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Title: Progress of Western Education in China and Siam

Compiler: United States. Bureau of Education

Release date: January 7, 2014 [eBook #44614]

Language: English


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                                  DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
                                            BUREAU OF EDUCATION,
                                      Washington, August 3, 1880.

The attention of school officers and teachers is invited to the following interesting accounts of the progress of western ideas and educational methods in China and Siam, forwarded to the Department of State by the United States minister at Peking and the United States consul at Bangkok, respectively.

                                                     JOHN EATON,

                      GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE.


* * * * *


Mr. Evarts to Mr. Schurz.

                                            DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
                                        Washington, May 12, 1880.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith, for the benefit of the
Bureau of Education, copies of dispatches Nos. 600 and 612 from our
legation at Peking, detailing the progress of western education in

The inclosure with No. 600, being printed matter, is too voluminous for copying, but will be sent for perusal if desired.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


* * * * *

Mr. Seward to Mr. Evarts.

No. 600.] LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Peking, February 21, 1880.

SIR: There has lately been published in the North China Daily News, at Shanghai, a statement, from the pen of Mr. John Freyer, of work done in the "translations department" of the arsenal at Shanghai.

This so-called arsenal is a large establishment, in which vessels of war are built, guns cast, and small arms made. It employs, or did employ a few years ago, on the occasion of my last visit to it, about fifteen hundred hands. These were all Chinese, with the exception of some half dozen superintendents and specialists. It had grown to these dimensions in a very few years, and appeared likely to receive the continued support of the government.

I was aware that a scientific school and a department of translations had been established in connection with the arsenal, but I was not prepared to learn that so much has been accomplished by the latter of these as appears from Mr. Freyer's report. Of what the school is doing I am not informed at the moment, but it appears that a very large number of our text books have been translated into Chinese in the translations department, and that the Chinese connected with it have shown a degree of zeal which promises much for the future.

While referring you to Mr. Freyer's very interesting paper for the details of this work, I may remark that the education of the Chinese in our knowledge is going forward in many ways. You are familiar with the facts in regard to the educational mission in the United States.

About one hundred and twenty young Chinamen, supported and paid by this government, are now in various schools and colleges in our country, gaining all that is available in the way of knowledge from us to bring it into use here. Perhaps half as many more are studying in Europe. Here at Peking, the university presided over by Dr. Martin is progressing very favorably. There is a school at Foochow connected with the arsenal there, and another one at Canton.

All of these educational enterprises are sustained by the government. Besides these, however, there are many schools, of a more or less advanced order, in charge of and supported by the several foreign missionary bodies, where other branches than those directly connected with the moral and religious purposes of the missionaries are taught. Educational work is fortunately of such a nature that its results are felt in a constantly increasing measure. It has been progressive everywhere else, and there is enough in Mr. Freyer's paper alone to show that it will be progressive here. The people are eager to avail themselves of the opportunities offered to them, and the government appears as the patron of western knowledge.

Under such circumstances it is possible to take a hopeful view of the future of China, despite all her conservatism.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


* * * * *

Mr. Seward to Mr. Evarts.

No. 612.] LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Peking, February 29, 1880.

SIR: Recurring to my dispatch No. 600, in regard to the work done in the "translations department" of the Shanghai arsenal, I have now the honor to hand to you a leading article which I have taken from the Shanghai Courier, in regard to foreign education for the Chinese, and to say that I have asked our several consular officers to report to me what is being done at their several ports in the direction indicated.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


* * * * *

[Extract from the Shanghai Courier of Friday, January 30, 1880.]

Foreign education for the Chinese.

A greater knowledge of western civilization than is now possessed is essential to the progress of the Middle Kingdom. To individual Chinese, foreign education is something of a fortune, and is the surest capital with which they can be invested. The saying that "knowledge is power" is well borne out in this case, for foreign knowledge is almost certain to obtain for a Chinaman a lucrative appointment and an improved social position. Parents are now realizing this fact, and many of the well-to-do Chinese are anxious to send their sons to Europe or America to be educated. The advantage of such an education can hardly be overestimated in the case of those who have before them official or public careers.

