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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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tion was emanci- directed the Bast India Company to set apart a
ldia - lac of rupees a year " for the revival and promotion
of literature, and the encouragement of the learned natives of

170 University of Madras.

India and for the introduction of a knowledge of the sciences
among the inhabitants of the British territories." Such was the
general apathy on the subject amongst Indian administrations,
that nothing was done, nothing attempted, till ten years had
expired. At the end of that time a General Committee of Public
instruction was formed in Calcutta, whose first step in the
direction of progress as they supposed it to be was the estab-
lishment of a Sanskrit College in that city, in addition to the
Sanskrit College established thirty years previously at Benares.

That enlightened Brahman, Ram Mohan Roy,
^Rarn ohan v ig Orous iy protested, pointing out that it was

" English literature and science " that the people,
wlien left to themselves, desired for their sons, as was manifested
in the foundation, by the zemindars and merchants of Bengal,
of the Hindu College of Calcutta for such pursuits in the
year 1816. To Sanskrit literature and its more diligent culti-
vation, Ram Mohan Roy, himself an eminent scholar and the
translator into English of the Upanishads or speculative portion
of the Vedas, was willing to give every reasonable encourage-
ment, but if the improvement of the native population was the
object of the Government, let it promote, he entreated, a more
liberal and enlightened system of education.

What a Government College was in those
da y s tlie j urnal of Bishop Heber at Benares in
the same year shall tell us :

" The Vidyalaya is divided into a number of classes, who learn
reading, writing, and arithmetic (in the Hindu manner), Persian,
Hindu Law and sacred literature, Sanskrit, astronomy according
to the Ptolemaic system and astrology ! There are 200 scholars ;
the astronomical lecturer produced a terrestrial globe, divided
according to their system and elevated to the meridian of Benares.
Mount Meru he indentified with the North Pole, and under the
Southern Pole he supposed the tortoise to stand on which the
earth rests. The southern hemisphere he apprehended to be
uninhabitable; but on the concave surface in the interior of the
globe he placed Patalam or hell. He then shewed ine how the
sun went round the earth once every day and how by a different
but equally continuous motion he visited the signs of the zodiac."

Well yet another ten years drag on, and the question is
still undecided whether the people of India, whose mother-
tongues are generally poor and rude, should have the means of
pursuing higher studies by acquiring the Arabic and Sanskrit
languages or the English. In 1835 that question was settled
as it now stands, by the advocacy of one, who, having already

1883. The Honorable D. 1<\ Carmichael. 171

embellished the literature of Europe, came to its aid when doubt-
inn' Orientalists weighed its claims with the literature of Asia.
I allude to Macaulay, then the legal member of the Governor-
General's Council. Listen to- his glowing eulogy on the claims
of his own language and be thankful for the glorious heritage
which his pen secured for you :

" It stands pre-eminent even among the languages of the
West. It abounds with works of imagination not inferior to the
noblest which Greece has bequeathed to us; with models of
every species of eloquence ; with historical compositions, which
considered merely as narratives, have seldom been surpassed,
and which, considered as vehicles of ethical and political instruc-
tion, have never been equalled ; with just and lively representa-
tions of human life and human nature ; with the most profound
speculations on metaphysics, morals, government, jurisprudence
and trade ; with full and correct information respecting every
experimental science, which tends to preserve the health, to
increase the comfort or to expand the intellect of man. Whoever
knows that language has ready access to all the vast intellectual
wealth which all the wisest nations of the earth have created
and hoarded in the course of ninety generations."

