«^ meets with real encouragement.
" I remain, dear Sir,
« Yours, with much esteem,
« Mary Buchanan."
By the despatch which conveyed the two preceding let-
lers, Mr. Buchanan sent another remittance to his mother,
to the comfort of whose declining years he was afterwards
enabled still more largely to contribute.
On the 18th of August 1800, the college of Fort William,
which had been virtually in operation since the 4th of May,
was formally established by a minute in councila, in which
the Governor General detailed at length his reasons for such
an institution. The important part which Mr. Buchanan
took in the formation and subsequent conduct of that estab-
lishment will sufficiently Justify the following brief abstract
of the able and interesting documents referred to.
The British possessions in India, said Iiis Lordship, now
constitute one of the most extensive and populous empires
a See " The College of Fort William in Bengal," published by Mr. Buchanan
DR. BUCHANAN. 14^
ill the world. The immediate administration of the govern-
ment of the various provinces and nations composing this
empire, is principally confided to the European civil ser-
vants of the East India Company. Upon them, in consequence,
devolve the duties of dispensing justice to millions of people
of various languages, manners, usages, and religions ; of ad-
ministering a vast and complicated system of revenue through-
out districts, equal in extent to some of the most considera-
ble kingdoms of Europe ; and of maintaining civil order in
one of the most populous and litigious regions of the world.
They can, therefore, no longer be considered as the agents
of a commercial concern ; they are in fact the ministers and
officers of a powerful sovereign, and must be viewed in that
capacity, with a reference, not to their nominal, but to their
real occupations. Their education should consequently be
founded in a general knowledge of those branches of litera-
ture and science, which form the basis of the education of
persons destined to similar offices in Europe. To this foun-
dation should be added an intimate acquaintance with the
history, languages, customs, and manners of the people of
India, with the Mohammedan and Hindoo codes of law and
religion, and with the political interests and relations of
Great Britain in Asia. They should be regularly instructed
in the principles and system which constitute the foundation
of that wise code of regulations and laws enacted by the Go-
vernor General in council, for the purpose of securing to the
people of this empire the benefit of the ancient and esta-
blished laws of the country, administered in the spirit of the
British constitution. Finally, their early habits should be
so formed, as to establish in their minds such solid founda-
tions of industry, prudence, integrity, and religion, as should
'effectually guard them against those temptations and cor-
ruptions with which the nature of the climate, and the
peculiar depravity of the people of India, will surround and
assail them in every station, especially upon their first arri-
val in India. The early discipline of the service should be
calculated to counteract the defects of the climate and the
vices of the people, and to form a natural barrier against ha-
148 MEMOIRS OF
bitual indolence, dissipation, and licentious indulgence ; the
spirit of emulation in honourable and useful pursuits should
be kindled and kept alive by the continual prospect of dis-
tinction and reward, of profit and honour; nor should any
precaution be relaxed in India which is deemed necessary in
England, to furnish a suflicient supply of men, qualified to
fill the high offices of the state, with credit to themselves, and
with advantage to the jmblic.
It would be unnecessary, continued Lord Wellesley, in
the document referred to, to enter into any examination of
facts, to prove that no system of education, study, or disci-
pline now exists, either in Europe or in India, founded on
the principles, or directed to the objects, before described.
His Lordship, however, proceeded to review the course
through which the junior civil servants of the East India
Company t!ien entered upon the important duties of their
respective stations ; and the result of this examination tended
to prove, that the actual state of the Company's civil ser-
vice in India was far removed from perfection or efficiency,
and that the cause of this "defect was to be found principally,
if not exclusively, in the imperfect education of the junior
civil servants, and in the insufficient discipline of tlie early
stages of the service.
