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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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vocation" which consists of " all Masters of Arts and all Doctors
of the three superior faculties, who have their names on the
books of some College or Hall." Madras is becoming more and
more a University town, more and more the focus of the great
educational movement. It now possesses three First grade and
four Professional colleges, and I cannot doubt that the tendency
of the great educational agencies will be to locate their First
grade colleges in or near Madras. It has resident in it already
nearly eighteen hundred collegiate students, a number which
greatly exceeds the number of students in the University of
Oxford five and twenty years ago. It will thus possess colleges

290 University of Madras.

on which to build such a scheme. I have therefore observed with

unmixed pleasure the recent movement of the ex-students of the

Madras Christian College to reunite themselves with that college

their true Alma Mater, inspired by grateful devotion to that

eminent man, the B,ev. William Miller, who gives his life to

the glorious work of educating and elevating South India. It

seems to me a laudable ambition for the graduates in Arts of

this University, who have attained to the dignity

Representation o f the Master's degree, or to that of Master of

of graduates in T ,p -,. '. 1,1

the University. Laws or Doctor of Medicine, to seek to have a voice
in the administration of the University ; but it is
also a laudable ambition that the Heads and Professors of its
superior colleges should seek to become more potent factors
therein. Such ambitions need not be in conflict, but should be
in harmony, the influence of the college being strengthened
through its graduates. Such a gathering together of educational
forces will, I would fain believe, raise this University to a far
higher sphere of usefulness than that which it now occupies
confer on it uniqueness and individuality, and tend to give to the
Professors of its colleges University rank. It needs the friction
of mind against mind to kindle the heat which generates thought;
the sharp strokes of wit on wit to strike out the sparks which fan-
ned become the unquenchable fire of knowledge- To one small
people was it given to be the fountain head of progressive thought
in the world. " Except the blind forces of nature," says Sir Henry
Maine, "nothing moves in this world which is not Greek in its
" origin. * * * A ferment spreading from that source has vitalised
" all the great progressive races of mankind, penetrating from
" one to another and producing in each results accordant with
"its hidden and latent genius, and results often far greater than
" any exhibited in Greece itself." But would, I ask, this new
creation have ever dawned upon the world had not Athens
centred in herself the mind of Greece ?

The next way in which I think the University organisation can
hereafter be improved is by providing means, direct-
lvor through its affiliated colleges, by which you
who have obtained your degrees, and other students.
Matriculated or not, may carry on the work of self-culture, or
obtain knowledge in subjects which do not fall within the college
or school curricula. Many of you probably know how great has
been the influence of the schemes of University Extension Lec-
tures and of Local Examinations in obtaining for the Universities
of Oxford and Cambridge a truly national character. A similar
scheme to the latter has, as you know, been instituted in this

1892. Mr. H. B. Grigg. 291

Presidency by your Government, and even if such work could
be undertaken by this University, it is probably wiser to leave
it in the hands of Government. Little objection can, however,
I think, be taken to a scheme of University Extension Lectures.
Already in some of our colleges assistance is being afforded to
students who are studying for the Master of Arts Degree, but
not as yet by means of special lectures. But nothing has as yet
been done to provide the means of acquiring extended know-
ledge, except in the arts, to students otherwise than through the
regular curricula of affiliated institutions. . This is not the place
to discuss the practical difficulties of such a scheme, but it is the
place in which to say that provision for imparting knowledge
in this way is gradually becoming a necessity of higher educa-
tion in this Presidency and to invite attention to the subject.
The revenues of the University will be ample. I cannot con-
ceive a more appropriate way of spending the surplus of money
derived from examination fees than in providing means for the
further education of the examinees outside the beaten paths of
the University, through lectures, be they in connection with a
University course or in subjects not as yet included in the Uni-
versity curricula. By such a measure students of this University
might from time to time hear courses of lectures by distinguished
scholars and scientists of Europe. I feel the necessity for
keeping the tests in branches of knowledge outside the Univer-
sity courses under the immediate control of Government, but 1
am also persuaded that that system is in part only a provisional
system as regards higher knowledge, and that if education in such
subjects is ultimately to be placed on a sure basis, the University
must, in the fulness of time, provide the means of testing such
students by examinations and of honoring those who distinguish
themselves therein by Degrees or Licenses in other words that
this University should in time confer Degrees or Licenses on such
specialists as Chemists, Agriculturalists, Musicians, as well as on
Lawyers, Physicians, Engineers, and Schoolmasters.

