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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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here their home ere Athens had arisen to keep watch on the blue
^Bgean, when the seven hills of Rome stood still lonely by the
Tiber. Remember that on you and such as you depends whether
India is ever to regain the place of leadership that she has lost.
Strangers have endeavoured and are endeavouring to do much ;
but little can their efforts profit, if you, the children of the soil,
are not their hearty and enthusiastic fellow-workers. You are
the electric chain along which the thought of Europe must travel
into the heart of India. You must determine whether re-
awakened by heartfelt contact with her long separated brethren of
the West, making their thought her own and modifying it to
meet her own necessities, India is to become the centre of a
higher philosophy and a nobler culture than she knew of old to
all the nations of the Bast.

The other consideration is the respect that you should
The fair fame cherish for the fair fame of the University of which
of the Univer- from this day forward you are members. She
sity> deserves to receive from you the reward that she

most desires ; and that reward is this : that throughout your
lives the thought of how your actions will affect her, should nerve

1872. Jlfr. Henry Fortey. 79

you for the right and keep you from the wrong. True, she has no
historic name which she commits it to you to keep unsullied ; but
she has her name to make, and it is you that must make it for her.
True, there are no associations of antiquity clustering around her,
such as throng upon the hearts of those who bid adieu to aca-
demic life, where pi acid river and fruitful plain and" tall ancestral
trees " enshrine as in a " haunt of ancient peace," the lordly
magnificence of Oxford; or where upheaved rock and dark ravine
and frowning battlements that carry down into the present the
constant memory of a stormy past surround with a beauty that is
all her own the humbler halls of Edinburgh. But in the very
want of memories like these, is there not a summons to us all to
labour together in order that our successors may enjoy them ?
And for their absence, has not your University something of a
recompense in the hopefulness, the buoyancy, and the glorious
possibilities of her youth ? She may yet be all that her elder
sisters are. She may yet effect as much of solid good, and that
in a far wider field than almost any of them can boast. But it
all depends on you. Her revenues may be large, her Senate may
be learned, her colleges may be crowded, yet in spite of all she
will win no fame because she will deserve none, if you, who are
the outcome of her labours, are destitute of that power to wield
the minds of men which nobility of character and nobility of aim
can alone bestow. But once let it be found by proof that those
whom she stamps with her approval are men of high-toned prin-
ciple and lofty purpose, to whose influence and guidance their
countrymen joyfully submit, and soon will your Alma Mater gain
for herself far-spread renown, and gain thereby a power unima-
gined hitherto to carry on successfully the mighty work that
has been entrusted to her.

And now, gentlemen, farewell ! From the calm heights of
study and of thought, descend into the arena of the world, there
to live and strive as the sons of learning ought, and so to take
an effectual and an honoured part in irradiating with the light
of knowledge an ancient and a famous land.



Mr. Chancellor and Gentlemen, Barely fifteen years have
passed away since the foundation of this University, and during
that time it has developed from an experiment into a strong and
vigorous Institution most powerful for good throughout the
length and breadth of the land. It is indeed almost impossible

80 University of Madras.

to over estimate its beneficial influence. It determines the
course of study in our schools and colleges, and its examinations,
so conducted as to deserve and command the respect of the
public, are looked forward to as the great events of the educa-
tional year. Annually the struggle is renewed, and as the close
of the academic year comes round, masters and pupils, who have
worked hard before, work harder still, and every faculty is
brought to bear on the attainment of the one great object in
view. And yet the University is not in my opinion open to the
imputation that it encourages what is commonly called " cram."
Any one who refers to the examination papers will, I think,
come to the conclusion, that a very sound acquaintance with the
subjects on which they bear must be possessed by those who
would answer them satisfactorily. The difficulty of these exami-
nations has certainly of late years been increased, and there-
fore it is doubly satisfactory to find, that the number of those
who pass them has also increased. The results of the Arts
Examination are this year altogether without precedent ; and I
am sure that no one in this distinguished assembly can have
seen the long array of the graduates approach your Excellency
in almost endless succession, without experiencing the most
lively gratification. And, if such are the feelings of those who
have had little or no share in producing these results, how proud
must be the satisfaction of the Principals, Professors, and
Masters to whom they are in a great measure due. We are all
of us no doubt impressed with the value of education, but it is
on occasions like these that that impression deepens, and we
beconje truly conscious that the Teacher is a great power in the

But I am commissioned by your Excellency to address
words of counsel and advice to the graduates, and I proceed
therefore, as best I may, to the execution of my task. And now,
gentlemen, I entreat you to believe that I speak to you in all
humility, for it is indeed from nay own errors and short-comings
in the past that I have gained that experience, which comes
late to me, but which yet may be of timely service to some of
you. But, before I proceed to moralise, I have a more pleasing
task to perform. In the name then of the Chancellor and
Fellows of this University, I congratulate you on your success.
I congratulate you also in the name of your fellow-graduates, and
of all good and liberal-minded men throughout the Presidency.
You are young men of intelligence and fair repute, and when you
leave this Hall you will carry with you our good opinion, and
our best wishes for your future. I trust that honorable careers

