1939 Fredericton Encaenia

Graduation Address

Delivered by: Fairweather, J. H. A. L.


"Address to U.N.B. Graduating Class by Justice Fairweather"  The Daily Gleaner (18 May 1939): 5. (UA Case 67, Box 1)

Mr. President, Your Honor, Members of the Senate, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Members of the Graduating Class.

I little thought in 1894 when as a stripling of 16 I first came up College Hill, that I would be standing here to-day, among all the learned Doctors who surround me, delivering a message, and I hope a word of encouragement, to the 1939 Graduates of my Alma Mater.

I am forcible reminded of the passage of time, and the words of the wonderful old school song of Harrow come back to me, - "Forty Years On," – familiar words I hope to most of you:

"Forty years on growing older and older
Shorter of wind, as in memory long
Feeble of foot, and rheumatic of shoulder
What will it help you that once you were strong."
"Follow up, Follow up, Follow up
Play up and play the game."

I must frankly admit that together with other gentlemen seated upon this platform, I am short in the wind, also "in memory long," but please do not be alarmed. I shall control that memory, and shall not weary you beyond the time allotted to me by your President. May the spirit of that old song remain with you throughout your lives – "Follow up, follow up, follow up, - Play up and play the game." If it does, you cannot go far wrong in any undertaking that the future holds in store for you.

Great Advancement.

I understand that the graduates from the various Faculties at this Encaenia total 85, which represents practically the total number of students in my day. One has only to look around to see what great advancement has been made, in buildings, numbers, and equipment; but I cannot help wondering if you students of to-day find it possible to retain that intimate touch with your instructors that we had in our time when a class of 30 was considered a large one.

Those Old Instructors.

I think of Dr. Harrison, Dr. Bridges, Dr. Bailey, Dr. Raymond, Davidson, Stockley, Dixon and Downing, with feeling of gratitude for many kindnesses, and for a measure of forbearance pressed down and flowing over. I am sure your honored President and Dr. Kierstead, fellow-students of mine, will bear me out in this belated tribute to these stalwarts of other days, though I can assure you that neither of them ever tried the patience of the professors to the extent that I did.

Dr. Raymond introduced us to Scipio’s Dream and Martial’s Epigrams, not so much, we thought, on account of their value as literature, but because the combined efforts of the class were unable to procure a key for either of them. "I do not love thee Dr. Fell" comes from Martial, though if I remember correctly the learned Doctor is there referred to under the more euphonious name of "Sabidius."

Dr. Bailey told me once that the greatest reward he ever got for his work was when some graduates expressed gratitude for the broader vision of nature that had opened up to him, through the science lectures that he gave for so many years. His name will ever be revered in the annals of this University.


I think perhaps Professor Stockley was the most unselfish man I ever knew; at a time of which I speak he was pasing through a great crisis in his life, and the happiness and welfare of others was his chief concern. A few of us took an Honor Engineering course with him and I remember well the length of the examination he set; we wrote all morning, and at lunch hour had not nearly completed our task. He gave us an hour and a half break but never even suggested that we should not look up any of the questions during the interval; he simply tool it for granted that we would not do so, and I think I can truthfully say that at that time there was no one of us but would have lost his right arm rather than break faith with him.

That brings to mind Thos. Hood’s poem that he taught us with the numbers others-

"I remember, I remember, the house where I was born,"
"The little window, where the sun came peeping in at morn."

And the ending -

"But now 'tis little joy
To know I’m farther off from Heaven,
Than when I was a boy."

Stabilizing Influence.
In the times of stress and crisis that comes to all of us, these lines often come back to me, and I wonder if my character is developing or going backwards, and whether or not I have been able to keep those ideals of boyhood pure and undefiled. It is a severe test. These glimpses of literature that were given me by the University have always had a stabilizing influence on my life, enhanced, I am sure, by the wonderful character of the man who taught me. It is difficult to define education. You, know, with higher standards now prevailing, have far more education in the broader sense than students of our day, but I do hope that with it you have caught the same spirit that came to us from the distinguished men at whole feet we sat in the days gone by.

The Greater Challenge.

In hundreds of schools and colleges at this time of year, graduates are being told that they are being turned out into a world that is hard and without promise, a world more or less paralyzed by conflict of ideas, threats of war, unemployment, and stagnation in trade and industry. No doubt that is true, but is it not the greater challenge to your courage and endurance?

When I look at your hopeful and eager faces, it is hard for me to believe that very few, if any of you, were even born when the Great War was being fought, - that war which meant so much to many of us present in this hall to-day. To you it is history; to us it seems only yesterday.

They Did Not Shirk.

Times were hard then, desperately hard, and your father and brothers did not shirk from duty, but offered even life itself. Of my own class, of 30 men, three gave their lives, Markham, Vince and McKee, and their names lead the honor roll of this University as its oldest members to make the supreme sacrifice. We hear talk of pacificism and of neutrality in time of war. God grant that the time shall never come in Canada when it shall not be a glorious thing to die for one’s Country. Had it not been for the sacrifice of Markham, Vince and McKee and thousands like them, your O.T.C. would now be strutting, not marching, and the singing of our National Anthem would mean at the very least a term in a concentration camp!

