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First, it is the business of a university to advance knowledge; every professor must be a student. No history is so remote that it may be neglected; no law of mathematics is so hidden that it may not be sought out; no problem in respect to physics is so difficult that it must be shunned. No love of ease, no dread of labor, no fear of consequences, no desire for wealth. will divert a band of well chosen professors from uniting their forces in the prosecution of study. Rather let me say that there are heroes and martyrs, prophets and apostles of learning as there are of religion. To the claims of duty, to the responsibilities of station, to the voices of enlightened conscience such men respond, and they throw their hearts into their work with as much devotion, and as little selfishness, as it is possible for human nature to exhibit. By their labors, knowledge has been accumulated, intellectual capital has been acquired. In these processes of investigation the leading universities of the world are engaged.
This is what laboratories, museums and libraries signify. Nothing is foreign to their purpose, and those who work in them are animated by the firm belief that the advancement of knowledge in any direction contributes to the welfare of man. Nor is research restricted to material things, the scholars of a university are equally interested in all that pertains to the nature of man, the growth of society, the study of language, and the establishment of the principles of intellectual and moral conduct.
2. Universities are conservative. They encourage the study of the history, the philosophy, the poetry, the drama, the politics, the religion, in fine, the experience of antecedent ages. Successors of the ancient monasteries, they keep alive in our day the knowledge of ancient languages and art, enrich the literature of our mother tongue, hold up to us the highest standards of excellence in writing and enable us to share in the thoughts of the noblest of our race. Let me especially remind you that to the universities men turn instinctively for light on the interpretation of the Scriptures. When new manuscripts are discovered, or new versions are proposed, or new monuments are unearthed, it is to the universities, where the knowledge of ancient and
remote tongues has been cherished, that the religious world looks for enlightenment and guidance. Their dominant influence is highly spiritualizing; I would even go farther and say that it is truly religious. I am not unmindful that within the academic circles men are found whose spiritual insight is but dim,-so it is in all other circles, but I assert without fear of contradiction, that the influence of study is, on the whole, favorable to the growth of spiritual life, to the development of uprightness, unselfishness and faith, or, in other words, it is opposed to epicureanism and materialism. In belief, there are tides as there are in the ocean, ebb and flow, ebb and flow; but the great ocean is there, with its deep mysteries, unchanging amid all superficial changes. Faith, with all its fluctuations, is as permanently operative in human thought as Knowledge.
3. Universities are refining. They are constantly, by laborious processes, by intricate systems of coöperation, and by ingenious methods, engaged in eliminating human errors and in submitting all inherited possessions to those processes which remove the dross and perpetuate the gold. No truth which has once been discovered is allowed to perish, but the incrustations which cover it are removed. It is the universities which edit, interpret, translate and reiterate the acquisitions of former generations both of literature and science. Their revelation of error is sometimes welcomed but it is generally opposed; nevertheless the process goes on, indifferent alike to plaudits or reproaches. If their lessons are hard to the beginners, they lead the persevering to high enjoyment.
4. Universities distribute knowledge. The scholar does but half his duty who simply acquires knowledge. He must share his possessions with others. This is done in the first place by the instruction of pupils. Experience has certainly demonstrated that with rare exceptions, those men are most learned who produce most. The process of acquiring seems to be promoted by that of imparting. The investigator who is surrounded by a bright circle of friendly inquisitors and critics, finds his best powers developed by this influence. Next to its visible circle of pupils, the university should impart its acqui
sitions to the world of scholars. Learned publications are therefore to be encouraged. But beyond these formal and well recognized means of communicating knowledge, universities have innumerable less obvious, but not less useful opportunities of conveying their benefits to the outside world.
These general principles I propose to illustrate by asking you to go with me around the circle of the sciences, that we may observe the part which universities have taken or should take in respect to various departments of knowledge.
