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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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many things, to more, no doubt, than my vision can reach or my
sagacity penetrate, to more certainly than I can here delineate
and analyze. I shall only designate four objects which you seem
destined by this method to attain, and which are certainly of no
mean importance. The higher English education will give you
1 . A new basis of national unity ; 2. A better knowledge of your
own country ; 3. Self-government, the government of India by the
Indians in a modified form ; 4. A participation in the general
intellectual movement of the world, now and hereafter.

There is probably no principle in the political system of a
country more valuable than national unity, that is,
a " ^ e P reva l ence among the whole population of one
belief, one language, one extraction, and similar

1869. His Excellency Lord Napier. 51

sentiments and attachments. But there is no region, which nature
appears to have designed by physical conformation for political
union or cohesion, which is more deficient in the elements of har-
mony than India. You have two capital religions, each command-
ing a hearty support on the part of its adherents. The Mussul-
man religion moulds its own disciples to a general equality within,
but without it is intolerant and aggressive, and its characteristic
dogmas are directly repugnant to the Hindu. The Brahminical
system, less proselytizing and more patient of dissent, embodies
in its ceremonial and social aspects every contrivance to fix its
own votaries in impassable divisions. Each religion has a sacred
language that no one understands. Over the whole surface of the
Peninsula there prevails a variety and mixture of exotic and indi-
genous languages which are respectively the depositaries and
instruments of polite literature, of written correspondence, of
public or commercial business, of popular intercourse. I need
not enlarge on the difference of origin which the numerous races
of the land discover, and which are manifested not only by com-
plexion, features, and physical constitution, but also by moral
and intellectual inclinations and aptitude. Men who believe in
antagonistic religions, who speak different languages, who betray
different descents, cannot have much community of affections ; all
have had their vicissitudes of prosperity and suffering, and for
the most part the ascendancy and glory of one race have been
the oppression and shame of another.. How far the resentments
of other times have been continued I cannot judge, but this much
I may affirm that few have ascended to the idea of nationality or
country. There has been no standing ground which the confused

and variegated multitude could occupy together,
ty the mother But * ne arena of reconciliation is now thrown open,
of a new Com- The higher European culture will weave the bond of

union. Those who have filled a common hall, those
who have mixed on the same benches, those who have crowded
to the same fountains of knowledge with the same thirst, those
who have been fused together by the fire of the same generous
ambitions, they can call each other fellow-countrymen, they can
do a common work. In this way Universities in India are destined
to a larger duty than they have exercised elsewhere, they are not
only the nursing mothers of learning and virtue and intellectual
delights, they are nursing mothers of a new Commonwealth.

European culture will help you to conceive and create a

Investigate common country, but in directing your hopes to a

the institutions new and better India in the future, do 1 ask you

to despise and forget India as it was ? As it is, do

52 University of Madras.

I invite you to forsake the memory and the works of your an-
cestors ? Far from it. The first result of the introduction of a
new learning, in a country possessing an indigenous and 'Station-
ary civilization, is sometimes to breed a superficial contempt for
what is old and past. But the maturer effect is quite different.
The higher education will teach you to undervalue nothing but to
admire with discernment. If it dispels some illusions, it will
unseal your eyes to a variety of interests and pleasures to which
you are now insensible. Many familiar objects will gain signifi-
cance and charm, the dullest thing will quicken with vitality and
meaning. In fact there is much in the ancient polity, art, litera-
ture, and manners of the Indians that Indians alone, armed with
the powerful keys of European criticism, can fully open to the
Western world. The zeal with which all the institutions and
monuments of the East are investigated in Europe should be con-
tagious here. I wish I could see public functionaries and persons
of independent means in this country devoting their leisure to
local history and archaeology, to the collection and preservation of
manuscripts, coins and other relics of past ages, to an analysis of
native science, treated from a critical European point of view, in
fact to securing and placing on record many things of the highest
moment which are rushing fast to oblivion and decay. Why
should there not be, even now, in every province native gentlemen
doing from motives of intelligent patriotism all that Mr. Car-
michael and Mr. Nelson have recently done so well in their re-
spective districts by the invitation of Government ?

