CHAPTER VI. MORALS AND MORAL IDEALS
UNDER various names-characterology, sophiology, ethology, race psychology-the study of alien character has been cultivated to discover some traits peculiar to different races, and this has given rise to the so-called Völkergedanken theory, which takes for granted without demonstration that every race must be possessed of some mental and moral features not shared by others. He will indeed be a great discoverer who can find in any ethnic group a new capacity of the mind unknown to other groups!
No phase of national life is more difficult to grasp than the moral. To interpret it intelligently one must often change one's viewpoint in looking at the apparent singularities of a people's manners and customs. Above all, not to draw conclusions without first inquiring into the proper bounds and the underlying motive of unfamiliar usages and the moral habits of a race, is indispensable to right judgment; for these are usually the product of national history and geography. A thoughtful observer can soon reduce them to a common denominator or what Bastian calls the Elementargedanken of the human race.
It may seem a startling theme; but nothing will illustrate my meaning better than the kiss. In the West-well, you know how it is regarded; in the East, in Japan in particular, the word is not so much as mentioned without a blush. The West may say: "No kiss? How cold the Oriental heart must be!" The East will say: "Kissing in public! What bad taste!" The West may say: "How strange! Because it is something so natural." The East says: "How strange! It is too natural." In the West, it is elevated to a proper moral act; in the East it is degraded to the sphere of the improper.
We read in ecclesiastical history that in early times Christian worshippers adopted the practice of promiscuous kissing, under the name of the "kiss of peace." The practice had not continued very long before the graver Fathers found that this pious act was too zealously followed by the younger brethren and sisters to be spiritually edifying. It was soon restricted to the kissing of man by man, and woman by woman.
I have often wondered about the kissing-margin of the West, and I understand that it does not go beyond first cousins, and that, if carried farther, it is fraught with some danger-from which I infer, some kind of infection is feared! I have also wondered about the marginal kiss-that is to say, the different gradations of kissing. A kiss on the cheek is certainly of a grade different from that on the forehead or on the lips, and very different from that on the hand or on the toe. I might go on asking a thousand questions about this extraordinary Western custom, which I confess I have never ceased to regard with some amazement; but I have said enough to hint a doubt as to the appropriate limit of the practice. Even the Japanese do not hesitate to kiss children on the cheek.
Now it is just the proper bounds-fitly named the Golden Mean-that determine the approval or the condemnation of a social usage, and these proper bounds are usually so delicate as to elude any definition. In other words, an Oriental who may adopt a custom he does not understand, is not likely to know how far to go. Just the same thing happens in Japan. I have more than once seen American men at Japanese banquets or in Japanese inns taking far greater liberty with the girls who wait upon them than our national customs consider allowable, and yet it is just these men who throw a shade upon the morals of our women and whose false interpretations have had such wide hearing; therefore I make bold to mention this subject here.
Again, a Japanese in an American ball-room sees ladies exposing their shoulders. An American notices that the dress of Japanese women flaps in the wind, and forthwith a Puritanic frown appears on his forehead and he calls the dress and the wearer immoral. Or he sometimes sees in the country a peasant woman bathing by the roadside. He infers that these women must be utterly depraved-a conclusion as hasty and as irrational as would be a suspicion on the part of the Japanese that the ladies at the ball are not modest, or that the occupants of a house adorned with nude pictures and statues can have no sense of decorum. Non sequitur, as the logicians say. It is true that our people do not hesitate to lay bare the body to the extent of what may be termed a utilitarian marginal nudity, when convenience requires this, whereas the European custom is for women to exhibit charm of person when there is least reason for it. With us it is no shame to tuck one's kimono high on a rainy day, whereas it is a breach of etiquette to let the foot, even though clad in spotless tabi, protrude unnecessarily in the parlour.
No two parties can ever come to a mutual understanding as long as either of them arrogates the attitude of superiority, and refuses to divest itself of what von der Steinen calls Culturbrille- the coloured spectacles of one's own civilisation. Satisfied with his own righteousness, a Pharisee can never comprehend the beauty-not to say the superiority-in the teachings of other sects.
