CHAPTER VII. EDUCATION AND EDUCATIONAL PROBLEMS
AS far as our system of education is concerned, it was founded on an elaborate basis as early as the eighth century, at the time when Buddhist and Confucian influences were fresh and vigorous. You can see from the date that it antedated Charlemagne's Ordinance of Education by nearly a century, and the founding of Oxford by nearly two hundred years.
How far the system was put in practice, it is not easy to say definitely. But judging by so many Chinese schemes that are beautifully conceived without hope of being born, one is inclined to imagine that the schools and, universities largely remained on paper. Perhaps this is too severe a charge, since we are told of magnificent academic halls and of learned men who bore high-sounding titles. We will at least give credit to our fore fathers, however, for their noble idea; for, after all, ideas are seeds-as long as they do not lose their vitality.
The history of education, like the life-history of a plant, has its seasons of feebleness and of strength, of retrogression and of development. Under unfavourable conditions it simply remains buried, biding the time to germinate. Was it not so in Europe? I make this commonplace remark in order that we may remind ourselves how unfair is the saying that Asia is a land of arrested growth, that all great ideas seem there to be applied and carried up to a certain point and are then stopped. Who knows whether the seed that lay dormant for a season or two-and some seeds retain vitality for decades and centuries-was killed? An idea once conceived is indeed the hardest thing to slay. You beat it, and with each stroke it waxes stronger. You suppress it, and every pound of pressure helps to make it more buoyant. Only a forgotten idea weakens. Who can tell whether Asia's ideas, apparently long forgotten and weakened, may not still rise again-not, I hope, like hordes of Huns and Tartars to devastate mankind, but to fructify the earth hand in hand with European ideas. It seems to me that, in the province of the Almighty, the Asiatic seed was made to wait until the European should catch up. Youth takes count of time in days, age in years. A cycle of Old Cathay is even as long as half a century of Europe. The plodding patience of the East is to be admired no less than the swift energy of the West. When the two meet, we may see some result-a result now beginning to be visible (pardon my egotism!) in the education of Japan.
The educational idea conceived of Buddhism and Confucianism in the Nara period, seemed for some time to give signs of vigour; then it was buried under a mass of other interests and for centuries practically forgotten. It was remembered and forgotten at odd intervals, and barely kept up a semblance of vitality in monasteries during the turbulent period of what I called the Late Mediæval Age. Only as peace was restored and maintained under the Tokugawas d d education come to receive its share of attention. The Seido (the Temple of the Sages), in Tokyo, and a number of local institutions of higher learning maintained by the munificence of the daimyos, were an embodiment of the earliest ideas of education. All these institutions laid stress only on the study of Chinese literature and Chinese history. Their aim was cultural and literary. The method pursued was largely memorising and interpretation of the classics, made more or less lively by disputation among students. The object was mainly to train men for the service of the State, and hence it was almost entirely confined to the higher classes. As to the lower orders of society, upon the Buddhist priests devolved the duty of imparting elementary knowledge, though they did not monopolise it.
Old samurai who had retired from active service, very often opened a school. To give a concrete example, I myself used to attend such a primitive school, which consisted of a couple of rooms where some twenty or thirty boys (and a very few girls), ranging in age from seven to fourteen, spent the forenoon, each reading in turn with the teacher for half an hour, some paragraphs from Confucius and Mencius, and devoting the rest of the time to caligraphy. Of the three R's, 'riting demanded most time and reading but little, 'rithmetic scarcely any, except in a school attended by children of the common people as distinct from those of the samurai. Sons of the samurai class had other curricula than the three R's. They began fencing, jiujutsu, spear-practice, and horsemanship, when quite young, and usually took these lessons in the early morning. As a child of seven, I remember being roused by my mother before dawn in the winter and reluctantly, often in positively bad humour, picking my way barefooted through the snow. The idea was to accustom children to hardihood and endurance. There was little fun in the school-room, except such as our ingenious minds devised behind our teacher's back. With Puritanic austerity were children treated-not like children but like men. How could they be expected to grasp the Confucian category of virtues! They just read and recited by rote-with less comprehension than boys and girls here learn Biblical texts. What effect such mental training must have on the mind, I leave to psychologists to discuss. This much is certain, that we grew up with no idea of physical or natural science, no idea of mathematics, except the first four rules, no idea of geography-if I were to go on enumerating the many things nowadays taught in elementary schools we did not learn, I should have to give the entire list-and thus is evident the weakness of our old pedagogic scheme. Its advantages over the modern system lay in its cultural value, in its alliance with daily conduct, in its solemn deontology-in one word, in its character-building aspect.
