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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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The despatch of 1854 had laid great stress on the grant-in-
aid system, as being the most economical, and, in many respects,
the most effectual means of extending education, and at the same
time placing it upon a sound basis. The policy of the grant-
in-aid system, and especially its application to schools establish-
ed by Christian Missionaries, which if not expressly provided for,
was clearly contemplated in the despatch, was being denounced
by the same Minister and by others who shared in his views,
and it was shortly afterwards officially notified that the system
was under the consideration of the Home Government. The
despatch had declared that it was neither the aim nor desire
of the British Government to " substitute English for the ver-
nacular dialects of the country/' and that " any acquaintance
with improved European knowledge " could only be conveyed
to the great mass of the people ' ' through one or other of the ver-
nacular languages/' Throughout that year, 1858. it was argued,
not indeed officially, but in quarters scarcely less influential ; in
public journals whichere now have largely influenced official

University of Madras.

men and official measures, that the substitution of the English
language for the vernacular languages of India was not the
impossibility which it had been hitherto considered, that the
adoption of the former as the language of official business was
both practicable and desirable, and that with reference to the
desire for English instruction which existed in many parts of
the country, the policy of communicating all elementary instruc-
tion through the medium of the vernacular languages was a
mistaken policy.

Moreover, it was already known that the Government of
India would shortly be transferred from the control
diJc e ompany In " of tlie Great Company, which had administered it
for a century, to the direct control of the Crown.
The Court of Directors which had sanctioned, and in whose name
had been issued the Education Despatch of 1854, that once power-
ful body under which some of the foremost statesmen of the
British nation had been willing to serve, which had censured
Wellesley and recalled Ellenborough, which had honored Malcolm
and Munro, and to the great loss of this our Presidency had passed
over the high-minded and heroic Metcalf e, that Court which had
numbered among its servants, Civil and Military, some of the
ablest public officers which any service had produced, was about to
be deprived of its powers ; that system of Government which in
the unexaggerated language of its distinguished advocates had
been " not only one of the purest in intention, but one of the most
beneficent in act ever known among mankind/' which had
planted the germs and had laid the foundations of nearly all the
improvements since carried out in India, was on the eve of being
abolished. It was under these circumstances that the University
of Madras held its first Convocation for conferring degrees, and,
as might be expected, the character of the ceremonial was in keep-
ing with the feelings of doubt and incertitude which prevailed.

It was not in the spacious hall in which we are now assem-
bled, surrounded by the portraits of some of the
mosTconspicu- most conspicuous of India's -worthies ; of Clive,
ous of India's the founder of the Empire ; of the great Duke
and his illustrious brother ; of Munro, the soldier-
statesman, whose fame is imperishably connected with the
Presidency in which he faithfully served and wisely ruled, and
whose minute on native education is the earliest State paper
on this subject in the archives of the Madras Government ; of
the eminent Judge and Jurist, Sir Thomas Strange; of Bentinck
who, with the aid of his talented colleague, determined the much-
vexed question whether the educational funds, then sufficient

1868. The Honorable A. J. Arbuthnot. 43

only for the instruction of the upper classes, should be devoted to
teaching European literature and science, or should be reserved
exclusively for Oriental learning ; of our first Chancellor, Lord
Harris, whose government is entitled to the credit of having
inaugurated nearly all those measures for the moral and material
improvement of this Presidency which are now in progress;
(Gentlemen, if this Convocation had been held a few months
later, it would have been in my power to draw your attention to
another portrait, which will soon adorn these walls, the portrait
of one who will long be held in affectionate remembrance in
Madras; the lamented William Morehead, the second Vice-
Chancellor of this University) ; it was not, I repeat, in this spa-
cious hall, surrounded by the historical associations which these
pictures recall to our minds, that we assembled for our first Con-
vocation. We met on that occasion in a small and unpretending
building, ill-adapted and inconvenient for an important public
gathering. The ceremonial, if such it may be called, was of the
most informal and unimpressive description. The attendance
was scanty. The interest in the proceedings was confined to a

During the ten years which have since elapsed, a great
Progress made change has taken place. Most of the questions
between 1858 which were then so eagerly discussed have been
long since settled; each one of the benevolent
measures sanctioned by the Court of Directors in 1854 has
been more or less vigorously carried out. The University is
no longer an experiment. It is an accomplished and admitted
success. Its influence is annually attested by the increasing
number of under-graduates, and by the marked improvement
which is taking place in the standard of school instruction
throughout the Presidency ; an improvement which is not con-
fined to the Government schools, but which is to be found in an
equally marked degree in the numerous independent institutions
which have grown up and thriven of late years under the foster-
ing influence of the grant-in-aid system and of the valuable
system of examinations which this University has supplied. I
find that in the first year of the University's existence the num-
ber of candidates who passed the Matriculation Examination
(and in that year two examinations were held) was 44, of whom
all but 14 came from Government -schools. For some years after-
wards the numbers diminished instead of increasing ; the fact, I
believe, having been that many of; the candidates who presented
themselves at the first two examinations were persons who
had completed their school studies^some time previously. It was

44 University of Madras.

not until 1862 that there were decided and unmistakable symp-
toms of progress. In that year the number of students who passed
the Matriculation Examination rose to 82, of whom 33 came from
independent schools ; and since that time there has been a con-
tinuous advance up to and including the present year, when the
number of successful candidates has reached 338, of whom no
less than 209 have been educated in other schools, either entirely
independent of, or only partially supported by, the State.

