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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in perfect efficiency; and the pleasures of strenuous
bodily exercise are legitimate and valuable. Having
delighted in one of them all my life I am not likely to
disparage them. No one who knows how much the
sound body does for the sound mind will deprecate
the playing of games by students, and that by all
of the students, and not merely by an exceptionally
strong or skilful few. Of such play in hours of recre-
ation there is nothing but good to be said : what
one regrets is the encroachment of this passionate in-
terest in competitions upon the higher interests and


enjoyments of academic life. After all, the mind is
better worth cultivating than the body. It is by the
mind that civilization advances and peoples are great.
And what is the purpose of a university except to
enable the youth of a nation to cultivate those mental
faculties which they have to exert and develop through
the rest of their lives, when the few years fit for
violent physical effort have passed ?

I have spoken of the teachers and the students :
let me say a word also as to the graduates. The
universities may, through their alumni, exercise a
powerful influence in forming the public opinion of
their State. In most parts of America the tie between
the university and its graduates is a close one, closer
perhaps than anywhere in Europe. They are inter-
ested in its welfare, and ready to come forward to sup-
port it when it has something to ask from the legis-
lature and ready also to raise funds themselves for
any purpose calculated to extend its usefulness. They
listen with respect to views proceeding from its Presi-
dent and its leading teachers. They form associations
of their own in the principal cities, and through these
often do much to raise the intellectual and civic tone
of the community. They are usually to the front
in all movements for administrative reform.

One class of graduates in particular has a very
important part to play. I mean the teachers, partic-
ularly those in the high schools. The intellectual
interest, the public spirit, the literary tastes and moral


tone of each generation as it comes to manhood very
largely depend on the quality of the instruction and
mental stimulus received in the upper schools; and
this will become all the more true of California as the
influx of settlers from abroad diminishes, and the bulk
of the population is home-born. Now, the quality
of the teachers and their capacity for inspiring fine
ideals in youthful minds, depends upon the spirit which
their university breathes into them, and on the high
conception it gives them of what intellectual energy
and intellectual enjoyment really mean. The uni-
versities are the natural centres and culminating
points of the educational system of a State, and their
influence ought to make itself felt all through that

Lastly, a university, being the visible evidence and
symbol of the homage which the State pays to learn-
ing and science, has the function of reminding the
people by its constant activity how much there is in
life beyond material development and business suc-
cess. Philosophy, history, literature, art, scientific
discovery, the prosecution of all those studies and
enquiries the value of which cannot be measured by
dollars and cents, these things not only provide un-
failing sources of enjoyment, but are ultimately the
foundation of national prosperity and strength. We
are all only too apt to think solely about the Present.
The average man, be he educated or uneducated, is in
our day so busy that he seldom thinks of anything


else. But the university is a place where those who
are entering on life learn to think also of the Past and
of the Future, where they are taught to rival the
great men who have gone before and to meditate how
they can carry on what such men began for the bene-
fit of those who will come after. True it is that all
we know of the Future is that it will never be what
the Past was. As the Athenian poet says this
beautiful Greek theatre of yours brings the lines to my

"A-Travff 6 /Auxpos KavapiOfJuqros
Kal (ftavevra

The law of change is universal. Yet it is mainly
through understanding the past that we can conject-
ure what the future will be, can work for it, and can
secure, so far as we may, that to our State and Nation
it shall come fraught with blessing.

When I think of the future, my mind turns back to
California, and to all that your noble State may be-
come. You have made it a State, but nature made it
a Country. It is still in its first youth, with won-
derful possibilities before it, a country with an infinite
variety of beautiful mountain, valley, and sea-coast
scenery. One cannot but feel that it is destined,
more perhaps than any other part of the United States,
to develop a new and distinctive type of art, perhaps

1 Long and unreckoned time brings to life all things out of the un-
seen and hides them away again when they have been seen. From
the Ajax of Sophocles.


of landscape painting, perhaps of literature. Your
people have already an individuality. They are
Calif ornians ; they have something all their own,
an aspect, a manner of speech, a softness so one is
told in the voice. May we not hope to see this
individuality blossom forth into products that are
distinctive hi thought and in poetry? Your scenery,
your social conditions in their earlier stage, inspired two
of the most striking pieces of literature that America
has given to the world in the last half century. More
will doubtless come when a larger part of your people
find leisure from those restless efforts to develop the
material resources of the land which have hitherto
occupied you. Through the centuries to come, in
which from the peak that stands up behind this spot
generation after generation of students will see the
sun mount from behind the mighty Sierras to the East
and sink into the waves of the Pacific in the West,
may this University, enriched by the liberality and
guided by the judicious care of your legislature,
ever play a worthy part in the building up of a Cali-
fornian character and in the expansion of a Californian
community that shall make the Golden State the home
of a happy and enlightened people.





