Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/389

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
96
University of Madras.

ignores them, ignores the highest part about himself and is on the high road to a degrading materialism. It is a line conception of the poet which represents man as coming at his birth fresh from celestial abode with all the signs of it about him, which gradually, in rude contact with the world, fade away—

With something of a mother's mind
And no unworthy aim
The homely nurse doth all she can
To make her foster child, her inmate, Man,
Forget the splendors of his home
And that imperial palace whence he came.

But they must not be forgotten. Art in its fairest forms, science with its train of wonders, literature with its thousand delights, will to the man without moral sense but make the absence of that moral sense the more apparent. And remember that while there is endless diversity as to dogma, that diversity does not extend to the world of morals, and while theologians are hopelessly at variance about their respective creeds, there is no such variance among good and reasonable men as to how we ought to live and what objects we ought to propose to ourselves. Virtue and vice have the same meanings to us all. Honesty and justice and truth—that much neglected virtue, candour of intellect—purity of soul and body—magnanimity on the one hand, and mercy and generosity and self-devotion on the other—these are the same to all alike, these are the real landmarks by which our course must be steered; and while these remain intact, the shock of dogmatic systems, though it may perplex, need never overwhelm. It is not when men doubt the dogmatic and philosophical parts of their creed s,but when moral truths are obscured that individuals become corrupt and nations sink into infamy. Education may, and probably will, make a man question his creed—it never need make him doubt about his conduct. Let a student remember this, and that everything he learns should tend towards ennobling himself and bettering the world about him, and there need be no fear for the result. Let him remember Lord Bacon's warning:— "I would," says he, "address one general admonition to all; that they consider what are the true ends of knowledge and that they seek it not either for the pleasure of the mind, or for contention, or for superiority to others, or for profit or power or any of these inferior things ; but for the benefit and use of life; and that they perfect it and govern it in charity."

But it may be said, why educate at all? It is, perhaps, hardly respectful to so lettered an audience as that which I address even to consider such a question. But if an answer were necessary, the first would be