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 13 of 24)
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and produced them all practically in the same genera-
tion, has rendered a service to England and to the glory
of the English tongue which Englishmen and Americans
ought never to forget. I might speak also of many
famous lights of literature, such as Swift, Sheridan, and
Goldsmith, to whom the Island of the Saints has given
birth; but everyone admits what Ireland has achieved
in those directions. No more against Irishmen than
against Scotsmen is there now any prejudice in England.


England is too great to be ungenerous ; she can afford
to give credit to all the smaller sister nationalities for
all the contributions they have made to the common
greatness of the nation.

And yet there are many painful pages in the history of
the relations of Ireland and England. I am glad, there-
fore, to tell you, as I am sure that your sympathy con-
tinues to extend itself to Ireland, and that your hearts
beat for Ireland as one of the two countries to which
your ancestors belonged, that I believe a better day
has dawned for that island, and especially for the rela-
tions between her and England. Within the last thirty
years there has come about an understanding and a
sympathy between the great mass and body of the
British people and the Irish people such as never ex-
isted before. Few people on this side the Atlantic
realize how much the British parliament has done of
late years to ameliorate by better legislation and by
liberal grants of money what was once the lamentable
condition of the Irish peasantry. No one who knew
Ireland fifty years ago can travel through it now without
being struck by the enormous improvements effected.
Dwellings have been erected for the labourers all over the
country. The people are better fed and better clothed.
They have money in the savings banks, and their children
are at school. At this moment nearly half the land of
Ireland has passed, and within the next twenty years I
believe practically the whole of the land of Ireland will
have passed, into the hands of the small farmers of Ireland


who are cultivating it, and therewith that land hunger
and those land disputes which have been the most fruit-
ful source of trouble and discontent in Ireland will have
been assuaged and set at rest.

The British people are now genuinely anxious and
wishful to do all they can for the Irish people, and I
believe the Irish people have come to understand it.
In Ireland there is no longer that bitterness towards
the English which once existed, and it surprises me
to find how little some Irishmen and sons of Irishmen
here in the United States understand the change for
the better that has come to pass. It is true that those
who cherish the old rancour are now comparatively few,
but it is a pity that there should be any who retain
sentiments for which there was ground fifty years ago,
but for which there is none to-day. In Ireland itself,
as well as in England, there is assuredly a far better
and more kindly feeling than ever there was before,
and we confidently look forward to the time when, just
as the memory of ancient wars no longer impairs the
friendship of Englishmen and Scotchmen, so the dissen-
sions that in the past have divided Ireland and England
and produced recurrent strife in Ireland herself will have
been forgotten, and both will be contented and friendly
members of one and the same great Empire. Is it not
a great blessing for any country when it can feel itself
to be truly united, one in fact as well as in name ?
Happy and strong is that country which can remember
the struggles and conflicts of the past only as a record


of deeds of valour and self-sacrifice, and can bring all
its children together to unite in honouring the heroes
of the past, to whichever side or party they belonged.
That happened long ago as between Scotland and
England; nations that strove fiercely against one an-
. other for three hundred years. That has been your
good fortune here in the United States. I was pro-
foundly struck by this last week, when I went to
Springfield to honour the memory of Abraham Lincoln
on the centenary of his birth. It was impressive to see
how, not only there in his own State of Illinois, and in
the city where he had made his home, but everywhere
over the country, there went up, from the banks of the
Delaware here in Philadelphia to the banks of the Colum-
bia in Oregon, one voice of admiration for that noble
character, and one offering of thankfulness to the Provi-
dence that had bestowed him on you. But what gave
the greatest pleasure of all to those who wish well to
your country was to perceive that no discordant note
came from the South, and that in many parts of the
South, and from many eminent spokesmen of the South,
there was reechoed praise and honour to the memory
of Abraham Lincoln. So may it ever be in this country,
and so may it be in my country, too, that England,
Ireland, and Scotland shall be able to honour not only
our common heroes, but the heroes of each particular
nation also, and that those who hereafter win the fame
of heroes may win it in the service of our common





EACH time I come to California and this is the
third time I am struck more and more by the fact
that California is not only one of the greatest States
of the Union, but is also, unlike any other state of the
Union, a Country as well as a State. One reaches
California either over the vast and silent ocean, or
else across two lofty mountain ranges and through a
wilderness, much of which is likely to remain forever
unpeopled, a scorched and arid wilderness, almost
as silent as the sea. One feels that one is entering a
new land. There is a new dry gleam and a new clear
brilliance in the sunlight ; there are new wild flowers and
new trees. Everything is unlike the Mississippi Val-
ley, or the gently undulating plains that rise from it to
the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains. California,
moreover, great as is the diversity of hill and valley
within it, is all one country, not cut up by nature into
different regions, but one in its structure and general
character. Guarded on the east by a snowy range,
it has its natural centre at this magnificent bay,
where we are standing, and where noble mountains



look down upon waters blue as those that wash the
shores of Sicily. The bay of San Francisco always
reminds me of

the sea that parts
Trinacria from the hoarse Calabrian shore.

