James Bryce Bryce.

University and historical addresses, delivered during a residence in the United States as ambassador of Great Britain online

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Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceUniversity and historical addresses, delivered during a residence in the United States as ambassador of Great Britain → online text (page 10 of 24)
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that to go further than this was to weaken or to tram-


mel individual initiative and to interfere with the
generally beneficent working of the natural forces
that guide social progress. Whether this reversal of
policy was needed in order to give energy and inde-
pendence their fair chance, for, as J. S. Mill observed,
it is even more fatal to exertion to have no hope of
succeeding by it than to be assured of succeeding
without it, and whether the doctrine of Greece and
Wisconsin or the doctrine of the physiocrats and
Benthamites will prove in the long run to be the best
for the stimulation of inventive thought and enterprise
and for the general advance of the community, is a
question I will not stop to discuss. This at least may
be said, that this particular form of State intervention
which the new principle has taken in the West has the
merit of associating all the citizens in a direct and
personal way with the university, making them feel it
to be their creation, arousing the liberality of the leg-
islature to it, and giving the whole State an interest in
its prosperity and efficiency.

There are, however, two risks incident to popularly
managed governmental control of all institutions of
teaching and learning, against which it is well to be
forewarned. Although neither you nor your sister
State universities may have yet encountered them,
they may some day threaten you, for popular manage-
ment is no guarantee against their appearance.

One of these is the possibility that a legislature, or a
governing authority appointed by a legislature, may


carry politics into academical affairs, as politics have
been sometimes carried into those affairs in parts of the
European Continent where the university is an organ
of the State. Freedom is the life-blood of university
teaching. Neither the political opinions of a professor,
nor the character of the economic doctrines which he
holds and propagates, ought to be a ground for appoint-
ing or dismissing him, nor ought he to be any less free
to speak and vote as he pleases than any other citizen.
And though it is right and fitting that the State
should be represented in the governing authority
of a university which it supports, experience seems to
have proved that both the educational policy and the
daily administration and discipline of a university
ought as far as possible to be either left in academic
hands or entrusted to an authority on which the
academic element predominates.

The other risk is one to which in our time most
universities are exposed, and State universities per-
haps even more than others. The progress of natural
science has been so rapid, the results obtained by the
application of science to all forms of industry and
to many forms of commercial exchange, have been
so wonderful, the eagerness of every man to amass
wealth and of every nation to outstrip its rivals in
commerce and material progress is so keen, that the
temptation to favour at the expense of other branches
of instruction those branches from which pecuniary
gain may be expected has become unusually strong.


It is a temptation felt everywhere, in Europe hardly
less than here. We constantly hear men who are ready
to spend money freely on the so-called practical
branches of study, such as mining, agriculture, and
electrical engineering, disparage the study of theo-
retical science as unprofitable, while they seek to
eliminate altogether the so-called "humanistic" sub-
jects, such as philology, history, and philosophy.

This is a grave error. In the physical sciences the
discoveries of most practical importance have sprung
out of investigations undertaken purely for the sake
of knowledge, without any notion of those applications
to the industries and arts which were to be their ulti-
mate results. These it would indeed have been im-
possible to foresee. All we know of electricity, of those
chemical effects of light which have led to photography,
of those properties of certain rays in the spectrum
which have proved capable of being turned to such
admirable account in surgery, was discovered in the
pursuit of abstract science by men who were not think-
ing of practice or gain and most of whom gained little
except fame from their discoveries. None of them
dreamed that the telegraph and the dynamo would
issue from their experiments any more than Napier
when he invented logarithms, or Newton and Leibnitz
when they gave us the differential calculus, were
thinking of how much these improved mathematical
methods would help the engineer in his calculations.
All sound practice must be rooted in sound theory, and


the scientific thinking that leads to discovery must
begin in the theoretic field. Whatever a nation
achieves, whatever a university achieves, is the result
of patient observation, close reasoning, and, let me
add, of the love of knowledge for its own sake ; for
the man who is bent only on finding what is pecuni-
arily profitable will miss many a path at the end of
which there stands the figure of Truth, with all the
rewards she has to bestow. Just as any nation which
should force its children to narrow their energies to
purely gainful aims would soon fall behind its com-
petitors, and see its intellectual life fade and wither, so
any university which sacrificed its teaching of the the-
ory of science to the teaching of the practical applica-
tions of science would be unworthy of its high calling
and would handle even the practical part of its work
less effectively. The loss of a high ideal means the
loss of aspiration, of faith, of vital force.

In no country are these things better understood
than in Germany, to which I refer because she has
achieved so much in the extension of her commerce
and her industry. No country has been more suc-
cessful in the application of science to the arts, and in
none has the need for a wide foundation of abstract
scientific teaching been more fully recognized.

