Is Civilization Menaced? The Plight of European Education
WHAT for me is the saddest feature of the European upheaval is the menace to education. This review of the conditions in the Old Continent will not be uniformly gloomy: I shall endeavor to draw a cheerful conclusion, for it has become more than ever a duty to preserve one’s faith in the ultimate sanity of mankind. But I must begin by painting a somewhat dark picture.
Apart from a few thinkers who have incidentally, here and there, referred to the danger of Europe losing its homes of culture and becoming the victim of a cultureless mechanism, there has been extraordinarily little attention paid to this aspect of the tragedy that threatens a considerable part of the world. I was, however, glad to see that Mr. Bertrand Russell recently described in his splendidly sincere style the gravest consequences of the World War. He showed that it is no idle and conventional phrase of rhetoric to assert that ‘almost everything of value to art and literature and science has been produced in the neighborhood of the Mediterranean.’ Are we now to revert to barbarism? Such was the question which he asked, and, startling as it may appear, it is a question that presents itself inevitably to those who are witnessing the degradation of our taste, as expressed in the wild manifestations of modern art that are without any solid foundation, in the mad whirl of social life, in the vulgarity that assails one at every corner. There has been an undoubted perversion, not only of the masses but of the classes, in Europe, — and I am not sure that the perversion has not reached America, — since we engaged in the dreadful business of killing each other, followed by the more dreadful business of completing the economic ruin of each other.
Such a book as La Garçonne, by Victor Margueritte, however exaggerated it may have been, however disgusting was the revelation of the decadence that has afflicted certain sections of society, is perhaps an eyeopener; but although it created its little sensation, it was itself symptomatic rather than curative. It depicted the frivolity, the heedlessness, the vice of those who are so devoid of hope that the future and the things of the spirit arc to them of no account. But it is not the moral side of post-war society that troubles me. These phenomena might pass. That our own generation has been spoiled by the hideous events of the last decade is of comparatively little importance. If we were only sure that the curse would be lifted for the next generation, we could repose in peace. It would be, however, an entirely different matter if we saw that the generations that are to come after us were becoming rotten at the root. Only the invincible health that is in humanity can save us. There come into my mind the magnificent lines of Swinburne when he wrote of the year’s burden of 1870: —
Wind of swift change and clouds and hours that veer,
As the storm shifts of the tempestuous year;
Cry wellaway but well befall the right!
Doubt sets her forehead earthward and denies,
But fear, brought hand to hand with danger, dies,
Dies and is burnt up in the fire of fight.
We could be indifferent to everything, — the economic perturbation, the mania for pernicious pleasure, the malice and uncharitableness and hatreds that are rampant and that are heading us for a new war, — if only we could be sure that, while national currencies collapse, while moral currencies collapse, while intellectual currencies collapse, the education of the young was not collapsing. It is precisely because, as it seems to me, education is in danger, that Western Civilization is in danger.
There have been any number of mournful prophets, since the cessation of hostilities, even more than the hostilities themselves, left us dazed and blind and groping for the old landmarks and finding them not. While the war was proceeding, there was a certain exaltation which made us turn deaf ears to those who insisted on the fact, all too dramatically and pathetically obvious, that the nations of Europe were committing suicide. Shrewd Oriental philosophers, with their deceptively masklike countenances, quietly announced that not many years would pass before the yellow races would dominate the desolate cities and plains of those regions of the earth that the white races could neither govern nor develop in peace. There were several books written by Occidental thinkers to demonstrate this rather far-fetched thesis. Our very industrialism and science, we were told, — as indeed we are still being told, — would be the cause of our perishing, since we prefer to apply them, not to the increase of our possessions and happiness, but to our destruction and mutual murder. More materialistic English and American prophets indulged in foretelling the economic perdition of Europe, and the reduction of the entire Continent to desperate peoples concerned only with the means of procuring daily bread.
These dismal prophecies, however, did not end with the cessation of actual fighting. There was a brief period of almost universal optimism after the signing of the Armistice. We seemed to believe that mankind had turned down a dark page of history, and that on the following page there were written only comfortable things. A new heaven and a new earth were dawning. Alas! this mood did not last long. The era of permanent peace and of good-will between nations vanished as the statesmen in the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles put their signatures to a document which consecrated the struggle and the opposition of the peoples.
The main fact about this black treaty, written in the blackening blood of millions of men who had died in the hope of a new charter of liberty and of love, was its insistence on Reparations. More money has quite literally been thrown away in the attempt to extract Reparations than could have been obtained almost Immediately from the vanquished countries had a reasonable arrangement been then and there proposed and accepted.
