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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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hope that every year which passes away will sec 1 this difficulty
rendered less by the general spread of intelligence, until at
length we shall find the same feelings excited in the breast of an
Indian graduate, that quicken the pulse of an English youth
when he secures a place, however humble, among the ranks
which in past ages contained Chaucer, Bacon, Milton, 'Newton,
and a host of others, the master minds of their times.

Here I must recur to the question which I put to you at the
commencement of this Address. Have you reflected on the nature
of your Diplomas, and the obligation which they carry along
with them ? You have this day been stamped with honor ; you
have by your industry, ability and good conduct, won the right to
be presented to your countrymen as persons worthy of respect and
fit models for imitation. This is undoubtedly a high, a most grati-
fying position; but allow me to remind you it is also a most respon-
sible one. We all know the higher the station of an individual,
the more incumbent upon him it is to walk circumspectly. But

1859. Mr. E. B. Powell.

beside this, you are assisting to inaugurate a great change, and
if in auy way you give cause for reproach, your errors will be
quoted as arguments against the propriety of that change.

Dr. Flynn, in speaking more immediately to you, I re-
Qualifications member with pleasure the honorable testimony
of a medical that has been borne to your merits by those
best qualified to be judges. I feel it is almost
unnecessary to call to your recollection that other qualifica-
tions are looked for in a medical man, beside the mere know-
ledge of his profession. The situation of a medical adviser
is one of the most delicate and confidential in this world.
Perfect uprightness, moral courage, kindness of heart and of
demeanour, a readiness to sacrifice personal comfort, and
other qualities of a similar stamp are all required to be united
with knowledge, to constitute a genuine member of your
noble profession. But then, what a reward attaches to the
discharge of the duties of that profession ! See the medical
adviser enter the sick chamber to examine the state of his
patient : see that patient's wife watching his every movement,
and hanging breathless upon the words that are about to fall
from his lips ; see the children, too, partially ignorant perhaps
of the condition of their father, but still looking upon the
Doctor with silent awe ! Now, after a careful examination,
observe the visitor's cheerful eye anticipating his mouth in the
announcement of the departure of all danger : and watch the
silent, but how expressive gratitude of a whole family ! Surely
the power thus to ease the overstrained heart is one of the most
delightful possessions that man can have. Dr. Flynn, I will
say no more than that I sincerely trust your future career will
be as creditable as your past, that your success in your pro-
fession will be commensurate to your merits, and that you
may often enjoy the heartfelt gratification which I have just
endeavoured to describe.

As for you, gentlemen, who have this day been created
Mental and Bachelors of Arts, I have to call your attention
moral improve- to the fact that your Degree is, in the phrase-
ology of the middle ages, an imperfect one-
Honorable as it is, you must regard it merely as the public
acknowledgment of your having entered the outer court of
the temple of knowledge, and not that you have penetrated
into the inner chambers. At Oxford and Cambridge, and I
believe at some other European Universities, Bachelors of
Arts occupy a somewhat anomalous position : strictly speaking,
they are, as it is termed, " in statu pupillari/' i.e., they still

University of Madras.