The results of the First Examination in Arts, an exami-
nation which was introduced only five years ago, must be re-
garded as not less satisfactory, if due allowance be made for the
higher standard which is demanded, the number of successful can-
didates having risen from 23 in 1864 to 117 in the present year.

One very satisfactory feature in these examinations is that
nearly every district in the Presidency is represented in them.
Districts in which not very long since English education was
almost unknown, now send up year after year successful can-
didates for Matriculation and for the First Examination in Arts.
At Combaconum and Tanjore, at Calicut and Trevandrum, at
Madura and Tinnevelly, at Bellary and Yizagaptam, at Masuli-
patam and* Rajahmundry, at Nellore and Chittoor, at Salem
and Cuddalore, at Trichinopoly and Negapatam, at Mangalore
and Cannanore, at all these places well instructed youths annu-
ally come forward to pass examinations which a few years ago
would not have been attempted by a dozen students in the Pre-
sidency town.

The results of the examinations for degrees have not hither-
The two Gov- ^ ^ een so marked. Up to this time the degrees
eminent Col- in Arts have been almost entirely monopolized by
leges> the Presidency College ; but the Provincial College

at Combaconum bids fair to become a formidable rival at no
very distant date, and if we may judge from the large number
of Presidency College graduates who have received the ground-
work of their education in the College on the banks of the
Cauvery, it will need all the efforts of the older institution to
maintain her position in the examination list. The admirable
school at Madras under the management of the Free Church of
Scotland Mission, those maintained by the Church Missionary
Society at Masulipatam and by the Gospel Society at Tanjore,
and the High School supported at Trevandrum by the enlight-
ened Rajah of Travancore, all give promise of carrying away in
future their fair share of the honors which hitherto have been
almost exclusively enjoyed by the Government College.

1868. The Honorable A. J. Arbuthnot. 45

Gentlemen, when we consider these facts, and when we
look back to the educational condition of this Pre-
sidency within the memory of not a few of those
who are now assembled in this hall ; when we call
to mind the acrimonious controversies which so long obstructed
progress, and the party spirit which existed ; when we remember
the difficulties and discouragements under which my friend and
colleague in this Senate, our present Director of Public Instruc-
tion, sent forth year after year those batches of High School
proficients who were the first fruits of his modest but most useful
labours, and were the pioneers of Western civilization among their
countrymen ; when we compare the spirit of generous rivalry
and co-operation which now animates the various sections of edu-
cationists, with the atmosphere of contest and controversy under
which the earlier educational efforts of this Presidency were put
forth, it is impossible not to be struck by the contrast which the
present offers to the past, not to be impressed by the wisdom of
the policy laid down in that memorable despatch to which I have
more than once alluded.

But here, gentlemen, I nmst guard against its being sup-
posed, that while I thus draw attention to the com-
paratively satisfactory results of the educational
policy adopted by the Government of India of late
years, we who have been engaged in the duty of carrying out that
policy, are not painfully sensible that still greater results might
reasonably have been looked for; that at all events in some
branches of our educational administration more ought to have
been effected ; and that what has been done is insignificant in
comparison with that which remains to be accomplished. In the
matter of the elementary education of the masses, we have done
little more than turn the first sods. The great lines of progress
in this department of national education have still to be construct-
ed. It has yet to be settled what machinery shall be finally
adopted ; whether the measures now in progress for the improve-
ment of the indigenous schools with which the country abounds,
will in the long run prove effectual, or whether for our village
schools, as for our local roads, we shall be compelled, here, as
elsewhere, to resort to a local cess. These are questions which
demand the anxious consideration of all who are interested in the
progress of the nation, and not least of those who, like yourselves,
having been taught to value sound learning, are bound to do
what you can to disseminate its treasures, even though it be in
a rudimentary form, among your less favoured countrymen.

And now, gentlemen, it behoves me, without any longer

46 University of Madras.

dwelling on the reflections which have been suggested by a
retrospect of the past history of education in Madras, to address
to you those words of congratulation and of counsel which the
University has commissioned me to speak. Gentlemen, the
Senate bids me to welcome you on your admission as members
of an honorable body, to offer to you their congratulations 011
the completion so far of your academic course, and in the words
of the Bye-law, in obedience to which this address is delivered,
"to exhort you to conduct yourselves suitably unto the position
to which, by the degrees severally conferred upon you, you
have attained."