"That way Over the mountain which who stands upon, Is apt to doubt if it be indeed a road;
While if he views it from the waste itself, Up goes the line there, plain from base to brow, Not vague, mistakable! What's a break or two Seen from the unbroken desert either side? And then (to bring in fresh philosophy), What if the breaks themselves should prove at last The most consummate of contrivances To train a man's eyes, teach him what is faith?"Many others than Browning have felt the same, and only the most thoughtless are denied the sight of a road threading the apparent waste.
It is a remark too often made by foreign tourists that Japanese life is as singularly devoid of morals as Japanese flowers are of scent-a sad confession of the moral and intellectual limitations of the accusers themselves! When Pierre Loti gives an account of Madame Chrysanthème, he does not portray a typical Japanese woman, but only furnishes a clue as to the kind of company he keeps.
Those who associate fragrance with roses only, or morality with conventional Christianity, are sure to be disappointed in finding but little of either in Japan; but that is no proof that the umé blossoms are not fragrant, or that chivalry does not teach pragmatism. There is, however, good reason why the busy West knows so little of the Far East, especially regarding things which cannot be bought or sold with cash, for we have neither bottled the essence of the umé in flasks, like attar of roses, nor bound the precepts of knighthood in a gilt-edged pocket edition.
The age of chivalry is said to have passed away. As an institution it has disappeared, but sad will be the day when the virtues it has taught shall likewise have disappeared! Fortunately for us, like a disembodied spirit, they still live on, somewhat modified, but retaining their essential qualities.
This ethical and spiritual legacy we call Bushido, which literally signifies Fighting-Knight-Ways, or better translated, Teachings of Knightly Behaviour. It was the moral code of the samurai-the class of knights whose badge and privilege it was to wear two swords. Do not imagine that they were only swaggering, blood-thirsty youths. The sword was called the soul of the samurai. Like "The Sword of Robert Lee," it flashed from its scabbard for the purpose of
"Shielding the feeble, smiting the strong, Guarding the right, avenging the wrong."As a separate class, the samurai no longer exists except in name; but the noblesse oblige which distinguished it still remains. In his palmiest days -that is during the feudal ages-the samurai was the man. In popular ballad it was sung, "As among flowers the cherry is queen, so among men the samurai is lord." His ideals filtered down to the lower classes and his moral code became the standard for the nation.
The strength and perhaps also the weakness of Bushido lay in this, that it possessed no written creed. It was sufficient for its followers only to feel that there was something in their mind-the mysteries of which they little cared to analyse- always active with admonitions, which, when disobeyed, heaped upon the transgressors fiery coals of shame, and which could be appeased only by implicit obedience. In the absence of any written commandments, the Ren-chi-shin (consciousness of shame) was the last and highest court of appeal. A man who had lost his sense of shame forfeited his human claims.
He is the best man who has no cause to be ashamed, who so masters himself that his thoughts and his person are his willing servants. A great warrior of the eleventh century left a verse behind him, which, roughly translated, runs:
"Subdue first of all thy own self, Next thy friends, and last thy foes; Three victories are these of him That would a conqueror's name attain."Self-mastery-the maintenance of equanimity of temper under conditions the most trying, whether in war or in peace, of composure and presence of mind in sudden danger, self-possession under calamity and reverses-was inculcated as one of the primary virtues of man; it was even drilled into youths by genuine Spartan methods.
Strange as it may seem at first appearance, this strong fortification of self against external causes yof surprise was but one side of self-abnegation.
One of the terms of highest praise was "a man without a me." The complete effacement of self meant one's identification with some higher cause. The very duties which man performs are, according to our idea, not to buy salvation for himself; he has no prospect of a "reward in heaven" offered him, if he does this or does not abstain from that. The voice of conscience, "Thou good and faithful servant," is the only and sufficient reward.
Conscience, called among us by the comprehensive term Kokoro (which may mean mind, spirit, or heart), was the only criterion of right and wrong. But conscience, being a power of perception, and the whole tenor of Bushido being action, the harmonious working of the two was taught in the Socratic doctrine-though Socrates was as unknown to us as X-rays-that thought and action are one and the same.
