Memories of The Chinese Elders

In the May 15, 2005 issue to Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly), Lee Oufan wrote an article about Lien Chan's visit.  Lee opened the essay with the statement that he has never ever written anything on behalf of a politician or political party in his very long career as a cultural scholar.  But this time, he was moved by the live-televised Lien's speech at Beijing University to write this essay.

Here is the section about Lien's speech:

Before the speech began, I warned my wife: Lien Chen is not a good speaker; he usually reads from a script and is extremely boring.  Unexpectedly, Lien did not look at a script at all and his speech was one continuous flow with nary a dull moment.  He was also quite emotional in parts, especially when he spoke about the time when his 96-year-old mother attended Yenching University.  But the most moving part was in response to a student's question: How is the China that he saw sixty years ago different from the one that he sees today?  Lien seemed unable to hold back his childhood memory.  He said that his childhood was spent in Xian looking for air-raid caves for shelter every time that the sirens went off.

Here is the section about Lee's memories of his own childhood:

I was born during the War of Resistance in a small and poor village in the western part of Henan province.  We lived in terror every day, because we were afraid that the "Japanese ghouls" would come over.  One morning, my four-year-old little sister and I were playing in the nearby woods.  Suddenly, a group of people appeared at the top of the hill, and there were sounds of machinegun fire.  My mother raced over very quickly.  I don't know where she got the strength from, but she grabbed one child under each arm and ran back inside the house to take cover ... when I remembered this scene, I found that my eyes were teary.  It was the first time in my life that a speech by Lien Chan caused me to associate my own memory.

Although Lee does not consider himself to be a political person, he was nevertheless motivated to write the following commentary:

Afterwards, I thought about it and realized that Lien Chan and I came from the same era and we have similar backgrounds.  At a time when the rightwing government in Japan is deliberately revising the educational textbooks, the collective memories of our generation is invaluable and unforgettable.  The older generation in Taiwan also has another tragedy -- the 228 incident.  But they seemed to have developed amnesia with respect to the bloody suppressions under Japanese occupation, and only the descendants of the aborigines seem to remember.

What about the young people?  They were born in security and happiness, and their historical memories are getting shorter and shorter, sometimes even inverted.  For example, a young Beijing University who came to Harvard University told me: "During the June 4 student movement, the students were wrong and the government was right!"  During a Prague Spring memorial service in Prague, a young man told me: "This was an internal affair among the Communists, and it does not concern me."  There are numerous examples in which history gradually disappears from memory through forgetting and revisions.

Enough about other people.  What about my own family elders?  Most of them did not leave any written or oral histories about their times during the War of Resistance years.  The only exception might be the letters written by my maternal grandfather Fong F. Sec collected in the memorial volume.  These English-language letters were written to his American friends.  I am going to list the two war-time sections here, one before and one after the fall of Shanghai.  I will point out that this man is self-effacing and humble to the extreme and his "not doing so much to help" must be seriously understating his actual contribution [brief note: Fong F. Sec held senior positions with the Y.M.C.A. of China; the Institution for the Chinese Blind; the Chinese Ministry to Lepers; the Chinese National Child Welfare Association; and the Rotary Club].

[October 21, 1937]

Mrs. Fong and I are not doing so much to help the war at this time.  In face of the great need for medical supplies, a few friends and I sent cable messages to some friends abroad appealing for help for the wounded.  The response has been very gratifying and supplies are coming right along.  At the time we sent those messages, we were thinking in terms of the needs in Shanghai, but since then air raids have been so widespread throughout the country that the need is many times greater.  Mrs. Fong and I are not in charge of any hospital.

The war situation in Shanghai is full of uncertainty.  A few weeks ago our streets were crowded with refugees, and wounded soldiers were being brought into the International Settlement and French Concession by the hundreds.  Now thousands of refugees have been repatriated, and many thousands are housed in refugee camps.  Therefore, our refugee problem has improved.  However, as winter comes on, the people in refugee camps need warm clothing and bedding, so there is still a great deal to be done to look after them.  Most of the Chinese wounded soldiers are not transported to base hospitals in the interior.  The fighting for the most part is some distance away from our city.  We hear the boom of cannons in the distance and occasionally the rattle of anti-aircraft guns during air raids.  Almost every day we hear the explosion of aerial bombs that Japanese planes drop in the vicinity of Shanghai.  The war has been going on for over two months, and the Japanese are now putting on their fifth big push; but they have not succeeded in making much headway.  It was generally thought that the Chinese soldiers would withdraw to their defense lines farther up the country so as to get away from the big guns of the Japanese warships; however, they are still holding their ground at the outskirts of this city.  It is surprising how they have been able to hold up the Japanese army in spite of the superior equipment of the latter.

