free ebooks

A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And entrusted to him the conduct of the college called Seido


style="text-align: justify;">It has been stated above that one of the abuses which came into large practice from the middle period of the Tokugawa Bakufu was the adoption of children of ignoble birth into samurai families in consideration of monetary payments by their parents. This mercenary custom was strictly interdicted by the Matsudaira regent, who justly saw in it a danger to the solidity of the military class. But it does not appear that his veto received full observance.


Since the shogun Tsunayoshi (1680-1709) appointed Hayashi Nobuatsu as chief of Education in Yedo, and entrusted to him the conduct of the college called Seido, Hayashi's descendants succeeded to that post by hereditary right. They steadily followed the principles of Confucianism as interpreted by Chutsz, a Chinese philosopher who died in the year 1200, but in accordance with the inevitable fate of all hereditary offices, the lapse of generations brought inferiority of zeal and talent. During the first half of the seventeenth century, there appeared in the field of Japanese philosophy Nakaye Toju, who adopted the interpretation of Confucianism given by a later Chinese philosopher, Wang Yang-ming (1472-1529). At a subsequent date Yamaga Soko, Ito Jinsai, and Ogyu Sorai (called also Butsu Sorai) asserted the superiority of the ancient Chinese teaching; and finally Kinoshita Junan preached the rule of adopting whatever was good,

without distinction of Tang or Sung.

These four schools engaged in vehement controversy, and showed such passion in their statements and such intolerance in their contradictions, that they seemed to have altogether forgotten the ethical principles underlying their own doctrines. In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, other schools came into being, one calling itself the "eclectic school," another the "inductive school," and so forth, so that in the end one and the same passage of the Confucian Analects received some twenty different interpretations, all advanced with more or less abuse and injury to the spirit of politeness.

In these circumstances the educational chief in Yedo lost control of the situation. Even among his own students there were some who rejected the teachings of Chutsz, and Confucianism threatened to become a stumbling-block rather than an aid to ethics. The prime minister, Sadanobu, now appointed four philosophers of note to assist the Hayashi family, and these famous teachers attended in turn at the Seido to lecture, commoners as well as samurai being allowed to attend. Sadanobu further directed that the heads of Government departments should send in a list of those best educated among their subordinates, and the men thus recommended were promoted after examination. Moreover, the prime minister himself, attended by his colleagues and the administrators, made a habit of inspecting personally, from time to time, the manner of teaching at the college, and finally, in 1795, the Seido was definitely invested with the character of a Government college, a yearly grant of 1130 koku being apportioned to meet the expenses, and an income of 1500 koku being bestowed upon the Hayashi family.

In the same year, it was decreed that no one should be eligible for a post in the civil service unless he was an avowed follower of the Chutsz philosophy. This bigoted measure, spoken of as the "prohibition of heterodoxy," did not produce the desired effect. It tended rather to accentuate the differences between the various schools, and a petition was presented to the Bakufu urging that the invidious veto should be rescinded. The petitioners contended that although the schools differed from each other, their differences were not material, since all stood on common foundations, namely, the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius, and all agreed in inculcating the virtues of filial piety, brotherly love, loyalty, humanity, righteousness, politeness, and general tranquillity.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us