Henceforth Europe was condemned to the futile pursuit of obtaining, or evading, impossible payments. And this meant that there could be no real peace, no stability, but only a revival and exacerbation of national sentiments. This is why Europe has gone giddily to the verge of bankruptcy. This is why bitter feelings have been bred. This is why what the French would call Je-m’-en-foutisme has become prevalent. A well-known English statesman is said to have declared: ‘If this policy continues, your grandchildren and mine will see naked savages walking down the Champs Élysées.’ There is a sense in which this is already true — as may be ascertained by anyone who watches the nocturnal closing of certain dancing establishments; but, taken seriously, the assertion is of course hyperbolic.
Naturally every partisan of a creed or of a special political doctrine has his own explanation of the present conditions. The Communist blames the greed of the Capitalist and the docility of the Middle Class. The Peasant attributes the evil to the wickedness of the big cities. The Liberal ascribes it all to economic fallacies. The Internationalist thinks that we owe our woes to the neglect of the League of Nations. The Nationalist fancies that, if only we had crushed the enemy a little more thoroughly, all would have been well. The Anti-Clericalist in some countries attributes the responsibility to the influence of Rome. The Conservative finds the sufficient cause of all ills in the agitations of Moscow. The sincerely religious man is inclined to find the seat of the trouble in the decay of spiritual forces. Everybody has his diagnosis and everybody has his remedy, though some of the remedies would probably be worse, if that be possible, than the disease.
Some of us who have been living in Europe during these troublous times consider that the real menace lies in the breakdown of education — or, to remain a little more optimistic, its threatened breakdown. It is not particularly in Germany that the peril lies, though perhaps Germany, which, with France and with Austria, was the real centre of education before the war, suffers most intensely. I have just been reading an appeal which comes from a group of well-known Englishmen and Englishwomen who are in touch with various relief organizations operating in Germany. It is truly distressing to peruse their declaration, which I do not for a moment doubt, since it is confirmed on many hands. They have chiefly in mind the misery that exists among the professional classes from which the intellectuals of to-morrow must be recruited. Their so-called fixed incomes have shrunk to almost nothing. The whole year’s income may be spent upon a few loaves of bread. For lack of underclothing men and women who were formerly content to live modestly but comfortably, conscious that they were striving to add to the sum of knowledge or carry on the intellectual mechanism of the world, are obliged to wear newspapers. Milk and meat cannot be procured. In Heidelberg and in Giessen and in Leipzig, as well as in Berlin, these conditions are prevalent. One need waste no sympathy on the mere moneymakers, who will always find the wherewithal to live in luxury. One must condemn unreservedly the industrial magnates, who have, by their selfishness, their speculation in the distress of others, brought about such a state of affairs. But one can surely spare some sympathy for their innocent victims. The effect on education is certain and deserves careful analysis.
If there is one fact that impresses itself above all others in our daily life in Europe, — though less, if strikingly enough, in France than in Russia, Austria, Germany, and the Central European countries generally, — that fact is that the generation now growing up and in the schools has not the same facilities for education that were possessed by its seniors. Not merely are laboratories working with totally inadequate equipment; not merely is the cost of new books and foreign magazines practically prohibitive for the majority of European students to-day; not merely are professors and teachers so underpaid and so harassed with personal problems that they can do neither themselves nor their pupils justice; but in far too many cases the eager young searcher after knowledge and technical training is undernourished, poorly and shabbily clothed, uncomfortably housed, and forced by financial lack of resources to do work outside his study hours that taxes his health. Getting an education under circumstances such as these becomes a feat to be accomplished only by the strongest; getting an education on terms comparable with those bequeathed to the student generations before 1914 becomes utterly impossible.
For what the war did, ‘beyond a peradventure,’ was to create the New Poor. In nine short years we have seen the virtual disappearance all over Europe of the comfortable middle class, from which the intellectual professions were formerly chiefly recruited. In countries outside France the financial upheaval has reduced those who had saved a little money, and who received a modest income from rents and investments, to poverty; but in France, too, the salaries and incomes of the intellectual class have not kept pace with the increase in the cost of living. For example, it might have been possible before the war to live in the Quartier Latin on 200 francs a month. It now requires practically 1000 francs a month to keep a young man at school in the capital, while the entire expense of a full course of study for a degree — quite apart from board, lodging, clothing and other living expenses — is estimated to-day at 50,000 francs. This last sum alone is a fortune for just those classes who desire most to have their sons properly trained. What is true of France applies with even greater force to other European countries.
