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TO A GRADUATING CLASS

Address Delivered at the University of Arkansas,

Fayetteville, Ark.

TO A GRADUATING CLASS

Although I have lived in Arkansas for over 30 years, and have been in most parts of it, yet I have never before my present visit been in this fruitful and beautiful portion of it known as the North West. This has been more my misfortune than my fault. Twice before these societies have kindly invited me to be present at their re-unions. Once I was kept at home by sickness, and the other time by circumstances over which I had no control.

I have been here now for myself and have seen the varied hills and valleys, the attractive landscapes, the pleasant homes, the kind and hospitable people, and this institution of learning, which has before it so much of usefulness, and I am filled with gladness to think that this all belongs to our common State in which we have lived, and in which most of us will die and be buried. And now that I am here I should be sorry if any of you have concluded that I have come to deliver what is called an “oration," or to be heard for much speaking. I suppose that I could hire a hall at home and deliver an "oration” without the trouble of coming so far.

When I came to think about what would most probably be of most interest to you, young ladies and gentlemen, I had to go back in my own mind to that time in my life which corresponds with the period in life in which you are now living. I will not say my “student days,'\ because our student days have only fairly begun when we are done with school, and they never end until life itself is ended.

I can bring those days back to my mind with a good deal of clearness, and can remember that, with all the

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elasticity that belongs to youth, I spent in them a good many sad and despondent hours. My father and mother, upon whom I might have relied for assistance and advice, had died long before. I had neither wealth nor influential friends, nor any of those aids that smooth one's way towards success in life. I was fully aware that I was but very imperfectly educated, and that I had none of those shining talents that will command the world's attention. I was by no means destitute of friends; but every man and woman and child needs a home, a place of refuge, something to fall back on for new strength in case of misfortune or temporary defeat, some central hearth from which, whether far off or near by, he may draw a certain amount of light and warmth. This I had not. I felt that I had to go out in the world and fight life's battle single handed, and that the odds were against me on every side. Every available space seemed to be already occupied, every seat taken.

So, when I looked at the future, it often seemed to me to be as dreary as a rainy sea covered with gloomy clouds. I felt a sense of loneliness and insufficiency; as if I had a work to do and no one to show me how to do it, no tools to do it with, and neither skill nor training; and yet, somehow or other the work had to be done, for over me stood Fate, that stern task-master that hears no idle excuses.

Perhaps I was to blame for having such feelings. My case was not nearly so hard as that of many young men, who, by their own unaided efforts, have attained to a degree of success which I can never hope to reach; but I did have those feelings; and at times I suffered from them keenly.

Nor do I think that I could have been singular in that respect. It seems to me probable that some of you young men may have had or may hereafter have feelings not unlike those of which I have spoken.

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