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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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short for the work which lies before you.

Some of you have yet to elect the path which you are to

pursue in life. A great writer has given us a

"The Youth sketch of an imaginary poem, entitled " The

Road^ ( Youtn at the Cross Beads," in which his hero

depicts two female characters personifying the

Tragic Muse and Commerce, as contending for the possession of

his person. You stand, as Wilhelm Meister did, at the Cross

Koads, but most of you are probably balancing between the

service of Government and the profession of law. Both, no

doubt, offer an honorable career, but it is to be regretted

that more do not endeavour to find other outlets. One of the



116 University of Madras.

noblest of all professions is that which alleviates pain, arrests
disease and prolongs life. That beneficent pro-
T^alabsjmce fession is wholly unrepresented here to-day. In
duates. 1Ca twenty years the Faculty of Medicine has pro-

duced three doctors, half-a-dozen bachelors and
one licentiate, and among these there has as yet been only one
Native. Medicine has many prejudices to combat in this coun-
try. Sir Charles Trevelyan has described the victory which
was gained in Bengal, when the first Brahmin student was seen
handling the knife in the dissecting room, and " the Shasters,
with the elasticity peculiar to them, were made to declare that
the dissection of human bodies for medical purposes was not
prohibited." But in this Presidency, as already remarked,
scarcely any progress has been made. It has been calculated
that seven or eight thousand medical practitioners are needed
to take the place of the Hakeems and Vydians, whose ignorant
treatment is so often dangerous and even fatal to their patients.
The circumstances of the country render the general employ-
ment of highly educated men in such posts out of the question,
but it seems probable that in some of the larger towns there is
field for practitioners who have taken the higher medical degrees,
and that, in many of the smaller towns, medical men of
a somewhat lower grade might find remunerative employment.
The degree of Licentiate of Medicine and Surgery has, accord-
ingly, been recently revived, and as some young men are now
studying for this degree, it may be hoped that in a few years
some progress will be made in this important direc-
^ Another poor- tion. The Faculty of Civil Engineering is also
Faculty? 861 one which has generally been poorly represented,
but it is satisfactory to find that, during the last
three or four years, graduates in Arts have been beginning to
graduate in Civil Engineering. The openings for persons who
have passed these examinations have as yet been few, and have
practically been circumscribed by the requirements of the
public service. In this respect India differs at present from
England. There, it has been remarked, " Government is usually
nothing to the Civil Engineer, unless it be looked upon as a
foe, from whom recognition and remuneration' 3 must " be won
by sheer hard fighting." The great works which have changed
the face of Europe and America the roads, the railways, the
canals, the bridges, the harbours have been often made with little
or no aid from the State. Even here, however, changes are
taking place, and it is probable that, in course of time, there
will be more outlets than there are at present for local pro-
fessional talent. The great famine which is now desolating the



1877. Colonel R. M. Macdonald. 117

land is one of those calamities to which India has always been
liable, but the prevention of which does not seem beyond tbe
reach of engineering skill. The last speech from the Throne
leads us to hope that a series ef well-considered schemes may be
devised for the prevention of such visitations in future. In the
execution of such schemes you may render useful and valuable

services. How much may be done in this direction
c ^t Artliur by the genius of a single man has been already

shown in this Presidency. Sir Arthur Cotton has
scarcely received all the local honors which he deserved, but he
has left enduring monuments behind him in the great works,
which have made the Deltas of the Cauvery and and the Godavery
the granaries of Southern India. Some have trod, and others
may tread, in his footsteps, but Sir Arthur Cotton's task was
more difficult than theirs, for he was a pioneer, and had not only
to subdue the forces of nature, but to battle with prejudice and
ignorance in high places. It is impossible to gaze on the rich
fields of cultivation with which he has enriched those districts,
or to watch the long lines of boats plying their busy traffic along
the navigable canals devised by him, without feeling that much
of the future wealth and prosperity of India lies in the hands of
the Civil Engineer. The Faculty of Law is the only one of the

professional faculties which has as yet produced
congemal an unfailing annual supply of graduates. The

