The Civic University
An Address delivered to the Citizens of Bristol on Installation
as Chancellor of the University of Bristol
Published in ‘THE CONDUCT OF LIFE and Other Addresses’,
Viscount Haldane, London, John Murray, Albemarle Street 1914
Your University has done me the honour of choosing me for its Chancellor. I have asked leave to express in person before you, the citizens of Bristol, my gratitude for this high distinction. Such title as I possess to it is that I have cared for the cause of University Education in the great cities of the kingdom. I have believed in this cause and have striven for it. And it is with a sense of real pleasure that I find myself privileged to be closely associated with the new University life of your community.
Of this new life I wish to say something to you on the present occasion. It is a characteristic development of our time that the great cities of England should have asked for, and in rapid succession obtained, the concession of their own Universities. In Scotland, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Glasgow, and Aberdeen have for centuries possessed such Universities, to the great profit of themselves and the Scottish nation. Dundee has recently followed their example by entering into fellowship with St. Andrews. In Ireland, Dublin has lately got a second teaching University, and Belfast has secured a University of her own. In England the progress has recently been rapid―London made her foundation of a teaching University under the Act of 1898. Birmingham followed suit, and was herself quickly followed by Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, and Sheffield, and then by Bristol. Newcastle has recognised the example of Dundee by entering into partnership with Durham.
There were not wanting those who took a gloomy view of the new development. The standard of University life and of University degrees must, they said, inevitably be ruined. The level of Oxford and Cambridge could never be reached, and these old Universities might even be damaged. To this it was replied that no one aimed at an imitation of Oxford and Cambridge. These Universities possessed an historical tradition of their own which was a great asset to the country. No wise person would wish to alter their special atmosphere. They could, after all, provide for only a limited number of students; what had to be provided for elsewhere was the very much larger number whom they did not reach. It was pointed out that Germany possessed a greater number of Universities in proportion to her population than we did, and that there were certainly no grounds for saying that their number had either lowered the standard of University education in that country, or that Berlin or Munich or Leipzig or Breslau afforded the least indication that a University could not flourish exceedingly in a great city. Moreover, experience had shown that the very competition of Universities tended to bring about a stingless rivalry in keeping standards high.
These arguments prevailed with Governments and Parliaments. But the victory was not won without a struggle. What was probably the final battle was fought out in the end of 1902 before a very impressive tribunal, in the form of a Special Committee of the Privy Council. I make no apology for referring to this battle of the experts, for by some chance even historians of education in this country seem to know little of it. Liverpool had by 1902 awakened to the sense of her necessities, and, stimulated by the success of Mr. Chamberlain's effort for Birmingham, had petitioned for a University Charter. She possessed a University College. She was sure she could develop this greatly in both money and men if the city felt that it was considered worthy to have a University of its own, instead of a College federated with those of Manchester and Leeds under the Examining Board at Manchester, which then possessed the title of the Victoria University. She complained that the federal system was subordinating education to examination, instead of putting examination in its proper place as a means to the end of testing teaching―that teaching which ought to be the supreme object of the existence of a University. Manchester, a little half-heartedly, concurred in the Liverpool view; Leeds opposed strongly, and was backed up by a mixed but powerful assemblage of witnesses, which included some opponents of what were nicknamed Lilliputian Universities, and by some advocates of external examination.
The petition of Liverpool was referred by the Crown to a Committee of the Privy Council, and eminent lawyers argued the case for and against it and called their witnesses. The Committee was presided over by the distinguished statesman who was then President of the Council, the late Duke of Devonshire, and he had as his colleagues Lord Rosebery, the ex-Prime Minister, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, who was then Secretary for Scotland, Lord James of Hereford, and one whom we in Bristol know well, and hold in admiration and affection, Sir Edward Fry. The hearing occupied three days: the 17th, 18th, and 19th of December 1902. The Committee after deliberation reported, and an Order in Council, dated the 10th of February 1903, gave effect to the report. It was pronounced that Liverpool and Manchester had made out their case for the grant of University Charters. It was added that the step of granting the Charters involved issues of great moment which should be kept in view, and for the solution of which due preparations should be made, especially in respect to those points upon which, having regard to the great importance of the matter, and the effects of any changes upon the future of higher education in the North of England, co-operation was expedient between Universities of a common type and with cognate aims.
