THEIR MAJESTIES IN CALCUTTA
On Saturday, 28th December(1911), Their Majesties arrived in Calcutta by train. They proceeded from Howrah terminus to Prinsep’s Ghat by steamer. On landing at the Ghat they were received by His Excellency the Viceroy and the high officials of Government. They received the homage of the Executive Council of Bengal, the Ruling and Feudatory Chiefs, and certain of the Nobility, also deputations from public bodies — commercial, educational and municipal. In reply to the Address of Welcome of the Calcutta Municipality His Majesty graciously said:
“I thank you warmly on behalf of the Queen-Empress and myself for the assurances of loyalty and devotion on the part of the Corporation and citizens of the City of Calcutta, to which your Address gives expression. We are deeply touched by your kindly reference to my beloved father’s stay in your city and by your affectionate allusion to our own visit here six years ago. We can never forget the cordial welcome given us on that occasion, while the sympathetic interest in our Indian Empire which the first sight of this great city inspired has in no way abated.
“It is a source of great pleasure to us to revisit Calcutta and to see for ourselves evidence of your progress and prosperity.
“The changes in the administration of India, resulting from the announcement made by me at the great Durbar at Delhi, will affect to a certain extent Calcutta. But your city must always remain the premier city of India. Its population, its importance as a commercial centre and great emporium of trade, its splendid historic traditions, all combine to invest Calcutta with an unique character which should preserve to it a pre-eminent position.
“At the same time, the status of the Province of which Calcutta is the capital has been enhanced by the creation of a Presidency of Bengal, and I feel confident that under the wise administration of a Governor-in-Council the new Presidency will enjoy increased prosperity with the blessing of tranquillity and order.
“I know that you cherish ambitions that India will one day become a great manufacturing as well as an agricultural country. I have watched with keen interest the progress of your business enterprise, and the success which has attended your commercial energy will affect more and more the youth of this country to regard commerce as a distinguished and honourable profession.
“I thank you for your kind wishes and prayers. It shall ever be our earnest endeavour to promote the welfare of our Indian Empire, and we fervently hope that the years as they pass with ever strengthen the feeling of warm attachment that exists between my house and my Indian people.”
On 6th January 1912, His Majesty received the Senate of the Calcutta University. In reply to their Address His Majesty said:
“I recall with pleasure the occasion on which, six years ago, I received from the University of Calcutta the Honorary Degree of a Doctor of Law, and I am glad to have an opportunity to-day of showing my deep and earnest interest in the higher education of India. It is to the Universities of India that I look to assist in that gradual union and fusion of the culture and aspiration of Europeans and Indians on which the future well-being of India so greatly depends. I have watched with sympathy the measures that from time to time have been taken by the Universities of India to extend the scope and raise the standards of instruction. Much remains to be done. No University is now-a-days complete unless it is equipped with teaching faculties in all the more important branches of the sciences and the arts, and unless it provides ample opportunities for research. You have to conserve the ancient learning and simultaneously to push forward Western science. You have also to build up character, without which learning is of little value. You say that you recognize your great responsibilities. I bid you God-speed in the work that is before you. Let your ideals be high and your efforts to pursue them unceasing and, under Providence, you will succeed.
“Six years ago I sent from England to India a message of sympathy. To-day in India I give to India the watchword of hope. On every side I trace the signs and stirrings of new life. Education has given you hope; and through better and higher education you will build up higher and better hopes. The announcement was made at Delhi by my command that my Governor-General in Council will allot large sums for the expansion and improvement of education in India. It is my wish that there may be spread over the land a net-work of schools and colleges, from which will go forth loyal and manly and useful citizens, able to hold their own in industries and agriculture and all the vocations in life. And it is my wish, too, that the homes of my Indian subjects may be brightened and their labour sweetened by the spread of knowledge, with what follows in its train, a higher level of thought, of comfort, and of health. It is through education that my wish will be fulfilled, and the cause of education in India will ever be very close to my heart.
“It is gratifying to me to be assured of your devotion to myself and to my House, of your desire to strengthen the bonds of union between Great Britain and India, and of your appreciation of the advantages which you enjoy under British Rule. I thank you for your loyal and dutiful Address.”
On Monday morning January 8th, the Royal visit to Calcutta came to an end with stately ceremonial. At Prinsep’s Ghat the Hon’ble Mr. Slacke, Member of Council, Bengal, read an Address of Farewell, to which His Majesty replied in a voice husky with emotion. He said:
“The Queen-Empress and I are deeply moved by the words of your Address. And they are not empty words. They have been amply and visibly proved by the enthusiastic reception accorded to us on our arrival here; and no less by the affectionate demonstrations with which we have, been greeted everywhere and by all classes in Calcutta and its surrounding neighbourhood.
“For the remainder of our lives we shall remember with feelings of pride and emotion the stirring experience of these last eight days ; we shall recall the warm-hearted greeting extended to us on our arrival in your Capital, and the sight of those patient and sympathetic multitudes which had assembled from all parts of the Province to testify their loyalty and devotion to my Throne and person. And I am gratified by the assurances given in your Address that these outward proofs of allegiance and affection reflect the general sentiments of your fellow-subjects throughout the length and breadth of North-Eastern India.
“Nor shall we forget the stirring scenes and brilliant displays which have been so successfully organised and carried out to celebrate our visit.
“The people of Bengal offer us as a farewell gift their ‘overflowing love and gratitude’. Rest assured that the Queen-Empress and I could ask for nothing more precious to us and to our children. We take it back to them to be cherished by them as a priceless heirloom.
“Our hearts are too full to express adequately our gratitude for all you have done to welcome us at home amongst you.
“In bidding you farewell, the Queen-Empress and I fervently pray that all my subjects in Bengal, of whatever race or creed, united by the ties of sympathy and brotherly love, may, under the Divine guidance, ever strive towards the advancement of their common happiness, contentment and general well-being.”
SOURCE: Who’s Who in India Supplement 1 (1912) by Prag Narain Bhargava-POPULAR EDITION-1912-LUCKNOW-NEWUL KISHORE PRESS.