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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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A serious duty. . ., -, -, A .'... ..

moments is the due and progressive training of
your intellectual powers. This training, no longer cribb'd,

60 University of Madras

cabin' d and confined by the imperious requirements of exami-
nation standards, involves not only the discipline of those
faculties whose powers have been cultivated, but also, and more
especially of those which are weak or which have been over-
looked and neglected. To secure, so to speak, the symmetric
development of the mind, the due balance and training of its
several powers should be aimed at. By careful observation
alike of the strong and of the weak points of your mental organ-
isation, you will be able to select such lines of study as shall
tend to develop the weak and to corroborate the strong. What-
ever of mental training your antecedent studies may have
effected for you, you may rest assured that you have intellec-
tual faculties which stand in need of further exercise and disci-
pline. In the earnest effort to "know thyself " you may
find, for example, that the faculty of imagination is stronger
than that of reasoning; that the power of association is greater
than that of generalisation ; or that the faculty of memory is
developed out of all proportion to that of judgment. And here
I may be permitted to observe that the remarkable power
of memory which most native students undoubtedly possess
is frequently rather a hindrance than a help to them in making
the results of study their own. Materials of thought collected
and recalled by memory alone too frequently fail to pass
further into the mind. They are consequently neither digested
nor assimilated. The bare materials of knowledge may be
accumulated, but it is thinking alone which makes what we read
ours. The philosophic Locke puts this truth forcibly thus,
" We are of the ruminating kind, and it is not enough to cram
ourselves with a great load of collections ; unless we chew them
over again, they will not give us st^ngth and nourishment."
Above all, you may find that your mental training is defective,

not from lack of capacity, but from some remedi-
of?h e e Ve ^ifi ment able or irremediable weakness of the will which

robs you of the power of controlling your own
minds. Never let it be forgotten that with steady effort, aided
by the cumulative power of habit, the processes of the intellect
can be brought under the control of the will. Set out, then,
with a determination not only to comprehend but also to master
your own minds. Many an educated man passes through life the
possessor of a mind of more than average power, which, because
unmastered by the will, is useless and dangerous in proportion to
its power and impulse. The frivolous, the wandering, the preju-
diced, the uncertain, the impulsive, and the vitiated, not to speak
of the diseased, are examples among many of minds which have
escaped from the necessary autocracy of the will. " This due

1870. Jlfr. George Smith. 6t

regulation and stern control of the processes of the mind/' says
a well-known author, " is indeed the foundation of all that is
high and excellent in the formation of character. He who does
not earnestly exercise it, but who allows his mind to wander,
as it may be led by its own incidental images or casual asso-
ciations, or by the influence of external things to which he is
continually exposed, endangers his highest interests both as an
intellectual and moral being."

Gentlemen, the broad fields of thought lie before you all
unfenced, and the golden time of youth is yours. Choose your
plot of ground with nice discrimination, let its tillage be within
the compass of your strength ; plough, sow, reap, and fill your
arms with the sheaves of an abundant harvest. Be not dis-
mayed at obstacles. The vinegar of perseverance will soften
the Alps of difficulty. " With labour and patience/' says the
Eastern Proverb, " the mulberry leaf becomes satin."

Man and Mind are noble subjects of study.


The study of human nature on the large scale is as grand
and elevating as the studv of it on the small scale is

Psychology. , ., m . -

petty and debasing. Ine science ot man s nature ;
the science of his physical peculiarities and geographical distri-
bution ; and the sciences which indicate the laws that govern men
when grouped in cities and nations deserve your careful study.
History, too, f( a quarry well worth the hawk," offers to you philo-
sophy illustrated by examples, and the wondrous lessons of
mind which moves the mass, of ideas more potent than bayonets.
It speaks to you of the justice of an Aristides, the simple life of
a Cincinnatus, the respect of a Regulus for his plighted word, the
Chastity of a Scipio and the virtues of a Cato, and it invites you
to a standpoint above the din and excitement of battle, of
revolution and of contending human interests, in order that
from that vantage ground you may calmly read the mighty
lessons of the world's infancy and manhood, and from them
gain a clue to the real aim and end of humanity itself. Or,
is your bent towards the science of Language ? The classification

of Languages is the classification of mankind. A
PhUology. rahVe scientific analysis of language proves the unity of

the human race. " One blood " ! What a wealth of
brotherhood and kindness lies hid in that short phrase. The
Chevalier Bunsen, an able writer and clear thinker on this subject,
gives a classification of the languages of men, and, after stating
the two possible hypotheses which have been advanced, first of

