Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

Earth and Man. "Equilibrium was they said "the foundation of the world, Harmony its great thoroughfare." Thus they cultivated humanity, reverence, sincerity, the moral dignity of one's own free personality.

"They did not direct their peoples' aspirations towards the hollow idols of the market place, panaceas for the ills of an hour but to objects of immortal meaning, outlasting the ballot box, armaments, railways, machinery and the exploitation of material wealth which spread such a din in the up-to-date world and such hatreds in the up-to-date soul. And because they built on the only foundation that never gives way, spiritual rectitude, their race persisted as a living entity through all the disintegrating influences of political disasters, foreign conquests, and periodic lassitude."

And the author adds:

[ocr errors]

"For more than twenty centuries. It is only to-day that the Chinese mind is troubled, wavering, beginning to wonder whether the old tree whose roots plunge into so immeasurable a past, whose branches have given shelter and nourishment to such countless generations, should not be cut down to make room for the plants and the weeds imported from abroad. And some of the weeds are of a particularly rank species, like the conceit of the Americanized students who seriously mistake their little wicks of foreign-taught knowledge for a great light by which the destinies of a whole empire should be regulated. When one hears a specimen of Republican Young China in creaky yellow boots, illfitting tweeds, and an intolerable cap, impudently whistling and cracking a dirty riding crop in the Temple of K'ung-fu-tsze, the very hall where Emperors used to worship wisdom in the purity of early dawn, one begins to fear that the deathknell has rung even to Chinese vitality."

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

that allowed itself to be seduced by their vapid arguments. The clean slate of their theories gives scope to the drawing up of plans of such faultless symmetry, such dazzling magnificence, straightway they are taken for reality, and the millennium they grandiloquently promise is reckoned on as an absolute certainty. But there never is a clean slate--either one on which the ancient writing is still legible in much of its mellowed wisdom, or one from which it has been rubbed out in a hideous blur of dust and tears. On this begrimed slate what would a China that has mutilated and slain her splendid past write, or rather scrawl?-for no one can write any but his own language. Windy tags of republican liberty, divorced from reality even in the country of their origin; undigested and indigestible scraps of European ethics in which the theory of the missionary makes a shrill discord with the practice of the commercial and diplomatic carpet-bagger; the insidious poison of an ignorant press; all the ugliness and unhappiness of a machine-driven civilisation. As a matter of fact, had the descendants of the old Chinese sages preserved the spirit instead of letting the dust and cobwebs of worship of the letter clog their brains, it is they who should be sending missionaries to the rest of the world."

"What a slump there would be in Wall Street if its swarming brokers were suddenly forced to carry out K'ung-fu-tsze's dicta: 'In human affairs make righteousness your only aim; when offered an opportunity for gain, think only of your duty.'

"And what an awkward silence would befall the European Chancelleries if Lao-Tsze's fierce denunciation, "There is no sin greater than ambition, no vice more repulsive than covetousness," were to be flashed out at their council-tables by a Power greater than all the triple, quintuple, or even centuple alliances of their sinister diplomacy."

"But habit is stronger than precept. No doubt within an hour the gambling in Putumayo rubber, the cornerings in wheat, would be resumed as feverishly as ever; the map of the world again be unrolled and marked out with blood-red pencillings into spheres of influence, protectorates, schemes of annexations, divisions of pelf."