In reply to the general argument, which might be adduced
to disprove the necessity of any new institution, on the
ground, that the service of the East India Company had,
through a long period of years, always furnished men equal
to the exigency of the occasion, it was contended, that extra-
ordinary combinations of human affairs, wars, revolutions,
and all those unusual events which form the marked features
and prominent characters of the history of mankind, natu-
rally bring to light talents and exertions adapted to such
emergencies. But that it must never be forgotten, that the
successive efforts of the personages thus raised up, and the
final result of various revolutions and wars, had imposed
upon the East India Company the arduous and sacred trust
of governing a great empire; that duty, policy, and honour
required that it should not be administered as a temporary
DR. BUCHANAN. 14:9
and precarious acquisition, but as a permanent succession ;
and that in this view its internal government should not be
left to depend on the success of individual or accidental
merit, struggling against the defects of established institu-
tions ; but should be so ordered as to secure a constant,
steady, and regular supi)ly of able magistrates, wise and
honest judges, and skilful statesmen, properly qualified to
conduct the ordinary movements of its administration.
An additional motive for such an institution as was then
meditated was derived from the acknowledged fact, that at
this period the erroneous and pestilent principles of the
French revolutionary school had reached the minds of some
individuals in the service of the Company in India ; and
that the state, as well of political as religious opinions, had
been in some degree unsettled. An institution, therefore,
tending to fix and establish sound and correct principles of
religion and government in the minds of the junior servants
of the Company at an early period of life, was the best se-
curity that could be provided for the stability of the British
power in India.
After discussing the practicability of forming any adequate
establishment in England for the purpose of duly educating
such a body of men as had been described, and determining
that it could not be obtained otherwise than in India, the
Governor General concluded by dcdaring, that a college
was by this minute in council founded at Fort William, for
the better instruction of the junior civil servants of the
Company in such branches of literature, science, and know-
ledge, as might be deemed necessary to qualify them for the
discharge of the duties of the different offices constituted for
the administration of the government of the British posses-
sions in the East Indies.
The general reasons upon which the Marquis Welleslcy
proceeded in the formation of this important institution,
must be admitted to be characterized by the soundest views
of a liberal and enlightened policy. Whatever difference of
opinion may exist as to the extent or detailed arrangement
of the establishment, there can scarcely be any as to the
150 MEMOIRS OF
principles upon which it was founded. The success, too, oi
the institution, as will be hereafter seen, fully justified the
wisdom of the original plan, and reflects the highest honour
on its distinguished author.
The immediate government of the college was vested in a
Provost and Vice-Provost, and three other oificers, to whose
notice every part of the private conduct of the students, their
expenses, their connections, their manners, and morals,
were to be subject. Professorships were established in the
languages chiefly spoken and used in the diff*erent provinces
of India, in Hindoo and Mohammedan law, in the regula-
tions and laws enacted at the several presidences for the
civil government of the British territories, in political
economy, and particularly the commercial institutions and
interests of the East India Company, and in various branches
of literature and science. There was also to be a considera-
ble establishment of learned natives attached to the college;
some of whom were to be employed in teaching the students,
others in making translations, and others in composing
original works in the oriental tongues.
The excitements to exertion in the college of Fort William
were of the highest and most eftective nature ; and its moral,
economical, and religious discipline, such as was admirably
calculated to promote all that is virtuous, dignified, and
useful in civil society. This latter most important branch of
the institution was, in an especial manner, confided to the
Provost and Vice-Provost, who were thus honourably intro-
duced to the public notice by its noble founder.
<* Fortunately," observes his Lordsbip, " for the objects of
*< the institution, the Governor General has found at Cal-
<«cutta two clergymen of the Church of England, eminently
<< qualified to discharge the duties of Provost and Vice-Pro-
« vost. To the former office he has appointed Mr. Brown,
" the Company's first chaplain, and to the latter Mr. Bu-
*<chanan. Mr. Brown's character must be well known in
« England, and particularly so to some members of the Court
*< of Directors ; it is in every respect such as to satisfy the
»• Governor General, that his view^s, in this nomination, will
DR. BUCHANAN. I5i
« not be disappointed. He lias also formed the highest expec-
<' tations from the abilities, learning, temper, and morals of
" Mr. Buchanan, whose character is also well known in
<* England, and particularly to Dr. Porteus, Bishop of Lon-
<^ don, and to Dr. Milner, Master of Queen's College in the
*< University of Cambridge."