sentiment which animated Milton when, in a poem
addressed to his father, he thanked him for not making him a
lawyer, is one which will meet with no response in this country.
The study of law is congemal to the Hindoo mind. Every study
has, however, some drawbacks, and every profession has some
dangers incidental to it. Archbishop Whately points out that
an advocate, who is called on "to plead various causes, to
extenuate to-day what he aggravated yesterday, to attach more
or less weight, at different times, to the same kind of evidence,
to impugn and to enforce the same principles, according as the
interests of his clients may require," is in some danger of gradu-
ally growing indifferent to the ascertainment of truth and may
bo tempted to resort to specious sophistry or even more question-
able devices in the interests of his clients. Some of you will,
perhaps, not be advocates, but ministerial officers. These I
would remind of the admonition of Bacon, that "the place of
justice is a hallowed place, and therefore not only the bench, but
the footpace, and the precincts and purprise thereof ought to be
preserved without scandal or corruption." The attendance of
Courts, he says, is subject to certain bad instruments. Among
these he enumerates the " sowers of suits which make the Court



118 . University of Madras.

swell and the country pine ;" the men whom he calls " the left
hands of Courts, persons who are full of nimble and sinister
tricks and shifts, whereby they pervert the plain and direct
courses of events, and bring justice into oblique lines and
labyrinths," and, lastly, " the poller and exacter of fees, which
justifies the common resemblance of the Courts to the bush,
whereunto while the sheep flies for defence in weather, he is
sure to lose part of the fleece." Much has been done of late
years to improve the administration of justice in this country,
but it is probable that some of the evils depicted by Baco'n have
not disappeared in the Mofussil Courts. I trust that some of
you will become the right hands of those Courts, and that if, in
course of time, you are called to higher functions, and have to
preside over Courts of your own, you will emulate the example
of some of your predecessors, and show that the natives of this
country are capable of filling with credit posts which demand
the exercise of the highest faculties.

I must, however, remind you that the main function of Uni-
Themainfunc- versities is not to train men to become physicians,
tionofUniversi- or engineers, or lawyers, but to discipline the
ties - whole moral and intellectual being. You all gra-

duated in Arts before you were permitted to graduate in Law,
and although a somewhat lower test in Arts is accepted at present
as a preliminary condition for graduating in Medicine and Civil
Engineering, the same principle is recognized in all the profes-
sional degrees. Every profession has a tendency to narrow the
mind, and if a physician, a lawyer, or an engineer allows himself
to be wholly immersed in the details of his calling, and does not,
from time to time, visit those higher regions in which it is per-
mitted to the living to

" ...hold high converse with the mighty dead,"

he may rise to eminence and be a valuable member of society,
but the absence of that elevating and ennobling culture which
it is the peculiar province of literature to bestow will leave its
stamp on him. In one respect the training of this University is
less favourable to general culture than that of any other
University in India, or perhaps in the world. All
On t- I 681 ?!?* other Universities require an acquaintance with at

in which the i mi L - -i A

Madras Uni- least one classical language. This is not essential to
favourable ^to a Madras degree. You have, however, all acquired
general culture the key to one of the noblest literatures in the world.
flaan other Uni- The master-minds of England, her poets, her
philosophers, her orators, her historians, will, if
you summon them, take up their abode with you. Their most



1877. Colonel R. M. Macdonald. 119

precious thoughts, their loftiest speculations, their wit, their
wisdom, all belong to you, if you choose to lay claim to them.

