K Subba Rau.

Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

. (page 58 of 66)
Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 58 of 66)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

only way is to retire from the world and become a hermit." So
melancholy a solution of the difficulty suggests much unhappy

Be brave. You come of a land that has bred brave men.
The fables of antiquity tell of no nobler exploits
than those performed by the Madras Army. Not
alone Amboor, Arcot, Assaye, and such familiar instances ; but
numberless deeds of heroism, endurance, self-denial, done by
knots of men all over the Presidency, deeds so common in their
day as to pass almost unnoticed, and which now live only in
obscure chronicles forgotten by all but the curious. These
things should however find a place in your memories, for it
is the Madras Army which has made your presence here to-day

Be thorough. Whatever you are doing, do it with all your

might. Strive to earn the character of always try-

%oug iog your best, and thus beget a confidence which

no amount of mere cleverness can ever hope to win. Then if you

fail, as all must fail sometimes, there will be no disgrace. Now

1888. Lieut.-Coknel W. Hughes Ballet. 245

to do thoroughly everything which you undertake it is plain
that you must not undertake too much, and here comes oppos-
ing counsel. There is a maxim often quoted with approbation
and held up for general guidance, " Know something of every-
thing and everything of something," but I venture to think it a
most dangerous piece of advice, especially to young men, even
allowing that it is not meant to be taken literally. It has a fine
antithetical ring, and is just the sort of phrase to catch the ear,
but it will not bear scrutiny. No man, however gifted, can in
these days know something of everything, and the attempt to do
so will certainly result in knowing nothing of anything. The
prodigy thrives in fiction no doubt. The muscular hero, who
carelessly crumples up the fire irons with the finger and thumb
of his left hand, is matched by the intellectual hero, who is ready
at any moment to correct a bishop in a quotation from the less
known patriotic writings or to give the details of the population
of Turkestan according to the latest census. But he does not
exist in fact. Then Bacon is held up as an example. Well it is
not wise for a youth to start in life with the notion of rivalling
Bacon. Ambition is a good spur, but like other spurs the inex-
perienced will find it safer when of moderate length. And after
all what does Bacon's case prove ? He was perhaps the most
marvellous genius that ever lived. Perhaps no other man has
mastered so large a share of the learning of his own age. But
the times have marched. Discoveries, inventions, the accumu-
lated labours of students, have immensely enlarged the field of
learning. The area of possible human knowledge, the area of
knowledge which it is open to one man to acquire, increases year
by year and it increases not in arithmetical progression, but in
geometrical. He who could take all knowledge to be his pro-
vince at the end of the 16th century would find that province
occupy but a small corner of the map at the end of the 19th. If
I persist in driving this nail home it is to save you from a very
fatal error. Try a simple test. Take three subjects at haphazard
from different branches of study say, Hydraulics, Spanish
Literature, the Botany of South America and ask the best
educated man of your acquaintance, not actually engaged in
teaching these subjects, to pass an elementary examination in
them. Yet here are only three, and all tolerably familiar.
Instead of three take three hundred double three hundred and
then treble that where will the man be who tries to know some-
thing of all ? That way madness lies.

To criticize is ever easier than to create, and while it is one
thiag to warn you against undertaking more than a reasonable

246 Universiiy of Madras.

amount it is quite another to lay down what the amount should
be. But in any case, before all else devote yourself zealously
to your profession. This is not a superfluous caution, for
strange though it may seem there are men who spend much
time and truble over other matters and yet leave the real

work of their lives to take care of itself. Master
profession yOUr vour profession ; be not a niggard of your labour.

