Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras/Part 1/Lord Harris

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

worked so unobtrusively, though the only life which has had any charm for him has been the quiet life, yet he has now, by common consent, attained to that position of eminence which clearly marks him as worthy of the honor which we, as a University, are empowered by the Legislature to confer. It is now my duty, Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate, to present Mr. William Wordsworth to your Excellency, and to ask you, in the presence of this assembly, to meet our wishes by conferring on him the degree of Doctor in the Faculty of Law, on account of his great and distinguished merit.

His Excellency Lord Harris said: — •

Mr. Vice-Chancellor and Gentlemen of the Senate, — It is a coincidence that on this day of the month six years ago, on the 18th December 1884, the first and the latest special Convocation for conferring the honorary degree of LL.D. was held, and on that occasion my hon'ble and distinguished colleague, and for three separate periods your Vice-Chancellor. Sir Raymond West, in the course of a most eloquent and graceful tribute to the character and career of the Marquis of Ripon, remarked that the Syndicate of this University is bound to establish well in the light of day, and in the face of the public, the right of every recipient to such a distinction — that the recipient ought to stand forth as a representative either of learning which will give illustration to this institution, or else as one distinguished for eminent public services which make us proud of him who receiving our humble honour thus associates himself with us. How jealous this University has been of the honour which lies in its power to confer, how distinguished it has made that honour by its trustful guard of it, requires no descriptions from me ; the mere fact that six years have elapsed since the first and the latest honorary degree was conferred is in it-self sufficiently significant. It must be a gratification to you, Mr. Vice-Chancellor, that in selecting you for this degree there was in the end complete unanimity not only amongst those who have the power to confer this degree, but also as regards the fitness of the selection in the public voice, which by its numerous expressions of regard and esteem for yourself and gratitude for the services you have rendered to India has perhaps brought a contentment and pleasure to your breast, which no honorary distinction could arouse. I have used the expression "that in the end there was complete unanimity" advisedly; for at first there was one voice that did not readily join the swelling chorus; and those who know you best will readily understand, Dr. Wordsworth, that the consent which was necessary, but for a time wanting, was your own in your official capacity. I, as Chancellor, have good reason to be grateful that in the end the retiring modesty, which has won you the love of all who have known you, was eventually overborne by a unanimity of feeling from both outside and inside this University which you could not resist, for nothing short of an amending Act could have met the resistance of a Vice-Chancellor to an honorary degree being conferred on himself. Dr. Wordsworth, your career here and a period which I think is strikingly marked by a notable advance in education in Western India, are so nearly synchronous that it is difficult to look back on the one without finding the other included in the same field. This University, although incorporated four years before you arrived in Bombay, did not receive its full liberty until 1860, and as a matter of fact, its first Fellows were not appointed until after you had taken post as Head-master of the High School, and I believe that you, as Principal of the Deccan College, were ex-officio one of them. This occasion is not unsuitable for a rapid retrospect of the changes you have seen; and first as regards institutions. In 1862 there were two Government Arts Colleges, one Aided Arts College (now Wilson College), one Government Law School, and one Medical College; total five. There are now nine Arts Colleges, besides the College of Science, two Law Schools, and the Medical College; total thirteen. In 1862-63, twelve High Schools sent up for Matriculation 147 candidates, of whom 56 passed. In 1888-89, 89 High Schools sent up for Matriculation 1,559 candidates, of whom 620 passed. You have seen the after-life of the youths who come up year by year; you see now your pupils occupying posts of eminence in the High Court, as Ministers in several native states, and as Professors in the Educational Department, but for whom indeed the expansion of aided enterprise would have been scarcely possible ; they are to be found in every grade of judicial offices and they almost monopolise the executive appointments subordinate to the Deputy Collector's grade I or if I were to take another test that of fees which is indicative, but being complicated does not form a conclusive basis for argument, you have seen the total fee receipts advanced from Rs. 1,06,000 in 1865 to Rs. 12,16,000 in 1888-89, or, taking numbers of scholars, there were in public colleges and schools in 1865, 60,000. There are now 524,000. You have seen the institution and the increase of independent colleges, you recognized their value, but you did not tear their rivalry with Government institutions, and that your confidence was justified is proved by the Elphinstone College attracting twice as many students for the University M.A., as all the other colleges of the Presidency. You have seen the Deccan College blossom into the important institution it now is, and take over the handsome and spacious building it now occupies and you have seen the old building of the Elphinstone College taken over by a school of industry, and the college itself take up quarters, thanks to generous benefactors, nearer to the University. You have seen the demand for education diverted into other channels than the art course, through the media of the College of Science, the School of Art, the Victoria Jubilee Institute, and Industrial Schools; and above all you have seen this University recognizing its position of trust, taking the lead in directing education and advancing from time to time its standards to meet the progressive demands of the public service. Dr. Wordsworth, it is my misfortune not my fault, that our acquaintance, our friendship if I may so term it, dates from so recent a period that I am unable of my own knowledge to recapitulate the services you have rendered to the cause of Education in India; but. Sir, could I have done so, that portraiture would have been but the photograph of outlines, telling nothing of the traits of character, of the facility and luxuriance of exposition, of the force of example, of the kindliness of disposition, of "That best portion of a good man's life, his little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love," which, if undetailed in a record of services, nevertheless meet with ready recognition amongst your friends at a moment like this. Dr. Wordsworth, the reward of an instructor of youth lies far less in public honors, and the recognition of ability and virtue than in the characters and careers of those whom he has instructed, and if the honor which this University has conferred on you had been withheld, if expressions of public and private regard had been grudged you, you could have still retired after an honourable career, knowing that you had deserved well of the State in training for it men who by the honourable positions they are attaining to are bringing honour to you, their preceptor, and who by the uprightness of their conduct, bear generous witness to the bright example you have set them. Dr. Wordsworth, we may hope that as we can look back with gratitude to your all but thirty years of life here, so you can look back with conscious satisfaction that they have been well spent, and a feeling that they have been happy ones. I should suppose that there must have been moments of disappointment at being misunderstood. You have distinguished yourself amongst your fellows and there is no man who has reached high eminence but must have now and again found himself opposed in feeling either to the smooth but steady current of official authority, o to the agitated wave of public caprice. No man of character am position, but must have had to face such moments. But if yoi have to look back on such you can now permit them to be effaces by the assurance that it is recognized on all sides that you havi pursued an upright and undeviating course from that which yoi thought right, and that having the power to train the minds, t< bend the inclination of your pupils which way you willed^ it i; now, when the effect of your training is made ap))arent, acknow ledged that your tuition has been fruitful in raising up loya citizens for the service of the State. But, Sir, if authority hai good reason to be grateful to you, not less so must those be who coming to you to be shown how to live and how to learn, hav< found a master living a moral and a virtuous life, a studem loving his books :— • " And books we know " Are a substantial world, both pnre and good " Ronnd these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood

