Thursday, August 28, 2008

Awakening of China The Ta-ts'ing Dynasty, 1644

_The Manchus, Invited to Aid in Restoring Order, Seat their Own Princes on the Throne--the Traitor, General Wu San-kwei--Reigns of Shunchi and Kanghi--Spread of Christianity--A Papal Blunder--Yung-cheng Succeeded by Kieñlung, who Abdicates Rather than Reign Longer than his Grandfather--Era of Transformation_
The Manchus had been preparing for some generations for a descent on China. They had never forgotten that half the Empire had once been in the possession of their forefathers, the Kin Tartars; and after one or two abortive attempts to recover their heritage they settled themselves at Mukden and watched their opportunity. It came with the fall of the Mings.
Wu San-kwei, a Chinese general whose duty it was to keep them in bounds, threw open the gate of the Great Wall and invoked their assistance to expel the successful rebel. His family had been slaughtered in the fall of the capital; he thirsted for revenge, and without doubt indulged the hope of founding a dynasty. The Manchus agreed to his terms, and, combining their forces with his, advanced on Peking. Feeling himself unable to hold the city, the rebel chief burnt his palace and retreated, after enjoying the imperial dignity ten days.
General Wu offered to pay off his mercenaries and asked them to retire beyond the Wall. Smiling at his simplicity, they coolly replied that it was for him to retire or to enter their service. It was the old story of the ass and the stag. An ass easily drove a stag from his pasture-ground by taking a man on his back; but the man remained in the saddle. Forced to submit, the General employed his forces to bring his people into subjection to their hereditary enemy. Rewarded with princely rank, and shielded by the reigning house, he has escaped the infamy which he deserved at the hands of the historians. A traitor to his country, he was also a traitor to his new masters. He died in a vain attempt at counter-revolution.
The new dynasty began with Shunchi, a child of six years, his uncle the Prince Hwai acting as regent. Able and devoted, this great man, whom the Manchus call Amawang, acquitted himself of his task in a manner worthy of the model regent, the Duke of Chou. His task was not an easy one. He had to suppress contending factions, to conciliate a hostile populace, and to capture many cities which refused to submit. In seven years he effected the subjugation of the eighteen provinces, everywhere imposing the tonsure and the "pigtail" as badges of subjection. Many a myriad of the Chinese forfeited their heads by refusing to sacrifice their glossy locks; but the conquest was speedy, and possession secure.
The success of the Manchus was largely due to the fact that they found the empire exhausted by internal strife and came as deliverers. The odium of overturning the Ming dynasty did not rest on them. While at Mukden they had cultivated the language and letters of the "Inner land" and they had before them, for guidance or warning, the history of former conquests.
They have improved on their predecessors, whether Kins or Mongols; and with all their faults they have given to China a better government than any of her native dynasties.
Shunchi passed off the stage at the age of twenty-four and left the throne to a son, Kanghi , who became the greatest monarch in the history of the Empire. During his long reign of sixty-one years, Kanghi maintained order in his wide domain, corrected abuses in administration, and promoted education for both nationalities. It is notable that the most complete dictionary of the Chinese language bears the imprimatur of Kanghi, a Tartar sovereign.
For his fame in the foreign world, Kanghi is largely indebted to the learned missionaries who enjoyed his patronage, though he took care to distinguish between them and their religion. The latter had been proscribed by the regents, who exercised supreme power during his minority. Their decree was never revoked; and persecution went on in the provinces, without the least interference from the Emperor. Still his patronage of missionaries was not without influence on the status of Christianity in his dominions. It gained ground, and before the close of his reign it had a following of over three hundred thousand converts. Near the close of his reign he pointedly condemned the foreign faith, and commanded the expulsion of its propagators, except a few, who were required in the Board of Astronomy.
The favourable impression made by Ricci had been deepened by Schaal and Verbiest. The former under Shunchi reformed the calendar and obtained the presidency of the Astronomical Board. He also cast cannon to aid the Manchu conquest. The latter did both for Kanghi, and filled the same high post. Schaal employed his influence to procure the building of two churches in Peking. Verbiest made use of his to spread the faith in the provinces. The Church might perhaps have gained a complete victory, had not dissensions arisen within her own ranks. Dominicans and Franciscans entering the field denounced their forerunners for having tolerated heathen rites and accepted heathen names for God. After prolonged discussions and contradictory decrees the final verdict went against the Jesuits. In this decision the Holy See seems not to have been guided by infallible wisdom.
Kanghi, whose opinion had been requested by the Jesuits, asserted that by Tien and _Shang-ti_ the Chinese mean the Ruler of the Universe, and that the worship of Confucius and of ancestors is not idolatry, but a state or family ceremony. By deciding against his views, the Pope committed the blunder of alienating a great monarch, who might have been won by a liberal policy. The prohibition of the cult of ancestors--less objectionable in itself than the worship of saints--had the effect of arming every household against a faith that aimed to subvert their family altars. The dethronement of _Shang-ti_ and the substitution of _Tien Chu_, could not fail to shock the best feelings of devout people. _Tien Chu_, if not a new coinage, was given by papal fiat an artificial value, equivalent to "Lord of all"--whereas it had previously headed a list of divisional deities, such as Lord of Heaven, Lord of Earth, Lord of the Sea, etc.
What wonder that for two centuries Christianity continued to be a prohibited creed! The ground thus lost by a papal blunder it has never regained. The acceptance of Tien and _Shang-ti_ by Protestants might perhaps do something to retrieve the situation, if backed by some form of respect for ancestors.
Kanghi was succeeded by his son Yungcheng , who was followed by Kienlung , during whose reign the dynasty reached the acme of splendour. Under Kienlung, Turkestan was added to the empire. The Grand Lama of Tibet was also enrolled as a feudatory; but he never accepted the laws of China, and no doubt considered himself repaid by spiritual homage. No territory has since been added, and none lost, if we except the cession of Formosa to Japan and of Hong Kong to Great Britain. The cessions of seaports to other powers are considered as temporary leases.
After a magnificent reign of sixty years, Kienlung abdicated in favour of his fifth son, Kiak'ing, for the whimsical reason that he did not wish to reign longer than his grandfather. In Chinese eyes this was sublime. Why did they not enact a law that no man should surpass the longevity of his father?
As to Kiak'ing, who occupied the throne for twenty-four years, weak and dissolute is a summary of his character.
The next four reigns came under the influence of new forces. They belong to the era of transformation, and may properly be reserved for

Part III.