The date of this Order in Council is, I think, a memorable one. It gave State recognition to a new policy, but for which we might not have been assembled here to-night. The principle was accepted that the number of the English Universities was to be increased, and their headquarters were to be in cities. The conditions were that the chief responsibility was to be entrusted to the cities themselves, and that the cities should be large enough and keen enough to ensure that the requisite local resources for the maintenance and development of the Universities should be forthcoming. It is about the Civic University which has thus been born that I have come to speak to you. Such a University presupposes for its existence not only sympathy but enthusiasm on the part of the citizens. Without such enthusiasm it cannot grow or become a source of credit and advantage, moral, intellectual, or material, to the city. But such experience as we have had shows the city, by taking thought in this fashion, in process of adding a cubit to its stature.
The other thing needful is that the education given should be of the very highest type practicable. It must not be merely technical or designed as a means to material ends. That is a narrow aim which in the end defeats its own accomplishment. The appeals to the King in Council, on the great occasion to which I have alluded, breathed a wholly different spirit. It was then declared that the great communities of the kingdom would be content with nothing short of the highest. They had, of course, to make a beginning; they could not accomplish everything at once―University institutions can only obtain their full stature as the result of long growth. But the mediaeval cities of Italy, cities such as Bologna, had set to the world a great example. They found a home, as students of books such as that of Dr. Rashdall on the Universities of the Middle Ages know, for guilds of students, who established themselves there to the great fame and profit of the city. They became conscious of their own individuality, and they assisted in giving to the world University teaching and University work of the highest kind. What, to go still further back, did not Athens owe to the fact that the highest learning was developed and put by the people themselves in the highest place among Athenian institutions? Such ancient cities are a model for us; they influenced not only their own countrymen but the whole world for good. The chance has come to us in England to accomplish something of the same kind, and with us, as with them, it is to the enthusiasm and resources of our great urban communities, never, when once convinced, wanting in faith, that we have to look.
There was a time when men of business, accustomed to see closely to profit and loss, used to think that the work of a University was worth effort and expenditure only in so far as it produced aptitude for industrial and commercial production. Traces of this view are still apparent in the foundation deeds of some of the older University Colleges of our municipalities. But this idea is now discredited, and the part played by science and by general learning in the production alike of the captain of industry and of the extension of invention is far greater than was the case even a few years ago. Applied science is in its best form only possible on a wide foundation of general science. And the fruitful scientific spirit is developed to-day on a basis of high intellectual training, the training which only the atmosphere of the fully developed University can completely provide. What is true of science in the narrower sense is also true of learning generally. It is only by the possession of a trained and developed mind that the fullest capacity can, as a general rule, be obtained. There are, of course, exceptional individuals with rare natural gifts which make up for deficiencies. But such gifts are indeed rare. We are coming more and more to recognise that the best specialist can be produced only after a long training in general learning. The grasp of principle which makes detail easy can only come when innate capacity has been evoked and moulded by high training.
Our engineers, our lawyers, our doctors, our administrators, our inventors, cannot keep in front in the race, or hold their own amid the rivalry of talent, unless their minds have been so widely trained that the new problems with which the ever-increasing complications and specialisations of modern conditions confront them, present nothing more formidable than new applications of first principles which have been thoroughly assimilated. Without having reached this level they cannot maintain their feet. The competition is not merely with their fellow-countrymen; it is with the trained minds of other countries. These other countries are, some of them, advancing at least as rapidly as we are. An enlightened policy in education is the order of the day over most of the civilised world, and if we are to hold our own, even in the making of money, we dare not fall behind or lag in the endeavour to increase our efforts. I see no sign that we Britons are diminishing one whit in our really great capacity.