Then there is another consideration that is too often overlooked. Before the war the professional class in Europe could anticipate, if not a life of material luxury, at least one free from carking care; and in addition it enjoyed respect and even veneration. This was for the ‘intellectuals’ not an indifferent motive in building a life-career. To-day, all this is changed. So miserable is the lot of the majority of the intellectual class that it is looked upon more as an object of charity than of admiration. Think of the pitiful and scandalous standard of values implied in the suggestion, advanced in all seriousness, that professional boxing matches should be promoted in order to provide funds for the colleges. The proletariat — the factory worker and the peasant — has somehow managed to keep up its standard of living by constant increases in wages or in prices for its product. The profiteer and the industrialist have been amply able to look after themselves. It is the middle classes that have had to endure the worst consequences of Europe’s post-war disorganization. Is it any wonder if the younger generation of that class no longer wishes to follow its elders to the same life of privation without honor? Is it anything to be astonished at, if the young men of to-day in Europe are hardly thinking of the professions or the learned pursuits? If, rather, they look forward to a life that holds out a promise of big financial returns in a world where only money talks?
The utmost significance is to be attached to such newspaper reports as one I have before me, which comes from Geneva, and which I reproduce without alteration: ‘The International Commission for Intellectual Coöperation, instituted by the Assembly of the League of Nations, has just met under the presidency of M. Henri Bergson. The Commission received several communications upon the intellectual situation in the world. The reports showed that intellectual culture is more or less abandoned. M. Luchaire, who was charged with the direction of the inquiry in the Latin countries of Europe, reported upon the crisis in pure science, and he signaled a disquieting diminution of the love of disinterested work.’
Thus, though we may speak about ‘demoralization’ after the war, and comment sadly on the laxity of moral standards, the assertiveness of newly acquired luxury, the glitter, and the false gayety, it is not so much the older generation that is taking part in this dance of disillusion which distresses us: we reserve our fears for the younger generation, to whom hectic pleasure-seeking and frank selfishness have become the criteria by which life’s values are judged. The things that were honored in 1916 are no longer honored to-day — and no one has been quicker to appreciate this fact than the contemporary young man, who judges more by example than precept. Rewards go to the ruthless and the daring, not to those who embody the ancient virtues. Least of all do they go to the intellectual class. And far too often even the pretense is not maintained that the old integrity and ideals have any more validity.
Besides the actual hardships and difficulties of his own student career, if he chooses to enter the professional or intellectual life, the European young man of the middle class in this day of 1923 — for it is largely from this class and no other that the mentally trained of the Continent have immemorially sprung — has to combat the unpleasant suspicion that, even if he succeeds, the end he is seeking in the post-war world of reality is absurd. The game, he is coming more and more to feel, can hardly be worth the candle. So, more and more, he is tending to give it up.
It is this condition of affairs that I have in mind when I say that the possibility of a breakdown of the educational system in Europe is very urgent — and that this possibility constitutes the real danger to civilization.
But why should this threatened breakdown of education constitute the real danger? I know many observers, well aware of the above facts, who decline to be perturbed. There are even those who ask whether it really matters that learning should be discouraged — especially when considering the ruin to which traditional learning has brought Europe to-day. Perhaps the world will be better off if there is a break in the educational system; a new and sounder point of view may be developed.
Well, I cannot share this view. I am not this type of skeptical obscurantist. While I hope that I possess none of the popular illusions about education as a panacea for every ill we encounter in the world, or as a method for somehow extracting brilliant ideas and leadership from people who have the natural capacity for neither, still I believe that nearly everything we have come to treasure in civilization is the result of generations of trained and disciplined minds carrying on, each in its own way, and with the innovations and changes necessary for its own age, the great traditions of the intellectual life.
For, after all, the peasantry in all countries to-day, as always, resemble each other in essentials. What gives distinction to a nation, what differentiates it from its neighbors, is its minority, its élite. The homely virtues of mere industry are admirable, but they are hardly sufficient even to permit a nation to survive. In the old days, a tribe or group had to develop the military arts, or it ran the danger of sudden extermination. Since the industrial revolution, a nation has needed technical leaders in science and engineering, to solve the economic and trade problems of the modern world, or it run the risk of being left behind in the great race for supremacy. Can it not truthfully be said that, just because the intellectual élite of Rome was allowed to decay, Rome itself declined? If the traditions of Aristotle and Plato had been kept up in Greece as living things rather than as glorious historic memories, would Athens have become a feeble and impoverished city?
