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DR. ROBERT A. MILLIKAN, CHAIRMAN EXECUTIVE COUNCIL,
|I am not one of those who had the good fortune to be a
lifelong and intimate friend of Mr. Mudd, and for that very reason am
perhaps in better position than those who had that privilege to speak of
him as the public saw him and as the world will remember him. I
should like to reflect him through five very revealing episodes, or
snap-shots, that came within my own observation.
It is about five years ago, and an invitation is being held for the Tau Beta Pi scholarship society which in institutions devoted to science and engineering corresponds to the Phi Beta Kappa society of arts colleges. Three honorary members are to be initiated. I am ushered into a dimly lighted room and seated beside another honorary initiate--a man of refined face, friendly, open eye, and gentle bearing, who holds out his hand as he says, "My name is Seeley Mudd." After the semi-mystic ceremonies we three older men sat down first to dinner, then to a little after dinner talking, and finally to an hour or two of chatting with these twenty-five or thirty wide awake, ambitious and scholarly young men. Mr. Mudd exhibited an intense interest, not only in the scientific and engineering enterprises, educational and industrial, of which they were a part and in which they planned to make their careers, but in the men themselves. That evening I told Mrs. Millikan that I had met as cultured and as interesting a gentleman, in the full significance of that word, as I had ever seen.
The next snap-shot is taken amid the club life, the municipal enterprises, and the business activity of Los Angeles, where cooperative undertakings must be put through, enterprises which require men willing to pull more than their share of the load, men too who, because of the soundness of their judgments, the unselfishness of their motives, and the magnetism of their personalities can inspire other men and enlist their cooperation. Here I find Seeley Mudd as influential and as universally respected a man as the community possesses--a man with an altogether unusual power of gaining the confidence of diverse groups, a man who imposes his judgments upon no one, who, if he preaches at all, does it solely through the force of example, who knows how to be intimate with men who differ from him, both in tastes and even in convictions, seeking always the common ground, the points at which diverse minds can pull together rather than those at which they pull apart,--in a word a forceful, effective man among men, a virile leader, as well as a gentleman,--a rare combination of these two qualities.
The third snap-shot is taken in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I am visiting in that city at its First Congregational Church my old friend of student days thirty years ago in the University of Berlin, William H. day, and I see on the study walls a fine large portrait of Seeley Mudd, and in response to my inquiry "And do you know my friend, Mr. Mudd?" I hear him say, "One of the finest men I ever met--a pillar in my church for years"--and a new side of the character of Seeley Mudd is revealed to me, the side that has to do with a belief in the reality of moral and spiritual values. I have seen him as a cultured gentleman, as a virile leader among men, but here I see him as a practical idealist, a man for whom religion has a meaning.
The fourth snap-shot was taken last spring, the last time I saw Mr. Mudd. He came to me to discuss the future of scientific and engineering education and progress in Southern California, and the part that he himself hoped to play in it. He said he had found that the time was not yet ripe for some moves that he wished to make, but that he had thought through the whole situation and had decided upon a plan that he should a little later be able to carry out. And here my camera photographed Seeley Mudd as a man of altogether extraordinary breadth of vision--one of those rare men who had learned to use the objective, scientific method to get up above all local and historical loyalties, to push into their proper setting his inherited interests, to clear away all the debris that had accumulated from the past, and to look at things in perspective, as they are today, to get movements and institutions into their right relations to one another , and above all to see where effort can be most economically and effectively put forth to actually serve the interests of the whole community rather than those of a part of it. That is the quality that makes the statesman. One may be a gentleman, a leader, an idealist, and yet just fail of greatness because he does not have the breadth of vision and judgment to gauge correctly what can be done with the means at hand. My fourth snap-shot revealed Seeley Mudd as a great statesman in the derivative sense of that word, a man great enough to guide and shape the destinies of a large community.
My fifth snap-shot was taken when the news was brought, only a few weeks later, that Seeley Mudd was gone, gone before his work was done, or his plans carried out, gone at the full tide of his accomplishment, gone when the community interests needed him most acutely and leaned upon him most heavily, gone in his strength, before he had nearly rounded out the allotted span of human life. So it seemed to all of us when the news was brought. "Too soon! too soon!" we said. And yet what do we man by soon? What is time except the opportunity for accomplishment?