hold the rank of pupils. However, as in their examination,
those of them who have obtained places in the honor classes,
have exhausted the subjects entering into the academic curri-
culum, they are subjected to no after-test in Arts for the attain-
ment of the higher degree. Such is not the case in our Indian
Universities, and in my humble opinion we have reason to
rejoice at the circumstance. Each degree with us will represent
an intelligible fact, the exhibition of a certain amount of
knowledge. But, it is not to this consideration I wish to direct
your minds so much as to the conclusion that, if the degree of
Bachelor of Arts be held an imperfect one in Europe, where it
may and often does represent the acquisition of a very wide
circle of knowledge, much more must it possess that char-
acter here, where it indicates a comparatively contracted
circle. Hence it is incumbent upon you to look forward,
and with your eyes set on the wide field lying open
before you, to put your hand to the plough in an earnest
and determined spirit, glancing at the furrows already traced
only to gain courage for additional exertions; thus using
the past simply as a stimulus to the future, and not permitting
yourselves to subside into indolence, delusively fancying that
enough has already been accomplished. That such may be
your course, and that some years hence you may again come
forward to claim from the University still higher honors than
those that have been conferred upon you to-day, is, you may be
assured, the earnest desire of the Right Hon'ble the Chancellor,
and of all the members of this Senate. That you will have great
difficulties to contend against in carrying your studies to the
point requisite to secure a higher degree, is undoubted ; no
regular sources of assistance lie open to you, such as are at the
command of students in the different countries of Europe ; you
will have to rely almost entirely upon your own industry and
ability, without possessing the great advantage of pursuing a
daily career of study, under teachers specially devoted to the
work of smoothing your path, of testing your progress, of shap-
ing and correcting your views, and of stimulating you when
your efforts flag, now by a word of kindly encouragement, and
now by a warning sentence. But if your difficulties will be
great, equally great will be your merit if successful ; even failure
under these circumstances may well be honorable : and what a
beneficial influence upon your character must manly, self- relying
course of study produce ! How many virtues must necessarily
be developed by pursuing such a career! Surely, when you
reflect, you cannot but feel that the real reward of a true stu-
dent's labour is not the admission to a degree, is not the recog-

1859. Mr. E. B. Powell.

nition of his success by his countrymen, but is the mental and
moral improvement that takes place within him.

There is one point more on which I wish to say a few words.

You are perhaps acquainted with the sketch of

The duty of th Clerk f Qxenford in the Prologue to the

teaching others. . . .

Canterbury J ales. After a graphic description or
the Clerk's personal appearance, and a brief notice of his limited
pecuniary success in life, which Chaucer explains by the follow-
ing reference to his tastes,

For him was lever have at his beddesheed
Twenty books, clothed in black and reed,
Of Aristotil, and of his philosophic,
Than robus riche, or fithul or sawtrie,
But although he were a philosophre,
Yet hadde he but litul gold in cofre.

The Father of English Poetry gives his last touch to the por-
trait in the line,

And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.

That a student should " gladly lerne " is no more than every
one would expect : but does a scholar always feel that his charac-
ter is defective unless it can be said of him that he is also glad
to " teche ?" Irrespective of times and circumstances, it may be
asserted that an individual should be ready and even anxious to
communicate to others the knowledge which he has himself
acquired. But if such, as a general rule, be the duty of every
educated man, how much more is it your duty to assist in spreading
enlightenment among the population of the Madras Presidency '
We all feel how odious a character he possesses, who, having his
granaries full of corn, looks with an unpitying eye on his starv-
ing countrymen. Be assured, he who has imbibed knowledge
himself, and feels its powerful influence in the juster appre-
ciation of all events which his cultivated intellect bestows upon
him, in the more elevated moral standard, that is the natural
accompaniment of judicious training, and in the additional sources
of happiness which are opened up to him, cannot refrain from
endeavouring to impart these blessings to others without com-
mitting a gross dereliction of duty, and placing himself on a
level with the selfish hoarder of grain, who thinks only of his
own necessities. The most direct mode of assisting to dispel the
ignorance and the concomitant prejudices which unhappily pre-
vail to so great an extent in this country, is to become Teachers.
The profession of a schoolmaster is that which has been adopted
by the most successful* of this year's Bachelors, and I trust

* The late Mr. T. Gopal Rau, afterwards a Fellow of the University.

