« ForrigeFortsett »
A second office of the university is that of forming a complete circle of schools of corresponding grade for each and all of the recognized professions-not schools limited, like those of the present, to that modicum of attainments which barely represents the bachelor's degree, but rather such as, beginning with the bachelor's grade, would meet the demands of students aspiring to the highest possible attainments in their respective departments, and confer degrees in none of lower rank than those of master and doctor.
Thirdly, a university of this high character, doing post-graduate work in its central departments and in all other fields now occupied in any efficient manner by existing institutions, could properly perform still another function, that of building new professions, as justified in so doing, on the basis of known facts and established principles, by opening proper courses of study therein; thus lifting the so-called occupations and trades out of the domain of empiricism into the high realm of science.
A fourth office of a true university is that of enlarging the field of human knowledge by means of the researches and investigations of its professors and fellows. Thus far this high function has been but partially performed anywhere. And yet how inconceivably great are the possibilities of an institution not only ever at the front in its mastery of all that is known, nor yet by its members of genius ever at work on new problems in every realm and department of the material, intellectual, and moral universe, and making new discoveries in aid of further progress, but also in a truly philosophic manner teaching its members the very art and science of investigation itself.
In an important sense this last-named function of the university is to be its leading one; for an institution wholly, or even very seriously, deficient in this exalted role would in no proper sense be a university at all. With the utmost completeness in all other respects there would still remain an aching void. An insatiable spirit of inquiry, an unquenchable ambition to advance the boundaries of human knowledge by new conquests in the infinite realm of the unknown, must pervade and will pervade an institution deserving the high title of university. It can instruct, elevate, coördinate, and originate effectively, only in proportion as it entitles itself to the confidence of the learned and scientific world by its sure command of all the heights and outposts, nay, in proportion as by its high courage, restless energy and skill, it adds to the sum total of human achievement.
Finally, it is an important office of such a university to defend, as well as determine, the truth. Among its members there will always be moral heroes as superior to the menaces of power as to the insidious arts of the most skillful and corrupt devotees of false gods—men able to unmask error and bold to stand for the right at all hazards. The sacredness of truth, freedom of thought, and freedom of speech will be the inscription upon its portals. It will be not a light-house only, but also a bulwark of liberty and a watch-tower for the nation and the world.
REASONS FOR FOUNDING A NATIONAL UNIVERSITY.
First of all, the task of planting and endowing a true university is herculean, requiring an amount of means not hitherto furnished nor likely to be furnished without the help of the nation. Great munificence has been practiced here and there in recent years by noble-hearted Americans, whose gifts have far eclipsed the benefactions of all other countries and times; but the endowments thus accorded, besides being insufficient, are ever liable to be in some manner restricted, so as more or less to embarrass the adininistration of them. Moreover, in the nature of the case they usually, if not invariably, somewhat limit or prevent subsequent benefactions to the same end by the very terms of the donation and the naming of the institution.
On the other hand, the United States, richest, most powerful, and most progressive of all the nations, could easily confer such an endowment on an institution of its own founding as to make it very soon foremost in all the world in point of resources and possibilities.
Nor is this all; the very giving to it the stamp of the nation, with means enough to insure its supremacy, so far from deterring any other giver, would operate as a powerful incentive to all persons of fortune desirous of promoting any kind of instruction or any line of investigation by affording every assurance of security and permanency of the institution itself, by offering them the opportunity of connecting their benefactions and names enduringly with the most important, as well as most brilliant, cluster of schools ou the earth, and by giving them to realize that high sense of dignity and honor which must attach to a permanent copartnership with the Government in an undertaking of the highest character possible to man or to nations of men.
Secondly, that a national university of this sort would meet a vital want of American education, by supplying the head and culmination it lacks, is too manifest to require argument. At present we have a series of schools in the States quite complete, beginning with the kindergarten and ending with the university. But there the work of building has rested even until now. Viewed in all its relations and obligations, the proudly-styled “American system” is a truncated pyramid. A national post-graduate university is therefore a logical necessity. Without it our youth must stop short of the full measure of learning and discipline to which they aspire, or seek for them wholly outside. Nor is this all; without the final, supreme institution the whole series lacks the immeas. urable advantage that would come of a complete coördination of all grades from the lowest to the highest, so that each link in the series below would be controlled and lifted by the regulating power of the highest, exercised through the fixing of its own standards of admission; this, to say nothing of the further incalculable gain of having such a supreme institution as a constant source of supply for teachers of the highest qualifications to be found in the world.
But, thirdly, it is more than a logical necessity from the standpoint of a complete systematic scheme; it is also a patriotic necessity. It is only a national university that could in the most eminent degree cul. tivate, strengthen, and fortify that sentiment of patriotism on which the security and future glory of the American Republic must depend. It was this consideration, next to the interests of learning, that so weighed with Washington that he never forgot it in his eloquent appeals to his countrymen.