The culture of which I am speaking is especially incum-
bent on those among you who intend to adopt the

Tho profes- pro f ess i on o f teaching. I fear that the number of
Bion of teaching. * , .,, , ni *?r r -,

such will be small. We hear a great deal of gra-
duates being turned out annually in such multitudes that they
are unable to find any kind of suitable employment. As a mat-
ter of fact, however, there are, at this moment, several
hundreds of educational posts which ought to be filled by gradu-
:iu i s, but which are occupied by persons of humbler attainments,
because, in the present state of the market, the services of
graduates for such posts cannot be secured, and, as education
advances, situations of this kind will be numbered by thousands
instead of by hundreds. Such employment need not necessarily
be in connection with Government. Already in several large
towns schools have sprung up under the management of young
graduates, who, without any aid from the State, are beginning
to find remunerative employment. Unfortunately, however, it
is the case in this country, as it is the case in many other coun-
tries, that the dignity of the teacher's vocation is not properly
appreciated. It is in reality one of the most important of all
offices one to which it is the interest of the community that the
most gifted minds should be attracted, but the profession is a
laborious one, and the prizes are at present few.

It is much to be regretted that the educated natives of this
Ed t d Presidency have, as a general rule, kept entirely
tives and hide- aloof from agricultural, manufacturing and corn-
pendent walks mercial pursuits. India is, at present, a poor coun-
try, but with intelligence, enterprise and capital,
she might become rich. In Europe, America, and the Austra-
lian Colonies much of the success which has attended such pursuits
has been due to the influence of educated men. Many persons
consider that the state of feeling which prevails on this subject
here is partly due to the great preponderance which has, until
recently, been assigned to literary and mathematical studies
in the curriculum of the University, and to the entire absence
of the intellectual discipline afforded by the natural and experi-
mental sciences. In this respect, however, great changes have
been recently made, the ultimate effect of which remains to be seen.
Physical Science is no longer the dead letter which it once was.
It is now as compulsory as English and Mathematics for the
Matriculation and First Arts examinations, and those students
who wish to pursue the study of Physical Science up to the



120 University of Madras.

B.A. degree are permitted to drop their Mathematics altogether
during the last two years of their course. Government has aided
the efforts of the University by the appointment of a professor of
Physical Science, whose lectures and laboratory are open to the
students of all Colleges, and we already see the first fruits of the
new system, as seven of those who have graduated to-day, have
taken up Physical Science as their optional subject. The recent
The Sydapet establishment at Sydapet of an institution in which
Agricultural Col- systematic instruction is given in the science and
lege> practice of agriculture is also an event which may

lead to important results hereafter.

But besides the various openings to which I have referred
in connection with Medicine, Law, Civil Engineer-
in ? t}iei Pen " * n > Teaching, Agriculture, Commerce, Manufac-
tures and the public offices, it is certain that in
course of time many other outlets will suggest themselves to you
or to your successors. We have had among us not very long
ago a Parsee gentleman, who has proved that even the stage is
not an impossible career for a highly educated native gentleman.
The drama has, in all civilized nations, been a
source of much intellectual entertainment, and the
Hindoos at a very early period produced dramatic works,
some of which have been the admiration of Europe. But the
drama may exercise an evil, as well as a good influence, and its
tendency in this Presidency has been at times of so pernicious a
character that I should rejoice to see some well-directed effort
on the part of native gentlemen of position and education, to
purify and elevate the taste of their countrymen. The revival
of the ancient Sanskrit drama and the creation of a modern
vernacular school are objects in no way unworthy of your ambi-
tion. One of the gentlemen who appears here to-day has, in the
intervals of his law studies, achieved the somewhat difficult task
of presenting the Merchant of Venice in a Tamil dress, and
another, who has not succeeded in establishing his claim to a
degree on this occasion, but who will, I hope, be more fortunate
next time, has still more recently brought out a Telugu adapta-
tion of Shakespeare's Julius Cassar, written entirely in Iambics
a bold but successful innovation in Telugu literature. It is not
at all likely that Shakespeare will ever be naturalized in this
country, but such attempts as these may, I hope, be regarded as
indications of the dawn of that day of literary activity, for
which we have been so long looking. If a new school of verna-
cular literature is to arise at all, it must be created by you or by
such as you. It is sometimes said that we are premature in our



1877. Colonel R. M. Macdonald. 121

expectations, that the higher education is a plant of recent
growth in this Presidency, and that there has not been sufficient
time for the production of any great work. Thirty or forty
years may be a short period in the history of a nation, but it is a
long period in the life of a man, and the fact remains that one
generation has grown up under the influence of European cul-
ture, and is passing away without having left any permanent mark
on the literature of the country. About twenty years ago,
Dr. Caldwell remarked that for the last one hundred and fifty years
the Dravidian mind appeared to have sunk into a state of
lethargy, scarcely any Tamil poem or treatise of any real value
having appeared, except such as had been composed by European
Missionaries, and he ascribed this stagnation to the " natural
tendency to decay and death, which is inherent in a system of
slavery to great names."