A body of statutes was afterwards compiled and promul-
gated by Marquis Wellesley, which regulated the admission
of students and professors, the lectures, exercises, examina-
tions, and public disputations, and every other branch of the
college business. The office of the Provost, and, virtually,
of the Vice-Provost, was expressed in the following terms.
*«It shall be the peculiar province and sacred duty of the
« Provost governing the college at Fort William, to guard
^< the moral and religious interests of the institution ; and
" vigilantly to superintend the conduct and principles of all
<' its members.
<* Divine service shall be performed in the college chapel
f< at such times as the Provost shall appoint."
Provision was also made by the statutes for applying the
internal authority of the superior officers of the college, to
strengthen and confirm within our eastern possessions the
attachment of the civil servants of the Company to the laws
and constitution of Great Britain, and to maintain and up-
hold the Christian religion in that quarter of the globe.
Of the formation of the preceding institution, and of sev-
eral additional particulars respecting it, Mr. Buchanan
wrote to Mr. Grant a few days after the date of Lord Wel-
lesley's minute in council, on his way to Prince of Wales's
Island ; where he stayed about a month, for the benefit of
Mrs. Buchanan's health, which was already beginning to be
"Saugor Roads, 23d Aug. 180O.
« Dear Sir,
" We have no news at present but what relates to the new
^« college, wliich is now founded. It consists of a Provost,
" Vice-Provost, and Professors. All the writers, and some
iS2 MEMOIRS OF
** of the cadets, (the learned and well recommended,) are
•* admitted to the benefits of the institution. A building for
" the college, to contain two hundred students, is to be imme-
<*diately erected in Garden Reach, together with a chapel,
" hall, &c. Mr. Speke's house, and Mr. Cowper's, will form
•< part of the college ; being intended for the principal officers.
<< In the mean time, a range of large houses in Calcutta is
« taken for present use, not far from the Writers' Buildings.
** Mr. Brown is appointed Provost of the college. His du-
« ties are to receive the young men on their arrival, and to
" he their official friend. I have been appointed Vice-Pro-
« vost. His duties are very laborious. When I planned
«< them, I little thought I should be called to execute them.
** He is the censor morum, and arbiter of official and per-
« sonal properties in college."
Mr. Buchanan next inserts a list of the professors already
appointed ; in which his own name appears as Professor of
Greek, Latin, and English classics. He then continues as
<« The college council, or caput, consists of Provost, Vice-
*< Provost, and Messrs. Barlow, Kirkpatrick, and Edmon-
« A public table to be established for the students. Their
" moonshees to be attached to the college. No student in
" debt to be admitted to the college, or to have promotion in
*< service afterwards. Means are to be taken to pay oiTthe
" debts of many students, in the first instance. The disci-
*• pline is to be most rigid. Rewards and honours to the
« deserving very liberal. Notwithstanding the expense to
" government of supporting table, moonshees, &c. the stu-
" dents are to have their three hundred rupees a month, in
'* By this institution, two hundred students, the whole
« generation of English India, will be put, in some degree,
« under the direction of Mr. Brown and myself.
«« Lectures will probably commence on the first of Novem-
« ber 1800. Four terms in a year of two months, and four
*« vacations of one month.
DR. BUCHANAN. 193
♦* I mention the foregoing particulars at this time, because
" they may, perhai)S, have some influence on yourself or
*< friends, who may be thinking of sending their sons to
This last observation of Mr. Buchanan, which evidently
points at the security to be afforded by the new establish-
ment to the moral and religious principles and habits of the
students, derives strength from the following striking pas-
sage in the original minute of Lord Wellesley.
" This institution,'' said his Lordship, «* will be best ap-
<« preciated by every affectionate parent in the hour of sepa-
" ration from his cliild, destined to the public service in In-
« dia. Let any parent (especially if he has himself passed
<' through the Company's service in India) declare whether
" the prospect of this institution has aggravated or mitigated
" the solicitude of that painful hour; whether it has raised
« additional doubts and fears, or inspired a more lively hope
<< of the honourable and prosperous service, of the early and
« fortunate return of his child."