62 University of Madras.

several independent origins, and second of one sole origin of Lan-
guage, continues as follows : " If the first supposition be true,
the different tribes or families of languages, however analogous
they may be, as being the produce of the same human mind upon
the same outward world, by the same organic means, will, never-
theless, offer scarcely any affinity to each other in the skill display-
ed in their formation, and in the mode of it ; but their very roots,
full or empty ones, and all their words, monosyllabic or poly-
syllabic, must needs be entirely different. There may be some
similar expressions in those inarticulate bursts of feeling, not
reacted on by the mind, which grammarians call interjections.
There are, besides, some graphic imitations of external sounds,
called Onomatopoetica words the formation of which indicates
the, relatively, greatest passivity of the mind. There may be,
besides, some casual coincidences in real words ; but the law
of combination, applied to the elements of sound, gives a
mathematical proof that with all allowances, such a chance
is less than one in a million for the same combination of
sounds, signifiying the same precise object. If there be entirely
different beginnings of speech, as philosophical inquiry is
allowed to assume, and as the great philosophers of antiquity
have assumed, there can be none but stray coincidences between
words of a different origin. Referring to what has already been
stated as the result of the most accurate linguistic inquiries,
such a coincidence does exist between three great families spread-
ing from the north of Europe to the tropic Lands of Asia and
Africa. If there exists, not only in radical words, but even in
what may appear as the work of an exclusively peculiar coinage
the formative words and inflections which pervade the whole
structure of certain families of languages and are interwoven,
as it were, with every sentence pronounced in every one of their
branches. All nations which, from the dawn of history to our
days, have been the leaders of civilization, in Asia, Europe, and
Africa, must consequently have had one beginning." The
remarks of the learned writer refer more especially to the
Semitic, Japetic, and Chametic languages, but the same con-
clusions equally apply to the Turanian, which is a branch of
the Japetic. What could be more interesting to you as students
of philology and natives of this land, than to trace, for example,
your ancient Indian stock more or less closely allied to the
Sanskrit with its polysyllabic words and store of inflectional
forms through nearly all the languages of the West ; to note its
development into splendour and precision in the classic tongues
of Greece and Rome, and following, let us suppose, one of the
most remarkable of its branches into Central Europe, to observe

1870. Mr. George Smith. 63

its gradual transformation into the noble German tougue, the
language, emphatically of thought and philosophy, of poetry and
of taste.

Gentlemen, whatever may be lacking in these and other
sciences of Mind to give extension and intension to the intellec-
tual faculties, you will not fail to find in one or other of the
remaining classes under which the sciences and arts are grouped.

And here I may be allowed to solicit your attention to the
importance of Physical Science as a means of intel-
31 ~ lectual culture, and I do so, more especially because
no sufficient provision for instruction in the sciences
of Physios, Chemistry and Life has as yet been made in connec-
tion with the University itself, or with any of its affiliated

The groups of Science now alluded to deal, not so much
with abstractions, as with external and sensible objects ; their
study quickens the faculty of observation, the powers of com-
parison and generalization, and the mental habit of method and
arrangement. They familiarize the mind with the deeper philo-
sophies of seeing, hearing and touch, and, in the close interroga-
tion of Nature by actual experiment, they shew the value of the
processes of analysis and synthesis. In these sciences reason guides
observation, observation corrects theory, and truth can be proved
by means cognizable by the senses. " To unite observation and
reason, not to lose sight of the ideal of science to which man
aspires, and to search for it and find it by the route of experi-
ence, such," according to Victor Cousin, " is the problem of

These sciences are valuable not only as training grounds for
the intellect, but as store-houses of necessary information on
matters of practical importance in life ; matters which so under-
lie the political, scientific, literary and social demands of the
present time, that no man with any pretension to a liberal educa-
tion can afford to be ignorant of them. They constitute, more-
over, the best correctives of that cramping of the mind which
professional studies, ardently pursued, are so apt to induce.