The next twenty years witnessed considerable advancement,
including in our presidency the advent of Mr. Powell from
Cambridge and the establishment of the High School, which
nurtured so many distinguished men. Towards the close of
the same period the sanction of the Court of Directors was
received for the creation of Universities. Then came the Rebel-
lion of 1857 ; the fate of Universities, the fate of Public Instruc-
tion in India trembled in the balance ; but Lord Canning was
firm ; he felt that it was not liberal education, but the want of
it that had raised the storm. Like Columbus, in spite of the
mutiny of his crew and the remonstrances of some of his lieuten-
ants, he refused to delay, much less to turn back from his course ;
but, unlike Columbus, he was not amongst the sea weed nor were
the birds fluttering over his head ; with the eye of faith he pierced
the gloom and discerned the haven where he would be. I
recollect that his assent to the Act establishing our own Univer-
sity was given on the 5th September 1857, a time when the
seige of Delhi still proceeded under the most disadvantageous

It was in 1859 that the degree of Bachelor of Arts was for

the first time conferred on students educated in

success rat * f *kis P res idency* Taking the five quinquennial

periods that may be counted from 1859 to the

172 University of Madras-

present year, I find that the rate of success has been uniformly
about fifty per cent, of the whole. In the professional degrees the
rate of success has fluctuated to a remarkable extent, as is too
well known, for instance, to recent candidates for the degree in
law. Having worked with and watched the work of men, some
of whom are proficients of the pre-University High School and
others are Graduates of the University, I gratefully acknow-
ledge that I have found both classes equally efficient and
equally honorable. The proficients in their day had an advan-
tage which graduates cannot share. They were so few in
number that there was a perfect scramble amongst the heads of
departments to secure them. Once caught, they were rapidly
promoted to be Tahsildars, Deputy Collectors and District Mun-
siffs. Now so strong is the general competition that a Bache-
lor of Arts is often very glad to get a clerkship on four or five
pagodas a month, in which situation he may languish without
advancement, for years. But there is more than this to account
for the poor prospects of graduates. They would be far more
numerous and far better remunerated, but for a direct check,
which I trust will be shortly removed, after the consideration
which it is about to receive from the Governor in Council. It
is the admission of men, without any connection with the Uni-
versity beyond the Matriculation sometimes not even that
to the Special Test, by passing which the candidates become
qualified to hold the more important offices in the country.
This system has been injurious to education, the University,
and the public service itself. Look at the hundreds and hun-
dreds of young men, who annually matriculate or pass what is best
known as the Uncovenanted Civil Service Examination. What
becomes of them? Do they go on to F.A., and B.A., and
B.L. ? Not at all ; they have now reached the goal of their
miserable ambition as students; they take a petty post as a
copyist and set to work to cram, in their scanty hours of
leisure, the Special Tests for the Judicial and Revenue De-
partments. Now, a Matriculate has just begun his educa-
tion, and of what value to the State is the occupation of the
higher appointments by half-educated men ? I would say to
those, who are satisfied to stop at the Matriculation
Hewers of stage, that they shall get no further than petty
ater aw ' clerkships, that they shall remain "hewers of
wood and drawers of water/' They may cram the
Special Tests in time, but it is not good for the country that
any but really educated men should become Magistrates, Tahsil-
dars, and Munsiffs, Now that the University has stood and
prospered for a quarter of a century, it is surely high time that

1883. The Honorable D. F. Carmichael 173

we promoted to the more responsible offices in the public service
none but those who have taken complete advantage of the
education now offered to all ; each high official would then be a
beacon on a hill, whence should radiate the glorious influences of
Western civilisation. There are some twelve hundred gra-
duates in Arts of this University; yet there are only two or three
per cent, of the number holding responsible offices in the general

What becomes of our graduates ? The Educational Depart-
ment readily absorbs some of them ; others join
The distribu- the Native Bar, and the remainder, wherever they
ate". g t> are not to be found in the higher ranks of

the public service. And yet it is just there that
they should be found. Those who take their notions from
England, can have no conception what an immensely powerful
engine, either for good or evil, an Asiatic Government is. Time
will bring its changes, but in India we know that the Government
is everything ; its establishments are on the largest scale, and
nearly the whole rental of the country passes into its coffers.
The mercantile, medical, sacerdotal and other professions, which
absorb the greater part of our English youth of the middle class,
are either held in comparatively low esteem, or are confined, at
present, to particular castes : and except when he becomes a
pleader, almost the only idea which a liberally educated native
has of rising in life is by attaching himself to the public service.
In the early years of British rule in India, the system of Govern-
ment was based on the principle of doing every thing by European
agency ; the wheels became clogged ; more than half of the
business of the country remained unperformed, and
Agenc 6 f Indian at last it became necessary to abandon a plan, which,
after a fair trial, had completely broken down ; sub-
stituting in its stead the present system of transacting the public
business by native agency under European superintendence.

