Speech on Education

Author Tenney, Charles Daniel

ms numberms794-012

Persistent Identifier
Young Gentlemen:
I am very glad [gap: tear][guess (MKR): to] [gap: tear][guess (MKR): meet] you today, because I am [gap: tear][guess (MKR): interested] in schools and scholars. I have been connected with the the word repeated [gap: tear][guess (MKR): U.S.] Legation [gap: tear][guess (MKR): in] China for many years, but I do [gap: tear][guess (MKR): not forget] that my first [gap: tear][guess (MKR): responsibility] [gap: tear][guess (MKR): was in connection] with teaching. I [gap: tear][guess (MKR): was] a teacher in [gap: tear][guess (MKR): my] country for several years before I went to China and in China I had to do with schools before I entered upon diplomacy. I [gap: tear][guess (MKR): organized] my first school in China more than 36 years ago, and in 1895 I allowed this school to merge into the first University, of which I was [gap: tear][guess (MKR): President] for 10 years. The experience which [gap: tear][guess (MKR): scholars] had in teaching, on both sides of the Pacific Ocean make me feel competent to pass judgment on the relative capacity of Chinese and American students. Without hesitation[gap: tear][guess (MKR): ,] I say that as students the Chinese need give no odds to the Americans. There is a foolish notion abroad that the Chinese excel in [gap: tear][guess (MKR): memory]^only^, but are weak in mathematics and in the reflective and deductive faculty. Nothing could be more false. The
special training which they have received in memory has [gap: tear][guess (MKR): not] been at the expense of the other [gap: tear][guess (MKR): faculties]. [gap: tear][guess (MKR): I] have found the proportion of [gap: lacuna][guess (MKR): boys who have] a natural [gap: tear][guess (MKR): gift] for [gap: tear][guess (MKR): mathematics] fully as high in China as in [gap: tear][guess (MKR): America]. [gap: tear][guess (MKR): Before] modern schools were organized in China several [gap: tear][guess (MKR): young men were sent] to the British [gap: tear][guess (MKR): naval College] at [gap: tear][guess (MKR): Greenwich for training] as naval officers. Two of these young men led their classes in mathematics. I remember discussing this with a British naval [gap: tear][guess (MKR): officer] who was a classmate of one of these Chinese. He said "He not only led his class, but the rest of us were not within sight of him." Viscount Brice [gap: tear][guess (MKR): says in] "Modern [gap: tear][guess (MKR): Democracies]" [gap: tear][guess (MKR): Europe] has been wont to think of the Chinese as semi-civilized. It might be truer to say that they are highly civilized in some respects and barely civilized in others." This is a correct judgment. The Chinese civilization dates back for four or five thousand years. They were discussing [gap: tear][guess (MKR): philosophical] doctrines 3000 years ago about which our ancestors, had not begun to think a few centuries ago. What causes the confusion about
the Chinese [gap: tear][guess (MKR): civilization] is that until recently the Chinese [gap: tear][guess (MKR): have] taken no [gap: tear][guess (MKR): part] in the [gap: tear][guess (MKR): extraordinary] development of natural science in which our world has made such [gap: tear][guess (MKR): progress] during the past two hundred years. The average Chinese has the same mixture of civilized thought and [gap: tear][guess (MKR): superstitious] nonsense which our ancestors carried about a few hundred years ago. It should not surprise us that cranial measurements show that the average Chinese has greater brain development than the average Westerner. It is what we should expect from the longer duration of the Chinese civilization. ^[below]It is 5000 against 500.^ I confess that I tremble for the results of the progress which we are making in the natural sciences. The Great War seems to indicate that we may use our discoveries to kill one another off. We fight now on the land air the sea under the land, under the sea and in the air, with high explosives and with poison gas. What the end will be no man can tell.
To my mind the highest proof which the Chinese have given of the excellence of their ancient civilization is in the
very reasonable religion which has been handed down from ancient times. All [gap: tear][guess (MKR): educated] men in China are Confucianists. You find scattered about China [gap: tear][guess (MKR): Buddhist] temples brought in from India and Tauist temples representing a degraded cult native to the [gap: tear][guess (MKR): country], [gap: tear][guess (MKR): but these] do not represent the religion of the higher class Chinese. They only gratify the natural craving for superstitious indulgence on the part of the ignorant.
So, today, I wish to tell you something about Confucius, the great moral and religious leader of the Chinese.
1. Confucius differed from other founders of religions in that he claimed no special revelation and made no revelations^taught nothing^ regarding the life beyond. He was strangely silent about the life after death and about spiritual beings generally. He worked no miracles, but confined himself to discussing the relation, of living men with one another.