There is no greater foe to human progress than the tyranny
of custom. You stand in a peculiar position. You
custom tyrant have on *ke one k an d inherited the traditions of
one of the most conservative nations on the face of
the globe, and on the other you have been brought under the
influence of new ideas, which must make you long to see India
take her place in the march of civilization. History teaches us
some lessons on this subject. Montesquieu remarks that one of
the causes which contributed to make the Komans masters of the
world was that, in the course of their successive conflicts with
various nations, they always gave up their own customs, as soon
as they discovered any that were better. One of the most
remarkable instances which he enumerates occurred in the first
Punic war. Montesquieu is, I believe, Wrong in saying that the
Romans had at this time no knowledge of navigation, but their
skill was small, and such ships as they had were no match for
those of the Carthaginians, who were at that period the best
seamen in the world. A Carthaginian galley was about this
time accidentally cast ashore on the coast of Italy. The Romans
took this vessel as their model. In a few weeks they built a fleet,
supplied the want of sailors by men drilled to row on scaffoldings,
and defeated the Mistress of the Seas on her own element. Rome
afterwards showed the same aptitude for imitation, when " cap-
tive Greece took captive her rude conqueror/' and Roman
literature became almost an echo of the literature of Greece.
But unhappily she copied much that was bad as well as what
was good. She lost the simplicity of her ancient manners.
The Epicurean philosophy corrupted the hearts of her citizens,
and Eastern conquests brought in their train the luxury and
16



122 University of Madras.

dissolute manners of Syrian cities. One of the causes of the
rise of Eome was also one of the causes of her decline and fall.
Changes should be always well considered before they are car-
Innovate quiet- ried out - " I fc were g 00 ^/' says Bacon, " that men
ly and by de- in their innovations should follow the example of
time itself, which indeed innovateth greatly, but
quietly, and by degrees scarce to be perceived." But in this
country especially, great caution is necessary in adopting the
manners and institutions of foreign nations. There is much in
the present state of European society which is admirable and
deserving of imitation, bufc there is also a good deal which,
although unobjectionable in itself, is not suited to India in its
present stage, and there is not a little which is wholly unworthy
of being copied at all, and which Europeans themselves deplore.
I shall quote in connection with this subject a passage from a
lecture in which Kuskin discusses before an Oxford audience
the causes of the degraded state of Art in Great Britain.
" Gentlemen," he says fe there has hitherto been seen no
instance, and England is little likely to give the unexampled
spectacle, of a country successful in the noble arts, yet in which
the youths were frivolous, the maidens falsely religious, the men
slaves of money, and the matrons of vanity. Not from all the
marble of the hills of Luni will such a people ever shape one
statue that may stand nobly against the sky ; not from all the
treasures bequeathed to them by the great dead, will they gather
for their own descendants, any inheritance but shame." I shall
offer no comment on this passage, beyond observing that if there
is any truth at all in the portrait, it is obvious that some dis-
crimination is needed in copying European models. The best
mode of forming an opinion as to the extent to which European
Study insti- institutions and customs should be introduced into
tutions on the this country, is to go to Europe and study them
spot - on the spot. Travelling is an important part of

education, but it is one for which no provision is made in this
University, although travelling fellowships are not unknown
elsewhere. To many, however, if not most of you, the expense
will prove an insuperable obstacle, and others will meet with
the difficulty which I believe still remains unsolved, as to whether
such journeys are permitted by the Shasters. Those who are
untrammelled by either of these obstacles may be reminded that
a great deal has been done of late years to make the position of
the Hindoo stranger in England as little irksome as possible,