Go back to its beginnings, trace its development,
see how its present form and features were arrived at. For
example, if you are a lawyer spend days and nights over such
books as Sir Henry Maine's Ancient Law and Village Communi-
ties. Then note how it works and the varying aspects it presents
in other countries, and so escape contracting narrow views. By
comparing the different existing legal systems, for instance, you
would probably come to the conclusion that our own, especially
as modified in India, is the best, but you would avoid the mistake
of supposing it to be perfect. Then you will soon see that in
order to know your own profession you must know something of
many others also. You will find that it is like a tree in the
midst of a dense forest, with other trees close around ; that as
you ascend and get further from the root the branches spread
more and more, crossing and interlacing with the branches of
the neighbouring trees, till it becomes necessary to learn the
principle on which these other branches grow in order to rightly
understand the directions of your own. To take the former
example, a lawyer must be more or less acquainted with mer-
cantile usage, the recognized methods of book-keeping, the
agricultural system of the country, the general principles of
anatomy, the nature of wounds, tke actions of poisons, and a
score of other matters, for otherwise he cannot grasp the bear-
ings of a case and cannot appreciate or check the evidence of
witnesses. A study of your profession on these broad and
liberal lines will not leave many hours for other labour, but you
must make it leave some. The next and only other necessary
work is to keep yourselves fairly conversant with the questions
of the day, to do which needs much discrimination in the choice
of newspapers, magazines, and reviews, since a busy man has
only time to read a small fraction of the vast amount written.
Now let us suppose that after this there are still two or three
hours remaining each day for what may be called optional work.
How to employ these spare hours each must decide for himself,
and on your decision will to a great extent depend the kind of
man you become. One may take up general or special literature,
another may turn to science, and so forth. And here it is worth
consideration whether a short space each week might not be


1888. Lieut.-Colonel W. Hughes Hallet. 247

spared for one of the Arts. Personally, I believe that a life
from which the love and practice of Art are wholly absent can
never be other than an incomplete life. It may be music, singing,
drawing in some one of its numerous branches, carving, modelling,
or any of what are called the minor Arts ; if the necessary con-
ditions are obtainable, which in India is exceedingly rare, it may
be acting; so long as it is a humble following of Art for the
sake of Art and not merely a ministration to vanity the result
must be good. Art takes one above the pettiness of the world
as nothing else can.

But however these extra hours are spent, re-
^ mysses' warn- me mber still that the profession comes before all.
Bear in mind the warning of Ulysses :

" Perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps hononr bright : to have done is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mockery. Take the instant way,
For honour travels in a strait so narrow
Where one but goes abreast ; keep them the path,
For emulation hath a thousand sons
That one by one pursue : if you give way,
Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,
Like to an entered tide they all rush by
And leave you hindmost ;

then what they do in present,
Though less than yours in past must o'ertop yours."

Heed well the warning. Whether you slacken speed from
idleness or inability, or whether you merely diverge from the
straight course in search of other attractions, the effect is the
same. Others pass you. Therefore first do your work in
life thoroughly, and then devote the leisure hours to other
occupations or amusements but carrying them out thoroughly
also. Do not attempt too much. If you do the
Professional career will be neglected and, no
matter how superior your abililities, disappoint-
ment and failure will be your ultimate portion. Starting in the
race of life with brilliant prospects you easily keep level with
and even outstrip competitors, but the beautiful flowers by the
wayside are alluring and you pause to gather them. What
matters it ? You can easily overtake the others. With an effort
you do so. But again the temptation to stray, and this time
further afield, and now to recover the lost ground is a harder
task. And so each wandering from the path makes wider the
gap between yourself and your sometime inferiors, and your
efforts to reach them become more and more hopeless. Then in
a flash your eyes are opened and the truth is seen in attempt-
ing too much you have lost everything. Then comes dull despair,

248 University of Madras.

Then in the evening of days, sinking back wearied and exhausted
with a life struggle after the impossible, echoing those melan-
choly words " too late, too late/' you find when it is indeed too
late that in striving to grasp universal knowledge you have been
striving to grasp that which is intangible, that life, health, talents,
opportunities, have been wasted in the pursuit of a chimera.