He who pursues virtuous conduct for the sake of virtue is, in our estimation, the noblest of men. He asks not for worldly reward. He who knows, and lives up to the knowledge, that honour and shame rise from no condition of life, but solely from acting or not acting one's own part-such a conscientious man is rare anywhere. Mediocrity must be fed on a more diluted diet, and with us this is found in an inferior grade of the honour- sense-namely, in the fear of personal disgrace or in the maintenance of family pride. "You will be laughed at," is the usual dose of sedative advice administered to an unruly child. Brought up in constant fear of disgracing oneself if one but strays from the path trodden by others, a child grows into a law-abiding or rather custom-abiding citizen, though he becomes so at the expense of freedom of thought and initiative of action. When, in spite of social control, he is inclined to be too independent, all the weight of a long line of ancestry is brought to bear on his proper behaviour. With a large majority of our people there is no higher appeal to morality than family pride-a kind of pride which, instead of going before destruction, avoids it. You will understand its significance better when I speak of filial love. To elevate the name of one's family becomes a spur to virtue and a curb to vice, and attains the dignity of a religious duty. We owe our being to our parents, and through them to our ancestors, and we can repay them only by gratitude and by showing forth their glory; hence nothing is more humiliating to one's self-respect than to bring into disrepute one's cognomen.
Confucius teaches that the highest act of filial affection is to make manifest the name of one's parent. Nothing so honours parents as that their son should add lustre to their memory; Decori decus addit avito. In this connection I may be allowed to make a moment's digression regarding the charge, so often made in Japan, that Christianity does not sufficiently emphasise filial affection. It is only fair to state that Jesus fulfilled the highest ideal of Confucian ethics; for did he not make illustrious his family, when, astonished at his mighty works, the multitude began to ask: "Is this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary?"
The sense of family solidarity not only delivers individual members from destruction but contributes toward their legal and moral cohesion. How many youths check their ardent desire for self-aggrandisement and hopes for larger life or higher calling, in order that they may attend to small matters of family interest! How many maidens sacrifice their aspirations for the welfare of their home! How many mothers slave and drudge to keep up ancestral reputation! Individuals are, figuratively speaking, made victims at the shrine of family-worship; their very personality is nipped in the bud at the same altar. I am sure family-honour obtains in America, too; but the conception of the family is somewhat different.
Our family is based on vertical relations, on successive, superimposed generations, from parents to children. Your system is, I think, based on a lateral or contemporary alliance, on the relations between persons of the same generation-namely, on husband and wife. The conjugal system is claimed to be Christian and ordained from on high-that is, as long as the parties are in favour of it. If conjugality is divinely ordered, what sanction has divorce? Or is the latter, in contrast to the former, the work of the evil one? Or does God change His mind now and then according as the two persons interested desire union or separation? To a Christian novice like myself it sounds like taking the name of the Lord in vain, when it is dragged into transactions where man's free will should be held responsible. I have no objection to thanking God for union in marriage; but if one is disappointed in wedlock, God should not be blamed for it. Marriage is a human institution, and in a sense less divinely ordered than parentage. Our heathen conception is that the relation between parent and child is more divinely ordered and ordained. These cannot be divorced by a minister or by law. Christians claim that Adam and Eve were the first human beings, and therefore conjugal relations take precedence of all other moral obligations. The heathen, at least the Japanese, contend that filial duty was the first moral conception, even antedating the parental.
There was a time in Eden when Eve was an utter stranger. Before this long-haired creature appeared, Adam had already often communed with his Maker, Creator, Father. So, even according to the Biblical narrative, a moral relation had existed between Father and son before that between husband and wife; in other words, filiality anteceded conjugality in the evolution of ethics. Well-nigh unknown among the lower animals, it was the first to be felt by man.
In all conservative countries, reverence towards parents is scrupulously taught and observed. "Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Long-lived nations have been those obedient to this commandment.
