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 9 of 24)
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it is not that the best men in Christian nations were
any less zealous ; but other men went on undoing the
missionary's work all the time he was preaching.

If this be true, what is the duty of Christian men
to-day? That duty certainly is not to ask govern-
ments to spread the gospel by force. No more action
like that of the Spaniards who carried the scourge and
the sword while the friars carried the crucifix. You
do not believe that the blessing of God will rest upon
such methods.


Neither do you desire that governments should
give any political support to missionaries. The more
that missions are kept apart from political authori-
ties and left to rely on themselves, the better. What
you do desire is to strengthen the hands of the civ-
ilized governments when they try to secure for the
native justice, considerate treatment, full protection
against the craft or violence of the adventurer.

It is in your power to do that. Public opinion can
strengthen the hands of the governments; it can
encourage each government to lay down and carry out
rules for the due protection of the native. We all know
that the United States government desired to carry
out honestly and hi the right spirit such a policy
even when the Red Indians were being defrauded of
their lands or of the supplies given them. Your
national government always meant to do right, though
it was not always able to supervise its agents.

We in Britain wish to do the same; and we are
always appealing to our government and assuring them
that they will have and do now have the spirit of the
British public behind them in endeavouring to protect
the native. And if there are still parts of the world
in which the natives are to-day ill treated, let us
trust that the public opinion of America and of Eng-
land will speak out and will demand that the native
races everywhere be duly cared for and delivered from

Your duty does not end with subscribing to the mis-


sionary societies. It requires you to watch wherever
over the world the advance of Christianity is being
hindered by the wicked practices of white men to see
that the adventurer and the trader are restrained if they
wrong the natives by force or fraud, and absolutely to
prohibit the sale of liquor to the natives. The natives
ought to be regarded as children, and have the measure
both of care and of tenderness which is given to chil-
dren, for under the conditions in which their life has
been passed, they cannot be expected to rise quickly
to the level of civilized man.

This brings me to the other point which I desire.

The position is now becoming critical. You are
often told and you are told with truth that this
is a critical time for civilized countries. It is a time
when there are all sorts of new ideas hi the air, a time
when many ancient landmarks have been removed, and
when efforts are being made to remove even those that
remain. In this country you are receiving vast new
masses of population. In the Old World new social
and political movements have begun to stir up even
the hitherto most stagnant countries. But if you
look beyond Europe and America, at what is pass-
ing among the savage or semi-civilized races of man-
kind, and note the changes which have come upon
them within the last fifty years and which are tell-
ing upon them now, you will perceive that this is
perhaps the most critical moment ever seen in the
history of the non-Christian nations and races, a mo-


ment most significant in its bearing on their future.
The races of European origin have now obtained con-
trol of the whole world (except two or three ancient
Asiatic states, and their influence, political and financial
is felt far more deeply than ever before even in those
parts of the world over which they do not exercise direct
political sway.

While our material civilization is permeating every
people, our ideas and the example of our institutions
are also telling as never before upon these more back-
ward races. In half a century or less that which we call
European civilization will have overspread the earth and
extinguished the organizations and customs of the
savage and semi-civilized tribes or nations. The native
tribes will have been broken up, native kingdoms will
have vanished, native customs will have gone ; every-
where the white man will have established his influence
and destroyed the old native ways of life. All is
trembling and crumbling away under the shock and
impact of the stronger, harder civilization which the
white foreigners, penetrating everywhere by our easier
methods of transportation by land and sea, have brought
with them. Things which have endured from the Stone
Age until now are at last coming to a perpetual end,
and will be no more. They will vanish from the face
of the earth. This is something that has never hap-
pened before and can never happen again.

When all these savage and semi-civilized peoples
have lost their ancient organizations, their ancient


customs and their ancient beliefs, they will, along with
these things, lose also their ancient morality, such
as it was, which had its sanctions in those customs
and beliefs. If you destroy these, their morality falls
to the ground and is gone, and they are left with noth-
ing, adrift upon a wide and shoreless sea. You may
say that their customs were often bad, their morality
often immorality. That is true. Much of it ought
to disappear. Yet with all its tolerance of vice and
all its degrading practices, it had in some ways a
certain beneficial action upon their conduct. Its
sanctions exercised some control for good. It fur-
nished a basis for the conduct of life better than the
mere unrestrained impulse to the gratification of every
passion and desire. It prescribed some kinds of virtu-
ous actions, such as good faith (at least with one an-
other), mutual help in times of want, hospitality, and
compassion for the helpless. There are savage peo-
ples who have these virtues, and they were inter-
twined with supernatural sanctions which are now

