Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/456

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440
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

LEARN AND SEARCH.[1]
By Prof. RUDOLPH VIRCHOW.

OUR university has during its existence, now for more than eighty-two years, celebrated the beginning of a new university year in a peculiarly solemn manner. This October day is the one among the festivals it observes which invites it to enter into self-contemplation, to a review of its acquired results, to a testing of the ways it has struck out, and again to the consideration of new problems and to a look into the future. Have we solved the problems that are set before us? Have we made a faithful use of the means for training youth for the highest objects of the state and of manhood? Can we surely expect that the hopes which we and the Fatherland have built on our work will be realized? It is incumbent on the new rector to be the interpreter of these problems. But whose mouth is eloquent enough to give common expression to the often widely diversified thoughts of his associates? How few of us succeed in obtaining even only a general view of the ever newly changing phases of single special branches! None of us, we often confess, is a bearer of all knowledge. Each of us can do no more, with the best will, than judge from the point of view of his own branch, of his own single experience out of the whole course of studies at the university. Hence the temptation is pressing to make his own branch rather than the generality of the studies the subject of his review. I shall endeavor to avoid this rock.

The confidence of my associates has called me to this high position forty-six years after I entered this faculty as a privat docent, and after I have been active forty-three years as an ordinarius in a foreign university and here. Great changes have taken place, not only in public affairs, but also in knowledge—greater than in hundreds of years before. All the single fields of human activity have been transformed, many fundamentally, or at least subjected to the incisive attacks of criticism. How could one who has participated busily in public life have passed through so great experiences without realizing it and without disturbance? Yet university life is not isolated amid the general intellectual life of the people. We are obliged to look around from our instruction upon instruction in general, the elementary and preparatory instruction which youth eager to learn bring to us, as well as upon the instruction in the various higher or technical schools, one after another of which has developed the intelligible effort to be, or at least to be called, a high school. To

  1. Rector's address at the Friedrich Wilhelm's University, Berlin, October 15, 1892.