Gentlemen, I have told you that your organisation as an
University is capable of a beneficent evolution,
Improved and such an evolution has already affected the
" courses of study, which were laid down for you at
the beginning. But you should be for ever grate-
ful that the scheme of higher education marked out for you
was at once modelled on more scientific lines than those which
till then prevailed in some of the leading Universities of Great
Britain, Your fathers were not limited to instruction in ancient
Languages, and Letters, or in Mathematics, but they were at

292 University of Madras.

once given a course which compelled them to study not only
Language or Mathematics, but also History and Moral Phi-
losophy, with an option of either Natural Philosophy, Physical
Science, or Logic and Mental Philosophy. It is true that
from the number of subjects, and the necessarily limited pro-
vision for teaching, the result was, perhaps, in too many cases,
an imperfect knowledge of several, in place of a more com-
manding grasp of one or two great subjects, but notwith-
standing these defects it gave a thorough grasp of leading
principles and not a mere superficial acquaintance with details,
and thus imparted to some of the early students, what is one of
the best outcomes of our system of education, a bent of mind
not to see things as they appear through the darkened and dis-
torted glass of prejudice and popular opinion, but with the
naked eye of the mind, illumined by the clear beams of true
literary and scientific knowledge. That course of study had its
defects, many of which have now been removed and with the
organisation of the improved schemes the name of Dr. David
Duncan will ever be remembered. You have now a better
grounding in general knowledge, that is of things which a culti-
vated man ought to know. The number of subjects in the final
stage has been reduced and the courses of study have been
fixed on scientific lines. Moreover a vast improvement has
taken place in quite recent years in the supply of Professorial
teaching. Your fathers had teachers of high merit and noble
character, whose names, as I speak, will flash into your minds,
but these distinguished men would have been the first to admit
that their work suffered because there was not enough division
of labour. Through the liberality of your Government as
regards both Departmental and Aided Colleges that defect
has been in a great measure removed, and 1 trust this century
will not close before at least in two colleges of this Presi-
dency, there will be adequate Professorial teaching in each
great branch in which this University examines. Thus,
gentlemen, you will see that your opportunities of training
yourselves are greatly superior to those your fathers enjoyed,
except in one matter only, namely, in the facilities which existed
for intercourse with your teachers. That loss has been unavoid-
able, because as in a large family of children the father and
mother must substitute general for individual leading and guid-
ance, so with a large body of students the professor must rest
on the words spoken to the class as a whole, with an occasional
word in season to the individual student, instead of the loving
personal leading which we so often hear was characteristic of
some of the men who taught your fathers.'-' But my experience

1892 Mr. H. B. Grigg. 293

tells me that it is oftenest the thought, which comes fresh with
warm life from the brain of a teacher as he deals at lecture with
some great subject, " striking across the mind and flushing all
the face" that is indelibly fixed in our minds and moulds our
future life. You have all had these opportunities in whatever
Faculty you have been studying, and I would hope that one and
all of you are carrying away some such life-giving thoughts, some
such grains of gold which you may treasure in the store-houses
of your memories, some such seeds of wisdom which may grow up
in the good soil of your minds and yield fruit an hundred-fold.