Having opened such preferment to the natives, is it not the
duty, the plain policy of the Government to see that the men
whom it appoints to be interpreters between itself and the rude
millions whom it governs, shall come from a class which, if Indian
in blood and color, shall be English in taste, in opinions, in
morals and in intellect ? And down the rolls of the Native public
service amongst the subordinate Judges I find a single graduate
only; one in the first grade of Munsifs; one in the second; a
few in the third class, as many as fourteen ; while the Deputy
Collectors, and other high revenue officials, who are Bachelors of
A.rts, can be counted on the fingers.

171- University of Madras.

We have been hearing lately, gentlemen, of a coming
Explode inno- Convocation of Graduates to be incorporated for
various of your the very reasonable purpose of considering matters
affecting the well-being of the University and
making suggestions to the Senate regarding them. Would to
heaven we could see another Convocation consisting of those
amongst you an immense majority they are who are Hindus
formed for the more reasonable and beneficent purpose of explod-
ing the innovations in the ritual and usages of your sacred Vedas,
which however brought in, have now unhappily, for centuries
prevailed ; innovations involving the degradation of the female
sex, ruin to the moral virtues and the intellectual energies of the
man, and the hopeless postponement of national advancement and
domestic felicity. Already I seem to see a handwriting on the
wall, that the end of this and other old superstitions is at hand.
Shall they be driven not by the winter storm in its overwhelm-
ing fury, or shall they be removed by the gentle and peaceable
means, which an united body of educated men, actuated by the
purest patriotism, should well know how to use ? How long will
you hang back undecided and desponding ? Whom and what
do you fear, you who have sworn to-day, as far as in you lies, to
support and promote the cause of morality, and to advance the
well-being of your fellow men ? Take courage as you take this
solemn pledge, given in the presence of an august University
which then and not till then decorated you with the insignia of
the order to which you have so worthily attained. Graduates,
farewell ! May happiness and prosperity be yours in your course
through the world. But however onerous and important your
work in life may be, let the pleasures which arise from intel-
lectual pursuits return to you at every vacant interval. The
great reformer of philosophy has beautifully declared, that in all
other pleasures, after they be used, " their verdure departeth,
which showeth that they be deceits of pleasures ; " but in these,
" satisfaction and appetite are perpetually interchangable."
These indeed are the only pleasures, which, fraught with un-
alterable delight and interest, outlive the fervent years of youth,
and grow still stronger in the decay of age.



Gentlemen, By the statutes of this University in regard to
the form of procedure in conferring Degrees, it is enjoined that
the Chancellor* shall appoint a member of the Senate to deliver
an address to the graduates, " exhorting them to conduct them-