The process of destruction and disintegration which
I have described is inevi table, and it is advancing
swiftly. If we measure time by the lifetime of a man,
the end may seem still distant, but we can begin to
conjecture the date of its arrival. Already there are
hardly any heathen left in the two American con-
tinents (though there are millions of aborigines who
are not Christians in any effective sense), and hardly


any in the isles of the Pacific. Only in India and the
East Indian archipelago, and in South Central Africa
and parts of West Africa do there remain any large
masses of idolatrous or spirit- worshipping men. Within
less than two centuries the whole non-Christian
world may be practically divided between Buddhism
and Islam, and although the latter of those two
great faiths is still spreading in parts of Africa and
Asia, the hold of both upon their votaries may by
that time have been sensibly weakened.

That is why the present moment is so critical and
so precious. If these peoples are losing the old cus-
toms and beliefs which have ruled them thus far, the
time has come to give them something new and bet-
ter. Unless they receive some new moral basis of
life, some beliefs and motives and precepts which
can appeal to their hearts and rule their conduct, can
restrain bad impulses, and instil worthy conceptions
of life and duty and worship, their last 'state may
be worse than the first. Having overspread the world,
and taken these weaker races under our control, we
cannot evade the responsibility that lies upon us to
think and to care for them. It was at the prompt-
ing of our own interests that we of the white races
disturbed their ancient ways of life, for we went
among them, some few doubtless with a desire to do
good, but the great majority from a desire to make
money and to exploit the world's resources for profit
of the white man. Under the aegis of his govern-


ment, he is taking the agricultural wealth from the soil,
the forests from the hills, and the minerals out of the
rocks, all for his own benefit. Of all this wealth noth-
ing, except perhaps a meagre wage for manual labour,
goes to the native.

The power of civilized man has too often come as
a crushing force in a destroying hand. Let the gospel
of Christ come to these races, the old foundations
of whose life are crumbling away beneath them,
not as the mere nominal profession of those who
are grasping their land and trying to profit by
their toil, but accompanied by justice and tender-
ness in action, and recommended by example as well
as by precept. Let it come as a beneficent power
which can fill their hearts with new thoughts and new
hopes, which may become a link between them and
ourselves, averting that strife and suffering which will
otherwise follow, and leading them gently forward into
the light. Let it be a bond between all races of man-
kind of whatever blood, or speech, or colour, a sacred
bond to make them feel and believe that they and we
are all the children of one Father in heaven.





THIS University of Wisconsin in which we are met
stands by common consent in the front rank among the
State Universities of the United States. It is younger
than some of them, but inferior to none in the width
of its curriculum and the ability of its staff, and it is
perhaps more conspicuously identified then any other
with the political life of the State. This is therefore
a fitting place in which one who delivers a Commence-
ment Address may choose for his theme the various
origins from which universities have sprung, the
various forms in which they have organized themselves,
and the peculiar features and functions which belong
to the American State Universities, that "latest birth
of time."

A university is, in its simplest form, nothing more
than an aggregation of teachers and learners. It
was in that way that the earliest universities of modern
Europe began. Salerno, Bologna, Paris, were the
first cities in which crowds of learners gathered round
a few eminent teachers of medicine (in the first), of law
(in the second), of theology and dialectics (in the third).
Such too were the beginnings of Oxford and Cambridge.



In each of those trading towns situated upon rivers,
then the chief avenues of commerce, a concourse of
students formed itself round a few learned men, and
presently grew to vast dimensions. These universities
were not founded by any public authority, but founded
themselves, springing up naturally out of the desire
for knowledge ; and hence we in England describe our
two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge as being
"corporations at common law," i.e. deriving their
legal quality as corporate bodies from ancient custom
which antedates the time of legal memory. The same
thing had happened in the Eastern World. Where Is-
lam reigned, schools sprang up in the great mosques like
that famous one of El Azhar in Cairo which still draws
thousands of students of all ages from all parts of the
Musulman world. Later on in the Middle Ages
sovereigns began to establish such places of learning.
The Emperor Frederick II set up one at Naples in
A.D. 1225, Pope Gregory IX another at Toulouse in
1233. The first in the Germanic Empire was that of
Prague, founded by Pope Clement VI and Emperor
Charles the Fourth in 1347-1348 ; and others followed,
such as that famous school at Heidelberg which the
Elector Palatine Rupert, and Pope Urban VI at his
request, set up hi 1386.