In any event, whatever the survival value to a nation of its intellectual élite, — and I believe this value to be very high, — there can be no question that its cultural value can be measured almost completely in terms of the vigor and insight of this special class. Music, art, literature, painting, the theatre, without which the life of a nation would be of little importance whatever its accomplishments in other directions, are, after all, the contribution of a particular minority. If we who believe these things to be genuinely significant wish to see them continue, it is of immense importance that the torch of truth be taken up by each relay of humanity, and that the search for knowledge and the cult of beauty continue.
As we know, however, the continuance of this search and cult is something that cannot be broken even for a single generation without irreparable damage. The tradition of learning is one which requires many years to bring to perfection; it is our social heritage; and if it were ever completely lost, mankind would descend with dizzy speed to what may be called a sophisticated barbarism. Even the hiatus of a single generation is of extreme danger for all of us. Already I am wondering where the leadership and the technical skill necessary to pilot the ship of the Continent through the next few difficult years are coming from — to say nothing of the leisure and intellectual energy that are prerequisite for a great art or a great literature. Initiative and ambition seem to be disappearing. Socialism in its worst sense of envy and jealousy is spreading with amazing rapidity. Life in Europe to-day has too widely become a mere material struggle for necessaries. There may soon be none left to carry on the heritage of the years, to keep alive those things that have given the civilization of Europe hitherto its essential human value.
Thus I come again to the contention with which I began. It may be true that the civilization of Europe as we have known it is not worth saving. I do not raise that question, nor should I attempt to answer it. I say only that, granted that it is, the real menace to it lies primarily in the present threatened breakdown of education.
I have already spoken of the difficulties of the student of to-day in Paris, pointing out that it is inevitable in the present financial situation of the middle class in France that a big proportion of the boys in the colleges should have been compelled to take up menial or unsuitable occupations. Some of the pupils at the Sorbonne play different instruments in the Paris moving-picture houses or in the night-restaurant orchestras. Investigation has shown that seventy per cent of the law students are clerks, advertising agents, commercial travelers, even night porters at Les Halles. It is rapidly becoming the rule and not the exception to have to earn a living during the period of studies. One can hardly pretend that the ordinary student of to-day can devote sufficient attention to his cultural formation.
In Paris, too, — Paris, the centre of civilization since Abélard taught, — the equipment of the schools is becoming obsolete. At the Muséum some of the microscopes are thirty years old, and there are not sufficient funds at the disposal of the educational authorities to permit them to buy new ones. Americans, American women above all, must be aware of what their generosity meant to Madame Curie, and how without that splendidly spontaneous help she never would have been able to continue her higher researches into the therapeutic values of radium. Every day the newspapers of Paris contain suggestions of new methods of raising funds for the ‘laboratories of France,’ sometimes by ‘tag days’ (an innovation in France, but a long-familiar method in the United States, though I doubt if it has ever been used there to raise money for colleges), sometimes by fêtes de nuit, sometimes by special vaudeville and circus performances. The salary on which a French instructor supports himself and his family every month would not equal the pay of a New York bricklayer for five days.
Discouraging as all this is, nevertheless the status of education is excellent in France — as compared with other European countries hit by the war. The plight of the intellectual classes in Russia, of course, is now familiar to all the world. But it is almost as bad in other countries. Some time ago a friend of mine from Oxford visited Vienna. On his return he told me that he had met young students who for months had lived on nothing better than beetroot and similar comestibles. Recently a circular was issued by English bishops, in which it was stated that some of the students and their teachers in Central Europe were quite literally starving. I hardly believe that the physical misery, with its attendant psychological despair, of the student and professorial classes in Europe needs to be reiterated. The great amount that America has done to alleviate this misery, though it has not compensated for the basic economic dilemma of the intellectual class of the Continent, has shown that the facts arc appreciated in the United States.
One other fact should not be forgotten: it is rapidly becoming impossible for ideas to circulate freely among nations. Because of the fall of the currencies of different countries and the wild vagaries of the daily exchange, students in Europe consider themselves lucky if they have enough to buy books and magazines in their own language. Even libraries and universities cannot afford to keep up their subscriptions to foreign technical magazines; and the purchase of general magazines — like the Atlantic itself, for instance — is now a luxury indulged in only by the very few. In France, where the currency is relatively very strong, a book published in America at five dollars (and the conscientious student would like to buy three or four such volumes a year) costs ninety francs to-day, as compared with similar books written in French costing seven or eight francs. Students in Central Europe are dependent almost entirely on the goodwill and thoughtfulness of their confrères in England and the United States, to send them used copies of books and magazines, if they are to have any notion of the intellectual winds of doctrine in English-speaking countries. German and Austrian students cannot spare the money to buy even the much cheaper French books.