8 University of Madras.

others of your number, as well as of those who may follow in
your steps year after year, will embrace the same profession, and
distinguish themselves as much in the imparting of knowledge
as in its acquisition. Of those however who graduate in Arts,
the probability is only a comparatively limited number will seek
a livelihood by teaching ; the majority will, it is likely, enter
other walks of life. These last must recollect that it may lie
within their power to contribute to the improvement of their
countrymen quite as much or even more than if they were pro-
fessed instructors. In the revenue and judicial branches of the
Government service, as pleaders, as medical men, as merchants,
as landed proprietors, it may fall to their lot to possess far
greater influence than would belong to a mere schoolmaster, and
many of the prejudices and evils existing among the Native
community can be attacked with effect only by distinguished
members of that community, acting in their several social circles.
Let each educated Native, then, regard himself as a Teacher,
either directly or indirectly, of his less fortunate countrymen.
As he meets with success in his path of life, and his sphere of
influence consequently widens, let him exert himself the more
strenuously to secure to others the advantages which have
placed him in the position he occupies. And, above all, let him
keep guard over his own conduct, that those around him may
learn to attach additional weight to the measures he recommends,
from seeing how beneficial his education has been in forming an
energetic, intelligent, and honorable member of society.


(BY J. D. MAYNE, ESQ., B.A.)

Gentlemen, I feel peculiar pleasure in being chosen to
address you on this occasion, since I have been personally
acquainted with almost all of you, ever since my arrival in this
country. In my capacity as teacher, I have had the opportunity
of watching your progress in various branches of study; and as
few can be better acquainted with the zeal and energy which
you have displayed, so I am sure that none can more sincerely
and heartily congratulate you upon the success which you have
won. And it is no empty compliment when I speak of this
The Degree Degree as a success. In England the mere Degree
of Bachelor of of Bachelor of Arts has been so eclipsed by the
Honor Examinations, that it has become little
more than a matter of form, and as it may be attained with
very slight merit, so its attainment carries very little weight.

I860. Mr. /. D. Mayne. 9

Here the reverse is the case. It has been wisely considered
that an infant University, like that of Madras, which has
still got its name to make, should commence by only acknow-
ledging realmerit. It has been determined that as far as can
be, her stamp should only be impressed upon sterling gold, and
not upon tinsel or pinchbeck. And accordingly the Examina-
tion lor the Degree of Bachelor of Arts has designedly been
made very arduous both from the number of subjects, and from
tlu high standard of answering required. It is the unanimous
opinion of the Examiners that it is fully as difficult to obtain a
first rank among the Bachelors of Arts in Madras, as to obtain a
second Honor in England, and those who receive the diploma of
this University will go forth into the world, stamped as the
possessors of knowledge far more extensive and accurate than
would be evinced by the acquisition of a similar diploma at home.

But, gentlemen, while I congratulate you upon this high
Success in distinction, I must still, ungracious as it may
school and sue- appear, warn you against assuming that this
cess in after-life. success w {\\ ensure a similar measure of success
through life. I know it is common enough to tell those
who have gained prizes as students, that the same qualities
which placed them before their fellows in early life, will procure
them equal prominence in their after-career. This is partly
true, but it is not the whole truth. It is partly true, for in-
dustry and talent will always bear a market value ; but it is not
the whole truth, otherwise we should not see so many instances of
clever school boys and brilliant University men who turn out utter
failures in after-life. Every one who has watched the career of
their own contemporaries, will know how often this happens. I
believe the fact to be, that distinguished success in practical life
calls for qualities, mental and moral, which you have not been
required to display as students, and that it is upon the posses-
sion and exertion of these qualities that it depends, whether
you will ever emerge from the rank of respectable mediocrity.
Not only is this so, but there are habits of mind engendered by
a long course of study which are in themselves unfavourable to
active exertion in real life. It is only in proportion as you guard
against the one and develop the other, that you will maintain your
present position in after-years.

