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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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in the literary field especially, a great literature implies a great
and noble national character ; that the literature of a nation pre-
sents the prevailing thoughts, passions, tendencies and aspirations
of its people, as these are reflected by men of genius, and there-
fore as the nature of a people is higher, purer and richer, so will
their literature be higher, purer and richer, and the more will that
nation have to contribute to the wisdom, and the elevation, and
the prosperity of mankind. Then I say, love your country and
your people. Let the motive to push forward their welfare be
ever and ever the monitor of your souls, and resolve that in the
future of the world this country, which in the past has played so
important a part, shall now recover it and be amongst the great-
est of the earth.



Gentlemen of the Senate, It must be a subject of regret
to you that our learned and eminent Chancellor is not able to
preside here on this occasion. Other public duties have with-
drawn him for this time, and the duty has devolved upon me,
who am so ill able to perform it, not only for reasons which
would be good enough in themselves, but which would not per-
haps be altogether modest to dwell upon since recounting in
detail one's deficiencies differs but little from elaborating one's
merits ; but I also feel that on this occasion there are so many
interesting subjects to dwell upon that it is doubly and trebly a
matter of regret that one so much more able to deal with them
than I can pretend to be is not here to discuss them as you
would desire. However, if you find what I have to say some-
what tedious, as no doubt you will, I think I can promise you
that that irksomeness shall not be repeated. You will no doubt
yourselves feel that it is desirable that this University should be
represented by some one, who is free from any trammels which
might interfere with his duty to the University. And even if
one is not bound by such trammels it is desirable that even the
bare suspicion of any cross-lights or clashing interests should
never touch the Vice-Chancellor of this University, who has so
often to represent it before the public and before the Govern-
ment. I feel also that the duties which have now devolved upon
me and the changed position I occupy since I last addressed
you, as they call me away from Bombay through the greater

1888. Sir Raymond West. 191

part of the year, must interfere with my presiding at the meet-
ings of the Syndicate and with my presence and active part in
the daily affairs of the University. Therefore, for these, if for
no other reasons, I propose to take an early opportunity of re-
signing a post which I have felt it a great honour to hold and
in which I have experienced so much kindness from you, but
which I now feel is becoming in a manner untenable.

There are some interesting features in the results of our
Uniyersity examination this year, and you will recongnise the
culture for propriety of my first of all dwelling on the cir-
cumstance that this year we have our first lady
bachelor. This University waa one of the first in Her Majesty's
dominions to recongnise the equal rights of either sex to
the honours and distinctions which it confers, and by the
introduction of a few words, that words in the masculine in
the rules of the University shall for the future include also
the feminine, we have effected a very considerable revolution in
the future constitution of our University ; and now we feel for
the first time in the active life of our institution the results of
that change. We must all wish the young lady, who has this
day by her ability and perseverance attained so honourable a
position, every success equal and still growing success in all
her future career. Although the liberality which our University
has shown in the instance of ladies, who desire to become graduates,
is in very recent times perhaps a matter of some note, yet I
may remark that in those Universities which first spread the
light of the renascent learning through Europe, learned ladies
were never wanting, and if one looks to the history of Padua,
he recognises the propriety of Shakspeare drawing his advocate
from that University. For, if not Portias as advocates, Portias
as lawyers or as scholars there were there and at Bologna in an
almost continued succession till a very recent period, and thus
the tradition of female scholarship was kept up in Italy, and
from Italy it was transferred to other countries in Europe. I
may point to the learned Madame Dacier in France as having
been one of the most eminent commentators on the Classics, a
commentator whose explanations and discussions of passages in
the Greek authors are still referred to with great respect by
scholars. The tradition has now been taken up in England and
with excellent results. Now it may be said that females devot-
ing themselves to the pursuits which have hitherto been mono-
polised by males, and which have been pursued with an energy
and an amount of toil for which the female physique, it may be
supposed, is somewhat too feeble, are stepping out of their

192 University of Bombay.

proper line, and that they can never hope to attain the success in
further life, which ought to be the aspiration and the reasonable
expectation of those who enter upon a learned or professional
career. But I think all that may very well be left to the arrange-
ment of fortune, or rather of Providence, and that if a young
lady feels a special call for learning as her vocation she ought
no more to be excluded from learning than she is excluded from
the career of music or painting. And if any of my own rougher
sex are inclined to feel jealous, which I trust very few are in
this community, one may point to the fact that it is only ladies of
very special gifts who have achieved the first distinction either
in painting or music, and still fewer perhaps in the kindred art
of sculpture. But beyond that, here in India there is an absolute
want of learned ladies, and in the pursuits especially of medicine
and teaching, there is an ample field for far more than any number
of lady graduates that we are likely to have for many years, and
perhaps even for generations to come. We may all, therefore,
congratulate this lady on having entered upon a career in which
I trust she will be successful, and will have many followers
equally successful, and lending lustre to the University from
which they have proceeded.