All this great region between the Sierras and the
Pacific was meant to be the home of one people under
one government.

Nature might, indeed, seem to have intended that
it should be not a part of the United States but a
separate country under a separate independent govern-
ment; and a separate independent country it would
no doubt have been but for two causes. One is to be
found in those peculiar political and social economic
conditions which brought on the war with Mexico and
led to the annexation of all this region by the United
States. The other is the fact that not long before
that war the steam-engine, invented some seventy
years before by James Watt, had begun to be applied
to transportation by water and land. Although some
of the early emigrants crossed the great plains and
threaded their painful way through the canons of the
Rocky Mountains and over the high Sierras in wagons,
it was steamships and railways that made California,
which Spain, and after her the Mexicans, had left unde-
veloped, really a part of the United States and attached
her indissolubly to the great Republic. But for the
two causes I have mentioned, one may well believe
that those who in the fulness of tune settled in Cali-


fornia would, whether they came from Europe or from
the United States, have set up here an independent
government. Closer and closer as your relations
have now become with the Mississippi and Atlan-
tic states, through the extension and improvements
of railway communication, closer still as they may
perhaps become when the Panama Canal has been
completed, California still wears in many points the
aspect of a distinct country; and this is one of the
things which makes her so exceptionally interesting to
the traveller, and not less to the historian, who en-
deavors to study not only the history of the past, but
through the past the probable history of the future.

On returning here after twenty-six years I am struck
by the enormous strides with which the material devel-
opment of the State has advanced. Some of its cities
are growing almost as fast as New York and Chicago.
Many parts of the country, which in 1883 were scarcely
inhabited, have now become rich agricultural dis-
tricts. The whole country is moving forward at a
steady pace, which makes the continuance of your
material wealth well assured ; and even when the mines
of precious metals have ceased to be so important a
factor as they were in early days, your agricultural
resources will continue to promise a stable prosperity.
Great advances have been made in irrigation, and
vast tracts have thus been made possible for cultiva-
tion. If you will take thought in time for the saving
of your forests, and will replant the areas where forests


have existed and which are not needed for agriculture,
you will be able to conserve not only an important
source of wealth in the timber, but also the undi-
minished flow of your streams. With your grain,
your fruit, your cattle, and your sheep, you may
confidently rely on the maintenance of the chief sources
of natural wealth ; and if you desire overflowing riches
and a teeming population, you can, humanly speaking,
be sure of having both in as large a measure as you
wish. The process of development will go on till all has
been got out of nature that nature can render. Then at
last will come a day when all the gold and silver will
have been won from placers and reefs, and all the soil
capable of tillage will be under crops or laid out in gar-
dens or orchards ; when railways and electric lines will
have been constructed sufficient to meet the needs of
the population, and when that population itself will
have grown to figures which I hardly venture to

When all this has happened, what next ? There is a
story of an Eastern monarch who, in the midst of his
career of conquest, was recounting to one of his most
trusted councillors what he had done, and announc-
ing what further expeditions he proposed to make.
He described country after country and nation after
nation which it was his purpose to overrun and sub-
jugate, and, as each was mentioned, his councillor
asked him, "And after that, what?" until at last
he had enumerated so many that little was left of the


then known world over which his armies would not
have been triumphant. But the councillor at the end
of the list still repeated, "And then, what next?"
and the conqueror at last could only say, "Well I
suppose we shall then sit down and enjoy ourselves and
live happily for the rest of our lives," to which the
councillor answered : "If happiness is the goal, why not
begin to be happy now ? You have already got more
than any one has ever conquered before. When your
plans of conquests are completed you will be weary and
old. Let us take our enjoyment now ?"

