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China and Japan.

Mediaeval and Modern History of Asia.
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The historical interest and importance of those remote Eastern peoples, the Chinese and the Japanese, begin only when, emerging from an exclusive and non-progressive condition, they came into contact with Europeans. The vast Chinese empire, embracing in its broadest sense Manchuria, Mongolia, eastern Turkestan, and the practically independent Tibet, with an area exceeding 4,000,000 square miles, has China proper as its centre of power and population, a territory variously estimated as having an area of 1,250,000-10 1,500,000 square miles, and a population from 350,000,000 to 400,000,000. The people were known to the ancients as the Seres, the Serica of the geographer Ptolemy, in the and century a.d., meaning north-west China, and adjacent parts of Tibet and Chinese Tartary. In mediaeval times the country was called in Europe "Cathay," a Tartar name. Mountainous and hilly in the south, with a vast alluvial plain and delta in the north-east, the territory has a soil of unsurpassed fertility, with a temperate climate, and was well suited to the early and rapid growth in numbers of the Mongolian people who inhabit it, superior in strength to most Asiatics, diligent and enduring in toil, skilful in tillage. Of the early so-called history, and of the primitive religion, of the Chinese, we can here say nothing. The famous philosopher Confucius (Kung-Fu-tsze in Chinese, or, "the Master, Kung") founded a new moral system in the 6th century b.c., embracing the "Golden Rule" contained in the words "What you do not wish done to yourself, do not to others." He is still regarded by the Chinese, and twice yearly worshipped by the emperor, as "the Perfect Sage," It is obvious that his great rule of moral conduct involves benevolence, honesty, humanity, and justice. He also taught that there was one God and one emperor, with the kings of other nations as his vassals; that ancestors should be reverenced, all old usages and customs observed, old age held in high esteem, and children strictly disciplined. In the 3rd century b.c. the famous Great Wall, the largest artificial structure in the world, carried for 1,400 miles over height and hollow, reaching in one place the level of 5,000 feet above the sea, was erected of earth, gravel, brick, and stone, as a barrier to protect the northern frontier from inroads of barbarous tribes. About the time of Confucius the ethical teacher Lao-tsze flourished, his name meaning "the old philosopher." He was the author of a system called Taoism, "the way of living so as to develop the nature of man in the highest and purest form." In the 1st century a.d. this became a sort of religion, and its founder was deified, the new system being really one of gross and mystical superstition. At the same time Buddhism was introduced from India into China, where it still exists in a degraded form, and has many adherents. Confucianism is held by the upper or learned class, but the people in general have no special creed, practising a form of Buddhism, or a mixture of the three religions, with the old ancestor and spirit worship prevalent among the lower classes. The Chinese are domesticated, hard-working, frugal, courteous, noted for filial piety, respectful to age. On the other hand, the mass of the people are freely addicted to lying, treachery, and gambling. The form of government is an absolute despotism vested in the emperor as supreme civil ruler and head of religion. The business of the state is carried on by a council of chief ministers and seven boards, with a Board of General Supervision or Censorate reporting to the emperor. Official station, in the lack of any nobility in the proper sense, is due entirely to success in the competitive examinations which have existed for many centuries, and have furnished China, in the persons of the literati or learned men, with its gentry, governors of provinces, judges, magistrates, ministers of state, and diplomatic body.

Chinese ingenuity enabled the people, at a very early period, to invent the arts of paper-making, printing from wooden blocks, the manufacture of the porcelain which has given the name of "China" to every kind of fine and beautiful earthenware, the weaving of exquisite silken robes, the making of lacquered ware, and the delicate carving of ivory, tortoiseshell, wood, and mother-of-pearl. Of science, in the true sense, they knew nothing until they derived it from foreign sources in recent times, and their language, destitute of an alphabet, and having each word represented by a single character or symbol, is in a high degree clumsy and cumbersome. Isolation, self-conceit, devotion to ancestral ways of thought and action, have been the persistent bane of a country which has only adopted European methods, in military and naval affairs, in the most recent times. In 1898 an intelligent traveller could truly report that Pekin, the capital, was the dirtiest of towns, where no pavement existed for foot-passengers, and the carts in the crowded streets passed along deep ruts. The people, at a most critical time for the empire, showed the most apathetic disregard for public affairs, except the officials, of whom a large number were being paid from the secret service fund of Russia. "Nothing could," he writes, "convey a better idea of the utter conservatism and childishness of the Chinese than two sights which I witnessed yesterday. The first was a body of soldiers engaged in practising with bows and arrows, and the other was the picture of a huge cannon painted on a canvas screening a part of the town wall, with the object of frightening assailants." It must be stated, however, that the Chinese army has of late much improved in discipline and training under British and other European officers, and that cannons and rifles of recent patterns have been imported, while the former ridiculous and inefficient navy has been replaced by men-of-war from British and German shipyards.

