Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/254

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239
1890.—Rev. D. Mackichan.
it can fitly rank with the other sciences to which this University has given its complete recognition. Having thus made clear the nature and extent of the Senate's action, I would ask you to allow me to add a brief word on the general question. If the condition which I have above stated be insisted upon, it appears to me that such an extension of the scope of our University studies is both natural and desirable. Definition of a University. The question is not to be settled by any arbitrary definition of term University, and a corresponding limitation of its sphere. Fortunately the best authorities are not agreed as to the origin of the term, and it has been left to history to settle the definition from age to age. The term University has been defining itself, and the definition has taken its colour from the intellectual surroundings of each age, and, I might add, of each nation. The mediæval conception of the University held sway for a period of unexpected duration. But the spirit of the age proved too powerful for this conception, and one after another the most conservative Universities have been compelled to surrender it. In Germany the liberalising influence has been long at work, and the German Universities owe their present power to the degree in which they have been able to adapt themselves to changing conditions. Local influences, too, have been at work, and subjects of academic study find a place in one University denied to them in another, because the life of which they are the intellectual development does not everywhere present the same features. And who is prepared to maintain that the Universities of India should not develop along lines that may, in some measure, be peculiar to themselves? If the life of the nation requires it, so long as Universities are in touch with that life they will be bound to respond to this demand. A recent writer has well said: "The University may be described as the higher knowledge of the nation, concentrated and organized for the purposes of extension and communication with a view to the perfecting of the truth and the better formation of men. So considered it must be a living and ever-augmenting body—growth in the sciences taught and in the faculties teaching them is necessary to its very idea. The moment that a University circumscribes the field of knowledge, and says the circle is complete, and no new science can be added or old displaced, it has ceased to be a University and become a mere mill, grinding out arid conventionalisms and barren forumlæ good for no human spirit." The development of scientific instruction in our University is a subject to which increased attention will have to be devoted. About ten years ago a sudden start, almost a revolution, was achieved.