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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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house of science has been unlocked for you and you have been
taught and shown how to use the forces of nature for the relief
and benefit of your fellow-countrymen. Through the English
language you have learned something of the human race, how
nations have risen to the highest eminence and the causes that
led to their downfall. You have made the acquaintance of the
heroes of the world, a Leonidas and a Washington,
Wkose every battle-field is holy ground.

Value of a
knowledge of
the English Lan-

254 University of Madras.

Which breathes of nations saved, not worlds undone, and
of others whose careers though less brilliant were no less noble
a Hampden and a Wilberforc'e, names that will be held in grate-
ful remembrance by a hundred generations. All this and much
more you have learned, and under the personal influance and
guidance of your professors you will have been able to draw
from it the lessons therein taught. These will have elevated
you morally as well as intellectually, stirred up within ydu new
and loftier aspirations, a stronger longing after truth and good-
ness, a desire to follow after right because it is right and loath-
ing of every thing that savours of the nature of mere selfishness.

For unless he can erect himself above himself,
How poor a thing is man !

Such being the lessons you have learned and the principles
by which you are to be guided, it will be for you to walk up to
them and demonstrate them in your lives. Never have you

been regarded with a more critical eye than now.
Demonstrate XT -\ 1-1 T i

what you have JNever perhaps with more suspicion, rrove by
learnt in your your unspotted lives, by your devotion to duty, by
your unimpeachable integrity, your unquestioned
honesty and your unflinching truthfulness, that the training and
culture you have received have elevated and ennobled your
natures, made you better men and better citizens, and thus your
Alma Mater is doing the great work for which she was called
into existence, a work that as time goes on will be seen more
and more to be for the highest good of this great and historic

Students you have been, some of you perhaps at first with

the sole object of being in the laudable position

,, Be students y QU OCCU p V to-day. But your studies will have

through life. J *V > ^

been or little avail, it they nave not awakened
within you a desire to pursue your search after knowledge and
truth for its own sake, to learn and understand the thoughts and
modes of action of the great of past ages, to make yourselves
familiar with the current speculation of your own day, and to
gather from them what your well-trained minds will readily turn
to advantage for yourselves and your countrymen. Those of
you who have selected Medicine or Engineering as your profes-
sions will have to remain students for life. Science advances
with rapid strides. It will only be by continuous and steady
application you will be able to keep pace with it. Not to keep
pace with it is to fall behind, to become inefficient practitioners in
the professions you have adopted. You will, therefore, make
yourselves acquainted with what the giants in your profession

1889. Mr. D. Sinclair. 255

are doing, the discoveries they are making, the inventions they
are introducing. But, while all of you will make a thorough
acquaintance with your own profession or work, whatever it may
be, your first duty, you will have many hours of leisure in which
to use your knowlege for the benefit of the community amongst
which you may be placed. You have received a liberal educa-
tion. You know its value. You will know it still more. Do
what in you lies to give to the masses of your countrymen that
which you yourselves have so freely received, and, wherever you
may be placed, be each of you a centre of light, illuminating and
revivifying all around you. Government has done much, and no
doubt will continue to do much, to promote education; but it is
on you, on those who have received it in its highest forms, that
will largely rest the responsibility of raising the intellectual as
well as the moral condition of your country. Educate the
masses. Stimulate the desire for education where-
ever i* ex i s * s J where there is no such desire strive
to create it. Without education you never will
have national life, never become a great people influencing for
good the history of the world.

