"He was acquiring," says Mr. Pater, speaking of a Eoman youtli, the hero of his surpassingly beautiful book, 'Marius the Epicurean,'
"He was acquiring what is ever the chief function of all higher education to teach, —a system of art, viz., of so relieving the ideal or poetic traits, the elements of distinction in our every-day life—of so exclusively living in them that the unadorned remainder of it, the mere drift and debris of life, becomes as though it were not."
It would be a dangerous thing to say this if I were not addressing those whom I believe to be inspired, even perhaps, too much inspired, with the Western passion for "getting on," albeit they think too much of "getting on" by the poor enough ladder of Government employment; but it is necessary to say it in order to put before you the kernel of my thoughts about the University. The world's work must be done —woe to those by whom the hard prosaic inevitable side of life is ever neglected; but I would have each one of you have in your minds a sanctuary, into which it does not enter.
Till our University is doing all these things, from the lowest to the highest, I, for one, shall not be satisfied, but I confess that it is with no small pleasure that I observe how little she has got to throw away, how little rubbish there is, in her existing system.
My thoughts go back to the first time that it became my duty, officially, to address a University. It was just nineteen years ago, and I was then not Chancellor of the University of Madras, but Lord Rector of the University of Aberdeen, an ancient institution, which had been founded, partly in the evening of Catholic Scotland, partly in the stormy morning of her Protestant Reformation.
Then, as to-day, I directed my speech mainly to point out what I thought would be improvements, but, in the first case the whole ground around me was strewn with old-fashioned and semi-barbarous methods of teaching, the absurdity of which I had to bring into strong relief.
Hero there is nothing of that sort. The machine is an excellent machine. It will want, doubtless, every few years a change here, and a change there, but the great improvements wanted are not in the machine, but rather in the way in which our people use it.
I calculate that, when I was young, every English boy, who had enjoyed, or suffered, what was called a first-rate education.