Awakening of China The Opening Of China, A Drama In Five Acts--god In History

_Prologue--Act 1, the Opium War----Act 2, the "Arrow" War--Act 3, War with France--Act 4, War with Japan--Act 5, the Boxer War_
If one were asked to name the most important three events that took place in Asia in the last century, he could have no hesitation in pointing to the extension of the Indian Empire and the renovation of Japan as two of them. But where would he look for the third? Possibly to some upheaval in Turkey, Persia, or Asiatic Russia. In my opinion, however, China is the only country whose history supplies the solution of the problem. The opening of that colossal empire to unrestricted intercourse with other countries was not a gradual evolution from within--it was the result of a series of collisions between the conservatism of the extreme Orient and the progressive spirit of the Western world.
Each of those collisions culminated in a war, giving rise to a cloud of ephemeral literature, in which a student might easily lose his way, and which it would require the lifetime of an antediluvian to exhaust. I think, therefore, that I shall do my readers a service if I set before them a concise outline of each of those wars, together with an account of its causes and consequences. Not only will this put them on their guard against misleading statements; it will also furnish them with a syllabus of the modern history of China in relation to her intercourse with other nations.
During the past seven decades the Chinese Empire has been no less than five times in conflict with foreign powers; and on each occasion her policy has undergone a modification more or less extensive. Taking these five conflicts seriatim--without touching on those internal commotions whose rise and fall resembles the tides of the ocean--I shall ask my readers to think of the Flowery Land as a stage on which, within the memory of men now living, a tragedy in five acts has been performed. Its subject was the Opening of China; and its first act was the so-called Opium War . Prior to 1839 the Central Empire, as the Chinese proudly call their country, with a population nearly equal to that of Europe and America combined, was hermetically sealed against foreign intercourse, except at one point, viz., the "Factories" at Canton.
This state of things is depicted with a few masterstrokes in a popular work in Chinese entitled "Strange Stories of an Idle Student." The first of these tales describes a traveller meeting in the mountains an old man, in the costume of a former dynasty, whose family had there sought a refuge from the anarchy that preceded the fall of the imperial house. This old fellow had not even heard of the accession of the Manchu conquerors; and though he was eager for information, he disappeared without giving any clue to the Sleepy Hollow in which he was hiding. The author no doubt intended a quiet satire on the seclusion of China, that had nothing to ask of the outside world but to be let alone.
Another of the sketches, which is no satire, but a cautionary hint--perhaps an unconscious prophecy--is entitled "The Magic Carpet of the Red-haired," a vulgar designation for Europeans, in contrast with the Chinese, who style themselves the "Black-haired race." During the former dynasty, it says, a ship arrived from some unknown country, and those aboard desired to engage in commerce. Their request was refused; but when they asked permission to dry their goods on shore, requiring for that purpose no more ground than they could cover with a carpet, their petition was readily granted. The carpet was spread, and the goods were exposed to the sun; then, taking the carpet by its four corners, they stretched it so that it covered several acres. A large body of armed men then planted themselves on it, and striking out in every direction took possession of the country. This elastic carpet reminds one of Dido's bull's hide, which covered space enough for the foundation of Carthage.
ACT 1. THE OPIUM WAR, 1839-1842
The Tartars, who began their conquest in 1644, were naturally suspicious of other foreigners who had secured a foothold in India, where the Great Mogul, a scion of their own race, still held nominal sway. The trading-posts, which the Chinese emperors had permitted foreigners to open as far north as Ningpo, were closed, and only one point of tangency was allowed to remain--the above-mentioned Factories at Canton, a spot, as we shall see, large enough to admit of the spreading of a "magic carpet." Foreign trade was at that time insignificant, in comparison with the enormous expansion which it has now attained. It was mainly in the hands of the British, as it still continues to be; and no small part of it consisted in opium from the poppy-fields of India. Though under the ban of prohibition, this drug was smuggled into every bay and inlet, with scarcely a pretence of concealment. With the introduction of the vicious opium habit the British had nothing to do; but they contrived to turn it to good account.
The Emperor Tao Kwang, moved, it is said, by the unhappy fate of one of his sons who had fallen a victim to the seductive poison, resolved at all hazards to put a stop to a traffic so ruinous to his people. Commissioner Lin, a native of Foochow, was transferred from the viceroyalty of Wuchang to that of Canton and clothed with plenary powers for the execution of this decree. To understand the manner in which he undertook to execute the will of his master it must be remembered that diplomatic intercourse had as yet no existence in China, because she considered herself as sustaining to foreign nations no other relation than that of a suzerain to a vassal. Her mandarins scorned to hold direct communication with any of the superintendents of foreign commerce--receiving petitions and sending mandates through the hong merchants, thirteen native firms which had purchased a monopoly of foreign trade.
In 1834 Lord Napier was appointed to the humble position of superintendent of British trade in China, He arrived at Macao on July 15 of that year, and announced his appointment by a letter to the prefect, which was handed for transmission to the commander of the city gate of Canton--a barrier which no foreigner was permitted to pass. The letter was returned through the brokers without any answer other than a line on the cover informing the "barbarian eye" that the document was "tossed back" because it was not superscribed with the character pin , which signifies a "humble petition."
This was the beginning of sorrows for China as well as for poor Napier, who, failing in his efforts to communicate with the mandarins on equal terms, retired to the Portuguese settlement of Macao and died of disappointment. The eminent American statesman, John Quincy Adams, speaking in later years of the war that ensued, declared that its cause was not opium but a _pin_, i. e., an insolent assumption of superiority on the part of China.
The irrepressible conflict provoked by these indignities was precipitated in 1839 by the action of the new viceroy, who undertook to effect a summary suppression of the traffic in opium. One morning shortly after his arrival, the foreigners at Canton, who were always locked up at night for their own safety, awoke to find themselves surrounded by a body of soldiers and threatened with indiscriminate slaughter unless they surrendered the obnoxious drug, stored on their opium hulks, at an anchorage outside the harbour.
While they were debating as to what action to take, Captain Charles Elliot, the new superintendent, came up from Macao and bravely insisted on sharing the duress of his countrymen. Calling the merchants together he requested them to surrender their opium to him, to be used in the service of the Queen as a ransom for the lives of her subjects, assuring them that Her Majesty's Government would take care that they should be properly indemnified. Twenty thousand chests of opium were handed over to the viceroy ; and the prisoners were set at liberty.
The viceroy fondly imagined that the incident was closed, and flattered himself that he had gained an easier victory than he could have done by sending his junks against the armed ships of the smugglers. Little did he suspect that he had lighted a slow-match, that would blow up the walls of his own fortress and place the throne itself at the mercy of the "barbarian."
A strong force was despatched to China to exact an indemnity, for which the honour of the Crown had been pledged, and to punish the Chinese for the cut-throat fashion in which they had sought to suppress a prohibited trade. The proud city of Canton averted a bombardment by paying a ransom of $6,000,000; islands and seaports were occupied by British troops as far north as the River Yang-tse; and Nanking, the ancient capital, was only saved from falling into their hands by the acceptance of such conditions of peace as Sir Henry Pottinger saw fit to impose.
Those conditions were astonishingly moderate for a conqueror who, unembarrassed by the interests of other powers, might have taken the whole empire. They were, besides payment for the destroyed drug, the opening of five ports to British trade, and the cession to Great Britain of Hong Kong, a rocky islet which was then the abode of fishermen and pirates, but which to-day claims to outrank all the seaports of the world in the amount of its tonnage. Not a word, be it noted, about opening up the vast interior, not a syllable in favour of legalising the opium traffic, or tolerating Christianity.
So much for the charge that this war, which bears a malodorous name, was waged for the purpose of compelling China to submit to the continuance of an immoral traffic. That a smuggling trade would go on with impunity was no doubt foreseen and reckoned on by interested parties; but it is morally certain that if the Chinese had understood how to deal with it they might have rid themselves of the incubus without provoking the discharge of another shot.
Here ends the first act, in 1842; and in it I may claim a personal interest from the fact that my attention was first turned to China as a mission field by the boom of British cannon in the Opium War.
China was not opened; but five gates were set ajar against her will. For that she has to thank the pride and ignorance of emperor and viceroy which betrayed them into the blunder of dealing with British merchants as a policeman deals with pickpockets. For the first time in her history she was made aware of the existence of nations with which she would have to communicate on a footing of equality.
The moderation and forbearance of Pottinger in refraining from demanding larger concessions, and in leaving the full consequences of this war to be unfolded by the progress of time, may fairly challenge comparison with the politic procedure of Commodore Perry in dealing with Japan in 1854. One may ask, too, would Japan have come to terms so readily if she had not seen her huge neighbour bowing to superior force?
* * * * *
An important consequence of the Opium War was the outbreak of rebellions in different parts of the Empire. The prestige of the Tartars was in the dust. Hitherto deemed invincible, they had been beaten by a handful of foreigners. Was not this a sure sign that their divine commission had been withdrawn by the Court of Heaven? If so, might it not be possible to wrest the sceptre from their feeble grasp, and emancipate the Chinese race?
Private ambition was kindled at the prospect, and patriotism was invoked to induce the people to make common cause. Three parties entered the field: the Tai-pings of the South, the "Red-haired" on the seacoast, and the Nienfi in the north. Neither of the latter two deserves notice; but the first-named made for themselves a place in history which one is not at liberty to ignore, even if their story were less romantic than it is. It will be convenient to introduce here the following note on the Tai-ping rebellion.
In 1847 a young man of good education and pleasing manners, named Hung Siu-tsuen, presented himself at the American Baptist mission in Canton, saying he had seen their sacred book and desired instruction. This he received from the Rev. Issachar Roberts; and he was duly enrolled as a catechumen. Without receiving the sealing ordinance, or taking his instructor into confidence, Siu-tsuen returned to his home at Hwa-hien and began to propagate his new creed. His talents and zeal won adherents, whom he organised into a society called _Shang-ti-hwui_, "the Church of the supreme God." Persecution transformed it into a political party, to which multitudes were attracted by a variety of motives.
Following the early Church, in the absence of any modern model, his converts expected and received spiritual gifts. Shall we describe such manifestations as hysteria, hypnotism, or hypocrisy? Their fanaticism was contagious, especially after their flight to the mountains of Kwangsi. There Siu-tsuen boldly raised the flag of rebellion and proclaimed that he had a divine call to restore the throne to the Chinese race, and to deliver the people from the curse of idolatry. In this twofold crusade he was ably seconded by one Yang, who possessed all the qualities of a successful hierophant. Shrewd and calculating, Yang was able at will to bring on cataleptic fits, during which his utterances passed for the words of the Holy Ghost.
The new empire which they were trying to establish, they called _Tai-ping Tien-kwoh_, "The Kingdom of Heaven and the reign of peace." Hung was emperor, to be saluted with _Wansue!_ "10,000 years!" Yang as prince-premier was saluted with "9,000 years," nine-tenths of a banzai. He was the medium of communication with the Court of Heaven; and all their greater movements were made by command of Shang-ti, the Supreme Ruler.
On one occasion Yang went into a trance and declared that Shang-ti was displeased by something done by his chief, and required the latter to receive a castigation on his naked shoulders. The chief submitted, whether from credulity or from policy it might not be easy to say; but thereby the faith of his followers seems to have been confirmed rather than shaken. Nor did Yang take advantage of his chief's disgrace to usurp his place or to treat him as a puppet.
Through Yang it was revealed that they were to leave their mountain fortress and strike for Nanking, which had been made the capital on the expulsion of the Mongols, and which was destined to enjoy the same dignity on the overthrow of the Manchus. That programme, one of unexampled daring, was promptly put into execution. Descending into the plains of Hunan, like a mountain torrent they swept everything before them and began their march towards the central stronghold fifteen hundred miles distant. Striking the "Great River" at Hankow, they pillaged the three rich cities Wuchang, Hanyang, and Hankow, and, seizing all the junks, committed themselves to its current without a doubt as to the issue of their voyage.
Nanking was carried by assault despite the alleged impregnability of its ramparts, and despite also a garrison of 25,000 Manchus. These last must have fought with the fury of despair; for they well knew what fate awaited them. Not one was spared to tell the tale--this was in 1853. There the Tai-pings held their ground for ten years; and it is safe to affirm that without the aid of foreign missionaries they never would have been dislodged.
The second part of their enterprise--the expulsion of the Manchus from Peking--ended in defeat. A strong detachment was sent north by way of the Grand Canal. At first they met with great success--no town or city was able to check their progress, which resembled Napoleon's invasion of Russia. At the beginning of winter they were met by a strong force under the Mongol prince Sengkolinsin; then came the more dreaded generals--January and February. Unable to make headway, they went into winter quarters, and committed the blunder of dividing themselves between two towns, where they were besieged and cut off in detail.
In the meantime the eyes of the world were turned toward Nanking. Ships of war were sent to reconnoitre and Consul T. T. Meadows, who accompanied the _Hermes_, made a report full of sympathy; but the failure of their expedition to the north deterred the nation from any formal recognition of the Tai-ping government.
Missionaries were attracted by their profession of Christianity. Among others, I made an unsuccessful attempt to reach them. Unable to induce my boatmen to run the blockade, I returned home and took up the pen in their defence. My letters were well received, but they did not prevent soldiers of fortune, like the American Frederick G. Ward and Colonel Gordon of the British army, throwing their swords into the scale.
Two Sabbatarians hearing that the rebels observed Saturday for their day of rest, posted off to confirm them in that ancient usage. Learning at an outpost that the seeming agreement with their own practice grew out of a mistake in reckoning, they did not continue their journey.
