K Subba Rau.

Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

. (page 18 of 66)
Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 18 of 66)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

have been the saving of the ancient civilisations were hence felt to
be a cause of enfeeblement and disintegration. Again, when the
spread of new learning in Europe gave to men's minds a fresh
stimulus and a first standpoint from which to survey the problems
of individual and social actions, the Governments, fast-rooted in
old prejudice, were blind to the portents that pressed on their
attention. The questions had to be settled in foreign and domestic
wars which provident Statesmanship would have averted. A
kind of half repose was gained by exhaustion until once more in
the last century an audacious literature, sapping the foundations
of the existing social structure, filled men's minds with new ques-
tions, with discontent and wild dreams of what might be effected
by better institutions. Once more the Statesmen lagged behind
the march of ideas and then the moral earthquake of the French
Revolution carried waste and desolation over the fairest fields
of Europe. These are examples which no doubt presented them-
selves to the mind of our distinguished Viceroy, and he felt that
everywhere and in every country the highest utility unites itself
with the highest benevolence, and that the lesson that philan-
thropy dictates is responded to by history and philosophy.

Such, then, were the principles with which our Viceroy
Reriew of entered on his active course. The whole of his
Lord Ripon's career has been a working out, a development of
Viceroyalty. those noble principles, and here to-day we come
to recognise both the principles themselves and their rich and
manifold fruits. I have stated that we have had peace, aud
peace having been secured, Lord Ripon turned his attention

1884. Mr. Justice West. 155

immediately to a measure which the' public voice in India had
already cried out for in unmistakable tones. That was the
repeal of the Vernacular Press Act. Ttiat Act, I believe, and we
all here believed from the beginning, was passed under a total
misconception of the necessity for it. It was opposed to the
spirit equally of Englishmen and of Natives, who have been
brought up not in vain to English ways and habits of thought.
It could not effectually be carried our, by an English administra-
tion and by English officers whose whole life and training had
been in a different atmosphere. They could not deal with such
a measure without falling into contradictions and a constant
sense of a false position. It was abortive, and it was well got
rid of, in the opinion of the general public. Next Jet me refer
to the financial and fiscal measures. First, I will refer to that
which met with anything but universal approval, and specially
on the part of my Native friends and associates, that is, the
abolition of a large portion of the import duties. I believe that
Lord Ripon and his Government in abolishing these import duties
were doing what was perfectly right in the interests of this
country and in the interests of England and of the world. But
whether that was so or not, the spirit in which Lord Ripon met
with such an opposition as he encountered on that occasion
showed him to lie a man not to be deterred from what his
conscience bids him to do, by any outcry of the crowd. Next I
will mention the resolutions of his Government which go to
determine in a way more favorable to the cultivator and
the landowner, the calculation of the land revenue in times to
come. This subject has been treated by a very able and distin-
guished Native friend of mine, and it has some technicalities
about it which are not well fitted for discussion on an occasion of
this kind. I call attention only to the careful watchfulness with
which Lord Ripon's Government have set themselves to alleviate
the unnecessary burdens of the people.

But, then, comes a measure of greater importance for
the future than one of revenue. Lord Ripon, as Lord President
of the Council, had had the educational department in England
under his charge, and one of the greatest measures of his
Viceroyalty will doubtless be commemorated in the future as
the institution of the Education Commission and the resolutions
of his Government consequent on its report. It is now a
generation since the working upon the basis of the Despatch
of Lord Halifax began in this country, and to one who can
look back at the early years of progress of that great mea-
sure, the amount of advancement that we have enjoyed it

