- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 10 Oct 1907, p. 43-53
- Eby, Rev. C.S., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Comments on the address by Mr. Hamar Greenwood. The fate of the white race, and the trend of the era upon which we are now entering, dependent on what the Chinaman will do. The unsafe quality of ignoring or insulting any many on account of the tint of his skin or the difference of his customers from ours. Looking at the whole question from the larger standpoint of humanity. A yellow peril on the horizon, of a character entirely different from that imagined by trades unions and from the fears of the provincial politician, but patent to the statesman of world-wide outlook. Noting the stream of paragraphs and telegrams and interviews which have recently been given in the newspapers; pointing out the grains of truth with the shiploads of chaff. The constantly repeated assertion that the Oriental has come here with the idea of over-running or appropriating this land in any sense whatever. An uneasy conscience which makes cowards of us all. A sketch of the situation with regard to a "yellow peril." The divisions of the human races: the uncivilized races; the civilized, non-Christian races; the civilized and so-called Christian races, with a brief description of each. The problem today with the second class, which includes the yellow races of Eastern Asia, the brown races of India, and shades of skin and of thought in Western Asia. China as the central figure in the civilized, but non-Christian world; how that is so. Some historical developments and characteristics of china. A glance over the history out of which the problems of today were born. China's position during this time. A word about Japan. Changes that China has make, taking on everything that the West can give her; equipping herself for self-defence, then for revenge if necessary. Some military figures and potential. The perpetual nagging of anti-Asiatic legislation and newspaper demands for a "white country" which will hasten the results of a hundred years of treatment of which the white man ought to be ashamed. One way by which this imminent struggle can be averted: going back to our Imperial idea into the larger humanity and into the law that lies at the basis of our ethics, which we have absolutely trampled under foot. The Chinese law. Some suggestions from the speaker as to what might be done.
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- 10 Oct 1907
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- THE TRUE INWARDNESS OF THE YELLOW PERIL.
Address by the REV. C. S. EBY, B.A., D.D., of Toronto, before the Empire Club of Canada, on October l0th, 1907.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,
A little while ago Mr. Hamar Greenwood spoke to you and I was delighted to hear him bring out one point with regard to the danger of provincial narrowness and shortsightedness-a policy that is likely to bring about embarrassment to the Empire and contribute to the possibility of Imperial complications. Complications with regard to Japan he was most afraid of, and in that he spoke truly, but when he referred to the Hindu as accustomed to being suppressed, and to the Chinaman as a patient dog, accustomed to being kicked, and both of whom might be ignored, he showed an utter want of knowledge of a whole hemisphere of facts which all ought to know, but which have not yet been burned into history and into men's souls by a bloody war. Japan is one factor in a very much greater whole, but the fate of the white race, and the trend of the era upon which we are now entering depends on what the Chinaman will do, and it is more than possible that the brown races will have a part in the coming struggle and in the making of coming history. It is not safe to ignore or insult any man on account of the tint of his skin or the difference of his customs from ours. We blame the parochial idea that is confined to a municipality; we blame the provincial who is confined to his province; we blame a Canadian, who is Canadian and nothing more. We must get to the larger Imperial idea, and even there, if we confine ourselves to our own Empire and consider our patriotism as hatred of the nations outside, or evolve any kind of a tinge to our thought that would lead us to be unfair to the other nations, we narrow ourselves as well. We have to look at the whole question from the larger standpoint of humanity. There is a yellow peril on the horizon, but of a character entirely different from that imagined by trades unions whose world is largely confined to wages and work or a war of labour and capital, and equally different from the fears of the provincial politician, but patent to the statesman of world-wide outlook.
I would like, if I had time, to note the stream of paragraphs and telegrams and interviews which have recently been given in the newspapers, and point out the grains of truth with the shiploads of chaff, but it would consume too much time. One thing let me emphasize, and that is that the constantly repeated assertion that the Oriental has come here with the idea of over-running or appropriating this land in any sense whatever, and taking it out of the white man's hands, i5 a pure nightmare, and nothing else, without a ghost of foundation. It is a national conscience, an uneasy conscience, which makes cowards of us all. We think that because we white men are robbers of continents, after subjugating and decimating and destroying populations before us, therefore every other race, if it has the chance, is going to do the same. There is a yellow peril, very ominous, imminent and entirely of the white man's creating; a gathering storm which when it bursts, if it comes to what it threatens at this hour, will cripple the white race for centuries, if not forever, and make London as Ninevali and Tyre; or the white race will survive in a victory only a shade less lawful in results than in defeat; or a miracle will happen to prevent the conflict-" a miraculous spread of Christianity," as, Sir Robert Hart puts it.
