More essays written in English are coming soon!

I once translated Cai Jiemin’s Epitah from Chinese into English after visiting his tomb in HK. I typed out all the Chinese characters from the picture of the epitah on the tombstone. Hopefully it will be helpful to those who may need it.

蔡孑民先生之墓──蔡孑民先生墓表

先生諱元培,字鶴卿,號子民,浙江山陰人,清同治六年十二月十七日生,其尊甫嶧山先生從商,以長厚著稱。母周太夫人恒教以立身處世之道。先生早掇巍科入詞林,自甲午中日戰役敗衂,我國朝野人士競言新學,始涉獵西籍,講求新知。

及戊戌政變後,朝局益壞,先生淑屣尊榮,毅然出都,思以教育救國,初任紹興中西學堂校長,繼任南洋公學特別班教習,並創設中國教育會及愛國學社。旋以在滬秘密從事革命活動,為清吏偵悉,迺避地青島習德文,為異日留學準備。乙已加入同盟會,丁末赴德,初居柏林,繼入萊比錫大學,習哲學,尤重美學,期以美育陶冶人性以代宗教,如是凡三年,譯者專書多種。

辛亥革命軍起義武昌,東南各省底定,國父孫中山先生就任臨時大總統,任命先生為教育總長,釐訂教育方針、學校系統與課程綱領,為全國教育奠一新基。後以袁世凱專政乃憤而辭職,於民國元年秋携眷再度赴德二年。以宋教仁案發生,得滬電促歸,共謀討袁。二次革命失敗,去國赴法,旅居數年,與李石曾、吳稚暉先生等創立留法勤工儉學會,並組織華法教育會,以謀兩國文化合作。

五年回國,任北京大學校長,革新校政,袪除舊習,倡學術自由,由是舊學新知兼容並包,俱臻蓬勃,而全國學術風氣亦為之丕變矣。八年五四愛國運動發生,北京學生遊行示威,反對巴黎和約,且痛懲賣國僉壬,致多人被捕下獄。先生營救保釋並發表聲明,隨即離京。既而全國重要省市,罷市、罷學、罷工為北京學生運動聲援,政府終拒簽和約,並罷免曹陸張三人。先生亦經挽留復任,子十三年,仍以不與北洋軍閥合作,引退迨。

十五年國民革命軍北伐勝利,定都南京。先生先後受命任大學院院長,中央研究院院長及監察院院長等職嗣,專任中央研究院院長,創設專門研究機構,羅致專家學者致力發展學術。抗日軍興國府西遷,先生在港就醫,不幸於二十九年三月五日逝世,年七十有四。噩音傳五陪都,重慶朝野震驚,政府明令褒揚,惟以對日戰事方酣,時艱道阻,未能迎葬國內,遂由先生家屬與友生卜葬於香港仔華人永遠墳場。先生元配王夫人,繼配黃夫人,先卒周夫人,近年亦逝子四人:無忌、柏齡、懷新、英多,女二人:威廉、晬盎,散居各地。

旅港國立北京大學同學會同人,每於春秋二季上冢,以表孺慕。因墓地年久失葺,乃倡議重修,並立石表於阡昔。曾子稱仲尼曰:「江漢以濯之,秋陽以暴之,皜皜乎不可尚已。」當今之世,惟先生足以當之。先生門人,故北京大學校長蔣夢麟先生曾以詞誄:「先生日當中西文化文接之際,先生應運而生,集兩大文化於一身,其量足以容之!其德足以化之!其學足以當之!其才足以擇之!嗚呼!此先生所以成一代大師歟!」斯誄也最足以狀先生生平,並志於茲,以諗來者。

中華民國六十七年三月五 香港/臺灣國立北京大學同學會敬立

Epitaph for Cai Jiemin

Cài Yuánpéi (Chinese 蔡元培, Wade-Giles: Ts’ai Yüan-p’ei), Courtesy NameHèqīng, Sobriquet “Lone Citizen”, was born on January 11, 1868, in
Shānyīn Village, Shaoxing Subprefecture, Zhejiang Province. His
father,Mr. Yi Shan, was a well-known honest and kind businessman. His
mother taught him how to establish himself and to manage getting
along in society. Cai earned the title of jinshi (doctorate) and
became a member of the Hanlin Academy, the highest honor accorded to
a scholar in feudal China.

