Mountstuart Elphinstone.

Selections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir online

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Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 8 of 41)
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might be safely deposited, and the native secretary
might be entrusted with the care and issue of them.

36. The necessary communication should be made
to the Medical Board regarding the employment of the
vaccinators and the means suggested for diffusing
medical science. The vaccinators also should be
consulted as to their disposition to undertake the task
proposed for them.

37. The printing of the school-books suggested by
the Society should immediately be sanctioned, and the
Society should be authorized to issue advertisements
inviting translations and promising remuneration at the
rate already mentioned.

38. The Society might be requested to give directions
for the preparation of medals, and the Persian secretary
might direct some of the books already printed under
his superintendence to be bound — some handsomely

7—2



loo MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

and some plainlj^ — as prizes. The expense of each,
however, should not exceed in all the sum laid down in
a former paragraph, including the prime cost of the
book. Those prizes might then be distributed to the
collectors and to the vaccinators if they should enter
into the design ; and they might be requested to com-
mence the distribution either generally or gradually
and experimentally, as they thought most expedient.

39. The Society should likewise have some of the
cheaper publications which are printed under its
superintendence properly bound at the expense of
Government for distribution as prizes, and the expense
of prizes to schoolmasters should be authorized.

40. The expense of the English school at Bombay
may be immediately authorized, and the School Society
requested to take the management of it ; the expense
being limited to 2,500 rupees a year.

41. The professorships for English sciences cannot
be promised without the sanction of the Honourable the
Court of Directors, to whom the question should be
referred ; unless some part of the money allotted to
religious purposes should become disposable, when
stipends and prizes may be held out as far as the sum
recovered will go. The Commissioner at Puna should
be requested to avail himself of any such oppor-
tunities.

42. There are many details to be filled up on these
plans for which I must depend on the kind assistance
of the secretary, and as the correspondence is chiefly
with the collectors, the execution may be as well com-
mitted to the Picvenue as any other department. I
am led to wish it should be so on this occasion from
the attention Mr. Earish has already given to the
subject, and still more from the belief that Mr. Hender-
son is likely to be intercepted before he can make any
great progress in organizing the proposed plans.



MINUTE ON EDUCATION. loi

43. I can conceive no objection that can be urged to
these proposals except tlie greatness of the expense — to
which I wonkl oppose the magnitude of the object. It
is difficult to imagine an undertaking in which our duty,
our interest, and our honour are more immediately con-
cerned. It is now well understood that in all countries
the happiness of the poor depends in a great measure
on their education. It is by means of it alone that
they can acquire those habits of prudence and self-
respect from which all other good qualities spring ; and
if ever there was a country where such habits are
required, it is this. We have all often heard of the ills
of early marriages and overflowing population ; of the
savings of a life squandered on some one occasion of
festivity; of the helplessness of the Kayats which renders
them a prey to money-lenders ; of their indifference to
good clothes or houses, which has been urged on some
occasions as an argument against lowering the public
demands on them ; and, finally, of the vanity of all
laws to protect them when no individual can be found
who has spirit enough to take advantage of those
enacted in their favour. There is but one remedy for
all this, which is education.

44. If there be a wish to contribute to the abolition
of the horrors of self-immolation, and of infanticide,
and ultimately to the destruction of superstition in
India, it is scarcely necessary now to prove that the
only means of success lie in the diffusion of know-
ledge.

45. In the meantime, the dangers to which we are
exposed from the sensitive character of the religion of
the natives, and the slippery foundation of our Govern-
ment, owing to the total separation between us and our
subjects, require the adoption of some measure to
counteract them, and the only one is, to remove their



I02 MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

prejudices and to commuuicate our own principles and
opinions by the diflfusion of a rational education.