At the same time there are considerable drawbacks to going abroad, and it may be questioned whether, in many instances, equally good results could not be secured without incurring so great a loss of time and expense—a loss so considerable as to prevent the benefit from being enjoyed by all but the wealthy or those supported by other than the family funds. For of course the sons of even what may be called the middle classes cannot afford to leave their country in order to be educated, and, unless they can receive foreign instruction in China, will not receive it at all. It cannot be denied that residence abroad possesses some advantages which cannot be obtained in China; yet, except in rare cases, those particular advantages are not the most needed.

Why should not useful knowledge be imparted to the Chinese as well in China as it can be in Europe or America? The drawbacks to a Chinaman's residing away from his home for the time needed to follow a regular course of instruction are sometimes not duly considered. The Chinese are apt, as has been pointed out, to be "too much Europeanized." Especially are they likely to neglect their native language, and so on their return lessen their opportunities of usefulness and prospects of promotion. Particularly is this so with a large class who hope to qualify themselves for the position of professors. A teacher must not only be acquainted with his subject, but he must also be able to impart his knowledge to others; which it is impossible he can do if he has only an imperfect acquaintance with the language which is the medium of communication. It should always be borne in mind that foreign knowledge, though exceedingly useful, is not all-important to a Chinaman, and that even its usefulness may be greatly diminished if it is obtained at cost of the neglect of his mother tongue. Looking, therefore, to the expense of being educated abroad, and to its serious inconveniences, especially to the fact that it must ever be beyond the reach of all but the rich, it is of great importance to consider how a similar education can be had in China. It would be very incorrect to speak of the local polytechnic as a failure, but it is, as yet, a long way from having realized the objects of its promoters. Its educational facilities are great, and though it is now doing good and useful work, we trust to see it become something very different to what it is at the present moment. There are few institutions in Hong Kong which have conferred greater benefits on the Chinese than the Central School; and it is surprising that an attempt has not been made to establish something of the kind at Shanghai. The St. John's College will, it is hoped, contribute towards supplying what is a seriously felt want.

At this institution the course of instruction comprises the English language and literature, geography, history, the evidences of Christianity, natural science, mathematics, natural philosophy, chemistry, astronomy, mental and moral philosophy, and international law. This is a sufficiently extended curriculum to begin with, but it is intended to enlarge it if the project be successful. Pupils are required to be fifteen years of age and to possess some knowledge of the Chinese classics. We believe that the Hong Kong Central School owes much of its success to the purely secular character of its teaching; and many who take great interest in the foreign education of the Chinese will perhaps note with regret the religious element of St. John's College. But the two institutions are of a different character, and it could hardly be expected that the work carried on at St. John's should be purely secular. The promoters have, however, met possible objections in a spirit which, under the circumstances, must, we think, be considered liberal. They wish it to be distinctly understood "that St. John's College is a literary and scientific school, and not per se a theological institute." A student must attend the daily prayers at chapel and the usual Sunday services, but in other respects he is free to devote himself to the secular side of the daily routine of class work. Many people would have been glad if the authorities had allowed attendance at prayers and Sunday service to be voluntary, and probably the chief end in view might have been better reached in that manner. Yet, though the requirement may restrict the usefulness of the institution, preventing it being generally availed of, we are pleased to call attention to it as being calculated to confer great advantages on the Chinese youth, and to offer it the encouragement of publicity. It may be well to note that the charge for board and tuition is exceedingly moderate.

* * * * *

Mr. Hay to Mr. Schurz.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, August 13, 1880.

SIR: I have the honor to inclose herein, for transmission to the Bureau of Education, a copy of a recent dispatch from the late minister to China, Mr. Geo. F. Seward, covering the replies which he has received from the United States consular officers in that empire as to the efforts which are being made for the education of the Chinese in foreign branches of knowledge, either by the government of China, by private enterprise, or by missionary efforts.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

JOHN HAY, Acting Secretary.

* * * * *

Mr. Seward to Mr. Evarts.

No. 705.] LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Peking, June 11, 1880.

