Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/502

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
1886.—Rt. Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff.

more beautiful objects than your marvellous "pillared halls." In a speech delivered at St. Matthias' Schools last January, my wife called attention to the endless models for pictures and statues, which are to be seen in Madras every day, and else- where she urged the formation of a school for figure-drawing. The advantages which you have here over us Northerns, whose ghastly climate so often requires us to go about muffled to the chin, are very obvious, and I would fain hope that the day may come, when we shall see such a school arise.

About architecture, I am less hopeful. There was an epoch when, in India, as in Europe, architecture was the universal language. That was the time with us, which "lighted with white lines of cloister the glades of the Alpine pine, and raised into ordered spires the wild rocks of the Norman sea." As, however, Victor Hugo has admirably pointed out, the inoffensive looking art of printing killed all that.* Architecture has remained, and will, in the nature of things, ever remain, a useful and, in many of its applications, an elegant, art, but never again, amidst the complicated wants of modern life, can so expensive a method of rendering thought take anything like its old position in the world. Foolish Englishmen have often railed against their countrymen for not raising buildings in India like those of some of their predecessors, but I should like to know what would be said if any Indian ruler, even with the certainty of producing a building as beautiful as the Taj, suggested calling it into existence. Great works of that kind are amongst the most glorious possessions of Nations, but they imply, amidst many other things, either forced labour on the most gigantic scale, or the turning of almost all human energy towards the expression of thought in architecture. Shah Jehan was a very small ruler indeed, compared to the Viceroy of India in the year 1886, but just imagine Lord Bufferings proposing to spend three crores, seventeen lakhs, forty-eight thousand and twenty-six rupees upon another Taj!

I have very imperfect sympathy with the lamentations that are sometimes heard, as to the disappearance of some Indian arts and manufactures. They have often only disappeared because Manchester, or some other European town, can serve the Indian customer both cheaper and better, but I would wish to watch jealously over the preservation of all those Indian arts and manufactures, which are exceptionally good, and I would fain see wealthy English and native gentlemen forming them- selves into societies for the express purpose of keeping alive

• See the brilliant Chapter in Notre Damie de Paris entitled Ceci tuera Cela. 27