[January 29, 1938]

Now that the fighting is shifted inland, the situation in Shanghai is quieter, though there is uncertainty as to what will become of this city.  It is about two months since the Chinese soldiers withdrew from Shanghai, yet I have not been able to get back to our home because I am Chinese.  Friends who have seen our place lately reported that the roof is damaged by a shell and the house looted.  I am most anxious to attend to the repair and see what things can be saved yet, but I cannot get permission from the Japanese authorities.  This is Japanese friendship for the Chinese people.

        The Fong house (date unknown)

In spite of the war the members of my family had a Christmas made happy because we were able to gather around a Christmas tree at our married daughter's home in an unbroken circle.  This was the first time we were able to do so in eight years, ever since our children began going to study in Yenching University, Peiping.  Each year some of our children were in the North for Christmas; were it not for the war Mary and Mae would be in Yenching this winter.

Mae is my mother.  She is the little girl on the left in this 1930 family portrait of Fong F. Sec, his wife and their five children.  Due to the war, Mae would end up attending St John's University in Shanghai and never went to Yenching University.  However, Mae would eventually marry a Yenching University graduate, who is my father.

That last letter ended this way:

On January 6 Mrs. Fong and I observed our 30th wedding anniversary quietly.  We were glad that all our children and our two grandchildren could be with us on this happy occasion.  As we look back over the years we are grateful for the many blessings along the way.

I admit to crying my eyes out when I read this paragraph.  I am so sorry that I never knew my maternal grandfather.

This post complements the blogpost Grassroots Anti-Japanese Protestors in China for understanding anti-Japanese sentiments in China today.  In the case of my maternal grandfather, who passed away in 1938, I cannot imagine a single thought of hatred or rancor for Japan or the Japanese people today for he was a Christian in the truest sense of that word.  Yet, I don't know whether he would turn the other cheek if he read that a Japanese school textbook now claims that the Japanese Imperial army came to China to liberate the Chinese from the western imperialists and to bring economic prosperity to China.

記鄺富灼先生  倉海君,新春秋,03/02/2008









余觉立身之道,有三要素焉。其一为努力服务,其次为注重卫生,勤于体操,使身心康健以便于任大事,再次则吾人于执业之余,还有其他活动,以舒身心 之惫乏,而不宜斤斤计较于图利之道也。--鄺富灼,《六十年之回顧》




【明報專訊】我手頭有一個剛開展的研究計劃,就叫「尋找鄺富灼」,英文是Finding Fong Foo Sac,靈感來自一齣辛康納利主演的電影Finding Forester。Fong Foo Sac是誰?他的中文名字是鄺富灼。1869年出生於廣東台山,但十三歲就追隨鄉人到美國謀生。故此有個台山話的英文名字Fong Foo Sac。像許多十九世紀末出國華工一樣,鄺富灼初到美國時,就在三藩市及薩克利緬度的唐人街中找生活。但他的人生歷程和際遇卻與許多早期移民美國的華工(豬仔/苦力)及商人都不同。鄺富灼在美國二十餘年,可以說是一個「衝出唐人街」的奮鬥經過,以及如何融入主流社會的過程。這是我對鄺氏生平有興趣的第一點。


鄺富灼在救世軍中服務多年,並且接受宣教訓練;由於勤奮向學,被擢升為書記,成為三藩市救世軍一名積極分子,更是該會華人分部的創始人。1897年,鄺氏在救世軍工作了八年之後,得到救世軍的資助進入洛杉磯東部的克萊蒙(Claremont)的盤馬奈學院(Pomona College)攻讀大學課程,得到接受美國高等教育的機會。由於我的兩個兒子皆在克萊蒙念大學,故此對鄺富灼的故事也特別留意。鄺富灼在盤馬奈學院讀書的日子並不如意,一方面他要一邊讀書一邊做工來維持生活,另一方面他卻又因辛勞過度得到了肺結核病,以致需要停學一年休息,幸而最後恢復了健康,並且繼續學業。1902年他從盤馬奈學院轉學到柏克萊加州大學,修讀英國文學,至1905年取得文學士學位畢業。隨後他獲得獎學金再到美國東部紐約市的哥倫比亞大學深造,主修文學和教育,於1906年取得碩士學位。其後因為有機會和當時中國駐美大使梁誠一席交談,得到梁誠推薦任兩廣方言學堂教習,便結束海外二十四年的漂泊生涯,決定於1907年返國。