I have seen it remarked, I forget by whom, that reading

Wh some men is f ten on b r a f rm of indolence, where we study

of great learn- what others have thought, in order to save the

ing fail. trouble of thinking for ourselves. Now this is

a form of indolence into which successful students are very

10 University of Madras.

apt to fall. As long as you are learners, reading is the end.
When you come to be doers, reading is only the means. Hitherto
your success has depended upon the extent to which you
could remember what others have written. Henceforward your
success will depend upon the extent to which you can apply it.
Knowledge is like good food. It is always pleasant, but it will
only make you able to work if you digest and assimilate it. Before
it can be of any service to you, you must have made it your
own, and learnt how to employ it. And this is the reason that men
of great learning are often beaten, even in their own pursuits,
by others of inferior acquisitions. The man who has only one
weapon which he can use, will always conquer the man who has a
dozen which he cannot use. And therefore I would warn you
against trying to keep up your knowledge on too diffuse a scale.
There have been men, like Pascal, Voltaire, Lord Brougham, and
Lord Macaulay, who seemed capable of grasping and using every
species of learning. But such men are rare, and you can hardly
expect to be of the number. Select that knowledge which will be
of use to you, and make accuracy in that your first object. Take
care not to be brilliant smatterers, just sufficiently acquainted with
every subject to make mistakes in it.' Hitherto your education has
been intended to fit you for every path of life, but you can only
travel along one. Make up your minds which that one is to be,
and then sedulously collect every scrap of information which will
fit you for it. Do not be content with reading, or even with
remembering what you read, but think it into shape ; so that
when an emergency arrives, you may be found with principles of
action, and not merely with a chaos of facts at your command.

But, gentlemen, a mere knowledge of principles is not sufficient
Combine ex- wi^ nou t that skill in their application which is
perience with only to be acquired by experience. The daily
knowledge. problem of real life is how to produce some effect.

For that purpose you require not only an acquaintance with the
principle, but also with the subject-matter to which it is to be
applied. The former can be obtained from books, the latter only
from experience. You can acquire the theory of swimming to
perfection, without seeing more water than would fill a basin.
But if you were to rely solely upon this, you would be drowned
the very first time you ventured out of your depth. And so it is
in every profession. A Medical student may be acquainted with
the use of every drug in the Pharmacopoeia. He may be perfect
in describing the symptoms of every disease ; but the first time he
is taken to a sick bed, and told to ascertain from the languid eye,
the feeble pulse and incoherent answers of the patient what his

I860. Mr. J. D. Mayne. 11

illness is, the chances are a hundred to one that he goes wrong.
Tlio point in which the student is excelled by the great master of
his art, consists not in a superior knowledge of anything that may
bo learnt out of books, but in the intuitive skill with which that
knowledge is adapted to new states of facts. This can only be
acquired by patient study of the realities of life. And I tell you
this not to discourage you, but to show you that you must not con-
sitlrr your education complete though you have mastered every-
thing that can be found in books : that you must summon up your
energies for new, and at first, very disheartening labours, and must
try to evolve mental qualities, of whose very existence you are as
yet almost unconscious. Reading can only give one-half of your
education. The remainder must be acquired by practice; and
it is well that you should know this, as it will serve both to check
that excessive confidence, which is always felt at first by a clever
youth overflowing with book knowledge and to soften the dis-
appointment and sense of failure which he will always experience,
when he first comes into competition with the trained intellect
of an experienced man.

But mental qualities alone are not sufiicient without the

moral qualities which give them stability and direc-

Cultivate the Hon. All your talent, and learning and industry

principle of hon- .,, , J . , , -, . <

or. will be worthless, unless you can be trusted. And

therefore I implore you first of all, and above
all, to cultivate that principle of honor, without which all your
intellectual powers will only be a snare to yourselves, and a
source of danger to others. The more eminent you are in other
respects, the greater will be your temptation in this, for you
will be capable of being of more service to others who may wish
to twist you to their own bad ends. Gentlemen, there is nothing
so easy to preserve as your honor, as long as it is jealously
watched. There is nothing so impossible to regain, if it is once
lost or tainted. And therefore I would earnestly entreat you to
guard against the first slight deviation from strict integrity,
the first prevarication, which will inevitably have to be backed
up by a lie the first dishonest gain, which will be renewed till
you become hopelessly corrupt. The dishonest man does a three-
fold injury. He injures himself, and he injures the person whom
he defrauds, and he injures every other honest man, by weaken-
ing that confidence which we are naturally disposed to place in
the integrity of others. And while you are strength-
llesult of hon- eninsr vourselves in the resolve to be honorable, let

esty and reason . . t J.T ITX

for honesty. nie warn you against taking that utilitarian maxim
that " Honesty is the best policy," as an accurate