In many respects, notably in certain of our public institutions, we are advancing so rapidly that we continue to lead the way, and our production of wealth is not falling off. Moreover, I do not believe that we are really losing what is equally necessary―that spirit of respect to the laws which we have made for ourselves that has been one of our chief glories. But we have more than ever before to see to it that we keep at least abreast in science, and science means far more now than technical training, or the mere application of special knowledge to industry. It rests on a foundation of general culture which is vital to the maintenance of its standards, and it can develop only if the population has the fullest chance of an intellectual and moral training which goes deeper than mere science strictly so called. It is the power of the highly-trained mind that is required, and the full development of this trained mind can only be given by the highly organised Universities.
This brings me to my next point. It is said that it is only the comparatively few that can attain to this level. That is quite true. And it is neither requisite nor possible that everyone should be trained up to it. If we had all the Universities in the world concentrated in England, we should find that it was only a limited percentage of the population which would be fitted by natural aptitudes to take full advantage of them. What is really essential is that everyone should have a chance, and that there should be the nearest possible approach to equality of educational opportunity. Without this the sense of injustice will never be eliminated, and we shall in addition fail to secure for our national endeavours the help of our best brains. There is sitting at the present time an important Royal Commission. The Civil Service, which is the permanent element in the government of the country, has been recruited in various ways. The prevailing but not the only test has been examination. The civil servants are, however, divided into higher and lower divisions. The lower division, which is much the larger, does the great bulk of the routine and less difficult work. Its members enter by competitive examination at the age of about eighteen. They spend but a short time, as a rule, in the secondary school, which they leave early to prepare for the examination. The higher division, which is much smaller, consists of those who succeed in a competitive examination, passed when they are about twenty-two. For the most part they have started at a University, the object being to secure candidates who have had the benefit of a full University training, and, if possible, such as have taken honours. After appointment they do work which is, some of it, of a highly responsible character, requiring both general education and the capacity of taking the initiative and of managing men. In my opinion this is a most valuable type of public servant.
I was the head, for over six years, of a great administrative department, and I formed the opinion that this class of men, with a broad general foundation of education of the higher type, was essential in the interests of the State, and, after all, the consideration to be placed foremost. But the mode of election has given rise to dissatisfaction. It is felt, and felt rightly, that a very large class is shut out from any chance of entry, and that the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have had an undue advantage. They continue to fill a very large proportion of the vacancies. The fact that this is because Oxford and Cambridge until now have proved to be the best training places for the candidates is not altogether an answer to the complaint. Education quite as good for the purpose might be given elsewhere. But such education, to be sufficient, must be of a high order.
After a good deal of observation, both while I was at the Bar and while I was in charge of an administrative department, I have come to the conclusion that, as a general rule, the most stimulating and useful preparation for the general work of the higher Civil Service is a literary training; and that of this a classical education is for most men the best form, though not exclusively so. No doubt men vary, and science or modern literature may develop the mind, in the case of those who have aptitude for them, better than Latin or Greek literature. But, as Goethe said long ago, the object of education ought to be rather to form tastes than simply to communicate knowledge. The pedant is not of much use in the conduct of public affairs. For the formation of tastes and of the intellectual habits and aptitudes which the love of learning produces, the atmosphere of a highly organised University life is a tremendous power, and we cannot do without it. And, therefore, while I am not without sympathy with the complaint of democracy that the entrance to the higher positions in the Civil Service is by far too much the monopoly of a class, I reply that a highly educated official is essential for a particular kind of work which the State needs. The remedy must not be to displace the class which alone furnishes the supply. Democracy is apt in its earlier stages to be unduly jealous, and to try to drag things down to a level which, because it is the general level, is in danger of being too low to provide the highest talent. The remedy for what is a real grievance appears to me to be that democracy should add a new plank to its platform, and insist on equality of opportunity in education as something that should be within the reach of every youth and maiden.
That more than a comparatively small minority will prove capable of taking advantage of the highest education is unlikely. We are not all born with the same capacity. But that many will seize on a new opportunity who are at present shut out, is to my mind certain. And if democracy will abandon the suggestion that the highest work can be done without the highest educational preparation for it, I shall be the most whole-hearted supporter of the inauguration of a new democratic campaign. There are those who possess the inborn initiative and capacity which can do without the ordinary educational avenues. They have existed at all times and they exist to-day. They must be taken into account and provision made for them by special promotion. But these are nature's aristocrats, and the number of true aristocrats is always very small. We have to legislate for the ordinary man and woman, and we cannot do more than make provision for that equality of opportunity in the higher education of which I have spoken.
