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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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some system by which information and explanation may be elicited
from Government as occasions may require. It is an elementary
requisite of responsibility. We are also right in asking for a
larger number of Native members in the several Legislative
Councils of India. And these members should represent some
bodies other than themselves. They may represent property and
intelligence as determined by a rough test. But I hope that the
activities of the associations will not be confined to political

Nail your flag to the massive principle, " Increase happiness

and reduce misery." You cannot carry that flag

into a more promising region than that of social

reform. With equal labour you can do far more good in this

than in the political field. Gentlemen, there is work here beyond

the dreams of Howard and Wilberforce. Some social reforms

are difficult, but others are easy.

This is not the place to enumerate them even by way of
examples. I am prepared to speak to anybody who may be
earnest in the matter. Earnest you ought all to be. Effect at
least the easier reforms without delay. Postponing them from
generation to generation is unworthy of educated men who wish
to be increasingly self-governing. Let me remind you, gentle-
men, in this connection that Indian society suffers far more from

286 University of Madras.

self -remediable miseries than any other society. Let every one
of the associations with which the Presidency teems, distinctly
ask itself at the end of every passing year the question, " What
have we done to remove or mitigate any of those miseries."

Gentlemen, it is now time to bring these desultory remarks
Conclusion to a c ^ ose ' ^ ^^ JO U farewell, in the confident
hope that you will be a blessing to your country
and an honour to your University.



Graduates of the Year, In accordance with the laws of the
University an address is now to be delivered to you by one of
the Senate, and I have been chosen for this honourable office.
It is impossible to put aside the feeling that there are here
present many far worthier than myself, far better able to per-
form this important task but a glance at the list of those who
have year after year spoken to your predecessors suggests a
reason for my selection. That list comprises Governours, Ad-
ministrators, Clergymen, Doctors, Educationalists, Lawyers ; it
is full of names familiar in our mouths as household words; it
begins in 1857 with the then Director of Public Instruction, and
it ends last year with the veteran Statesman who after a long
and distinguished career is now spending the twilight of life in
your midst. But with the exception of one who at the time in
civil employment connected with education spoke in virtue of
that employment, it contains no military officer. It may well
be then that the reason for my standing before you to-day is a
wish that the Army should in turn be represented. The honour
is none the less, is indeed by much the greater.

First, on behalf of the University to congratulate you on your
success which I do most heartily, You have toiled and have
found the reward. The long course of academic work will now be
followed by the work of life. One education you have done with,
the other and more important you have yet to begin. Success in
this new path will much depend upon the nature of your pre-

vious training, for it is not what you have learnt
havelearnt, but but n w y ou nave learnt it that must now stand
how you have you in stead. You may practice for a quarter of

a century in the Law Courts, you may sit decade
after decade in a Kevenue office, without finding an opportunity
of edging in the date of the battle of Marathon or the formula

IQSS.Lieut.-Colonel W. E^hes Hallet. 237

of the binomial theorem, but the habits you have acquired at
school or college will for good or evil be of hourly importance.
A scientific course is specially useful in this connection. No
training is so good. Science not only gives a never-ceasing
interest to the humblest life, making all Nature an open book
more beautiful than is to be found in libraries, but it inculcates
habits of observation, method and accuracy which are simply

And, in parenthesis, to you others who have not succeeded
let a word of counsel be said. Do not make idle
Counsel to un- excuses. Do not go about saying that you ought
l " to have passed, that you answered all the ques-