Popes had also assumed the right of founding uni-
versities, and with good right, because their ecclesias-
tical jurisdiction embraced all Europe, and they were
called upon to see that a due supply both of trained


theologians and trained lawyers was always forth-
coming. In Scotland the Universities of Glasgow and
Aberdeen, for instance, were founded by papal bulls,
but when after the breach between England and
Rome Queen Elizabeth desired to create a university
in Ireland she did it herself by a royal charter. In
modern Europe, since the conception has grown up
that a university is an institution entitled to grant
degrees, and since degrees themselves have obtained
more or less legal recognition, it is now understood
that nothing less than some public authority, such as
either a royal grant or a statute, can create a univer-
sity. It is thus that the eight new universities re-
cently established, and the most recent of them per-
haps too hastily established, in England, viz., London,
Durham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham^
Sheffield, and Bristol, have been constituted.

Here in the United States you have allowed the
widest freedom, so colleges and universities, great and
small, have sprung up all over the country in a crop
almost too abundant. Harvard and Yale were the
foundations of private benefactors, though their States
subsequently aided them. Many other colleges owe
their origin to religious denominations. But the most
interesting, and certainly the most peculiar and char-
acteristically American, type has been that of the uni-
versity founded and supported and governed by the

Before proceeding to consider how this scheme of


State support and control has worked, let me try to
give you a brief view of the universities of the three
countries whose conditions and ideas most resemble
yours in America. I mean Germany, England, and
Scotland, countries in each of which the university
has played a great part and has not only illustrated
the character of the nation but done much to form that

The universities of Germany have, during the last
seventy years, led the world in the completeness of
their teaching organization, in the amplitude of the
provision of instruction in every branch of knowledge
which they make, and in the services they render to
the prosecution of research. In these respects they
have set an example to the world, an example whose
value is recognized in the United States, from which so
many students have gone to Germany. The level of
learning among the teachers, taken as a whole, is per-
haps higher than anywhere else : and it is to the en-
ergy of these teachers that we must largely ascribe that
completeness with which special training has been
brought to bear upon every department of practical
life hi Germany, upon private business in production
and distribution no less than upon all kinds of admin-
istrative work. A control is exercised over the univer-
sities by the government which you here and we hi
England might think excessive, but in practice it does
not seem to be harmful, for public opinion practically
secures freedom of teaching and relieves the professors


from undue interference. The tradition of respect for
the great seats of learning, strong in the minds of the
German bureaucracy, who have all been educated there,
is found to act as an efficient protection. Indeed, the
whole nation cares for the universities, is proud of the
universities, recognizes, as perhaps no other nation has
ever done, the value for practical life of full knowledge
and exact training, so that everything is done which
money and organizing skill can do to maintain the in-
stitutions of learning and teaching at the highest level
of efficiency. Nor must I forget to add that the uni-
versities have another claim on the affection of the
German people in the fact that when, after the battle
of Jena in 1806, North Germany lay for a tune pros-
trate at the feet of a foreign conqueror, it was in the
universities that the patriotic national spirit found its
surest home, and it was among their professors and
students that the movement began which culminated
in the liberation of the German fatherland.

The universities of England and here I speak
chiefly of Oxford and Cambridge, as the oldest and by
far the most characteristic educational product of
English soil belong to a different type. Although
the great scientific discoveries of the last centuries are
due to British more than to any other discoverers,
these universities have not in recent years contributed
so largely to original research either in natural science
or in the human subjects as have their sisters in Ger-
many. They are far less completely organized for the


purposes of instruction. They do not educate so large
a proportion of the people. They have been, since the
Reformation, for the most part places of resort for the
upper and middle classes, and it is only within the last
thirty years that they began to be rendered easily ac-
cessible to the promising and diligent youth of the
poorer sections of society. But they have had several
conspicuous merits which are specially their own.
Their ideal has been to give not so much an education
qualifying a man to succeed in any particular walk of
life as that general education which will fit him to be a
worthy member of church and commonwealth. They
have sought to develop men as men, to shape and
polish a completely harmonious and well-rounded in-
tellect and character, a personality in whom all facul-
ties have been cultivated and brought as nearly as may
be to a symmetrical completeness. And in aiming at
this, they have thought not only of learning or of the
powers of the speculative intellect, but also of the apti-
tudes which find their scope in practical life, and which
enable a man to work usefully with other men and to
exercise a wholesome influence in his community. Ox-
ford and Cambridge have long been closely associated
with the public life of the nation. In the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries nearly all of those who
reached high eminence as statesmen were their
alumni, and gratefully acknowledged how much they
owed to the Alma Mater. That which they did owe
was not always learning nor even the power of ready


