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The Awakening of China   By: (1827-1916)

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The Awakening of China

By W. A. P. MARTIN, D.D., LL.D

Formerly President of the Chinese Imperial University

Author of "A Cycle of Cathay," "The Siege in Peking," "The Lore of Cathay," etc.

[Page v] PREFACE

China is the theatre of the greatest movement now taking place on the face of the globe. In comparison with it, the agitation in Russia shrinks to insignificance; for it is not political, but social. Its object is not a changed dynasty, nor a revolution in the form of government; but, with higher aim and deeper motive, it promises nothing short of the complete renovation of the oldest, most populous, and most conservative of empires. Is there a people in either hemisphere that can afford to look on with indifference?

When, some thirty years ago, Japan adopted the outward forms of Western civilisation, her action was regarded by many as a stage trick a sort of travesty employed for a temporary purpose. But what do they think now, when they see cabinets and chambers of commerce compelled to reckon with the British of the North Pacific? The awakening of Japan's huge neighbour promises to yield results equally startling and on a vastly extended scale.

Political agitation, whether periodic like the tides or unforeseen like the hurricane, is in general superficial and temporary; but the social movement in China has its origin in subterranean forces such as raise continents from the bosom of the deep. To explain those forces is the object of the present work.

It is the fascination of this grand spectacle that has [Page vi] brought me back to China, after a short visit to my native land and to this capital, after a sojourn of some years in the central provinces. Had the people continued to be as inert and immobile as they appeared to be half a century ago, I might have been tempted to despair of their future. But when I see them, as they are to day, united in a firm resolve to break with the past, and to seek new life by adopting the essentials of Western civilisation, I feel that my hopes as to their future are more than half realised; and I rejoice to help their cause with voice and pen.

Their patriotism may indeed be tinged with hostility to foreigners; but will it not gain in breadth with growing intelligence, and will they not come to perceive that their interests are inseparable from those of the great family into which they are seeking admission?

Every day adds its testimony to the depth and genuineness of the movement in the direction of reform. Yesterday the autumn manoeuvres of the grand army came to a close. They have shown that by the aid of her railways China is able to assemble a body of trained troops numbering 100,000 men. Not content with this formidable land force, the Government has ordered the construction of the nucleus of a navy, to consist of eight armoured cruisers and two battleships. Five of these and three naval stations are to be equipped with the wireless telegraph.

Not less significant than this rehabilitation of army and navy is the fact that a few days ago a number of students, who had completed their studies at foreign universities, were admitted to the third degree (or [Page vii] D. C. L.) in the scale of literary honours, which means appointment to some important post in the active mandarinate. If the booming of cannon at the grand review proclaimed that the age of bows and arrows is past, does not this other fact announce that, in the field of education, rhyming and caligraphy have given place to science and languages? Henceforth thousands of ambitious youth will flock to the universities of Japan, and growing multitudes will seek knowledge at its fountain head beyond the seas.

Still more surprising are the steps taken toward the intellectual emancipation of woman in China. One of the leading ministers of education assured me the other day that he was pushing the establishment of schools for girls. The shaded hemisphere of Chinese life will thus be brought into the sunshine, and in years to come the education of Chinese youth will begin at the mother's knee... Continue reading book >>

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