Passing over various so-called "brilliant periods" of Chinese history, when we hear of the empire being "consolidated," and of literature having a "Golden Age," and of valiant warriors and wise rulers who held the Tatars (Tartars) in check, we find these formidable foes, in the 8th century of the Christian era, making constant inroads, sometimes resisted with success, often stayed by the payment of tribute. By the middle of the 12th century Tartars had come down as far as the Yang-tse-Kiang river. Early in the 13th century Mongols under Genghis Khan took Pekin and annexed some of the northern provinces, and in 1259 the famous Kublai Khan, a nephew of Genghis, became master of the whole northern territory and founded the Mongol dynasty of China, which was in power until 1368. It was in the time of Kublai, who reigned until 1294, that the Venetian traveller Marco Polo visited the country, with his father and uncle, who had previously been there. Marco gained the special favour of the great Khan from his quickness in acquiring the language and customs of the Mongols, and was employed by him in frequent missions to neighbouring rulers. He resided in China for 17 years, until 1292, and wrote a valuable and interesting extant work on what he had seen. In the course of the 16th century we find Portuguese merchants settling at Macao; the coasts of China ravaged by Japanese ships; further trouble from the Tartars; and an attempt of the Japanese to subdue Corea. Early in the 17th century the Dutch and the Spaniards appeared in China, and in 1616 Manchoo Tartars invaded the country, and effected its conquest within the space of 30 years. In 1644 the existing Manchoo dynasty was founded in the person of the emperor Shun-che, with the capture of Nanking. There was then warfare in which Chinese resistance was completely overcome, and the introduction of the shaved head and pigtail which are the symbols of Tartar sovereignty. Under an emperor named Kang-he (1661-1721) Tibet and Formosa were subdued, and war was waged against Russia. French and English were at this time settled at Canton, the latter being traders connected with the East India Company. The first direct intercourse between the British and Chinese governments came in the embassy of Lord Macartney in 1792. This able and experienced man, of Scottish descent, born near Belfast, had been a special envoy to Russia, Chief-Secretary for Ireland, governor of Grenada, and governor of Madras, and had been offered, but declined, the high post of Governor-General of India. Raised to the peerage for his eminent public services, Macartney, dispatched by George III. as ambassador, had several interviews with the emperor, but no result came from the mission. In 1816 Lord Amherst, afterwards Governor-General of India, went as ambassador seeking permission for a British minister to reside at Pekin, with the opening of ports on the northern coast to British trade. This British noble and envoy was not even admitted to the august presence of the Chinese ruler because he very properly refused to perform the ceremony of "Kotow" or prostration at the emperor's feet. He returned to England with a letter to the Prince-Regent, in which were the words: "I have sent thine ambassadors back to their own country without punishing them for the high crime they have committed" (in approaching me). The time was rapidly drawing near when the rulers of China, in their besotted self-conceit, were to be, justly or unjustly, somewhat rudely shaken from their attitude of isolation as "superior persons." The East India Company had long traded with Canton for tea, silk, and other Chinese exports, and had introduced, before the close of the 18th century, a traffic in opium, as an export from India to China, which was very profitable. During the period when the China trade was solely in the hands of the Company's agents, the imperial edicts forbidding the importation of the drug were quietly evaded by bribing the Chinese customs-officers. The Act of 1833, ending the exclusive privilege of the Company in the China trade, was soon the cause of serious trouble. The new British officials, in support of the illicit traders in opium, openly encouraged the traffic; and the court of Pekin, in 1838, sent to Canton, with extraordinary powers, the once famous "Commissioner Lin." In 1839 this official caused the seizure of many thousand chests of opium, of enormous value, in the Canton river and elsewhere, with the destruction of the contents. British subjects residing in the "Factory" or trading-station, at Canton, under the charge of Captain Elliot, the British superintendent, were surrounded and menaced by Chinese troops, and the refusal of compensation to the traders caused the contest known as "the Opium War." In January, 1840, an imperial edict forbade all trade with the British, and our reply consisted in the storming of forts on the Canton river, the destruction of war-junks, the seizure of Hong-Kong, the silencing of the Bogue forts, the dispatch of an army from India under the veteran Sir Hugh Gough, and the capture of Amoy, Ningpo, Shanghai, and Ching-Keang, operations attended with severe loss to the ill-armed Chinese forces. The Treaty of Nanking, in August, 1842, opened Canton, Amoy, Fuhchau (Foo-choo), Shanghai, and Ningpo to British trade; ceded Hong-Kong; paid a large indemnity to the opium-merchants and the British government; established a regular tariff; and made an end of the absurd restrictions and pompous etiquette of Chinese usage in respect to official intercourse. Thus was Chinese exclusiveness broken down, and the opening of the northern ports to trade, at points of the coast nearer to the tea-growing districts, brought great profit to the Chinese growers, with Shanghai as one of the principal outlets for the ever-increasing export of the leaves to Great Britain. In 1844 China made commercial treaties with the United States and with France. In 18150 the great rebellion broke out which became known as the "Tai-ping " revolt, because its leader Tien-teh ("celestial virtue"), announcing himself as a heaven-sent political and religious reformer, sought to dethrone the Manchoo dynasty, and to found, in his own person, that of Taping or Universal Peace. For some years a horrible civil war went on, with the capture of Nanking and Shanghai by the rebels in 1853. Two years later, an attempt on Pekin failed, and the insurgents were finally subdued by bodies of troops of various nationalities, commanded by an American adventurer called "General Ward," an able man who did good service to the imperialist cause until his death, in battle, in 1862, and especially by a great force organised and led by the famous British officer Colonel Charles ("Chinese") Gordon, the subsequent victim of his own heroic rashness, and of official apathy, at Khartoum. In July, 1864, Nanking was taken by the imperialists, and the remnant of the rebels melted away in the following year.