156 University of Bombay.

something almost marvellous. We could hardly credit ifc but for the
evidence that is before our eyes. I believe that the investigations
made by the Education Commission, and the Resolutions of the
Government of India on the report of that Commission, will in
future be the starting point of a new and equally great ad-
vance. It depends on Native intelligence and Native industry to
take advantage of the policy adopted by the Government of
India ; and if they do, if the enthusiasm which is burning in
the breasts of many of my young friends of the Native community
be burning as brightly at the end of thirty years, I venture to
say they will stand, if not foremost, yet equal in rank at least as
regards a large class with the most educated nations. My valued
and respected friend, Principal Wordsworth, the other day congra-
tulated this University on the fact, that higher education was not
to be set aside or degraded in favor of lower education. I felicitate
the public and the Senate on this arrangement, and I have only
to add, with regard to the^ educational policy of Government,
that I do trust they will see the advisability of taking measures
soon, and taking effectual measures for the spread of the education
of those who are not to become scholars, but engineers and workers
in other walks of Jife which do not require high scholarship, but
rather a trained faculty and a technical education. I believe
they will be seconded in that by the universal voice in India, and
that all reasonable burdens will be. readily borne for such a pur-
pose, in preference to almost any other that can be named.

Time presses, and I pass by the well-worn topic of local self-
government. The next point which I venture to observe upon, is
the bearingof Lord Ripon's Government on the subject of the High
Court at Calcutta. We are all familiar with the circumstance,
that in the High Court of Calcutta a necessity arose some time ago
for appointing an acting Chief Justice. I believe that even
amongst those who doubt the policy of the appointment made by
Lord Ripon's Government, there is no question as to the noble
motives and high courage which dictated its action. For myself
and in my own humble person I will venture to go a step further.
It has been said that when you give power it is useless to hamper
it, or attempt to hamper it with useless restrictions ; and I add
to that that it is futile to introduce amongst a body of enlightened
and distinguished men a fertile principle audthen to deny or refuse
the fruits of that principle. It is for a Statesman to take care
before he introduces a principle what are the logical consequences
to which that principle leads; but when the principle is introduced,
to follow it out loyally to the end, trusting to its intrinsic sound-
ness to prevent all evil results.

1884. Mr. Justice West. 157

Next there is one other subject, and I believe for me who
enjoy, as I trust, the confidence and in a certain measure the
respect of most of those who are sitting near me it is not
necessary to avoid even that subject, the glowing embers of
which are still red beneath the ashy soil. I refer to the amend-
ment of the Code of Criminal Procedure. On the policy of that
measure I do not intend to say anything; but I do call your
attention, gentlemen of the Senate, to the noble and magnani-
mous bearing, the self-respect, charity and kindness and absence
of all retort by Lord Ripon in relation to that measure and the
clamour with which it was received. Probably Lord Ripon knew
practically the spirit and the character of his countrymen so
much better than those who have retorted ill for ill and hard
words for hard words that their outcries made less impression on
him than on the volunteer defenders who were comparative
strangers to the rough struggles of intense political life. There
is in truth not much to wonder at, and but little to resent now
that the contest is over. We know that the Englishman, who
has conquered in all climates and peopled the waste places of the
earth, is an energetic and self-willed being with unbounded
resolution, but also with a large share of the faults of his high
qualities. These defects could no more be removed from his
nature than the wart from the portrait of Cromwell. The man
would no longer be the same. Lord Ripon knows this well, and
no doubt his historical reading has taken him back to the pas-
sage in Milton certainly a liberal, if ever there was one where
he describes our countryman in his time as having minds not
readily accessible to civil wisdom, and a sense of the public good,
" headstrong* and intractable to the industry and virtue of exe-
cuting or understanding true civil government, valiant indeed and
prosperous to win a field ; but to know the end and reason of
winning injudicious and unwise, in good and bad success alike
intractable." These are the characteristics of an Englishman.
These are the characteristics which have prevented him so often
from knowing when he was beaten and often gained him an
unscientific victory. Come down to Goldsmith and he paints our
ancestors with

' Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,'

and when as the poet conceives them they are

' Intent on high designs'

Lord Ripon knows, and we all know, that there is no nobler
breed. Let this be said of my countrymen in relation to the
measure which Lord Ripon as a part of a great policy and as
an act of great justice to the Natives of this country thought in
his duty to make law. It cut sharply across the masterful

158 University of Bombay.

instincts, the intuitions and the cherished habits of our British
race, before their intelligence was enlightened and convinced.
The soreness of the struggle has not quite passed away. Bub
I feel certain that when a generation has elapsed they will feel
not less kindly to Lord Ripon than he now feels to them. In
their reflections of the future,, they cannot as Englishman but
admire the tenacity of purpose, genuineness of character, and
command of temper which they individually bow down to in the
circle of their friends.