I would by no persuasion exchange the present system for the old; but let us do honour to the latter for its efficiency in making the men who so wonderfully paved the way for the former. Only men unselfish in character, strong in conviction, and far-seeing in intellect, could have done what they did in leading a nation of thirty-five millions from mediæval darkness toward the light of the promised land. The nation has been on this journey over forty years, and if we have not been seriously lost in the desert, we have had to encounter the Ammonites, Hittites, and other giants during the march.
Let me now relate how we first made our exodus.
When the present Emperor, on the occasion of his accession to the throne, announced his charter oath of five articles, he made it clear that enlightened democracy was to be the great aim of his reign, and that this could be secured only by diffusion of intelligence. Men trained under the old régime were able, wise, and noble; but they did not know "things new and Western." They had wisdom, but not knowledge. They did away with the shogunacy and with feudalism, but what should they give instead?
A comparatively small quantity of new wine so effervesced in the old wine-skin that it burst, and then came the question, "Where and how can we get a new wine-skin?" "At the same time," they said, "let us renew the wine itself." Therefore, in the first years of this new era, a plan for universal education was drafted, and as the new era was new in its conceptions and conditions, new ideas and new men were needed.
The plan suggested at this exigency was virtually a translation of the French educational system, which was naturally very soon found to be impracticable without modification. While revision was under discussion, the epoch-making embassy of 1871 left Japan to pay a visit to the treaty Powers.
Among the members of this embassy were two of the greatest men of modern Japan-Okubo and Kido. On their arrival in San Francisco nothing astonished them so much as the intelligence of the American people. Just at that time, some sort of election was going on. Our ambassadors noticed the widespread excitement, but could not believe that the hotel employes, waiters, and bellboys, really knew what they were doing at the polls. A few questions put to these men, however, very soon showed that they knew what they were talking about-why they were voting for this or for that candidate. This single experience was enough to convince Okubo and Kido that only by education could new Japan stand erect and keep pace with the Western world. Deserving of mention, too, is the attitude of these two men as regards the initiatory step to be taken in the cause of national education. Okubo said: "We must first educate leaders, train such young men as will fill high positions, and the rest will follow; or, if they do not follow, the leaders will pull them up." Kido said: "We must educate the masses; for unless the people are trained, they cannot follow their leaders, or if they follow, it will never do for them to follow blindly."
The inspiration which they incidentally received in San Francisco proved a pregnant factor in the progress of their country. In the cabinet, Kido took by preference the portfolio of the Department of Instruction, and though he soon after resigned, the work of general education steadily grew in influence and efficiency.
The first draft of the law under discussion was nothing more than a translation of Napoleon's Law of Education. That it could not work goes without saying. Revision after revision was attempted, until the whole code was given up. About this time American influences became pre-dominant through the employment by our government of Dr. David Murray and Professor M. M. Scott. Then, too, popular interest in liberal education was aroused among our people through Spencer's work on education. But no definite step towards radical reform or organised reconstruction was undertaken until Viscount Mori assumed the task in 1885. An ardent admirer of Anglo- Saxon spirit and institutions, and a thorough student of the educational systems of the world, he was the one man fitted to do this, and it is chiefly to him that we owe our present system.