    • Our pastime and our happiness will grow."

Loving his books, not to strain and distort their meaning for pur- poses of argument, but for the power they give him of making mort interesting, more fruitful of illustration, more easy of recollec- tion, the tuition which was his profession, not only the master not only the student, but above all a friend. Sir, I venture tc say that the unanimity which the public has indicated in approv- ing of the conferment of this degree on you to-day has been won by the large-hearted and open sympathy, not given to the insular reserve of all your countrymen to display, but which you have bestowed in overflowing measure on the resident national- ities of this country. Dr. Wordsworth, if amongst those whc have effected the reforms I have outlined, you of your modesty would not say ' quorum pars magna fui,' nevertheless youi friends must feel that ia the Councils that have initiated them yours was indeed a weighty opinion ; and gauging them fairly; and bearing in mind the influence you have had in Council, in literary education, and in training up public servants, I think I am justified in saying that you are a worthy recipient of the honours of this degree, not only as a representative of learn- ing, but also as one who has given eminent public services tc the State. Dr. Wordsworth, you are about to leave us, we trusi for your good and your greater comfort, but we hope that the separation is not to be complete, and that now and again whis- pers may reach us over the resounding sea, expressions of the thoughts aroused by the contemplation of the mountains anc lakes of that northern country so inseparably connected with th( name you bear, or the classic scenes which an "Excursion in Italy" may disclose to you. Be that how it may, there is memory still, and that must bind you in thought to the land that has seen your life's service. Be certain that Bombay will not cease to remember you, to be grateful to you, and that she assures you as her last farewell that to the last day of your life there may remain to you

"A consciousness that you have left
Deposited upon the silent shore
Of memory, images and precious thoughts
That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed."


{By The Hon. Mr. Justice Birdwood, C.S., M.A., LL.D.)