In 1857 the seizure of a small vessel, the once famous lorcha Arrow, flying the British flag, and the refusal of an apology or reparation from the Chinese government, caused another war, in which both British and French forces took part. In 1857 the Chinese fleet was destroyed, and Canton was captured, and in June, 1858, the Treaties of Tientsin, concluded with Great Britain, France, and the United States, made great concessions to their commerce, but a failure to carry out the treaties caused a renewal of warfare in 1859. An English naval force was repulsed with severe loss in an attack on the Taku forts at the mouth of the Peiho river, but they were afterwards taken by British and French troops in a land-assault, and an advance was made on Pekin. The large Chinese army was routed and the surrender of the capital was followed by the sacking and burning of a number of great buildings in a large park, collectively known as the emperor's "Summer Palace," in punishment for the treacherous seizure and murder of Mr. Bowlby, special correspondent of the Times, and some other British subjects, during the march on Pekin. In October, 1860, the Treaty of Pekin ratified the former treaties, declared the toleration of Christianity, and arranged for a revised tariff, the payment of an indemnity, the residence of a British minister at Pekin, the admission of British subjects with passports to all parts of China, and the opening of five fresh ports, including Formosa, Tientsin, and Hainan, to European trade. Thus was China at last laid open to the Western nations, and a very enlightened and excellent Chinese envoy, the late Marquis Tseng, was received at the chief European courts. The most recent events in China, in 1898, include the cession of ports to Russia, Germany, and Great Britain under circumstances not yet ripe for historical treatment. The war with Japan is treated in our account of that country.

The island-empire of Japan, in the North Pacific, has an area exceeding that of the British Isles by one-fifth, and a population about equal to that of Great Britain and Ireland, or nearly 40,000,000. With a wide range of temperature, a very varied vegetation, and a people skilled in cultivation of the soil, the country is rich in food-products, including tea, and in cotton and tobacco. The Japanese, chiefly Mongolian in race, are frugal, clever, persevering, brave, courteous, good-humoured, and frank, and they possess remarkable ingenuity in native and imitative manufactures - metal-work, mosaics, tortoiseshell, leather-work, wood-lacquering, paper-making, and textile fabrics. The popular religion is Buddhism; and there are many devotees of Shintoism, a form of religion which includes the worship of heroes, emperors, and great men, and of certain natural forces and objects, with the sun-goddess as the chief divinity. With the origin and mythical period of the Japanese we here have no concern. The first trustworthy records begin with the 10th century a.d. The emperors, known as "Mikados," had by this time been compelled to share their power, under the system known as "the dual government," with an usurping military official, like the "Mayor of the Palace" in early French history, styled the Shogun or Tycoon. The Mikado, living behind a veil of formal etiquette, with a reverential regard for his office, was devoid of real power, which lay in the hands of certain energetic families holding the chief military commands. The system was, in fact, feudal, with a separation of state-offices into two sections, civil and military, each held by one group of noble families, a great predominance of power lying in the military element. The whole male population consisted of two classes - the agricultural, comprising all unfit for military service, and burdened with the annual payment of a part of the fruits of their toil to the military class; and this latter body, including all the bravest and most intellectual men in the country, supported by the taxation above mentioned, and, to a large degree, able to devote themselves to literary pursuits. They formed the best element of a nation which, under the feudal nobles, suffered much from oppression and anarchy until a time beyond the middle of the 19th century. In the 12th century there was civil war between leading families; in the 13th an invading armada of the Mongol-Tartars from China was partly destroyed by a typhoon, and the survivors of the storm were defeated and massacred by the Japanese. In the 14th century we have more warfare between ambitious nobles, and the long contest between two rival Mikados styled "the War of the Chrysanthemums " from the display of that imperial emblem on each side.

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