Let us face facts: If the need arises we must help the Mother Land to the limit of our power. Our loyalty and our very existence demand it. It is unthinkable that Canada should ever become a vassal state.

If the need arise, may you young men not be found wanting.

"And he is dead who will not fight,
And who dies fighting, has increase."

We are now being honored by a visit from our Sovereign and his most gracious lady, the Queen. Let us take this opportunity of renewing our pledge of loyalty to them and to the freedom of thought and purity of life that they symbolize.

The Two Classes.

You know from your own experience that there are two classes of people whom you meet in your daily life; 1st, those who seem to radiate friendliness and who are always glad to cheer us on our way; and 2nd, those who through lack of a friendly smile, or some other reason, seem almost unapproachable, - people that make you feel you would rather walk ten miles than ask them to drive you one. How much easier this life would be if we all belonged to the 1st class. We never realize how much a kind word or thoughtful act may mean to some people. Try to develop that friendly spirit that the world needs so sorely to-day. "Go through life without ever ascribing to your opponents motives meaner than your own."

Personal Advice.

When I ask you to be friendly and helpful, I, at the same time, must warn you not to be as the saying is, - "easy." Don’t lend your credit, - don’t endorse notes for your friends. It is sometimes so hard to refuse and it seems such a simple thing to sign one’s name, and to be lulled by the oft-repeated promise that the note will be taken up in due course. In case of real need by all means lend or give money if you have it, but don’t, please don’t, pledge your credit, if you wish to keep friends or your peace of mind.

Hard Work.

The late Sir James Barrie when elected Rector of St. Andrew’s College, delivered an address to the students at the time of his institution to office. His subject was courage. I have read that address many times. He quotes Izaak Walton as having said "that God might have made a better fruit than the strawberry but never did," and then says "that God might have provided greater joy than hard work, but He never did." Hard work is the true source of happiness, and the consciousness of work well done brings a joy beyond the flitting pleasure of idleness and monetary wealth. "Diligence – Ambition – are noble words, but only if tended to fine issues. Prizes may be dross, and learning so much lumber, unless they bring you into the Arena with increased understanding. Hanker not too much after worldly prosperity, that luxurious motor car, that corpulent cigar. If you acquire too much wealth, you are very apt to spend your time swimming around for more like a diseased gold fish. If perchance wealth does come, do not let it cramp your soul, but use it to help your fellow man, and reap the joy that comes from generous giving.


To quote Barrie again, - "Courage is the thing, All goes if courage goes." What says our glorious Johnson of courage: 'Unless a man has that virtue he has no security for preserving any other, we should thank our Creator three times daily for courage instead of for our daily bread, which if we work, is surely the one thing we have a right to claim of Him. This courage is a proof of our immortality greater even than gardens 'when the eve is cool'. Pray for it. 'Who rises from prayer a better man, his prayer is answered'.

"Be not merely courageous, but light-hearted and gay,
Make merry while you may.
Yet light-heartedness is not for ever and a day."

At its best it is the gay companion of innocency; and when innocency goes, as go it must, they soon trip off together looking for something younger. But courage comes all the way."

May I quote from the old Scotch Ballad: -

"Fight on my men, says Sir Andrew Barton,
I am hurt, but I am not slaine,
I’ll lie me down and bleed a-while,
And then I’ll rise and fight again."

That is the message I want to leave with you. Life is not easy; courage is essential if you will breast the tide. If circumstances bowl you over, don’t lament, don’t make a fuss, be patient and keep your head. Just lie you down and bleed a while and then arise and fight again.

Beware of the Rebound.

While you have been attending the University, you have been more or less forced to work; you have had regular hours for lectures, and with the bug-bear of examinations in the offing, it was necessary for you to apply yourselves and study if you were to make the grade. Now, however, you are free of that restraint. Be careful of the rebound; do not let yourselves drift. "Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day" – "Do something every day or so for no other reason that that you would rather not do it. Develop control so that you do not follow the easy path, the line of least resistance. Develop the habit of concentrated attention and self-denial in unnecessary things, that you may be strong when the storms come as come they will. As William James says -
We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never-so-little scar…" "Nothing we ever do is in strict scientific literalness wiped out."

As we become permanent drunkards by so many separate drinks, so we become saints in the moral, and authorities and experts in the practical and scientific spheres, by so many separate acts and hours of work. Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever the line of it may be. If he keeps faithfully busy each hour of the working day, he may safely leave the final result to itself. He can with perfect certainty count on waking up some fine morning to find himself one of the competent ones of his generation in whatever pursuit he may have singled out.

Young people should know these truths in advance. The ignorance of them has probably engendered more discouragement and faint-heartedness in youth embarking on arduous careers than all other sources put together.

In closing let me impress upon you that we do not live for ourselves alone; we are living examples for all those with whom we come into contact and unconsciously influence them for good or ill.

"Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
Not light them for ourselves."

May your lives be useful and happy; I wish you God speed.


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