G-entlemen, those who possess a country and understand it
Educated In- nave an undeniable claim to a share in the honours
dians and the and emoluments of its government. If this was not
Public Service. true ^ fa eu t he higher education would be a snare,
a folly, a curse, and not a blessing. The University would other-
wise be engaged in producing intelligences without duties, instru-
ments without labour, ambitions without satisfactions, the worst
things in an unhappy state. We have not established these
manufactories of mind for selfish purposes, as the Romans taught
philosophy to slaves. You will, perhaps, hear designing or vision-
ary Englishmen on platforms or in Parliaments affirm that Eng-
land is bringing up India for independence. Such illusions it is
not wise to cherish. The English conquered India for the interest
of England, they retain India for the interest and glory of Eng-
land. But the glory of England is in the minds of her people
indissolubly associated with humanity and justice. I do not say
that in all times and in all places these principles have been uni-
formly respected, but I believe it may be deliberately asserted

1869. His Excellency Lord Napier. 53

that in the management of her colonies and dependencies England
has in the long run admitted the aborigines and the conquered to
a larger share of political liberty, commercial equality, and public
rights than any other State. In periods of tranquillity and social
development there is, indeed, in the minds of the English people a
kindly, almost a precipitate desire to raise the subjugated nations
to like privileges with themselves. I call upon you therefore,
Administrators, Magistrates, Physicians, Engineers of the future,
to prepare yourselves for increased responsibilities and more
honorable employments. The field of promotion will expand at
least as fast as the qualifications to fill it. I have stated before
that in my humble judgment it is only through native channels, en-
lightened by European education, that complete and correct views
of native science, arts, manners, and institutions can be conveyed
to Europe. I now affirm with the same conviction
tliat ** is onl y bv . na tive hands that the full benefits
of European civilization can be naturalized in
India among the vast mysterious numbers who live and suffer
and labour under our benevolent but often blind and helpless
sway. I have seen an old experienced and earnest member
of the Civil Service closing his official career with the com-
plaint, that he was leaving the land on which he had expended
the strength of his hands and the warmth of his heart, leaving
it still dark, undiscovered, impenetrable. We need the native
to reach the native. Remember then, gentlemen, that you,
the adopted children of European civilization, are the inter-
preters between the stranger and the Indian, between the
Government and the subject, between the great and the small,
between the strong and the weak ; that you walk armed with
a two-fold knowledge between two nations that do not know
each other, that cannot know each other, except through
you. Will you carry a faithful or deceitful message ? If you
are the ingenuous and careful representatives of England's
good-will to India and of India's claims on England, then you
will put your talent to a noble use ; if, on the other hand, you
hesitate, misconstrue, conceal, if you show the Government in
false colours to the country, and the country in false colours to
the Government, then you do a double wrong, a wrong to Eng-
land and a wrong to India, you widen what you ought to close,
you alienate where you ought to reconcile, you continue distrust
and perpetuate misconception where it is your mission to spread
mutual confidence and mutual light. I charge you to lay this
feature in your position particularly to heart. Be true English-
men to Indians; be true Indians to Englishmen, with rectitude
and single-mindedness as becomes faithful interpreters.

54 University of Madras.

Within the territories of the Queen you are not destined to
be servants, you are not destined to be masters, you will fill the
office of auxiliaries and. mediators ; but beyond Her Majesty's
dominions there lies a scene where there are none of the imperious
necessities of a foreign authority. The peaceful consolidation of
English power which we now witness is a guarantee for the pre-
servation and regulated independence of Native States. Those
States too are all launched, under English impulses and English
control, on the course of civilization and progress. Cochin,
Travancore, Mysore, and Hyderabad, with fifteen millions of
inhabitants, are open to the educated youths of Madras, who by
strength and knowledge and enterprise are enabled to reach
them and rule them. Places, which were once valued as a
convenient refuge for tarnished reputations and broken for-
tunes, will afford a conspicuous theatre for the superabundant
intelligence and energies which the ancient Presidencies may
throw off.

