Court Life in China
Isaac Taylor Headland

Part 5 out of 5

in China during the last dozen years.

The changes in the new education among women promise to be even
more sweeping than those among men. Dr. Martin, expressing the
sentiments then in vogue, said, as far back as 1877, "that not
one in ten thousand women could read." In 1893 I began studying
the subject, and was led at once to doubt the statement. The
Chinese in an offhand way will agree with Dr. Martin. But I found
that it was a Chinese woman who wrote the first book that was
ever written in any language for the instruction of girls, and
that the Chinese for many years have had "Four Books for Girls"
corresponding to the "Four Books" of the old regime, and that
they were printed in large editions, and have been read by the
better class of people in almost every family. In every company
of women that came to call on my wife from 1894 to 1900, there
was at least one if not more who had read these books, while the
Empress Dowager herself was a brilliant example of what a woman
of the old regime could do. Where the desire for education was so
great among women, that as soon as it became possible to do so,
she launched the first woman's daily newspaper that was published
anywhere in the world, with a woman as an editor, we may be sure
that there was more than one in ten thousand during the old
regime that could read. What therefore may we expect in this new
regime where women are ready to sacrifice their lives rather than
that the school which they are undertaking to establish shall be
a failure?


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