There is another point in the results of our examinations
Stirring of wn i a is ^ verv great interest. You will have been
the Mussulman struck by the recurrence of Mussulman names in
mind< the list of gentlemen who have this year taken

prizes. It is only a few years 'ago that the idea was very
prevalent that the Mussulmans in this country had for ever
abandoned the pursuit of learning, that they had given it
up to the Hindus, and that if ever they were to come to
the front again, it must be by physical force and fighting.
There were, however, some in those days, who like myself, re-
fused to believe that this was to be the course of events which
Providence had chalked out for the future of this country. We
refused to believe that the Mussulman intellect was in any way
essentially inferior to the Hindu or the European intellect, and
looking to what Arabian scholars had done in the centuries
which followed the ages of darkness, we thought that there was
nothing either in the Mahomedan religion, or Mahomedan
character, which ought in any way to check their progress in
learning. Three or four years ago, you will remember, that a very
considerable impulse was given to Mahomedan education, and
like all stirrings of the human mind, the waves of this educa-
tional movement spread themselves far beyond the immediate
point to which the impulse was directed, and now we see this year a

1888. Sir Raymond West. 193

gentleman coming up from the Free General Assembly's Insti-
tution and winning at the Matriculation Examination the first
prize in Latin. We also see him the very first out of, I think,
about 780 candidates who have passed the examination. Who
shall say that there is not much here to encourage the persever-
ance and devotion to duty of the Mussulman youth of our com-
munity ? Not only so but in the Previous Examination this
year we find that the Hughlings' prize for proficiency in
the English language has also been won by a Mahomedan gen-
tleman from Saint Xavier's College, so that here again we see
the effect of the stirring of the Mussulman mind, on which we
must congratulate that great community.

Our examinations for Matriculation have been attended this
year by, I may say, an unprecedented number of candidates.
Upwards of three thousand presented themselves before the
astonished, and perhaps, half-bewildered examiners, who could
not have anticipated from anything in the past so extraordinary
an influx of candidates for Matriculation. It was inevitable that
out of so large a number a great many of them not quite
prepared for the work they had to do, and some of them, I
believe, coming up experimentally to see what an examination
looked like there should be a good many failures. But I have
observed that those who passed have exceeded those who passed
last year by more than fifty per cent. This must in itself be very
satisfactory. For an increase of fifty per cent, in the number of
the students, who are fitted for the Matriculation, represents far
more than what the normal increase of population or the powers
of teaching as measured by numbers can be- And it seems to.
point to this that the schools are beginning to acquire greater
efficiency in preparing for the examination. The schools will,
by-and-by, under the auspices of the University and under its
guidance and control, have a new and very important duty cast
upon them, that of preparing students for what has been termed
the Middle Class Examination. I think we have reason to hope
from the results of our Matriculation Examination this year,
that for the other examination also, the High Schools of this
Presidency will be able to gird themselves up, and they will
send forth a great number of young men, who, not caring or not
having the means to pursue the avocation of a scholar even in
its initial stage, will still have received an excellent elementary
education, and be well fitted for the ordinary callings of life.
This year, as in other years, we have had some complaints made
about the severity of the examinations, the impossibility of
answeriog questions within the time prescribed, and so forth.

194 University of Bombay.

Solvitur ambulando is the answer to the problem which the
large number of successful gentlemen present here have given.
As a matter of fact they have answered the questions and they
have passed the Examinations,, so that there is no absolute
impossibility in the matter, and for my part, and I think I may
speak for the executive council of the University, the Syndicate,
that we see no reason whatever to doubt for a moment either
the capacity or the goodwill and kindness of the examiners, who
have had so hard and irksome a task cast upon them. These
examiners, gentlemen of the Senate, need the support of your
good opinion and confidence, and they ought to receive it in
unstinted measure, because it is one of the first points of morality
in an institution of this kind, one of the elementary points on
which its constitution and subsistence depend, that there should
be perfect confidence in the working of the institution; and that
the verdicts of the examiners should be entirely above question
by those who have submitted to them. Any course taken by
those who are interested in the University, which is contrary to
the principle I have laid down, is a course which, I think,
cannot but prove deeply injurious to the institution. We know
that not only very young men, but men of more advanced years
are much more ready to cast their failures and their disappoint-
ments on any other cause than the cause which rests within
Advice to dis- themselves. The bringing into question the ver-
appointed can- diets of examiners or the decisions of bodies
didates. having authority tends to create doubt and hesi-