Let me sketch the situation. The human races are, roughly speaking divided, like all Gaul that we used to read about many years ago, into three parties. First there are the uncivilized races, including the blacks of Africa, the tinted peoples on the Pacific Islands, the red man of America and other aboriginies scattered everywhere. The second is the civilized, nonChristian races, including the yellow races of Eastern Asia, the brown races of India, and shades of skin and of thought in Western Asia. Thirdly, there are the civilized and so-called Christian races, principally white, and foremost among them the Anglo-Saxons, whose energy and strength would dominate the world; whose energy, if harnessed to righteousness, could recreate this world, but, harnessed to militarism, has turned it in a different direction.
The problem today is not with the uncivilized child races, but with the second class. The central figure in the civilized, but non-Christian world is China. Long before the pyramids were built, two thousand two hundred arid fifty years before Christ, there was a tribe of men stretched along the Yang-Tsi Valley. Their wise men put their thought into literature. While writing was in its ideographic state of evolution, untouched by syllabic or alphabetic evolution elsewhere, they had perfected one of the most elaborate vehicles of literature capable of expressing all developments, all forms of human thought. They worked quietly, or energetically at times, while Babylon exhausted her four thousand years of tutorship of Western Asia, while Egypt and Assyria rose and fell, while Persia came and went, while Greece developed in her pent-up Utica and burst forth as schoolmaster of the world, while Rome fell heir to all preceding greatness: and with Greek culture as mistress, proceeded to organize a world. Chinese porcelain is found amid the ruins of Egypt. She has developed steadily from that ,day to this a civilization of her own, dominated by an ethical code put into permanent shape by Confucius five centuries before Christ, founded on filial obedience, aiming at producing a cultured gentleman as an ideal man on the one hand, and a state that would rule by righteousness and helpfulness on the other. Her ethics centered in one great law, "Don't do to anybody else what you do not want the other man to do to you."
If ever the Chinaman was aggressive he got over it many centuries ago, but as he sat and worked in his beloved land his people grew into millions, tens, hundreds of millions. Neighbouring nations were attracted and moulded into this central power. Conquerors from Mongolia and other places changed the Dynasty, but were soon digested into good Chinese. China quietly conquered them by the simple force of her thought, her higher civilization, until she swayed the destinies of all peoples on the Eastern side of the continent. Power, politically, centered in an Emperor, nominally despotic but largely a figurehead; the people ruling themselves in a free democracy; the outside nations held by. the loosest of bonds politically, but welded into one subtler, stronger union by ties of a common intellectual life--one teacher; one language of learning; one ethic and one ideal; one centre of dignified and helpful government. A form of government founded on learning and the moral law that persists through 5,000 years, on a philosophy that will hold together the varied elements of 400,000,000 of human beings along a line of intense study, and hold its own and develop a high type of moral and popular control for century after century, must contain some stronger forms of truth, adapted to human nature, than even Christendom has yet learned.
In this development that has gone on to the present day, though with the disadvantages of not having certain other elements that are required to make the nation complete, you have as a basis of wondrous power some points in which the yellow man excels the white man. The first is the power of organization; second, the power of creating great public works (the greatest wall built on the planet, the greatest canal to be found in the world, are in China); third, the ingenuity to produce great results with meagre tools and inadequate means-you know what that meant with the Japanese; fourth, perseverance -industry and frugality unbounded; fifth, respect for age and authority, the ease with which they are controlled when they have confidence in the leader; sixth: gratitude for favours and unswerving loyalty whenever kindliness and consideration have won his heart. Every element of manhood is in that people and they are ready to be further developed into anything that humanity has ever yet accomplished or ever will accomplish. Remember that all the greatness of China has not vanished like that of Ninevah and Tyre, and the long list of dead and buried Asiatic Empires and some moribund European nations of today. They are as numerous as they ever were, as virile, when they once wake up, today as they ever were in the long history of all the peoples that have gone before and vanished. The fact of the matter is, however, that Europe struck upon China when she was having a nap of a century or two, when she had got to an age when all the world that she knew was at peace with her. She was resting on her oars, and the oncoming of the white world was like a thunderbolt out of an absolutely unknown sphere.
One characteristic must again be kept in mind, and this is just interlarded here. The Chinaman is the slowest of mortals under compulsion and until he gets to see the point, but after he sees and is free to act, he is the swiftest in execution of any being on the face of the earth. Take, for instance, the long time before the telegraph was allowed in China. But after they had once started one line, and the Chinaman saw that it was a good thing for China, in an incredibly short time the Empire was simply filled with telegraph lines; and so with everything else. But what has happened to turn her from her career of peace and to start her at last into feverish preparation for war? Though a man of peace for two thousand years, he has all the capabilities of one of the most terrific soldiers on the face of the earth-equal to the Japanese, with added characteristics that the Japanese has not.