Mr. Grantham then makes the sage observation that that wherein Europe really does excel-her exact sciences, her power of organisation—could be introduced without destroying anything of the past that is worth preserving. Surely he exclaims

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

"the old wisdom is far too vital still to be flung upon the dust-heap of dead things." "What of foreign-made contrivances and institutions have been bestowed on China so far mostly give a melancholy impression. They are exotics dumped down anywhere, anyhow, lacking all arterial connection with the real needs of the people." How true the observation that "that the most pressing of these can in fact not be met by any purely mechanical manipulation of matter or any external re-arrangement of administrative machinery. It is a faith which has to be kindled in the people, a spring which has to be touched in its heart to release all their latent stores of energy in right channels. That faith is a vitalising patriotism and devotion to the ideal of a China safe and strong and self sufficient, independent within her own boundaries, great with the greatness of Her ancient Emperors, wise with the wisdom of Her ancient sages, beautiful with the beauty created by her own ancient artists. Only the best patriotism will serve." Whereas "She has tried the worst, the type that is based not on love of one's country but on hatred of the foreigner." The path of mere hatred is an evil one for all who follow it. For such patriotism is animated by an evil motive. The spring of action should be a good motive. He who is not animated by a sense of nobility and justice but merely by feelings of envy, hatred and revenge and the like is the bearer of the seed of Death. There is also something mean in this spluttering but impotent malice. Otherwise it is with him whose motive is the good of his people. What is wanted is faith in oneself and one's own, and an attitude which, whilst free of all vulgar aggressiveness, is marked by strength both to resist domination by others and to forward the cherished ideals. One may be kindly and yet be neither slave nor fool. The greatest force is that of an eager fiery spirit disciplined by self-control. But China followed, as the author points out, the wrong path and issued

[ocr errors]

prematurely a challenge to a test of physical force to those who were Her masters in it. The result has been that China's peril is far more serious than, he says can be safely uttered. Mr. Grantham says:

"The triple-clawed dragon of foreign militarism, of cosmopolitan finance and religious propaganda is lying right across her throat, Whether even the semblance of liberty can be saved is becoming daily more doubtful. The oldest empire of the world may sink into a dependency of one of the newest; the race that gave the world its soundest code of ethics, its most graceful poetry, its finest handicrafts, may get crushed into a mere reservoir of coolie labour to pile up dividends for the least ethical of all human associations, the great financial, commercial, and industrial trusts which, under the spurious cry of progress, democracy, and civilisation, are gradually drawing the whole of mankind into the grasp of their polypus-like tentacles.

"And in face of so dark a prospect the public mind is confused, divided, vacillating, losing hold of its old moorings, unable to grip any others. The very style of dressing, in which hideous woollen caps, (one might be in India,) frightful foreign boots, shoddy American overcoats are worn simultaneously with Chinese silks which have preserved the old elegance, though even they have lost the old beauty of colour; the Europeanplanned buildings, with all the vulgarity of the West added to the present indigence of the East; the listlessness of khaki-clad officers stumbling over cumbrous swords, no doubt imported from abroad by some dishonest dealer in discarded military equipments, all indicate helpless groping in a maze of antagonistic tendencies, utter bewilderment at the swiftness of the changes convulsing the world. By no means the bewilderment of dotage; just the open-mouthed stupefaction of children on whom too many new toys, too many difficult lessons, have been showered all at once. And some of the lessons were taught at the point of the bayonet."

LA

The author then has some very wise counsel for Her condition applicable to others similarly situated.

"China needs peace, internal and external, to recover her breath, leisure in which to count over her losses and her gains, lest even the gains end only in losses.

"For it is neither by slavish nor spasmodic imitation of foreign inventions, still less by

THE INDIAN REVIEW

petulant outbursts by violence, She can hope to weather the threatening storm."

Thus Prussia when helpless under the heel of Napoleon did not (as he points out) train secret "Patriotic Harmony Fists" for the sudden murder of isolated French garrisons. Far from it. She even showed active pity to the broken fragments of his army fleeing back from Russia. What She did was to remedy her own defects, to form a union for the cultivation of virtue. She deepened and strengthened Her soul, so that She might be fit at the proper time to regain control of her own destiny. As the author says:

"She succeeded. She had trained her patriotism into a force that transmuted internal jealousies into joyful rivalries, sluggishness into energy, fear of personal loss or danger into a passion for self-sacrifice. Such a spirit is invincible. No Power or combination of Powers can in the long run subjugate a people determined not to be conquered, resolved to forgo all happiness except the supreme one of independence, to suffer all losses except that of loyalty to its own ideals."