and finished speech, a power which must always count
for much in the political life of a free country. It was
perhaps rather the knowledge of human nature, the tact
and judgment, the sense of honour and comradeship
which daily social intercourse in the colleges of these
universities tended to form. In these colleges there
are twenty-two in Oxford and nineteen in Cambridge
there is a sort of domestic life which brings the
students into close touch with one another. The
undergraduates dine together in the same college hall
along with the graduate members of the college who
are the teachers. They worship in the same college
chapel. They have their sports together, each col-
lege with its cricket team and its racing boats on the
river. The opportunities for forming friendships are
unrivalled, and thus it comes to pass that those who
remember Oxford and Cambridge say that they learnt
as much from one another as they did from their pro-
fessors and tutors. Moreover, the domestic arrange-
ments of our English college life create a more easy
and familiar intercourse between the teachers, espe-
cially the younger ones, and the undergraduates than
exists anywhere else. The undergraduate students
are the friends of their teachers, living with them on
an equality which is of course tempered by the respect
due to age and experience. It is a pleasant relation,
good for the older and the younger alike. Thus has
there been created in Oxford and Cambridge that
impalpable thing which we call an Atmosphere, an


intellectual and social tone which forms manners and
refines taste, and strengthens characters by traditions
inherited from a long and splendid past.

The four universities of Scotland are very different
from the English, and rather resemble the universities
of Germany. Though far less completely equipped
than are the latter, for Scotland has been a com-
paratively poor country, they have always given a
high quality of instruction, and produced a large
number of remarkable men. There are no residential
colleges like those of England, so the undergraduates
live in lodgings, where they please, and thus there is
less of social student life. But the instruction is
stimulating; and the undergraduates, being mostly
poor men, and coming of a diligent and aspiring stock,
are more generally studious and hard-working and
self-reliant than are those of Oxford and Cambridge.
Within the last twenty years women have been ad-
mitted to the classes, and that which was deemed an
experiment is pronounced to be a success.

Last, I come to your own universities. Whereas the
universities of Germany have been popular but not
free, and those of England free but not popular, yours,
like those of Scotland, are both popular and free.
Their doors are open to every one, and every one
enters. They are untrammeled by any religious or
political prejudices, even when they are associated with
a particular denomination, and they have been, with
comparatively few exceptions, managed without any


intrusion of political influences. Many of them
allow the student a wider choice among subjects of
study and leave him in other ways more free to do as
he pleases than is the case in any other institutions in
the English-speaking world.

Nor is it only that your universities are accessible
to all classes. They have achieved what has never
been achieved before, they have led all classes of the
people to believe in the value of university education
and wish to attain it. They have made it seem a
necessary part of the equipment of every one who
can afford the time to take it. In England, and indeed
in Europe generally, such an education has been a
luxury for the ordinary man, though it may have been
reckoned almost a necessity for those who are entering
on one of the distinctively "learned professions." But
here it is deemed a natural preparation for a business
life also; and the proportion of business men who have
studied at some university is far larger in the United
States than in any other country.

However, it was of your State universities only that
I meant to speak, because they are the newest, the most
peculiar, and the most interesting product of American
educational zeal. They are a remarkable expression
of the spirit which has latterly come to pervade this
country, that the functions of government may be
usefully extended to all sorts of undertakings for the
public benefit which it was formerly thought better
to leave to private enterprise. The provision of ele-


mentary education was indeed long ago assumed by
the State, because it was deemed necessary that those
who vote as citizens should possess the rudiments of
knowledge. But in going on to found and support
and manage institutions supplying the higher forms of
education at a low or merely nominal charge, you of
the American West went further than any other com-
munities in the English-speaking world. The same
principle has guided several of your States, and this
State in particular, in so enlarging the range of uni-
versity action as to bring it into direct contact with
the schools and the people through systems of lectures
and correspondence and through the multiform activ-
ities of the agricultural department. The greatest asset
of a community is the energy and intelligence of its
members. Your citizens have the energy and you feel
it to be " good business " to develop their native intel-
ligence by the completest education they can desire.

In committing yourselves to this principle you here
in the West seem to have returned to that conception
of the functions of the State which prevailed in the
Greek republics of antiquity, where it was denned as
"a partnership of men in the highest social life," and
you have abandoned that laissez-faire doctrine gen-
erally held seventy years ago which regarded the gov-
erning power in a community as established mainly
for the purpose of maintaining civil order within and
providing for defence against external foes, and held

Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceUniversity and historical addresses, delivered during a residence in the United States as ambassador of Great Britain → online text (page 9 of 24)