I shall begin with an outline of our primary instruction, which, by the way, is more like that of America than of any other country. In the elementary schools, all the instruction imparted is in Japanese, and no foreign language is taught in them, if one excepts a few schools in large cities. The teachers are usually of both sexes. Over one hundred and forty-four thousand teachers (nearly forty thousand being women) are engaged in the schools, which are attended by about six million pupils. The proportion of children in attendance to the total number of children of school-age is 98.8 per cent. for boys and 97.2 per cent. for girls-a remarkably high percentage, which can bear comparison with that of any country. But the attendance of school is not an unerring criterion of educational efficiency, though it shows that the law of compulsory and universal education is well enforced. It gives no clue to the quality of instruction. Of course, among such large numbers there are many who are sent to school just a sufficient number of hours or days to conform to the letter of the law, and are engaged part of the year in swelling the army of child labourers. As to the effect of instruction obtained in schools, its value is greatly diminished by the use of Chinese characters. Children, during the eight years of their elementary schooling, are expected to master some two thousand of these characters-most of which they will not use frequently and which will naturally slip out of their memory in a short time. It is no wonder that by the time boys are called for army conscription at the age of twenty, many of them have forgotten the more complex characters. With all the drawbacks, inherent not so much in our educational system as in the language itself, our primary education-which, by the way, was largely modified after the American and later after the Belgian pattern, but now so changed from either that it may be called genuinely Japanese-is quite satisfactory. Teachers in these schools, in spite of a mere pittance of salary (a monthly average of sixteen yen), keep pretty well up-to-date by their attendance of summer schools, and their connection with educational societies. They are respected in the communities in which they live. On the whole, her primary education is a feature of which modern Japan has reason to be proud.
The same cannot be said of our secondary schools, corresponding to your high schools. These receive the children who have finished their primary education; but as there is no co-education (except in the elementary grades already mentioned), separate institutions are provided-those for boys being called Chugakko, Middle Schools, and those for girls, High Schools. Of this grade, there are three hundred schools for boys (118,000 in number), and one hundred and eighty for girls (52,000). They vary in capacity, seating from two hundred and fifty to four hundred, exceeding this last number only in exceptional cases.
In conformity with the "good-wife-and-wise- mother" principle of female education, the Government offers to young women very few opportunities for higher education than that afforded in high schools and normal schools. There are Normal Colleges for women; but, as their name indicates, they are for a very definite purpose. The Academy of Fine Arts and the Conservatory of Music are naturally open to both sexes. A curious fact, hard to account for in so progressive a Government as ours, is the chronic reluctance it has shown toward the higher education of women. Its function in this respect seems to have been confined to a tardy recognition of work done by private enterprise. At present, therefore, there are private institutions of excellent reputation-the so-called "Women's University" under Mr. Naruse, Miss Tsuda's English School, two or three well-equipped seminaries under missionary management-doing work such as the Government has failed to make possible by its own initiative and on its own responsibility.
A large majority of middle schools is maintained by local bodies-prefectural or municipal.
Whereas in elementary education, which is compulsory, no tuition is charged unless otherwise decided by the local bodies, and in no case exceeds five sen a month in the rural and ten sen in the municipal schools, the secondary schools charge usually about three yen a month. When there are dormitories, room and board cost about six to eight yen a month. The course of studies prescribed for intermediate education covers much the same ground as it does in this country with this difference-that no Greek or Latin is taught, nor is German or French. The cultural equivalents to your dead languages are Chinese and Yamato (old Japanese). English occupies the most prominent part in the curriculum, and as six hours a week are devoted to it during the entire course of five years, by the time boys finish the middle schools they have a fair reading knowledge of it, for they will have read as text-books such works as Gray's Elegy, Dickens's Tale of Two Cities and Christmas Carol, Irving's Sketch Book, Smiles's Character, Franklin's Autobiography. Their English is for reading and not for colloquial purposes. Thus, almost any one of any education can understand some English, even if he cannot follow a conversation and much less take part in it. In commercial schools, more "practical" English is taught.
It is through the channels of the English language that Anglo-Saxon ideas exert a tremendous influence intellectually, morally, politically, and socially. In this way are the great leaders of English thought made familiar to us, and being constantly quoted they are perused both in the original and in translations. Several works of Shakespeare can now be read in Japanese; Bacon, Emerson, George Eliot, Poe, Stevenson, Longfellow, Wordsworth, Tennyson, are names on the lips of every one.
English does not occupy the same prominence in girls' high schools, except in such institutions as are under the auspices of Christian missions. A feature of girls' schools that may attract curious attention from outsiders as being unique, if not odd, is the course in etiquette, including ceremonial tea and flower arrangement. I have no time to go into their elaborate proceedings, and to an American a mere description of them would be tedious enough; but so much importance is, attached to them in our pedagogical scheme that they are invariably taught. For this purpose every girls' school has a special building in Japanese style, with a room which may be called "a laboratory of manners." In all modern schools, children sit on benches; but at home they have to sit down à la japonaise with their limbs bent under them-hence the necessity of a special etiquette room. To avoid possible misunderstanding allow me a moment's digression.
