K Subba Rau.

Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

. (page 16 of 66)
Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 16 of 66)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


The practical between what is called the practical man and the
JUia* theoretical man. I trust none of our students will

ever allow themselves to be drawn away by shallow
criticism of this kind from an earnest pursuit of sound theory. It
is this which must lie at the basis of a really competent practice.
That eminent man of science, Sir W. Grove, has vigorously de-
nounced the exaltation of the purely practical man as he is called.
If there be one species of cant more destestable than another, it
is that which eulogises what is called the practical man as con-
tradistinguished from the scientific. If by practical man is meant
one who, having a mind well stored with scientific and general
information, has his knowledge chastened andhis theoretic temer-
ity subdued by varied experience, nothing can be better ; but
if, as is commonly meant by the phrase, a practical man means
one whose knowledge is derived from habits or traditional system,
such a man has no resources to meet unusual circumstances ; such
a man has no plasticity ; he kills a man according to rule, and
consoles himself, like Moliere's doctor, by the reflection that ' a
dead man is only a dead man, but that a deviation from received
practice is an injury to the whole profession/ If a profession is
to be advanced in usefulness, dignity and public appreciation,
it must be nurtured by fresh and stimulating thought. Im-
mobility is in these days a comparative retrogression, and the
gentlemen who, after a training in science, betake themselves
to one of the professional courses will, I trust, recognize aud



1882. Mr. Justice West. 137

keep hold on the means of making their careers not only
immediately useful, but a source of self-culture, of permanent
improvement to science, and of blessing to mankind.

An obstacle of a serious kind to the adoption of a scientific
course arises from the defective elementary teach-
Ob F servition. * in g of the schools. The faculty of observation is
hardly at all cultivated, and a student beginning
to work at science in a college has still to master the rudi-
mentary notions which ought to have been familiar to him
from early childhood. Steps have lately been taken, I under-
stand, to improve the means and appliances in the Government
schools for teaching rudimentary mechanics, but the teachers
themselves need teaching how to teach. They need still more
a living interest in the facts of outward nature. Where this
exists, the common incidents of every-day life can be made
the basis of an humble, but really useful, scientific teaching ;
the faculties can be trained to quick and accurate instead of
hazy and defective perceptions; and reasoning on the right
way of doing a great many familiar acts opens the way to an
habitual estimation of forces and relations, an habitual reduc-
tion of new cases under known principles, which as far as
it goes is a scientific turn of mind. Much, it is obvious, may
be done, as much remains to be done in this direction. The
gathered inertia of centuries has -to be overcome. But, now
that a start has been made, I trust that Indian students will
take a forward and honourable place in the ranks of scientific
learners and even of original investigators. India presents in
many ways an inviting field for scientific research in which home-
born seekers after truth must have a great advantage over
foreigners. Some men there arp already amongst us who with-
out the advantages too slender as these are which the colleges
now afford, have gained distinction in the field of natural science,
and who in converse with nature enjoy a serenity of mind which is
the chief element of happiness. If we turn our thoughts to such a
man as our illustrious Darwin, or to many a one less eminent than
he, we cannot but recognize the superiority to conventions and
external circumstances which Lucretius has celebrated as the
highest fruit of knowledge. This fruit is equally accessible to
any student of those whom I see about me if he will but rise to
the true level of his calling and follow his great masters not only
in their assiduity of toil but in their moral elevation, and their
ardent readiness to welcome and diffuse the truth.

