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scientific subjects, and it would be unwise for anyone in the position of a missionary to turn a deaf ear to these appeals. Native scholars are beginning to find out that there are things not contained in their own systems of philosophy; and the study of foreign, scientific, and other works published in their own language will show them that Western civilization is not, after all, the contemptible thing they have been accustomed to believe. Foreign science has already achieved a great reputation amongst native scholars, while, so far as capability for learning is concerned, there are, at the present time, Chinese who have mastered every new science which has been placed before them. Mr. Holt, the able and energetic superintendent of the Presbyterian Mission press at Shanghai, stated some time ago “ that orders were constantly sent to the Mission press, both by missionaries and Chinese gentlemen, for scientific works and others of an educational character. Geographies, chemistry, natural philosophy, and astronomy, ancient history, books on Western schools and education, works on medical science, are constantly called for."
The great demand for scientific books induced some of the provincial authorities to establish a special department at the Shanghai arsenal, about fifteen years ago, for the purpose of preparing a series of scientific works to be translated and published at Government expense, and to be sold at cost price.* The number of books issued from this department during the first ten years of its existence amounted to about fifty: the actual work of translating and preparing being done by foreigners.
From what has been stated it will be seen that the powerful agency of the press has not been neglected, and as a means of opening up the country its importance cannot be overrated. Many people can be reached through it who are otherwise inaccessible, i.e. the Mandarins and literati, who are too proud to associate with foreigners, or to discuss with them the comparative merits of Chinese and foreign civilization. Its influence is already manifesting itself in the gradually diminishing hostility towards foreigners, and, doubtless, this will be more noticeable as foreign publications penetrate the social strata and awaken the minds of the people to the fact that the “barbarian " learning is not by any means the contemptible thing they suppose. Other causes have also contributed to this improved state of things, as, for instance, the proclamations regarding foreigners which resulted from the Chefoo Conference; and especially the published diary of the late ambassador to England, both of which have helped to modify the animosity which the mere presence of the despised and hated foreigner is apt to excite, and to pave the way for a better understanding between the East and the West.
* The Government have been engaged recently in translating and publishing, for the 280 of the people, at a nominal cost, the best English text-books, including most of Professor Tyndall's work.
The publication of a Chinese ambassador's journal is, however, by no means a novelty in China. Sir John Davis mentions how the Head of the Embassy, sent by the second Emperor of the present Dynasty to the Khan of the Turgouth Tartars, detailed in the form of a journal the observations that occurred upon his route, as well as his intercourse and conversation with the several public authorities among the Russians and Turgouths with whom he communicated. In the more recent case alluded to, it was reported that the favourable views of foreign countries and institutions therein expressed had led to the suppression of the journal. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the pro-foreign sympathies of the Ambassador were resented by his countrymen ; for within a short time of his setting out for Europe his “ town house" was attacked and burnt to the ground.
The rage for publishing experiences of travel in foreign countries seems, however, to be on the increase ; for it was only recently we were told of the appearance of no less than a four-volume book of notes by a Mr. Huang Mao-t-sao, who had been travelling in India. According to the Times of India, which gave a short notice of this work, “Mr. Huang, as a neighbour, objects to our foreign policy, but he has no language appreciative enough for the manner in which the subject races are treated by Anglo-Indian officials.” While, so far from Mr. Huang's favourable opinions of foreign methods of government having drawn down on him the displeasure of his superiors, we hear that his book has procured for him the favour of the Emperor and a high appointment in the province of Yunnan !
Amongst the various means for disseminating a knowledge of the Arts, Sciences, and Manufactures of the West amongst the Chinese, perhaps the most important, as regards its scope and aim, is the Polytechnic Institution at Shanghai. In a sort of prospectus of it which appeared in the China Consular Reports, it was remarked that, “ The idea which the originators of this scheme seem to have in view is undoubtedly a most excellent and comprehensive one. A reading-room is to be supplied, with files of the various newspapers and periodicals published in the Chinese language. A library is to contain all the important works on technical and scientific subjects that have been written by the natives themselves, or translated by foreigners. A lecture-room is to be provided, with collections of scientific apparatus suitable for a series of popular lectures on natural philosophy, and other branches of Useful knowledge. And, lastly, a permanent exhibition is to dis
play such specimens of machinery and manufactured goods as foreign manufacturers may feel disposed to lend with the view of creating new wants and opening up new avenues of commercial enterprise. And when the vast, but undeveloped natural resources of China, as well as the intellectual stagnation of her hundreds of millions of inhabitants, are taken into consideration, it is easy to see the necessity and importance of an institution of this kind."*
In view of all that has been attempted by foreigners during the last twenty years in the direction of educating the native mind up to an intelligent appreciation of foreign learning and science, surprise is sometimes expressed at the comparatively small measure of success which has attended their efforts ; but experience has shown that we must not look for results too quickly in China. Hot-headed reformers should bear in mind that we have to deal here with the most numerous as well as the most homogeneous nation in the world—an educated, as well as a civilized people. And under these circumstances progress of any sort, but intellectual progress especially, must necessarily be slow. And the very slowness of the Chinese to adopt Western civilization and culture, which causes despondency in some minds, is, within certain limits, to be commended. The Chinese character is distinguished by a solidarité and depth quite foreign to the fickle mercurial nature of certain other Eastern nations, which, by their eagerness to adopt foreign customs, have excited the admiration of Europeans. Having regard, therefore, to the past history of China, the character of the people, their reverence for the sages of antiquity, their respect for authority, their high intelligence, their indefatigable industry, their sobriety, love of order and system, and the high estimation in which the mental and the moral have ever been held, and, lastly, the vast undeveloped resources of the country-in view of all these facts, are we not justified in predicting that the sun of this great country's destiny is but just arising ?
