Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/391

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98
University of Madras.

pox ; it is not such a scourge here as in some parts of India, but it cost the Presidency 39,000 lives last year. In the Punjab and N. W. Provinces it is almost universal. In 1866, no less than 66,000 persons died of it in the Punjab. Altogether in 1871 over 100,000 people died in India of small-pox—no, not of small-pox, they died of ignorance. Small-pox was the blade that struck them, but ignorance was the destroying angel who wielded it, and they might be well and alive now but for the ignorance which shut their eyes to the safeguard which science offers. The best proof of this was that when strenuous vaccinating operations were set on foot, in the Punjab, for several years past the annual average has sunk to 29,000,

Then as to cost of money, look at what ignorance costs the ryot. Take Mr. Robertson's most interesting report on Indian Agriculture, and see how science, which is only a grand word for common sense and accurate information, would enrich him if he would let her; how he might have bigger crops and more of them, and better and more productive cattle, and how ignorance makes him attempt what he never ought, and leave unattempted the thing he might do with profit, and do the right thing in the wrong and costly way, and in fact, commit all the blunders that ignorance and empiricism must, till science comes to lend her aid.

Then as to happiness, what pleasure lost, what beauties unperceived, what a stupid, brute-like, uninteresting affair does life become to the man who walks through it with his eyes shut to its wonders and beauties. To the real student, of course, to ask him why he likes education, is to ask him why he likes light rather than darkness and life than death. With his books he lives a higher and nobler life than the present gives him. His untrammelled soul communes with the wisest and best men of his own day, and with them both in their happiest moments : he feels the pleasant excitement of intellectual effort : he experiences the charm of difficulty grappled with and overcome; he climbs, exhilirated with past success, from one vantage ground of truth to another, sees an ever-increasing area at his feet, and welcomes new light into his soul. Fired with the noble acts of other men, he resolves that he will do something to benefit and ennoble mankind; he thrills with the promptings of an honourable ambition, that last infirmity of noble minds. These are the pleasures for which he is content to live and labor, for these he rejects the ignominious joys of sense; for them he scorns delights and lives laborious days, or rather in them he finds his greatest delight and his best repose.