Just a rapid glance over the history out of which the problems of today were born. Rome and Greece made a success of a military empire, but ran it into ruin. A barbarian wave swept that civilization out of existence, and Europe had to start again to make a new civilization. While Tacitus was writing of Britain as the home of sea-wolves, China was making the same complaint of the wild pirates in Japan, untouched as yet of her civilization. About the time when England began to rise to modern civilization, Chinese influence began a transformation in Japan, and from the sixth century for 1,200 years China was the intellectual master and the political teacher of Japan. England passed through certain vicissitudes, until in the sixteenth century she began a career of expansion. The Great Britain of the Pacific passed through similar vicissitudes and internal commotion in the sixteenth century, then suddenly snapped her shell and retired from contact with the outside world, because the white man had apparently intimated that he was going to bring the Japanese under the Pope and Europe. Just as soon as the loyalty of the Japanese to the Emperor was threatened, the thing had to stop. In order to save herself from the white man's touch and the white man's religion, she hermetically sealed herself up for 250 years. For that period Japan was saved from spoliation and the immoral influence of European trade.
China during this period was afraid of the white man but could not close her gates. China was not opposed to progress. She admitted all the nations round about her-the Jesuits and the Christians that came with peaceful motives at first-and she would have continued to welcome the white man if he had come as a neighbour and a friend, and left his armaments at home. But the first touch with the white man and the continuous experience of two centuries was that of perpetual attack from pirates, buccaneers and slavers. China was absolutely ignorant of the outside white world, shut into her Asiatic land, and having no desire but to be at perfect peace within her own borders, and at peace with the whole world. She had almost lost her power of defence against an aggravated assault and did not know how to meet the white man and his aggression, nor the awful influence of the opium traffic which followed-greatly to Britain's disgrace.
One word more about Japan. The Japanese, a little nation of forty million, woke up at last to find that after two hundred and fifty years of seclusion she was only a little piece in the whole. She saw the map of the world and learned the tremendous influence the little Island Empire of Great Britain had in history. She said, "We will be the Great Britain of the Pacific." Looking over the situation, she soon saw perfectly well what was going on in China, and the meaning of the coming of the Russian, until Russia was within fifty miles of her border. Then she let loose her thunderbolt, and Russia was driven back by a little land that had been until so lately in seclusion. Though Oriental, the Japanese was a developed man; lie had been educated in thought for a thousand years. Japan was, just at the feudal state of development; it was easy to cast aside the old weapons and apply the military advantages of all the science of the West. The result is that Japan is today one of the first nations of the world in military power, and Japan has the statesmanship to look out, over the yellow race and say: "This yellow race, loosely related but filling all Eastern Asia, must become consolidated into one great whole, and it must be mobilized and equipped with all the science of the West, ready for peace or for war with the Western world." The first thing she had to do was to give China a thrashing to wake her up. She was still more waked up by the continual effort of the white man to gain a larger and ever larger hold and to get a larger and larger amount of gold out of her for every pound of dross that he gave. At last China has taken the thing into her own hands, thoroughly alert since the Boxer movement and the Russo-Japan war, and during the last two years has absolutely transformed the whole method along which she has been working.
Everything that the West can give China is taking on; has changed so as to equip herself for self-defence, and then for revenge if necessary. She has changed more in two years than in two thousand years before. As I said, China can move fast when she begins; she is now doing more in one year than Japan did in five, and is' rapidly preparing for a time when 400,000,000 of yellow men will become consolidated. Out of 60,000,000 of men who are of military age you will before many years have at least 10,000,000 equipped and trained and ready to face the world. And if Japan could throw half a million men into the mainland and drive Russia back, what will you do when five million or ten million men are ready to march into the field-one million to Siberia, one million to Europe, one million into India, and a million or more ready to face our country, if they have the ships to cross the ocean, and they will have a mighty navy in time? What will you do if, at the same time, the brown man has brought to ripeness what is working as a ferment under the surface, and is looking towards " India for the Indians "; and if the black man, who is already saying " Africa for the black man," and is looking to self-defence and something more; and if the Mohaminedan rises up against the Christian? The white man will be at enormous disadvantage, scattered as he is over the world, and China will have an enormous advantage in the solid centre on which she stands. Few of us, are aware, perhaps, that when Science opens the soil of China, there are mines of the very best coal in the world, and right beside them the very best iron ore, enough to supply the whole planet for a thousand years. All it needs is science and workmen-and they have the workmen by the million-in order to develop these untouched resources and turn the whole country into one great arsenal of war, to revenge the insult, the abuse and the destructive influences of a hundred years of treatment of which the white man ought to be ashamed.
