Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/550

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257
1889.—Mr. D. Sinclair.

have no place in your ancient Faith, then you must have the courage of your convictions, and must make your voice heard and power felt. No more difficult duty lies before you. No duty more noble. Be brave, with the bravery of conviction. You must therefore be brave, not in the sense of what I am afraid we too frequently see in the present times, when young men mistake volubility for wisdom, and arrogance for manliness. But brave, with a bravery founded on conviction arrived at after the most careful study and reflection, a bravery that will be clothed with modesty, that will be free from selfish ends and untarnished by self-conceit.

But you are looking forward to taking a part in the politics of the day. Politics has become a popular subject. It is interesting. It is exciting. Above all, in this country, it is comparatively easy. Here you will have no national prejudices to battle against. No institutions,

"Strong in possession, founded in old custom,
Fixed to the people's pious nursery faith,"

to lay irreverent hands upon.

You, however, hold an important position in this country—a position I might say almost unique in the history of the world. Twenty years ago one of the most cultured and most distinguished statesmen that ever ruled in this land, addressing the graduates on an occasion similar to the present, called on them to remember that they were the adopted children of European civilization, the interpreters between the stranger and the Indian, between the Government and the subject, between the great and the small, between the strong and the weak, and he asked them whether they would carry a faithful or a deceitful message. Your numbers then were small, your influence much less far reaching than now. The responsible position you occupy may well be placed before you again, and the same question may not inappropriately be asked you to-day.

You have studied the history of your own country. Compare the past of your country with its present. You are acquainted with those dark days for this unhappy land, when the Afghan or the Mughal Sweeping down on her fair plains converted her fertile fields into a desert, levelled her most sacred shrines with the dust, and brought death and dishonor into a hundred thousand homes. You are acquainted with the later Mughal rule which, while it has left an imperishable name in the wonderful works of its engineers and in its magnificent buildings had no room in its policy for religious toleration, no room in its administration for aliens to its faith, no room for