Having thus endeavoured briefly to define the relations in
which you are placed by the higher European education to the
State and to your countrymen, to England and to India, I cannot
conclude without reminding you of the partnership which you
have attained with the past, the distant, and the future, with
minds and nations extinct, with the great circle of contemporaries,
and with the prospective march of intelligence and knowledge.

And first I congratulate you that English is your

Superiority of avenue to the rest of mankind. I do not speak in

guage ng 18 a spirit of boastfulness. But it is a fact that, by

the mere force of numerical procession and pro-
pagation, the future world must belong to the English race which
possesses a preponderant share in it already. India might have
become the prey of some other sea-faring and exploring people.
The Dutch were a glorious and are still a respectable nation.
They might have subdued and held India, and they would have
taught you science and politics in Dutch. The Spaniards might
have added India to America, and they would have taught you the
same things through the Society of Jesus. But what sort of con-
tact would Dutch or Spanish have given you with the outer world ?
What commerce of intelligence could you have enjoyed with such
vehicles of utterance. Few valuable books are now written in
those languages, and few foreigners make those languages their
study. The Dutch and Spaniards learn other languages to make
themselves understood and to gain a knowledge of what is going
on. I wish to speak of the French with respect and even with
admiration. They strove with fluctuating fortunes for the

1869. J3t* Excellency Lord Napier. 55

mastery of India, and at length on the humble field of Wandewash,
Colonel Coote made you English subjects and English students.
I contend that you have no reason to regret it. French is still
the common language for men of culture in all
coimtr i es - I* surpasses all in lucidity. It is a
perfect vehicle of exposition and argument. It
contains many master-pieces in every province of literature. It
is still used in my opinion with increasing beauty and power,
and France vies with Germany and England in sending every
year to the press works of science, fancy, criticism, and research.
The springs of national genius and power are unimpaired.
France thinks and writes, and creates and agitates. But this
dazzling ascendancy must not blind us to the poverty of the
future. The area of French activity, though brilliant, is circum-
scribed. England not only thinks and writes and works, but
expands and multiplies unceasingly, embracing all the waste and
empty places on the earth, filling them with a free healthy pro-
gressive population, rude it is true, at present, and absorbed in
the conflict with material nature, but possessing all the slumber-
ing instincts and elements of the highest culture. If India had
received its European education from France, it would have
remained attached to France, in contact and communion with
France alone. Educated by England, India remains the political
dependancy of a single European State, but it shares the
intellectual fortunes of the United States and Australia, of more
than half the civilized world that is to be.

In reference to the dead languages, I hold in the main the
opinions which Mr. Norton has often expressed in
public here. Latin and Greek falsely called dead,
for they have long been our living tyrants, can
only in exceptional cases be a proper study for the Indians.
Most of what is beautiful and valuable in those languages has
been poured into modern European literature. It is of the
greatest importance that you should know what the Greeks
and the Romans were, what they wrote, what they did, how
they grew and fell, and what portions of their philosophy,
poetry, jurisprudence and political institutions have passed into
modern Society, but you can learn all this from English books
or from books translated into English from German and French.
The searching light of modern philology and criticism has
dissolved the fables of the ancients. Standing on the vantage
ground of distance and comprehensive knowledge, we know the
Greeks and Romans better than they knew themselves. To
learn Latin and Greek in order to understand them would be

56 University of Madras.

like learning the art of weaving to make a coat, when you can
buy a better coat ready made.