tions right, and that the examiner must have made
some mistake in the marks. Ask your teachers, ever ready to
help, for a plain unvarnished opinion as to the cause of failure,
as to whether it is permanent or removable. Do not shirk the
truth. It may be yon are not up to the peculiar mental stand-
ard then best retire gracefully from the contest and go about
other business, There is no disgrace in wanting this modern
knack of packing away thousands of facts in memory's pigeon
holes and producing them neatly tied up in bundles at 10 A.M.
on a certain day. Many great minds would have broken down
under this test. The milestones of history have mostly been
put up by men who would have cut a poor figure in the exami-
nation room. If, on the other hand, the evil is pronounced curable,
try hard to cure it. Failure is often owing less to want of
knowledge than to carelessness. Instead of first studying the
question to see exactly what is wanted, then thinking out the
answer, then putting your ideas roughly on paper, and lastly
writing out clearly and concisely the information asked for and
nothing else a very large number of you glance hurriedly at
the question without taking any pains to ascertain its drift, and
then scribble pages on pages more or less connected with the
subject to which it refers, but in no real sense answering it. Six
pages of well expressed and pertinent matter do more towards
success than a hundred pages of undigested rigmarole. And
not only is your knowledge thus clumsily marshalled, but it is
villainously set down. Only a small proportion of answer papers
are decently written : a very large portion are disgracefully
written. Now bad writing is more often due to affectation or
laziness than to inability, and few of us who sin in this respect
but can, with a little trouble, write at least legibly. You would
take this trouble in drawing up an application for employment,
then why not take it at examination ? Bad writing can how-

238 University of Madras.

ever be forgiven, slovenliness and dirt are more serious offences.
Lines running at all kinds of angles with, the horizontal, blots,
smudges, and smears in profusion, erasures and alterations
countless ; these are characteristics of at least half your papers,
and they might all be avoided with care and thought. This is
an intolerable fault reform it altogether.

In the terms of the by-law providing for this address, it is
my duty to exhort you to conduct yourselves suitably unto the
position to which, by the degrees conferred upon you, you have
attained. The closer these lines are followed, the better. They
seem to preclude anything in the shape of a disquisition on
education, and indeed elaborate argument would in present
circumstances be quite out of place. A tropical afternoon, this
vast hall the acoustic difficulties of which are almost insur-
mountable, in which modulation of the voice is impossible, and
in which the slightest movement or noise prevents your neigh-
bours from hearing the speaker, the sea-breeze blowing strong
through open casements, and the league long roller murmuring
sullen a few yards to windward, these are conditions that de-
mand plain words plainly spoken. I shall therefore merely give
you from the vantage ground of age and experi-
cafadvlceTrom ence SOTne practical advice as to the conduct of
the vantage your lives advice much needed in these days,

' 5 no ^ on because various forces are at work to

ndex eriei

unsettle your minds and to fill them with false

ideas, but also because you have as a class been lately placed
in a difficult position, one that craves wary walking. You
have book learning, your presence here to-day proves it : per-
severance you have, your presence here to-day proves it : but
you have also faults, and it is only fair to say that they are
partly due to the treatment you have received these many
years past. Ever since the higher education began in this
Presidency, (and probably the remark applies equally to other
parts of India), you have out of mistaken kindness been allow-
ed your own way to an injudicious extent, notably in such
matters as absence from school, promotion to forms for which
you are not yet ripe, leaving one master for another out of petty
whim, and it has been the fashion in certain quarters to ignore,
and deprecate criticism on, your shortcomings. The natural
result is that faults which might have been and should have
been nipped in the bud have developed and flourished : and now
of a sadden hard things are said of you, and these faults are
pointed at and commented upon with a shaking of the head as
though they were a new growth, as though their existence had

1888. Lieut.-Colonel W. Hughes Hallet. 239

not all along been perfectly well known. Had the educated
youth of India been from the first subjected to the

That invalna- kindly but firm discipline under which English
ble botanical aid T_ -m i -i - -,,-

to Education. boys in England are brought up, not omitting a

moderate use of that invaluable botanical aid to
education the common birch, there would have been no occasion
for this outcry. These faults are not however serious, they are
much less than might have been expected in the circumstances,
and if you but have the sense to listen to the truth, to accept
honest advice, and to turn a deaf ear to pernicious flattery, they
will soon be things of the past.

