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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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man so used.' Nor will any political panacea procure for man
happiness. Man's unhappiness comes of bis greatness. f Will the
whole Finance Ministers, upholsterers and confectioners in
modern Europe, undertake in joint stock company to make one
shoe-black happy ? They cannot accomplish it above an hour or
two, for the shoe-black has a soul quite other than his stomach
the shoe-black is infinite/ ' But there is in man a higher than
love of happiness, he can do without happiness, and in lieu
thereof find blessedness/ To attain this, he must devote him-
self to the service of truth and justice, substitute for every
selfish motive benevolence, and apply himself to the work he

finds at hand with manliness the Roman virtus.
S( We ca 1111 ^ shut our eyes to the fact that great

social changes are in progress in this country,
f The old order changeth, yielding place to new. The intercourse
of Europeans and Hindus in official, commercial and public life,
I would fain add also in social life, cannot but act and re-act on
those who come within its influence, and that nationality will
certainly be the most affected, which has least kept pace with the
progress of ideas. Education too opens the literary stores of
modern thought to a people who have been ever fertile of
imagination and not timid in speculation, Though the past of each
nationality precludes for many centuries what, were it possible,
may not be desirable, a complete harmony of ideas, it is certain
that, sooner or later, the conservatism of India must give ground
at all those points of the battle-field where it cannot bring up
to its support the eternal verities by which the fate of all

civilizations must be decided. Men's minds are
Carlyle. * already stirred, some with apprehension, some with

desire of change, and it may be there is even now
preparing himself an Indian Carlyle who, with the like intolerance
of the false, the like earnestness for the true, and with equal
fertility of thought and power of expression, will persuade his
countrymen to preserve all that is worthy of preservation in their
principles and their institutions, and to yield without regret what-
ever reason proves must sooner or later be surrendered. Modern
India has proved, by examples that are known to and honoured
by all in this assembly, that her sons can qualify themselves to
hold their own with the best of European talent in the Council
Chamber, on the Bench, at the Bar, and in the Mart ; the time
cannot be far distant when she will produce her philosopher, her
moralist, her reformer. Meanwhile, in the great social changes
that are in progress, some of the lessons of Carlyle may be as
useful to you as they were to your fellow-subjects, my

1881. The Honorable Sir Charles Turner. 15.,

countrymen. It is impossible but that there should be change.
Do not then by any prejudice obstruct reforms

, Do , -"of ob - commanded by truth and justice ; do not. on the
struct Retorms. ,11 -IP -i r

other hand, from unreasoning desire of innovation,

abolish, in favour of some foreign fashion, institutions or customs
appropriate to your country, or still subserving a worthy purpose.
Sir Charles '^ ie emancipation of your wives and sisters from
Turner's advice what is at present almost a condition of bondage is a
reform that time will surely bring about. Prepare
them by education to be at once the companions of your intellec-
tual life and the ornaments of your homes. Let the sanctity of
your hearths be secured by the example of your own continence
and temperance. Preserve the pristine virtue of respect for
parents which has survived so many centuries. If in the interests
of your children, or from a prudent regard for the welfare of the
family, it becomes necessary to dissolve community of property, be
ever beforehand in offering in brotherly love what can no longer
be claimed as of right. In your intercourse with your neighbours,
observe the rules of caste so far only as is demanded by a generous
interpretation of the tenets of the religion still imperative on your
conscience. In the transactions of commerce, revive the times
when a merchant's word was his bond and debt regarded not only
as a disgrace but as a sin. If you would serve yourselves or your
countrymen in your conversation with those whose good will you
desire to conciliate, seek it by the honest avowal of your convic-
tions rather than the unappreciated flattery of inconsiderate
assent; never demean yourselves by condescending to that pitiful
weapon of the coward, the anonymous slander of a neighbour. If,
after due inquiry, you have satisfied yourselves that there is an
injustice that calls for remedy, denounce it openly, but in terms
that evince just resentment and not vindictiveness. Though you
may have no direct part in the administration of the State, it is
within the power of any subject of our Sovereign to offer his coun-
sel, and it will be respected if he can show it merits respect. Deem
no honest work beneath you, and do whatever work you have to
do thoroughly ; you will rarely find that there is no work for you.
Whatever the nature of the labour, the market is seldom over-
stocked with men who are qualified and willing to do good work.
It is the men with the ungirt loin that can find no work. If you
are tempted to discontent (and at times who may not be) the
irony of the moralist may recur to your memory, and set you with
better heart to seek and to overcome the cause. In the prosecu-
tion of your studies, let me give you this counsel. Believe that all
you know is but a tithe of what you may know ; but, while craving
further knowledge, do not be too ready to accept as truths infal-

University of Madras.

lible the opinions of those who seem a little wiser than yourselves ,

' Give every man thine ear but few thy voice,
Take each man's censure but reserve thy judgment.'

