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Presented to 



Prof. Lewis C. Walmsley 

_- -+- 

itf - * 






W. A. P. MARTIN, D.D., LL.D. 

President of the Imperial Tung- Wen College, Peking, 

Mcmbre de V Institut de Droit International, 

Mem, Cor. de la Societe de la Legislation 

Comparee, &f. t &c. 










A Book like this, consisting of a series of 
Papers, the slow growth of years, possesses one 
conspicuous advantage over a work more hastily 
written. It is not made to order; but each Essay 
springs from the spontaneous inclination of the 
author, and gives the results of his special studies. 

The Papers in this volume fall under the 
general heads of History, Philosophy, and Religion. 
Some of the topics, such as International Law 
and Diplomacy in ancient China, are so new that 
they have never before been treated by any writer, 
native or foreign. One or two, however, resemble 
more or less subjects treated in the First Series;* 
but they will in all cases be found to be characterized 
by new views or ampler treatment. 

* Hanlin Papers, Kelly and Walsh, Shanghai, 1880, reprinted 
by Harper Brothers, New York, as The Chinese , their Education^ &rc. 


As many of these Papers originated in the 
work of the Peking Oriental Society, an extract 
from a Presidential Address* may be here 
introduced, to show something of the activity 
of that young Institution, and especially to point 
out the scope of Oriental Studies, from a 
Chinese stand-point. 

"The last Paper of our Occidental Series was 
read by an American Minister (Mr. Young). 
He also, as well as Dr. Edkins and Mr. Rockhill, 
took a leading part in bringing our Society into 
its present shape ; but it was pre-eminently the 
hand of the late lamented British Minister 
(Sir Harry Parkes) that impressed upon it its 
Oriental character. It was he who gave expression 
to the wish that its sessions should be something 
more than an intellectual diversion; and, like a ship 
drawn from its element to be re-modelled and 
re-christened, it was he who gave it a new name 
and launched it on a new career. 

We opened our sessions (i.e., those of the 
Oriental Series) with two subjects well adapted 
to connect China with the classical antiquity of 
the West. * The first was on the knowledge of 
China possessed by the Romans, in the time of the 

* Review of 1885-6. 


Elder Pliny ; the second brought into juxtaposition 
many choice passages of Chinese and Grecian 
literature. These were luckily followed by the 
production of material evidence of the intercourse 
between Rome and China, in the shape of a treasure- 
trove of Roman coins, which weie laid on our 
table accompanied by an exhaustive report. 
Then came a survey of the immense domain of 
Chinese history, followed by a study of some of 
the most characteristic products of Chinese skill 
in the department of keramic art. This was 
succeeded by a Paper which afforded a specimen 
of those profitable explorations, which it is possible 
to combine with holiday excursions in the vicinity 
of Peking. We had, in the meantime, an excursion 
to the capital of the Grand Lama ; and, by a 
coincidence not less fortunate than the find of 
Roman coins, we had the presence of a man 
who had travelled among the snow-capped 
mountains of Thibet. Finally, we had two Papers 
which brought us back to the subject of parallels, 
viz., the Folk-lore of Celtic Ireland compared with 
that of the Chinese, and the Drama of Turkey 
compared with the histrionic art of China. 

The last two Papers, I have said, bring us back 
to the subject of parallels. Would I be far out 
of the way if I should say that the chief object 


of our Society is the drawing of parallels ? 
Let no one imagine that such an employment 
affords but meagre scope for our faculties. 
For is not comparison, as Aristotle has pointed 
out in his Art of Poetry, the source of our 
knowledge and the fountain of our aesthetic 
pleasures ? Indeed, in no other way can we 
estimate the culture of the various nations that 
fall within the sphere of our research. As we began 
and closed the year with parallels, we shall 
accordingly go on until we shall have brought 
every phase of Oriental thought into comparison 
with our European standards. 

What grander conception can we form of the 
scope of our Society ? What better demonstration 
of the boundless extent of its field of investigation ? 

At the risk of betraying a secret, let me say 
that one of our members said to me some time 
ago: " Do you not think we are holding too 
many meetings? Is there not danger that our 
repertory of subjects will be exhausted?" 
Exhausted! As well talk of exhausting the oil 
wells of Baku, or the coal treasures of the British 
Isles. When of late the cry was raised "Economise 
your coal ; the supply is giving out/ what was the 
answer? "There is plenty of coal to be found 
by digging deeper ! " For us, the same remedy may 


be resorted to against an apprehended dearth of 
topics. When the superficial deposits are consumed, 
then dig deeper ; and sooner will the last ton 
of coal in British mines be raised to the surface, 
than the last available subject be reached in the 
domain of Oriental inquiry. 

Situated in the capital of the greatest of 
Eastern empires, we sweep within our broad 
horizon the whole of Asia. Here, in the midst 
of a vast accumulation of undeveloped treasures, 
we have little reason to envy those Oriental 
students whose lot is cast on the banks of 
the Ganges. 

To enumerate only a few of the subjects 
that challenge investigation: Here is Philology 
approaching us with a bundle of questions, 
barbed and bristling like a sheaf of arrows. 
Of these, the noblest is that of the relation of 
the Chinese language to the other great families of 
human speech, a question towards the solution 
of which one of our number has led the way.* 

It is scarcely a hundred years since the affinity 
between Sanscrit and the other members of the 
Aryan group was ascertained. That discovery, 

* Rev. Dr. Edkins. 


the honor of which is clue to Colebrooke more 
than to any one else, has been described by 
Professor Max Muller as the birth of Comparative 
Philology. It not only gave the world a new science, 
it had the political effect of softening in some 
degree the prejudice of race by showing the Indians 
that they and their conquerors are connected by 
the bonds of a common origin. Now, in the 
whole range of linguistic science, there is only 
room for one more achievement of equal grandeur, 
f/., the establishment of an earlier and more 
fundamental relation between the language of 
China and those of the Indo-European group. 

Here too is a Philosophy, original and indigenous, 
whose speculations are as subtle and daring, 
and whose literature is as extensive, as those of 
Greece or Germany. Cicero, when he retired from 
the fatigues of office to the shades of Tusculum, 
was accustomed to refresh his mind by discussing 
questions of philosophy with a chosen circle 
of friends. May not we obtain an equally efficacious 
mental tonic, by holding friendly converse with 
the highest thinkers of the Chinese race ? 
In this department, there is no danger of tiring 
for want of variety, as there are many hundreds 
of authors who deal with all conceivable subjects, 
in the spirit of free speculation. 


As to the study of History, I had the honour 
to address you on that subject not long ago. 
Of what I said on that occasion I shall repeat 
nothing, beyond reminding you how vast and how 
rich are the stores of historic lore that solicit 
our attention. 

Finally, to pass over Ethnology, Geology, and 
half a dozen other " ologies," all of which find a 
grand arena in this empire, we come to Poetry, 
a fairy land of freshest beauty, in which 
European hands have only here and there 
plucked a bud from its " hill of a hundred flowers." 
As to the extent of China s poetical literature, 
you may infer something, from the fact that every 
one of the 5,000 graduates, who were last month 
immured in the great Examination Hall, was obliged 
to compose a poem before regaining his liberty. 
Aftei this, you will not be surprised to hear that 
a popular collection ot poems is called The So)igs 
of a Thousand Bards. If some of our members, 
who possess the gift of versification, would from 
time to time give us an account of these Sons 
of Song, accompanied by a poetical rendering of 
their choicest effusions,* what a delightful 
entertainment might they not prepare for us! 

* Of these the Author has given some sj)ccimcns in a small 
Volume entitled C/.inese Legend* and other fofnts. 


So rich and extensive are these four grand 
divisions of our Oriental domain that I should 
seriously propose, if our membership would admit 
of it, to subdivide ourselves into four sections ; 
one of which should devote itself to Philology, 
another to Philosophy, a third to History, 
and the last to Poetry. 

The Asiatic Society of Bengal, instituted more 
than a hundred years ago, is still in active operation. 
May we not hope that the Oriental Society of 
Peking, sustained by the best culture of this small 
but select community, and reinforced by the culture 
of renovated China, will enjoy an equally long and 
prosperous career ! " 

I have to thank Mr. R. H. Maclay for having 
saved me much trouble in carrying this volume 
through the press. 

W. A. P. M. 
Peking, April i^th, 1894.. 



f I. The Study of Chinese History i 

II. History of China viewed from the Great 

Wall ... .- 26 

III. Tartar Tribes in Ancient China 59 

IV. A Hero of the Three Kingdoms 84 

V. International Law in Ancient China ... in 

VI. Diplomacy in Ancient China ... 142 

VII. Notes on the Confucian Apocrypha ... 173 

VIII. Plato and Confucius; A Coincidence ... 199 

IX. The Cartesian Philosophy before Descartes 207 

X. Chinese Ideas on the Inspiration of their 

Sacred Books ... ... ... ... 235 

XI. Stages of Religious Thought in China ... 257 

XII. Buddhism a Preparation for Christianity... 278 

XIII. Native Tract Literature in China 304 

XIV. The Worship of Ancestors... ... 327 

XV. The Emperor at the Altar of Heaven ... 356 

XVI. A Pilgrimage to the Tomb of Confucius... 361 

XVII. The Lusiad, or The Opening of the East... 379 


Three Famous Inscriptions 413 



O F 


MOXG the various departments into which the 
literature of the Chinese is divided, that which 

Tin my opinion will best repay the attention of 
European scholars is their History. Yet like 
their venerated classic, the Book of Changes, of 
which they affirm that it can never be transported 
beyond the seas, there is reason to fear that their 
history is not very well adapted for exportation. 

In its native form, it may find translators; but they 
will not find readers. Its form requires to be 
transformed; and its very substance to undergo a 
transubstantiation, in order to adapt it to the taste 
of our Western public. Beyond a substratum of 
facts, there is absolutely no part of it capable of 
surviving a transfer to the Western world. 

* Read before the Oriental Society of Peking. 


In the West, the Father of History, or some of 
his editors, prefixed the names of the Muses to the 
several portions of his immortal work indicating 
that the idea of beauty presided over its composition, 
and consecrating the "art preservative of arts" to 
the patronage of all the Sacred Nine. 

In China, the conception of history is that of a 
simple record; not that of a woik of art. 

In one of the Taoist Legends, an old man, who 
has tasted the elixir of immortality, is asked to tell 
his age. I count it not," he replies, " by years, but 
by terrestial cataclysms. As often as a continent sinks 
into the bosom of the sea, or a new world emerges 
from the ocean, I drop a little pebble to commemorate 
the occurrence. The accumulation of pebbles is now 
so great that they fill eleven chambers of my 
dwelling." Here we have an embodiment of the 
genius of Chinese History not a Muse stamping on 
it the impress of divine beauty, but shrivelled age 
like that of Tithonus, or the wandering Jew, pre 
serving a monotonous record of the changes that 
occur in the course of an endless life. 

The accumulation of counters set forth in this 
legend is an expressive emblem of the vastness of 
China s historic treasure. In this respect, as Hegel 
has remarked in his Philosophic der Gcschichte, there 
is a striking contrast between the two great empires 


of Asia the Chinese having a historical literature 
more voluminous than that of any other nation on 
earth, and the Hindus none at all. The explanation 
of this phenomenon, if we seek for one, will be found 
in the fact that history is the expression of national 
life a tissue resembling that of a living organism 
knitting the past and present into a substantial unity. 
Their historical literature, accordingly, more than 
anything else, unless it be their educational system, 
affords an index of the greatness of the Chinese 
people. With them the worship of ancestors is only 
an exaggerated expression of their sense of solidarity; 
and history a testament, by which they convey to 
posterity the legacy of the past. 

The precautions which they take to secure and to 
transmit the record betoken a proud consciousness 
that their national life is too strong to be swallowed 
up by the shifting sands of time. No less than three 
bureaus or colleges, each presided over by learned 
members of the Hanlin, are charged with collecting 
and elaborating materials for the history of each reign. 
The bureau of Daily Record has its representatives 
always at the side of His Imperial Majesty. Whether 
in his palace or on a journey, or in so-called retire 
ment, he can no more escape the eye of these official 
spies than Horace s trooper could outrun the 
tormentor that mounted behind him. 


The Emperor s public acts and public documents 
constitute the province of the Shik-lu-kuan, the 
Bureau of contemporary History. The Kuo-she~kuan t 
or College of Dynastic History, occupies itself with 
the archives of the ruling house, and the biographies 
of those who are supposed to have shed lustre on its 

These tribunals form an essential part of the 
machinery of government, supplying a check on the 
extravagance of irresponsible power where no other 
would be available the dread of being held up to 
the execration of posterity operating quite as 
effectually as the remonstrances of a board of censors. 
The censors indeed are still called by a title (Yii-she) 
which means official historian; and, though no longer 
employed in the production of history, they are 
wont to draw their weightiest arguments from the 
history of -the past, and to make their most solemn 
appeals to the history of the future. 

In the palmy days of Chow, when the institutions 
of the empire were in their infancy, a prince proposed 
to make an excursion which had for its object 
nothing better nor worse than his own amusement. 
One of the censors, after vainly employing other 
arguments to dissuade him from his undertaking, 
solemnly admonished him that all his movements 
were matters of history. The poor prince, startled 


at the thought that to him there could be nothing 
trivial that his every act was exposed to the "fierce 
light that beats upon a throne" heaved a sigh of 
regret, and desisted from his innocent purpose, that 
of fishing on a neighboring lake. 

In those days the historian was as stern and 
inflexible as the Roman Censor morum. In the sixth 
century before our era, there lived in Shantung a 
-General, or Mairc du Palais, named Ts ue Wu-tsze. 
Herod-like, he took possession of the wife of another; 
his sovereign in turn deprived him of the fascinating- 
beauty. The General in revenge killed the prince; 
and, when the Court Chronicler put on record this 
chapter of infamies, he put him to death, and tore 
the leaf from the Archives of State. A brother of the 
historian renewed the record, and suffered death for 
doing so. A leaf was again torn out, and a third 
brother presented himself, pen in hand, to repeat the 
tale and seal it with his blood. The tyrant, touched 
by his martyr-like boldness, spared his life, and 
submitted to the stigma. The incident is handed 
down as a proof of the unflinching fidelity of ancient 
historians, and by consequence of the trustworthiness 
of their narratives. 

In later times, the chroniclers were not so fearless. 
One, Ch en Lin, a man of talent, being reproached by 
Tsao Tsao for drawing his portrait in rather sombre 


colours, replied, while he trembled for his life 
"Your Highness will forgive me. I was then detained 
in the camp of your enemy, where I had no more 
freedom of choice than the arrow shot from his- 

Thackeray says of his pen : 

"It never writ a flattery, 
Nor signed the page 
That registered a lie. " 

With Chinese historians, fear and flattery are 
influences which, more than any others, deflect their 
needle from the pole. To guard against these two- 
sources of error, the notes of every day are dropped 
into an iron chest, which is not to be opened until 
after the death of the reigning prince. Yet this 
provision is not always effectual; flattery which, 
addressed to the living, would be deemed gross and 
disgusting, falls like music on the ears of their 
mourning relatives. Hence it was that Octavia paid 
Virgil so magnificently for his lines on the dead 
Marcellus ; hence too, at the close of the last reign, 
the Empress mother welcomed with delight a 
panegyric on the late Emperor, which made him 
appear as a star of the first magnitude. But was not 
the Roman Senate accustomed, by solemn vote, to 
raise deceased emperors to the skies, whenever their 
relations succeeded to the throne.? The writers of 


China are neither more nor less truthful than the 
Romans; and now and then we meet among them 
with an instance of fidelity worthy of Rome s best 
days :-e. g.,-Wu K o-tu, a Censor (and we must not 
forget that his Chinese title means historian), some 
years ago protesting against the affiliation of the 
present Emperor to Hien Fung as an arrangement 
that leaves his predecessor without the solace of a 
son to sacrifice to his manes, in order to give more 
weight to his remonstrance committed suicide at the 
tomb of the sovereign whose cause he was seeking 
to serve. Does not this modern instance almost 
suffice to render credible the story of the martyr 
chroniclers of whom \ve have spoken ? 

I need is per igncs 

Suppositos cincri doloso ; 

said Horace to Pollio, when the latter was proposing 
to write the history of the then recent revolution. 
Nobody knows better than the Chinese the 
treacherous thinness of the crust that overlies the 
lava of a dynastic eruption. With a view to guarding 
against the perverting influence of fear and favour, 
they accordingly wait until the last scion of an 
imperial house has ceased to reign before compiling, 
or rather before publishing, the history of a dynasty. 
The history of the Mings was not published until 
after the accession of the Manchus; and the 



commission charged with its preparation devoted no 
less than forty-six years to the task. Official 
histories are always corrected by collation with 
private memoirs, which only wait the sunset of a 
dynasty to come forth in countless numbers and 
shed their glow-worm light on the events of the 

In addition to these ordinary arrangements, there 
exists an extraordinary provision for purifying the 
stream of history. It consists in the appearance, at 
long intervals, of sages with a divine commission to 
revise the annals of preceding centuries, and post up 
the doom s-day book of the empire. Of these, four 
have appeared already, viz : 

Confucius, in the 6th century, B. C; 

Sze Ma Ts ien, in the 2nd century, B. C; 

Sze Ma Kwang, in the nth century, A. D; 

Chu Fu Tsze, a century later. 
For the advent of the fifth, the world is 
now on tiptoe. 

Each revision reduces, of course, the quantity of 
material; but, after all their sifting, there still remains 
an enormous irreducible mass, in which the dead 
past is buried rather than illustrated. 

The historical works of the first of these great 
editors, as expounded by his disciples, extend to 
60 books, or about 20 volumes. Those of the second, 


to no books. Those of the third reach the 
portentous figure of 360. And those of the last, 
though professing to be an abridgement, amount to 
55 books. 

The twenty-four dynastic histories, taken together, 
foot up the tremendous total of 3266 books, or 
1633 separate volumes. 

This is sufficiently appalling, but what shall we 
say of the mountains of undigested ores that have 
not been subjected to the fires of the smelting 
furnace? It may help us to form an idea of the 
extent of these crude treasures to mention that the 
history of the last short reign of only thirteen years 
is spread over no fewer than one-hundred-and-fifty 
volumes. Then there are collateral histories for that 
period, which are also official, such as that of the 
Taiping rebellion in 211 volumes; that of the Nienfei 
rebellion in 160 volumes; and those of the three 
several Mohammedan rebellions of Kashgar, 
Kansuh, and Yunnan, not yet finished, but certainly far 
more voluminous. If the preceding reigns were only 
half as prolific in historical writings, the productions 
of the present dynasty would alone more than suffice 
to fill the library of the sea-side genius, to say nothing 
of the twenty-four preceding dynasties. 

Nor is this all. To complete the Catalogue, we 
have still to add topographical histories without 


number. Each of the nineteen old Provinces has its 
official history compiled by a commission presided 
over by officers of the Han-lin. Each department 
or prefecture has likewise its proper history; and this 
gives us 200 more not volumes, but works; while, 
descending to cities of the third order, we must 
reckon a history of from ten to twenty volumes for 
each of nearly two thousand districts. The sum 
total makes a quantity so vast that the mind can no 
more grasp it than it can conceive the distances to 
the fixed stars. We seek in vain for a unit of 
measure. If the manuscripts of the Alexandrian 
library kept the fires of the caliph Omar blazing for 
three months, how long might the histories of China 
supply them with fuel ! Tamerlane was in the habit 
of building pyramids of the skulls of his enemies. 
How high a pyramid, we may ask, might be 
constructed out of these dry bones of past ages? 

In the presence of these enormous accumulations, 
the question arises what estimate are we to form of 
their value? 

Of their value to the Chinese I need not stop to 
speak. Their existence is proof of the esteem in 
which they aie held, and the manner in which every 
species of composition bristles with historical 
allusions bears witness to the influence they have 
exerted on the mind of the Chinese. But are these 


venerable remains of any value to us? And if so, in 
what way may they be made to contribute to the 
literary wealth of the Western world ? 

In forming an estimate, we must not forget that our 
standard of value in the criticism of such works 
differs as widely from that of the Chinese as a golden 
sovereign does from productions of the native mint. 
Ours was coined and stamped for us by no meaner 
hand than that of Lord Bacon, who defines history as 
"Philosophy teaching by example." It is philosophy, 
not science, for its data are too indefinite to be 
made a basis for scientific deductions. Philosophy 
lays no claim to absolute certainty, though her very 
name proclaims her a searcher after truth. Her first 
object is to learn; her second to teach; and if, in the 
domain of history, she is able to draw lessons from 
the past, it is because she has first learned the 
meaning of those great movements which she 
professes to expound. 

Judged by this standard, the Chinese have 
chronicles, but not histories. They have chronicles 
composed with studied elegance and abounding in 
acute criticism of character and events; but the whole 
range of their literature contains nothing that can be 
called a Philosophy of History. They have no Hegel, 
who, after reconstructing the universe, applies his 
principles to explain the laws of human progress; no 


<3ibbon or Montesquieu to trace the decay of an old 
civilisation; and no Guizot to sketch the rise of a new 
one. They have not even a Thucidides or a Tacitus, 
who can follow effects up to causes, and paint the 
panorama of an epoch. 

The reason is obvious. Without resorting to the 
supposition that they are by nature deficient in the 
philosophic faculty, we find a sufficient explanation 
of the phenomenon in the faulty model set for them 
by the greatest of their sages. 

With them Confucius, not Sze Ma Ts ien, is the 
Father of History. His famous Spring and Autumn 
is not even a book of Annals. It is a diary in which 
all events, great and small, are strung like beads on a 
calendar of days. This method, not to speak of the 
extreme conciseness of his style, makes it difficult for 
his reader to perceive the connexion of events. 
Three disciples of his school have come to his aid 
with commentaries; but all of them follow the order 
of the text, chapter and verse. His continuators 
have done the same ; and so have all his successors 
down to our historiographers of the Hanlin, who 
keep their daily journals and imagine they are writing 

To have so many pens laboriously employed in 
taking notes is a good way to collect materials; but 
those materials require a different kind of elaboration 


from any they have ever received at the hands of a 
native author before they become History, in our 
acceptation of the term. 

That their History has remained in the rudimentary 
condition in which it began its career is one more 
instance, in addition to many others, of noble arts 
which the Chinese originated in ancient times; and 
which remained ever after in a state of arrested 

There are men, as Sir Lyon Play fair has lately 
reminded us, in his presidential address before the 
British Association, who "cannot see a forest for the 
trees of which it is composed." 

So the Chinese chronicler, bent on classifying all 
occurrences in the order of time, fails to perceive the 
trend of colossal movements that sweep over whole 
nations and long centuries. His work in keeping 
the minutes of the day is History only in the sense 
in which the daily noting of the stars is Astronomy. 
Thousands of diligent observers had recorded their 
observations with apparently fruitless toil, when the 
eye of Kepler, sweeping over the mass of facts, 
deduced from them the ellipticity of the planetary 
orbits. May we not hope that some master mind 
will yet arise, who shall be capable of pointing 
out the reign of law in this limbo of undigested 
facts ? 


The historian, who shall do this for China, will be 
a native; but, in addition to the culture of the 
Hanlin, he must possess the training of a Western 
university. The students of history, trained in the 
native schools, are all near-sighted. They analyze, 
with more than microscopic penetration, particular 
events and personal character; but they are utterly 
incapable of broad synthetic combinations. 

In proof of this, I may point to three immense 
movements, each of which is as indispensable to the 
understanding of the present condition of China as 
are Kepler s three laws to the explanation of the 
solar system. Yet no native writer appears to have 
grasped the significance, or even formed a conception, 
of any one of them. They are : 

i. The conquest of China by the Chinese; 

2. The conquest of China by the Tartars; 

3. The struggle between the centripetal and 
centrifugal forces of the empire. 

To the mind of a native, the assertion that China 
has been conquered by the Chinese would be 
tantamount to that venerable item of political news 
that "the Dutch have taken Holland." To him, they 
have always been in possession, and, so far as he 
knows, they sprang directly from the soil. But the 
eye of a foreign scholar, trained to trace the origin of 
nations, perceives at a glance that the Chinese were 


a foreign race, who, clothed with the power of a 
higher civilization, undertook the conquest of the 
water-shed of eastern Asia, about the time the Aryan 
Hindus undertook that of the southern Peninsula. He 
notes the first seats of their power along the banks of 
the Yellow River, indicating that they came from the 
North-west, and followed its course down into the 
central plain. Whence they came, he may not be 
able to affirm with certainty; but he finds two-thirds 
of the empire, even in the classic age of Chow, still 
in possession of savage tribes, who must be regarded 
as the true autochthones. 

He sees these gradually absorbed and assimilated by 
the superior race, until the remnants of the aborigines 
are driven into mountain fastnesses, where they still 
maintain their independence, and where the conflict 
of ages is still going on. The first chapter in the history 
of this conflict is found in the brief account which the 
Shu-king gives us of the subjugation of the San Miao, 
"The three aboriginal tribes," by the Emperor Shun. 

The last is not yet written; but a page still wet with 
blood records the subjection of the Miao-tsze of 
Kwe-cheo and the extension of Chinese sway in the 
island of Formosa. What a theme for the pen of a 
native scholar, if he could only enlarge the range of 
his mental vision so as to take in a movement of 
such surpassing grandeur ! 


The second of the three great movements is, in its 
origin, almost co-eval with the first, and runs parallel 
with it through all the ages down to the present day. 
To the mind of a native, the Tartar conquest suggests 
only the successful invasion of the Manchus, the now 
dominant race. To the wider survey of a western 
thinker, it signifies a persistent attempt, extending 
through thousands of years, made by barbarians of 
whatever name on the North of China to gain 
possession of a country made rich by the industry of 
its civilized inhabitants. 

Its first stage was an advance into the interior, in 
771 B.C., far enough to destroy the western capital, 
near the site of the present Si-ngan Fu, the 
Emperor and his consort perishing in the ruins. The 
successor of the unfortunate monarch removed his 
court eastward, to a safer situation, in the heart of the 
Empire. At a later period, this eastern capital was 
also sacked by Tartars. Still later (not to follow the 
fluctuations of the conflict), when the northern 
half of the Empire was over-run, the court retired 
from the banks of the Hoang Ho to those of 
the Yang-tsze-kiang ; whence it removed still 
further south, in the vain hope of escaping the 
Tartars, who, under the leadership of Kublai, effected 
for the first time the conquest of the whole 


After a brief tenure, they lost their grand prize, 
but it was reconquered by the Manchus; and for two 
centuries and a half it has remained in their 

The Great Wall, stretching from the sea to the 
desert ot Kansu, is a monument of this undying 
struggle, which, from its first inception, has been 
essentially one long war, with only here and there a 
fitful truce. 

The successive sackings of Rome by Gaul and 
Vandal ; the conquest of Italy by Barbarians from 
the North; and the removal of the capital to the 
East, are parallels that offer themselves to a European 
student, and suggest a law in the tide of nations, viz,- 
that the hungry hordes of the North manifest, in all 
ages, a tendency to encroach on opulent regions more 
favoured by the sun. 

In all ages, the Tartar invaders have yielded to the 
influence of a higher civilization; but, on the other 
hand, they have made a deep impression, ethnologically 
as well as politically, on the state of China. 

The Chinese have treated this subject only in a 
fragmentary w;y; but, taken as a whole, in its 
philosophy and its poetry, the conquest of China by 
the Tartars would supply the Muse of History with 
another of her noblest themes. 

The two great movements, which I have now so 


hastily sketched, were conflicts of races; the third 
was a conflict of principles. The contending forces 
were those of feudal autonomy and centralization. 
At the dawn of the Chow dynasty, not to go further 
back in the history, an able monarch succeeded in 
holding the vassal Princes in check; while, under his 
weak successors, they threw off all but the semblance 
of subjection. This struggle for power went on for 
eight centuries, until both combatants were swallowed 
up by a new foe, the Emperor and his vassal 
Princes being swept from the arena by the new 
power of Chin, which bad grown strong in conflict 
with the Tartars of the North ! 

In this signal event, Chinese historians discern 
nothing but the triumph of vulgar ambition; and 
they paint its author in the darkest colours, as an 
impious tyrant who burned the books of Confucius, 
and slaughtered his disciples. For such unheard-of 
cruelty, they find no better explanation than a 
partiality for Taoism, coupled with a desire to destroy 
the records of the past, in order that he might appear 
to posterity as the author of a new era. Not one of 
them has understood the significance of Shi Hwang-ti, 
the august title by which he proclaimed himself 
the "first" of a new order of autocratic sovereigns." 
Not one of them has perceived that his motive for 
burning the books of Confucius was to obliterate the 


feudal system from the memory of China ; and that 
he cut the throats of the Literati to make sure that 
those books and their political doctrines should 
never re-appear. 

The books did re-appear ; but the feudal system, 
once buried in the sepulchre of the slaughtered 
scholars, has had no resurrection. It had been 
to China the fruitful mother of ages of anarchy. 
Since then she has gone through many revolutions; 
but, thanks to the genius of S/ii Hwang-ti, 
she has witnessed no repetition of the sad spectacle 
of a family of States discordant and belligerent. His 
system of centralized power remains the bond of the 
Empire; and the title of Hwang-ti, which he was the 
"first" to assume, still survives as its permanent 

This conflict, between the centripetal and centrifugal 
forces, forms the third great subject, which the old 
historians have not comprehended, and which waits 
the advent of a writer of deeper insight and more 
comprehensive grasp. Some future Hallam may 
show the world that Feudalism, which formed such a 
conspicuous stage in the development of modern 
Europe, has played an equally prominent part in the 
History of China. 

Is it objected that, unhappily for the study of 
Chinese history, its theatre is too remote to awaken 


public interest in any high degree? Egypt and 
Babylon are remote in one sense, but they are not 
altogether alien. They are only higher up on the 
stream that expands into the broad current of our 
western civilization. Ancient India is remote; but 
it forms a part of the same ethnic system with 
ourselves, and, on that account, appeals powerfully 
to the imagination of the European. Chinese history 
forms a stream apart, which has not, it is said, 
in any way affected the state of the western 

But is it true that the two streams have flowed 
down through the tracts of time in complete 
independence of each other? Are they not like those 
ocean currents which bear life and beauty respectively 
to the Eastern shores of the Atlantic, and to those of 
the Pacific? The Gulf-stream and the Kurosiwo, 
though flowing through opposite hemispheres, are 
not indifferent to each other. They are connected by 
the pulsations of a common tide. So the civilizations 
of China and Europe, however widely separated, 
have each derived from the other influences as real, 
though occult, as those that throb in the bosom of 
the ocean. To discover their points of contact, and 
to exhibit the proofs of mutual reaction, are among 
the most interesting problems offered to the student 
of Chinese history. 


That the mutual influence of the two civilizations 
will in the future be far greater than it has ever been 
in the past, it is easy to foresee. When China, 
developing the resources of her magnificent domain, 
and clothing herself with the panoply of modern 
science, becomes, as she must in the lapse of a 
century or two, one of the three or four great powers 
that divide the dominion of the globe, think you 
that the world will continue to be indifferent as to 
the past of her history ? Xot only will some knowl 
edge of her history be deemed indispensable to a 
liberal education, but, while I am in the spirit of 
prophecy, I may as well go on to predict that her 
language and literature will be studied in all our 

But why should the degree of our interest in any 
field of intellectual investigation be measured by the 
extent of our commercial intercourse ? If the Chinese* 
instead of living on a globe, the dominion of which 
they are certain to dispute with our posterity, if, I 
say, instead of this rather startling prospect, they 
were looking serenely down upon us from the surface of 
the moon, would that be any reason why we should 
feel no concern in their fortunes? If, by means of 
some kind of sclcnograph yet to be invented, the 
moon could convey to us the lessons of experience 
-evolved by such a people in the course of their 


existence, would she not be giving us something more 
substantial than moon-shine? 

Of history it may be said, as of fame 

"All that we know of it, begins and ends 
In the small circle of our foes and friends." 

To men of science, however, a well authenticated 
statistical history ought to be welcome, even if it 
came from the remotest limb of the Universe. The 
archives of China do not indeed supply us with 
tabular statements, such as would satisfy the demands 
of Buckle and Quatrefages, but they give us the 
nearest approach to these that it is possible to obtain 
from distant periods of time. 

In our modern observatories, the sun is made to 
take his daily photograph ! If we possessed an un 
broken series of such pictures, extending back for 
some thousands of years, what an invaluable aid it 
would afford towards ascertaining the laws that 
prevail in that far-off world ! Now, to the Chinese 
chronicler, the emperor is the sun, and he has no 
other object in writing than to give us his master s 
daily picture. Happily, other subjects are brought in 
as accessories that are of more interest to us than 
the person of the sovereign. The territory is mapped 
out as his hereditary or acquired estate ; the people 
come into view as his praedial slaves; the signs of 
heaven, sun-spots, star-showers, and eclipses, all so< 


precious to the man of science, are recorded as 
shadows on the dial of imperial destiny. 

Casting a hasty glance back over the long 
concatenation, we are struck by the fact that Chinese 
society is far from presenting an aspect of changeless 
uniformity. Nor have its changes been as monoto 
nous as those registered by our sea-side watcher. 
The men have not always worn the bald badge of 
subjection to a foreign yoke; nor have the women, 
from time immemorial, hobbled about on crippled 
feet. Time was when the gods, that greet us at 
every corner, had not yet made their advent; when 
books, ink, and paper, were unknown (but our 
historians were even then taking notes, for it is they 
that tell us); and when China was confined to a small 
angle of the present empire, the rest being occupied 
by savage races. In those primitive days, even the 
face of nature was different, the hills being covered 
with forest, the plains with jungle, and the lowlands 
with reedy marshes abounding in ferocious beasts. 

Numerous as have been the changes through 
which the Chinese people have passed, they have not 
been always treading in a vicious circle. History shows 
them to have made a general, if not a regular, advance 
in all that constitutes the greatness of a people ; so 
that, in the /6th cycle of their chronology, their 
domain is more extended, their numbers greater, and 


their intelligence higher, than at any preceding epoch 
in the forty centuries of their national existence. 

We shall find too that their progress through the 
ages has been, amid all their fluctuations, confined 
within the lines of a fixed and well-defined social 
organization. In the state, a jure divino monarchy 
has, in all ages, formed the nucleus of the government; 
and the supremacy of letters has been secured 
by making learning the passport to office. 
In the family, the kindred principles of unlimited 
subjection to living parents, and of devout worship 
to dead ancestors, appear of equal antiquity. 
These four are the corner-stones on which the 
social fabric reposes at the present day. 

In conclusion : To those who have the language 
and the leisure to enable them to explore its original 
sources, I would commend the study of Chinese 
History as alike attractive and profitable. With these 
two conditions, we have access to masses of historic 
lore, which we may compare, not to virgin mines, 
but to those heaps of silver slag left by the old Greeks 
at the mines of Laurium, from which the Germans 
are now extracting quantities of the precious metal 
that escaped the cruder methods of the ancients. 
Or, to vary the figure, we may liken them to the 
walls of the Colloseum, out of which the mediaeval 
Pontiffs quarried stones to build the churches of Rome. 


Be not appalled by the extent of the materials 
offered to your industry. Instead of seeking 
distinction, as many do, by writing for the fiftieth 
time a life of Mary Stuart or Lucretia Borgia, 
why not appropriate some little corner of this 
unclaimed territory, and exploit its hidden treasures ? 
The reconstruction of the whole by any one man 
is not to be thought of. A history, worthy of the 
grandeur of the subject, cannot be produced otherwise 
than by the combined efforts of many scholars. 




(A Historical Sketch). 

JO study the history of Egypt, one should place 
himself on the top of the Pyramids. For that 
of China, there is no point of observation so 
favorable as the summit of the Great Wall. 
Erected mid-way between the hazy obscurity of early 
tradition and the restless age in which we now live, 
it commands the whole of the moving panorama. 
So colossal as to form a geographical feature on the 
surface of the globe, its importance to us consists in its 
epoch rather than in its magnitude. It is to this epoch 
that our attention will be chiefly directed ; but, from 
this vantage ground, we shall allow ourselves a few 
glances before and after, as far as our limit of time* 
may permit, with the hope of conveying some faint 
impression of the unity of Chinese History. 

* First delivered as an evening lecture. 


Not long after the age when Alexander swept 
the chess-board of Western Asia, and combined its 
numerous nationalities into one empire, Ch in-shi, the 
Builder of the Wall, did the same thing for the states 
of Eastern Asia. These states constituted the Chinese 
Empire, a country which at that early period united 
the wealth of Persia and the culture of Greece. 
Nominally under the sway of one Imperial House, 
they had been for some hundreds of years virtually 
independent, adjusting their mutual relations, and 
waging internecine wars without interference from 
their powerless Suzerain. In theory, their relations 
to each other and to the head of the empire were 
an exact counterpart of what is called the Feudal 
System in Europe. The analogy extends even to 
the five orders of nobility, Kung, Heo Po, Tsc, Nan; 
which answer to Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount, 
Baron. From the earliest ages, it had been customary 
for the founder of a new dynasty to confer these 
dignities upon his near relatives, and to partition the 
empire among them. This form of government is so 
natural that it required no originality for its creation; 
and there is little reason to suppose that mediaeval 
Europe, in adopting it, borrowed a leaf from the 
experience of ancient China. 

While rewarding the services of kinsmen and 
coadjutors, this system had the advantage of 


diminishing the cares of their overlord, by allowing 
to them the exercise of home-rule. During the first 
generation, while personal ties were strong, it worked 
fairly well; but, when those ties became weakened by 
time, disintegration followed, and the Suzerain was 
left with scarcely a shadow of power. 

A further retrospect will be necessary, to enable us 
to understand the period with which we have to deal. 

The Builder of the Great Wall was preceded by 
three dynasties of long duration, viz., 

That of Hia 2205-1766 B.C. 
,, ,, Shang 1766-1122 
,, Chow 1 1 22- 255 

Looking beyond the first of these, we perceive the 
golden glow of the morning of history. In the midst 
of its deceptive haze, we discern two figures which the 
Chinese have agreed to accept as models of princely 
excellence. They are Yao and Shun, the Numa 
Pompilius and Tullus Hostilius of the rising State. 

The simplicity of that primitive society is the 
mother of virtues, public and private. In the state, 
Yao sets the example of an unselfish ruler; and in 
the family, Shun is a paragon of filial sons. 

Holding that a prince exists for the good of his 
people, and sensible to the infirmities of age, Yao 
resolves to adopt a successor, his own son being 
unworthy of the throne. His ministers recommend 


Shun, the son of a blind peasant, who has patiently 
borne the ill temper of his father, and who by his 
good example has effected a complete reform in the 
character of his family. Yao, wishing to subject him 
to a further trial, gives him his two daughters in 
marriage; makes him his associate in the government; 
and, after twenty-eight years, leaves him sole occupant 
of the throne. 

The most notable event of Yao s reign is the 
so-called "deluge,"-a series of unparalleled inundations. 
"The waters rise," said the old Monarch, "they 
embosom the mountains, and insolently menace the 
sky itself. Who is there who will undertake the control 
of these unruly floods?" Kwen undertook the task, 
and was put to death either for inefficiency or 
insubordination. The son of Kwen, known as Ta Yu, 
was allowed to continue the task; and having 
succeeded, after nine years of incredible labors, in 
establishing a perfect system of embankments and 
drainage, he wasre warded by the Imperial Yellow, Shun 
giving him the preference over his own worthless 
offspring. In the SJiu-king, the most ancient book of 
history, we find the maxim that "penalties should 
not descend from parents to children." In this case, 
not merely is the son held guiltless of his father s 
fault, but the crime of the latter interposes no obstacle 
in his way to the throne. 


Ta Yu, though deemed a sage, did not continue the 
unselfish tradition; but, by transmitting the throne to 
his son, "made of the empire a family estate," as the 
chroniclers say. The imperial dignity has remained 
hereditary, with only a solitary vestige of the ancient 
ideal, viz,-that the Emperor has theoretically the 
power of naming his successor; and in fact often 
makes the election irrespective of primogeniture. 

In the reign of Chung K ang, the fourth in succession 
(2159-2146), occurred an eclipse of the sun, which 
Professor Russell, of the Imperial Tung-wen College, 
has succeeded in identifying, after a laborious calcula 
tion of no fewer than thirty-six eclipses. Professor 
Knobel, of Cambridge University, has also pronounced 
in favor of the trustworthiness of these ancient 
records, on the ground of astronomical data contained 
in a kind of calendar of the Hia dynasty, fragments 
of which have come down to our times. 

The area at that period, comprehended within the 
empire, was less than half of China proper, not a 
foot of territory on the south of the Yang-tse having 
been brought under its sway. The conquering tribe, 
which formed its nucleus, seems to have entered the 
Valley of the Yellow River from the North-west, 
bringing with it some knowledge of letters and the 
elements of a civilization, which enabled it to 
overcome the savage races by whom the country 


was occupied. Some they destroyed, others they 
absorbed ; and the process of growth and assimilation 
went on for ages, until those heterogeneous elements 
were moulded into one people, the most numerous 
on the face of the earth. 

This process of conquest and assimilation may be 
regarded as specially the work of the First dynasty, 
though it was not completed for ages, nor is it wholly 
complete at the present day. 

Under the Second dynasty arose that feudal form 
of government, which prevailed for more than a 
thousand years, and came to an end in the epoch of 
the Great Wall. Of both, the records are exceedingly 
meagre scarcely extending beyond dynastic gene 
alogythe occupants of the throne, with a few 
brilliant exceptions, being so insignificant that their 
places in the succession are represented by numerals 
instead of names. 

While the invention of letters dates from a period 
anterior to the First dynasty, it was not until the 
Third that literature became an important factor in 
human life. 

King Wen and duke Chow, its founders, set an 
example of devotion to study; and, later on, cultured 
statesmen appeared, who strove to aggrandize their 
native states; and philosophers, who, with broader 
views, aimed at the reformation of the people. 


Of the latter class, the most noted were Confucius 
(551-479), and Mencius (372-289), both of whom 
merit a front rank among the teachers of mankind. 
Besides inculcating virtues of a noble type, they 
sought by their doctrines to counteract the centrifugal 
tendency, which was a marked feature in the political 
movement of their day. They had never known 
anything better than the feudal system; and, in their 
view, the only cure for the disorders of the times was 
to restore it to its primitive purity, -a state of things 
in which the vassal princes, to use the expression of 
Confucius, " revolved about the throne of Chow as 
the constellations do around the pole of heaven." 

That system, the Builder of the Wall was bent on 
eradicating; hence his hostility to the Confucian 
School, in its principles and its professors. 

The family history of this daring innovator is 
necessary, to explain his personal career. A remote 
ancestor had founded the petty principality of Ch in 
in the North-west. He had won his spurs in conflict 
with the Tartars; and his small fief, growing into a 
considerable state, owed its importance to its position 
as a barrier against the incursions of Northern nomads. 
Many of those semi-savages became incorporated 
with its people; and its civilization, being of a ruder 
type than that of the other states, from a bulwark 
it became a menace. Through five centuries it 


grew steadily in power, advancing with the slow but 
resistless force of a glacier, perpetually encroaching 
on its neighbors until it finally absorbed them. 

Its history exhibits a remarkable succession of 
ambitious princes and able ministers. The princes 
eventually assumed the title of king, which the 
Wall-Builder laid down in exchange for that of 
Emperor. They weie all barbarous, the practice of 
human sacrifices, and many other savage customs, 
surviving among them long after they had become 
extinct in other parts of China. They were never 
theless animated with one thought, and pursued one 
policy, viz.,-the aggrandizement of their country, and 
the ultimate conquest of the whole empire. 

To this end, their barbarism proved a help rather 
than a hindrance. It exposed them to be treated 
with contumely by princes of greater refinement; 
and, burning for revenge, it made them conscious that 
they could only hope to succeed by the employment 
of cultivated agents. They accordingly invited men 
of talent from neighboring states to take office, and 
establish themselves within their dominions. Six 
men, all of whom became noted for their share in 
building up the rising power, were thus imported 
from abroad, and entrusted with the reins of govern 
ment. They are known in history as the "Six Great 
Clumcellois of Ch in." 


Forsaken by its vassals, or recognized only - .ider 
forms of empty ceremony, the house of Chow lar n sh- 
ed until 255 B.C. Occupying a district in I nan, 
which formed the special apanage of the In: srial 
family, but for a long time exercising no control over 
its neighbors, and centrally situated, that district; was 
described as Chung Kwo, the "Middle King;!<:.:i;" a 
designation which succeeding dynasties ap] - d to 
the whole of their dominions. In this year (255 f >.C.), 
provoked by the cabals which found a focus mder 
the shadow of a venerable throne, the King <>1 Cli in, 
Great Grand-father of the Wall-Builder, entered the 
Imperial Capital; and the dynasty of Chow, the 
most famous in the annals of China, came to an end, 
after a duration of 867 years. 

The conqueror now performed two acts, which 
asserted his accession to the vacant suzerainty. 
The first was to remove to his own capital in Shense 
nine. tripods of brass, which represented the Kiu Cho, 
or nine districts of the empire, and were reverenced 
as the chief emblem of Imperial power. The other was 
to offer a solemn sacrifice to Shang-ti, the " Supreme 
Ruler," and to formally assume the character of High 
Priest in conjunction which that of Emperor,-a two 
fold character which, like that of Melchizedek, has 
always been recognized as belonging to the sovereigns 
of China. 


Five of the six great vassals, who ruled over the 
other sections of the empire, hastened to pay- 
homage to their new Lord; but one of them, the 
Prince of Wei, being somewhat behindhand, the 
arrogant King inflicted a terrible punishment, wasting 
some of his lands and occupying others. The King s 
ambition was to resuscitate the empire; not to 
revolutionize its institutions. The vassals of Chow 
were his vassals; and submission, not abdication, was 
what he required. Enjoying for five years a dignity 
to which his ancestors had aspired for many 
generations, King Chao closed a successful reign of 
fifty-seven years. After two brief reigns, one of 
which had lasted only three days, his sceptre was 
transferred to King Cheng, his great-grandson, whom 
by anticipation we have styled Ch in-shi, the Builder 
of the Great Wall. 

The young King, only thirteen years of age, 
succeeded at once to two thrones, that of Ch in, 
the domain of his fathers, and that of Chow, or the 
empire, which placed him on the highest pinnacle 
of dignity that any Chinese statesman had ever 
conceived. Was he satisfied with this double 
heritage? If he had been, is it not probable that the 
wheels of the new chariot would have been made to 
run in the old track? But to credit him with planning 
the tremendous revolution which he was destined to 


achieve would be to allow him a precocity and a 
genius unexampled in history. 

He was fortunate in having for guides two 
statesmen of rare originality; but even they could 
not have conceived the entire programme. They 
possessed the capacity to win in every conflict with 
his unruly vassals; and he (or his mother and 
grand-mother, two remarkable women who acted as 
regents) always encouraged the bold measures of his 
chancellors. In all great revolutions, the leading 
minds are more than one, though some one usually 
comes to be acknowledged as the Master Spirit. In 
this the Master Spirit was Ch in-shi, who proved his 
claim to the title by an eventful reign of forty years; 
but his two chancellors bore each a leading part in 
re-casting the destinies of the empire. 

One of them was Lii Pu-we, a merchant of Chao, 
the state with which Ch in was most frequently at war. 
Among the vicissitudes attending these hostilities a 
prince, who bore the expressive cognomen of Yi Jen, 
or "Rare Man," found himself relegated to the capital 
of Chao as a hostage for the observance of a treaty. 
The merchant here met the exile, and, after learning his 
personal qualities and family history, resolved to attach 
himself to a fortune that appeared to be at its lowest 
ebb. Saying to himself in the language of his trade 
"This is a piece of goods that can bide 


its time," he set himself to bring about the restoration 
of the prince; and at the same time, to pave his way 
to the throne. Whether he solicited the embassy, or 
whether the prince selected him for it, he made his way 
secretly to the Court of Ch in, obtained an interview 
with the consort of the heir-apparent, who, being 
childless, had to accept for her husband s heir the son 
of a concubine. The merchant convinced her of the 
great qualities of his patron ; and she succeeded in 
persuading her husband to adopt as successor the exile 
who justly bore the title of Yi Jen, "The Rare." 

The merchant s next move was to procure the 
return of the hostage. But, before this could be 
effected, a trifling incident occurred, which, however 
unsavoury, cannot be omitted, on account of the 
influence which it exercised on the fortunes of both. 
The merchant s beautiful wife captivated the heart of 
the exile; and he, with feigned reluctance, ceded his 
marital rights. This Chinese beauty, the "Lady of 
Handan," is said by malicious chroniclers to have 
imported into the house of Ch in the blood of the 
merchant Lii, as Livia carried that of Claudius Xero 
into the family of Augustus Causar; with this 
difference, ho we vcr,-that, while Augustus acknowledg 
ed the debt, the Prince of Ch in ignored his obligations 
for the child, though he never forgot his debt for the 
surrender of the wife. Nor was the wife herself 


unmindful of what she owed to the complacency of 
her merchant husband; for twenty years she 
proved herself a main prop to his growing influence. 

Succeeding his father, whose reign was perhaps the 
shortest in history, Yi Jen, "The Rare," ruled his 
two-fold realm as kaiser-konig for six years. The 
Merchant of Chao became his prime-minister and. 
field-marshal. Not merely planning campaigns, but 
executing them in person, the quondam Merchant 
humbled refractory vassals, raised the prestige of 
Ch in, and confirmed its hold on the supreme power. 
So essential did he render himself to a state not rich 
in native talent that the son of the "Lady of Handan," 
on mounting the throne, continued him in his double 
office, conferred on him a marquisate of " ten 
thousand families," and added the title of Chiing-fu, 
"My Second Father." 

Native courtiers, envious of his honors, at length 
profiting by the intimacy of his relations with the 
dowager-empress, his former wife, trumped up an 
accusation of shameless impropriety. The young 
emperor, who neither suspected such a thing, nor 
believed it, felt compelled to remove his chancellor 
from court, in order to shield the reputation of his 
mother. (The story of his blood-relationship to the 
merchant statesman is doubtless a fiction of a later 
age, and had never reached his ears). He accordingly 


issued a decree banishing his powerful minister, and 
the latter took his disgrace so much to heart that he 
sw;:lowed poison, or in Chinese phrase "took a 
she rt cut" to the other world. 

] Ie had been to the young prince what Menzikoff 
wj 10 Peter the Great; and, to complete the parallel, 
th tongue of slander connected each in a similar 
manner with the elevation of an empress. 