4G. It has been urged against our Indian Govern-
ment that we have subverted the States of the East and
shut up all the sources from which the magnificence of
the country was derived, and that we have not our-
selves constructed a single work either of utility or
splendour. It may be alleged with more justice that
we have dried up the fountains of native talent, and
that from the nature of our conquest not only all en-
couragement to the advancement of knowledge is with-
drawn, but even the actual learning of the nation is
likely to be lost, and the productions of former genius
to be forgotten. Something should surely be done to
remove this reproach.

47. It is probably some considerations like these that
have induced the Legislature to render it imperative
on the Indian Government to spend a portion of its
Eevenue in the promotion of education ; but whatever
were the motives that led to it, the enactment itself
forms a fresh argument for our attention to the subject.
It may be urged that this expense, however well
applied, ought not to fall on the Government ; that
those who are to benefit by education ought to pay for
it themselves ; and that an attempt to introduce it on
any other terms will fail, from the indifierence of the
teachers and from the want of preparation among those
for whose benefit it is intended. This would be true of
the higher branches of education among a people with
whom sound learning was already in request ; but in
India our first and greatest difficulty is to create that
demand for knowledge, on the supposed existence of
which the objection I have mentioned is founded.

48. AVitli regard to the education of the poor, that
must, in all stages of society, be in a great measure the



MINUTE ON EDUCATION. 103

charge of the Government. Even Adam Smith (the
political writer, of all others, who has put the strictest
limits to the interference of the Executive Government,
especially in education) admits the instruction of the
poor to be among the necessary expenses of the
sovereign ; though he scarcely allows any other expense,
except for the defence of the nation and the adminis-
tration of justice.

49. I trust, therefore, that the expense would be
cheerfully incurred, even if it were considerable and
permanent ; but that of the schools is to be borne by
the villages ; the prizes and professors by funds already
alienated ; the press, as the demand for books increases,
may be left to pay itself ; and when the plans I have
proposed shall once have been fully organized, I hope
that the whole of the arrangement, so beneficial to
the public, will be accomplished without any material
expense to the Company.

50. The immediate expense may be considered accord-
ing to the different branches which I have suggested.

51. The expense of the native secretary and the
head schoolmaster is to be met in part by a reduction
to the same amount in the allowances to persons now
employed in superintending native publications, enough
having been done in that way. There will remain
about 350 rupees a month to be paid.

52. The allowances to the four vaccinators, if
accepted, Avill be 7,200 rupees a year. The prizes
are for the most part books, the charge for which will
be accounted for under that head ; that for medals will
not be considerable, and that of the prizes to school-
masters may be guessed at 2,000 rupees a year.

53. I do not think w^e shall be required to incur a
greater expense in printing, even for the first ye:u*,
than we now incur for that purpose ; and although the



104 MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

rewards for translations are considerable, I think the
chance of their being often demanded extremely small
— jDerhaps three a year of different value, in all about
4,000 or 5,000 rupees, is the most we can expect — but
we have the satisfaction to know^ that any increase in
this branch of expenditure will bear an exact proportion
to the extent of the success and utility of that part of
the present plan. This expense might also at any time
be stopped by advertising that no more rewards would
be given after a certain time. Six months' warning
should, however, be given to allow people to complete
any translations they had begun on.

54. I have already drawn one example from the
liberality of the supreme Government. I may now
add, as applicable to the whole question, that, in
addition to large subscriptions to education societies,
the Governor-General in Council has lately allotted the
whole of the town duties, amounting to about six lacs
of rupees, to local improvements, of which the schools
form a most important branch.

55. Annexed is a memorandum which Mr. Farish
was so good as to draw up at my request, and which

„ contains much information and many valuable

Remarks on Mr. '^

Parish's Memo, guggestlous. I havc already availed myself
of many of the ideas thrown out in it. The following
points, however, still remain to be noticed and recom-
mended :

The importation of types and sale of them at a
cheap rate, with a view to encourage printing ;

The allotment of prizes for essays in the
vernacular languages of India, and for improve-
ments in science ;

The annual report by each collector on the
state of tlio schools ;

The obligation on villages to pay for school-



MINUTE ON EDUCATION. 105

books after the first supply, or (as that might
prevent their applying for them) the obligation to
pay for such as were lost or destroyed.

