THE business of the university is to train men to know, to think and to do. To be will take care of itself, if the others are provided for. Wisdom is knowing what one ought to do next. Skill is knowing how to do it. Virtue is doing it. Religion is the working theory of life. It deals with the reasons why one ought to do. To all these ends the university is devoted. It does not make men. It remodels them to bring the powers they have to greater effectiveness. It brings, according to Emerson, 'every ray of varied genius to its hospitable halls,' that by their united influence 'they may strike the hearth of the youth in flame.'
Most precious of all possessions of the state is the talent of its citizens. This exists not in fact, but in possibility. What heredity carries over is not achievement, but tendency, a mode of direction of force which makes achievement possible. But to bring about results training is necessary. There can never be too many educated men, if by education we mean training along the lines of possible individual success. With birth, Emerson tells us, 'the gate of gifts is closed.' We can no longer secure something for nothing. The child's character is a mosaic of unrelated fragments, bits of heredity from a hundred sources. It is the work of education to form these into a picture. It is the art of living to range these fragments to form a consistent and effective personality.
It is the duty of the university among other things to take hold of these fragments of human possibilities and to arrange them so as to fit them for achievement. It is another duty 'to bring men to their inheritance.' This inheritance consists of the gathered experience of the past, that truth which is won through contact with realities, and with this the knowledge of the methods by which men have tested truth. Again the university has the public duty of preparing the instruments of social need.
The kings have recognized the need of universities and university men. In this need Alfred founded Oxford and Charlemagne the University of Paris. The Emperor William is quoted as saying that
- Abstract of an address before the North Central Association of Colleges and High Schools, Chicago, April 3, 1903.