* Would it not be equally advantageous to establish institutions of a somewhat similar kind to the above in our great commercial and industrial centres, containing collections of the articles in common use amongst the Chinese, and notes of cost. Our merchants and manufacturers would thus be enabled to acquire a knowledge of the appliances in everyday use with the natives, and be spared the disappointments and losses arising from sending out consignments of articles for which domestic economy can find no use. Other countries have stolen a march on us in this direction.
H. N. SHORE.
The close of an unusually protracted session seems a fitting occasion to consider how it is that the toil of so many hours has. produced so little result, whether in the shape of useful discussions or of additions to the Statute Book.
Parliament has sat early and late, but it cannot be said that there is much to show for it. Certainly the most lenient critic could not pretend that the House of Commons has, during the last eight months, acted up to the definition of its duties which Mr. Courtney gave in the debate on the amended Closure Rule. He said : * "I am far from thinking the House is a mere machine for grinding out Acts of Parliament. The House has to see that law and justice are fairly administered throughout the land; it has to see that the duties of the Public Services are discharged in an expeditious, easy, certain, and equitable manner; and its next, and certainly not inferior, function, is to express in law what is the will of the electors."
Some may be disposed to extend the definition and widen the field of duty; certainly no representative assembly is worthy of the name if it does not discharge at least these functions.
Ireland has monopolized the whole of the time, and though the Government announced their intention of legislating on various questions which have long been ripe for solution, their Bills, in the great majority of cases, have perished ignobly before reaching maturity.
Was this the fault of the men, the policy, or the system?
Many would throw the whole blame on the first and second, holding that the Government is, quâ its component members, a weak one, and that they deliberately courted a barren session by introducing a Crimes Bill which they knew would be most bitterly opposed. On this it may be remarked that the House as well as the Government acted with its eyes open, and supported the Ministry all through the Crimes Bill by very large majorities. Whether the country will approve of the course pursued entirely depends on the ultimate success of the policy in question. For the present it is more profitable to realise that our present system is one which renders it exceedingly difficult for any House of Commons, under any Ministry, to do the work which it is intended by the electors to perform; a fact which, apart from the events of the present session, is sufficiently proved by Mr. Gladstone having made Reform of Procedure one of the four points of his Manifesto in 1885, and by the amended rules brought in by three successive Ministries within two years.
* On February 22nd, 1887.
The House of Commons sits more days in the year and more hours in the day than any other legislative assembly in the world. Its duties, no doubt, are more multifarious, but it might keep pace with them, or, at any rate, make some show of doing so, if it were only master of its own time. The great difficulty is that it is not. The day's proceedings commence with “Private Business,” when the Bills are dealt with which have been, or are to be, referred to the various Private Bill Committees of four members which sit daily throughout the session from 12 till 4; then come questions, de omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis, which are seldom disposed of in less than an hour. Then possibly a motion for adjournment on what its mover is pleased to call a “definite question of urgent public importance,” followed by a division which takes the longer if the majority is overwhelming and the minority insignificant. Ultimately the business of the day is reached, and continued often till within twelve hours of the time when Ministers, having previously done their office work, must again be in their places on the Treasury Bench ; and the House all through is at the mercy of any member who likes to use its forms so as to thwart its wishes.
Hampered by a system which invites waste of time, we try to do more than we could accomplish if we economised every moment; and, by adhering slavishly to the processes devised by our ancestors to secure full discussion of every grievance and of all legislation, we get so much of the first that remedy and reform are alike postponed.
The most glaring instance of this in recent times is the Crimes Bill. The Irish Question was discussed at large on the Queen's Speech, on Mr. Parnell's amendment, and on the motion for Urgency; there was nothing fresh to be said about it, and the views of every section of every party were well known in the House and in the country. There was nothing uncommon in the Crimes Bill except the change of venue to England, and one other doubtful point; yet the House was not allowed to give it a second reading till there had been two prolonged debates on its principle. One or the other of these was superfluous; and the introduction and first reading of all Bills should be made a merely formal proceeding; the growing practice of appending an explanatory memorandum to the Bill being habitually adopted.