Of the many services rendered to his prince by 
this able minister, the most signal was to provide a 
worthy successor in the Chancellorship. This was 
Li-sze, a native of Chu, whom he had employed as a 
subordinate; and who, though at first another was 
elevated to the vacant post, soon after took possession 
of the helm. 

Endowed with consummate tact and sublime self- 
confidence, Li-sze was just the man required to convert 
a dynastic change into a social and political revolu 
tion. In sagacity and courage, he was the Bismarck 
of his day; and the task he had to perform was not 
unlike that which fell to the lot of the eminent 
German,-the consolidation of the power of a new 
Imperial House, and the unification of a dissevered 
Empire. As we shall see, he accomplished it with a 
thoroughness unattainable by the German chancellor. 
It cannot be affirmed that he was superior in 
talents to his predecessors in office; but he was 


happier than they in being called to play the last act 
in a long drama. Most of them had acted the part 
of innovators. One had changed the tenure of land, 
another had reformed the mode of collecting revenue, 
a third had remodeled the army; and all, by introduc 
ing foreign methods and employing foreign agents, 
had drawn on themselves the hostility of the natives, 
who were naturally jealous of foreign influence. The 
wave of opposition reached its height in the days of 
Li-sze, and a petition was laid before the throne 
demanding the expulsion of all foreigners. 

The premier was equal to the occasion. Recounting 
in a counter-memorial the great services rendered by 
his foreign predecessors, he showed how his enemies, 
to satisfy their petty spite, would force their country 
to abdicate its destiny. 

"The Tai-shan," he said, "is a great mountain, 
because it does not spurn the grains of sand that add 
to its height. The Hwang-ho is a great river because 
it does not reject any rivulet that offers to swell its 
volume." And he went on to apply these parallels 
with such force that he not only stemmed the tide 
of opposition for that time, but left on record for all 
time a masterly argument for the employment of 
men of all nations who are able to bring superior 
gifts to the service of the State. In that day, 
"foreigners" were those who lived on the opposite 


side of a river, or of a mountain range; to-day the 
word means those who dwell beyond the ocean. 
The eloquent plea of Li-sze, even at this distance of 
time, has had some influence in preparing the 
reigning House to welcome foreigners, who by new 
arts and new sciences contribute to the well-being 
of the empire. 

When, in the 26th year of his reign, the emperor 
had destroyed the last of the hostile states, he 
resolved to signalize the event by changing the 
imperial title. Instead of Tien Wang, the Heaven- 
appointed King, a title made venerable by the usage 
of nearly a thousand years, he substituted that of 
Iloang-ti, Autocratic Sovereign ; proudly prefixing 
the syllable Shi, "The First," that he might be 
remembered as the founder of a new order. 

The change of title implied a change of policy. 
This was nothing short of the complete abolition of 
the feudal system, a system consecrated by immemorial 
usage. When the hostile princes had been dethroned, 
two of his ministers besought him to install his own 
kindred in the forfeited dignities. Li-sze, being 
asked for his opinion, replied that a "system which 
had brought about the destruction of the empiie 
must itself be destroyed if the new empire was to be 
permanent." Instead of restoring the fallen powers 
under altered names, he recommended that their 


very boundaries should be obliterated, and that the 
whole empire should be divided into thirty-six 
provinces, whose governors should be appointed by 
the central throne, and hold office for a limited term. 
His suggestions were adopted, and at the same time 
the new title was proclaimed, as expressive of the 
altered policy. 

If the overthrow of the rival principalities had cost 
centuries of conflict, the extirpation of their traditions 
was not likely to be attended with less difficulty. 
The scholars of the Confucian School were without 
exception devoted to the ancient regime, and plotted 
incessantly for its restoration. They deemed the 
feudal partition of the empire as sacred as a law of 
nature; and the heavenly bodies were meted out 
and distributed among the vassal states. The books, 
in which that order of things was consecrated, were, 
as Li-sze pointed out, sufficient to call it into 
existence again. To obviate that danger, he pro 
posed they should be committed to the flames; and 
so effectually was the order carried into execution 
that very few escaped. 

It was soon found that learned men, whose minds 
were stored with the ancient classics, were teaching 
them from memory ; they might at any time 
reproduce them in writing ; and many of them were 
known to be active in sowing the seeds of dissension. 


"Away with them," said the tyrant; and four hundred- 
and-sixty of the most eminent were put to death, 
lest, through them, the old land-marks should be 
made to re-appear on the new map of the empire. 

Never was a political reformer more grimly in 
earnest; nor has anyone, in the pursuit of a great 
idea, ever shown himself more reckless of human life. 
In these respects, he resembles the apostles of "liberty, 
fraternity, and equality," who made use of the 
guillotine rather than any monarch in the pages of 
history. In some points, his consolidation of the 
Chinese empire recalls the unification of Germany, 
Ch in being the Prussia of China; and her princes 
and chancellors the Fredericks and Bismarcks, who 
slowly prepared, and eventually accomplished, a 
mighty revolution. But the analogy is not complete. 
The Hapsburgs have been dispossessed, and the 
Hohenzollerns set up in their place; but the great 
vassals remain. 

The unification of Italy offers a juster parallel, the 
rise and growth of Sardinia answering fairly well to 
those of Ch in; and the incorporation of Naples, the 
Duchies, and the Papal States, corresponding to the 
abolition of the feudal principalities in China. The 
unceasing efforts of the clergy to bring about the 
resuscitation of the temporal power completes the 


Having as he supposed stamped out the embers 
of sedition within his dominions, the Tyrant, as we 
may fairly call him, now turned his attention to the 
dangers threatening his empire from without. On 
the West, the Mountains of Thibet formed a natural 
barrier; on the South, the river Yang-tse held back 
the barbarous tribes who inhabited its right bank; 
on the East, the sea was a safe-guard, as the age of 
maritime warfare had not yet arrived; but the North 
was a quarter from which the Kings of Ch/in had 
learned by sad experience to expect their most 
troublesome, though not their most powerful, 

A strange idea now came into the head of the 
Autocrat, that of walling them out. To have 
attempted this before the states were united under 
his sway would have been futile, as the discontent 
or negligence of a neighbor would always enable an 
invader to enter by a flanking movement. At this 
epoch, he had no neighbors. The whole empire, from 
the desert to the sea, was his; and he resolved to 
construct a wall, not to supersede vigilance or 
valor, but to render them effectual in securing 

A million of men were sent to the frontier, some 
laboring as masons, others serving as guards; and in 
ten years time the work was accomplished. 


The length of this huge structure is 1550 miles, its 
height and breadth varying with the necessities of 
the ground. On the plain, it presents an imposing 
appearance; but on mountain sides, where it has the 
aid of natural fortifications, it often dwindles to a 
mere embankment. 

The Wall may be said to have fulfilled its purpose, 
notwithstanding the fact that subsequent ages have 
seen more than one dynasty of extra-mural Tartars 
on the throne of China. Its object was not to 
withstand conquest, but to prevent the marauding 
incursions of border nomads. With this view, it 
continues to be garrisoned, though the reigning house 
is Tartar in origin, and extends its sway to both sides 
of the Wall. 

If the erection of this bulwark be criticised as absurd, 
as well may we criticise the Roman Wall, whose 
remains are still to be seen on the North of the Tweed. 

This work completed, the Imperial Builder was 
not content to end his days in idleness. He had 
extinguished war and smothered politics. What was 
he to do for excitement? 

He betook himself to travel; and, among other 
places, visited the sacred mountain Tai-shan, in 
Shantung, offering on its summit sacrifices to Shang-ti, 
the God of Heaven, in imitation of the founders of 
ancient dynasties. 


He was superstitious rather than religious. Perse 
cuting Confucius on political grounds, he favored the 
rival sect of Tao, which peopled land and sea with 
gods and fairies. Its professors invented alchemy, 
and pursued the search for the elixir of immortality. 
Among their traditions was a belief that there w r ere 
islands in the eastern sea where the herb ambrosia 
grew, a curious counterpart of the notion prevalent at 
that time in Europe, which placed the Isles of the 
Blessed in the Western Ocean. By the advice of a 
Taois^, he despatched a fleet manned by three 
thousand boys and maidens to seek the herb in those 
islands. Some say that, deterred by storms, the fleet 
turned back; others, that it arrived in Japan, where 
those youths and maidens mingled with the natives, 
importing Chinese blood and Chinese culture. 

While he was on his travels, an aerolite fell to the 
earth, which, when discovered, bore an inscription 
foretelling the death of the tyrant and the overthrow 
of his family. Seeing in this only a device to excite 
revolt, he ordered all educated men in the vicinity 
to be slaughtered, sure thereby of bringing to 
punishment the authors of the inscription. 

The prediction was not slow in being fulfilled. 
Death overtook the proud monarch before he could 
regain his palace, 209 B.C., when he had worn his 
new title about twelve years. His throne fell to an 


imbecile son, who in a short time lost it, together with 
his life, being succeeded in 206 B.C. by Liu Pang, 
the Founder of the Dynasty of Han. 

Under this dynasty, the books that had been 
burned rose from their ashes, and a faint attempt was 
made to resuscitate the feudal states; but, though 
then and later they were employed by political 
agitators as "names to conjure with," the system 
was dead. Its spirit was extinct. The people chose 
to be devoured by one lion rather than by a 
gang of jackals; and the sovereign, finding himself 
in possession of autocratic power, was loth to part 
with it. The system of centralization exists to this 
day; and three monuments remain to remind all 
generations that Ch in-shi, the son of the Lady of 
Handan, was its author. These are, 

i. The Great Wall of China, which he built; 

2 . The title Hoau^-ti, for Emperor, which he was 

the first to adopt ; 

3 The name China, which is obviously derived 

from the House of Ch in, which made itself 
famous by absorbing the other feudal states. 

There is no man in Chinese history whose memory 
is execrated like that of Ch in-shi. He is remembered 
as Builder, Burner, and Butcher, rather than as Founder 
of the Empire. The blood of the scholars whom he 
butchered has given birth to sixty generations of 


enemies, who never cease to misrepresent his motives, 
and to blacken his name. As he styled himself "The 
First/ they accuse him of destroying the books that 
his pretensions might not be exposed. As a follower 
of Tao, they charge him with seeking to reduce the 
people to a state of ignorance, in order to govern 
them with facility, in accordance with a maxim of 
Lao-tse, "fill their bellies, and empty their heads." 
The books have risen from their ashes, but the 
many-headed hydra which he slew has never 
re-appeared. Tyrannical and unscrupulous he 
undoubtedly was; but there is no denying that he 
was a statesman of far-reaching views, original in 
plans, and unflinching in execution. 

If the dynasty of Ch in has the honor of giving to 
China the name by which it is known in other lands, 
that of Han, which is next in order (206 B.C. 
203 A. D.),hasbequeathedtothePeople the designation 
by which they prefer to describe themselves. Nothing 
but widely extended sway, coupled with long duration 
and brilliant achievement, could have impressed them 
to such an extent as to make them proud to call 
themselves the "Sons of Han." 

The name points to a district where the new 
power sprang into being,-the banks of the River Han, 
in the heart of the kingdom of Chu. That kingdom, 
the greatest of the feudal states, had been for many 


generations a formidable rival to the ambition of Ch in; 
and, when the latter succumbed to the unpopularity 
consequent on the destruction of those states, the 
butchery of scholars, the burning of books, and the 
building of the Great Wall, the old rival naturally 
came forward to claim the succession. A scion of 
the House of Chu was called out of the obscurity 
into which his family had sunk and decorated with 
the new title of TV, Emperor, with the prefix Yi, 
the Just or Rightful. 

A figure-head and nothing more, the young 
Pretender was supported by two generals of great 
ability. One was Hiang Yu, a man of such influence 
that he could handle his sovereign like a puppet, and 
known in history as Pa Wang, the Dictator. The 
second was Liu Pang, a bosom-friend and protege* of 
the first. 

Born of poor parents in the North of the present 
province of Kiangsu, young Liu, with prescient 
instinct, made his way to the Court of the new 
Claimant, rather than attach himself to the fortunes 
of a falling House. Welcomed by the powerful 
Hiang Yu, and acting under his orders, he soon rose 
to distinction. 

It fell to his lot, while leading an expedition into 
Ch in, for the purpose of reducing to submission that 
disorganized region, to receive the insignia of empire 


from the grand-son of the Wall Builder. The 
ill-fated Prince came to his camp with a rope about 
his neck, and with all his retinue in the garb of 
humiliation and mourning. Some counselled Liu Pang 
to put him to death; but, replying that it was "a shame 
to slay an enemy who surrendered voluntarily," he 
treated him kindly, and set him at liberty. Others 
counselled him to place the abdicated crown on his own 
head. The temptation was great, and few soldiers of 
fortune would have perceived its perils. Whether 
Liu saw them, we are not informed; but, obeying the 
promptings of an honest heart, he kept the regalia for 
him whom he had saluted as the Rightful Emperor. 

Before they had time to reach the capital of Chu, 
the young Prince had fallen a victim to the ambition 
ofHiangYu. He was again urged to assume the 
Yellow. Again he refused, but his patron s treason 
had absolved him from further allegiance; and he 
made a long stride towards the throne, when he 
resolved to break with the traitor. 

Doubting his ability to make head against his 
redoubtable antagonist, he took counsel with the 
astute Chang Liang. " Do nothing in your own name/ 
replied the famous politician, whose advice was as 
unerring as that of Ahithophel. "Proclaim yourself 
the avenger of your murdered Lord, and the empire 
will rally to your standard." 


Clothing his army in the weeds of mourning, he 
marched against his quondam friend. The usurper 
was the better general, but Liu had the juster cause. 
Fortune did not favor him at the outset, but he was 
never disheartened. 

On one occasion, he was attacked while crossing a 
river, and his forces scattered to the winds; yet so 
powerfully did his cause appeal to the loyalty of the 
people that in a short time he found himself powerful 
enough to besiege the usurper in a fortified city. 
The latter got possession of Liu s family, and sent 
him word that, unless he raised the siege, he would 
roast his father alive. "My father," replied Liu, 
"is yours by adoption; if you choose to roast your 
father, send me a piece of the flesh as proof of your 
parricide." The usurper, finding it impossible to 
intimidate him, abandoned the city, and let the 
captives go free. 

Beaten in a great battle, Hiang Yu put an end to 
his own life; and Liu, having no longer a rival in the 
field, consented to assume the title of Emperor. 
He is known as Kao Tsu, the High Ancestor, or 
Founder of the House of Han. 

He said of himself, "I owe my success to three 
men, and each is my superior in some conspicuous 
talent. In statecraft, I am not equal to Chang Liang; 
in commissariat and finance, I am not to compare 


with Siao Ho; in the management of troops, I 
confess the superiority of Han Sin. Where, then r 
is my strong point ? It is in the faculty of making 
use of others. These three heroes I, and I alone, 
have been able to employ as tools to build my 

From the Great Wall, looking down the stream 
of time, we observe in the foreground the dynasty 
of Han; and farther away, in diminishing perspective,, 
the numerous dynasties that have followed each 
other to the present day. Some have been brief, 
and others partial in extent. Five of them have 
extended their sway over the whole of China, and 
held possession from one to three centuries. Each 
of these periods offers to the view some salient 
feature,-something built into the frame-work of 
Chinese life, and forming a permanent addition to 
the inheritance of the Chinese people. 

The Han period, as might be expected, stretching 
over 469 years, is peculiarly rich in monuments of 
intellectual activity. It is emphatically an era of 
reconstruction, when the Chinese people, delivered 
from the anarchy of the "warring states," and 
emancipated from the tyranny of Ch in, enter on a 
new career. Two things concur to make it forever 
memorable,-the revival of letters, and the introduction 
of Buddhism. 


Amid the clash of arms and the strife of factions, 
there had been small place for the cultivation of 
learning. But when, after two or three turbulent 
reigns, Wen Ti, a pacific prince, found himself in 
undisputed possession (179 B.C.), a search was 
instituted for the lost books. One after another the 
missing woiks began to come from their hiding places. 
No copies being found of the She and Shu, the Books 
of Poetry and History, they were taken down from 
the recitation of old men, who still retained a verbatim 
recollection of theircontents. Those who remembered 
portions of the Odes were comparatively numerous; 
but the Book of History, consisting of the relics of 
high antiquity edited by Confucius, was reproduced 
by one man. This was Fuh Seng, a venerable scholar, 
who was so enfeebled by age as to be unable to 
present himself at court; and a commission of scribes 
repaired to his house, to write it out from his lips. 
Many of its obscurities are supposed to be due to 
slips of memory and errors of hearing. 

The high premium placed on lost literature 
naturally suggested its fabrication. Spurious classics 
appeared in great numbers. Some of them" were 
works of genius, and posterity has thought fit to 
preserve them, though reposing no more confidence 
in their genuineness than we do in the poems of 


Next to the resurrection of the sacred texts, the 
thing which sheds the most lustre on this epoch is 
the revival of History. In this, the way was led by 
Sze Ma-ts ien (100 B.C.). Historiographer by official 
appointment, he had the advantage of following in 
the footsteps of a father, who had filled the same 
office and amassed valuable materials. The great 
work, which has procured him the title of the 
Herodotus of China, was approaching completion, 
when a General, for whose fidelity he had made 
himself responsible, surrendered to the Khan of 
Tartary. Sze-ma, in accordance with the barbarous 
usage of those times, was called on to undergo the 
penalty of death or mutilation. Rather than consign 
past ages to oblivion and leave future ages in igno 
rance, he chose the latter; lived to complete his great 
undertaking, and enjoys a well-earned immortality. 

Pan Ku, who, two centuries later, held the same 
office, is celebrated as the author of a history of the 
first half of the Han dynasty. Dying before the 
completion of his work, his accomplished sister Tsao 
Ta-ku, then a widow, was entrusted by the Emperor 
with Uie task of bringing it to a conclusion. In 
learning, not behind the most eminent men of her 
age, this lady is held up as a model for Chinese 
women, by whom she is much admired, but only 
sparingly imitated. 


The invention of paper by Tsai Lun, in the" second 
century B.C., contributed greatly to the multiplication 
of books. It was itself a result of the revival of learning, 
which created a demand for cheaper writing materials. 
Till then, silk or bamboo tablets had been in use. 

From the advent of the Wall Builder, Taoism had 
been dominant, and Confucianism under a cloud. By 
the revival of letters, Confucianism was again raised 
to honor, without, however, any immediate repression 
of the rival creed, which, throughout the Han period, 
continued to be, with occasional fluctuations, in great 
favor. In the year 67 A.D., under the Emperor 
Ming Ti, the triad of religious creeds was completed 
by the introduction of Buddhism from India. No 
doubt the apostles of Buddhism had found their way 
to China at an earlier date, and by this time they had 
attracted sufficient attention to lead to an embassy 
in quest of competent teachers. Such an embassy 
was a natural outcome of the unsettled state of the 
Chinese mind, agitated by the contentions of rival 
schools of religious thought. The Emperor is said to 
have been prompted to this measure by a dream, in 
which he saw an image of gold representing a man 
with a bow and two arrows. In the Chinese name 
for Buddha, the radical is man, and the phonetic a 
bow and arrows; and it is evident that the analysis 
of the character gave birth to this legend. It is 


curious to speculate what might have been the effect 
had MingTi s embassadors gone further west, and met 
with disciples of the young and vigorous Christianity 
of that day. 

Buddhism has profoundly affected the Chinese 
mind, as we have shown in another paper; but it is a 
mistake to reckon the whole population of China as 
adherents ot the Buddhist faith. It has absorbed 
Taoism, but the educated classes, almost without 
exception, adhere to Confucius; and even the 
uneducated profess allegiance to the Great Master of 
China. The truth is that, while each religion has a 
hierarchy of its own, the faith and practice of the 
masses rest on a mixture of all three. 

In the T ang dynasty (618-905), poetry, which 
appeared in the rudest ages, attained its highest pitch 
of perfection, Li Po and Tu Fu being the Pope 
and Dryden of an age of poets. Chinese poetry 
comprehends every variety, except the epic, its place 
being filled by semi-poetical romances. 

The Chinese theatre now secured for the first time 
the honor of Imperial patronage, a stage being erected 
in a pear-garden, whence actors are still described as 
"Children of the Pear-garden." 

The Hanlin Yuan, or Imperial Academy, which 
crowns the culture of the whole empire, dates from 
this period. 


The Sung dynasty (960-1278) was marked by three 

things : 

i. By the rise of speculative philosophy, the thinkers of 
that period being both acute and profound ; 

2 . By expositions of Chinese texts, the most noted 
expositor being Chu Fu-tse, from whom it is 
heresy to dissent; 

3 By the reorganization of the civil service examina 
tions, which then received their final form. 

The Yuen, or Mongol, dynasty (1260-1341) is cele 
brated as the first dynasty of Tartar origin which 
imposed its authority on the whole of China. The 
dominions of Khublai were probably more extensive 
than those of any monarch of ancient or modern 
times. The completion by him of the Grand Canal, 
from Peking to Hangchow, a distance of 700 miles, 
as a monument of enterprise, stands alongside of 
the Great Wall. 

The intellectual character of the Ming dynasty is 
chiefly marked by the formation of encyclopcedic 
collections, and the codification of the laws. 

Under the Manchu Tartar dynasty of Ts ing, now 
on the throne, the population of the empire has 
attained its maximum, about 382,000,000, or China 
alone having more than eight times that of the T ang 
period, when it was only 45,000,000. 


The formation of encyclopedias and codifications, 
begun under the Mings, has been vigorously carried 
forward. Literary criticism is much cultivated, and 
the refinements of style are carried to a higher point 
than in any previous age. 

Another characteristic is the cultivation of western 
science, which was introduced under the last rulers 
of the Ming, favored specially by the earlier 
sovereigns of the Ts ing, and is now actively propagated 
in the developed form which it has attained in our 
day. Christianity, introduced along with science, 
promises to make at least as deep an impression on 
the Chinese mind as that which was made by the 
introduction of Buddhism. 




HE Great Wall, which forms the northern 
boundary of China proper, tells of a conflict of 
races. Extending for fifteen hundred miles 
along the verge of the Mongolian plateau, it 
presents itself to the mind as a geographical feature, 
boldly marked on the surface of the globe. Winding 
like a huge serpent over the crests of the mountains, 
it seems (to adapt the words of Emerson) as if- 

"O er it bent the sky 
As on its friend with kindred eye, 
And granted it an equal date 
With Andes and with Ararat." 

It divides two stages of civilization to-day, as it did 
two thousand years ago. On one side are vast plains 
unbroken by the plough, and occupied only by tribes 
of wandering nomads; on the other are fields and 
gardens, rich with the products of agricultural industry. 

From the Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. xi, No. 2, 1885. 


Between the two, a state of perpetual hostility is 
inevitable, unless restrained by the power of some 
overshadowing government. This natural antagonism 
has never failed to show itself at every point of 
contact, the world over. Schiller hints not in his 
poems, but in a course of historical lectures that 
this endless strife of shepherd and cultivator was 
foreshadowed in the conflict of Cain and Abel. 
History, unhappily, supplies us with an abundance of 
illustrations, Egypt fell a prey to the shepherd kings; 
and in Asia, as in Europe, the inhospitable North has 
always been ready to disgorge its predatory hordes 
on lands more favored by the sun. 

The Chinese of the border provinces were in the 
earlier ages compelled to divide their time between 
war and work, under pain of losing the fruits of their 
labors. Like the pioneers of the Western continent, 
they never allowed themselves to be parted from 
their defensive weapons, and enjoyed life itself only 
at the price of perpetual vigilance. Experience 
proved that a line of military posts, no matter how 
closely they might be linked together, afforded no 
adequate security against the incursions of homeless 
wanderers. The Great Wall was built, not as a 
substitute for such posts, but as a supplement to them. 
That it served its end, there can be no reasonable 
doubt. So effectually indeed did it protect the 


peaceful tillers of the soil, that an ancient saying 
describes it as the ruin of one generation and the 
salvation of thousands. 

From time to time, however, the spirit of rapine, 
swelling into the lust of conquest, has swept over the 
huge barrier, as an earthquake wave sweeps over the 
artificial defenses of a seaport. It was not intended 
or expected to guarantee the whole empire against 
the occurrence of such emergencies. Twice has the 
whole of China succumbed to a flood of extra-mural 
invaders: the Mongols, under Genghis Khan, having 
been aided in passing the Great Wall in the province 
of Shansi by the treachery of Alakush, a Tartar chief, 
whose duty it was to defend it; and the Manchus, 
who are now in possession of the throne, having 
entered at its eastern extremity, on the invitation of 
Wu San-kwei, a Chinese general, who sought their 
aid against the rebel Li Tsze-ch eng, who had 
subverted the throne of the Mings. 

Besides the three and a half centuries of Tartar* 
domination under these two great dynasties, we find, 
prior to the first of them, three periods of partial 
conquest. From 907 A.D. to 1234, a large portion 
of the northern belt of provinces passed successively 

* The name Tartar is incapable of very precise definition. Throughout 
this paper, it is applied in a general sense to all the wandering tribes of 
the North and West. 


under the sway of the Ch i-tan and Nu-chen* Tartars; 
and, from 386 to 532, an extensive region was 
subjected to the Tartar hordes of Topa ; under the 
dynastic title of Pel Wei. How or where these 
invaders passed the barrier, it is not worth while to 
pause to enquire; the foregoing examples being 
sufficient to show that, in a time of anarchy, some 
friend or ally can always be found to open the gates. 
Chung chih ch eng ch eng,-\ says the Chinese proverb, 
"Union is the best bulwark." Without exaggerating 
the strength of the Great Wall, which, through a 
large part of its extent, is far from being the imposing 
structure which we see in the vicinity of Peking, we 
may still affirm, in the light of history, that, had it 
been backed by forces untainted by treason and 
unweakened by faction, it might have proved sufficient 
to shield the country from conquest. Wanting these 
conditions, the wall was powerless for defense ; and, 
notwithstanding its towns and garrisons, we have 
before us the astounding fact that the Chinese of 
these northern provinces have passed seven, out of 
the last fifteen centuries, under the yoke of Tartar 

* ~fc JJ{ 3fc fi i Nu chen or Ju-chih also called Kin Tartars. 
The Manchus claim them as their ancestors, the reigning house having 
Aischin = kin (gold) for its family name. 

"^ 2& fifr )v(t ^W " United hearts form the best of bulwarks." 


Ascending the stream of history to the dynasty of 
Han, which ruled China from 202 B.C. to 220 A.D., 
i. e. for more than four centuries, we find ourselves 
in presence of the same conflict. The names of the 
opposing parties are changed; but the parties remain, 
and the war goes on. The empire is not conquered 
by the foreign foe; but it is kept in a state of 
perpetual terror, by an assemblage of powerful tribes 
who bear the collective name of Hiongnu. Bret- 
schneider says they were Mongols nomine mutato; 
but Howorth, in his learned History of the Mongols, 
pronounces them Turks, or more properly Turcomans, 
the ancestors of the present occupants of Khiva, 
Bokhara, and Constantinople. From the resemblance 
of this name to Hunni, they were formerly supposed 
to be the progenitors of the Magyars. So strong 
indeed was this conviction that, a good many years 
ago, we had the spectacle of a follower of Louis 
Kossuth coming to China in search of his " kindred 
according to the flesh;" actuated apparently by the 
hope of inducing them to repeat the invasion of 
Europe, and deliver their brethren from the yoke of 
the Hapsburgs ! 

The numerous tribes occupying the vast region 
extending from Lake Balkash to the mouth of the 
Amoor diverse in language, but similar in nomadic 
habits were in the Han period combined under the 


hegemony of the Hiongnu, forming a confederation, 
or an empire, rather than a single state. The Chief 
was styled in his own language Shanyu, a word 
which the Chinese historians explain as equivalent 
to Hwangti; and there can be no doubt that the 
haughty emperors of the family of Han were compell 
ed to accord the sacred title to their barbarous rivals. 
In recent times, their successors (more properly 
successors of the Shanyu) have hesitated to concede 
it to the sovereign of at least one European empire. 
During the negotiation of the Austro-Hungarian 
treaty, the Chinese Ministers objected so strenuously 
to the assumption of Hwangti, that the heir to a 
long line of Kaisers had to content himself with the 
first syllable of the title, on the principle that "half a 
loaf is better than no bread." Had his Minister been 
well veised in Chinese history, what an advantage 
he might have gained! He would have required no 
other argument than the fact that the full title had 
been given to the Chief of the Hiongnu to insure its 
extension to the lord of their modern representatives. 
For, in China, a precedent is good for more than two 
thousand years; and the supposed connection, though 
not admitted by ethnology, is, or was, sufficiently 
reliable ior the purposes of diplomacj r . 

During the Han and succeeding dynasties, the 
Hiongnu were held in check mostly by force of 


amis; but the weaker emperors, like those of Rome, 
were accustomed to send their sisters and daughters 
across the frontier, instead of generals; flattering the 
vanity of the barbarians, and replacing military 
armaments by the sentimentalities of family alliance. 
The incidents connected with these transactions have 
supplied lich materials for poetry and romance. 
For instance, a popular tragedy is founded on the 
fortunt-s of Chao-keun, one of the many fair ladies 
who were offered as victims to preserve the peace of 
the borders. The Khan of Tartary, hearing of her 
beauty, demanded her in marriage. The Emperor 
refused to surrender the chief jewel of his harem; so 
the Khan invaded China with :ui overwhelming 
force, but he retired to his own dominions when the 
lady was sent to his camp. Arrived at the banks 
of the Amoor, she threw herself into its dark waters, 
rather than enduie a life of exile at a barbarian court. 
The \v;ns of those times would furnish materials for 
a thiilling history. The battle-ground was sometimes 
on ihe south of the Great Wall, but generally in the 
steppes and deseits beyond. 

As illustrations of the varying fortunes attending 
the wars of the Hans and the Hiongnu, we may 
mention the names of Li-kwang Li-ling, Sze Ma- 
ch ien, and Su-wu. The fiist of these led the aimies 
of his sovereign against the Hiongnu for many years, 


in the latter part of the second century B.C. He 
had, it is said, come off victorious in seventy battles, 
when, in a final conflict, disappointed in his expectation 
of capturing the Khan, he committed suicide on the 
field of battle, though, if we may believe the record, 
that battle was also a victory. This gives us a 
glimpse of the style of Hiongnu warfare. They 
were like the Parthians, "most to be dreaded when 
in flight." That a General, contending with such a 
foe, should destroy himself from chagrin at the results 
of his seventy-first victory, affords us a fair criterion 
for estimating the value of the other seventy. 

Li-ling, the second of the four whose names I have 
cited, was son* of the ill-fated Li-kwang, and appears 
to have been born under still less auspicious stars. 
Appointed to succeed his father, he suffered himself 
to pursue the flying enemy too hotly, when, falling 
into an ambuscade, his vanguard, consisting of a 
division of five thousand men, was cut to pieces 
before the main body could come to the rescue. 
Li-ling, with a few survivors, surrendered at discretion. 
His life was spared; but, to take his own description, 
contained in some of his letters which are still 
preserved, it was little better than a living death. 
In addition to the privations incident to a state 
of captivity among savage foes, he had the bitter 

* Mayers says grand-son. 


reflection that, on account of his supposed treachery, 
his nearer relations had all been put to death; and 
that a noble friend, who had guaranteed his fidelity, 
had been subjected to an ignominious punishment. 

That noble friend was no other than the great 
historian, Sze Ma-ch ien. Required by a cruel decree 
to pay the forfeit of Li-ling s alleged treachery, the 
historian chose to submit to a disgraceful mutilation, 
rather than lose his life; not, as he himself says, that 
he held life dear or feared death, but solely to gain 
a few years for the completion of his life task, the 
payment of a debt which he owed to posterity. He 
lived to place the last stone on his own imperishable 
monument; and for twenty centuries he has had 
among his countrymen a name "better than that of 
sons and daughters."* 

Su-vvu, the last of the four unfortunates, was a 
diplomatic envoy. Having, while at the court of 
the Grand Khan, attempted by undiplomatic means 
to compass the destruction of an enemy, he was 
thrown into prison, and detained in captivity for 
nineteen years. A tender poem is extant, which he 
addressed to his wife on parting, at the commence 
ment of his perilous mission.! Whether she survived 

* He had become a father prior to this disgrace. 

t For this and other poems relating to the Tartar Wars, sec the last 
Chapter of this Volume. 



to welcome his return, we are not informed; but, in 
that case, she must have died with grief, to see him 
accompanied by a Turkish wife. 

We cannot pause longer among the romantic 
episodes so thickly scattered through the literature 
of the Hans. We must travel back another thousand 
years, to arrive at the last and the principal division 
of our subject, the Tartar Tribes in Ancient China, 

We find ourselves at the rise of the third dynasty, 
the famous dynasty of Chow, which occupied the 
throne for over eight hundred years (1122 B.C. to 
255 B.C.). We are at the dawn of letters; at the 
dividing line which separates the legendary from the 
historical period. The Great Wall has no existence,. 
but the hostile tribes are there; not Manchu or 
Mongol, not Hiongnu, Hvveku, or T ukuib, but the 
ancestors of all of them, under different names, 
hovering, like birds of prey, on the unprotected 
frontiers of a rich and tempting country. At this 
epoch, the Chinese people, who had originated 
somewhere in Central Asia, were few in number, and 
occupied a territory of comparatively limited extent. 
They were distinguished from their neighbors chiefly 
by a knowledge of letters, and by the possession of 
a higher civilization. This incipient culture gave 
them an immense advantage over the barbarous 
tribes who surrounded them on every side and 


opposed their progress. These tribes are grouped under 
several comprehensive terms: those on the east are 
called Yi ; those on the north, Tih; those on the west, 
Jung or Ch iang; and those on the south, Man. The 
original sense of these names seems to be as follows: 
The Yi were famous archers, and were so called from 
their " great bows." The northerners used dogs in 
hunting and herding, and depended on fire to temper 
the cold of their rigorous winters; "dog" and "fiie" 
are therefore combined in the ideograph by which 
the Tih are designated. The Jung were armed with 
spears, and this their weapon furnished the symbol 
for their ideograph. The ideograph Ch iang is made 
up of the head of a goat and the legs of a man, and 
so denotes to the Chinese imagination hideous 
monsters, the reverse of the Greek conception of 
Pan and the Satyrs; it at the same time means 
"goat-men," "goat-herds," or "shepherds," and 
identifies them essentially with the Tih, or dog-using 
nomads of the north. The character for Man 
combines those for "worm" and "silk," and implies 
that the barbarians of the south, even at that early 
day, were not ignorant of silk-culture. 

These names and characters all became more or 
less expressive of contempt, but were without doubt 
less offensive in their original sense. Marco Polo, 
who followed the Tartar usage, applies the word 


Man, in the form Manzi, to the whole of the Chinese 
people. They were so called as being "southrons" 
with respect to the people of Mongolia, and at the 
same time objects of contempt to their conquerors. 

All the tribes of the south and the east, /. e. the- 
Man and the Yi, save certain aborigines called Miao- 
tsze, were conquered and gradually absorbed and 
assimilated by the vigorous race whose progeny 
peoples modern China proper. The Miao-tsze have 
been able to retain their independence to the present 
day, by taking refuge in the inaccessible fastnesses of 
mountain chains. 

The barbarous tribes of the north and west,. 
however, the Tih and the Ch iang, were never 
permanently subdued. This was simply because 
their lands never invited conquest. Their storm- 
swept pastures offered the Chinese no adequate 
compensation for the toil and danger involved in 
such an undertaking. On the contrary, as we have 
seen, it was the wealth and fertility of northern 
China that tempted constantly, throughout the eight 
hundred years of the Chow dynasty, the fierce and 
hungry tribes of the north and west to make their 
overwhelming incursions. These are the quarters 
from which conquering armies have once and again 
risen up, like the sands of their own deserts, to 
overwhelm parts or the whole of the empire. To- 


repel the aggressions of these troublesome neighbors 
was the chief occupation of the Chinese armies in the 
earliest times, as it has continued to be down through 
all the ages. The oldest extant Chinese poetry, 
older than any history, shows us the Chinese warrior, 
like the magic horseman of Granada, with the head 
of his steed and the point of his lance directed 
always towards the north as the source of danger. 
History shows that the princes who were employed 
to hold these enemies in check generally held in 
their hands the destinies of the empire. And in this 
way the northern tribes exercised lor centuries, 
throughout the third or Chow dynasty, an indirect 
but important political influence. 

To give only two examples, both from the most 
ancient period of authentic history : The house of 
Chow, the most illustrious of the twenty-four dynas 
ties, rose from a small warlike principality in the 
mountains of the north-west; they were made strong 
by conflict with their savage enemies, and their Chief 
was regarded as the bulwark of the nation. Si-po,* 
the Loid of the West, or Wen Wang, as he is now 
called, excited by his growing power the jealousy of 
his suzerain, the last emperor of the second or Shang 
dynasty, and was thrown into prison by the tyrant, 

* Mcncius says that T ai Wang, the grand-father of Si-po, paid tribute 
to the Tartars. 


who did not dare, however, to put him to death. In 
the panic caused by a sudden irruption of the north- 
men, Wen Wang was set free, and invested with even 
greater power than he had ever possessed before. 
To the day of his death, he remained loyal ; but his 
son, Cheo-fa, or Wu Wang, employed his trained 
forces, like a double-edged sword, not only to protect 
the frontier and drive back the invaders, but also to 
overturn the throne of his master, the last Shang 

After the lapse of over eight hundred years, the 
house of Chow was replaced by the house of Ch in 
which had been cradled among the same mountains 
and made strong by conflict with the same enemies. 
During the Chow period (1122 B.C. to 255 B.C.), the 
barbarians never cease to be a factor in the politics 
of the empire; not merely making forays and retiring 
with their booty, but driving the Chinese before them, 
occupying their lands, and planting themselves in the 
shape of independent or feudal States, as the Goths 
and Vandals did within the bounds of the Roman 
empire. The analogy does not stop here. Like the 
Roman empire, China had, in the early part of the 
Chow period, two capitals,-one in the west, near 
Si-ngan Fu (about one hundred miles south-west of the 
great bend of the Hoang-ho), in Shensi; and another 
in the east, near the present K ai-fung Fu, in Honan. 


The former was sacked by the Tartars in 781 B.C., 
just as Rome was by the Goths in 410 A.D. 

The story, as given by Chinese writers, is as follows:- 
The emperor Yiu Wang had a young consort on whom 
he doted. One day it came into his head to give a false 
alarm to the armies surrounding the capital, merely 
to afford her an amusing spectacle. Beacon fires, the 
signal of imminent danger, were lighted on all the 
hills. The nobles came rushing to the rescue, each 
at the head of his retainers. Finding there was no 
real danger, they dispersed in a state of high indigna 
tion. The young empress had her laugh; but they 
laugh best who laugh last, as the proverb has it. 
Not long after this, the Tartars made a sudden attack. 
The beacon fires were again lighted; but the nobles, 
having once been deceived, took care not to respond 
to the call, lest they should again be making a 
woman s holiday. The city was taken, and the silly 
sovereign and his fair enchantress both perished in the 
flames. However much of the legendary there may 
be in this narrative, the one stern fact that lies at the 
bottom of it is the presence of a ferocious enemy 
whom we call by the general name of Tartars. 

After this calamity, the heir to the throne removed 
his court to the eastern capital, leaving the tombs of 
his fathers in the hands of the barbarians. In the 
heart of the central plain, and surrounded by a 


cordon of feudal States, the imperial throne was 
thought to be secure. But the irrepressible foe was 
forcing his way to the south and east, with the slow 
but resistless motion of a mountain glacier. A 
hundred and thirty years later (about 650 B.C.), we 
have the spectacle of a barbarian horde in actual 
possession of the eastern capital, and the emperor a 
refugee, pleading for re-instatement at the hands 
of his vassals. As might be expected, the blame of 
the catastrophe is again charged on a woman. That 
woman was a barbarian, and the fact throws a strong 
light on the position of the contending parties. 

Her tribe had established itself in the rich alluvial 
region on the southern bend of the Yellow 
river. As enemies, they were a standing menace to 
the capital; as friends, they might serve as its- 
janizaries. In order to win their favor and secure 
their fidelity, the emperor took one of their 
princesses into his harem. Captivated by her charms, 
he subsequently raised her to be the partner of his 
throne. An ambitious kinsman, desirous of supplant 
ing the emperor on the throne, began by supplanting 
him in the affections of his barbarian wife. Her 
infidelity being discovered, she was sent back to her 
kindred, where she was joined by her paramour, who 
stirred up the powerful clan to avenge an insult done 
to them in her person. The emperor was easily put 


to flight; but, wanting the support of the nobles, the 
usurper s tenure of the capital was of short duration. 

Subsequently the barbarians menaced the capital 
frequently, if not constantly; and the Son of Heaven 
was more than once compelled to appeal to his 
vassals for succor. On one occasion, his envoys even 
turned against him, and went over to the enemy, 
apparently deeming it better to serve a growing than 
a decaying power. About forty years earlier than 
the flight of the emperor above mentioned, another 
barbarian beauty, named Li-ki, played a conspicuous 
and mischievous role at the court of Tsin-wen, the 
greatest chief of the vassal States. Taken in battle, 
she captivated her princely captor, and maintained 
by her talents the ascendancy which she at first 
owed to her personal attractions. She induced the 
prince to change the order of succession in favor of 
her offspring, sowing the seeds of a family feud that 
brought the princely house to the verge of destruc 
tion. Thus, by the cupidity of the Tartars, the- 
treachery of envoys, and the intrigues of Tartar 
ladies, the throne of one emperor after another was 
menaced and shaken, until the dynasty was brought 
to its fall. 

Of these immigrant Tartar tribes, no fewer than 
five or six are mentioned in the Confucian Annals as 
having succeeded in establishing themselves in the 


interior of China. Two of them (called Red and 
White, probably, like the Neri and Bianchi of 
Florence, from the color of their clothing, O r of their 
banners) were settled within the bounds of the 
present province of Shansi; one in Honan ; one in 
Chihli; and two in Shantung. How they effected a 
settlement is not difficult to understand. In an age 
of anarchy, when ilval States were contending for the 
hegemony, the great barons found it to their interest 
to secure the aid of troops of hardy horsemen from 
the northern plains, rewarding their service by grants 
of land. The emperor sought in the same way to 
strengthen himself against his unruly vassals. And 
so, at last, by too great dependence on foreign 
auxiliaries, the empire became unable to shake off its 

How deeply seated was the antagonism between 
them and the Chinese may be inferred from one 
or two examples. The emperor being about to 
despatch a body of those hired auxiliaries to chastise 
a disobedient subject, one of his ministers warned him 
against a measure which would be sure to alienate 
his friends, and strengthen the hands of the common 
enemy. "If," said the minister, "the prince finds his 
moral influence insufficient to secure order, his next 
resort is to make the most of the ties of blood. But 
let him beware of throwing himself into the arms of 


a foreign invader." This counsel reminds us of the 
remonstrance of Lord Chatham against the employ 
ment of savages, in the conflict with the American 
colonies. We may add that India and China both 
came under the sway of their present rulers through 
the mistaken policy of depending on foreign 

With the Chinese, it was a practical maxim that no 
faith was to be kept with those invaders; and a 
terrible vengeance was sometimes taken for the 
insults and peifidy to which they were subjected.* 
When one of the barbarian States desired to enter 
into an alliance with Tsin, doing homage as a vassal, 
the king at first objected, exclaiming, "the Jung and 
the Till have no ties or principles in common with 
us. We must treat them as our natural enemies." 
He yielded with reluctance, when one of his ministers 
had shown him five good reasons for a contiary 

Another fact may be cited, which shows at once 
the power of the baibarians and the horror in which 
they were held. In the sixth century B.C., the 
rising civilization of China was on the point of being 
overwhelmed by them, when a deliverer was raised 
up in the person of Duke Hwan, of Ch i, who turned 

" A sr eat State is not trifled wi V the 

warning yivcn by a barbarian Chief to the Prince of Tsin. 


the tide at the critical moment, as Tlieodoric did the 
onslaught of the Huns under Attila. How imminent 
was the peril of the empire, and how eminent the 
merit of the victor, is apparent from a reply of 
Confucius to some one who supposed that he had 
spoken disparagingly of Duke Hwan. "How could 
I disparage Duke Hwan?" he exclaimed; "but for 
him we should all have been buttoning our coats on 
the left side," i.e., have been subject to the Tartars. 

Thus far, we have occupied ourselves with what 
we may call an outline of the political relations of 
the Chinese with the northern tribes in war and in 
peace. The ethnography of those tribes now claims 
our attention, if only to show the impossibility of 
arriving at any satisfactory conclusion. The doubts 
expressed by the best authorities as to the ethnological 
relations of the Hiongnu have already been referred 
to. Conspicuous as they are in history for many 
centuries about the commencement of the Christian 
era, it has been much disputed whether they were 
Turks, Mongols, or Huns. How much greater is the 
difficulty of identification as we travel back to a 
period where the torch of history sheds but a feeble 
ray, or disappears in the vague obscurity of legendary 

In those remote ages, the guiding clue of philology 
fails us. And, while a few names that appear in the 


less ancient literature, such as H \ve-ku and T u-kuih,* 
suggest the identity of the tribes that bore them 
with the Ouigours and Turks, there is absolutely 
nothing to be made out of the names that meet us 
most frequently in the earlier records. The vague 
terms of Jung and Tib, under which were grouped 
peoples as diverse as the tribes of North American 
Indians, are always accompanied by some mark of 
contempt; the character for dog being prefixed to the 
one, and incorporated with the other. Hien-yuen, 
another name of frequent occurrence, has the dog 
radical in both its parts, and appeals intended to 
confound the people who bore it with a tribe of 
dog-like .apes. It would hardly be expected that 
writeis, who deny their neighbors the attributes of 
humanity, should take an interest in depicting their 
manners or studying their language. Accordingly, 
we search in vain in the earlier Chinese literature for 
any such precious fragments of those northern 
tongues as Plautus, in one of his plays, has preserved 
of the Carthaginian. They themselves possessed no 
written speech; and, had they possessed it, they have 
left us no such imperishable monuments or relics of 

* Hiongnu, T ukuih, Ilwcku, Htenyuen, Iluen-yu, Pel Hu, Tah-tah 
(or Tata = Tartar), Sien-pi, Su-shen. These are only some of the 
names that are given in a way more or less vague to the nomads of the 
North and West. 


handicraft as, at this day, are throwing fresh light on 
the origin of the Etruscans. 

A vast amount of undigested information is to be 
found in the pages of Matoanlin, relating to the 
border tribes of the middle ages. But outside the 
circle of the classics, the only descriptive geography 
that has reached us from the Chow period is the 
Shan-hai-king, a kind of Chinese Gulliver, which peop 
les the world with monsters of every form and fashion. 
The older writers, in confounding numerous tribes 
under one or a few terms, were no doubt influenced 
by the fact that to them they all appeared under one 
aspect, that of wandering hunters or shepherds, 
equally rude and equally ferocious. 

No one who gives attention to such subjects can 
fail to be struck with a two-fold process that takes 
place in the life of all nations, and most of all in that 
of nomadic tribes. The first is what we may call the 
stage of differentiation, through which they pass, 
when, small and weak, they keep themselves isolated 
from their neighbors; and even their languages 
diverge in a short time to such a degree as to be 
mutually unintelligible. The second is the stage of 
assimilation, when, brought into the collisions of war 
or the intercourse of trade, each gives and receives 
impressions that make them approximate to a 
common type. Thus the barbarians on the north of 


China present in the earlier ages a boundless variety, 
which tends, with the lapse of time, to give place to 
uniformity of manners, and even of physical features. 
Rolling over the plains, as the waves over the sea, 
their blood has been commingled; and, though their 
names have often changed, their physical type has 
probably remained unaltered. It is natural to raise 
the question, What was that physical type? It has 
not been handed down either in painting or sculpture, 
and yet I think it is possible for us to recover it. It 
stands before us to-day, stamped on their descendants 
of the hundredth generation. As the Manchu and 
Mongol are to-day, such were the Jung and the Tih, 
co-eval with Assyria and Babylon. The beautiful 
Alcuta,* the hapless consort of the late emperor, was 
a Mongol; and more than two thousand years ago, 

* The story of this unfortunate Princess might furnish material for a 
romance. Her grand-father, the Grand Secretary Sai Shang-a, having 
failed to suppress the Tai-ping Rebellion, was thrown into prison and 
condemned to death. His son, Ch ung Ch i, begged to share his fate, 
and tenderly served him in his confinement, an act of filial piety 
which \vas subsequently rewarded by his elevation to the dignity of 
Chuang-yuen, or Scholar Laureate of the Empire. So eminent is this 
grade that his daughter was deemed a fit consort for the late Emperor 
Tung Chih. For two short years she enjoyed her brilliant position, 
when, the Kmperor dying, she refused food and followed him into the 
world of spirits. 

The grounds now occupied by the Tsung-li Yamfn and the Imperial 
ColU^f formerly lelonged to hei grand-father, and were concealed on 
his fall. Whether the hapless Empress was born there is uncertain. 


other princes were captivated by the beauty of the 
daughters of the desert. The barbarians of those 
times were probably not inferior to the Chinese in 
form, feature, or natural intelligence, as their descend 
ants are not inferior in any of these respects. Indeed 
Chinese, Manchus, and Mongols, as we see them in 
the city of Peking, are not distinguishable except by 
some peculiarity of costume. 

Were they originally of one mould, or have the 
lines of distinction become gradually effaced by the 
intercourse of ages? The latter is, we think, the 
correct hypothesis. The primitive Chinese type, 
that imported by the immigrants who founded the 
civilization of China, is, we believe, no longer to be 
discerned. In the southern and central regions, it has 
everywhere been modified by combination with the 
aboriginal inhabitants, leading to provincial character 
istics, which the practiced eye can easily recognize. 
It has undergone, we think, a similar modification in 
the northern belt. It met here with tribes akin to 
those of Mongolia, and gradually absorbed them, 
and to this combination are probably due the height 
and the stalwart physique of the Northern Chinese. 

This process was going on in pre-historic times. 
History, at its earliest dawn, shows us the unassimilated 
fragments of those tribes; and, at the same time, 
discloses a vast movement southward, all along the 


line, checked for a time by the Great Wall, only to 
be renewed on a more stupendous scale. We have 
seen how small bodies infiltrated through every 
channel; we have also seen how, organized into great 
States, they established in China a dominion enduring 
for centuries. We are inclined to believe that they 
have stamped their impress on the people of this 
region as thoroughly as the Saxons have theirs on 
the people of England, or the Vandals theirs on that 
part of Spain which still bears their name in the form 
of Andalusia. 