ABOUT the blessings of peace, about the horrors of
war, about the value of arbitration as a means of pre-
venting war, surely everything that can be said has
been said. You who meet here to promote arbitra-
tion and peace have no enemy hi the field, or at least
none within the range of your artillery. There are
still persons who hanker after war, and therefore dis-
like arbitration, but I notice that they are now mostly
reduced to one argument, viz., that war is the mother
of courage, self-sacrifice, and other virtues. No doubt
these virtues may be displayed and have often been
displayed in warfare, as in many another department
of life. So courage and constancy have been displayed
in a still nobler form by martyrs who have died for
their faith. But we do not desire religious persecu-
tion for the sake of having martyrs. Courage and
loyalty are being daily displayed in many another
way : and opportunities for displaying these and
other virtues would remain if war were to vanish

1 In revising this address for publication some additions have been
made to render the line of argument more clear.



as religious persecution has vanished. We need not,
however, attempt to argue with the people that delight
in war, because they are not here to-night to be con-
vinced. Those who dwell on the benefits of war do
not come to listen to us, their blessings give us no
chance of convincing them. The Hawks take no
interest in this congress of doves. Accordingly,
whoever addresses such a gathering as this finds
himself in the position of preaching to the converted.
It is an easy process ; but it is not stimulating to the
speaker and is apt to prove dull to the converted,
being also wholly unprofitable to the unconverted
who keep out of the range of fire. If the latter
were here, we should make one admission. There
have been some justifiable wars. Where a so-called
government plunders and massacres its subjects, in-
surrection against it may be a duty, and it may be
right for other nations to put an end by arms to op-
pressions that are as bad as war itself. Such cases
have happened in Europe and may happen again.
But what other wars in our time can be deemed to
have been necessary ?

Our discussions at all these peace conferences are
really discussions in the abstract, and we shall not
know whether the cause is making real progress until
the tune comes for translating abstract resolutions
into concrete practice. No doubt some progress has
been made. The work accomplished at the Hague
has been valuable. The creation of the Hague Court


and the reference to it of such controversies as that
which the United States had recently with Mexico
and that between the United States and Great Brit-
ain relating to the Newfoundland Fisheries mark a
real advance.

Nevertheless, it is felt that the risks of war have not
disappeared, and the strongest proof of this appears in
the fact that all the great countries continue to go on
increasing their military and naval armaments. You
have heard a good deal already here about armaments.
Let me add a few plain words about them, words
suggested by what I have seen of the relations of the
European States for the last fifty years. There are
three causes which have induced or may induce nations
to maintain large armies and powerful fleets. One is
the desire to aggress on another nation. As to this,
be well assured that none of the six great European
Powers has at present any desire or purpose to attack
any of the other five. Apart from any higher motives,
each has its internal troubles, each knows the tremen-
dous risks any attack would involve. Such wars of
conquest as belonged to the days of Frederick the
Great of Prussia and to those of Napoleon Bonaparte
are out of date. A second motive is the wish to have
that weight in the councils of nations which the posses-
sion of military and naval force undoubtedly gives in
such a world as the present. It is not necessarily a
motive making for war ; all depends on the spirit and
intentions of the nation, or its rulers, who desire to


assert their influence. A third is the feeling that a
State must be prepared to resist aggression, or that
extreme form of aggression, invasion, by having the
strength needed to defend its frontiers.

As you all know, it is these two latter motives that
have led the six great European Powers to maintain
some of them large fleets and all but one of them large
armies. Each is apprehensive of the possible designs
of the other. Most of them would like to reduce their
armaments, but none of them likes to be the first to
do so. In such circumstances suggestions looking
towards reduction would come best from a great
nation which is not threatened with aggression or
invasion from any quarter. There is only one such
nation. It is the United States. You here have
no enemy in the world, that is to say, there is no
other great Power which has any ground for enmity
to you, and there is most assuredly none which has
anything to gain by attacking you. If you remark
that Great Britain maintains a large navy, let me
ask you to remember that she is obliged to maintain
such a navy because, having an army small in com-
parison with the armies of other European States and
being within sight of the European Continent, she feels
that fleets sufficient to guard her coast are an absolute
necessity, a costly necessity indeed, but one to which
she must bow. How different is your case ! Against
whose attacks is it that you stand on guard ? No one
dreams of invading the United States. You are three


thousand miles from Europe and six thousand miles
from Asia, and the offensive power of a hostile fleet
diminishes rapidly with every thousand miles from its
base. Your internal resources, your wealth, your pop-
ulation, the intelligence and energy of your people,
added to the advantages of your position, would make
you strong for defensive war even if your fleet was
much less than its present size. If you ever again
engage in war, it f is likely to be a war of your own
seeking, for nobody will aggress upon you. Is it not,
therefore, now, I will not say a duty, but an oppor-
tunity specially offered to you, to render a service to
the world by taking the initiative toward the reduction
of those armies and navies which consume so large a
part of the revenues of nations and increase the ap-
prehensions with which they watch one another ? As
you yourselves would say, in one of those concisely
expressive phrases which you teach your visitors to
use, is it not "up to you" to do this?