To this rough and necessarily very imperfect sketch of the
leading principles which should regulate your conduct as indivi-
duals something must be added on your relation to the University.
You have here in the full light of day, in the presence of the
Senate and of several hundred spectators, undertaken a solemn
obligation. Not only have you promised to be good citizens,
promoting the cause of morality and upholding social order and
the well-being of your fellowmen ; you have also promised to con-
duct yourselves in daily life as becomes members of the University
and to promote the cause of learning. This pledge must not be
lightly broken. Wherever you may be and whatever your occupa-
tion you must endeavour to help others in the quest after know-
ledge. In a huge city like this individual effort may not do much,
you can but join with the throng, each doing his share ; but in the
smaller towns and villages a single example is of distinct value.
Let that example be worthy of the University. Here is a
glorious duty, glorious but still a duty. You have to hand the
lamp of learning down the generations. Through all historic
. ages that lamp has burned, through all ages to
duty doiincdTn come it will continue to burn, till this race shall
glorious lan- be no more. Let the thoughts rest where they
will on the memories of the past, there that flame
is to be seen and ever moving onward. Back in the earliest
recorded times, the sage of Egypt, of Chaldea, of India, takes
his pupils to tower top and teaches them that fanciful lore of the
heavens which has now given place to a truer science from
then onward to where in the groves of the academy the disciples
walk with the master probing the dim depths of philosophy, by
their side the blue Bgean with smiles innumerable reflecting a
cloudless heaven, and overhead the calm-browed goddess look-
ing grave approval enshrined on her own Acropolis onward
again to the schools of Alexandria where the father of geometry
thinks out the eternal problems, and Hipparchus and Eratos-
thenes, grand in the audacity of their conceptions, grand even
in their errours, struggle to compass the universe onward to
where under spreading oak and in stonehewn cloister a pale-
faced priesthood treasures with loving care the priceless heir-
looms of a dead age, the key to which it must never hope to

1888.Licut.-Colonel W. TTit</ln> JInllet. 240

possess onward to the domes and arches of Cordova where the
sons of Arabia garner up the grain that the natives of Europe,
purblind, would trample in the mire onward to Tudor England
where men breathe once more, raising their heads above the
dark waters of repression and of ignorance that have stagnated
heavy, thick, through so many weary centuries, and there is
born into the world a new life, a new literature, a new humanity
aye and onward to our own time, when Science yielding at
last to the importunity of man lets slowly fall the veil and
discloses those charms so long and so jealously guarded yes
ever onward, sometimes over smooth and fruitful plain where
the way is easy, and sometimes over scarped rock and through
tangled briar where advance seems almost impossible, but ever
onward, now with bright blaze illumining the firmament and
anon with flicker feeble to the very verge of extinction, but
still onward and ever onward that sacred lamp of learning is
borne aloft by an eager band of votaries, a band of votaries who
absorbed in their own passion pay no heed to the world about
them, and for whom indeed surrounding events, thrones that
totter, dynasties that dissolve, and republics that crumble away
have no further interest than this, that they add yet another
page to the studies of the future. Of that band you are now

Much has of late been written and spoken about certain of

your social customs, and it has been urged that
sod!i r ?usms the higher education cannot be said to have
come from with- borne fruit so long as they exist. To my think-
from^thout! 111 * n S however reform must in such matters come

from within rather than from without ; you must
turn for guidance to the enlightened among your own country-
men. But still there is one point on which I feel too strongly
to remain altogether silent. How long do you intend your
womankind to remain in ignorance ? How long is to be before

the education given you on such favourable terms
Education of fibers through to them ? Some little improvement

has been effected during the last few years, but
till female education ceases to be the exception and becomes
the rule the reproach will not depart from you. Woman has
occupied many positions in the world. In savage tribes merely
an ill-used animal, in Greece a domestic drudge, in the purer
days of chivalry an idealized being placed on a pedestal so high
that she breathed a different atmosphere from that of the every-
day world, in modern Western civilization a highly cultivated
product rivalling man in the receptive faculty but still far