The former have made the language of the English 
essentially Germanic; and the language of northern 
China has been profoundy modified by Tartar 
influence. Hence we are told by Dr. Edkins that 
the ancient Chinese pronunciation is only to be 
found in the Southern provinces, where in fact we 
should look for it, in the region least affected by 
the tide of invasion. 

If you inquire for the influences to which the 
invaders have in their turn been subjected, we answer 
that, in all ages, they have exchanged barbarism 
for such civilization as they found among the more 
cultivated race. 







The subject of our inquiry falls nearly at the- 
middle point of the long course of Chinese history; 
i.e., between the second and third centuries of the 
Christian Era. In the earliest authentic records, we 
meet the Chinese people, then few and feeble, on 
the upper waters of the Yellow River in the North 
west. Whence they came, and where they obtained 
that civilization which secured to them the conquest 
of Eastern Asia, we know not; but we can trace 
their subsequent progress down that noble stream, 
and into the heart of the great central plain. Like 
the river itself, they gather strength as they advance, 
until, in the epoch of which we are treating, they 
have brought under their sway the greater part of 
what we now know as China Proper. Like the river, 
their progress has neither been direct nor tranquiL 
From time to time they encounter thundering 


cataracts, or, bursting their banks, flow on for a 
season in divided currents, bearing different names 
.and subject to different rulers. 

Such a period of division is the one at which they 
have now arrived. 

For four hundred years they have been united 
under the sceptre of the family of Han, under whose 
sway the empire reached an extent never before 
attained, and rose to a pitch of splendor eclipsing 
that of all preceding dynasties. But if Kao Tsu was 
Augustus, Hien Ti, his degenerate successor of the 
twenty-eighth generation, was the Augustulus of his 
illustrious house. 

The fall of the empire began in the penultimate 
reign, with disorders in the palace and rebellions in 
the provinces; and it crumbled to fragments in the 
hands of the imbecile Hien Ti. Gradually the jarring 
elements gravitate to three centres, viz: Lo Yang, 
the capital of the Hans, near the present city of 
Honan Fu; Nanking, on the River Yang-tse, which 
now for the first time appears as the seat of empire; 
and lastly, Ch eng-tu, at present capital of the great 
province of Szechuen. These are the seats of the 
"Three Kingdoms," Wei, \Vu, and Shu, whose 
fortunes form the history of China for about sixty 
years. Tsao Tsao founded the first; Sun Chuen, 
,the second; and Liu Pei, the third. 


To relate how the last of these potentates emerged 
from a petty district in the vicinity of Peking, and 
fought his way up to the throne after an eventful 
struggle of more than thirty years, is the object of 
this discourse. The first of the trio is confessedly 
the most accomplished master of statecraft in the 
annals of China; and the second combined the 
qualities of soldier and statesman in a high degree; 
but so distinct and commanding is the personality of 
our hero that he is in no danger of being cast into 
the shade by the subtle genius of the one or the bold 
courage of the other. 

His career divides itself into three portions, which, 
for the sake of distinctness, we may describe 
geographically rather than chronologically, as his life 
in the North, in the East, and in the West; 
Cho Cheo, forty miles from Peking, being the scene of 
his childhood and youth ; Shantung and the borders of 
Kiangsu, the field of his earlier and unsuccessful wars; 
and the western provinces of Hupei and Szechuen, 
the arena of his later conflicts and final triumph. 
The region which he watered with the blood of his 
foes and his friends is half as large as the Continent 
of Europe; and, if few warriors of any age have acted 
on a vaster theatre, those who have fought more 
battles or experienced more vicissitudes are fewer 
still. For the facts of the narrative, we depend on 


the History of the Three Kingdoms, by Ch en Sheo; 
but, in sketching character, we sometimes take a 
hint from the Romance of the same name, by 
Lo Kvvan-chung. 


About the year 170 A.D., when Ling Ti sat on 
the throne of China, and when Marcus Aurelius 
swayed the sceptre of the Caesars, a lad of ten 
summers might have been seen in the streets of 
Clio Cheo, peddling rush matting and straw sandals. 
This paltry merchandise was the work of his widowed 
mother; and its sale scarcely sufficed to procure a 
livelihood for mother and son. Their lot was not 
harder than that of thousands of their countrymen, 
but the recollection of ancestral glories made them 
feel its bitterness. The young widow could not 
forget that her child was of princely lineage, nor did 
she suffer him to be ignorant that he was an off-shoot 
of the Imperial House. This one domestic lesson, 
repeated from day to day, implanted in the bosom of 
the boy a spirit of discontent and restless aspiration. 
It proved at once the source of his fortunes and of 
his misfortunes. The boy had the bearing of a 
prince, and a face which, to the eye of a Chinese 
Lavater, revealed a perspective of infinite possibilities. 
One day a rich citizen, to whom he was utfeiing 


his wares, was struck by his noble and intelligent 
countenance. "What is the name of your family," 
asked the citizen. "Liu," replied the boy. "The 
same as my own/ said the rich man; "we are 
kinsmen, both of us scions of the House of Han." 
The rich man, whose name was Liu Te-jan, thereupon 
assumed the charge ot Liu Pei s education, sending 
him to school along with his own son. In later 
life, several prominent men belonging to the clan 
of Liu gave him a lift for the sake of his family name, 
notably Liu Piao, the semi-independent satrap of 
King Cheo. 

At school, Liu Pei displayed but a moderate 
fondness for books, though it is certain, from the 
acquaintance which he subsequently manifested with 
military history, that his genius had led him to read 
much in that direction. He found small pleasure in 
the moral apothegms of Confucius and Mencius, and 
cared still less for their pictures of the peaceful times 
of Yao and Shun; but he dwelt with pride and 
.admiration on the exploits of Han KaoTsu (Liu Pang), 
who, emerging from obscurity, laid the foundation of 
the then reigning dynasty; as also on those of 
Han Kwang Wu, who restored its falling fortunes, 
and gave it two more centuries of life. 

This last, the founder of the Eastern Han, was the 
miodel which, in after years, he proposed for his own 


imitation, in so far as it was possible to shape his 
career in accordance with any historical pattern. 
The mere fact of a grand achievement is often 
sufficient to inspire a desire to repeat the perform 
ance, where anything like imitation is impossible. 

"Liu Pei," says the historian, "who as a lad had not 
been fond of study, on arriving at manhood, manifest 
ed a passion for dogs, horses, and fine clothes. In 
stature above the medium height, his arms were so 
long that he could touch his knees without stooping; 
and his eyes so prominent that he could see the tips 
of his ears without the aid of a mirror." He adds a 
few touches to the picture that are less grotesque 
and far more significant of potential greatness. 
"Liu Pei was sparing of speech; and, while his words 
served to conceal his thoughts, his features were a 
mask for his emotions. He was withal modest in 
demeanor, and uncommonly successful in winning 
the favor of his superiors." 

This last characteristic, as we shall find, stood him 
in stead in many a dark hour. It appears indeed 
that for Liu Pei, as for Alcibiades, it was only necessary 
to obtain an interview with friend or foe, in order to 
plant himself securely in his confidence. But, like 
all the politicians of his day, he sometimes betrayed 
such hasty confidence when the interest of the cause 
to which he was devoted appeared to require it. 


Nor was it solely towards his superiors that he 
displayed this marvellous power of winning friends. 
His school-fellows were devotedly attached to him;, 
and not merely his sworn brothers Kwan Yu and 
Chang Fei, but multitudes of his companions in arms 
were ever ready to die for his sake. Sure mark of 
an imperial nature, this trait did more than his 
martial prowess to raise the huckster of Cho Cheo- 
to the throne of his ancestors. 

Once out of school, Liu Pei found himself again 
under the necessity of exerting himself to earn a 
living. His fondness for horses suggested the choice 
of an occupation. Rich friends advanced the requis 
ite capital, and he scoured the country in search of 
fine animals and liberal purchasers. To him this was 
a kind of knight-errantry. He had set his heart on a 
military career, and, in the growing disorders of the 
period, he perceived that opportunists for gaining 
distinction would not be slow to present themselves. 

In order to make his debut in a character higher 
than that of private trooper, he attached to himself 
a following of young bloods, like himself impelled by 
personal ambition, yet animated by a sincere and 
loyal patriotism. Of these, the most noted were 
Kwan Yu and Chang Fei, the inseparable companions 
of his perils and his triumphs. The heroism and 
unselfish devotion of the former has caused him to- 


be deified as the God of War, and be now figures as 
the tutelar deity of the Reigning Dynasty. 

A romantic story is told of the manner in which 
these three men, on a casual meeting, each discerned 
the sterling qualities of the others and promptly 
bound themselves together by a threefold cord of 
brotherhood, stronger than death. It is of little 
consequence whether their hearts flowed together at 
first sight, as though each had found what he had 
long sought ; nor does it matter whether they 
solemnized their union by an oath and sealed it by 
the sacrifice of a white horse, surrounded by the 
fresh bloom of a peach garden. The fact that their 
souls were knit together for "high emprise" has been 
sufficient toimpress the imaginationof succeeding ages. 
Not David anfl Jonathan, not Orestes and Pylades, nor 
any other pair of sworn brothers, will afford a parallel. 
The only fit analogy is found in the patriotic trio, 
who met in the Vale of Griitli, to concert measures 
for the deliverance of Switzerland from the yoke of 

" The patriot three that met of yore, 
Beneath the midnight sky; 
And leagued their hearts on Griitli s shore, 
In the name of liberty." 

Does anyone suggest that Tell and his confederates 
were inspired by a nobler sentiment than that which 


fired the bosoms of the sons of Han? Was it not 
alike the love of country, whether its object was to 
deliver their land from a foreign yoke, or to uphold 
the throne of a rightful sovereign and to rescue the 
people from anarchy? 


For Liu Pei and his brethren, the Emperor Ling Ti 
was the embodiment of all that was sacred. Their first 
campaigns were in his service, directed against a body 
of Taoist insurgents, whose badge was a yellow turban. 
That magic arts and religious motives were both 
employed to overturn the throne in 186 A.D., shows 
how closely the China of seventeen centuries ago 
resembled the China of to-day. In any chance 
number of the Peking Gazette, you may read accounts 
of the trial and execution of just such conspirators as 
Chang Kio, Chang Liang, and Chang Pao. The belief 
that magic arts have power to convert bits of paper 
or bags of beans into soldiers is as firmly rooted now 
as it was then. Nothing but the diffusion of science 
can remove this source ot perpetual danger. 

Liu Pei, now at the age of twenty-seven, hastened 

to the scene of conflict at the head of his little band, 

and offered his sword to the General in command of 

the Imperial forces. He was accepted, and took an 

-active part in several engagements, in one of which 


he encountered the first in his long series of misfor 
tunes. Being struck from his horse and trampled 
under the hoofs of the enemy s cavalry, he escaped 
death by feigning it. For his sufferings and gallantry, 
he was rewarded by appointment to the command of 
a district garrison. Here an inspector of posts having 
treated him with insolence, he is said to have caused 
the haughty official to be bound hand and foot and to 
have inflicted on him a chastisement of two hundred 
blows. The loss of his commission followed, of 
course. In the popular romance of The Three 
Kingdoms, this act of insubordination is ascribed to 
Chang Fei; and, to say the truth, it appears more in 
keeping with the temper of one who earned for 
himself the epithet of Meng, " the impetuous," than 
with the calculating sagacity of Liu Pei. 

In 190 A.D., Hien Ti succeeds to the throne. A 
minor in years, he is held as a puppet in the grasp of 
Tung Clio, who has made himself Mayor of the 
Palace, or Regent of the Empire. To overthrow the 
usurper and liberate the sovereign, Tsao Tsao now 
takes arms. Liu Pei, with loyal heart, solicits a 
share in this meritorious enterprise. In later years, 
when he turns against his patron, it is from the same 
motive. Detecting in him another usurper, he obeyed 
the imperial mandate to compass his destruction: 
" Not that he loved Caesar less, but Rome more." 


We are anticipating a little for the sake of finding 
a key to his conduct; and now we must turn back to 
the time when Tsao Tsao dispatches him against a 
portion of the forces of Tung Cho. He is defeated, 
but, as we shall see, he becomes accustomed to 
defeat; and, like Fiederick the Second, he learns 
generalship in the school of adversity. 

KungSun-tsan, an old school-fellow, mindful of their 
boyhood friendship, supplies him with fresh troops, 
and sends him against Yuen Shao, who held the 
southern section of the province of Chihli. In this 
expedition, Liu Pei achieves his first brilliant success, 
and is raised to a conspicuous command. 

Here occurs an incident, which shows what a 
magic influence he was able to exert over the minds 
of men. An assassin, hired to kill him, risks his life 
to save him, and reveals to him the plots of his 
adversaries. We may remark in passing that, in an 
age when assassination was much in vogue, Liu Pei 
seems always to have scorned to invoke its 
aid. One day, while hunting in the Imperial 
preserves, Kwan . Yu, it is said, begged to be 
permitted to send an arrow to the heart of Tsao Tsao, 
and rid the world of a second usurper. Liu Pei 
xefused, and, at a later day, when reproached by 
Kwan Yu for not taking his advice, he justified his 


By this time, the growing power of Tsao Tsao has 
thoroughly aroused the opposition of the great barons 
in the outlying districts. Loyalty to the imprisoned 
monarch, jealousy of the usurping general, the dread 
of seeing such a parasite as the Shogunate of Japan 
fastened on the institutions of the empire, and still 
more the contagion of example, led many of them to 
raise the standard of revolt. Aiming at independence, 
they generally professed to be scheming for the 
liberation of the Emperor from the power of an evil 
spirit, which had taken possession of his person, 
speaking by his mouth and acting by his hand. 

Of these, the most powerful was Sun Chuen, who 
had established himself at Nanking, and who 
ultimately succeeded in making good his claim to a 
third of the disintegrated empire. Tsao Tsao, in the 
name of the Emperor, held the northern division, 
which, after the abdication of Hien Ti, he transmitted 
to his family. The renv.iining third, lying in the 
West, was reserved by the Fates as an apanage for 
our hero, who was still in comparative obscurity, 
and still an adherent of Tsao Tsao. 

The wars of this period resemble those that 
followed the two Triumvirates, which terminated the Republic; save that their tendency was in a 
converse direction, the Roman wars leading from 
trinity to unity, the Chinese from unity to trinity. 


As in most revolutions, the aspiring heads of the 
hydra, a necessary stage in the transformation of the 
dragon, were very numerous; the more conspicuous 
being Yuen Shao, already mentioned, Liu Piao in 
Hupeh, and Tao Chien in northern Kiangsu. 
Tsao Tsao sought to strike them down in detail. 

Tao Chien, Lord of Sii Cho, north of the Yellow 
river, exposed to attack from so formidable a foe, 
implores, in the name of loyalty to the House of 
Han, the aid of Kung Sun-tsau, or rather of Tien Kai, 
one of his captains. The latter commissions Liu Pei 
to give the needed succor. Liu Pei sets out at the 
head of a little over a thousand troops. He is joined 
en route by a strong body of Tartar cavalry, belonging 
to one or more of those wild tribes who had from 
time to time, even at this early age, effected a 
settlement in China, and were scattered here and 
there like enclaves in the provinces of the North. 
In his further progress (and this is a melancholy 
feature of the times), he is unexpectedly reinforced 
by several thousands of starving peasants, who, like 
the Tartars, follow him in expectation of food and 

The display of force was sufficient to hold the 
invader at bay. The Lord of Sii, grateful for this 
timely assistance, first gave Liu Pei a considerable 
district on the West, where he was to serve as a 


bulwark against further invasion ; and, dying shortly 
after, named him successor in what was virtually an 
independent principality. Liu Pei declined the honor 
as Cajsar declined a crown ; but, when reminded of a 
saying that "Heaven s gifts once spurned are never 
repeated, " he accepted the exalted but perilous post. 

He was now one of the most prominent among 
the rival chiefs who were contending for power, and 
so conspicuous was his ability that Tsao Tsao made 
overtures for reconciliation. He could easily forgive 
Liu Pei for what appeared like treachery towards 
himself, because it was covered by at least a pretext 
of loyalty to the throne. Accepting his terms, 
Liu Pei was created a titular baron and regarded by the 
powerful Regent more as an ally than a subordinate. 

Instead of bringing him peace, this alliance exposed 
him to attacks from fresh foes, the chief of whom was 
Lii Pu, one of the most picturesque knights on the 
chess-board of that day. Handsome, brave, and 
unscrupulous, a man who with his own hand 
had slain the previous Regent, he was in deadly 
feud with the present Regent because himself an 
aspirant for his place. 

This man, at the head of a body of cavalry, taking 
advantage of the absence of Liu Pei, swooped down 
on the city, which he had made his headquarters, then 
in charge of the valiant Kwan Vu. The surprise was 


complete, Liu Pel s family and their brave defender 
falling into the hands of the enemy. 

With the lioness and her cubs in his possession, 
Lti Pu knew well how to entrap the lion. The menace 
of death and of nameless indignities to those whom 
he loved more than life, sufficed to bring him to the 
feet of their captor. Under such circumstances, his 
allegiance could not by any possibility be cordial. 
He seized the first opportunity to go over to the 
Regent, who forgave his defection, and welcomed 
his return. But few weeks had elapsed before 
Lu Pu tracked them to their refuge, and once more 
pounced upon his prey. 

Read, in the Book of Samuel, the affecting chapter 
which depicts the grief of David and his men on 
returning to Ziklag and finding it "burned with fire," 
and their wives and children prisoners in the hands 
of the Children of Amalek, and you have a picture of 
what Liu Pei and his followers experienced, when 
they saw the ashes of their desolated homes. Spending 
but little time in fruitless tears, Liu Pei begged of the 
Regent a body of the fleetest horsemen, and pursuing 
the foe, like David, he had the satisfaction of spoiling 
the spoiler and recovering his captives. 

Thus far, Liu Pei s disasters had outnumbered his 
successes; but the skill with which he had often been 
able to turn defeat into victory, suddenly creating 


new armies as though he possessed the Cadmus-gift 
of causing them to spring from the bowels of the 
earth, had brought him into dangerous prominence. 
He knew that his fame and talents would expose 
him to the jealousy of the Regent, and, like David in 
the land of the Philistines, he feigned madness, or 
rather stupidity, in order to disarm suspicion. 
Withdrawing from the public eye, he passed his 
days in cultivating cabbages and peanuts. 

While he is thus engaged, a kinsman of the 
Emperor appears, bearing a robe and girdle as gifts 
from the hand of Majesty. These gifts were 
accompanied by a secret decree, commanding him to 
take the life of the Regent. Appealed to as the only 
hope of the throne, his loyalty, the passion of his 
life, left him no room to hesitate. If he had followed 
the fortunes of the Regent, it was because he had 
persuaded himself that they were identical with the 
interests of the House of Han; and, if he had at one 
time turned against his benefactor, it was because 
he viewed the growing power of the Regent as 
dangerous to the State. Of this he is now convinced 
more than ever by the piteous appeal of the Emperor. 

Scarcely had the messenger departed when he 
received a still more startling tribute to his growing 
influence in the form of an invitation to an interview 
with the Regent. If his heart had known the 


sentiment of fear, he must have felt it then, believing 
that the fatal secret was either known or suspected. 
During the interview, a thundercloud descended 
nearly to the earth, assuming some of those fantastic 
shapes in which Chinese recognize a manifestation of 
the dragon. The two men, leaning over a balcony, 
contemplated the play of the lightning. 

"The dragon," said Tsao Tsao, "is the emblem of a 
heaven-sent hero. Now tell me who, in your opinion, 
are the heroes of the present day ?" 

After some stammering, Liu Pei proceeded to name 
Yuen Shao and a few others. 

"Heroes!" exclaimed the Regent; "do you call 
such men heroes ; men limited in their mental vision, 
and incapable of great achievements ?" 

"Who, then, are heroes in your estimation ?" asked 
Liu Pei. 

"There are none but two," said the Regent, "and 
they are not far to seek," he added, pointing signifi 
cantly to himself first, and then to his guest. 

Liu Pei was thunderstruck. It was not the 
language of compliment to which he had been 
listening. He had been called to this interview by 
the most powerful man in the empire, for the purpose 
of soliciting his co-operation; and, from this speech, it 
was evident that, though regarded as an ally, he 
must in the end be treated as a rival. The effect on 


bis mind was the opposite of that intended. If he 
had hesitated for a moment what course to pursue, he 
vacillates no longer. He resolves to strike the first 

Before his plans come to maturity, he learns that 
his plot has been discovered by the Regent, and 
that some of his fellow conspirators have been put to 
death. Henceforth there is a blood feud between 
them, which admits of no reconciliation. 

Flying to his province to put it in a state of 
defence, he is hotly pursued by the Regent, and 
defeated in a great battle. Their place of asylum 
being carried by assault, his family and Kwan Yu, 
their guardian, become a prey to the victor. Wicked 
the victor was, but mean he was not ; and in this 
instance, with a generosity heightened by the apparent 
perfidy of his antagonist, he restored wives and 
children to the fugitive chieftain, retaining Kwan Yu, 
and endeavoring to win him over by splendid gifts. 

In this extremity, without a foot of territory, 
alone, unfriended, Liu Pei seeks refuge with 
Yuen Tan, one of his early comrades. The latter, who 
holds the city of Tsing Cho, goes out to meet him 
with as much ceremony as if he were still at the head 
of an army. He recommends Liu Pei to his father, 
Yuen Shao, who is still in possession of a considerable 
state, and the powerful satrap marches two hundred 


// to welcome the unlucky fugitive. Does not this- 
remind us of Hannibal flying from court to court,, 
everywhere welcomed by the enemies of Rome? In 
strategy, Liu Pei was no Hannibal ; but it may be 
doubted whether the Carthaginian general bore 
adversity with more patience, or displayed equal 
ability in re-organizing his shattered forces. It is all 
but incredible what a weight his single sword could 
throw into the scale of contending factions. A 
character which made him a king of men, and not 
military skill, is the key to the enigma. 

While absent on a distant expedition, Liu Pei 
learns that his patron, Yuen Shao, has been crushed 
by his implacable enemy, the Regent. 

This closes the second period of our hero s 
adventurous life. 


For seventeen years he has been fighting incess 
antly in the three provinces of Honan, Shantung,, 
and Kiangsu. His partizans have been scattered, 
his allies destroyed, and now with a handful of 
followers he strikes across the great central plain and 
finds in King Cheo, on the borders of Hupeh, a refuge 
with Liu Piao, a chief of his own name, and perhaps 
a distant kinsman. Did he see beyond this tempor 
ary resting-place, and divine the kingdom yet to be 
carved out among the mountains of the west?/ 


Beginning anew at the age of forty-four, in a new 
arena, after so many years of fruitless toil, what can 
he be expected to accomplish? A subordinate, a 
guest, in a condition of absolute dependence, what 
room is there for the formation of great designs? 
Or, in case he were wild enough to indulge his fancy, 
what possibility is there of his dreams being 
converted into realities? 

Yet, like yEneas, when he fled from burning Troy 
and laid the foundations of the Roman State; or 
rather, like Napoleon, who, when by English 
intervention an Oriental empire had been snatched 
from his grasp, returned home in a single galley to 
make himself the master of Europe; so Liu Pei 
proceeded to found in the West a state which is 
admitted in history as the legitimate successor of the 
dynasty of Han. The steps, by which he advanced 
to this result, I shall not attempt to trace, except in 
the faintest outline. 

Liu Piao dying, his son Liu Tsung submitted to 
the Regent; his principal officers with the men of 
their several commands chose, however, to follow 
the fortunes of Liu Pel, who found himself once more 
on the top of a rising wave. With him, life was a 
perpetual ebb and flow; and on this occasion, the ebb 
succeeded with startling suddenness. 

Encamped at Fan Cheng, on the east bank of the 


river Han, he heard that the army of the Regent was 
approaching, and crossed to the other side with all 
speed. The Regent was at his heels. His celerity 
of movement so often took his enemies by surprise 
as to give rise to the proverb : 

"Speak of Tsao Tsao as an object of fear, 
And while you are speaking will Tsao Tsao appear." 

Liu Pei had already dispatched Kwan Yu with a 
strong flotilla down stream, towards the river 
Yang-tse. The soldiers who remained were mostly 
raw recruits, ill-armed and undisciplined. With such 
material, he dared not face about, and engage the 
veteran batallions of his enemy. In this extremity, 
he abandoned his army and his family to the mercy 
of his pursuer, and, escorted by a small body-guard, 
pushed across a bend in the river to join the fleet of 
Kwan Yu. This is the fourth time the family of 
Liu Pei have fallen into the hands of his enemies; but 
it is the first occasion on which he is chargeable with 
deserting them. Why could he not stand by them, 
and perish in their defence? Such ignoble conduct, 
we are tempted to exclaim, deserves nothing better 
than perpetual defeat. But Liu Pei was not impelled 
by craven fear. For him, it required more courage 
to consent to live than to meet death. If he chose 
to live, it was for a purpose which he believed to be 
in the highest degree patriotic, the destruction of 


the Regent ; and, in addition, the gratification of his 
thirst for vengeance. 

The event justified his election. Through 
Chu Ko-liang, the brightest genius of the age, wh o 
had now become his confidential counsellor, he had 
succeeded in forming an alliance with Sun Chuen, the 
Lord of Nanking. The two fleets were combined for 
a supreme effort, like that of the Greeks at the b attle 
of Salamis. The Regent came down upon them, 
with a naval force that might well be compared to 
that of Xerxes. They met at a point on the Great 
River between Han Yang and Wu Chang, known as 
the Crimson Palisade. Boat grappled boat,-no fighting 
at long range ; the sword and spear had to do their 
bloody work. The issue hung long in doubtful 
scales; but Liu Pei s fleet, getting to windward, sent 
fire-ships into the midst of the enemy, and a strong 
breeze soon wrapped their flotilla in flames, and 

"Tsao Tsao in a single bark 
Where late a thousand ships were dark " 

made his way to the shore, where he fell into the 
clutches of Kwan Yu, who allowed him to escape, 
in return for the like generosity experienced more 
than once at his hands. 

The discomfiture of Tsao Tsao is the subject of a 
fine poem, called The Red Palisade, by Su Tung-po, 
written on visiting the battle-ground. 



Rendered master of Hupeh by this victory, Liu Pei 
now turned his attention to the greater province 
of Sze Chuen. Fortune was no longer fickle; the 
hero had been proved like steel in the fires of 
adversity, and he was now permitted to move 
steadily on to the completion of his conquest. He 
met, however, with two misfortunes that touched 
him to the quick, in the death, successively, on 
far distant fields, of his faithful brothers-in-arms, 
Kwan Yu and Chang Fei. Their prowess and fidelity 
had stood him in good stead, in many a dark and 
stormy hour; but his throne was now so firmly 
established that its props might he withdrawn with 
out endangering its stability. For some years, he 
modestly styled himself the Prince of Shu, and owned 
allegiance, as he had always done, to the Emperor, 
who was held like a caged eagle in the grasp of his 
inveterate enemy. 

When at length the captive, broken in spirit, 
renounced his throne in favor of the son of the 
Regent, meanly appealing to Yao and Shun for 
justifying precedents, Liu Pei assumed the imperial 
title, as Restorer of the House of Han. 

After this brief nanative of his checkered life, it 
may still be asked whether Liu Pei was really a 
great man ? To this we reply that success is often 
a safe criterion of greatness. It is not, if it comes 


suddenly in the shape of an unearned triumph ; but, 
if it crowns a series of wanderings like those of 
^Eneas, or labors like those of Hercules, it seals its 
tardy favorite for immortality. Mencius says-"When 
Heaven designs to confer the highest of offices on 
the object of its choice, it first proves him by hard 
ship and disappointment." Never was there a more 
conspicuous illustration of this maxim than the 
career of Liu Pei. 

Of Robert Bruce it is related that six times he 
failed in his attempts to win the throne of Scotland, 
when, seeing a spider succeed in attaching its thread 
after as many unsuccessful efforts, he cast the die 
again, and came out victorious. If in this he display 
ed an element of greatness, who shall deny that 
quality to Liu Pei, whose unsuccessful essays were 
seven times seven? 

His life was a series of flights, though, as we have 
seen, they were like those of the Parthians, some 
times ruinous to the pursuer. A legend, as well 
known as that of Bruce and the spider, relates that 
on one occasion he owed his safety to a beetle which 
waked him, when sleeping on the ground, just in time 
to make good his escape. Irritated by the sting, he 
snapped the insect in two, and threw it on the 
ground ; but, seeing the service it had rendered, he 
stopped long enough to reunite the fragments, and 



Heaven, whose humble messenger it was, caused 
them to grow together in such a shape as to 
preserve a record of the incident. 

When Liu Pei was approaching the walls of 
Ch eng-tu, one officer of the garrison said to another 
"What can this man do against us? He has no skill in 
the conduct of troops; and, whenever he fights, he is 
sure to be beaten." "Liu Pei," replied the other, "is 
generous, humane, and capable of grand enterprises. 
He has, moreover, the faculty of making men offer 
their lives as a willing sacrifice. He has at command 
the subtle brain of Chu Ko-liang to plan his campaigns, 
and the valiant arms of Chang Fei and Kwan Yu to 
execute them. These three men are each the chief 
-among thousands; and, with such agents, how is it 
^possible that he should fail of success?" 

The success of Napoleon has been ascribed to his 
marshals. It might as well be ascribed to his horse. 
Was not the man who made the marshals, and 
controlled them, greater than any one, or than all, of 
them ? And is not the fact that those three heroes 
were attached to Liu Pei, as firmly as his head and 
hands, a proof of his inborn imperial power? Taking 
him all in all, I am inclined to concur in the estimate 
; given by Tsao Tsao, viz, that in the whole empire, 
.there were but two heroes of the first order, and that 
Liu Pei was one of them. 


Inferior to his rival in military genius, be had the 
advantage of being a better man. Dying speeches 
are always to be received with suspicion, for, as 
Tseng Fu-tse has said, "When the swan is dying, its 
voice becomes musical; and when men are about to die, 
their words are virtuous." The finest maxim in the 
proverbial literature of China was bequeathed to his 
successor by Liu Pei. "My son," said he, calling 
him to his bedside, "consider no good act so small 
that you may neglect it; and no bad act so small 
that you may do it." 

If he had not been great, he would have had no- 
throne to bequeath; and if he had not been good, he 
never could have left behind him such a rule of 

POSTSCRIPT : Two men referred to in the 
preceding pages call for further notice. The first, 
Kwan Yu, has had the fortune to be made a god. 
He was a model of fidelity, courage, and all martial 
virtues. Receiving full justice at the hands of history, 
Fiction also selected him for her favorite, when, in 
the 1 3th century, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms 
were made the subject of a romance in eighteen 
volumes. Canonized in the I2th century, a thousand 


years after his death, the growing popularity of this 
work has contributed to enhance the glory of its 
blameless hero. Kwan Yu is now worshipped as 
the God of War, and tutelar Divinity of the Reigning 

The other, Chu Ko-liang, stands high as the type of 
.a scholar. Living alone in a straw-thatched cottage, 
he buried himself in the study of political and some 
times scientific problems. Liu Pei, hearing of him, 
paid three visits to his lowly abode, and then, 
exclaiming that he felt like a "fish that has found 
water," he engaged him as military adviser. 

Tradition credits Chu Ko-liang with the invention 
of automatic machines to do the work of oxen and 
horses. They were, it is sometimes hinted by 
native scholars, steam engines, which were tried in 
China many ages ago, and consigned to oblivion, as 
noxious to society ! 

:*-> 4^ 





recent treaties, by which China has been 

^?- 9 brought into closer relations with the nations 
e/" 9 
&:-> of the West, and especially the establishment of 

J * intercourse by means of permanent embassies, 
have led Chinese statesmen to turn their attention to 
the subject of international law.f 

For them, it is a new study, involving conceptions 
which it would hardly have been possible for their 
predecessors to form at any time in the course of the 
last two thousand years ; though, as we shall endeavor 
to show, they possessed something answering to it 
in their earlier history. 

* Read at Berlin, liefore the Congress of Orientalists ; reprinted from 
the International Review, January, 1883. 

fThe works of Wheaton, Woolsey, Bluntschli, and others, on this 
subject, have l>een translated for their use by the author of this l ai>er. 


Their modern history commences two centuries 
before the Christian era; and, for our purpose, it may 
be divided into three periods. The first, extending 
from the epoch of the Punic wars down to the 
discovery of the route to the Indies by the Cape of 
Good Hope; the second, comprehending three 
centuries and a half of restricted commercial 
intercourse; and the third, commencing with the 
so-called " opium war," in 1839, and covering the 
forty years of treaty relations. 

During the first, the Chinese were as little affected 
by the convulsions that shook the western world as 
if they had belonged to another planet. During the 
second, they became aware of the existence of the 
principal States of modern Europe; but the light that 
reached them was not yet sufficient to reveal the 
magnitude and importance of those far-off powers. 
Within the last period, the rude experiences of two 
wars have made them acquainted with the military 
strength of European nations; and the opening of the 
Suez Canal has brought them into what they regard 
as a dangerous proximity to formidable neighbors. 

These unwelcome discoveries have led them, not 
only to push forward their defensive armaments, but 
to seek in fact, if not in form, to put themselves as 
much as possible under the aegis of what may fairly 
be called the public law of the civilized world. 


Such are the steps by which China has been led to 
accept intercourse on a footing of equality with 
nations which, for three centuries, she had been 
accustomed to class with her own tributaries. 

Her tributaries included all the petty States of 
Eastern Asia. Attracted partly by community of 
letters and religion, and partly by commercial interest, 
but more, perhaps, by the moral effect of her national 
greatness, they rendered a voluntary homage to the 
master of a realm so vast that, like Rome of old, it 
has always called itself by a title equivalent to 
orbis terrarum. These vassal States had few 
relations with each other, and it was not to be 
expected that China, acknowledging nothing like 
reciprocity in her intercourse with them, should 
.learn from them the idea of a community of nations 
possessed of equal rights. 

For twenty centuries she had presented to her own 
people, as well as to her dependent neighbors, the 
imposing spectacle of an empire unrivaled in extent, 
whose unity had been broken only by rare intervals 
of revolution or anarchy. During this long period, it 
was no more possible that an international code 
should spring up in China than it would have been 
for such a thing to appear in Europe, had the Roman 
-empire remained undivided until the present day. The 
requisite conditions were wanting. Where they exist, 


a code based upon usage, and more or less developed, 
comes into being by the necessities of the human mind. 
These conditions are: 

is t- The existence of a group of independent States,, 
so situated as to require or favor the mainten 
ance of friendly intercourse; 

2nd. That those States should be so related as to 
conduct their intercourse on a basis of 

If these conditions were conspicuously absent 
under the consolidated empire, they were no 
less obviously present in the preceding period , 
accompanied by every circumstance that could favor 
the development of an international code. 

The vast domain of China proper was at that 
epoch divided between a number of independent 
principalities, whose people were of one blood, 
possessors of a common civilization already much 
advanced, and united by the additional bond of a 
common language. 

These conditions concurred in ancient Greece, and 
the result was a rudimentary code, culminating in 
the Ampbictyonic Council, a provision for settling 
international disputes, which suggests comparison with 
the concert of European powers recently employed 
in settling the question of the Greek frontier.* 

*This was the latest achievement of the "concert," when the first 
draft of this paper was written in Paris (1881). 


In ancient China, the conditions are similar, but 
the scale of operation is vastly more extended. 
There is, moreover, another important difference; 
and, with reference to the object of the present 
essay, it deserves to be marked with special emphasis. 
The Chinese States were not, like those of Greece, a 
cluster of detached tribes who had together emerged 
from barbarism, without any well-defined political 
connection ; they were the fragments of a disintegrat 
ed empire, inheriting its laws and civilization, as 
the States of modern Europe inherited those of Rome. 

The period during which they rose and fell was 
the latter half of the dynasty of Cheo, pretty nearly 
corresponding to that extending from the birth of 
Solon to the close of the first century after the 
death of Alexander, which in China, as in Greece, 
was an age of intense political activity. The normal 
form of government for the empire was the feudal, 
the archetype of that which prevailed in Japan until 
swept away by the revolution of 1868. The several 
States were created by the voluntary subdivision of 
the national domain by the founder of the dynasty, 
who, like Charlemagne, by this arrangement planted 
within it the seeds of its destruction. 

The throne of each State being hereditary, a 
feeling of independence soon began to spring up. 
The emperors were at first able to preserve order 


by force; and, even when shorn of their power, 
their court, like that of the Holy See in the 
Middle Ages, continued for a long time to 
serve as a court of appeal for the adjustment 
of international difficulties. But at length, losing all 
respect for authority, the feudal princes threw off 
the semblance of subjection, and pursued without 
restraint the objects of their private ambition. This 
age is called by the native historians chan-kuo, or 
that of the "warring States;" and that which preceded 
it, characterized by orderly and pacific intercourse, 
is described as lie-kuo, or the family of "co-ordinated 

A family of States, with such an arena and such 
antecedents, could hardly fail to develop, in the 
intercourse of peace and war, a system of usages 
which might be regarded as constituting for them a 
body of international laws. 

Accordingly, if we turn to the history of the 
period, in quest of such an indigenous system, we 
shall find, if not the system itself, at least the 
evidence of its existence. We find, as we have said, 
a family of States, many of them as extensive as the 
great States of western Europe, united by the ties of 
race, literature, and religion, carrying on an active 
intercourse, commercial and political, which, without 
some recognized Jus gentium, would have been 


impracticable. We find the interchange of embassies, 
with forms of courtesy, indicative of an elaborate 
civilization. We find treaties solemnly drawn up 
and deposited for safe keeping in a sacred place 
called mi ng-fu. We find a balance of power studied 
and practised, leading to combinations to check 
the aggressions of the strong and to protect the 
rights of the weak. We find the rights of 
neutrals to a certain extent recognized and 
respected. Finally, we find a class of men devoted 
to diplomacy as a profession, though, to say the 
truth, their diplomacy was not unlike that which 
was practised by the States of Italy in the days 
of Machiavelli. 

No formal text-book, containing the rules which 
for so many centuries controlled this complicated 
intercourse, lias come down to our times. If 
such writings ever existed, they probably perished 
in the " conflagration of the books," which 
sheds such a lurid light on the memory of 
the builder of the Great Wall. The membra 
disjecta of such an int rnationl code as we have 
supposed are, however, lo be found profusely 
scattered over the literature of those times, jn 
the writings of Confucius and Mencius ; in those of 
other philosophers of the last five centuries B.C; 
in various historical record- ; and particularly in 


the Cheo-li, or Book of Rites, of the dynasty of 

The day may perhaps come when some Chinese 
Grotius will gather up these desultory hints as 
carefully as the illustrious Hollander did the traces of 
international usages in Greece and Italy. To make 
even a partial collection of the passages in Chinese 
writers relating to this subject, would neither come 
within the scope nor the compass of the present 
Paper. All that I propose to myself, in addition to 
indicating, as I have done, the existence between the 
States of ancient China of a peculiar system of 
consuetudinary law, is to make a few citations con 
firmatory of the views expressed, and throwing light 
on some of the more interesting of the topics to 
which I have adverted. 

The clearest view of the public law which was 
acknowledged by this group of States, after they 
became independent, is undoubtedly to be sought for 
in their relations to each other while subject to a 
common suzerain. 

The greater States were twelve in number, and for 
ages that distribution of territory was regarded as no 
less permanent than the order of the heavenly bodies. 
It was consecrated by the science of astronomy as it 
then existed, and an ancient map of the heavens gives 
us a duodecimal division, with the stars of each 


portion formally set apart to preside over the 
destinies of a corresponding portion of the empire.* 

Confucius appears to allude to this in a beautiful 
passage in which he compares the emperor, or the 
wise man for the words have a double sense to 
the polar star, which sits unmoved on its central 
throne, while all the constellations revolve around it. 
Could anything be devised more effectual than this 
superstitious alliance of geography and astronomy, to 
place the territorial rights of the several States under 
the safeguard of religion? More picturesque than the 
Roman method of placing the boundaries under the 
care of a special divinity, it was probably more 
efficacious, and contributed in no small degree to 
maintain the equilibrium of a naturally unstable 
system, during a period which, in the West, witnessed 
the rise and fall of the Babylonian, Persian, and 
Greek empires, entailing the complete obliteration 
of most of their minor divisions. 

These twelve States had a great number of lesser 
principalitiesdependenton them, the wholeconstituting 

* The names of the twelve great States are inscil>ecl on the horizon of 
an azimuth instrument, made under the Mongol dynasty, circa 1320, 
and still preserved in the Observatory of Peking. What can In Her 
illustrate the depth of the sentiment connected with this territorial 
division than the fact that such a souvenir, associating it with the 
unchanging heavens, should be reproduced in the construction of an 
astronomical instrument fifteen centuries after the last of those states 
had ceased to exist ! 


a political organization as multifarious and complex, 
as that which existed in Germany under the sway 
of the "Holy Roman Empire." As in mediaeval 
Europe, the chiefs of these States were ranked with 
respect to nobility in five orders, answering to duke, 
marquis, earl, viscount, and baron, the inferior depend 
ing on the superior, but all paying homage to the 
Son of Heaven, a title which was even at that early 
period applied to the Emperor, who had a right, for 
the common good, to command the service of all. 
In the annals of Lu, we find the following curious 
entry : 

" In the ninth year of his reign, the Duke met 
in conference at Kwe-chiu the Duke of Cheo, the 
Marquis of Chi, the Viscount of Sung, the Marquis 
of Wei, the Earl of Cheng, the Baron of Hii, and 
the Earl of Tsao." 

We note here the presence of all the five orders. 
The commentary of Tso, we may add, states the 
object of the meeling as "the formation of a league 
and the promotion of friendly relations in accordance 
with authorized usage." 

The authorized usages here referred to constituted 
the basis of the international law of the time. They 
were contained in part in the Cheo-li, or Book of 
Rites of the Cheo dynasty, published by imperial 
authority about noo B.C., and, in a somewhat 


mutilated form, extant at the piesent day. This- 
Code defines the orders of nobility; prescribes a 
sumptuary law for each, extending even to their 
rites of sepulture ; regulates the part of each in the 
public sacrifices; and lays down a form of etiquette to 
be observed in all their public meetings. It gives in 
detail the hierarchy of officers, civil and military; 
indicates their functions; fixes the weights and 
measures, the mode of collecting the revenue, and the 
modes of punishment ;-and all this mixed up with an 
infinitude of ceremonial detail which to us appears 
the reverse of business-like, but which was no doubt 
as well adapted to the character of the ancient 
Chinese as was the ritualistic legislation of Moses to 
that of the Hebrews. 

Primarily obligatory on the immediate subjects of 
the imperial house, this Code w;s secondarily binding 
on all the vassals of the empire, by all of whom it 
was adopted in the minutest pai ticulars, with the single 
exception of the State of Ch in, in the extreme north 
west, a State which obstinately adhered to the ritual 
and etiquette of the earlier dynasty of Shang, and, 
cherishing a spirit of alienation, became the secret foe 
and ultimately the destroyer of the imperial house. 

With this exception, the laws and usages of the 
several States were so uniform all being copied 
from a common model that there was little occasion 


for the cultivation of that branch of international 
jurisprudence, which in modern times has become so 
prominent under the title of the "conflict of laws." 

Ideas derived from the feudal system were so 
interwoven with every part of this complicated 
legislation that its general acceptance formed the 
mainstay of the imperial throne. The great princes 
styled themselves vassals; though as independent as 
Annam and Nepaul are at the present day, and, like 
these latter, paying formal homage only once in five 
years.* They accordingly looked up to the emperor 
as the fountain of honor, and the supreme authority 
in all questions of ceremony, if not in questions of 

Of this moral ascendency, for which we can find 
no parallel better than the veneration which, in the 
Middle Ages, Catholic sovereigns were wont to show 
to the Holy See, we have a remarkable example in 
the Kuo-yu. The emperor, Siang-wang, 651 B.C., 
being driven by a domestic revolt from his territories 
a small district in the center of the empire, which 
may be compared to the Pontificial States recently 
absorbed by the kingdom of Italy was restored to 
his throne by the powerful intervention of the Duke 

* Since this was written, Annam has become subject to France, and 
has ceased to send tribute to China. 


of Tsin. In recompense for such a signal service, the 
emperor offered him a slice of land. The duke 
declined it,* and asked, instead, that he might be 
permitted to construct his tomb after the model of 
the imperial mausoleum. The emperor, viewing this 
apparently modest request as a dangerous assumption, 
promptly refused it, and the duke was compelled to 
abide by the recognized Code of Rites. 

The possession of this common Code, originating in 
the will of a common suzerain, contributed to 
maintain for nearly a thousand years among the 
States of China, discordant and belligerent as they 
often were, a bond of sympathy in strong contrast 
with the feelings they manifested toward all nations 
not comprehended within the pale of their own 
civilization. When, for instance, the Tartars of the 
north-west presented themselves at the court of Tsin, 
requesting a treaty of peace and amity, and humbly 
offering to submit to be treated as vassals of the 
more enlightened power, "Amity," exclaimed the 
prince, "what do they know of amity? The 
barbarous savages ! Give them war as the portion 
due to our natural enemies." Nor was it until his 
minister had produced five solid reasons for a pacific 

* According to some of the histories, he finally accepted it, when 
balked in his loftier aspirations. 


policy that the haughty prince consented to accept 
them as vassals. 

In the history of those times, the curtain rises on a 
scene of peaceful intercourse which, in many ways,, 
implies a basis of public law. Merchants are held in 
esteem, one of the most distinguished of the disciples- 
of Confucius belonging to that class; and a rivalry 
subsists between the several princes in attracting 
merchants to their States. Their wares are subjected^ 
to tolls and customs; but the object is revenue,. 
not protection. 

The commerce of mind reveals relations of a still 
more intimate character. The schools of one State 
are often largely frequented by students from another;, 
and those who make the greatest proficiency are 
readily taken into the service of foreign princes. 
Philosophers and political reformers travel from court 
to court, in quest of patronage. Confucius himself 
wanders over half the empire, and draws disciples- 
from all the leading States. 

A century later, Mencius, with the spirit of a 
Hebrew prophet, proclaims in more than one capital 
his great message that " the only foundation of 
national prosperity is justice and charity." 

It was to this kind of intercourse that Ch in, the 
rising power of the North-west, was indebted for the 
ascendency which it slowly acquired in the affairs of 


the empire, and which eventually placed its princes 
in possession of the imperial throne. 

The Duke Hiao (368 B.C.), conscious of the 
backward state of his people, made proclamation to 
the effect that any man, native or foreign, who 
should be able to devise a new method for promoting 
the prosperity of his dominions, would be rewarded 
by a grant of land and a patent of nobility. 
Shang-yang, a native of a neighboring State, a young 
man of noble family, who, the historian says, " had 
given much attention to legal studies," presented 
himself, and requested an audience. The duke, 
charmed by the clearness and originality of his ideas, 
gave him carte blanche for putting them in practice. 
The reforms effected were of the most thorough 
character, and the seed was then sown of triumphs 
achieved a century later. Further on we find Li-sze, 
another foreigner, at the helm, in the same principality. 
At this time, so great was the influx of strangers that 
the natives, as in other lands, became jealous, and 
made a movement to expel them. The prince was 
disposed to yield, when the minister averted the blow 
by laying before the throne a masterly plea tor free 
dom of intercourse. This notable document, whose 
good effect did not cease with the emergency that 
gave it birth, begins by showing that the ancestors of 
the prince had for four generations admitted foreign 


statesmen to the rank of confidential counsellors, 
and concludes by comparing their policy with their 
own majestic river, the Hoang-ho, which owes 
its greatness to the rivulets that combine to swell 
its volume. 

The personal intercourse of sovereign princes 
forms a striking feature in the history of those times. 
Their frequent interchange of visits indicates a degree 
of mutual confidence which speaks volumes for the 
public sentiment. Confidence was, indeed, sometimes 
abused, as it has been in other countries; but such 
intercourse was always characterized by courtesy, and 
mostly by good faith. 

On one occasion, when a powerful prince came 
with a great retinue to visit the Duke of Lu, 
Confucius, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs, 
adopted such precautions, and conducted the inter 
views with such adroitness, that he not only averted 
what was believed to be a danger, but induced the 
foreign prince to restore a territory which he had 
unjustly appropriated. 

A visit of the Duke of Tsin to the Duke of 
Lu may be mentioned, as illustrating the freedom 
and familiarity which sometimes marked this princely 
intercourse. The host accompanied his guest as far 
as the Yellow River. The latter, learning during a 
parting entertainment that the former had not yet 


received the Kwan-li* a rite answering somewhat 
to the conferring of knighthood offered, then and 
there, to confer it. It was objected that the means 
were wanting for performing the ceremony with due 
solemnity ; and the capital of Wei being nearer than 
his own, the Duke of Lu proposed to proceed thither 
for the purpose. They did so, and the rite was 
celebrated with suitable pomp in a temple borrowed 
for the occasion. 

General meetings of the princes for the purpose 
of forming or renewing treaties of alliance were of 
frequent occurrence. Embracing what were then 
regarded as all the leading powers of the earth, 
these meetings present a distant, but not faint, 
parallel to the great congresses of European 

The more usual form of friendly intercourse 
between the States of China was, as elsewhere, by 
means of envoys. 

The person of an envoy was sacred; but instances 
are not wanting of their arrest and execution. In 

* A wan-/i literally the "cap ceremony" the formal assumption by 
a youth of a kind of cap distinctive of mature age. Now completely 
, this was formerly one of the "four great rites," and the: 
references to it in the ancient books remind us of the pomp with which 
the toga virilis was assumed by patrician youth at Rome. 
Still, as U-tween nobles, I can think of no better analogy than that 
given in the text. 


the latter case, they were regarded as spies, and the 
punishment inflicted on them was considered as a 
declaration or act of war. In the former, the violence 
was sometimes defended on the ground that the 
envoy had undertaken to pass through the territory 
into a neighboring State without having first obtained 
a passport, his visit being at the same time held to 
have a hostile object. Ordinarily, an envoy was 
treated with scrupulous courtesy, the ceremonial 
varying according to his own rank, or that of his 
sovereign. Questions of precedence, which often 
arose, were decided according to settled principles; 
but the rules were by no means as clear and simple 
as those enacted by the Congress of Vienna. 