A missionary who actually penetrated to the rebel headquarters was the Rev. Issachar Roberts, the first instructor of the rebel chief. The latter had sent him a message inviting him to court. His stay was not long. He found that his quondam disciple had substituted a new mode of baptism, neither sprinkling nor immersion, but washing the pit of the stomach with a towel dipped in warm water! Who says the Chinese are not original? It is probable that Roberts's dispute lay deeper than a mere ceremony. Professing a New Testament creed, the rebel chief shaped his practice on Old Testament examples--killing men as ruthlessly as David, and, like Solomon, filling his harem with women. A remonstrance on either head was certain to bring danger; it was said indeed that Roberts's life was threatened.
Some queer titles were adopted by the Tai-pings. As stated above, the premier was styled "Father of 9,000 years"; other princes had to content themselves with 7,000, 6,000, etc.--or seven-tenths and six-tenths of a "Live forever!" Christ was the "Heavenly Elder Brother"; and the chief called himself "Younger Brother of Jesus Christ." These designations might excite a smile; but when he called Yang, his adviser, the "Holy Ghost," one felt like stopping one's ears, as did the Hebrews of old. The loose morals of the Tai-pings and their travesty of sacred things horrified the Christian world; and Gordon no doubt felt that he was doing God a service in breaking up a horde of blasphemers and blackguards.
Gordon's victory won an earldom for Li Hung Chang; but the Chinese conferred no posthumous honours on Gordon as they did on Ward, who has a temple and is reckoned among the gods of the empire.
The Tai-pings were commonly called Changmao, "long-haired" rebels, because they rejected the tonsure and "pigtail" as marks of subjection. They printed at Nanking, by what they called "Imperial authority," an edition of the Holy Scriptures. At one time Lord Elgin, disgusted by the conduct of the Peking Government, proposed to make terms with the court at Nanking. The French minister refused to coöperate, partly because the rebels had not been careful to distinguish between the images in Roman Catholic chapels and those in pagan temples, but chiefly from an objection to the ascendency of Protestant influence, coupled with a fear of losing the power that comes from a protectorate of Roman Catholic missions. How different would have been the future of China had the allied powers backed up the Tai-pings against the Manchus!
* * * * *
ACT 2. THE "ARROW" WAR, 1857-1860
Of the second act in this grand drama on the world's wide stage, a vessel, named the _Arrow_, was, like opium in the former conflict, the occasion, not the cause. The cause was, as before, pride and ignorance on the part of the Chinese, though the British are not to be altogether exonerated. Their flag was compromised; and they sought to protect it. Fifteen years of profitable commerce had passed, during which China had been a double gainer, receiving light and experience in addition to less valuable commodities, when Viceroy Yeh seized the lorcha _Arrow_, on a charge of piracy. Though owned by Chinese, she was registered in Hong Kong, and sailed under the British flag. Had the viceroy handed her over to a British court for trial, justice would no doubt have been done to the delinquents, and the two nations would not have been embroiled; but, haughty as well as hasty, the viceroy declined to admit that the British Government had any right to interfere with his proceedings. Unfortunately British interests at Canton were in the hands of Consul Parkes, afterward Sir Harry Parkes, the renowned plenipotentiary at Peking and Tokio.
Sir John Bowring was governor of Hong Kong, with the oversight of British interests in the Empire. A gifted poet, and an enthusiastic advocate of universal peace, he was a man who might be counted on, if in the power of man, to hold the dogs of war in leash. But he, too, had been consul at Canton and he knew by experience the quagmire in which the best intentions were liable to be swamped.
Parkes, whom I came to know as Her Britannic Majesty's minister in Peking, was the soul of honour, as upright as any man who walked the earth. But with all his rectitude, he, like the Viceroy Yeh, was irascible and unyielding. When the viceroy refused his demand for the rendition of the Arrow and her crew, he menaced him with the weight of the lion's paw. Alarmed, but not cowed, the viceroy sent the prisoners in fetters to the consulate, instead of replacing them on board their ship; nor did he vouchsafe a word of courtesy or apology. Parkes, too fiery to overlook such contemptuous informality, sent them back, much as a football is kicked from one to another; and the viceroy, incensed beyond measure, ordered their heads to be chopped off without a trial.
Here was a Gordian knot, which nothing but the sword could loose. War was provoked as before by the rashness of a viceroy. The peace-loving governor did not choose to swallow the affront to his country, nor did the occupant of the Dragon Throne deign to interfere; looking on the situation with the same sublime indifference with which the King of Persia regarded the warlike preparations of the younger Cyrus, when he supposed, as Xenophon tells us, that he was only going to fight out a feud with a neighbouring satrap. How could China be opened; how was a stable equilibrium possible so long as foreign powers were kept at a distance from the capital of the Empire?
In three months the haughty viceroy was a prisoner in India, never to return, and his provincial capital was held by a garrison of British troops. On this occasion the old blunder of admitting the city to ransom was not repeated, else Canton might have continued to be a hotbed of seditious plots and anti-foreign hostilities. Parkes knew the people, and he knew their rulers also. He was accordingly allowed to have his own way in dealing with them. The viceroy being out of the way, he proposed to Pehkwei, the Manchu governor, to take his place and carry on the provincial government as if the two nations were at peace. Strange to say, the governor did not decline the task. That he did not was due to the fact that he disapproved the policy of the viceroy, and that he put faith in the assurance that Great Britain harboured no design against the reigning house or its territorial domain.
To the surprise of the Chinese, who in their native histories find that an Asiatic conqueror always takes possession of as much territory as he is able to hold, it soon became evident that the Queen of England did not make war in the spirit of conquest. Her premier, Lord Palmerston, invited the coöperation of France, Russia, and the United States, in a movement which was expected to issue advantageously to all, especially to China. France, at that time under an ambitious successor of the great Napoleon, seized the opportunity to contribute a strong contingent, with the view of checkmating England and of obtaining for herself a free hand in Indo-China, possibly in China Proper also. For assuming a hostile attitude towards China, she found a pretext in the judicial murder of a missionary in Kwangsi, just as Germany found two of her missionaries similarly useful as an excuse for the occupation of Kiao-Chao in 1897. No wonder the Chinese have grown cautious how they molest a missionary; but they needed practical teaching before they learned the lesson.
Unable to take a morsel of China as long as his powerful ally abstained from territorial aggrandisement, Louis Napoleon subsequently employed his troops to enlarge the borders of a small state which the French claimed in Annam, laying the foundation of a dominion which goes far to console them for the loss of India. America and Russia, having no wrongs to redress, declined to send troops, but consented to give moral support to a movement for placing foreign relations with China on a satisfactory basis.
In the spring of 1858, the representatives of the four powers met at the mouth of the Peiho, coöperating in a loose sort of concert which permitted each one to carryon negotiations on his own account. As interpreter to the Hon. W. B. Reed, the American minister, I enjoyed the best of opportunities for observing what went on behind the scenes, besides being a spectator of more than one battle.
The neutrals, arriving in advance of the belligerents, opened negotiations with the Viceroy of Chihli, which might have added supplementary articles, but must have left the old treaties substantially unchanged. The other envoys coming on the stage insisted that the viceroy should wear the title and be clothed with the powers of a plenipotentiary. When that was refused, as being "incompatible with the absolute sovereignty of the Emperor," they stormed the forts and proceeded to Tientsin where they were met by men whose credentials were made out in due form, though it is doubtful if their powers exceeded those of the crestfallen viceroy. A pitiful artifice to maintain their affectation of superiority was the placing of the names of foreign countries one space lower than that of China in the despatch announcing their appointment. When this covert insult was pointed out they apologised for a clerical error, and had the despatches rectified.
The allies were able to dictate their own terms; and they got all they asked for, though, as will be seen, they did not ask enough. The rest of us got the same, though we had struck no blow and shed no blood. One article, known as "the most-favoured-nation clause" , was all that we required to enable us to pick up the fruit when others shook the tree.
Four additional seaports were opened, but Tienstin, where the treaties were drawn up, was not one of them. I remember hearing Lord Elgin, whose will was absolute, say that he was not willing to have it thrown open to commerce, because in that case it would be used to overawe the capital--just as if overaweing were not the very thing needed to make a bigoted government enter on the path of progress. Never did a man in repute for statesmanship show himself more shortsighted. His blunder led to the renewal of the war, and its continuance for two more years.
The next year when the envoys came to the mouth of the river, on their way to Peking to exchange ratified copies of their treaties, they found the forts rebuilt, the river closed, and access to the capital by way of Tientsin bluntly refused. In taking this action, the Chinese were not chargeable with a breach of faith; but the allies, feeling insulted at having the door shut in their faces, decided to force it open. They had a strong squadron; but their gunboats were no match for the forts. Some were sunk; others were beached; and the day ended in disastrous defeat. Though taking no part in the conflict the Americans were not indifferent spectators. Hearing that the British admiral was wounded, their commodore, the brave old Tatnall, went through a shower of bullets to express his sympathy, getting his boat shattered and losing a man on the way. When requested to lend a helping hand, he exclaimed "Blood is thicker than water;" and, throwing neutrality to the winds, he proceeded to tow up a flotilla of British barges. His words have echoed around the world; and his act, though impolitic from the viewpoint of diplomacy, had the effect of knitting closer the ties of two kindred nations.
Seeing the repulse of the allies, the American minister, the Hon. J. E. Ward, resolved to accept an offer which they had declined, namely, to proceed to the capital by land under a Chinese escort. His country was pledged in the treaty, of which he was the bearer, to use her good offices on the occurrence of difficulties with other powers. Without cavilling at the prescribed route or mode of conveyance, he felt it his duty to present himself before the Throne as speedily as possible in the hope of averting a threatened calamity. For him, it was an opportunity to do something great and good; for China, it was the last chance to ward off a crushing blow. But so elated were the Chinese by their unexpected success that they were in no mood to accept the services of a mediator. The Emperor insisted that he should go on his knees like the tribute-bearer from a vassal state. "Tell them," said Mr. Ward, "that I go on my knees only to God and woman"--a speech brave and chivalrous, but undignified for a minister and unintelligible to the Chinese. With this he quitted the capital and left China to her fate. He was not the first envoy to meet a rude rebuff at the Chinese court. In 1816 Lord Amherst was not allowed to see the "Dragon's Face" because he refused to kneel. At that date England was not in a position to punish the insult; but it had something to do with the war of 1839. In 1859 it was pitiful to see a power whose existence was hanging in the scales alienate a friend by unseemly insolence.
The following year saw the combined forces of two empires at the gates of Peking. The summer palace was laid in ashes to punish the murder of a company of men and officers under a flag of truce; and it continues to be an unsightly ruin. The Emperor fled to Tartary to find a grave; and throne and capital were for the first time at the mercy of an Occidental army. On the accession of Hien-feng, in 1850, an old counsellor advised him to make it his duty to "restore the restrictions all along the coast." His attempt to do this was one source of his misfortunes. Supplementary articles were signed within the walls, by which China relinquished her absurd pretensions, abandoned her long seclusion, and, at the instance of France, threw open the whole empire to the labours of Christian missions. They had been admitted by rescript to the Five Ports, but no further.
Thus ends the second act of the drama; and a spectator must be sadly deficient in spiritual insight if he does not perceive the hand of God overruling the strife of nations and the blunders of statesmen.
The curtain rises on the third act of the drama in 1885. Peking was open to residence, and I had charge of a college for the training of diplomatic agents.
I was at Pearl Grotto, my summer refuge near Peking, when I was called to town by a messenger from the Board of Foreign Affairs. The ministers informed me that the French had destroyed their fleet and seized their arsenal at Foochow. "This," they said, "is war. We desire to know how the non-combatants of the enemy are to be treated according to the rules of international law." I wrote out a brief statement culled from text-books, which I had myself translated for the use of the Chinese Government; but before I had finished writing a clerk came to say that the Grand Council wished to have it as soon as possible, as they were going to draw up a decree on the subject. The next day an imperial decree proclaimed a state of war and assured French people in China that if they refrained from taking part in any hostile act they might remain in their places, and count on full protection. Nobly did the government of the day redeem its pledge. Not a missionary was molested in the interior; and two French professors belonging to my own faculty were permitted to go on with the instruction of their classes.
There was not much fighting. The French seized Formosa; and both parties were preparing for a trial of strength, when a seemingly unimportant occurrence led them to come to an understanding. A small steamer belonging to the customs service, employed in supplying the wants of lighthouses, having been taken by the French, Sir Robert Hart applied to the French premier, Jules Ferry, for its release. This was readily granted; and an intimation was at the same time given that the French would welcome overtures for a settlement of the quarrel. Terms were easily agreed upon and the two parties resumed the status quo ante bellum.
So far as the stipulations were concerned neither party had gained or lost anything, yet as a matter of fact France had scored a substantial victory. She was henceforward left in quiet possession of Tongking, a principality which China had regarded as a vassal and endeavoured to protect.
China had not thoroughly learned the lesson suggested by this experience; for ten years later a fourth act in the drama grew out of her unwise attempt to protect another vassal.
In 1894 the Japanese, provoked by China's interference with their enterprises in Korea, boldly drew the sword and won for themselves a place among the great powers. I was in Japan when the war broke out, and, being asked by a company of foreigners what I thought of Japan's chances, answered, "The swordfish can kill the whale."
Not merely did the islanders expel the Chinese from the Korean peninsula, but they took possession of those very districts in Manchuria from which they have but yesterday ousted the Russians. Peking itself was in danger when Li Hung Chang was sent to the Mikado to sue for peace. Luckily for China a Japanese assassin lodged a bullet in the head of her ambassador; and the Mikado, ashamed of that cowardly act, granted peace on easy conditions. China's greatest statesman carried that bullet in his dura mater to the end of his days, proud to have made himself an offering for his country, and rejoicing that one little ball had silenced the batteries of two empires.
By the terms of the treaty, Japan was to be left in possession of Port Arthur and Liao-tung. But this arrangement was in fatal opposition to the policy of a great power which had already cast covetous eyes on the rich provinces of Manchuria. Securing the support of France and Germany, Russia compelled the Japanese to withdraw; and in the course of three years she herself occupied those very positions, kindling in the bosom of Japan the fires of revenge, and sowing the seeds of another war.

