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academies and colleges. The teachers are generally competent, being prepared for their work by a long course of study. The schools are conducted in rooms destitute of comfort, and without furniture, except the chair and table of the teacher, and the desks and seats furnished by the pupils themselves.
Children are placed under the care of a teacher at the age of six or seven years. The first years of their instruction are devoted to reading and writing; and, as these are very difficult to learn, on account of the signcharacter of the Chinese language, the great majority never reach any higher attainments. The teaching is wholly by rote: the pupils repeat after the teacher the names of the characters in the book given them to study. After they have learned to pronounce the characters fluently they are taught the meaning, and the moral lessons of the book are impressed upon them. An extract is given from the book first placed in the hands of pupils at school :
Men, at their birth, are by nature radically good.
In this, all approximate, but in practice widely diverge.
If not educated, the natural character is changed.
A course of education is made valuable by close attention.
To bring up and not educate is a father's error.
To educate without rigor shows a teacher's indolence.
That boys should not learn is an improper thing.
For if they do not learn in youth, what will they do when old ?
Gems unwrought can form nothing useful.
The discipline is severe. The teacher keeps his rattan or bamboo hanging in a conspicuous place, and he uses scolding, castigation, starving, and imprisonment, to stir up the diligence of his pupils in their necessarily distasteful tasks.
Those in pursuit of a higher education place themselves under the care of a competent teacher, from whom they receive instruction in the Chinese classics and in the art of composition. After many years of severe toil, and running the gantlet of repeated examinations in which his competitors are numbered by thousands, the successful scholar becomes a member of the Imperial Academy—a position that brings him high honors and also a generous support from the royal treasury. Henceforth he is a member of the Imperial Government.
It is proper to say a word here in reference to the Chinese classics, which form the basis of education, to the exclusion of all those studies-geography, history, mathematics, science, and language—which are deemed in the Western world so indispensable to a liberal culture. These classics in their present form are the work of Confucius, the most distinguished of Chinese philosophers and teachers, who lived in the fifth century before Christ. They are in part compilations made by him from older works and in part his own composition. They treat chiefly of the duties of social and political life, though they are also in some measure historical. “I teach you nothing,” says Confucius, “ but what you might learn yourselves—viz., the observance of the fundamental laws of relation between sovereign and subject, father and child, and husband and wife, and the
five cardinal virtues, universal charity, impartial justice, conformity to established ceremonies and usages, recti. tude of heart and mind, and pure sincerity.” He thus speaks of filial duty in particular: “There are three thousand crimes to which one or another of the five kinds of punishment is attached as a penalty, and of these no one is greater than disobedience to parents. When ministers exercise control over the monarch, then there is no supremacy; when the maxims of the sages are set aside, then the law is abrogated; and so those who disregard filial duty are as though they had no parents. These three evils prepare the way for universal rebellion.” The teaching of Confucius was a system of natural morality, from which the ideas of a personal God and future life were excluded. While it has sapped the foundations of all religion, it has fostered a painstaking attention to outward ceremony.
To sum up the results of this inquiry, the whole sys. tem of Chinese education confines the mind within a narrow circle of ideas, perpetuates the fixed customs of the people, encourages outward morality and ceremony, and renders progress well-nigh impossible. In the language of an able author already quoted : “Owing to this undue attention to the classics, the minds of scholars are not symmetrically trained, and they disparage other branches of literature which do not directly advance this great end. Every department of letters, except jurisprudence, history, and official statistics, is disesteemed in comparison; and the literary graduate of fourscore will be found deficient in most branches of general learning, ignorant of hundreds of common things and events in his national history, which the merest school-boy in the Western world would be ashamed not to know in his. This course of instruction does not form well-balanced minds, but it imbues the future rulers of the land with a full understanding of the principles on which they are to govern, and the policy of the supreme power in using those principles to consolidate its own authority.” As adapted to perpetuate an exclusive national existence, the Chinese system may not inappropriately be designated ancestral education.
The consideration of education in India ought to possess the greater interest for us, since the Hindoos are of the same blood as ourselves. As a branch of the great Aryan or Indo-European family of nations, they moved southward from their Central Asiatic home, some two thousand years before Christ, into the vast peninsula which extends from the Himalaya Mountains into the Indian Ocean. There they brought into subjection the swarthier aborigines; and, under the influence of the favorable soil and climate, they developed into a very numerous people. The wealth of their country has always been a temptation to the avarice of other nations. The inoffensive character of the people has rendered them an easy prey. The Greeks, the Mohammedans, the Portuguese, and the Dutch have successively reached out a covetous hand after the natural and artificial treasures of the country. Last of all, the English, with their insatiable thirst for empire, have brought the whole peninsula under their sway, thereby adding a population of one hundred and ninety millions to the British do
minion, and securing for the Queen the additional title of Empress of India. All these foreign influences have wrought changes in the social, political, and religious condition of the people of India; and, at present, all the ancient usages and laws are in a process of rapid dissolution.
The language of the ancient Hindoos was Sanskrit, which, as nearly related to the Latin, Greek, English, and other Indo-European languages, is of especial interest to the philologist. Though the Sanskrit has given place to dialects, as did the Latin after the fall of the Roman Empire, it is still the learned language of the Brahmans. This language is the repository of a literature of great antiquity and surprising magnitude. The “ Veda,” a collection of religious hymns, was compiled more than a thousand years before Christ. The “Mahâbhârata” is an epic poem, whose length is more than double that of the “Iliad," “ Æneid,” and “Paradise Lost” combined.
The prevailing religion is Brahmanism. For the more intelligent classes, this religion is pantheistic, and closely resembles modern philosophic pantheism in Germany. According to Brahmanism, God is an unconscious but all-pervading spiritual presence which has unfolded from within himself the material and visible uni
As God is thus believed to be in everything, this religion easily and naturally degenerates among the masses into polytheism, in which the various objects of nature are worshiped as divinities.
The people present strange contradictions of character. They are gentle, docile, polite, industrious, and faithful in service; at the same time they are do