<p style='text-align: justify;'>This is the last (of three) papers of the final Triennial Examinations held in September 1902 before the examination system, which had existed for over one thousand years, was abolished in 1904.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The paper (with the two others making the complete set) was acquired from the Provincial Examination Hall at Nanjing (the largest in China, with 20,644 cells) by the Reverend Mr. Arnold Foster (1846-1919), a graduate of St. John's College and President of the Cambridge Union (1870), and presented by him to Cambridge University Library in 1910.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The circumstances under which the papers were acquired are explained by Mr Foster in his memoirs:</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>"During the Manchu Dynasty, Triennial examinations were held in all the provincial capitals, and students, who had already obtained their B.A. degree, came from all parts of the province to sit for the examination. Out of the five or six thousand who go in for it only seventy or eighty could pass, but as this was the only door to official life, large numbers always competed. This was felt to be a unique opportunity for reaching the student class. In September, 1902, Mr. Foster and representatives from all Protestant Missions in the three cities, with Chinese Christian helpers, waited at the gate of the examination hall with packets of books to give to the students, as they left the building. Thirty-two hampers full of books were given late in the evening and very early the next morning. This was an occasion when Mr. Foster believed in free distribution. As a rule, he thought it much wiser to sell books, as being paid for, they would be valued and read. He regretted that free distribution had revived in later years, so making sales more difficult."</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>With the three papers, Mr Foster sent the following letter to the Librarian of Cambridge University Libary:</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>London Mission Hankow, China<br /> 22nd. June 1910<br /> Dear Sir,</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>I enclose a printed paper referring to the now obsolete Chinese Triennial Examinations, which explains itself. In the summer of 1902 - not knowing that the examinations about to be held would be the last of the kind - I tried, as a matter of curiosity, to obtain a set of the papers from each of the centres where the examinations were held. I was only successful in about seven cases, but these seven sets seem to me worth preserving and I now - as an old Cambridge man - beg to send you what I think is the best set of the lot - that from Nanking hoping that you may think the papers worthy of a place in the Chinese department of the University Library. My idea is that they would be worth mounting, framing and hanging up in some place where they would be seen by all visitors to the Chinese part of the Library. Professor Giles will I am sure be glad to give you any further information you require about the papers and if you think it worth while to furnish you with a translation of them.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>I am Dear Sir<br /> Yours faithfully<br /> Arnold Foster<br /> P.S. I am offering other sets to the British Museum, the Bodleian, and one other library in England.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The 'printed paper' referred to above reads as follows:</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'> <b>"Chinese Literary Examinations Specimen Papers</b> </p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>In the Autumn of 1902 the Triennial Examinations that formed one of the most prominent features of the Educational system for which China has for centuries been famous, were held for the last time in most of the Provincial Capitals of the Empire.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The accompanying examination papers, given out in that year in the Examination Cells of Nanking the Capital of the Province of Kiang-nan, are an interesting relic of an ancient method of testing the proficiency of Chinese students in the learning and literature of their country, and their own fitness for holding official positions in the Civil Service of the Empire. The whole sustem has now been entirely superseded by the introduction of courses of study and methods of examination more akin to those in use in Western lands.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>An account of the character of these examinations and of their history will be found in <i>The Middle Kingdom</i>, by Dr. S. Wells Williams (London, W.H. Allen, 1883, Vol. 1 pp. 521, 547ff.), in <i>The Lore of Cathay</i>, by Dr. W.A.P. Martin (New York, Fleming H. Revell, 1901, pp. 312-316) and in other standard works on China.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The examinations for the first literary degree - that of <i>Hsiu ts'ai</i> - were, until the beginning of the present century, held about twice in three years in every prefectural Department in China. In these examinations, according to Dr. Wells Williams, the number of candidates who succeeded in getting the coveted degree would seldom reach one in every five hundred examinees. The examination for the second degree - that of <i>Chü jên</i> - was a much more severe ordeal and the proportion of successful candidates was decidedly smaller than in the examination for the first degree.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The second examination was theoretically held only once in three years, but on certain occasions of State an intermediate and additional examination was sometimes decreed as an act of Imperial grace. By this means an extra chance of winning distinction was brought within reach of a large number of students who had previously been disappointed in their attempts to gain this degree. To the present papers a peculiar interest belongs. In the year 1900, the due date for the Triennial Examinations, owing to the troubles caused by the Boxer outbreak and the capture of Peking by the allied troops, the examinations were not held in any part of the Empire. One of the conditions of peace imposed on China by the Western Powers was that in all towns where foreigners had been massacred, official examinations should be suspended for five years. Two years later, peace and quietness having been restored, the Emperor decreed, as an act of Imperial grace, that the Triennial Examination which had been foregone in 1900 should be held - in September 1902 - in those capitals which had not been placed under the ban. In the natural order of things the next examination would have been held at the regular date in 1903, but in the meantime the old examination system of China passed altogether away.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>It should be mentioned that during the last quarter of the nineteenth century questions on mathematics, science, geography, modern history and international politics had gradually been creeping into many of the official examination papers, even while the main object of the educational system was still to cherish and encourage the study of the ancient learning of China. Questions on some of these additional subjects may be found in the accompanying papers."</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The papers were printed locally under conditions of strict security, and seals of authentication (on the right-hand side) were applied by the examiners at different stages in the distribution process.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The title of the examination "Exposition of the Four Books and Five Classics" is given in large characters in columns 1-4. Then follow in smaller characters (columns 5-11) the three extracts which the candidates are to use as the theme of their essays. The paper ends with the rubric in still smaller characters (columns 12-17), comprising instructions on how the candidates are to copy their answers into the examination booklets with which they have been issued; use of the stereotyped "eight-legged essay" format in their answers is forbidden; the number of characters added to or deleted from the fair copy of their answers must be indicated; answers must be punctuated; and answers less than 300 characters in length will be rejected.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The three extracts are given below in the standard English translation by James Legge.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>[The Duke Ting asked whether there was a single sentence which could make a country prosperous. Confucius replied, "Such an effect cannot be expected from one sentence.] There is a saying, however, which people have -'To be a prince is difficult; to be a minister is not easy.' If a ruler knows this, - the difficulty of being a prince, - may there not be expected from this one sentence the prosperity of his country?"</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'> <i>Analects</i> 13:15</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>When all those about you say, - "This is a man of talents and worth," you may not therefore believe it. When your great officers all say, - "This is a man of talents and virtue," neither may you for that believe it. When all the people say, - "This is a man of talents and virtue," then examine into the case, and when you find that the man is such, employ him. When all those about you say, - "This man won't do," don't listen to them. When all your great officers say, - "This man won't do," don't listen to them. When the people all say, - "This man won't do," then examine into the case, and when you find that the man won't do, send him away.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'> <i>Mencius</i> 1:2:7:4</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>Hence that which is antecedent to the material form exists, we say, as an ideal method, and that which is subsequent to the material form exists, we say, as a definite thing.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'> <i>Yi king</i> Appendix 3 1:12:78</p>
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