SIR: I have the honor to hand to you herewith copies of the answers which have been received from our consular officers in this empire to the inquiry made in a circular addressed to them as to efforts being made to educate the Chinese in foreign branches of knowledge, either by the government of China, by private enterprise, or by missionary effort. The circular referred to was forwarded to the Department with my dispatch No. 600.

While these reports are not as full as I could have wished, they still furnish an outline of the work which is being done, and may be of interest to the Department.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


* * * * *

Mr. Goldsborough to Mr. Seward.

No. 107.] AMOY, April 23, 1880.

SIR: In response to your dispatch No. 86, of February 27, 1880, I beg to state that there are two private English schools at this port for the education of Chinese, conducted by native born Chinese, who possess a fair knowledge of the English language, but there is no institution of the kind founded or supported by the government.

The missionaries have several schools of their own for the tuition of
Chinese boys and girls in the Chinese language.

I have the honor, &c.,


* * * * *

Mr. Cheshire to Mr. Seward.

No. 55.] FOOCHOW, March 29, 1880.

SIR: I have had the honor to receive your dispatch No. 78, calling upon me to furnish you with such information as may be available to me in regard to the education of Chinese in foreign languages within this consular district, whether in schools founded and supported by the Chinese government, or by private enterprise, or by missionaries, as far as the secular branches are concerned, and also to report upon the schools established at Hong Kong by the colonial government.

I now beg to submit the following report:

The Tung wen Kwan is the only scholastic institution under government auspices for teaching foreign knowledge in Canton. It was established by order of the Tsung li Yamen about sixteen years ago. It is under the official control of the viceroy, the haikwan (superintendent of customs), the Tartar general, and two lieutenant Tartar generals, but the practical control is left almost entirely in the hands of the Tartar general, to whom it affords opportunities of patronage, for the staff is large, and the members thereof not only benefit by the salaries they receive but their official appointment as officers of the college (Tung wen Kwan) forms a stepping-stone to promotion in other branches of the public service. The staff consists of three superintendents, (the chief of whom holds rank about equivalent to that of a major general), three Chinese teachers, a foreign teacher with a Chinese assistant, two Chinese clerks, doorkeepers, cooks, and other servants. The number of students is fixed at thirty, of whom twenty are classed as students proper and ten as supernumerary students, the latter being intended to fill vacancies as they occur in the former; and when, from various causes, the total number falls to twenty or twenty-five, fresh supernumeraries are added to make up the number. The students proper receive a small pay of three taels a month, but the supernumeraries receive nothing except a free breakfast every day.

It is difficult to define the raison d'être of the Tung wen Kwan College; in theory it is established to provide the Chinese government with a staff of interpreters and persons conversant with foreign literature and foreign habits of thought; but, so far as can be judged by patent facts, the patronage above referred to is the element most appreciated, and it may be well to notice the extent to which the theoretical object has been carried out, and how far the Chinese government has availed itself of the material for the production of which something like eight hundred dollars a month has been expended for the last sixteen years in the maintenance of the college.

About ten years ago fourteen students were drafted from Canton to the Peking college. Of these, five have retired from various causes, six are still attached to the Peking College, and the remaining three have appointments in legations abroad, one in Washington, one in London, and one in Japan. Since 1870 not one student has been drafted to Peking; none of the Canton students have in any way been called upon to render service to their government. Most of them have received an honorary literary degree (Hsin Tsai) equivalent to B.A., and three or four of them are nominally interpreters, for which they receive a small additional pay. Year after year passes, and boys of 17 grow up to be men of 27, marry and become fathers, and go on with their foreign studies without so much as a word of encouragement from their own authorities. Under such discouraging circumstances it must be that studying is often done in a perfunctory way; and yet, while some of the students have, as I understand, a very good knowledge of English, wanting only practice outside the school walls to render it equal to that of any Chinaman who has not had the advantage of living abroad, they constantly witness men of less technical knowledge than themselves, men of lower stamp altogether, men picked up here and there without any proper steps being taken to ascertain their fitness, called upon to perform the very duties for the performance of which the students of the Tung wen Kwan are in theory specially educated.