Elementary education is now the right of all, and since the passing of the Education Act of 1902, an Act the immense advantages of which have always appeared to me to outweigh certain awkward blemishes which have still to be got rid of, the clever boy or girl can generally, by means of a scholarship or a free place, get to the secondary school. But the chances for the poor scholar to get from the secondary school to the University, although they exist, are still far too few. The Labour leaders are quite right when they complain that the prizes of the State are in reality far too much reserved for the upper classes. Where they are wrong, I think, is in the remedy they propose. The State will suffer badly if the level of its civil servants is lowered, and it will be lowered if the qualifications for all positions are lowered to the educational equipment possessed by a youth who has ceased his studies at eighteen. The true remedy is to break down the class barrier by making provision for enabling the youth of eighteen to go on, if he is fit to do so, and to qualify himself more highly.
Now here is where the Civic University has a great part to play. It is idle to say, as is sometimes said, that Oxford and Cambridge include the democracy. Theoretically they do, but not one child of the people out of a thousand has a real chance of becoming an undergraduate there. More accessible Universities are required, and these new Universities, I am careful to add, will only successfully compete with Oxford and Cambridge in serving the requirements of the State if they keep their level very high. A University to be a true University must be a place where the spirit is more important than the letter. In the elementary schools, and to a great extent even in the secondary schools, the teacher is in a position of authority. What he says is accepted by the pupil as truth without inquiry. But in a true University, where the problems are higher and more difficult, the professor as well as his student is making his voyage of discovery. Both must avoid dogmatic slumber or even supineness. They must in all reality investigate―and be content to investigate. This inevitable feature of the higher work, even where it is primarily educational, has always been recognised by those whose names we reverence most.
Lessing meant it when he declared almost passionately that if the Almighty were to offer him the truth in one hand and the search after the truth in the other, he would choose the hand that held the search after truth. It is this that Goethe had in mind when he said what I have already quoted about the real object of education being to form tastes and not to impart knowledge. Of course, knowledge must be imparted. But it comes fully to those and to those alone who are able to realise its necessity and to desire it with all their souls for its own sake, and not as a means to any end. As Aristotle long ago declared, the foundation of wisdom is the awakening of the sense of wonder. The spirit of the University is thus the co-operation of professor and student in a common endeavour to learn. The former is further on than the latter and can impart to him stimulation and guidance. But they are both searchers after truth, and the dominance of the letter over the spirit, which is of necessity more present in the school, ought to be remote from both. A University is a place where the most valuable advantage the student has is contact with an inspiring personality. That is why nothing short of the best level among the professors is enough for success. The professor must inspire. His labour must be one of love if he is to succeed. And if he is a great teacher he will have moulded the lives and tastes of the best of his students for the rest of their existence.
Here, then, is a new object of ambition for you, the citizens of Bristol. You have it in your power now, if you so choose, to make it possible for the son or daughter of every poor man in this city, be he high or be he low, to attain to this splendid advantage in life. Only few can be chosen; that results from the fact that the order of nature does not permit us to be born equal. But the many may and ought to be called, even if the few are chosen. Let us turn to the practical application to the affairs of your city of this great gospel of educational opportunity. Those who believe in democracy have not yet awakened to its significance. When they do they may come to think that here lies the most direct path to the attainment of their end.
Your elementary schools are excellent, and are still improving; all children must go to them. When they leave they are apt to forget what they have learned. The working classes are growing more keen about keeping their children on at the schools instead of taking them away to earn money. They endure a heavy burden to do this, and I sometimes think that one of the reasons for the growth of a discontent which has somewhat of the divine in it, is a sense of the growing burden of the indirect cost of education. Any rise in wages is balanced and more than balanced by the rise in standards of living, and this is true not only of England but of most other highly civilised countries. Even, however, if the child stays on to fourteen, it leaves school only to forget much. I used, when I was at the War Office, to be struck by the comparatively large percentage of soldiers who could not read or write. The Education Acts had been in force since 1870, and the fact at first sight seemed difficult to understand. The explanation was that the young soldiers had learned to read and write, but had left school and forgotten, so that we had to educate them over again.
