K Subba Rau.

Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

. (page 35 of 66)
Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 35 of 66)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

teirtment in yourselves as well as a duty you owe to your Creator,
learning. no ^ Q su -ff er to \{ Q unimproved the talents commit-

ted to your charge. Standing on the threshold of life, standing,
let me remind you, still only on the threshold of knowledge, it
is your bounden duty to neglect no opportunity of self-culture and
self-improvement. Busy men you may and I hope will be, but
intervals of business there will be which you can turn to good
account, and even your ordinary occupations may if rightly under-
stood, be a discipline both to the mind and to the heart. Never
then be contented with past acquisitions.

Strive day by day to add to your store of knowledge, and to
enlighten and quicken your moral sense ; cultivate
yourself tO a s P^ rit ^ truthfulness, cultivate, aye, and with
the greatest care, for it is a tender plant, cultivate
a nice sense of honour : beware of everything that is mean, beware
of aught that may impair your self-respect. As you travel along
the road of life, the University which now bids you a hearty fare-
well will anxiously watch your progress ; to me personally who
have been so intimately connected with many of you, your future
career will be a source of the deepest solicitude. We hope then,
as I said before, that you will quit yourselves like men in the
great battle of the world, advancing from strength to strength,
not presumptuously indeed, but in a proper spirit of self-reliance.
Farewell and in connection with what I have just been saying
about your duties to yourselves, take with you as farewell words
these noble lines of England's noblest poet :

To thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

1866. The Honorable Sir Adam Bittleston. 33



Gentlemen, Graduates of the University of Madras, I crave
your attention for a few minutes, whilst, in accordance with the
rule and practice of this University, and in obedience to the
request of the Chancellor, I exhort you to conduct yourselves
suitably to the position which you have now attained.

That is a position of which you may be justly proud. It is by
no slight amount of industry and ability that this distinction can
be achieved; it entitles you to, and, I believe, secures for you, a
high place in the estimation of all your fellow-citizens of every
rank and race; and it places you on a high vantage ground for
the accomplishment of still greater things.

I would that I could expect, by any words of mine, to make
you duly sensible of the responsibility which this position brings
with it; for the University (I am persuaded) attaches some
importance to this part of the day's proceedings. She by no
means desires it to be regarded as a mere matter of form.

This University, gentlemen, has not, under existing circum-
stances, the means of exercising: any of that domes-
Difference be- ,. -I - T r T. i i i j? J-.T
tween Indian and tic discipline which is a valuable feature of the

English Universi- Collegiate system in some other Universities, nor
can she give to her students that kind of moral
training which results from the free social intercourse of a large
body of educated youths, living together as one community, and
not only prosecuting common studies and striving after common
objects of ambition, but sharing also in common recreations and

But not the less is the University of Madras anxious about the

o TI future character and conduct of her sons. She

reputation of does not confer her degrees upon them without

the University first taking from them a solemn promise by their

future lives to justifiy her choice; and year by

year, as she sends forth new men with her marks of honour into

the world, she requires the same exhortation to be addressed to

them, she requires them to be told what it is she expects of them,

and what is the standard at which she desires them to aim. Bear

in mind, then, gentlemen, I beg of you, that the reputation, nay,

the life of your University, depends upon you and upon those

who stand in the like relation to her with you. Unless she can

point, year after year, to an increasing roll of distinguished names,

the names of men who, by a career of honourable usefulness, have


34 University of Madras.

proved or are proving themselves benefactors of their country,
she fails in her mission. The tree can only be judged by its fruits,
and the University must be judged by the character and conduct
of her sons. In vain she assumes to raise the standard of edu-
cation to a high level ; in vain she strives to promote sound learn-
ing and to cultivate the growth of public and private virtue, if
her graduates do not stand forth conspicuous amongst their
fellow-countrymen both for learning and for virtue, living epistles
read and known of all men, wherein the good effects of their
early training are written in most legible characters.

