Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/383

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
90
University of Madras.


I refrain from making any sweeping assertion as to the genuine interest felt by our students in science and literature, lest I should fall into an error on the other side as great as that I am combating. I content myself with pointing out that, whatever be its amount it is necessary in judging it to take account of any special cir- cumstances that tend to diminish it. One of these is the recent introduction of English education. It has not yet been in existence even for a single generation, and, except in a few centres, there is not a sufl&cient number of educated men inter- ested in the new studies to form an intellectual society. I lay great stress on this fact. Every one knows the difficulty of solitary studies, and, on the other hand, how powerfully we are attracted towards subjects which interest the society in which we move. I believe it explains, in a great degree, the practice too common I admit, but by no means so common as is often stated, of dropping English studies after the degree is obtained. Even in England, we do not find all our graduates solacing their leisure with the differential calculus or a Greek play, and it is not to be wondered at that the student in this country, with so much less in his surroundings to draw him to study, should show too much alacrity in dismissing his books.

In another point that is commonly made a ground of censure, there are special circumstances that ought to be kept in mind. I have heard it often imputed as a failing to the educated youth of this Presidency, that they take no liberal interest in the great transactions that are -taking place around them. And by great transactions is generally meant what is happening on the European stage. Let those who make this complaint consider in what degree we ourselves take an interest in the politics of foreign countries, I believe it is in the main limited to those questions to which there is something similar at home. Apart from war, which appeals to elementary passions and will be eternally inter- esting, I believe it is limited, as I have stated. A struggle between labour and capital in France interests us because it is a vital question in England. And it is much the same with the politics of ancient times. The history of (xreece owes much of its interest to the resemblance between the parties of Grreece and the parties of our own time. A recent writer has called Mitford^s history a party pamphlet, and of the same historian Mr. Arnold said " He described the popular party in Athens just as he would have described the Whigs in England. He was unjust to Demosthenes because he would have been unjust