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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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Mr. Cowasjee townsmen has, during the year, devoted the large

Jehangeer. sum o f 10,000 to provide a suitable building for

the Elphinstone College. This is not the place
for empty compliment, and the act is only one in a series of
deeds of public and private benevolence, but I would congratu-
late Mr. Cowasjee Jehangeer for being one of the first Fellows
whose name will appear on what I hope will be a long and
honorable roll of the Founders and Benefactors of this Uni-

The Senate has also accepted Mr. Munguldas Nathoobhoy's

gift of 2,000 to endow a travelling fellowship,

Nathoobho/s an< ^ ^ trust the University will not be tardy in

Travelling furnishing candidates to take advantage of the

'ellowship. enlightened liberality of their countryman.

During the year your second Vice-Chancellor resigned the

office which he had ably filled from the time when

Sir Joseph the University was yet in its infancy, feeling that

Arnould. the pressure of his judicial duties did not allow of

his devoting so much time and attention as he

wished to the affairs of the University, and I am glad of having

an opportunity of thus publicly expressing to Sir Joseph

Arnould, the high sense which I am sure every member of the

Senate entertains of the value of the services he rendered while

he filled the office.

When I last addressed you I dwelt on the important part
which this University seemed to me destined to
Un^SLon P'ay as the interpreter to India of Western
the administra- thought and Western civilization. I believe that
affairs * publlc some of those who then heard me were disappoint-
ed that I said little on the bearing which the Uni-
versity would have on the formation of public servants, and
through them on the administration of public affairs. You will

1863. tftr H. J5. E. Frere. 9

perhaps see the reason of my having said so little on tihis sub-
ject, if I say a very few words regarding our English views
on the connexion between our English Universities and our
English public men, and the public affairs which they administer.
And first of all let me remind you that here in India you

see but imperfectly, and you therefore can judge
in E in g dia h ?nd but imperfectly, of the men who influence our
Knfriisiimonat Government at home. You see the soldiers and

the sailors, whose strong arms and stout hearts
enable our writers and thinkers to write and think in peace.
You see the active practical men, who throughout our Em-
pire in hundreds of varying professions and pursuits, accumulate
and distribute wealth, and deal with all that concerns the
material prosperity of England ; but the classes you see here
form but a small part of our social and political system and
the Englishmen who administer affairs in this country are
but a portion of the great administrative machine of the
English nation. Part, and the most powerful part, of that
machinery is rarely seen here, and can scarcely be sufficiently
appreciated in this country. I refer to the great body of men
who obtain in their youth the advantages of a liberal education,
and of whom a comparatively small number even engage
directly in what would be called, in this country, the affairs of
Government, yet whose influence is most sensibly felt in the
administration of public affairs, and has perhaps been more
potent than that of any body of men in rendering our country
what it is.

Now I need not tell you that an University education may be
University De- regarded as the highest type, and an University
gree the stamp Degree as the final stamp of a liberal education,
eatk?n era ' du " and I would have the native members and students
of the University compare for a moment the im-
pression they have them selves formed of the value and effect of
this stamp with our English ideas on the same subject.

I need not remind you how many of our leading and most

honored public men in England were trained at

lo? e of En 6 Hsh *ke U nivers iti es - ^ one living in India in this

Universities/ 8 generation is likely to forget that glorious galaxy

of contemporary students, which at one University,

and at one period of its history, gave to India three successive

Governors -General, and to England a goodly number of her most

eminent Cabinet Ministers. This is a fact which we are not likely

to forget, but I would beg you also to bear in mind that along

with these distinguished public men were hundreds of fellow


10 University of Bombay.

students, their equals and in some few cases their superiors in
academical distinction, who, after leaving the University, entered
into almost every one of the numerous professions open to edu-
cated Englishmen. Some fought as soldiers in India and China
and the Crimea; some became Lawyers, and Members of Par-
liament; some of the most distinguished applied themselves to
teaching to others the knowledge they had acquired, and devoted
themselves to learning, and science, and to the service of Grod in
various ways, while a great proportion betook themselves to the
management of their own estates, and affairs, their land, their
counting houses and their banks.

The fact is that in England we consider a liberal education a
necessary part of the claim of any man to promi-
catn era a ^n'e nen ^ so i a l or political position. It is true that many
qua non of so- men do, by force of natural ability or by other
cafp^ition^ natural and acquired advantages, obtain distinguish-
ed positions in society or political life without such
education, "but they are the exceptions, and, as a rule, the only one
point which all prominent men, in society and politics, of all
classes and opinions, have in common, is their liberal education.

