Page:Inside Canton.djvu/224

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223
INSIDE CANTON.

not place my ignorance in competition with their knowledge. But certain assertions, with regard to the method of teaching adopted in China, are repeated with such obstinacy by incompetent persons, that it is not useless to correct them when opportunity offers. The Jesuit fathers have very well observed, that, in spite of the difficulty which exists in the study of Chinese, everybody knows how to read in the Celestial Empire, because the schoolmaster takes pains to teach every one what is necessary according to his condition. The fact is analogous to what takes place in France, and in all civilised countries, where the elementary teacher gives the young of the masses sufficient education for the management of their business, and the ordinary affairs of life, but not sufficient to make it easy for them to digress into scientific treatises or transcendental metaphysics. Well, some very dull persons have chosen to confound condition in life with profession or trade, and pretended that every one receives an education specially bearing upon the technical words of his business! It was with amazement that I read in a recently published work the following passage:—

"I remember well my astonishment, when, the first time I walked through the streets of Canton with my servant, I discovered that he could only read the notifications of the shoemakers, because he had only learned the trade of a shoemaker!" Many humorous individuals are always repeating ridicu-