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THE SPEECH OF WALTER HADDON IN PRAISE
OF THE BRANCHES OF LEARNING
DELIVERED AT OXFORD

VEN if this is not a case of a pig teaching Minerva" Varro says to Cicero and Atticus. blue Wherefore If I, being the pig and in the company of so many Minervas, were to try to instruct you, I would seem not foolhardy but downright insane. I am not so arrogant as to to claim you as my students, you whom I would not decline to have as my instructors. But this gentleman, privately my tutor but otherwise the supervisor of your studies and in general a patron of learning, a man most perfect in all his praiseworthy features, Doctor Cox, blue is urging me to deliver this oration. Thus he, who in the past has been responsible for my manner of living, speaking and feeling, has been responsible for my speechifying at this time. Since the weight of his words and manner of living are such that he has much authority, he has proposed such a challenge that it seems necessary to respond to it it its own right. Wherefore, since the wish of my most distinguished tutor has always been most welcome me, and in the future should be so even the most trifling of efforts, I am most happy to oblige him regarding this sort of thing he has proposed to me.
spacer 2. He has desired that the subject of my address to you should be the praise of the branches of learning. Good gods, this is a great thing and the single one most worthy of our attention! But this is a thing which requires more intellect and time than I have or perhaps could have at my disposal. But I must at least make the attempt, being pushed into doing so, and if what I do amounts to nothing you may charge that to my tutor's troublemaking, who has the command in this business, and give me the credit for my compliance since I would rather be blamed for my lack of talent and learning than for my want of friendship and dutifulness, even in handling these matters it cannot be visible, since I shall be discussing the most important things yet ones free of all discussion and dealt with in a very limited amount of time. Wherefore allow me to forge ahead, relying on your intelligence and diffident concerning this hasty and almost offhand discourse of mine. In which, albeit my Cambridge has greatly and often made much of me, the novel sight of these new precincts frightens my eyes which, whatever they light upon, see nothing upon which they can rest in peace for any length of time. But harken to me so that the thing for which I am present can be transacted, you fine gentlemen, if you fancy there any reason for hearing me out while, being only half-learned, I discuss learning in the presence of very learned men.
spacer 3. I shall not bother you with precepts so that I might teach you, so that you yourselves might crave to be educated. Nor are my words aimed at those of you who are instructing others in the most weighty of disciplines. Rather I wish to address the younger among you whose weakness of age and wit must be governed by wiser and more learned men. However none of those who love the study of letters should regret hearing an address in which some of the distinctive features of learning are touched up, and who aim at enhancing the dignity of their disciplines, and this is the intention of my speech, certainly to the degree that I am touching on your studies. Allthough these were great in the past, if they are henceforth yet greater you all will think that I have spoken well.
spacer 4. Regarding this thing, so that you might approach it with greater and more eager understanding, first consider, or rather, if you will, reflect on something I have already considered when I say that this animal we call Man, intelligent, mindful, and full of reason and good counsel, has been created in a most excellent and divine condition. From this follows his appetite for things that are good and agreeable to his nature. But it habitually seems to me that those endowed with the most acute taste for philosophy that there are three things most to be sought. Of these the first is righteousness, followed by usefulness, and pleasure comes in third. These are, as it were, the three principal sources of all the deliberations of our nation, and it is by avenues traversing these three regions that all the activities of our lives pass, so that no none of our concerns or senses are free of them.
spacer 5. For what consideration befalls either our mind or our bodies in wich we do not pursue a nature excellent per se or the same thing conjoined with either profit or pleasure? To the first category belong manifestations of righteousness, virtues and duties. In the second fall benefits which convey some profit derived from them, such as authority from honors, abundance from wealth, connections from friendships, and other opportunities of this kind. In pleasure are the sweet and innate delight, suich as the genuine glory of having done things aright, and partially these come from the study of the branches of learning and the exercise of our nature, which Cicero once called the food of one's mind and another place the fodder of our humanity. blue
spacer 6. But you should not anticipate me describing e to you the advantages of sordid fellows or the delight of those who, absorbed with the pleasures of the body, devote their nature to the titillation of their senses. Let unfit beasts of this kind be passed over in silence. If we entirely consider our minds and divert our thoughts from the senses, briefly considering the mind, that inmost part of ourselves, we shall discover that within these pursuits of learning for the sake of which we live our secluded lives, no single one of the three varieties I have proposed (in which much exists), but rather a combination of all t hree within letters, and as I say a few words about these I beg you to pay close attention.