A dispute of this kind arising between the envoys 
of two duchies at the court of Lu, one claimed 
precedence on the ground that his State was more 
ancient than the other. The minister of the latter 
replied that his sovereign was more nearly allied to 
the imperial family. The difficulty was happily 
terminated without bloodshed, which was not always 
the case with such quarrels in Europe prior to 1815. 
The master of ceremonies reminded the litigants 
that the placing of guests belongs to the host, and 
gave preference to the kinsman of the emperor. 

Insults to envoys were not unfrequently avenged 
ly an appeal to arms. Of this, a notable instance 


was an insult given by the Prince of Chi, at one and 
the same time, to the representatives of four powers. 
These envoys arriving simultaneously, it was 
observed by some wag (the court fool, perhaps) that 
each was marked by a blemish or deformity in his 
personal appearance. One was blind of an eye; 
a second was bald; another was lame; and the last 
was a dwarf. It was suggested to the duke that a 
little innocent amusement might be made out of this 
strange coincidence. The prince, acting on the hint, 
appointed as attendant or introducteur to each 
ambassador an officer who suffered from the s.ame 
defect. The court ladies, who, concealed by curtains 
of thin gauze, witnessed the ceremony of introduction 
and the subsequent banquet, laughed aloud when 
they saw the blind leading the blind, and the dwarfs, 
the bald, and the lame, walking in pairs. The envoys, 
hearing the merriment, became aware that they 
had been made involuntary actors in a comedy. 
They retired, vowing vengeance, and the next year 
saw the capital of Chi beleagured by the combined 
forces of the four powers, which were only induced 
to withdraw by the most humiliating concessions 
on the part of the young prince, who, too late, 
repented his indecent levity.* 

* This story is derived from a comparison of the three leading 
historians of the period, who differ only in unimportant details. 
In nn amplified form, it is to be seen on the boards of Chinese theaters 
at the present day. The Chinese theater, like that of Greece, is, for 
an illiterate public, the chief teacher of ancient history. 


In the history of Tso, we find a rule for the 
sending of envoys, which has its parallel in the 
diplomatic usage of modern nations. Speaking of 
a mission to a neighboring State, he adds: 
"This was in accordance with usage. In all cases 
where a new prince comes to the throne, envoys are 
sent to the neighboring States to confirm and extend 
the friendly relations maintained by his predecessor." 

The highest function of an envoy was the negotia 
tion of a treaty. Treaties of all kinds known to 
modern diplomacy were in use in ancient China. 
Signed with solemn formalities, and confirmed by an 
oath, the parties mingling their blood in a cup of 
wine, or laying their hands on the head of an ox to 
be offered in sacrifice, such documents were carefully 
treasured up in a sacred place called Mcng-fu, 
the "Palace of Treaties." 

We are able to give, by way of specimen, the 
outlines of a treaty between the Prince of Cheng 
and a coalition of princes who invaded his territories 
in 544 B.C. 

PREAMBLE: The parties to the present Treaty agree 
to the following Articles: 

Article I. The exportation of corn shall not be 

Article II. One party shall not monopolize trade to 

the disadvantage of others. 


Article III. No one shall give protection to conspiracies 

directed against the others. 
Article IV. Fugitives from justice shall be surrendered. 

Article V. Mutual succor shall be given in case of 

Article VI. Mutual aid shall be given in case of 

Article VII. The contracting powers shall have the 

same friends and the same enemies. 
Article VIII. We all engage to support the 

Imperial House. 

CONCLUSION: We engage to maintain inviolate the 
terms of the foregoing Agreement. May the gods of the hills 
and rivers, the spirits of former emperors and dukes, and 
the ancestors of our seven tribes and twelve states, watch 
over its fulfillment. If any one prove unfaithful, may the 
all-seeing gods smite him, so that his people shall forsake 
him, his life be lost, and his posterity be cut off. 

The outline of a similar convention is given by 
Mencius. On this occasion, the great barons were 
called together by Siao-po, Prince of Ch i, for the 
purpose of effecting needful reforms in 651 B.C. 
Being a century earlier than the other, it is instructive 
to compare the two documents. While in that of later 
date the Imperial authority is so far gone that the 
barons engage to uphold the Imperial House, in this 
the authority of the Suzerain is fully recognized, 
each article of the convention being styled an 
"Ordinance" of the Emperor. 


That his hold on his vassals was already much 
weakened is, however, evident from the provisions 
that they are not to exercise certain powers 
of sovereignty in the way of rewards and 
punishments without at least formal reference 
to the " Son of Heaven." 

The stipulations are partly in favor of good morals, 
and partly to facilitate intercourse, and to raise the 
character of the official hierarchy. 

Article I. To punish the unfilial ; not to change the 

succession to the throne (of each state); 

and not to raise a concubine to be a wife. 

Article II. To respect the virtuous and cherish talent. 

Article III. To honor the aged and to be kind to 

the young, and not to neglect strangers. 
Article IV. Officers not to be hereditary; proxies not to 
be permitted. Suitable men to be sought 
and found. Death not to be inflicted on 
nobles without reference to the Emperor. 
Article V. Not to divert water-courses, nor obstruct the 
transport of grain. Not to grant land in 
fief without reference to the Emperor. 
CONCLUSION : All we who are parties to this 
Covenant agree to be at peace with each other. 

"These five rules," adds the philosopher, "are openly 
violated by the nobles of our day." 

In addition to the rites of religion by which such 
engagements were ratified, they were usually secured 
by sanctions of a less sentimental character. As in 


the West, hostages or other material guarantees 
were given in pledge; sometimes also they were 
guaranteed by third parties, who, directly or indirectly 
interested, engaged to punish a breach of faith. 
We have, for instance, one prince, demanding the 
mother of another as a hostage. The case is instruc 
tive in more than one of its aspects. The Prince 
of Tsin, calling on the Prince of Chi to recognize him 
as his chief, and to surrender his mother as a pledge 
of submission, the latter replies that his State was 
created the peer of the other by the will of the 
former Emperors, and that one who would despise 
the patent of an Emperor was not fit to be the head 
of a League. As to the demand for his mother as a 
hostage, that was a proposition so monstrous that, 
rather than submit to it, he would meet the enemy 
under the walls of his last fortress. 

At this point, the affair takes a turn which serves 
to illustrate a procedure of frequent occurrence in 
the history of those times. The princes of two 
neighboring States come forward as mediators, and 
bring about an accommodation on less oppressive 

The more enlightened writers of Chinese antiquity 
condemn the practice of exchanging hostages, 
as tending to keep up a state of quasi hostility and 
mutual mistrust ; and no writers of any nation have 


been more emphatic in insisting on good faith as a 
cardinal virtue in all international transactions. 

Says Confucius: "A man without faith is 
like a wagon without a coupling-pole to connect 
the wheels." Speaking of a State, he says: 
"Of the three essentials, the greatest is good faith. 
Without a revenue and without an army, a State may 
Still exist; but it cannot exist without good faith." 

It remains to speak of the intercourse of war. 
"Inter hostes scripta jura non valere at valere non 
scripta" is a principle that was as well understood 
in ancient China as among the ancient nations of 
the Western world; and war in China was, to say 
the least, not more brutal than among the Greeks 
and Romans. 

The command of Alexander to spare the house of 
the poet Pindar, if it shows a degree of literary 
culture, indicates, on the other hand, that moral 
barbarism which asserts a right to the spoils of the 
conquered. In China, we find the same state of 
things; vae victis is the sad undertone in every 
narrative of military glory, relieved, indeed, 
by brilliant instances of generosity and mercy. 
We find an invading chief enjoining, under penalty 
of death, respect for the very trees that overshadow 
the tomb of a philosopher, and at the same time 
setting a price on the head of a rival prince. 


Every military leader proclaims, like Achilles, that 
"laws are not made for him;" yet we do not despair 
of being able to show that laws existed in war 
as well as in peace, even though they were 
systematically trampled on. With this view, 
we shall call attention to the following facts: 

First: In the conduct of war, the persons and 
property of non-combatants were required to be 

This we infer from the praise bestowed on humane 
leaders, and the reprobation meted out to the 
cruel. In Chinese history, the example of those 
who have achieved the easiest and most permanent 
conquests is always on the side of humanity. 

Second: In legitimate warfare, the rule was not to 
attack an enemy without first sounding the drum, 
and giving him time to prepare for defense. 

The following instance goes beyond this require 
ment, and reminds us of the code of chivalry which 
made it infamous to take advantage of an antagonist. 
The Prince of Sung declined to engage a hostile 
force while they were crossing a stream, and waited 
for them to form in order of battle before giving the 
signal to advance. He was beaten, and, when 
reproached by his officers, he justified himself by 
appealing to ancient usage. "The true soldier, 
said he, "never strikes a wounded foe, and always 


lets the gray-headed go free ; and in ancient times it 
was forbidden to assail an enemy who was not in a 
state to resist. I have come near losing my kingdom, 
but I would scorn to command an attack without 
first sounding the drum." 

We are not surprised to learn that the captains of 
that age "laughed at the simplicity of the unfortunate 

Third: A war was not to be undertaken without 
at least a decent pretext. 

These words, in fact, are almost a translation 
of an oft-quoted maxim, She ch uh yiu ming* 
" For war you must have a cause," which indicates that 
passion and cupidity were held in check by public 
opinion pronouncing its judgment in conformity 
with an acknowledged standard of right. 

Another maxim, equally well known, makes 
the justice of the cause a source of moral power 
which goes far to compensate the inequality of 
physical force. 

" Soldiers are weak in a bad cause, but strong in a 
good one," said the ancient Chinese, assigning as 
high a place to the moral element as our own poet, 
when he says, " Thrice is he armed who 
hath his quarrel just." 


Fourth: A cause always recognized as just was the 
preservation of the balance of power. 

This principle called to arms not merely the States 
immediately threatened, but those also which, by 
their situation, appeared to be remote from danger. 

Not to speak of combinations to resist the 
aggressions of other disturbers of the public peace, 
we find, 320 B.C., six States brought into line to 
repress the ambition of Chin. This powerful 
coalition, the fruit of twenty years toil on the part 
of one man, who is immortalized as the type of the 
successful negotiator, was, we may add, after all 
destined to fail of its object. The common enemy 
succeeded in detaching the members of the league, 
and in overcoming them one after another. 
The arch of States which protected the throne of their 
suzerain being destroyed, the conqueror swept away 
the last vestige of the house of Cheo, which for eight 
hundred years had exercised a feudal supremacy 
over the princes of China. Proclaiming himself 
instead, under the title of Shii Hwang-ti, the 
"first of the universal sovereigns," he abolished the 
feudal constitution of the empire, at the same time that 
he completed the Great Wall. His successors to the 
present day are called Hwang-ti , and the system of 
centralized government which he inaugurated is as 
firmly established as the Great Wall itself. 


Fifth: The right of existence, prior to the revolution 
just noticed, was, in general, held sacred for 
the greater States which held in fief from the 
Imperial Throne. 

This right is often appealed to, and proves effectual 
in the direst extremity; e.g., the Prince of Chi, 
at the head of a strong force, enters Lu, with an 
evidently hostile intent. Chan-hi, a minister of Lu, 
is sent to meet him, in the hope of arresting his 
progress. "The people of Lu appear to be very 
much alarmed at my approach," said the prince. 
"True," replied the minister, "the people are alarmed, 
but the ruler is not." "Why is not the ruler also," 
inquired the invader, "when his troops are in disorder, 
and his magazines as empty as a bell? On what 
does he repose his confidence that he should affect 
to be superior to fear?" 

"He rests on the grant which his fathers received 
from the ancient emperors," said the minister. 
He then proceeded to vindicate the rights of his 
master, under what was recognized as the traditional 
law of the empire, with such force that the prince 
desisted from his purpose, and withdrew without any 
further act of violence. 

A similar instance, it will be remembered, has 
been cited already in another connection, the 
case in which a prince, after urging in vain this same 


plea, the sacredness of the imperial grant was saved 
from humiliation or extinction by the mediation of 
neighboring powers, who recognized and were 
determined to uphold the principle. 

A third example of the kind is one in which the 
existence of the now feeble remnant of the imperial 
domain was itself at stake. The Prince of Chu, 
after a victorious campaign against other foes, crossed 
the Rubicon and entered the territories of the house 
of Cheo, with the evident intention of seizing the 
imperial throne. The emperor, unable to oppose 
armed resistance, dispatched Wang Sun-man, one of 
his ministers, to convey a supply of provisions to the 
invading army, and to ascertain the designs of its 
leader. The latter veiled his purpose in figurative 
language, asking to be informed as to the "weight of 
the nine tripods," insinuating that if not too heavy 
he intended to carry them away. The minister, 
without answering directly, gave the history of the 
tripods, relating how they had been cast in bronze 
by Ta Yu, the founder of the first great dynasty, and 
emblazoned with a chart of the empire in relief; how 
for fifteen centuries they had been preserved as 
emblems of the imperial dignity; and, exposing in a 
masterly manner the necessity of respect for that 
venerable power to the order of the several States, 
he concluded by saying "All this being true, why 


should Your Highness ask the weight of the tripods?" 
The chief, struck by the force of his arguments, 
which, like the most effective on such occasions, 
were purely historical, renounced his nefarious 
purpose, and retired to his own dominions. 

Sixth: Finally, the rights of neutrals were 
admitted, and to a certain extent respected. 

It has been remarked that, in the wars of Greece, 
there were no neutrals; those who desired to be 
such, if they were so situated as to be of any weight 
in the conflict, being always compelled to declare 
themselves on one side or the other. This was not 
the case in China. The neutral frequently rejected 
the overtures of both parties, and his territories 
interposed an effectual barrier in the way of the 
belligerents. We have numerous instances of passage 
being granted to troops without further participation 
in the conflict, and one case in which a wise statesman 
warns his master against the danger of such an 
imprudent concession. "In a former war," said he, 
"you granted it to your detriment; if you do so again, 
it will be to your ruin." His chief failed to profit by 
the warning ; and the prince thus unjustly favored, 
after destroying his antagonist, turned about and 
took possession of the territory of his friend. 


It is, as we have intimated, quite possible that 


text-books on the subject of international relations 
may have existed in ancient China, without coming 
down to our times, just as the Greeks had books on 
that subiect, of which nothing now survives but their 
titles. Whether this conjecture be well founded or 
otherwise, enough remains, as we have shown, to 
prove that the States of ancient China had a Law 
written or unwritten, and more or less developed^, 
which they recognized in peace and war. The Book 
of Rites and the histories of the period attest this. 

Of these histories, one was acknowledged as 
constituting in itself a kind of international code. 
I allude to the Spring and Autumn Annals, edited 
by Confucius, and extending over two centuries and 
a half. Native authors affirm that the awards of 
praise and blame expressed in that work, often in a 
single word, were accepted as judgments from which 
there was no appeal, and exercised a restraining 
influence more potent than that of armies and navies. 

Chinese statesmen have pointed out the analogy 
of their own country at that epoch with the political 
divisions of modern Europe. In their own records 
they find usages, words, and ideas, corresponding to 
the terms of our modern international law; and they 
are by that fact the more disposed to accept the in 
ternational code of Christendom, which it is no Utopian 
vision to believe will one day become a bond of peace 
and justice between all the nations of the earth. 





INTERNATIONAL diplomacy is an art new to 
the Chinese, but one for which they evince a 
marvellous aptitude. From the inquiry on 
which we are about to enter, it will, we think, 
be made apparent that with them it is rather the 
revival of a lost art, an art in the creation of which 
they can claim the distinction of precedence over 
all existing nations. 

Under that famous dynasty of Chow, when sages 
were born, and when those books were produced 
which rule the thought of the empire, diplomacy 
took its rise. Akin to the spirit of war, it flourished 
most in that period when the central power had lost 

* Read before the Oriental Society of Peking. 


its control, and vassal states engaged in ceaseless 
struggles over the division of their patrimony.* 

Diplomacy may be defined as the art of conducting 
the intercourse of nations. It supposes the existence 
of states who carry on their intercourse on a footing 
of equality. This makes it evident why it flourished 
in the period referred to, and why it disappeared for 
two thousand years, to re-appear in our own day, 
like a river that, after flowing for a time underground, 
rises to the surface with an increase of volume. As 
etiquette is the outgrowth of a society of individuals, 
so diplomacy springs from a society of states. 
Robinson Crusoe, spending his life on a lonely island, 
can hardly be supposed to occupy his thoughts with 
the rules of good breeding, and, although " Monarch 
of all he surveyed," he had no use for diplomacy. 

* There are three well known works that relate to this period, viz : 

The History of the Warring Stales jj fD \$\ &f 

H*\ \sz3i yj^. 

The National History of Sze-ma th =jj^ . 

A Romance founded on the former, called ^jj JJ3%| ^^ , 

an expanded history of the feudal ages. 

As an authority, the Romance is of no value. The National History 
derives its materials chiefly from the same source; but, as they have l>een 
passed through the seive and weighed in the balance of the great 
author, I have taken it for my guide so far as facts are concerned, 
reserving to myself always the right of interpretation. 


The triumph of Ch in, by which these numerous 
States, " discordant and belligerent," were swept 
from the arena, was the death-blow of diplomacy. 

The empire was thenceforth one and indivisible, 
from the desert of Tartary to the borders of Burmah, 
and from the foot of the Himalayas to the shores of 
the eastern sea. 

No rival, no equal was known to exist on the face 
of the globe. Envoys no longer sped on secret 
missions from court to court. 

Alliances ceased to be formed, because there was 
none whose friendship could bring strength, or whose 
opposition could occasion danger. The outside 
world was synonomous with barbarism, and the 
"inner land" comprised, for the Chinese, the whole 
of human civilization. Inferior states came with 
tribute, and went home laden with patronizing gifts. 
Diplomacy in any proper sense was impossible. 
All that the Chinese of later ages could know of it 
was a legend of the past, which connected itself 
with a few illustrious names. 

The best way to treat the subject on the present 
occasion is, no doubt, to take up those "names," 
and evoke from them the busy actors in a slow 
but momentous revolution. 

The revolution, which some of them endeavoured 
to further, while others strove in vain to arrest it, 


was the rise in the north-west of an ambitious, 
aggressive, semi-barbarous power, which eventually 
swallowed up its rivals, and remained sole master of 
the field. 

To trace the steps by which a petty principality, 
the guardian of a remote frontier, advanced to such 
eminence that all the older and more civilized states 
combined to check its progress, forms one of the 
most instructive chapters of Chinese history; 
but it does not belong to the subject of this paper. 
Of the early stages of the unfolding drama, we can 
only remark that, as in the later slage, the principal 
actors on the side of the growing power appear to 
have been foreigners. The princes of Ch in, rude 
and uncultivated as they were, displayed for the 
most part that element of greatness, which consists 
in the choice of the fittest instruments. These 
they sought both at home and abroad, attracting 
to their court men of talent from neighbouring 
countries by the public offer of high office and great 

One instance out of many will suffice to illustrate 
the effect of this policy. A young man by the 
name of Shang-yang, who had devoted himself 
to the study of political science, came to the court 
of \Vei, in quest of employment. The prince was 
struck by his talents, but hesitated to take him into 


his service. "Kill him then," said an old minister, 
""but by no means allow him to give his great abilities 
to the service of a rival state." The prince did neither, 
and Shang-yang proceeded to the court of Ch in, 
where he was invested with high office, and reformed 
everything, from army discipline to land tenure. 
It was largely through his influence that his adopted 
country attained such power as to threaten the 
independence of its neighbours. 

It was then that diplomacy came on the stage 
as a leading factor in deciding- the destiny of 
states. In more tranquil periods, it had occupied 
itself with matters of ceremony, missions of 
compliment to express felicitation or condolence; or, 
if negotiation was engaged in, it seldom rose higher 
than the arrangement of the terms of a marriage. 
But now the diplomat became the most conspicuous 
figure of the age, rising above the general, because 
generals marched as he directed; more influential than 
princes, because the prince decided in accordance 
with the far-sighted views of his diplomatic adviser. 
Jove sat wrapped in his pavilion of clouds, and 
Mercury engrossed the scene as he sped back and 
forth on winged sandals. 

If we follow some of these envoys, we shall not 
only obtain an impression of the importance of their 
functions, but get a clearer view of the history of the 


peiiod than any other stand-point can afford us. 

The scene is that portion of China lying to the 
north of the Yang-tse-kiang; the period of time, that 
in which Alexander and his successors were extending 
their conquests in western Asia. 

The first diplomats to challenge our attention 
are Su-ch in and Chang-i. They are not, like 
TaUhybius and Eurybates,* mere heralds or post-boys, 
whose duty it is to carry a message, and blow a 
trumpet. They are statesmen, full of self-acting 
energy ; and each opposed to the other in a conflict 
that ends only with life. As in Greece, there was a 
school of statesmanship in which they acquired 
their arts, and above all the art of persuasion. 
The Academus to which they resorted was a wild 
gorge in the mountains of Honan, and the master 
to whose instructions they listened is known to 
posterity by no other name than that of Kwe-ku-tsze, 
"Philosopher of the Devil s Hollow." 

I have read the books ascribed to his pen, but 
find in them nothing that can account for the 
eminence of his disciples; nothing even that could 
have afforded them a suggestion of the career 
which they pursued with such wonderful success. 
The fact is, this lover of solitude was not a 

* Compare this latter name, meaning "one who walks al i 
with ^TT ^^ "walkers," ancient Chinese for "en 


diplomatist, but an educator. Books were few in 
those days, existing only in manuscript copies; 
and the knowledge of letters, very restricted. 
It follows that the influence of the teacher was 
greater than it now is, when books are cheap, and 
libraries accessible to all. 

Emerging from seclusion with the full conscious 
ness of superior intelligence, Su-ch in thought only 
of carrying his wares to the most promising market. 
That market was the court of the rude, rising power 
of the north-west, whose princes welcomed all who 
had anything to teach, and rewarded them with 
unexampled munificence. He was a native of the 
central state, and born under the immediate sway of 
the suzerain; but he did not scruple to point out, 
to a great vassal, the way in which he might crush all 
lesser rivals, and possess himself of the throne of his 
imperial master. "My wings," replied the Prince, 
"are not sufficiently grown for so high a flight;" 
and so he dismissed the dusty traveller, who sought 
prematurely to embroil him with his fellow princes. 

Mortified by ill success, Su turned homeward, 
vowing that the Prince of Ch in should repent the 
blunder of suffering him to escape, after having 
rejected his advice. Arriving in rags, his wife and 
his brothers wives treated him with ill-concealed 
disrespect. They looked on him as stark mad when, 


instead of applying himself to something profitable, 
he resumed his former studies with fresh ardour. 

Su not only took pains to improve his style of 
speaking and writing, so that his argument would 
come with force from tongue or pen; he studied the 
history of each of the feudal states, acquainted 
himself with the personnel of their courts, drew maps 
of the empire, made estimates of the population and 
military strength of its several parts, and sketched 
plans of hypothetical campaigns. 

After two years of intense application, he set off 
for the court of Yen, with a mind better furnished 
than on the occasion of his first abortive attempt. 
The capital of Yen is supposed to be represented by 
Peking, the city where we are now assembled; 
and here it was that Su entered on a career of 
successful diplomacy, which extended over more than 
twenty years, and made him for all time the type 
of a Chinese diplomatist. His patience, with 
him a leading virtue, was still to be sorely tried. 
Without money or influence, he found no ready way to 
open the doors of the great; and, for a whole year, 
he danced attendance on numerous courtiers, 
before he could induce anyone to procure him an 
interview with the Prince. 

That interview was decisive. Su was not the only 
one who saw the danger to which the other states 


were exposed by the aggressions of Ch in, but he was 
the only one who saw how it could be averted. 
In eloquent terms he set forth the urgency of 
immediate action, and showed that the only hope of 
successful resistance lay in the formation of an 
alliance, which, diverting the forces of the six states 
from the mad work of mutual destruction, would 
turn their united strength against their common foe. 

The Prince was delighted. The feasibility of the 
scheme was no longer doubtful; and, by carrying it 
into execution, he would secure the honour of taking 
the lead in a patriotic movement of unparalleled 
importance. Investing Su with the rank of envoy, he 
despatched him with general credentials to the courts 
of the other five powers, a precedent which the 
Chinese ministers of our day recalled when they sent 
Mr Burlingame on a mission to the great powers of the 
two worlds, a precedent which they still follow in 
accrediting a single envoy to half the courts of Europe. 

Taking in order the courts of Chao, Han, and Wei, 
and then moving eastward to the court of Ch i, 
Su exposed to each his plan of mutual defence, 
obtaining from each a pledge conditioned on the 
adhesion of all the rest. Further south, on the 
banks of the middle Yangtse, which then formed the 
southern limit of the empire and of civilization, was 
a power whose definite acceptance of the plan was- 


essential to its success. This was the kingdom of 
Ch u, occupying nearly the ground of the present 
province of Hupeli. 

Flattered by the cunning envoy with the hope of 
becoming head of the league, the Prince of Ch u 
entered into it with great zeal, and sent Su 
on his return journey, loaded with fresh honours. 
The last link was thus added to a chain which he 
had been long and patiently forging, a chain strong 
enough to keep an unscrupulous aggressor within 
bounds, and to secure in a great measure the 
blessings of peace to a family of states hitherto in 
perpetual conflict. 

The achievement was one, the difficulty and 
grandeur of which it is not easy to over-estimate. 
The man who conceived the plan, and, with steady 
purpose, carried it through, deserved all the honours 
that were heaped upon him. Like Piince Bismarck, 
who, to the chancellorship of the empire, added that 
of the kingdom of Prussia, Su held a duplicate or 
rather a multiple office. His chief dignity was that 
of President of the Sextuple Alliance; and, in order 
that he might render it effective, each of the six 
powers conferred on him the seal of a separate 

Turning northward with a strong escort and 
immense retinue, he came to the border of his native 


state, which years before lie had quitted in the guise 
of a palmer, staff in hand. Here he was met by 
messengers from the Emperor, who offered him a 
banquet, and gave him a welcome on behalf of their 
master, who, says the historian, "was alarmed at the 
power and magnificence of his quondam subject." 
A better explanation would be a generous acknowl 
edgment of the success of Su-ch in ; or, better still, 
a desire to make use of Su s diplomatic triumphs 
to restore the sinking prestige of the empire, 
menaced by the growing power of Ch in. 

What wonder that (he members of his own 
family, who had treated him so shabbily, should 
now meet him with demonstrations of respect! 
"How comes it," he said to his elder brother s wife, 
who was throwing herself at his feet, "that you 
treat me so differently to-day from the time 
when I came home from the first journey?" 
" Because," said she with naive candor, "you are 
now a great officer and have plenty of money." 

Su was kind to his poor relations, and, distributing 
money with a lavish hand, proceeded to the Court 
of Chao. 

There it was that he fixed his head-quarters; 
not that the kingdom was great, or the prince 
influential, but because its geographical situation was 
such as to make it, to borrow a scientific phrase, 


the centre of political pressure. "From this point," 
says the historian, "by the hand of a herald, he 
launched at the Prince of Ch in a copy of the six-fold 
League." Imagine the satisfaction with which he 
submitted that document to the inspection of a 
potentate who had rejected his services, and who 
was now to be confined by it, as with a chain, within 
his proper bounds! "For fifteen years," adds the 
historian, "the armies of Ch in did not dare to show 
themselves beyond the mountain pass of Hanku." 

What proof of success could be more striking! 
What doubt that, during this long period, Su had 
occasion to repeat often and again his weary circuit, 
in order to maintain his hold on the inharmonious 
elements which he had brought under his control ! 

On the East coast of Africa, there are places 
in which, we are told, it is impossible to induce three 
men to go together on an errand, because each fears 
that the other two may combine and sell him into 
slavery. So it was with these "warring states," as 
they are called in Chinese history. Each one 
regarded its nearest neighbours with profound mistrust 
and aversion. 

To overcome their centrifugal tendencies, and hold 
them together for so long a time, required a 
combination of qualities, rarely equalled) perhaps 
never surpassed. 


The masterly arguments, by which Su had originally 
conquered that ascendancy, are given in e.vlenso 
in the voluminous work of Sze-ma-ch ien. They are 
clear and eloquent, but they read more like genuine 
state papers than like the speeches that Livy is wont 
to put into the mouth of his heroes. 

How skilfully he adapts his mode of address to the 
disposition of each ruler! In one he kindles ambition; 
in another he awakens jealousy, as his strongest 
passion, and directs it against the mighty foe. 
He practises on the fears of others, while flattering 
their pride; and one (the Prince of Han), who was 
on the point of attaching himself to Ch in, he 
deterred effectually by employing a proverb which, 
from that fact, has acquired an undying celebrity: 
"Better be a chicken s head than an ox s tail,"* 
or, as Caesar puts it, "Fiist in a village rather than 
second at Rome." 

Su s brother, Su-tai, was also an able diplomat, 
and gave him effectual assistance in bringing about 
the union of the powers. I shall have occasion to 
refer to him again, and I only speak of him now for 
the sake of citing a famous apologue, of which he is 
the author. History has not preserved any of his 
longer speeches. He was perhaps wanting in that 


lofty eloquence for which the elder Su was so 
distinguished, but he was endowed with a certain 
homely wit that carried conviction. Discoursing with 
one of the princes on the danger of disunion, 
he said: "As I walked on the hank of the river, 
I saw a bird pecking at an oyster; the oyster 
closed its shell, and held the bird as in a vice. 
Just then, a fisherman came along, and captured 
both." The application was clear; whoever might 
be represented by the foolish fowl and the equally 
foolish shell-fish, there could be no doubt as to 
who was the lucky fisherman. In a concise form, 
this fable continues to be used as a proverb.* 
It is one of those shining nuggets which, in China, 
the departing stream of time has left so plentifully 
scattered among its sands. 

Of the elder Su, I have said enough to establish 
his claim to tianscendent talents. What was the 
League itself but a creation of genius? And its 
maintenance for fifteen years, was it not a marvellous 
manifestation of power? Yet, like other great men, 
he had his weaknesses. Able in governing others, 
he was impotent to control his own passions; 
and to that cause, more than to any other, was due 

* When bird and fish quarrel, Ixnh fall a prey. 

& m A 


the final overthrow of the fabric which lie had spent 
his life in erecting. 

Through jealousy and anger, he made an enemy of 
Chang-i, who ever after sought to work his ruin; 
and, yielding to a more tender passion, he became 
involved in an undiplomatic intrigue with a princess of 
Yen, flight and death being the disastrous consequence. 

Chang-i, to whom we have just referred, stands 
next, by common consent, on the list of international 
statesmen of ancient times. In talent not much 
inferior to Su-ch in, his career is wanting in that unity 
which imparts a kind of grandeur to the achievements 
of Su. His life was divided between internal 
administration and external politics. 

As administrator and military chief, he served by 
turns three or four states, always giving a temporary 
preponderance to the one he served, unlike his 
rival who served six at once, and promoted equally 
the interests of all. 

As a negotiator, he effected one or two powerful 
-alliances; but his chief claim to distinction is the skill 
he showed in sowing discord among the members of 
the eastern league, to avenge himself for an insult 
received at the hand of a faithless friend. 

That insult was received on the threshold of his 
career. As Su had made an unsuccessful attempt 
in the north-west, so Chang began by a fruitless 


journey to Ch u, in the south. In the meantime,, 
his friend had risen to eminence, and he sought to 
join him at the court of Chao. Su, however, was as 
yet only forging the second link of his diplomatic 
chain. Whether he dreaded the disturbing influence 
of a mind too original to become a tool, or \vhether 
he feared that the lustre of Chang-i s talent would 
obscure the brightness of his own, he treated him 
with disdain, and found means to send him away 
from the scene of his own activity. In his eagerness 
to rid himself of a possible rival, he even supplied 
him with money and with attendants, to escort 
him as far as the capital of the north-western 

Chang saw through the stratagem, and vowed 
that Su should repent of it. Winning the confidence 
of the Prince, he rose to the highest positions 
in the state, being sometimes general, sometimes 
diplomatic envoy, and more than once clothed 
with the dignity of prime minister. 

As head of the administration, he developed the 
resources of the state, and prepared the way tor its 
ultimate triumph, and as a leader of troops he was 
uniformly successful ; but it was in a third character, 
that of diplomatist, that he performed the most 
marvellous feats. Labouring to undo the work of 
Su, he contrived to keep him in a state of perpetual 


anxiety during his life-time; and ultimately to effect 
the dissolution of the confederacy immediately on 
the death of its founder. 

The most remarkable incidents in his career 
occurred in the kingdom of Ch u. On his first visit, 
which, as we have said, was unsuccessful, he had the 
misfortune to be set upon by his enemies and badly 
beaten. Taunted by his wife for his damaged 
appearance, he opened his mouth and asked her to 
see if his tongue was in its place. On her answering 
in the affirmative, he added, With this I shall 
retrieve my fortunes," and he kept his word. 
So great, indeed, were his powers of persuasion that 
he often disarmed hostility, and sometimes raised 
himself to power, where he had been menaced with 
destruction. To cite only one instance : The Prince 
of Ch in engaged in war with Ch n, stirred up 
perhaps by his minister s hatred fur the state 
where he had suffered his first great humiliation. 
The army of Ch u was defeated, and Ch in demanded, 
as the price of peace, the cession of a coveted 
territory in exchange for another. The worsted Chief 
replied with a grim joke : "Give me your chancellor, 
and I will yield the territory, without asking a 
foot of ground in exchange." The Prince of Ch in 
repeated this flattering proposal to his minister, but 
with no thought of compliance. 


To his surprise, Chang-i replied : " I am ready ; 
send me to the camp of the enemy." 

On arrival he was thrown into prison, and menaced 
with death ; but he hud one acquaintance, whom he 
could rely on as amicus in curia. Through this man, 
he conveyed to the reigning beauty a hint that the 
western prince was about to send a beautiful woman 
as his ransom. The lady took alarm, and procured 
his release without waiting for the ransom. 

Just at that moment, the news of Su s death came 
to his ears, suggesting the possibility of turning 
his temporary captivity into a veritable victory. 
Seeking an interview with the prince, under guise of 
thanking him for sparing his life, he sought to repay 
his debt of gratitude by tendering the best advice he 
was able to offer; that was that he should abandon 
the confederacy, and throw in his fortunes with his 
powerful neighbour. The prince desired to hear the 
reasons for such a startling proposition ; and Chang 
set them forth with clearness and force, concluding a 
discourse, not inferior to Su s best speeches, with a 
recommendation to cement the peace by accepting 
his neighbour s son as a hostage, and giving his own 
in exchange ; and further to consolidate the 
union, by asking in marriage a princess of Ch in. 
No translation can do justice to Ins masterly argument, 
because it bristles all over with allusions to places 


whose names are strange to European ears, and 
facts of history which, out of China, have no 

But the prince, to whom it was addressed, understood 
it. Every word took effect; how deep the effect 
may be judged from the fact that his kinsman, 
Ch ii-yuen, the gifted poet, tried in vain to deter 
him from following the counsel of Chang-i. 

His energetic remonstrance is not too long to give 
in full. "Your Highness," said he, "has once and 
again been the victim of Chang-i s deceptions. 
When your enemy had come into your hands, 
I took it for granted you would roast him alive. 
Now if you have relented so far as to refrain from 
putting him to death, why should you go a step 
further, and listen to his deceitful advice?" 

The prince persisted, and, to make a long story 
short, the poet, like another Ahithophel, went 
away and drowned himself, his hapless fate being 
commemoiated by the annual festival of dragon boats. 

On his way home, Chang visited the court of 
Han, and succeeded in detaching the prince of that 
country also from the confederacy. 

Arriving at the capital of Ch in, picture to 
yourselves the glory of his triumphal entry. 
He had gone forth alone and unattended, a voluntary 
peace-offering, to be sacrificed to the resentment of 


a hostile state. He returned leading in his train the 
envoys of that state, and those of another hereditary 

The Prince of Ch in was duly sensible of the value 
of this service, and conferred on the hero the lordship 
of five cities. So well had Chang-i succeeded in his 
attempt to detach Ch u and Han, that he resolved not 
to desist from his undertaking until the confederacy 
should be utterly demolished. At his request, his 
master commissioned him to proceed successively 
to the capitals of Chao, of Yen, and of Ch i. 
The histories tell us what he said to each prince ; 
how he tempered menace with flattery, so that, on 
reading each several discourse, we are not surprised 
that the prince, to whom it was addressed, should feel 
impelled by ambition, as well as by prudence, to 
follow the policy so powerfully advocated. 

Thus, one by one, all of the states which Su had so 
laboriously arrayed against Ch in, Chang-i had the 
satisfaction of seeing at the feet of his master, humbly 
acknowledging the hegemony of the north-western 
power. Recall the long negotiations that were 
required to bring the petty states of Greece to accept 
the hegemony of Sparta or Athens, and you can 
appreciate the greatness of Chang-i s diplomatic 

For three centuries, the leadership among the 


feudal states had been the great object of ambition. 
Four of them had enjoyed it in succession, feeling 
satisfied with that distinction without dreaming of 
the imperial yellow. 

Ch in was the last to erect the standard of 
leadership, and Chang-i s diplomacy was the proximate 
influence that led the other states to rally round it. 
A century was yet to elapse before Ch in became 
bold enough to usurp the imperial throne, an event 
which followed naturally on the destruction of the 
most of its feudatories. But that is a history into 
which we have no time to enter. Nor have we 
time to pursue the fortunes of this consummate 
master of diplomatic intrigue further than to say 
that, losing power through the death of his patron, 
he returned to his native state, where he was 
invested with the honours of prime minister, 
and died the following year. 

After the death of Chang, the eastern states, one 
by one, broke away from their allegiance to Ch in. 
Kung Sun-yen, who all along had opposed the 
policy of Chang-i, now that the latter was dead, 
exerted himself to resuscitate the confederacy, and 
succeeded in doing so, as Chang had succeeded in 
dissolving it, on the death of Su. Through his 
efforts, five of them were formed into a phalanx, 
with hostile spears pointing to the North-west. 


Kung-sun, as successor to Su, received the grand seal 
of chancellor of the union. This ephemeral success, 
easier far than the untried enterprise of his 
predecessor, causes him to be ranked among 
the noted diplomatists of that troubled period. 
We dismiss him with this brief notice, merely 
calling attention to him as chancellor of the second 
Eastern league. 

In this second league, the principality of Chao 
took a leading part, as it had done in the first. 
In command of the gate of the west, its strategic 
position was imposing; but it owed its influence in 
the league to its good fortune in possessing the ablest 
general and the most gifted statesman of the age. 
The general was Lien P o, and the statesman 
Lin Siang-ju, of whom we shall speak only in his 
character of envoy and negotiator. 

Two incidents in his history will serve to throw light 
on the times in which he lived. His prince possessed 
a gem of great value, and, like the koh-i-noor^ 
unique, the envy of neighbouring potentates. 
The Prince of Ch in sent an embassy to offer fifteen 
cities in exchange for it. Its owner was afraid to 
refuse, and equally afraid to comply, lest the other 
party should not act in good faith. Lin, then a 
young official in the household, said to his master :- 
"You need not fear the loss of the gem; <L-nd me 


with it, and, if the cities are not surrendered, 
I will be answerable for its safe return." 

Arriving at the court of Ch in, and appearing in 
the presence of the prince for the purpose of offering 
the gem, he discovered that the prince was inclined 
to play him false, by detaining the gem, and 
withholding at least a part of the price. On perceiving 
this, Lin stealthily slipped the gem into the bosom 
of a trusty servant, who, following an unfrequented 
path, conveyed it safely home. Lin of course 
remained at court, and, when the fact became known, 
he offered to give his life, if required, in lieu of the gem. 
The prince, appreciating his courage and fidelity, let 
him go unharmed. On reaching home, he was raised 
to high honours; and one hopes the faithful domestic 
was not forgotten. It is related of one of the 
crown jewels of Russia that, in a time of trouble, it was 
once.given to a servant to convey to a place of safety. 
The servant said as he departed: "If I should be 
slain by the way, you will find the jewel in my body." 
He was slain, and his master, recovering his body, 
found the jewel in his stomach. 

The other incident in the life of Lin relates to a 
ceremonious meeting of two princes. They met on 
the common frontier, each accompanied by his 
diplomatic adviser. In a festive humour, the prince 
of Ch in asked his brother prince to favour him with 


a specimen of the music in which he was known to 
be a proficient. The request was unsuspectingly 
complied with, but Lin saw in it a design to treat 
his master with indignity. "Now," said he to the 
prince of Ch in, "it is your turn; please beat 
the tabour after the manner of your country." 
The prince hesitating, he added: "If you refuse, 
I shall spatter my blood on your royal robes, asa protest 
against the affront you have put upon my master." 
Hearing this, the guards rushed upon him, and were 
about to cut him down; but his fearless bearing held 
them in check, and the haughty prince, not wishing 
to bring the conference to a tragic ending, gave a 
few beats on the tabour. The princes parted on 
equal terms ; and Lin was raised to the highest rank in 
the state, for having saved the honour of his master. 

When Bismarck lighted his cigar in the diet 
at Frankfort,-a privilege regarded as belonging 
exclusively to the ambassador of Austria,-all Germany 
was astounded at his audacity. Not less were the 
states of China, at the boldness of Lin, in compelling 
the mightiest prince of the empire to keep time to 
his master s music. In either case, a trivial act was 
clothed with a grave political significance, and 
it required diplomatic talent of the highest order 
to turn it to account. 

Previous to this occurrence, the famous general 


Lien P o bad enjoyed the first rank in his state. 
He felt it as a personal outrage that a man, whom 
he looked on as an upstart, should suddenly be 
raised above him, forgetting that the statesman is 
above the soldier, and that good diplomacy requires 
the highest kind of statesmanship. He let it be 
known that, wherever he should meet his rival, 
he would insult him to his face. Lin, hearing of this 
threat, took pains to avoid a meeting. The general, 
remarking this, sent him a half contemptuous 
message, asking an explanation of his strange and 
undignified conduct, which he was not at liberty to 
impute to fear, after the proofs he had given of 
personal courage. Lin replied: "If I avoid 
an encounter, it is because your life and mine 
are indispensable to the safety of our country. 
If Ch in refrains from attacking Chao, it is on account 
of us two. The Prince of Ch in would be delighted 
to see us fall by each other s hands." 

The general was so struck with this patriotic 
answer, and particularly with jLin s moral courage in 
exposing himself to a suspicion of cowardice rather 
than bring a calamity on his country, that he frankly 
confessed himself in fault, in the ceremonious fashion 
then in vogue. Coming to Lin s door with a rod in 
his hand, instead of using it on Lin, he begged that it 
might be applied to his own back. The two rushed into 


each other s arms, swore to be brothers, and sealed the 
covenant by drinking a cup of wine, mingled with 
blood drawn from the veins of both. Who, on hearing 
this, can fail to recall the manner in which Aristides 
and Themistocles laid aside their deadly feud, 
how, when Xerxes was threatening the liberties of 
Greece, knowing that union is strength, they dug 
a pit and formally buried their enmity, not to be 
resurrected until the danger was past? 

If I have followed the career of particular statesmen 
with considerable detail, it is because I have thought 
I might in that way present a more vivid picture of 
the diplomacy of the period. Viewed from a moral 
standpoint, that diplomacy was not above criticism. 
It reminds us of the instructions given by Louis 
XI to his ambassadors, when despatching them to 
neighbouring states, "If they lie to you, you must 
lie still more to them," and bears little resemblance 
to the transparent candour and immaculate integrity, 
which characterize the European diplomacy of our 
own day; for has not diplomacy, like everything 
else, risen above the level of former ages ? Is it not 
a recognized maxim, in our enlightened times, that 
honesty is the best policy? Is it not equally a maxim 
that the advantage of each is found in the prosperity 
of all? What representative of a European power 
ever disguises the truth, or thinks of taking advantage 

1 68 


of the ignorance or weakness of the power with 
which he is called to negotiate? In fact, what is 
diplomacy, as we understand it, but another name for 
philanthropy ? * 

Chinese statesmen of the period under review had 
(alas !) not yet attained to this sublime conception ; 
3rt ^ i " let ever y man do his best for his own 
master," was the maxim they openly professed, 
a maxim often quoted to excuse deviations 
from rectitude. 

Envoys went and came on all occasions calling for 
felicitation or condolence, and I will not assert that 
they were too high-minded to improve the 
opportunity to spy out the nakedness of the land; 
or that custom forbade them, while professing peace, 
to make preparation for war. 

There existed a code of recognized rules for the 
regulation of intercourse by means of diplomatic 
envoys. I have touched on these in a paper on 
Traces of International Law in Ancient China; 
and I do not propose to repeat what I have there 
said. My object has been rather to show diplomacy 
in action, than to set forth either rules or theories. 
Permit me, in conclusion, to make one or two 
observations : 

* Several of our diplomatic representatives were present at the 
reading of this Paper. 


1. Among the privileges of ambassadors, as laid 
down in the ancient books of China, we find no trace 
of that convenient fiction known as extra-territoriality. 
The hospitable Spaniard, in Buenos Ayres, sends 
you a card of invitation to come to "your own house," 
in such and such a street. So, western peoples have 
agreed that a diplomatic envoy, as guest of the 
nation, shall be considered as living and moving on 
his own ground. It is a little singular that the 
Chinese never thought of expressing their sense of 
the inviolable sanctity of such envoys in a similar 
manner, especially as their languge is not wanting in 
similar fictions, dictated by courtesy or flattery. 

As a principle, the sanctity of an ambassador was 
fully admitted; but in practice, it was frequently 
violated. Nor is that to be wondered at, in a state 
of society in which ambassadors regarded it as their 
main business to mingle in court intrigues. 

2. In the diplomacy of ancient China, there was 
no such thing as a minister plenipotentiary. 

The sovereign always held himself free to disavow 
the acts of his representative, whenever it might suit 
his policy so to do. When the Chinese were first 
confronted with that term, in their negotiations with 
the west, they expressed some surprise, and declined 
to accept it. "There is only one plenipotentiary 
in the empire," they said; "that is the Emperor." 


How their scruples were overcome, I shall not pause 
to explain further than to say that it required 
nothing less than the storming of his forts to induce 
the Emperor to grant the title. 

3. In the diplomacy of ancient China, there was 
no such thing as a resident minister; they were all 
envoycs extraordinaires. 

But they found occasion to prolong their stay for 
months or years; and, in many cases, they were kept 
going back and forth so frequently as to accomplish 
all the purposes of residence, together with the 
additional advantage of frequent conference with 
their chiefs. 

As an example of the kind of reports they were 
expected to make, I may mention that Su-tai, 
the brother of the more noted Su, of whom we 
have spoken, was once sent as ambassador to Ch i. 
On returning, his master desired him to report on the 
state of that country, and the character of its prince, 
with particular reference to the question whether he 
was aspiring to the hegemony, or had any prospect 
of attaining it. 

As an instance of frequent and prolonged missions, 
I may cite the case of Ch en-chen. Being frequently 
sent on missions to Ch u, he was accused by Chang-i 
of enriching himself without benefitting his chief. 
Charged with drawing emoluments from two states, 


and making himself & persona grata at the foreign 
court without, in any way, improving the state of 
foreign relations, he defended himself successfully; 
and I only cite the case as an illustration of the 
point in hand. 

Instances are not wanting, in which an envoy 
enlisted in the service of the foreign state, in order 
the better to serve the policy of his own country. 
The final stage in the career of the elder Su may 
be cited as an example in point. Finding himself 
under the necessity of leaving the court of Yen, 
to escape the consequences of a liaison which he had 
formed with a princess, he begged the prince to send 
him on a mission to the kingdom of Ch i, alleging that 
he could there promote his interests much better than 
by remaining at home. Arriving there, he entered 
the service of the foreign state ; and subsequently, his 
intrigues against its welfare being detected, he was 
bound between two chariots and torn to pieces, 
a melancholy emblem of the empire of that day, 
rent asunder by the opposing forces represented 
by the Leagues of the East and West. 

Su s conduct in the kingdom of Ch i finds a pretty 
close parallel in that of Chetardie at the court of 
Russia, who narrowly escaped a like hideous fate.* 

*In a note to the Guide Diplomatique of de Martens, 
Volume I, page 83, we have a brief account of the incident 
alluded to. I cite here one or two lines only : 

"La Chetardie, ambassadeur de France, avail eu la principale part a 
la revolution qui placa Elisabeth sur le trone de Russie" 

"La Chetardie s ^tait immisce dans les intrigues de cour . . , . 
II ne tarda pas a s cn repentir." 


4. The political relations of the great states of 
ancient China afford a remarkable analogy to those 
of the states of modern Europe. In the former, 
the diplomacy of the period turned on the question 
of furthering or checking the progress of one power, 
which appeared to aim at universal dominion. 
Who shall say that the situation in Europe 
may not be described under the same formula? 
Reversing the points of the compass, a political map 
of the one might serve, mutatis mutandis, for that 
of the other. And who shall blame the Chinese for 
reading the wars and alliances of modern Europe 
in the light of their own ancient history? 
When they read how for centuries the eyes of Russia 
have been fixed on the imperial city of the Bosphorus ; 
how the first Napoleon, on the eve of his disastrous 
expedition, predicted the danger of Europe becoming 
Cossack; how, in 1854, the advance of Russia was 
checked by another Napoleon, in concert with 
England; and how, in 1878, she was compelled, by a 
conference of the Powers, to relinquish her prey 
when fairly within her grasp; will they not believe 
that their great cycle has come round again, 
and that their own old drama is being repeated 
on a new and grander theatre ? 




STROXOMERS tell us that, though Venus is 
so much nearer than Mars, it is impossible 
;- to obtain a clear view of her surface, 
on account of her dazzling brightness. 
Do we not experience a similar difficulty in 
contemplating the great luminaries of the human race? 
In their case, an atmosphere of myth always gathers 
round the nucleus of history, concealing and 
distorting their features. 

This was the case with Him to whom the Western 
world owes its deliverance from the darkness of 
heathenism. Outside of the authentic records left 
us by the Four Evangelists, there was extant for a 
long time a floating mass of fable which it cost no 

* Read before the Oriental Society of Peking. October, 1892. 


little labor to expose and suppress. It was so with 
the wisest of the sages of Greece. How different the 
aspect which Socrates presents in the simple narrative 
of Xenophon from that which he is made to assume 
in the voluminous Dialogues of Plato ! 

In the latter, we know that we are not reading 
history; yet they do contain historic elements, 
many of the doctrines and much of the manner 
of propounding them being derived from Socrates, 
even if the words in which they are clothed belong 
wholly to his eloquent disciple. 

