Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/541

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University of Madras.

Then in the evening of days, sinking back wearied and exhausted with a life struggle after the impossible, echoing those melancholy words "too late, too late" you find when it is indeed too late that in striving to grasp universal knowledge you have been striving to grasp that which is intangible, that life, health, talents, opportunities, have been wasted in the pursuit of a chimera.

To this rough and necessarily very imperfect sketch of the leading principles which should regulate your conduct as individuals something must be added on your relation to the University. You have here in the full light of day, in the presence of the Senate and of several hundred spectators, undertaken a solemn obligation. Not only have you promised to be good citizens, promoting the cause of morality and upholding social order and the well-being of your fellowmen; you have also promised to con-duct yourselves in daily life as becomes members of the University and to promote the cause of learning. This pledge must not be lightly broken. Wherever you may be and whatever your occupation you must endeavour to help others in the quest after knowledge. In a huge city like this individual effort may not do much, you can but join with the throng, each doing his share; but in the smaller towns and villages a single example is of distinct value. Let that example be worthy of the University. Here is a glorious duty, glorious but still a duty. You have to hand the lamp of learning down the generations. Through all historic ages that lamp has burned, through all ages to come it will continue to burn, till this race shall be no more. Let the thoughts rest where they will on the memories of the past, there that flame is to be seen and ever moving onward. Back in the earliest recorded times, the sage of Egypt, of Chaldea, of India, takes his pupils to tower top and teaches them that fanciful lore of the heavens which has now given place to a truer science — from then onward to where in the groves of the academy the disciples walk with the master probing the dim depths of philosophy, by their side the blue Egean with smiles innumerable reflecting a cloudless heaven, and overhead the calm-browed goddess looking grave approval enshrined on her own Acropolis — onward again to the schools of Alexandria where the father of geometry thinks out the eternal problems, and Hipparchus and Eratos-thenes, grand in the audacity of their conceptions, grand even in their errours, struggle to compass the universe — onward to where under spreading oak and in stonehewn cloister a pale-faced priesthood treasures with loving care the priceless heirlooms of a dead age, the key to which it must never hope to