Advance by cautious steps in the acquisition of knowledge, lest
you should stray into the wrong path and hopelessly lose your
way ; and, as a last word of counsel, let me repeat to you a saying
of the present Lord Derby, that education to be worth having
must aim at accuracy of thought, and accuracy of expression.
Without accuracy of thought, your knowledge is dangerous to
yourselves and to others, without accuracy of expression, however
profitable your knowledge may be to yourselves, you may but
confuse the judgment of others by endeavouring to impart your
Make your knowledge to them. If a man sets out in the morn-
shadows what ing to walk from the East to the West, his shadow
you please. j g p ro j ec ted before him but constantly grows less till

at midday it disappears, and thereafter, till the sunset, his shadow
again lengthens, but it lengthens behind him. So is it with us, as
we and the works we do which are part of our substance, take our
ways through life. In our youths there is projected the shadow
of the hopes we are destined never to realise; they are the shadows
of ourselves, they will be noble if we are unselfish and true. In
our middle age, this shadow has departed with the fervid gener-
osity of youth, but as yet no other has appeared ; we have given
up too sanguine hope, but are still conscious of capacity for
action. But thereafter, as we plod on with steps growing
more and more feeble, that other shndow lengthens out behind
us, the memory of the opportunities we have lost or failed to
make the most of, the memory of what we might have done, or
have done better, and this too will be the shadow of ourselves.
It may be an ignoble shadow of anger at what we choose to
term our want of luck, or it may be an ennobling shadow of
consciousness of, and contrition for, our failings. Your shadows
are before you, to make them what you please, aim at high and
unselfish ends; though you may not achieve them, the effort has
become apart of your very selves ; and when the shadows lengthen
behind you, though they be, as all men's must, shadows that tell
of failure, you will be able to lay this comfort to your hearts :

' I take to witness
That I loved no darkness
Sophisticated no wisdom
Nursed no delusion,
Allowed no fear,
And therefore, I know .
It hath been granted me
Not to die wholly, not to be all enslaved
I feel it at this hour the numbing cloud
Mounts off my soul."

1882. The Uonomlih Mr. Justice Muthuxami Iyer. 155



Gentlemen, It is the pleasure of the Chancellor that I
should deliver the customary address this year. By accepting
this honor, I have also accepted an obligation, which is, perhaps,
more onerous than I can hope to discharge with adequate
success. You will certainly miss this evening the ability, the
learning, and the eloquence with which graduates have been
addressed in former years; but I may add that I felt, when I
undertook this important work, and I do still feel, that Hindu
members of the Senate should occasionally come forward and
communicate to you the opinions which they have formed from
observation and experience concerning your interests and duties
as graduates of this University. These interests and duties
have many sides, and may well be considered from several stand-

In the name of the Senate, I congratulate you on the
success which has crowned your studies, and you carry with
you our best wishes for your success in life. You may justly be
proud of the position which you have attained amongst your
countrymen ; but I should be glad if, by any words of mine, I
could induce you to realize the responsibilities attaching to that
position. You all know that knowledge is power, and you may
have also heard that it is a wealth which increases as you bestow
it upon others, but I desire to impress upon your minds on this
solemn occasion, that it is a power which has its obligations as
well as its privileges, and that it is a wealth which has its duties
as well as its enjoyments.

The pleasures, the prizes, and the duties of University

culture are so many and so varied in their character,

Graduates ^ that I ^mst pass over many matters deserving of

your attention, and I shall, therefore, confine my

remarks to what this University expects from you, to what you

are bound to do for your country, and to a few special obligations

in connection with those professions which you usually follow

in life.

The value of your University education consists less in
the general knowledge which you have already acquired than
in the capacity to add to it which you have been taught to
cultivate. You should continue to study amidst the pleasures
and engagements of life, and carefully cultivate the habit
of observing men and things, in order to learn almost every

156 . University of Madras.

day of your life something that is new. You should com-
pare yourselves not with such of your countrymen as have not
had the advantages which you have, but with men of culture in
progressive societies. Whilst you thus endeavour to improve.and
enrich your mind by observation and study, you should also re-
member that the capacity for sustained mental energy varies
with the attention which you pay to your physique, aud that
bodily health and strength, add in no small measure to the use-
fulness of a vigorous and well-furnished mind. It is to be re-
gretted that from a desire to secure University honors at a com-
paratively early age, Hindu parents at times allow the energies
of their children to be taxed beyond their strength, and you
should, therefore, not only set a better example in this respect
in after-life, but also take good care that your own growth into
the prime of life is like the growth of a healthy plant into a tree
which is rich in its blossoms and fruits.

