Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/335

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
 

men and official measures, that the substitution of the English language for the vernacular languages of India was not the impossibility which it had been hitherto considered, that the adoption of the former as the language of official business was both practicable and desirable, and that with reference to the desire for English instruction which existed in many parts of the country, the policy of communicating all elementary instruction through the medium of the vernacular languages was a mistaken policy.

Moreover, it was already known that the Government of India would shortly be transferred from the control of the Great Company, which had administered it for a century, to the direct control of the Crown. The Court of Directors which had sanctioned, and in whose name had been issued the Education Despatch of 1854, that once power- ful body under which some of the foremost statesmen of the British nation had been willing to serve, which had censured Wellesley and recalled EUenborough, which had honored Malcolm and Munro, and to the great loss of this our Presidency had passed over the high-minded and heroic Metcalfe, that Court which had numbered among its servants. Civil and Military, some of the ablest public officers which any service had produced, was about to be deprived of its powers ; that system of Grovernment which in the unexaggerated language of its distinguished advocates had been not only one of the purest in intention, but one of the most beneficent in act ever known among mankind,^' which had planted the germs and had laid the foundations of nearly all the improvements since carried out in India, was on the eve of being abolished. It was under these circumstances that the University of Madras held its first Convocation for conferring degrees, and, as might be expected, the character of the ceremonial was in keep- ing with the feelings of doubt and incertitude which prevailed.

It was not in the spacious hall in which we are now assembled, surrounded by the portraits of some of the most conspicuous of India's worthies; of Clive, the founder of the Empire; of the great Duke and his illustrious brother; of Munro, the soldier-statesman, whose fame is imperishably connected with the Presidency in which he faithfully served and wisely ruled, and whose minute on native education is the earliest State paper on this subject in the archives of the Madras Grovernment ; of the eminent Judge and Jurist, Sir Thomas Strange; of Bentinck who, with the aid of his talented colleague, determined the much- vexed question whether the educational funds, then sufficient