Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/249

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University of Bombay.

as a true principle in education that culture is more advanced when a smaller number are furnished with the highest means of training, than when it is shared by an excessive number, who necessarily lower the level of collective achievement, because the highest training cannot be placed within the reach of all. This University and its Colleges have never prided themselves on numbers, but they have been rightly jealous of the quality of their results. And now that a generation has passed we may well ask whether this has resulted in any advance in the standard of attainment? It is not uncommon to hear it said in some quarters that there has been little advance, perhaps rather a retrogression. Now I for one have very little sympathy with the vague complaints of the laudator temporis acti in relation to the development of our higher education. It is easy to point to those distinguished men who were the first alumni of our University, and placing beside them the average results of our own day to deduce the conclusion that our progress has been inconsiderable. But it is forgotten by those who make the comparison that the time of which they speak was the beginning of an intellectual awakening which attracted only the choicer spirits, while the impulse which moved them has now a wider sweep and acts upon a larger mass. If we would institute a just comparison we should compare the élite of the many who now crowd the class rooms of our Colleges with those who were the pioneers of the new movement. If the comparison be thus fairly made, I believe we may justly claim that the standard of attainment possible in this University has risen with the general progress, and that a deeper and broader culture is now offered to the alumni of our University, deeper and broader because it rests upon the achievements of their predecessors in the same high pursuit. Still there can be little doubt that the student of a byegone day enjoyed advantages which are less common now. He was more in contact with men who formed the characters and moulded the lives of their pupils. His acquaintance with the life and thought of the West was in some respects also more direct and immediate. His mind, too, was more open to the influences which played upon it, more receptive of the new spirit which was being breathed into it. Perhaps we have suffered in this loss of the students' receptivity, and it may be possible for a greater number to pass through the regular paths of a University education without coming into contact with its higher spirit. If there has been a loss in this respect, it is a loss most real, for it touches that which is most vital in intellectual influence. What has made the influences of Universities so potent? It is not that they separate so many chosen minds from the meaner influences of the