Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/388

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1874. — Honorable H. S. Cunningham.

modern world. Henceforward all was change, new ideas poured in apace. Enlarged knowledge made havoc of the old traditionary beliefs, and great revolutions of thought came about. The most august and venerable institutions began to shake and crumble. All the old paths of life were broken up. Now this is a process, in the highest degree perilous to all concerned. Change of course there must be ; we can none, even the most conservative among us, be exactly as were our forefathers : —

What custom wills, in all things should we do it, The dust on antique Time would lie unswept, And mountainous Error be too highly heaped For Truth to overpeer —

But still there is a great danger as well as great pain in leaving the old customary paths in which so many preceding generations walked. The old belief, with all its venerated associations, learnt from our childhood, seems to form part of a man's very heart, and, true or false, to lose it, is to lose a portion of himself. Life looks cold and dreary and hopeless without the graces that the piety and fancy of younger generations have thrown around it. *' If '^ — we feel inclined to cry with the poet —

"If the sad grave of human ignorance bear One flower of hope, ah, pass and leave it ^here — "

Leave at any rate the hopes and beliefs, which, all illusive as they may have been, served yet to irradiate a darkling life and to guide some wandering spirit across the trackless ocean of exist- ence ! It is for those who encounter these dangers not to ignore them, but to face them at once with modesty and courage. Let them beware of lawlessness, cynicism or arrogance of thought ;

Make knowledge circle with the wind, But let her herald, Eeverence, fly Before her to whatever sky Bear seed of men or growth of mind j

Be slow to use your liberty as a cloak of licentiousness. Be slow to abandon those traditionary rules of a temperate life, which come to you, with all the sanction of religion and experience of ages. Come to the new world of thought that has opened upon you, but come with cautious steps and a reverent mind. Do not forget that if, from the circumstances of the case we are debarred from offering you instruction in many of the deeper, graver, and more serious aspects of life, none the less do those aspects exist, and none the more safely can they be ignored by you. Underneath these different religions, yours and ours, and nearer the surface perhaps than theologians would have us believe, lie certain common aspirations, common cravings, common pangs, and the man who