Now in Bristol you have a good proportion of excellent secondary schools. The boy or girl can in many cases get there from the elementary school. But not in all cases, nor in enough of cases. And when I turn to the further chance of the University, the same thing is true, and true in a more marked form. There are chances offered to clever young men and women of reaching your University. But there are not enough of such chances for the establishment of anything like the standard of equality in educational opportunity. It is the attainment of this standard, this high and true ideal, that I wish to-night to commend to the citizens of Bristol without distinction of rank or occupation. The inhabitants of this great city are all of them directly interested in it. To possess in Bristol a real system of graduated education, within the reach of all who are endowed by nature with the talent to take advantage of it, would make Bristol the first city in the Empire as regards education, for it would have what the other cities do not now possess. And it would mean much for this city as regards other things.
The experience of our own nation, and perhaps still more that of other countries, has shown the power of expansion and influence which a complete system of education can give. The most important result is not money-making. But even in money-making, in these days when science and organisation are becoming dominating influences in commercial undertakings, success seems certain to depend more and more, as time advances, on their possession. And therefore I appeal to all of you, to workmen and employers, to the man who can just manage to educate his children and to the wealthiest alike, to concern yourselves in a great civic cause. Do not let yourselves be influenced by the criticism that is sometimes made even to-day by those whose ideas about University influence are entirely derived from the contemplation of the older Universities. No one is more keenly conscious than I am that there has grown up around Oxford and Cambridge an atmosphere which it is impossible to reproduce elsewhere. It has been the growth of the tradition of centuries. It has developed the finest qualities in scholarship. But, as a detached observer, I must add that this atmosphere and the habits which it has developed in us have hindered as well as helped.
When Francis Bacon wrote his Advancement of Learning, and was laying the foundations of his great discoveries in inductive logic and scientific method, he turned sharply on the teaching of the English Universities. At one of them, Cambridge, he had been a distinguished student. Yet his biographers tell us that while he was “commorant” at the University at the age of sixteen, he “first fell into dislike of the philosophy of Aristotle, not for the worthlessness of the author, to whom he would ever ascribe all high attributes, but for the unfruitfulness of the way, which seemed to him only strong for disputations and barren of the production of works for the life of man.” It was not that he disliked the University system; on the contrary in the Advancement of Learning, Bacon says: “We highly approve of the education of youth in colleges, and not wholly in private houses or schools, for in colleges there is not only a greater emulation of youth among their equals, but the teachers have a venerable aspect and gravity, which greatly conduces towards insinuating a modest behaviour, and the forming of tender minds from the first, according to such example, and besides these there are many other advantages of a collegiate education.” From various passages in the Advancement we gather that his condemnation arose from the unintelligent fashion in which the Dons of his time taught abstract rules to those who had not yet gathered what he calls, quoting Cicero rather oddly, “ ‘Sylva’ and ‘Supellex’, and then Matter and Fecundity.” To begin with these rules is, he declares, as though one were “to paint or measure the wind.”
Now in the Advancement of Learning my great predecessor in the office of Lord Chancellor was hardly just to Aristotle. We have at last learned to understand Aristotle's words because we have been at pains to understand his thoughts. Aristotle's logical methods were not what Bacon took them to be. They were far more searching and much nearer to the truth about the processes of acquiring knowledge. But it is one of the great reproaches against the English Universities that they dragged the name of Aristotle down into the mud. Their verbal scholarship left little to be desired. But they stretched Greek thought, that of Plato hardly less than that of Aristotle, on the rack of their own provincial ideas, until the vitality had disappeared out of it. It was not until less than fifty years ago that any decent exposition of the philosophy of Aristotle was produced at an English University. In September 1866, the late T.H. Green, a great thinker, wrote an article on the subject in the North British Review, in which he made a new departure for Oxford, and raised the study of Aristotle to a higher plane by showing that his metaphysics and his logic must be read as one whole, and in the light which modern idealism had cast on them. It was not through Locke and Berkeley and Hume alone that Aristotle and Plato could be made intelligible. The study of other modern thinkers was an essential preliminary.