Gentlemen of the Senate, — We have now brought to a close the practical part of the business of the thirtieth Annual Convocation of this University by conferring 178 degrees on the candidates who have satisfied the examiners in the prescribed subjects of examination in the several Faculties. And it will perhaps help us to form as rough estimate of the way in which the business of this University has increased if we compare the results of this evening with those of some former Convocations. In the first Convocation, which was held in 1862, only 8 degrees were conferred. Eight years afterwards, that is to say at the Convocation of 1870, the number rose to 33. In 1880 it was 98; and in 1890, 182; so that in the current year, which shows a slight advance on the figures of 1890, we are conferring nearly twice as many degrees as we did eleven years ago. It is as well, I think, that we should take note of these figures before we pass on, in accordance with the practice on these occasions, to review our present position and to forecast the future so far as that may be possible. The past year has been eminently one of change. There have been notable changes in the staff of office-bearers and important changes also have been in process of development in connection with the courses of study for the degrees in Arts and Law. Some changes have been proposed also in the course of study for the degree of Bachelor of Science and grave defects have been brought to notice in regard to the Matriculation Examination, which must be cured if that examination is any longer to be conducted by the University. To some of these matters I will, with your permission, refer, and I will do so very briefly. Our Act of Incorporation shows very clearly the

wishes by conferring on him the Degree of Doctor in the Faculty of Law on account of his great and distinguished merit.