The concocting and drinking of tea-tea-ism, shall I call it?-has long been elevated to the dignity of a fine art, an art of social intercourse.
Its votaries even go so far as to regard it with almost religious devotion. It has created canons of propriety and beauty. We speak of one who lacks refinement and taste as one who has "no tea" in him-" a-tea-istic." We speak of a rash, irrational action as mu-cha," un-tea-ful" or "tealess," and, conversely, of a quiet, sedate, unworldly man as cha-jin, "tea-ist." A future philologist may write a dissertation on the etymology of taste and tea-ist, or of Theism and Tea-ism! One of our best writers, in dramatising Les Misérables, japanised all its characters, and in doing so, the nearest approach of which he could conceive to Bishop Myriel was a tea-ist. Strange that tea should purify taste, that the austere simplicity- verging on asceticism-of ceremonial tea-drinking should dictate rules of aesthetic conduct! and yet that this is the case will account for the general quiet and Quaker-like sobriety of our taste, the absence of bright colours in our costume, and the severe plainness of our parlours.
In finishing my comments on the secondary school, I have lingered long enough over the teacups; for young boys have no fancy for it, and even after matriculating in institutions of higher learning, they remain un-tea-ful. As a matter of fact, graduates of secondary schools cannot afford money or time for cha-no-yu. Life is too strenuous for them. They cannot get out of the world; they must prepare themselves to plunge into it. A large number find it impossible to continue their education further. For those who can, there is a Rubicon to cross; for the great question must be decided,-"Shall I seek the highest that Japan can offer (namely, the university), or, shall I choose the next best (namely, technical schools or private institutions for medical or legal study)? He who decides upon the latter course has comparatively little difficulty in continuing his studies, but he who aspires to a university education must first enter the so-called Koto- Gakko, Higher Schools or National Colleges, whose standing is about the same as that of a good American undergraduate collegiate course or of the German Gymnasium.
According to the law on education, a certificate testifying to the completion of the middle-school course entitles its holder to enter these colleges without examination. But as there are only eight of them in the country, they cannot take in all who apply for admission. Hence a rigorous entrance examination is required. The college in Tokyo is the oldest and largest, and has had a history that makes every youth ambitious to enter it. It has over one thousand students, and every year can admit about three hundred freshmen, but the applicants always exceed this number by about seven or eight times. It is a very touching sight to watch some two thousand boys, the pick of our youth from all parts of the Empire, flocking to the college for examination-to watch them at their heavy task, all the time knowing that seven out of every eight will be disappointed. Those who fail one year can try again; a great many do try three or four times, and in exceptional cases seven or eight times, one instance of perseverance being on record, where success crowned the fourteenth attempt!
I believe there is nothing that chills the genial current of the youthful soul more than the inadequate number of collegiate institutions in our country. Thousands of young men in the most ardent and aspiring period of life, feel the very door of hope slammed in their face! Their sole consolation lies in the healing power of youth itself. Inability to accommodate all who are desirous to pursue higher studies, is not by any means confined to the Koto-Gakko. Each year sees Government institutions-Commercial College, Naval Academy, School for Foreign Languages, School of Navigation, Academy of Fine Arts, Conservatory of Music, Institute of Technology, etc.,-overcrowded with applicants for admission. It hurts me to confess how sadly our Government fails to meet the educational demands of young Japan.
The average age of those who come to the Koto- Gakko is between eighteen and nineteen. They stay three years, during which their time is mostly taken up with foreign languages-English and German-a few of them, however, taking French. Here again no dead languages are taught except to those who expect to take up medicine or law- the amount required being homœopathic in quantity, just about enough to read prescriptions or to understand technical terms in Pandects. Fortunately for those who finish their studies in the colleges, the universities admit them without examination, except such faculties in the University of Tokyo as have more candidates than can be accommodated.
There are four Imperial universities, of which the one in Tokyo is the oldest and most complete, being possessed of six faculties-Law, Medicine, Literature, Science, Engineering, and Agriculture. The University of Kyoto has four faculties-Law, Medicine, Literature, Science and Engineering, the last two being merged into one. The other two universities are still too new to be complete. One of them is in the south, at Fukuoka in Kyushu, and has Medical and Engineering faculties. The other in the north, has a well-equipped Agricultural faculty at Sapporo in Hokkaido, and a Science department in Sendai.