250 University of Madras.

behind in the great creations of intellect and Art. Where the
golden mean lies is a much vexed question, partly because
people forget that the training proper for her who is to be a
wife and mother differs both in degree and kind from that
needed for her who is to gain an independent living. But this
much may at least be said with confidence, that where the voice
of woman is ever I will not say hushed, for no system could
effect that but where the voice of woman comes ever muffled
from behind a screen, there man deliberately denies himself
invaluable help. There are many questions no doubt which can

be well decided by man alone : there are indeed
Peculiar vir- i i . -, , <

tues of the some which it is an abomination for woman even

f erament ****' * * ouc ^ > ^ ut * n ^ e g rea ^ majority joint counsel
is best. The cleverest man will always find much
to learn from a woman. The female mind is before all things
practical, and an effectual solvent for what in lack of a more
classical term we call fads. Man sees many objects, but their
very number causes them to be blurred ; the eye of woman
takes in a narrower field, but the outlines of what it does see
are remarkably distinct. Woman dismisses the fringe of a sub-
ject with a wave of the hand or a curt depreciatory formula and
concentrates herself on the main features, a method which gains
in promptitude if it sometimes loses in abstract justice. And
so it comes to pass that in the search after truth woman often
finds the jewel while man is still lighting his lantern. How
long will you refuse the assistance of her who is your natural
ally ? How long will you do injustice to your wives and
daughters, and through that injustice injury to yourselves ?
And it is not only that you lose the counsellor, you lose the
friend also. What true companionship can there be between
two persons whose minds have nothing in common ?

"Among uneqTials what society
Can sort, what harmony, or true delight ?
Which must be mutual, in proportion do.0
Given and received; but in disparity
The one intense, the other still remiss,
Cannot well suit with either, but soon prove
Tedious alike."

And now, in conciusion, as to your duty to the State, by
no means the least important of your duties. You
t0 the nave first to srnoothen the way in dealing with the
millions whom we call the masses. Always a diffi-
cult task for a Government to get its recommendations and
measures understood by these, it is especially difficult when rulers
and ruled belong to different races and start with different trad itions.
Here you can, each in your own degree, be of real service. For

1888. Lieut.-Golonel W. Hughes Hallet. 251

example, you can urge upon theryotthe advantage of abandoning
his primitive tools for those modern improvements which are now
placed within Iris reach, and of carryingoufcscientificsuggestions as
to rotation of crops and dressing the soil jyou can explain the object
of sanitary regulations and the importance of obeying them ; the
necessity of precaution against infectious diseases ; the benefits of
vaccination ; the advantages of resorting to the hospital when sick,
especially in cases of epidemic. You can interpret between those

Interpret be- w ^ mae fcne 1 }IW an( ^ those who have to obey the
tween the rulers law. Education and contact with educated minds
and the ruled. enable you to understand matters which are a
mystery to others not having your opportunities, and which as
a mystery are feared. You must lull to rest those suspicions
which the uneducated ever feel when something new and un-
familiar is proposed. You must carry that lamp of learning of
which we spoke into the caves of superstition and ignorance,
casting its beams into every cranny and crevice, and show to the
peoples that the grim shapes which terrify them so much are
nought but phantoms of their own imagining, things of darkness
that fade away on the approach of light.

And while thus correcting misapprehension and error in
others, do not fall into like error yourselves. Reflect that
though matters which seem an enigma to the villager are by
reason of education simple to you, there may yet be other matters
beyond your grasp also. Therefore when some policy of Govern-
ment runs counter to your wishes and ideas, pause before ascrib-
ing illiberal motives. You may see one side of a subject quite
clearly and think you have mastered it ; yet there may be other
sides entirely hidden from your eye of which you dream not. Be
cautious therefore in assuming a measure to be wrong because
you can see no good in it, or right because you can see no harm
in it. Do not fall into the dangerous mistake of looking with
suspicion on the motives of people who hold opinions contrary
to your own. Here again you suffer from bad advisers. From
platform and magazine self-dubbed " friends of India" encourage
you to ask for this or that concession, and to think yourselves
ill-used if it is not immediately granted. But these persons are
not your true friends. Seek your true friends rather among
those who have proved their friendship by heaping on you
material benefits and privileges, and when you feel inclined to
murmur at a refusal to accept your views turn as a corrective to
a consideration of what you already enjoy. Think of your
material benefits call up the India of a hundred years back, a
hotbed of picturesque insaiiitation, the absence of communications,