But it may be said a man may be very happy and prosperous,
and do great good and possess great influence and enjoyment in
life, without a liberal education or indeed, without any education
at all. I will not detain you to consider kow far this is true in
the abstract, nor to account for exceptional instances, which might
be adduced to prove it ; I can only assure you that this is not our
English view, and that, practical hard-headed money-making
race as the English are said to be, no man amongst us, as a general
rule, aspires to political or social eminence without the advantage
of a liberal education, and what is more, no family long main-
tains a high position, in the political or social scale, unless its
members seek to acquire this advantage. This is a truth which I
would wish the successful merchants and bankers of this island
more particularly to lay to heart. If they go to England they will
find our leading commercial men treated as equals by the most
exclusive aristocracy in the world, and occupying a position of
the highest influence in the administration of public affairs.
You will soon find out your mistake, if you suppose that this
position is due to their wealth. You will find that in England
the possession of wealth, unaccompanied by that refinement of
thought and manner which liberal education alone can give,
makes the possessor simply ridiculous, and you will find, if you
enquire into the history of particular families, that whereas
new born wealth in the hands of men liberally educated or who

1863. Sir H. B. E. Frere. 11

rightly value a liberal education for their offspring, has a
tendency to consolidate and perpetuate itself, the most ample
fortune entrusted to a man who does not possess and deliber-
ately undtTva/lucs a liberal education, has a perpetual tendency
to waste away, and leave the possessor far worse off than his
industrious ancestor who first emerged from poverty by his
own exertions.

I would beg the Native gentlemen of Bombay to bear in mind

that what I have told them is mainly true of a

_ Definition of liberal education. It is not simply reading and

Jjibtiriil Jiiducii- T -i-i-i -i

tion. writing, it is not even what is called a good practi-

cal education highly valuable, if not indispensa-
ble, as such knowledge is to many of the most important classes
of the community that I now speak of; no amount of mere
reading and writing, nor even of purely practical signs pro-

Eerly so-called, can do what I have told you we expect in Eng-
md from a liberal education. It must be an education which,
whatever its subject, aims at training, purifying and strengthen-
ing the intellect, which seeks not merely to impress on men's
memories, knowledge which may be useful and profitable to them,
but which aims at training them to correct modes of thinking
and reasoning, and to fill their intellects with the loftiest and
most beautiful results of human thought. I cannot now attempt
to discuss the reasons why such training must be useful to the
student and profitable to the community of which he is a mem-
ber ; I can only beg you to receive my assurance of the fact,
and to ponder over the reasons of it, that we English hold these
views and habitually and deliberately act on them, at immense
cost of personal labour and even privations, and that it is my
deliberate opinion, shared, I feel assured, by every educated
Englishman here present, that the adoption of the course I have
indicated as that which Englishmen adopt by long habit, and
as it were by instinct, affords the best chance of perpetuating
that wealth which is now flowing into this community from
every side, and of ennobling it by those attributes which in the
opinion of civilized Europe can alone give to wealth permanent
dignity and permanent influence.

Nor will I attempt to point out those branches of
learning which appear to me most likely to have such a permanent
beneficial influence on those who study, noi for immediate profit,
but with a view to strengthen and elevate their own intellects.

There is, however, one branch for which the facilities have
lately been largely increased, and which appears to me so

12 "University of Bombay.

important that I would say a few words regarding it, I allude
to the study of your own classical languages.

Some discussion has arisen which must, I believe, bear

useful fruit regarding the relative merits of the

Importance classical languages of this country as compared with

or Indian das- .-, , . . - rr *' . , , i T

sical languages, the vernaculars, as objects of University study. I
will not anticipate the results of this discussion.
No one estimates more highly than I do the importance of ver-
nacular education ; no one has a higher estimate of the capabili-
ties of some of our Indian vernacular languages; no one has
higher hopes as to the space which they may one day fill in the
literature of India. But I would remind you that the improve-
ment of any vernacular language, which has but a scanty
modern literature of its own, must depend mainly on the culti-
vation of classical languages. However great the natural capa-
bilities of a language, it cannot become suited to the wants of a
highly civilised people, except by the cultivation of those
languages which already have a classical literature of their
own. It was the men who learnt, and lectured, and examined
in Latin and Greek, who matured the modern English and
German, French and Italian, out of the illiterate dialects which
served the purposes of our ruder ancestors, and it is only by a
similar process that we can hope to see the vernacular languages
of modern India occupy the same position of popular usefulness
and permanence. You have now in this University, in the
professors of Zend and Sanscrit, unrivalled facilities for the study
of your own classical languages. I would beg you who value the
usefulness of the University, to take good heed that the oppor-
tunity does not pass by unimproved.

I would in conclusion say to the graduates and under-
graduates of this University that Government will
graduates.** every year look with increasing interest to the
results of the University examinations, and I trust
that we shall find in the tests here applied the same unerring
touchstone by which to recognize who are likely to be fit for an
impartial share in public offices.