His Excellency Lord Harris then addressed the Senate in the following terms : —

Mr. Vice-Chancellor and Gentlemen of the Senate, — We are assembled for the third time to confer this honorary degree on one of Indians most distinguished public servants, and curiously enough for the third time in your career. Sir Raymond West, you receive the honorary degree of LL.D., and I venture to say that what the University of Edinburgh and the Queen's University of Ireland have thought themselves honored in doing to one who, however connected with those great institutions, has been far more closely connected with Bombay, this University need have no reluctance in repeating. I would that this chair had held some one who from long personal or official acquaintance with you could have now in addressing this assembly, put in those light touches of events and characteristic traits which brighten up any picture of a life well-spent. None could enter upon the pleasurable task more readily than I ; but necessarily I must depend on records rather than personal experience. Looking back over the thirty-five years that have elapsed since the day when Ireland supplied to the service of India another of the many brilliant servants of John Company Bahadur whom she has sent, it must seem strange to you to compare the baptism of blood and tumult which so soon followed your entry into the service with the peace and order which you leave behind on your retirement. Although the terrible experience of other parts of India were happily not extended to the Southern Mahratta country there must nevertheless have been need for the utmost care and watchfulness on those — yourself amongst the number — on whom rested the conduct of affairs : and I doubt not that you, much as you may value the Mutiny Medal which you hold, value not less highly the experience which you gained in the confidential work entrusted to you by Mr. Seton Karr, and in the charge of the North Belgaum district which you held. You found India racked with those pains which internal disorder must bring, trade distraught, and the employment of labour paralysed, and you leave Bombay studding the horizon with factory chimneys, sure signs of a long period of rest from intrigue, of confidence in trade, of the investment of capital and of the full employment of labour. But if at first the sword was placed in your hand it was not long before the toga, whether from inclination or the needs of the judicial branch, displaced it, and this change must have been largely assisted by the intimate acquaintance you acquired, by assiduous study, and by availing yourself of the opportunities you had, with the Canarese language. It was no doubt through your knowledge of it, and consequently from being able to communicate freely with witnesses in Court, and with the people out of Court that you won the high regard in the Southern Division, which is such a compliment to yourself, and that you were able to effect the complete and beneficial reorganization of the judicial system there, which subsequently was adopted as a model for the Bombay judicial establishments. Before that task was accomplished, however, you had been paving the way for the assumption of greater responsibilities with the knowledge of affairs gained by work in the offices of Under-Secretary to Government and of the Registrar of the High Court ; and it was, I believe, during this latter period that you edited the Bombay Code of Regulations and Acts; and with the aid of Professor Buhler brought out at intervals the Digests of the Hindoo Law of Inheritance, of Partition, and of Adoption now accepted as a standard authority on the several subjects. But the Presidency proper was not alone to benefit by your aid. Your service in Sind enabled you to simplify and place on a comprehensive footing the judicial orders that had been issued at various times. Whilst at Simla as a member of the Indian Law Commission you were mainly responsible for the report which heralded the introduction of the Transfer of Property Act, the Trust Act, Easement Act, and the Negotiable Instruments Act. Neither have the benefits of your wise counsel been confined to the field of jurisprudence; for your home in England can show material proof of the gratitude of the contributors to the Civil Service Fund for your labours in their behalf. Neither have your services been confined to India and the British Empire, for in 1885, at actual pecuniary loss to yourself, you accepted the deputation to Egypt as Procureur General. It is no bad compliment to yourself to say that if your proposals then for a reform of criminal law were in advance of the conceptions of those responsible for the administration of Egypt, it has not taken long for official opinion there to catch up yours; for I understand that another distinguished Bombay Judge is generally following in the lines you laid down. It is hardly for me to pass an opinion on your work as one of H. M.'s Judges of the High Court : ample testimony to the firmness, impartiality, legal knowledge, and uprightness which you displayed there is to be found in the public records of the time in question, and in the fact of your selection as a Member of Council. It is not unlikely that of all your literary work, that which you lay most store by are those volumes of the Bombay High Court Reports : and the Bombay series of the Indian Law Reports, which, whilst they have added so much to your renown^ have been of such immense use to all judicial officers. Sir Raymond West, behind that mysterious curtain, which is supposed to, but does so slightly, veil the confidential proceedings of Government, it would not be proper to intrude : but the public would be sure, without one word from those who have served with you, from their knowledge of your public career, that you have proved a loyal and reliable colleague, one on whose calm and judicial impartiality your colleagues could rely for sound advice at any moment. You have probably found, as most Statesmen do find when they enter a position of less freedom and great responsibility, that every reform advocated previously was not feasible in the exact form you would have preferred; that the views of the individual before office is held must necessarily undergo some modification when a more diffused light is thrown on the subject; and also that in a Government other than an autocracy, opinions, however determined, have not infrequently to accommodate themselves to other views in some measure. But such is the experience of every man who enters on the arduous task of Executive Government, and happy are those who can say, as we can say, I think, that we shall always look back with pleasure to the time when our official position induced and established sentiments of friendship. But, Sir, this brief resume of your thirty-five years' labours has not touched on your efforts for the advancement of education, which, so far as execution are concerned, are better known to your colleagues than the public ; but I am committing no indis- cretion when I say that whilst keeping almost careful guard over the proper appropriation of the tax payers^ money you have never failed to press for the largest possible sums that could be spared ; and it must be a satisfaction to you to feel that in your last days here additional funds have been made available to carry out those promises made to Local Boards in more prosperous times; and that there is nothing now to prevent that improvement in legal tuition which you have always advocated except the sanction , of the higher authority. Finally, Sir, amongst the numerous crowd which is grateful to you for private and public advice and assistance last, but by no means least, comes this University in the councils of whose administration you for so many years took an active and interested share. It has been your object to extend to it a wide measure of freedom and it is due to no hesitation on your part that that measure will only be introduced by gradual and cautious steps. That this University is grateful for what you have done for law and literature and in general advancement in your private councils and your public address is proved by its conferring the highest honour in its gift on you to-day and amongst all those distinctions which you have received from the hands of Her Majesty and from other learned institutions, I doubt not you will in your own appreciation give a prominent place to this last, which comes from the University with which you have been so long connected. The unfortunate lot has fallen to myself alone of all Governors of Bombay to deliver as Chancellor two of those valedictory addresses. Unfortunate in that during my tenure of office the State has lost the services of two men of such distinguished attainments and public careers so eminent that this University has accorded them the highest honour it is in its power to give; and my regret is by no means selfish, for whilst I feel personally these breaks in friendships, of no long existence truly but still not the less sincere, I deplore still more that this Presidency of Bombay loses at such a short interval public servants who have set such high examples as have Professor Wordsworth and Sir Raymond West. But if we have reason to deplore your departure we have much to congratulate ourselves upon. It is impossible for a public servant to live five-and-thirty years in this country passing through the various grades of the service to the highest position, and through all that time keeping an unswerving gaze on the path of probity, virtue, assiduity and impartiality — without good effects resulting from such a career. There are times in the history of peoples when it is well that the careers of public servants should illustrate for their instruction the homely adage that honesty is the best policy. Sir Francis Bacon prefaced his maxims of the Law with these noble words : "I hold every man a debtor to his profession : from which as men of course do seek to receive countenance and profit; so ought they of duty to endeavour by way of amends to be a help and ornament thereunto." You can leave us. Sir Raymond West, convinced that the universal feeling is that, even where you have not secured agreement with your views, you aimed at this or that object of policy, not because it suited your ambition, but, maintaining an attitude of pure single-mindedness because in your opinion it was the right. By following that undeviating course you have been a help and an ornament to the service you are about to leave. I can conceive no higher aim than yours has been : I can imagine no prouder epitaph on the career of public servant.