It may perhaps afford a still more clear and interesting
view of the actual plan of the college of Fort William, if we
subjoin the two following letters from Mr. Buchanan to the
young friend who has been already mentioned as enjoying
his confidential correspondence.
"Calcutta, 1st. Nov. 1800.
** My dear Friend,
<< Yours of the 27th Oct. I have just received. I dare not
«* advise with respect to the college. Some gentlemen have
*< taken advantage of the regulation, and some declined it.
« Some are satisfied that the college will promote their inter-
<< ests ; and some are satisfied that it will hurt them. Unless
<< you are sure that you ought to come, and therefore come
« with a good will and ardent hopes, I would rather you
<f would not come; for unless you distinguish yourself in
" some degree for your attention, success in study, and moral
<« conduct, it w^ould have been better for you that you had
*< never seen the college at all. Recollect there will be nearly
154 MEMOIRS OF
*< one hundred and thirty students, fifty of whom are now in
" Calcutta applying themselves closely to their studies.
<* With respect to your college life, it will he what you
<« make it. To some it will be very irksome, to others per-
<< feet freedom. So large a body must he governed by sta-
<« tutes, and these statutes shall be strictly enforced : but
<« the whole institution is built on liberal principles; intend-
" ed for gentlemen, for grown gentlemen, for men who enter
<< it with the purpose of attaining to a certain object ; and
<^who are therefore willing to sacrifice something to the
'« general good, as well as their own ultimate advantage.
'• Mrs. Buchanan joins me in best regards to you and Mr.
" Darell, and 1 am very sincerely yours,
^< C. Buchanan/*
« To W, P. Elliottf Esq. Malda.*'
To the same.
^' My dear Friend,
« Your letter of the 7th, mentioning your purpose of
" coming to college, I have just received. Whether you
<< have done right I shall be able to tell you in about a year
" hence ; not sooner. So entirely does it depend on your-
" Before you obtain your qualifying degree in the college
" at Fort William to serve the Company, you must hold four
« public disputations in the Persian or Bengalee languages,
« once as respondent, and thrice as opponent. As re-
« spondent, you are to defend a proposition given by your-
^< self on a moral, literary, or historical subject, or concern-
« ing oriental manners and customs, against the objections
« of any three opponents who may be appointed. You are
« first to pronounce an essay on your subject, and then
« begin to def.rid it extempore, in classical Persian, against
« the meditated objections of your opponents ; and this in
<' public, before all Calcutta, and before all the natives of
« rank and learning, rajahs, pundits, moulvies, and moon-
«< shees 5 — an august tribunal !
DR. BUCHANAN. I55
" You are also to recite in public, at six different times,
*f six essays or declamations composed by yourself on sub-
*< jects which shall be given you, in the English language.
*< Every student who takes a degree at Fort William must
** give proofs of his being a classical English scholar ; and a
" practical one.
" Ex pede Herculem, Here is a ploughshare or two of
♦' your college ordeal. Be not surprised, then, that I did
" not urge your coming. Here there is room for honour,
" and also for disgrace.
" As for the number of horses you wish to bring down, —
«* * consider what hath been said.'
** You and all of your year will have quarters in the Wri-
<' ters' Buildings : two in a house. There is no choice.
"Mr. Barlow will place you where there is a vacancy on
*« your arrival.
" You will not be called down for a considerable time ;
'* and I suppose will see little of cavalry exercise this year.
*< Yours very sincerely,
«« C. Buchanan."
*« Calcutta, 17th Nov. 1800.**
In order to complete the specimen which has just been
given of the views with which the younger servants of the
Company entered the college of Fort William, it may not be
improper to add the following extract of a letter from Mr.
W. Elliott to one of his friends, who was then deliberating
as to his own determination.
"Malda, Dec. 14,1800.
« — Not to detain you longer from the subject of your let-
♦< ter, I will state to you the reasons which induce me to
•« enter the college.