The university course varies in length from three to four years according to the faculty. The lectures are given in Japanese, though a few foreign professors (about a half dozen in number) lecture in English or French or German. The number of students in the University of Tokyo is about six thousand, that of Kyoto some two thousand. The courses of study are very much as in other countries, and we think the standard is equally high. Perhaps we have carried further than other countries one branch of study-Seismology, or Seismography-the Science of Earthquakes, for which we have no lack of raw material.
The academic atmosphere is "ganz Deutsch"- barring Mensur und Kneipe, and alas, minus Gemüthlichkeit. Our students are on the whole exceedingly studious in their habits-I dare say too studious; and though they might enjoy the pleasures of the German students, they have not the English and American zest for sports. Their most popular exercises are fencing and jiujutsu, neither of which, however, arouses such enthusiasm as do the imported games of baseball and boat-racing. The two private universities of Keio and Waseda send their teams now and then to this country.
As for fraternities or any other secret organisations, they are quite unknown among our students. There are no purer democracies than our institutions of learning. Distinction lies only in brains. Family pride is not tolerated; any show of wealth is despised; snobbishness is scorned. In a dormitory, for instance, a millionaire's son would never think of decorating his room. If a boy should come in a carriage, he would be looked upon with contempt. To be a shosei (student), is to be plain in habit and in taste. To be poor or to be careless of social conventionality is described by the word shosei-like. Dandyism is a heinous offence in the society of learning. This identification of simple habits with study, of plain living with high thinking, has come down as a tradition, and still exercises a wholesome effect upon the young. It will not be out of place to mention here a practice generally in vogue among the nobility and the wealthy class. To protect their children from the enervating influence of wealth and rank, to shield them from being spoiled by their caressing grandmothers, or by a train of flattering servants, a small, unpretentious establishment is provided for boys to live in with their tutor and a small company of select young men -perhaps class-mates of the boys and some older and more advanced students. Here they all share the same simple diet, such as they might get in ordinary boarding-houses or dormitories. The boys are allowed to visit their parents once or twice a week. This Lacedæmonian treatment, if it is hard on the boys as well as on the parents, especially on the mothers, has proved quite efficacious. I have myself witnessed admirable results accruing from it. Moreover, friendship-which is often a notably strong bond between our youths- formed under these conditions, is deep and lasting as love. I have spoken of our training as masculine.
An extension of the same system is also not at all uncommon. Men, usually teachers in active service or in retirement, offer to take a limited number-varying from half-a-dozen to fifty odd boys-under their own roofs, conversing with them at meal-time or spending some hours with them daily. In jiuku, as such a system is called, boys pay their own board and possibly a small sum for rent, but the fundamental idea is to live under the guidance of superior men.
It is a still more common custom for a man who can afford to do so (had I time I could give most touching examples of men of small means, such as school teachers and officials with a monthly salary no larger than thirty or forty yen) to offer a home to well-deserving students and take them in as members of his family. Such students are called shokkaku, "table-guests." A man of more or less prominence usually has several such in his house. I number among my own friends some who have no other hobby than that of helping poor students. No charge is made for their food and room; but they usually requite the kindness done them by little services, clerical or domestic, or, when there are children in the family, tutorial. Far from being parasitic, such an arrangement corresponds to what the biologists speak of as symbiotic. "House Communism" of this kind is but seldom detrimental to the family life of the patron or to the character of the clientele. Among those who now fill prominent positions in business circles or in public service, are many who spent their student days as shokkaku.