Such, too, is the case of Confucius. So great was 
the ascendency to which he attained, within the five 
or six centuries succeeding his death, that it became 
the fashion to invoke his name for any document 
for which his followers desired to conciliate popular 

Especially was this the habit with that large 
class of writers, the Po-tszc (~g" -f), whom we may 
describe as the Sophists of China. Take up a 
volume of Leih-tsze or Chuang-tsze, and you meet 
with anecdotes, apologues, and discourses, put 
forth under the name of Confucius, all of which 
are so evidently fictitious as to suggest a querry 
whether they were ever intended to be taken as 
historical. These writers deal in a similar way, 
and some of them to a much greater extent, 


with the name of Hwang-ti, the Yellow Emperor, 
a personage who belongs altogether to the realm 
of myth. 

It is no disparagement to the pains-taking and 
conscientious authors of the Lun Yu, the Confucian 
Memorabilia, to say that they must share with writers 
of fiction the honor of propagating the fame of their 
Master. They have made the world familiar with 
the Sage, who always spoke with deliberation, and 
acted with dignity; who had such a weakness for 
ginger that he was "never tired of eating it ; " and who 
was so scrupulous as to petty proprieties that 
he "never sat down if his mat was awry." 
To these trifling details they add that, at home, 
he wore a tunic with one sleeve shorter than the other, 
and slept in a night-gown fifty per cent longer than 
his body ; that, on going to bed, he ceased to talk; 
and, not to cite other traits of aspect and carriage, 
the conviction is forced upon us that we have here 
glimpses of a real man. 

But turn to the outline of biography, familiar 
to every Chinese school-boy. Passing over the 
supernatural portents connected with his birth and 
death, we find the statement that Confucius was 
prime minister of Lu for three months; that, within 
that time, he effected such a reformation that precious 
things might be dropped in the street without risk 


of misappropriation; that shepherds refrained from 
watering their sheep before driving them to market, 
lest they should draw more than their proper 
weight; that prisons were empty, and tribunals idle; 
that men were honest, and women chaste; and that 
the little state began to acquire such a preponderance 
that its neighbors resorted to unworthy stratagems 
to undermine the influence of the great reformer. 
Instead of one clever woman, such as Louis XIV 
sent as ambassadress to Charles II, the Prince of Ch i 
despatched four-score ballet girls, and the Prince of 
Lu ceased to listen to the lectures of Confucius. 
These and other incidents, either wholly fictitious or 
greatly exaggerated, are found in the sober pages of 

Sze-ma-ch ien, the Herodotus of China. 


The Sage taught by a child. 
Many of these incidents have been taken up and 
further expanded by later writers. For instance, 
the historian records that " Confucius took lessons 
from Hiang-t oh." Now, Hiang-t oh was a precocious 
child of seven years; and the record probably means 
nothing more than that the Sage condescended to 
take a hint from the lad, or to make use of him as an 
illustration in teaching, as a Greater Teacher did, 
when, his disciples contending for precedence, 
he set a little child before them as an object lesson 
in the graces of faith and humility. 


Here is a specimen of the stories that have grown 
out of this obscure incident: 

Confucius, it is said, seeing a little boy playing with 
tiles in the street, called to him to make way for his 
carnage. " Not so," said the boy ; "I am building a 
city. A city wall does not give way for a cart, but a cart 
goes round the wall." " You seem to be uncommonly 
clever for your years," said Confucius, surprised at the 
self-possession of the lad. " How so ? " said the lad ; 
"a hare of the age of three days can scamper over the 
fields, and should I not know a thing or two at the 
age of seven years? If you will tell me how many 
stars there are in heaven, I shall know more than I do 
now." "Why do you inquire about things so far 
away ?" said the Sage; "ask about something near at 
hand, and I will answer you." "Then," said the boy, 
"please tell me how many hairs you have in your 
eye-brows." The Sage was non-plussed; and, 
giving the lad a kindly smile, he drove silently away. 

Another story, derived from the same source, 
though of an earlier date, being found in the works 
of Leih-tsze, is the following: 

Confucius met with two boys, who were discussing 
the question whether the sun is more distant in the 
morning or at noon. "It appearslargerin themorning," 
said one; "and the nearer an object is, the larger it 
appears." "But," replied the other, "is not the sun 


hotter at noon than in the morning ? And does not 
a hot object give more heat when near, than when far 
away?" Unable to agree, they referred the matter 
to the Sage; and he, with characteristic caution, 
left the question undecided; or, as one version has it, 
he was unable to decide, and the boys formed a low 
opinion of his intelligence.* 

In treating of the apocryphal literature relating to 
Confucius, it is important to distinguish that which 
originated before the "burning of the books" 
from that which belongs to a later date. 
Works that preceded that catastrophe have, of course, 
the better chance of containing genuine traditions, 
especially if, as in the case of Leih-tsze and 
Chuang-tsze, they belong to the Taoist school, 
which was not proscribed, and therefore escaped 
the conflagration. In the writers last named, 
the reckless use of imagination vitiates their authority. 
In Chuang-tsze, there are more than fifty references 
to Confucius and his disciples, not one of which 
possesses any historical value. 

* The German poet Claudius puts a similar dispute into the mouth 
of two rustics : 

Wie gross meinst du die Sonne sei ? 
So gross vielleicht wie ein futter Hen. 

etc., etc. 

How big, asked Hans, is the sun, do you say? 
As big, said Sep, as a load of hay. 
No ! no ! cried Hans, not half so big, 
I give it the size of an ostrich egg. 


In works of the later period, reminiscences of the 
Sage are far more multiplied; but their genuineness 
is not merely questionable on account of 
their remoteness from the times of their subject. 
Is it not obvious that an occurrence like the 
"fires of Ch in," the avowed aim of which was to 
extirpate the teachings of Confucius, would open a 
wide field for the production of supposititious literature? 
So well, indeed, did the tyrant succeed in his 
purpose that only a few manuscripts escaped; and they, 
by being hidden for generations in the walls of houses. 

A Premium on forgery. 

On the accession of the Han Dynasty, when the 
first attempt was made to wake the lost books from 
their ashes, the same edict, which caused old men to 
ransack their brain for pages committed to memory 
in boyhood, encouraged others to exercise their 
inventive faculties to produce a plausible substitute. 
The rewards offered for discoveries of hidden 
Classics acted as a premium on forgery. 

All the circumstances of the time were adapted to 
favor imposture. Under a new dynasty, letters 
blossomed afresh ; and the subject which appealed 
most powerfully to the inventive faculties of the 
learned was the huge void left by the missing books. 
Pecuniary rewards, imperial favor, and popular 


esteem, all conspired to incite them to effort; 
and aut inveniam ant faciam became a motto 
with thousands of zealous scholars. 

Zeal for the Confucian school, which, for a time 
overshadowed by Taoism, now began to recover 
its lost ground, supplied an additional motive; 
and scholars, who wished to give currency to 
their own ideas, did not scruple to publish them 
under the names of the apostles of Confucianism, 
or even under that of the great Master himself. 

The Arabs of Egypt are not more expert in 
manufacturing antique mummies than were the 
students of Han in the construction of ancient 
classics. Not to speak of spurious portions foisted 
into several of the canonical books, two at least 
of the works now reckoned among the 
Thirteen Classics are admitted to be of apocryphal 
origin. These are the Li-ki, or Book of Rites, 
and Hiao-king, or Manual of Filial Piety. 

The Book of Rites. 

The former has had the good fortune to be included 
in the Five King, for what reason it is difficult 
to divine, unless because it professes to record 
ritual observances which were in vogue 
in the period covered by the other Four. 
It enjoys, therefore, a great authority from the 
eminence to which it has been raised. 


More than any other work, it has shaped 
the external form of Chinese civilization, 
preserving its essential unity under all vicissitudes, 
prescribing alike official forms and private manners. 

The rules of the Li-ki are not, indeed, held as 
obligatory any more than are the rituals of the 
Old Testament in the practice of Christendom; 
but, never having been formally abrogated, 
a larger proportion of them has entered into the 
life of the modern Chinese. 

The compilers of the Li-ki no doubt found 
much genuine material drifting in a state of 
wreckage down the stream of time, and they had 
no hesitation in supplying from their own resources 
whatever might be required for its reconstruction. 
Nor did they, in any case, take pains to point 
out the boundary between the old and the new. 
What they discovered was at best a torso, and their 
ambition was to present it as a complete statue. 

On reading the Li-ki t you are struck by a great 
inequality of style; parts being crabbed and 
obscure, while other parts flow in a pellucid stream, 
characteristic of an advanced stage of literary art. 
Take, for example, the book entitled Ju-hing, the 
character of a scholar, and you have an eloquent 
exposition of the conduct becoming a man of letters. 
Again, in the Yoh-ki t you have a rhapsody on music, 


without a single indication which might enable a 
student to reproduce the music of the ancients. 
Both discourses are credited to Confucius, but the 
style is too modern by at least four centuries. 

In some parts of the collection, the Sage is made 
to appear as interlocutor in a dialogue; and 
occasionally an incident is related as a basis for 
moral reflexions. Such an incident is the following, 
which I take from the Chapter called T an-kung. 

On one of his journeys, Confucius, passing 
by the foot of a wood-covered mountain, heard 
the voice of a woman wailing so bitterly that 
he was moved to inquire the cause of her grief. 
"Not long ago," she replied, "my father-in-law was 
devoured by a tiger; more recently, my husband 
fell a victim ; and now, my son has perished 
in the same way. Have I not cause for sorrow?" 

"But why do you live in a place infested by wild 
beasts? " asked the Sage. " Because," said the woman, 
"we are here free from the exactions of mandarins." 

"Mark that, my children," said Confucius, 
turning to his disciples; "oppressive officers 
are dreaded more than tigers." 

The incident is sufficiently striking, and its 
moral is worthy of a Sage. The story of the 
serpent-catcher, by Liu Tsung-yuen, is based on it, 
and enforces the same moral in the elegant 


diction of a later age, exerting a restraining 
influence on the rapacity of officials, and promoting 
a spirit of independence among the people. 

In itself, the tiger story is not incredible. 
In Oregon, I was told of a woman who had lost 
three husbands by grizzly bears. Who can assert 
that this remarkable facility of divorce did not 
for her constitute on attraction to the soil 
of the new territory ? 

The Book of Filial Piety. 

Like the Li~ki, the Manual of Filial Piety dates 
from the first century B.C.; and, like that work, 
it is reputed to have been discovered in the wall of 
a house belonging to a descendant of Confucius. 
In form, it consists of a series of discourses, 
addressed by the Sage to his disciple Tseng-tsze, 
the one who most frequently served him as amanuensis, 
and who now wears the proud title of 
Ch ucn-shcng, "Transmitter of the Sage." 

In style, the book bears the impress of the age of 
its alleged discovery, being more modern by several 
centuries than that of its reputed author. 
It is remaikable for the fullness with which it 
expounds the working of filial piety as a social 
regulator in all the relations of life. Though the 
Christian finds in it no sufficient substitute for the 


prompting and restraining influence of faith in 
an omnipresent God, he must acknowledge that in 
China filial piety might be made a useful auxiliary 
to the higher sentiment. The decay of that 
higher sentiment (if it ever existed in China) was 
no doubt owing to the rise of polytheism; 
and philosophers were fain to seek in filial piety 
a force which should serve as the prop of morality. 

The state makes it the basis of its legislation ; 
and this book, whose canonicity the state has good 
reasons for upholding, is therefore a corner-stone in the 
social fabric. The very phrase J[/j[ ^ Jo ^ ~F 
"to rule the empire by filial piety" is found in 
the eighth Chapter; and so beautifully is the 
idea developed in the proem that I cannot forbear 
citing a few lines: 

"One day, when the Master was at leisure and 
Tseng-tsze in attendance, he said, "The ancient 
Sages possessed a perfect method for governing 
the empire, by which the people were made to live 
in harmony without discord between high and low; 
do you understand it?" Tseng-tsze rose and replied :- 
"I am dull of apprehension; how should I 
understand it?" "Sit down then," said the Master, 
"and I will teach you. Filial piety is the root 
of virtue, and the fountain of moral teaching. 
It begins with due care for the body because 


received from your parents; it culminates in 
conduct which will make your name immortal, 
and reflect glory on your father and mother. 
Its beginning is the service of your parents; 
its middle, the service of the sovereign ; 
and its end, the formation of character." 

The eighteen short chapters which follow 
do nothing more than amplify this text. They are so 
brief and pithy that school children commit them to 
memory, and accept them as rules of conduct for 
their subsequent life. The effect of the doctrines, 
thus set forth, can hardly be over-estimated ; and, in 
general, they are consonant with the teachings of the 
Sage as given in records of unquestioned authenticity. 
The Hiao-king, therefore, though apocryphal, does 
him no injustice, unless it be in one point, viz., 
in making conformity to the ordinances and even 
the costume of the ancient Kings an obligation of 
filial piety. It is known that Confucius was 
somewhat conservative; but it may be affirmed that 
he never enjoined such unreasoning submission to 
antiquity. Did he not say that the man who for 
three years does not depart from the way of his 
father may be called filial, implying that he may 
or will depart from it in a very short time? 
And does he not teach, in the first section of the 
Ta-hio, the Great Study, that the chief duty of a 
Prince is to effect the renovation of his people? 



How I have longed to see the rulers of China wake 
up to the fact that their Great Teacher never 
intended them to be fast bound to the wheels 
of antiquity 1 

The Family Traditions. 

The last of these apocryphal writings which we 
shall notice at present is in some respects the most 
important of all. It is the Kia-yu, or Family Traditions. 
It appeared between two and three centuries later 
than the Li-ki and Hiao-king; i.e., in the period of 
the Three Kingdoms. Its fortune, though less 
brilliant than that of those two most lucky forgeries, 
has been such as to surpass the ambition of its 
so-called editor. For though not, like them, set in the 
constellation of sacred classics, it is held to be 
"deutero-canonical;" and, as such, it stands in the 
Imperial catalogues at the head of Ju-kia, or orthodox 
writers of the Confucian School. The editor, 
Wang Suh, frankly states the object he has in view 
in giving these Traditions to the world. "Errors are 
rampant," he says in his preface, "and the Confucian 
highway is overgrown with brambles. Why should 
not I make an effort to clear it of obstructions ? 
If no one, then, chooses to follow it, it will not be 
my fault." 

The zeal expressed in these words is not fitted to 
inspire confidence; and, when he informs us that 


he has opportunely obtained these Traditions in 
manuscript from a descendant ot the Sage in the 
twenty-second generation, are we not disposed 
to regard the discovery as rather too opportune f 
Why should a member of the family of K ung, 
after the lapse of seven centuries, be more likely 
to possess genuine traditions than any other of the 
"hundred names?" That the work as a whole 
is spurious, is admitted by native critics. 
That which secures for it unrivalled popularity is: 

i. Its worthy aim; 2. Its pleasing style; 
3. Something like an element of real tradition, 
derived from various sources; and 4. Its adroit 
insertion and skilful amplification of authentic 

Notwithstanding its multifarious contents, it is easy 
to separate the few grains of golden sand carried 
down by the stieam of time from the bright clay in 
which the author has wrapped them up, with a view 
to increasing their bulk and weight. 

A Strange Monitor. 

As a good example of his method, I may mention 
the manner in which he deals with a brief notice 
which he finds in Suin-tzc (^jj"^), who lived three 
centuries before. The passage alludes to a 
water-vessel, which, when empty, hung obliquely; 
when half-full, hung vertically; but, on being 


filled, turned over and spilled its contents. 
It was said to have been placed on the right 
of the Prince s throne as a warning against pride, 
or fullness, which " precedes a fall." 

Taking this for a text, Wang Suh expands it into a 
discourse of considerable length, a copy of which I 
obtained in Japan, where it had evidently been used 
as an inscription in a princely or imperial palace.* 

It is, however, in paraphrases on the Lun Yu 
that he most frequently displays his peculiar skill. 
A few illustrations may not be out of place. 

Three Wishes. 

Borrowing a hint from a passage in which Confucius 
calls on his disciples to describe the employ which 
each would find to his taste, our author shows 
us the Master with three of his disciples on a hill top. 
Enjoying the boundless prospect, he says to them: 
"Here our thoughts fly unfettered in all directions. 
Here you may give wing to fancy, and clothe your 
wildest dreams in words. Now, let each of you 
name the situation, or achievement, which would 
most completely fill the measure of his ambition." 

Tsze-lu declares for feats of prowess, choosing 
above all things to be able with a small force to 
humble a proud foe ; and with his own hand to 

* See XVIII. 


capture the leader of the opposing camp. Tsze-kung, 
the finest talker of the School, bent on proving the 
tongue mightier than the sword, enlarging on his 
friend s picture of opposing armies ready to join in 
bloody conflict, adds that it would be his ambition to 
come between the hostile camps, to disarm them 
both by mere force of argument, showing each 
his true interest, and by skilful diplomacy to 
bring about an adjustment of their differences. 
"I should wish," he says, "no higher glory than that 
of such a peaceful victory." 

Confucius commends his eloquence, and then calls 
on Yen Hui, his favorite disciple, the St. John of his 
School. With unassuming modesty, Yen declines to 
engage in competition with his arrogant companions; 
but, when urged by the Master, he says: "My desire 
would be to find a good Prince, who would accept 
me for his Vizier. I would teach his people justice, 
propriety, and benevolence; and lead them no longer 
to build walls, or dig moats, but to turn their weapons 
of war into instruments of husbandry." 

" Admirable," exclaimed Confucius; "such is the 
power of virtue." 

In the Memorabilia, or Lun Yu, the Sage gives his 
suffrage to a disciple, who draws a charming picture 
of the pleasures of idleness. Wang Suh has re-cast 
the entire scene, in order to give it a conclusion more 


worthy of the nation s teacher, emphasizing the 

sentiment expressed by Longfellow: 

Were half the force that keeps the world in terror, 
Were half the wealth that s spent on camps and courts, 
Given to redeem the human mind from error, 
There were no need of arsenals and forts. 

To Be or Not To Be. 

The famous saying of the great Agnostic 
"We know not life, how can we know death?" 
supplies an equally fine text for artful amplification. 
It is accordingly expanded into the following 
dialogue : 

" Do the dead retain a conscious existence?" 
inquired Tsze-kung. 

"If," replied Confucius, "I should say they do, 
I fear the pious and filial would neglect their living 
parents through devotion to the dead. If, on the 
other hand, I should say they do not, I fear that the 
unfilial might so far disregard their duties to the 
dead as to leave their parents unburied." 

With this ambiguous answer, he closed his lips, 
and left his disciples on the horns of a torturing 

The Lesson of Running Water. 
In the Lun Yu, we are told that the Sage, 
looking on a running stream, exclaimed : " Behold 
an emblem of time ; it ceases not, day or night." 


In the Traditions, Confucius was gazing intently 
on the eastward flowing current of the Yellow 
River. A disciple, inquiring why a superior man 
always loves to look on the surface of a great 
stream, he replies: "Because its flow never ceases; 
it nourishes all living things, and yet without 
labor. Its water is like virtue ; it seeks a low 
place; yet cities and palaces follow its course. 
It is like goodness, vast and inexhaustible; it is like 
truth, going straight forward without fear, even 
though a plunge of a hundred fathoms may be before it. 
This is why the superior man loves to look on the 
face of the flowing waters." 

Foolish Questions and Wise Answers. 

In the Lun Yu, Ai Kung, Duke of Lu, asks one or 
two questions. In the Traditions, he is made to ask 
a score or more. Here are two, both frivolous ; 
but they elicit wise answers : 

"Will you tell me," said the Duke, "what kind of 
crown was worn by the Emperor Shun?" After a 
prolonged silence, Confucius replied, but not until he 
was urged to speak: "I was silent, because I do not 
know what kind of garments Shun wore; but I do 
know the principles on which he ruled his people. 
Why should not Your Highness inquire about them?" 
On another occasion, the Duke said to Confucius: 


"I have heard of a man, who, on removing to a new 
house, forgot to take his wife. Was there ever a case 
of greater forgetfulness?" "Yes," replied Confucius; 
"it is that of the man who forgets himself." 

Two Views of Life. 

A fine story, which Wang Suh borrows from 
Leih-tsze, is that of an old man of ninety, who, being 
asked why, under the burdens of age, poverty, and 
toil, he was still able to sing so merrily, replied: 
"I have many reasons for feeling happy, but the 
principal are these, viz : That I have come into 
life as a man; that I have reached a good 
old age ; and that I am now soon to be released by 
the hand of death." 

After relating this without acknowledgement, our 
author invents one in a similar style : 

Passing near a river, Confucius heard the voice of 
weeping. Overtaking an old man, from whom the 
voice proceeded, he inquired the cause of his 

"They are three," replied the man; "I have failed 
in three things, which it is now too late to mend, 
and nothing remains but unavailing remorse. 

When young, I went wandering over the world 
in quest of knowledge; and, when I returned home, 
my parents were dead. 


In mature years, I served the Prince of Ch i ; but 
the Prince ruined himself by pride and debauchery, 
and I was unable to check his downward course. 

In my life-time, I have had many friends, but 
I failed to attach them to me by a sincere and lasting 
affection; and now, in my old age, they have all 
forsaken me. Of these three errors, the greatest 
was the neglect of my parents." 

Yielding to a fresh transport of grief, the old 
man threw himself into the water and perished. 
"Mark this," said Confucius, turning to his disciples; 
and that very day thirteen of them went home to 
serve their parents. 

In general, stories and discourses which re-appear 
in the Traditions, display a marked improvement on 
their originals; at least, in literary finish, though in 
some instances "expanded gold exchanges solid 
strength for feeble splendor." 

Thus far, we have looked on the finer side of the 
tapestry. Let us now turn to its seamy side, as it is 
necessary to do in order to complete the evidence of 

An Imaginary Niagara. 

On the road from Wei to Lu, Confucius comes to 
a cataract, thirty fathoms in height, which creates 
a whirlpool ninety // (30 miles) in circumference, 


and so furious is the current that neither fish nor 
tortoise can live in it; yet an intrepid swimmer, 
more lucky than Captain Webb at Niagara, succeeds 
in crossing. This passage suggests the wild fancy of 
Chuang-tsze; and, on turning to the older writer, we 
find it there, but less extravagant in its terms. 
Wang Suh uses it to point a vapid moral; but he has 
blundered in admitting it among authentic traditions. 

Wise Questions and Foolish Answers. 

In the Lun Yu, it is said there were four things of 
which Confucius never spoke, viz: Fairy tales, 
feats of strength, outrageous crimes, and the gods 
(or the supernatural). A book exists, which takes 
these for its subject, and bears the title -^p ^ f^j- , 
Things of which Confucius did not Speak. 
There are not a few pages in these alleged Traditions 
that might be grouped under such a rubric. 

One of the Princes, asking him a question in 
Maxima and Minima, Confucius launches into a 
dissertation on giants and dwarfs. 

Prince Chao, of Ch ou, in crossing a river, picks up 
a floating fruit resembling a cocoa-nut, and sends a 
messenger to learn its nature from Confucius. 
Without the least hesitation, the omniscient Sage 
gives the name of the fruit, and adds that the Prince 
may eat it, as it is a fruit of good omen, which only 


falls into the hands of one destined to be a leader of 
the nations. When a disciple asks him how he 
happens to know these facts so exactly, he replies 
that he once heard a nursery rhyme ( ! =K ) 
to that effect : It was prophetic, and this he knew 
to be its fulfilment. 

In another passage, he explains the appearance of 
a strange bird in the same way. It was called 
Shang-yang, had only one leg, and, as he learned 
from a childish ditty, its arrival portended a deluge 
of rain. 

These instances, with many others of the same kind, 
may be taken as completing the evidence that the 
so-called Traditions are a transparent fiction. 
If I have dwelt too long on this particular work, 
it is on account of the credit which it enjoys 
and the influence it exerts in fixing the popular 
ideal of the Sage. 

There are other works which contain similar 
fictions; but time fails to enumerate, not to say, 
examine them. 

Taken as a whole, the volume of these apocryhal 
writings far exceeds that of the authentic records; 
the gazeous envelope surrounding the luminary is 
greater than its solid nucleus. But it may be 


doubted whether these fabrications, however 
well meant, have not detracted from the essential 
greatness of China s model wise man. 

Confucius no Myth. 

Let us conclude by briefly indicating a few points 
in which the apocryphal Confucius differs from the 
real founder of Chinese civilization; for, at this stage 
of our discussion, I need hardly say that Confucius 
was no myth. He is so far historical that he, and 
not Sze-ma, is the Father of Chinese History. 
His words and acts were minutely noted by con 
temporary pens, hundreds of his pupils contributing 
to transmit his teachings and perpetuate his memory. 
The attempt to make him a mythical personage, 
like Pan-ku or Nii-qua, may afford an agreeable 
exercise for the leisure hours of an ingenious student ; 
but it can no more unsettle the received conviction 
than Archbishop Whately s Historic Doubts 
concerning Napoleon could relegate the Corsican 
Conqueror to the companionship of Hercules and 
Bacchus. But, in the double personality that goes 
under that venerated name, it is time to point 
out the features in which the mythical Confucius 
differs from the historical. I limit myself to five : 

The Real and the Mythical compared. 
1. The real Sage was noted for modesty; the 


fictitious is a prig, who assumes to know everything. 
The myth-makers, who have attempted to display 
the universality of his knowledge, have succeeded 
in exposing their own ignorance. 

2. The real Confucius was a man of few words; 
his style, laconic and grave. The mythical is 
loquacious, and often occupied with trifles. 

3. The real Sage was reverential towards the 
Supreme Power of the Universe, but agnostic 
in spirit and practice. The Confucius of these 
Apocryphal books is excessively superstitious, 
drawing omens of the future from birds, beasts, 
and the nonsensical ditties of children. 

4. The real Sage, when asked if it is right to repay 
injury by injury, forbids revenge. The Apocryphal 
is made to teach the vendetta in its most truculent 
form, prescribing its measure for each degree of 
relationship, the slayer of a father to be slain at 
sight, even in the halls of an imperial palace. 

5. The real Sage was humane, making humanity, 
or love, the first of the cardinal virtues in his moral 
system. The Apocryphal personage is cruel 
and unjust, putting Shao Cheng-mao to death 
for five reasons, not one of which would justify 
anything more severe than dismissal from office ; 


and cutting off the hands and feet of a mountebank, 
who sought to amuse two princes on the occasion 
of a public meeting. 

These Apocryphal writings contain, as I 
have said, much that is good. They must be 
studied to get at the sources of the later literature. 
But would itlnot be a worthy undertaking for some 
enlightened scholar, native or foreign, to sift these 
heterogeneous materials, and clear the name of the 
Great Master from all connexion with the absurd, vain, 
and wicked things w r ith which his memory has 
been loaded ? 




HE coincidence relates to a moot point of 
filial duty. In China, filial piety is 
A^ 5 recognized as the basis of social order. 
By the orthodox, it is even held to supply 
the place of religion ; so that " he who serves his 
parents at home has no need to go far away 
to burn incense to the gods." 

In the Hiao King, a well-known manual for the 
instruction of youth, it is represented as affording an 
incentive to the discharge of duty in all situations, 
giving force and vitality to consciences which might 
otherwise remain dormant. Thus, a soldier who 
runs away is unfilial; an officer who is unfaithful to 
his prince is unfilial; and, in general, any conduct 

* From the Journal of the American Oriental Society. 


that entails disgrace is unfilial, because it must of 
necessity reflect discredit on the parents of the 
offender. A whole system of morals is deduced 
from this root; and casuistry finds scope in inventing 
difficult situations and in reconciling conflicting 
obligations. Truth is a virtue not much insisted on 
in Chinese books; audits comparative rarity brings 
into relief a class of people who vaunt their 
frankness, and scorn to palliate or extenuate in the 
interest of their dearest friends. They are called 
chih jin, "straight men." 

A disciple of Confucius, speaking of one of these, 
says to the Master : " In my village, there was a 
man renowned for truthfulness. When his father 
had stolen a sheep, he went to the magistrate 
and informed against him. Is his conduct 
to be commended ? " 

"In my village," the Sage replies, "the duty 
of truthfulness is understood differently, 
a son being required in all cases to conceal the faults 
of his father, and a father to conceal those of his son. 
The obligations of truth are not violated 
by this practice." 

A hundred years later, the question was 
not yet regarded as settled; or, to speak more 
properly, as with all moral questions, the old battles 
had to be fought over again. 


Mencius was the oracle of the age, and 
one of his disciples brings up the subject by 
stating a hypothetical case. "Suppose," he said, 
"the father of the emperor, being a private man, 
should commit murder. Is it the duty of the 
Criminal Judge to seize and condemn him ? " 

"Without doubt," replied Mencius. 

" But then, how could the emperor endure 
to see his father treated in that way? 
When the wise Shun was on the throne, 
if his villainous old father, Kuseo, had 
committed murder, and was in danger of 
being condemned by Kao Yao, what would 
Shun have done?" 

"Shun," replied the teacher, " would have taken 
his father on his back and fled to the borders 
of the sea. Dwelling there in obscurity, 
and rejoicing that he had saved the life of 
his parent, he would have forgotten that he 
ever filled a throne." 

Mencius, the St. Paul of Confucianism, who 
formulated the doctrines of his school, goes in 
this passage a step beyond the teachings of his 
Master. The latter confined the duty of a child 
toward a parent, guilty of a crime, to the passive 
part of concealment. The former gives it an 
active form, requiring a son, on behalf of a parent, 


to do all in his power to defeat the ends of justice. 
But when, in this dilemma, he sets himself in 
opposition to the law, he is no longer fit 
to be a prince ; he should abdicate the throne, 
to win the crown of filial piety ; for, according to 
Mencius, filial duty primes all others. 

A case, analogous to the first of these, 
forms the subject of Euthyphron, one of the 
Dialogues of Plato. Socrates, going to the court 
of King s Bench, meets Euthyphron, and learns 
with horror that he has come for the express 
purpose of denouncing his own father as guilty 
of a capital crime. 

A hired laborer, having killed another in a drunken 
brawl, the father of the accuser had him bound 
hand-and-foot and thrown into a pit, where the next 
morning he was found dead. Euthyphron saw in 
the hapless victim, not a chattel or a broken tool, 
but a fellow-man unjustly slain ; while, in the 
murderer, he recognized, not a beloved parent, 
but an odious criminal. 

There is something chivalrous and noble in his 
taking up the cause of humanity, in opposition to 
the narrower claims of family. But it detracts 
from his merit that he is fully conscious of the 
beau rdle which he has assumed. 

Socrates, who as usual expresses the sentiments 


of the author, is not dazzled by this splendid 
instance of public virtue triumphing over 
private feeling. After passing the ideas and motives 
of the hero through the sieve of his dialectic, 
he shows him that those instincts which he 
despises are the voice of nature ; and that, 
in spite of his assumption of superior knowledge, 
he neither knows "what he is to believe 
concerning the gods, nor what duty the gods 
require of man." 

"The victim," said Socrates, "must have been 
one of your near relatives ; otherwise, you would 
not have been able to overcome your natural 
repugnance to denouncing your father." 

" Nothing is more ridiculous," Euthyphron replied, 
"than to suppose that it makes any difference 
whether the victim is a relative or a stranger. 
The whole question is, whether the homicide was 
justifiable or not. If it was not, then it was my 
duty to denounce the perpetrator, no matter how 
closely connected with me ; for it would be 
contamination to associate with such a person, 
instead of clearing myself by denouncing him." 
" My relations," he adds, " view this proceeding 
as impious and unholy ; not knowing the nature 
of the gods, nor the real distinction between 
things holy and unholy." 


" But," asked Socrates, " are you sure that you 
understand the nature of the gods, and the 
distinction of holy and unholy? Tell me what 
you call holy and unholy." 

"I," replied Euthyphron, "call that holy which 
I am now doing : namely, the denouncing of a 
wrong-doer who commits sacrilege, murder, 
or other grave offense, no matter whether the 
offender be father, mother, or other relative. 
And it would be unholy to refrain from doing so." 

In support of this position, he appeals to the 
example of Zeus, the "best and most just of 
the gods," who chained and mutilated his father, 
as a punishment for his monstrous cruelties. 

Socrates repeats his demand for a definition; 
and Euthyphron answers that the holy is that 
which pleases the gods, and the unholy that which 
displeases them. 

Soc. "But what rule shall poor mortals 
have to go by when the gods are divided 
on these questions ? " 

Euth. "They are never so much divided as 
not to be unanimous in support of the principle 
that he who commits an unjustifiable homicide 
ought to be punished." 

Soc. "But what is to be done when they 


are not agreed as to the quality of a crime, 
whether it was justifiable or not ? 

As this is a frequent occurrence in human 
tribunals, Euthyphron is forced to admit that 
it might also occur in the councils of the gods ; 
and he modifies his definition by inserting the 
word " all," so as to make an act holy or unholy 
according as it is loved or hated by all the gods. 
Here Socrates pushes him into deeper water 
by asking whether such act is holy because it is 
loved by the gods, or loved because it is holy ? 

To this, Euthyphron is unable to make any 
satisfactory answer; and, after a brief skirmish on 
other points, he drops the discussion. 

Through all its mazes, Socrates had pursued him 
as the Furies pursued Orestes, showing him that 
the dictates of nature are the basis of our notions 
of right and wrong; and that, to outrage our best 
instincts as he is doing, is to fight against the gods. 
Like the Chinese philosophers, he teaches that a 
son is not at liberty to assume the attitude of 
public prosecutor as against a parent. 

The prolixity of the Socratic dialogue, of which 
I have given only a brief outline, is in strong 
contrast with the sententiousness <! the Confucian 
school. But, not only is the subj- cl of discussion 


identical ; the name Euthyphron is singularly 
similar to the chih jin, or " straight man/ 
of the Chinese. 





chief element of interest in the researches of 
** our Society consists in exploring the intellectual 
resources of this Empire. From this point of 
view, ideas of recent importation possess no 
value. As in the porcelain trade, things that bear 
the stamp of antiquity are most esteemed, whether 
of native growth or borrowed from distant lands. 

It is not, therefore, of the role played by the 
Cartesian philosophy in the teachings of missionaries 
that we propose to speak, but of Cartesianism before 
Descartes ; in other words, to inquire how far it is 
possible to trace, in the writings of Chinese thinkers, 

* Read before the Oriental Society of Peking. 


the outlines of a system analogous to that of the 
eminent French Philosopher. 

No better vantage ground can be found for 
surveying the field of Chinese speculative thought. 
It gives us something clear and precise, with which 
to compare that which is fragmentary and 
somewhat obscure. For the geologist, it is a great 
advantage to be able to compare the remains of 
hipparion with the skeleton of a horse, rather than 
with the fragments of some extinct animal. 

But is not that assuming, some one will exclaim, 
that the philosophy of Descartes is not extinct ? 
No ; it is not extinct like the cosmogonies of the 
Timaeus. " Descartes," says Morell* (and he cites 
Dugald Stewart in support of his opinion), 
"has unquestionably merited the reputation of 
standing at the head of the whole modern movement 
of metaphysical philosophy ; " and as sober a critic 
as J. H. Lewes,t though not belonging to his School, 
admits that "no man can dispute the title 
of Descartes to be regarded as the father of 
modern philosophy ". 

Not merely was it his breath that called it 
into life two centuries ago ; the philosophy of the 

* History of Speculative Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century. 
\ Biographical History of Philosophy. 


present day, by a sort of atavism, still bears, 
in some of its features, the marks of its remote 

A brief review of some of the doctrines of 
Descartes will put us in a position to recognise them, 
when we meet with them in a foreign clime 
and at an earlier age. 

He was equally distinguished in three departments 
of intellectual activity ; and his achievements in each 
were sufficient to win the meed of an imperishable 
name. Newton combined mathematics and physics ; 
Bacon, physics and jurisprudence ; but, of the three 
great men* with whom lie is usually compared, 
Leibnitz alone shares with him the honor of wearing 
a triple crown. Each was a sovereign in the 
three united kingdoms of metaphysics, mathematics, 
and physical science. 

Great as was Leibnitz, the influence of Descartes 
was so obvious on the course of his speculations, 
that it may be doubted whether his magnificent 
genius would have unfolded in its full 
perfection without the light of the earlier luminary. 
Descartes, on the other hand, called no man master, 

" Dcscaites, Bacon, Leibnitz, Newton, les quatre grands chefs de 
toute la philosophic moderne ". {Ptnsfes Je Descartes, Disc. Prelim). 

" Les trois grands litres de Descartes a 1 immortalitd : 
sa gomtrie, sa me taphysique, et sa physique." (id). 


and displayed an originality unsurpassed in 
the annals of philosophy. 

According to his own declaration, the most 
valuable thing that he carried away from the school 
of La Fleche was " a conviction of his own 
utter ignorance and a profound contempt for the 
systems of philosophy then in vogue." 
Not a bad preparation, that, for undertaking 
and effecting a revolution in human thought ! 

In mathematics, his merit is uncontested, 
and the boon which he conferred on the world 
in giving it that most powerful aid to research, 
the method of analysis by the application of algebra, 
is specially conspicuous. 

In physics, he expounded the true theory of the 
barometer, and described the crucial experiment* 
shewing the limit of the ascent of mercury ; 

* Pascal s experiment was performed in September, 1648. A letter 
of Descartes, addressed to P. Mersenne, is extant, dated December, 
1647, in which he alludes, with an air of unconcern, to the suggestion 
he had given : 

" J avais averti M. Pascal d expe rimenter si le vif argent montait 
aussi haut lorsqu on est au dessus d une montagne, que lorsqu on est 
tout au bas : je ne sais s il 1 aura fait." {Pensees de Descartes). 

After the experiment had been effected, he addresses a friend to 
obtain information as to the result, and complains of Pascal for 
withholding it. Here is what he says of his claim to priority : 

" J aurais droit d attendre cela de M. Pascal plutot que de vous : 
parce que c est moi qui 1 en ai avise" il y a deux ans et qui 1 ai assurd 
que, quoique je n eusse pas fait cette experience, je ne doutais point 
du succes." (id). 


Before Toricelli. The experiments, performed by 
Pascal at the Tour St. Jacques, and on the 
Puy de Dome, were suggested by him as 
confirmations of his own theory, in opposition to 
that of Galileo. 

These are now simple things, level to the 
comprehension of a school-boy ; but the experiments 
that explained them made the reputation of one of 
those philosophers, and added lustre to that of the 
other. It is chiefly in the department of physics 
that we shall have occasion to admire the sagacity 
of his daring conjectures; I allude to his discovery 
of a supersensible world, to which he was the first 
to give the name of Ether. 

In the department of transcendental metaphysics, 
he was treading on ground less solid, 
like Milton s Satan in the realm of Chaos : 

" O er bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare, 
He swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies ". 

What wonder that he left behind him no well 
defined pathway that others are content to follow ! 
Yet it is precisely in this region that his influence 
has been most conspicuous. Spinoza, Leibnitz, 
and the noble army of German transcendentalists, 
are all his lineal offspring. Those who consider that 
metaphysics have done nothing but obstruct the 
progress of science, will he slow to admit this as 


constituting an additional claim to the gratitude- 
of mankind. "His philosophical method subsists 
to the present day/ says Lewes, a writer of the 
Positive School ; and he adds, not without a 
perceptible sneer " It is the method implicitly or 
explicitly adopted by most metaphysicians in their 
speculations on ontological subjects." 

As a preparation for gauging the speculations 
of some of the leading thinkers of China, there are 
three things in the system of Descartes, to which 
I beg to direct your attention, to the exclusion 
of everything else. They are : 

1. His Method. 

2. His Hypothesis of a universal Ether. 

3.- His Theory of Vortices. 


His method is deductive, commencing with 
general principles, and following them out to their 
consequences. It is the opposite of induction, 
which, from the study of particulars, ascends to 
generals. The one explores a river by entering 
at its mouth, and working slowly inland against 
the current. The other strikes boldly across 
country for the head-waters, and then pursues their 
downward flow. The former is the method of Bacon ;, 
the latter, that of Descartes. Each wrote a book 
to expound his mode of philosophizing, and each 


believed that he was conferring on posterity 
an invaluable instrument of investigation. 
No two modes of proceeding could be more opposed 
to each other; and yet, as \ve have shown by 
the illustration of the river, each may lead to success. 

Nothing so strikingly exhibits the force and 
originality of the mind of Descartes as the fact 
that, having read the books of Bacon, he rejected 
his method, to proceed in the contrary direction ; 
nor does anything more strikingly exhibit the 
limitations of the human faculties than the fact that, 
like navigators before Columbus, each of these 
pioneers of science was only aole to look 
on the globe on one side, while in reality it required 
a combination of both to make out a system 
complete and round. 

As a matter of fact, each, while insisting too 
exclusively on his own view, makes large but tacit 
use of the other method. From the constitution 
of the human mind, it is as impossible that it should 
be otherwise as it is for a worker in electricity 
to restrict himself to the use of one fluid to the 
exclusion of the other. Descartes exaggerated 
estimate of the a priori method resulted from the 
natural tendency of a pre-eminent mathematical 
genius ; Bacon s neglect of it was due to his 
ignorance of mathematical science. How extensively 


Bacon and his followers had recourse to deduction, 
I shall not pause to point out. 

It is of more importance to indicate that Descartes 
resorted to experiment so frequently that some 
of his admirers have made out a plausible argument 
to claim for him the honor of being founder 
of the experimental philosophy, an honor so 
peculiarly belonging to the great Englishman 
that an attempt to tear it away looks as monstrous 
as the claim to the crown of France, so long put 
forward by the kings of England. His apologists 
have failed to recognize the essential difference 
between an experiment in the hands of Bacon 
and in those of Descartes. With the former, it 
was the first step toward discovery ; with the latter,. 
it was the last, only resorted to for the purpose 
of confirming a conjecture or an inference based 
on general principles. The former was so devoted 
to experiment, as a mode of discovery, that he 
lost his life in making an experiment with his 
own hands. The latter, believing himself to be 
in possession of the fountain of truth, was so well 
satisfied with the potential as to be comparatively 
indifferent to the actual. " I have proved it by 
reasoning," said he to his friends ; " try it, 
and you will find it so." Hence, instead of 
putting himself to the trouble of making them,. 


he suggested those experiments with the barometer 
which have added brightness to the illustrious 
name of Pascal. What a curious anticipation 
of the case of Leverrier, divining the existence 
of a new planet, and informing his fellow-astronomers 
where they would find it ! 

These two types of mind have existed in 
all times. Aristotle was an experimentalist ; Plato, 
an a priori reasoner. Yet Plato it is who states, 
in the clearest manner, the advantages of the 
experimental method. 

" Experiment causes the world to advance in 
a scientific way, but the neglect of it leaves progress 
at the mercy of chance ", he says, in the Dialogue 
of Gorgias. He saw the better way, but failed 
to follow it. Descartes, in this, resembled Plato; 
as he did in the whole cast of his mind, in his 
fondness for mathematics, his lofty ontological 
speculations, and his profound religious feeling. 

I have said enough, perhaps, on the method 
of Descartes ; and, to show that I have not 
misrepresented it, I will dismiss the topic with 
a quotation from the Abbe Fontenelle, in which 
his procedure is contrasted with the Baconian 
method of Newton : 

" L un, prenant un vol hardi, a voulu se placer 
a la source de tout ; se rendre maitre des premiers 


principes pour n avoir qu a descendre aux 
phe"nomenes de la nature, comme a des 
consequences necessaires. L autre, plus timide 
ou plus modeste, a commence sa marche par 
s appuyer sur les phenomenes pour remonter aux 
principes inconnus."* 


Descartes hypothesis of a universal fluid, 
which he called Ether, is eminently original. 
The name existed from the earliest times ; he gave it 
a sense which it had never borne before, because 
he had a clear conception of a substance of which 
the Greek philosophers had not even a vague notion. 
Addison s fine lines beginning : 

" The spacious firmament on high, 
With all the blue ethereal sky" 
show the popular sense of the word ; the same 
in which it is employed by Homer, when he 
apostrophizes Jove as " dwelling in Ether." 

The Greeks, in accordance with their cosmical 
system, used it for the empyrean or fiery sphere, 
the highest of the nine, the etymology of the word 
expressing that idea, i.e., "burning air." 

* The one sought, by a bold flight, to place himself at the source 
of all things ; to make himself master of first principles, and then 
come down to natural phenomena as their necessary consequences. 
The other, more timid or more modest, began with phenomena, 
in order to ascend to unknown principles. 


With Descartes, neither fire nor height has 
anything to do with the meaning of the term. 
In his acceptation, it signifies a substance out of 
which he supposes all the forms of matter to 
have been evolved. 

That such a substance must of necessity exist, 
he inferred from his doctrine as to space. 
In his view, there is no such thing as void space. 
Not merely are the interstellar regions filled with 
a subtile fluid different from atmospheric air, 
but the interstices between the molecules of bodies 
are filled with the same substance. How it acts 
we shall see, when we come to treat of his 
celebrated theory of vortices. 

The success of the Newtonian astronomy 
administered a soporific to the Cartesian hypothesis, 
which kept it dormant for more than a hundred years. 
But it only waited for the proper hand to wake 
it from slumber. It is not a mere figure of 
speech to say that, touched by a ray of light, 
it sprang again to life. 

Newton s theory of light was that of emission, 
which regarded each ray as a stream of material 
particles projected through space, as sparks fly 
off from the anvil of a blacksmith. But that 
theory labored under insuperable difficulties; and there 
were striking phenomena, which it failed to explain. 


One of these was that of interference, or the 
extinction of light by the collision of two rays. 
In 1 800, Dr. Young suggested that this might be 
accounted for, on the supposition of light being the 
effect of a vibratory motion in some elastic medium. 
In water, when two waves meet, at the moment 
when one is rising and the other sinking, they 
neutralize each other, and the surface remains level. 
In the atmosphere, when two waves of sound meet 
in a similar manner, the result is the loss of a note. 
In the same way, might not darkness be produced 
by conflicting vibrations in a luminiferous medium ? 
Sixteen years later, Fresnel showed that 
such a medium was required to account for the 
phenomenon of polarisation. 

What was that medium ? It could be no other than 
the subtile Ether demanded and named by Descartes. 
The undulatory theory of light requires it. 
Heat and electricity equally call for it. At the 
present hour, it is admitted, without exception, by 
men of science ; and the study of its properties 
has lately engaged the attention of physicists of 
great eminence. 

Sir John Herschel, in his discourse on atoms, 
refers to the ether, in which they move, as a fluid 
which, like our atmosphere, has its elastic tension 
heightened by pressure; a pressure, he conjectured, 


of many thousands of pounds to the square inch. 

Whewell, in his Bridgewater treatise, argues that 
this ether, however attenuated, must in some degree 
impede the free motion of the planetary bodies, 
and eventually bring them to destruction, 
a view which derives no little confirmation from 
the fate of Biela s comet. 

Sir William Thomson thinks he has found evidence 
that ether is viscous, having a consistency somewhat 
resembling shoe-maker s wax. It yields to pressure, 
but is split or fractured by a sudden blow, 
such as the passage of a heavy charge of electricity. 

This mysterious substance, which no sense can 
percieve, no balance weigh, and no vessel contain, 
has taken its place securely in the world of 

* A recent work on Physics, by Professor Daniell of Edinburg, 
places all the chapters on light, heat, and electricity, under the 
common rubric of "ether waves", which appears as a running title 
at the top of each page. There can be no better proof of the new 
importance assumed by ether in physical science. 

Professor Oliver Lodge thus describes the theory of ether, 
in a lecture before the Royal Institution in London : 

" The simplest conception of the Universe that has yet occurred 
to the mind of man, one continuous substance filling all space, 
which can vibrate as light, which can be parted into positive and 
negative electricity, which in whirls (or vortices) constitutes matter, 
and which transmits by continuity, and not by impact, every action 
and reaction of which matter is capable. This is the modern view 
of the ether and its functions." 



Descartes Theory of Vortices, representing 
the planets as moving in a stream of ether 
like apples in a whirlpool, is not much of 
an improvement on the earlier theory of hollow 
spheres. Whewell, in his History of the 
Inductive Sciences, points to it as a proof that, 
though Descartes had announced the first law of 
motion in advance of Newton, he did not fully 
comprehend its applications ; or he would not 
have resorted to such a clumsy contrivance as the 
Starting-point of his mccanique celeste. 

But the Cartesian Vortex is not merely a huger 
kind of maelstrom that carries the worlds on 
its bosom ; it is also exceedingly minute, and 
bears in its circling embrace each individual atom. 
This is evident from his explanation of the gaseous* 

* In 1 88 1, M. Nourisson read, before the Academy of Moral 
and Political Sciences in Paris, a paper on the "Discovery and 
Demonstration of the Theory of the Barometer." From an original 
letter of Descartes, he proves tbat the writer had a clear notion 
of atmospheric pressure. We shall cite the same letter to show 
how he explains the action of vortices, in separating the particles 
of bodies : 

" Imaginez I air comme de la laine, et I e ther qui est dans ses pores, 
comme des tourbillons de vent qui se meuvent $a et la. Et pensez 
que ce vent qui se joue de tons cote s entre les pores empeche 
.qu ils ne se pressent si fort l un centre 1 autre, comme ils le 
pouvaient faire sans cela, car ils sont pesants." 

The Professor says " qu il ne faut pas confondre 1 ^ther carte"sien 
avec 1 e ther des philosophes grecs ". (/<? Temps, A/ars } 


form of the atmosphere as due to the action 
of tourbillons of ether, which prevent the 
particles troni coming in contact. 

This view bears some analogy to the kinetic 
theory of gases, which explains their elasticity 
as resulting from the motion of their particles; 
and all, who are familiar with the recent progress 
of molecular physics, will perceive how the minute 
tourbillon of Descartes re-appears in the hypothesis 
of voitex rings, now resorted to, to account 
for the activities of atoms as centres of force. 
The champion of this hypothesis is Lord Kelvin 
(Sir W. Thomson), who constructed a machine 
to illustrate the action of the vortex ring. 
What a rehabilitation of a long neglected 
philosopher, to find the foremost physicists of 
our century not merely accepting his ether as 
the basis of their theories of light and electricity, 
but borrowing his idea of vortex motion as an 
explanation of the constitution of matter ! * 

Bearing in mind these salient points, let us travel 
back to the fifth century before Descartes, and see 
if we can find in China anything answering to the 

* Lord Kelvin said in his Presidential address to the Royal Society, 
November, 1893 : 

" During the fifty-six years that have passed, since Faraday 
offended physical mathematicians with his curved lines of force, 
many workers and many thinkers have helped to build up the 
Nineteenth Century School of Plenum, one Ether for light, heat, 
electricity, and magnetism." 


