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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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grievous disappointment, and devote themselves to highly honour-
able and lucrative careers. I could wish that this scheme,
and the commercial teaching inaugurated by Mr. Adam of
Patcheappa's College, while being useful to every class of the
community, might be specially useful to the Mahommedans, who,
while they shew in this Presidency, a considerable turn for trade,
show also a curious indisposition to book-learning. Of the 1,349
Bachelors of Arts, whom we had in 1884, Dr. Cornish told us,

198 University of Madras.

some of you will remember, that 899 were Brahmins, whilst our
large Mahommedan population, nearly two millions strong, gave
us only seven graduates. And yet the Brahmins are a mere
fraction, one twenty-sixth part of the Hindu population of the
Presidency, about 1,122,000 in all !

What this country wants above all things is material pros-
perity the mother of all other prosperity in our
perity erialprOS imperfect world. The Government, over which I
preside, has steadily pushed in this direction.
How well the real leaders of the people, the clear-headed prac-
tical men of business know it, was made clear to me during my
first two years here, when I visited every district, from Tiimevelly
to the Chilka lake, and heard their own ideas from their own lips.
But even in a country which has had such a history as this, and
where the sphere of Government is so wide, it is very little that
a Government can do towards creating material prosperity. It
can show the way to wealth. It can strike the fetters off industry.
It can improve communications. It can educate. It can set its
face, as a flint, against all the impostors, who would derogate
from the sacred simplicity of Free Trade, " the international
law of the Almighty/' as it has been well called.

It is, however, the educated, or relatively educated, people
Raise India ^ ^ ne . l anc ^ that must drag South India, as they
from the slough have dragged England, originally an incomparably
of poverty. poorer country, out of the slough of poverty.

Less and less, I am afraid, must you look to the English
Capitalist. The persons who write and declaim
Look less to in favour of large political changes in India, pro-
iS* gii8hCaP ~ duce no effect u P on the Government, but they do
produce, and, I fear, they will evermore and more
produce, an effect upon the English Capitalist, who, if he once
were to get into his head that the real opinion of India is repre-
sented by some persons, who profess to represent it, would as
soon think of lending to her as to Honduras.

This is a danger which you will have to face. I am sorry
for it, for India sorely needs great supplies of capital, borrowed
in the cheapest market. Yeb if the chatter about the " tribute/'
paid by India to England, gets loud enough really to catch the
ear of the British investor, adieu to cheap capital for India.
She will then have to do everything she wants out of her own
poor savings.

That is one of the many reasons for which I would urge
more and more of you to become manufacturers, agriculturists

1886. Rt. Eon. Mounfshiart Elpliinstone Grant Duff. 199

and producers of exchangeable articles, to devote yourselves in
short to careers, by which men and countries grow rich.

The economic problems of India with its rapidly increasing
population and the absolute certainty, that although, here and
there, savings might be made by the use of less costly agencies,
and so forth, there is very little after all to be done in that way,
are of the very gravest kind. They can only be solved by
largely increased receipts, and whence are the largely increased
receipts to come, if the most educated men of the country do
not put their shoulder to the wheel, and acid greatly to the
wealth out of which the people are to be supported. Tinker
and fidget as much as you will over forms of administration, the
elementary truth remains that you can't get blood'out of a stone.
If India, or any other country under heaven, is to be really
well-governed, it must be rich.

But to proceed on our quest of occupation for graduates

Politics, in their journalistic form, may give occu-

No Indian pation to a few of you, but you are too far removed

the nnnu\ W( from the great centres of the world, to treat with

much advantage of general politics. To one who

has lived in the midst of them, it is indeed astounding to see the

sort of heroism, with which some people charge into the middle

of the most difficult and complicated subjects, on the authority

of a telegram, which does not even pretend to do more than

reflect the morning's gossip of this, or that, European capital,

thousands and thousands of miles away. <e Oh ! " but some

will observe, " there are Indian politics." The answer to that

observation is, that there is in India but scant material for any

politics, worthy of the name.