spacer 7. Let virtue be considered first, whose preeminence is unique. Regarding this as fourfold, Cicero calls it "the face and shape of righteousness“ blue although Aristotle divides it into its several parts. blue But let virtue be comprised of many parts, that does not concern our subject. Let us see what it is. It is a habit, belonging to our nature and agreeable with our rationality. Oh what a divine, golden furniture of virtue! Within itself it contains all the things without each of which our life can amount to nothing. Oh the most excellent and clearly divine condition wherewith these outstanding components of virtue are decorated and polished! For nature, excellenty laying the foundation for many things, by molding and instructing brings them to their final perfection, and the precepts of literature often reinforces memory, often recalcitrant at comprehension and always elusive in retention and readily going astray. Literature reveals that which is hidden in every matter, bind it fast once it has been discovered, and keep such an eye on it when it has been bound so that it cannot escape by any route. blue
spacer 8. Now if reason were not nourished and educated by the precepts of learning, it would be fine and noble in its origin but unable to come near to any conclusion. Rather, when reason has made considerable progress and accepted letters as a helper, it penetrates deeper into the nature of things, from which virtue is wont to emerge. And so the Stoics most aptly called virtue "reason perfected." Great praise and the consummation of all our arts belongs to the things whereby this is achieved, for the sake of which we are wont to complete all our activities.
spacer 9. Wherefore bestir yourselves, be moved by the splendor of virtue and righteousness. Your avenue to these things is the understanding of the branches of learning. And these things cannot be acquired unless it is understood of what kind there. And the knowledge of them flows from the fountains of learning. Not let us be troubled by the fact that it was suggested by Plato that virtue cannot be leaned. blue For surely this is not expounded in its part concerning the experience of life, but rather to the primal actions of our minds, and unless sure precepts are provided, so to speak as the seedbeds of the virtues, not even the word "the virtues" (whatever that may be) can manifest itself. even if this word is only spoken by us as a matter of prudence. Cicero defines this as the knowledge of good and bad things. blue We hear the word "knowledge" and it resounds in our ears. Therefore let us strive to seek after it by means of art and knowledge, if indeed virtue or uprightness are dear to us. Or at least Socrates was who thought that virtue was nohting but prudence, blue and Aristotle and Cicero, who thought that virtue was made manifest in all things done aright. wherefore, to conclude this part of my speech, let us make our judgments as keen as our eyes, bestirring all the might of our minds as followers of Socrates himself, that sovereign of learning in all its branches, so that righteousness (which existed in him to a wonderful degree) might enter into ourselves to our great praise if we can behold it in learning, for it is supreme in all the walks of life.
spacer 10. Now follow usefulness, which other pursuits purvey in futile and temporary, forms, and only our studies leave remaining as genuine, stable, and distinct. For the benefits which are wont to be mentioned as the profits of such things as comeliness, strength, sound health, wealth, lands, manors, clothing, and livestock, arise from our bestial nature, pertain tot he body, and are limited to it. And since these things are in a perpetual state of flux, thus all the features of these advantages are liable to change, their conduct is entirely uncertain, and their ownership is most risky. If I cared to tell all the things that could be said against them I could wax eloquent since the philosophers have crammed their books with expatiations upon their inconstancy. But let me show my contempt for these contemptable things, and address myself to the delights of the mind, from which genuine and enduring fruits are gathered, and when I have revealed them I shall not depart from letter.