The course of study, I am informed, consists chiefly of the English language, together with but subordinate to which there are geography, arithmetic, history, algebra, mathematics, and astronomy. A very small proportion of the students have made any progress in algebra or mathematics, few are even fair arithmeticians, and much that they are called upon to learn of geography, history, and astronomy is soon forgotten. This arises from no want of ability, but from an utter want of encouragement on the part of the Chinese authorities for the students to trouble themselves with such studies. Without a reasonable knowledge of the language they are liable, on the motion of the foreign teacher, to be dismissed from the school, and in the acquisition of that they are to some extent buoyed up with hope, a hope that sometimes becomes lamentably faint, that the language will ultimately be of service to them; but with respect to the other branches, I am given to understand, no person in authority, except the foreign teacher, seems to know or care whether they are taught or not.

The students consist almost entirely of Tartars (including bannermen). Originally about one-third were Chinese, but it was found that, after learning English at the expense of government, these latter generally disappeared. The Tartars are much more bound to the government, and are loyal, both from training and self-interest. As young men, they are far more noble and honorable in their character than the Chinese, lacking in a great measure the low cunning which characterizes the latter, especially when they get official employment. But it is hard to say how far their natural nobility and honor would suffer if they were thrown into that vortex of corruption and dishonesty which pertains to official life.

I am informed that there has, for the past year or two, been an intention to add a German and a French department to the Canton College, and that extensive premises have been erected for this purpose, but some difficulty about funds seems to have caused further steps to be postponed.

Private schools.—There are no private schools worthy of the name in Canton for teaching foreign languages. Now and then a small school is opened, in which English is professed to be taught by a man whose knowledge of that language is too limited to fit him for other employment, and after a brief struggle these schools die out, one after another. There is no doubt that the advantages offered by the government schools in Hong Kong are too great to enable private schools in Canton to compete with them.

Missionary schools.—None of the missionaries in Canton teach English or any other foreign language to their Chinese pupils now, nor have they for some years. They found by experience that it was very difficult to teach English to their pupils because of their inaptitude to learn western languages; that the object of the majority who came to their schools (formerly) to learn English was simply to get a sufficient knowledge of that language to enable them to get some lucrative employment with foreigners, and as soon as they had acquired a little smattering of English they disappeared and passed away beyond their Christian instruction.

I shall endeavor to furnish you with some particulars in regard to the schools established at Hong Kong by the colonial government shortly.

I have the honor, &c.,


* * * * *

Mr. Scruggs to Mr. Seward.

No. 21.] CHINKIANG, March 24, 1880.

SIR: I had the honor to receive on the 21st instant your dispatch No. 63, of the 27th February last. In response thereto I regret to say there is not a school of any kind, native or foreign, public or private, secular or religious, within this district in which Chinese are educated by foreign methods or in foreign knowledge. The missionary schools are all conducted in the native language, and their curriculum, confined to purely religious and sectarian instruction. A few young men among the native residents of this port take lessons in the English language from a native interpreter educated at Hong Kong but now employed here in the customs service. But they seek to know no more of our language than is barely necessary to aid them in business transactions with foreigners, and what they do thus acquire is little else than the barbarous and childish dialect known as "Pigein English." I know of but one exception, and that is the case of General Wong, the military commander here, an educated Chinaman, who is ambitious to enter the diplomatic service of his country.

I am, sir, &c.,


* * * * *

Mr. De Lano to Mr. Seicard.

No. 164.] FOOCHOW, May 5, 1880.

SIR: I have had the honor to receive your dispatch No. 109, asking me for such information as may be available to me in regard to the education of Chinese in foreign knowledge in this consular district.

There are at the Foochow arsenal two schools, one under English and the other under French management. In the former the number of students varies between 30 and 50, and the studies pursued are English, arithmetic, geometry, geography, grammar, trigonometry, algebra, and navigation. In a four and a half years' course the students receive from the government a monthly stipend of $4.

There is a naval and a mechanical branch of the same school, each having an average of 25 students receiving the same monthly allowance from the government, which also pays a very liberal salary to the professors in charge.

The school under French management has about 40 pupils, in four divisions, studying French, arithmetic, elements of algebra and geometry, trigonometry, analytic geometry and calculus, mechanical engineering, transmission of power and friction. The branches of this school are a school of design and school of apprentices, the pupils pursuing many of the studies enumerated above and receiving the same stipend of $4 a month. The professor is also very liberally paid.

