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After Babu Ram Lochun Ghose, the Principal Sudder Ameen of Kishnaghur, bad addressed the assembly in Bengali, Mr. Bethune resumed
“I am extremely sorry that I have not been able to understand one word of what my friend Ram Lochun Ghose has been saying; the more so, because I am informed that he has been earnestly and eloquently addressing you on a subject in which you are probably aware that I feel deeply interested, and which is of the highest importance to the happiness of every one present.
“The education of your females is the next great step to be taken in the regeneration of the Hindu character, and it is a consolatory reAlection that while many social reforms of which you stand greatly in need are thought to be opposed to the doctrines of your religion and customs, it is generally admitted by every learned native who has examined the question that there is no such obstacle in the way of your consenting to receive this great blessing. The practical difficulty which still in a great degree obstructs the progress of the good work is the seclusion in which you have for a long time been accustomed to think it necessary to confine your women.
" If I were addressing an assembly of Europeans only, I should content myself with observing that this custom is unreasonable : among Hindus I know that whatever arguments are brought forward to show that it is so will derive additional claims on your attention from the fact that it is an unreasonable novelty. Your old records seem to point out that it was not the ancient usage of your race : a common theory derives its origin from the customs of your Mahomedan conquerors, when it is likely enough that, partly from a courtly affectation of imitating what you found in vogue among those who were in the possession of power and consideration, partly from a real dread of the excesses in which a licentious and unscrupulous soldiery might indulge, you adopted these new habits which are now received as national among you. Both reasons have passed away, and with them should disappear their consequences, if it were not so much more easy to adopt pernicious prejudices than to get rid of them again. But the work is begun: it cannot stop now: the race of educated men whom we are training up will not much longer bear to have imposed on them mere slavish objects of sensual desire, but will seek, in the mothers of their children, for rational, welleducated, well-informed companions, the intelligent partners of their joys and sorrows, their truest friends and most faithful advisers. Your modern ethical writers teach that the nature of women is so depraved that it is only by material restraints that they are kept from seeking out and following evil: our iser belief is that in all the elements of virtue the female character is far superior to the male; and that whatever there is of evil common to all human nature, is best combatted, not by the vain obstacles of bolts and bars, but by laying the foundation of a virtuous life in the early inculcation of sound morality, and by teaching women to respect themselves by showing that by us also they are held in honour. Were it only for selfish considerations, you ought to educate your women.
Now mark me! I do not rely on these. For her own sake, and in her own right, I claim for woman her proper place in the scale of created beings. God has given her an intellect, a heart and feelings like your own, and these were not given in vain. You think your neighbours the Chinese a barbarous people, because they cripple the feet of their women. How is it that you dare to cripple their minds ? But also, for your own sakes you should do it, and for the sake of your children. I am not yet so old as to have forgotten the time when I sat on the school benches. I too can recollect some youthful triumphs, and the remembrance is still strong within me how incomplete they seemed until I had her sympathy and approval, to please whom was the rongest inducement I then knew for exertion.
“Human nature is the same throughout the world, and we may confidently rely on what it teaches us. The history of every time shows the important influence that the female sex is capable of exercising, for good or for evil, on the destinies of a nation ; and those stand highest in the annals of civilization in which they have been held in the highest honour, and the greatest pains taken to secure that the weight of their power should be found exerting itself on the right side. And of this you cannot be sure if you will not train them to wisdom and virtue, as you would train those who are to be influenced by them.
“ The work is now begun, it will not stop; it is like a rock which may have rested long time motionless on the summit of a mountain : but, if once set in motion, though casual obstacles may obstruct its path, may determine its course in this direction or in that, it yet gathers increased force with each succeeding interval of time, and hastens irresistibly onward to its final destination. I may not live to see this desirable goal attained: but, judging from all I have witnessed of the deep feeling which is beginning to prevail on this matter, it is my firm belief that another generation will not pass away before it will be universally conceded, that whoever neglects the education of his daughter disgraces himself, and is guilty of a gross offence against her, against his own happiness, and the happiness of society.”
“ My Young FRIENDS,—If you have derived any satisfaction from
meeting me here again on this occasion, I must tell Speech at Dacca.
you frankly that it is a pleasure which you have fairly and honorably earned for yourselves : for there were so many obstacles in the way of my leaving Calcutta this year, that I had nearly abandoned the intention I had at first entertained of revisiting Dacca. It was, however, strongly represented to me that you had derived great encouragement from the visit of the deputation last year; and it was feared that you might be equally disheartened if it were not repeated.
“ Being sensible that I had all but promised that I would return, and feeling that you had done all in your power to deserve whatever mark of my approbation it was in my power to give you, I determined to disregard all considerations of personal inconvenience; and, even at this late season of the year, to come and tell you with my own lips how well pleased I have been with your exertions during the past session. gratulate you heartily on the result of the examination, and I assure you that what I predicted two years ago is already fully come to pass, and that the students of the Hindu College now keep an anxious eye on your progress, and are conscious that they must exert themselves, if they wish to keep their place in front of you.