56. Some of the other plans suggested seem to me
more doubtful. The payment of schoolmasters in
proportion to the number of bo^^s taught is in itself
highly advisable ; but in the present state of our
superintendence it would lead to deceptions, while the
pajanent of a very small fixed stipend will keep a
schoolmaster to his trade, and his dependence on the
contributions of his scholars for the rest of his main-
tenance will secure his industry.

57. It is observed that the missionaries find the
lowest castes the best pupils. But we must be careful
how we offer any special encouragement to men of that
description. They are not only the most despised, but
among the least numerous of the great divisions of
society ; and it is to be feared that if our system of
education first took root among them, it w^ould never
spread further, and that we might find ourselves at the
head of a new class superior to the rest in useful know-
ledge, but hated and despised by the castes to whom
these new attainments would always induce us to prefer
them. Such a state of things would be desirable, if we
were contented to rest our power on our army or on
the attachment of a part of the population, but is
inconsistent with every attempt to found it on a more
extended basis.

58. To the mixture of religion even in the slightest
degree with our plans of education I must strongly
object. I cannot agree to clog with any additional
difficulty a plan which has already so many obstruc-
tions to surmount. I am convinced that the conversion
of the natives must infallibly result from the diftusion
of knowledge among them. Fortunately, they are not



io6 MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

aware of the connections, or all attacks on their ignor-
ance would be as vigorously resisted as if they were on
their religion. The only effect of introducing Chris-
tianity into our schools would be to sound the alarm,
and to warn the Brahmins of the approaching danger.
Even that warning might perhaps be neglected as long-
as no converts were made ; but it is a sufficient
argument against a plan that it can only be safe as
long as it is ineffectual, and in this instance the danger
involves not only the failure of our plans of education
but the dissolution of our empire.

59. I take this opportunity of adverting to the
remarks offered by the Honourable the Court of
,, ,. ^ „ Directors on the institution of the Native

Native College

at Puna. Collcgc at Puua. Before I enter on the
general merits of the question, I beg to notice three
particular objections which have occurred to the Honour-
able Court, and which I trust I may be able to remove.

60. The Honourable Court is pleased to observe in
Paragraphs 20 and 21, that we have taken it for
granted, without inquiry, that a favourable impression
would be made on the minds of the natives by the
institution of a college ; but that experience has shown
in other places that no such effect is produced. It
may, however, admit of a doubt, supposing the institu-
tions alluded to — the colleges of Benares and Calcutta,
for instance — to excite no visible feeling at the present
moment, when they are no longer novelties, and when
the spirit of our Government is thoroughly understood,
whether they may not yet have produced a most
beneficial impression at the time of their first estab-
lishment. In the case of the college at Puna, the fact
can scarcely be contested. One of the principal objects
of the Peshwa's Government was the maintenance of
the Brahmins. It is known to the Honourable Court
that he annually distributed five lacs of rupees among



MINUTE ON EDUCATION. 107

that order under the name of the Dakshina ; but it must
be observed that the Dakshina formed but a small
portion of his largesses to Brahmins, and the number
of jDersons devoted to Hindu learning and religion, who
were supported by him, exceeded what would readily
be supposed. With all the favour that we have shown
this class of his dependents, great numbers of them
are reduced to distress, and are subsisting on the sale
of shawls and other articles, which they received in
better times, while others have already reached the
extremity of want which follows the consumption of all
their former accumulation. Considering the numbers
and the influence of this description of people, it surely
cannot be reckoned unimportant towards influencing
public opinion that such a sum as could be spared
should be set aside for their maintenance ; and as it is
the object of our enemies to inculcate the opinion that we
wish to change the religion and manners of the Hindus^
it seems equally popular and reasonable to apply part
of that sum to the encouragement of their learning.