It has been more than once pointed out that the examina-
tion for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in an Indian University
corresponds rather with the Honor Examinations, than with the
mere Pass Examinations, of the great English Universities. It
is considered that a place in the first class in the examination for
the degree of Bachelor of Arts in this University is fully equal
in respect to the attainments which it represents to a second
class in Honors either at Oxford or Cambridge.

Rama Rau Swaminatha Suba Rau, to this honorable posi-
tion you have attained, and on behalf of the Senate I heartily
congratulate you on your success.

I do not know whether any of you intend to compete for
the still higher distinction which, the University holds out in the
degree of Master of Arts. You are probably aware that some of
your fellow-students at Calcutta have already attained this
honor, and I trust that this University will be in a position to
enrol Masters of Arts among her graduates at no very distant
date. But whatever may be your intentions on this point, the
course of study which you have gone through has been sufficient
to develop and strengthen your intellectual faculties, and has
enabled you to pursue without further aid from teachers that
system of self-education which it behoves every man to carry on,
so far as circumstances may admit, throughout the whole period
of life. It has rendered you more or less qualified to fcnter upon
the study of any branch of Natural Philosophy or of Physical
Science to which your tastes may lead you, and it foas unsealed
to you the copious, the inexhaustible stores of a literature, which
in its variety, in its extent, and in its intrinsic valiae, surpasses
all the literatures of the civilized world. It has, I would fain
hope, reached your hearts as well as your minds,
and has filled you with that loVe of touth, with
that high sense of duty, for the absenoo. of which
no amount of mental cultivation can make amends. But every

1868. The Hcmorable A. J. Arbuthnot. 47

position has its responsibilities as well as its advantages, and
the greater the advantages, so much the more weighty are the
obligations which they entail. It is for you to be the inter-
preters to your countrymen of the principles and of the knowledge
which you have acquired in the course of your academical
studies, of the training, moral and intellectual, which you have
received ; to prove by your conduct in the affairs of every-day
life, whether your lot be cast in the Court or in the Cutchery,
in the mart or on the farm, that the studies to which you have
devoted yourselves have had an ennobling and purifying influ-
ence upon your characters, that they have taught you to love
truth and honor, to eschew all that is mean and selfish, and to
be guided in all the actions of your lives by a prevailing and
constraining sense of duty.

It is sometimes said that a wide separation has taken place
between that comparatively small section of the
Creation of native community who have been educated through
Se the medium of the English language and the

masses of their countrymen, that the former have
become denationalized, and that they do not form that link,
which it was hoped they would have constituted, between the
European Governors of the country and the great mass of the
population. Whether this be the case or not at the present time,
it is clear that it must be so eventually, if the learning of the
West shall continue to be confined to those who are able to
acquire it through the medium of what must ever be an unknown
tongue to the millions in this land. Surely, therefore, it is the
bounden duty of every man who is interested in native progress,
to do what in him lies in stimulating the diffusion of sound learn-
ing through the medium of the vernacular languages, and in
helping forward the creation of a pure vernacular literature.
In this latter object the University has a right to look for active
co-operation from her graduates ; for if such a vernacular litera-
ture as this country needs, is ever to be formed, it must be the
work of men who, like yourselves, combine solid attainments in
English literature and science with a thorough knowledge of the
languages of India.

There is another sphere of duty for which the University

of Madras desires to enlist the services of her

Profession of graduates, and upon which she hopes that some

a Schoolmaster. o . r

of you, who have this day been enrolled as her
members, will not be unwilling to enter. I refer to the pro-
fession of a schoolmaster. It is clear that if the elementary
instruction of the great body of the people of this land is to

48 University of Madras-

be carried out to the extent which her well-wishers desire, it
must be altogether by means of native agency, and that even
in the higher branches of education native agency must be
largely and increasingly employed. At the present time, the
Senate of this University have under their consideration an
important proposition of which the practical effect would be to
substitute Sanscrit for the vernacular languages in the higher
examination in the Faculty of Arts j a proposition which I
believe might be adopted without in any way hindering the
acquisiMori of that knowledge of the vernacular languages which
every educated Hindoo ought to possess : provided only, and
this I hold to be an essential proviso, that we had the means of
so conducting our examinations in the languages which we retain
in our curriculum, as to render them practical tests, not only of
the candidate's knowledge of the language to which the exami-
nation more particularly relates, but of his power of explaining
himself with elegance and precision in his mother-tongue. I
never read the examination papers which are printed annually in
our University Calendar without being struck by the complete
exclusion of the vernaculars from the papers of questions on the
English and Latin languages. In all these papers, and even in
those which specially relate to the native languages, English is
treated as if it were the mother- tongue of all the candidates.
This, of course, arises from the fact that for the most part both
teachers and examiners are Englishmen, most of them professing
either no knowledge, or, at the best, a very imperfect knowledge
of the languages of India. All this must be changed if the
vernacular languages are no longer to be made special subjects
of examination, and both in teaching and in examining native
agency must be much more largely employed.