1884. The Honorable W. R. Cornish. 175

selves suitably unto the position to which, by the Degree conferred
upon them, they have attained." The duty of addressing you
on the present occasion has fallen to myself. In some respects
I could have wished that the task had been assigned to somG
one more closely connected than I am with the great educational
work which this University tests, and confirms with the seal of
its approval. But I do not forget that the Senate of this Uni-
versity comprises representatives of all professions and callings,
and that the Chancellor, in his discretion, may see fit to name
any member thereof to offer you counsel, and in the name of the
Senate, wish you "God speed " in your various paths of life.
The presence here of an unusually large number of graduates in
Arts, on whom Degrees have this day been conferred, testifies
to the fact that the regulations of this University are no hindrance
to higher education. Year by year, the tests become more
efficient and practical, and a Degree in Arts, Law, Medicine, or
Engineering is not granted until the candidate has shown a com-
petent knowledge of the subjects in which he is examined. On
looking over the history of the Madras University,
f since its formation in 1857, I find that, including
the graduates of the present year, 1,345 have
passed the examination for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts, 32
have graduated as Master of Arts, 213 have obtained Degrees
in Law, 34 in Medicine, and 29 in Engineering. These results
are, on the whole, satisfactory, though I should have been better
pleased with them, if they had shown a larger proportion of the
educated youths of the country devoting their energies to Medicine
and Civil Engineering. In regard to Medical Degrees, I have
no doubt whatever, that the local authorities who now largely
employ Medical men for the charge of Hospitals and Dispen-
saries, will ere long insist on the possession of a University
Degree by those whom they employ, and that the proportion of
Medical graduates, from this and other causes, will steadily
increase. I am not without hope also that the recent activity in
railway extension and other public works of magnitude in many
parts of India, may cause a demand for the services of more
local graduates in Engineering.

The Madras University, in common with other Indian Uni-
versities, is now empowered by an Act passed by the Legislative
Council of the Government of India, to confer the Honorary
Degree of Doctor of Laws on any person of eminence or distinc-
tion, who may be recommended by the Syndicate, and approved
by the Senate. In this respect the Indian Universities are now
in the enjoyment of powers similar to those possessed by the

176 University of Madras.

older Universities of Europe, and I have no doubt that when
these powers are used by the governing bodies they will be
employed wisely, and in the true interest of the Indian Univer-

Keferring once more to the statistics of the Madras Univer-
sity, I find that the higher education is still mainly

taSTTn^her restricted to tliat class of tne community which
Education. 18 for ages past, has been noted for its intellectual
endowment. Of the 1,349 Bachelors in Arts, 899
come from the Brahman community, which community represents
only one twenty-sixth part of the Hindu population, ' The
remaining twenty-five parts of the Hindu people have furnished
only 252 Bachelors in Arts, a fact which shows that the higher
education has permeated but slightly the lives of the greater
numbers of the people. Native Christians have obtained Degrees
to the number of 117, and these results speak highly for the
educational advantages of the class. The number of East Indian
graduates is 55, of Europeans 17, and of Mahomedans 7. These
facts in regard to the classes of the population furnishing gradu-
ates of the University, are full of significance. They show us
that certain sections of the population have a desire for, and
appreciation of learning, while other classes have not yet felt
the need of it. In this connection it is important to note that
the large Mahomedan population of this Presidency (numbering
nearly two millions of persons,) is represented by only seven
graduates, four of whom obtained Degrees in 1883. Amongst
the graduates of the present year there are no Mahomedans,
and I mention the fact with regret, that so important a section
of the community should allow themselves to be left so far
behind, in the higher education encouraged by the University.

To the graduates whose student life ends with the ceremonial
of this day, I would offer a few remarks of general
application. Your college work and set tasks are
ended. You stand upon the threshold of your
respective careers., whether your labors are devoted to State
service, to the special professions of Law, Medicine, or Engi-
neering, or to any of the numerous callings whereby the material
resources of the country are increased, to your own profit, and
the benefit of the country at large. In what spirit do you con-
template this new departure in your lives ? Has the mental
training and discipline of your student life developed in you a
love of knowledge for its own sake, irrespective of its utility in
fitting you to pass examinations and thereby to enter upon the
occupations you have chosen ? Has the insight you have

1884. The Honorable W. R. Cornish. 177

obtained into the several branches of knowledge, created in your
hearts a reverence for learning, and a desire to add to your
knowledge, day by day and year by year, and to expend your
best energies in the pursuit of truth ? If you can answer " yes "
to these questions, 1 can assure you that your labors, thus far,
have not been wasted, and that you begin the working years of
your lives under circumstances most favorable to success and
future distinction. A quaint poet* of the seventeenth century
has embodied his estimate of men's motives in seeking education
in these lines :

" Yet some seeke knowledge, aaeerely to be knowne
And idle ouriositie that is !