You have received a liberal education yourselves. Give it
to your women. Much has been done in this re-
s P ect duri "g the P ast twenty years, and all honor
to those who have led the way. But much remains
to be done. It is but the veriest fraction of the females of this
country, that are under instruction. Further by your exam-
ple this good work. Use your utmost influence to extend it.
And as for generations', perhaps, the national sentiment is likely
to insist on girls leaving school at an early age, a great opportu-
nity is provided for you to supply them after leaving school with
a healthy literature in their own language. I am glad to see
one of the members of the Senate devoting the leisure of a ripe
age to this most commendable work. Do you take it up. The
education and training you have received pre-eminently fit you
for it. Apply yourselves to it. Provide a vernacular literature
of interesting and useful knowledge a literature of romance
too, if you will, breathing a lofty moral spirit a literature that
will brighten what might otherwise be many a weary listless
hour, that will raise your women intellectually, and make them
more and more true companions for you as wives companions
able to understand your labours and sympathize with you in
them, and by their sure instincts help you in your difficulties.
Those of you who have made Science a special study will have
many opportunities of using your knowledge for the benefit of

256 University of Madras.

your less fortunate countrymen. You will teach them to observe
those great laws that cannot be broken with impunity. That for
them to preserve their bodily health and escape theravages of such
relentless avengers as cholera or small-pox, attention must be paid
to the sanitation and conservancy of their homes and villages ; that
the water to be used for food must not be that green filthy liquid
taken from the little tank into which the sewage of the village
runs or percolates ; but it must be pure and clear, carrying with
it refreshing and life, not decay and death. You will use your
influence to dispel many of the prejudices that prevail amongst
your countrymen, such for example as that against vaccination,
so that many a home may not be left desolate, many a lovely
face not disfigured by the scars of a loathsome disease. Your
scientific knowledge should enable you to help the manufacturer
to produce a higher quality of goods, and if as the latest writer
maintains, the country plough is the best suited to the require-
ments of the land and the climate, you can at least impress
upon the ryot the importance of a rotation of crops, and that
laud, if it is to be a bountiful giver, must be treated generously
and liberally.

Students you have been, students you must continue to be,
and students of more than books.

You are going out into the world and will come into living
contact with living men. Your lot may probably be cast in
times when great social and, it may be, religious questions will
have to be considered and faced. It will require of you the
utmost caution, the most careful study of the questions them-
selves and of their apparent adaptability to the times in which
} T OU live, and from your knowledge of the history of the human
race and human institutions, from your study of the great
movements that have convulsed nations, at one time hurling
them into darkness and despair, at another time carrying them
on to a brighter and happier and more glorious era than had
ever previously dawned upon them, you will have to determine
for yourselves whether things shall remain as they are, or whether
customs, consecrated by a hoary antiquity, and deeply rooted in
the hearts of an ancient people, shall not be changed or done
away with. You will have to make up your mind as to whether,
for example, infant marriage and enforced widowhood is to be
perpetuated, and every year the lives of thousands of young,
bright and tender hearts to be blasted and reduced to wretched-
ness. And with the light which you have received, if you are
persuaded that such customs are detrimental to the happiness
of your country, that they are contrary to human nature and

1889. Mr. D. Sinclair. 257

have no place in your ancient Faith, then you must have the
courage of your convictions, and must make your voice heard
and power felt. No more difficult duty lies before you.
No duty more noble. You must therefore be brave, not in the

sense of what I am afraid we too frequently see

Be brave, with j n the present times, when young men mistake

conviction! 7 volubility for wisdom, and arrogance for manliness.

But brave, with a bravery founded on conviction
arrived at after the most careful study and reflection, a bravery
that will be clothed with modesty, that will be free from selfish
ends and untarnished by self-conceit.

But you are looking forward to taking a part in the poli-
tics of the day. Politics has become a popular subject. It is
interesting. It is exciting. Above all, in this country, it is
comparatively easy. Here you will have no national prejudices
to battle against. No institutions,

" Strong in possession, founded in old custom,
Fixed to the people's pious nursery faith,"

to lay irreverent hands upon.