I trust that you will, in your several avocations and spheres of
life, endeavour to fulfil the engagements into which you have



1878. -Dr. M. G. Furnell. 123

now publicly entered, that you will maintain the high character
for which the graduates of this University have, as a body, been
distinguished, and that you will remember that one of the duties
which yon owe to your countrymen is that of influencing thought.
It' L were called on to name the Hindoo whose career has made
the deepest impression on my mind as exemplifying the bene-
ficial effects of European culture, I should have no hesitation in
fixing on one who lived at a period in which there were no
Indian Universities, who never sat on the bench
of a Sigh Court or at a Council Board, whose
only title was one which the East India Company
refused to acknowledge, whose life is unnoticed in the histories
which are read in our Colleges and Schools, and whose
memory has received but scanty honor at the hands of his
countrymen. In speaking of Rajah Rammohun Roy, I do
not forget that half of those now present think that he went too
far, and that the other half regret that he did not go farther.
We are not called on here to consider how far he may have been
right in his opinions, but men of all creeds may agree that in his
earnest and fearless pursuit of truth, in the modesty and simpli-
city of his character, in the purity and benevolence of his life,
and in the high intellectual powers which he brought to bear on
his self-imposed task, the great Hindoo Reformer is entitled to
no mean place in the history of his age and country.



TWENTY-FIRST CONVOCATION.

(By M. C. FURNELL, ESQ., M.D., F.R.C.S.)
My Lord Duke, Mr. Vice-Chancellor and Gentlemen,

" Salus populi est suprema lex."

It is customary to close this interesting Convocation at the
Madras University with an address from one of its Fellows,
and we owe it to the practical sagacity of our most noble and
distinguished Chancellor, of which since his advent to power
over us we have had so many examples, that on this occasion
it is delivered by a Physician. You can well believe me when I
say that when I remembered the many eloquent orations that have
been heard on those occasions, especially from members of the
Bar, whose vocation it is to speak, and speak well, I might, and
did shrink from accepting the role of Public Orator. Yet when
the reason of the choice was made plain to me, that each profes-
sion, especially of those engaged in teaching the youths of this
country, should, in turn, say what it had to say on Education,
given as it were its "raisoii d'etre/' I hesitated no longer.



124 University of Madras-

It is befitting that on this the first day of our assembly in
this Hall, I should congratulate the Senate of
House. ! 3nate *kis University in having, at last, found a home
worthy of its reputation, in a Temple erected by
one of its Fellows, which adds to the list of magnificent edifices
by which he has gradually changed the features of our city ;
and, although some of us who have gazed upon the Taj could
wish, at the risk of being deemed hypercritical, that the domes
of this building partook somewhat more of the aerial graceful-
ness of those seen in that marvellous structure revealed more
of themselves and less of their supporting columns yet must
we give our unqualified admiration of the rest of this beautiful
building, and especially of the noble room wherein we are now
assembled. I have been long enough in Madras to remember
what the style of our public buildings was before Mr. Chisholm
came amongst us, and when we contrast this Senate House, the
Presidency College, and the Railway Station, to say nothing of
other buildings, with the old stereotyped structures of the
Department Public Works, the Madras University may well be
proud that one of its Fellows has added so much to his own and
their reputation by his beautiful science. And the situation of
this building seems to me so happily chosen, so full of the high-
est auguries. It is almost the first, if not the very first, build-
ing of any consequence in this continent which catches the rays
of the rising sun, as if Southern India greeted the Glorious Grod
of day fabled also of old as the Grod of Learning with a build-
ing consecrated to his beloved pursuits. Let us hope the in-
tiuence of this University may be as beneficent and lasting, and
that, like the luminary whose advent it daily greets, it may
shed a never-failing stream of intellectual light over the land,
chasing away the darkness of ignorance and superstition.

Some twenty years ago when this University was first
called into existence, and for years after, it was customary on
these occasions to hold forth on the advantages and delights of



Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 44 of 66)