spacer 11. For the things that contain gravity within themselves are either endowed by nature, rendered suitable by good fortune, or are produced by the mind. The gifts of nature or those things which are based on the finest of beginnings. But unless a certain a certain moderation to them by learning they will either bear no n fruit or produce thorns and fruitless weeds, so that unless nature is restrained by letters and the disciplines of the arts it ends in the greatest perversity. And now it is difficult to speak of fortune, as its rashness requires. Cicero appears to have adjudged most rightly about its entire levity and inconstancy and to have issued a most weighty warning when he called both it and those who embrace it blind. blue There remain the goods of the mind: intellect, reason, wisdom, art, all of which are contained within letters and learning. These we can most truthfully call good things since they make those by whom they are embraced. They are excluded from no occasions, no transactions, no events. They are always ready at hand, they always thrive, they have a share in all situations and at all places, embellishing prosperity and consoling those in adversity. They rrfresh the downcast, uplift the afflicted, and almost restore the dead to life.
spacer 12. I appear to be saying much, but what I say is not much different from the truth. For every man is such as is his mind, as it seemed to Plato, that god among the philosophers. Why should we not say that those are alive whose arts, counsels, deliberations, knowledge, and in sum is entire mind live on in the hearts of men, being preserved in letters. To this therefore we should closely apply our minds, to this our concerns, our studies, our meditations, our night-time vigils ought to strive so that we may excel in letters and learning. And if we achieve this, you now see the rewards: the most flourishing prosperity of our minds, filled with every manner of happiness, and after our deaths the memory of our names, either long-lasting or eternal, as if a second life.
spacer 13. If you want to ponder how great these things were in other men, it is most easy to seek them in the authenticated times of the prosperity. By the force of his learning Themistocles endured exile, most grievous for such a man. Letters sustained Dionysius, cast down from his royal estate. Learning eased Posidonius when fevers raged throughout his body. Letters supported Cicero when he was debased by exile, poverty, and the ruination of all his fortunes, obviously a downcast sufferer. Letters uplifted Socrates, not only eased his pains amidst torments and even at thie point of death, but even uplifted him.blue And so it is to this learning, to these letters, these arts our minds must devote themselves, as our minds dwell on these thoughts by day and by night. If our mind stays fixed upon these precepts as it ponders them long and carefully, no terrors will daunt it, no sufferings will ruin it, no lusts will enflame it, no delights will melt it with their enfeebling pleasures, but it will be lifted up to God, nor looking outside itself will it be entrapped by external affairs or believing anything other than itself to be relevant to itself. Certain of the philosophers were willing to call this tranquility of minds, filled with so many advantages, blessedness itself. When the remaining good things of the mind are taken together (and all their abundances and riches are embraced in letters), we ourselves will adjudge them to be perfected and most blessed in all their parts, and if my time allows I can reveal a little of this.
spacer 14. But now that the right honorability and supreme usefulness of lettters has been set forth, it remains for us to understand the best and greatest delight which can be had by dealing with the best and greatest of things. For if our external senses purvey happiness, how much joy, indeed, how much applause, what great triumphs must be provoked when the mind, at peace with itself, and understanding, with the fires of the emotions banked and quenched, employs its incredible power silently ranges through the sky, the sea and the lands and, totally concentrating on itself, discovering, thinking about, reflecting, refuting, proposing, and employing the rest of its abilities, enjoys all the most divine gifts of intellect and reason? I have already philosophized enough about this thing. Let me invoke the lives of philosophers to bear witness to my discourse.
spacer 15. Pythagoras, a man of ancient remembrance and the first to have enlightened Greece, used to say that human life was like a market-place, in which there were many and various meetings of men acting, scurrying about, and striving in accordance with each man's wit and talent. There was one tribe involved with letters, called philosophers. These, detached from all the everyday and common strivings of other men, sat, as it were, as umpires and judges of other men's actions, unimpeded by any concern for matters of that kind, but focusing their attention on the free and unimpeded pondering upon them. Both Pythagoras himself and countless others after him possessed this golden leisure. In particular that great man Democritus was so inspired by this pursuit that he blinded himself so as not to be impeded on the course that leads to understanding.