Honouring parents is, of course, by no means confined solely to mere obedience, or to looking after their physical wants. These are trivialities in honouring. To distinguish oneself in good works, as Confucius has taught, redounds to the glory of one's family and is the great filial duty. Science will, I presume, explain more and more the mysterious laws of heredity, and the practical application of eugenics and breeding will reveal the underlying principles of ancestor-worship and family integrity. I am far from deprecating the place of personality in the scheme of moral economy; but Western individualism will, I am afraid, prove itself inadequate to cope with all the pending problems of life. As among plants and animals none can live alone, and each can live only by being associated in close relations to other animals and plants in its proximity, so the study of human ecology-of immediate milieu, of family environment-will demonstrate in a fresh light the wisdom of the older civilisations of the East. Balzac once bewailed the disintegration of the family in Europe on the ground that it was at the root of modern social diseases. But I am not here to preach. If I were to preach, I would rather do so to my own countrymen from the text, "Say not among yourselves, We have Abraham for our father!" . . .
In discussing the institution of the family, the status of woman must needs occupy a considerable part. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of the Japanese woman. She exists primarily for and in the family. We still adhere to the old way of thinking that her natural habitat is the home, and that her appearance at the polls is as unnatural as on the battle-field. Somehow an idea-perhaps obsolete in America-prevails among us,-an idea once voiced by Euripides-namely, that "a woman should be good for everything at home, but abroad good for nothing." Let it be far from me to give an impression already too prevalent abroad and at home, that we look upon women only as cogs in the machinery of the kitchen or as mere puppets and ornaments in the parlour. The personality of the fair sex is not as clearly recognised among us as it ought to be; but I am confident that it will come with more general enlightenment of public conscience. As it is at present, the aim of female education is to make "a good wife and a wise mother,"-a stereotyped shibboleth on the lips of all educators and of the nation, circumscribing the end and aim of woman's life. According to this doctrine it is not as person, but as wife and as mother, that woman is to be educated.
I doubt if this dogmatic allegation concerning the vocation of woman, without spiritual significance attached to it, can really be the last word to be said concerning her sex." A Nora Helmer is not native to Norway only: she is born every- where, wherever similar conditions exist. Her words-"I believe that before all else I am a human being, just as much as you are"-can and will be uttered in other languages than Scandinavian. Consistently with our apotheosis of mothercraft, there are few unmarried women among us. Generally girls marry between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. They seldom choose their own partners, but still more seldom are they forced to marry those to whom they object. Most entertaining things are written by foreigners about marriages forced upon unwilling brides, and even of marriages by purchase. I may just as truly amuse and instruct my own people with stories about ambitious American parents practically selling their daughters to European nobles, or of the sorrows of mariage de convénance in Europe. But the comparative study of each other's shortcomings is not edifying-muck-raking never is. There are certainly more opportunities for American girls to marry the men whom they most love, and, vice versa, for men to take to wife girls whom they like best; but I doubt whether the proportion of happy unions is very different in the two countries.
Should the choice lie wholly with the parties immediately concerned, would they not in most cases profit by the mature judgment of their parents, instead of rushing uncounselled into relations which may prove a life-long bondage, on the slender experience and in the blindness of youthful love? I am not at all surprised at the number of divorces in this country; rather am I surprised that the ultimate causes which lead to them, are accepted as a matter of course.
Is then the lot of Japanese wives better? Far from it! The number of divorces is appalling, and is indeed a disgrace to our family system. Japan and America head the world's list in numbers of divorces. I have purposely said that this is a disgrace to our family system, avoiding the term marriage system; for in a large proportion of our divorces, the cause is to be found not in the rupture of conjugal relations, but in the custom of a married son living under the same roof with his parents; in short, in the universally notorious relationship between a wife and a mother-in-law! It argues a marvellous amount of fortitude and sweetness in the women of Japan that they bear the burden of wifehood and motherhood under conditions so exacting. Without a deep sense of family pride and self-abnegation, it would be impossible for any woman of whatever race or nationality, to keep up the courage and equanimity of temper that our women do. I may add in passing that it is becoming more and more the custom for young married couples to have separate establishments of their own-a custom which is destined to affect divorce. It is a remark heard quite often among foreigners that some of our old women (obāsan) have faces of spiritual maturity, wearing an expression of attainment-the countenance of one who has fought a hard fight and won it. For, together with man, our woman shares the Spartan teaching of patience and heroism. Especially is this true of the samurai woman. She has been trained to inure her nerves to her lot. Sobs and shrieks have ever been regarded as unworthy of her. She was debarred from giving expression to sorrow, even if the heart, over-wrought with grief, should break. Verily she has her reward in the respect shown her by all, and in the adoration of her children. As I have said elsewhere, there is no more tender relation than that between the Japanese mother and her son.