The effect of China's defeat at the hands of her despised neighbour, was, if possible, more profound than that of her humiliation by the English and French in 1860. She saw how the adoption of Western methods had clothed a small Oriental people with irresistible might; and her wisest statesmen set themselves to work a similar transformation in their antiquated empire. The young Emperor showed himself an apt pupil, issuing a series of reformatory edicts, which alarmed the conservatives and provoked a reaction that constitutes the last act in this tremendous drama.
The fifth act opens with the _coup d'état_ of the Empress Dowager, and terminates with the capture of Peking by the combined forces of the civilised world.
Instead of attempting, even in outline, a narrative of events, it will be more useful to direct attention to the springs of action. It should be borne in mind that the late Emperor was the adopted son of the Dowager Empress. After the death of her own son, Tung-chi, who occupied the throne for eleven years under a joint regency of two empresses, his mother cast about for some one to adopt in his stead. With motives not difficult to divine she chose among her nephews an infant of three summers, and gave him the title _Kwangsu_, "Illustrious Successor." When he was old enough to be entrusted with the reins of government, she made a feint of laying down her power, in deference to custom. Yet she exacted of the imperial youth that he visit her at her country palace and throw himself at her feet once in five days--proof enough that she kept her hand on the helm, though she mitted her nephew to pose as steersman. She herself was noted for progressive ideas; and it was not strange that the young man, under the influence of Kang Yuwei, backed by enlightened viceroys, should go beyond his adoptive mother. Within three years from the close of the war he had proclaimed a succession of new measures which amounted to a reversal of the old policy; nor is it likely that she disapproved of any of them, until the six ministers of the Board of Rites, the guardians of a sort of Levitical law, besought her to save the empire from the horrors of a revolution.
For her to command was to be obeyed. The viceroys were her appointees; and she knew they would stand by her to a man. The Emperor, though nominally independent, was not emancipated from the obligations of filial duty, which were the more binding as having been created by her voluntary choice. There was no likelihood that he would offer serious resistance; and it was certain that he would not be supported if he did. Coming from behind the veil, she snatched the sceptre from his inexperienced hand, as a mother takes a deadly weapon from a half-grown boy. Submitting to the inevitable he made a formal surrender of his autocratic powers and, confessing his errors, implored her "to teach him how to govern." This was in September, 1898.
Stripped of every vestige of authority, the unhappy prince was confined, a prisoner of state, in a secluded palace where it was thought he would soon receive the present of a silken scarf as a hint to make way for a worthier successor. That his life was spared was no doubt due to a certain respect for the public sentiment of the world, to which China is not altogether insensible. He having no direct heir, the son of Prince Tuan was adopted by the Dowager as heir-apparent, evidently in expectation of a vacancy soon to be filled. Prince Tuan, hitherto unknown in the politics of the state, became, from that moment, the leader of a reactionary party. Believing that his son would soon be called to the throne by the demise of the Emperor, he put on all the airs of a _Tai-shang Hwang_, or "Father of an Emperor."
Here again the patria potestas comes in as a factor; and in the brief career of the father of the heir-apparent, it shows itself in its most exaggerated form. Under the influence of the reactionary clique, of which he was acknowledged chief, the Empress Dowager in her new regency was induced to repeal almost everything the Emperor had done in the way of reform. In her edict she said cynically: "It does not follow that we are to stop eating, because we have been choked!" Dislike to foreign methods engendered an ill-concealed hatred of foreigners; and just at this epoch occurred a series of aggressions by foreign powers, which had the effect of fanning that hatred into a flame.
In the fall of 1897 Germany demanded the cession of Kiao-Chao, calling it a lease for 99 years. The next spring Russia under the form of a lease for 25 years obtained Port Arthur for the terminus of her long railway. England and France followed suit: one taking a lease of Wei-hai-wei; the other, of Kwang-chou-wan. Though in every case the word "lease" was employed, the Chinese knew the transfer meant permanent alienation.
A hue and cry was raised against what they described as the "slicing of the melon," and in Shantung, where the first act of spoliation had taken place, the Boxers, a turbulent society of long standing, were encouraged to wage open war against native Christians, foreigners and foreign products, including railways, telegraphs, and all sorts of merchandise.
Not until those predatory bands had entered the metropolitan province, with the avowed object of pushing their way to Peking did the legations take steps to strengthen their guards. A small reinforcement of 207 men luckily reached Peking a few days before the railway was wrecked.
[Footnote *: On March 30, 1900, the following Boxer manifesto in jingling rhyme, was thrown into the London Mission, at Tientsin. It is here given in a prose version, taken from "A Flight for Life," by the Rev. J. H. Roberts, Pilgrim Press, Boston.
"We Boxers have come to Tientsin to kill an foreign devils, and protect the Manchu dynasty. Above, there is the Empress Dowager on our side, and below there is Junglu. The soldiers of Yulu and Yuhien are an our men. When we have finished killing in Tientsin, we shall go to Peking. All the officials high and low will welcome us. Whoever is afraid let him quickly escape for his life."]
With a view to protect the foreign settlement at Tientsin, then threatened by Boxers, the combined naval forces stormed the forts at the mouth of the river, and advanced to that rich emporium. The Court denounced this as an act of war, and ordered all foreigners to leave the capital within twenty-four hours. That meant slaughter at the hands of the Boxers. The foreign ministers protested, and endeavoured by prolonged negotiation to avoid compliance with the cruel order.
On June 20, the German minister, Baron von Ketteler, was on his way to the Foreign Office to obtain an extension of time, when he was shot dead in the street by a man in the uniform of a soldier. His secretary, though wounded, gave the alarm; and all the legations, with all their respective countrymen, took refuge in the British Legation, with the exception of Bishop Favier and his people who, with the aid of forty marines, bravely defended themselves in the new cathedral.
In the evening we were fired on by the Government troops, and from that time we were closely besieged and exposed to murderous attacks day and night for eight weeks, when a combined force under the flags of eight nations carried the walls by storm, just in time to prevent such a massacre as the world has never seen. Massacres on a larger scale have not been a rare spectacle; but never before in the history of the world had any government been seen attempting to destroy an entire diplomatic body, every member of whom is made sacred by the law of nations.

