Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/163

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General Lee at Gettysburg. 159

counseled return to home and peaceable pursuits, and unquestion- ing obedience to law, and himself promptly set the example.

He spoke of a small farm to earn his daily bread, for retirement and simplicity and family happiness. He declined every proposi- tion of emolument and publicity in this country and abroad. Under abuse and threatening, he was patient and silent. To a small col- lege in the Virginia Valley he went to a position, not conspicuous, not lucrative, and involved labor and anxiety, and there gave him- self to the education of the youth of the South, as the truest and largest hope of the recovery of the people from the waste and calamity of war.

General Lee was distinctly a great college executive. In the prime of his manhood, he was the successful superintendent of West Point, and the last six years of his life were spent as president of Washington College. He impressed his great personality upon the entire college community, and established its high ideals of character and manhood. He gave attention to every detail of col- lege activity, no matter how minute. His annual reports to the college trustees are models of conciseness, and show the hand of a master. He gave his energies ta constructive work, anticipating Southern thought as to the necessity of scientific and practical edu- cation. He was a prophet of the modern theory that the college library should be the chief college "laboratory." He commended and strengthened the honor system in Virginia colleges. For him- self he had a superb literary style, and his great interest in the college library marked him as a man of distinct literary tastes and aptitude. When he undertook to inform himself, he would ex- haust the subject, by reading the great authorities consulted, by personal investigation of living sources, and by profound reflection. One day some competent person will bring to the knowledge of all the spirit and work of Robert E. Lee as an educator of youth. And over it all will be shown his intense love and admiration for youth, and his own personal devotion to the profession which in such large degree holds the future in its grasp.

You will permit me to say that, in the midst of all modern mate- rialism and naturalism, and the various theories of what produces a noble manhood, that I still believe that religion is the one solid and sure bases of character, pure and peaceful, and the supreme guide into all lofty career unselfish, generous, fruit-bearing for the hun-