The graduates of this University have now opened to them
with a far better prospect of attainment than any other part of the
educated youth of this country, the highest posts on the Judicial
Bench, and an influential share in the most important functions
of the public administration ; but I need not remind you that no
man who is indifferent to the advantages of a liberal education can
hope to fill with dignity or efficiency a seat on the bench, which
has been occupied by Macintosh or Sir William Jones. When

1864. Sir H. B. E. Frere. 13

England affords you the opportunity of filling offices hitherto
reserved for her ablest and most experienced public servants, be
assured it is not because she undervalues the office, nor will she
continue the offer unless you on your part can furnish men who
are fit to sit beside such men as an English University can

You will not, I am sure, suppose that I would make the Uni-
versity degree in itself a passport to the public ser-
fiwits ownSk<f v * ce > i* must ke sought for its own sake, as the
test and in itself the great reward of the best educa-
tion we can give you. I cannot better illustrate the spirit in
which I would have you seek it, than by an anecdote of the great
statesman beneath whose statue we are now assembled. It was
told me by an officer of our Bombay Army, who devoted his
leisure during his furlough to attend the classes in the University
of Edinburgh, that he habitually sat beside an old man whom he
noted for his diligent attention to the lecturer long before he knew
the name of his fellow student. It was Mountstuart Elphinstone,
who had long filled the highest offices in this country, and was
believed to have twice declined the Governor- Generalship of
India. To the close of his life he sought as a privilege that know-
ledge, which this University here freely offers to you. Let the
same spirit animate you, and you will be worthy of the high pub-
lic employment which England offers you, if it can be said of you,
as it was of one of the wisest and most learned Cambridge gra-
duates of the last generation,

The purpose of his life its end and aim
The search of hidden truth, careless of fame,
Of empty dignities, and dirty pelf,
Learning he loved, and sought her for herself.



Mr. Yice-Chancellor and Gentlemen of the Senate, It is a
matter of sincere gratification to me to find in the
s! report just read, so much cause for congratulating
you on the progress made by the University during
the past year. The number of Matriculations (56) is still small
as compared with the other Universities, and considering how
many of these were prepared at the Colleges which ought to
reserve their teaching for students already matriculated, it seems
clear that the High Schools are not as yet fully adequate to their
proper task of supplying the University with students sufficiently

14 University of Bombay.

grounded and advanced. Some particular schools show a marked
improvement over last year, especially the Surat High School,
which sent up six successful candidates ; and I trust that if our
finances allow of our giving such a staff as the Director of Public
Instruction desires for all High Schools, others will be found to
emulate that of Surat. I regret to see no admissions this year
from the Parsee Proprietary School. I am told that some im-
provement has lately taken place in its management, which, it is
hoped, will produce a better result hereafter, but I would beg to
repeat to the managers of that Institution what I said last year,
that, as the only entirely self-supported school, as filled mainly
with the children of our richest native merchants, we should
look to the Proprietary School as a model to all other High
Schools, and I trust the proprietors will not rest content, as they
have done hitherto, with providing a merely commercial educa-
tion for young men whose future position in life demands the
liberal education of gentlemen. I am glad to see among the
B,A's two pupils of the Free General Assembly's Institution.
They are, I believe, the first B.A's who have been trained at any
but Government Institutions, and the University and Govern-
ment must equally rejoice at and congratulate the Institution on
such success.

I also offer a special welcome to the three Parsee gentlemen

who have this year graduated as B.A's, the first,
The Parsees. I believe, of their race. The spell once broken,

I feel sure they will not be again left far behind
in the honourable competition for University distinction. Their
friends, of whom they have so many now in England, will tell
them that, unless they add to the power of riches the power of
knowledge, they cannot hope to stand on a par with the com-
mercial classes of England, nor like them to deserve and obtain
a really influential share of the government of their own country.
It is a gratifying circumstance that one of the candidates for the
M.A. Degree went up and passed in Sanskrit, and that four of
those examined for what would be called at Oxford the " Little
go," passed, I am told, a very creditable examination in Latin.

I made particular enquiry as to whether there had been any
relaxation of the standard at the examinations

Ex S amhmtion s f tllis vear j and l was g^d to ^ G ag sured that there
had not. I trust the University will ever maintain
the determination it has hitherto shown, to allow no desire for an
early increase of numbers to tempt her to open her gates to an
inferior grade of scholars. As far as I can judge, all the changes
made during the past year have rather had a tendency in the

1864. Sir H. B. E. Frere. 15

opposite direction ; and I trust that Mr. Erskine, whom I should
have been glad to have seen among us to-day, had his health
permitted him, will carry from these shores the conviction that
the great principle for which he always contended, and which has
been so well maintained by his successor in the office of Director
of Public Instruction, is not likely to be departed from in this

