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辜鸿铭:UNCIVILIZED UNITED STATES  

2008-10-14 10:07:07|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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UNCIVILIZED UNITED STATES

·                              

By KU HUNG-MING

June 12, 1921, Sunday

Section: Book Review & Magazine,Page 37, 2897 words

 
The following article was originally published in the NorthChina Standard of Peking, China, and is furnished to The New YorkTimes by the author.

An American, who was irritated because in an article I wrote latelyI had said that the English were the only modern people in theworld today who knew how to govern an empire, said to me, “whatabout us Americans?” Although the United States is called aRepublic, yet do we not govern a country as big as the BritishEmpire?” “Yes,” I said in reply, “but there is one great differencebetween the British people and you Americans. The British people asa nation is a nation with a civilization, whereas you Americans,living now in your plaster and concrete sky-scraping tents, arestill a nomad nation without any civilization.” “oh,” said theAmerican then to me, angrily and with a sneer, “ you say thatbecause you have been educated in England and have never been inAmerica!”

Indeed. I now remember how a Chinese Minister to America, the lateChang Yin-huan, who was executed during the Boxer trouble, oncecreated great astonishment as well as amusement among the Americansin America when he told them that he found everything in Americawhich a man wants except-religion. “what,” said an Americannewspaper at the time, “ we Americans have no religion---we, with achurch in every street and our missionary societies! Why, we inAmerica have so much religion that we can afford to export to Chinaand Korea more of that article than any other country!”

Nevertheless, the Chinese Minister, I must say, was quite right inwhat he said. Only what he really wanted to say was not that therewas no religion, but that there was no civilization in America. Thereal Chinese word for civilization, li-yo (literally ceremony orforms of courtesy and music), rightly translated by the earlyJesuit missionaries as religion, which the Chinese Minister had inhis mind, means both religion and civilization. For, not as inEurope and America today-----where religion is one thing, asomething for use only on Sundays, and civilization is quiteanother thing, a something for use on the other six days of theweek----in China, religion is civilization and civilization isreligion; they both mean one and the same thing, namely, form orexpression_r of spiritual life which is for use not only on Sundays,but on every day of a man’s life.

But before going further, let me here explain what I mean by anation with a civilization and a nation without any civilization.Now we all say that the ancient Greeks and the ancient Romans weregreat civilized nations. Why? Because, beside governing andfighting, besides producing material goods and making money byselling them, these ancient nations also produced spiritual thingssuch as art and literature and, what is still more important, bytheir art and literature they developed high, perfect types ofhumanity in their great men-all which, now after they have perishedand ceased to be nations, are remembered, admired and prized by menof all after generations. In short, a civilized nation is a nationwhich has a spiritual asset or, as Carlyle calls it. “realizedideals.”

The reason, therefore, why I have said that the British people as anation is a nation with a civilization is because, besidesshopkeeping, winning Waterloo battles and governing an IndianEmpire, the British nation, like the ancient Greeks and Romans, hasalso produced one very great spiritual thing----with perhaps oneexception, the greatest thing, in my opinion, which modern Europehas yet produced----and that is William Shakespeare. Speaking ofShakespeare. Carlyle, in his “Heroes and Hero Worship ,” rightlysays, “He is the grandest thing which we British people have yetdone.” If the great British Empire were destroyed tomorrow, athousand years after this, when men read the works of Shakespeare,they would say that the British nation was a nation with a veryhigh civilization.

Indeed, as the one Latin word “virtus”----not virtue in the Englishsense, but the virtue of the Japanese Samurai----is a proof tothose who understand Latin that the ancient Romans were a nationwith a very noble civilization----so the English word “gentleman”alone, without any Shakespeare, is enough to show that the Britishnation is nation with even a finer civilization than the noblecivilization of the ancient Romans, because it is a civilizationwhich, tempered with the spirit and ideal of gentleness ofChristianity, has produced a type of humanity called a “gentleman.”For the chief and one aim of civilization is not to make and teachmen to be strong, but to make and teach men to be gentle; in otherwords, to develop and produce not what Kipling calls coarse,vulgar, “flannelled fools” who can yell as the American Y. M. C. A.in China now trying to do----but to develop and produce gentlemen,who, as we Chinese say, understand li-yo, courtesy, good manners or“good form,” as the Englishman calls it, and music.

Indeed, I may say here, it is because the ideal of the British orEnglish civilization is to make a “gentleman” that the Britishpeople are the only modern people in the world today, as I havesaid, who can govern an Empire. The great Soldier-Gentleman ofJapan, Tokugawa lyeyasy, after he had, with his sharp sword, castthe “devil of cruelty” out of old feudal Japan----just in the sameway as the British “Unknow Warrior.” Whom they lately buried inWestminster Abbey in England, has now cast the “devil” called FurorTeutonicus out of feudal Germany----was on his death-bed, he sentfor his grandson lyemistsu and said to him, “You are the man whoone day will have to govern an empire. Remember, the way to governan empire is to have a gentle and tender heart (the Latin alma asin alma mater, the extreme gentle tenderness of a mother).”