<* I must confess to you that I sacrifice considerable pre-
" sent advantages ; but if I may judge from all that Lord
« Wellesley has hitherto done, he is far too generous to al-
<« low us to sustain any loss which he will not make up on
156 MEMOIRS OF
" our leavinj^ college. I say this on the supposition that lie
*< will continue so long in the government. If he does not,
** 1 shall still have the satisfaction of knowing myself quali-
« fied for any situation whatever.
" As the opportunities of information now offered are
<< many, the examination of those who decline them will be
«« proportionably strict : nor do I think myself qualified, or
*< that F could qualify myself in this jungle, for any situation
<^ other than that of a commercial resident.
" As it is not my present intention to accept any thing less
" than a good residency, you will not be surprised that I
*' devote two years and a half to improve myself in the lan-
<* guages, and in whatever else is to be taught in the college;
** at the end of which time, I shall not have been more than
<^five years and a half in the country. Besides, I think it
<* a most dangerous experiment to decline entering the col-
<< lege. We have nothing so much to dread as the being
" set aside, or not thought of when any appointment of trust
« becomes vacant ; which will in my opinion certainly be the
"case with those who thus act.
"1 am, moreover, one of those eccentric beings, who think
<< that knowledge and information cannot be purchased at too
" dear a rate ; and I do expect, from the known abilities of
a juy friend Mr. Buchanan, and some of the other profes-
" sors, not only to attain the immediate object which I
" have in view, a knowledge of the languages, and of my
"duty as a servant of the Company, but also improvement
« in those political studies which no gentleman should be
" ignorant of. Our education has not left us wholly unin-
<« formed on these subjects ; but the early age at which we
« left England must have prevented our obtaining that de-
« gree of knowledge requisite for sustaining with eclat the
" rank in life which we hope to fill on our return home. Mr.
" Brovvn, the Pr(»vost, wrote to me, that the advantages of
"the college were so palpable, and the danger in declining
" it so great, that I could not reasonably hesitate on the
DR. BUCHANAN. I57
The appointment of the superior officers of the college was
notified in a Calcutta gazette extraordinary on the 20th of
September 1800, though they were not formally admitted to
their offices till the 24th of April following. Towards the
close of the former year an advertisement was published in
different parts of India, announcing the establishment of the
college, and inviting men of learning and knowledge, moul-
vies, pundits, and moonshees, to Calcutta, for the purpose of
submitting to an examination with a view to the choice of
some as teachers in the college. About fifty natives, and
subsequently a larger number, were in consequence attached
Lectures in the Arabic, Hindostanee, and Persian langua-
ges, commenced in the month of November 1800 ; and the
first regular term opened on the 6th of February following.
i^g MEMOIRS OF
WITH the commencement of the year 1801, Mm Bu-
chanan entered upon his important and laborious duties as
Vice-Provost and Professor of Classics in the college of Fort
William. His health and spirits had hitherto heen more or
less depressed ; nor was the former likely to be improved
by the various weighty engagements which now devolved
upon him. A work, however, had at length been assigned to
him, both in the college, and as one of the chaplains of the
Presidency ; which, while it demanded his utmost talents
and exertions, deeply interested his feelings, and animated
him with the hope of becoming extensively useful in India.
Early in this year he thus wrote to Mr. Grant.
«< Since my last to you, dated Kedgeree, when I was going
^*to sea, nothing of importance has occurred here. The
"regulation concerning the college has been carried into
«< effect, and the institution has already acquired energy and
<« tranquillity. We have about an hundred students; the
« greater part of whom promise to distinguish themselves.
<^ There are as remarkable instances of application here, as
" I have known at Cambridge.
<« Both the churches are generally full, particularly in the
*' cold weather. The college chapel has punkas, which will
<< probably draw a great number of the townspeople during
<< the hot season. Lord Wellesley has fitted up a pew for
« himself in chapel.
" Mr. Check breakfasted with Mrs. Buchanan this morn-
« ing, and pleased her much with the account he gave of