You, however, hold an important position in this country-
a position I might say almost unique in the history of the world.
Twenty years ago one of the most cultured and most distinguished
statesmen that ever ruled in this land, addressing the graduates
on an occasion similar to the present, called on them to remem-
ber that they were the adopted children of European civilization,
the interpreters between the stranger and the Indian, between
the Government and the subject, between the great and the
small, between the strong and the weak, and he asked them
whether they would carry a faithful or a deceitful message.
Your numbers then were small, your influence much less far
reaching than now. The responsible position you occupy may
well be placed before you again, and the same question may not
inappropriately be asked you to-day.

You have studied the history of your own country. You

are acquainted with those dark days for this

Compare the unhappy land, when the Afghan or the Mughal

past of your sleeping down on her fair plains converted her

country with its J? r> . r

present. fertile fields into a desert, levelled her most sacred

shrines with the dust, and brought death and dis-
honor into a hundred thousand homes. You are acquainted with
the later Mughal rule which, while it has left an imperishable
name in the wonderful works of its engineers and in its magni-
ficent buildings had no room in its policy for religious toleration,
no room in its administration for aliens to its faith, no room for

258 University of Madras.

buildings such as that in which we are assembled to-day fos-
tering homes of light and learning. Ton will call to mind how
even almost within the memory of the living, the quiet peaceful
hamlet of your fathers might be roused from its slumbers by
gangs of Pindari robbers, and the morning sun be a witness
only to the desolation that had been made the father dead
the children orphans all property gone nothing left for the
survivors but misery and blank despair. These things you will
call to mind and compare the in with the condition of your coun-
try now, when every man has security in his possession, and the
humble ryot may lay him down and sleep in peace and safety.
Perfect freedom in religion, equality in the eyes of the Law,
freedom of speech, and liberty of the Press such as few nations in
the world possess. Education provided in the most generous spirit,
and designedly intended to enable you to qualify yourselves for
some of the highest judicial and administrative offices in the
State, and, as time goes on, it may be, to enable you to have a
larger share in the Government of your country. These and
many more inestimable benefits you have had given to you with
no grudging hand. What then, I would ask, is to be your mes-
sage to your countrymen ? Is it to be a message of peace and
goodwill ? Or is it to be a message of misrepresentation, of
concealment, keeping out of view the many benefits you have
received in the past, and presenting in false colours the work
and intentions of the Government of your own day ? Are you
going to stir up hatred where there should be gratitude, distrust
where there should be confidence ? If so, better you had never
been in the position you occupy to-day. You will be no true
friends to your country. And while you must be the interpre-
ret hon * er8 ^ ^ n ^^ an ^ Js ru ^ e * your countrymen, you
estly^Stweeii must no less be the exponents of your country's
England and wants to England* And here your responsibility
is no less weighty. The great democracy of Eng-
land is waiting to learn the needs of this ancient people. Its
heart beats with generous impulses, and if you are enabled to bring
a real and genuine message from the millions in this land, you
may rest assured it will meet with a generous response. But
on the other hand, if for narrow class ends you try to mislead,
you take a spurious message and, keeping out of view the needs
and wishes of your less educated countrymen, you aim only at
the aggrandisement of self, then I believe you will meet with
that rebuke which you will well merit ; and, again I say, you
will be no true friends of your country. But actuated by the
purest patriotism, you will prove yourselves true interpreters
between the Government and the people, The liberal power

1890. Rai Bahadur P. Ranyanadha Mudaliyar.

that has enabled you to occupy that position yon are in to-day
expects it. The fair name and honor of your Alma Motir
demand the culture and moral training you have received will
impel you towards it. And great as is your responsibility, no
less great will be your reward, if, as highly influential members
of this great people, you are enabled to carry joy and gladness
into a million homes, and become a potent means in helping on
the regeneration of your country. Then it may be, that that
dawn of a better day for India whicn is already gilding the
hilltops of time shall, as the ages roll on, brighten into a glorious
noon, when the Aryan of the West reunited with the Aryan of
the East in a common brotherhood, with common high hopes and
lofty aspirations, with truth, righteousness and peace as their
watchwords shall carry their own life, and light and liberty into
the remotest and darkest regions of the earth.