Some question like this arises in one's mind when
one contemplates the victories over nature which
men are winning here in the United States. You,
indeed, will not be old nor weary when those victories
are completed, for the generations that follow may
well be as forceful as your own. But the time
must arrive when the American people will have prac-
tically finished with the work of conquering, and when,
having got out of nature all that nature can yield, and
applied the resources of science to industry and to
commerce on a scale so large and with such refined
efficiency that there will be little more motive for the
accumulation of wealth, they will have to ask them-
selves what remains to be done, and how best they
can enjoy all that they have accumulated. So let this
question be put : What will happen when California is
filled by twenty or thirty millions of people, and its
valuation is ten times what it is now, and the wealth


will have grown so great that it will be hard to know
how to spend it ? The day will, after all, have then, as
now, only twenty-four hours. Each man will have
only one mouth, one pair of ears, and one pair of
eyes. There will be more people, as many perhaps as
the country can support, and the real question will be
not about amassing more wealth or having more
inhabitants, but whether the inhabitants will then be
happier or better than they have been hitherto or are
at this moment. Although that time may be still dis-
tant, you may already begin to ask yourselves what
the development of natural resources and the acquisi-
tion of wealth is doing for the lives of the people.
You have advanced so much farther along the path of
material comfort than your grandfathers dreamed of,
that it is not too soon to think of enjoyment ; and,
even if you do not slacken in your pace, you may well
reflect upon the ultimate amis for which you are

How can the University help you to think out those
aims and to choose the best means for reaching them ?
Few of us reflect upon the ultimate purposes even of our
own individual lives, still fewer on the ideals towards
which national and State life should move.

What you all wish, what you, and all everywhere
who think of others as well as of themselves, set up
as an aim, is to secure for the people as a whole the
poorer as well as the richer the conditions and sur-
roundings that make for Happiness. The difficulty is


to determine which are the conditions that will be
helpful and towards which you will work. Let us
think for a moment of these as they affect rural life
and city life in your State.

One is told that in California as well as everywhere
else the tendency is for the dwellers in the country to
flock into the cities. Yet in California the conditions
for an enjoyable rural life are especially favorable.
The scenery is beautiful and the climate genial as
well as invigorating. Except in the high mountains
you have no such grim winter as that of the North
Atlantic states. Nobody who has enjoyed this climate
wishes to go back either to Europe or to eastern
America. In many parts of your State the yield of
the soil is so large that the cultivators dwell near
together, living under good conditions and in populous
communities. Here, therefore, if anywhere, country
life ought to be attractive. Yet even here, one is told,
the dislike for what is deemed the comparative solitude
and isolation of rural life, together with the restless
passion for amusement, produce a steady drain away
from the land into the city. In California two great
cities, San Francisco (including Oakland and Berkeley,
which for this purpose may be deemed parts of it) and
Los Angeles, have two-fifths of the whole population
of the State and are growing more rapidly than the
State grows.

This is unfortunate. It is far better for the health
and physical stamina of a people that the bulk of them


should live in the country and work there with plenty of
fresh air around them. It is better for the national
mind and character that men should be in contact with
nature than that they should live cooped up in streets.
You remember the old line, "God made the country
and man made the Town." It is better for the polit-
ical stability of a government that the town dwellers
should not outnumber the country dwellers, and that
there should not be many vast aggregations of men
living packed tightly together and more liable to be
moved by sudden excitement than country folk are.

A large number of small farmers, each cultivating
his own land, constitute an element which gives
solidity and strength to a State. Such men are less
eager and volatile and hasty than the dwellers in cities;
they have a permanent interest in good order and the
regular working of public administration. I will not
venture to assert, as some have done, that the prepon-
derance of large cities is necessarily dangerous ; yet it
is undesirable, both politically and because it affects
the physical health and vigor of the nation.

How are you to check this growth of cities at the
expense of the rural areas ? One means is the im-
provement of rural schools, and especially of agricultu-
ral education, so as to teach the cultivator how to
apply science to his calling, and to find pleasure in
applying it. This, I know, your University has been
doing, and doing so earnestly as to endear itself more
and more to the people of the State. To make the


country children interested in the nature that lies
around them is to furnish them with a source of en-
joyment for the whole of their lives. Another means
is the introduction of cooperative methods among culti-
vators, methods by which immense progress has been
made in Denmark and other regions far less favoured
than this. The extension of electric railways and of
a cheap telephone service contributes to reduce that
loneliness of which many country dwellers complain,
while those of us who are tired of the crowds and
noise of cities long for rural quiet. My chief con-
cern, however, is to indicate the importance of the
object in view, and to observe that California has some
advantages enabling it to set an example. The irri-
gated districts of your State constitute a region ex-
ceptionally fitted to give country life all the attractions
that should induce men to prefer it to crowded cities.
The farms are small, averaging, I believe, not more
than twenty acres. Families live near enough to one
another to enjoy the pleasures of social life. It is
easier for people to organize for the purposes of agri-
cultural cooperation or for social ends.