Now the reason, it seems to me, why the Japanese statesmen now findit so difficult to govern Korea, is because the modern Japanese,instead of reading and teaching their students the Guai Shi, nowread and teach them the pragmatic philosophy and political scienceof Professor Deway, and have thus forgotten the essence ofpolitical science contained in those words of their great Shogunwhich I have just quoted.

In the same way, the reason why the British politicians now inEngland find it difficult to govern Ireland and India, is becausemodern Englishmen today do not know that it was not Britishdemocracy, the British Constitution or Parliamentarism, but theBritish or English civilization with the “gentleman” and its ideal;in short, that it was not the British mob, but the British orEnglish gentleman who built up the great British Empire of today.But that is neither here nor there.  

I have said that a nation is called a civilized nation only when ithas a spiritual asset or “realized ideals.” Now let me ask, what“realized ideals” or spiritual asset have the Americans today toshow in order to entitle them to be called a civilized nation? Inliterature I know only one great name in America and that isEmerson. But then even Emerson, as Matthew Arnold says, is notquite a great name in literature. Without speaking of Homer, VirgilDante and Shakespeare, Emerson is not a great name in literatureeven as Plato, Cicero Bacon and Voltaire are great names inliterature.

Of poetry again, which, like music, is the highest expression_r ofspiritual life in a nation, I also know only one poem written by anAmerican poet which can be truly called a real poem. By a real poemI mean a poem which is all poetry and nothing but poetry; a poemwhich becomes the spiritual asset of a nation and forms animportant part of its civilization, such as Gray’s “Elegy in aCountry Churchyard” and Robert Burns’s “Auld Lang Syne.” Poems likethe poems of the English Lord Macaulay are, although in meter andrhyme, not poetry at all, but only rhetoric. Now, the poems of evenfamous American poets like Longfellow and John Greenleaf Whittierare for the most part also rhetoric, with some poetry in them: theyare not all poetry, not real poems, which like Robert Burns’s “AuldLang Syne,” can become the spiritual as set of a nation. Indeed, asI have said, the only poem I know written by an American poet whichcan truly be called a real poem and can therefore become thespiritual asset of a nation, is Edgar Allan Poe’s “AnnabelLee.”

Now many people might think that I was only joking when in one ofmy articles lately I said that reading the English nursery rhymeabout Taffy the Welshman could help to educate the soul of a man.But in all seriousness I meant what I said. For poems like theEnglish nursery rhymes are real poems, but of course, real poemsfor children: and real poems have a magic in them which, as MatthewArnold says of Homer’s poetry, can transmute and transform man. Ifyou don’t believe this, you just ask a Japanese geisha to repeatthe famous Chinese poem in Japanese, “Tsuki ochi karasu naite shimoten ni mitsu,” and you will see that, with her eyes suddenlybecoming illumined and all her features suffused with ecstasy, shebecomes, for the moment, quite an other woman, more beautiful andcharming than she really is.

In other words, things like the English nursery rhymes are reallythe expression_r, in a small way, of a nation’s spiritual life andform a part of its civilization. Now, the fact that the Americansas a nation have no nursery rhymes is to me a proof positive thatthe Americans as a nation have no spiritual life; that they arestill a nation, as I have said, without any spiritual asset ofcivilization.

Finally, then, if the United States were destroyed tomorrow, I wantto ask what great spiritual thing have the Americans as a nationdone which they can leave behind them to show to men of aftergenerations that they were once a nation with a civilization. In myopinion, the only spiritual asset of the American Nation, the onlyreally spiritual things which the Americans as a nation have donethat, if they, as a nation were destroyed tomorrow, will beremembered by men of after generations----are the work of Poe’s“Annabel Lee” and the music of the plantation songs of the negroesin America.

Perhaps some people will say to me, “What about the PresidentWilson’s ‘Fourteen Points,’ which, like the Ten Commandments ofMoses, will found a new religion to make the world safe fordemocracy, and thus bring in the millennium?” In reply to this Isay that these Fourteen Commandments of President Wilson were madeonly two years ago, and now even Mr. Lkoyd George has completelyforgotten them!

