Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/104

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89
1878.—Sir Richard Temple.

average possible may be preserved. And thus the State promotes the welfare of the weak scholars as well as that of the strong.

The moral power thus wielded by the State rivets on us a responsibility for seeing that the several standards are the most appropriate that can be devised.

You, doubtless, bear in mind that primary education is conducted in the vernacular languages only; secondary or middle education partly in the vernacular and partly in English; superior education mainly in English, partly also in the classical languages of the East.

Now, primary education in its humblest form cannot be too low or too simple. Indeed, its first characteristic should be adaptability to the poorest persons and to the rudest minds. Primary Education. Its object is to ultimately embrace all the boys and girls of the lower classes throughout the country—the farm labourers, the small artisans, the village servants. It cannot, alas, attain so great an object within this generation of living men. Meanwhile, it strives to gather into its fold as many hundreds of thousands as it can. it already reckons 210,000 pupils; but even that number forms a small part only of the children of a school-going age in this Presidency, and leaves a sadly vast residue of children growing up in ignorance. Its system should, therefore, in the first instance, be as cheap, its standard as easy as possible, consisting of a little reading and writing and some elementary arithmetic. When it takes root and grows, then a somewhat better standard may be cautiously introduced, just enough to enable the children to move happily in the lowly sphere to which their destiny confines them, and no more. These poor children have but a short time during their tender age, say from their fifth to their thirteenth year, within which must be learnt what they are ever to learn from books, before the inevitable day when they must go forth to the field, to the grazing ground, to the road, to the workshop, to help their parents in the daily toil. With but too many of them, also, the time that can be devoted to learning, is even less than this. Still, if this much of time be obtained, within it there can be taught something more than elementary reading, writing, and arithmetic; something of morality, so that these children, often belonging to the lowest castes in the social scale, may be instructed to speak truth, to love virtue, to despise falseness; something of the vegetable kingdom which rewards plenteously those who labour conscientiously; something of those wonders which Nature reveals to