I would next ask you to endeavour to do in all stations
and relations of life, what you consider to be your

at?of duT Sllt d 11 ^ as we ^ i n *ke hour ^ disappointment and
difficulty as in that of success and hope. In its
widest acceptation, duty includes every quality and virtue which
men of culture ought to cultivate and cherish, and a strong sense
of duty is the keynote of a high moral nature. Let neither
insidious flattery nor blind censure ; nor the contumely and ridicule
of interested prejudice or vanity, turn you aside, even when some
personal risk stares you in the face, from the straight path of
duty ; and it is only by clinging to it with fidelity and devotion
that you will in the long run best help yourselves and serve
this University, your Sovereign, and your country. Remem-
ber that he who has no force of character, but who suffers
himself to be seduced into false principles by the necessities of
ambition or of self-interest, or by the partialities of relationship
or friendship, cannot respect himself in the sober intervals of
reflection, however talented he may be, and whatever success he
may secure for a time ; and that he who has no self-respect has
no right to expect that others should respect him. Remember
also that whilst you firmly and consistently do your duty, your
manner should always be modest and unostentatious, and that
you should studiedly avoid self-assertion in all its forms.

In connection with the several promises which you have
this day made and with your duty in life to the cause of progress
I desire to draw your attention to one improtant element of
success, All success in relation to national advancement will
depend, in the present state of the country, not so much on

1882. The Honorable Mr. Justice Muthusami Iyer. 157

desultory individual efforts, as on the steady co-operation of
various mental energies. In the gown and hood
which you have been authorized to wear, you should
recognize a badge of common service in the cause
of your country, and a bond of brotherhood between you and
those who advance the interests of civilization, and you should
forget all differences in caste or creed, in social position, rank or
wealth. Unless you learn to subordiuate what is personal to
what is due to the public, and to sacrifice individual idiosyn-
crasies to the requirements of your country, you will never
succeed in materially aiding progress. I desire, also, to point
out to you that your labours on behalf of your country should
not be irregular and spasmodic, but that they should be steady
and consistent, and be guided and controlled by
as^SfonT f organization and design. You should form in
different parts of this Presidency associations of
graduates and of men of intelligence, education and integrity
for discussing, considering and dealing with questions of social
and general interest; for it is only by means of organized
associations that you will be able to establish a basis of healthy
co-operation, and create an intelligent public opinion which will
at once command respect and attention in the country. There is
sufficient material in many districts for forming associations
such as I mention, and there is also material in the Presidency
Town for forming a central association which may give a con-
sistency and unity of purpose to the labours of the several pro-
vincial associations. Remember that your value to this University
consists not in the official position, or professional
oipieT^Vhn- eminence you may attain to, not in the fortune, or
pulses of action name you may make for yourselves, but in the
conduct 168 f ex tent to which you disseminate the principles and
influences awakened in you by culture, and convert
them, as well in the case of others as in your own, from mere
general opinions into impulses of action and rules of conduct.

And let me remind you of the important duty you owe
to the Government, to whom you are indebted for the liberal
education you have received, of extending to your less fortunate
brethren, in such measure as your opportunities allow, the light
of knowledge of which you have had so considerable a share.
Several of you will doubtless enter the profession of teachers,
and as such, will be directly engaged in carrying on that noble
work ; but whatever may be the walk of life you may find your-
selves in, there will be no lack of means and opportunities for
ameliorating, so far as intelligence and knowledge can do, the

158 University of Madras.

condition of the lower classes of people, coming within your
influence. It is impossible to conceive a worthier object of life
for every one of us, than to endeavour to make the little corner
of the world, to which our influence extends, less miserable
and less ignorant than it is at present. The light of
knowledge imparted to you is not intended for your personal
benefit merely, but for diffusion all around, and the Government
to whom is committed the gigantic task of providing elementary
instruction for millions of people expect to accomplish that
object quite as much by creating a body of men such as you, who
by virtue of superior intelligence and culture, will take the
position of natural leaders of the people and afford material
help in dispelling their ignorance and securing to them the light
and guidance of knowledge, as by direct efforts towards that end.
According as you fulfil these expectations, will the system of
higher education, which the Government has so liberally sup-
ported, be judged. Already there are signs of impatience in
Higher Edu- certain quarters at the tardy results produced, and
cation a de- opinions are expressed that Government should
fence. recede from the position they have taken up in

regard to higher education, and devote their means and energies to
providing elementary instruction to the masses. But it is forgot-
ten that 30 years have not yet elapsed since the system of liberal
education was inaugurated under Government auspices, and that
thirty years is but a brief interval in the life of a nation. Judged
by any fair standard, and making allowance for the slow assimi-
lation of the elements of Western culture into the habits and
ideas of a conservative people, I venture to think that no candid
observer can fail to note that the success hitherto achieved has
been remarkable. Any one who remembers the state of the country
thirty years ago, will easily realize to himself how much of intel-
lectual activity and of intelligent interest in public affairs has
been called into existence, and how much the moral tone of the
educated classes has improved. I do not mean that the results
obtained can be compared with the state of things in European
countries which have had centuries of unfettered development;
but I assert that those results have not only not fallen short of
reasonable expectations, but they have also proved the wisdom of
the policy of which they are the outcome, and they afford
promise of still more brilliant results in the future if only that policy
be steadily pursued. While there are some who regard the system
as a failure, there are others again who admit its success and make
that very success the reason for Government disconnecting them-
selves with it. If the system has taken such a firm root in the
country, say they, and is throughly appreciated by the people,