Nothing is more erroneous than to regard the general character of our women as anything like that of the geisha type. The very raison d'être of the latter class lay in the fact that our wives and mothers were sedate and even stern "home-made bodies," with little tact for entertaining and much less for amusing, better versed in ancient poems than in the newest songs, more deft with needle and spear than with the guitar and the samisen. The presence of professional entertainers-dancers and singers-in our society has called forth much criticism both from our own people and from foreigners. The geisha are not necessarily "bad women," as you call them, not any worse professionally than the actresses and vaudeville artistes of America. There is little immodesty inherent in their vocation, but danger to feminine probity there certainly is. I am afraid, however, that they will continue to be in demand until our wives and daughters learn the art of entertaining their guests and appear more freely in society. The presence of the geisha does not of necessity argue immorality. As I have said in the early part of this lecture, there is a recognised margin of decorum in their deportment and treatment.
Plutarch tells us that the ambition of a Spartan woman was to be the wife of a great man and the mother of illustrious sons. Bushido set no lower ideal before our maidens; their whole bringing up was in accordance with this view. They were instructed in many martial practices for the sake of self-defence, that they might safeguard their person and their children; in the art of committing suicide, that in case no alternative opened to save them from disgrace, they might end their lives in due order and in comely fashion. That she might keep her honour spotless, upon leaving the threshold of her father's house, every maiden was given a dagger to use it upon herself in extremity. Such a dagger was called goshin-to, "the protector of one's person." She had already learned exactly where to cut her throat and how to bind her lower limbs, so that in the agony of death she might not throw them about indecently. Peaceful accomplishments-music, dancing, belles-lettres, the arranging of flowers, etc.-were not to be neglected, but readiness for emergency, housekeeping, and the education of children were considered by far the most weighty lessons to be learned.
If Stoicism is insisted upon for woman, much more is it required of man; so that no sooner is the heart stirred than the will is brought into reflex action to subdue it. Is a man angry? It is bad taste to rage; let him laugh out his indignation! Has tribulation stricken him? Let him bury his tears in smiles. If he must vary from an even temperature-say seventy degrees!-in his demeanour, since nature will never remain long in equilibrium, let him be warm within and cold without; but let him see to it that he freezes nobody and throws a wet blanket upon none. It is a common remark that the Japanese are a lighthearted, mirth-loving people and that the girls are ever giggling dolls. This is due to their idea that cheerfulness is a part of politeness.
The idea of politeness is, au fond, to make your company and companionship agreeable to others. It is the first requisite of good society. Bows and courtesies are but a small part of good-breeding. Etiquette is not an end in culture; it is one of the many ways whereby man may foster his social nature. In drinking tea, it is a slight affair how you handle your spoon, but it is never too slight to show what you are. "Manners make the man. Stoicism and politeness, apparently so far apart, are in reality brother and sister: he bears all that she may shine; without her, he is stolid; without him, she is trivial.
Not infrequently have politeness and probity been set in opposition, as though the two must at times tread different paths. Confucius himself has said, "In pleasant countenance and gentle words there is little benevolence," and some of his followers have gone to the extent of desecrating pleasant manners and speech, indirectly encouraging brusqueness and boorishmess, forgetting that rusticity is just as likely to harbour vice as is urbanity. If one is bent upon deceiving, manners set no barrier to this intent. Sincerity has little connection with man's outward mien, and what etiquette requires does not always involve moral issues. Etiquette stands between morals and art. She must combine in her person rectitude and charm. Hence her behaviour must not be judged by either standard alone. Is not this the reason why the so-called conventional lies of society are not condemned with the rigour which is meted to mendacity in general? It is to this civil kind of falsehood that Byron's words may be applied;
"And after all, what is a lie? 'T is but The truth in masquerade."Now I have never studied lying-by which I do not mean that lying comes natural to me. I mean that I have never devoted serious attention to the philosophy or history of mendacity; neither to its classification, characteristics, and different uses, nor to its effect upon man and woman. It is a matter of surprise to me that no scientific treatise (unless it be the didactic dissertation by Amelia Opie) has been written on an intellectual feat so old and universal; a device so convenient and historically so important. Just at this moment what interests me most is its chromatic quality-the relation between light and lie. In Japan there is only one colour for a lie-viz., the red. But in this rich country, you have at least two species- the black and the white. Like the colours worn by different Hindu castes, the white is, I suppose, of a higher grade than the black. They correspond, I think, to the "lie direct" and the "lie circumstantial" of Mr. Touchstone in "As You Like It."
