Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/580

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1892.—Mr. H.B. Grigg.

extend over even five and thirty years, the Act of Incorporation with which it began having only been passed on the 8th September 1857. The three first Universities of India, those of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta, were the immediate outcome of the Educational despatch of 1854. But the educational conditions of India which that great state paper sought to regulate were due to the labours of many eminent men, statesmen, lawyers, missionaries; and of others, natives of the soil, such as Raja Ram Mohun Roy, who had been quickened by the first breath of the dawn of Western knowledge in India. All decisive changes in the world take place in the intellect. These men saw that the literature of India, beautiful and varied as it was in the earlier periods of its growth, had been reduced to sterility and decay by the idea-strangling and cast-iron systems of control elaborated by commentators and grammarians of a later age. They saw that the ancient educational systems of the country were powerless to work a change in the Indian peoples towards a higher life, and towards material well-being, and they strenuously fought for the introduction of a system of education under which the free thoughts and noble intents of the heart of the peoples of the West might be conveyed on scientific methods to these Eastern peoples: seeking thus also to re-invigorate and restore to their proper place in the mind-building of the people their ancient poetry, vedic, epic and dramatic, their books of law and the philosophical speculations of their sages. That conflict was waged and won. But it lasted through nearly two generations of men and, though partially decided in 1835, it did not end until the issue of Lord Halifax's despatch. Then came the last year of the East India Company's rule — the year 1857— the most terrible year in the annals of our Empire in the East. You may remember how in 1574, the people of Holland, on the raising of the siege of Leyden, nothing daunted by the horrors of a life and death struggle with the Spaniard, preferred the promotion of knowledge and the education of their children to their own present advantage, and founded in that city a University, the first in the Netherlands, in the time of their direst need. But, gentlemen, the act of your rulers was nobler by far—for they, when the mutiny was at the flood, with a splendid faith in their divine right to regenerate the people of India and to rule them that they might regenerate them, with an exalted charity and an unexampled liberality, founded, not for their own sons, but for the benefit of the very people whose soldiery were waging a cruel rebellion against them, not one University but three. It has well been called our annus tristis, but, gentlemen, not tristis only but mirabilis, — to be gratefully