My Lord Chancellor and Gentlemen, The bye-laws governing
the procedure at Convocation require that a Fellow of the Senate
should make an address to those who have been admitted to the
Degrees of the University, exhorting them to conduct themselves
in a manner suitable to the academical position gained by them.
This responsible duty has, on this occasion, been assigned to me
by His Excellency the Chancellor, and while I owe it to him to
say that I feel thankful to him for the honor he has conferred on
me, I owe it to myself to add that I am keenly sensible of the
difficulty of the task I have undertaken. Gentlemen, you who
have just received degrees. You have this day been admitted
into the honorable body of the Graduates of the University of
Madras. Your admission was preceded by a period of probation
during which you were subjected to a severe discipline. At the
close of this period, you were examined by a body of experts
who have declared that you have been weighed in the balance
and that you have not been found wanting. And the University,
before setting the seal of its approval on you, has wisely obtained
from you solemn promises that you will so conduct yourselves
in every relation of life as to be an honour to the University, and
a blessing to the country that gave you birth. By taking these
promises from you, and by deputing a member of the Senate to
impress on you their full meaning and significance, the Univer-
sity wishes you to understand that it attaches no less importance
to the social and political virtues, to character and conduct,

260 University of Madras.

than to intellectual power and literary or scientific knowledge.
The ceremony you have gone through to-day is not a mere
matter of form. Its purpose is to awaken in your minds a lively
sense of what you owe to the University, and what you owe to
yourselves. You are going into the world with the stamp of the
University on you as sterling coin. The degrees you hold will
enable you to attain a position of eminence in the community to
which you belong. How can you better evince your grateful
appreciation of the honor the University has conferred on you
than to prove by the zeal and ability, the good sense and integrity
with which you discharge your public and private duties that
you are worthy sons of your Alma Mater-, and that be the tempta-
tion to evil never so strong, you will not consciously stoop to do
any thing that will cast the slightest slur on the fair reputation
of the fraternity to which you will from this day forth belong ?

In regard to the University to which you and I belong, and
are, I trust, proud to belong, I may be permitted to say that
humble as its aims and limited as its functions are, it has done
the work it has set to itself with creditable success. It has
indeed no monumental buildings, no ancestral trees, no galleries
and museums, nothing of a romantic or picturesque character to
captivate the imagination by, no proud reminiscences linking it
with names illustrious in the past for genius or heroism. It has
had but a brief existence. Its life has been peculiarly monoto-
nous. Year after year, examinations have been held, results
published and degrees conferred, a work which falls very far
short of what many Universities in Europe have done and are
doing. But none-the-less, I venture to assert that a great deal
of good has already been done, and that the foundations are
being slowly but surely laid of good in the future sufficient to
satisfy all reasonable expectation. It is no small thing that of

those who graduated during the thirty-two years
ABetroepect. frQm Ig57 ^ jggg^ there are ^ present on the rollg

1,974 Bachelors of Arts, 49 Masters of Arts, 317 Bachelors of
Law, and 8 Masters of Law. The numbers that passed the
examinations in Engineering and Medicine are less satisfactory,
but even in this there is no ground for despair as the failure is
in my opinion due not to a want of capacity on the part of the
students, but to the absence of such a demand for Engineering
and Medical Graduates as would ensure to them an honorable
competence. The numbers of candidates for the Matriculation
Examination and the First Examination in Arts have gone on
increasing by leaps and bounds, increasing of late years to such
an extent that it was felt that the time had come for directing