[梁元生 歷史學者、中文大學崇基學院院長]













船抵三藩市(俗称金山大埠),同行长者,示余坐行李货车之顶,往中国市(此为金山埠华人聚店之街)。余初见街上电车往来,心大奇之,时美人之不肖者,见华工联贳入,竞持洋葱 向余辈投掷,此等侮辱,即为余登新大陆,所受之欢迎也。



鄺曾經在The Chinese Abroad, Their Position and Protection一書的前言中說過:For was I not spat upon, kicked, stoned, and forced to run for my life time and again just because I was a Chinese?下筆之沉重,足抵一部華工血淚史。










救世军之至西方也,此次原为创见,居民不明其用意,所往视为怪物,无赖之徒,从而揶揄之,百方侮弄,阻其进行,但彼中人漠不为动。其时各派 教会中人,亦因未明其旨趣,讥为无理取闹,自招凌辱,用是彼等所处之地位,其窘苦之状,可想见矣。








自斯时起,余常觉有更求精造学问之必要,而希冀能入大学肄业,以偿私愿,夫余既有恒业,而犹欲求学者,则以余关怀祖国一念之所动也。余年事 渐长,益觉国事之重要,然念苟碌碌无所长。则曷能为力于国家乎,故余亟欲饱学后方归国,否则宁终老于异域耳。




在大学之末年,余服务于校内青年会之 执行委员会,兼充书记之职,自兹起,余之交游渐广,余既毕业于加省大学,同时复得免费学额,乃往纽约入哥伦比亚大学,专攻文学及教育学,学年终,余获文学 硕士及教育学硕士二衔。






網上找尋鄺先生資料時,竟給我意外發現了連宋以朗自己也不知道的「身世大秘密」!國內學人楊揚在去年的《華東師範大學學報》中發表了一篇文章,名為《哈佛所見Fong F. See材料》,網上看到的摘要使我大為震驚,原文如下:

摘  要:

在20 世纪介绍中国文化的英文期刊中,经常出版的一个中国人的名字,是“Fang F.Sec”。“Fang F.Sec”是谁呢?记得《文汇读书周报》上曾见到过复旦大学周振鹤教授的文章,谈到“Fang F.See”的中文名字。可是,当时自己是随手翻阅,看过没有再做记录,但在哈佛图书馆的英文期刊中屡屡见有“Fang F.See”这个名字,就开始留意起来。从文章所谈内容,有不少是与商务印书馆和当时中国的印刷出版有关,我猜想这位“Fang F.Sec”大概是商务印书馆英文部主任邝富灼(1869~1938)。后来果然在几处英文杂志上见到“Fang F.See”旁标有中文:邝富灼。这证实了我的猜想。而且,英文期刊中,有时不知道是不是排印错误,经常会出版“Fang F.Sec”的文章和介绍他的文章,对照文章内容,我想这“Fang F.Sec”应该就是邝富灼。将“邝富灼”和“Fang F.Sec”输入Google及Baidu搜索,有一些收获。英文的收获,是李欧梵教授在2005年5月15日《亚洲周刊》上刊发的在北京大学的演讲,其中说到自己的母亲就是邝富灼的女儿。[第一段]


我大感不解,即刻致電宋:「李歐梵是你的表兄嗎?」L說:「你講笑!」然後他告訴我外祖父有四個女兒,最小的是他母親,另外三位沒一個嫁給姓李的......嚴肅的學報論文摘要,難道信口開河?大家都想不通,只好說要找那期的《亞洲周刊》查看。但今天當我再上網翻查鄺先生資料時,終於發現答案。相信誤會的源頭,就是宋自己在2005年寫的文章Memories of The Chinese Elders,即楊揚所謂「英文的收穫」。文中,宋首先引述2005年5月15日《亞洲周刊》中李歐梵的文章片段,之後再引用外公寫及抗戰時期的書信--楊揚可能英語水平有限,所以便張冠李戴,把宋公子外祖父當成是李歐梵的了。論文摘要居然有此幻海奇情,也可謂中國學術界的奇葩。



Roland Soong, Memories of The Chinese Elders



G. Bernard Noble, The Chinese Abroad, Their Position and Protection. by Harley Farnsworth MacNair; V. K.Wellington Koo; Fong F. Sec. Shanghai.