Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/173

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By Professor T. D. A. COCKERELL


THE university is, or ought to be, a nursery for young ideas as well as for young people. To an aged person like myself, there is something indescribably fascinating about a company of boys and girls. Who knows what they may do, what they may become? Do I not perhaps address myself to a Darwin, a Newton, or a Tennyson? Classes have grown up and gone away: not all their members have fulfilled our expectations; but yet, the harvest has been good—and who knows, who can tell, what is inherent in these particular green sprouts? It is the same with ideas as with people. Thoughts are born, mature, live their lives, struggle with one another, and finally reach their true position, if all is well. Alas! that is a large qualification, in either case. All may not be well; so much depends upon a favorable environment and that, of course, is what we are all trying to create.

There is one important difference between our young people and our young ideas. The former come to us at an age which—well, which seems to them quite grown up. The latter are often, we hope, born upon the premises, and raised by hand with tender care during their helpless infancy. Like other infants, they must not be forgotten, even for a little while, and they are subject to all sorts of infantile disorders. Unlike human infants, they have the unpleasant habit of destroying one another, and we, their nurses, are so heartless as to actually encourage this internecine conflict. Nevertheless, we prize them highly, and actively resent the sneers of passers by, who either have none of their own, or only horrid little brats we would not condescend to look at.

When very tender, they must often be kept at home. I used to be a student at a medical school in London, where we had a very original demonstrator of comparative anatomy. The results of our labors were tested in examinations held, not by the teachers, but by quite other and more aged professors. So our mentor used to say: "You see, gentlemen, this is so and so, but I only found this out the other day, and you must on no account tell it to the examiners, or they will give you zero." You will appreciate the immense advantage of being ex-

  1. Chapel address to the students of the University of Colorado, April 29, 1907.