« ZurückWeiter »
nest which would be a tight fit for a bird of half her size. White vouchsafes no explanation. But Mr. Dixon tells us in his "Bird Life" that the cuckoo drops the egg on the ground and then transports it to its destination with beak or claw. Whereupon two other questions suggest themselves, and they can never be satisfactorily solved. First, Does the careless mother look out for a nest, before or after dropping the egg? Secondly, How many eggs does she lay? For all we can tell it may be but a single one, or she may be prolific as a hen pheasant, though the fact that cuckoos are comparatively scarce seems to tell against the latter theory. Yet, if they are somewhat scarce in England, they are more common elsewhere, and whereas they are solitaries with us, in other lands they are gregarious. We can speak, at least, as to what we have seen, and we have seen them flitting about in coveys of eight or ten on the heath of Carhaix, and among the standing stones of Carnac. And very harmonious seemed their somewhat sombre plumage and their swift but uncanny flight with the gloom of those superstition-haunted wastes, the gray memorials of Pagan worship.
To hear the cuckoo's cheery note, you might think he had the clearest conscience in the world. He can have neither memory nor moral sense, or he would not carry it off so gaily. We say nothing of the "raptores" who are a race apart, but the most disreputable of birds as a rule are guilty of nothing The Saturday Review.
worse than peccadillos. The jackdaw will steal for the mere fun of the thing, for he can make no possible use of plate or jewelry, and sometimes under temptation may make a snatch at a pheasant chick; sparrows are, of course, notorious thieves, but they rank no higher in crime than the sneaking pickpockets. But the cuckoo, so to speak, is a murderer from his cradle; he violates the sanctity of a hospitable hearth, his first victims are his own fosterbrothers, and before he tries his wings on the first flight he is imbrued in fraternal blood, like any Amurath or Bazajet. We are aware that some latter-day naturalists have denied that he tosses his fellow-nurslings out of the nest we know that Lucrezia Borgia and Richard Crookback have found ardent apologists-but we defy these ingenious gentlemen to prove their negative, and all presumptions are against them. In any case, in the young cuckoo's portentous voracity we see the germs of the gay selfishness which characterizes him in later years. The gaping maw, expanding wider and wider day by day, swallows the food that should have sufficed for a whole happy family, and for choice we should rather be killed offhand than doomed to a lingering death of hunger. Lastly, there is an obvious moral to be drawn from the fond and foolish parents who are ever on the wing, to satisfy the insatiate cravings of a nursling who only waits for his wings to show his ingratitude.
THE LIVING AGE:
A Weekly Magazine of Contemporary Literature and Thought.
SEVENTH SERIES. VOLUME VIII.
(FOUNDED BY E. LITTELL IN 1844.)
NO. 2924, JULY 21, 1900.
FROM BEGINNING Vol. CCXXVI.
THE INTELLECTUAL AWAKENING OF CHINA.
The refusal of the Taotai of Shanghai to permit foreign steamers to trade between Shanghai and Chusan, and the attacks on the English surveying party at Weihaiwei, are two among many indications that the present rulers at Peking, having scotched the leaders the reform and principal objects of party, are now descending to details, and to the infliction of pin-pricks on all outer barbarians who are presumably aiders and abettors of the unfortunate K'ang Yu-wei and his followers. pursuance of these objects they are evincing a fixed determination to put beyond the pale everything that calls itself foreign, and more especially every means of advancement towards enlightenment which may have gained the advocacy of the unfortunate K'ang. This policy is not a wise one. It reflects the feminine instinct of revenge, and displays a degree of ignorance of the forces they are combating which can only be explained by the light of their preceding blunders in the For the moment we same direction. may set aside the foreign difficulties of the Empire. They are such as those who run may read, and will, we may hope, be set right by the exercise of firmness and discretion. The opponents which the Empress and her Ministers are arraying against themselves within
the Empire are, however, not so easily observable. At present the strength of those who cherish the teaching of K'ang is to sit still, and the punishments which overtook the signatories to the protest against the deposition of the Emperor are object lessons which are not likely to be forgotten by them. But, though wrapped in an enforced silence they are there, and are every and improving day gaining recruits
their stock of knowledge.
