Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/494

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1886.—Rt. Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff.

them every interest that could possibly be alarmed, it has hardly ever dreamt of seriously questioning them, when they had once become embodied in Acts of Parliament.

When some misguided persons, however, insist that instead of obtaining every result of our long political struggles for the asking, —nay, not for the asking, we don't insist upon that but for the hinting a wish to have them, —you should be quite gratuitously cursed with all the clumsy machinery, which grim necessity, not choice, has obliged us to use, we may be permitted to smile, and to say to ourselves: "Is this all that these gentlemen have learned from the history taught in our colleges and schools?" Is he to be called advanced, and intelligent, who says "What we want, is not the meal but the mill?"

I am the last person to undervalue politics. I have lived amidst the exciting struggles of politics all my days, but politics are only a dignified pursuit, as long as great questions of principle are open for discussion. When all these are settled, they cease to be dignified.

England is the classic land of Parliamentary discussion, but even there, Parliament has only shown itself an admirable instrument, when broad issues were before the country. No one who has had his finger on the pulse of the machine, will say that it is a good, or anything but a detestable, instrument for the working out of schemes, which are good or bad, not according to the general conceptions, on which they are based, but according to the applicability to circumstances of a thousand detailed provisions.

Parliaments in fact are splendid instruments to remove mountains, but of very imperfect utility for the picking up of pins.

There is, however, outside the sphere of anything that can properly be called politics, a perfect world of labour, deeply exciting and interesting, lying ready for you.

Your foreign rulers have wisely shrunk from interfering, except on the rarest occasions, with your religious or with your social customs, but I am assured that the new ideas, which you are acquiring, have rendered many of you much dissatisfied with not a few of your time-honoured institutions. It has indeed been urged upon me by some fervent reformers that I should espouse their side upon this or that question, relating to marriage, and so forth. I have taken uncommonly good care to do nothing of the sort. That immense field, that world of labour, is for you, and not for us. There you have gigantic questions to debate and settle, while 26