On August 14 Gen. Gaseles and his contingent entered the British Legation. The Court, conscious of guilt, fled to the northwest, leaving the city once more at the mercy of the hated foreigner; and so the curtain falls on the closing scene.
What feats of heroism were performed in the course of those eventful weeks; how delicate women rose to the height of the occasion in patient endurance and helpful charity; how international jealousies were merged in the one feeling of devotion to the common good--all this and more I should like to relate for the honour of human nature.
How an unseen power appeared to hold our enemies in check and to sustain the courage of the besieged, I would also like to place on record, to the glory of the Most High; but space fails for dealing with anything but general principles.

On the day following our rescue, at a thanksgiving meeting, which was largely attended, Dr. Arthur Smith pointed out ten instances--most of us agreed that he might have made the number ten times ten--in which the providence of God had intervened on our behalf.
It was a role of an ancient critic that a god should not be brought on the stage unless the occasion were such as to require the presence of a more than human power. _Nec deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus._ How many such occasions we have had to notice in the course of this narrative! What a theodicæa we have in the result of all this tribulation! We see at last, a government convinced of the folly of a policy which brought on such a succession of disastrous wars. We see missionaries and native Christians fairly well protected throughout the whole extent of the Empire. We see, moreover, a national movement in the direction of educational reform, which, along with the Gospel of Christ, promises to impart new life to that ancient people.
The following incident may serve to show the state of uncertainty in which we lived during the interregnum preceding the return of the Court.
While waiting for an opportunity to get my "train on the track," I spent the summer of 1901 at Pearl Grotto, my usual retreat, on the top of a hill over a thousand feet high, overlooking the capital. "The Boxers are coming!" cried my writer and servants one evening about twilight. "Haste--hide in the rocks--they will soon be on us!" "I shall not hide," I replied; and seizing my rifle I rested it on a wall which commanded the approach. They soon became visible at the distance of a hundred yards, waving flambeaux, and yelling like a troop of devils. Happily I reserved my fire for closer range; for leaving the path at that point they betook themselves to the top of another hill where they waved their torches and shouted like madmen. We were safe for the night; and in the morning I reported the occurrence to Mr. O'Conor, the British chargé d'affaires, who was at a large temple at the foot of the hills. "They were not Boxers," he remarked, "but a party we sent out to look for a lost student."
It is the fashion to speak slightingly of the Boxer troubles, and to blink the fact that the movement which led to the second capture of Peking and the flight of the Court was a serious war. The southern viceroys had undertaken to maintain order in the south. Operations were therefore localised somewhat, as they were in the Russo-Japanese War. It is even said that the combined forces were under the impression that they were coming to the rescue of a helpless government which was doing all in its power to protect foreigners. Whether this was the effect of diplomatic dust thrown in their eyes or not, it was a fiction.
How bitterly the Empress Dowager was bent on exterminating the foreigner, may be inferred from her decree ordering the massacre of foreigners and their adherents--a savage edict which the southern satraps refused to obey. A similar inference may be drawn from the summary execution of four ministers of state for remonstrating against throwing in the fortunes of the empire with the Boxer party. China should be made to do penance on her knees for those shocking displays of barbarism. At Taiyuan-fu, forty-five missionaries were murdered by the governor, and sixteen at Paoting-fu. Such atrocities are only possible among a _half-civilised people_.