Let me begin by saying that a university should discover and teach all that can be known of the Human Body. If you ask me why this is so important, I reply, in order that everyone may be able to lead a healthier, stronger and more rational life than is now possible for the want of more knowledge. Hospitals are essential to alleviate sufferings which have been encountered; physical training is of great value; but still more important to humanity is the laboratory in which are studied the laws of life. A celebrated physiologist declares that "a hundred years of life is what Providence intended for man,' and others tell us that most of our minor ailments may easily be avoided, and number of efficient days may be largely increased. Science has proved that many diseases which used to scourge the civilized world may be prevented, and it has recently brought us within sight of new discoveries which will still further interrupt the progress of pestilence. The discoveries of anaesthetics have marvelously alleviated the sufferings of humanity. The causes and remedies of cerebral excitement and degeneration have never been understood as now, and the possibilities have never been so great for the restoration to their normal activity of the powers which have been alienated. In view of these great results and of these anticipations, it is clearly the the duty of a university to study all the forms and functions of life which are manifested in organisms lower than man, all the laws which govern animal and vegetable growth, all that can possibly throw light on human physiology.
Those who are devoted to research of this kind, revealing with their microscopes the structure
and the life histories of the minutest organisms, are constantly, and in most unexpected ways, coming upon new illustrations of the plan of creation, which have an important bearing upon the welfare of man. They are the interpreters of nature and the benefactors of humanity; and I do not hesitate to add that if there is any branch of learning which at the present time deserves the most generous support, it is surely Biology, because of its obvious relations to the health and happiness of every human being. I cannot but think that those who oppose its study will be ranked in future years among the obscurantists of the nineteenth century.
Next, I mention as the subject for university study, Psychology, the nature of man's soul, the characteristics of his mental and moral activity. This science has lately made great progress,-it has improved its methods and enlarged its scope. Those who are devoted to it appreciate the inherited experiences of the human race and are not indifferent to the lessons which may proceed from intuition and introspection; they study all the manifestations of intellectual and spiritual life; but, on the other hand, they are not afraid to enquire, and they know how to enquire into the physical conditions under which the mind works; they watch the spontaneous, unconventional actions of children; they investigate the laws of heredity; they examine with curious gaze the eccentricities of genius, and with discerning, often with remedial eye, the alienation of human powers, and they believe that by a combination of these and other methods of research, among which experiment has its legitimate place, the conduct of the human understanding and the laws of progressive morality will be better understood, so that more wholesome methods of education will be employed in schools of every grade. They acknowledge the superiority of the soul to the body, and they stand in awe before the mysteries which are as impenetrable to modern investigators as they were to Leibnitz and Spinoza, to Abelard and Aquinas, to Aristotle and Plato, the mysteries of man's conscious responsibility, his intimations of immortality, his relations to the Infinite.
I do not know whether philosophy is on a "return to Kant," or to common sense, but I believe
that standing firm on the postulates, God, Soul and Immortality, it will in years to come disentangle many perplexities, brush away heaps of verbal accumulations, and lead the mind to purer and nobler conceptions of righteousness and duty. I go even farther and, as I believe that one truth is never in conflict with another truth, so I believe that the ethics of the New Testament will be accepted by the scientific as well as the religious faculties of man; to the former, as Law; to the latter, as Gospel.
In confirmation of these views, let me quote to you the language of that one among us who is best qualified to speak upon this subject.
"The new psychology, which brings simply a new method and a new standpoint to philosophy, is, I believe, Christian to its root and centre; and its final mission in the world is not merely to trace petty harmonies and small adjustments between science and religion, but to flood and transfuse the new and vaster conceptions of the universe and of man's place in it-now slowly taking form and giving to reason a new cosmos and involving momentous and far reaching practical and social consequences-with the old scriptural sense of unity, rationality and love beneath and above all, with all its wide consequences. The Bible is being slowly re-revealed as man's great text-book in psychology, dealing with him as a whole, his body, mind and will, in all the larger relations to nature and society, which has been so misappreciated simply because it is so deeply divine. That something may be done here to aid this development," continues the lecturer, "is my strongest hope and belief."