Physicians recognize that in some forms of disease the cessation of pain is one of the most hopeless symptoms, and an analogous state of affairs exists at the present moment in China, where the action of the Government is so entirely divorced from the sentiment of the country that, oblivious of the unrest in their midst, the rulers cry Peace, Peace, while war and revolution are threatening. With blind obstinacy the Manchu rulers of the Empire are proving themselves to be as much opposed to reason and as much wedded to their fossilized system of government as they have ever been, while their immediate actions have shown that the only reply they were willing to vouchsafe to reformers is the old-world formula of the executioner's sword.
But this weapon, though formidable enough when wielded with the wide
sweep common in Eastern countries, can, after all, only terrorize a comparative few. The leaders are sent to the execution ground, as was lately the case with the six reformers at Peking, or are compelled to fly the country like K'ang Yu-wei and Sun Yatsen, but the seed sown remains in the land, and having fallen on a congenial soil is probably destined to bring forth fruit at no very distant date. The rulers and the ruled are thus pulling in two different directions. The authorities at Peking, uninfluenced by the opinions of the outer world, and supremely ignorant of everything beyond their immediate ken, pursue their traditional course, and attempt to force on a now inquiring and expanding nation a Procrustean system of government which duly suited the people in days gone by, but which is rapidly becoming impossible now that light is beginning to shine in the provinces and knowledge to spread. Under the teachings of K'ang Yu-wei and the influence of foreign literature it is beginning to dawn on the people that wisdom is not limited to the writings of Confucius and his followers; that there are other and better methods of advancement in knowledge and in material prosperity than are dreamt of in his philosophy; and that if the enemy is to be kept from the gates, it is absolutely necessary that they should adopt other warlike methods than those which satisfied all requirements when the world was young.
One potent agency in bringing about this change in the popular mind has been the "Society for the Diffusion of Christian and General Knowledge among the Chinese," which, by circulating translations of European works on religion, science and general subjects, has, during the twelve or thirteen years of its existence, done a great and increasingly great work.
The primary object with which the
Society was established was to gain by some means or other the ear of the intellectual classes. The founders felt that in a country such as China the motive power for the effectual working of a change should come from above and not from below, and that so long as the mandarins and literati were banded together in a league of ignorance, reforms would be impossible, except by the drastic method of revolution. Their first efforts were directed, therefore, to supplying the educated classes with a literature which should enlighten their understandings, and show them a more perfect way of knowledge than their native books were able to point out. This was a wise step. It will be remembered that the Jesuit missionaries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries established themselves in the good graces of the Government and gained a wide influence at Peking by publishing translations of religious and scientific works in the pure literary style which Chinese scholars affect, and which is the only guise under which they are willing to acquaint themselves with new facts. Following this example the Society set to work, and, according to the Eleventh Report it has already issued rather more than 120 works on religious, scientific and historical subjects. The result has been a triumphant success. The books have circulated far and wide through the provinces and have met with a ready sale. That they would have gained an audience in any circumstances there cannot be any doubt, but unquestionably events have fought in their favor. The war with Japan produced a deep and widespread impression. The ruin of the native armies and the destruction of their fleets brought home to the people for the first time the fact that they were behind the age; and they eagerly turned for instruction towards the same sources which had SO successfully
armed Japan in the day of battle. strong impetus was thus given to the study of Western learning, and the extent of this impetus can best be gauged by a comparison of the proceeds of the sales of the Society's books in the two years 1893, before the war, and 1898, after it. In the first period 817 dollars' worth were sold, while in the second period the sum of 18,457 dollars was realized. The books thus disposed of treat all branches of Western learning, such, for example, as geography, history, sciences and travel, besides the Bible. As an example of the way in which those of their books which met the public requirement were caught up, it may be mentioned that when a popular edition of Mackenzie's Nineteenth Century was brought out, 4,000 copies out of an edition of 5,000 were sold within a fortnight. So unprecedented was such a rapid sale, and so continuous was the demand for this and other works that the printing trade at Shanghai was completely nonplussed. The older houses could not meet the demand on their resources, and new printing establishments sprang up on all sides. The price of paper went up by leaps and bounds, and the binders were quite unable to cope with the work thus suddenly demanded of them.