What has given its great importance to political life in

England and some other countries, is that they

in"Bngknd hfe nave been the pioneers of the world's progress in

a great many matters of vast importance, connected

with men's daily lives. They have had by endless debate,

sometimes in the Council chamber, sometimes in Parliaments,

often in the field, to work out the solution of a thousand puzzles,

one more difficult than the other.

You might easily have had to do the same, if no Europeans

What India ever ^ aD ^ e( ^ u P on these shores. In that case

would be in n the 7 OU would probably have had a long period of
absence of Euro- ever-increasing turbulence, then a slow process of
re-construction, which would have gone on, say, a
thousand years, and brought you at last very possibly to about

200 University of Madras.

the same position, with regard to a variety of things, at which
you have arrived now, having been transported thither by an
enchanter's wand. There are some who think that it would be
better for India, in the end, if that had been so, and if, to para-
phrase the famous words of Medea, the trees had been never
felled, which were formed into the bark of Vasco da Gama.
Possibly, they are rig-ht : at least, I cannot contradict them,
being no proficient in the terribly difficult, and not very profita-
ble, science of Hypothetics. Mark this, however, that if the
rough hand of the conqueror had never intervened, at least the
present generation would not now be thinking the thoughts,
which fill the minds of the graduates of this University.

The British Government in India for the last two generations

has been mainly engaged in giving to you, ready-

E W , ^^ made, nearly every result of our long political

pi-ofits by Eng- , t -ri i,

lishrule. struggles and experiments. It has only been

restrained from giving you more, by a consider-
ation for your own feelings and ideas.

There is nothing you can ask from your rulers, in the way
of such results, that I can think of, which they would not will-
ingly give you to-morrow. Already, in some ways, they have
given you more than they have ever given themselves. I need
only point to your Codes.

All the wisest men in England would give such as these to
England to-morrow ; but the force of prejudice and interest in
certain quarters has been always too strong. The highest intel-
ligence of the nation has not yet been able to lift the question
of codification out of the field of politics ; the field, that is, of
clamour and of strife.

Few profounder remarks have ever been made about poli-
tics, than one which was made by an eminent American, a citizen
of the Great Republic : " We shall one day learn to supersede
politics by education.''

All sane persons in England rejoice, as one subject after
another passes out of politics, and becomes the
The Parlia- common property of both political parties. The
tern. "^ *^*~ S^ OT 7 ^ what is known as the Liberal party in
that country is, that so very many things, which
it has championed at various times, have now passed from being
contested truths, into accepted truisms. The glory of the Con-
servative party is that, although it has again and again opposed
those truths, " including" in its opposition to them every argu-
ment that could reasonably be adduced, and marshalling against

1886. Rt. Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff. 201

them every interest that could possibly be alarmed, it has hardly
ever dreamt of seriously questioning them, when they had once
become embodied in Acts of Parliament.

When some misguided persons, however, insist that instead
of obtaining every result of our long political struggles for the
asking, nay, not for the asking, we don't insist upon that
but for the hinting a wish to have them, you should be quite
gratuitously cursed with all the clumsy machinery, which grim
necessity, not choice, has obliged us to use, we may be permitted
to smile, and to say to ourselves : " Is this all that these gentle-
men have learned from the history taught in our colleges and
schools ? " Is he to be called advanced, and intelligent, who
says ' ' What we want, is not the meal but the mill ? "

I am the last person to undervalue politics. I have lived
amidst the exciting struggles of politics all my days, but politics
are only a dignified pursuit, as long as great questions of prin-
ciple are open for discussion. When all these are settled, they
cease to be dignified.

England is the classic land of Parliamentary discussion, but
even there, Parliament has only shown itself an admirable
instrument, when broad issues were before the country. No one
who has had his finger on the pulse of the machine, will say that
it is a good, or anything but a detestable, instrument for the
working out of schemes, which are good or bad, not according
to the general conceptions, on which they are based, but accord-
ing to the applicability to circumstances of a thousand detailed

Parliaments in fact are splendid instruments to remove
mountains, but of very imperfect utility for the picking up of pins.

