Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/587

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University of Madras.

tongue than perhaps any people on the face of the globe. Without the power to comprehend clearly the thoughts conveyed therein, your progress in the course of intellectual and social amendment is impossible. Remember, that words often confuse ideas, and that the inharmonious use of a word may often lead to great and permanent divisions and estrangements in thought, estrangements so great that whole societies of men may be led thereby in different ways. Words like coin become devalued by use. This is the special danger which besets a spoken language, and still more a language, used by a people for all its public necessities, which is not the language of their homes or of their own literature. In Madras it is an ever-increasing danger. English, if you are not careful, may degenerate into a patois, hard to be understood, and thus the language will cease to be a great unifying influence in the Empire. If then you would be in sympathy with the great thinkers of the world, whose ideas must reach you through English, keep up your knowledge of that language, read the best books, books which contain the clearest, the noblest the purest, the most beautiful thoughts that the mind and heart of man has yet evolved—the thoughts of Homer and of Plato, of Virgil and of Tacitus, of Dante, of Pascal, of Groethe, of Shakespear and of Bacon.

English is the language which opens to you the realms of knowledge and through it you must have breathed. in, in some measure at least, the modern spirit; which after all was the spirit of Pythagoras—to seek truth and to do good— ΤΌ Τε aλη ενεω κal to ενεpyeTνεω. You are presumed to have acquired over English a sufficient mastery to pursue knowledge through that language, and through study of its literature to understand the people who are your rulers. But after all the breadth of ground covered by your studies has been limited and the quantity of its literature which you have studied has been small, in consequence of the habit of most students to confine their reading to prescribed text-books and the notes of commentators. My advice to you is to keep the authors you have studied with the notes you have made always near you, and do not, as I know so many of your predecessors have done, dispose of them to the first book-seller. If you have imbibed any true love of English literature, and is there a soul among you so dead that it has not been stirred to its depths by some of the works you have studied, —you cannot part with these books without a sigh. If you will keep only those which have taken the greatest hold upon your