As to yourselves, gentlemen, you have now reached a criti-
cal period of life, a critical point in your career. You are now
exposed to some temptations which will probably never again
attack you with so much force as now, and against which we call
upon you to struggle with all your might. Perhaps the worst
and strongest of these is the temptation to rest from your
labours, satisfied with what you have already done.

It is often said that these educational honours are sought

The object of country not for the honour of

seeking educa- them, nor from any love of learning, but for the
tion - sake of the appointments and the rupees which

are supposed to follow pretty fast and with tolerable certainty
upon the acquisition of a degree ; in fact, that the love of money
is the moving cause which stimulates the intellectual activity of
Hindu youth. ' Many hard things are said about the love of
money; and when it is a form of mere selfishness, nothing too
hard can be said of it, for all mere selfishness is very hateful ;
but the desire of wealth, if not too eager, may be rendered blame-
less or laudable by the motives from which, and the purposes for
which wealth is sought; and so, as to the desire for employment,
whether in the service of the Government or in any other honour-
able and useful career, far be it from me to condemn it as a
motive of exertion.

But, of course, gentlemen, it would be lamentable indeed,
a very lame and impotent conclusion of all the
exertions made on your behalf, if the ambition and
the patriotism of the native youth of this country
should end at this point, and should be limited to such objects as
the possession of subordinate appointments in the service of
Government; for then the University would have practically
dwindled into an Institution for providing clerks for Government
offices. Gentlemen, the University looks to its graduates to refute
this aspersion by their conduct. We trust to them to show that
they have acquired at least such a taste for learning that the

1866. The Honorable Sir Adam Bittleston. 35

further pursuit of it is no irksome task, but has become to them
one of the chief pleasures of life. The busiest man can find
some leisure for congenial studies, and even old age delights in
" a renewal of acquaintance with the favorite studies and favorite
authors of youth." How many illustrations of the truth of this
might be quoted from the lives of English Statesmen. Take one
of the latest examples.

Look at Lord Derby, the Chancellor of the University of
- Oxford, who for more than quarter of a century has

taken an active part sometimes in the administra-
tion of public affairs, always in the busy turmoil of political life,
yet has always found leisure to cultivate the classical studies of
his youth, and has in his old age given to the world an admirable
translation of the Iliad, in the preface to which he assures us
that the task has been his most delightful recreation. These,
gentlemen, are the examples which we desire to hold up to our
graduates for imitation. How great a triumph it would be for
one of you, even though it were the work of a life, to produce a
commendable translation in your mother-tongue of any one of
our great English classics. How signal would be the benefit
conferred upon your country. How proud would this University
be of your achievement !

But, on the other hand, gentlemen, this one thing is certain,
that you cannot stand still where you are. If you
donyourttudfes. abandon your studies now, you will assuredly this
time next year be less worthy of your degrees than
you are now ; and, the following year, less worthy still ; and, in
a few years, probably not worthy of those degrees at all. The
very title you have now won may suffice to suggest to you that
this is but a step in your career, and that unless you are content
to retrograde you must be prepared to make the necessary effort
to ensure further progress. Do you remember that Bacon, in his
^Advancement of Learning/' points out this continual effort
at self-improvement as constituting the essential difference
between the learned and the unlearned man ? He says that
" Learning disposeth the constitution of the mind not to be fixed
or settled in the defects thereof, but still to be capable and
susceptible of growth and reformation. For the unlearned man
knows not what it is to descend into himself or to call himself
to account ; nor the pleasure of that suavissima vita indies sentire
se fieri meliorem. The good parts he hath, he will learn to show
to the full and use them dexterously, but not much to increase
them : the faults he hath, he will learn how to hide and colour
them, but not much to amend them : like an ill-mower that mows

36 University of Madras.

on still and never whets his scythe. Whereas with the learned man
it fares otherwise, that he doth ever intermix the correction and
amendment of his mind with the use and employment thereof."

