ideal you will constantly find that you shall give of the spirit of sacrifice, that you shall never grow weary of the quest, no matter how long delayed its achievements might seem.
Whatever his shortcomings and failures might have been, there never was a braver seeker after the beautiful than Edgar Allan Poe. In a little poem, “El Dorado,” which he wrote just before his death, Poe confesses his quenchless passion for the beautiful, and he who would attain that goal must “Ride, boldly ride." I bid you “Ride, boldly ride," as you pursue your great quest.
"Gaily bedight, a gallant knight
In sunshine and in shadow
But he grew old, this knight so bold,
And when his strength had failed him at length
Shadow,' said he, 'Where can it be?