I know of no schools founded by private enterprise in which foreign studies are pursued. There are several schools for both males and females conducted by foreign missionaries in which other than secular branches of study are pursued, say, the elementary branches, such as geography, mathematics, astronomy, &c., but all in the Chinese language.

I am unable at present to state the number of pupils usually in attendance in these latter schools.

I have the honor to be, &c.,


* * * * *

Mr. Shepard to Mr. Seward.

No. 45.] HANKOW, April 10, 1880.

SIR: Referring to your No. 85, on the subject of educating natives in foreign sciences, I have to report that I cannot learn of anything done in my district of any moment. At sundry times some foreigners wanting employment have opened small schools in Hankow, intending to teach people of any age to read English. The results have been inconsiderable, as the enterprise has in all cases been abandoned as soon as more lucrative pursuits have been available. Besides this, I know of no efforts made in the direction of your inquiry except some work of Dr. A. C. Bumr, of the American Episcopal mission at Wu-Chang, who, before he left, gave some instruction to a few converts in the theory and practice of medicine. In his view his results were encouraging, but not fully developed.

I am informed also that Dr. Manby, now located here in charge of the London Mission Hospital, is preparing a system of instruction, and intends soon to put it in operation, for the systematic training of native pupils in the principles and science of physiology, with surgical and medical training, in a course of some years' duration in connection with his important hospital work. Beyond these I know of nothing done in the line of your investigation.

I am, sir, &c.,


* * * * *

Mr. Bandinel to Mr. Seward.

No. 42-625.] NEW CHWANG, March 30, 1880.

SIR: In response to your excellency's dispatch No. 66, I have the honor to state that, as far as I can learn, there is not within the three Mantchoorian provinces any school founded or supported by native official or private enterprise in which foreign knowledge is imparted to Chinese students. From inquiries among the missionaries I learn that—

The Roman Catholics have a college under foreign supervision, wherein 26 pupils are instructed in Latin, philosophy, theology, and the elements of geography, mathematics, &c., and whence 4 pupils have been ordained as priests.

The Irish Presbyterian Mission has a boys' school under the supervision of a clerical missionary, wherein 20 scholars, from 9 to 13 years of age, are instructed in geography, penmanship, and the course of (4) reading books used in the government schools at Hong Kong. They will learn, when more advanced, arithmetic and other subjects. There is also the nucleus of a girls' school, only two pupils, supervised by the missionary's wife, who teaches them plain sewing in addition to the above branches of knowledge.

Mr. Carson also contemplates starting a day school in the heart of the city, in connection with the above mentioned which are held in his compound.

The medical missionary of the Irish Presbyterian Mission has in his own compound a boys' school with 15 scholars, and in an adjacent building a girls' school with 9 scholars. Many of these are too young to learn much, but the elder ones learn geography (Wade's book), and three boys and three girls are taught to read and write English.

The Scotch United Presbyterians have a mission here, but apparently neither in their boys' school, recently discontinued, nor in their girls' school, which numbers 14 scholars, has any foreign secular education been, except indirectly, imparted. The girls, however, are learning foreign needlework.

I have the honor, &c.,


* * * * *

MY DEAR MR. BANDINEL: In our boys' school, which we have now discontinued, our object was to give the children of our church members a Chinese classical education, such as they would receive in a first class native school. Our principle was that of the grammar schools at home. Outside of the regular lessons, there was daily the "religious hour," or morning and evening class, where I instructed them in religious truth. I only bound myself to spend one hour per day with the scholars, and therefore never formally laid myself out to train them in foreign knowledge. But I have, of course, introduced all manner of subjects in my illustrations, making it a point incidentally to introduce whatever knowledge of historical and scientific subjects I myself possessed. The school room has always been well supplied with books. I think we have had almost every foreign work which has been translated, and we take in for the school, 1st, the Globe Magazine; 2d, the Scientific Magazine; 3d, the Child's Paper. I have several times had teachers who took a great interest in these periodicals, and who did what they could to make the subjects intelligible to their pupils. We still continue a flourishing girls' school. We also teach the Chinese classics there, and with great success; though the classics are, as it were, taught incidentally, and scripture history, &c., forms the bulk of the teaching. The girls are being taught foreign needlework, but have not made any very great attainments. But in most cases the direct teaching has borne mostly on Chinese subjects, and we have trusted to the personal influence of the foreigners to communicate foreign knowledge.