The existence of immense land and sea forces, kept
upon what is practically a war footing, increases the
risk of strife, for it diminishes the period that would
otherwise elapse before fighting could begin. It keeps
the minds of nations, and especially of the two
great fighting professions in each nation, fixed upon
possibilities of war, and brings those possibilities

How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
Makes ill deeds done.


There is no certainty that if some dispute suddenly
arose inflaming the passions of two nations they would
refer it to arbitration. The recent arbitration treaties
which your government has concluded with other
nations expressly and, I venture to think, unfortu-
nately exclude from their scope certain kinds of dis-
pute, those which affect " honour and vital interests."
The making of this exception shows that governments
have not that full confidence in the application of
the principle which many of you may desire. Even
where the case is one that does fall within the
terms of an arbitration treaty, we cannot be sure
that two nations, each perhaps irritated "and excited,
may not prefer to resort to arms rather than use
the machinery for securing peace which they have
themselves in their more tranquil moments provided.
All the virtuous sentiments, all the good resolu-
tions, may be forgotten when anger and suspicion
suspend the reign of reason. There is no present sign
that this will happen in our time, nor does there now
exist any ground of difference between any two nations
which could justify hostilities. All the nations both
of this hemisphere and of the other have every pos-
sible reason for endeavoring to keep the peace. In-
terest to say nothing of conscience and duty pre-
scribes that course. Nevertheless, when we remember
how often in the past governments and nations that
had every interest to keep the peace allowed themselves
to be drawn into war, and how disproportionate the


alleged causes of strife were to the real interests in-
volved, we cannot be sure that the same thing may
not occur again, and we must ask once more, Why is it
that good resolutions are so often forgotten ? Why is
the practice of nations so much worse than the theory
which not only you here, but the leading statesmen in
nearly every nation, profess to hold ?

One of the answers most often given is that the ill-
feeling between nations which leads them up to war
is due to the press. When a dispute arises between
two peoples, the newspapers so it is charged
begin in each country to misrepresent the purposes
and the sentiments of the other people, to suppress
the case for the other country, and to overstate the
case for their own, they twist or embellish facts, and
go on so appealing to national vanity and inflaming
national passion, that at last they lead each people to
believe itself wholly in the right and the other wholly
in the wrong. To what extent these charges are
justified, your recollections of how the press, European
and American, has behaved before the outbreak of
the various wars in which great nations have been
involved in and since 1870 will enable you to judge.
As respects the American newspapers, my experience
of the last few years is that a large majority of them
are in favour of peace and arbitration and not at
all unfriendly to foreign countries. That has emphat-
ically been so as regards their attitude towards my own


However, I am not here either to censure or to
defend the newspapers. They can take care of
themselves. But hi the interests of truth and justice
it must be asked whether it is really the press that is
chiefly to blame. Public writers do not write to please
themselves, but to please and interest their readers.
If foreign countries are attacked, it is because they
think the public expect and relish such attacks. Men
are apparently so constituted as to listen more readily
to blame than to praise bestowed on their fellow-men,
and there is in many minds a notion that it is patriotic
to disparage other nations, and that the display of their
faults enhances our own virtues. Thus in each country
the newspapers try to meet and gratify what they take
to be the wishes of the people, playing down to their
faults rather than playing up to their virtues.

Every country has the newspapers it deserves for
the papers are what the people make them, and
reflect back the sentiments they believe the people to
hold. So if the people wish that the organs of opinion
should show a truly pacific spirit, friendly to other
nations, anxious to know whenever an international
dispute arises, what the case of the other nation is,
they will intimate their wish by ceasing to buy, or
by withdrawing their advertising from, the news-
papers which try to provoke strife. Thereupon most
of the newspapers will, in their desire to please their
public, change their own attitude, will abstain from
reckless or inflammatory language, and will supply to


their readers such facts and opinions as will not kindle
passion and will at any rate not tend to hinder peace.