Then follows a fine passage:

"But patriotism is a subtle quality. Its taproot is pride, which needs to be fed by the selfreliance flowing from consciousness of actual, or from faith in, potential greatness. It is neither from the present, nor from the immediate future that the Chinese can derive this indispensable assurance, Therefore they must turn to the past. And the glories of their past are so great they should prove an undying incentive for patriotic effort, a certain promise of the glories of a future it depends on the men of to-day not to render impossible of fulfilment. Of foreign enlightenment they must take only that which really is enlightenment, not a craving for novelty, an illusory gain in monetary profit, a mere change from one superstition to another

"They must drink deep at the fountain of their own spiritual wealth, cleared from the dust of too many generations of commentators, and despite the seeming triumph of intrigue, greed, injustice, and violence, they must cling for guidance to the great principles of their own sages.

"Placed in the clear dawn of history, before the din of human theories and activities had reached their present gigantic and confusing proportions, these wise men of old could discern more readily

[ocr errors]

APRIL 1919

than we moderns, the goal and purpose of man's life on earth, the secret of his destiny, which is none other than the realisation of eternal harmonies from the fleeting discords of the hour, the steadfast shaping of a world of beauty, order and wisdom out of the seething chaos of violence and ignorance, and above the revolts of savage appetites, courageous obedience to the patient ways of the Divine."

I do not myself like the word "cling". Cling is a bad habit even when we hang on to sages. They doubtless hold the truth in varying degree, but it is not that for any of us until we have made it in some way or another our own. All must be tested; the propounders of true doctrine will have no cause to complain nor ground for fear. Let each however study what the wise of his race have said. Let him then make it his own, or reject it, and enjoy or suffer the result as it may be, in the latter case deriving consolation from the sense of that independence of spirit and judgment which is amongst the greatest of man's acquisitions. Subject to this caution, which according to the Author's meaning may not have been necessary, what he has said, is indeed well said as much else in an admirable book which I cordially recommend to the Indian reader, and above all to those who think it advisable that. this country should adopt what the best in Europe are seeking to be rid of; men who are running here and there after every "new" thing, clothing themselves unawares with garments which are already out of mode to those who are learning the new (and yet in some respects how ancient !) moral fashions. This is not a counsel to rest to-day just where we were yesterday. This is never possible and sometimes not desirable. It is a counsel not to throw away what is good with that which calls for supersession, and above all not to lose that independent self which alone can assimilate what is of worth in others. Mr. Grantham has felt the necessity of saying this as regards China. Much of what he says will find its application in this country to-day.

HE horrors of the war have been so universally shared by the men, women, and children of the fighting nations that persons who, in other circumstances, would have remained apathetic towards war against war"-as Mr. W. T. Stead used to call the movement for permanent peace— have been roused to the immediate need of doing something to avert another catastrophe. Even the most unimaginative person realizes that science tied to the chariot wheels of Mars will make the next war' a thing of unspeakable barbarity..

66

MR. SAINT NIHAL SINGH

Whether the statesmen entrusted by the various nations with the task of peace-making will be able to devise means to avert the menace of future wars remains to be seen. But the various peoples in whose name they speak and act are determined that the world at large shall be freed from the nightmare of war. As Dr. Wilson keeps reminding the men in power in various countries, the peoples are in no mood to be played with, and if the men to whom they have entrusted this work fail them, they will choose for their instruments others who will carry out their wishes.

Only a united effort upon the part of mankind could produce such results. Each nation should sit in council with every other nation, arrange a programme of mutual disarmament, and solemnly pledge itself to refrain from making war-like preparations openly or in secret.

