Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/530

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
237
1888-Lieut-Colonel W.Hughes Hallet.

of the binomial theorem, but the habits yon have acquired at school or college will for good or evil be of hourly importance. A scientific course is specially useful in this connection. No training is so good. Science not only gives a never-ceasing interest to the humblest life, making all Nature an open book more beautiful than is to be found in libraries, but it inculcates habits of observation, method and accuracy which are simply invaluable.

And, in parenthesis, to you others who have not succeeded let a word of counsel be said. Do not make idle excuses. Do not go about saying that you ought to have passed, that you answered all the questions right, and that the examiner must have made some mistake in the marks. Ask your teachers, ever ready to help, for a plain unvarnished opinion as to the cause of failure, as to whether it is permanent or removable. Do not shirk the truth. It may be you are not up to the peculiar mental standard—then best retire gracefully from the contest and go about other business. There is no disgrace in wanting this modern knack of packing away thousands of facts in memory's pigeon holes and producing them neatly tied up in bundles at 10 A.M. on a certain day. Many great minds would have broken down under this test. The milestones of history have mostly been put up by men who would have cut a poor figure in the examination room. If, on the other hand, the evil is pronounced curable, try hard to cure it. Failure is often owing less to want of knowledge than to carelessness. Instead of first studying the question to see exactly what is wanted, then thinking out the answer, then putting your ideas roughly on paper, and lastly writing out clearly and concisely the information asked for and nothing else—a very large number of you glance hurriedly at the question without taking any pains to ascertain its drift, and then scribble pages on pages more or less connected with the subject to which it refers, but in no real sense answering it. Six pages of well expressed and pertinent matter do more towards success than a hundred pages of undigested rigmarole. And not only is your knowledge thus clumsily marshalled, but it is villainously set down. Only a small proportion of answer papers are decently written: a very large portion are disgracefully written. Now bad writing is more often due to affectation or laziness than to inability, and few of us who sin in this respect but can, with a little trouble, write at least legibly. You would take this trouble in drawing up an application for employment, then why not take it at examination? Bad writing can how-