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degree, investigate “the irregularities in the motions of Uranus, which are yet unaccounted for, in order to find whether they may be attributed to the action of an undiscovered planet beyond it; and, if possible, thence to determine approximately the elements of its orbit, 8c., which would probably lead to its discovery."
Such was the noble resolution taken by this Undergraduate ; and well was it rewarded. It is at once a splendid, and an encouraging, example. His friends were aware of his purpose, and it was not forgotten by himself. In January, 1813, he took his degree, acquiring the high distinctions of Senior Wrangler, and First Smith's Prize Man; and then, feeling himself more at liberty by the cessation of this press of study, he began to collect materials for the examination of the problem which he had undertaken to solve.
(To be concluded in our next.)
EDUCATION OP children. If there is any one thing which more than another elevates the Chinese character, it is their literary institutions. In letters and education, China takes the first rank among heathen nations.
There are few countries in which education is so widely diffused as in China ; but it fails to produce its due improvement on the mind, from the fact that it is pursued for the purpose of obtaining office, literary eminence being the only path to political distinction. Education is consequently rarely bestowed upon females; and few, if any, of the other sex, pursue knowledge for its own sake.
Wealthy families prefer to educate their children at home; and sometimes two or three families will unite, and engage the services of a teacher. In such cases, the daughters are sometimes instructed; and perhaps nine-tenths of all the educated females in China obtained their learning under such
circumstances. There is not, said Mr. Williams, as far as I know, a single girls'-school in Canton.
At the door of the school is a tablet in honour of Confucius, to which the scholars bow as they enter, and sometimes offer incense. The masters are as severe as in any country. The first task is to learn the characters. The boys learn to form the characters by tracing them with a pencil on paper which is thin enough for the characters to show through. They learn the names of the characters by standing up in a class before the teacher, who reads off the first six characters in the books, and they repeat them after him; six more are then gone over in the same way, and the boys are then sent to their seats to learn them by heart, twelve being considered enough for one lesson. As they always study aloud, they make not a little noise over their tasks. When they have committed the first twelve characters to memory, they recite them to the teacher, who gives them twelve more; and so on, till they have gone through the whole book, which contains two hundred and seventy-six lines, of six characters each. During all this time they are entirely ignorant of the meaning of what they have learned, knowing nothing of the names of the characters. In every school they always begin with the same book; and when this is finished, they go through a second book, which contains a thousand characters : after which, the teacher gives his pupils some idea of what they have been reading in the first book. In this way they go through their nine classics, the whole of which are learned by heart; but neither history, geography, natural philosophy, religion, nor arithmetic, are taught in the schools.
These are peculiar to China. They are four in number, and progressive in degree. The first examination takes place in the town or village, and all persons are eligible as candidates. Those who pass this trial are said to have “a name in the village."
The second examination is held in the district town, before the literary Chancellor. All in the district who were successful at the first examination are eligible for the second; and sometimes as many as thirty or forty thousand students are collected on these occasions at Canton. The examination lasts three days, and on each day a theme is given on which the candidates are to write an essay. The successful candidates receive the first literary degree.
The third examination is held in the provincial town every third year, and is open to all the students in the province who have received the first degree. Two examiners are sent from Pekin, who, with the literary Chancellors, form a board of twelve examiners. In the place of examination are several thousand small cells. The competitors give their names, age, lineage, &c., and are carefully searched to see that they have not secreted any copy of the classics about them. They are then furnished with writing materials, and shut up separately in small cells for two days, during which time they are required to compose essays and poems on given subjects. The same subjects are given to all the candidates, and each is expected to use at least two hundred characters in his composition. At Canton there will sometimes be seven thousand candidates at this examination, of whom only seventy-two can be successful, the diplomas being limited to that number.
To read and determine the merits of seven thousand essays on the same subject, is a tedious and laborious work ; but sometimes the examiners lighten their task by passing over many of the essays without reading. A student who suspected this, once wrote an essay severely criminating the Chancellor, knowing that if it were read he should be called to account for it. He heard nothing of it, however; and rightly concluding that it had never been read, he published it; and the result was, that the officer was discharged. Bribery is often effectual in procuring a favourable award from the examiners; but not to such an extent as entirely to vitiate the benefits of the examination.
The names of the candidates to whom the degree is awarded are announced at midnight from one of the watchtowers, and placarded next morning over the city. The candidates themselves are honoured with a feast in the
Governor's palace, and afterward receive the congratulations of their friends.
Unsuccessful candidates are allowed to try again at subsequent examinations as long as they please; and there have been instances of father, son, and grandfather, appearing as competitors at the same time.
The fourth examination takes place at Pekin ; and all who have passed the previous examinations are allowed to compete. The manner of proceeding is similar to that pursued in examining for the second degree. Those who are successful receive the third degree, and are eligible for important offices; but in the distribution of honours and offices the Mantchous are more favoured than the Chinese.
The fourth degree is an office of itself. Those who obtain it reside at the court; and by this policy the men of the greatest talents are collected at the capital, where they can be best directed and controlled. The Emperor's son passes through these examinations the same as other persons.
EFFECTS OF THIS PLAN.
The benefit of this system of examinations is, that it excites the mass of the people to apply themselves to learning, and keeps up a high standard of literature, as the books they are required to study are the best in the language; and to have any chance of success, they are compelled to make themselves so thoroughly acquainted with their contents, that they can never forget them. Those who are not successful in reaching the highest degree have not spent their time in vain, as they generally obtain situations as schoolmasters, Government clerks, &c.
Among the evils of the system may be mentioned, that this plan of carrying every student in the empire through the same routine of ancient lore, and burdening his memory with it, destroys the power of invention, and begets a blind admiration of antiquity, so that the people of China neither hope nor desire to be any wiser than their fathers; a mental uniformity pervades them; the lapse of centuries brings little cr no intellectual advancement, the minds of the whole people
continuing to run in a sort of railroad track after Confucius, who, though he flourished as far back as the time of Ezra, yet exerts perhaps a greater influence over the minds of his fellow-men, than any other man we have ever heard of.
(To be continued.)
SAYINGS OF GREAT MEN. MISTAKEN ZEAL.- This charge-of being “ without knowledge”—may be applied to that zeal which consists, in a considerable degree, of mere temper: where it is not a warm feeling toward the object, just for its own sake, and in proportion to its own claims; but where a man's irritability, or anger, or impetuosity and restlessness for action, in some way on his own account, goes into the zeal for the object, and is mistaken by him as being all pure zeal respecting the object itself. So that, in this one point especially, it is not “according to knowledge;" for he knows not himself. “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” If this portion could be struck out of the zeal, there would be far less of it, and the object itself would seem to deserve it less. But then he did not before rightly know, he did not rightly estimate, the merits of the object. And very much like this, a sort of counterpart to it, is that zeal, which, in promoting any religious object, is less concerned about the object itself, as proper to be promoted, than about the man himself, and as himself promoting it. There was Jehu's zeal; it was, in point of fact, zeal for the Lord of hosts; still, from other circumstances, it would appear that he did not really care much for that sacred cause itself: but it was a fine thing that he should be exhibited, as a conspicuous and important promoter and vindicator of it; himself prominent in the ranks of the Lord's hosts.--John Foster : Lectures, Second Series.
The wrath OF MAN, PRAISING GOD.-Human wrath, as against the cause and people of God, has often been overruled to his praise. We are not falsely accusing the world, when we say that a vast proportion of its hostile passion and action has been in this direction,-between intense persecution, and a more general evil-mindedness and opposition. We may see this scriptural saying illustrated in the history of persecution.