The study of Society engages the earnest interest of another set of men, and the apparatus of their laboratory includes archæological and historical memorials of the activity of the race. The domain of history and political science has never been cultivated as it is in modern times. The discovery of primeval monuments and the interpretation of long hidden inscriptions, the publication of ancient documents once hid in monasteries and governmental archives, the inquiry into primitive forms of social organization, the development of improved modes of research, the scientific collection and classification of facts which illustrate the condition of
ancient and modern communities and especially the interest awakened in the growth of institutions and constitutions, give to this oldest of studies the freshest interest. Papers which have lately been printed on rudimentary society among boys, on the laws of the mining camp, on the foundations of a socialist community, on the differences between parliamentary and congressional government, on the derivation of modern customs from the ancient beginnings of the Aryan people, on the nature of communism and many more such themes afford illustrations of the mode in which the historical student among us, following the lines of Stubbs, Maine, Freeman, Bluntschli, Roscher, and other celebrated workers, are advancing historical science, and developing the true historical spirit. The aim of all these inquiries is to help on the progress of modern society by showing how the fetters which now bind us were forged, by what patient filing they must be severed, and at the same time to work out the ideal of a society in which Liberty is everywhere, but "Liberty sustained by Law."
Languages and Literature have always been promoted by universities, and will always be dominant for reasons which are as enduring as language itself. We study tongues that we may know the men of other climes and other days; we study literature to enjoy it. As an aid to intercourse with people of other nations and for the purpose of keeping up with the record of modern science, nobody doubts that the modern languages are to be encouraged; but if we really would own the inheritance which is our birthright, if we wish to appreciate the master-pieces of literature, if it is well to put ourselves in sympathy with mankind, to laugh with those who have laughed, and weep with those who have wept, we must not be restricted to the writings of to day. In science, it has been said, read the newest and latest; not so in literature, but the best. Isaiah and John, Homer and Eschylus, Cicero and Virgil, the Nibelungen Lied and Chaucer, Dante and Petrarch, are as full of life, beauty, instruction and entertainment to us as to former generations. But from the classical standard of excellence this busy world would soon depart, were it not that in every university there are scholars keeping bright the altar fires, and warming us with the glow of
their enthusiasm, whenever we come under their influence,-sharpening too our wits by their critical acumen.
It is not uncommon, now-a-days, to hear objections to classical education, usually from those who have never had it, and declamations against dead languages, usually from those who have never learned them. But the Humanists may unquestionably leave it to the Geologists to fight the battle for antiquity. They have shown us that the older the fossils the more instructive their lessons; indeed so much importance is attached to ancient animal life that the national government, with great liberality, encourages its study by promoting explorations, museums, and costly publications. Be it so; but let not the nation which does this, forget that men are of "more value than many sparrows;" that the oldest literature is not old or dead, but fresh and living in comparison with the bones of the cave dwellers; and that though a megatherium is wonderfully instructive, an ancient Epic or a Drama is not unworthy of attention.
Jebb, in his life of Bentley, asserts that probably "the study of classical antiquity, in the largest sense, has never been more really vigorous than it is at the present day." We might add that classical poetry has never been so popular-else why these innumerable editions and translations? Why, after Worsley, Butcher, Bryant and their predecessors, are we reading aloud and smiling over the immortal Odyssey as it is given to us in the rhythmical prose of Palmer? This is a good sign; only it is well to remember that reading translations is not reading Greek, and, as Jebb goes on to say, we must not forget the difference between "the knowledge at second-hand," which the intelligent public can possess, and "the knowledge at first hand" which it is the business of the libraries and professorships of a university to perpetuate.
If the defenders of classical study would confine their argument to the line which was lately followed by Butcher, they would silence their opponents. "To Greece," he says, "we owe the love of science, the love of art, the love of freedom-not science alone, art alone, or freedom alone, but these vitally correlated with one another and brought into organic union. . . . The Greek genius is the European genius in its first and brightest bloom. From a vivifying contact with the Greek spirit,
Europe derived that new and mighty impulse which we call progress."
But I must not pass from the subject without a word upon the study of language in general, that faculty of the human race which was never half understood until the universities of Germany entered upon the study of comparative philology, by the introduction of Sanscrit study. With this new torch they have thrown a flood of light upon the nature of speech, the history of our race, the brotherhood of nations and the development of ideas which lie at the basis of all Indo-European civilization.
