CHINA’S ONLY HOPE

CHAPTER VIII ATTENDING TO WHAT IS VITAL

Confucianism is in danger! To rescue the truth we must turn our attention to Japan for the present. To obtain help from the past we cannot but glance back to the period of the Warring States. At that time Confucianism was crowded out by heretical sects, because it was said that too much time and labor were required to master the subject, and men catered to what was expedient and in demand. So it is at the present time, and it behooves us to heed the injunction of Mencius to select what is important and leave the rest.

What Confucius meant by extensive has a wider significance in these days. In his time men could become renowned by a single attainment. A mere fraction of what is required of present officials would suffice at that time for the conduct of affairs, and literature was meagre. To-day our books are numberless, and one man cannot master them in a lifetime. Now that the sea-waves are dashing upon our shores, unless we keep pace with the times, and acquire Western learning, we shall be left in the lurch. But under our present curriculum it is impossible to do this. A knowledge of the benefits to be derived from Confucianism cannot be obtained simply by a few years of hard study. If only this time is given to Chinese learning, and Western education is introduced, the former will soon decline; in fact the Canons of our Holy Religion will soon perish. The thought makes us tremble, and, although there are no fires and pits of the Book Burner [14] now, still there may be the sorrow of the Liang, which nearly extinguished the truth in the time of Wen and Wu. And we are still more apprehensive when we consider the fact that in China to-day there are a great many aimless people who really do not care a straw for education — especially Chinese education — and who go so far as to say that our literature is a bugbear, and speak blasphemously of Confucius. Because our tenets are said to be bulky and inconvenient, many of the followers of these persons would rejoice in the complete extinction of the system. We suggest a method that ought to satisfy this class, and at the same time dispel the doubts of those who imagine they see a difficulty in acquiring Chinese. We reiterate the statement that, in order to preserve our literature, it is imperative to study only that which is important, and do away with the useless rubbish that has accumulated in the lapse of time. Following is a course of study which we have mapped out,[15] and which is more useful than ornamental:

Scholars of fifteen years and under, to master the Filial Classics, Four Books, Five Classics (true text with remarks and explanations by the teacher), “The Brief Survey of Chinese History,” “The Song of Astronomy and Geography,” with maps, “The General Literature of the Han, T’ang, and Sung Dynasties,” with reference to style and penmanship.

From fifteen years upward the following: Classics (complete), general literature, history, moral philosophy, Chinese government of the present Dynasty within the last one hundred years, with especial reference to the memorials and edicts of the past fifty years; geography of the present time, embracing the physical condition of China — her water courses, products, provincial capitals, canals, roads, strategic points, coast and boundary defences, open ports (old maps and geographies not required, but may be read at leisure) — comparative study of foreign geography, especially that of Russia, France, Germany, England, Japan, and America; a cursory survey of the size, distance, capitals, principal ports, climate, defences, wealth, and power of these (the time required to complete this course, ten days); mathematics (sufficient for a working knowledge in other branches).

It may be said that foreigners excel in mathematics; their knowledge, however, is not confined to this branch. In government affairs, astronomy, geography, chemistry, photology, etc., a certain amount of mathematical skill is necessary.

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