G-entlemen, I am aware that the profession of a teacher is
generally regarded as deficient in many of the attractions which
are to be found in other walks in life. The position is usually
considered to be less influential than those which may be attained
in other professions. As a general rule, the emoluments are smaller,
and the work, if it be done effectually, involves no slight amount
of mental and* physical labour. But the picture has its bright
side as well. In no profession is a talented and conscientious
man enabled to exercise a greater amount of real influence for
good. In few does he see more speedily or more tangibly the
results of his labours. And in the duties themselves, especially
in the higher branches of the profession, there is surely much
that must afford a constant interest and gratification to a
cultivated mind, much that is perfectly consistent with the

1869. His Excellency Lord Xapier. 1-0

development of those qualities which go to constitute human
greatness. If I were called upon to name the great-
m The greatest e st man who has lived and died in this nineteenth
XlXth Century 6 century, I should select, not a great Statesman, not
a great Orator, not a great General, not a great
Lawyer, not a great Poet ; not Pitt, not Canning, not Welling-
ton, not Peel, not Wordsworth, not Metcalfe, not even our own
Munro, though in him were embodied more than in most of those
I have named, the true elements of greatness ; I should select
none of these my choice would fall on one who labored long
and nobly in the profession which I am now urging upon your
attention, on one who in the piety and purity of his life, in the
earnestness and simplicity of his character, in the largeness
and liberality of his views, in the solidity of his learning, in his
reverence for all that was great and good, in his abhorrence of
all that was mean and petty, combined in himself more of the
real characteristics of greatness than are to be found in any
other man of his time. I pray that among the graduates of this
University there may yet be some who will strive to follow the
example of him, with whose name I close this address, the great
and good Dr. Arnold.



Gentlemen, If I had the honor to address an assembly of this
The English Uni character in England, there is no doubt that a
versities, their an- large portion of my remarks would have a retro-
s P ective turn - The audience would be, like
you, an audience of youth and hope, but the
place would be a place of age and memory. The thoughts of my
hearers might naturally be pointed not only to the recent years of
sport and study, of companionship and rivalry, of meditation, of
aspiration, of trials surmounted, and of triumphs won ; but the
imagination would be directed far beyond the limits of personal
recollection and individual life to the long tradition of a time-
hallowed institution. First, the ancient founders would be invoked,
grave and pious figures of a vanished faith, then the early bene-
factors, kings and men of fame in camp, or cloister, or court, or
school, such forms as we find in painted chronicles or on alabas-
ter tombs ; then, as the darkness of the middle ages fades away,
would be cited the authors of free thought, the revivers of classic
taste, the legislators of knowledge, the parents of modern specu-
lation, observation, and discovery. Then patriots, politicians,
artists, prosecutors of useful science, of industrial inventions, of

50 University of Madras.

improved laws, of public liberty, in splendid array down to the
fathers of the living and listening crowd. Nor would the scene
be unworthy of the history, for in the midst of coeval trees, Halls
and Colleges, Chapels and Libraries, Museums and Galleries
would stand around, some touched with the traces of a cherished
decay, some in the sober hues of maturity, some where the noise
of the builders had scarcely ceased, but all testifying to an
incessant inheritance of human attachment. Thus the hearers
would be made to feel that they are at most an equal link
between the generations that are gone and those that are to come,
the present would scarcely appear of like value with the past ;
and while there would be the noblest incentives to emulation, the
mind would be awed by the accumulated impressions of departed
worth. I need not say now different is the theme and how different
the auditory in the Convocation of Madras. The University here
is not of ancient origin or national growth. It is not identified
with the glory, the religion, the recollections, the greatness of the
country. A single generation has seen its birth and life, it
is a foreign graft, it has not even acquired a visible habitation.
Though this incorporeal influence has already given an impor-
tant impulse to intelligence and morality, I feel that in endea-
vouring to measure the significance of the University, that is of
European teaching in its highest functions, I must appeal to your
faith, I must lead you forward into the seductive regions of
the future.

What then does the higher European education promise to

TO. *_%. e the people of this country ? To what aims and ends
ihe traits ok r r J * , *

higher European does the road conduct on which you nave planted
your footsteps, I trust, with constancy and ardour,
on which you have reached to-day a memorable stage, and which
you are prepared to follow out to a higher issue. It conducts to

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 36 of 66)