Now the subject of first interest to young men about to
start in life is naturally the choice of a career, but on this we
will not linger. The general arguments respecting the different
professions are too familiar to need repetition, and it must lie
with each one of you who has not already made up his mind to
consider how far those general arguments are modified by the
particular circumstances of his own case. All sources of infor-
mation are open to you friends and relatives are at hand to
consult think the matter well over and then decide. The
counsel of a stranger can be of little use. But without running
the risk of recommending this or that profession which might,
for reasons only known to yourselves, be unsuitable, there is one

point which I would urge. Do not choose a call-
Do not choose i i . mi
a calling solely in g solely on pecuniary grounds. This is a very
on pecuniary common but a very fatal mistake. The great

majority of people judge of a profession entirely
by the income it affords. Of course the* money element is not
to be ignored, especially by a man without private means, give
it the first place in the calculation if you like, but do not lose
sight of other factors. Think also whether the profession suits
you. Money is not the only object in life, there is also happi-
ness ; and how can a man be happy if his days are spent in an
uncongenial occupation? For instance, picture the life of a
doctor who has a distaste for his work few dooms can be more
terrible. I say not this to dissuade you from the medical profes-
sion, to my mind the noblest of the professions, but as a warn-
ing : precisely because it is noble it should not be entered
lightly. This is of course an extreme case, but the truth holds
good always. A man is fond of the open air and out-door
exercise what salary can compensate him for thirty years of
office drudgery in a close room ? Again, think whether your
work will, in addition to giving you a livelihood, do good to
others. This may seem too quixotic a consideration for every-

240 University of Madras.

day life, but it is not. An entirely selfish existence can rarely
be happy. Now all kinds of work are capable of doing good to
others, directly or indirectly, but those which act directly will
give you the greatest satisfaction.

Now let it be supposed that you have made your choice
among the professions on two of them I would briefly remark,
because they are exposed to peculiar temptations by the fierce
competition of the times.

Graduates in law, your ancient and honourable profession
_ .. . stands second to none in the demands that it makes

Excitements , n , -, t n i

and temptations u P on intellect and perseverance and in the digm-
of the profes- ties and rewards that it offers to the successful.
Your daily work will be of the widest interest, the
studies connected with that work of endless variety. You will
become familiar with master minds of many ages and of many
countries. Words spoken 2000 years back in the Forum of
Rome and words spoken last month amid the busy hum of
London traffic will alike claim your attention. The study will
doubtless fascinate you as it has fascinated others. Many men
have found it so engrossing that it has become the one subject
of their lives whether in the Court House or at home they
have thought and spoken nothing but law, they have taken law
as their familiar communing with it day and night, they have
parted with it only at their latest breath. You will soon find
yourselves brought face to face with that curious
A curious ethi- ethical problem which has staggered the best and
Cr *^- e wisest, and which every lawyer must solve for
himself. * How far is an advocate justified in plead-
ing, or bound to plead, a cause which he believes or knows to be
wrong ? You will find plenty of contradiction in the authori-
ties, from Cicero to Brskine, from Quintilian to Brougham.
The line has to be drawn, and each must draw it for himself
according to his own lights and his own conscience: it
is a matter to be decided by personal conviction rather than
by argument. When engaged in the actual conduct o a case
you are not likely to forget the duty owing to a
client j *>ut do not forget that there is a duty owing
to witnesses also. Remember that the attendance
of a witness in a Court of Law is often against his own inclina-
tion, often takes him away from important private business, and
not seldom puts him to serious money loss. Remember that he is
called upon by Justice to assist Justice, and that he is for the time
being an unpaid servant of the public. Remember that he is pre-
sumably as honest as yourself, and that till this presumption is