When we consider that the first edition of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason appeared in 1781, it is not creditable to the English Universities that, in a subject of which their teachers were never tired of discoursing, they should have remained for eighty-five years in ignorance of the only method of penetrating its real meaning. And they had the less excuse because during this time the work was being rapidly completed on the Continent. Had the Dons been acquainted with modern languages instead of with dead tongues exclusively, they could hardly have failed to be conscious of the work which well-known foreign commentators, such as Schwegler and Carl Prantl and Zeller, were erecting on the foundation first laid by Kant. What is true of Greek thought is also in a measure true of modern science. The awakening has come to the old Universities late. They are now doing very fine work, but they ought to have been able to develop it much sooner. Some stimulus has been wanting. Had their students lived under a national system where there were many Universities, and where the scholar was free to move from one to another to seek the professor of his choice, instead of being tied up in his academic domicile of origin, the teachers would have been stimulated, and things would probably have moved far more rapidly under the development of the rivalry of talent.
But the dominant atmosphere was that, not of the laity, as in Germany, but of the Church, and the result was somnolence. There was lacking the alertness which comes from the supervision of the keen mind and practical instinct of the nation's great men of business. The latter may not know much of literature or science or philosophy, though among them there will always be those who do know. But they recognise quality when they see it, and they are jealous lest the institutions for which they are responsible should be out distanced in foreign countries. If the new English Universities can keep their level high, they may be able to develop a certain advantage over the older English Universities. When I compare the state of things in Oxford and Cambridge with that in the Universities of Germany, I am impressed with one point in particular in which the latter seem to me superior.
In Germany the student is free to go from time to time, in the course of his undergraduate career, to study under a professor of his own choice in another University. This freedom, of course, implies that much responsibility for the shaping of his own academic career is placed on the shoulders of the student. But it stimulates his intelligence and tends to save him from getting into a rut. The English tutorial system does not afford the same opportunities for bringing him into stimulating contact with the greatest academic personalities of his day. This matters less, as it seems to me, to the student of exceptional keenness and ability than it does to the merely average undergraduate. And it is perhaps the reason why the typical average undergraduate in England, as one sees him after he leaves the University, appears to bear the marks of a training which has been social rather than intellectual, and to be somewhat lacking in awareness of his own limitations.
It is to the production by the Civic University of the quality of alertness in the average as well as in the exceptional student that I look with hope for the future. There will be many mistakes of detail made in the government of the new University. But that government is likely to compensate for such shortcomings by its vigour and keenness. What is requisite for the sustaining of that vigour and keenness is that the city should be proud of its University, and should feel that it is its own child in whose future the citizens are profoundly concerned, and whose glory will lend support and strength to the renown of the parents. I can see no limit to what may be the development of the Civic University within the next hundred years. I look to its becoming the dominant and shaping power in our system of national education.
We have got into all sorts of difficulties, religious and otherwise, from beginning too low down. We could not help ourselves; we had no University system, spread over the country, to lay hold of and shape into one whole the teachers and the taught alike. In the elementary schools rigid rule and abstract principle are apt to become ends in themselves instead of means to ends. In a system which is merely a vast assemblage of schools in which children must be taught according to a common scheme, the “either or” of the abstract understanding is far more difficult to escape from than it is in the University, where freedom to teacher and student alike in the shaping of educational ideals is of the essence of University life. In the latter the religious difficulty tends to disappear. We see how it has disappeared to-day even at Oxford and Cambridge, where the Church once dominated. And we see that the attainment of freedom and elasticity in regions of religion has not made Oxford and Cambridge really less religious. Now, if the community would be in earnest in setting educational ideals at the top, arid in letting its educational system be permeated from the upper stratum downwards, I should have much hope that the controversy about the lower schools would disappear in the pursuit of larger ends. But this implies that the Universities should take a large part in shaping the spirit and endeavour of the secondary and elementary schools, and, as a condition of this, that the entire organisation of education should be shaped by Parliament into a comprehensive and connected system. In 1908, by passing the Scotch Education Act of that year, Parliament took a step in this direction for Scotland. But in England the work has yet to be done, and it may well be that the new University spirit in our great cities will compel its commencement.