However, as the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 demonstrated China’s
weakness in the face of Western science and
technology, people in the government and public turned away from
compiling the classics and began to soak up new facts. For the
first time, they endeavored to study the western books to understand the reasons behind their successes.

After the Coup in Wu Xu Year, the Qing Dynasty went from bad to worse.
Mr. Cai did not satisfy the vanity, and left Peking resolutely. He
purported to save the country by education, becoming the Superintendent of Shaoxing Chinese-Western School and later the Director-Teacher of the Special Class of Nanyang Public School. He was also the founder of the Chinese Educational Association and the Patriotic Study Society. He went on secret revolutionary activities and later was detected by the Qing Government. This detection lead to his escape to Qing Dao where he studied German in preparation for his future studies overseas. Cai joined Tongmenghui in 1905 and went to Germany in 1907. He enrolled in Leipzig University where he studied philosophy and concentrated on aesthetics. During those three years, he compiled a series of textbooks on moral education to replace that of religion.

The Xin Hai Revolution took place in Wu Chang. Sun Zhong Shan was the
first provisional president of the Republic of China. Cai was
appointed Minister of Education by the Republican government. He set
up the policy for education, the school system and the course
syllabus, laying a new foundation for the country’s education. In
protest against Yuan Shikai’s autocratic rule, Cai resigned from the
post in 1912 and returned to his studies in Germany for two years. The
Shanghai Government clapped him a telegraph to urge him back to
condemn Yuan Shikai after Song Jiaoren was assassinated. In 1913, he
moved to France where he studied French and assisted Li Shizeng and
Wuzhuihui in running the Educational Institute for Chinese Labourers
and in organizing the Sino-French Educational Association.

In 1916, Cai was appointed Chancellor of Peking University. As
chancellor, he weeded
through the old and brought forth the new policy, advocated academic
freedom and held tolerant views to Chinese classics and new ideas.
His pioneering work in reforming the system of traditional education
and his efforts to synthesize Chinese and Western educational ideas
had a huge impact on the academic atmosphere among China’s
institutions.

In 1919, the May Fourth Movement took place in Beijing, growing out of
student’s demonstrations protesting the Chinese government’s weak
response to the Treaty of Versailles. Many students were arrested and
put into jails. Cai rescued students by asking for bail. He left
Beijing after issuing a statement. Students, workers and businessmen
went on strike in China’s major cities to support the movement. Under
intense public outcry, the Chinese representatives in Paris refused to
sign the peace treaty, and the Beiyang government had to dismiss
Cao Rulin, Zhang Zongxiang and Lu Zongyu from their posts. Cai was
persuaded to return to his post, although he continued not to cooperate
with Beiyang Army.

In 1927, the Northern Expedition succeeded and Nanjing became the
capital of Nationalist China. Later, Cai was named President of the
Daxueyuan (the University Council) and President of Academia Sinica.
He was instrumental in founding the Academia Sinica, which was
designed to advance national research in science and technology. After
the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the capital of
Nationalist China changed from Nanjing to
Chong Qing.

After retirement from public life, Cai fell ill in 1936 and went to
Hong Kong to see a doctor. He died on March 5, 1940 in Hong Kong at the
age of 74. The bad news of his death was a terrible shock to Chong
Qing. The government spoke very highly of him; however, due to the
hardships of war, Cai’s body was not buried in his hometown but in
Aberdeen Chinese Permanent Cemetery. During his life, he married Lady
Huang after his first wife Lady Wang died, and married Lady Zhou after
Lady Huang’s
death. His four sons died recently:Wu Ji, Bo Ling,Huai Xin and Ying
Duo. His two daughters Wei Lian and Zui Ang live scattered around the
world.

The Hong Kong Alumni of Peking University visit Cai’s tomb every
Spring and Autumn. The tomb had been out of repair for many years thus
we suggested a reconstruction. Zeng Zi’s praise to Confucius “Your
purity and brightness is no one can compare” can only be applied to
Cai. Cai’s student, Chancellor of Peking University Jiang
Menglin, wrote a lament like this: “Your pioneering work in
synthesizing Chinese and Western educational ideas demonstrated your
noble spirit, your broad and profound knowledge and your tolerance. ”
This saying best describes Cai’s life. We wrote down this saying,
together with the epitaph, for visitors to read.

5 March 1978, by Hong Kong/Taiwan Alumni of Peking University

Translated by Zihona

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