I just came across this editorial from 1929. It is from the Vietnamese newspaper, Thần Chung, and it is about the death of the Chinese reformer, Liang Qichao. It is very interesting, because the author makes the point that the Vietnamese have always relied on the Chinese in the realm of culture and ideas, and that Liang Qichao kept that tradition alive by passing on to the Vietnamese in their hour of need the perfect medicine – the “philosophy of the eighteenth century,” that is, French philosophy!!
I’ve translated a little bit of it below to provide a sense of this. In a part which I did not translate the author talks about reading Liang Qichao as a youngster and being very influenced by his ideas.
Yinbing is a reference to one of Liang Qichao’s collected volumes (The Collected Works of Yinbingshi). The article also mentions The Soul of China as if it also was a collection. However, as far as I know, Liang Qichao wrote an article called “Oh Where is the Soul of China” in 1899, but there was not a book by that title. Perhaps, however, in Vietnam there was. In any case, this author says of this work that although it was “a book which talked about China, it inspired the 20 plus million people in Annam.”
Finally, there is a part of this text which states the following:
“From the time that the Yinbin collection arrived here we sprouted up several meters. The events which occurred here . . . ! . . . are probably all because of this volume.”
The part, “. . . ! . . .,” appears to have been censored. Any idea what may have originally been written there?
Here is a partial translation (click on the image to read the original):
Liang Qichao has passed away!
Papers have just been printing a few lines about this. Yesterday morning Thần Chung was the same.
. . .
In a speech which Mr. Phạm Quỳnh gave in France, there was a sentence which went something like “The destiny of Annam has always awaited/relied on the light of the North, not only the culture and learning of the Chinese, but even for the philosophy of the eighteenth century we had to await/rely on Chinese to pass it on.
Therefore, in Annam we knew of Lô -thoa before J. J. Rouseau; Mạnh-đức tư-Cưu before Montesquieu, and more people know the names “dân-ước” and “Vạn-pháp tinh-lý” than Contrat Social, Esprit des lois. . .
Who was it who passed on these precious ideas?
It was none other than Mr. Liang Qichao.
. . .
If it were not for Liang Qichao, then during that time when our Annam was going through mental/moral/spiritual (tinh thần) changes, how would things have turned out?
For scholars at that time, the Yinbing collection was like a good medicine for someone with a serious illness.
. . .