1872. Mr. Henry Fortey. 81

are in store for you all, and of so great a number it is not too much
to expect that some will attain to eminence, and become men of
mark in the country. And now, I will not affront you by dwell-
ing on the ordinary precepts of morality. You have this day
solemnly promised that you will, in your daily life and conversa-
tion, conduct yourselves as becomes members of this University,
and we are bound to believe that, due allowance being made for
human infirmity, that promise will be kept. But, gentlemen, the
battle of life is a struggle between good and evil, and they who
come off victorious are often hard-pressed in the fight. Should
therefore, any one of you, at any future time, under stress of great
temptation, stand irresolute between right and wrong, his con-
science darkened within him, then let him call to mind these words
of one of the wisest of men : " What is more heavy than evil fame
deserved ; or likewise who can see worse days than he that yet
living doth follow at the funerals of his own reputation ? "

And now let me remind you of your second promise, that,
The ac nisi- f *o the utmost of your opportunity and ability you
tion and diffu- will support and promote the cause of true learn-
led n e f kn W " "*'' ^ e due fulfilment of this pledge involves
both the acquisition and the diffusion of knowledge.
To those of you who have already chosen your professions, I would
say consolidate and extend the professional knowledge you have
already acquired. We cannot all be Crichtons, and having
chosen your occupation your first duty is to attend to that, and to
learn to do your work thoroughly well. On a review of your past
studies, you will find many important subjects of which your
knowledge is meagre and imperfect, and many difficulties to clear
up. Devote your best energies to these objects, remembering that
between the young student, however successful, and the ripe and
mature scholar, there is a vast space which can only be passed
over by years of patient and laborious toil. Remember also that
every profession is both an Art and a Science, and that dreamy
theorism and vulgar empiricism are equally to be avoided. But
attention to your own professional work will not necessitate the
entire neglect of those other liberal studies in which you have
been grounded ; and I would especially counsel those whose occu-
pations may not involve any severe mental discipline to cultivate
some one of those magnificent branches of knowledge which are
prescribed for the Master's degree, and to return hereafter, and
claim at the hands of this University the highest honor which
it has to bestow. Such studies as these will bring you into
contact with the greatest intellects of this and former ages, and
will fill your minds with a pure and unwearying delight.

82 University of Madras.

And now, gentlemen, I turn to a nobler aspect of your
promise. You are the very van-guard of the great intellectual
army which is destined to drive ignorance out of the land, and
your responsibilities are co-ordinate with your privileges. It
will therefore be your duty, and I am sure it will be your pleasure,
to help all those who are struggling towards the light. Dispersed
through the country, and surrounded by those less instructed than
yourselves, it will be your high privilege to excite in them a thirst
for knowledge, to lead them to take an interest in literature and
science, to dispel error, and to inculcate truth. There are, as
you know, hundreds of Missionaries in this country, gentle-
men, with whose objects you do not sympathize, but whose
characters you are bound to respect. And shall these strangers
in the land surpass you in their desire to benefit your own race ?
Or shall the disinterested benevolence of the Great Company
which founded this University be rendered fruitless through
your apathy ? No ! a thousand times no ! You will go forth as
pioneers and apostles of the truth, and will earn the respect and
the gratitude of your country. And, when your ranks are
counted by thousands instead of hundreds, as they surely will
be before this generation has passed away, your knowledge and
influence will penetrate to the remotest corners of the land, and
you will inaugurate a glorious day, the light of which almost
dazzles the imagination. My words are indeed feeble to urge
this noble duty, but listen to those of a great modern writer, and
let them rouse your enthusiasm : " Add to the power of dis-
covering truth the desire of using it for the promotion of human
happiness, and you have the great end and object of existence.
This is the immaculate model of excellence that every human
being should fix in the chambers of his heart ; which he should
place before his mind's eye from the rising to the setting of the
sun to strengthen his understanding that he may direct his
benevolence, and to exhibit to the world that most beautiful
spectacle the world can behold, of consummate virtue guided
by consummate talents." Gentlemen, when I read this fine
passage I was reminded of an honored friend, who pours such
floods of light on every subject he discusses as continually to
astonish and delight his hearers : and who, notwithstanding the
arduous duties which devolve on him in virtue of his high office,
daily adds to the vast store of his learning. To his great erudi-
tion it is too much to hope that any of you will ever attain ; but
in his accessibility to all earnest students, whether European or
Native, and in his desire that every one should cultivate to the
highest possible degree the faculties he possesses, he sets you
an admirable example worthy of all imitation. Gentlemen, I