Now, gentlemen of the younger generation, as I have dwelt
18



138 University of Bombay.

so long on science as an instrument of culture, you would not
readily forgive me if I enlarged still further on the
special advantages of a literary training. The
subject is an interesting one, and there are, as I
think, many misconceptions about it which it would be worth
while to investigate. I may perhaps find some occasion for laying
my views on this topic before the University, but let it suffice for
the present to point out with what admirable precision literature
is taught ; that its contents are the best products of the most gift-
ed minds ; that it is everywhere concerned with the acts and the
emotions that are distinctively human ; that it has largely formed
the character of the society we have to join ; and that of necessity
it is greatly supplemented by the experience of ordinary life.
Here, surely, are the elements of a training which, mixed with
active exercise in what is acquired, goes to form a real education,
one in which high faculties are trained to high perfection, and the
heart is enriched as well as the head. But literature is more than
this. Some of you remember Macaulay's touching lines after his
defeat at Edinburgh. The Queen of learning and meditation visits
her votary in a dream and tells him of all she will bestow which
no envy of fortune and no folly of the crowd can take away.
She was the comforter of Bacon in disgrace, of Clarendon in
sickness, of Raleigh in his lonely cell. She

"lighted Milton's darkness with the blaze
" Of the bright ranks that guard the eternal throne."

To you if you will be her disciples, she will be as to him, a
helpful friend, a faithful mistress, and a bounteous queen. Be
not, however, like that would-be Christian of the early time who
would not put away his wealth for his convictions. Our blessings
have their price, and learning sheds her choicest boons only on
him who offers the purest sacrifice. Sordid arts and the astute-
ness of low practice will in most cases serve your worldly pur-
poses better; but seeking fortune in this fashion you make
learning a mean drudge instead of an honoured companion, and
her divinity perishes in a servile air. Reject base ways, and in
good fortune or in bad she will pour treasures of joy or consola-
tion into your lap. You may then truly

"With an unforced smile,

" See riches, baubles, flatterers pass away."

And having made yonr mastery of your calling secure beyond
cavil, you may enjoy your slender gains in a companionship and
with a spirit which any Croesus might envy. Take your love for
literature with you through life. There will be dark hours when
you will need it, and, fortune favouring, there will be bright ones
to which it alone can give the chastened lustre of dignity of



1882. Mr. Justice West. 139

thought, of taste, and of refinement. Now, do not suppose,
young graduates, that I have propounded any Utopian scheme
or invited yon to a task beyond human capacity. You are called

on for no resignation, no submission to the higher
qner fate* n " P owers > but what some good men and many

gentle women practice every day. Nor am I an
apostle of mere quietism. The certainty of resources and 'con-
solations in reserve ought indeed to give you boldness and
pertinacity in action. It is no part of the scheme of Provi-
dence that we should feebly bow to fate, whimpering at our ill
luck instead of striving to conquer it. Your science, your
literature, should be a source then of energy as well as for-
titude. They should enrich, your action as well as your thought,
and everywhere teach, you the lesson of modest faith and
perseverance, You must all have learned in your several lines
of study the immense value of sustained and vivid attention. You
must have come to appreciate the task which he undertakes
who resolves to be even a faithful learner, much, more a teacher
of any important branch of human knowledge. You have found
that clever as you were in the circle of your relatives, in the
class of your school, or the quarter of your town, there were
many other boys growing up at the same time at least as
clever as yourselves and forming a crowd of competitors com-
pared with the few places of fame and of emolument available
as the meed of intellectual distinction. This, too, you must
have learned^ that toil and tenacity of purpose exercised in any
field for which you are not unfitted by positive defects achieve
in the long run far more than the desultory efforts even of a
brilliant ability. Our Maker, as Burke says, has imposed
nothing on us as a duty which it is beyond our capacity to do
or to know. What is obligatory is feasible, and in the develop-
ment of every science we find its leading principles reduced by
degrees to simple propositions within the grasp of the ordinary
intellect, as though to favour the greatest number with an in-
creasing insight into the mysteries of matter and of mind.
There is always something great attainable, yet always some-
thing as great in reserve. So the education of the human race
is planned the humblest in ability takes his share in it, and,
as things are arranged, a sufficient share if he but modestly
acknowledges his need and accepts a low place at the banquet
to which all are invited. For some of you the words " Friend,
come up higher" will in due time sound : be patient and await
the summons. Have fortitude even to await it in vain. Your
labours are not therefore thrown away. Knowledge and the
sense of duty done bear in themselves their own reward ; and



140 University of Bombay.,

you have in some sort reaped the fruits of others' toil dedicated
for centuries to the glory of the Creator and the relief of man's
estate. The teachers under whom you have studied have been the
interpreters between the world and you of what would else have
been a mere confusion of tongues or a chaos of unrelated facts.