Now as to supplementing the courses of study through which
Supplement y ou nay e passed for your degree. Gentlemen,
what has been Bachelors of Arts, if you have during your Uni-
versity course disciplined and strengthened your
understanding, if you have acquired a knowledge of things which
an educated man in South India must know to be a useful
citizen, supplemented by a fairly thorough knowledge of some one
science, if you have added to this a sound knowledge of the English
tongue and through its literature have grasped in some degree the
genius of that people, if you have along with all this cultivated
a truth-loving spirit, a spirit which " abhors idols," be they of
the tribe, of the cave, of the market place or of the theatre, you
will be fitted for preparing yourselves by special study for the
branch of activity by which you will hereafter seek to earn your
livelihood and live the life of a cultivated being. You have laid
the foundation in the schools of this University for the school of
life. It is but the foundation. I know full well that tempta-
tions to a vain spirit are many and peculiar. You have come,
many of you, from what you now regard as ignorant homes and
you are surrounded too often by unenlightened relatives and
friends, whilst a graduate in Europe would live amongst those
whose knowledge and experience of life he cannot for a moment
afford to disparage or dispute. But this condition of things is
not one which should make you self-complacent. It should
rather fill you with the spirit of meekness and of fear of meek-
ness because your superior knowledge should make you know
that after all what you have learnt is but little of the sum of
knowledge, and of fear, for you must see that you, even more
than the English graduate, have need to supplement that know-
ledge. If you arrest your development in knowledge, says

, Sir Henry Maine, conceit and scepticism must be
Intellectual ., J .. . . ' , _,. ,. r .. _ ., .

cultivation must tne result, intellectual cultivation should be con-

be ever progres- stantly progressive." First then, you in a way

require a more thorough knowledge of the English

294 University of Madras.

tongue than perhaps any people on the face of the globe.
Without the power to comprehend clearly the thoughts conveyed
therein, your progress in the course of intellectual and social
amendment is impossible. Remember, that words often confuse
ideas, and that the inharmonious use of a word may often lead to
great and permanent divisions and estrangements in thought,
estrangements so great that whole societies of men may be led
thereby in different ways. Words like coin become devalued
by use. This is the special danger which besets a spoken
language, and still more a language, used by a people for all
its public necessities, which is not the language of their homes
or of their own literature. In Madras it is an ever-increasing
danger. English, if you are not careful, may degenerate into a
patois, hard to be understood, and thus the language will cease
to be a great unifying influence in the Empire. If then you would
be in sympathy with the great thinkers of the world, whose
ideas must reach you through English, keep up your know-
ledge of that language, read the best books, books which con-
tain the clearest, the noblest the purest, the most beautiful
thoughts that the mind and heart of man has yet evolved the
thoughts of Homer and of Plato, of Virgil and of Tacitus, of
Dante, of Pascal, of Goethe, of Shakespear and of Bacon.

English is the language which opens to you the realms of
knowledge and through it you must have breathed.
Lan te ^ ngllsl1 in, in some measure at least, the modern
spirit ; which after all was the spirit of Pytha-
goras to seek truth and to do good TO re a\r) eveiv KCLL TO
evepyereiv. You are presumed to have acquired over English a
sufficient mastery to pursue knowledge through that language,
and through study of its literature to understand the people
who are your rulers. But after all the breadth of ground
covered by your studies has been limited and the quantity of its
literature which you have studied has been small, in consequence
of the habit of most students to confine their reading to pre-
scribed text-books and the notes of commentators. My advice
to you is to keep the authors you have studied
thors e you e have with the notes you have made always near you,
studied with an d ^ o not, as I know s many of your predeces-
sors have done, dispose or them to the first book-
seller. If you have imbibed any true love of English literature,
and is there a soul among you so dead that it has not been
stirred to its depths by some of the works you have studied,
you cannot part with these books without a sigh.. If you will
keep only those which have taken the greatest hold upon your

