The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902, September 26, 1901, Page 10, Image 10

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    10 Conservative *
Chancellor Andrews delivered the
opening address before the students of
the University of Nebraska at Memorial
Hall Saturday morning , September 21st.
It was as follows :
Colleagues and Pupils : Wo are per
mitted today to begin the work of
another academic year. Back again
from the lake-shore and mountain-side ,
from homo and home friends , refreshed ,
invigorated , ardent , all of us arc in con
dition , I trust , to take up with avidity
and success the labors which await us
It is 110 small part of the art of living
to know how to discharge one's duties
with cheerfulness. What kills is irk
some work , If wo can learn to bo joy
ful in all wo do wo shall flourish upon
toil the most assiduous and exacting.
It is possible for a right minded man
to view with complacency his lot in life
whatever it may be , easier or harder ,
noble or common. If the business is
honest and he can do it do it appar
ently better than anything else and
more conveniently than his neighbors
can then ho may say : "This is my
duo contribution to the general weal.
What niy hands can find to do , how
onerous soever , I will do it with my
might. " That not only can be , it ought
to bo , one's sentiment , oven if one's
place in the world's workshop is in it
self unpleasant.
But there are paths where obligation
and delight walk hand in hand : tasks
intrinsically charming ; callings in
which , if they are rightly apprehended ,
interest prompts to best exertion at the
same time with duty. The pursuit of
education at universities seems to me to
be one of these.
A chief reason why it is so is the fas
cination of that mental mastery which
it is our duty and privilege here to
achieve. Metaphysicians say that the
most fundamental attribute of ultimate
being is activity. The latest thought
fully justifies the old theologians who
called God "actus purus. " And man is
god-like in this ; ho joys to be active ;
that is his property. Wo err in con
ceiving of rest as in the strict sense a
desirable goal. "In life , " says Pascal ,
"we always think that we are seeking
repose , while in reality , what we incess
antly seek is agitation. " Our meaning
when we sigh for quiescence is frictionless -
less and calm action such as Aristotle
denominates the highest good , "a per
fect activity in a perfect life. "
But no kind of bodily exertion is
worthy to be compared for the delight
it yields with mental exertion and
achievement. To think , to learn , to
perceive now relations among things ,
to widen the spirit's horizon this , to all
persons capable of enjoying it , is a for
tune indeed. Every one of us , I believe ,
shares the mind of Lessing , who said ;
"Did the Almighty , holding in his right
hand truth and in his left search after
truth , deign to tender mo the one I
might prefer , in all humility but with
out hesitation I should request search
after truth. "
Well , search after truth is in this
place our express vocation.
A richer zest is communicated to the
pleasure of mental acquisition when it
is carried on by many students in asso
ciation. It is not in the class room alone
that wo teaoh and are taught. Each of us
instructs and molds his friends , and this
is most precious university influence.
Youth from ono section meet youth
from another , the man from the moun
tains debates with him from the plains ,
the representatives of different parties ,
sects , tendencies and grades of culture
confront and jostle one another men
tally. These are among the most advan
tageous forms in which education can
be communicated. To be four years in
a university like ours , which is not so
populous that the individual is lost and
yet is enough so to embrace pupils from
widely remote sections and circumstan
ces , has much the same cultivating ef
fect on a man that travel imparts. No
one of us can live and work here for
four years without receiving from this
association an invaluable broadening
and purification of the views with which
he came.
Again , if our purposes in university
work are right , we can feel as properly
as men can anywhere that what we do
is destined to promote humanity's wel
fare. The training of a young person's
mind is no merely personal matter ; it is
a great public concern. If well done it
fits the subject of it for his sphere in so
ciety , rounding his character and devel
oping his faculties. Both learning and
teaching are , in the phrase of political
forms of " " labor
economy , "productive" ,
as truly as weaving cotton or extracting
ore. They swell community's wealth.
Not instantly or directly , it may be
and the same is true of much physical
labor which every one would call pro
ductive but none the less really , all
correct discipline of mind puts mankind
in a way to be better off , oven asj to its
strictly temporal estate , than it other
wise could be. Mental wealth it of
course advances.
To me this consideration is highly in
spiring. To know that human exist
ence has eternal meaning , and that your
activity , hard and humble , perhaps , is
genuine part of the force which enables
human existence to go on such assur
ance keeps toil from being drudgery and
makes life worth living.
Learning " .for its own sake , " in the
strict sense of this phrase , meaning that
we learn without any reference what
ever to any good either to ourselves or
to others to bo had thereby , is a contra
diction. If such a course were conceiv
able or possible it would still be irra-
A _ ±
tioual. But let us bo convinced that we
are vital members of society ; that our
mental cultivation will count in further
ance of human progress , that our fellowmen -
men are to bo made happier and better
through the training which we are giv
ing and receiving ; we then see it to be
reasonable and good to exert oiarselves
to the utmost. Only under the stimu
lus of such a view , I believe , con
thoughtful persons permanently do their
The mere fact of its utility lends , to
be sure , no special glory to educational
work as distinguished from much else
which men are doing ; but there is an
aspect to the good of education which
peculiarly exalts it. It is more vitally
important than aught else , save charac
ter , to the perfection of civilization.
Mere material resources do not con
stitute or create fine civilization.
Wealth unaccompanied by what is
higher , breeds Philistinism , which can
only degrade a nation's character.
Things can never take the place of men.
Trade , commerce , business , industry
these are important factors in human
culture , but by themselves they have in
no case yet made a nation great.
While it cannot be said that the
school of learning is the sole nursery of
the sublime temper necessary to splen
dor of civilization , it is certainly a most
important , even an indispensable nurs
Very much of this higher life of the
spirit connects itself with literature and
religion , and every observer of men or
reader of history knows that both these
are closely dependent on schools. Very
few literary celebrities are there who
are not children of the schools , and
these not children are , at least , grand
children. Religion has on affinity with
organized learning not a whit less close.
But coming down to the matarial
basis of civilization , those aspects of it
that fill men's minds , alas , mostly to
the exclusion of the higher phases to
which we have been adverting , civiliza
tion in its practical efficiency is in the
last analysis totally dependent on the
work done at the centers of learning.
Nearly all the great advances in in
dustry which make goods cheaper and
life happier , involve principles which
have been carefully wrought out in the
study or the laboratory. Edison or
Tesla could do little but for the science
of physics , which less practical men
elaborated and made ready for their
use. Physics , in turn , depends at every
step upon the higher mathematics. All
the path-breaking physicists , the men
who are making the forces of matter
the levers of life , incessantly cry that if
you would join their ranks you must
come prodigiously equipped with math
ematics. No others need apply. It is
an appeal to the university classroom.
Similarly based in university teaching
and research have been nearly all those