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HEAR THE CHILDREN PLEADING.
"GIVE us light amid our darkness,
Let us know the good from ill ;
You can make us what you will."
“We are willing, we are ready;
We would learn, if you would teach ;
Souls that any height can reach.”
LAWYER IN THE SCHOOL-ROOM.
OF SCHOOLS, SCHOOL SYSTEMS, AND GOVERNMENTS.
SEC. 1. CHINA.-In no country of the world is education so general as in China. The course of instruction begins in the family, where the boys are taught to enumerate objects, to count to the number of ten thousand, and to reverence their parents and ancestors by a minute ceremonial. At the age of five or six years they are sent to school. On entering the hall the pupil makes obeisance first to the holy Confucius, and then to his master. A lesson learned in grammar, history, ethics, mathematics, or astronomy, according to the proficiency of the student, is followed by the morning repast; after which the day is spent in copying, learning by heart, and reciting select passages of literature. Before departure in the evening, a part of the pupils relate some events of ancient history, which are explained by the master; others unite in singing an ancient ode, which is sometimes accompanied by a symbolic dance. They leave the hall with the same obeisances with which they enter it, and on reaching home, reverentially salute the domestic spirits, and their ancestors, parents, and relatives. A higher course of instruction is provided in universities under the surveillance of the state. One of these exists in most of the large cities, and the most advanced of them is the imperial college in Pekin. Though the government seems to foster directly only the higher branches, by supporting colleges in the large cities and provincial capitals, while the primary schools are sustained only by municipalities or individuals, the knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic is all but universal. The rules and regulations for the education of children and the prosecution of studies laid down in the book of rites are excellent, notwithstanding their great minuteness. Distinction in public life is attained only by scholarship. There are four literary degrees. The examinations which the aspirants to public honors have to pass are very severe. The unsuccessful candi. dates are numbered by hundreds of thousands. The education of girls is neglected, but the daughters of the wealthy are generally taught to read, write, sing, and sometimes to make verses. Literary attainments, however, are considered creditable to a woman, and the number of authoresses is by no means small. The daughters of learned men are instructed in music, poetry, elocution, etc. No religion is taught in the common schools. The stress that is laid upon an education in China by the government can hardly be exaggerated. As has been stated, all persons who can not pass the several examinations and finally obtain the highest degree of scholarship attainable in the schools are forever shut out from participating in the public honors of the empire. But when this degree is once attained by a person, no matter how low may have been his origin, he is regarded with veneration by the people, and is eligible to the highest office in the state. It is easily seen, therefore, how so great a veneration for learning has come to be entertained by the people, and how the government contrives to secure the advantage of a common school education to all, without directly contributing toward their maintenance and support. (N. A. Cyc.)
But a common school education or even a collegiate education, which means only the acquisition of a certain amount of dry knowledge, and in which all the finer feelings of our nature are left undeveloped, is so much less than what ought to be accomplished in the process of educating that it is far from being satisfactory, to say the least. It is the business of education not only to transmit and interpret to the new generation the experience of the past, and thereby enable each successive generation to increase and improve this inheritance, and to bring up the citizens in the spirit of the government; but there is a higher and nobler duty for education to perform. It must enlarge the affections ; control, without smothering, the emotions; subdue the passions; and eradicate, so far as is in its power, the wrong propensities; it must watch with ceaseless vigilance for the first appearance of pride, obstinacy, malice, envy, vanity, cruelty, revenge, anger, lying, and their kindred vices, and, by steadfast and unwearied assiduity, it must strive to extirpate them before they have gained firmness by age or vigor by indulgence. (Wayland.) Whether the Chinese system of education meets with commendable success in accomplishing these essential ends of every useful system of human development or not, it is hardly safe to say. Our knowledge of China and the Chinese is not by any means perfect as yet. A country seven times as large as France, containing nearly half the inhabitants of the globe, and having more densely crowded and populous cities than any other country on the face of the earth: a country, nevertheless, in which street-fights, assaults, and murders are almost unknown; where the violent and gladiatorial sports of what are sometimes thought more civilized countries are held in contempt; where duels are utterly unknown, and a resort to force is considered a proof of an inferior kind of civilization; where women are not allowed to cast off the natural modesty of the sex and follow the brazen if not profligate life of the stage performer; where some of the most excellent moral precepts known to modern times have been universally inculcated from a period far anterior to the Christian era ; where are found the oldest of all known books, and a literature the most ancient, most consistent, most varied, and most voluminous of all: a people with an uninterrupted history running back for nearly five thousand years, (2207 B.C.,) and an empire