“ At the same time you must not be too much elated by the appearance which the printed list shows. Owing to a combination of circumstances, an unusual number of the best students quitted the Hindu College this year before the examination, leaving only two in the first class. Of these, as you are aware, Sreenath Doss heads the comparative list, and has gained for his College and for himself the honour of giving his name to the year 1850, Sreenath Doss' year : and it is due to the other, Kally Prosunno Dutt, that it should be known here, as I explained lately in the Town Hall of Calcutta, that he was for a long time absent through illness from the classes. Feeling that he was not able to do himself justice, he came privately to me shortly before the examination, and begged to know if he might be allowed to ent himself altogether from it.
“ He was well aware that this would necessarily entail the forfeiture of his scholarship; but, so keen is the spirit of emulation which has been now excited, that he professed himself ready to do this, and to continue another year as a pay student of the College, rather than in his person compromise the honour of his College, and appear in what would have seemed to him a derogatory position. I could not but admire the highminded feeling which dictated his resolution : but I encouraged him to go into the examination, and do his best: and it gave me sincere pleasure to find that he lost only one place, having given way, I think, only to Ram Sunker Sen, the first student of this College. Nevertheless you have very good reason to be satisfied with the position your College occupies ; the more so, that you were under some disadvantage from the sudden removal of your late zealous professor Mr. Cargill, by his appointment to be Principal of the College at Delhi. No change of masters can take place in the middle of a course of lectures, without some detriment to the students, however great the talent of the new Professor: I regret also to hear of the state of Mr. Foggo's health, which indeed prevents his being present on this occasion.
“Two years ago your first man occupied the 20th place in the general list: last year you held the 11th, 14th and 15th places : this year you have gained the 3d, 5th, 6th, 8th and 19th : so that your fifth man this year stands one step higher than your first did two years ago. I recognise again the old names that I had to notice with honour last year. Ram Sunker Sen, Bhugwan Chunder Bhose, Gournarain Roy, and Oma Churn Bannerjea all distinguished themselves by gaining medals and prizes last year. Koylas Chunder Ghose, a young scholar, who distinguished himself so remarkably in history last year, is this year at the head of the third class in all the Colleges. These comparisons are useful and satisfactory, because they prove that our examinations really do bring out the best men : since the trials of successive years, by different examiners and on different subjects, show corresponding results. You float to the top, because you are the lightest and fittest to ascend.
“You may remember that I exhorted you last year not to neglect the study of your native language, while gaining a knowledge of English literature. To some persons such advice seems superfluous and unnecessary, who probably are not aware that it is not at all difficult to find young men in our Colleges, who are able to speak and write with fluency and correctness, and even elegance, in the English language, who yet cannot write three pages of Bengali without comunitting gross
faults of both grammar and orthography. As I am not of the number of those who entertain the idea that it is possible, even if it were desirable, that English should at any time supersede Bengali as the general language of the country, and looking to our educated students as the channels through whom mainly European ideas and opinions are to be communicated to the mass of their countrymen, I must consider it a thing deeply to be regretted, that they are not as highly distinguished by the elegance with which they speak and write their own language, as by the command which they have gained over our's. But, while I repeat and enforce the advice which I gave you last year on this topic, I desire not to be confounded with those who seem to think that the study of the vernacular languages of India cannot be promoted, without lowering at the same time the high standard of proficiency at which we have hitherto aimed for our English scholars.
“I have been led to revert to this subject by the report of a speech which I have read only since I came into this city, made by Sir Erskine Perry, the President of the Board of Education at Bombay, when lately distributing prizes to the students of the Elphinstone Institution, the principal place of education on that side of India. Not only from that speech, but from the last printed report of the proceedings of the Bombay Board of Education, I perceive that questions are yet, or have been very lately agitated there, which were formerly fiercely debated in Bengal; but which, until I thus found them re-opened, I believe to have been definitively settled. From the correspondence and minutes published on this subject under the sanction of the Government of Bombay, I learned with equal surprise and alarm that an opinion, I trust not a deliberate one, had been promulgated by a leading member of the Government, a man of great ability, high station, and much influence in the Councils of that Presidency, that the great use of our educational establishments is to improve the subordinate classes of officers in the public service; and that all systems are erroneous which do not keep steadily in view this their main purpose. I found, with more alarm than surprise, that the enunciation of this opinion had nearly led Sir Erskine Perry to resign his office of President of the Board. The immediate danger seems to have passed over: nevertheless I also take this opportunity of publicly and solemnly protesting against this declaration and doctrine. That is not the work I have been commissioned to undertake : that is not the work I ould have consented superintend. The scope of my views and that of the Government by whose authority