The Shemitic tongues have long been subjects of university study, especially Hebrew and Arabic -the former so much esteemed as the language of the Old Testament that it used to be spoken of as the language of Paradise, and the latter being regarded as a key to the ideas and religion, the ancient literature and science, of one of the largest families of men. Of late years the domain of Shemitic study has been widened; libraries long hidden have been exhumed on the sites of ancient Babylon and Nineveh; records, the very existence of which was unknown at the beginning of this century, written in characters to which there was then but the slightest clue, are now read and printed and studied as a part of the history of mankind. Assyrian becomes a language of university study-not, indeed, for many scholars, but for a few, and the bearing of their discoveries is so important upon the language and history of the Hebrews that one of the most learned of English theologians has recently said that, in respect to certain of the obscurer passages of the Old Testament, the world must wait for the light which would come from Assyriology.
Certainly, if the history of mankind is worth studying, if the lessons of the past are of value, language and literature, the ancient, the modern, the primitive and the cultivated, will never be neglected among the studies of an enlightened community.
When we turn from Man to his environment, we soon perceive that mathematics lies at the basis of all our knowledge of this world. To count, to measure and to weigh, are steps in civilization, and as we extend our powers in these directions, we find that even the distance
and mass of the planets, the form of the earth, the velocity of light, the mechanical equivalent of heat, and the unit of electrical resistance may be accurately ascertained, and the results, with many of the ideas which they involve, may become a part of the intellectual possessions of every educated person. Yet when we reflect that hardly any branch of knowledge is so depreciated by the average man as the modern advancement of pure mathematics, we must believe that its influence upon civilization is not sufficiently considered.
Professsor Cayley, in a recent address, alluded to the connection of mathematics with common life, on the one hand, and with the deepest questions of philosophy, for example the metaphysical ideas of time and space, on the other. As to its utility, he declared that he would defend this science as Socrates defended justice, quite irrespectively of wordly advantages,—and then he proceeds to show the relations of mathematics to the certainty of knowledge, and to emphasize the idea that mathematical science is not built upon experience but upon certain fundamental assumptions,-which are indeed found to be in conformity with experience. I wish that every student, however remote his studies may be from mathematical text-books, would turn to the opening passages of this discourse, and steady his own mental equilibrium by the assurance that the science which is most exact, and most satisfactory in its reasonings, is based upon fundamental postulates which are assumed and not proved by experiment. "In the theory of numbers," he says, "these are very remarkable instances of propositions observed to hold good for very long series of numbers,-and which are nevertheless untrue."
If you persist in taking the utilitarian view and ask me what is the good of Mr. Glaisher's determination of the least factors of the missing three out of the first nine million numbers, the volume containing the sixth million having lately been published;-or if you put a much of more comprehensive question, what is the use the Abelian functions, I shall be forced to say, I do not know; and if you press me harder I shall be obliged to express my conviction that nobody knows; but I know, and you know, and everybody may know, who will take the pains to inquire, that
the progress of mathematics underlies and sustains all progress in exact knowledge.
Whewell, the author of the History of Inductive Sciences, has brought out very clearly the fact that "the opening of Greek civilization was marked by the production of geometry, the idea of space was brought to a scientific precision; and likewise the opening of modern European civilization was distinguished by the production of a new science, Mechanics, which soon led to the mechanics of the heavens, and this step, like the former, depended on men arriving at a properly distinct fundamental idea, the idea of force. Henry Smith, arguing for the value of his favorite study to mankind, points out the injury which would come to the intellectual strength of any nation "whose notions of the world and of the things in it, were not braced and girt together with a strong frame work of mathematical reasoning. It is something," he continues, "for men to learn what proof is and what it is not." The work in mathematics at Alexandria or Syracuse two thousand years ago, is as perfect in its kind and as direct and unerring in its appeal to our intelligence, as if it had been done yesterday at Berlin or Göttingen by one of our own contemporaries. In kindred language, Cayley, working forward as well as backward, and not unmindful let us hope, of the Sylvestrian school, upon this side of the Atlantic, in which he had been a master and a guest, thus concluded the address from which I have already quoted.
"Mathematics have steadily advanced from the time of the Greek geometers. Nothing is lost or wasted; the achievements of Euclid, Archimides and Apollonius are as admirable now as they were in their own days. Descartes' method of co-ordinates is a possession forever. But mathematics have never been cultivated more zealously and diligently, or with greater success than in this century-in the last half of it or at the present time; the advances made have been enormous, the actual field is boundless, the future full of hope. In regard to pure mathematics we may most confidently say,
"Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose
And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.''