There is, however, outside the sphere of anything that can
properly be called politics, a perfect world of labour, deeply
exciting and interesting, lying ready for you.

Tour foreign rulers have wisely shrunk from interfering,
except on the rarest occasions, with your religious

Bodal?astomif or w * tn y our socia l customs, but I am assured that
the new ideas, which you are acquiring, have ren-
dered many of you much dissatisfied with not a few of your
time-honoured institutions. It has indeed been urged upon me
by some fervent reformers that I should espouse their side upon
this or that question, relating to marriage, and so forth. I have
taken uncommonly good care to do nothing of the sort. That
immense field, that world of labour, is for you, and not for us.
There you have gigantic questions to debate and settle, while

202 University of Madras.

we look on sympathetically and respectfully, but leaving you
absolutely to yourselves, so long as you do not appeal to the
" arm of flesh." When you do that, I hope we shall always let
it*be seen very clearly, that we do not mean to permit any one,
small or great, to disturb with impunity the Pax Britannica.
So long, however, as there is no physical violence, nor infliction
of civil inconveniences, we shall watch all the changes that may
occur and they may well be immense in the same spirit in
which we read of the gradual supersession of paganism by
Christianity, of serfage by freedom, of blind ecclesiastical
authority by the liberty of intellect, having our own opinions
about it all, but by no means inclined, even if it were possible,
to rush into the fight.

The first sphere of labour then, outside the professions and
other money-getting pursuits, which I would venture to suggest
to you, is the bringing into harmony of your new thoughts,
derived from us, and your old thoughts, derived from your
ancestors, or from the non-European conquerors who have,
at various times, settled down in India. In that field, you
may become great and original. If I ventured to express
an opinion on a matter quite small, when compared with many
others you have to settle, I would say that he who could
persuade his countrymen to give up their, to us, astounding
expenditure on marriages, would do more for South India than
any Government could do in a decade, but these questions
are, as I said, for you. In the field of social reform, you may
produce men as great as some of our political reformers of the
West, but you will never produce anything great, by learning
our political phraseology, and then applying it to circumstances
entirely different.

I can quite understand those who say : " You Europeans
should never have come to pour your new wine into our old
bottles." lean well understand those who say "Pour away,
the sooner our old bad bottles burst, the better."

I wish as a British official to be absolutely neutral between
these parties, but I cannot understand how any one who wishes
for the good of India, should dream of desiring that any portion
of the intelligence of the country should go dancing after this or
that pseudo-political will-o'-the-wisp, while the mightiest social
and religious questions, that have been debated for the last
fifteen hundred years, are asking more and more loudly for an

I re-read recently the grave and wise address, which was
delivered to you four years ago by Mr. Muttuswami Aiyar.

1886. Rt. Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff. 203

We hear much talk about " leading the people of India,"

and all manner of crack-brained or interested

peorie a <rf India**" q ua ks, European and others, will be increasingly

ready to " lead" them by books, speeches, aud

anonymous articles.

My advice to the people of India is, to be led by those of
their own race, who, being men of ripe experience and proved
ability,- have imbibed what is best of the wisdom that Europe
can teach, without breaking away from all their old moorings,
and I could not mention any name which better illustrates the
kind of leading, to which I should commend them, than that of
the distinguished Judge I have just mentioned.

One of the many important subjects, to which he urged you
to attend, addressing you with an authority to
women** 1011 f which no European could aspire, was the home-
teaching of women. " Without it/' he said, "the
education of the women of this country cannot be sufficiently
liberal, for, from one cause or another, girls are withdrawn from
schools a little too soon; All of you should endeavour to secure
the benefit of home-teaching to such young women as may come
under your protection and guardianship, and I have no doubt
that the prejudice against it will wear away in the same manner
in which it has worn away in relation to girls receiving any
education at all." I remember walking one day with an emi-
nent Italian in tke streets of a European capital, when a very
useless person, bearing a great historic name, who had had
a distinguished father, and a bad mother, passed us : " Les races
se feminisent " Races tend to take after the women said my
companion. The late Surgeon-General, addressing you in 1884,
made some suggestive remarks on this subject. There is, he
said, considerable danger, if there is great disparity in mental
development between the father and the mother, that the intellec-
tual powers of the offspring will rather follow the mother's than
the father's type.