Awakening of China The Manchus, The Normans Of China

_The Ta-Ts'ing Dynasty--The Empress Dowager--Her Origin--Her First Regency--Her Personality--Other Types--Two Manchu Princes--Two Manchu Ministers--The Nation's Choice--Conclusions_
In a wide survey of the history of the world, we discover a law which appears to govern the movements of nations. Those of the north show a tendency to encroach on those of the south. The former are nomads, hunters, or fishers, made bold by a constant struggle with the infelicities of their environment. The latter are occupied with the settled industries of civilised life.
The Goths and Vandals of Rome, and the Tartars under Genghis and Tamerlane all conform to this law and seem to be actuated by a common impulse. In the east and west of the Eastern hemisphere may be noted two examples of this general movement, which afford a curious parallel: I refer to the Normans of Great Britain and the Manchus of China. Both empires are under the sway of dynasties which originated in the north; for the royal house of Britain, though under another title, has always been proud of its Norman blood.
The Normans who conquered Britain had first settled in France and there acquired the arts of civilised life. The Manchus coming from the banks of the Amur settled in Liao-tung, a region somewhat similarly situated with reference to China. There they learned something of the civilisation of China, and watched for an opportunity to obtain possession of the empire. In Britain a kindred branch of the Norman family was on the throne, and William the Conqueror contrived to give his invasion a colour of right, by claiming the throne under an alleged bequest of Edward the Confessor. The Manchus, though not invoking such artificial sanction, aspired to the dominion of China because their ancestors of the Golden Horde had ruled over the northern half of the empire. The Norman conquest, growing out of a family quarrel, was decided by a single battle. The Manchus' conquest of a country more than ten times the extent of Britain was not so easy to effect. Yet they achieved it with unexampled rapidity, because they came by invitation and they brought peace to a people exhausted by long wars. Their task was comparatively easy in the north, where the traditions of the Kin Tartars still survived; but it was prolonged and bloody in the south.
Both houses treated their new subjects as a conquered people. Each imposed the burden of foreign garrisons and a new nobility. Each introduced a foreign language, which they tried to perpetuate as the speech of the court, if not of the people. In each case the language of the people asserted itself. In Britain it absorbed and assimilated the alien tongue; in China, where the absence of common elements made amalgamation impossible, it superseded that of the conquerors, not merely for writing purposes, but as the spoken dialect of the court.
Both conquerors found it necessary to conciliate the subject race by liberal and timely concessions; but here begins a contrast. In Britain no external badge of subjection was ever imposed; in process of time all special privileges of the ruling caste were abolished; and no trace of race antipathy ever displays itself anywhere--if we except Ireland. In China the cue remains as a badge of subjection. Habit has reconciled the people to its use; but it still offers a tempting grip to revolutionary agitators. Every party that raises the standard of revolt abolishes the cue; would it not be wise for the Manchu Government to make the wearing of that appendage a matter of option, especially as it is beginning to disappear from their soldiers' uniform?
The extension of reform in dress from camp to court and from court to people would remove a danger. It would also remove a barrier in the way of China's admission into the congress of nations. The abolition of the cue implies the abandonment of those long robes which make such an impression of barbaric pomp. Already the Chinese are tacitly permitted to adopt foreign dress; and in every case they have to dispense with the cue. The Japanese never did a wiser thing than to adopt our Western costume. Their example tends to encourage a reform of the same kind in China. A new costume means a new era.
Another point is required to complete the parallel: each victor has given the conquered country a better government than any in its previous history. To Confucius feudalism was a beau-ideal, and he beautifully compares the sovereign to the North Star which sits in state on the pole of the heavens while all the constellations revolve around it, and pay it homage. Yet was the centralised government of the First Hwang-ti an immense improvement on the loose agglomeration of the Chous. The great dynasties have all adopted the principle of centralisation; but not one has applied it with such success, nor is there one which shows so large a proportion of respectable rulers as the house of Ta-ts'ing. Of the first six some account has been given in

Awakening of China The Mythical Period

_Account of Creation--P'an-ku, the Ancient Founder--The Three Sovereigns--The Five Rulers, the Beginnings of Human Civilisation--The Golden Age--Yau, the Unselfish Monarch--Shun, the Paragon of Domestic Virtues--Story of Ta-yü--Rise of Hereditary Monarchy_
Unlike the Greeks and Hindoos, the Chinese are deficient in the sort of imagination that breeds a poetical mythology. They are not, however, wanting in that pride of race which is prone to lay claim to the past as well as to the future. They have accordingly constructed, not a mythology, but a fictitious history which begins with the creation of the world.
How men and animals were made they do not say; but they assert that heaven and earth were united in a state of chaos until a divine man, whom they call P'an-ku, the "ancient founder," rent them asunder. Pictures show him wielding his sledge-hammer and disengaging sun and moon from overlying hills--a grotesque conception in strong contrast with the simple and sublime statement, "God said, 'Let there be light' and there was light." P'an-ku was followed by a divine being named Nü-wa, in regard to whom it is doubtful whether to speak in the feminine or in the masculine gender. Designated queen more frequently than king, it is said of her that, a portion of the sky having fallen down , she rebuilt it with precious stones of many colours. _Lien shih pu tien_, "to patch the sky with precious stones," is a set phrase by which the Chinese indicate that which is fabulous and absurd.
Instead of filling the long interval between the creation of the world and the birth of history with gods and fairies, the Chinese cover that period by three sovereigns whom they call after their favourite triad, heaven, earth, and man, giving them the respective titles Tién-hwang, Ti-hwang, and Jin-hwang. Each of these reigned eighteen thousand years; but what they reigned over is not apparent. At all events they seem to have contributed little to the comfort of their people; for at the close of that long period the wretched inhabitants of the empire--the only country then known to exist on earth--had no houses, no clothes, no laws, and no letters.
Now come five personages who, in accordance with Chinese historical propriety, are likewise invested with imperial dignity and are called Wu-ti, "the five rulers." Collectively they represent the first appearance of the useful arts, the rude beginnings of human civilisation. One of these rulers, noticing that birds constructed nests, taught his people to build huts, from which he is called the "nest builder." Another was the Prometheus of his day and obtained fire, not, however, by stealing it from the sun, but by honestly working for it with two pieces of wood which he rubbed together. The third of these rulers, named Fuhi, appears to have been the teacher of his people in the art of rearing domestic animals; in other words, the initiator of pastoral life, and possibly the originator of sacrificial offerings. The fourth in order introduced husbandry. As has been stated in a previous chapter , he has no name except Shin-nung, "divine husbandman"; and under that title he continues to be worshipped at the present day as the Ceres of China. The Emperor every spring repairs to his temple to plough a few furrows by way of encouragement to his people. The last of the five personages is called the "yellow ruler," whether from the colour of his robes, or as ruler of the yellow race, is left in doubt. He is credited with the invention of letters and the cycle of sixty years, the foundation of Chinese chronology .
Unlike the long twilight which precedes the dawn in high latitudes, the semi-mythical age was brief, covering no more than two reigns, those of Yao and Shun. Confucius regarded these as included in the "five rulers." To make room for them, he omits the first two; and he seldom refers to the others, but appears to accept them as real personages. He is no critic; but he has shown good sense in drawing the line no further back. He has made the epoch of these last a golden age which is not the creation of a poet, but the conception of a philosopher who wished to have an open space on which to build up his political theories. He found, moreover, in these primitive times some features by which he was greatly fascinated. The simplicity and freedom which appeared to prevail in those far-off days were to him very attractive.
It is related that Yao, the type of an unselfish monarch, while on a tour of inspection in the disguise of a peasant, heard an old man singing this song to the notes of his guitar:
"I plough my ground and eat my own bread, I dig my well and drink my own water: What use have I for king or court?"
Yao returned to his palace, rejoicing that the state of his country was such that his people were able to forget him.
Another feature which the Chinese hold up in bold relief is the fact that in those days the occupancy of the throne was not hereditary. Yao is said to have reigned a hundred years. When he was growing old he saw with grief that his son showed no signs of being a worthy successor. Setting him aside, therefore, he asked his ministers to recommend someone as his heir. They all agreed in nominating Shun. "What are his merits?" asked the King. "Filial piety and fraternal kindness," they replied. "By these virtues he has wrought a reform in a family noted for perverseness." The King desiring to know the facts, they related the following story:
"Shun's father is an ill-natured, blind man. He has a cruel stepmother and a selfish, petulant younger brother. This boy, the pet of his parents, treated Shun with insolence; and the father and mother joined in persecuting the elder son. Shun, without showing resentment, cried aloud to Heaven and obtained patience to bear their harshness. By duty and affection he has won the hearts of all three." "Bring him before me," said the King; "I have yet another trial by which to test his virtues." Yao made him his son-in-law, giving him his two daughters at once. He wished to see whether the good son and brother would also be a good husband and father--an example for his people in all their domestic relations. Shun accepted the test with becoming resignation and comported himself to the satisfaction of the old king, who raised him to the throne. After a reign of fifty years, partly as Yao's associate, Shun followed the example of his father-in-law. Passing by his own son, he left the throne to Ta-yü or Yü, a man who had been subjected to trials far more serious than that of having to live in the same house with a pair of pretty princesses.
A question discussed in the school of Mencius, many centuries later, may be cited here for the light it throws on the use made by Chinese schoolmen of the examples of this period. "Suppose," said one of his students, "that Shun's father had killed a man, would Shun, being king, have allowed him to be condemned?" "No," replied the master; "he would have renounced the throne and, taking his father on his shoulders, he would have fled away to the seaside, rejoicing in the consciousness of having performed the duty of a filial son." Shun continues to be cited as the paragon of domestic virtues, occupying the first place in a list of twenty-four who are noted for filial piety.
The trial by which the virtues of Ta-yü were proved was an extraordinary feat of engineering--nothing less than the subduing of the waters of a deluge. "The waters," said the King, "embosom the high hills and insolently menace heaven itself. Who will find us a man to take them in hand and keep them in place?" His ministers recommended one Kun. Kun failed to accomplish the task, and Shun, who in this case hardly serves for the model of a just ruler, put him to death. Then the task was imposed on Ta-yü, the son of the man who had been executed. After nine years of incredible hardships he brought the work to a successful termination. During this time he extended his care to the rivers of more than one province, dredging, ditching, and diking. Three times he passed his own door and, though he heard the cries of his infant son, he did not once enter his house. The son of a criminal who had suffered death, a throne was the meed of his diligence and ability.
A temple in Hanyang, at the confluence of two rivers, commemorates Ta-yü's exploit, which certainly throws the labours of Hercules completely into the shade. On the opposite side of the river stands a pillar, inscribed in antique hieroglyphics, which professes to record this great achievement. It is a copy of one which stands on Mount Hang; and the characters, in the tadpole style, are so ancient that doubts as to their actual meaning exist among scholars of the present day. Each letter is accordingly accompanied by its equivalent in modern Chinese. The stone purports to have been erected by Ta-yü himself--good ground for suspicion--but it has been proved to be a fabrication of a later age, though still very ancient.