We have thus seen history as it were in the making and
watched the influence of a calm commanding mind
s hit ^f "Lord ovei ^ e current of events and the form of consti-
Sipon. tutional growth. Let me further remind my Native

friends that here they have as their friend not
only a politician, but a Christian man. We had a few years
ago to commemorate an eminent and able man, a late Vice-
Chancellor of this University, Dr. Wilson. I ventured then to
say in the presence of a large majority of Native friends who were
not Christians, that it was not in spite of his Christianity but in
virtue of his Christianity that Dr. Wilson became all he was to
their people, and I say now that the Christian spirit which has
animated Lord Kipon and so many of his predecessors, has been
of untold benefit to this country. Hence should some charity
and love be learnt from this Christianity even by those who reject
its dogmas. The same invincible moral courage that has sup-
ported martyrs at the stake and block is fruitful still in making
men submit to toil and suffering and obloquy for the sake of their
fellow-men. Viewed from this standpoint the career of Lord
Ripon in this country has given to Englishmen and Natives alike
reason to be proud of the association between the two countries.
He, too, comes from that land not only of the pioneers of the
forest and wilderness, but of Howard, Clarkson, Wilberforce, of
Mrs. Fry and of Miss Nightingale, and in their spirit he has con-
ducted the administration. It has been by his love and tenderness
for the weak and those who needed aid that he has won a return
of affection and confidence beyond any other Viceroy amongst
all who have ruled this country. The manifestations of popular
opinion and popular approval such as Lord Ripon has been over-
whelmed with during the last few weeks are calculated not only to
give him just joy and satisfaction, but they are calculated also to
produce a great effect upon the great people of England. Never
before I believe, has the community of this country shown so well
that it possesses strong elements of political life and how capable
it is of entering in due time into the wider and nobler future*

1884. Mr. Justice West. 159

These impressions would surely be deepened and intensified should
our countrymen but look fora while upon this present spectacle.
The very hall in which we are assembled is the gift of a Native donor
aParsee. The neighbouring- library and tower are due to the
munificence of aHindu,who in his days of great prosperity showed
liis countrymen how wealth could be worthily expended, alone at
that time, almost like Vespasian, amongst the Emperors, showing
himself improved by his great fortune. 1 shrank from his acquaint-
ance then, but often since have I admired the cheerful stoicism
Indian Uni- with which he has borne a reverse of fortune and
yersity their harder lot. Then, apart from the building, Mr.
importance. Chancellor, I invite you to look at this assembly.
A foreigner not long ago, a man of great acuteness and observa-
tion, told me that he had seen many striking things in India,
but what had struck him most was the working of this Univer-
sity. " Here/' he said, " I find a liberality and single-minded
pursuit of knowledge to which nearly all Continental Universities
in Europe are strangers." On a Board of Examiners one finds
on his right hand a Jesuit and on his left a Presbyterian Minister.
Facing him are a Parsi and a Jew. Amongst them all a common
spirit prevails, of disinterested zeal in diffusing the light of
science. Men of every race and creed unite without chicane
in the simple furtherance of learning. It is a glorious work
of English principles and wisdom. The teaching by which our
young members are trained is equally single-minded and equally
free. There is no educational police, no Government scheme
of morality or politics to hamper the intellectual ..action and
the influence of our Professors. They throw their whole energies
into their work and under such teachers as Principal Words-
worth our students learn how to the burghers of the Middle
Ages in Europe their clock tower was the centre and the symbol
of their civic life. They look up to the noble tower that rises over
this group of buildings and resolve that, gathering round this
centre of their new intellectual being and aspirations, there shall
for them too be a civic life,and an effort to win for India an honour-
able place in the society of nations. Such is our University and
such is the University life in India. It is only on these grounds
that we could venture to ask so distinguished a^mau as Lord
Ripon to accept the humble tribute we offer him. .Montesquieu
said, " I don't like small honours ; they seem to fix your position
and measure your merits too exactly." And .so it were no
wonder if Lord Ripon, who has held the greatest office of
State, and gained the highest tokens of approval from his
Sovereign, had declined the compliment we desire to confer.
But when we take up, not without warrant, a representative