The thing that will hasten it and render it absolute will be the perpetual nagging of anti-Asiatic legislation and newspaper demands for a "white country." Anything that hints at the inferiority of the yellow race cuts them to the quick, and will only meet with insult and force from their side; while, on the other hand, kindliness and the recognition of them as brothers and as gentlemen will get for us everything we ask in justice and turn them into friends. China has never refused a thing that has been asked in a proper spirit. Japan will not refuse to arrange her legislation to control the incoming of Japanese if we find it inconvenient, and ask them in the proper form. You think sometimes the Chinaman is a stolid, careless man, who can take a kick and go ahead and not mind it. He has been taught for two thousand years that one of the marks of a gentleman is not to show his feelings, but to hide them behind exterior calm. Remember that behind that stolid face there is a sensitive heart, as sensitive as that which beats under any white skin in the world. The Chinaman of the laundry is not the ruling element. The real Chinaman, gently nurtured, having much of the cultured gentleman, hides behind that stolid face a heart that is aching for sympathy. Every insult that we offer and every throb of pain resulting from unnecessary harshness, is adding to the feeling in China and Japan that is accumulating into hatred and contempt, and into a revenge that will eventually come unless we can do something to stop it, and that is the miracle to which I have already referred.
There is one way, and only one way, whereby this imminent and terrific struggle can be averted, and that is just: simply to go back of our Imperial idea into the larger humanity and into the law that lies at the basis of our ethics, but which we have absolutely trampled under foot. The Chinese law was, " Do not do to anybody what you do not want them to do to you," and they sat down and let the world come to them, and they gave them their blessing. We have been made on aggressive lines. " Go forward " is the white man's nature, and it is right. We were made for it" and at a particular time we were entrusted with science and knowledge and invention, discovery and machinery, that bound the world together and sent our traders all over it. If we had only gone forth with that higher law of doing right toward others, and giving to the others what you want to have yourself, we could today have had a new world, instead of a world thus cursed. The only cure today is for us to get back to the central law of doing something to help these struggling people, and give them to understand that, aside from the white buccaneers and robbers in one form or another, we want to bring them to believe that, the white man is an honest man, and is willing to give and take in his touch with human kind.
Let me indicate one thing that might be done. We have in British Columbia a province which is peculiarly difficult to develop. You cannot develop it by the single man, or the single family, as we did in Ontario, or as we do in the great prairie provinces. British Columbia can only be developed either at the hands of the people as a whole, who are able to do work on an enormous scale, or by an immense corporation, or a multitude of corporations, that are able to put unlimited capital into the mountains and forests and seas. But the mystery of it is that for fifty years British Columbia has been in the hands of little men. They have actually sat upon it and, as far as they could, have carved it up for themselves. They were once just as opposed to " Canadian Chinamen" as they were to the yellow man. They did not want to have any outsider in there. Now what we want is to get the Province into the hands of the people-public ownership, that will get after these great public treasures for the public benefit. If you are to do that you must have an immense number of labourers that the white world will not produce for the present, nor bring there at all. We could make use of these Orientals for the time being, and give them good employment, and their employment would not take one twenty-five cents out of the hands of the white man, but would put an immense amount of material into their hands for further work and further gain.
The Japanese are out all through Manchuria, with its great unpopulated districts, preparing the way for the masses of her people to go in there, and in a little while they will go in tens of hundreds of thousands. Then in hinter-China there are depopulated districts that, with a little help from skillful white men, could be turned into splendid areas for farming, into which millions of Chinese could move out of the congested parts. The resources under the soil that I have spoken of, if we could help them with machinery and skilled men who would go there without the idea of taking everything in sight, would in the end give every Chinaman ample work and living, and leave no call for them to go anywhere else in the world.
China has waked up, and has changed the whole of her old system of examinations. The worship of Confucius has been given to the Emperor, so as to give the people all their time for the new learning. Instead of the old Confucian course of study in the schools, they have brought in the science and the philosophy, all the learning of our West, and they want everything that we have to teach them. They are storming the missionaries to teach their boys--their girls, too--and that is a tremendous advance. They are opening schools in every part of the Empire, and will want teachers in immense numbers; and, best of all, they are wanting books. The translation of our literature into their language is being done by the Japanese, and they are translating it from the materialistic standpoint of the agnostic. What we ought to do, if possible, would be to put a million of money into getting our literature translated into Chinese from the Christian standpoint, and publishing it, so that we could offer it to their schools and the public at a lower rate than they could get it otherwise. That does not mean religious teaching, but the teaching of all knowledge in the light: of the noblest ethics and philosophy of life. Nothing would do so much to keep the hatred out and bring the kindness back again. In developing their resources they need scientific men, men skilled in modern appliances, in machinery, in mining, in telegraphy and railroading, and all lines of practical development. There is need of men who are, in touch with the Chinese and the white man as well, to open a way carefully, wisely, so that the Chinese would understand that in this new effort amongst them there was not some new dodge out of which to drag their money, or some new method to introduce a religious dogma; then we would be able to accomplish immensities. That is the kind of missionary work that we have to undertake in order to avoid the "yellow peril."