For there is already a new University spirit in these cities. A distinguished friend of mine, who has occasion to know England well, remarked to me recently that when he goes on official visits to the North he finds Universities becoming increasingly prominent in all municipal functions of a public character. These new Universities stand, and are put forward more and more naturally as standing, for the highest life of the places where they have taken root. Yet these new Universities are only in their infancy. What they may become and what influence they may wield we cannot foresee. What we do know is that they have made a profound appeal to what is best and most characteristic in the communities in which they flourish. They are supported by these communities with far less aid from the State than is the case abroad. And this is the source of their strength. By degrees the principle of learning for learning's sake will become their accepted foundation. It is of the nature of the case that certain sides of this new academic life should have most support, the sides which furnish the supply of what business men feel to be most required. But they are rapidly outgrowing the stage in which the technological departments were almost exclusively predominant. Their faculties of art are still weak, but as the demand for an art training grows, as grow it must, for the sake of such vocations as teaching and theology, of administration and of law and other learned callings, this kind of faculty will develop. The example of Germany shows how literature and philosophy may flourish in a University which has the busiest civic surroundings, and there is no reason why that example should not be followed in this country. Time and the growth of enlightenment are what is requisite.
One characteristic feature they possess, and I think to their advantage. In Germany the Technical Colleges have been sharply divided from the University and given a separate existence. This is partly due to the division and separation in character of the great secondary schools in Germany. The resulting separation of the Technical College from the University has been deplored by some of the most distinguished authorities on German Education, notably by the late Professor Paulsen. If this be a thing to be avoided, we have avoided it. We have made our start by treating education as a single and indivisible whole―and by trying to keep the different kinds of students in one organisation. How powerful this tendency is we may see by the example of Cambridge, which has yielded to it, and has gone to an extent in extending the ambit of its activities to technical training which would be looked on askance by many University authorities in Germany. We have done even more, for we have developed in connection with our new Universities a system of evening teaching for a separate class of students, which has enabled them to bring their influence to bear on those who during the day are engaged in earning their livelihood by manual or other work. That the tendency to recognise this kind of instruction as legitimate for the British University is increasing appears when we look at such cases as those of Glasgow and Manchester, where the great Technical Colleges of these cities are being brought into the closest relation with their Universities.
I believe this to be entirely right, and I am glad that you in Bristol took the same course at the beginning when you brought the Merchant Venturers College, with its evening teaching, into your new University organisation. There is no reason why a step of this kind should debar you from getting before yourselves compliance with the great test that the education given to all those who can take advantage of it should be of the highest academic type. And there is this of gain, that you give a direct interest in the University of the city to its working-class citizens, and encourage them to take advantage of the great instrument for their own advancement which lies to hand.
Specialisation in each city University there will be and ought to be. Non omnia possumus omnes. In one place the distinctive strength will be in chemistry―general and applied―for, exist without each other they cannot. In another, as in Sheffield, it will be the metallurgy of iron and steel―and it is not unimportant in this connection that Sheffield is the chief centre for the manufacture of the national guns and steel plates, an industry in which we dare not dispense with high science. In another place, as in the case of the Imperial College in London, we should have the great training place in the metallurgy of the precious metals for the students of a people which leads the world in their production. Some Universities will be strong in engineering, civil and mechanical or, it may be, marine. But the one thing requisite is that the broad foundations of the highest general knowledge should be there in each University, and that all specialisation should rest on these foundations. You cannot, without danger of partial starvation, separate science from literature and philosophy. Each grows best in the presence of the other.
