Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras/Part 1/Mr. Justice Birdwood, C.S., M.A., LL.D. (Second Special Convocation)
shall watch with special interest to see whether the figures of endowments are changed from thousands to lakhs. I shall hope to read one of these days that you are trying to emulate those miners in the quarry at Penrhyn, who though their hours of work were reduced, though they were working only four days a week, still managed to contribute to a college at Bangor in North Wales £1,330. The contributions of those two thousand men were spread over five years, and it was by such means that the College of North Wales obtained an endowment of £30,000. These miners, though not able to be educated at this institution, were convinced of the great benefits which it would indirectly confer upon them. I also shall watch in these proceedings with great interest the results of those reforms which, though officially I was not allowed to take any part in them, I have so often discussed with both the late and present Vice- Chancellors. And I trust also to hear that the graduates and undergraduates of this great institution are more and more realising the very great responsiblity which the education they have received here imposes on them. I hope to hear that they are always going along the straight line, that in having before them the virtues — and I am sorry to say the vices — of two civilisations. Western and Eastern, they reject the vices of both and blend the virtues of both. Then and then alone can they lead happy and pure lives. I hope to hear that they are doing all in their power to advance both intellectual culture and moral enlightenment among their own country-men. The prayer of this University might well be the motto of one of the European Universities, Sol justiciae illustra nos.
THE SECOND SPECIAL CONVOCATION.
A Special Convocation of the University of Bombay was held in the University Hall on the 18th December 1890, for the purpose of conferring upon Mr. W. Wordsworth, B.A., C.I.E., Principal of Elphinstone College and Vice-Chancellor of the University, the Degree of Doctor of Laws.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Birdwood said : —
Mr. Chancellor and Gentlemen of the Senate, — Early in the year 1884, the Government of India passed an Act which conferred on the Universities of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay the power of granting the degree of Doctor in the Faculty of Law to certain persons, without requiring them first to pass a qualifying examination. An honorary degree may be conferred on the recommendation of the Syndicate, if supported by a vote of the majority of the Senate, and confirmed by the Chancellor, on any person on the ground of his eminent position and attainments. Such a degree, if it is to possess any value, will necessarily be bestowed only on rare occasions. Accordingly we find that during the period of nearly seven years that the Act has been in force, this is the second occasion only on which this University has thought it fit to exercise its powers under the Act. It is just six years ago to-day — it was on the 18th December 1884 — that an eminent statesman, the Marquis of Ripon, on retiring from the Viceroyalty of India, became associated with us, as a member of the University, by admission to a degree under the Act. To-day it is on one who is already a member of this University, who indeed for more than a quarter of a century has done work of a very high order for this University, and for the most important of the Government colleges affiliated to it, and who this day holds office as our Vice-Chancellor, that we seek to confer this honor. We seek it for one who, though he has never sought publicity or personal advancement, has yet, by force of character and great merit, attained to that eminence which the Act recognizes as a proper ground for the bestowal of an honorary degree. The name of William Wordsworth is so familiar in our ears, and is so honoured and esteemed in this Presidency, that any elaborate attempt to justify to ourselves within these walls, or to the public outside, the step we are now taking, would indeed be an idle and superfluous proceeding. Still, it is only right that, on this occasion, we should take notice of the fact that the recommendation of the Syndicate on behalf of Mr. Wordsworth was adopted, by acclamation at a very full meeting of the Senate, and that the Senate which, with such unanimity and such enthusiasm, desires to honour him is a body composed, not of men of one class or of one way of thinking, but of representatives of miany races, creeds, and callings — of men separated from each other by the daily occupations of their lives, by the associations amidst which they have grown up, and by their most cherished traditions and sentiments, who yet, as members of this University!, are united by a common bond, by their single-minded interest in the advancement of learning. It is a society representing many classes, therefore, and not a mere clique or section of our varied community that now asks your Excellency to confirm and ratify its vote. And then, again, I think it will be as well if we try to realize to ourselves, for a moment, some of the grounds of the very general approval with which our action to-day is certainly regarded. We shall do well to remember that, during theperiod that Mr. Wordsworth has been connected with the Educational Department of the Bombay Government, a very gi. change has come over the public service — a change with which his own position in the department has distinctly associated him. The ranks of the service are now filled largely by men who have received a liberal education in the Government colleges and in private colleges. Its whole tone has thus been raised. It is not yet a perfect service. But speaking for that branch of it in which I am myself especially interested, I am proud to bear testimony to the wonderful improvement which has taken place in the judicial administration of this Presidency during the last twenty years. That improvement is, no doubt, partly and greatly due to the wise forethought which led the Government, at the commencement of the era of reform, to raise the scale of salaries of judicial officers; but it is, in my opinion, largely due also to the wholesome influences brought to bear on many candidates for the public service, during the most impressionable years of their lives, when they were prosecuting their studies at school and college. We have now scattered throughout the Presidency, in large towns and remote villages, men who owe their position in the public service to the excellent training they received at school and college. A large proportion of these men were educated at the Deccan and Elphinstone Colleges, with both of which institutions Mr. Wordsworth has been connected during the greater part of his Indian career. These men know well what they owe to him; they know the value of the tuition which it was a part of his official duty to impart. They know and appreciate still more the kind sympathy and zeal for their welfare which led him to give up much of his leisure time for their benefit — precious hours, when they sought and received from him friendly counsel and guidance. Most of all have they profited by the example ever set before them of plain living and high thinking. It is not to be wondered at if these students, now that they have grown to men's estate and occupy positions of trust and influence in all parts of the country, should carry with them, and communicate to others, the feelings of admiration for their teacher and friend by which they are animated. But there are others beyond the circle of Mr. Wordsworth's friends, members of our society at large, who, though they have never been brought under his immediate personal influence, still know him as a man of genius and a man of letters, a thoughtful and philosophic writer, not merely of fragments of matchless verse, but of weighty comments also on great events which have stirred the hearts of men in the history of the past 25 years. Though they have not always agreed with him in his views, they have always appreciated his expression of them. And so it is that, though Mr. Wordsworth has always 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 neces