Cartesian system. We shall occupy ourselves 
mainly with a constellation of thinkers, who illumined 
the middle period of the Sung dynasty. 

The most noted are Cheo Lien-hi, Chang 
Heng-chii, the two brothers Ch eng, and Chu Hi; 
and their names, being curiously alliterative, 
are woven into a line of four syllables, to 
assist the memory, Cheo, Chang, Ch eng, Chu. 
Of the five, the most famous in China, and the 
best known abroad, is Chu Hi, or Chu Fu-tsze, 
a pre-eminence due rather to his labors as expositor 
of the canonical books than to any superior 
acuteness in speculation. In that respect, he was 
surpassed by several, perhaps by all of the others. 
Chu Hi, however, was eminently endowed with 
the judicial faculty. He presents himself to our 
imagination as the incarnation of criticism ; 
holding aloft the golden balance, not, like the 
fabled goddess, with blind-fold eyes, but scanning 
the horizon with searching gaze, ready to welcome 
the precious metal from whatever quarter it may 
come. Taoism and Budhism, as well as the 
relics of Confucian antiquity, engaged his 
attention and quickened his intellect. Like China s 
greatest Sage, he might have said of himself: 
"My office is to select and transmit, not to 


create or invent." His stamp is accepted as the 
hall-mark, not only for the orthodoxy of classical 
exposition, but for any opinion admitted into that 
huge conglomerate known as Confucian philosophy. 
In speculation, the method of all these worthies 
is uniform, viz., to seize a first principle, and deduce 
its consequences. Like their countryman 
Chang Ch ien, the Stanley of the Yellow River, 
they seek first to arrive at the Milky Way, 
before exploring the course of the terrestial 
stream believed to issue from it. Not one 
of them ever thought of questioning nature, 
by means of a careful induction of particulars. 
Confucius had indeed, in one prophetic sentence, 
laid down the maxim 3jfc ^jfl ^ f ^j 
"The progress of science depends on the study 
of things ; " but the chapter, which they say the 
Sage had written on that subject, was lost. 
They record the fact, and expound his words; 
but not one of them undertakes to supply the 
place of the missing manual, by a treatise 
de augmcntis scientiarum. To them, the example 
of Confucius was more powerful than his solitary 
saying ; and that saying, though embodying 
a vital germ, remained as barren as seeds wrapped 
in the cerements of an Egyptian mummy. 
For, had not Confucius, like Plato, set the 


vicious example of indulging in speculations which 
are susceptible of no proof? Had he not accepted,. 
at the hands of the ancients, without questioning, 
a calculating machine called the Book of Changes, 
which professes, by means of diagrams resembling 
an abacus, to grind out great truths pertaining to 
all things in Heaven and Earth ? His followers, 
even the bold thinkers of the Sung dynasty, 
have not ventured to question what the 
Master accepted. Bound by the yoke of authority, 
and led by a habit of the Oriental mind, 
they have clung to the a priori method even 
in questions susceptible of easy solution 
by experiment. Witness that preposterous- 
classification of elements, which includes such 
an organic substance as wood, and omits 
atmospheric air. Witness again their blundering 
enumeration of the five senses, which 
includes the heart among the organs of sense, 
and omits the sense of touch. May not the 
omission in the first case be accounted for on the 
supposition that the functions of air, as a component 
of bodies, were too subtile to strike the attention 
of the ancients, from whom they received the 
formula ; and that the authors of the other 
classification omitted the sense of feeling, from 
inability to find a special organ to which to refer it ? 


With us, chemical analysis has long since 
abolished the four elements, which our forefathers 
regarded as pillars of the universe ; but in China, 
until recently, no analysis has been applied. 
It inspires us with a feeling akin to contempt to see 
philosophers resting their world-moving levers 
on a hypothesis as baseless as that of a numerical 
relation between the elements, the planets, 
and the cardinal points of the compass, which, 
curiously enough, they make five. 

Their method was at fault; it was the deductive 
method of Descartes plus the bondage of ancestral 

It is concisely expressed in a passage* of 
Chang Heng-chu "To know Nature, you must 
know Heaven. If you have pushed your science 
so far as to know Heaven, then you are at the 
source of all things. Knowing their evolution, 

* In the Best Thoughts of the Five Philosophers j ""j^* ifi" f9* 

a work compiled by Chu Fu-tsze and subsequently enlarged by the 
addition of his own best thoughts, this passage occurs as Chang s 

answer to a question as to $ft jtyn f the Study of Nature : 

*i # to nr m ft n & x 



you can tell what ought to be and what 
ought not to be, without waiting for anyone 
to inform you." 

This is precisely the mental attitude of Descartes, 
who, with the substitution of God for Heaven/ 
would have accepted the formula for his own. 
Descartes, however, examined his premises, a thing 
which our Chinese philosophers no more dared 
to do than the Hebrew priests to open the ark 
of the convenant. Yet, is it more surprising 
that they should entertain irrational opinions than 
that Descartes should believe that the 
actions of brute animals are purely automatic, 
or that Bacon should believe in witchcraft ? 

We have said enough to show that these Chinese 
thinkers, though less rigorous in its application, 
employed substantially the method of Descartes ; 
it is time to show that they held the same 
conception of Ether as that for which the illustrious 
Frenchman has obtained such deserved renown. 
. Chang, the writer last quoted, was born in 
the year 1020, a little more than a century before 
the advent of Chu Hi. He is the author 
of a small treatise entitled Cheng Meng, 
" Right Discipline for Youth." Its leading aim 
is moral instruction ; but, with that kind of 
thoroughness so characteristic of the Chinese, 


he begins with the origin of the universe : 

"The immensity of space, though called the great 

void, is not void, but filled with a subtile substance.* 

* Chang s celebrated treatise, Chfng Mfng, Tp jj forms the 
tj* ^K* 

fifth Volume, or ffc y of the [^ S 3^ ^ , or Gra *<* 
Encyclopedia of Philosophy. For convenience sake, I bring together, 
in the following paragraphs, all the passages in it bearing on the 
nature and origin of matter : 


JW eS*m lh 

Oi Affi 


In fact, there is no such thing as a vacuum. 
Therefore, the Holy Sage, in speaking of Nature 
and Nature s laws, comprehended the whole in 
the transformations of an organizing principle." 

Here we have brought before us the old question 
of a vacuum or a plenum, so much discussed 
by the sophists of Greece ; and our author 
resolves it, in a truly Cartesian manner, 
by denying the existence of a vacuum and filling 
all space with Ether. 

With Chang-tsze, as with Descartes, this Ether is 
the primordial stuff out of which matter was formed; 
but he goes a step further than the Frenchman 
ventured, and adds that into Ether all forms of 
matter are destined to return. *His words are 

* The text of this and the preceding quotation is found in the 
foregoing Note. As to the literal accurary of the rendering here given, 

I have some doubt. It makes jjjjjj the subject of Jj f which is 

liable to more than one objection. If, however, jfitfl be taken as 
j {"I* 

an adjective, the general meaning amounts to the same thing. 
" Being freed from obstruction, it becomes divine," i.e., developes 
a divine energy, in virtue of which the "pure becomes transformed 
(or returns) into the gross." This gives, it is true, no distinct idea 
of personality, or what Plato calls eternal mind ; but it does imply 
the inherence of a divine power. Ch eng-tsze says, in commenting 

on this passage: "Spirit and matter, Jjjfjj ^^ ? are one and 
inseparable. To say that the divine spirit exists outside of matter, 
or that matter exists outside of the divine spirit, is to make two things 
of one." This is not atheism, but pantheism. 


41 Within the immensity of space, matter is alternately 
concentrated and dissipated, much as ice is 
congealed or dissolved in water." 

This conception, in all its fullness, we find 
presented in a recent work on The Unseen Universe, 
ascribed to Professors P. G. Tate and Balfour 
Stewart, in which the hypothesis is advanced that 
matter may disappear by reverting to the 
state of ether, in preparation for le-appearing 
in a new creation. Science, however, knows of 
no force capable of evoking it from its grave. 
At this point, we must call in the intervention of 
a Deity, to save us from the impossible idea of 
a defunct universe. Is it not what Horace calls 

Nodus tali vindice dignns ? 

The consideration of this change of state brings 
us to what I have called the dynamics of ether. 
By Descartes this is comprehended in his theory 
of vortices, a term by which he described 
certain whirls and eddies of an attenuated fluid, 
which he represented as required, not only to 
maintain the planets in motion, but to keep the 
particles of air from coming in contact with each other, 
and so changing into a solid. 

The whirling and grinding of that primitive 
element, he believed to result in the production 


of the grosser forms of matter ; and he professed 
to point out the exact way in which the 
three leading forms, the gaseous, the liquid, 
and the solid, are actually generated. 

The modern physicist, who holds the dynamic 
theory of the molecule, entertains substantially 
the same view, however he may differ from 
Descartes as to details of the creative process. 
Curious as it is to see an obsolete theory 
revived in the heyday of western science,. 
it is more curious to meet with it in China more 
than eight centuries agone. 

Not only does Chang-tsze agree with Descartes 
in making ether the primordial element, 
which condenses into matter, but he and his 
fellows seem to have hit on vortex motion as an 
explanation of the mode of condensation : 

"The great void," he says, "is filled with a pure 
fluid. Since it is pure, it offers no obstruction to 
movement ;" or, to translate into the language 
of modern physics, " In a frictionless fluid, the 
original motion is maintained without alteration." 

He adds: "There being no obstruction 
to movement, a divine force converts the 
pure into the gross." 

The Chinese philosopher, no more than the 
Frenchman, can explain the creation of matter,, 


without invoking the aid of a divine force. 
That he meant God in a proper sense, 
we shall not assert ; all that we insist on is 
that he attempts to explain the process by a 
theory of vortices. 

A citation or two from other writers may serve 
to throw light on a view which they held 
in common. Cheo Lien-hi, a contemporary of 
Chang-tsze, is known as the author of a diagram 
of cosmogony.* He begins with a single ring 
or circle, of uniform whiteness. This represents 
the uniform, primitive ether. Then follows a circle 
partly dark, which shows the original substance 

* Cheo s diagram of cosmogony forms the first chapter of the 
iHc. 3BJI /fn 3-S or M ftor Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. It begins 
with the statement that "This (the diagram) shows the evolution 
of matter out of Chaos, its motion producing light, and its rest 
darkness," .<?., the dual principles. The comment of Chu Fu-tsze 
adds that " In Heaven and Earth, there is nothing besides motion 
and rest." 

m & w % m #t w * m 


differentiated into two forms, the Yin and the Yang, 
the meaning of which suggests night and day 
as the souce from which the symbolism was derived. 

Speaking of this diagram, Chu Fu-tsze says 
"It shows how the primitive void is transformed 
into matter ;" and he goes on to describe the process. 
"The two forces," he says, " mo lai mo ctitt, 
grind back and forth in opposite directions; 
and the detritus resulting from their mutual friction 
is what we call matter."* 

We may smile at the rudeness of the illustration ; 
but is it not very similar to that of Descartes, 
who describes the particles of elher as cubes, 
which, in the course of revolution, get their 
angles rubbed off, and thus give birth to matter ? 

* The above passage is from his book on jjjf ^jlt > Matter and 
Force ; and, in this, he sets forth his idea of vortex motion, and its 
result in the production of matter. 


I have not cited these passages for their intrinsic 
merit, but for the sake of their resemblance 
to the vortex theory of Descartes. So similar 

are they, both in substance and in imagery, 
that one might almost take them for different 
versions of the same original. 

The Chinese are held to have borrowed much 
(some say even their written language) from India 
or Babylon. Whence did they obtain 
their conceptions of ether and of vortices? 
Whatever analogies may be found in other 
countries, it is certain that their theory on 
this subject springs from the most ancient 
of their own sacred books.* 

On the other hand, is it certain that Descartes 
borrowed nothing from them ? Is it not possible 
that some fragment of Chinese philosophy, translated 
by Jesuit missionaries, may have fallen into his 
hands, while a student at the College of La Fleche ? 

If this could be shown to have been the fact, 
we should have to acknowledge an obligation 
to the extreme Orient, of which we have hitherto 

* The character inscrilied in the first circle of Cheo s diagram is 
J|L Change, the name of the Book of Changes. It means 
transformation, and its use here is an acknowledgment that this theory 
of transformation is drawn from that ancient work. The other 
philosophers equally extol that venerable book as the source of their 
wisdom. Its different parts date Ivxck from 1200 to 2800 B.C. 


entertained no suspicion. We should have to 
confess that the philosophic movement, which rose 
in France and swept over the whole of Europe, 
drew its first impulse from Chinese thinkers of 
the nth century. 

Until that can be proved, we must still 
concede to Descartes the honor of originality ; 
but it may heighten our respect for the 
Chinese to know that they have had thinkers, 
whose speculations are not unworthy to be 
compared with those of the " Father of Modern 

i S" " (2) *^d ^"* 




EFORE entering on the treatment of this 
subject, there are two or three remarks 
to be made by way of definition. 

In the first place, the word " inspiration," 
as applied to the notions of the Chinese, 
must be taken with considerable latitude, as 
expressing their conceptions of an ultimate 
authority, which pervades and lies behind their 
Sacred Books, as the source and basis of their 

Secondly, as their Sacred Books belong to 
three leading schools of religious thought, not 
to speak of numberless alloys, it is not to be 
supposed that the views of these schools on the 

* Read before the American Oriental Society at Princeton, 
October 23rd, 1890. 


subject of inspiration coincide more closely than 
on other matters in regard to which they are 
in fact widely divergent. It is hardly possible 
that the materialism of the Taoist, the idealism 
of the Buddhist, and the ethical sadduceeism 
of the Confucianist, should hold much in common 
on the subject of inspiration. We shall accordingly 
point out the peculiar form which the idea 
of inspiration assumes in connection with each 
of them. 

Thirdly, while the high social development 
of the Chinese, their vast numbers, and their 
long history, give value to any elements of their 
fundamental beliefs, in order to be of interest 
to us, these must be taken at a date prior to their 
contact with Christianity. 


To begin with Taoism : Indigenous to China, 
its root idea is the belief in the possibility 
of acquiring a mastery over matter, so as to change 
its forms at will, and thus protect ourselves 
against decay and death. Obscurely hinted at 
by its great founder in the Metrical Manual 
of 5,000 words which he is believed to have 
bequeathed to his successors, the latter have 
deduced from that Manual the extravaganzas 


of alchemy, the transmutation of metals, 
and the elixir of immortality. 

Those who have attained immortality constitute 
a pantheon, ruling over the material world, 
and presiding over the destinies of man. Material 
in its origin, this school gradually evolved 
a system of belief strikingly analogous to 
the so-called "spiritualism," which not long ago 
attracted so much attention in our Western 

Instead, however, of regarding all spirits 
as indiscriminately ferried over to the farther 
shore, it considers that those of the profane 
multitude, not being sufficiently concentrated 
to resist the inroads of decay, vanish into air and 
cease to be ; while a favored few, by dint of 
persevering effort, subdue their animal nature, 
and weave its fibres into a compact unity that 
defies destruction. A favorite analogy to illustrate 
this process is their theory of the evolution of gold, 
which, as they believe originally a base metal, 
passes upward through a succession of forms, 
all liable to tarnish or corrode, until it reaches a 
state in which its perfected essence remains forever 
unchangeable. The diamond, a gem of "purest 
ray serene," smiling at the sharpest steel, 
and mocking the hottest fire, is another symbol 


much used ; and it might have done much to 
confirm their faith in this theory, had their science 
gone far enough to connect the gem that shines 
in immortal splendor with the fossilized carbon 
that lies hidden in the bosom of the earth, 
or with those evanescent forms of vitalized carbon 
that beautify its surface. 

The happy few, as precious as gold and as 
rare as the diamond, who attain to immortality, 
do not leave their bodies behind them, 
like cast-off clothing ; nor would their bodies 
cause the boat of Charon to draw a deeper 
draught, for the body itself is transformed and 
becomes a " spiritual body," with changed 
qualities and new powers. Its qualities are 
such in general as we ascribe to spirit ; 
its powers are limited only by the stage of its 
-progress, a progress that rises from sphere to 
sphere without a bound. 

Among the acquired powers of these immortals, 
one which occupies a leading place is that of 
spiritual manifestation. These sien-jin, or genii, 
as they are called, are of various grades ; 
and all of them are capable of renewing their 
intercourse with human beings, among whom 
they walk invisible. It is seldom that they 
re-appear in their primitive shape ; but they 


frequently make their presence felt through the 
intervention of suitable media. 

A favorite medium is the human body, in a 
hypnotic condition ; and through such, when 
properly invoked, the genii are wont to speak 
to mortals, as Apollo spoke through the Delphic 
Priestess. Their oracles in such cases relate, 
in general, to the cure of disease, or the 
conduct of family affairs. In early times, they 
aspired to the direction of affairs of state; 
but the detection of numerous impostures brought 
them into discredit, and their influence is now 
restrained to a humbler sphere, though it is 
still real, and by no means to be despised. 

Another medium is the fulon, an instrument 
which we may describe as a magic pen. 
It consists of a vertical stick, suspended like 
a pendulum from a cross-bar. The bar is 
supported at each end by a votary of the genii, 
care being taken that it shall rest on the 
hand as freely as an oscillating engine does 
on its bearings. A table is sprinkled with meal, 
and, after becoming invocation, the spirit 
manifests his presence by slight irregular 
motions of the pen or pendulum, which leaves 
its trace in the meal. These marks are 
deciphered by competent authorities, who make 


known the response from the spirit world. 

This will be recognized as an early form 
of planchette. In the Far East, it has been 
in vogue for more than a thousand years ; 
and there is as yet no sign that it "has 
had its day." Not merely Taoists by profession, 
but scholars, who call themselves Confucian, 
believe in it with a more or less confiding faith. 
When they resort to it with a serious purpose, 
they usually get an answer which they accept 
bond fide, whether it meet their wishes or 
oppose them. Often, however, they call in the 
magic pen to supply diversion for the late hours 
of a convivial party ; and in such cases, 
they tell me, they are sometimes surprised by 
the result, an invisible person evidently joining 
the festive circle, and solving or creating 

Skeptical as are the Chinese literati, no one 
that I have seen doubts the genuineness of 
some of the communications so obtained. 
I have had such sent to me from a distant 
place, with the assurance that they were obtained 
through the magic pen at the altars of the gods ; 
and, whatever I may have thought on the subject, 
I could not doubt that the sender believed 
in them. 


Where such credulity renders the public- mind 
as susceptible to impressions as the meal does 
a wiiting-table, it is obvious that revelations 
for the purpose of religious instruction are to be 
expected. The fact is that the magic pen is one of 
the most prolific sources of religious literature. 
Mahomet claimed credit for the Koran, on 
the ground that it was brought leaf by 
leaf from Paradise by the angel Gabriel. 
The hierophants of China are wont to impose 
on the credulity of their countrymen, by 
ascribing their own teachings to revelations 
made by means of planchette. 

Some of these so-called revelations are 
deservedly popular, on account of the beauty 
of their style and the excellence of their subject 
matter ; and they are held in special reverence, 
as worthy expressions of the mind of 
deified Sages. 

To this category belong : 

1- The Kan-ying-pien, a treatise on retribution, 
derived by this method from no less a personage 
than Lao-tse, the great founder of the Taoist sect. 

2. The Kio-shi-king, or world-waking appeal 
of Kwan-ti, tutelar god of the reigning dynasty. 

3 The Yin-chi-wen, or Book of Rewards and 


Others might be added, but I forbear to cite them, 
because they " attain not to the first three." 

The last cited is ascribed to Wen-ch ang, the god 
of letters, a Taoist deity much in favor with 
scholars of the Confucian School ; for, wide apart 
as they are in fundamental principles, the dividing 
lines of the three sects are now well-nigh 
obliterated. Each borrows deities from the other, 
and priests of one are found in charge of temples 
that belong to the other; a result, not so much 
due to rapprochement in their authorized teachings, 
as to a chronic confusion in the popular mind. 


Buddhism, as the stronger faith, has " drawn 
the cover to its own side," adopting many Taoist 
usages, and, among them, the practice of procuring 
spiritualistic revelations. In vain do the orthodox 
denounce it, as tending to corrupt the canon, 
and as derogatory to the dignity of the deities 
invoked ; the practice continues to flourish. 

Of the extent to which it is carried, you may 
judge from the following indignant protest, which 
I translate from the Siu Che Yao Yen, a practical 
guide for the Buddhist priesthood : 

" In these latter days, men s minds are superficial 
and false. There is nothing that they do not 


counterfeit. Even in the dissemination of good 
books, they resort to falsehood to aid their 
circulation. Their own rude language, which 
has no meaning more than skin-deep, they palm off 
as revealed through the magic pen, thus imposing 
on the ignorant. 

"They mostly father their effusions on Wen-ch ang 
and Lii-tsu ; less frequently, on Kwan-ti. Only think 
of it : In case of ordinary books or pictures, 
to falsify the authorship is held as an odious crime. 
How much more hateful the crime of adulterating 
the teachings of gods and sages ! When 
book-shelves are loaded with fabrications, 
the circulation of the genuine article is impeded. 
Instances of this kind of outrage on Holy Names 
are too frequent to enumerate. 

"Recently some cases of a truly extraordinary 
character have come to light. Shameless forgeries 
are put forth as books of Buddha ! Buddha himself 
is sometimes invoked to indite a commentary, 
and even Taoist genii are called on to reveal 
an exposition of Buddhist classics. Then we have 
lists of Buddha s titles, purporting to emanate 
from spirit revelations. The blunders of these 
books go without castigation, and falsehood gains 
strength day by day. Formerly moral tracts were aids 
to virtue ; to-day they are used to mislead mankind." 


Here follows a list of spurious books, ending 
with the remark that " names of men and places, 
though formed on Sanscrit models, are so clumsily 
constructed that their rough angles pierce through 
the thin disguise ; and the more extended 
a discourse, the more thoroughly does the 
fabricator succeed in exposing his imposture." 

To note the adoption of this Taoist practice 
by a section of Buddhism is not foreign to our 
subject, because it is Chinese in origin ; but, to 
ascend the stream and treat of inspiration from 
the stand-point of orthodox Buddhism would lead us 
away from China. It would carry us into 
the world of Hindoo mysticism, where Shaky amuni 
laid the foundation of his conquering creed. 

Suffice it to say that, to the Buddhist, there is 
no form of existence higher than Buddha, 
no authority above that of Buddha. He does not 
look beyond Buddha to an all-pervading spirit,. 
as Christians look through Christ up to the Father 
of Spirits. For him, Buddha is ultimate ; and, as 
the name signifies supreme intelligence, so all 
believers accept the utterances of Buddha as truth 
not to be called in question. With them, the only 
possible question is that touching the authenticity 
of those utterances, in other words, respecting 
the proper contents of the Buddhistic canon. 


How much of that canon fell from the lips 
of Shakya, and how far the teachings of his followers 
are deducible from his original revelations, 
are questions of serious import ; or rather they 
would become such, if once the spirit of critical 
inquiry were fairly aroused. If, among the 
heterogeneous materials composing the canon 
as acknowledged by one or other of the schools, 
the spurious utterances ascribed to Buddha were 
sifted from the genuine, there would remain 
but a very small residuum. Among his subordinates, 
the degree of authority conceded to each is 
decided according to their grade of intelligence 
or rank in the canonical hierarchy ; but no spiritual 
influence emanating from a higher source is 
admitted. This is true of primitive or atheistic 
Buddhism ; but in Buddhism, as modified by time, 
and by contact with other creeds, we find a 
superintending and enlightening influence from 
the spirit of Buddha freely acknowledged. 


The ideas of Confucianists in regard to inspiration 
differ widely from those of both the preceding 
schools. They are the ideas, not of a sect, 
but of the bulk of the Chinese people. 

When the three schools are named in series, 


the Ju, or Confucian, stands at the head ;. 
but when the Confucian is spoken of by itself,, 
it is generally described as ta-kiao, the great, 
universal, or catholic school. Its tenets form the 
bed-rock of Chinese civilization, whatever may 
be the complexion of the over-lying soil. 
The yellow of Buddhism and the black 
of Taoism may be everywhere detected, 
but they form only a superficial tinge on the 
original background. Every Buddhist or Taoist 
(outside of the priesthood) is, first of all, 
a Confucianist ; but the converse is by no 
means true, the more educated Chinese 
in general rejecting both the other sects, 
and speaking disrespectfully of their claims, 
though not altogether exempt from their 
influence. Hence a common error in estimating 
the number of Buddhists on the globe ; 
for, unlike Burmah and Siam, where Buddhism 
is established by law, the intellectual culture 
of China flows apart from Buddhism ; 
and, in China, the priesthood of Buddha, 
with but few redeeming exceptions,, 
has sunk to the condition of an ignorant and 
despised caste. 

The canon of Confucianism is, therefore,, 
pre-eminently the canon of China ; and, to find 


what views the Chinese hold as to its inspiration, 
we have in the first place to turn to the 
canon itself. 

The canon consists, if we reject the enumeration 
of thirteen books as too wide, and accept that 
of nine as more exact, of two classes of works : 
the pre-Confucian, and the post-Confucian. 
The Li-ki, or Book of Rites, is classed with the 
former, though compiled under the dynasty of 
Han, because it professes to preserve the traditions 
of an earlier age. Held in high esteem, 
it is nevertheless deemed somewhat apocryphal. 
The other four pre-Confucian books were all 
edited by the great Sage, and issued with 
his imprimatur. 

They contain such fragments of antiquity, 
historical, poetical, and philosophical, as 
he thought worth while to preserve. 
Among them there is not much of unity to be 
discerned "in member, joint, or limb;" 
and, as a whole, they are not regarded as 
emanating from a supernatural source. 

There are, however, in this collection, 
two sketches of a rudimentary philosophy, for 
which a supernatural origin is distinctly claimed. 
One of these is a table of mystic symbols, 


from which the diagrams of the Book of 
Changes were subsequently evolved. 

This was, according to tradition, in the reign 
of Fu-hi, 2800 B. c., brought up from the waters 
of the Yellow River on the back of a beast, 
which was "half horse and half alligator;" 
signifying, if we admit a grain of truth in 
the legend, that the first eight diagrams, 
which form the basis of the sixty-four in the 
Book of Changes, were suggested by the 
mysterious markings on the carapace of a tortoise. 
That the figures on the shell of a tortoise were 
employed in divination is attested by history, 
princes keeping sacred shells in temples erected 
for the purpose. The shell only ceased to be 
consulted, when the ampler book became 
known and accepted as a treasury of 
divine oracles. 

The other fragment of direct revelation 
is an outline of natural and political 
philosophy called the Hung Fan, or 
" Great Plan." It is said to have been 
brought to the Emperor Yu, from the waters 
of the river Loh, by a monster somewhat 
similar to that which figures in the 
preceding legend. 


Both stories were indorsed by Confucius, 
if the Appendix to the Book of Changes be 
his work ; and the highest scholars of China 
continue to receive them as true beyond 
a question. 

Leaving the barbarous age in which tortoise 
and dragon are messengers of the gods, 
we come to a more rational period, when man 
becomes the medium through which the Will 
of Heaven is revealed. This view is first 
enunciated in the Book of Odes (circa 1000 B. c.), 
in a passage often cited, and one which remains 
in use as a popular formula : " Heaven, having 
given life to men, raised up princes to rule 
them and teachers to instruct them,"- 
a statement which, with all the light of 
our developed Christianity, it is not easy to 
improve upon. 

The general conception, of teachers providentially 
raised up, became at length restricted to that 
of certain eminent men who were looked on 
as infallible guides. They were called ihtng-jm, 
a phrase commonly rendered " holy men," 
but one which expresses unerring wisdom 
rather than holiness. They were numerous in 
remote antiquity, inventors of arts sharing the 
honor along with the founders of human society. 


Thus Fu-hi, who instituted marriage, was a 
sheng-jin ; Hwang-ti, who invented medicine, 
was a sheng-jin ; Tsang-kie, the inventor of letters, 
and Ta-nao, the author of the most ancient 
calendar, are also venerated as sheng-jin. 
In later ages, such paragons of wisdom became 
few, the advent of one being heralded by 
presages of an unmistakable character. 

None of those above named ever claimed 
the credit of a divine mission, but posterity 
agreed to honor them with that exalted title. 
The sage of sages is Confucius. He makes 
no direct claim to inspiration, and always 
speaks of himself with becoming modesty. 
According to himself, there are virtues 
to which he has not attained, and there 
is knowledge that lies beyond his range. 
Yet he evinces at times a sublime consciousness 
of a peculiar mission. When in peril, he exclaims : 
" If it be the will of Heaven to preserve my 
doctrine for the benefit of mankind, what power 
can my enemies have over me?" At other times, 
confident of the truth of his teachings, he appeals, 
not to the people of his own day, but to the 
judgment of sages that are to appear in distant ages. 

His teaching was from Heaven, but it was not 
imparted to him in a supernatural way. " How," 


he exclaims, " does Heaven speak, what is the 
language it addresses to men ? The seasons follow 
their course, and all things spring into life, 
this is the language of Heaven." In his view, 
it was the province of the "Sage to interpret Nature, 
not merely as she lives in the forms of matter, 
but as she breathes in the soul of man. 

This idea of the sheng-jin t or sage, had begun 
to take shape in the dawn of Chinese civilization. 
Confucius, who did more than any other to fix 
the forms of that civilization by a wise selection 
of the best traditions, seized on the idea as 
one of essential importance, and gave it precision, 
without in so many words laying claim to the 

His grandson, Kung-kie, half a century later, 
gave the world a theory of ethics, based, like that 
of Aristotle, on the assumption that good 
is a middle term between two evils. Unlike 
the Stagy rite, he gives free scope to a fervid 
imagination, and draws a glowing picture of 
concrete good in the character of the shcng-jin, 
or perfect man. The passage is an eloquent 
apotheosis of wisdom and virtue, for which his 
great ancestor confessedly served as a human model. 

Not only has posterity permitted Confucius 
to remain on that exalted pedestal, but each 


generation has contributed to raise him higher. 

A few extracts from this treatise will serve 
to exhibit the Sage as expounder of the 
Will of Heaven : 

"None but the most sincere is able to exhaust 
the capabilities of his own nature. By so doing, 
he aids the work of heaven and earth, and takes 
his place as third among the powers of the 

" He who possesses this perfect sincerity attains 
to prophetic foresight. This quality, therefore, 
partakes of the divine." 

" Great is the Holy Sage (or sheng-jhi) ; 
all the books of all the rites wait for him 
to fulfill them." 

" He can appeal to the gods above, because 
he knows Heaven ; and to the wise of coming times, 
because he knows men." 

11 He speaks, and none hesitate to believe ; 
he acts, and none fail to approve." 

" His fame overflows the boundaries of China, 
and extends to barbarous peoples. Wherever ship 
or chariot can go, wherever sun and moon give 
light, wherever frosts and dews descend, there is 
no one who has blood and breath, who does not 
honor and love such a man. Therefore, he is said 
to be the equal of Heaven." 


This description of the ideally perfect man, 
drawn as it was from the teaching and example 
of Confucius, caused him to be accepted in that 
character. Mencius, the St. Paul of Confucianism, 
its last and greatest apostle, confirmed the judgment 
of the author of The Mean. His words are : 
" From the time that human life appeared on earth 
down to this day, the world has seen no man 
like Confucius ; " and his estimate of China s 
greatest teacher has been ratified by all succeeding 

In the process of time, speculative thought 
attained a higher development; and, in the theory 
of the universe which it produced, the sheng-jin 
holds a definite place. Heaven, earth, and man, 
form a triad of agents, as hinted already in the 
Doctrine of the Mean ; the first representing 
self-acting spirit ; the second, plastic or passive 
matter ; the third, man ; a child born of their 
union, a microcosm or epitome of the 
universe, his soul reflecting the pure spirit 
of Heaven, and his body composed of the gross 
elements of earth. For the Sage it is reserved 
to connect the two in a perfect union. Accordingly 
we see, in all the temples of Confucius, a 
central inscription just over the shrine of 
the spirit tablet : Yu t ien ti wei tsan, 


" He forms a triad with heaven and earth." 

The conception is obviously pantheistic. 
In the person of the Sage, the dual powers find 
their harmony completed. He receives no spoken 
communication, and asks no illuminating influence ; 
but, embodying in its highest degree the spiritual 
essence of both, he becomes thereby an infallible 
expositor of the universe, a law-giver to the 
human race. It is said of him, " He speaks, 
and his word is law to the world ; he acts, 
and his conduct is an unerring example." 

It is in this light that the Chinese, 
without exception, are accustomed to look on 
the last of their Sages. He is not a god, 
but a perfect man ; not a prophet who utters 
occasional oracles, but, in word and deed, a 
constant manifestation of ideal excellence. 
He does not speak in the name of a higher power ; 
but, if that power were conceived as speaking, 
it could add nothing to the authority of the Sage. 

How near this conception approaches to the 
Hindoo view of Buddha, as the perfect 
embodiment of intelligence and virtue, needs not 
to be pointed out. In the Confucian system, 
however, there is a Heaven above the Sage; 
while, in the Buddhist, there is none. 

It follows that everything that bears the seal 


of such an authority is sacred in the highest degree. 
The verbal text of his books is not to be 
altered, no matter what faults may be detected 
by rational criticism. Thus, incomplete and 
pleonastic expressions, the errors of ancient 
copyists, are faithfully reproduced, much as our 
Hebrew Bibles reproduce the ay in suspensum, 
and other errors of transcription. 

This superstitious reverence for the letter of 
the canon symbolizes and fosters that unprogressive 
conservatism which has become the unenviable 
distinction of the Chinese race. 

Confucius, it ought to be said, and his great 
disciple Mencius, lend no countenance to 
such unreasoning worship of antiquity. 
The latter says boldly, " It were better to have 
no books than to be bound to believe all that 
our books contain," referring, it is thought, 
to the Shoo, the canonical book of ancient history. 
And Confucius. lays it down, as the first duty 
of a ruler, to aim at the " renovation of his people." 

In conclusion, it would hardly be pertinent 
to raise the question whether the views of 
inspiration, which we have been considering, are 
favorable or adverse to the adoption of Christianity. 
The great Sage, so far from arrogating definitive 
completeness for his own system, leads his 


disciples to expect the appearance of sheng-jin 
in coming ages. Nor is the advent of such 
Heaven-sent teachers limited to China. 
There is, therefore, nothing to prevent a sound 
Confucian accepting Christ as the Light of the 
World, without abandoning his faith in Confucius 
as a special teacher for the Chinese people. 
" Confucius plus Christ " is a formula to which he 
has no insuperable objection ; but the man, who 
approaches him with such an alternative as 
" Christ or Confucius," is not likely to meet with 
a patient hearing. 

As a matter of fact, native Christians continue 
to believe in the mission of Confucius, much as 
converted Jews do in that of Moses. 





RELIGION consists of two elements, thought 
t . . - and feeling. Its thought is directed toward 
fc> the mysterious problems of existence. In this 
aspect, every religion that emanates from 
human thought is, to a certain extent, to be 
regarded as a philosophy; hence worthy of 
careful study, not as throwing light, which 
to us would be valuable, on the question 
of human destiny, but as throwing light on human 
character, on national character, and the relations 
of nations to each other. 

The religious experience of the Chinese people, 
the elements forming their religious beliefs 
constitute the subject which I have to discuss! 
No_tlieme could, perhaps, be of greater interest! 

Stenographic report of. an address before the American Society 
of Comparative Religion, New York, 1891. 


partly on account of the multitude of people who are 
affected by these views, partly on account of the vast 
antiquity of their civilization, and also because 
that great people have been segregated by 
mountain chains and ocean breadths from 
intercourse with the rest of mankind, to a very 
large extent, for the greater part of their national 

In order that our lessons may be of value, 
it will be important that we should take them 
out of the stream, at a point prior to the influx 
of Christianity ; for Christianity has to some 
extent aftected the modes of thought of that 
people beyond the pale of Christian communities, 
which, for the last three hundred years, have 
been growing up in that land. The systems, of which 
I have to speak, date back far beyond that time. 

The missionary, thoughtful and accustomed 
to study the field upon which he is entering, 
is somewhat like a scientific farmer who 
studies and analyzes the soil into which 
he intends to cast the precious seed. He may 
find that that soil was produced by the 
disintegration of many kinds of rocks, some 
deposited from water, others thrown up by the 
action of internal fires, others yet affected 
by atmospheric influences. We find, in a similar 


manner, the mental soil of China composed 
of three leading elements, which have been 
commingled and brought into interaction in such 
a way as to present to the superficial observer 
a homogeneous aspect. These are known as 
the three religions, Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist. 
Before attempting to point out their interaction, 
which, after all, is the objective point, allow 
me briefly to sketch the leading characteristics 
of each, as they rise successively before our eyes. 
I shall not be able to go into detail in our 
allotted time, nor would it be desirable, inasmuch 
as I have in mind the distinct object of pointing 
out only a few salient features by which these 
religions have acted upon each other. 

The Confucian system did not originate with 
Confucius. He said : " I am an editor, not 
an author." He took the records of remote 
antiquity and sifted them, in such wise, however, 
as to exert in a most effective manner the influence 
of an editor, giving to the readers of all succeeding 
ages only that which he wished to produce its 
effect on the national mind. We consequently date 
Confucianism from the beginning of his records, 
from the time of Yao and Shun, his favorite 
models of virtue, twenty-two centuries before 
the Christian era. Viewed as a religion, it presents 


two leading features : The first is the worship 
of Shang-ti ; the second is the worship of the 
spirits of men under the title of ancestors. 

Shang-ti signifies the Supreme Ruler. Coming 
before us in some of the most ancient books 
extant in any language, the name suggests 
at once the Jehovah of the Christian Scriptures, 
the Lord, the Most High, who was worshipped 
not only by those who are recognized in the canon 
of Scripture as possessing the guidance of inspiration, 
but by such men as Melchiz edek, the King 
of Salem, who was both king and priest. We find 
the earliest sovereigns of China combining 
this double function of king and priest, signalizing 
their accession, especially in the case of founders 
of dynasties, by going to mountain tops, 
the highest points approaching to heaven,, 
and there offering up burnt sacrifices to the 
King of Heaven, by whom kings reign and 
princes decree justice. 

If there were any doubt as to the lofty spiritual 
conception connected with this grand object 
of worship of the one alone to whom all kings 
and princes were recognized as accountable, 
we may find it in a single passage among 
many scores that I might cite to you if I only 
had time. 


The founder of the dynnsty of Chow, 
eleven hundred years before the Christian era, 
is leading a small army to attack the powerful 
host which upholds the throne of a tyrant. 
On the battle-field, before the critical engagement, 
he addresses an eloquent harangue to his soldiers, 
in which he points upward and says : "The Most 
High God, the Supreme Ruler, is looking down 
upon you. Let not your hearts waver." 

The worship of Shang-ti, the Most High (for that 
is almost a literal translation of the name)* 
continues to the present day, the sovereign now 
on the throne acting, as did his predecessors 
of four thousand years ago, as high priest 
for the empire. On an altar within the walls 
of Peking, he offers up burnt sacrifices to the 
Supreme Being. From the earliest days, however, 
this worship was impure. We find no point 
in Chinese history where it was not mingled 
with the worship of subordinate deities, nature- 
gods, gods of the hills and rivers ; and that 
intermixture not only continues to the present day, 
but it has been largely increased, as I shall have 
occasion to show, by the influence of 
other religions, more or less corrupting the 
comparative purity of the primitive ideas. 

Confucius was himself strongly inclined to 


agnosticism. In his intimate conversations with 
his disciples, he refuses to give them any positive 
statement in regard to the things beyond the reach 
of human sight. He said: "We know not life: 
how can we know death, or what lies beyond 
the grave ? We are unable properly to render 
service to our living parents ; how should 
we know how to render fitting service 
to those who have passed into the other 
world?" Yet he enjoined service to those 
who have passed into the other world as the 
cardinal duty in his religious system; and it is that, 
more than anything else, which makes it a 
religion, potent and living to this day. 
The worship or the Supreme Ruler, grand 
as it is, is nevertheless like a ray of the 
sun falling upon an iceberg, so far as 
its influence on the public mind is concerned. 
It is limited to the emperor and to a few 
remarkable and august manifestations of public 
ritual; but you do not find it in the household. 
You do not find it on the lips of the people.. 
You do not find that God in that form has 
taken up his abode with men. He is still far 
remote, on the summit of an icy Olympus,. 
as it were, although to a certain extent dimly 
perceived by the mind of the Chinese nation.. 


Taoism rose next. The founder of Taoism 
preceded Confucius; but, by a kind of paradox, 
his religion is of later date. The founder of 
Taoism goes by the name of Lao-tse, 
which signifies the "Old Philosopher/ probably 
because he was old when Confucius was young, 
they being contemporaries. The Taoist system 
is not found clearly developed in the only book 
which has been transmitted to us from the 
hand of Lao-tse, and the authenticity of which 
has been to a large exent questioned. 
His followers, however, deduced from the obscure 
hints contained in that book two ideas, or rather, 
one idea, which afterward subdivided itself 
into two. The one idea was that, by persistent 
effort, we may acquire a mastery over matter 
in such a way as to command all its potencies, 
and employ them in accomplishing objects which 
would seem far beyond the reach of human 
power, unless it were elevated by a process 
of discipline. 

The matter thus spoken of is subjectively that 
of our own bodies, the discipline of which would 
result in a possible immortality, and objectively 
the material objects surrounding us, but chiefly 
the elemental forms, the careful study of which 
would enable man finally to transmute the baser 


metals into gold, and to accomplish many things 
which have the air of miracle. You perceive how 
naturally from this root spring the two 
fundamental ideas of alchemy, the transmutation of 
metals into gold, and the attainment of immortality. 
These came forward under the influence of 
perhaps the two leading desires which 
characterize human existence, the first to be 
rich, the second to live long, or to live forever, 
in order to enjoy wealth. 

This system has, however, a close relation to 
what preceded it, as a cause and explanation 
of the energy with which it took hold of the 
human mind. I have just said that Confucius 
was something of an agnostic. He dealt largely 
in negations, refused to give any light beyond 
the grave, or to hold out any hope of 
immortality, although that is to some extent 
implied in the formal worship of ancestors. 
The longing of the human mind for a future 
life sought satisfaction in the Taoist conception 
of a possible immortality, which was to be 
conquered by a long and laborious discipline, 
and which could not be the heritage of the many, 
but which might become the possession of a few. 
This system, at the same time, imparted a 
kind of life to all nature, making every form 


of matter instinct with an inextinguishable 
divine essence, which is capable of assuming 
personality. In this way, it peopled the world 
with a new Pantheon of gods, fairies, and genii. 
The term genii we usually employ as a translation 
for shen-sien or sien-jin (both forms being used), 
which is the word the Taoists apply to their 
adepts, those who obtain the precious gift, 
the elixir of immortality. This view may be 
illustrated by the following lines from a 
Chinese poem : 

"A prince the draught immortal went to seek, 
And finding it he soared above the spheres ; 
In mountain caverns he had dwelt a week 
Of human time it was a thousand years." * 

The Taoist system, deifying, as it were, matter, 
being essentially materialistic, laid hold upon 
the sublime conception of Shang-ti, the ruler 
of the universe, and incorporated it into the 
material world. Not only so; having arrived at 

tit m ~#~ IF 

^Jr* "Tf \\JJ 

*T-> yu ^T^ 

H x m 


the idea of the five elements, it subdivided the 
idea of the supreme ruler, and made five gods, 
each a god of a special element. Thus it corrupted 
the idea of God ; and it has been one of the most 
fruitful sources of religious corruption in the 
history of the Chinese mind, introducing a 
multitude of favorite idols, nature-gods of material 
origin, which continue to be worshipped to the 
present day. 

The Buddhist system came in, as you are aware, 
early in the Christian era, the emperor Ming Ti 
having sent a mission to India to bring Buddhist 
priests and books from that country in the 
year 66 A.D. The occasion for the introduction 
of Buddhism was, on the one hand, the eclipse 
of Confucianism, and, on the other, the religious 
thought, or phases of thought, stimulated and 
introduced by Taoism. The defects of both were 
supposed to be supplied by the stronger, 
more intellectual, and more spiritual creed of India. 

The eclipse of Confucianism was not caused 
by the ascendancy of a rival creed. 
It was caused by a political revolution. 
The builder of the Great Wall rose up in his 
might, conquered the rival kings, and resolved 
that he would extirpate the feudal system. 
He was made to believe that, without extirpating 


the books of Confucius, he never could eradicate 
that system ; and that, though he might 
overthrow one state after another, yet after 
he should pass away the system would again 
spring from the pages of the Confucian books. 
He resolved to burn the books ; and then, 
lest these books should be reproduced from the 
memory of able scholars, he put them to death, 
and thus flattered himself that he had swept 
away Confucianism from the face of the earth, 
and with it the whole of the feudal system. 
It was during this eclipse of Confucianism, 
which lasted for about two centuries, that the 
emperor Ming Ti sent his embassy to India. 

The Chinese people, having got the idea of 
immortality from Taoism, were at first fired with 
it; but, disappointed that through that system 
there was no hope for any but a very few, 
they were fascinated with a report they had 
heard of a blessed religion in India, which offered 
salvation to all. Hence the Emperor sent his 
embassy to India and introduced this new religion, 
which had perhaps, to some extent, already found 
its way into China, and begun to exert 
some influence; but which, from that day, 
became a potent factor in the development of 
the Chinese mind, and continues to the present day 



to be the leading religious influence in that country. 
I may here mention, as an illustration 
of the position which Buddhism acquired and 
holds in China, that I hold in my hand 
a document never given to the world in the 
English language, nor, so far as I know, in any 
other Western language, showing that if, in the year 
66, an Emperor was so impressed with Buddhism 
as to send an embassy to India to .introduce it 
into China, fourteen centuries later another 
Emperor was so much influenced by it as to send 
an embassy to bring Buddhist Classics from Thibet. 
This Paper is A Eulogy on the Sacred 
Books of Thibet, by the Emperor Yung-loh,* 
1412 A.D. It reads as follows: 

" In our opinion, Julai Buddha was manifested 
for one great purpose, viz. : To reveal the 
profound mysteries of the Three Collections 
and Twelve Categories. All that is needed 
to point out his meaning, and transmit his teaching, 
is therefore extant. 

"From the time when this doctrine flowed into 
the Central Land, its meaning has been expressed 
in translations for the instruction of the multitude ; 

The text of this Eulogy and Hymn was obtained from a Thibetan 
Lama in Peking, by Professor Pander, of the Imperial College, 
and translated by Dr. Martin. 


but, excepting scholars of the highest order of 
intelligence, very few have been able to understand 
it, and those who have got hold of its essential 
principles are not many. 

" Now the government of the heart, and 
improvement of the conduct, are means to the 
attainment of virtue. By heart is to be understood 
that pure intelligence which comprehends mysteries, 
and sheds its light upon the obscure. It embraces 
every variety of truth, and omits nothing. 
The way to learning lies through a sea of books; 
yet, if we trace all principles to their root and source, 
we come back to the heart alone. 

" If we study this doctrine, and examine 
its evidence, it rises above all that is most excellent ; 
it stands forever unmoved, and there is nothing 
hid from its light. Verily it is a bridge of safety 
that reaches to the end of the world, a flaming 
torch that shines in the midst of uncertain 

" We, having come to the throne of this Great 
Empire, and receiving the charge of this vast 
inheritance, call to mind the tender care bestowed 
on our education by our Imperial Parents. 
The virtuous toil, by which they founded their 
family, cannot be repaid; but, in memory of it> 
we sent envoys to the West to bring the Sacred 


Books of Thibet, which we have caused to be 
printed and distributed gratuitously, as an example 
of zeal in recommending and propagating 
the Faith, in the hope that every living soul 
may obtain happiness thereby. 

"Of those who do this, the merit is more than 
words can express. As to those who are 
lost in the mazes of error, bound by the 
cords of original sin, blindly rushing on and 
not knowing whither they go, if they do not 
examine this doctrine, they will never be 
able to attain substantial good or return to the 
ways of truth. To act out this sentiment 
by giving succor to those that are sinking in 
the whirlpool, is to share the compassionate 
disposition of Julai Buddha. 

"We take this for the subject of a hymn of praise, 
which may be placed as a preface in front of those 
books, and serve to add wings to their circulation 


Julai has set forth the principles of righteousness ; 
The voice of his law fills the universe ; 
Worlds many as the sands of Ganges 
Are every one full of it. 


He transforms the race of men, 
So that they may all become models of virtue ; 
Those who are as water spilt upon the dust 
Are lifted above the waves of sense. 

Passing through the experiences of countless kalpas, 
He has opened wide the gate of happiness ; 
The misguided ones who cleave to earthly show 
Every one become perfectly illuminated ; 
And as long as there is one who is not illuminated, 
Julai swears that he will not enter Nirvana.* 

We have pity on the crowds of men, 

And for that reason spread abroad the words of Julai ; 

With deep sincerity submitting to the Faith, 

We desire that all men should, along with us, 

Experience the felicity of Bodisatwas.t 

Our first object is to recompense the [great love 

of our parents, 

The next is to deliver men from the way of bitterness, 
That they may together rise to the highest intelligence ; 
That, the overflowings of desire being repressed, 
They may attain to victorious excellence of heart, 
Escaping calamities to come. 

* Buddha is defined as "Supreme Intelligence, ready to enter 
Nirvana." While hovering on its verge, he (Julai) is conceived as 
acting as a compassionate Saviour, which he could not l>e after 
entering that state of endless repose. The same is said of Kwan-yin, 
the Goddess of Mercy. 

t Boddhisatwa is the penultimate stage ; i./., next to Buddhaship. 


Julai spread abroad the doctrine of occult causes, 
And published it under Indian skies 
A phcenix who spoke the speech of Magadha, 
Most perfect beyond thought or expression. 

He is like the beating of a drum to awaken the 

four quarters, 

All who have ears may hear him ; 
Those who hear him awake, 
And, fixed in purpose, no more turn back, 
Nor ever again fall into the wheel of change. 

To bear our testimony to the venerated Lord 

of the World, 

AVe have composed this hymn of praise ; 
Its poetic merit is not worth speaking of, 
But may it redound to the good of souls ! 

Various doctrines are alluded to in this Paper, 
only one or two of which I will touch upon. 
I have already referred to the full and bounteous 
offer of salvation and immortality made by 
Buddhism, as furnishing a very powerful attraction 
in contrast to the meagre promises of Taoism 
and the cold negations of Confucianism, which 
preceded. This was connected with the doctrine 
of the transmigration of souls, which was common 
to almost all Indian creeds. 