12 University of Madras.

compendium of ethics. It is a very true maxim, if you do not
confound the result of honesty with the reason for honesty.
Honesty is the best policy, but the man who is honest because
it is politic, will be apt to reverse the maxim, and to think that
what he fancies to be most politic is honest. The man who does
this is lost. He is exchanging a star which is certain to guide
him safely, for an ignis fatuus which will lure him to destruc-
tion. We are seldom mistaken in what is honest, but we are
very apt to be mistaken in what is politic, and we are quite
certain to consider that course to be politic, to which our in-
clinations lead us at the time. Be honest because it is right,
and you will find the policy following, perhaps in a manner which
you never looked for. You may not be rewarded by places or
rupees, you may even be considered by your associates to have
))een merely scrupulous fools, but you will reap your reward in
that self-respect and contentment, which always follows upon a
consciousness of having done your duty, which places and rupees
can never bestow, and the want of which places and rupees
can never supply.

Gentlemen, these are trite truths, and I wish they were so

fully recognised and acted upon in this country, as

r S ie fa !- ing to render it a waste of time for me to dwell upon

of the natives . -. -^ , f . i . i\ r

of India. them. But unfortunately it is not so. Many and

brilliant exceptions there have been, but as a
general rule, the natives of India have still to earn a charac-
ter for integrity and truth. And, however it may suit the
policy of those who wish to flatter you, to conceal it, the fact
still remains, that it is this failing chiefly which has kept you
back, and which, so long as it exists, will keep you back from
the place which you ought to occupy as a nation.

I trust that a brighter era is now dawning. The night is
now past, and I hope that a glorious day is at hand.

! What ttat da F ma y be ' mainl y depends upon you,
and those who are now being educated like you
in this country. It is a solemn reflection, that at regular
intervals the world is given over into a fresh set of hands. The
school-boys of this generation are the masters of the next, and
the fathers of that which is to follow and then they have to
answer to futurity for the way in which they have discharged
their trust. Gentlemen, your turn comes next. Are you pre-
pared to undertake it ? From the position you have won, as
possessors of wide attainments in a country where such at-
tainments are rare, you will have great advantages, but you
will have equally great responsibilities. In your persons, the

' 1861. Rev. A. R. Symonds. 13

cause of education is on its trial. I have often heard it said,
tluit education in India is a perilous experiment. I believe it to
l)o neither a peril nor an experiment. I believe that it is our
duty to spread education as widely as we can, and I believe that
whatever is inherently right, must be more certain and more
sate than any other course that can be pursued. But these
truths are not established at once, and it depends upon you
whether the proof shall be speedy or slow. You will go into
the world as the heralds of a new system. Take care that you
do not disgrace it. You will find every one willing to receive
you and trust you as something better than those whom they
have known. But if they find that you are no better, then they
will never trust your race again. I appeal to you, not merely as
individuals who have to make your own way in life, but as
patriots who are going forth under new banners, to a new fight,
to rescue their country from that worst of slavery, moral degrada-
tion. You have the noblest opportunities before you which I
believe were ever offered to the natives of this country. Every-
thing is open to you if you will only prove yourselves fit for it.
Will you show yourselves worthy of the occasion, or will you not ?
In your persons, the mass of your countrymen will be judged.
Will you betray them, or will you not ? I am certain that you
will not. I am certain that you, as far as in you lies, will strive
to keep the hoods which you have this day received, without
tarnish or stain. I trust that you will be the foremost of a long
race of whom the University of Madras will have cause to be
proud, men as remarkable for their integrity as for their learn-
ing. I trust that you will prove that virtue knows no distinction
of country or colour. That India, as well as Europe, can rear
up her own sons to be gentlemen, without fear and without

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 32 of 66)