This locking-up, so to speak, of the younger generation in Europe within the confines of its own language, this inevitable intensification of the nationalistic spirit, at the very time when the Continent is torn by far too many nationalistic passions and jealousies, is particularly unfortunate. The things of the spirit and of the mind know — or should know — no frontier; and it is precisely during the generous years of youth, during the normal period of a young man’s school and college work, that he is most susceptible to the influences which make for understanding of, and sympathy toward, foreign countries. It goes without saying that Europe needs this international attitude more to-day than almost ever before. It needs more idealistic and tolerant young men with visions that look beyond the confines of their own particular country; there are a sufficient number of organizations like the camelots du roi in France, or the superpatriotic Fascist cliques in Germany, with their ill-disguised invitations to the youngsters to become applauded hoodlums.
Yet, at just this time in European history, when as never before improved communication facilities have brought peoples nearer together in a physical sense, when the invisible wireless-telephone waves can travel from Copenhagen to Milan, and when, above all, the countries of the Continent need some spiritual nexus to bind them together in a communality of interests — at just this time the economic structure is so smashed that those who would be the most valuable helpers in this vital task, the students and the intellectuals, are more isolated from each other than at almost any time during the last three or four decades. Europe demands internationalism to-day, if it is to be saved. Education has always been the greatest force making for it, and young students have always been its warmest protagonists. But education is breaking down, students cannot communicate with each other. Intolerant and rasping nationalism — with little opportunity to break the spell of its social pressure — is what the young man is, unless strenuous efforts are made, likely to encounter in his environment to-day.
If I left my analysis of the education situation in Europe at this point, I might well join the prophets of despair of whom I spoke at the beginning of my article. But there seems to be in human nature some deep, self-preservative instinct which, when all the indications that a superficial observer can note combine to a pessimistic conclusion, somehow asserts itself with a vigor and directness that refute every prediction of calamity. So it is in Europe to-day. I shall not lay stress on the obvious fact that adversity is a gymnasium of bracing virtues, and that the young men who are persisting in their work and resisting contemporary temptations are being moulded into fine characters. I prefer to point to more positive and hopeful signs.
To begin with material things first — there is always, to put it quite frankly, America, which has never yet, so far as I know, failed to respond to an appeal that touched its moral conscience. The amount of private and semiprivate benefactions that have come to the Continent from the United States, solely for the purpose of helping European students and professors through their daily living problems, is already astonishingly high. But other nations — and particularly the students in those nations — have heard the call of their unfortunate contemporaries over here. The students in happier circumstances last year united to send support to the students of Europe, and solely among themselves raised the considerable sum of almost three quarters of a million dollars, all of which went in a practical way toward helping some 70,000 European students of eleven different nationalities. This year a similar campaign is under way, and the universities of North America are assisting in it. Your European Student-Relief Fund is, I believe, working efficiently.
Furthermore, the students of Europe themselves are not content to be the mere passive object of charity from America and foreign nations. They are trying to help themselves. They have organized coöperative student purchasing bureaus, where clothes and supplies can be bought at the lowest possible price. They run student restaurants, student shoeshops and tailor-shops, student printing presses and student laundries. Most important of all, perhaps, they now direct big employment agencies for their own members, where the most useful and profitable work, that at the same time conflicts least with their intellectual duties, is found for hundreds of young men. In a word, they are developing qualities of self-reliance and leadership under the pressure of necessity. Not always do they succeed in coping with the difficulties, chiefly not of their own raising; but they are making an intelligent effort, and with sufficient encouragement may yet actually come through. At all events, they are not supinely giving way to despair.
Even Governments, preoccupied as they are with their political and economic problems, are beginning to give heed to the educational needs of the rising generations. In the new Baltic states, for example, observers agree upon the remarkable keenness shown by all classes of the population on the subject of education. Czechoslovakia allocates a considerable part of her income to the same purpose. In almost all countries in Europe to-day is growing the conviction, gained from sad experience, that the problems of reconstruction will be solved less by armies and diplomatists than by trained technical and scientific experts.