Physical Science holds bold and not unsuccessful competi-
tion with the sciences of Mind to secure for its service the highest
intellect of the time. In an age when knowledge, no longer
satisfied with merely flowering into ideas is fruiting into the
practical on every side, it behoves those who are training for the

64 University of Madras.

actualities of life to comprehend the demands of the day, if they
would have their high and honorable degrees to represent realities,
not anachronisms.

Daily is it becoming more and more apparent that the posi-
tion of nations in the scale of civilization depends, mainly, upon
their greater or less acquaintance with, and employment of,
natural forces as aids to production, and, if this be true, then
how deep must be the interest felt by all classes of society in
understanding the laws and facts of Physics. The Statesman
in Parliament, the Judge on the Bench, the Educationist, the
Man of Letters, the Lawyer, the Soldier, the Sailor, the Merchant,
the Manufacturer, and the Farmer have, each in his own sphere,
a special interest in the momentous questions emerging from or
colligated with Physical Science.

Gentlemen, whatever choice of congenial studies you may

make, enter on the quest of truth with earnestness

Quest of truth. an d modesty. Truth is ever young ; she ages not

though the world gets wrinkled. There are truths

of beauty and of grace which grow along the wayside of life ;

there are truths bearing richer fruit which grow among the

briers and thorns by little frequented paths ; there are truths,

the most priceless of all, which grow on slippery and rocky

places, whose golden fruit can be plucked by those alone who

search for it by sweat and toil. Around you lies an ocean of

truth, in which the bravest diver may plunge with the certainty

of bringing up goodly pearls.

It is true that this world is full of errors, but it is equally
true that it is full of the correctives of error. Modestly, there-
fore, but firmly and faithfully set out on the holy quest of truth.
Use aright the reason which has been given yo-u, and honestly
exercise your birthright, the inalienable birthright of every man,
to prove all things.

Truth will not always be found on the side of the world's
majorities. The sheep principle is strong in humanity, and it
is not every combatant who has the courage, even if he have the
will, to ally himself with the world's minorities in upholding the
good and true. In saying this 1 have no desire to see you
angular men, erratic in your opinions, needlessly running counter
to the views of all around you, but I do desire that you should
shew to the world that you are not merely smooth pebbles of
the brook with every angle and prominence flattened down by
attrition till all individuality is lost, but that you are men who
possess, and desire to maintain a distinct individuality, a

1870. Jlfr. Heorfff 8nu'l/ t . 65

thoughtful steadiness of purpose, and a power of moral resist-
ance which shall prevent your being helplessly swept away by
the prevailing floods of fashion, of opinion, of frivolity and of
mis- judgment.

Be careful in forming your opinions. An erroneous principle
once assumed has the power of misleading even the strongest
and best informed minds, and of binding them in chains of iron.
All history and experience prove this. Beware especially of the
tyranny of prejudice, than which nothing is more certain to warp
and distort the mind. Prejudice is the very cancer of the soul.

Kest not, however, in mere knowledge polished, selfish and

sterile, but gird your loins like men to translate

Translate know- that knowledge into action, alike for your own good

ledge into ac- i < , i i < T < T 8

tion. an( l tor the weal or your brother-man. Lite demands

of us not knowledge only, but action. Appreciate
then your position as the teachers of India of the future, and
fulfil as well as recognize the responsibilities which that position
involves. Be zealous, wise and humble. The greatest philosophers
the world has ever seen have spoken of the pursuit of knowledge
as but a course between two ignorances, and the acceptance of
this truth is itself an evidence of true knowledge, and true know-
ledge is the parent of humility and of wisdom. " The bough
fruit-laden/' says Sadi, the Persian poet, " lays its head upon the
ground 5 '; and, as a beautiful sonnet from the "Memories of
Merton" hath it

' " Knowledge is like an errant knight of old,
Vaunting his prowess ; eager for the fray ;
Arm'd cap-a-pie ; with peacock plumage gay ;
Self-confident; adventure seeking; bold ;
He roams throughout the world, ready to hold
Tournay against all comers day by day ;
He enters magic caves without dismay,
And views strange sights which others ne'er behold.
But wisdom is his meek-eyed lady-love,
Whom if he wins not he is nothing worth
Now casting down her modest eyes on earth,
Now heavenward, trustful, she herself doth try,
And broodeth o'er her own heart silently,
Timid, but constant, patient, as a dove."