What amount of satisfaction the educated Indians may
derive from the perusal of works of imagination
agination im " * n m dern languages, it is difficult to anticipate.
So much in poetry and fiction depends on nature,
manners, traditions, and religion, that we may doubt whether
the generality of men will ever find much real enjoyment in
productions of the fancy belonging to a distant and different
people. There will be, of course, the interest of analysis, com-
parison, criticism, but not much of tender and intimate par-
ticipation. It amuses one to hear the boys in an Indian
school repeating verses which celebrate the beauty of the snow
drop, the comfort of the fireside, the affecting associations of
the country church-yard, and the virtues of the ano. It does
not seem probable that Shakespear, Scott, Byron, or Tennyson
are destined to supersede in the affections of the educated Hindu
the legendary epics, which contain the sources of national
religion and history, or the fables, apophthegms, and tales in
which popular humour and wisdom are condensed. The imagina-
tion and the heart of the Hindu will probably remain oriental,
however much his reason may become European. But for the
reason, gentlemen, how ample is the intellectual circle into which
you are now admitted ! The natural and abstract sciences, history,
political, literary, social, and sesthetic, the study and practice of
the fine arts, law and physic, the principles of agriculture,
sanitary, penal and economic enquiries, all claim your attention,
and all bear upon the phenomena and the interests of your own
country. The means I know of prosecuting sustained and
independent studies are still defective, but the least manifesta-
tion of a desire on your part to enter upon this course, the
least exhibition of a liberal spirit in the native community in the
pursuit of knowledge, for the sake of knowledge, would be met
by the State with generous sympathy.

Now, gentlemen, I bid you farewell. I wish that my feeble

voice could impel you fortunately and far on the

His (Lord various paths which are traced before you. Do not

S^to^grato- for et y ar teachers. Do not forget the University

ates. which has ratified and stamped your efforts. Do not

forget your fellow-students. Watch one another.

Strive against one another with a friendly jealousy. Let every

one be ashamed to do wrong before the face of those who have

shared the same lessons of knowledge and virtue. If knowledge

is not virtue as well as power, it is a bad power, the power of

1870. Mr. George Smith, 57

doing evil with greater energy, subtlety, and success. Animate
yourselves with a passion for the public good. Resist deceit and
covetousness. Be firm and frank but respectful and dutiful to
those who are in power. Be long-suffering to the poor and weak.
The cause of the higher European learning is entrusted to your
keeping. You might bring it to disgrace. But I doubt not
that you will carry it to higher honour.



" But chiefly the monid of a Man's Fortune

is in his own hands." Lord Bacon.

Graduates in Arts and Law, Gentlemen, it is said that
in the practice of some ancient Continental Uni-
t? act taiu ' f vers ities, it was at one time the custom to present
vereitS the Medical Graduate, on the day in which he took

his degree, with a ring, a barette, an open and a
shut book. The ring typified the solemn espousals of the
young Graduate to his profession. The barette or cap indi-
cated his consecration as a priest of science. The open book
symbolised the things already taught him, and the closed
volume was the significant emblem of that larger extent of
knowledge which, thenceforward, it was to be the business and
labour of his life to acquire.

Not in types and symbols, however significant, but by
solemn promises have you this day accepted the responsibilities
of your present position ; promises which espouse you to your
profession ; which consecrate you priests of science ; and which
pledge you to a " daily life and conversation " befitting your
position as the members of this University.

To each of the questions put to you by the noble Chan-
cellor of this University you have replied, this assembly being
witness, '" I do promise." May I entreat of you to realise the
extent of the obligations you have taken upon you, and often
in after-life to pause and reconsider their terms of solemn import.

The position which you have now attained as members of
this University is one, which, with distinguished honors carries
correlative duties and responsibilities, and I stand here before
you this day as the representative of the Senate of the Univer-
sity, to impress that fact upon your minds, and to encourage
as well as advise you to conduct yourselves henceforward

58 University of Madras.

" suitably unto the position to which, by the degrees conferred
upon you, you have attained." In fulfilling the duty confided to
me, I would more especially address those of you who, having
gained the higher honors of this University, are about to enter
upon the practical duties of life ; though the remarks made will
be found, I trust, more or less applicable to you all.