spacer 16. Why should I mention only a single man? Cicero enumerates a choir of those who, excited by the desire for learning, went on similar journeys of exploration. He mentions Zenocrates, Crantor, Arcesilaus, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Zeno, Cleanthes, Chrysippus, Antipater and countless others, so you may understand the great pleasure of learning. blue If these leading philosphers were so enticed that some of them, disregarding everything else, devoted themselves to the pursuits of learning, and others made such progress that some of them disdained their nation, and others held in scorn their very senses and health, you must elevate and expand your minds and grasp this three fold excellence of learning which I have set forth. You, I say, wjp need not undertake such perpetual journeys as once those noble philosophers did, but rather live in this House and within these precincts we presently occupy, wherein learning is offered and inculcated. By a stroke of heavenly good fortune all these things are purveyed, not only to satisfy the expectations of others, but even more than you could hope for.
spacerspacer17. For, whether one considers the man responsible for this leading home of learning, His Royal Majesty (the sun has never looked down on anything more illuminated by so many ornaments, so brilliant in the arts of both war and dpeace, flourishing so greatly in the absolute prosperity of all his affairs), or its right reverend Dean, my tutor ‒ how much piety in the man, how much strength and courage in his heart, how much energy and effort in conducting his dealings, how much authority in his voice, sweetness in his mouth, affability in his manners, how much steadfastness and dutifulness can be perceived in all his life! If I were to say nothing about my feelings since he is present, what an ornament to my speech should I forget? The other things I could bring to mind would be ample, lofty, august, and most fitting for this royal foundation.
spacer18.Wherefore it is most fitting that you (or rather for us, if I may count myself among your numbers), who are destined to have a share of this bounty, to strive in our turn that the commonwealth reap some fruit from our effort and industry. If these things should seem to amount to anything, our most generous lavish profits will be repaid and the excellent bounty of His royal bounty will not be restricted to these limits. The things he has already done were great, we see greater ones at present, and we may expect yet greater to be done for us. His Royal Majesty is always asking about his subjects "What are they doing? Is there any hope in them? Is there any ability?" His Royal Majesty will always wish those he decorates, so that he might enjoy the living glory of his immortal bounty. He will always spread abroad his own throughout his commonwealth, so that evidence might be shown to the eyes and ears of all men.
spacer 19. There will be at hand (as there is right now) the Right Revered in Christ Father John of Lincoln, blue who if he did not greatly admired this royal benefice and assiduously loved learning, and was not neglectful of yourselves, would never have been the man to take this course for all these years and at anything. Therefore this most weighty Father took it upon himself to keep watch on the progress of your talents. And so he will earnestly commend to His Royal Majesty your progress in letters. When the Reverend Father in Christ the Bishop of Oxford, who, worn down by old age and with his body seemingly used up has hobbled here, will see you, almost his sons, flourishing in praiseworthiness for all the exertion of your studies,, he will lavish all his effort, grace and authority upon your endeavors.There will be at hand your Dean possibly someday to be m ine, and most certainly my tutor, a man most outstanding on every score. By his urging he inspired His Royal Majesty (not idle but rather in need of no urging) to have a thought for your advantage. The other flower of your neighbors whom you see all about yourselves, will with all good lovingkindness come to appreciate the maturation and perfection you will achieve thanks to your virtues and learning in the studies you are now commencing.
spacer 20. And lastly the leading lights of this right decorous academy, who now have intruded into you House, when in the future they have been illuminated by the brilliance of your decorations, will come to love you and assist you by the protection of their good counsels. Wherefore by way of conclusion I again appeal to you, to you I say I am making this appeal, you royal offspring, you royal family, you who are comprise both a royal House and a royal company of youth, blue that (mindful off all the things I have shown you and of these men you see to be present) you exert all the powers of your minds, so that someday you may prove to be as His Royal Majesty anticipates, your right reverend Dean hopes, and our entire commonwealth wishes you to become.

Finis