In France itself, one of the most hopeful signs of the Government’s growing awareness of the urgency of the situation is the institution of the new ‘loans of honor,’ which the experience of other countries — that of the United States above all — has shown to be practicable and not a waste of resources. Scholarships for the lycées and collèges are given fairly freely in France; but after the age of eighteen the student has hitherto been left pretty much to his own resources. But after a hard political struggle in the Chamber of Deputies the prêt d’honneur has at last been voted, the money advanced to be paid back, without interest, within ten years after the beneficiary receives his diploma. The loans are to individuals and not for the purpose of subsidizing any particular institution, and it is emphasized that the relations of the State and the Church are in no way changed, and that the fundamental secular laws of the country remain untouched. Morally, the loan has a good effect on the student himself, since it teaches him that a service must never be lost, and that what society has given must be returned. Financially, the capital advanced does not disappear for good, but is retrievable. In both respects this is better than the scholarship system, for there the money is given outright : it is gone for good, and the student is under no obligation whatsoever. The State has begun with the comparatively small sum of 2,000,000 francs; but there is little doubt that this will be added to in the future by private contributions to the fund.
To turn from these more practical considerations to the spiritual forces at work in Europe that give ground for hope, is to come at once upon manifestations of fine and high ideals. France, her detractors repeat too stridently to-day, is hopelessly and inordinately Chauvinistic. But there is already under way a project for the building of a great Cité Universitaire on the outskirts of Paris, where students of all nationalities can come and pursue their intellectual labor on terms of equality with other students. Certainly this is an extremely strange way of encouraging the Chauvinistic spirit. And the erection of a Moslem Mosque — the only one in Western Europe — within the city hardly indicates that France is the prey of narrow religious intolerance.
Yet it is the attitude of the students themselves that gives the strongest ground for encouragement. At a recent conference in the town of Turoff, in Czechoslovakia, eighty-three students, representing thirty different nationalities, met together to consider how they might help each other and promote the cause of European peace. The significance of this passage in one of the students’ reports on future relief work should thrill anyone truly interested in the cause of international amity: ‘Instead of giving and receiving countries there should be, in future, a coöperative work of all student bodies, grounded in the thought of the solidarity of students in all countries, as an omen of the road which the peoples of the world should tread.’
This passage was signed and approved by members of a conference which included a dynamite mixture of racial, religious, and political hatreds that would have destroyed in one hour any meeting dominated by lesser ideals.
For me, then, the most satisfactory thing is the growing recognition of the fact that education is international. In the Christian Science Monitor of a recent date I observe that the foremost educators of sixty nations met at what is called the first World Conference on Education, in San Francisco, and formed a World Federation of Educational Associations, with the preamble to its constitution beginning: ‘Whereas educational aims are universal—’ and having for its object ‘to secure international coöperation in educational enterprises and to cultivate international good-will.’ During the Conference Dr. William B. Owens, President of the United States National Education Association, declared: ‘Education is international. Geography, mathematics, the sciences, and other subjects, recognize no boundaries of peoples and nations.’ It was resolved to set aside May 18 of every year as International Good-Will Day. I do not know how far such a day will be observed, but it would be excellent and full of promise if, indeed, on one day out of every 365 we could induce all men and women in all lands to think of the various members of the great human family with a kindly desire for coöperation and with a determination to work for the advancement of the world.
It is through the channels of education that there may be set coursing around the globe the beneficent idea of world-citizenship. Neither history nor economics is national. Arithmetic is not the prerogative of any country. Political science, like chemistry, is universal in its application. The mysteries of natural laws must be elucidated for everybody. If knowledge can make life in the material sense less onerous in one place, it must make life less onerous in another place. We must learn to think of ourselves as all pupils in the same great school. Dr. P. W. Kuo, the head of the Chinese delegation well said: ‘One of the functions of the university is to search for truth, and the truth is everywhere and at all times, and is not limited by racial and national boundaries. The very word university suggests universality of ideas, of interests, and of sympathies.’ So that there must be no writing in a despairing way. Back I go to the poem of Swinburne and I repeat: —
From hopes cut down across a world of fears,
We gaze with eyes too passionate for tears,
Where faith abides, though hope be put to flight.
Though Rome were rent in twain of king and priest,
The soul of man, the soul is safe, at least,
That gives death life and dead men hands to smite.
And I think too of the old Breton legend of the isle of Ys, which is submerged by the sea. On clear and calm days — so the legend as recalled by Renan runs — one can look down and see through the waters the towers still standing and hear the bells chiming the hymn of day. We too, in Europe, looking down through these difficulties, can see the splendid steeples, and can hear the ascending hymn of courage and of hope.