In any other assembly than this I could dwell on the noble
liberality of those to whom, during the past year,
beStor S nt tne University has been indebted for numerous
benefactions, remarkable alike for their princely
amount and for the judicious selection of the conditions which
accompany the gift. But I shall best consult the feelings of the
benefactors by confining myself to a general expression of the
gratitude of the University, and to noting one feature which is
common, I believe, to all the benefactions; and that is the sim-
ple unostentatious manner in which the gift has been tendered
for the acceptance of the University. The tender was often
made through the Government party, perhaps from a traditionary
feeling that the Government is a sort of general trustee for all
great public funds, partly from a natural difficulty in separating
the Government from an institution originally founded and
endowed by the Government, and in the success of which the
Government takes so lively an interest. But there could not
have been a more entire absence of any parade or self-seeking.
One of the most munificent benefactors of the University has
been a gentleman well known to me, indeed, by his high repute
as one of the ablest and most successful of our great merchants,
but personally known to me only at a single interview to which
I invited him, that I might myself express to him my sense of
the obligations, under which he had placed the University.
These gifts were not legacies, given when a man can no longer
himself enjoy the wealth he leaves behind him. They are gifts
by men in the full enjoyment of life, and keenly alive to all the
pleasures that life and fortune can give, but living among you
in a simple unostentatious fashion, and setting to the younger
members of their community as good an example of steady appli-
cation to business and unaffected plainness in habitations, dress,
and manners, as they set to all India in the princely munificence
of their benefactions. It is the manner and the objects, much
more than the princely amount of these benefactions, which
make me sanguine that they may be regarded as indications of
the same spirit which moved the merchant princes of the middle
ages in Europe, and that Arts and Learning may find in the

16 University of Bombay-

commerce of Bombay the same enlightened patronage which has
formed the permanent glory of Florence and Venice. Two of
the foundations are further intended to bear the names of two
men whose memory will, I trust, not be soon forgotten in this
University. Many of the elder members of the Senate will join
me in recognising the fitness of such a monument to my valued
friend the late Framjee Cowasjee, a man not less remarkable for
his effective support of education, and of every judicious project
of native improvement, than for his genuine originality and
sturdy independence of character. I dare not trust myself to
say all I would of the fitness of the tribute paid to Lord Canning.
But I believe that the honour thus done his memory, nnder cir-
cumstances which render that honour like a verdict of history,
will be deeply felt by all Indian and English statesmen who love
India as he loved her, though they may not be able to devote, as
he did, their lives and their labors to her service.

notice more especially the tendency of some of the
foundations to encourage the study of law, for of
Systems-Re- a ^ studies which can be appropriately grafted on
markable pro- an University course there is probably none which
rule* f British is lik ^y to produce such important results, as the
study of law. A great experiment is, as you all
know, now going on in India. In the course of little more than
a single generation, within the memory, in fact, of men now
living, many nations, each containing millions of people of
diverse races and religions, have passed under the sway of the
Sovereigns of England. Diverse in every other respect, there
was this one feature common to all, that in no one nation from
the Himalayas to Cape Comorin was there any court of justice
such as we have been for centuries used to in Europe, that is to
say, open and accessible to all men, dependent on no man, and
professing, however imperfectly, to administer to all impartial
justice according to one known body of laws. I do not say
that substantial justice was not often practically administered
in Native States in a manner which rendered it as accessible to
all as it would be in many countries in Europe. In some parts
of India the private character of the sovereign, or the usages
which had descended from former ages, gave substantial security
for person and property. But certainly India in the 18th century
Avould never have struck a traveller, as we are told it did in the
14th century, as remarkable for the just and equal administra-
tion of the law, and I cannot call to mind any single instance in
which any nation of modern India could boast of regular courts
of justice, possessing the characteristics I have described, as

1864. Sir H. B. E. Frere. 17

open to all, independent of all external authority, and professing
to administer to all alike one known and uniform body of law.
Whenever the British Government succeeded to the sovereignty,
this defect was one of the first which it strove to remedy. From
the very nature of things it was often impossible to do more than
to provide the most just and upright men the Government could
obtain, who knew something of the language and people, and
leave them to administer justice as best they could, with no
other guide than the light of their own conscience and reason.
Even this was a considerable step ; because, however imperfect
the machinery, the men employed belonged to a race which has
an almost superstitious veneration for law, and had been trained
to guide their conduct by habitual reference either to written
and authoritative rule and regulation or to well-known and un-
doubted usage. But the British Government was never content
with this ; no considerable province was ever annexed to the
British Empire without some attempt being made to introduce
some sort of written and systematic code of law and practice
within a few years after the province became an integral portion
of British India. In many cases, as in the Elphinstone Code of
1827, which for so many years was the Mofussil law of the
Presidency, the system, administered as it generally was by

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 2 of 66)