You must have seen by what small accretions of know-
ledge the way has been prepared for the greatest
Graduates f triumphs of human genius. On you it devolves
in turn to be the interpreters to your countrymen
of the European learning and moral energy by which their
national being may be renovated. On you it devolves to repay
your debt to learning by adding some gain of observation or of
thought to its expanding store. If you cannot discover you can
verify; if you cannot originate " the thoughts that breathe and
words that burn," you can illustrate them ; you can enforce
them ; and in this Eastern land, the ancient nursery of Civiliza-
tion, you can help to form the intellectual soil from which new
growths of wisdom, happiness and beauty are to spring up in
the time to come.

TWENTY-SECOND CONVOCATION.

(BY SIR JAMES FERGUSSON, BART., K.C.M.G., C.I.E.)

Mr. Vice-Chancellor and Gentlemen of the Senate, It would
have been impossible, I presume, that the report, necessarily
voluminous, could have been heard by this grea.t audience, but
I hope that its circulation will place in all your hands the infor-
mation conveyed. Yet there are some features in it to which I
cannot but call your attention, though, on this occasion, more
briefly than I could have desired. The history of this University
now extends over a quarter of a century, and it is not to be
expected that in each successive year there shall be changes and
marks of progress so considerable as to call for special mention.

The year which has just closed has, on the whole, been un-
eventful ; but the progress of the University has been continuous,
although no such great change has taken place as to make, it
memorable in our annals. In the report which has been present-
ed, it is stated that the examinations have been generally satis-
factory, particularly in the division of the chapter of Arts, in
which there has been a marked increase in numbers. I note
that whereas in 1879 there were 97 candidates for the B.A.
Degree, of whom only 51 passed ; in 1880, 100 candidates, of
whom 34 passed ; in 1881, 125 candidates, of whom 36 passed



1883. Sir James Fergusson. 141

a proportion certainly not satisfactory ; in the present year, for
the first time under the system of separating the examinations
into two divisions, the result has been that at the first exami-
nation 53 of the 120 candidates passed, and at the second
examination 23 of the 34 candidates passed.

I notice also that of the 15 candidates presented by the
Elphinstone College, 13 passed. With reference
Results of the j. Q ^ Q } ower examinations, we must again observe,
as was done in past years, that the results of the
Matriculation and Previous Examinations have been very un-
satisfactory. The percentage of success in three years succes-
sively has been only 34, 28 and 36 for Matriculation, and for
Previous Examinations 42, 25 and 38. This point, perhaps,
is one more for the consideration of the schools which send
candidates up, than for the University, but it cannot be a
matter of indifference to those that wish well to the system
that so large a proportion of candidates should be insufficiently
prepared. We have to examine whether there be anything in
the system that is at fault, and whether a too high standard be
exacted. But while so large a proportion of failures would
lead some to think the standard is too high, we know the Princi-
pals of the Elphinstone and Deccan Colleges have represented
that the candidates are not sufficiently advanced in English to
enable them to take the full benefit of the instruction given
them ; and when we observe that in some institutions the pro-
portion passed is very large, it is evident that either the system
of teaching in those institutions is better than in the generality,
or they exercise a more wholesome discretion in the selection of
candidates for presentation. Thus I find that whereas in the
Elphinstone High School only 54 passed of 108 presented, at
St. Mary's Institution, Bombay, 21 passed of 26 presented, at
the New English School, Poona, 18 passed out of 22 presented,
at the Eajaram High School, Kolhapur, 17 out of 22 passed.
The number is small from the Bishop's High School at Poona,
but 5 passed out of 6; from the Cathedral High School, also 5
out of 6; and from the Victoria High School, Poona, 3 were
presented and 3 passed. I would call the attention of the Senate
to a remarkable feature in the total percentage. Whereas out
of 1,600 candidates 572 passed, it must be remembered that
1,051 candidates came from 65 different schools and 549 came
from private tuition; the total percentage, taking the whole
number of passes as compared with presentations, being in 1 in
2' 79. Of candidates from schools alone 1 passed in every 2'09,
which is nearly the proportion maintained in the Elphinstone



