WERE the wish not too extravagant, I would that most of my days winged pleasantly as the couple of happy days I spent at Notre Dame's Diamond Jubilee.
Though all the time there I treaded my way through throngs, I was filled with quiet happiness -- that balmy heart happiness which comes from observing the happiness around one and being subtly infected by it.
And the crowd at Notre Dame was not a crowd as usually understood -- had none of the fret, fatigue, and restlessness of a crowd. It was a concourse of joyous people possessed by a peaceful gladness and a glad restfulness. That is how my subconscious self sensed my surroundings. To everybody, everything seemed good and pleasant.
It was good to see the evidences of striking progress furnished by the finished new Library and the started new Science Hall. It was good to see there pillars of Church and state (six feet four inches of Governor Goodrich, stands out among the pillars) gracing the occasion by their presence. It was good to see poet from the Atlantic meet novelist from the Pacific. And it was good to sit spell-bound under some of America's first orators.
All this was good. But to me it was still more pleasant to observe the meeting, from their lar-scattered abiding places and widely divergent walks of life, of the many who in years gone past, had trod these paths as high-hearted boys, had underneath these trees bound their friendships, dreamt their dreams, and builded their castles -- and, above all, had grown in their soul's rich soil the beautiful love which time's tempests never could uproot, of their thrice-endeared Alma Mater. Now they had forsaken the world's frets, and shaken off the world's worries, and returned to renew their youth, sweet, glad, and care-free, underneath the welcomning elms and in the holy halls of Notre Dame.
Good, too, was one's personal joy in meeting here, unexpectedly, at this turn, or at that corner, one's own friends from otherwheres as Father G. of the grave thought and the bubbling boyishness, nurtured on the blue lake of Devenish, amid the dark woods of Erha which I love; M. whose home-bound soul is ever hovering over the bird-haunted, singing Slaney; Father K., with heart as royal and as big as his own big royal Mount Cuilcagh, and deep as the Shannon Pot ("which was never yet fathomed") and every cubic yard of it fired for Ireland; the poet from Brooklyn, too, with the traditional eccentricity of his tribe seeming not sensitive of his natal misfortune; and Brother A. of the beautiful character, noble representative of the noble land to which his warm heart, ever turning, is needle-true.
And for such an ideal reunion, the weather was ideal -- all thanks to heaven, Father Cavanaugh, and the sun. Who has ever felt Father Cavanaugh's smile -- that mellow, sweet, great smile, which is world-embracing, and which makes you believe that you are the world -- who, I repeat, has ever felt that wonderful smile without feeling that summer had come? But when the sun, as on those golden days, gets on the job with the President of Notre Dame -- !
And 'twas just that way on earth and sky during the days of the Jubilee.
As I walked the paths amid the jovous throng, I reflected how I had not the advantage of a college education. Mv Alma Mater was exactly twenty-six feet long by eighteen wide, smaller than Notre Dame's coal-hole, and six feet to the eaves: and one white-haired, beautiful old man who was President, Vice-president and Faculty, filled all the chairs -- and all of them were representeth by one unpainted form. Through the days of my school career my hand plied the spade far oftener, and found it lighter, than it did the pen. But again and again, these days, I thought that if the fairies had favored me by putting within my reach a college course, and that if I had known all the great colleges that since have called the mountain boy to give him his mountain lore, I should, of them all, eagerly ask to sit in the holy halls and walk the blissful paths of Notre Dame, God-benisoned. And had I a son -- for whom I should naturally covet culture of mind, wholeness of soul, health of body, wealth of memory -- to holy, happy Notre Dame I should hurry him.
As I stood underneath a tree, on Sunday afternoon, and saw pass the stately procession which went forth for the blessing of the new Library, and observed the eager hosts that pressed on every side, I tried to picture to myself Father Sorin's statue on the campus, called to life -- the blessed old man rubbing his eyes, looking out upon the gorgeous sight, meditating upon the multitude, and, in same daze and much amaze, now allowing his wide-opened orbs to wander from great building to great building of the piles that raised their heads before and around him, and then lifting puzzled eves to Heaven, saying, "Oh, Lord, can indeed the little work which I started, have thus gathered national glory? Can the tiny seed that I sowed have thus miraculously fructified?"
But be sure that Father Sorin was there, the gladdest of the glad, those days. And many another teacher and preacher who had toiled here to God's glory -- toiled, and builded, and beheld the miracle grow under their honored hands -- and gone to their reward. Be sure, priests who had prayed here, teachers who had taught here, and flocks of students who had studied here, but whose bones are now mould, walked the walks with us unseen those days; sat at, and arose from, the tables with us unreckoned; greeted the orators unheard, and to every fortunate one of us. gave their grateful, silent benediction. They gave us joyous welcome, blissful company, and wistful adieu. Be it not long till we, the shadows, and they, the reality, know mutual bliss again under the shadow of Our Lady beloved.
But be it soon, or be it never, many of us will ever treasure memory glad as was the sunshine and green as was the sward during those glad Jubilee days at Notre Dame.