1893 Fredericton Encaenia

Address in Praise of Founders

Delivered by: Stockley, William Frederick Paul


"Professor Stockley's Oration" The University Monthly XI, 8 (May & June 1893): 120-121.

Professor Stockley's subject was, "Why Open the Colleges."

A recent writer in The Speaker had warned the university extension lecturers in England that they were not getting the men and students they wanted. They were getting some teachers, some players with work, some more or less flighty or frivolous young women. But the strong men did not go to hear the attempts of silly or concerted or nurtured teachers, recent B. A.’s, briefless barristers, superfically instructed curates, etc. This democratic movement, bringing the university teaching in touch with the public, must justify itself. It depends on no prestige, which, as Carlyle said, is "the French for lying." There is nothing to save it from criticism and from the necessity of being its own justification. Colleges and institutions of all kinds are apt to be homes of prestige and to breed a dead-alive condition, sheltered behind the prestige of its name, and must justify its ways to men. University education is too restricted. The university should draw on those who want to learn as much as they can, not as little as they need. Study, undertaken for dollars, is not likely to have much to do with learning. If those who want learning cannot come to the colleges, the college must go to them. There is nothing behind a B. A. degree. The movement in favor of university extension is an attempt to realize facts. Those who can or will study are not confined to such men or women as can go to college. Many who want to learn and study should have the college brought to them. Something in this line has been already accomplished by the admission of women into colleges and they are already waking up the men and showing the world the emptiness, in many cases, of the B. A. degree. A cabman of over 60 years beat all the students at a public examination in French. "To thine own self be true," is as true of institutions as of individuals. In American colleges, the application of this principle led first to the abolition of roughness among students and the inauguration of a better way of study, next to the admission of women into colleges, and now there is a movement to abolish any restrictions of age. But why not go a step farther? Why not establish evening classes, where busy people could come and study after the days work? We want to be ready to teach those who want to learn, if not all subjects, then one subject. Even large colleges will gain by their relations to the public becoming more frequent and more close. "Trust the people once again" is the motto of this extension movement. University teaching is bound to destroy that general uniform contentment which is so general.

Joubert says that education is meant to give men pleasure which cannot be got for money, and these intellectual pleasures should enter into our conceptions of a perfect life. Puritanism has done many good things, but it has helped much toward leaving us a legacy of a disbelief in the worth of anything besides religion and money getting. The very ground is poisoned with thoughts of gain, reward and profit and loss. Religion even, is a thing of calculation, and the poorer classes see in it a comfortable state to which they shall arrive when they have made more money. It is in the interests of reality in religion, as in everything else, that any such movement as university extension is on foot. Education is not religion, and knowledge of good is not habit of virtue, and to give men belief in the "conscience of mind" as Russell Lowell defined taste, is to help, at least, towards a belief in the conscience of the soul. Cardinal Newman has entreated men to be as serious about mental as about spiritual things. Ignorance in morals extenuates crime, but in mental matters it is a crime of the very first order. In a state of education the conscience of the mind is awake. When it is asleep the sister conscience of the soul is only too ready to feel easy. The artisan classes in England have felt this awakening. "Prevention is better than cure" and "satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do," are maxims which great teachers have sometimes lost sight of. What has been said here refers especially to England and English speaking countries, but in France as well, young women and elderly men attend the extension lectures, and also in Germany. This is part of the seeking after realities, and there is a possibility of spreading sound learning and its pleasures to more of the humble ordinary men like ourselves. If the University extension teaching is worthy it will find a demand and will create one, and that-, too, among the hardest working men of the community. The more work men have to do the more they can find time to do, and it is thrilling to think of the magnificence of a society whose equality shall have become more and more an equality in the things that are most humane and best­ — The Daily Telegraph (2 June 1893): 2.

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