142 University of Bombay.

High School ; but of the candidates that came up from private
tuition only 1 in 8 passed. That shows, in the first place, an
inferiority of instruction under private tuition, and a want of
discrimination in the selection of candidates. I think that, on
the whole, it may be fairly concluded that the standard is too
high and that what my learned friend, the Vice-Chancellor, last
year described as ' ' more rigorous kindness " is required. It has
been argued by some that as the passing of the Matriculation
Examination is taken as a test for Government employment,
this examination might be separated from the University, and
that governing bodies of Colleges might themselves be permitted
to exact a test of the efficiency of their institutions. But I must
say it seems to me that Matriculation would lose the reason of its
being if it were not the primary test for entrance to the Univer-
sity. To lower the standard for any collateral purposes would
generally reduce the status of the University, and would be a
departure from that beneficial principle of a high standard of
preliminary competency laid down and steadily maintained.
Again, I have seen it stated that the reason of the failure of so
many Native youths is that the system of education is too exclu-
sively European. Now, were that so, it would indeed be a great
misfortune ; for the purpose of this University is not to discard
the study of Native languages, but is rather directed to revive
the interest of the students of India in their own antiquities, and
at the same time to induce them to assimilate the culture of the
West. English is necessarily an obligatory language for admission
to the University, but the classical languages of the East San-
skrit, Persian, &c. occupy an equal place with English, which is
of course the common medium of instruction in our colleges. It
might be well if a different examination could be made applicable
for admission to the subordinate Government service, without
involving the whole Matriculation standard ; and indeed to my
mind there is much to be said in favour of such a change, inas-
much as the knowledge of English is not necessary for many of
the subordinate employments in the public service. The Uni-
versity degree has wisely been made a leading qualification for
appointment as subordinate judges and some others ; but it is by
no means a fact that degrees are only made use of for that pur-
pose i n f ac t, of those who have taken degrees in this University
since 1870 only about 43 per cent, are in the ranks of the Govern-
ment service, or 296 out of a total number of 704 persons. It is
true that there are also about 83 in the service of Native States,
but there remain 290 others who are in other walks of life. I
read with great interest the remarks made by our late valued
Chief Justice when he traced the progress and improvements



1883. Sir James l?ergusson. 143

of the Native Bar during the long period of his services in
this country in a great degree to the teaching given in the
Blphinstone High School and the University of Bombay. It
was, he said, the education given in these and other local
institutions that had conduced chiefly to those results. As
regards the failure in Previous Examinations, that is a matter
for the colleges, and they will doubtless give it adequate consi-
deration. I have to remark that the professonial examinations
have maintained their usual standard, and it is a matter for
congratulation that the percentage of success in law is this year
as high in numbers as that in medicine and civil engineering,
although it has hitherto been lower, presumably owing to less
perfect arrangements for teaching. I must refer, as I did two
years ago, to the comparative failure of the provisions for
teaching science. In 1879, on the motion of Sir Richard Tem-
ple, the University established a new degree for science and
prescribed a complete course for that branch of study, physical
and experimental. The results of the steps then taken have
been disappointing, and this, I think, leads to the deduction that
for the pursuit of this most valuable course the same assistance is
wanted which proved so valuable in other branches ; we must
look to private benefactions for the means of study for poor
students, and of a sufficient teaching staff. In other branches the
liberality shown has been great, but much in this direction
remains to be done. Only in one year in the history of the
University has there been no addition to its endowments to be
announced on this annual occasion. This year I
Liberality of have some additions to make known, which testify