252 University of Madras.

the cousta.nt wars, the gangs of freebooters, dacoits, thugs,
the insecurity of life nnd property, the unchecked sweeping away
of millions by pestilence and famine, in a word the state of
danger, misery and discomfort, and then look upon the present.
It is as though the good genius from one of your own Eastern
tales had spread his wings over the land. Then think of your
privileges, you can follow any religion, you can practise any
profession, you can acquire any property, you can publish your
opinions on any subject, you can dwell where you please, come
and go as you like, in a word shape your lives exactly as seems
good to you, without let or hindrance. Is this nothing ? Is
this a small thing ? How long have Englishmen in England
enjoyed such privileges, how many nations in Europe enjoy
such privileges now ? These things you have not bought.
They have been given you. You have paid nothing for them.
Aye, but they have been bought and paid for by others,
and would you know the price ? Ask it of history. The blood
that has enriched a hundred battle-fields, the heads that have
fallen low upon a thousand scaffolds, the smoke that has
made murky the heavens from countless martyr pyres, this is
the price paid by England for that which she has given you
freely, f ally, ungrudgingly. Trust then and be patient : all
fitting things will come in fitting time. Trust the mother who
has done so much for you, that she may do more and yet more :
be patient that she may do it in due season, not with the
ill-considered haste which breeds disaster. Trust and be
patient. And if you and your fellows throughout this mighty land
thus live as individuals doing your work honestly, thoroughly,
as citizens respecting your neighbours, as subjects co-operating
with and having confidence in the State, then there need be no
misgiving as to the future of India. Then may we lift up a
corner of the curtain that hides the great Shall-Be and look
without fear on what lies beyond. There may the eye see that
which shall make glad the heart. For the keen intellect of the
East welded with the sturdy self-reliance and energy of the West
shall together result in an Indian Empire indeed : an Indian
Empire complete, one whole, flawless : an Indian Empire beyond
the wildest dreams of a Darius, beyond the wildest hopes of an
Akbar : an Indian Empire proof against traitor within and foe
without : an Indian Empire ready and able to take her stand,
shoulder to shoulder with her sisters of the great Anglo-Saxon
federation, roekfirm against all comers, foursquare against the

1889. Afr. D. Sinclair.




Graduates of the Year, In accordance with the Bye-Laws
of the University an address has now to be delivered to you by a
member of the Senate exhorting you to conduct yourselves
suitably unto the position to which by the degrees conferred upon
you you have attained, and His Excellency the Chancellor has
conferred on me the honour of discharging this duty to-day.

You have all of you for some years now been travelling
along a straight and well-defined road, your intellectual horizon
somewhat narrowed by text-books and syllabuses, and some-
times I fear clouded by notes and annotations, compilations and
compendiums ; but though often brain-weary, often heart-heavy
sometimes to some of you as I know, having the utmost difficulty
in providing yourselves with the ordinary necessaries of life,
you have struggled manfully on, and the end of this road you
have reached to-day. In the name of the Senate I most heartily
congratulate you. But you will have already discovered that
this road along which you have been travelling, has but led you
into an open country the world ; that you must still go on on
life's journey, and as there may be in front of you pitfalls into
which you may stumble, obstacles you will have to overcome,
rivers you may have to wade through, hills you will have to
climb, it is becoming that your Alma Mater, now that you are
no longer to be under her immediate fostering care, should, in
wishing you G-odspeed, tender to you words of encouragement
and counsel, it may be also of warning.

Fortunate have you been when compared with the great
masses of your countrymen. Knowledge you have
acquired of which they can form but little concep-
tion. Your acquaintance with the English lan-
guage has opened to you the treasury of English
literature and the loftiest and noblest thoughts of
England's greatest sons have become known to you. Her store-

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 58 of 66)