Be students, then, all your lives. Never abandon that
honorable title. Select with care not only your
.. Study all your professional studies, but also the pursuits of your
leisure hours. Love them and reduce their cultiva-
tion to a system. Diligently map out your time, and form with
care your mental habits. Do everything at its proper season,
and you will have time to do everything carefully and well.

66 University of Madras.

<e Have a duty for every time, and you will have time for every
duty." Avoid dream-land, and correct without mercy that habit
of indolence which compels some men to float through life

" As idly as a painted ship upon a painted ocean."
Under this earnest cultivation and discipline of the mind
labour itself will be transmuted to pleasure, and the symbol of the
curse will become the secret of the blessing :

" Labour is life ! 'tis the still water faileth ;
Idleness ever despaireth, bewaileth ;
Keep the watch wound, for the dark night assaileth;
Flowers droop and die in the stillness of noon.
Labour is glory ! The flying cloud lightens ;
Only the waving wing changes and brightens ;
Idle hearts only the dark future frightens ;
Play the sweet keys, wouldst thou keep them in tune."

Apollo, however, as we are told in classic song does not always
keep his bow bent, and you too will require intervals of relaxa-
tion from professional studies and kindred pursuits. What your
recreatioQs ought to be I cannot attempt to define, but this I may
say, that they should be selected as carefully and with as much
self-introspection as your graver studies.

I wish I could indicate to you some manly exercise, not
altogether foreign to your habits and customs,
some noble game like that of cricket which ele-
vates at once the moral and physical tone, which calls forth
energy and promptitude, which, with muscular force develops
judgment, watchfulness, endurance, courage, generous emu-
lation, appreciation of the merits of others, manly accept-
ance of defeat and manly modesty of success. More battle
fields than those of war have been gained on British cricket
grounds. He who braces his muscles, braces his mind.

I gladly point out to you also the genuine pleasures which
arise from the love and imitation of the beautiful in Nature and
in Art. If we look abroad on this wondrous creation we cannot
fail to recognize the beautiful in profusion around us. It is seen
in the motions, forms and colours of the animal kingdom ; in the
variety, grace and delicacy of the vegetable world ; in the mass-
ing, grouping and grandeur of the objects .of inanimate creation.
Beauty exists as an expression of the great Creator's mind and
love, and would exist, even were there no human eye to welcome it.

Man, however, has been endowed with perceptions specially
fitted for the contemplation, enjoyment and imitation of all this
beauty ; but as other powers of the mind require to be evoked
and educated, so does the power of appreciating the beautiful.

1870. Mr. George Smith. 67

When evoked and trained, the contemplation of the beautiful in
Nature and Art is one of the most elevating and pure of the
pleasures enjoyable by man.

" Man/ 7 it has been well said, "is by nature and universally
an artificer, an artizaD, an artist " ; and no where

oft G he'Easf llter can ^ fact be more abundantly illustrated than
here in India. In this as in many other respects the
West is but the daughter of the East, though each retains her
own marked individuality. The mother, however, has charms
of her own, charms of antiquity, originality, grace and harmony
of colour, which the daughter strives in vain to equal. Look at
the textile, manual and mechanical arts of India ; the ' ' webs
of woven air" spun by Arachne herself ; the embroidered fabrics
unequalled for delicacy and design. Look at the skill of the
workmen of Shemoogah in carving in sandalwood, of those of
Travancore in ivory, of the goldsmiths of Trichinopoly, the
silversmiths of Cuttack. These and many other of the manufac-
tures of this land exhibit remarkably that instinctive let me add
hereditary artistic taste, and that artistic eye for form, orna-
ment and bloom of colour which have gained for Indian arts the
admiration of the world.