To our benighted souls the verbal denial of a disagreeable situation (such as the state of one's health) does not assume any hideous moral or immoral aspect. It scarcely deserves to be called a red lie. Perhaps you would call it a white lie; but impartial comparison will soon reveal in what respect it differs from a species of the same genus, not unknown in this country-feigning absence when one is at home. Of late, unfortunately for both countries, there seem to have developed the yellow lie of journalism. Referring to yellow journalism, I am reminded of a use of this adjective in our own language; for we have always spoken of a shrill excited voice as ki-iro no koe, voice of yellow color!
Speaking of Japanese lies, I ought not to forget to mention the American lie about Japanese lying, which has been widely circulated in this country, and is constantly confirmed by tourists. You must have heard that in Japanese banks only Chinese tellers and clerks are employed, because our own people are too dishonest to be trusted by each other. In corroboration of this accusation, those who have gone to banks in Yokohama or Kobe swear to the startling fact. "I have been on the spot and have seen with my own eyes"- carries great weight in the determination of any question. I myself have seen Chinese employed in banks in Japan, but not in Japanese banks. Tourists in the Far East, for obvious reason of convenience, usually have their letters of credit drawn on English banks. Those who come to Japan have them drawn either on the Chartered Bank of Australia, India, and China, or on the Banking Corporation of Honkong and Shanghai, instead of on one of the two thousand three hundred and thirty-seven Japanese banks in the country. Where these British houses have their headquarters, is evident from their names. Their agencies in Japan are only a small part of their business, and their transactions with the Japanese are quite limited-their chief patrons being foreigners. Naturally their staff is also British, and the lower personnel is supplied by the Chinese, who are sent from headquarters. I do not believe there are even Americans at work in these British houses, but that does not prove the dishonesty of Americans any more than does the absence of Americans in a branch office of the Royal Bank of Canada or of the Credit Lyonnais in New York or Chicago. Suppose a Japanese comes to this country: he is provided with a letter of credit to the New York agency of the Specie Bank of Yokohama; so he wends his way for his money to No. 58 Wall Street, finds a big and busy place and sees many people, among whom, however, except the stenographers and messengers, he sees no Americans. Suppose, on his return home, he goes about saying, "In America the people are so dishonest that no American tellers are employed," should he not be believed? Believed? Why he was there and saw with his own eyes! I am sure he will thrill his audience if he closes his speech with the patriotic inference, "The honesty of our countrymen is so well established that in American banks only Japanese tellers are employed!"
There is no opprobium cast on Japanese character more widely accepted than this fable of our employing Chinese in our banks. Before I left the country on my present trip, I made investigation as to whether a single Japanese bank employed Chinese as clerks, tellers or compradores. Since my arrival I have continued my inquiries, and here is the reply from our agent in Wall Street, explaining more fully than I have done, the real situation:
China having for many years been a silver-using country, and there being no proper coin of fixed weight, size, and fineness, but silver bullion of every description as to the fineness and size being used as medium of exchange, the Chinese people have naturally become more or less experienced and trained not only to easily distinguish good silver from bad, but almost to tell its fineness by the ring of the metal when touched with a metal rod.
It is therefore quite natural that so-called silver experts are found among the Chinese. Considering the monetary system prevailing in China, these people are quite necessary for the banks that are carrying on business in that country.