The Indian philosophy regarded transmigralion 
as something amounting to a physical necessity; 
maintaining that it is absolutely impossible for a man 
to extinguish his being ; that he has, as it has been 
expressed, come into this world without his own 
choice, and will go into the next without his own 
choice, and thence go on in a succession of changes 
forever. This succession of changes is described 
under the figure of a wheel, the urn of destiny, 
or wheel of fate, which is represented as revolving 
rapidly and dropping out human souls to be born 
again in the form of man, or of some higher 
or lower being, there being six categories in all, 
according to the Buddhist division. The view 
of human life, taken by the founder of the faith, 
was pessimistic. All change is evil, and, to escape 
from this series of changes, constitutes happiness; 
and he devised a method for that purpose. 

In the Northern School of Buddhism, especially 
in its popular phase, we seldom meet with this idea. 
We meet more frequently with the idea that, 
to rise in the scale of bein^, is happiness. 
Shukyamuni had in his system no heaven. 
The Northern Buddhism, which has prevailed 
in China, has a heaven, borrowed, it may be, 
from the Christian s Paradise. It has, presiding 
over it, a Goddess of Mercy, borrowed, perhaps, 


from the Catholic conception of the Mother 
of Jesus Christ. Many other ideas present 
a parallel, I shall not say a travesty, 
of Christianity. 

We are asked particularly to point out 
the relation and interaction of these three systems, 
which we have thus briefly sketched. You have 
noted that they rose one after the other, 
each of them introduced by a felt want, and that 
each was preceded by a yearning of the human 
soul for something better ; consequently, 
in a religious point of view, each one may be 
considered as an advance upon that by which 
it was preceded. They were a long time 
antagonistic, sometimes even inciting bloody 
persecutions; but at this day they have become 
comparatively quiescent, like active chemicals, 
which, being brought into juxtaposition, exert for 
a time their various qualities, but which soon 
become inert, until they are brought into contact 
with some more energetic reagent. We shall 
find that reagent in Christianity. 

A remarkable illustration of the quiescence 
of these long active and conflicting systems 
is found in the fact that there are, in some parts 
of China, little shrines or temples, where 
the three religions are seen represented by their 


founders, Confucius, Buddha, and Lao-tse, 
all sitting side by side, and receiving at one 
and the same time the homage of worshippers 
who acknowledge all three. 

You might object that it would be a strange mind 
that would acknowledge and swallow all these 
creeds; yet there are many who assert that the three 
creeds are identical, if you could only get down to the 
bottom. In fact, nothing is more contradictory. 
The Confucian system is essentially ethical ; 
the Buddhist system is pure idealism, as pure as 
that of Berkeley or Hegel ; and the Taoist system 
is materialistic, beginning with gross matter. 
How is it possible that three systems so utterly 
divergent should ever be reconciled? The fact is, 
they are irreconcilable. Each one presents some 
one thing which meets a human want, but 
reconciliation there is none ; peace, union, harmony, 
there cannot be, though a truce, a permanent truce, 
seems at present to exist between them. 

The question may be raised " What benefit 
has each one of these conferred upon the Chinese 
people ? " Each one has enlarged and widened 
the speculative thought and religious conceptions 
of the people. Confucianism gave them, or at least 
preserved for them, and preserves to the present 
day, the grand idea of the Supreme Ruler ; and it 


bears witness, too, to the doctrine of immortality, 
in the duty of worshipping departed spirits. 
But this is faint, very faint, in comparison with 
the religious teaching of the other two sects. 
Buddhism has been especially potent in instilling 
ideas, which are so nearly akin to those propagated 
by Christianity, as to prepare the way for the 
introduction of another system.* 

Buddhism, no doubt, vastly enlarged the area 
of Chinese conceptions. To borrow a mathematical 
illustration, the religious ideas of the Chinese 
were limited, before the introduction of Buddhism, 
to two dimensions, to something that may be 
described as a "flat-land," with length and breadth, 
but no height. Buddhism gives it height, soaring 
up to the heavens and developing the conception 
of the universe, the grandeur of which, perhaps, 
nothing can exceed. Is it possible that, after 
this universe of three dimensions, we shall have 
one of four dimensions? Mathematicians tell us 
that, with space of four dimensions, it is possible 
to do many things which cannot be done 
without it. There is, in my view, room for 
the fourth dimension, or (to drop the figure) 
there is room for a fourth stage in the 
progression, one which China is waiting for. 

* See next Taper. 


Christianity alone can supply the defects of all 
the systems, and present one harmonious unity. 
If I were to express in one word what 
Christianity is to confer upon China, it would be 
this : Not a God seated far away, upon some 
remote Olympus, as in the Confucian system ; 
not a God inherent in matter, as in the Taoist 
system ; not a God, as in the Buddhist system, 
who has risen from the ranks of the disciples 
of virtue, a mere deified man; but God, the Spirit 
of the universe, in Christ Jesus, coming into 
the human soul, taking up his abode there, 
and working by his Holy Spirit a regenerating 
influence, such as none of these creeds ever 
exerted, and of which they have presented 
only a faint and dim prophecy. This I believe 
to be the mission of Christianity; and I believe 
the Chinese, though it may be unconsciously, 
are waiting for it, and reaching out after it. 




[F late we have heard much about the science 
of comparative religion. To studies of that 
kind, as Professor Max Miiller is careful 
to admit, our modern missionaries have 
contributed valuable materials. It was a graceful 
admission of this, on the part of New York 
University, recently to elect to its chair of 
comparative religion the Secretary of one 
of our most prominent missionary societies. 
No renunciation of the claims of Christianity was 
required, as a qualification for the duties of his chair. 
The pre-eminent qualifications of the professor 
elect consisted in the fact that long experience 
had made him familiar with the actual state of 
all existing religions ; that he had studied their 

* Chinese Recorder (May, 1889). 


history, and had given proof of his ability to 
discuss their merits with fairness and in a most 
attractive style. " Impartial, not neutral" is the 
motto which Dr. Ellin wood might have taken 
for his series of lectures. 

This expresses the ground which the Christian 
missionary should occupy on the same subject, 
with his mind open to all that is good in 
ethnic systems, doing them on all occasions full 
justice, borrowing from them freely to enrich 
his own presentation of the truth, as the Hebrews 
adorned themselves with precious things borrowed 
from their friends among the people of Egypt. 

" Embrace the truth where er t is found, 
On Christian or on heathen ground " 

are the words of Watts, the most evangelical 
of poets. They express the true spirit of Christian 
eclecticism, the spirit with which I desire that we 
should approach our subject this evening.* 

Viewed from our standpoint, the religion which 
above all others has a right to claim serious study, 
in comparison with Christianity, is Buddhism. 
It has been brought forward of late as a rival 
to Christianity, not merely by its traditional 
votaries, but by poets and philosophers f 

Addressed originally to an Association of Missionaries in IVking. 
f- Arnold and Schoppenhaur. 



educated in the schools of Christendom. 
The poet has purloined the ornaments of the 
daughters of Zion to deck an Eastern beauty, 
and the philosopher has endeavoured to persuade 
Western thinkers that their highest wisdom is 
to sit at the feet of the gymnosophists of India. 
One scarcely knows which is the more 
formidable assault on the foundations of our faith, 
whether the gospel would be more discredited 
by being set forth as plagiarizing in part from 
the traditions of India, or by being proven to be 
a less effectual remedy for human woe than the 
pessimism of Shakyamuni. 

There is a lawsuit now pending in the courts 
of England, in which a claimant seeks to oust the 
present occupant of a great estate by proving that 
he belongs to an older branch of the family, and that 
his title ante-dates the other by more than a century. 
In the forum of the world, the contest for 
priority of title to the traditions referred to is 
of infinitely higher moment. After the learned 
investigations of Dr. Kellogg, it can scarcely be 
said of it adhuc sub judice Us cst ; and yet it is 
one of those cases in which defeat is never 
acknowledged, in which, in fact, we may expect to 
see the old pretensions advanced again and again with 
as much confidence as if they had never been refuted. 


It is not my intention to go into this question 
at length, on the present occasion ; but I may 
say, in passing, that a new and weighty authority 
has come forward to challenge the validity of the 
Buddhistic claims. I mean the Bishop of Colombo. 

Allow me to quote a few paragraphs from 
his Paper in the Nineteenth Century, 
(July, 1888) :- 

"We must distinguish," he says, in speaking 
of Buddhism, " two very different sources of 
information, only one of which I shall hereafter 
speak of as historical. The one source is the 
Tipitaka* or threefold collection of sacred books, 
which forms the canon of Southern Buddhism ; 
these I call the books of 250 B. C. 

"The other source is the Biographies of Buddha 
and the Lalita Vistara, which are of uncertain 
date, between the first and sixth centuries. 
These last are the sources of Arnold s Light 
of Asia. . . . When anything is included in 
them, which is conspicuous by its absence from 
the Tipitaka (i.e., which, had it been believed, 
must have been inserted), such is certainly a 
later fabrication ; such are most of the points 
that bear any resemblance to Christianity, 
for example, the miraculous birth. Immeasurably 

* Usually written Tripitaka. 


superior, for historical purposes, are the Pitakas 
to the connected biographies, which belong to 
various dates posterior to the Christian era ; 
unreasonable indeed it is to treat the latter as 
history at all 

"We have been led to the only source of 
history, the Pitakas. The resultant biography 
of Gautama * shows nothing supernatural " r 
and nothing which, in those days, was strange, 
The life of Gautama contains nothing more strange 
than does the life of Shakespeare." 

Thus far, the Bishop shows conclusively 
the unhistorical character of much of that 
material which Sir Edwin Arnold has woven 
into his beautiful poem. As a poet, he had an 
unquestionable right to employ it; but it behooves 
all serious thinkers to beware how they accept 
poetry in place of history .f 

* This is the name for Buddha, in general use in Ceylon and 

f Dr. Eitel, who has made a special study of Buddhism, 
summarizes his conclusions in these words : 

" There is not a single Buddhist manuscript that can vie in 
antiquity and authority with the oldest codices of the gospels. 
The most ancient Buddhist classics contain but few details of 
Buddha s life, and none whatever of those above-mentioned peculiarly 
Christian characteristics. Nearly all the above-given legends, 
that refer to events that happened many centuries before Christ, 
cannot be proved to have been in circulation earlier than the 5th or 
6th century after Christ." (Eitel s Three Lectures on Buddhism). 

Dr. Eitel points to early Nestorian Missions as what he calls 
"the precise source" of these "apparently Christian elements." 


That Buddhism borrowed much in subsequent 
ages is incontestable, and that Christianity 
borrowed something is highly probable. 
Professor Rhys-David asserts that Buddha 
himself has been canonized as a Christian Saint.* 

The fact is that the resemblances between the 
two great religions of the East and West lie 
far deeper than the external habiliment of poetical 
tradition, or the superficial analogies of religious 
orders and religious ritual. They are traceable 
in the general development and practical 
doctiines of both. 

Some of their practical doctrines we shall bring 
into comparison in the sequel. Of the analogies 
to be observed in their historical development, 
I may, in passing, be permitted to indicate one 
or two. Both are found to pursue a course 
exactly the reverse of that mapped out in a 
celebrated dictum of Auguste Comte ; their initial 
stage was not far removed from positivism, 
and yet both evolve a spiritual universe ; 

* He says: "It is a curious part of the history of the legend 
of Buddha that it should have been adapted into a Christian form 
by a father of the Christian Church. The hero of it has been 
entered in the Roman calendar, and is ordered to be worshipped 
as a Saint on every a;th of November, under the title of St Josaphat. 
How this came about has been told by Professor Max Muller in 
his Paper on the .Migration of FaMes, in the "Contemporary Review " 
for July, 1870." 


one burst the bonds of Hindu caste, the other 
broke down the walls of Jewish isolation, 
and each stretched forth its hand to the nations 
with the offer of a new evangel. In spirit as 
wide apart as in geographical situation, they have 
gradually approached each other, so that they 
have come, in the course of ages, to occupy the 
same ground in both senses, and each to lend 
a tinge to the other. For the objects of our 
present inquiry, it matters little how inconsistent 
the Buddhism of one country or of one age 
may be with that of another ; what we have to 
do is to estimate its effects. 

No religion has ever shown itself so plastic 
as that of Buddha, not only chameleon-like, 
taking its hue from its surroundings, 
but promulgating at different times doctrines 
contradictory and self-destructive. Beginning as a 
philosophy of self-discipline, it developed into a 
religious cult. At the outset professing atheism 
pure and simple, in the end it brought forth a 
pantheon of gods ; and, most wonderful of all, 
raised a denier of God s existence to the throne 
of the Supreme. After such changes in doctrine, 
it is hardly surprising that a system, which 
preferred poverty to riches, and deserts to cities, 
should in later times seize the revenue of States 


and place its mendicant friars on the throne 
of kings. The controversialist, who has to confront 
Buddhism as an opposing force, may make the 
most of its contradictions and errors; but for 
ourselves, on the present occasion, we have only 
to inquire whether or not Buddhism, under any 
or all of its phases, in this country, 
has done good or evil. 

In the present it may even he an obstruction, 
but that does not prove that its past influence 
has been otherwise than beneficent. The Western 
farmer, when he first breaks up his prairie lands, 
finds his plough impeded at every step by the 
strong roots of wild grasses; but he knows that 
it was those grasses; growing up year after year 
through centuries, that accumulated the rich loam 
in which he plants his corn. 

Let us analyze the mental soil of China and 
find what elements Buddhism has contributed, 
to make it ready for the higher cultivation of 
our Christian epoch. 

The fundamental requisites of all religious 
teaching are two, viz. : 

1. A belief in God; i.e., in some effective 
method of divine government. 

2. A belief in the immortality of the soul ; 
i.e., in a future state of being, whose condition 


is determined by our conduct in the present life. 

These cardinal doctrines we find accepted 
everywhere in China. There are, it is true, 
those who deny them ; but such are Confucianists, 
not Buddhists ; and I do not hesitate to affirm 
that, for the general prevalence of both, 
China is mainly indebted to the agency of 
Buddhism. When, in the first century of our era, 
^he missionaries from India arrived in this 
country, in what condition did they find the 
mind of the people with reference to these two 
great questions ? 

They found a Supreme God recognized in the 
books, but practically withdrawn from the homage 
of the masses, because he was considered as 
too exalted to be approached by anyone except 
the lord of the empire. The people took refuge 
in the worship of natural objects and of human 
heroes ; not one of all their deities taking any 
strong hold on their affections, or entering deeply 
into their spiritual life. 

In regard to the hope of a future existence, 
the state of things was not better. The worship 
of ancestors maintained a shadowy faith in 
something like ghosts, but it seldom amounted 
to a potent conviction. The absence of such 
a conviction showed itself in the eagerness with 


which men laid hold on the faint hope held 
out by Taoist alchemy, that some medicine 
might be discovered which would vanquish death. 
The few enthusiasts seen on mountain tops, 
seeking for the elixir vitac, and stretching their 
hands and eyes towards heaven, were they not 
rather touching proofs of a universal want, 
than evidences of any well-grounded faith ? 

In fact, it was the deep consciousness of a want 
in both respects that rendered the introduction 
of Buddhism so easy. It found an "aching void" 
in the human heart, and it filled it with such 
poor materials as it possessed. 

Let us see how it filled the void made by 
the want of a knowledge of God. Instead of their 
gods of the hills and streams, it brought to the 
Chinese a portion of the Hindu pantheon ; 
and, instead of their materialistic conceptions, 
it raised them to a belief in the powers of a 
spiritual universe infinitely more grand than this 
visible world. In that universe Buddhas and 
Bodisatwas held sway, not limited to any hill 
or city, but extending to all places where 
their devout worshippers called for succour. 
Buddha, though in theory already passed into 
the blessedness of an unconscious Nirvana, 
was popularly held to be the actual lord of the 


universe. Divinities of the next grade, 
called Bodisatwas, were believed to have the 
forces of nature at command, and to be actively 
engaged in the work of blessing mankind. 

The superiority of these Buddhist divinities 
over those which they displaced, consists chiefly 
in the fact that they possess a moral character. 
By virtue, they have risen in the scale of being 
in a progression, bounded only by that sublime 
height on which Buddha sits wrapped in solitary 
contemplation. Their human kindness rendered 
them attractive, and the most popular of all is the 
Goddess of Mercy, of whom it is said that she 
declined to enter the bliss of Nirvana, and 
preferred to hover on the confines of this world 
of suffering, in order that she might hear the 
prayers of men and bring succour to their 
afflictions. What wonder this attribute of divine 
compassion should win all hearts ? 

To make it more effective, the Buddhists of China, 
taking, as I have no doubt, a hint from the 
homage paid to the Mother of our Lord, 
have clothed it with the beauty and tenderness 
of woman. Kwan-yin, who holds in her arms 
an infant child, and who stretches a thousand 
hands to help the needy, is the favourite object of 
Chinese devotion. She is called briefly Pu-sah, 


and, in most parts of the empire, that term is 
employed to express the idea of a vigilant and 
merciful Providence. K ao F*u-sah ch ih fan 
means "The food we eat comes from God." 
Missionaries, in their talks to the people, 
sometimes begin with this admission, employing 
for God the accepted term, however 
objectionable in its origin, in order to lead 
the people to higher views and a purer faith. 
Providence is also commonly ascribed to Buddha. 
The reigning Emperor is so called, as representing 
the providence of the Supreme Deity. 
The "blessing" and "protection" of Buddha 
are phrases in familiar use. In a set of verses, 
to which I shall have occasion to refer again, 
the abbot of a monastery in the Western Hills 
ascribes the fruits of the earth to the goodness 
of Buddha.* The verses read : 

"The production of a grain of rice is as great a 

work as the creation of a mountain. 
Had it not been for the power of Buddha, where 

should we have found our food ? 
If we sincerely remember how near to us is Buddha, 
then we may dare to accept the nourishment that 
heaven and earth afford." 

* The volume from v, hich I copied these and other stanzas 
is in manuscript. 


Our question relates to Buddhism in China ; 
but it may not be out of place to indicate that 
a similar transformation of the original conception 
of Buddha has taken place in other countries, 
especially in those that belong to the Northern 
School. In Japan, Amitaba is endowed 
with the attributes of Preserver and Redeemer. 
In Mongolia, the same is true of Borhan (a name 
which I take to be derived from Buddha and 
Arhan) ; and missionary translators have not 
hesitated to accept it as a fitting expression for 
God, in the rendering of our Holy Scriptures. 
In Nepaul, Adi-Buddha is [adored as the supreme 
and living god. A hymn, which I translate 
from the French* (which in turn is taken 
from an English translation of Hodgson), 
addresses him thus : 

1. "In the beginning there was nothing; all was 

emptiness, and the five elements had 

no existence. 

Then Adi-Buddha revealed himself under 

the form of a flame of light. 

2. He is the great Buddha who exists of himself. 
3. All things that exist in the three worlds have their 

cause in him; he it is who sustains their being. 

From him, and out of his profound 

meditation, the universe has sprung into life. 

* Tour du monde, Voyage au Nepal, 1888. 


4- He is the combination of all perfections; 

the infinite one, who has neither bodily 

members nor passions ! 

All things are his image, yet he has no image. 
5. The delight of Adi-Buddha is to make happy 

all sentient creatures. 

He tenderly loves those who serve him ; 

His majesty fills the heart with terror ; 

He is the consoler of those who suffer." 

Who will deny that this is a noble psalm 
of praise ; that the sublime ascriptions which 
it contains are worthy to be laid as an offering 
at the feet of Jehovah ? The only error in it, 
so far as I can perceive, is that it is addressed 
to Adi-Buddha, a rather serious defect you will say, 
as that honor is given to another which is due 
to God alone. I shall not at present go into 
the refinements of metaphysics, and reply that 
it matters little by what name God may be called, 
provided that which is predicated of him be 
agreeable to truth. Nor shall I assert what Pope 
appears to imply that the same Divine Being, 
under different names, is 

" In every age 
In every clime adored, 
By saint, by savage, and by sage, 
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord." 


But I will say that a people who have derived 
these ideas from the teachings of Buddhism 
do appear to be in a state of comparative readiness 
for the message of an apostle of the true faith, 
proclaiming " Him whom ye ignorantly worship, 
declare I unto you." 

Let us see if the same kind of preparation is to be 
discovered in the notions entertained in regard 
to the soul. 

In China, prior to the arrival of Buddhism, 
there existed on this subject, as we have said, 
a melancholy void. 

The school of Confucius offered to the longing 
anxious heart the idea of a shadowy existence, 
accompanied by a recommendation to be perfectly 
indifferent to it. Its teaching was essentially 
that of the Sadducee, who said "There is 
no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit." 

The school of Tao taught that the soul is 
a material essence, capable of being concentrated 
by discipline, as the diamond is condensed 
by fiery forces; and that it may thus be rendered 
indestructible. To this state few, very few, 
could hope to attain; and the masses of mankind 
were given over to despair. When both schools 
had failed to throw their light beyond the grave, 
Buddhism came in like an evangel of hope, 


teaching that immortality is man s inalienable 
inheritance, and not the inheritance of man only, 
but of every sentient creature ; that all are 
connected by the links of an endless chain, 
moving onward in unceasing procession, 
either on an ascending or descending scale; 
that the reality of the next stage of being is 
more certain than the existence of the material 
objects by which we are surrounded ; that the 
soul is an immaterial essence, which the 
transformations of matter have no power 
to destroy ; and finally, that the weal or woe 
of the future life depends on the conduct 
of each individual during this present state 
of probation. 

How thoroughly this teaching has permeated 
the Chinese mind may be inferred from the fact 
that it is set forth in its pure Buddhistic garb 
in one of the most popular text-books employed 
for instruction in the primary schools of Peking. 
I refer to the -^ ^jf $f| ^ (Liu Yen Tsa Tzil). 
It says : "The glory and happiness of the present 
life are fruits that spring from seeds planted 
in a former state. If the present life is hungry, 
cold, and bitter, the fountain of evil is to be 
traced to the sins of a former state of 


The materializing views of Taoism are condemned 
(to quote only one example) in the following 
verses from another book ( J|| ^ ^ jg ^ Jgg 


"Ye who study the doctrine of Tao, 
And strive to prepare the elixir of immortality, 
Do you not reflect that the elements of immortality 

are within you ? 

Do you not know that the elixir of life is within you ? 
For soul and spirit, they are the root 

and fountain." 

In the same book, there are verses which 
represent a princess as announcing her resolution 
to adopt a religious life, and with many tears 
exhorting her parents to do the same. She says : 

"If a man live to a hundred years, his life is as a dream; 
Glory and wealth pass away like a flash of gunpowder. 
I beg my father and mother to give themselves 

to works of piety, 
To worship Buddha, to read the holy books, and move 

the heart of Heaven; 

To store up good works, to confirm your own virtues, 
And escape from a sea of bitterness, a world of dust 

and turmoil. 
Owing to your good deeds in a former state, you now 

possess the sovereignty of hills and rivers. 
If, standing on your present height, you still strive 



Praying the gods to write your names on the roll 

of the purple mansion, 
You may come to enjoy the blessedness of heaven, 

and rise above the estate of men." 

The book from which these last passages 
are taken is a metrical biography of the Goddess 
of Mercy. 

I do not go into the recondite lore of great 
libraries, but draw my proofs from manuals 
of the family and of the common school, in order 
to show what doctrines are actually in possession 
of the popular mind. That they teach the supreme 
importance of a life to come, there is no denying. 
Their best views are vitiated by mixture with 
the errors of metempsychosis. But is not this 
so far a preparation for receiving a better hope 
from Him who " brought life and immortality 
to light ? " 

Having thus pointed out the service which 
Buddhism has rendered, by conferring on the 
Chinese the blessing of a stronger faith in the 
two doctrines that lie at the root of all religion, 
let us next inquire into its influence in bringing 
about those slates of mind which are described 
as the Christian graces. For want of time, 
I purposely refrain from going into an examination 
of the Buddhist decalogue, or in any other way 


entering into a general comparison of Buddhist 
and Christian ethics. The side of ethics, with 
which we have to do at present, is that which 
looks heavenward; i.e., religion in its practical 

Our Christian ethics, in their religious bearings, 
are beautifully summarized by the Apostle Paul 
in the three graces of " Faith, Hope, and Chanty." 
Has Buddhism anything answering to these ? 
If it has, it differs in that respect from all other 
pagan religions. In the old religions of Greece 
and Rome, the things signified were so utterly 
unknown that these three words acquired a 
new signification in passing into Christian use. 
As for the early religions of this country, 
they have nothing to show under any of the 
three rubrics, neither Faith, nor Hope, 
nor Charity, in a religious sense, as including 
love to God. Is it not, then, claiming for 
Buddhism a great approximation to our divine 
system to assert that it possesses all three ? 
To make this apparent, let us take them 
up in order. 

The faith, which figures so conspicuously in 
Buddhism, might be defined, as in the Epistle 
to the Hebrews, as "the substance of things 
hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." 


It keeps in view the realities of the unseen world, 
and supplies the place of sight and of reason too, 
to no small extent. The place assigned to it is, 
as with us, at the head of the list. In a publication 
by a learned priest of Ningpo, it is called 
"the mother of virtues" (>fg g J?f gjj ^). 

Our abbot of the Western Hills gives it an 
equally exalted position; and, like St. James, 
he connects it with " works," as proof of 
its genuineness. He says : " To be a Buddhist, 
faith has always been considered the first 
requisite ; but faith without works is vain." 

Can anything show more clearly than 
this antithesis that the word is used 
in a sense identical with its Christian 
usage ? 

From this peculiar prominence of the grace of 
faith, it almost follows as a matter of course that 
the adherents of the faith should be called 
" believers." We are not, therefore, surprised to 
find the term Sin S/ii (jgdt)f "believers," in 
general use. Shan Nan Sin Nil (H Jf f :&), 
"honest men and believing women," is a frequent 
phrase, which tells its own story as to 
the proportion of believers in the two 


Hope is a grace which Buddhism makes prominent, 
without having a word for it. Of the emphasis 
which it lays on the hope of immortality, 
I have already spoken in treating of that cardinal 
doctrine. Hope implies the expectation of some 
kind of gain or benefit. Now the constant 
endeavour of the devout Buddhist, is it not to 
secure the rewards of the life to come by 
working and suffering in this present world ? 
In Chinese Buddhism, that which kindles hope 
and quickens effort in the highest degree, 
is it not the prospect of entrance into the happy 
land (g m -Jjf j^l) ; the pure or sinless land 

(?l* i); tlie fi 55 > or paradise of the West? 
This is the. Buddhist s hope of heaven. 

On the place of charity in the Buddhist scheme, 
I need not dilate. Love to being, in the broadest 
sense, is enjoined by precept ; it was exemplified 
in the life of the founder, and it finds expression 
in every phase of Buddhist religious life. 
Compassion (j^S jjjjfc) is the form which it chiefly takes. 
The loftier form of adoring love for divine 
perfection, as in our Christian system, is less 
frequent, but not wholly wanting. Is it not charity 
to men that our abbot expresses, w r hen he says 
" My desire is to pluck every creature that is 
endowed with feeling out of this sea of misery? 


And is it not something very like love to God, 
when he says" In your walks, meditate on 
Buddha ; call to mind his refulgent person ; 
at every step, pronounce his name, and beware 
that you deceive not your own heart ? " 

It follows, from what we have seen, that Buddhism 
must have made an immense addition to the 
religious vocabulary of the Chinese people. 
For the jargon of its Sanskrit prayers, and for a 
multitude of theological terms, imported bodily 
from India, I have no word of praise or apology; 
but, within the domain of pure Chinese, 
it is safe to affirm that Buddhism has enriched 
the language, as it has enlarged the sphere of 
popular thought. 

It has given the Chinese such ideas as they 
possess of heaven and hell ; and of spiritual beings, 
rising in a hierarchy above man, or sinking *in 
moral turpitude below man. It has given. them 
all their familiar terms relating to sin, to good works, 
to faith, to repentance ; and, most important of all, 
to a righteous retribution, which includes the awards 
of a future life. 

Not one of these words or phrases conveys to 
the Chinese the exact idea required by the 
teachings of Christianity; yet, as a matter of fact, 
the first teachers of Christianity, on coming to this 


country, seized on these terms as so much 
material made ready to their hand, sprinkling 
them with holy water, and consecrating them 
to a new use. 

Matteo Ricci soon renounced the Buddhist garb; 
but no missionary, Papal or Protestant, has ever 
abandoned the Buddhist terminology. 

Half the churches in Rome are built of 
stones taken from the temples of Paganism; 
and some of them, such as the Pantheon and 
the Ara Cceli, continue to be known by their 
old names. So half the doctrines of Christianity 
are introduced to the Chinese in a dress 
borrowed from Buddhism. It could not be 
otherwise; and this fact, taken alone, 
appears almost decisive in favour of the 
affirmative side of the question under 

If the eloquent Saurin is right in asserting 
that God s purpose in bringing Judea under 
the domination of Greece was, by the introduction 
of the Greek language, to provide a more perfect 
vehicle for the revelations of the new dispensation, 
is it going too far to suggest that Buddhism has 
had a similar mission ? Has it not, in this country, 
prepared a language for the communication 


of divine truth ? * Has it not also prepared 
the mind of the people to receive it, by importing 
a stock of spiritual ideas, and by cultivating their 
spiiitual sense ? 

But, however sympathetic may be our mental 
attitude in regard to it, we must admit that 
its mission is fulfilled; and that, for the future, 
the highest service it can render will be to supply 
a native stock on which to graft the vine of Christ. 
By giving the Chinese an example of a foreign 
creed winning its way and holding its ground 
in spite of opposition, it has prepared them 
to expect a repetition of the phenomenon. 

The following arc some of the Buddhistic terms and phrases, 
which occur most frequently in Christian hooks : 

Heaven. [ Shore of safety. 

P g * 

Devil. Jyjf -)fe Repentance. 

fjR ^ Submissive trust. 

5f5 4*- Lifc to come. ^ )|^ Earnestness. 

S ^ Ncw 1>irth> ^ $2 To rca(1 P ra ) C". 

:fg JJ Inanimation. ^ $g To preach. 

Advent. ^ 3 itjfc Infinite mercy. 

Rescue. ^^^Ijffi To fecl the vanit y of the world 

Thc ha Iand - 


As Buddhists (and though professing to be 
Confucians), they are nearly all more or less tinged 
with Buddhism ; they are taught to believe that 
their present form of faith is not final, and to look for 
a fuller manifestation in an age of higher light. 
The magistrates very generally look on 
Christianity as a species of Buddhism ; and will not 
this prepare both them and the people more 
readily to accept Christianity as the fulfilment 
of their expectation ? 

Postscript. In the discussion that followed 
the reading of this Paper, a doubt was expressed 
whether in point of fact missionaries had found their 
converts prepared in the school of Buddhism. 

A typical case is given in detail by Dr. Edkins, 
in his work on Chinese Buddhism ( pages 366 et seq ). 

The present writer has found such preparation 
to be a fact in several instances. 

After the above was in print, I met with 
a book by Professor Rhys David on Buddhism 
and Christianity, which contains the following : 

" In it (Buddhism), we have an ethical system, 
but no law-giver; a world without a creator, 
a salvation without eternal life, and a sense of evil, 
but no conception of pardon, atonement, 
reconciliation, or redemption." 


Sir Monier Williams states the negative 
features of the Buddhist creed in terms 
not less forcible and explicit. " Buddhism," he says, 
"has no creator, no creation, no original germ 
of all things, no soul ot the world, no personal, 
no impersonal, no supermundane, no antemundane 

Of original and classic Buddhism, this is strictly 
true; and the defects of the root affect more or less 
all the branches. Still it is very instructive 
to remark how, in the popular Buddhism with 
which I am dealing, man s religious instincts 
triumph over the obstacles created by an atheistic 
philosophy, so that Buddhism has become 
pre-eminently the religious discipline of Eastern 

* The assumption by Buddhism of a distinctly religious character 
is primarily due to the school of Mahayana, which Eitel describes as 
"a later form of the dogma, one of the three phases of its 
development, characterized by an excess of transcendental speculation, 
and not known to Southern Buddhism." 

The Buddhists of Japan are beginning to agitate the question 
whether the Mahayana rests in any degree on the authority of 

l (33 





HE more practical subjects suitable for such 
occasions have been pretty well exhausted 
by my predecessors. One speaker has told 
you what attitude you should observe 
towards the native religions ; another, the kind 
of censorship you should exerise over the 
productions of your press ; and a third has laid 
down such lucid rules for the composition of 
tracts that there is no longer any mystery on 
the subject. With such a guide, it w r ould seem 
that the dullest intellect ought to be able 
to produce a book as readily as a tailor 
can make a suit of clothes when supplied with 
a pattern. A Roman critic, however, after laying 
down his code of composition, adds that 
a pre-requisite is the "consent of Minerva." 

* Read before the North China Tract Society, in Peking. 


Tu nihil invita dices faciesve Minerva, 
i.e., brain power is a first condition. As the 
author of Hudibras says 

" For all the rhetorician s rules 
Teach nothing but to name his tools." 

For me it remains, not to lay down rules, 
but to point you to certain examples from 
the examination of native tracts, to borrow a side 
light, which may perhaps prove useful alike to 
composers and distributors of that kind of literature. 

The word "tract," in its more general sense, 
signifies a treatise on any subject. In the special 
sense, which the activity of our Tract Societies 
has brought into use, it means a small book in 
which the sanctions of religion are brought 
forward in support of morality. Its aim is to 
enlighten the human mind, and to purify the 
widening stream of human life. 

That the people of this ancient empire, 
who have anticipated us in so many discoveries, 
and in every kind of social experiment, 
should have gone before us in the creation of a 
tract-literature, is not surprising. In China, 
as in most other countries, one of the earliest 
uses of written speech was to extend the 
influence of good men, by causing their words 
to reach a wider circle, beyond the bounds of 


their personal intercourse, which in space is 
limited to a few miles, and in time to 
a few years. 

For the same reasons, one of the first applications 
of the art of printing, in which China was six 
hundred years in advance of Europe, was to 
multiply tracts ; and the aggregate mass of its 
publications in this department has, in the course 
often centuries, attained an enormous development. 
To enumerate even the most popular of them 
would necessitate the recitation of a long catalogue ; 
and to offer an outline criticism of each would 
be an endless task. They fall, however, 
into certain well-defined categories, such as : 

1. Those which inculcate morality in general. 

2. Those which persuade to the practice of 
particular virtues. 

3. Those which seek to deter from particular 

4. Those that are written in the interest of 
particular religions or divinities. 

One or two in each class, as types of the whole, 
is all that time will permit us to mention. 

In the first class, a leading place might properly 
be assigned to the discourses of Confucius and 
Mencius, and to numerous treatises of later 


philosophers ; but, as we are accustomed to make 
a distinction between scriptures and tracts, these, 
or at least those first mentioned, are . to be 
regarded as the sacred scriptures of the Chinese. 

With us, mar.y tracts consist almost entirely 
of scripture passages, selected and arranged. 
In the native literature of the Chinese, 
similar tracts may be found in great numbers. 

One such is called the Ming Sin Pao Kien 

(9J l>ff $), Mirror f the Heart - 
It contains a choice collection of the best sayings 

of the best men this country has produced. 
Those sayings are gems, neatly cut, highly polished, 
and sparkling with the light of truth. 
In other tracts, they may be differently arranged; 
but everywhere they shine with the mild 
radiance of wisdom and virtue. 

A collection of this kind, called Ming Hien Ki 
( 3* f? $1 ) * Sayings of the Wise, is a great 
favorite in Peking. It differs from the tract 
last named in drawing its wise saws chiefly from 
modern sources. It opens with the noble maxim : 
"Only practice good works, and ask no questions 
about your future." The first chapter ends with 
the encouraging assurance : " Human desires can 
be broken off; Heaven s laws can be observed." 

Another maxim gives the general tenor of its 


teachings: "All things bow to real worth; 
happiness is stored up by honesty." Every sentence 
is a proverb ; and though, like the Hebrew proverbs, 
there are many that inculcate thrift and worldly 
wisdom, there are not a few that rise to a higher 
level. Its religion is unhappily of a very colourless 
description, contrasting strongly with the doctrine 
of direct responsibility to a living God, 
which pervades the proverbs of the Jews, 
making their religion the most practical of their 
concerns. The idea of direct responsibility is not 
indeed altogether wanting, though in this class 
of tracts it is not sufficiently insisted on. In this, 
and in nearly all similar collections, we find 
the warning that 

"The gods behold an evil thought, 
As clearly as a flash of lightning ; 
And whispers uttered in a secret place, 
To them sound loud as thunder." 

The Family Monitor of Chu Po-lu 
is so well known that I give no citations. 
It sets forth an admirable system of precepts 
for the ordering of a household, in which 
children are brought up with judicious severity, 
and servants treated with considerate tenderness, 
purity and honor being vital elements of the 
domestic atmosphere. 


The Ti Tzn Kuci ( % ^ ffi ), or Guide to the 
Young, though less known, is a book of a 
higher order. Composed almost in our own 
times, in imitation of the far-famed Trimetrical 
Classic, it surpasses its model, and shows that, 
if we may judge by words alone, China still 
possesses contemporary Sages. In the second 
chapter, entitled Truth and Virtue, we find a 
doctrine too rarely taught in Chinese 
books : 

"In every word you utter, 
Let truth be first; 
Deceit and falsehood, 
How can you endure ! 

Do not lightly speak 

Of what you do not certainly know ; 

Things not right, 

Do not lightly promise; 

If you do promise, 

Whether you go forward or go back, 

You are equally in fault." 

Here is a neat definition : 

"To do wrong without intention 
Is an error ; 

To do wrong with purpose 
Is a crime." 


The author adds : 

"Your errors, if you correct them, 
End in no error ; 
If you hide or cloak them, 
You add one sin more." 

The four tracts that I have mentioned emanate 
from the school of pure Confucianism. They are 
not irreligious, for they everywhere admit 
the supremacy of a vague power called Heaven. 
They admit, further, that that power, whatever 
it may be, is not indifferent to human conduct. 

Does not the venerable Book of Changes, 
the most ancient of the canonical writings, expressly 
declare that 

"On those who store up righteousness, 
Heaven sends down a hundred blessings ; 
And on those who store up ill-desert, 
Heaven sends down a hundred woes." 

This sentence re-appears in all these tracts ;, 
and the doctrine of a providential retribution, 
unfailing for the good, unrelenting for the evil, 
is affirmed, amplified, and illustrated, as a cardinal 
truth which no man can doubt. By this school 
it is taught, as it was by the Saducees of Judea, 
without reference to hopes or fears connected 
with a belief in a life to come. The certainty 


of prosperity in this world as the reward of virtue, 
and of shame and suffering as the penalty of vice, 
is the motive most constantly appealed to, 
though it should not be forgotten that, in a passage 
already quoted, a sublimer conception is set forth : 
" Only do good, and ask no questions as to your 
future destin>," assuring us that some among 
the moralists of the pure Confucian school 
might unite with us in the petition of Pope s 
Universal Prayer 

"What conscience tells me should be done, 

Or warns me not to do, 
This, teach me more than hell to shun, 
That, more than heaven pursue." 

The experience of moralists in China coincides, 
however, with that of the west in showing that 
the theory of virtue as its own reward is too refined 
for the mass of mankind. One, here and there, 
who is moulded of purer clay, may be seized 
with that kind of passion for virtue, which, without 
a figure, we call Platonic, Plato himself having set 
the example ; but the great majority are so 
constituted that to them virtue has no charms 
aside from happiness. Nor is this of necessity 
an ignoble sentiment ; for, in this case, what God 
has joined together it may not be possible for man 


to put asunder, happiness always following in 
the footsteps of virtue, as shadow follows substance. 
Are we not told that even Moses had "respect 
to the recompense of reward ? " 

When Buddhists imported from India a distinct 
notion of a future life, their doctrine 
of transmigration was first adopted by 
the Taoists, and afterwards accepted by many 
who never ceased to call themselves disciples 
of Confucius ; and all parties felt that an 
immense reinforcement was added to the sanctions 
of morality. Instead of the shadowy idea of a 
vicarious recompense, reserved for one s posterity 
in some remote age, comes the conviction that 
each individual soul, sooner or later, inevitably 
reaps the reward of its deeds; a conviction which 
took so strong a hold on the public mind as 
to become the foundation for a mixed school of 
moral teaching. 

In the tracts of this mixed school, Confucianism 
may in some cases be the leading element, 
Taoism or Buddhism in others; but the most 
powerful argument to incite to good, and deter 
from evil, is always the certainty of retribution 
in a future life. 

The two most celebrated tracts in this 
department, if not in the whole cycle of 


Chinese literature, are distinctly on the subject of 
retribution. They are the Kan Ying P lcn 
( ^ Ji n ) > <1 the Yin Chi Wen ( $ $ % ). 
Each bears the name of a Taoist divinity, 
one going under the auspices of Lao-tse, 
the other tinder those of Wen-ch ang. One sets 
out with the declaration that "Happiness and 
Misery never enter a door until they are 
invited by the occupant of the house." 
" They are the reward that follows good and evil, 
as surely as a shadow follows a moving body." 
The other begins with a statement that its 
beatified author practised virtue through no fewer 
than seventeen lives or stages of existence before 
he attained to perfect felicity. Starting from this 
point, each unfolds its text with admirable skill, 
building a rainbow arch of virtues, with one foot 
resting on the earth, and the other lost in the 
blue of heaven ; while the vices are depicted 
in fiery colors, on a back-ground of utter darkness. 
While on this branch of the subject, a very 
vulgar tract ought to be noticed, which has perhaps 
a wider currency than either of the preceding. 
Like them, the Yii Lih Ch ao Chiton 
( 35 #4 f )> <> r String oj l>,arls, 
is devoted to the doctrine of retribution. 
Instead, however, of insisting on true morality, 


this treatise spends its force in clothing 
the infernal world with imaginary horrors. 
They are drawn in such colors that 
they are not Dantesque, but grotesque. 
The letter-press is accompanfed by pictorial 
illustrations, in which one sees a soul in the process 
of being sawn in twain, or pounded in a mortar ; 
a bridge from which sinners are precipitated into 
a field of up-turned sword points ; a cauldron of 
boiling water in which they stew and simmer 
for ages ; then a bed of ice on which they freeze 
for an equal period ; together with other scenes 
equally adapted to bring a wholesome doctrine 
into contempt. 

An idea, to which this gross view of retribution 
naturally gives rise, is that of opening a 
debit-and-credit account with the chancery of 
Heaven. Such account books form a distinct class 
of tracts. On one side are ranged all conceivable 
bad actions, each stamped with its exchange 
value according to a fixed tariff. The Chinese 
moralist has not, like Tetzel, gone so far as to 
convert this numerical valuation into a sale of 
indulgences, but we may be sure that the ingenuity 
of the reader does not fail to find out a way 

" To atone for sins he has a mind to, 
By doing things he s not inclined to." 


The artifice of keeping with one s heart such 
an account-current is one which, if properly 
conducted, might end in the practice of virtue. 
Franklin tried something of the kind with success, 
and he tells us that it enabled him to make 
such proficiency in the grace of humility that 
he grew proud of it. 

Among tracts of the second category those 
that inculcate particular virtues I may mention 
first of all the Hiao-king ( ^ $g ) , or Book 
of Filial Duty. More ancient than any of its 
class, it is also more venerated, being referred 
to Confucius himself, whose discourses on the 
subject were taken down by one of his most 
eminent disciples. Its origin is no doubt 
apocryphal, but its fullness and perfection give it 
the weight of a classic, while the simplicity 
and beauty of its style make it specially attractive 
to the young, for whose instruction it was composed. 

The teachings of the book culminate in the grand 
idea that filial piety, as the first of virtues, may be 
made a rule and regulator for the entire conduct 
of life. Every act has reference to our ancestors ; 
good acts reflect honor, and bad acts bring disgrace 
on the name of our progenitors. The process 
of reasoning is somewhat similar to that which 
makes the love of God the law of a Christian life; 


but how feeble the sentiment that attaches itself 
to the moss-covered monuments of dead ancestors, 
in comparison with love to a living God, whom we 
are privileged to call our Father in Heaven ! 

As in China all social, political, and 
even religious obligations center in the 
duty of filial piety, that cardinal virtue is, 
as might be expected, the theme of innumerable 
hortatory compositions. Some of them are 
excellent from every point of view; but not 
a few are tinged with extravagance, extolling 
the merits of children who have saved the life 
of an invalid parent by giving medicine mixed with 
their own blood, or broth made of their own flesh. 

There is one, and that the most popular 
of all, which sinks to a depth of silliness quite 
beyond anything attained by Mother Goose/ 
I refer to the stories of the Four-and-Twenty 
Filial Children. 

One of those worthies is held in remembrance 
because, when his parents had lapsed into second 
childhood, he, at the age of three score and ten, 
dressed himself in parti-coloured vestments, 
and acted the clown to make them laugh. Another, 
when a little boy, was seen lying on the ice; 
and, when questioned as to his object, replied 
that he "wished to melt it to catch a fish 


for his mother." One of them, hearing a physician 
commend the virtues of milk freshly drawn 
from the teats of a wild deer, disguised himself 
as a deer in order to procure the precious beverage 
for his invalid mother. One of them, on the 
occurrence of a thunder storm, always threw 
himself on his mother s grave, saying "Mother, 
your boy is with you, do not be afraid." The other 
stories are equally foolish, and some of them 
positively wicked ; yet Chinese artists vie with 
each other in embellishing this precious nonsense, 
and the greatest men of China make a merit 
of writing out the text for engraving on wood. 

Is it not probable that these exaggerated views 
of filial piety have had a tendency to dwarf 
other virtues, and to distort the moral character 
of the Chinese people ? The duty of speaking 
the truth, for instance, so much insisted on by us 
of the West, is seldom touched on by the moral 
writers of China. While the foundation stone 
is neglected by these builders, what masses of 
wood, hay, and stubble, do they put in its 
place ! 

It would be easy to load a cart with separate 
treatises on the duty of showing respect to written 
or printed paper. Absurd as are the rhapsodies 
which Chinese scholars indite on this subject, 


may they not teach a lesson to our tract 
distributors, the lesson not to show disrespect 
to their own cargoes of printed paper, by selling 
too cheaply, or giving too lavishly ? 

Then we have exhortations in equal quantity 
to compassion for brute animals. The radical 
sentiment is just and praise-worthy, but the writers 
rush into extremes as before ; and, instead of 
nourishing a well-poised, active humanity, 
they make a merit of emancipating birds and 
fish, and of succouring ants that are struggling 
in the water. Under the influence of this literature, 
a society has been formed in Peking for the release 
of captive sparrows ; but I have yet to hear that 
any society has been organized for the suppression 
of the sale of little children, a traffic which is 
openly carried on in all the cities of China ! 
Our own Cowper wept over a dead hare, and wrote 
the lines 

11 1 would not count upon my list of friends, 
A man who wantonly set foot upon a worm." 

But his pity was not exhausted by such 
manifestations. He admitted man among the 
objects of his compassion, and sounded the 
note of anti-slavery long before the abolition of 
,the trade in slaves: 


11 Fleecy locks and black complexion 
Cannot forfeit nature s claim ; 
Skins may differ, but affection 
Dwells in white and black the same." 

Against particular vices there are numerous tracts 
which are earnest and powerful. In some, 
the enormities of infanticide are set forth ; 
some denounce the folly of gambling ; others deal 
in scathing terms with licentious practices of 
every description ; and still others dissuade 
from opium-smoking, drunkenness, and the like. 

Tracts of a distinctly religious type are neither 
so abundant, nor so highly esteemed, as those 
that aim to mend the morals of mankind. 
Yet they are not wanting; one meets every day 
with little pamphlets commending the worship of 
particular divinities. Here is one that points out 
the way to obtain the favor of Chang Sien, 
the greatest of the Taoist genii, who rewards 
his worshippers with the blessing of offspring. 
And here is another which consists chiefly of 
prayers to Kuan-yin, the goddess of mercy. 
The prayers are in Sanscrit, and utterly 
unintelligible to those who use them. 

Of polemics there are very few, indeed I have 
only seen one or two of modern origin. 
The earlier ages teemed with them ; and the literati, 


by inserting in every collection of Ku-wen, 
Han Yu s ferocious onslaught on Buddhism, 
seek to keep alive a feeling of animosity against 
the Indian creed. Time, however, is a great 
peace-maker. The conflicting elements, that once 
threatened to turn this celestial empire into 
primeval chaos, have gradually subsided into 
a stable equilibrium. The founders of the 
Three Religions may now be seen side-by-side 
in the same shrine, called San Kiao T ang, 
in loving union, like that of Liu Pei and his 
adopted brothers. 

Antagonistic and mutually destructive, their 
teachings may be found mixed together in most 
of the tracts of which we have been 
speaking. In one of them, in a conspicuous 
place, at the head of a list of good actions, 
stands the injunction Kwang Hing San Kiao, 
"Spread far and wide the Three Religions." 
Philosophers tell us of a time, happily far in the 
future, when earth shall no more be the scene 
of terrific storms, when north wind and south 
wind shall cease to contend for the mastery, 
because the atmosphere no longer receives sufficient 
heat from the sun to disturb its repose. It is the 
heat of conviction that engenders controversy. 
Where that has ceased, is there not reason 


to suspect that faith has lost its vitality, 

and that sincere convictions no longer exist? 

In ancient Rome, the gods of the conquered 

nations came trooping into the capital; and all of 

them, in the lapse of time, were seated in 

friendly conclave in the pantheon of Agrippa. 

They were at peace, because they were dead. 

Lucian, in his satirical dialogues, deals with 

dead gods as well as with dead men; 

but those dead gods were galvanized into life 

by the contact of Christianity. Christ came into 

their midst, and, at his touch, their dry bones 

began to shake, and they rose up to do battle 

against the Lord of Life. History repeats itself, 

and what we have seen in Rome, is now taking 

place in China. The calm of ages is disturbed, 

and the heat of controversy begins to 

show itself anew; but the only polemics 

from the pagan camp are those in which 

the adherents of the Three Religions combine 

in a vituperative attack on that arrogant creed 

which claims for itself the homage of the 


Inert as are the creeds of paganism, in comparison 
with the undying energies of our Holy Faith, 
it would be wrong to infer that they are 
either active for evil, or powerless for 


good. To those who have not the sun, 
star-light is oftentimes a precious guide. 