Another essential feature is adequate provision for the post-graduate student―that is, the student who, having taken his degree, has in him the passion for excellence sufficiently strong to desire to continue in the University as a place of research, and of the still higher learning which is inseparable from research. Such students may not be numerous, but when they are present they leaven the whole lump, and by their presence give a distinction to the University and to the professors under whom they work which could not be possible in their absence.
Finally, it is one of the characteristic features of the new Universities that they are freely opened to women as well as to men. This is an advance which is difficult to overrate, and in days to come its influence for good may prove to be very great.
I have endeavoured, how imperfectly I know, as the Chancellor of your new University, to place before you as citizens of Bristol some account of the aims and aspirations of those who are now working among you, and working, not as a foreign body imported from without, but as a new development of the civic community. Your University is now bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh. What you are concerned to see is that it grows, and grows in no slavish way. Now the idea of such a place of learning has become much enlarged in our own time. Not only is the class to which it appeals wider, but its conception of its work is wider. It aims at producing the esprit de corps among its pupils. The Union and the Common Room are growing up.
Then there are other features, to one of which I refer with something of paternal affection. The Officers Training Corps differs widely from the old Volunteer or Cadet Corps, which used to be all that our Universities contributed to the defence of their country. Five years ago, when I was at the War Office, we came to see that it was waste of splendid material to aim at the production of nothing higher than this from among University students, and that what we needed most was to get from them a Reserve of educated men who had had sufficient training as officers to be available in the event of war. We appealed to the Universities, new and old, but not until we had carefully prepared our plans. The Officers Training Corps of the modern University is wholly different from the old University Volunteer Corps. And the reason is twofold. It has now been shaped for the accomplishment of a definite end, the training for the duties of command in great emergency of educated young men who will, even in time of peace, put their obligations to their country before their love of ease and amusement. The second reason is that this training is given, not as of yore under the drill sergeant, not even under the ordinary officer, but under the direction and supervision of the picked brains of the British Army―the new General Staff. Such training, based on the best scientific methods, therefore takes its place naturally within the sphere of work of the University, and expands and completes the work of that University.
I have referred to the Union and to the Officers Training Corps as signs of the times, as indications of the way in which the conception of University life is being widened. Other indications there are of the extended scope which is visible in several directions of the meaning of academic life and training. But it is enough to say that this life and training have no limits set for them except the insistence that the work must be educational, mentally and spiritually, and educational in a high sense. The test of University work is, after all, like that of literature―size and level. I have faith that this truth has now been realised, and that among the Civic Universities, the centres be it observed of guidance and the higher teaching for the districts which are assigned to and surround them, the duty of maintaining a high level is one which will be seen to jealousy. The professors have a deep responsibility in this respect, and the general body of citizens have hardly less responsibility. Nothing is more encouraging than the way in which co-operation in the joint endeavour has been visible up to now in the proceedings of the governing bodies, and there is no reason to anticipate that the future will be less encouraging.
This is what I wish to say in conclusion. Do not let us be discouraged by apparent slowness in progress. It is only when a long tract of time has been covered that the full character of the movement forward that has taken place within it can be seen. Much has been done within the short period since the University of Bristol came into existence. Much remains to be done. But if the great city becomes more and more proud of its University, and more and more conscious of the nature of the young life that has been born to it, then there will not be wanting the conditions that are requisite for growth to full maturity. The day may come when the citizens of Bristol will be able to look back on his life as made up of distinct phases which have this in common, that he owes all of them to his native place. He may as now look to the city as the place of his birth, the place where he lived with his parents, and with which his earliest associations are connected. He may look at it as the place where he grew up from youth to manhood, and where, by virtue of the strength that was in him, he made conquest for himself of wealth and reputation. He may look to it as the arena in which he threw himself into an honourable rivalry for success in public life, and in the endeavour to do the utmost that within him lay to benefit his fellow human beings. And, last but not least, he may look to it as the home of the University which gave him his great impulses, which moulded his soul, and imparted to him not only the knowledge that was the source of strength, but the most glorious inspirations of his youth.
If you, in whose hands rests the making of the future, accomplish the task of rendering this and perhaps even more than this possible in your own city, you will have deserved well of the nation of which you form a part.