1892. Mr. H. B. Grigg. 295

mind, even this is better than a wholesale passing by the plank
of all the words and thoughts of the men, whose minds during
the past few years you have sought to understand. Unless you
continue your study of the language and its literature, your
English education will prove of little use beyond providing
means of earning your daily bread. I do not despise this use,
but you will indeed be poor in soul if you reap no greater riches
therefrom than what can be tied up in a money bag. Let it not
be said of you that you have sought to obtain a degree only and
not also to raise yourselves to a higher life of thought and

In the course of your reading few of you will not have
become conscious of the direction in which your

Do not grudge taste or talent lies. Cultivate that taste by read-
money for books. . .,, . -, ,, , , , -, . / ,

ing with especial care all that you mid on the sub-
ject in the newspapers, the journals, and above all, in books
and make a real effort to economise and buy the books that
give you special help and pleasure.- Do not grudge this money.
Such books are often more precious than rubies to the true
learner. This taste for forming small libraries is I know here
and there beginning to show itself, and it is all the more neces-
sary in this country where at present not a single public library
exists though through the generous policy of your late Gover-
nor, Lord Connemara, that reproach will soon be removed from
Madras. I have always felt a sincere sympathy for the young
graduate who passes to up-country life, where he will rarely
find good books available, notwithstanding that, the Govern-
ment offers to help most liberally the formation of libraries.
Do not be tempted to say te I have my work to do, and I would

do that, with mv might. What help will the contin-

The study of '-. -,./ , 6 -, 9 ,J i v

literature is the ued study or literature be fco me i Y ou can make

study of man- no greater mistake in life than this, for the study of
literature is in a sense the study of mankind. And
you cannot be in sympathy with your kind, you cannot have a
due sense of proportion with regard to your own special work,
if you neglect to read, or rather to keep up your reading in
general subjects as well as to pursue reading in connection with
your special work in life. I do not say you should not have
your favorite lines of reading or your favorite authors; by no
means. Even in literature you should have your own depart-
ment, your own book-case, so to speak, in the world's library.
But do not narrow your sympathies. Most of you will make
your living in the Public service. That service more and more
needs cultivated men, men full of the thoughts of others as well

296 University of Madras.

as of their own. If you would be useful in your day and
generation, if you would leave the world a little better than you
found it, make the acquaintance of great men in their books
and never tire of their friendship. Oh the marvellous inherit-
ance which they have left ! the right to communionship with
them in thought and, aye, in action too. To you, isolated as
necessarily you often must be from your fellows, how great is
this boon, how inestimable the blessings of the great legacies of
thought which they have left with you. " Their works/' writes

" Are a substantial world both pure and good
Round which, with tendrils strong as flesh ^and blood
Our pastime and our happiness will grow."

But although English is to you the gate of knowledge I
would not have you rest on it alone. Your position is peculiar ;
it corresponds to that of the youth of the middle and renascent
Ages who were taught in Latin only. But although this system
has its disadvantages, it has this advantage that you have been
taught to use this foreign tongue as the vehicle of all your rea-
soning processes that is, it has been taught to you logically
and accurately. You are therefore much less liable to mistake
words for things.

But whilst English is all this to you remember that no cul-
tivated man should rest content with a knowledge of one lan-
guage only. The task of learning a language is much less to you
than to an Englishman. Most of you .know only English well,
for your knowledge of your own Vernaculars from all accounts
is but indifferent. Some few of you have passed in Sanscrit or in
Latin. Three languages is the outside limit of your knowledge,
whilst few English graduates do not possess a moderate know-
ledge of two classical and of at least one modern language
besides their own. Your task in the way of learning languages
seems to me always to have been overrated. Had the methods
of instruction been good much more might have been re-
quired of you. Now I would urge each one of you, who has a
facility for learning languages, to use some portion of your
leisure in after-life in studying other languages besides English
especially modern European languages. It is true that you
will rarely feel the need of French or German, as
ern European an Englishman feels it, for purposes of traveler of
language be- correspondence; but if you read, as I trust you
sides English. w ^ more and more English literature and English
pamphlets and newspapers, I do not see how you are to appre-
ciate such literature unless you know something of the languages

