Citations and Speeches


Congregation (1926)

Sir Robert Hormus KOTEWALL

The Vice-Chancellor Sir William Hornell, K.T., C.I.E., M.A. (Oxford), wrote and delivered the following citation:

Mr. Robert Hormus Kotewall was educated at Queen’s College and the Diocesan Boys’ School, Hong Kong. He entered Government Service in 1896 after winning the first place in a competitive examination. As a civil servant he was given posts which were always held before and have ever since been held by Britishers, viz: Chief Clerk in the Colonial Secretary’s Office, First Clerk in the Magistracy (a post usually held by men of legal training) and officiating Justice of the Peace. Mr. Kotewall’s exploits in the soul-destroying pursuit of budget preparation were such as to attract the attention of H.M.’s Secretary of State for the Colonies. Mr. Kotewall has always taken an interest in education, especially vernacular education. He is a member of the Court and Council of the University, a University honorary examiner in Chinese, president of the University Football Club and a Patron of a Roving Troop of Boy Scouts. He translated His Excellency’s Latin University Anthem into Chinese verses of such erudition that it is said that no one but His Excellency can understand them.

A lover of books, Mr. Kotewall has a fine library of Chinese and English authors. He has written on “Forestry” and “Government” and is the author of two Chinese plays, one of which was performed on the occasion of the recent visit of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. Now a director of companies and a harassed man of business (most business men appear to be harassed now-a-days; I can’ think why. If they have nothing to do, why not do it gracefully?), Mr. Kotewall somehow finds time not only to serve the public with a devotion which is literally amazing, but also to attend to the troubles of his friends. And I doubt whether there is any one in the Colony who has more friends than Mr. Kotewall. To all of us in the University, whether teachers or students, Mr. Kotewall has ever been a friend, who has never failed us in the hours of our respective needs. And all this has been done, and done without ostentation, in the midst of domestic anxieties before which the most public-spirited of men might reasonably have succumbed. In welcoming Mr. Kotewall into the goodly fellowship of honorary graduates, I cannot refrain from quoting what Dr. Johnson wrote of his friend, Henry Thrale the brewer:

“Simple, open, and uniform in his manners,

His conduct was without either art or affectation.

In the senate steadily attentive to the interests of his king and country.

He looked down with contempt on the clamours of the multitude:

Though engaged in very extensive business,

He found some time to apply to polite literature:

And was ever ready to assist his friends labouring under any difficulties,

With his advice, his influence, and his purse.

To his friends, acquaintances, and guests,

He behaved with such sweetness of manners as to attach them all to his person:

So happy in his conversation with them as to please all, th