Some but to sell, not freely to bestow ;

These gaine, and spend both time and wealth amisse,

Some to build others, which is Charity,

But these to build themselves, who wise men be."

If the education you have received has been acquired in a spirit
of love and humility, you will profit by all opportunities of im-
parting your knowledge to others, and, in the words of the poet,
you will be amongst the number of the u wise men " who seek
to " build themselves."

In Literature, Art, and Science, fc the old order changeth,

Preserve hab- yielding place to new " with such rapid strides, that

its ^of mental unless a man remains a zealous student throughout

his life, he must be left behind in the branches of
knowledge which are needful to his professional usefulness. Let
me then advise you to maintain, both in the near and distant
future, those habits of mental discipline which have enabled
you to obtain Degrees in this University. In every life, no
matter how it may be engrossed by professional duty, and care
for the things of the moment, some leisure must fall, which you
may pass in absolute idleness, and mental vacuity, or in storing
your minds with the wisdom of the past, or in following the
ramifications of modern thought. The careful and critical study
of classical works relating to history, poetry, philosophy, and
any branch of science of which you have mastered the principles,
will prove the most effectual remedy against that mental hebe-
tude, which is apt to overtake us, when we have attained, as we
think, the summit of our ambition. And while urging you to

a familiar acquaintance with the thoughts of emi-
' nent men of a11 a es and clime s, I would not have

you neglectful of modern ways of thought, as repre-
sented by current literature, and the periodical and newspaper
press. A man to be of use in his generation must not be a mere

* Lord Brooke" Certaine Learned and Elegant JForfces," 1633.


178 University of Madras.

bookworm, fattening his memory with obsolete and forgotten
lore, but he must live in the present, and whet the edge of his
intellect by friction against modern minds, and the more he
studies modern literature, and especially the literature devoted
to a record of scientific thought and progress, the more capable
will he be of forming a true estimate of the extent of his own
knowledge and deficiencies for the work appointed him to do.

Most of you, graduates in Arts, have after due consideration,
probably formed some schemes in respect to your
future mean s of livelihood. Some will doubtless
devote their lives to the education and training
of the young, and surely, no noble career can present itself to
those having inclination and aptitude for such work, than the
influencing for good the character of the infant generation,
which shall in due order be the manhood of the next. " The
child " being " father to the man," see to it that your teaching
and personal example shall always be employed to encourage
and develop the finer instincts of humanity, and to keep down
all that is ignoble and base, in the tender minds subjected to
your leading. Others of you will no doubt aspire to serve the
State in various capacities. This is a reasonable object of ambi-
tion, and although the State cannot undertake to find work for
all those who are qualified to do it, there must always be a field
in State service for the highest intelligence the country can
produce. One caution I may give in regard to this sphere of
labor. I advise you to be content with modest beginnings, and for
this reason, that the higher oflices in State service are only to be
approached by those who have gained departmental experience.
Remember that in the varied service of the State each depart-
ment has its own special work, and that mere general culture
and intelligence, as implied by your University Degree, will not
enable you to dispense with the special training required for your
special departmental duties. You may be inclined to consider it a
grievance that men of greater departmental experience, but of
less culture than yourselves, are preferred before you ; but you
should seek to prove to your official superiors that your scholastic
training has enabled you to discharge your special duties with
greater aptitude and ability ; and having so done you may safely
leave your claims to advancement in the hands of those who have
the best means of judging of your actual and relative merit.

I am old enough to remember the time when no educational
AdTaafcageg of * es * was i m po se ^- on candidates for the Uncove-
employing Uni- nanted Service, and I have watched the develop-
ity men. m&a ^ O f the system, introduced into this Presidency

1884. The Hmoralle W. R. Cornish. 179

by Sir Charles Trevelyan in 1859, and increased in stringency
from time to time, with great interest, and am satisfied that the

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 50 of 66)