tancy, to bring all matters as it were into controversy, and
to make the matter after all in the opinion of those who are
concerned something on which a great deal may be said on
both sides. Thus faith is lost and the energy inspired by
faith. Whether the University examinations are carried on
honestly and judiciously or not, is not a profitable topic for
undergraduates. Instead of putting any ideas of this kind
before the minds of young men, who have the misfortune to
be disappointed this year, I would say to them : "Accept the
ill-fortune which has now befallen you with manly fortitude and
modesty, with simple dignity, and with a resolution to overcome
the evil star which apparently has shone malignly upon you this
time. Perhaps the very disappointment which you have
experienced will be the starting point of your chief success in
life, and if you make up your minds to go forward instead of
looking backwards, you will find that the obstacles which now
appear to be so impervious and insurmountable will fall away at
the touch of honest and assiduous toil, and in the end you will
go on your way rejoicing."

1888. Sir Raymond West. 195

We have this year, as in past years, had many expressions
University ^ *k e general confidence of the great community,
the pillar of in which we are placed, in this institution. To them
people's hope. i t ^ ag j t ought to be, the pillar of the people's
hope and the centre of this little world's desire. Wherever
the resolution exists in the breast of a cultivated member
of our community to connect his name with some benefit to
his fellow-countrymen, we find now that as a rule he resorts
to this University, and we have some bounty, some blessing
to acknowledge in the speeches which are annually delivered
from this place. This year has been no exception to that rule,
or if an exception, it is an exception which is far from being a

disappointing one. To begin with, an endowment
to En co^emot was presented to the University in honour of
rate valuable the late Mr. James Greaves, a gentleman who,

after carrying on the mill industry with very
great success, devoted himself in his later years a good deal to
the advancement of education in the place where he acquired
fortune, and whose memory is now rightly preserved by those
who witnessed his benevolence and shared his toils, in the
institution of a scholarship in this University. Then there was
another great friend of the natives of this country in the days
when they needed friends more than they do now. He also has
passed away from active life, not from life wholely, but merely
into the autumn of retirement in which, I hope, he will long
continue his benevolent existence I mean Colonel French the
late chairman of the B. B. & C. I. Railway Company. A sub-
scription having been raised in his honour, a scholarship has been
founded in this University. Colonel French, it may interest you
to know, gentlemen of the Senate, felt as long ago as 1828 or
1829 so strong an interest in the then infant institution, the
Elphinstone Institution, which had not at that time been divided
into a school and a college, that being an Adjutant to a regiment
he brought his moral influence to bear upon it, and obtained all
round from the men a day's pay for that institution. That is an
example which in our days might be followed with great advan-
tage by many Adjutants or even Colonels of regiments. Then we
have further a scholarship founded in honour of Eao Bahadur
Lukshman Jagannath, an eminent administrator of the Native
State of Baroda. These have been realised some little time ago.
But yesterday another additional bounty was placed in my hands,
which gave me no little pleasure, and which will give you, too,
no little pleasure to hear. A fund has been raised to com-
memorate the services rendered to this University especially, and
in other departments of public life, by our distinguished fellow-

196 University of Bombay.

citizen Rao Saheb V. N. Mandlik. A sum of Us. 6,000 was
handed to me yesterday (Monday) with, a view to the foundation,
on terms which we shall have to settle hereafter, of a Sanskrit
scholarship to bear the name of that eminent individual. I am
sure that whatever views different persons may take of the line
which the,Rao Saheb has adopted, either in politics or social move-
ments, or any other ways, every one will admit that in this Univer-
sity he has been a faithful and a devoted sustainer and supporter
of learning. His services have been constant and unremitting,
and nothing can give us greater pleasure than to find that he is so
highly appreciated, and that his name is to remain for ever in
the golden book of this institution. He will be enshrined
amongst the best and most deserving men of our institution,
uniting within himself the attributes of a Sulpicius, a Varro, and
a Macenas, and the fame of them all. Even our late Assistant
Registrar, Rao Sa"heb Granpatrao Moroba Pitale, I believe, is to
be shortly commemorated. A movement is on foot for present-
ing to the University some memorial of that gentleman whose
services and his figure in our ceremonials you no doubt remember
very well. And as the committee for commemorating his name
is headed by so eminent a scholar and so devoted a friend of the
University as my friend Mr. Justice Birdwood, I have no doubt
that next year a successful result of this movement will have to
be announced.