Before Japan adopted the gold standard, as I previously explained, silver was fractionally the only circulating medium in Japan. Even trade dollars were used to supplement the Japanese coinage. Japan having had legal-tender notes and coins issued by the Government for generations, her people naturally lacked the acquaintance with, and consequently the knowledge of silver bullion, and were not so well fitted to detect the variation in fineness as the Chinese experts. This is the reason why a few Chinese silver experts were at one time employed even in Japan by the Yokohama Specie Bank, Limited, a Japanese concern engaged in international exchange, and in similar lines; but with the gold standard firmly established in Japan, there was no longer a reason for the employment of Chinese silver experts in that bank or in any foreign banking institution in Japan.
There is also a commercial reason for the employment of Chinese by the foreign (not Japanese) banks. According to commercial usage among the Chinese, the seller of a shipment of goods draws a clean bill of exchange upon the buyer, but not a documentary bill, i. e., a bill of exchange with the shipping documents attached. In other words, they do not hypothecate the goods to the bank as security for the draft. It is, therefore, difficult for the bank to determine whether a clean draft which they are about to negotiate is actually commercial paper or not. To be able to act intelligently on this point, and also as there is no Chinese mercantile agency that can supply the desired information regarding the financial standing of Chinese merchants, as is practised in Japan and elsewhere, it has been considered advantageous for the bank to employ a reliable Chinese whose influence and financial responsibility may be sufficient to safeguard the interests of the banks. But, as I have stated before, the tendency to do away with any kind of middlemen, and to reach the objective directly and straight, seems to prevail also in this direction, and as far as Japan and Japanese institutions, whether banking or commercial, are concerned, there no longer exists any necessity for Chinese employment."
We have stayed long enough in the bank- longer perhaps than we are warranted in doing. When business is merely a matter of yen and sen, it is quickly despatched-but a question of credit and morality necessitates more deliberate transactions. Bushido, which furnished the nation at large with the canons of right conduct, was originally, as I have explained, intended only for the samurai, and the tradespeople were little thought of in its scheme, or, perhaps more accurately, the tradespeople little thought of it. The common, every-day, democratic virtues of honest dealing, prudence, cheerfulness, diligence, were held secondary to the higher virtues of patriotism, loyalty, friendship, benevolence, and rectitude.
As the traditions of Bushido decline with the progress of democracy, hastened by the importations of the "new school" of popular thought- Nietsche, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Bernard Shaw, and others,-the old system of teaching must go, but before any one of the new schools can obtain ascendancy (and I cannot believe that any one of them will, since acorns are much of the same size) the transition must somehow be passed through.
As was the case during the French Revolution, when ethical theories were propounded and religious systems galore were proposed, so in the intellectual revolution of modern Japan there has been no lack of scientific theorists and religion-mongers -all too eager to impose upon their countrymen the wares of their own making. As a general thing, the characteristic which runs through most of them is their appeal to patriotism. If they wish to arouse moral enthusiasm, they teach us to be upright, in order to be faithful subjects of His Majesty. If they desire us to grow in piety, we must increase our faith in the mission of our nation. Broad views of humanity, the recognition of a world-standard of right and wrong, the deepening of personal responsibility-irrespective of race or nation-are too often sadly lacking in the systems of ethics and in the religions proposed. Preposterous notions have been encouraged in the name of patriotism and loyalty. Their gospel gives an impression that we are a special ethical creation with gifts peculiar to ourselves, and that we must, accordingly, be Japanese before we are men.
Any claim to moral peculiarity-much less to moral perfection-by any people, will be found futile. The Völkergedanken theory has been tried as a working hypothesis but found wanting. Human nature is much the same everywhere, and it is this one touch that makes "the whole world kin." There are no exotics in the domain of ethics. Propriety and impropriety may be climatic products like the colour of the skin, but right and wrong are concepts above the pale of meteorology. Social usages may vary with geographical limits, like the food we eat; but good and evil are not bound by them. The historical development of each nation has imposed modifications upon the outward manifestations of moral ideas, but they remain in their essence identical throughout the world, and eternal. At present, as never before, is universal standardisation displacing localism and nationalism, in every higher sphere of human activity. If in manners and customs, if in language and art, if in forms of government and society, East is East and West is West, moral law has no respect for points of the compass, demanding of both hemispheres equal obedience. As said an ancient writer:
"The world in all doth but two nations bear,- The good and bad, and these mixed everywhere."