Last of all, speaking of President Wilson reminds me that I havenot asked what really great men have the Americans as a nationproduced? Everybody will, of course, answer, George Washington; buteven at the risk of mortally offending all my American friends, Imust say that to me George Washington, although an admirable man inmany ways, had yet, unfortunately, like the American PilgrimFathers, a little too much of the “moral prig” in him to be reallya great man----a really great character like the French Bayard orthe English Sir Walter Raleigh and Philip Sydney. Indeed, asMatthew Arnold, speaking of the American Pilgrim Fathers, says,“Notwithstanding the mighty results of the Pilgrim Fathers’ voyage,they and their standard of perfection are rightly judged when wefigure to ourselves Shakespeare and Virgil accompanying them ontheir voyage and think what intolerable company Shakespeare andVirgil would have found them”----so I , for my part, if I had totake a trip to Merry England in Shakespeare’s time or in moderntimes to Japan, a man like George Washington would be the last manI would take with me as a companion, for one could not think oftaking such a man to the Windsor “Garter Inn” and introducing himto Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Anne Page, Bardolf, Pistol, Nym and others ofthat merry company, nor to a Geisha house in Japan!

A Scotchman I met at the Pekin Pavilion the other night, who hadlately returned from Scotland, when I asked him whether he thoughtthere was any likelihood of Scotland becoming dry, like America,answered: “No, certainly not.” I asked him why. “Because,” he saidproudly, “Scotland is a country with a Robbie Burns. America canbecome dry because America is country which has never had a RobbieBurns.” In the same way, to foreigners who, when I tell them that abig country like China cannot be a republic, say to me thatAmerica, also a big country, is a republic, I answer, “America canbe a Republic because the Americans, unlike us Chinese, are anation without any civilization, just as my Scotch friend says,America can become dry because she is a country without a RobertBurns.” In fact, China, I may say here, has become a republic nowbecause the poor demented imbecile Republican Chinaman today haslost his civilization as he has lost his queue. The reason againwhy the republic in China cannot work now, is because not allChinese have lost their civilization.

Now before I conclude, I want to say that my object in writing thisarticle is not to abuse the American people. The American people, Ihave tried to show, are still a nation without any civilization andthat is because they are still a young nation. To be young, asWilliam Pitt in his famous speech in the British Parliament oncesaid, is not an “atrocious crime.” Indeed because the Americans area young nation living in a big country like America, they have suchgreat potentialities that I am inclined to think that, ifcivilization can be saved after this great world upheaval, thethree great future empires of the world will be American, Russiaand China.

My object in writing this article, I say again, is not to abuse theAmerican people. My object is to tell people that the only way tosave civilization----the first thing you must do if you want tosave civilization----is to know what civilization is.

Indeed what made me write this article is because I read lately anessay written by the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Hara, in which hesaid that he wanted to amalgamate the civilization of the East andWest. It seems to me, when he said that, the Prime Minister ofJapan, if I may be permitted to say so, does not know what iscivilization. For a civilization is either a true civilization or afalse or, as the Japanese say, a magai make-believe civilization:there is no East or West.

Confucius in his time was so sick of hearing people talk ofcivilization that he once said, “Civilization, Civilization, is thecry now: but are carrying fine jades and wearing silk dresses thewhole of civilization?” In the same way I take the liberty here ofasking men like the Japanese Prime Minister who talk ofamalgamating civilizations: are wearing high collars, cutting offqueues, building European houses, riding in motor cars and erectingstatues such as one sees in the streets of Tokio----the whole ofcivilization, or even civilization at all? Indeed, Matthew Arnold,speaking of Christianity----curiously using the very same wordswhich the Chinese poet Su Tung-Po of the Sung dynasty used whenspeaking of Confucianism—says, “Christianity is, first and aboveall, a temper, a disposition---so I want to point out here thatcivilization also is first and above all, a state of the mind andheart: a spiritual life. In the true sense of civilization, anordinary Japanese Gelthar is more civilized than most Americanprofessors with all their pragmatic philosophy and politicalscience. In fact, civilization in its essence, is not dress, house,furniture, machine, ship or gun, but----gentleness of mind andheart or, in the words of the great Japanese Shogun which I havealready quoted----a gentle and tender heart. Last of all then, Iwould like again the remind the Japanese people, who, in myopinion, are now the real Se-i Shogun or Markgraf Nation, MilitaryGuardian of Civilization in the Far East, of the words of theirgreat dead Shogun Tokugawa lyeyasu, who, when speaking to hisgrandson, was really speaking to the Japanese Nation today.

Mad Monk of Russia

Recent news dispatches from Riga, Latvia, state that Iliodor, the“Mad Monk of Russia,” Rasputin’s former friend, is back inTsaritzyn, where the monastery built from the offerings of thepeople to him is located. His presence in Russia was predicted byhimself in a book published here by the Century Company in which herevealed the story of his relations with Rasputin, with the Czarand with the spies. He stated his intention of going back,believing his mission was to restore religion of the people underthe revolution.

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