In olden times, Ch’u Chwang Wang made it his chief aim to exhort his people to diligence, and to caution his troops lest some catastrophe should suddenly befall his countrymen. In consequence of this, the kingdom of Ch’u became powerful, and the neighboring countries — Ts’i, Tsin, Ch’in, and Sung — were intimidated and held in check. An old saying runs: “If a man will not understand in what misfortune consists, disgrace is sure to follow; but if he will only face the difficulty, happiness will ensue.”
In no period of China’s history has there arisen an emergency like the present. It is a time of change, and His Imperial Highness, the Emperor of China, has accepted the situation by altering somewhat the system of civil and military examinations and by establishing schools. New plans are being formed for the welfare of the country by Chinese philanthropists, but these plans differ both in degree and kind. There are some who hold that the new learning will save us; others maintain that its acceptation will abrogate our old doctrines, and that we ought to hold fast the patrimony of our sages. Who can tell which is right? The Conservatives are evidently off their food from inability to swallow, whilst the Liberals are like a flock of sheep who have arrived at a road of many forks and do not know which to follow. The former do not understand what international intercourse means, the latter are ignorant of what is radical in Chinese affairs. The Conservatives fail to see the utility of modem military methods and the benefits of successful change, while the Progressionists, zealous without knowledge, look with contempt upon our widespread doctrines of Confucius. Thus those who cling to the old order of things heartily despise those who even propose any innovation, and they in turn cordially detest the Conservatives with all the ardor of their liberal convictions. It thus falls out that those who really wish to learn are in doubt as to which course to pursue, and in the meantime error creeps in, the enemy invades our coast, and, consequently, there is no defence and no peace.
The present condition of things is not due to outside nations, but to China herself. It has ever been true that the number of our able men has been proportioned to the good qualities of the government, and that morals are gauged by the conduct of the schools. In view of many facts, and with the hope of relieving our country from her present embarrassments, We, the Viceroy of the Liang Hu, have prepared this work especially for the Chinese under our jurisdiction, and generally for our countrymen in the other provinces. It consists of two parts, divided and discussed as follows:
Part I. — Moral.
Subject: Radical Principles a means of rectifying the Heart.
Chapter I. United Hearts. — It is plain that three things claim our attention just now — the protection of the Empire, the Religion, and the Race. If the hands and feet are nimble, the eyes and head will be at rest, and if the constitution is robust, the purpose will be strong. The Imperial power will increase in proportion to the number of intellectual men who come forward.
Chapter II. — The Inculcation of Loyalty. — The moral excellence of this Dynasty is so universally known that both ministers and people should cherish an ardent patriotism in order to conserve the country.
Chapter III. The Three Moral Obligations. — The sages have always taught that the true relations existing between the sovereign and subject, father and son, and husband and wife, are of prime importance, the radix of propriety and the distinguishing feature between man and the brutes.
Chapter IV. The Recognition of Class. — We are grieved lest the Chinese — the descendants of the gods — should be sunk in obscurity, and We write this chapter for the protection of our race.
Chapter V. Honor due the Classics. — Some of our extra-canonical books are good, others are pernicious. Let not the bad obscure what is good. Doctrines that tend to disrupt ought not to be followed. Before any work is approved it should ‘(je brought to the touchstone of the Holy Canons.
Chapter VI. Centralization of Power. — Differentiate between officials and people, but give direction to popular thought. We denounce republicanism as rebellious.
Chapter VII. The Proper Sequence of Things. — That which enters first, dominates. A thorough knowledge of Chinese is necessary in order to a Western education. Possessing this knowledge our ancestors will not be forgotten.
Chapter VIII. Attending to what is Vital. — To rejoice in the new is sweet; to love the old is bitter. If we are to preserve Chinese learning, we must find out what is important and hold to it.
Chapter IX. Cast out the Poison! — The foreign drug (opium) is debasing the homes and sweeping away the lives of our people. Cut it off, root and branch!
Part II. — Practical.
Subject: The Intercourse of Nations a means of Enlightenment.
Chapter I. Beneficial Knowledge. — When unknown foes assail us, we are deluded and meet with disaster.
Chapter 11. Travel. — Discern the signs of the times, enlarge the mind, broaden the understanding, and increase the skill and knowledge of the Chinese! Without travel in foreign countries these desiderata cannot be obtained.
Chapter III. The Establishment of Schools, — Establish schools everywhere adapted to the present time, for putting into practice the knowledge of the graduates. Rouse the stupid!
Chapter IV. The Study of Regulations. — The strength of Western countries is derived from their government institutions in which the students are required to observe stipulated rules. These have the power of conferring official rank. We should establish such institutions on the best approved methods.
Chapter V. The Extensive Translation of Books. — The benefits derived from the instruction of Western teachers have their limits. Those which follow the translation of foreign books are boundless.
Chapter VI. Newspaper Reading. — It is difficult to see one’s own eyebrows and eyelashes, and hard to take bitter medicine. Be sensible of moral corruption and cast it out at once! Have a knowledge of outside evil and prepare a defence!
Chapter VII. Reform of Methods. — Self-preservation demands something more than our old inherited principles.
Chapter VIII. Railways. — Commerce is the blood and breath of a nation.
Chapter IX. Comparative Study. — Know how to combine the gist of Western learning with Chinese learning, in order to enlighten dense ignorance.
Chapter X. Maintaining the Army. — The despicable teaching of ease and lust is suicidal.
Chapter XI. Religious Toleration, — The outbreaks of petty malignity against different sects defeat great schemes and are to be deplored.
The corollaries of these Twenty Chapters may be briefly comprehended in
Five Objects of Knowledge.
- Know the shame of not being like Japan, Turkey, Siam, and Cuba.
Know the fear that we will become as India, Annam, Burmah, Korea, Egypt, and Poland.
Know that if we do not change our customs, we cannot reform our methods, and if we do not reform our methods we cannot utilize the modem implements of war, etc.
Know what is important. The study of the old is not urgent; the call for men of attainments in useful knowledge is pressing. Foreign education is of different kinds. Western handicraft is not in demand, but a knowledge of the methods of foreign governments is a consummation devoutly to be wished.
Know what is radical. When abroad, do not forget your own native country; when you see strange customs, do not forget your parents; and let not much wisdom and ingenuity make you forget the holy sages.
It will be seen then that the purport of what we have written accords well with the Doctrine of the Mean. Long ago, when the kingdom of Lu was in a weak condition, Duke Ai [b.c. 550] inquired of Confucius about government. He replied: “To be fond of learning is the next thing to knowledge. To be up and doing comes near to perfection. Know what shame is, and you will not be far from heroism.” Finally, the sage said: “If these principles can be carried out, although one may be stupid, yet he will become clever; although weak, he will attain to strength.” These maxims were spoken in the time of Lu. How much more urgent are they now when China has become great, with her almost limitless territory and her teeming population of four hundred millions!
At the outset of this Preface We referred to a state of things that existed in the time of Ch’u. This is because We are apprehensive, lest the officials and gentry accustomed to a life of otium cum dignitate should be indifferent to the impending perils which now threaten the Empire; and, fearing that they will impatiently cast the subject aside and not seek to renew our strength, we call their attention to what Confucius enunciated. The Book of Changes [b.c. 2800] says:
“Though threatened by overthrow, we still cling fast to safety.” Let us fully realize the magnitude of the danger and then we will put forth our most strenuous efforts to avert it. Written by
Chang Chih-tung, of Nan-p’i.