The highest hill within the city precincts has been chosen as the site for a university, which is truly a remarkable building for Western China. One of the students of the late. Dr. Mateer (Shantung) was the architect—a man who came originally to the school as a teacher of mathematics—and it cannot be said that the huge oblong building, with a long narrow wing on either side of a central dome, is the acme of beauty from a purely architectural standpoint.
Of red-faced brick, this university, which cost over two hundred thousand taels to build, is most imposing, and possesses conveniences and improvements quite comparable to the ordinary college of the West. For instance, as I passed through the many admirably-equipped schoolrooms, well ventilated and airy, I saw an Italian who was laying in the electric light,[AC] the power for which was generated by an immense dynamo at the basement, upon which alone twenty thousand taels were spent. Thirty professors have the control of thirty-two classrooms, teaching among other subjects mathematics, music, languages (chiefly English and Japanese), geography, chemistry, astronomy, geology, botany, and so on. The museum, situated in the center of the building, does not contain as many specimens as one would imagine quite easily obtainable, but there are certainly some capital selections of things natural to this part of the Empire.
The authorities probably thought I was rather a queer foreigner, wanting to see everything there was to see inside the official barriers in the city. Day after day I was making visits to places where foreigners seldom have entered, and I do not doubt that the officials, whilst treating me with the utmost deference and extreme punctiliousness, thought I was a sort of British spy.
When I went to the Agricultural School, probably the most interesting visit I made, I was met by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, a keen fellow, who spoke English well, and who, having been trained at Shanghai, and therefore understanding the idiosyncrasies of the foreigner’s character, was invited to entertain. And this he did, but he was careful that he did not give away much information regarding the progress that the Yuen-nanese, essentially sons of the soil, are making in agriculture. For this School of Agriculture is an important adjunct.
Scholars are taken on an agreement for three years, during which time they are fed and housed at the expense of the school; if they leave during the specified period they are fined heavily. No less than 180 boys, ranging from sixteen to twenty-three, are being trained here, with about 120 paid apprentices. Three Japanese professors are employed—one at a salary of two hundred dollars a month, and two others at three hundred, the latter having charge of the fruit and forest trees and the former of vegetables.