JAMSHEDJI JEEJEEBHOYS LETTER TO THE PARSEE COMMUNITY ON HIS BEING PRESENTED KNIGHTHOOD
VOLUME 2 BY DOSABHAI FRAMJI KARAKA.
[CHAP. II. PG 93-95
BY THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT AND THE DEED OF SETTLEMENT MADE BY HIM FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE “PARSEES” ( “a person or persons following the religion of Zoroaster”)
“MY DEAR FRIENDS-I feel deeply gratified to you for the address which you have just presented to me. So distinguished a mark of the esteem of my fellow-countrymen is an honour of which I, and those who are most dear to me, may justly be proud.
“To have been selected by my Sovereign as the native through whom she was graciously pleased to extend the order of knighthood to her Indian subjects was, and ever must be, a source of deep personal gratification to myself. But to receive the congratulations of my fellow-countrymen in a manner at once so kind and flattering, -to have this auspicious event commemorated by the creation of a charity, to be connected with my name, and in the objects of which I so cordially concur, is a source of inward pride and satisfaction, which, rising higher than the gratification of mere worldly titles, will live with me to my dying day.
“Your too kind and favourable mention of my acts of charity has much affected me. The only merit I have a right to claim for them is that they proceeded from a pure and heartfelt desire, out of the abundance with which Providence has blessed me, to ameliorate the condition of my fellow-creatures. With this no unworthy motive was mixed; I sought neither public honours nor private applause, and, conscious of a singleness of purpose, I have long since had my reward. When, therefore, Her Majesty’s most gracious intentions were communicated to me, I felt deeply gratified that I had unconsciously been the means of eliciting so signal a mark of the good feelings of England towards the people of India, and it is in this light that I prefer to consider the distinguished honour Her Majesty has conferred upon me, and that also which I have received at your hands this day.
“Nothing could please me more than the purposes to which you propose to devote the funds that have been submitted. I shall ever wish my name to be connected with every endeavour to diffuse knowledge amongst our people; and the surest way to incite them to elevate and improve themselves, to fit them to appreciate the blessings of the Government under which they live, and to deserve those honours which have now for the first time been extended to India, is to spread far and wide amongst them, gratuitously or in a cheap form, translations into our own language of the most approved authors.
Connected with this subject is a scheme that I have long contemplated for relieving the distresses of the Parsi poor of Bombay, Surat, and its neighbourhood. You know full well the state of misery in which many of our people are living, and the hopeless ignorance in which their children are permitted to grow up. My object is to create a fund, the interest of which shall be applied towards relieving the indigent of our people and the education of their children, and I now propose to invest the sum of Rs. 300,000 in the public securities, and place it at the disposal of trustees, who with the interest shall carry out the object I have mentioned; and this trust I hope you will take under your care. “And now, my dear friends, let me once again thank you for your kindness. There is nothing I value so highly as the good opinion of my countrymen, nor anything I more anxiously desire than their welfare and happiness.”
The patent of knighthood was publicly presented to Sir Jamshedji Jijibhai by Sir George Anderson, Governor of Bombay at the time, in the following appropriate terms. He said : “SIR JAMSHEDJI JIJIBHAI-Her most Gracious Majesty the Queen having been graciously pleased to confer upon you the dignity of knighthood of the United Kingdom, the patent has been transmitted to me to present to you; and both Lord Fitzgerald, the President of the Board of Control, and the Honourable the Court of Directors, in transmitting this instrument to me for this purpose, have expressed their high gratification at your having received this distinguished honour.
“The dignity of knighthood has ever, amongst the natives of Europe, been considered as most honourable. To attain this distinction has continually been the ambition of the highest minds and noblest spirits, either by deeds of most daring valour or by the exercise of the most eminent talent.”
THE DEED OF SETTLEMENT OF SIR JAMSHETJI JEEJEEBHOYS PARSI BENEVOLENT FUND.
FOR RELIEVING THE POOR AND NEEDY OF OUR PEOPLE AND THE EDUCATION OF THEIR CHILDREN.
“IN ORDER TO OBVIATE ALL DOUBTS RESPECTING THE MEANING OF THE WORD PARSEE IN THIS INDENTURE, IT IS HEREBY DECLARED THAT THE WORD PARSEE MEANS IN THIS INDENTURE THROUGHOUT A PERSON OR PERSONS PROFESSING THE RELIGION OF ZOROASTER.” (Fourth line from the bottom of the page.)