Our words, then, to you, gentlemen, are " Onward and
Upward ;" and permit me to remind you that immediately in front
of you there is a height which has never yet been reached, a prize
never yet won by any of your countrymen ill this Presidency,
the degree of M.A.

I pause here for a moment to name, with the respect which
Liberality of * s ^ ue * ^is exalted rank and still more to his
the First Prince enlightened liberality, one of the Fellows of this
of Travancore. University, His Highness the First Prince of Tra-
vancore, whose public spirit and love of learning have led him
to hold out to you an additional inducement to advance to that
degree, and whose presence here this day we hail with sincere

But whilst we urge you to further progress, be on your
guard, gentlemen, also, I pray you, against another
temptation to which at your age, and surrounded
by admiring friends, you are now more than usually exposed,
the temptation to think of yourselves more highly than you
ought to think. Be not boastful nor too proud of your own
doings ; bear your success with modesty, which is ever the com-
panion of real merit, and avoid all appearance of arrogance
and self-conceit, which are both offensive to others and injurious
to yourselves serious obstacles in the way of usefulness and
self -improvement. To this end it is only necessary that you
should " descend into yourselves" as Bacon has it, and call
yourselves to an account by comparing the little you know with
the more which others know, and the much more which remains
to be known. Depend upon it, you will find cause enough for
modesty, as well as for continued and strenuous application.

But, now, gentlemen, a few words as to your duty towards

others. You are well aware that, in the matter of

T^ career of na tional education, it is still very early dawn with

us in this country. The sun has hardly begun to

gild the hill tops, but we desire to see its light and warmth shed

into the lowest valleys ; and in no way can you so well show how

highly and justly you appreciate the real value of the education

which you have received (for the value does depend upon the use

you make of it), as by endeavouring to extend as far as you can

the like advantages to others. This you may do by devoting

yourselves directly to the work of teaching as the business of your

1866. The Honorable Sir Adam Bittleston. 87

lives ; you may find more lucrative, you can find no nobler em-
ployment ; and in the interests of education it is much to be hoped
that ere long the inducements to enter upon that career will be
greater than they are at present, that the labours of the school-
master will be more highly rewarded, and that both in public
and private more heed will be given to the injunction of the poet

" Respect, as is but rational and just,

The man deemed worthy of so dear a trust."

But, gentlemen, there are other ways also in which the

Wage war University looks to you for aid in the work to which

against igno- she is committed, By the excellence of your own

ranee and vice. jj veg vou mav j^ ^ Q teachers of your countrymen ;

and not only in the circle of your own families, but wherever your
influence extends, you are called upon to maintain, by your words,
as well as by your deeds, an uncompromising warfare against igno-
rance and vice, in whatever shape they may present themselves ;
you are bound to use the weapons, with which education has armed
you honestly and consistently for the uprooting of prejudice and
the correction of error, wherever and whenever you may encounter
them. This is a great responsibility, but it is one from which you
cannot escape. Your position as graduates of this University
will give weight and influence to your opinions, whether you
desire it or not ; and it behoves you, therefore, to take care that
your own opinions upon all the many questions of social and
national importance, which must come under your consideration,
are formed with a due sense of the responsibility attaching to
those who are guides and leaders of their fellow-men ; but if you
do act under this sense of responsibility, if you are ever ready to
listen to the voice of reason, if you never shut out any light
which you can get, if you resort to all the means within your
reach for the solution of any difiiculties which occur to you, and
if you give the whole mind anxiously and unreservedly to the
ascertainment of truth, you may justly hope to arrive at sound
conclusions, and feel a reasonable confidence that your influence
upon your fellow-countrymen will be honourable to you, and
beneficial to them.