I should like to see the educational advance of South India
more uniform I should like to see both female and
primary education moving a little quicker. Nothing
is more keenly interesting to those Europeans
in this country, whose duty it is to think, not of gaining cheap
applause by repeating favourite Shibboleths, but by doing the
best they can for your welfare, than to see the way in which
practices and ideas, which are separated in the evolution of
humanity by thousands of years, jostle each other in your society.
I have received, within a few hours, two documents, one setting

204 University of Madras.

forth the advantages of introducing into India the most brand-
new political machinery, and the other a petition frc'n a con-
demned criminal, who asked for mercy, on the ground that he
had been persuaded by the banker of his village, the Sir John
Lubbock, in fact, of the locality, that the wife of his victim was
in the habit of turning into a tigress, had already eaten his
sister, and was about to eat his buffaloes.

Such contrasts, and they are very numerous, coming in the
ordinary course of business, are apt to make a man who acts
under a sense of responsibility remember the saying, that the
rulers here are like men bound to make their watches keep true
time in two longitudes at once. " If they go too fast," says Sir
Henry Maine in his famous Rede lecture, "there will be no
security : if they go too slow, there will be no improvement/'

Again, Mr. Muttuswami Aiyar advised you to travel in India,
and, if possible, to. go to Europe. I may be per-
Go to Europe. m itted, without presumption, to do the same ; but
I would caution you against one mistaken opinion, which I have
observed that some natives of India have picked up in England.
They have been led to imagine that Englishmen at home were
more kindly and friendly than Englishmen in this country : but
you should recollect that, in England, a native of India is a rarity ;
in provincial circles one of the rarest of rarities. He comes only
as a guest, and is treated as a guest. Here, whatever may be
his merits, he is not a rarity, and he is not a guest.

Then, I have sometimes met with the idea that the English
democracy would be more favourable to the native of India than
the English aristocracy, or the English bourgeoise, which ruled
from 1832 to 1868, had been.

I would not, if I were you, attach too much weight to that
idea. Our English Demos has many virtues, but
DeSos. Engll8h he is, when his path is crossed, about the most
formidable personage on the surface of this planet.
India never crossed his path but once, and, even then, his
attention was happily distracted by his being given the Great
Company to toss. If he had quite understood that the movement
of 1857 was directed, not against an institution, but against him,
many things might have taken a worse turn than they did. How-
ever that may be, avoid touching our home political controversies,
even with your little finger. Keep India sedulously away from
any contact with English parties. " Have a care how you fan
the flame," as a wise man said, in words that turned out to be
too terribly prophetic ; " have a care how you try to extinguish
it, for it may easily burn your fingers ! "

1886. Et. Hon. Mountstuart Elpkmstone Grant Duff. 205

I have sometimes smiled to see sagacious advice given you
by some of your own people outside this Presidency, as to the
expediency of using both Conservatives and Liberals for the good
of India, without allowing yourselves to be entangled in our con-
tentions. Even so I have thought does the prudent and reflec-
tive moth propose to use the candle.