When we turn to city life and its conditions we are
met by still larger questions. On the political side of
the matter let this one word only be said: that sound
political conditions in cities are the first and essential
condition of municipal progress. There is a great
deal of work needing to be done in Americans cities
which the municipal government ought to do, because


no other agency can do it so efficiently and so com-
pletely. Yet in many cities much of this work is
withheld from municipal officers and councils because
officers and councils are not trusted by the people.
Once a city has succeeded in placing honest men and
capable men in control, how much there is which the
government may accomplish for the people, how
much for their health, for the proper supply of light
and water and means of locomotion, for the laying out
of handsome streets and their adornment by public
buildings, for the provision of parks and playgrounds
and museums and libraries and art galleries and
perhaps concert halls also, where the finest kinds of
music may be given to the people and their taste for
such music formed ! A great city ought in all these
matters to be not only the guardian of the material
well-being of her children, but also their guide and
instructress, elevating their tastes, displaying to
them visible shapes of beauty, helping them to knowl-
edge and enjoyment, making them feel their common
interest in intellectual and moral progress. A finely
ordered city might be, as European cities have before
now been, as Athens was in the ancient world and
Florence was in the Middle Ages, a source of inspira-
tion to those who dwell therein ; and a common pride
in it may be a bond to unite all classes. Some few
cities have already set an example in this direction;
and some rich men, who are enlightened as well as
rich, have turned their wealth to the best account


in providing beneficent sources of enjoyment for their
less favoured fellow-citizens.

You may ask why I speak of these things here to you
in this University. Because it is one of the chief
functions of a great university, a duty and a function
which no other organized body in the State is so well
fitted to discharge, to think about these things and
to impress their value upon the minds of the people.
You are celebrating to-day the anniversary of the
foundation by the State of this central seat of educa-
tion and learning and research, the mission of which is
to represent and embody the organized force and will of
this Californian community in promoting all that makes
for intellectual advancement and moral elevation.
Universities are lamps which cast forth their light on
everything around them. Besides their direct and
primary duty to train and inform the minds of the
youth of the State, supplying the knowledge and skill
needed for the work of life, it is for them to collect
and focus whatever science and learning can provide
for any form of State service. Not only ought they
to distribute information on scientific phenomena and
processes applicable to agriculture and other industries,
as some State universities have done with eminent
success, they ought also to place their knowledge of
economic history and of the economic conditions of
other countries, and of the experiments, whether made
in those countries by legislative or by voluntary
action, at the disposal of the administrative officials


and the legislature of their State. When any investi-
gation is needed, either of a scientific or historical or
economic kind, they can furnish from among their
teaching staff trained investigators whose wide range
of knowledge and mastery of method will make them
valuable colleagues of the practical men who also
may be charged with the conduct of such enquiries.
In short, the universities of a State and this applies
also to your great sister university (the Leland Stan-
ford) at Palo Alto and the other Californian seats of
learning should act as its organs for all such of its
efforts as need a broader sweep of view and a more
perfect mastery of exact and philosophical methods
than the ablest man, taken from the walks of daily
business or professional life, can be expected to

One danger that has recently begun to threaten
university life seems not yet to have attacked the State
universities of the West. I learn with pleasure that
you have here kept within reasonable limits that
passion for athletic sports and competitions which has
been pushed to excess in England and Australia, and
which in some American universities goes so far that
the only kind of distinction that students value is
that which attaches to proficiency in these competitions.
Intellectual excellence so one is told is in these
"seats of learning" but little regarded. It is the ath-
lete, the runner or baseball or football player, who is
the hero. The competitions and contests of football


or baseball teams excite such interest that not only
do many thousands gather to see the match, but a
vast deal of time is spent on reading about the perform-
ances and the prospects of the teams. Thus the
minds of the students are occupied by these trivial
matters to the exclusion of interest in things that are
really fitted to engage and delight intelligent minds.
This is a strange inversion of what might be expected
in a high civilization, and a strange perversion of the
true spirit of university life. It is not an encouraging
symptom. It reminds one of that inordinate passion
for the sports of the amphitheatre, and, especially for
chariot racing, which grew more and more intense with
the decadence of art and literature and national spirit
in the Roman Empire. What does civilization mean,
except that we realize more and more the superiority
of the mind to the body?

The muscular powers should by all means be kept

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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 13 of 24)