In China the law of copyright is practically unknown, and the temptation, therefore, to reprint works which have justified their appearance by their popularity is often too much for the somewhat weak morality of Chinese publishers. These literary pirates, like their congeners further West, are constantly on the watch for any works which are likely to repay the questionable enterprise of reprinting, and the unwonted success of the Society's publications instantly marked them down as fitting and profitable spoil. A number of these books have been reprinted in the province of Ssu-ch'uan, and in most provinces the process is in full
swing. However disturbing this may be to the Society's assets, it is a marked acknowledgment of the success of the works they publish, and they may find some satisfaction in placing against their diminished profits the consciousness that the objects of the Society are being served.
Not content with the ordinary system of publication, the Society seeks to circulate books and pamphlets among the students at each of the 200 centres of examination. Success has crowned their efforts in this direction also. It: is notorious that a great amount of literature, not always of the most elevating character, is disseminated in this way, the students too often carrying back to their villages the current litera-ture of the restaurants and singing. rooms. If the Society can succeed in substituting their publications for the trashy, and worse than trashy, books which represent to the bucolic Chang the fascinating glitter of the city, they will do a great work. ན་ -ejt -inrki
But above and beyond the efforts of this Society the people are trying to work out their own salvation, and are seeking for light with an ardor which would have been deemed impossible before the Japanese war. Not only are they publishing on their own account translations of foreign works which they deem likely to be useful, but they are multiplying native newspapers at such a rate that if there existed a Chinese Imperial Library, that establishment would before long be reduced to the present overcrowded condition of the British Museum. In 1895 only nineteen native newspapers enlightened the dark minds of the people. In 1898 this number was quadrupled, and the stream has since been pouring out with increased volume and without a check until the Dowager Empress threw cold water in a strongly worded edict on all such enterprises. The same chilling influence has lately been used for the
suppression of the schools and colleges which were springing into life, and the promoters of these establishments have in many cases had to yield. But though for the time being some of the outward symptoms of the agitation may be checked, the movement is going steadily
The greed with which Western literature is being devoured is all the more remarkable since only 10 per cent. of the entire population are able to read, and it is by this small proportion of the people that the numerous editions of the imported books are devoured. On all sides evidences of the spread of knowledge are observable, and travellers have of late been amazed to find officials in distant provinces who can talk glibly on new scientific discoveries, and who are intimately acquainted with the constitutional histories of Western nations. Matters must have gone far when even so staunch an upholder of the doctrine of China for the Chinese as the Viceroy Chang Chih-t'ung himself advocates the cause of Western learning. In a recent State paper he recommends the addition of "mathematics, map-drawing and the elements of science" to the curriculum of the native schools, and "a wide grasp of history, the science of government and the study of foreign languages" to that of the colleges. The means by which he proposes to provide buildings for those educational establishments have a touch of Oriental absolutism about them which is, at least, thorough. "If the worst comes to the worst," he says, "seize the Buddhist and Taoist monasteries. China possesses several myriads of them; all have lands attached to them, which have been given for charitable purposes, and if these were secured we should have enough for all our needs."
Throughout the Empire numberless native schools are doing good work in The Nineteenth Century.
spite of the opposition of the Court; and there is, speaking generally, a seething mass of intellectual discontent which will have to be reckoned with. It is as futile to attempt to crush such a movement by the issuing of edicts and the persecution of individuals as it would be to try to check the course of the Yellow River by a barrier of bulrushes, and the government is making a fatal mistake in endeavoring to trample on the agitation instead of
For the first time in the history of the people the educated classes have become aware of their ignorance, and of their consequent impotence as a nation, and are holding out their hands for help. From their government they asked for bread, and they were given a stone, and it now only remains for them to work out their own enlightenment with such help as they can get from the outside. It is a noticeable fact that the Chinese colonists in California, the Straits Settlements and elsewhere, are forming organizations and collecting money for the education of their stay-at-home countrymen in Western knowledge, while the foreign Society, which has already been mentioned, and other independent agencies are doing their utmost to foster the praiseworthy efforts of native workers. Like all large bodies, the Chinese people are slow in moving, but the time will inevitably come when there will be an impetus from within which will compel them to push forward, and when that psychological movement arrives the Dowager Empress's government will have either to bend or to break before the national will; unless, indeed, it shall have been already dismissed by the action of the revolutionary forces which are always in being within the Chinese borders.
Robert K. Douglas.