Did Cardozo Make That Up?
You will study the wisdom of the past. For in a wilderness of conflicting counsels, a trail has been blazed. You will study the life of mankind, for this is the life you must order, and to order with wisdom, must know. You will study the precepts of justice, for these are the truth that through you shall come to their hour of triumph. Here is the high emprise, the fine endeavor, the splendid possibility of achievement, to which I summon and bid you welcome.The Benjamin Cardozo quotation on the east side of Boalt Hall is so much easier to read now that they've whacked the trees and pressure-washed the lettering. I could make it out even in the dark as I rolled by tonight on a little run. Cardozo's words, while inspiring, were not inspiring enough to inject any vigor into the pathetic, book reading blob I have become, but they were enough to remind me of something I've wondered before: " 'Emprise'? Is that a word, or something Cardozo just sort of made up? I wouldn't put that past him . . . "
For those who have wondered, "emprise" is indeed a word. Or at least, it used to be. "Emprise" is not found in the New Oxford American Dictionary nor Webster's College Dictionary, but it is in the 1989 OED (although the most modern citations are circa late-1800's). An "emprise" is "[a]n undertaking, enterprise; esp. one of an adventurous or chivalrous nature."
Not that you were on the edge of your seat . . . but there you have it.