61. The Honourable Court has on these grounds
been pleased to approve of the partial continuance of
the Dakshina ; but by the approbation expressed of
Mr. Prendergast's objections to the college on the score
of expense (Paragraph 32), the Honourable Court
appears to understand that a new and considerable
addition to our charges is to be occasioned by that
institution. The fact, however, is that the whole
expense of the college has been saved out of the
Dakshina, and not one rupee has been expended for
the encouragement of learning that was not already
required to prevent popular discontent.*

* The accompan3ing statement s}io\v.s tliat when tlic college is
complete, nineteen professors are maintained and stipends allowed to
one hundred of the students at an annual expense of 1-5,320 rupees.



io8 MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

62. I may here observe that I must have expressed
myself indistinctly in my report, as the Honourable Court
has understood my sentiments to be adverse to an insti-
tution like the present. It was my intention in the
passage quoted in Paragraph 33 to say that instead of
expending two lacs of rupees on religious charges, in-
cluding two colleges, I intended to allot 50,000 rupees
to the Dakshina, giving the prizes as much as possible
to proficients in law, mathematics, etc., to support a
certain number of professors who might teach those
sciences, and to circulate a few well-chosen books.
The only deviations from this plan that have taken
place are that the professors have been paid out of the
funds allotted to the Dakshina, and that some of those
appointed are meant to teach Hindu divinity and my-
thology. It cannot be denied that this is an unprofitable
part of the establishment, and it is to these branches of
learning that Mr. Chaplin alludes when he saj^s that
some are worse than useless ; but we must not forget
that we are founding (or rather keeping up with modifi-
cations) a seminary among a most bigoted people, where
knowledge has always been in the hands of the priest-
hood, and where science itself is considered as a branch
of religion. In such circumstances, and supporting
the expense from a fund devoted to religious purposes,
I do not think we could possibly have excluded the
usual theological professorships without showing a hos-
tility to the Hindu faith which it was our object to
avoid, and irritating those prejudices of the people
which it was the professed design of the institution to
soothe or to remove. I trust these arguments may be
satisfactory to the Honourable Court ; but at all events I
may venture to assure it that the measure was not under-
taken without very full investigation of its probable effect,
and that I am rather afraid that my inquiries while



MINUTE ON EDUCATION. 109

Commissioner in the Deccan, may have led the Mahrattas
to expect some more important measures in favour of the
learned of their nation than it has been found expedient
to carry into execution.

G3. I come now to the question whether, considering
the establishment of the college, without reference to
the conciliation of the people, it was desirable for its
own sake to encourage the learning of the country. It
must be clearly understood that the question is not
whether we are to encourage Brahmin learning or
European learning, but whether we are to encourage
Brahmin learning or none at all. The early part of
this minute has shown that we do not possess the
means of teaching in the native languages the very
rudiments of European sciences ; and that if we did
possess them, we should find few or none among the
natives who are disposed or fitted to receive our in-
structions. The only point to discuss therefore is,
whether or not the knowledge now in existence is to be
allowed to be extinguished. It may be supposed that
as Hindu learning formerly subsisted independent of
our aid, it might continue to do so without our in-
curring the expense of a college ; but this conclusion
would be entirely erroneous. The Dakshina, which has
already been mentioned, was expressly designed to en-
courage learning : it formerly amounted to eight or ten
lacs of rupees, and though Bajee Row reduced the
expenses, he still gave a small sum to each of 50,000
Brahmins, besides large prizes to all who distinguished
themselves by their learning. Both he and all his
sirdars and ministers employed many learned Brahmins
in various offices connected with the Hindu ritual ; and
all, on a religious principle, allow^ed stipends and grants
of land to many others for whose services they had no
call. Add to this that learnins: was a certain title to



no MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

the countenance of the great and to the respect of the
people, and we may estimate the incentives to the ac-
quisition of it which were destroyed by our conquest.
It is true that this encouragement may not have been
judiciously directed, but the effects of it on the whole
were beneficial, and such as I cannot but think that it
is still desirable to preserve. A class of men was
maintained whose time was devoted to the cultivation of
their understanding ; their learning may have been
obscure and degenerate, but still it bore some affinity to
real science, into which it might in time have been im-
proved. They were not, perhaps, much inferior to
those monks among whom the seeds of European learn-
ing were long kept alive ; and their extinction, if it did
not occasion the loss of much present wisdom, would
have cut off all hope for the future.

64. These arguments are founded on the supposition
that the Puna College was always to remain unaltered,
but this was by no means a necessary consequence of
the institution ; when once the college had become an
established place of resort for Brahmins, it would be easy
to introduce by degrees improvements into the system
of education, and thus render the institution a powerful
instrument for the diffusion of civilization. Some
such alterations are suggested in the course of this
minute, and others must be the fruit of time, and
cannot be adopted until we have instruments better
fitted to impart instruction as well as auditors better
prepared to receive it.

05. At no time, however, could I wish that the
purely Hindu part of the course should be totally
abandoned. It would surely be a preposterous way of
adding to the intellectual treasures of a nation to begin
by the destruction of its indigenous literature ; and
1 cannot but think that the future attainments of the




MINUTE ON EDUCATION. m

natives will be increased in extent as well as in variety
by being, as it were, engrafted on tlieir own previous
knowledge, and imbued with their own original and
peculiar character.

- QiQ. The attention of the Honourable Court has been
attracted to the appointment among others of a professor
of poetry. That class was admitted without much
reflection as one that exists in all Hindu colleges.
At first sight it seems of little practical utility, but
on a closer examination it will probably appear worthy
of being looked on with more favour. The Honourable
Court are aware how large a portion of the Hindu
literature is formed by Sanscrit poetry. It is this part
which seems to have the most intrinsic merit, and
which has called forth the enthusiastic admiration of nc
mean judges among ourselves. It is this part also
which it is both most practicable and most desirable to
preserve. Even without the example and assistance of
a more civilized nation, the science possessed by every
people is gradually superseded by their own discoveries
as they advance in knowledge, and their early works
fall into disuse and into oblivion. But it is otherwise
with their poetry ; the standard works maintain their
reputation undiminished in every age, they form the
models of composition and the fountains of classical
language ; and the writers of the rudest ages are
those who contribute the most to the delight and
refinement of the most improved of their posterity.

67. The Honourable Court draws anticipations
unfavourable to the college at Puna from the ill
success of those at Calcutta and Benares ; but I am not
sure that such a fact, even admitted in its utmost
extent, would form an argument against the phm
adopted. Every institution is liable to fall in time
into neglect and inefficiency ; and of all others the



112 MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

most liable are those which have the maintenance of
learning for their object. Other establishments derive
strength from their connection with the transactions of
common life, but those for the cultivation of letters
have no such support, and it is for this reason that
the aid of Government is required to enable them to
subsist. It would perhaps be giving way too readily to
despondency to suppose that because the colleges in
Bengal have admitted of some abuses, that they neither
have been nor w^ill be of great utility. In the want of
leisure for careful superintendence among the Europeans
such establishments must be exposed to fluctuations.
They will be neglected under one Government. They
will be reformed under another ; and on the whole
they will go on and flourish, a monument of the genius
of the great man who planned them in the midst
of pressing difliculties and dangers, and of the liberality
of the Honourable Court which has supported them,
notwithstanding occasional discouragement and tem-
porary ill success.

68. Having been led so far into the consideration
of the despatch of the Honourable the Court of Direc-
tors, I shall proceed to that part which re-
ymmg^^cwii lates to the college which it was intended to
establish at the Residency for the education of
young civil servants ; and I shall propose such a sub-



Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 8 of 41)