1890. Rai Bahadur I 1 . lianyauadka Mudaliyar. 261

the attention of the youth of the country to courses of study and
branches of knowledge that the University omits, and rightly
I omits to include in its curricula. This rapid increase in the
numbers presenting themselves for the lower examinations may
not in itself be a matter for rejoicing, seeing that only a small
fraction of those that pass the lower examinations go on with
their studies till they obtain a degree ; but looking at the matter
from another standpoint, and noting what expansion of Primary
and Middle School education must have preceded it as a neces-
sary condition, the great help that the University has given
towards the successful working of the multitudinous agencies,
public and private, that are carrying on the work of educating
the youth of this country, deserves thankful recognition. Weighty
testimony has been borne by previous speakers at Convocation to
the services rendered by the University in providing the State
with servants of a better stamp than it formerly had. The men
that the University has given have been found to be superior to
their predecessors in " method and regularity and also in the
tone of morality/' If these are all the benefits that the Univer-
sity has conferred, and I shall not pause to inquire what more
it has, it must be acknowledged to have done a great and useful
work, and to deserve the lasting gratitude of those who have
profited by its labors.

Tot hose who failed to pass the recent University Examina-
tions, I would say, do not lose heart. Work
Advice to un- w ith greater zeal and method than you have yet

successful candi- -i -i * i * -i

da^g done, and if you deserve to succeed, succeed you

will. Painful as it must be to you that you have
failed, you will not be surprised to hear that there is a point of
view in which your failure is a thing to be glad of. It is obvious
that a University degree will cease to be of any value if the
undeserving gain it as much as the deserving, and it is in every
sense a more desirable thing that you should fail once, twice,
thrice, and then succeed, only if you deserve to succeed, than
that the value of a University degree should fall in men's esteem.
There never was a greater necessity than at present for the
University keeping a jealous watch over the standards of its
examinations. The time may be far distant when the best gradu-
ates of this University can claim to be the intellectual equals of
the best graduates of the West. Perhaps that time is a dream
never to be realized. But there is no doubt that such equality
is the ideal to be aimed at. Anything that tends even in a slight
degree to cause a divergence from the policy hitherto pursued
of raising standards gradually but to a definite and appreciable

262 University of Madras.

extent, deserves in my opinion to be regarded as a calamity,
which the true friends of education will do well to avert by all
the means in their power.

My connection with the examinations of the University dur-
ing a. long course of years enables me to say that
cline m imathe- especially of late years there has been a marked
matical attain- decline in the mathematical attainments* of the
candidates for the Matriculation Examination and
the First Examination in Arts. Every teacher knows how diffi-
cult it has become to make the majority of students in the First
Arts classes pay due attention to their mathematical studies, and
this difficulty arises, I believe, less from natural inaptitude or the
preponderating claims of other subjects of the course than from
a capricious distaste born of the intention to give up mathematics
altogether after passing the First Examination in Arts. Be the
causes what they may, this notable decline is a matter for serious
regret, and I may, on behalf of the University, express an ear-
nest wish that students will appreciate better than they seem to
do at present the place and function of mathematics in a scheme
of liberal education, and bestow upon that subject the attention
it deserves as a disciplinary study, and as an indispensable help
to the study of every branch of the physical sciences.

I find from the records of the University that 1,974 gradu-

Mortality a * e ^ ^ n J ^ T * S U P to * ne ^ s ^ ^ March 1889 ; and that
among . gradu- of those no less than 118 have passed away, 1

out of every 17. Among the Masters of Arts,
the rate of mortality is 1 out of every 9 ; among the Bache-
lors of Law, 1 out of every 8 ; among Bachelors of Medicine
and Masters in Surgery, 1 out of every 7. These figures
are such as to cause the gravest anxiety. What is peculiarly
painful is that the higher the academical standard attained,
the greater is the rate of mortality, indicating that the physical
energies have collapsed under the strain of the higher studies.
When this high rate of mortality is coupled with the fact, that
a good proportion of those that have ceased to exist were in
their day men of bright promise with a prosperous career before
them, the loss must be felt to be very considerable. It behoves
you to take warning betimes, and to guard against the fatal error

of your mental growth so far outrunning your

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 59 of 66)