1372. Mr. Henry Fortey. 83

trust I shall not be misunderstood. I do not desire to exalt
the office of the professional teacher above other equally honor-
able employments. I say only that, wherever you may be placed
and whatever positions you may fill, it will still be your
duty to diffuse around you the light of your knowledge and
in the words of your promise, " to support and promote the cause
of true learning." Nor, in speaking as I have done, has
it been my intention to imply that this duty has been hitherto
altogether neglected. More, no doubt, might have been done
than has actually been accomplished, but I could mention the
names of several graduates of this University, who have nobly
exerted themselves to benefit their fellows, and whose quiet and
unobtrusive labors have been " all for love and nothing for

Gentlemen, you have further promised that you ' will
uphold and advance social order and the well-being
Faithfully in- o f your fellow-men/ Here as always, your true
Government! interest and your duty will be found to be coin-
cident. For, if there is any one truth in morals
more clear and indisputable than another, it is this : that the
highest good of the individual is not only consistent with,
but is absolutely inseparable from an earnest desire for the
public welfare. Look abroad and see what men are most to
be envied, or, since thus you may be deceived with outward
shows, look rather within, examine your own hearts, and consider
whether the gratification arising from the attainment of any
purely self-regarding object is likely in any way to compare
with that exquisite pleasure which will stream in on you with
the blessings of all good men, if you nobly devote yourselves to
the service of your country. This country is, as you are aware,
undergoing a process of transformation, and you will have
countless opportunities of aiding in the good work. These
I shall not stop to particularize, but I may observe that all
reforms are viewed with suspicion and distrust by an ignorant
people, and you may do good service in one way by faithfully
interpreting the motives and the measures of Government to
those with whom you come in contact. The provisions of two
important Acts lately passed by the Local Legislature for the
raising and administration of local and municipal

fands are likel J; for a lon g time to come, to be
subjects of frequent discussion. Now, many of
those who pay these taxes have little or no perception of the
benefits they are to receive in return. Steeped in ignorance
themselves, they do not desire improved schools for their children,

University of Madras.

and, accustomed from time immemorial to disregard the laws of
health, they attach no importance to sanitation. Now, in cases
of this kind you may do much good by pointing out the bearing
of these measures on the Avelfare and progress of the country.
As I have alluded to these Acts I will venture to add that
whatever objections may be taken to parts of them, they are in
principle a vast stride in advance of all previous legislation
in this Presidency. By the constitution of these Local Fund
Boards, spread like a net-work over the land, the people have
been admitted to some share in the administration of their own
affairs, and the performance of the duties entrusted to these bodies
is the best training that they can have for the right use of a larger
measure of political power. But these Acts are, after all, but
the skeletons, the dry bones, which the people must infuse with
vitality by their public spirit, and if they fail of their due effect
the blame will rest, not with the originators of these measures, but
with you. Gentlemen, other noble aims and objects will suggest
themselves to you which I have not time to discuss. One of

these is Female Education. Beauty of form is
catkT al6 at best but a fleeting quality, and, when divorced

from culture and refinement loses half its charm ;
and I venture to say that you will never have the faintest con-
ception of the happiness of an English home until the women
of this country are so educated as to sympathize in all your
pursuits and all your aspirations.

And now let me reiterate a warning which has often fallen
from the lips of previous speakers. I trust that you are not
all of you looking forward to employment in the Government ser-
vice, for, if so, many of you are probably doomed to disappoint-
ment, Of the Universities in Europe but a small fraction of the
graduates are thus employed, and the great majority take to
the learned professions, to agriculture, and to commerce. There
are many wealthy and respectable merchants in this city and in
the provinces, but I fear there are but few who have those
enlarged views which follow from a liberal education. I trust that
in a few years' time there will be several gentlemen of this class
who will take their seats in the Chamber of Commerce and be
listened to with respect by the European members. Gentlemen,
I have said but little of the profession to which I have the honour
to belong, but I do feel that in the present stage of the progress
of this country able men and men devoted to the work are
urgently needed. And be sure that, if you enter on this profession
in an earnest spirit, not actuated by merely mercenary motives,
you will meet your reward. There are, as you know, many of

1873. -Mr. W. A. Porter. 85

your own countrymen and many Europeans now thus employed
who have so labored as to gain the respect and attachment of
all who know them. But if I would single out for your admir-
ation one bright particular example of a long
^ e nonora kly spent in noble work conscien-
tiously performed, then I must needs speak of
him who entered on his labors long before you were born,
who educated many of your fathers, and whose stainless purity
of character has always been so recognised as to hush even the
very whisper of malice. If there is any one of us now living
and laboring amongst you who deserves that, after he passes
away and returns to his own land, his honored form should
remain as an imperishable memorial, pictured to the life or
sculptured in enduring stone, then I say advisedly that it
is he who was many years since Head Master of the High
School and is now your Director of Public Instruction. And
now, gentlemen, it only remains for me to thank you for the
patience and courtesy with which you have listened to me. With
small pretensions to knowledge and none to eloquence, I still could
not resist the temptation of His Excellency's kind invitation to
address you. For I wished to inspire you with some of my own
enthusiasm in regard to the good time coming. Faith in the
future makes life worth having, and I trust it will so operate on
you that your lives hereafter may be characterized by the same
high qualities which have contributed so much to your present