Bombay! 611 ' a ? resl1 to the P ublic s P irit and liberality of the
citizens of Bombay. We have received from the
Naegaumvala family an endowment of Us. 3,000 for an annual
prize for Civil Engineering. Mr. Yarjivandas Madhavadas, a
Justice of the Peace for the City and a Fellow of the Uni-
versity, has given Rs. 5,000 for a scholarship open to candidates
passing the B.A. degree highest in Sanskrit. Rs. 6,000 have been
subscribed at Baroda for a scholarship in memory of Mr. Philip
Melvill. And, gentlemen, I am most happy to announce that the
Muhammedan National Association has promised and has paid
the sum of Rs. 13,630 for the foundation of three scholarships,
to be called the Sir Frank Souter Scholarships, and to be held
severally for Matriculation, Previous, and B.A. Examinations.
Further, in the last few days it has been announced that an
Ashburner Scholarship is to be founded in memory of our friend
who has just left us. That is as satisfactory to us as it is honour-
ble to the donors. Before closing I cannot but make one or two



144 University of Bombay.



suggestions which I think must conduce not only to the advan-
tage of this University, but to the advantage of the Universities
all over India. All three Universities, Calcutta, Madras and
Bombay, were instituted by simultaneous Legislative Acts in
1857. They have worked on their own system with little inter-
ference from above and with perfect mutual independence.
Some differences in their system are due to local peculiarities,
and such must ever be the case ; but I cannot but think that it
would be well for all were occasional conferences and discussions
to be held. One instance of assimilation I will mention which
can give no offence. It has been stated to me that in this last
year, for the first time, this University has removed the restric-
tions as to admission before the age of 16, whereas in Madras
that restriction has never obtained, and was removed in Cal-
cutta some years since. Certainly, if it is right to do this
in 1882 it might have been done with advantage in earlier
years, and possibly it would, had there been such consul-
tations as I have spoken of. I would remind you that great good
has been done in the public schools in England by the annual
conferences of head-masters, and thus, besides a friendly rivalry
which takes place between those ancient institutions, an useful
co-operation has also been the result. It would be better indeed
that any changes and improvements in such an institution as
this should take place from voluntary action and co-operation,
rather than from any pressure from without. The consideration
of University teaching is expressly excluded from the order of
reference to the Education Commission. It may be that on
some collateral points information has been given on the Univer-
sity course, but I think it impossible that recommendations
could be made with regard to us by a body in which we are not

represented. In the history of this University we

Native mem- look back with just pride to the moderation which

Semite. nas ever been present in its councils and the

friendly harmony and agreement which have
always prevailed between the members of the governing body,
of whatever denomination or sect. It would not be difficult,
were such moderation not shown, for the Native members to
outvote the European. At this moment I believe the number
is as nearly as possible equal, but as the Europeans pass from
this country, while the Natives remain, I think it highly probable
that in future years the Natives will be in a majority. But there
never, I am told, has been a question on which the Senate has
been divided in which Europeans and Natives have not been
found on either side in nearly equal proportions, nor has there
been any division attributable to nationality or race. Such a



1883. Sir James Fergusson. 145

condition of things is not only in itself a reason for just pride,
but it augurs well for that system of local self-government which
we are about to see among us so largely developed. There is
one subject more upon which I would touch but lightly, but it
is one, to my mind, so important that I cannot lose the opportu-
nity I now possess of referring to it. We have
Secular in- seen f li scuss i ns, and I think we must many times

struction. . .IT i i

have heard conversations, on tne degree in which,
not dogmatic professions, but the religious element, can be fairly
introduced in the teaching of the University and Government
schools. The absolute neutrality of the Government on such sub-
jects is too well established to be a matter of question, and lamnot
aware that any have demurred to that wholesome principle, or
held that any demoralisation was likely to accrue from the secular
character of the teaching. But the question has arisen whether
the teaching may not only be secular but anti-religious ; whether
or not it be a breach of neutrality that instruction be given on lines



Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 16 of 66)