Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/511

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University of Madras.

I doubt not that they will have a pretty tough battle to fight, before they get into the minds of the teachers, to say nothing of the pupils, that no science, which is not derived from direct contact with nature, is good for anything. What is wanted amongst our Indian youth is not a knowledge of what books or Professors say about natural objects, but what those natural objects say about themselves. In this, as in many other departments of life, the function of the middleman always tends to become disproportionately great. We want to bring your minds into the closest possible relations with the producers of impressions, that is to say, with the things, which you see and touch. No middleman should be employed, when the first difficulties are surmounted, but your own senses.

The yearly Flower-show in Madras furnishes agreeable evidence that the taste for horticulture, if not for botany, has taken some hold amongst the wealthier natives. I trust this taste may go on spreading, for it is at once an indication of advancing civilization, and an agency for advancing it further.

I might go on to speak of other sciences and other pursuits, but I hope I have said enough to show you how many directions there are, in which our graduates may usefully employ themselves, not only may, but must, if South India is to prosper.

It is not by their political machinery that Western countries have prospered, even where that machinery has been well contrived. It has been much more by ten thousand influences, trade, mining, manufactures, inventions, universities, books, learned societies, and what not, combining, in one or two exceptionally favoured countries, with well-contrived political institutions. Before the knowledge, which we bring you ready-made, can have its perfect work, your national life must be enriched in a vast number of ways, of which I am afraid many of you have not even begun to think. I trust I may succeed in making you think about them, or some of them, for there is a great amount for the most educated class in Southern India to do, before they have got for their country that sort of recognition which they ought to get, for what is undoubtedly one of the oldest lands in the universe.

We have in the Madras Presidency very few rocks of even the secondary formations; for a large part of its surface is covered by masses of crystalline gneiss, which was looking very much as it does now, æons and æons before the greater part of England rose from beneath the waves.

And the immense majority of its inhabitants, although they certainly cannot say that they are as old as the rocks of the