Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/34

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
1864.—Sir H. B. E. Frere.

I believe that in every country whose condition in matters of education can be likened to that of India in the present day, the thirst for foreign travel has ever been one of the peculiarities most strongly marked in the educated youth, whose intellect is beginning to be stirred by a consciousness that all knowledge is not comprehended in the teaching of a single master, and that it cannot be grasped by one who never quits the limits of a hermit's cell. If you look at the picture drawn by our greatest living poet of him who, from the earliest ages of classical lore down to the present time, has stood the type of practical experience and wisdom, you will find the insatiable passion for travel as for knowledge marked as the one characteristic which age and years could not obliterate or satisfy. At the time when our present system of modern European education was yet in its infancy, no scholar ever dreamt of aspiring to eminence till he had not only acquired by reading all the learning within his reach, but had seen the manners of many races in the cities wherein they dwelt, and had exercised his own intellect in personal contact with all that he could reach of the great and wise in other countries. This passion for foreign travel has gone on increasing among all the advancing nations of Europe down to the present day. Among the under-graduates of our own Universities there are few destined to hold a high place in academical honours who do not habitually either travel as far and as often as their means will allow without serious interruption to their studies, or who look forward to be enabled to travel as one of the best rewards which can follow some temporary pause in the labour of learning. I think we see around us many reasons for hoping that, in this respect, there is a movement going on in the awakening intellect of India, which, in fact, has marked the dawn of a new era of civilization in every age of which we have any record. It may be necessary to wait with patience till the prejudices which prevent the gratification of this most natural and wholesome form of education shall be counted among the things of the past; but it would be an insult to the intellect of India at this period to suppose that many years can elapse before men will think with something like incredulity, that it was ever seriously contemplated to treat as out-castes men who had sought to improve their minds by foreign travel. In this as in many other respects the Parsees have shown themselves worthy to load their fellow countrymen; and scores of your fellow townsmen are now living and laboring in England, drinking in, as they walk the streets on their daily avocations, knowledge as valuable in its way as SLy that they could derive from books, and quite unattainable by any man who never stirs from his own native province. I trust that we shall not long be