The planting and the development of these State
Universities and the hold they have acquired upon the
people of the State, are among the most cheering evi-
dences of the wisdom and capacity for good work of


your new democracies. They have their defects, but
they are filled by the desire to help the common man
onward and upward, and to help him in the best way
by providing him with the amplest measure of knowl-
edge and mental training so that he may know how
to help himself. The peoples of the Western States,
most of whom have had no college teaching themselves,
show their sense of the worth of learning and culture
by the liberality with which they support these insti-
tutions and the pride they feel in their prosperity.

These States have made you, the professors and
students of their universities, their debtors. How can
you repay that debt, and what service can you, some of
you as professors remaining here, others as youthful
graduates going out into the world, render to your States
in return ? In order to answer this question, let me
first ask another. What is it that the graduate has
received ? What does he carry away with him as the
fruit of the days of study here ? What will he remem-
ber forty years hence as the best things his university
has done for him? If I may judge of what you will
then feel from what I and my own contemporaries
feel as we look back, through a vista of more than
fifty years, to our happy Oxford days, you will then
say that your university bestowed on you two gifts of
supereminent value.

One was Friendships. The opportunities for mak-
ing congenial friendships are ampler in college life than
ever afterwards. Besides the familiar intercourse of


the class room, and on the campus, and wherever stu-
dents meet together, the acquiring of knowledge hi
company is itself a foundation for sympathy. Joint
study becomes a bond. To have the same tastes,
to enjoy the same books, to work side by side in the
laboratory, to help one another hi difficulties, to argue
out one's differences of opinions, to be inspired by the
same ideals and confide them to one another, these are
the means by which young men best enter into one
another's hearts and hopes, and form ties, which, last-
ing as long as life itself, may be a source of joy until
the end.

The other gift was the delight in Knowledge, a
sense of how much there is to be known, of the vast
horizon that is ever widening as one goes on learning,
of how with each one of us the enlargement of per-
sonal knowledge seems only to enlarge the sense of the
regions of mystery beyond that horizon. With this
delight there goes also a perception of the invaluable
help which real knowledge, accurate, thorough, duly
arranged and systematized, can render to each man
and each community in dealing with the facts of every
situation. And with the joy hi knowledge there ought
to go, and in the minds of all who really enjoy knowl-
edge there will go, the love of Truth. Devotion to
truth, loyalty to truth under all temptations, is the in-
tellectual conscience of the man of learning and the
man of science; and to create it is the chief aim for
the sake of which universities exist. If your univer-


sity teaching and life have not taught you that, they
have left the main thing undone.

Is there then not a way in which you as university
men going out into the world can repay to your Alma
Mater and to your State the debt you owe them?
We live in an age when difficulties thicken upon us,
when, in spite of the dissatisfaction so frequently ex-
pressed with the existing methods of government, new
work is being constantly thrust upon governments,
when the strife of labor and capital and the social un-
rest that growls and mutters all around us make it at
once more necessary to determine what justice requires
and harder to persuade any section of the community
to recede from its claims. Never was there a more
urgent need either for applying every kind of knowl-
edge to the solution of these problems, or for trying
to seek the solution in a spirit free from all prejudice
or bias. Your university studies have taught you
both to realize the worth of thorough and systema-
tized knowledge and to moderate the vehemence of
partisanship by a disinterested devotion to truth.
Thus you can contribute to the community of which
you are citizens three things. One is the spirit of
progress, which is hopeful because it is always seeking
to better things by knowledge and skill. Another is
the spirit of moderation, cautious because it resists
the temptations of party passion, or the impulse, often
honest enough, to grasp at the first hasty expedient for
removing admitted evils without considering whether


that may not involve other evils just as great. And
the third is the love of truth, which, when it is strong
enough, will help a man to overcome the promptings
of personal ambition or the baser lures which the
power of selfish wealth can offer.

It has sometimes been claimed for the University
that it is the mind of the State, or at least the organ
which the State may employ to examine and think
out the problems the State has to deal with. That
may be too large a claim. But I am speaking now
not so much of the university as a body of men
organized in an institution dedicated to teaching
and research but rather of those children of the uni-
versity who go forth from it into the world, preserving
the real academic spirit through the whole of their busi-
ness or professional careers, furnishing skilled leaders
in political and social movements, and forming the pub-
lic opinion of the whole community by which nation and
State, more truly here in America than anywhere else
in the world, are led and ruled. Upon these citizens
comes with special force the call to translate into real-
ity that noble ideal of an educated democracy, reason-
able and just because it is educated, which the people
of America have long ago set up for themselves, and
towards which, through many obstacles, they are stead-
ily and surely moving.