1892. Mr. H. B. Grigg. 297

which permeate it. It may be too late for any but a few of you
to study Latin and Greek, but I would advise all of you who
intend to take to the profession of Teaching, or of Law, or of
Medicine, to study one at least of these languages. Remember

that admirable as is English literature, and power-
Learn Latin f u i as f s English as a vehicle of thought, you can,
possible 6 * unless you know Latin and Greek, only get the

thoughts of the peoples who were our spiritual
and social forefathers at second hand ; you must, so to speak,
depend on interpreters and reporters. You must see things
through their eyes and hear the far-off articulate voices of the
ages from their tongues. Most of you must rest content with
this ; but he who seeks to be a teacher and guide of men in a
particular branch of knowledge, the fountains of which are in the
Latin and Greek tongues, cannot escape from the task of study-
ing these languages especially the former. I have often,
gentlemen, felt my heart fail me for the future of your people
when I have observed how that not one teacher of English in a
hundred has been sufficiently inspired with the love of know-
ledge to have armed himself for his life's work by studying the
languages on which our composite tongue is built but that
instead they should be dreaming of passing examinations and
tests which may bring to them a few more pitiful rupees.

Compare what your educated young men are doing in this
way with what the youth of the cities of Great Britain are
doing. Thousands of young men, often artizans and labourers,
are attending the language courses in the various institutes,
such as the Working Men's College and that of the London
Society for the extension of University Teaching many of
them not to better their material prospects in life, or even to
fit themselves for the peculiar work they have to do, but to cul-
tivate their minds so as to live better the lives of rational beings
and to drink deeper of the stream of knowledge. Gentlemen,
do not weaken your claim to rise in the scale of peoples, to have
a more potential voice in shaping your destinies, by simply
living on the honey you have stored up during your college life
instead of ever adding industriously to that store which shall be
intellectual food to you and to your children.

Now as regards your own Vernaculars. Your duty is not
merely to add to your power of under stand in ar the

Improve your , -. *, ' -ii,< i

knowledge of men whose books you read, but if you have a true

the Vernacu- desire to spread good and useful knowledge among

the people, you must also obtain the power which

so few' of you, I fear, possess of expressing yourselves idiomati-


298 University of Madras.

cally and vigorously in your own language, and of interpreting
through, it your new knowledge and your new ideas. 1 am not
one of those who think that much can be done at present in the
way of imparting scientific thoughts and facts to the people
through the Vernaculars, because I believe you must educate
the people first on Western methods through their own Ver-
naculars before you can rouse sufficient interest in what you
have to tell to insure intelligent listeners,

" Charm you never so wisely."

But tke number of those whose interest has been roused is
increasing, perhaps rapidly, and such as these you must be pre-
pared to address in the vulgar tongue. We may yet see an
awakening similar to that which recast the whole social and
ideal life of Europe, when the thoughts of men of " light and lead-
ing " of the ages past and of the then present were communi-
cated to its people "in their own tongue wherein they were
born." No one can feel more strongly than I do that, if the
peoples of India with their numerous Vernaculars are ever to
rise to a nobler life and to greater wealth, the proportion of
those who know English must be ten, nay, twenty -fold of what
it is, and be equally distributed amongst men and women ; but
no one more strongly believes that the great mass of people can
never be truly regenerated until each Vernacular is made a
fitting vehicle for carrying on that knowledge, Only those who
have had to do with the translating of little works of a scientific
character into one of these Vernaculars can appreciate how
difficult the task of interpretation now is. But this interpre-
tation must be done. For it is folly to imagine that the rapidly
increasing millions of South India can ever be English-speaking
or depend mainly on English literature. The growing circula-
tion of Vernacular Journals and Leaflets show how rapidly this
demand for something to read is spreading especially among the
Tamil population. Gentlemen, to whatever Faculty you may

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 63 of 66)