In the two preceding reigns the sovereign had always consulted the public good rather than family interest--a form of monarchy which the Chinese call elective, but which has never been followed, save that the Emperor exercises the right of choice among his sons irrespective of primogeniture. The man who bears the odium of having departed from the unselfish policy of Yao and Shun is this same Ta-yü. He left the throne to his son and, as the Chinese say, "made of the empire a family estate."
This narrative comes from the _Shu-King_ or "Book of History," the most venerated of the Five Classics edited by Confucius; but the reader will readily perceive that it is no more historical than the stories of Codrus or Numa Pompilius.
In the reign of Yao we have an account of astronomical observations made with a view to fixing the length of the year. The King tells one man to go to the east and another to the west, to observe the culmination and transit of certain stars. As a result he says they will find that the year consists of 366 days, a close approximation for that epoch. The absurdity of this style, which attributes omniscience to the prince and leaves to his agents nothing but the task of verification, should not be allowed to detract from the credit due to their observations. The result arrived at was about the same as that reached by the Babylonians at the same date
Other rulers who are credited with great inventions probably made them in the same way. Whether under Fuhi or Hwang-ti, Ts'ang-kié is recognised as the Cadmus of China, the author of its written characters; and Tanao, a minister of Hwang-ti, is admitted to be the author of the cycle of sixty. Both of those emperors may be imagined as calling up their ministers and saying to one, "Go and invent the art of writing," and to the other, "Work out a system of chronology."
In the same way, the inception of the culture of the silkworm and the discovery of the magnetic needle are attributed to the predecessors of Yao, probably on the principle that treasure-trove was the property of the King and that if no claimant for the honour could be found it must be attributed to some ancient monarch. The production of silk, as woman's work, they profess to assign to the consort of one of those worthies--a thing improbable if not impossible, her place of residence being in the north of China. Their picture-writing tells a different tale. Their word for a southern barbarian, compounded of "silk" and "worm," points to the south as the source of that useful industry, much as our word "silk," derived from _sericum_, points to China as its origin.

Awakening of China Origin Of The Chinese

_Parent Stock a Migratory People--They Invade China from the Northwest and Colonise the Banks of the Yellow River and of the Han--Their Conflicts with the Aborigines--Native Tribes Absorbed by Conquerors_
That the parent stock in which the Chinese nation had its origin was a small migratory people, like the tribes of Israel, and that they entered the land of promise from the northwest is tolerably certain; but to trace their previous wanderings back to Shinar, India, or Persia would be a waste of time, as the necessary data are lacking. Even within their appointed domain the accounts of their early history are too obscure to be accepted as to any extent reliable.
They appear to have begun their career of conquest by colonising the banks of the Yellow River and those of the Han. By slow stages they moved eastward to the central plain and southward to the Yang-tse Kiang. At that early epoch, between 3000 and 2000 B. C., they found the country already occupied by various wild tribes whom they considered as savages. In their early traditions they describe these tribes respectively by four words: those of the south are called Man ; those on the east, Yi ; those on the north, Tih ; and those on the west, Jung . Each of these names points to something distinctive. Some of these tribes were, perhaps, spinners of silk; some, hunters; and all of them, formidable enemies.
The earliest book of history opens with conflicts with aborigines. There can be no question that the slow progress made by the invaders in following the course of those streams on which the most ancient capitals of the Chinese were subsequently located was owing to the necessity of fighting their way. Shun, the second sovereign of whose reign there is record , is said to have waged war with San Miao, three tribes of miaotze or aborigines, a term still applied to the independent tribes of the southwest. Beaten in the field, or at least suffering a temporary check, he betook himself to the rites of religion, making offerings and praying to Shang-ti, the supreme ruler. "After forty days," it is stated, "the natives submitted."
In the absence of any explanation it may be concluded that during the suspension of hostilities negotiations were proceeding which resulted not in the destruction of the natives, but in their incorporation with their more civilised neighbours. This first recorded amalgamation of the kind was doubtless an instance of a process of growth that continued for many centuries, resulting in the absorption of all the native tribes on the north of the Yang-tse and of most of those on the south. The expanding state was eventually composed of a vast body of natives who submitted to their civilised conquerors, much as the people of Mexico and Peru consented to be ruled by a handful of Spaniards.

As late as the Christian era any authentic account of permanent conquests in China to the south of the "Great River" is still wanting, though warlike expeditions in that direction were not infrequent. The people of the northern provinces called themselves _Han-jin_, "men of Han" or "sons of Han," while those of the south styled themselves _T'ang-jin_, "men of T'ang." Does not this indicate that, while the former were moulded into unity by the great dynasty which took its name from the river Han , the latter did not become Chinese until the brilliant period of the T'angs, nearly a thousand years later? Further confirmation need not be adduced to show that the empire of the Far East contemporary with, and superior in civilisation to, ancient Rome, embraced less than the eighteen provinces of China Proper. Of the nine districts into which it was divided by Ta-yü, 2100 B. C. not one was south of the "Great River."