MY only justification for appearing here to say a
few words in honor of the illustrious artist you are
met to commemorate is the fact that Augustus Saint-
Gaudens was born hi Ireland and of an Irish mother.
I will not dispute with my friend and colleague the
Ambassador of France how much of his artistic genius
is due to Ireland, and whether it bears the stamp of the
Gallo-Roman branch or of the Gaelic branch of the
Celtic race. But all of it that can be deemed possibly
attributable to Ireland I am going to claim for Ireland,
and that for a special reason. Ireland has, as all the
world knows, given to the British Isles, and also to
this country, a great number of men famous in litera-
ture, famous in science, famous in war, famous in gov-
ernment. What would you have done in the United
States without Irishmen to manage your affairs of
State ? But in proportion to the genius her children
have shown in other directions, Ireland has given to
the Fine Arts, as even her admirers must admit, com-
paratively few men of first-rate eminence, and this is
the more remarkable because the ancient Celtic work



of the churches and monumental crosses of Ireland is
full of richness and beauty. So desiring to secure for
my island all the artistic honours possible, I must claim
Saint-Gaudens for it. I had intended to have dwelt
upon the inspiration which he derived in his early
years in Dublin from the picturesque and romantic
scenery which surrounds that ancient city, but, unfor-
tunately, I committed the fault unpardonable in a
man with some experience in these matters, and a fault
which I hereby warn you against of trying to verify
my facts by reference to the original authorities, and I
found that Saint-Gaudens quitted Dublin at the age
of six months. So I must fall back upon that native
quality which he drew from his Irish mother.

I will not attempt, after what has been said by
previous speakers, and especially after that analysis of
his genius, at once vigorous and delicate, which was
given by the President of the United States, to fix the
place which Saint-Gaudens holds among those who
have adorned the splendid art of sculpture, an art
which has, ever since the great Italian masters died
out nearly four centuries ago, held in the field of mod-
ern achievement a place that seems small when we com-
pare it with that supremacy yielded to it hi the artistic
production of the ancient world, and which it almost
regained in Italy during the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries. Among those men who stand preeminent
in sculpture since the death of Michael Angelo, the
highest renown seems to have fallen to the Italian


Canova and the Icelander Thorwaldson, and it came
to these two not so much through any new creative
quality they revealed in plastic work or any personal
originality that shone out in their own conceptions, as
by the fact that they reproduced the kind of beauty
and the type of artistic thought which inspired the
art of the Greeks. Thus admirable as is the genius of
both, they seem to us to be revivifying, so far as
moderns can, the manner of Greece rather than to
have renewed those traditions of the grand style of the
Renaissance whose latest expressions are to be found
in the marvellous figures of the Laurentian chapel at
Florence and in those which stand around the tomb
of the Emperor Maximilian at Innsbruck.

Without venturing into the dangerous field of theoriz-
ing about art or attempting to indicate the elements
that go to the making of its highest forms, I suppose
we may all agree in thinking that there are in
sculpture three more or less distinctive kinds of excel-
lence. There is the excellence which consists in the
faithful reproduction of nature; there is the excel-
lence hi which we admire pure beauty of form and
line ; and there is the excellence which makes its
special appeal to the imagination of the beholder be-
cause it proceeds from the imagination of the artist
himself. When he has the power of speaking to our
intellect and emotions straight out of his own mind,
he enables us to realize not only how the subject
presented itself to his thought, but what was really


the deepest and most essential thing in his subject
itself. If the subject be a person, he reveals the in-
nermost nature of the man portrayed. If it is a scene , he
brings out the true and permanent meaning it will have
for the long Hereafter. To possess any one of these ex-
cellences in high measure is to be great. To possess
all three in such measure is to attain perfection. Au-
gustus Saint-Gaudens, we may probably agree, stood
preeminent in the third. His highest gift was his power
of imaginative conception. As all the great men
that have left their mark in the world of affairs have been
great by combining the power of thinking with energy,
promptitude, and courage in action, so all the men that
have been great in the fields of literature and art have
been great by combining the power of thinking with the
power of feeling, that is, the capacity of receiving and
giving out an emotional impression. Now what most
strikes us in Saint-Gaudens' works is that, whatever
else we find, we find an intense and profound power of
thinking combined with an equal power of feeling.
Look around upon these works in this room. Does he
not seem to you, whenever he approached a subject,
be it a man or an incident, to have sat down and medi-
tated, slowly and patiently, until he had discovered for
himself exactly what lay at the foundation of the man's
character or what it was that struck the deepest chord
of human nature in the incident ? Then, pervaded
by this thought, he set himself to represent and ex-
press that which belonged to the man or to the inci-


dent, and he did express it with an unerring accuracy
and a rarely equalled power. This accuracy was due
to his possessing, along with high ideals, a patience
that grudged no pains. He kept some of his works
for years in his studio after others had thought them
complete, touching and retouching them till they were
brought nearer to the standard of perfection he had
set up. One of his disciples remembers a day when
in modelling an arm for a figure he moulded and threw
away more than twenty attempts to get in the clay
exactly the shape and contour he desired.