BY

One stray conference, or even a series of conferences, cannot suffice to ensure the purpose in view. The world does not stand still. Differences between nations arise overnight-differences that heat the blood and make men 66 see red." There must be some authority in continued existence with permanent staff and offices to which the

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

The nucleus of such a world-State existed at the Hague, the capital of Holland, when the world war began. It had been in existence ever since 1889, with permanent executive and judicial organs. Shortly before hostilities commenced, the Peace Palace at the Hague was finished. That Palace was not simply built out of Mr. Andrew Carnegie's pocket, but it was very largely the product of the free gifts of the governments of the world. Germany gave the gates and railings that guard the grounds. Norway and Sweden provided the granite for the foundations. Denmark supplied the fountain. Italy gave the marble for the corridors. The City of the Hague gave the grand marble staircase, and Holland the seven staircase windows, and the site upon which the magnificent building stood. The stained glass was a present from Great Britain. France sent a gift of pictures to adorn the walls. Russia sent a vase of Jasper, Hungary six precious vases, and

Austria six candelabra. The group of statuary in marble and bronze on the first landing of the great staircase was a present from the United States. Brazil gave the rosewood and satinwood that panel the rooms of the Administrative Council. Turkey and Rumania supplied carpets. Switzerland gave the clock in the great tower, and Belgium the beautiful iron work,

The Hague Convention was but a beginning of the world-State-a very partial, rudimentary, beginning. All decisions by the Council had to be carried unanimously—a device used by Prussia to defeat the proposal for disarmament, which if carried would have made the present war impossible. The Convention did not, moreover, possess "sanctions," that is to say, it had no means of enforcing its decisions. Even the weapon of economic boycott was denied it.

The Convention did, however, wield great moral force-so great a force, in fact, that to the end of the war, the belligerent Powers kept constantly appealing to its conventions. Whenever a question of international law arose while the conflict was in progress, every one's mind turned automatically towards the edicts issued from the Hague-even the minds of the belligerents who showed utter callousness in regard to the observance of its conventions.

It seems to me that the natural course for humanity to take would have been to develop the rudimentary machinery existing at the Hague into a fully organised and efficient world league that would have ensured the historic continuity of human institutions. It would, moreover, have disposed of a multitude of doubts, suspicions, and antagonisms. There could have been no question as to whether or not Germany or Austria or any other nation could enter the comity of nations pledged to enforce peace: for every sovereign nation had a place at the Hague as matter of right, and at the last Conference, held in 1907, out of 48 such nations

a

44 were actually represented there. The development of the Hague Convention, further more, would have given the Central Powers no opportunity to fear that the Allies, under the guise of a League of Nations, were merely perpetrating and extending an alliance aimed against them.

That course, with all its obvious advantages, has, however, not been followed, and a fresh attempt to create a world-State is now being made in Paris. No reason why such a decision has been arrived at has been vouchsafed. Dr. Wilson's commission appointed by the Peace Conference to draft the constitution of a League of Nations has avoided naming the seat of such a League. If there is anything in the talk about making Brussels the world-capital,' the Hague, with its magnificent Peace Palace, will be robbed off its distinction of being the seat of International Government.

The preamble of the Covenant of the League of Nations published in the middle of February makes it clear that its authors contemplate a League which will not confine its efforts to the negative work of preventing war. That body, it declares, is designed "to promote international co-operation and to secure international peace and security." That dual ideal is lofty enough to appeal to anyone. It is to be noted that the positive work, that of promoting international co-operation, is given precedence over the negative work of preventing warfare.

-In spite of the preamble, however, most of the document is taken up with the latter-the negative phase of the work. No attempt is made to lay down the general principles of such cooperation, or even to indicate the subjects on which co-operation is practicable or advisable. Nothing is said about the manner in which the bureau of labour is to be organised, or what its

powers, privileges, and duties will be: perhaps the authors of the Covenant are awaiting the report of the Labour Commission which has not yet

« AnkstesnisTęsti »