160 University of Bombay-

position, we gain confidence; the case is greatly altered. We
presume to call ourselves the spokesmen here of India, and sure
I am that every emotion of admiration and regard that stirs your
breasts, gentlemen, to-day will be repeated a million and ten
millions fold as the electric wires like nerves radiating from this
centre convey to the cities and villages of this great country
the tidings of our celebration. We may venture, then, to ask
Lord Ripon to inscribe his name first on the roll of our honorary
graduates. I trust, it will be followed in that roll by many dis-
tinguished names, and certainly each one of the honorary gradu-
ates in that golden book of fame may well look up to the one which
stands first there as an encouragement to be just and fear not,
and to put great powers and opportunities to worthy uses. Our
departing Viceroy when he has left us in a couple of days will be
attended by the good wishes of none more than of the members
of this University. His whole spirit has been in accordance
with the spirit of the University, and the University trusts that
when he has returned to his beloved country he will still find
occasions to render us some service and often turn his thoughts
towards those who will never forget him. Love and sympathy
can bridge an intervening ocean, and many a patriot and philan-
thropist here will feel the spirit of his friend beside him in his
struggle to do good. It will bid him to be of good cheer in
adversity, to maintain fortitude, patience and faith, to meet oppo-
sition with firmness, gentleness and charity. And so we bid our
guest farewell with hopes for his happiness, whether he choose
the active or the meditative life, and until at the call of his
great Master he can with calmness pass

" To where beyond these voices there is peace."

The Chancellor then addressed the Senate as follows :
Gentlemen of the Senate, The honour which has just been
conferred is one which should always be rare, con-
f eri ' e ^ with discrimination, and founded on general
acceptance. I am sure that these requisites are
fully satisfied by the degree that has just been conferred. It is
rare, for it is, indeed, at this moment unique. That it will be
conferred in future with discrimination I am also certain, and
so will its value be maintained ; but I am still more sure, that in
the act of the Senate 'in electing the Marquis of Ripon to this
honour, they have met the wishes and satisfied the heartfelt
desires of every member of this University, and so this is the
parting gift of the University of Bombay to the retiring Viceroy.
Gentlemen, I would say, though the Vice-Chancellor has set
forth, fully the claims of Lord Ripon to this degree, that although

1884. Lord Ripon. 161

there may be in this Senate differences of opinion, as there must
always be about worldly affairs upon details of policy, by the
whole Senate it has been heartily bestowed. For myself I would
say that no act of duty could be more gratifying to myself than to
be the spokesman in conferring the degree upon one whom I
have served during his whole Viceroyalty, and in whom I have
only recognized again a kind and considerate friend. And
though it be to compare small things with great, I cannot but
recall at this moment that nearly thirty years ago, at the outset
of my parliamentary life, my noble friend introduced me and
procured my election to a literary society at home. We then sat
on opposite sides of the house, and here to-day I am proud to
repay him in kind. May he long live to enjoy this and other
honours. I do not hesitate to congratulate him on the honour
so nobly bestowed, and congratulate you, gentlemen of the
Senate, on the admission of a member so altogether worthy of
the honour.