[illegible: One] of his disciples asked about death. Confucius replied "not yet understanding life, how can you understand death" XI,XI
Another disciple asked about wisdom. Confucius replied "To devote oneself earnestly to one's duty is humanity and, while respecting the spirits, to
avoid them may be called wisdom." VI,XX. Again we read "The master would not discuss prodigies, feats of strength, disorders or the supernatural," VII,XX.
When a disciple asked about his duty to the spirits the master replied "While still unable to do your duty to the living, how can you do your duty to the dead," XI,XI.
From these facts about the teachings of Confucius many have sprung to the conclusion that Confucianism is only a code of morals and not a religion. This is hardly true, because Confucius did endorse the ceremonies of sacrifice to spirits and particularly the sacrifice to one's ancestors. The fact that he avoided discussing these matters and especially because he admitted his^his admission of^ ignorance regarding them has left Confucianists free to believe as they like about the spirits and about life after death. I remember discussing the ceremonies in honor of Confucius with a scholar of high rank. He said "It is absurd to charge us with worshiping Confucius. We Confucianists do not believe in the immor- tality of the soul. Confucius has ceased to exist. How can we worship what does not exist?" In spite of what this scholar said I am of the opinion that very many of the Confucianists do believe in the
immortality of the soul. It is true, however, that on this subject which looms so large in the teaching of most founders of a religion Confucius was silent. It is very remarkable that 500 years before Christ when founders of religions generally claimed to know a great deal about the gods and the future life this man should have been honest enough to confess that he knew nothing about either, and that he was interested only in the relation of living men with one another.
I will point out now a few of the principles which he laid down for the control of the intercourse of men with other men. Of course you must not expect to find republicanism in the teaching of Confucius. He lived in a monarchy and looked with reverence upon the records of the [illegible: monarchies] extending over more than 2000 years before his time. In his time the influence of the Emperor was slight. China was divided up into princedoms, and the princes made war upon each other just as the military leaders in the different provinces do now under the republic. The emperor had little more power than the President has now. The teaching of Confucius in regard to
the Emperors differed from that of other religious leaders in that he taught that when an Emperor [gap: lacuna][guess (MKR): became] so corrupt and degenerate that the people no longer respected him they were justified in rebelling against him and setting up a new ruler.
The cardinal principle of Confucianism was respect for parents. With us "Honor thy father and mother" is only one of the 10 Commandments. With the Chinese it is the 1st and great Commandment. In America more used to be made of it than now and I confess to a feeling of shrinking at the evidences of the lack of filial respect which I see everywhere. I remember the horror which one of my little girls felt at something she heard in a department store in San Francisco in one of her trips home. Another little girl was selecting some article of dress when her mother made some suggestion, about it. The other little girl retorted "Oh you keep still, mother. I know what is becoming to me." My little girl had been brought up in the old- fashioned way and it had not occurred to her that a girl could speak to her mother in that way. In China two or three years before the Empire was changed to a Republic we had a surprise. When the Manchus
seized the government of China in the middle of the 17th century they were considered by [gap: lacuna][guess (MKR): the] Chinese as only half- civilized. Confucius had taught that the mourning period for a father or mother was three years. The Chinese scholars had conventionalized this into the enforced retirement of every official from his official post for three years. The Manchus originally had one year's mourning for a parent and this gave the Manchus who held office an advantage over the Chinese for they had to retire only for one year. During the latter years of the Empire the Manchus felt that they had made a mistake keeping too [gap: tear][guess (MKR): separate] from the Chinese. They abolished the rule which forbade a Manchu from marrying a Chinese and now they proposed to make the mourning period of Manchus and Chinese the same. A committee was appointed to consider the matter and we foreigners supposed that the Manchu rule of one year's mourning would be adopted for both races. To our surprise the committee decided that the Chinese
rule of three years retirement should apply also to the Chinese Manchus.
> The over-emphasis given to filial piety in the Chinese system of morals has had the practical effect of making the Chinese a very conservative race. They have always exalted the idea of family. One of the Dukes said to Confu- cius "In my part of the country there is a man so honest that when his father stole a sheep he bore witness to it." "The honest in my part of the country," replied Confucius, "are different from that, for a father will screen his son and a son his father - and there is honesty in that."
> Filial [gap: tear][guess (MKR): notions about] respect for elders are the very foundation of an unselfish life - I 2
The followers of Confucius are not agreed as to whether he recognized a supreme God or not. He certainly believed in a Power that makes for righteousness which he calls Heaven. Some of the Confucian scholars claim that when he speaks of Heaven he means right principle and not God. It is hard to accept this view. For example one of the Dukes intended to give him the hint that
he would find it profitable to look to him, the Duke for favors and preferment. He said to [gap: lacuna][guess (MKR): Confucius] "What do you think of the saying It is better to show attention to the Kitchen god than to the tablets of the ancestors?" Confucius replied "Not so. He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he may pray." It is undoubtedly true, however, that the allusions of Confucius to Heaven are cold. There is nothing approaching the doctrine of Jesus that God is our Heavenly Father.