"That life is long that serves best life's great ends." Gauged by that standard, Seeley Mudd had already had a long, long life. At best we run, as we rate time, but "three score years, and ten" and then pass on the torch to other hands. Seeley Mudd had already borne the torch far beyond a single runner's normal span, and we who watched him pass it on are today shouting proudly and joyously, "well done! Well done!" and girding our loins to try to do our part as well. He still lives on for us and for all the world in memory, an indestructible influence. Seeley Mudd, gentleman, leader, idealist, statesman, the happy possessor of a well-rounded and completed life.
DR. RALPH TYLER FLEWELLING
|The terrible news of Mr. Mudd's passing reached me in
Europe, where I was, bent upon a mission upon which he had sent me--that
of getting books for a great philosophical library. And the news
was over-whelming, not only because of its connection with that task on
which I was sent, but because in the work of life, he had proved a
friend of the rarest order, and it would be impossible for me to express
with any sense of adequateness today my own personal feeling in the
passing of Mr. Mudd.
In the history of civilization, certain individuals deserve the name of torch bearers; sometimes quite unknown and sometimes little noticed--upon them has the future structure of society been grounded. It was the work of such individuals as these, that after the barbaric invasions had reached their height, quietly and unobtrusively saved the institutions of Western Europe from utter collapse and guided its social order into the ways of the Renaissance and Revival of Learning. This conservation took place in the critical time through the efforts of a few far sighted men and of a few institutions. Not many today can realize how far that disintegration had gone under the onslaught of Visigoth, Hun and Vandal, and how feebly flickered the all but failing light of European culture. The last stand of learning was made in the monastery of St. Columba, on the isle of Iona, off the coast of Ireland. The lights of learning did not flicker out because devoted individuals began the work of instruction in connection with the cathedral schools and out of these arose the Universities which soon were thronged with thousands of students, the heralds of a new science and of a new cosmopolitanism. From these schools issued forth a new social order which kept that which was vital of the old but which eventually welded this best into the institutions of modern democracy.
The point of significance lies here; that in the preservation of the gains of civilization there have always been these two factors--a man and an institution were never wanting, and they must, as then, ever work together, for the work of an individual man is soon lost or dissipated in the tumultuous sea of human change. Men soon forget watch-cries that have once stirred their passions to white heat. Those principals and achievements of yesterday which are to become a part of tomorrow's life must be precipitated into law, literature, religion, or institutions of learning. Of these, the one that can most easily combine the present with the past is the institution of higher learning. Back of each of these institutions will be found a man whose mind was keen enough to see through fogs, and errors, and partisan watch-cries of his age. Oxford has her fabled Alfred the Great; and her less mythical Dr. Bodley; Paris has her Blanche of Castile; while the light and learning of Florence still glows from the torch of Lorenzo the Magnificent. These men and women with the institutions they fostered were the torch bearers of civilization.
We have gathered today to do honor to the memory of a man whose distinguishing characteristic, next to hi religious faith, was clearness of vision. He was blessed with a rare gift of insight. His mind left in the background the incidentals to every question and shot directly at the mark of underlying principles. His mind was noble in its sincerity and as unaffected as it was sincere. He saw about him in a greater or less degree of formlessness, the beginnings of a newer and better civilization, a culture which might unimpeded by tradition arise in this great Southwest, and he gave himself with great impartiality and will all the directness of his mind to those institutions which should build the higher culture of tomorrow. I doubt whether any man knows how wide or how generous were his interests. Modest to a fault, he was content to do and to be forgotten or to pass to others the laurels that were really his own, but he built his life and his work into institutions that will go on perpetuating it till the end of the age. We gather here today not to snatch from oblivion a fading memory. He worked with such self-effacing far-sightedness that he cannot be forgotten. We gather here rather out of self-respect to pay our tribute to one who was very dear by reason of unusual qualities of heart and mind, one who held to the high road of business honor, of noble educational ideals, and of sincerest religious faith. He was our torch bearer--Seeley Wintersmith Mudd.
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