Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/523

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University of Madras.

ledge. Knowledge thus goes on accumulating from year to year. Similarly, every generation adds to the knowledge of the previous generation. Under such a process, the accumulation of knowledge in a century is something very large. To assert therefore that men possessed more knowledge scores of centuries ago than at the present day is manifestly absurd. Even assuming intellectual equality between the ancients and moderns, men of modern times have had enormous advantages over those of ancient times for the acquisition of knowledge. Our field of observation, our facilities for observation, our instruments of observation, our highly elaborated methods of calculation, our means of publishing the results of observation, of getting the results scrutinised, questioned, compared, discussed, and variously verified are infinitely greater than those of remote generations. The explorations of the ancients were fragmentary and superficial. The whole world is now one field of observation. We can cross continents by railways, we can traverse oceans by steamers. We dive to the bottom of the sea, we pierce to the bowels of the earth. We rise to far off ethereal solitudes where new worlds seem to be in process of creation or consolidatian. Our visual powers are infinitely multiplied by such instruments as the microscope and the telescope. Our power of measuring space has been enlarged by a variety of the nicest instruments. So also our power of measuring time. We have a marvellous postal system which spreads information through a thousand channels. We employ lightning itself as messenger of news. We have a wonderful system of printing books, journals and periodicals, by which the thoughts of the whole human race are exchanged with ease and rapidity. The observers are innumerable, and include the most gifted intellects animated by the highest love of truth, by the highest enthusiasm and the keenest emulation. In short, an enormous intellectual committee of the whole civilised world is ceaselessly sitting from generation to generation, and is ceaselessly working for the collection and augmentation of human knowledge. Calmly and carefully reflect, and you, gentlemen, are certain to agree with me. Hesitate not, therefore, to prefer modern knowledge to ancient knowledge. A blind belief in the omniscience of our forefathers is mischievous, because it perpetuates errors and tends to stagnation.

India is the scene of the confluence of two mighty civilisations. You will find a great deal that is old and also a great deal that is new. You are not to accept either indiscriminately or exclusively. Exercise your judgment in choosing. In regard to scientific