Awakening of China The Warring States

_Five Dictators--Diplomacy and Strategy--A Brave Envoy--Heroes Reconciled--Ts'in Extinguishes the House of Chou_
In the first half of the Chou dynasty the machinery moved with such regularity that Confucius could think of no form of government more admirable, saying, "The policy of the future may be foretold for a hundred generations--it will be to follow the House of Chou." The latter half was a period of misrule and anarchy.
Ambitions and jealousies led to petty wars. The King being too feeble to repress them, these petty wars grew into vast combinations like the leagues of modern Europe. Five of the states acquired at different times such a preponderance that their rulers are styled _Wu Pa_, the "five dictators." One of these, Duke Hwan of western Shantung, is famous for having nine times convoked the States-General. The dictator always presided at such meetings and he was recognised as the real sovereign--as were the mayors of the palace in France in the Merovingian epoch, or the shoguns in Japan during the long period in which the Mikado was called the "spiritual emperor."
The legitimate sovereign still sat on his throne in the central state; but he complained that his only function was to offer sacrifices. The Chinese dictatorship was not hereditary, or the world might have witnessed an exact parallel to the duplicate sovereignty in Japan, where one held the power and the other retained the title for seven hundred years.
In China the shifting of power from hand to hand made those four centuries an age of diplomacy. Whenever some great baron was suspected of aspiring to the leadership, combinations were formed to curb his ambitions; embassies sped from court to court; and armies were marshalled in the field. Envoys became noted for courage and cunning, and generals acquired fame by their skill in handling large bodies of soldiers. Diplomacy became an art, and war a science.
An international code to control the intercourse of states began to take shape; but the diplomat was not embarrassed by a multiplicity of rules. In negotiations individual character counted for more than it does at the present day; nor must it be supposed that in the absence of our modern artillery there was no room for generalship. On the contrary, as battles were not decided by the weight of metal, there was more demand for strategy.
All this was going on in Greece at this very epoch: and, as Plutarch indulges in parallels, we might point to compeers of Themistocles and Epaminondas. The cause which in the two countries led to this state of things was the existence of a family of states with a common language and similar institutions; but in the Asiatic empire the theatre was vastly more extensive, and the operations in politics and war on a grander scale.
To the honour of the Chinese it must be admitted that they showed themselves more civilised than the Greeks. The Persian invasion was provoked by the murder of ambassadors by the Athenians. Of such an act there is no recorded instance among the warring states of China. It was reserved for our own day to witness in Peking that exhibition of Tartar ferocity. The following two typical incidents from the voluminous chronicles of those times may be appropriately presented here:
The Prince of Ts'in, a semi-barbarous state in the northwest, answering to Macedonia in Greece, had offered to give fifteen cities for a kohinoor, a jewel belonging to the Prince of Chao . Lin Sian Ju was sent to deliver the jewel and to complete the transaction. The conditions not being complied with, he boldly put the jewel into his bosom and returned to his own state. That he was allowed to do so--does it not speak as much for the morality of Ts'in as for the courage of Lin? The latter is the accepted type of a brave and faithful envoy.
Jealous of his fame, Lien P'o, a general of Chao, announced that he would kill Lin at sight. The latter took pains to avoid a meeting. Lien P'o, taxing him with cowardice, sent him a challenge, to which Lin responded, "You and I are the pillars of our state. If either falls, our country is lost. This is why I have shunned an encounter." So impressed was the general with the spirit of this reply that he took a rod in his hand and presented himself at the door of his rival, not to thrash the latter, but to beg that he himself might be castigated. Forgetting their feud the two joined hands to build up their native state much as Aristides and Themistocles buried their enmity in view of the war with Persia.
As the Athenian orators thundered against Macedon so the statesmen of China formed leagues and counterplots for and against the rising power of the northwest. The type of patient, shrewd diplomacy is Su Ts'in who, at the cost of incredible hardships in journeying from court to court, succeeded in bringing six of the leading states into line to bar the southward movement of their common foe. His machinations were all in vain, however; for not only was his ultimate success thwarted by the counterplots of Chang Yee, an equally able diplomatist, but his reputation, like that of Parnell in our own times, was ruined by his own passions. The rising power of Ts'in, like a glacier, was advancing by slow degrees to universal sway. In the next generation it absorbed all the feudal states. Chau-siang subjugated Tung-chou-Kiun, the last monarch of the Chou dynasty, and the House of Chou was exterminated by Chwang-siang, who, however, enjoyed the supreme power for only three years .

Awakening of China The House Of Ts'in, 246-206 B. C

_Ts'in Shi-hwang-ti, "Emperor First"--The Great Wall--The Centralised Monarchy--The title Hwang-ti--Origin of the name China--Burning of the Books--Expedition to Japan--Revolution Places the House of Han on the Throne_
"Viewed in the light of philosophy," says Schiller, "Cain killed Abel because Abel's sheep trespassed on Cain's cornfield." From that day to this farmers and shepherds have not been able to live together in peace. A monument of that eternal conflict is the Great Wall of China. Like the Roman Wall in North Britain, to compare great things with small, its object was not to keep out the Tartars but to reënforce the vigilance of the military pickets. That end it seems to have accomplished for a long time. It was, the Chinese say, the destruction of one generation and the salvation of many. We shall soon see how it came to be a mere geographical expression. For our present purpose it may also be regarded as a chronological landmark, dividing ancient from mediæval China.
With the House of Chou the old feudal divisions disappeared forever. The whole country was brought under the direct sway of one emperor who, for the first time in the history of the people, had built up a dominion worthy of that august title. This was the achievement of Yin Cheng, the Prince of Ts'in. He thereupon assumed the new style of Hwang-ti. Hwangs and Tis were no novelty; but the combination made it a new coinage and justified the additional appellation of "the First," or Shi-hwang-ti. Four imperishable monuments perpetuate his memory: the Great Wall, the centralised monarchy, the title _Hwang-ti_, and the name of China itself--the last derived from a principality which under him expanded to embrace the empire. Where is there another conqueror in the annals of the world who has such solid claims to everlasting renown? Alexander overthrew many nations; but he set up nothing permanent. Julius Cæsar instituted the Roman Empire; but its duration was ephemeral in comparison with that of the empire founded by Shi-hwang-ti, the builder of the Wall.
Though Shi-hwang-ti completed it, the wall was not the work of his reign alone. Similarly the triumphs of his arms and arts were due in large measure to his predecessors, who for centuries had aspired to universal sway. Conscious of inferiority in culture, they welcomed the aid and rewarded the services of men of talent from every quarter. Some came as penniless adventurers from rival or hostile states and were raised to the highest honours.
Six great chancellors stand conspicuous as having introduced law and order into a rude society, and paved the way for final success. Every one of these was a "foreigner." The princes whom they served deserve no small praise for having the good sense to appreciate them and the courage to follow their advice. Of some of these it might be said, as Voltaire remarked of Peter the Great, "They civilised their people, but themselves were savages." The world forgets how much the great czar was indebted for education and guidance to Le Fort, a Genevese soldier of fortune. Pondering that history one is able to gauge the merits of those foreign chancellors, perhaps also to understand what foreigners have done for the rulers of China in our day.
Shi-hwang-ti was the real founder of the Chinese Empire. He is one of the heroes of history; yet no man in the long list of dynasties is so abused and misrepresented by Chinese writers. They make him a bastard, a debauchee, and a fool. To this day he is the object of undying hatred to every one who can hold a pen. Why? it may be asked. Simply because he burned the books and persecuted the disciples of Confucius. Those two things, well-nigh incredible to us, are to the Chinese utterly incomprehensible.
Li-Sze, a native of Yen, was his chancellor, a genius more daring and far-sighted than any of the other five. The welding together of the feudal states into a compact unity was his darling scheme, as it was that of his master. "Never," he said, "can you be sure that those warring states will not reappear, so long as the books of Confucius are studied in the schools; for in them feudalism is consecrated as a divine institution." "Then let them be burned," said the tyrant.
The adherents of the Sage were ejected from the schools, and their teachings proscribed. This harsh treatment and the search for their books naturally gave rise to counterplots. "Put them to death," said the tyrant; and they went to the block, not like Christian marytrs for religious convictions, but like the Girondists of France for political principles. Their followers offer the silly explanation that the books were destroyed that the world might never know that there had been other dynasties, and the scholars slaughtered or buried alive to prevent the reproduction of the books.
The First Hwang-ti did not confine his ambition to China. He sent a fleet to Japan; and those isles of the Orient came to view for the first time in the history of the world. The fleet carried, it is said, a crew of three thousand lads and lasses. It never returned; but the traditions of Japan affirm that it arrived, and the islanders ascribe their initiation into Chinese literature to their invasion by that festive company--a company not unlike that with which Bacchus was represented as making the conquest of India. Their further acquaintance with China and its sages was obtained through Korea, which was long a middle point of communication between the two countries. It was, in fact, from the Shantung promontory, near to Korea, that this flotilla of videttes was dispatched.
What was the real object of that strange expedition? Chinese authors assert that it was sent in search of the "elixir of life," but do they not distort everything in the history of the First Hwang-ti? The great monarch was, in fact, a devout believer in the fables of Taoism, among which were stories of the Islands of the Blest, and of a fountain of immortality, such as eighteen centuries later stimulated the researches of Ponce de Leon. The study of alchemy was in full blast among the Chinese at that time. It probably sprang from Taoism; but, in my opinion, the ambitious potentate, sighing for other worlds to conquer, sent that jolly troop as the vanguard of an army.
In spite, however, of elixirs of life and fountains of youth, death put an end to his conquests when he had enjoyed the full glories of imperial power for only twelve years. His son reigned two years; and the first of the imperial dynasties came to an end--overturned by a revolution which placed the House of Han on the vacant throne.