1.15. Chinese Moral Teachings and Conduct.

It is said by many writers on the Chinese, that they have a splendid system of morals which are taught in the schools, frequently read out to the people, are constantly on the tip of the tongue, and frequently applauded, and yet few of them follow these beautiful teachings.

The Right Rev. Monseigneur Reynaud, Roman Catholic Bishop, in his book “Another China,” referring to the moral maxims and teachings of the Chinese, says—“Le style c'est l'homme it is said, and it may be fairly held that the language of a people is some indication of its spirit and manner of living. The daily language of the Chinese is full of proverbial sayings, which are in constant use among them, praising virtue and condemning vice. Some of them-point out the vanity of worldly honours, the contempt of riches, the avoidance of pleasures that entail so much misery, the horror of injustice, the effects of anger and impatience, the folly of pride, the iniquity of slander, the shortness of life, and so on. Others inculcate love of virtue, practice of good works, esteem of wisdom, patience in troubles, forgetfulness of injuries, fidelity, gratitude, humility, and good example. The proverbs having reference to charity are particularly expressive and beautiful; and it is to be desired that our missionaries should make great use in their sermons and instructions of these axioms in which may be heard distant echoes of passages in the Gospel..... These proverbs are accepted by the Chinese as irrefutable arguments..... The language of an entire race cannot be one universal falsehood; and these moral notions, so often repeated, must be esteemed by individuals even if they do not always follow them.”

It is exactly the same amongst ourselves. We have wise proverbs, and moral precepts, and ten commandments, the sermon on the mount, and the Lord's prayer, and the Apostles' creed, and, like the Chinese, the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would they should do unto you.” These are our teachings; but our practice is much the same as theirs—woefully shortcoming.

In another place, the Right Reverend Bishop says—“The Chinese are heathens who have not had eighteen centuries of Christianity to civilize them; but it must be admitted that with all their errors and vices, they have not fallen so low as other nations. For instance, many of the reproaches addressed by St. Paul to the Romans would not be brought by him against the inhabitants of China were he to visit it. We may go further, and say that the corruption existing in China is less deep-seated and less visible than in certain of our Western cities, the scandal of which would bring a blush to the cheek of a Chinaman who is deemed to be so wicked.”

Mr. B. Broomhall, writing under the head of “Martyred Missionaries” in “China's Millions,” April 1901, says—“Grievous statements concerning the treatment of some of the lady missionaries have been made by some ill-informed writers. There is no foundation whatever for such statements. It has been reserved for European troops in China to act in such a manner as to cause Chinese wives and daughters to hang themselves on trees or drown themselves in garden wells, rather than fall into their hands. Bad as the cruelties and barbarities of the Boxers and some other Chinese have been, they have not equalled the shocking brutalities of European soldiers in China. These men have left memories which will make the European to be hated and loathed for many a year to come.”

The Chinese have rules of moral conduct like most other nations, such as “Don't lie”, “Don't steal”, “Don't murder”, etc., and multitudes of them believe in laying up treasures of merit for a future state. In some cases tables are made out showing how points or marks may be obtained in this life for meritorious acts. The following dozen are from a list by Mr. Du Bose, given in “My Chinese Note Book,” by Lady Susan Townley:—

Marks for Good Conduct.

To Lend an Umbrella 
To give Fivepence to Beggars 
To Return what you Pick up on the Streets for every value of Fivepence 
To Pay the Debts of a Father  10 
To Build Bridges, Repair Roads, Open Canals and Dig Wells, for every four shillings expended  10 
To Save a Child from Infanticide  30 
To Furnish a Coffin for the Poor  50 
To Bury a Man who has no Son  50 
To Forgive a Debt  100 
To Publish a Part of the Classics [Confucian Scriptures]  100 
When Rich to Marry a Deformed Girl to whom Betrothed when Poor  100 
To Destroy the Stereotype Plates of Immoral Books  300 
Purity through Life  1000 

The above list alone is sufficient to show the moral trend of the Chinese mind.