Lord Ripon expressed his acknowledgments as follows :

Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Yice-Chancellor, and Gentlemen, I
have seldom had a task in some respects more difficult than
that which falls to my lot at the present moment. When I
entered this hall, I knew that a distinction was about to be
conferred upon me which I highly valued, because I saw in it
a proof of the approval of a body which had devoted itself for
many years to the advancement of the cause of education in
India. But I was little prepared to find that I should have, if
I may be pardoned the word, to encounter so appreciative a review
of my public life as that which has fallen from my friend, your
Yice-Chancellor. I only wish that I could think that his friendly
judgment rightly described the course of that life, but I may
perhaps be permitted to claim for it that there has at least been
about it a certain unity. Throughout more than thirty years that
I have now taken part in public affairs in England, and now here,
I have been actuated by the same general principles of policy,
and I may say that I have adhered to them without wavering.
I will not venture to occupy your time by following in any degree
the observations which have been made upon the details of my
public course either at home or in India ; but I will say this, that
I esteem it an honour of the highest kind that a body such as
this should have given such an unmistakable intimation of their
approval of the policy which I have pursued. I should be the
last man to take an unfair advantage of the signs of esteem which
you have given me to-night, and to interpret them as meaning
that all the members of this University approved of each indi-

162 University of Bombay.

vidual measure of my Government. That of course is impossible,
but at least I hope that I may interpret the meaning of this degree
as indicating that this distinguished body has followed with its
sanction and with its approval the educational policy of the
Government of India since I have been connected with it. You,
Mr. Vice-Chancellor, have reminded me that a large portion of
my public life has been given to the promotion of education in my
own land of educatipn in the widest and the broadest sense,
of education for the most enlightened and of education for the
masses. And that same policy which I endeavoured to apply
when I had the honour to be connected with the Department of
Education at home I have pursued in India. Gentlemen, it would
have been indeed strange if I had not taken an interest in
Indian education, for I have sat for many years at the feet of
Lord Halifax, and I am proud to count him among my warmest
friends, and to call him my honoured master. The principles
of that great Despatch of 1854 were those which I sought to
apply and develop when I came out to this country ; but I
knew that, however sound these principles might be, it would
not be wise after a lapse of thirty years to take measures for
practically applying them to the existing circumstances of India
without first ascertaining exactly what these circumstances were
and what was the best means by which the principles of that
Despatch might be applied to them at the present time. I
therefore thought it wise to institute a searching inquiry into
the condition of education in India. That inquiry was con-
ducted with great ability by those to whom it was entrusted,
and it has resulted in the suggestion of measures which have
been in the main adopted by the Government of India, and
adopted, I think I may say, with general acceptance. I found,
gentlemen, ever from the first moment that I accepted the office
of Viceroy, that those who were interested in the progress of
education in India were keenly desirous for its extension among
the masses of the people. But the question of primary educa-
tion in India is beset by many difficulties, the chief of which
arise from the very common perhaps, but very vital, difficulty
want of funds. There were those who in their zeal for
elementary schools would have been prepared to see secondary
and higher education imperilled and its advance delayed, but
the Government of India never yielded to views of that descrip-
tion and they we,re always determined that, whatever measures
they might take to spread primary education throughout the
length and breadth of the land, they would do nothing which
could endanger the advance of higher instruction. It is true
that we made an appeal to private aid, and that appeal has

1884 Lord Ripon. 163

already received many responses which are, I trust, only the
tirst fruits of that noble harvest which will be gathered hereafter
by those who coine after us. For my own part, gentlemen, I

An explana- can t ru ty sav tna k * ne more I have studied this
Hem of Lord question in India itself the more convinced I have
Bipon's policy. become that it would be a very serious mistake to
do anything which could interfere with the onward progress of
higher culture or which could tend to place it beyond the reach
of youths of limited ineans. The resolution whichhas been recently
issued by the Government of India, and which constitutes almost
my last political act in this country, has been framed upon these
lines, and inspired by that spirit. But, gentlemen, I am very

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 18 of 66)