The gathering of youthful persons of character and scholarship from every quarter of the country, for association on the high plane of the university for a period of years, would not only make them fellows socially and in things intellectual; it would also powerfully tend to strengthen the patriotism of each and all; first by an increase of their respect, admiration, and affection for a government at once wise and so beneficent, and, secondly, by the promotion of lasting friendships among a class of representatives of diverse sections of the country certain to be among the most influential of their citizens, as well as potential leaders of thought and sentiment in the country at large. Possibly the present greatness of our own country, with the marked progress of some of our foremost institutions, may have diminished the force of Washington's argument as to the influence of foreign associations in weakening the patriotism of our sons who were obliged to cross the ocean for the best facilities for study; but, on the other hand, that very greatness has become an unanswerable reason why America should now herself provide educational opportunities proportioned to her relative importance, her undeniable supremacy among the nations.
The country will cordially welcome such contributions to this end as the churches, or any of them, are pleased to make, but it is hardly conceivable that a great nation whose aspirations look to ascendancy not only in wealth and power but also in those noble achievements which are conditioned on preëminence of the higher culture, should so neglect its duty as to leave this vital interest to even the best attempts of competing religious organizations, or to voluntary agencies of any sort whatsoever. The duty of the nation to meet this demand on its own account, and to meet it most thoroughly, is a solemn duty. It may not be shirked, and should not be longer postponed.
Again, it is only a university with a base as broad as the nation itself, aye, as broad as universal truth, that could hope to draw upon the sympathies and upon the moral as well as material resources of the whole American people. A university founded on denominational preferences, or any other preferences, is by that very fact largely limited in its patronage to the great family of faith to which it belongs. It can not win all alike by the banner it floats. Nor can such an institution, however pure and lofty its aims, free itself utterly, if it would, from preferring that all who come to it for any purpose should accept the particular faith it represents. A national university need not be, and would not be, devoid of religious sentiment, since that is something which inheres in the individual soul, but it could have no special shibboleth, no banner but that of truth and virtue. To its halls all truth-seekers would be alike welcome. The great American nation owes the founding of an unbiased, independent, and truly national university to the sacred cause of impartial truth and justice. It must not force its sons and daughters of genius to enter less than the broadest as well as most exalted temple of learning that can be established with the help of unstinted resources and the highest available wisdom.
And again, the American nation owes it to the cause of republican liberty to establish such a university; since, if established, it would not only help to strengthen our own bands, but, through the influence of men of genius who would come to it from all parts of the world, become a powerful indirect means of promoting the growth of free institutions in other lands.
Finally, a great nation like ours has resting upon it the solemn obligation to contribute in large measure to the advancement of knowledge as a means of general human progress. To this end such a university would contribute to a degree beyond the power of calculation. Discoveries and inventions of every sort would greatly multiply under the force of its inspiration and systematic direction. As a consequence, the burden of toil would be earlier lightened in all civilized lands; added millions of unfettered minds would earlier find new profit as well as pleasure in the world of thought; and mankind would advance with more rapid strides towards the goal of a true civilization. Hence it was that the patriots and philanthropists of America but lately gathered in Independence Hall, for the organization of a human freedom league and for the purpose of maturing plans for a congress of the representatives of all the republics, adopted resolutions strongly supportive of the proposition to found a national university at the earliest possible day.
REASONS FOR THE UNIVERSITY AT WASHINGTON
These are not far to seek. In the first place, the District of Columbia is the only sufficient and suitable spot within the United States where the Federal Government has exclusive and perpetual jurisdiction.
Secondly, the District of Columbia, besides being in every way suitable as a location, is the spot designated by the Father of his Country, who was the first to propose its establishment, and who left such en. dowment as he was able for its establishment there.
Moreover, Washington is far more than a "sufficient and suitable” spot for a national university.
(1) It is built in the midst of one of the finest landscapes in America—one that becomes to the lover of nature a constant source of pleasure and inspiration.
(2) It is one of the most healthful, as well as most agreeable, localities in the country-warm enough in summer, yet never so hot as some others, never intensely cold in winter; its climate, all in all, more equable than that enjoyed by other cities east of the Rocky Mountains.
(3) The city of Washington is without parallel in this country for the excellence of its plan; for the number of its parks, squares, triangles, and circles; for the breadth and beauty of its streets, the magnificence of its public structures, and the extent of its adornment with historic monuments and the statues of heroic men.
(4) It abounds in historic associations of priceless value. One sees on every hand the private abodes and places for public activity of statesmen, orators, scholars, and scientists who have won immortal honors and added unfading luster to the American name.
(5) As the city stands to-day it is hardly equaled by any other for the elegance of its private mansions; and the building of new ones, each vieing with the other, still proceeds at a steady if not rapid pace.
(6) It is a desirable place for the residence of advanced students and professors, because of the unequaled proportion of its citizens eminent for culture in science, art, letters, and philosophy.
(7) It is no less desirable on account of its metropolitan character. Here are gathered annually and almost constantly leading representatives of all geographical divisions; not only the statesmen of all sections, but also the representatives of every sort of national organiza.