Yours, sincerely,


* * * * *

MY DEAR MR. BANDINEL: In reply to your letter of the 18th instant, I beg to state that the secular subjects taught in the school are geography, penmanship, and the course of reading books taught in the government school at Hong Kong.

These reading books, four in number, in a graduated series, treat of a great variety of subjects, both foreign and native. As soon as the children are far enough advanced, they will be taught arithmetic and other subjects.

The school is a free boarding school, supported by the mission, and our object is to train for ourselves a staff of native helpers.

Believe me, &c.,


* * * * *

MY DEAR MR. BANDINEL: The only secular instruction given in my school is in geography. I have given half a dozen children, three girls and three boys, lessons in English. The lessons are merely in reading and writing.

This is all I have to say in reply to your communication of the 11th instant.

I am yours, very truly.


* * * * *


MOST ILLUSTRIOUS SIR: I make a brief answer to your excellency concerning the inquiry of the most noble minister in charge of the legation for the consulate of America in Peking.

In our region, Mantchooria—that is, in the three provinces of Mukden, Kirin, and Saghalien—there has existed, so far as I know, no school or institution founded by the Chinese government or established by private citizens in which pupils may study European sciences and acquire some knowledge of the arts of foreign nations.

As regards the Catholic mission, which has been intrusted to my care, we have founded one college, with Drs. Boyer and Hinard as rectors, in which twenty-six pupils study Latin language, philosophy, and theology, as well as geography, mathematics, &c. Four graduates from this college have been ordained priests already, and are offering themselves with most pleasing readiness for the service of preaching and directing the Christians of the region.

Nor, indeed, am I able to give your excellency any information upon the subject of your question of yesterday. Meanwhile I pray God that He may bestow all blessings upon your excellency, whom I desire to make certain of my respect.

Most devotedly, yours in Christ,

C. DUBRAIL, Bishop of Bolina, Vicar Apostolic of Mantchooria.

* * * * *

Mr. Lord to Mr. Seward.

No. 119.] NINGPO, April 20, 1880.

SIR: I am sorry that I have not been able to reply earlier to your dispatch No. 57, requesting such information as I might have in regard to the education of Chinese in foreign knowledge within this consular district.

Nothing, I believe, has been done in this respect by the Chinese government or by Chinese officials in this province, either to found or sustain schools in which foreign knowledge has been taught. Nor has anything worth speaking of been accomplished by private enterprise, outside of missionaries. There was a small attempt made here a few years ago to get up an English school for natives, but it came to nothing, very likely through the incapacity of the person who undertook it.

Missionaries from the beginning of their work here have had schools of various kinds. The object of these schools has, of course, been religious. Yet, as in religious schools at home, secular knowledge has been taught in them to some extent.

Missionaries in this part of China have not, as a general thing, encouraged their pupils to learn English, but they have tried to teach them history, geography, mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, physiology, medicine, &c., and their efforts have, no doubt, been attended with some success. The number thus instructed may not have been very large, and bearing in mind the great difficulties under which the instruction must have been given, we can hardly suppose that the results have been very great; still, something has been done. A beginning, at least, has been made in the work of a higher and better education among this people. Though aside from these mission schools there have been in this place no organized efforts for the education of Chinese in foreign knowledge, one will yet often meet with Chinese who have acquired more or less of this knowledge. Some of these have been taught in schools elsewhere, either at other ports or in foreign countries, and others have, in one way or another, been so related that this knowledge has in various degrees come to them. And these instances are continually increasing. The number of Chinese who speak English, and who have more or less English education, is less here than at some of the other ports. They naturally go to places where there is a demand for these qualifications. There has, so far, been very little demand for them here.