Gentlemen, It is now my duty, at the request of His
Excellency our Chancellor, to congratulate you
real 1 student. * on ^ e nonors 7 OU have achieved, and to remind
you that the position you have gained in the
University raises some expectations as to your future career.
I think these expectations are not without solid grounds. You
have learned more than others of your countrymen, and you
have gone through a severer training, and therefore more is
expected from you. And, I confess that, in anticipating for you
an honorable and useful career, it is chiefly on the discipline
you have undergone that my hopes are grounded. He who
has led the real life of a student has practised no mean virtues.
He has pursued with devotion a single worthy end. Self-denial
has been his daily companion. He has closed his ears against
siren voices on every side. To use words that have become

86 University of Madras.

famous, he has scorned delights and lived laborious days. And
this moulding and pressure has been continued for many of the
most impressionable years of life. It will be strange indeed
if a person came out from this process unimproved and un-
strengthened. I have described a real student. But I have
a right to assume that you have to some extent practised these
virtues, or you would not be standing here. Those of your com-
panions who have made no approach to this character do not
appear among you to-day. For them the race has been too
severe and they have dropped from your ranks.

I have now to mention for your encouragement that the
same qualities, mental and moral, which give suc-
faff^m^ 16 cess at College, will in general be attended with
a like result in the severer struggle on which
you are now entering. And, though alas ! there are cases in
which the future contradicts the past and a blight comes over
the promise of youth, . the ordinary rule is otherwise. The
student, if I may parody the words of the poet, is the father
of the public man. The habits of ten years are not forgotten in
a day. He that is diligent at College will probably be diligent
still. Neither on the other hand, are lower qualities suddenly
elevated. If the spirit of manliness that triumphs over obstacles
be wanting at College, it will be wanting in manhood. The
student of many excuses will be a man of small performance.
If a cold or a headache was always at hand to keep him away
from his class, the same convenient maladies will attend hiir
through life.

The present year is in some respects a marked one. Im-
portant changes affecting the studies and the
f length the course come into operation next
year, and the present is the last under the old
regulations. You conclude what may be called the first period
in the history of this University. In this space of 16 years,
the progress, if we judge by the numbers that have passed
the various University examinations, has been surprising. The
advance has been one triumphant progress without a check;
and the diminished numbers of graduates in the present year
are no contradiction to the statement. For the Bachelors of
Arts of this year are not the representatives of the students who
Matriculated three years ago, but consist of stray students of
various years, who, from one cause or another, did not proceed
to their degree at the usual time. Are there equal grounds for
congratulation when we look not at the numbers but at the
Qualities of the students. Such critical enquiries are natural at

1873. Mr. W. A. Porter. 87

a time which is marked however slightly as an epoch, and they
are moreover in a manner forced upon us by a hostile tone of
opinion which, for some time past, has been very marked.
The policy of establishing Colleges and conferring
Opposition to degrees, the policy in fact of the higher education
* ' has lately been a good deal called in question. The

cost, it is said, is very great, and the results are
of little value. Nay for to this length the opposition sometimes
goes, the effects, it is said, are often mischievous. Morally
it produces conceit and politically it is a blunder. Sometime
ago when criticisms of this kind were more than usually rife,
a friend of mine who held these views asked me if Educational
officers had nothing to say in their defence. I replied that I did
not think the attack very dangerous. When a policy is new it
may be necessary to defend it against attack. Its continu-
ance may otherwise be in danger, and, to secure it a fair trial,
those who think it valuable, must array arguments in its defence.
But in the present stage of education in India, I am willing to
leave the matter to the silent testimony of facts which in my
opinion, are steadily accumulating in its favor. The higher
education has been now in operation in this Presidency for more
than 20 years. The earlier pupils of our schools have reached or
past their prime of life, and many of them now hold high posts
in all the departments of public life. Among these are men
whose names are widely known among their countrymen and
who are honored where they are known. The pupils of later
years have also in large numbers found employment in official
life. Of these young men whose work is carried on in com-
parative obscurity, I am not in a position to speak with authority.
That must be left to the officers who have the immediate
supervision of their work. One thing, however, is clear to me.
A great change has gradually come about in the feeling with
which they are regarded by those who have charge of the admin-

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 40 of 66)