Though, however, I think that for you to meddle with our
home politics is to reap the whirlwind, while to

Pky at P litics here is to P^ugh the sand, I
trust that a great many of you will find most
honorable and useful spheres of activity, in connection with
the recent development of local self-government in this Presi-
dency the mother, I think, I may say, of local self-government
in its modern Indian form . I cannot tell you how anxious I am
to see this strike deep root amongst your people, but it can only
do so if your most educated men bend their minds to the often
tiresome, but always supremely important, tasks of multiplying
roads and schools, spreading vaccination, seeing after rest-houses
for travellers, planting avenue trees, or, to put all in one phrase,
"in extending civilization," for it is in these and such things, not
in the institutions that catch the eye, and get written about in
the ordinary histories, that civilization consists. Large parts
even of the island of Great Britain were hardly civilized in the
year 1800, and even in our own time Mr, Disraeli wrote of civiliza-
tion, as being confined to England, France, and the course of a
single river, meaning, thereby, the Rhine. The remark required
modification, but had much truth in if. The object of all who
work local self-government should be to extend what he meant
by civilization all over South India.

Let every man try to make his town or village the best
drained, the best educated, the cleanest and the healthiest in the
District, with the hardest and best shaded roads. Such work is
not political in the sense in which that word is usually employ-
ed, but it is of untold importance to the Polls, the community.

Gret wealth, get material civilization. These- are the two
maxims, which I wish to impress upon you in this
Civnfz'ation ^ P art ^ mv address. You will soon see that I do
not consider that man lives by bread alone, or that
even widely diffused physical well-being is the last word of
human progress. There is probably no one who ever addressed
you, who holds more distinctly an opposite opinion ; but it is
madness not to recognize the limitations of existence, or to
try to leap over our own shadows. All schemes of world-
bettering by raising the condition of the masses, and spreading

206 University of Madras.

property amongst them, will either lead to terrible disaster,
or be inoperative, until the amount of property, that is, of
desirable things in the world, is vastly, colossally, increased.
To attempt to do that without strictly following the laws
of political economy, the laws which deal with the wealth of
nations, is like surveying, in defiance, or contempt, of the laws of
geometry. It may well be that India, through all the ages, may
possess a large number of philosophers, who do not concern
themselves with material things at all, and that that spirit is
widely extended amongst its people. Even in the bustling eager
West we have had thousands of such in all the ages. We have
thousands now, whose inmost aspirations could not be better
expressed than in the words of St Augustine, I think, " amare,
ire, sibi perire, ad Deum pervenire ! "

In our countries such people are the very salt of the earth,
and I am not at all concerned to deny that they may be the
same in Asia ; but few of you belong, I should think, to that
category. You have for good or evil drunk the fevering wine
of modern European thought, and understand what we, in the
West, mean by progress. My appeal to you is in favour of
your devoting yourselves to what is undoubtedly real progress,
so far as it goes, not to its hollow counterfeit. But some of
you have no turn for taking part in religious or social discus-
sions, or for engaging in any form of active and stirring labour.
To such, the first question I would put, is this :
" ^ re y ou sa ^ sne ^ w ^ n what you are doing for
your own literature ? How many of you, whether
speaking Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Canarese, Tulu, or any
other tongue, are doing anything, or seriously proposing to do
anything, to add to the literature of those languages, or any of
them ? " I do not refer to books of information that you may
have published in those languages, books merely imparting a
little of the knowledge of the West they are good in their own
way but to books containing something that is at once new and
striking, books adding, if it be only by one verse or one para-
graph, to the things already existing in the world, which are
acknowledged jto be beautiful, or to be at once new, and true.
Some of you, however, will object : " But who is sufficient for these
things ? How many are there, who can add even one sentence,
worthy to live, to the literature of the world, or one new fact to the
sum of human knowledge ?" More, I suspect, than is generally
believed. Who made your excellent Tamil proverbs ? Who found
out the virtues of many of your common weeds ? But pass that by.
Men may, however, lead most worthy, and honorable lives,

1886. Et. Eon. Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff. 207

devoted to science and to literature, without the making either
of books or discoveries. There are few more dignified occupa-
tions than indulging to the uttermost what has been well called
te la grande curiosite " : and no one can do that, however recluse
may be his turn, without making himself a fountain-head of
wisdom in his own immediate neighbourhood. This University
will not have done anything like its fair share of work till

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 53 of 66)