The expenses of university education amount to about four hundred yen for the whole year, inclusive of board, room, and books. This is a very respectable sum in Japan, where the cost of living is low, and it is an oft-mooted question whether it pays to give a boy a university education, seeing that graduates usually begin their career at forty yen a month, and many of them obtain positions with difficulty. Still a university diploma goes a long way in the struggle for life, so much so that it is the ambition of all parents to see their sons in possession of it. I could tell you stories from actual life of the brave sacrifices made by mothers for the sake of their sons' education, or tales of abject despair on the part of young men who failed to enter college. Yet as far as privileges are concerned a diploma avails but little. If a graduate desire a Government position, he must pass a severe civil-service examination. It is pitiful to see a promising boy beset all along his path by examinations. Just think of some exceptionally good schools taking children of twelve by "exam" into the higher grade of primary education, or of some middle schools, particularly well known, requiring entrance "exams" of boys from fourteen to fifteen years of age. When entering college at eighteen or nineteen, the candidates have that awful examination of which I have spoken. If the course they wish to pursue in the university is crowded, they must take another examination. They leave the university at twenty-five or twenty-six, and after this they try the State examination for civil service. When I see the heart-rending as well as head- racking struggle, I am reminded of the dwarfing features of French life that Monsieur Desmoulins gives in his Anglo-Saxon Superiority. Yet, until we can devise some better system, we shall go on with the present; for certainly there are many advantages in it. Here again permit me to make a digression. By this series of "exams" the weaker minds are pretty thoroughly sifted out, and we can get the best in public service. Such young men, when they get their first appointment as clerks, receive, as I have said, about forty yen a month. If, instead of going into Government service, they should accept a place in a private corporation or firm, they can ordinarily command twice or three times as large a salary; but so honoured and so stable are Government positions that they would by far prefer them to more lucrative employment. This explains why paternalism and bureaucracy, carried as they are to a degree unbelievable in other countries, have not proved so onerous. It explains, too, why "socialism," so abhorred by officialdom, is really carried out in great measure by the State itself. I say this with no desire to defend bureaucracy. On the contrary, its defects-particularly its red-tape-are intolerable; but the remedies for them are most likely to come from the official classes themselves. But I am afraid that our educational plan and the system of competitive examination for every advancement have very cramping effect upon intellect and character. The value of education comes to be measured by the facility it gives to the attainment of success in examinations. People study not for the sake of knowledge, but to "answer examination questions." The men who can write the best examination papers are heroes among students. There is little encouragement to enjoy knowledge for its own sake; for every effort is exerted to cram. The opinions of members of the examining bodies are repeated, even when they may not be accepted. There is developing what might be termed a science of examinations; and as to an art of passing them -this has already advanced far. Under these circumstances it would have been a dire national calamity if corruption had crept into the examination system; but fortunately we are exempt from it-for the same reason that civil service takes the pick of our young men. It remains true, nevertheless, that cramming of mind means cramping of character.
My laudation of the personnel of our civil service implies the converse-that the worst do not come into civil service; but it does imply the obverse -that the best men never enter other than official careers. Some of our best minds have adopted for their life career engineering, mercantile business, legal professions, and journalism. As for academic vocations, they are included in official callings, as all the principal institutions of the country are under governmental control. I ought to add, however, that there are in the country some important private institutions of higher learning. Among the most famous are the Keio University, founded as early as the year 1867 by Fukuzawa, one of the wise makers of new Japan; the Doshisha, organised by the illustrious Christian, Joseph Neeshima; the Waseda, established and still patronised by the well-known statesman, Count Okuma. Besides these, we have several private law schools which bear the name of university. One of the chief reasons why institutions of this grade are so eagerly sought, lies in the privilege accorded (provided they conform to the regulations relating to accommodations, teaching staff, etc.) to their matriculated students of postponing military service while pursuing their studies.
From what has been said above, it may be seen that with us higher studies are pursued primarily for utilitarian purposes-to get positions, to earn bread. They are Brodwissenschaften. And it is this fact that strikes me as the lamentable feature of our present education. Culture, in a broad and lofty sense, is entire neglected. In the universities and in higher or technical schools, there is but little moral influence exerted in any form. Personal intercourse between professors and students is as good as nil. During the collegiate period, students are most interested in moral problems; but ethics is chiefly studied as science-as something to discuss and to dissect rather than to believe and to be lived up to. In the secondary schools moral discipline is very much more stringent. Here, as in all other institutions main- tained by public funds, religious teaching is carefully excluded. It is given only in schools supported by religious denominations, Buddhist or Christian.
