A University Stands and Shines
By John Masefield
There are few earthly things more splendid than a University. In these days broken frontiers and collapsing values, when the dams are down and the floods are making misery, when every future looks somewhat grim and every ancient foothold has become something of a quagmire, wherever it exists, the free minds of men, urged on to full and fair enquiry, may still bring wisdom into human affairs.
There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university. It is a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see; where seekers and learners alike, banded together in the search for knowledge, will honour thought in all its finer ways, will become thinkers in distress or in exile, will uphold ever the dignity of thought and learning and will exact standard in these things. They give to the young in their impressionable years, the bound of a lofty purpose shared, of a great corporate life whose links will not be loosed until they die. They give young people that close companionship for which young longs and that chance of the endless discussion of themes which are endless, without which youth would seem a waste of time.
There are few things more enduring than a University. Religions may split into sect or heresy; dynasties may perish or be supplanted, but for century after century the University will continue, and the stream of life will pass through it, and the thinker and the seeker will be found together in the undying cause of bringing thought into the world.
To be a member of one of these great Societies must ever be a glad distinction.
In conferring it upon us you declare, or let it be presumed, that we are qualified to teach in those ways of life which we have followed. It has been a mark of the Humanist since he began among us that "gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche"; and although all of us would more gladly learn than teach, to be counted fit to teach is something of a crown to all men.
On behalf of my fellows in this glory, on behalf of, the very learned, valiant, wise and gifted men beside me here, who stand for the Law by which we live, the Air by which we breathe, the Free Enquiry by which we shall be remembered, I thank you for this great distinction which links us with you while we last.