Thus we come back, as in democratic countries we
always do come back, to the People ; that is, to
ourselves, the ordinary citizens who are the ultimate
masters both of the government and of the press.
Why do we, the ordinary citizens, practically en-
courage the newspapers to do the very things which
you, the friends of peace, blame the newspapers for
doing ? Why do we like to have other nations placed
in the worst light and their defects exaggerated?
Why is it thought patriotic to decry and assail
other nations, and unpatriotic to indicate any faults
in our own conduct, any weak points in our own
case ? Why does each people behave as if it alone
were virtuous and deserved the special favor of Provi-
dence, even as in past centuries each nation used to
celebrate a Te Deum for a victory its army had won,
as if the Almighty were its peculiar friend ? It knows
that every other people also thinks highly of itself and
meanly of others, and that each has about as much
ground and no more for so thinking. Yet it continues
to glorify itself, and enjoys hearing the other nation de-
nounced and vilified, just as the Iroquois and Algon-
quins who once roved these woods hi the midst of
which we are here meeting, used to hurl opprobrious
epithets at one another before they rushed forward
with the tomahawk.

At this moment all the governments in all the great


military and naval States are (I venture to believe)
honestly desirous of peace. Not one of them has any
cause for war. Not one of them but would lose by
war far more than it could gain. It is a fatal error,
an error which has come down from the days when
barbarous tribes raided for plunder, and which ought
to be now obsolete, to believe that nations gain some-
thing by a successful war. Even when they levy an
indemnity upon a vanquished enemy, the conquerors
themselves lose in commerce and industry, and often
also in the weakened sense of security, far more than
the indemnity is worth. Civilized governments now
know this and wish to avoid war. Yet it is appar-
ently possible for those who desire, from whatever
motives, to stir up suspicion and enmity to succeed in
convincing each nation that the other has designs
upon it. Quite recently this was tried upon your-
selves. Much suspicion, much alarm was aroused,
without the slightest justification, between you and
another Power, though both your government and its
government were perfectly friendly, each desiring to
behave well by the other.. Any man of sense could
see that Japan had no possible interest in provoking
a conflict with the United States. Her greatest
interest was peace, a peace which would leave
her free to deal with the numerous grave problems
that confront her, in Korea, in Formosa, and else-
where, as well as to press forward her internal de-
velopment. She knew that, and we all knew that she


knew it. Yet this insensate attempt to represent Japan
as ready to spring upon the United States went on.
Why will not people do a little thinking before they
embark in such a campaign of exasperation?

Every nation is conscious of its own rectitude of
purpose ; each declares, and says that it believes,
that its armaments are maintained for its own safety
and will not be used unjustly or aggressively. But
each one is told that it must not credit with similar
good intentions the other nation which is for the mo-
ment the object of its jealousy. The ordinary man is
apparently more prone to believe evil than good ; and
hardly anybody takes up the cause of the other nation
and tries to make its case understood. That would
be called unpatriotic.

Is not the fault then not so much in the press which
ministers to our foibles, as in ourselves, that we are too
ignorant, perhaps wilfully ignorant, about other na-
tions, that we do not try to understand them and to
imagine what we should feel in their place ? Is not this
one chief cause of the atmosphere of suspicion which
pervades the relations of the Great Powers, and leads
them to go on creating the enormous armaments and
levying the enormous taxes under which their people
stagger ? Would not a better knowledge by each na-
tion of the other nations do something to dispel these
suspicions ? Every nation must of course be prepared
to repel any dangers at all likely to threaten it. But
it should also try to ascertain whether the dangers


it is told to provide against are real or illusory, and it
should try to enter into and realize the position of
other nations and ask whether its own conduct may
not be exciting in their minds a mistaken impression
of its purposes. Suspicion breeds suspicion ; and na-
tions have sometimes come to fear and dislike one
another only because each was incessantly told that it
was disliked by the other, and that the other was plan-
ning to attack it.

Thirty or forty years ago there was a good deal of
this suspicion between Britain and the United States.
Better knowledge by each nation of the other has
extinguished that feeling and substituted for it a gen-
uine friendship which will, we may feel sure, at once
recur to arbitration for the settlement of any question
between them that may arise. Why should this not
be done as regards other Powers also ? Why when a
controversy arises with any other country should we
not, before sharpening our tempers and our swords, try
to recognize that there are two sides to the controversy
and keep cool till we have considered the other side
and made the other nation feel that we wish and mean
to be reasonable ?

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe
our allegiance. It is owed also to justice and to
humanity, owed to our fellow-men in other countries
as well as in our own. Doubtless we are called
upon to think first and feel first for those whom we
know best and for whom we are most directly respon-


sible, our own fellow-citizens. But we are not therefore

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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 14 of 24)