Hitherto I have been on comparatively common ground.
But now paulo majora canamus, and although the
Sir Dinshaw "bounty which I have next to speak of is not
* directly bestowed on the University, yet it is so
closely connected with it, that this is no doubt
the proper place in which to make a public acknowledgment
of it. When I mention the name of Sir Dinshaw Manockjee
Petit, I mention a name which calls up a glow and a thrill of
gratitude in the hearts of every one who is interested in the
welfare of our community, or who has sympathy for kindness,
goodness and pity for suffering. Sir Dinshaw Petit has placed
at the disposal of the Government a building, the value of which
is estimated at three lakhs of rupees, and by an interchange of
the locality in which the Elphinstone College is placed
supposing that can be carried out with the assistance of the
learned Judges of the High Court we shall have that College
brought very shortly into the immediate neighbourhood of this
University. That, for the College, will be a great advantage ;
for the students will then be placed close to the library of the
University,, and will have an opportunity of making use of it to

1888. &ir Raymond West. 197

n. much Boater extent than they have hitherto done, the
number of readers up to this time, as I have been credibly
informed,, being only two. Now it must not be supposed for a
moment that in commemorating as I do, and in the Government
commemorating as it has done, the bounty of Sir Dinshaw, there
is any, even the slightest, inclination to overlook the claims of
high education in this Presidency. That bounty, aided as it will
be by the transfer to the Government of the Ripon Memorial
Fund, will be the commencement of a very great and beneficial
work in this Presidency. I believe that the trustees of the Ripon
Memorial Fund have found a way in which they may secure a
perpetual memorial of Lord Ripon in whom we are all so deeply
interested, and whose -memory we would all wish to keep green.
They have found the means by which it is expected that they
will keep his memory distinctly alive and yet united with the
larger and all-embracing institution, the Victoria Jubilee Tech-
nical Institute. It is to be hoped that the arrangements by
which these designs are to be carried out will very soon be
accomplished, and then we shall have the University standing
side by side with this great technical institution, each of them
pursuing a beneficial course of its own. The University has thus,
for the future, to share its duties in pushing on the intellectual
training of the people of this Presidency with another institution.
But let it never be said by way of reproach to the University that
this new way has been found, and that the University was not
The blessings awa ke to it when it was founded. The University
conferred by the has in no wise fallen short of its high calling. It
University. j g or Q v necessar y to look back to the Act of Incor-
poration to see how difficult it was then even to form a Senate
by which the Institution could be carried on, and it was neces-
sary in those days of comparative backwardness for the Univer-
sity starting as a great experiment in this country to found
itself on the recognised and established courses of study. The
University based itself mainly on the old established lines of
mathematics and literature, and surely it was right in doing so,
because at that time all was uncertain, and surely no better
discipline to the intellect could possibly be found than a study of
mathematics, and the teaching it affords, in closeness of reasoning,
in perspicuity, in the exercise of the discursive faculty, in the close
examination of truth, and after that the embracing and holding
fast of the truth, once realised, in a way in which no outcry of
any multitude will ever shake. Then too literature surely, the
literary line of study which this University has pursued, has its
great and manifest advantages. The literature of the world
represents the freedom and activity of the human spirit. It

198 University of Bombay.

reflects the great movements of the thought of the world. The
very fact that a man is great in literature implies that he has
penetrated deeper than others into the human faculty and human
nature, and that he has been able to select for us those types of
character for imitation which we may recognise as leading us
on to the cultivation of the higher parts of our nature and the
gradual suppression of those which are more ignoble. For all
this and more literature is an instrument of education which,
cannot be surpassed. The history of the world, and more
especially the history of our own country, shows that instruction
based on classical literature has been sufficient for generations,
and even for centuries, to train up for the English Senate, and
in the public life of the country, a series of men who were want-
ing in none of the attributes of greatness and statesmanship.
But in this country, too, we have seen the beneficial results of
this classical and mathematical training. We have disseminated
all over this Presidency, and to a circuit far beyond this Presi-
dency, our engineers, who are evolving and developing anew the
resources of the country. We have sent to the remotest towns
of this Presidency physicians, who carry with them not only a
rational practice of medicine, but take with them also that
method of viewing the facts of nature, which in itself is an
instruction to all who become acquainted with them. They are
reproducing and repeating in this country the course which was
taken by their great predecessors in Europe at the awakening
of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, when the
physicians were the great leaders of advancing thought, and
were opening the way to the great development of the inductive
sciences. Then, again, in the field with which I am more nearly
connected myself, the field of the law, have we not diffused
through this Presidency, and a region of far greater extent, the
noble principles of the English law ? Have we not sent out
gentlemen, who, having been first well trained in general
literature, have been able to make their profession and persons
well respected, and who being thoroughly well trained in the
law, which is the very life of English institutions, have laid the
foundation amongst their own people for an indefinite progress,
political and social, in the future. This our University has ac-
complished in the past, and, I think, we must say that when we
find journalism also so developed, and when we find the teaching
profession so well filled in this Presidency, our University has
no reason to hang down its head and say : "This we have done,
but we have not done enough." When we see the general
powers and capacities of people widely expanded and elevated ;
when we see institutions fairly, though frankly, criticised ; when

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 22 of 66)