Monday, November 12, 2012

Lahore Government College 25 November 1877

Here is an account from Lockwood Kipling of a prize ceremony that took place at Government College (now known as "Government College University") in November 1877. The principal of Government College at the time was G.W. Leitner, who is mentioned in biographies of Rudyard Kipling as a kind of rival of Lockwood's -- an "Orientalist" of the old school (i.e., someone to be contrasted to a more Macaulayan intellectual like Lockwood Kipling). As I understand it, the Government College was first established in 1864, and moved to an independent site around 1871. By 1877 it is evidently in a growth phase. 

In the second half of the account below there is some surprise at the presence of many "native" Indian scholars, as well as at the emerging South Asian university culture. Some of the disdainful tone towards "native" learning will also be picked up later by Rudyard in his various short stories and "Departmental Ditties": 

In emulation, I suppose, of the variously coloured hoods and gowns of English colleges, the students of some of the classes wear a kind of uniform, the most prominent feature of which is a loose collar worn round the neck, something like a chuprassy's belt--red, bordered with yellow, by pundits; and with green, by moulvies; and red and mauve by engineering students. I believe this is a novelty in Oriental schools. A mere European, occupied with modern work and modern ideas, has not often an opportunity of seeing professors of Eastern tongues learned in metaphysics and poetry. So it was with some degree of pride in Lahore that the presentation of the President of "a distinguished mathematician," "a very distinguished author," "a distinguished Sanscrit scholar," "a very learned professor of Vedantic philosophy," and a "poet laureate" in Sanscrit, were witnessed."

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