1888. Lieut. -Colonel W. Hugl JIalkt. 241

negatived by apparent prevarication or falsehood you have no
right to treat him as a rogue because his evidence happens to be
;iL' a inst your side. By all means test to the utmost his accuracy of
observation and his memory, and if reasonable occasion arise test
also his veracity and shake his credit this you must do in the
interests of your client but do not unnecessarily injure or insult
him. He comes into Court for the purpose of speaking to the
matter in dispute, and not for the purpose of having the secrets of
his life laid bare to the common gaze. Above all, when addressing
the Court on the evidence do not draw unwarrantable inferences
from his words, and then vilify him for what he has neither said
nor suggested. In a word, follow faithfully the principles laid
down in our admirable Indian Law of Evidence. A violation of
these principles may buy a cheap notoriety in the least desirable
quarters but in the minds of all whose opinion is worth having
it grievously besmirches that professional purity which you have
to-day promised to maintain, and it seriously interferes with the
ends of Justice by making the very name of cross-examination a
terror, by making honest folk afraid to enter the witness box.

Many of you will doubtless enlist in the ranks of journalism,

The yearly in- a y ear ^J increasing f orce you will find the life

creasing force arduous and exacting. It is a service which makes

ir ism. no allowance for private convenience. You are

the master, but at the same time the slave, of the public. You

must be ready at any moment to give an esc cathedra opinion on

any subject, familiar or unfamiliar. Nothing is too great for

your attention, nothing too small. You are the Nasmyth hammer

The Naemyth ^ literature. You must work in season and out

hammer of liter- of season. Areyou sick ? rise from bed and dash

off a leading article on the latest political telegram.

Are you in domestic trouble ? put grief on one side while you

review in appropriate style the new book of comic stories. But

to compensate for this life of endless work and worry you will

You will have nave power godlike power. The influence of a

power, godlike newspaper in England is enormous, incalculable,

P wer - and even in India where there is sometimes an

affectation of poohpoohing the Press it is very great. Question

it who will, the Press is a great power for good it is also

unfortunately a great power for evil. It can expose and insist

upon the remedy of wrong it can also do wrong. Reflect on

this fact that your first essential is to interest the public. No

amount of industry or cleverness can avail without this. You

must interest. Now reflect on this other fact that nothing

interests the majority of people so much as adverse criticism,


242 University of Madras.

especially if they are acquainted with the subject of it. A scath-
ing account of a man or of a measure is read with the greatest
eagerness, a favourable account is passed over with indifference.
A sad confession for poor humanity, but so it is. And lastly reflect
on this third fact that nothing is so easy as to find fault. Com-
bine these facts, and it is evident that the journalist is under
constant temptation to write sarcasm and abuse, especially the
journalist whose lines are cast in a small society. Yet to its great
credit be it spoken the better part of the Press steadily resists
this temptation. Do you resist it also. Consider this matter
The line seriously for it is of the gravest moment. The line
which costs you which costs you nothing to write may cost the vic-
may in cost W the tim much to read. Do not unlace a reputation in
victim much to mere wantonness. It is no doubt excellent to have
a giant's strength, but remember that it is tyran-
nous to use it like a giant. By no means refrain from lashing when
the lash is deserved, but make sure that it is deserved. Be at the
greatest pains to understand the actions and motives of the man
you attack. And on this point let me refer you to a wise writer.
Dr. Holmes happily says that when two persons are talking it is
only natural there should be misunderstandings among the six ;
and in explanation he points out that when Thomas and John are
together there is first Thomas as he really is, then Thomas as he
exists in his own imagination, and lastly Thomas as John thinks
him to be, all three very different persons and that similarly
there are three Johns, making a total of six. So when you, Jour-
nalist John, propose to scarify Thomas, remember that there are
three of him and be quite sure you get hold of the right one ; and
if Thomas is an official remember also that there are behind him,
unseen by you, other officials Peter and Paul pulling him different
ways and that he is not a free agent.

