CHINA’S ONLY HOPE

CHAPTER I UNITED HEARTS

When Fan Wen-chang was a mere youth he was so patriotic as to feel that the responsibility of the government rested upon himself. The philosopher Ch’eng said: “If real altruism existed in the heart of only one official, some amount of good would be sure to follow.” Another sage has it: “Every man in the Empire, however humble and despised he may be, has some duty to perform to his government.” How circumscribed would be the responsibility of one graduate, the altruism of one official, or the duty of a single individual! But if by one determined purpose the hearts of all the graduates, the officials and the men of China were united, our country would rest upon a great rock and we could defy the world to overthrow us. To attain this object, it is necessary first that every man should fulfil his duty to his parents and elders. The country would then be at peace. And if every Chinese would but exercise his wisdom and courage the Empire would become strong.

Generally speaking, our government institutions are used in times of peace and prosperity for the encouragement of learning, and our officials are employed for the maintenance of power. Thus by favor of the Court the capabilities of the people are enlarged. But when danger and distress threaten to overwhelm the country, the mandarins maintain a rigid chastity and the people stand ready for her defence. Great plainness of speech is employed by the counsellors of the sovereign, and the best wisdom of the Empire is called forth to meet the issue. There is one great purpose in the hearts of all: to save the country from corruption; and the strength of the land is concentrated in order to guard against the impending evil. Thus the resources of the people are exhibited and the Court is freed from anxious care.

We would here state that there are now three things necessary to be done in order to save China from revolution. The first is to maintain the reigning Dynasty; the second is to conserve the] Holy Religion; and the third is to protect the Chinese Race. These are inseparably connected; in fact they together constitute one; for in order to protect the Chinese Race we must first conserve the Religion, and if the Religion is to be conserved we are bound to maintain the Dynasty. But, it may be asked, how can we protect the Race? We reply, by knowledge; and knowledge is religion; and religion is propagated by strength; and strength lies in the troops. Consequently, in countries of no prestige and power the native religion is not followed, and in kingdoms that are not prosperous the native race is held in light esteem by their more fortunate neighbors. Mohammedanism is unreasonable, but Turkey is fierce and warlike, so Mohammedanism survives. Buddhism is near the truth, but India is stupid and foolish, and Buddhism perishes. Nestorianism waned because Persia grew weak, and the old Greek religion is dying out for the same reason. Roman Catholicism and Protestantism have been propagated over three-fifths of the globe by military power.

Our Holy Religion has flourished in China several thousand years without change. The early Emperors and Kings embellished our tenets by their noble examples and bequeathed to us the rich legacy which we now possess. The sovereigns were the teachers. The Han, the T’ang and all the Chinese Dynasties to the Ming [embracing a period of 1800 years], honored and revered the religion of Confucius, Religion is the government, and the Emperors of our Dynasty honor Confucianism with a still greater reverence. It was the sages who purged the heresy from the Classics and handed them down to us in compiled form. The Emperors themselves follow the truth and then instruct all in the Empire, so that every one that has breath knows how to honor and how to love. For government and religion are inseparably linked together and constitute the warp of the past and present, the woof of intercommunication between China and the West.

The foundations of our State are deep and durable. Protected by Heaven, the superstructure will certainly stand secure! But supposing this absurd gossip about the partition of China by Europeans were true and the country were cut up, be it ever so exalted and excellent, would foreigners respect the Holy Doctrine of Confucius? Far from it. The Classics of the Four Philosophers would be thrown out as refuse, and the Confucian cap and gown would never more cherish the hope of an official career. Our clever scholars would figure as clergymen, compradores, and clerks, whilst the common people would be required to pay a poll-tax and be used as soldiers, artisans, underlings, and servants. That is what would happen. And the more menial our people became, the more stupid they would be; until being both menial and stupid, they would become reduced to wretched poverty and at last perish miserably. Our Holy Religion would meet the same fate that Brahmanism in India did. Its adherents would be found skulking away, or crouching among the cavernous hills, but clinging fast the while to some tattered remnants of the truth! The Flowery People would become like the black Kwun Lun of the Southern Ocean, the life-long slaves of men, vainly seeking an escape from the curses and blows of their masters.[1]

Under the present circumstances there is nothing for it but to arouse ourselves to the situation. Let us display our loyalty and love and embrace every opportunity to become wealthy and strong; let our first object be the veneration of the Imperial Court which vouchsafes its protection to the] commonwealth, and let those who hold the reins of government consider the general good. At this critical time the confidential advisers of the Emperor should be candid and truthful men, who will make it their business to give warning on the slightest approach of danger. The high officers on the frontier should see that the sinews of war are adequate to meet the occasion. The generals and commanders should make clear what the feeling of shame is and teach their troops the art of war. The soldiers and people should all cherish an affection for their superiors and lay down their lives for their elders. The literati should become conversant with the things of the times. Thus, if the Emperor and the ministers of China become united in heart, and the people combined in strength, will not the Records of the Chu and Su [Confucianism] and the descendants of the gods [Chinese] have something on which to depend? There are many patriots in these gloomy times who believe that the mere reverence of Confucian belles lettres will protect our religion. Others hold that concerted action alone can conserve the race. These lose sight of the fact that our safety lies in maintaining all three together the State, the Religion, and the Race; the State first, for this is fundamental. The Tso Chuan [A vade mecum of the Chinese literati] aptly says: ” If the skin perishes, where is the good of minding about the hair?” And Mencius says: “If the sovereign possess the power to rule the commonwealth justly, who would dare insult him?” And Mencius is right.

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