The absence of moral factors in our educational system is a matter of serious concern. In our haste to construct the nation on a new basis, the political and material institutions of the West were largely adopted, because we believed, rightly or wrongly, that it was in these that the West excel us. But in course of time, it became evident that without emphasising the moral side of life, material progress was fraught with more danger than is adherence to old traditions. Should we, then, retrace our steps? Should we withdraw into the old shell? Some reactionary people began to raise their voices against occidentalisation. They appealed to so-called patriotism-the cheap resort of the blusterer!-invoking the passions semi-educated in exhorting them to be true to the traditions of their fathers, calling advanced thinkers traitors to the highest heritage of the nation. This reaction, though wholesome in a small way, set back our progress by several years. In the meantime, young Japan was bewildered in its judgment as to moral issues. The old system of things which was as good as dead, reactionary chauvinism could not resurrect with all its yellow shrieks. The new construction period has not yet come. In the meantime shall or can the nation suspend its moral judgment? We are exceedingly fortunate in having for our ruler a man of unusual insight and power, who incorporates in his person the best intent of his subjects. Himself true to the noblest teachings of his race, doing his daily round of tasks under the dictates of a rigid discipline, our Emperor is in a position to give out a code of morals which fills a great educational need. In 1890, was issued what is known as the Imperial Rescript on Education. It is perhaps the only document that has been made public without the signature of his ministers, and a glance at the instrument will show that no cabinet minister could take upon himself the responsibility of enforcing the precepts stated therein. For instance, what minister could claim the power to make husband and wife live in harmony! Here is a translation officially made, and I confess that no English rendering will do justice to the dignity of the original. However, the general trend of the thought, if not the exact meaning of every clause, may be clear enough.
THE IMPERIAL RESCRIPT ON EDUCATION
KNOW YE, OUR SUBJECTS:
Our Imperial Ancestors have founded Our Empire on a basis broad and everlasting, and have deeply and firmly implanted virtue. Our subjects, ever united in loyalty and filial piety, have from generation to generation illustrated the beauty thereof. This is the glory and the fundamental character of Our Empire and herein also lies the source of Our education. Ye, Our subjects, be filial to your parents, affectionate to your brothers and sisters; as husbands and wives be harmonious, as friends true; bear yourselves in modesty and moderation; extend your benevolence to all; pursue learning and cultivate the arts, and thereby develop intellectual faculties and perfect moral powers; furthermore, advance public good and promote common interests; always respect the Constitution and observe the laws; should emergency arise, offer yourselves courageously to the State; and thus guard and maintain the prosperity of Our Imperial Throne, coeval with heaven and earth. So shall ye not only be Our good and faithful subjects, but render illustrious the best traditions of your Forefathers.
The way here set forth is indeed the teaching bequeathed by Our Imperial Ancestors to be observed alike by Their Descendants and the subjects, infallible for all ages and true in all places. It is Our wish to take it to heart in all reverence, in common with you, Our subjects, that we may all thus attain to the same virtue.
The 30th day of the 10th mouth of the 23rd year of Meiji
(Imperial Sign Manual, Imperial Seal.)
This document forms at present the basis of all moral teaching in schools. A printed copy with the Emperor's autograph, is kept as the sacred treasure of every educational institution. It is read with much ceremony on all state occasions. Text-books on ethics are usually commentaries on or expansions of it. You can see for yourselves what a comprehensive epitome of moral duties it presents. Its very comprehensiveness allows ample room for liberal interpretation. As explained and taught in schools, I have often wondered how nearly its usual exposition approaches the original idea of the Emperor himself. There is certainly a demand for a more universal -and not exclusively national-exegesis of the Rescript.
We must learn the fuller meaning of all the duties we have been wont to look upon as of solely worldly concern. Our loyalty must not end with our relations to our masters; our truthfulness must not be limited to our dealings with our neighbours; our benevolence must have no geographical limits. We are not merely subjects, but citizens, not only citizens of Japan but of the world-community. These are trite sayings; but a strange superstition has for some years been current in our country, that we are a "peculiar" people, that our history is different from-by which course is meant better than-that of other peoples, and that our ethical ideas are unique and superior. In these strains have the chauvinists been preaching the moral apartness of our people, and in this strange wise has the spectre of old insular isolation cropped out again. But ghosts vanish with the coming of the morning!
As at the dawn of our pedagogic history, we sat at the feet of Hindu and Chinese sages, and as in course of time we imbibed their precepts and made of them the very fibre of our being; as at the commencement of the present régime, we placed ourselves under the tutelage of European and American teachers, and then gradually assimilated their thought,-so, in the future, when the period of fruition shall have come, we should show forth what may rightly be expected of the intellectual welding of two hemispheres, of the spiritual wedding of the East and the West.