Think of any one of his greatest works. Look at
that noble statue of President Lincoln in the park at
Chicago, in which the grandeur of the man transforms
and triumphs over all those difficulties and defects
which the figure and the clothing presented and which
might have appeared inconsistent with Hellenic ideas
of beauty and grace.

Think of that solemn and majestic figure of Sorrow
in the Rock Creek Cemetery here at Washington
which seems by mere form and posture to have suc-
ceeded in expressing what has seldom been expressed
by sculptor or painter, though the greatest masters of
music have been able to express it through sound. It
touches us like a requiem by Mozart or one of those
pieces of Chopin in which the very soul of sadness
seems to speak through the chords.

Think of that infinitely pathetic figure of the young
hero of New England, Robert Shaw, as you see him


in the bas-relief on the border of Boston Common
the young hero of New England riding calmly to his
fate at the head of his soldiers, soldiers of another race
just delivered from slavery. The shadow of death
rests already upon him.

Sed nox atra caput tristi circumvolat umbra. 1

When you think of works like those, in which the
loftiest imagination has been accompanied with the
most finished grace of execution, you feel how great
a genius it has been the privilege of your age to pos-
sess in the artist whose memory we have met to

The danger or the weakness which is sometimes
found to accompany this power of imaginative expres-
sion is that it is apt to lapse into something extrava-
gant or sensational. Nothing was farther from Saint-
Gaudens. In that respect he had the balance and
self-restraint, as well as the fine sense of beauty and
measure, which belonged to his Greek masters. It is by
that, we may believe, by the power of imaginative
conception and expression, combined with calmness and
self-restraint, that he will live in the admiring mem-
ory of all who love and prize art in every country.
Most of all will he live hi America, which did not, in-
deed, give him birth, but which received him as a
child, which helped him, which cherished him, which
recognized his gifts as though he had been one of her

1 Aeneid VI, of the young Marcdlus.


own children, which gave him those noble subjects from
her own history with which his name will always be
associated. He deserves to be remembered forever
among you as one of the artistic glories of your





MY first duty is to thank you for the way in which
you have received the toast to which I am desired
to respond. I was touched by the simple manner
in which your President gave the toast, "The King."
He gave it in the same way in which it might have
been given in A.D. 1759 in the North American colonies,
when all patriotic hearts were swelling with pride at
the news of the victory won by Wolfe on the Plains of
Abraham and the winning of all North America for the
benefit of those colonies. A good deal of water has
flowed under the bridges of the Potomac since 1759; but
things have got back, so far as relates to spirit and sen-
timent, to what they were just one hundred and fifty
years ago, and I hope and believe that under this new
order of things, when this gigantic Republic has for
more than a century and a quarter managed its affairs
in this continent in its own way, and when for nearly
a century undisturbed peace has existed between Great
Britain and the United States, the ties of sentiment,
feeling, and affection which unite the two branches
of the ancient stock are, and will remain, as deep and



as strong as ever they were in the days of political

It is a pleasure to be the guest of the American
Institute of Architects. I have always, as a humble
layman, not understanding the principles and methods
of the splendid art which you practise, but admiring its
results, felt a very keen interest in your profession,
and have thought it must be one of the most agreeable
professions that a man could enter. There is, of course,
one drawback connected with it that vexation which
an architect must experience when his beautiful designs
for a building, grand in its lines and refined in its
ornament, are frustrated by the unresponsive taste-
lessness and tame ideas of the person for whom the
building is to be erected and who probably prefers
internal comfort to external beauty. That must be
often a source of sore disappointment to you. But
after all, every profession has its drawbacks. Quisque
suos patimur Manes. In my own profession, that of
the law, it does sometimes happen that the most elo-
quent speeches which are directed to secure the acquittal
of a guilty man are neglected by a stupid jury. It does
sometimes happen in the profession of medicine that a
person whose malady has been pronounced incurable by
a skilful practitioner subsequently recovers, and that
his recovery is attributed not to the skill of the physician
labouring against hope, but to the strength of the
patient's constitution. It sometimes happens in the
profession of the journalist that the efforts which the


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Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceUniversity and historical addresses, delivered during a residence in the United States as ambassador of Great Britain → online text (page 10 of 24)