And now to all of you, whatever your profession, a few
A few words w <> r( ls of homely counsel. Be independent. The
of homely coun- plan of reaching the top of a hill by hanging on to
the coat tails of a stronger brother is no doubt
often successful, but it is never dignified. More satisfactory to
climb to a lower level by your own unaided exer-
ent* 6 mdepeild " tions. Go your own way in life. Respect your-
self, and that you may do so respect others. Be
ever courteous to inferiors and deferential to superiors. Be
cheerfully submissive to those set over you in your work. One
One of the ^ ^e wors ^ sig ns of the present age is impatience
worst signs of of constituted authority. A large class of ill-condi-
the present age. tioned persons take for their motto Whatever is,

jr. Uuyhes Hallet. 248

is wrong. Be not you of them. Believe me there is nothing
noble, there is certainly nothing sensible, in giving grudging
obedience where unhesitating obedience is due. And how can
you in turn expect to be obeyed when you have set a contrary
example yourself ? Be assured that those below you will closely
watch your actions, and will when the time comes better your
instruction. There is an old and very true saying, that he who
has never learned to obey will never learn to command. But
beyond your immediate superiors, be deferential to your social
superiors also whoever they may be. This is a point on which
there has been bad teaching. The times seethe with theories to
the effect that all are equal and that therefore deference from
one man to another is misplaced. This sorry nonsense is not
new, it has been aired at many stages of the world's progress, it
is unworthy of serious refutation, and you will have read history
to little purpose if you do not see its hopeless impracticability ;
but still a word of warning may be useful. Face the world as it
is, not as dreamers of bad dreams would make it. The man who
is above us may owe his position, to accident, to merit, to age,
to interest, to wealth, nay even to demerit, it matters not. He
is above us, and it is our duty to recognize him accordingly with
the customary signs of deference. To do so costs nothing. To
say " Sir " to a superior involves no loss of dignity or self-
respect, but on the other hand to adopt a familiar tone and affect
an equality which does not exist is a contemptible practice and
shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. No, in
this sense men are not and cannot be all on one level,
the whole scheme of the Universe repudiates the idea, and
even the preachers of the doctrine do not usually carry it
about in every- day life ; let an inferior apply it practically
to themselves and he will soon find that the latter end of
their commonwealth forgets the beginning. But there is another

sense in which men may be equal. If you do your

The ense in work in life honestly and diligently, owing no man

be equal! 611 ""^ anything, then you may in a very high sense be

the equal of every one, King or Kaiser. Equally
with superior and inferior cultivate a pleasant manner, which is
by no means the same thing as a servile manner. A young man
may wrap himself in no better cloak for life's journey. And be
modest. In an age of charlatanism and self-advertisement this
may seem a suicidal policy : but you have in this town, among
your own countrymen, a living proof that the greatest abilities
and the greatest industry may go hand in hand with extreme
modesty, and may yet win not only the highest personal esteem,
but also the highest official rewards.

244 University of Madras.

Be manly. Book-learning alone never yet made a nation
and never will. Be manly. Thanks to the untiring
efforts of certain gentlemen to whom the youth of
Southern India can never be sufficiently grateful, at the head of
whom is now His Excellency the Governor, you have ample
opportunity for athletics and gymnastics, and for all games from
cricket down to epicene lawn tennis, opportunity of which many
take advantage. The reproach cast in the teeth of your brother
of the Ganges would be idle in your case. But even though you
should cultivate the body till it reaches the perfection aimed at
in Greece that would not be enough. There would then be the
machine and the brain to direct the machine, but the motive
power would still be wanting. You must have the manly spirit.
Look for noble examples, and follow in their footsteps ; they
may be found in the living world, in history, in art. Both by
precept and practice discourage petty squabbling and quarrelling.
Discourage appeals to the Police Court on every trifling occasion.
Possibly the very excellence of the Penal Code does harm in this
direction. Its provisions are so elastic and so easy of application
that they must often present irresistible temptation to an aggriev-
ed person. This was put very nicely by a candidate at a law
examination some years back. I had asked what safeguard there
is against the excessive litigation that would arise if the provi-
sions of the Code were literally enforced, and the young man
replied " there^is no safeguard so long as one lives in society, the

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 57 of 66)