Such national industries you, as sons of India, should learn
to appreciate and to cherish, for if you do not, they are little
likely to remain your inheritance, or to be improved by Western
taste or by Western science.

Never forget that India was a civilized, an artistic and an
industrial nation when Abraham left his native Ur
dition oflnTia" of the Chaldees, and that it is through you, gentle-
men, and others deeply interested in this land, that
the latent capabilities of its intelligent and teachable people are
to be evoked, so that your native land may once more take her
ancient and most distinguished position among the philosophic,
the artistic and industrial nations of the world.

Other rational enjoyments for leisure hours there are,
many and varied, but these I cannot now stop to

Pleasures. V, ._., p , . ,.

consider. Pleasures of harmony, imagination, taste
and genius. Pleasures, too, of wit and humour. " The man
who cannot laugh," says the quaint author of Sartor Resartus,
" is not only fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils, but his
whole life is already a treason and stratagem."" Make not a
business of mere recreation ; enjoy it like men of sense and
pass on :

" Sicut cania ad Nil urn bibens et fugiens." ( .

68 University of Madraa.

Gentlemen, man has a heart as well as a head, moral
principles as well as intellectual powers, and in
the* head 3 ** an forming the human character this fact ought
never to be overlooked. Comment would only
weaken the impression of the following suggestive passage from
Bacon, which Lord Bolingbroke has pronounced to be one of
the finest and deepest in his writings, and which Sir W. Hamil-
ton has quoted with admiration ; it is indeed full of significance
and truth. " In forming the human character," remarks the
great philosopher, " we must not proceed as a statuary does in
forming a statue, who works sometimes on the face, sometimes
on the limbs, sometimes on the folds of the drapery ; but we
must proceed (and it is in our power to proceed) as Nature does
in forming a flower, or any other of her productions ; she throws
out altogether, and at once, the whole system of being, and the
rudiments of all the parts."

I must conclude. Many are the temptations which are

likely to beset your path in life ; temptations from

temptations!** without, temptations from within, to resist which

will require the energetic action of all the better

elements of your character. Walk therefore the path of life

warily, wisely ; recognize the weakness of self, and never for a

moment forget the golden saying of the brave Duke John of

Saxony, " the straight line is the shortest road."

If your studies, imbued as they have been with high prin-
ciples of honor and of truth, fail to make you men of honor,
truthfulness and integrity, they have failed to influence for good
your moral nature, however much they may have succeeded in
sharpening your intellect, or in adding to the stores of your
knowledge. Your Alma Mater will fail to recognize in you her
own success, unless you exhibit to the world an incorruptible
integrity, chivalrous honor, unswerving truth, genuine sym-
pathy with your brother-man, and an enlarged mind free alike
from pride, .prejudice and selfishness.

Cultivate then a tender conscience, a conscience which shall

Cultivate a have power to rule alike your thoughts and actions.

tender con- In one word, be gentlemen in all the feelings,

principles and chivalry of gentlehood. Let the

world see that with informed heads you have reformed hearts,

and that your intellectual training has been no one-sided system

which has done all that is possible to be done for the mind, while

it has left untended and untrained the heart, whence are the

very issues of moral life.

1871. Rev. William Miller. 69

Good example is a language all can understand. There are
footsteps and footsteps on the sea shore ; footsteps which the
returning tide sweeps away ; footsteps which ocean's waves
cannot efface. Let me point out to you the footprints on the
sands of time of oue who translated faithfully into daily life the
" true and fest " of his princely shield ; of one who lives alike
in the hearts and memories of a grateful and sorrowing people,
as the personification of all the courtesy, wisdom and nobleness
of soul of the poet's ideal knight. Amid " that fierce light which
beats upon a throne " he stood before a blot-seeking, blot-loving
world, noble yet humble, wise yet gentle, learned yet modest,
bearing on his breast " the white flower of a blameless life/' and
in his heart the love of all that is good, and true and beautiful.
In your much narrower sphere of duty seek to imitate a gentle,

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 38 of 66)