The open book of the past is in your hands, and all can read
in it how arduously and how well you have pursued the task
set before you. You have fought and won. Your success this
day is a source of gratification to the Senate, of honest pride to
yourselves and of satisfaction to your parents and friends. In the
name of the Senate I congratulate you. May the honorable and
successful past be the omen of an honourable and successful

At this important crisis of your lives your Alma Mater

would give you her parting advice. She would

Action and speak to you not so much of the past or even

dutjMjbe gmc of the pregent as of the future. She would stand

as a monitor athwart your pathway, not to ob-
struct the sunshine, but to moderate its glare ; not to damp your
joy, but to give it a noble aim by pointing out to you a future
of action and of duty. Gently would she take the closed volume
from your hands, and opening it inscribe on its earliest page
the significant words "the path to happiness is the path of
action and duty." The rest of that solemn volume, the record of
a useful and well-spent or of a useless and mis-spent life, each of
you must con for himself. Often in joy, often in sorrow, often
in hope, often in fear, often in perplexity, often in disappointment
will the leaves of that book be turned over. Heaven grant that
the closing page may be found to bear the assuring words
" Action and duty were the guides of his life," and now

14 After life's fitful fever he sleeps well."

Your future career and character will be mainly of your own
making, for the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands;
pause therefore and reflect how and after what pattern you will
mould yourselves. Your mental training has fitted you more or
less as Athletes to run the race of life with fair prospect of
success. But the race itself is yet before you, and he alone in
that Isthmian struggle will win the nobler than pine-leaf
crown, who, to culture and discipline of the mind adds culture
and discipline of the heart.

Your true education, that is to say the education of yourself
by yourself and your true life-work begin to-day. To-day you

I870.3fr. George Smith. 59

leave the Gymnasium and step into the wide arena of the Stadium.
Are you surprised that I speak of this day as the true commence-
ment of your studies, rather than as the day of their true
consummation? Do you point significantly to your Master's
Diploma and Hood as if these honorable insignia constituted
you literally Masters of Arts and Masters of Law. No idea
could be more erroneous ; no idea could be more groundless
and dangerous. Not thus are the Masters of Arts of the ancient
University of Oxford taught to regard the standpoint of their
graduation day, when, in the old Latin phrase, the Vice-
Chancellor confers upon them the right of " commencing in the
Faculty of Arts/' You are tyros, not proficients, Masters in
posse, not Masters in esse. Much of what you have acquired
may be compared to " the crops which are raised, not for the
sake of the harvest, but to be ploughed in as a dressing to
the land."

I take it for granted that you have already selected, or that
you purpose soon to select, a profession in life,
profession.^ * -^et the profession of your choice be emphatically
your life-work. Direct to its study the best powers
of your mind. In your professional career propose to yourself
an exalted aim and put in its service a persevering fidelity.
Strive with sustained effort and by every honorable means
to succeed in it. Let all knowledge which bears upon it directly
or indirectly claim your closest attention, and thus prove to
the world, by acts as well as by words, that you are earnest
men engaged in an earnest work, and that you are resolved
to ground your claims to advancement, not on smiles and
favors, not on patrons and friends, but on the extent and value
to the community of your professional acquirements. Let your
professional character, in short, be the real patron to which
you manfully and confidently look for ultimate success in life.
Every one knows full well that the busiest men, if methodical,
have always leisure time for studies and pursuits other than
those directly connected with their profession ; and as I antici-
pate that you will all be busy men, economical of time, picking
up its fragments that nothing be lost, I may benefit you by a few
practical hints as to the manner in which your horce subsecivce
may be spent with profit and advantage to yourselves.

Gentlemen, a serious duty bearing alike on your profes-
sional studies and on the pursuits of vour leisure

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 37 of 66)