There is, no doubt, in native society and amongst the masses
of the native population, an undercurrent of feel-
Press i n o s an ^ opinions about which we know little or
nothing. Partially, and but partially, these feelings
and opinions find expression through the medium of the Native
Press, and thus occasionally they come to light. But the glimpses
thus obtained are very far from satisfactory either as to the
course or purity of the stream, which, nevertheless, is thus

University of Madras.

carrying health or disease, life or death, into the very heart of the
population. Here, then, gentlemen, I think is a field in which
you, and such as you, may do good and laudable service. Your
influence can extend where ours cannot reach, and you may know
of evils of which we are ignorant. Gentlemen, I would say in
particular that it belongs to you and those educated like you to
raise the character of the Native Press, to render it a certain
instrument of good instead of a too probable instrument of evil.

But it is time that I should say a few words specially to the
Bachelors of Law. I infer from the degree which

la^ers^fhS ? ou have chosen t]bat your intention is to devote
act upon. yourselves to the law as a profession, and that you

desire to serve your country either as Advocates
or as Judges. It would ill-become me, gentlemen, to say
anything in disparagement of that choice. It is a profession
which holds out to you many substantial rewards ; but be
assured, it yields its prizes only to those who fairly win them by
industry, ability, and integrity. It was a great satisfaction to
the Judges of the High Court when they found themselves at
liberty to admit the Bachelors of Law of this University to prac-
tice generally in that Court, requiring them only first to devote
a short time to the task of making themselves familiar with its
practice and procedure ; and though this has not hitherto been
done at the other Presidencies, we trust to the good conduct of
the Vakeels whom we have already admitted, and the Advocates
and Vakeels who may hereafter be admitted, to justify the step.
Gentlemen, in the practice of this profession you must neither
forget your duty to your clients, nor your duty to yourselves.
The one demands of you that you should give to your client the
full benefit of your knowledge, experience, and judgment, sparing
no pains to render these as perfect as you can ; the other
demands of you, that you should never, even from zeal for your
client, still less from any motive of self-interest, stoop to any
dishonourable or unworthy practice. As to zeal for the client,
I am afraid that it is not generally in this country a very
strong feeling ; and it would not, I think, often be sufficient
in itself to tempt the practitioner far astray from the right
path, as it has sometimes done elsewhere; but, alas ! the baser
motive of self-interest is strong enough everywhere; and in
this country litigation is generally so interwoven with fraud
and falsehood, that you will need to be ever on your guard
against involving yourselves in any complicity with the mis-
deeds of your clients. There are, I believe, some persons who
can hardly persuade themselves that the profession of advo-

1866. The Honorable Sir Adam Bittleston. 39

cacy can ever be consistent with personal honour ; but this
opinion is probably influenced mainly by a mistaken notion of
what the Advocate's duty is, or by the recollection of some par-
ticular instance or instances, rare and exceptional, in which the
individual Advocate has forgotten his duty and abused his
privilege. So easy is it, gentlemen, i'or a very small number o
evil-doers to bring discredit on any brotherhood to which they
belong ! But I am convinced that it is enough to appeal to tho
clmracter of the English Bar as a body, in refutation of tho
opinion to which I have referred. There is no doubt what thf3
view is which that body now entertains of the Advocate's duty.
On a recent occasion it was exhibited in a very marked manner.
The English Bar were entertaining an illustrious French Advo-
cate, M. Berry er, and in the ancient hall of the Middle Temple
there was a very large assembly of English Advocates and
Judges to do honour to their guest. Amongst those present was
one venerable in age and laden with honours, who had presided
over the deliberations of the House of Lords and sat in the chief
seat of Justice, and who, in the midst of a life of marvellous
activity, both in Parliament and at the Bar, had found time for
voluminous authorship in many departments of learning ; but on
this (as he had on other occasions) he gave expression to a
sentiment which met with no response from that great meeting.
Not even the admiration and respect felt for Lord Brougham
could extract any token of assent to his opinion, when he said
that the first great quality of an Advocate was tc to reckon
everything subordinate to the interests of his client. 1 "