As I have said already, some maintain that Confucius taught only morality and not religion. We come now to consider [gap: lacuna][guess (MKR): what was the] morality which he taught.
One of his disciples asked if there was only one word which might govern his relations with his fellow men. The master replied "Yes, the word sympathy. What you are unwilling that others should do to you, do not to them.[ending " should be placed here] This is the Golden Rule of Jesus put negatively. In the remark that Confucius makes upon the conduct of a young man, he says
[gap: tear][guess (MKR): When one of] his [gap: tear][guess (MKR): disciples asked the meaning] of virtue [gap: tear][guess (MKR): Confucius replied] "Love your [gap: worn_edge][guess (MKR): fellow men.] When he asked [gap: tear][guess (MKR): the] meaning of [gap: worn_edge][guess (MKR): knowledge,] the master [gap: tear][guess (MKR): replied] "[gap: tear][guess (MKR): Know your fellow men.]
Once when [gap: tear][guess (MKR): several] of the disciples were telling their [gap: lacuna][guess (MKR): wishes] they suddenly asked Confucius to tell [gap: tear][guess (MKR): his] ambitions. He said "[gap: lacuna][guess (MKR): What] I hope for [gap: tear][guess (MKR): is] to comfort the aged, to be [gap: tear][guess (MKR): faithful to] unable to decipher entire sentence due to damage [gap: tear][guess (MKR): to friends] and to cherish the young.
Perhaps I have quoted enough of the sayings of Confucius to show his [gap: tear][guess (MKR): attitude] toward his fellow men. [gap: tear][guess (MKR): You] must [gap: tear][guess (MKR): remember], however, that [gap: tear][guess (MKR): the Chinese] sage was a [gap: tear][guess (MKR): very moderate] man and did not indulge in any [gap: tear][guess (MKR): hyperboles]. Thus when a disciple someone asked "What do you think of the principle of rewarding curiosity with kindness?" he said "With what, then, would you reward Kindness? Reward curiosity with just treatment and Kindness with Kindness."
Confucius was above all a shrewd observer and it is because of this that the his sayings form a storehouse of practical wisdom. Thus he says "Artful speech and an insinuating manner are seldom associated with [gap: tear][guess (MKR): true] virtue."
He said "When I first began to deal with men I listened to their words and gave them credit for their actions, but after more experience
"[gap: tear][guess (MKR): When] a [gap: tear][guess (MKR): youth is at home let] him [gap: tear][guess (MKR): be filial]; when [gap: tear][guess (MKR): abroad] respectful to his [gap: tear][guess (MKR): elders]. Let [gap: tear][guess (MKR): him] be circumspect [gap: tear][guess (MKR): prudent] [gap: tear][guess (MKR): and] truthful, and while [gap: tear][guess (MKR): exhibiting] love for all men [gap: tear][guess (MKR): let him] ally [gap: tear][guess (MKR): himself with the] good. Having so acted, if he have energy to [gap: tear][guess (MKR): spare], let him employ it in polite studies" I 6.
Many of the remarks of [gap: tear][guess (MKR): Confucius] relate to government. He taught that [gap: tear][guess (MKR): men] ought to be [gap: tear][guess (MKR): influenced] by the good examples of their rulers and not [gap: tear][guess (MKR): roughly] [gap: tear][guess (MKR): dwindled] by [gap: tear][guess (MKR): military] [gap: tear][guess (MKR): force]. Once when he was [gap: tear][guess (MKR): travelling] he was [gap: tear][guess (MKR): offended] because [gap: tear][guess (MKR): one] of the Dukes wished to consult him about military tactics and left the [gap: tear][guess (MKR): court] [gap: tear][guess (MKR): without] delay. One of his disciples [gap: tear][guess (MKR): once] [gap: tear][guess (MKR): asked] [gap: tear][guess (MKR): him] what were the essentials [gap: tear][guess (MKR): of] government. He replied "Sufficient [gap: tear][guess (MKR): food], sufficient forces and the confidence of the people." His questioner asked "[gap: tear][guess (MKR): If] I had to give ^up^ one of the three which should it be?" "Give up the forces" replied Confucius without hesitation. "But suppose I could not even furnish the other two, which should I give up?" persisted the questioner, "Give up the food" replied Confucius, "for all men must die, but without faith a people cannot stand." In another passage he says "He who governs by his moral excellence may be compared to the Pole Star which abides in its place while all the stars bow towards it" ^[inline]At another time he said "Virtue never dwells^ alone, it always has neighbors" IV 25
The teaching of Confucius is summed up in one passage as "Conscientiousness to self and consideration for others" IV 15