This reminds me of a matter to which I have long been wishing to call your attention. It is the inconvenience and disadvantage under which consular officers are placed in being required to write their dispatches in Chinese to Chinese officials. I wish to say something on this subject, but perhaps I had better do it in another letter, and when I have more leisure.

I have the honor, &c.,


* * * * *


Mr. Evarts to Mr. Schurz.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, May 17, 1880.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith, for the information of your Department, a copy of dispatch No. 150, dated March 18, 1880, from the consul at Bangkok, Siam, in relation to the system of education lately introduced into Siam.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


* * * * *

Mr. Sickels to Mr. Payson.

No. 150.] CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Bangkok, Siam, March 18, 1880.

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Department dispatches Nos. 57, 58, and 59, dated respectively December 1 and 6, 1879, and January 6, 1880, all at hand by the same mail.

In regard to the information required by the Department of the Interior, referred to in No. 57, I have the honor to inclose a private letter on the subject from Rev. Dr. McFarland, the principal of the King's College and the originator and founder of the new system of education lately introduced into the kingdom. This letter contains all the information procurable on the subject. Dr. McFarland was for many years in charge of the American Presbyterian mission schools in Petchaburi, and is well qualified for the position to which he has been transferred.

Although too modest to claim any merit for himself in this new work, I am satisfied from my own observation and the reports of the committees who have the matter in charge, that our countryman's success in the conduct of this new school has been fully up to the expectations formed, has met with His Majesty's approval and given him full satisfaction. I do not, however, think that this success, or indeed any, if much greater, will induce the government to extend the area of operation and establish at present any general school system throughout the kingdom, or even at the prominent points.

The Siamese are vast projectors and their ideas in the beginning are large, but their plans taper very much and very abruptly as the charm of novelty passes away and demands on the purse increase. There is, besides, a strong party of the old régime who do not approve of education in any form, particularly in foreign languages and studies, who believe implicitly in the wisdom of their ancestors, and obstinately oppose themselves to any attempt at removing the ancient landmarks wherever posted.

The party of progress, "Young Siam," appreciate the value of the old adage, "The more haste the less speed," and their policy is to move slowly and gradually, temporizing rather than raising bitter issues, abiding their time, until its efflux shall have removed the more acrid and influential members of the old conservative party and left the field clear for the introduction of more modern and more enlightened ideas.

The King is young; the contemporaries and counsellors of his father are old. He has all the advantage on his side and can afford to wait. In the mean time the influence of this school is extending itself by means of the younger branches through the principal families of the kingdom, and can scarcely fail to produce in the new good time favorable results.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

                                               DAVID B. SICKELS,
                                              United States Consul.

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MY DEAR MR. TORRY: In compliance with your request, I will now give you some items of information in reference to the educational work recently commenced in Siam. So far as I know, the desire for the education of Siamese youth originated with His Majesty the King.

Being in Bangkok in November, 1877, His Excellency Phya Bhaskarawongse, the King's private secretary, sought a private interview with me, and informed me that His Majesty desired to have a school started in Bangkok, and asked me what I thought of taking charge of it. I asked time to consider the subject. His excellency then requested me to write out a plan for a school. In a few months after this, I replied favorably to the proposition to take charge of a school and also presented a plan. His excellency then secured for me an audience with the King, at which time His Majesty informed me that he had fully determined to have schools.

About a year after this, or in October, 1878, I entered into an engagement in an article with the committee appointed by the King to take charge of a school for five years. That school was opened in Bangkok on the 1st of January, 1879, with 50 scholars, mostly sons of noblemen and a few princes. These 50 scholars were selected by the committee, placed in the school under my care and control, and they are taught and boarded at government expense. Day scholars receive their tuition and books free, but are required to pay their boarding. Some board at the school; others board at home. The whole number in attendance during the first year was 104. The object of this school was to furnish an education in the English and Siamese languages to as many as can be accommodated.

The King has not afforded educational advantages to the people throughout the country, as has been stated. I think His Majesty wishes to open other schools, but they must make an experiment with this one first and see how it succeeds. This is the only government school in the country where English is taught.

There is a school numbering about 60 pupils and supported by the King where the Siamese language only is taught.

Besides these government schools there are several private schools, besides those managed by the missionary societies.