But when the present Lord Chief Justice of England rose
shortly afterwards, and in terms of eloquent indignation repu-
diated the notion that the Advocate was under an obligation to
sacrifice everything to the interests of his client, the hall rang
with cheers ; and 1 cannot do better than read to you the words
which met with such cordial assent : " Much as I admire (he
said) the great abilities of M. Berryer, to my mind his crowning
virtue, as it ought to be that of every Advocate, is, that he has
throughout his career conducted his cases with untarnished
honour. The arms which an Advocate wields he ought to use
as a warrior, not as an assassin. He ought to uphold the
interests of his clients per fas, but not per nefas. He ought to
know how to reconcile the interests of his client with the eternal
interests of truth and justice." Act, gentlemen, upon these
principles. Remember that your vocation is to aid in the
administration of justice, and equally whether you are Advocates
or Judges, let your motto be " Fiat Justitia."

40 University of Madras.

I have already detained you too long, but perhaps I may be
excused on this occasion, the last on which our present Chan-
cellor will preside over our meetings, for stepping aside from
the direct path of this exhortation, to say that we bid him fare-
well with great regret, and with a grateful sense of the active
and liberal interest which he has manifested in the cause of
education during the period of his Governorship. There is, I am
persuaded, no man Love who will join more heartily than he, in
the wish with which I now conclude. May yours be that
suavissima vita which consists mainly in the consciousness of
daily growing better ; and may the Almighty Ruler of the
Universe so guide and prosper all our efforts that the plants
of learning and of virtue which we plant may strike deep into
the soil and become healthy and vigorous trees, stretching
forth their branches in all directions over the length and breadth
of the land, and yielding abundantly all manner of wholesome
and pleasant fruit to a nation continually increasing in pros-
perity, and happiness, and wisdom.



Gentlemen, This is not the first occasion on which it has
been my duty and my privilege to address the successful can-
didates for degrees at the annual Convocation of the University
of Madras. Ten years ago, when this University was yet in its
infancy, when its permanence was yet uncertain, and its success
was a matter of speculation and of doubt, it devolved upon me,
by the direction of our first Chancellor, to deliver the first ad-
dress to the first graduates, to congratulate them on the honour-
able termination of their academic course, and to exhort them to
conduct themselves worthily of the degrees which had been con-
ferred upon them. At the period to which I refer, little more than

eleven months had elapsed since the first outbreak
ofthe Mutin ayS ^ *k e great mutiny. Delhi had fallen, and Luckno w

had been relieved ; but the flames of rebellion were
still unquenched. Central India was still overrun by Tantia
Topee's levies. Rohilcund was still in revolt. The Talookdars
of Oudh were still unsubdued. And in our own Presidency ,
although we had been mercifully spared from the horrors to
which our brethren in Northern India had been exposed, there
was in the minds of many a not unnatural feeling that the time
was scarcely suited to educational experiments, that there were

1868. The Honorable A. J. Arbuthnot. 41

other more pressing necessities for which the revenues of the
State ought to be reserved, and that it was not improbable that
the comprehensive measures for the extension and advancement
of public instruction, which had been sanctioned only four years
before, would have to be materially curtailed, if not altogether

And not only in this country but in England had doubts
begun to be felt and controversies to revive in
cSer^of regard to the educational policy of the Govern-
Native edu- ment of British India. Before the mutiny broke
out, that policy was considered to have been
settled upon just and liberal principles, in what happily con-
tinues to be the Great Charter of native education, the Educa-
tional Despatch of 1854; but at the time of which I speak there
was scarcely a topic of importance adverted to in that despatch,
which was not treated as an open question ; hardly a principle
enforced in it which was not contested by one party or another.
That despatch had laid down that considerable extension should
be given to the educational operations of the Government in all
branches, and especially to the dissemination of useful and
practical knowledge among the lower classes. At the very time
at which the first Convocation of the University was being
held, the policy of such an educational extension was being
questioned in an official and authoritative document, emanating
from one of the leading members of the British Government, who
at that time held the office of President of the Board of Control.

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 35 of 66)