Source: Medical Bulletin
Source type: journal
Document type: public address
Document title: “Introductory Address, Medico-Chirurgical College, Session of 1901 to 1902”
Author(s): Heisler, John C.
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 23
Issue number: 10
Pagination: 368-75 (excerpt below includes only pages 374-75)
|Heisler, John C. “Introductory Address, Medico-Chirurgical College, Session of 1901 to 1902.” Medical Bulletin Oct. 1901 v23n10: pp. 368-75.|
|John C. Heisler (public addresses); William McKinley (personal character); McKinley assassination (personal response).|
|Ralph Waldo Emerson; William McKinley.|
|From page 368: By Prof. John C. Heisler, M.D.|
Introductory Address, Medico-Chirurgical College, Session of 1901 to 1902 [excerpt]
Moral integrity. That this word integrity—primarily
wholeness, entireness—should be used, by common consent, to denote
a state of moral rectitude is proof of men’s belief that the condition of moral
rectitude is the normal condition of man; that anything short of this carries
with it the idea of abnormality, of incompleteness.
Gentlemen, as an example of symmetrical  manhood, of a personality combining a high order of intellectuality with those gentle and gracious qualities which singularly endeared him to all within his sphere of influence, and with a moral integrity that was unimpeachable, the character of William McKinley merits your earnest attention and your emulation. A fanatic criminal directs his weapon against the person of a sovereign people’s chosen representative, and lo! a nation—nay, the civilized world—is plunged into deepest grief! In unprecedented fashion, testimonials of sorrow and of love come from the four corners of the earth. We see this man, at one moment in the full strength and dignity of well-seasoned manhood, surrounded by thousands of his admiring fellow-countrymen; supremely happy in his domestic life, touched, though it had been, by a great sorrow whose shadow was ever over him; happy, too, in the anticipated solution of the great problems which time and circumstance had set before him: the next moment, laid low by the act of an assassin, striking with “causeless hate”; brought face to face with death and all that death means of frustrated plans, of blighted hopes, of broken ties. And in this hour of trial, how does he bear himself? Is there any note of repining at that “mystery of blind, remorseless fate”? Is there any exhibition of resentment against the worthless wretch, who had betrayed him, Judas-like, with a friendly greeting? The world is familiar with those first words, words of tender solicitude for her who, for years, had claimed and received his chivalrous devotion; and with the effort, almost divine in its magnanimity, to shield his murderer; as well as with his unselfish thought for the institution whose program he had so unwittingly interrupted. The world knows, too, how, in the final hour, with the death-dews upon his brow, with his last farewell to earth upon his lips, he was still able to say: “His will be done.”
Could this have been the death of a merely clever man? Could the qualities of head and heart shown here have been the outgrowth of the occasion? Or could they have developed in a day or a year? There can be but one answer. Character such as this could only result from a life-time of pure thought, of clean living, of high purpose, and of unselfish endeavor. All his life he had been character-building, and when the supreme hour came, as so fitly said by the London Times, “He died as he had lived, with simple manly courage and unaffected piety which mark the best men of his race.”
“His life was gentle; and the elements
“So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
“And say to all the world: This was a man!”
And this man, judged by the way he lived his
life no less than by the way he left it, may well be regarded as an inspiring
example of one of the best types of simple manhood.
Surely, then, Gentlemen, moral character is to be placed above social adornments and intellectual attainments, important as these are.
In order to do well anything that is worth the doing; to succeed in one’s life-work, whatever that may be; to make the best of one’s talents, be they great or small; and to leave the world a little better for having lived in it: to do these things, one must have high ideals. “Hitch your wagon to a star,” said Emerson, and, Gentlemen, the Star that is above all other stars the most constant and the most brilliant, that has attracted and directed and illumined mankind for ages past, and that will endure throughout the ages to come, is the Star of Bethlehem.