Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/609

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REPUBLICAN INSTITUTIONS IN CHINA

style. In 1898 the late Emperor, Kuang Hsu, realizing the futility of such exercises, abolished the "eight-legged examination essay" and substituted modern sciences. This measure found its reaction in the Boxer uprising two years later. The disasters of the frenzy, however, convinced all of the inadequacy of ancient literary lore, and the result is seen in the marvellous intellectual awakening which followed it. Western learning was snatched up with avidity; students were sent abroad; scientific works were translated and published; modern methods were introduced into government schools, whence they are now invading the examination halls.

From the literary class recruited through the examination system the positions in the government are filled. The man with a degree at once becomes one of the "headmen" of his village, and usually, by common consent, holds the office of ti-pao, which corresponds to that of our justice of the peace and notary combined. He authenticates deeds, settles disputes among his neighbors, and acts as their spokesman and representative in all that concerns the higher officials. Or he can attach himself to some official in a clerical capacity, his subsequent rise to the highest positions in the government being dependent upon his industry, diplomacy and political acumen. Such statesmen as Li Hung Chang, Chang Chih Tung, and the present Yuan Shih K'ai, rose from humble stations.

To the advocate of a republican China, the examination system is the strongest argument that can be advanced for his cause. It so intimately reveals the Chinese character. The man who is successful in an examination covers not only himself, but his family and community with glory. The Chinaman is not attracted by the demagogue, but he has a profound respect for the opinions of those who by assiduous toil and severe test have won their way to intellectual honors. He has for centuries been accustomed to look upon these men as the logical repositories of political power.

The provincial assemblies, which have been held in the last two years, proved a revelation to all observers. The discussions were intelligent and revealed a sincere purpose on the part of the members to promote the general welfare. They have proved that the hopes of the revolutionary leaders are far from chimerical. The basis for republican institutions in China is broader and safer than in many other countries that enjoy self-government. The people are by nature and habit industrious, peace-loving and accustomed to self-restraint. In the aggregate of relations and transactions which make up social and commercial life they have suffered less interference than the average American citizen. The great mass of rules governing the relations of men they have formulated themselves, and they have learned, moreover, the sobering lesson of submission to law as the best guaranty of the rights of all.