1882. Tin- UtinurMp. Mr. Justice, Mnthusami Iyer. 159

why then should not Government leave it to be supported by the
spontaneous efforts of indigenous agencies, and confine their
attention to providing elementary instruction for the masses.
Doubtless the ultimate state of tilings to be aimed at in regard to
the higher education would be a model college in the Presidency
town, supported by the State, forming as it were a focus of intel-
lectual life, n.nd having on its staff professors of eminence, who
wonldbe in themselves the living embodiments of the highest forms
of culture ; no expense being spared by the State to maintain
the instruction imparted in such an institution at the highest level
of attainable perfection. Such a college the ordinary laws of
demand and supply cannot be trusted to bring into existence. In
the provinces would then spring up colleges, supported by the
nobility and gentry, and an enlightened middle class fully alive
to the advantages of liberal education, and able and willing to
make large sacrifices for securing it to their children. These
colleges would necessarily be influenced by the high standard
maintained at the Government College, but not enslaved by it ;
they would provide for a variety of forms of culture, according
to the importance attached to the several branches of knowledge
or methods of instruction in the communities among whom they
come into existence. Admitting that this should be the final
aim, I must express nay conviction that the day is yet distant
when such a state of things may be expected in this country.
Those who have benefited by the encouragement accorded by
the State to higher education hitherto, have not been the Zemin-
dars and the landed aristocracy of the country, so far at least as
this Presidency is concerned, and there is no such sharp distinc-
tion between the rich and the poor in this country as is said to
exist in European countries, and intelligence and refinement do
not co-exist with wealth to the extent that it does elsewhere.

State aid ~^ * s * ^ e ^ eare< ^ ^ n tne P r esent circumstances, if

the State aid be suddenly withdrawn, any move-
ment to replace it out of the private wealth of the country would
not in most cases be successful. Higher education will have to
be practically left in the hands of Missionary agencies in no
sense indigenous. I do not in the least undervalue the impor-
tant services which they have rendered to the cause of education.
They have been very useful auxiliaries to the Government, and by
creating a healthy rivalry between Government institutions and
their own, have contributed in no small degree to the success of
educational efforts ; and all honor to them for it. But if all
higher education is virtually committed to their
hands, will it conduce to the variety of culture and
the adaptation to the special needs of the country

160 University of Madras.

upon which so much stress is laid, ID recommending the with-
drawal of State support to higher education ? However this may
be, it would certainly seem anomalous that, in a country com-
posed of many nationalities, Hindus, Mahomedans, Budhists, we
should trust for the provision for higher education which has
such an important influence on national progress, not to
indigenous agencies which there is reason to fear will take time
to come into existence, not to the private wealth of the country,
a considerable proportion of which still remains to be brought
under the influence of culture, but to the benefactions of
charitable men in England and foreign countries contri-
buted for a special purpose, and to their willingness to permit
such benefactions to be applied for the purpose of secular
education. Apart from other objections, such a system will be
without the guarantee of permanence and stability which is essen-
tial to a scheme of national education. After all, I find that the
State expenditure on Government Colleges or on higher education
in this Presidency after deducting the portion of it which will
have to be incurred under any circumstances, and the portion
which is recouped by fees, donations, &c., amounts to a lakh and
a quarter, or at most a lakh and a half, certainly not an extra-
vagant figure, considering the importance of the object. It is
earnestly hoped that the decision of the Education Commission
with regard to this important question, which is looked forward
to with anxious interest by the entire native community, and in
regard to which I have only endeavoured to set forth their views,
will be in accordance with their sentiments. But whatever may
be the decision, gentlemen, your duty is plain. That the State
should help those who cannot help themselves, and that those
who help themselves should do so, are propositions, the truth of
which cannot be denied ; and you will fail in your duty to your-
selves and your countrymen if you do not steadily keep them in
view and do not prepare gradually to find ways and means for
giving a permanency to the system of higher education in this
country, and to rest it eventually on the basis of national endow-
ments. The Trustees of Patcheappah's charities have set a
laudable example in this direction, and it is my earnest hope that
as education continues to spread, and as the aristocracy and wealth
of the country begin to be sufficiently influenced by the light
of culture, the day will arrive when national col-

le g es wil1 take the P lace of Government colleges.

In this connection it is peculiarly gratifying to me to

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 48 of 66)