In looking over a vast variety of native tracts, 
we are struck by the fact that authors of all the 
schools agree in seeking to fortify their 
moral teachings by the sanctions of religion. 
Even the Confucianists ascribe to their canonical 
books the authority of inspiration. Chu Fu-tsze, 
sceptical as he was on most subjects, admitted the 
claim of the Confucian teachings to a superhuman 
origin. Later writers naturally sought to invest 
their productions with the sanctity derived 
from an inspired source. The two other creeds 
peopled the heavens with deified mortals. 
With them it was easy to hold communication, 
and from them oracular responses were obtained. 
If the divinities deigned to give prescriptions for 
the cure of measles or toothache, why not for 
the maladies of the human mind ? The medium 
of response was planchette, an instrument known to 
the Chinese a thousand years before it began to make 
a figure in Europe. I have myself seen effusions in 
faultless verse, fresh from the pens of deified spirits. 

In connecting religion with morals, these writers 
agree with us ; for what a feeble thing would 
be a moral propaganda unaided by the fervor 
of religious faith ! 


One of the literary lights of the English firmament 
defines religion as "morality touched by emotion." 
The definition is neither logical nor complete ; 
but it hits in happy phrase one feature of a 
union formed by two distinct things. Morality, 
to borrow the imagery of a Hebrew poet, springs 
up out of the earth, and religion looks down 
from Heaven. Morality is the body, cold and 
beautiful until religion, which is its soul, enters into 
it and gives it life; or, in the words of Mr. Arnold, 
"touches it with emotion." 

The love of God is religion ; the love of man, 
morality. The two must be combined, in order 
to give the highest effect to an enterprise like that 
of our Tract Societies. The assertion may sound 
strange, but it is true nevertheless, that morality 
is our supreme object. If men were to persist 
in the debasing practices inseparable from 
heathenism, would we deem it worth while 
to substitute the names of Jehovah and Jesus 
for those of Kwanti and Buddha ? 

We should not fail to recognize how much 
has been done by the agency of native tracts 
to prepare the way for the tractarian crusade, 
in which we are now embarked. It is owing 
to them that our efforts in this direction meet with 
a respectful welcome. It is owing to them that we 


find the people in possession of religious ideas,. 
to serve as roots on which to graft the branches 
of the t true vine. Let us, on our part, cultivate 
a sympathy for all that is good in native books 
and native methods, and endeavor to learn 
from them something that may enable us more 
efficiently to carry on our own enterprise. 

That which we may study with most advantage 
is their mode of communicating instruction 
on religious and moral subjects. No missionary 
should undertake the composition of a Christian 
tract, without having first made himself acquainted 
with a wide range of native tracts. Not only 
may he learn from them how to treat his subject 
in a style at once concise and lucid, respectable 
in the eyes of the learned, yet not above 
the comprehension of the vulgar, what is more, 
he may learn from them the spiritual wants 
of the audience whom he proposes to 

A weakness of the native tract lies in the fact 
that, for the most part, elegant as it may be, 
it contains nothing but what everybody knows. 
We, in the preparation of our tracts, can draw on 
resources that lie beyond the reach of native 
authors. In addition to the inestimable treasures 
of Revealed Truth, we have Geography, History, 


Astronomy, Physics, to communicate, not to speak 
of our improved systems of mental and moral 

These sciences are not only powerful for the 
overthrow of superstition, they are essential 
to the understanding of religious truth. Every new 
tract ought to contain more or less on these subjects; 
and some tracts should be entirely devoted to them, 
and to the religious applications of which they are 
so readily susceptible. Would it not be well 
for our Tract Societies to prepare a series not 
of text books, for that task has been undertaken 
by another association but of primers, which, 
along with religious truth, shall impart the elements 
of science ? By acting on this principle, 
our publications will be made in the highest 
sense an educational agency. They will command 
the respect of the better classes, and not only 
win them away from grovelling superstitions, 
but lead high and low away from the Light 
of Asia to him who is the Light of the World. 

Note. The Sacred Edict ( f|g |$ g| j|J|| ), 
containing the Maxims of Kang Hi, amplified 
by Yung Cheng, is too large a work to be classed 
with tracts, unless each chapter be regarded 
as a tract on a special subject. Nothing, since 
the discourses of Mencius, gives a better view 


of the kind of morals inculcated by the head 
of the nation, morals which harmonize in a 
wonderful manner with the teachings of 

The Ts ai Ken Tan ( $fc $| |f ) is a little 
treatise full of deep thought, and shows to 
advantage the blending of the three schools. 
I add a list of well-known tracts, mostly those 
above referred to : 

ft 1ft 

These and many others may be had in collections,, 
such as 

, mmm, 





F I were called on to name the most serious 
impediment to the conversion of the Chinese. 

f 7 
-> I should without hesitation point to the 
worship of ancestors. Gathering into itself 
all that is deemed most sacred in family or state, 
it rises before us like a mountain barrier, 
hoary with age, and buttressed on the bed-rock 
of the empire. 

Strong in faith, the missionary may summon 
it to surrender in the words of the prophet 
"Who art thou, O great mountain! Before 
Zerubbabel thou shall become a plain." 
But if he employs no other tactics than those 
of direct and undisguised attack, he will have to 
look to the distant future for the fulfilment of 
his expectations. 
Chinese legend tells us of a man who, 

* Read at the Decennial Conference of Missionaries in Shanghai, 1890. 


feeling annoyed by the presence of a hill 
in front of his dwelling, resolved to remove the 
obstacle, instead of shifting his habitation. 
After exhausting his own life in the enterprise, 
he bequeathed the task to his posterity, who, 
after many generations, saw its accomplishment. 
His procedure is cited as an illustration of 
perseverance, but not of wisdom. 

A better example of the latter is afforded by 
the construction of the first railway tunnel through 
the Alps. When the engineers of France and 
Italy desired to unite the railway systems of the 
two countries, they found themselves confronted 
by an Alpine range. To drive a tunnel through 
its bowels would involve many years of delay, 
and the expenditure of an immense capital. 
What was to be done in the meantime? 

Seeking out the lowest available pass, they ran 
a spiral track up the mountain side, and approached 
the summit by a gradual ascent. The two 
countries were connected by rail, and the road 
itself yielded the funds for the construction of a 
shorter route. Is there not in this a lesson for 
the missionary, who is called to build in China a 
highway for the Lord, and to make His paths 
straight? Has he not some latitude for the 
exercise of discretion ? And is there not still room 


for the wise adaptation of means to ends in 
contending with this giant difficulty? 

We think there is; but, before proceeding to 
indicate the means for overcoming it, it will not 
be out of place to take a survey of the ground, 
with a view to ascertaining the length and breadth 
of the obstacle in question. 


The worship of ancestors springs from some of 
the best principles of human nature. The first 
conception of a life beyond the grave was, 
it is thought, suggested by a desire to commune 
with deceased parents. And, if it is natural that 
children should follow them with their thoughts 
and affections, is it not equally natural that they 
should seek to call them back by the offering of 
such things as they require while living? 

How touchingly Virgil depicts the devotion of 
^Eneas to his aged father ! Not only does he 
bear him on his shoulders through the flames of 
Troy, but, when Anchises dies in the course of 
the voyage, the pious hero celebrates games in 
his honor, and offers libations to his spirit. 
He even follows his father to the nether world, 
in order to consult him as to the future of the 
Roman State. 


In this last proceeding, the Roman epic treads 
in the footsteps of its Greek prototype; for had 
not Ulysses penetrated the region of Cimmerian 
darkness, to find and consult the shade of Laertes? 

Earlier than the earliest of these dates, far back 
at a period anterior to the calling of Abraham, 
we find the worship of ancestors existing in China 
as an organized and established cult. 

The earliest recorded instance of it is the rite 
of adoption, by which Shun, the son of a blind 
peasant, is received into the family of the Emperor 
Yao, and acknowledged as heir to the throne, 
2,200 B. C. 

Of the ceremonial employed on this occasion,. 
we have no details; the statement that the 
" concluding rites " \vere performed in the temple 
of Wen Tsu, the ancestor of Yao, is all that the 
historian has vouchsafed to communicate. Yet, how 
much is implied in this laconic record ? 

It implies, on the part of Yao, an announcement 
to the spirits of his forefathers of his purpose to 
effect a change in the line of succession. On the 
part of Shun, it implies a reverential acceptance 
of Yao s ancestors in place of his own, and the 
assumption in their presence of vows of fidelity 
in the discharge of his high functions. 

When the Emperor, now on the throne, was 


adopted as the son of his uncle Hien Fung, 
a similar ceremony was performed by proxy 
in the temple of the deceased sovereign. 
On that occasion, a fanatical censor, Wu K o-tu, 
protested against the affiliation to Hien Fung; 
contended that it was doing dishonor to the last 
Emperor Tung Chili, to leave him without a son; 
and, in order to give emphasis to his remonstrance, 
he sealed it with his blood, sacrificing his life before 
the tomb of the latter sovereign. 

This occurrence, illustrating as it does what 
took place 4,000 years ago, is of itself sufficient 
to prove that in the China of to-day the worship 
of ancestors is not a dead form, but a living faith. 

Not only is the adoption of an heir to the 
throne thus formally announced to the ancestors 
of the reigning house ; every case of regular 
succession is solemnly notified by a similar 

The occupant of the throne holds himself 
responsible to those from whom he received it ; 
and there are numerous instances in the history 
of this country in which a sovereign rejects 
humiliating conditions, offered by an enemy, 
with the indignant exclamation " How could I 
dare to face my ancestors, were I to submit to 
such disgrace?" The force of such a motive, 


fortified by the precedents of a hundred 
generations, it is not easy to overestimate. 
Not longer ago than last year, we saw it 
resorted to as affording a solemn sanction to an 
oath taken by the Emperor of Japan. 
On granting to his people a new Constitution, 
he swore by his ancestors to maintain it inviolate. 
This, the Mikado learned from the Chinese ; 
why did he not learn from them that their 
homage is not restricted to their personal ancestors ? 
Over and above them all, they recognize a Divinity, 
whom they call Shang Ti, the ruler supreme, and 
king of kings. To him their ancestors are 
subordinate, and in his high court they are held 
to be ministering spirits. At the Temple of 
Heaven, the tablet of Shang Ti occupies the 
central space, while those of deceased sovereigns 
are ranged on either hand, in humble 
acknowledgment that " by him kings reign, and 
princes decree justice." 

In the Shu King, the oldest of the books of 
histor) , there are numerous references to the cult 
of ancestors, but I refrain from citing more than 
one or two additional. 

In the 1 2th century before our era, Wu Wang 
overturned the house of Shang, and founded 
the dynasty of Chow. In the terrible indictment 


which, to justify his rebellion, he brings against 
the degenerate occupant of the throne, he begins 
by charging him with neglecting the service 
of Shang Ti and sudordinate deities, and even 
neglecting to sacrifice at the altars of his own 

In a second manifesto, he refers to his deceased 
father Wen Wang, and adds " If I gain the victory, 
it will not be through my own prowess, but through 
the merits of my father. If I am beaten, it will not 
be from any fault in my father, but solely from 
the want of virtue in me." 

He warns his soldiers that" if they are brave, 
they will be rewarded publicly in the temple 
of his ancestors; but if cowardly, they will be slain 
at the altars of the earth-gods." 

Such was the place held by the worship 
of ancestors at the dawn of history, along with 
that of Shang Ti and a host of inferior divinities. 
And at the present day, no one can visit 
the magnificent monuments of the Ming Emperors, 
or witness the vast sums expended on the mausolea 
of the reigning House, without a profound conviction 
that the cult of ancestors has lost nothing of its 
ancient sanctity. 

Scarcely a month has elapsed since the reigning 
Emperor and the Dowager Empress made a solemn 


pilgrimage to the tombs of their fathers ; the former 
to report in person his marriage and full accession 
to imperial power, the latter to give account 
of her exercise of delegated authority during her 
long regency. What stronger proof could be 
required of the important position which 
the worship of ancestors still occupies in the 
religion of the State ? 

It is not, however, as might be inferred from our 
references to historical precedent and official 
usage, an observance restricted to the ruling 
classes. It forms, without doubt, the leading 
element in the religion of the people. 

It is, in fact, the only form of religion which 
the government takes the trouble to propagate 
among its subjects. This it does, not merely 
by upholding the authority of those classical books 
in which it is consecrated, but by giving to the 
worship of ancestors a prominent place in the 
popular teaching of morality enjoined on the 
magistrate of every district. 

In the collection of discourses known as the 
Sacred Edict, a large space is assigned to the duties 
of filial piety. This work was composed by 
Yung Cheng, the first of the persecuting Emperors, 
on themes taken from the maxims of K ang Hi; 
and, in imitation of Christian preaching, required 


to be expounded to the people, partly with a view 
to checking the spread of Christianity. It takes 
the worship of ancestors for granted as the basis 
of morals, and does not treat the subject in detail; 
but it is significant that, while it denounces 
Buddhism and Taoism, as well as Christianity, 
it insists on the service of one s parents as better 
than that of the gods. 

The second of the discourses makes the " building 
of a family temple for the worship of ancestors, 
and the founding of a family school for the 
instruction of the young " to be the principal ways 
in which the rich can manifest a fellow feeling 
for their kindred. An official comment, at the end 
of the seventh discourse, says " If, instead of 
worshipping the gods, you will serve and honor 
your parents ; and if, instead of giving alms 
to Buddhist and Taoist monks, you will succour 
your kindred and assist your neighbors, false 
doctrines will of themselves cease to be believed." 
This is what is required to be proclaimed in the 
hearing of the people, twice in each revolving moon. 

Two maxims, that take the form of proverbs, 
express the spirit of these instructions. The first 
is that " To stay at home and serve your parents 
is better than to go far to offer incense at a sacred 
place." The other, that" It is better to offer 


a chicken to your living parents than an ox to your 
dead ancestors," not disparaging the latter class 
of duties, but insisting on the paramount obligation 
of the former. 

Every household has somewhere within its doors 
a small shrine, sometimes resembling a cupboard, 
sometimes representing a miniature temple. 
Here are deposited the tablets of ancestors, 
and of all deceased members of the family 
who have passed the age of infancy. 

Each clan has its ancestral temple, which forms 
a rallying point for all who belong to the common 
stock. In these, as in the smaller shrines of the 
household, the objects of reverence are not images, 
but tablets, slips of wood inscribed with the name 
of the deceased, together with the dates of birth 
and death. In these, according to popular belief, 
dwell the spirits of the dead. Before these ascends 
the smoke of daily incense ; and, twice in the 
month, offerings of fruits and other eatables 
are presented, accompanied by solemn 

In some cases, particularly during a period 
of mourning, the members of the family salute 
the dead, morning and evening, as they do the living; 
and on special occasions, such as a marriage 
or a funeral, there are religious services of a more 


elaborate character, accompanied sometimes 
by feasts and theatrical shows. 

Besides worship in presence of the representative 
tablet, periodical rites are performed at the family 
cemetery. In spring and autumn, when the 
mildness of the air is such as to invite excursions, 
city families are wont to choose a day for visiting 
the resting places of their dead. Clearing away 
the grass, and covering the tombs with a layer 
of fresh earth, they present offerings and perform 
acts of worship. This done, they pass the rest 
of the day in enjoying the scenery of the country. 

In all these observances, whether as practiced 
by the rulers of the State or by their humbler 
subjects, there is unquestionably a large inter 
mixture of superstition and idolatry. Yet, there is 
also in them much that may claim our approving 

They tend strongly to cherish some of the better 
sentiments of humanity, binding together the 
members of a family or clan, as the roots 
of a tree hold in compact unity the grains of sand, 
which might otherwise be dissolved and swept 
away by flowing waters. Meeting at the shrine 
of a common ancestor, the widely severed members 
are reminded of their blood relationship; and it is 
perhaps owing to this that the tender appellations 



of brother and sister find among the Chinese 
a wider application than among us. 

Nor is this recognition of kindred an empty 
form. The more prosperous are accustomed 
to show kindness in many ways to their less 
favored relatives. From time to time, we hear 
of the endowment of clan schools, clan cemeteries, 
and clan refuges for the aged poor; the aim 
of these laudable charities being to secure that no 
child who bears the family name shall be deprived 
of that best of birth-rights a right to the advantages 
of education, that no aged person shall suffer 
the pangs of hunger, and that no one, when his 
race is run, shall want the honors of a decent burial. 

What Fan-wen-cheng-kung did for his kindred at 
Soochow is done every day by some rich man in 
some part of the empire. It detracts something 
from the credit of this munificence that it is 
always followed by marks of Imperial favor; 
but it cannot be denied that the existence 
of such an institution, as the family temple, 
has a powerful tendency to foster the sentiments 
that lead to these acts of generosity. 

To be a member of such a fraternity exerts, 
moreover, a moral influence of no mean quality 
on every man who is capable of the sentiment 
of self-respect. By every meeting with his kindred, 


and by every act of worship, he is reminded that 
their ancestors are his ; that the good name of 
the founders of the family is in some sort 
entrusted to his keeping ; and that, if he may 
not add to its lustre, he is bound to refrain 
from staining it by disgraceful conduct. Poor he 
may be, but he still possesses a conscious dignity 
as the offspring of such parentage. 

The restraining influence of this feeling is 
enhanced by the fact that those who are guilty 
of infamous crimes are liable to the pains of 
excommunication, a sentence of terrible import, 
and one which it requires immense fortitude in a 
Christian to incur, as he must, by refusing to join 
in the worship of his ancestors. 

If the system of ancestral worship is tinged 
with idolatry and complicated with the absurdities 
of geomancy, it must, as an offset, be credited 
with having rendered at least one important 
service to the cause of religion. Notwithstanding 
their proclivity to scepticism, it has done much 
to keep alive, among the Chinese people, 
a conviction that the soul survives the decay 
of the body. Every rite implies or affirms it. 

The souls of the departed are invited to partake 
of the finer essences of viands destined to supply 
a feast a kind of agape for their living kindred. 


They are addressed as still retaining consciousness 
and affection in full measure. 

The philosopher Han Wen-kung distinguished 
himself by opposition to Buddhism, a religion 
which has done much to strengthen the spiritual 
beliefs of the Chinese people. Yet this doubter 
betrays, in a touching manner, his latent faith in 
a conscious existence after death. Among his 
remains is found a letter, full of feeling,, 
addressed to a deceased nephew. In that epistle 
he recounts recent changes in the family, 
just as he might have done in writing to a 
relation across the seas, and appears to look 
forward to joining him beyond the grave. 
He does indeed give passing expression to 
doubts and fears, but for all that he still clings 
lovingly to the better hope. 

Confucius, by his silence on this point, 
left room for both hope and doubt. 
In answer to one of his disciples, he said 
"We know not life; how can we know death ? r 
And to another " If we fail in our service to 
the living, how can we expect to render 
acceptable service to the dead ? " He is even 
reported to have weighed the consequences of a 
decision, and to have hesitated to give it. 
"If I should say the soul does survive, 


I fear that persons of pious temperament might 
forsake their living parents in order to serve their 
dead ancestors ; if, on the other hand, I should 
say the soul does not survive, I fear the unfilial 
might throw away the bodies of their parents 
and leave them unburied." The Sage did not 
decide the question ; but the worship of ancestors, 
wh^:h he enjoined on his disciples, strongly 
disposes all his followers to incline to the side 
of faith in a future life. 


In contemplating this system, with its three-fold 

1. To strengthen the bonds of family union, 
and stimulate to active charity ; 

2. To cherish self-respect, and impose moral 
restraint ; 

3. To keep alive a sort of faith in the reality 
of a spirit-world ; 

let us ask ourselves whether, if we had the power 
by a pen-stroke to sweep it all away, we 
should dare to incur the responsibility 
of doing so? 

Let us then, instead of proposing to abolish the 
system, ask ourselves the further question, 
whether it is not capable of being modified in 


such a way as to bring it into harmony with the 
requirements of the Christian Faith ? 

This is a question of the gravest import for 
every missionary body that is free to act 
to those, I say, that are free to act, because from 
some their freedom of action has been taken away 
by the intervention of an Infallible Authority. 
If there is no question more grave in its imjfbrt, 
there is none, the consideration of which requires 
more care, in order to free the mind from the 
influence of prejudice, and to distinguish the 
essentials of substance from the disguises of form. 

In dealing with this as a practical question, there is, 
as I conceive, but one rule by which the missionary 
is bound to be guided, viz., to avoid giving 
countenance to anything that can fairly be 
construed as idolatry, a thing forbidden alike by 
the letter and by the spirit of our 
Christian Scriptures. That ancestral worship, 
as commonly practiced, is liable to objection on 
this ground, I am far from denying; but I maintain 
that its objectionable features are its excrescences, 
not its essence. To prune oft such excrescences,, 
preserving the good and eliminating the evil, 
I believe to be altogether feasible ; and, if so, 
is not that preferable to the quixotic attempt to 
destroy the system, root and branch ? 


Let us examine the matter with reference to 
this single point. 

The word " worship " must not be taken as 
evidence. It signifies etymologically nothing more 
than to assign worth to an object. In the antiquated 
English of our Scriptures, it is often used to 
indicate a respectful salutation, and it is still used 
as -a honorific appellation in our law courts 
and masonic fraternities. Equally vague and 
comprehensive are the Chinese words which it 
represents ( ^ , $ , and g ) . The essential 
elements of ancestral worship are three, posture, 
invocation, and offerings ; and these are nearly 
the same, whether the worship is performed at 
the family shrine, or at the tombs of the deceased. 
The posture is always that of kneeling, 
alternated with prostrations, in the worship 
of the most exalted divinity there is no 
other ; but it does not in itself form 
an act of idolatry, because the same posture is 
employed to show respect to the living. 
Children fall on knees and face before their 
parents ; subjects before their sovereign ; 
officials of every rank before those above them ; 
and common people before their magistrates. 
Beggars in the street assume that attitude in 
asking alms. 


Considered as a mode of salutation, it merits our 
contempt as a fit expression of the abject condition 
of most oriental nations; but it is not sinful, 
and we have no right to place it under the ban 
of ecclesiastical censure. As a mark of respect to 
the dead, is there any reason for seeing in it 
anything more than a continuation of the sentiments 
with which they were regarded while living ? 

It is not merely those who are ancestors in 
the ascending line who are thus honored ; 
the same demonstrations are made to all who 
stand nearer than the worshipper to the root 
of the genealogical tree, and they are sometimes 
rendered to those of equal grade. I have 
seen a Russian widow kneel in the street, 
and bow her bead in the dust before 
the coffin that contained the remains of 
her husband. In that act, there was nothing 
idolatrous, or even religious, the deceased not 
being a calendar saint. Why should the same 
posture be construed in a different sense, when 
enjoined by Chinese rites ? 

Whether the invocation is an act of idolatry 
depends on the attributes ascribed to the deceased. 
If, as often happens, they are looked on as tutelar 
powers, to whom the family is indebted for peace 
and prosperity, the ascription of this kind 


of patronage detracts from the honor that belongs 
to God alone, and is so far tinged with idolatry. 

The ascription of such attributes is not, however, 
universal, even among those who are unenlightened 
by the teachings of Christianity. In many of the 
forms laid down in the books, these objectionable 
features do not exist; and where they do exist, 
their omission would leave the service intact. 

The following are some of the occasions on which 
formal addresses are made to the spirits of ancestors. 
When a youth dons the cap of manhood, he is 
taken to the ancestral temple, where his father 
invokes for him the guardian care of his forefathers, 
" that he may be a complete man, and not fall 
below their standard of excellence." The rite is 
extremely impressive, and it would lose nothing 
of its solemnity, if, in lieu of the invocation of 
the dead, the blessing of the living God were 

When a son or daughter is betrothed, the parents 
simply notify their ancestors, much as they do 
their living kindred, but without asking for tutelar 
care. When a youth goes to fetch home his bride, 
the father " reverentially announces the fact to his 
ancestors, with offerings of fruits and wine." 
The same is done in case of a bride departing 
for her new home. 


In the marriage ceremony, the bridegroom 
presents his wife to his ancestors as a new member 
of the family, and invokes for her their " paternal 

In none of the forms connected with funerals 
is there any petition for blessing or protection, 
the language being that of a simple announcement, 
accompanied by an expression of profound sorrow. 
But in the periodical services at the family 
cemetery, this objectionable element shows itself, 
the worshipper saying "We have come to sweep 
your tombs to show our gratitude for your 
protecting care, and now we beseech you to accept 
our offerings and make our posterity prosperous 
and happy." With the alteration of a few words, 
these so-called prayers would be reduced to mere 
expressions of natural affection. If, after such 
retrenchment, they are still in contravention 
of Christianity, then must we not condemn that 
most pathetic effusion of a filial heart Cowper s 
address to his mother s picture ? 

" My mother, when I knew that thou wast dead, 
Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed? 
Hovered thy spirit o er thy sorrowing son, 
Wretch even then, life s journey just begun ? " 

In Hernani, that noble tragedy of Victor Hugo, 
one of the most impressive scenes is an act 


of worship at the tomb of an ancestor. 

Don Carlos, afterwards Charles V, on the eve 
of election to the throne of the German Empire, 
enters the mausoleum of Charlemagne at 
Aix la Chapelle, and, throwing himself on his knees 
before the tomb of the great monarch whom he 
claims for ancestor, pours out this prayer : 

" Pour into my heart something of thy own 
sublime spirit ; speak, for thy son is waiting to hear. 
Thou dwellest in light ; oh, send some rays upon 
his pathway." 

This, it may be said, is poetry, not religion ; 
while the worship of the Chinese is religion, with 
very little poetry. 

The third essential of Chinese ancestral worship 
is the offering. 

This has, I confess, an idolatrous aspect; but it is 
the object of worship, not the offering, that 
constitutes idolatry. In our native land, no one 
finds fault with the presentation of floral offerings 
at funerals, or at the graves of the departed ; 
and, if it is legitimate to deck a grave with flowers, 
why is it not so to ofter fruits or meats ? The idea 
of offering food to the dead is not in accordance 
with our habits of thought, but it cannot be denied 
that such offering may be made the vehicle 
of an innocent and beautiful sentiment. It means 


that the spirit still remembers its kindred, and 
joins them in their commemorative feast. 

Are we entitled, from the absence of these usages 
among ourselves, to forbid them among the 
Chinese ? If so, what are we to say to the recent 
practice of setting apart a special day for the 
decoration of our soldiers graves ? 

Thus we find that, of the three essentials 
of ancestral worship, no one of necessity implies 
an act of idolatry. It follows therefore that, 
instead of being compelled to condemn the system 
as a whole, we are left at liberty to deal with it 
in detail, according to the dictates of Christian 
prudence. Even after eliminating everything that 
partakes of idolatry, there will still remain much 
that is repugnant to our ways of thinking and feeling. 

The practice of keeping up any kind of connection 
with the dead is, we confess, out of harmony 
with our Protestant theology. It sternly 
discountenances prayers to, or for, the dead. 
It glories in its logic, and sings, or used to sing, 
such cheerful effusions as this : 

" The living know that they must die, 
But all the dead forgotten lie ; 
Their memory and their sense are gone, 
Alike unknowing and unknown ; 
They have no part in all that s done, 
Beneath the circuit of the sun." 


This is a dreary creed, and borrows its expression 
from that older dispensation under which the hope 
of immortality was faint and uncertain. Far more 
humane is the Catholic custom of keeping alive 
their affections by praying for the dead. 
Many a time I have had a little billet come to me 
from beyond the sea, informing me of the decease 
of some member of a family known to me, 
and concluding with the request " Priez pour elle," 
or " Priez pour lui," a request that always touches 
me deeply. I never comply with it, but I confess 
that I should like to do so. To breathe a prayer 
for the repose of a soul is a very different thing 
from the opus opcratum of a vicarious mass. 
Dr. Samuel Johnson was as sturdy a Protestant 
as any of us ; yet, for twenty-eight years, he tells 
us, he never failed to offer a daily prayer for the soul 
of his beloved Hetty. The poet Coleridge was, in 
his later life, a champion of orthodoxy ; yet, in his 
epitaph, written by himself a few days before 
his death, he says : 

"Stop, Christian passer-by ; stop, child of God, 
And read with gentle breast, Beneath this clod 
A poet lies, or that which one seemed he. 
O lift a thought in prayer for S. T. C." 

These are sporadic expressions of what, since 
that day, has become a wide-spread feeling. 


The violence that attended their rupture with 
the Roman church unavoidably carried Protestants 
to an opposite extreme, leading them to abandon 
many graceful observances, in themselves as innocent 
as the painted windows which Puritan soldiers 
took such pleasure in smashing. Now that a 
reaction is setting in, relaxing the severity of 
Puritan theology, is it incumbent on us to 
extinguish, among our converts, expressions of natural 
affection, by which they seek to bind themselves 
to those who have gone before? In a matter 
of this kind, is it not admissible to have one rule 
for the West and another for the East, as the 
broad-minded apostles in the early church 
relaxed the stringency of Jewish practice in 
favor of gentile converts? The venerable usages 
of a civilized people should be judged by their 
own merits, and it is to be borne in mind that 
our aim is not to Europeanize the Chinese, 
but to make them Christians. 

If it be objected that the tendencies of the 
system are to be guarded against, the human 
mind being liable almost unconsciously to transform 
a ghost into a God, I admit the tendency, and 
acknowledge the necessity for preventive measures. 
But is it not better, by the exercise of a wise 
forbearance, to keep the way open for counteractive 


teaching, than, by proclaiming an uncompromising 
conflict, to close the ears of the better class to 
all good influences? 

A missionary relates that a catechism, which he 
was distributing, was always well received and 
often perused with interest as far as a question 
on ancestral worship. It was then thrown clown 
with a gesture of disgust, because what the reader 
deemed the most sacred of moral duties was 
abruptly forbidden. 

Protestant missions in China are still in the 
morning of their existence. Some of them have 
shown sufficient independence to reconsider the 
decision of a Pope as to the word to be employed 
for the name of God, reverting to the usage of 
those early pioneers, who understood 
the wants of the people and the demands 
of the times. I should like to see them 
reconsider another of the decisions of 
the same infallible authority, viz., that which 
condemned the worship of ancestors, as if the 
forms of reverence with which Chinese are taught 
to honor their dead were not as consonant with 
reason and Scripture as the worship of that pantheon 
of saints, whom Rome has seen fit to canonize. 

There is good reason for believing that, by 
those two decisions but chiefly by the latter 


China was lost to the Church of Rome, 
a loss immense, and perhaps irreparable, to our 
common Christendom. 

For a time, the great K ang Hi appeared inclined 
to become the Constantine of this empire, 
patronizing missionaries and encouraging them in 
their efforts to convert his people. But when the 
Apostles of the Faith became divided into hostile 
camps, and when the Head of the Church 
condemned the party which he had favored, 
the Emperor turned his back upon the cross. 
It was not long before his successors were seen 
trampling that sacred symbol in the dust. 

The quiet obedience with which the losing party 
submitted to a decree that ordered them to assail 
an impregnable battery in front, instead of taking it 
by a flank movement, is worthy of all praise : 

" Theirs not to make reply ; 
Theirs not to reason why ; 
Theirs but to do and die, 
Even though they knew 
Some one had blundered" 

From that day to this, they have toiled with 
sublime fidelity, but without the slightest prospect 
of regaining their lost ground. For them there 
is no alternative but to obey orders, and to 
persevere in their hopeless task. 


Happily Protestants are not bound by any such 
arbitrary authority. The magnificent opportunity 
thrown away by the Popes is not likely to offer 
itself in the experience of any denomination of 
Protestants. It would be folly for them to trim 
their sails with a view to catching the breath of 
imperial favor; but is it folly to seek to conciliate 
the literati, who are the real rulers of the empire ? 

About a year ago, two eminent officials, 
with whom I was conversing, introduced the 
subject of missionary methods. (One of them, 
now deceased, was President of the highest of 
the Six Boards). 

They took it for granted that the various Societies 
would persist in their efforts to convert the 
people ; but they anticipated for them but a 
small measure of success, while proceeding on 
their present lines. 

The facility with which bad characters find 
admission to the fold, the readiness of missionaries 
to hold a shield over the heads of their erring 
converts, and, lastly, their rejection of ancestral 
worship, formed the staple of the criticism. 
"Why," they asked, insisting specially on the 
third point, " cannot Christian missionaries adopt 
this native institution as did the propagators of 
Buddhism?" I answered that "For myself (and 


I wish I could have answered for all the teachers of 
Christianity), I do not object to ancestral worship 
as a system, but solely to those parts of it 
which ascribe divine attributes to the souls 
of the dead." 

If any considerable body of missionaries were 
to take up this position, they might, I believe, 
initiate a movement which would in a few years 
result in more success than has been achieved 
thus far by the united or disunited efforts of all. 
How many of those, who are disposed to accept 
the higher truths of the gospel, draw back when 
they find that in marriage they must conform to 
unrecognized and repulsive rites, while they are 
required to renounce the sacred privilege of 
presenting their brides to their ancestors in the 
family temple ! How many are precluded from 
embracing Christianity, by holding a pecuniary 
interest in lands connected with a temple of 
ancestors ! But, not to enumerate classes, 
does not every man, who feels the value of family 
ties, as soon as he begins to weigh the claims 
of Christianity, at once throw into the other 
scale his duty to his progenitors, living or dead ; 
and is it not a thousand to one that his incipient 
convictions will be stifled before they ripen into 
practical conversion ? 


As long as missionaries manifest a determination 
to pluck the keystone out of China s social fabric, 
so long will the innumerable clans that form the 
nation, rallying round the altars of their forefathers, 
form an impenetrable phalanx, barring at every 
point the ingress of a disintegrating doctrine. 
As long as the neophyte is called on, like Caius 
Torranius, to prove his devotion by betraying 
his fathers, so long will the Christian community 
continue to be a despised caste, apart from the 
life of the people, and receiving accessions 
chiefly from pariahs, who set no value on 
family connections. 

In conclusion, I respectfully suggest that 
we refrain from any direct or indiscriminate 
attack on the native mode of honoring ancestors ; 
and that we leave the reformation of the system 
to the influence of Divine Truth, when it gets 
a firmer hold on the national mind. * 

*This modest suggestion was, I am sorry to say, received with 
strong expressions of disfavor ; yet many missionaries have assured 
me that they concur in the general sentiment of the Paper. 
It is republished in the hope that a calm perusal, outside of an 
excited assembly, will result in the accession of many suffrages. 





I HE Roman Emperors always associated with 
their other titles that of Pontifex Maximus ; 
and the Sovereigns of China have from time 
immemorial acted as High Priests of the 

It was in that capacity that His Majesty 
Kuang Hsu officiated at the Temple of Heaven 
on the 22nd December, 1887, for the first time, 
on the occasion of the solstitial sacrifices. 
On the previous day, he proceeded to the Temple 
with great pomp, accompanied by the grandees 
of the Court, three elephants harnessed 
to as many chariots appearing in the procession. 
Having prepared himself by a night spent 
in fasting and meditation to approach the presence 

* This brief Note, sent originally to a local newspaper, appears- 
worth preserving, as a concise view of a great subject. 


of the King of Kings, he prostrated himself 
nine times before a tablet inscribed with the name 
of Shang Ti, and offered an ox, the bones of 
the victim being consumed in a furnace. 

As to the herd of common gods, the Emperor 
can make and unmake them at will. He even 
assumes to decide whether a living Buddha shall 
or shall not have the privilege of re-appearing 
in another body ; but in the presence of Shang Ti, 
the master of China s millions abases himself 
in the dust, and confesses himself a subject of law. 

When the Taiping rebellion was at its height 
in 1853, the Emperor Hien Fung repaired 
to the Altar of Heaven, confessed his sins, 
and implored on behalf of his suffering people 
the compassion of the Sovereign of the Universe. 
By this act, he acknowledged that he ruled 
by delegated authority, and that he was answerable 
for its proper use. 

The same idea is impressively set forth by a row 
of iron censers, ranged around the foot of the altar. 
In these, it is not strips of mimic gold that are 
consumed, nor sticks of incense, but long lists 
of the names of criminals condemned to death, 
the smoke and flame rising up to Heaven, appealing 
for ratification or for vengeance to the Supreme 
Court of the Universe. 


The Emperor is a monotheist, because there is 
only one God sufficiently exalted to be to him an 
object of worship in the highest sense; for, though 
he does worship at the shrines of other divinities, 
to none but Shang Ti does he employ the humble 
style of a servant, and he, if not the only worshipper 
of Shang Ti, is the only one who is permitted 
to make use of the prescribed ritual. For any 
one else to presume to imitate that ritual would be 
an act of high treason, as it could have but one 
meaning, that of an intention to usurp 
the prerogatives and to seize the throne 
of the sovereign. The only instance of this which 
we have on record except in cases of overt 
rebellion is that of the Prince of Ch in erecting 
an altar to Shang Ti, some 2,500 years ago. 
The act betokened a disposition on his part 
to seize the falling crown of the Chows, 
which one of his; descendants actually accomplished. 
The Chow Emperor in the meantime tolerated 
the abuse, because he lacked the power to punish 
so great a vassal. 

The antiquityfof this Imperial rite is not the least 
interesting of its features. It goes back to the first of 
the Three Dynasties, to a date when Melchisedek 
combined with his kingly office that of " Priest 
of the Most High God." In that day, there was 


no Buddhism, no Taoism ; but, whether that 
primitive worship connects itself with a purer 
form of partriarchal faith, or whether, as Emerson 
expresses it 

" Up from the heart of nature came, 
Like the volcano s tongue of flame" 

I shall not undertake to determine. 

The idea of the offerings on this occasion is that 
of a banquet, in which the spirit of the Supreme 
condescends to accept entertainment at the hand 
of a mortal. He is accompanied by eight imperial 
guests, the ancestors of the officiating sovereign, 
who, like Wen Wang in the Book of Odes, 
are regarded as favoured guests in the Court 
of Heaven. 

The august pageant is withheld from eyes profane; 
and of course all foreigners in Peking are officially 
invited to be absent. 

I do not, accordingly, profess to give you the 
observations of an eye-witness ; though I have 
perhaps as good a right to do so as certain war 
correspondents have had, to depict a battle-scene, 
when they have viewed the smoke at a distance. 


1 have seen the altar ; and I have at this moment 
the ritual of the day before my eyes. But it would 
not add much to the interest of my readers to have 
a libretto of the nine pieces of sacred music, 
or an inventory of the subordinate offerings which 
accompany the Fan Niu, or ox of burnt sacrifice. 




HE dust of the great Sage reposes near 
the place of his birth, at Chu Fu, in the 
?L> Province of Shantung. For twenty-three 
centuries, official offerings have been made 
to his manes ; and emperors, princes, and scholars, 
have repaired to his sepulchre to do him homage. 
Yet Chu Fu is not to China what Mecca is to the 
Mohammedan world; not that Confucius is less 
esteemed than the Founder of Islam, but because 
the pilgrimage to his tomb is not enjoined 
as a religious duty. 

Ten days would have sufficed to carry me 
to the sacred spot; but, as I desired first to visit 
an ancient colony of Jews in the central Province 
of Honan, I spent four weeks wandering through 


the heart of China before arriving there, and thence 
I proceeded to Shanghai, by way of the Grand Canal 
and the river Yangtse.* 

On the 2nd of February, 1866, I set out from 
Peking on what was then a route unfrequented 
by Europeans ; but so few are the changes that 
have taken place in the interior of that most 
conservative of empires, that my narrative, 
which is now for the first time given to the public,f 
is as true to the life as if its date were of yesterday. 
No new canal has been excavated, and no railway 
constructed in that region. 

Kai-fung Fu is the abode of the Jewish colony, 
and one of the ancient capitals, lying 1,500 li 
(or 500 miles) to the south-west of Peking ; 
I engaged a cart, drawn by two mules, to carry 
me to that point in fifteen days. 

Bestowing in it my baggage and a servant, 
I accompanied the vehicle on horseback, taking 
pains to keep in sight. As these carts have no 
springs, this mode of travelling by cart is to be 
recommended, on the score of comfort ; the chief 
drawback being exposure to wind, dust, and cold. 

* For my observations on the Jews, with notes of that part of my 
travels, see Hanlin Papers, Volume I (Kelly & Walsh), reprinted 
under the title of Tht Chinese, &c., by the Harpers, New York, 
f In the Independent, 1890. 


My driver, being liable to a fine for loss of time, 
made it a point to rouse me from my bed 
before day-light, and to continue on the road 
far into the night, sometimes covering a distance 
of forty-five or fifty miles. In the morning, 
the cold was intense; so that, as I trotted along, 
the icicles formed on my beard, and tinkled 
like a chime of bells. My servant, Yung-an, 
" Everlasting Peace," who was snoring in the cart, 
had a better time. So indifferent are the Chinese 
to jolting that the master always takes the cart, 
and puts his attendant on horseback. 

In less than a week, my horse becoming lame, 
I sold him for a song, and soon became reconciled 
to the snug bertli of Yung-an, taking long walks 
to stretch my stiffened limbs. 

After a full month of this luxurious mode of 
motion, I had to descend to a humbler vehicle, 
because the road became so narrow that it would 
accommodate only one wheel. My wheel-barrow, 
the common conveyance in that region, 
was pushed by one man and drawn by another, 
the passengers balancing each other by sitting 
on opposite sides, when they did not choose 
to walk. 

Some of these barrows were fitted with mast 
and sail, so that, when the wind was fair, 


the driver had nothing to do but hold the helm 
and "keep her steady." 

Coming to a spur of the mountains, our ship of 
the plains had to be abandoned. I might have 
continued my journey on foot, as I had become 
accustomed to walking ; but, for the sake of 
expedition, I hired post-horses, and soon found 
myself at the bank of the Grand Canal. 
For comfort, commend me to a Chinese canal-boat. 
With no passengers and no noise, if you are not 
pressed for time, you have no occasion to wish 
for smoky steamer, or rattling railway. 

Except in the capital of Honan, I failed to 
find, on this long journey, any thing that could 
be called a decent lodging -place. The larger 
inns were caravansaries, like those of Western 
Asia, for the entertainment of camels ; the smaller, 
offering accommodations for foot passengers only. 
Not one of them is more than one story in height ; 
and all have floors of earth, with a divan of 
brick or wood which serves for bed at night 
and sofa by day. The guest provides his own 
bedding, and his food too, if he is nice on 
that point. 

Many of them are kept by Mohammedans, 
as I learned to my cost. One day, when my 
servant had set the table, and I was about to 


begin my breakfast with a slice of ham, 
the inn-keeper appeared, and implored me by all 
that was sacred to abstain from pork, for his sake, 
if not for my own. Sending it away, 
I addressed myself to a piece of corned beef. 
To this the host also objected, saying that the 
cow was a sacred beast; and it is so in Southern 
China. To spare his feelings, I said I would 
break my fast on bread and butter. " Not on butter, 
I beseech you," he exclaimed; "butter, too,, 
is forbidden. My dishes have not been greased 
with it for five years." Swallowing my dry 
morsel with a cup of tea, I left the place,, 
resolving the next time to ascertain the religious 
faith of my inn-keeper before unpacking my cart. 

In places, the country had been swept by 
hordes of rebels, and it was scarcely possible to 
obtain, for any price, a chicken or an egg, 
while rice was out of the question, 
and coarse millet the only available food. 
In one place, the inn was too poor to afford a 
candlestick ; but, by way of substitute, the 
inn-keeper showed me a trick which would have 
delighted the economical Diogenes. Cutting a 
turnip in half, he turned the flat side down, and, 
thrusting into it a bamboo chopstick " There s your 
candlestick," he said, in a tone of triumph. 


My candle, supported on that sharp stick, 
gave as good a light as if it had rested on silver. 
In most of these inns, the whited walls serve 
the double purpose of ledger and visitor s book, 
the names of lodgers being scrawled there, along 
with various effusions in prose or verse. In one was 
a pasquinade on Lady Shen, the wife of the 
Prefect, who must have been a remarkable woman 
to exercise a " reign of terror over her husband, 
and, through him, over the whole district." 
In another, I read in verse this sad confession 
of an opium smoker : 

"For a time, I dallied with the lamp and pipe; 
Pleasure became disease, and I sought in vain for antidotes. 
Now, in poverty and pain, 
I am glad to consume the ashes from another s pipe." 

His experience may be taken as that of 
a large class. At a third, I read a satire 
on a noted general, who had been beaten by the 
English, ending with the query 

" When he fights and runs away, 
Is it fight, or is it play?" 

To these rude verses add rude pictures, not always 
decent, and you have an idea of the embellishment 
of our wayside hotels. As an index of the state 
of morals, I may mention that, in many places, 


singing girls were importunate in offering their 
services, which were not confined to music. 

Away from great cities, the people always 
exhibited a friendly and unsuspicious disposition. 
" He speaks our language," they said ; " if his 
whiskers were shaven off, he would be as good 
looking as we are." They asked me not from what 
country, but " from what Province " I came ; 
and occasionally inquired whether I was Tartar 
or Chinese. In one case, the most learned man 
in a village, after talking with me in the evening, 
came back in the morning to say that he had not 
been able to find the name of my country in his 
Dictionary of Universal Knowledge. I inquired 
the date of the work, and found it was two hundred 
years old. 

Arriving late and starting early, I usually escaped 
annoyance at the hands of the curious; but where I 
stopped for Sunday, their curiosity knew no bounds. 
Gathering in immense throngs, they would force 
themselves into my inn, breaking down doors 
and windows, and were only appeased when I came 
out and placed myself on view. When I spoke 
to them on the truths of religion, they listened 
respectfully, and they were always glad to get 
a few tracts, though but few r were able to read them. 
One man said he had received a Bible from 


a foreigner, but remembered only one word of its 
contents; that, he said, was the name "Jehovah." 
That name, I told him, was the subject of the whole 
book ; and it served me for an excellent text. 

Except in the districts affected by rebellion, 
the people appeared well fed and well dressed ; 
and the absence of beggars testified to the comfort 
of their social condition. In one village, every man 
wore two hats, one superposed upon the other. 
Before noting it down as a custom of the country, 
I learned on inquiry that those people were coming 
home from a fair, where each had provided himself 
with a new hat for the New Year, to begin 
the next day. 

The next day, they wore only the new one; 
the shops and gateways were adorned with new 
inscriptions on fresh red paper ; everybody appeared 
in bright apparel; and the streets were thronged 
with people paying visits of ceremony. 
My inn-keeper threw himself at my feet and 
wished me a Happy New Year, expecting and 
receiving the usual cumshaiv, or gift, the word 
meaning gold dust. My servant performed the same 
ceremony, and then asked my permission to offer 
the prescribed token of respect to his mother. 
She was far away; but, turning his face toward 
Peking, he bowed his head to the earth nine times, 


and wished her long life, a beautiful expression 
of that filial feeling which has created the worship 
of ancestors, and made it a living force among 
the Chinese people. 

In China, a city always has a wall; and it is 
sometimes called a large city, when it has very few 
inhabitants. After leaving Peking, I passed through 
more than twenty cities, of four grades in political 
importance, Pao- ting and Kai-fung, with a population 
of one and two hundred thousand, respectively, 
being the largest. Isolated farm houses were 
nowhere to be seen, the people all congregating 
in villages for convenience and mutual protection. 
The country is thus deprived of its beauty ; 
and what Akenside calls "The mild dignity of 
private life" is practically unknown. Through 
the greater part of the region that came under my 
view, the population was sparse compared with that 
of the sea coast, though the soil is extremely fertile. 

The cities were in most cases empty fortresses, 
their streets here and there spanned with honorary 
portals, or pai-lows. One was inscribed to a father 
and son, who had both risen to the rank of Cabinet 
Minister ; another recorded the fact that one family 
had, for four generations, given a Viceroy to some 
Province of the Empire ; a third was in honor 
of a widow, and bore the legend 


" Her virtue was as pure, and her heart as cold, as ice." 
This does not imply that chastity 

" Pure as the icicle that hangs on Dian s temple " 

is at all rare. It only means that Lady Ping, 
being left a widow at an early age, had resisted 
all temptations to marry again. Such portals are 
erected at private expense, but not without 
a license from the emperor, which it costs 
something to obtain. 

A similar portal, spanning the road-way near a 
humble hamlet, informs the passengers that 
" Here were born six or seven famous kings 
of the Dynasty of Shang" (i.e., between three 
and four thousand years ago). It was amusing 
to note that the names of these kings were 
not given, but that of the public-spirited donor 
was duly recorded. By the "six or seven kings," 
I was reminded of an incident told 
me by a captain in our navy. Being in a 
foreign port, a party of nobles were inspecting 
the ship, when the quarter-master, touching his 
cap, said quietly " Please, Sir, one of them kings 
has fallen down the hatch-way . 

This reference to antiquity also reminds me that 
I passed through a deserted city, whose walls of 
baked clay were in good condition, though their 


facing of brick bad been removed. It bad been 
tbe capital of Cbao, a small but warlike State in 
the feudal period, wben Babylon was in her glory. 
Fancy could conjure up the armies that had issued 
from those silent gates ; and the Chinese, who 
have a dread of ghosts, though they pass through 
it in day-time, always give it a wide berth 
at night. 

Another spot of antiquarian interest was the 
town of Yang-ku, which is supposed to have been 
the site of an astronomical observatory in the 
reign of Yao, 2,300 B. C. At present, it contains 
nothing snggestive of science. 

Situated in a fertile plain, with a range of hills, 
in shape like the arc of an ellipse, to bring the 
fung-shui influence to a focus, Chu Fu, the goal 
of my pilgrimage, is deemed equally favorable 
for the birth or the burial of great men. 
Trade, it has none, living on the emoluments 
which a grateful nation has thought fit to confer 
on the greatest of its benefactors. A lineal 
descendant of the Sage has here his palace, with 
the title of Duke and ample domains. 
Twelve of the nearer branches of the family, 
and sixty of the more remote, have likewise been 
provided for by imperial bounty. 

The city is in the form of a rectangle, 


a mile in length by half a mile in breadth. 
One end of the enclosure is occupied by the 
temple of Confucius ; and the tomb, which is 
outside of the city, is connected with it by an 
avenue of stately cedars. This avenue bears the 
name of Shen Tao, the " Spirit Road," meaning that 
the spirit of the Holy Man, when invoked with 
proper rites, passes through these trees, back and 
forth between tomb and temple. He has a temple 
in every city of the empire, and his effigy is 
adored in every school-room in the land. 
His worship is accordingly not localized; and hence, 
but little zeal is shown to make the pilgrimage 
to this holy city. Yet the tomb and temple are 
both on such a scale of magnificence as to be 
worthy of an empire whose most sacred traditions 
are here embodied. 

The temple is a vestibule to the tomb, and we 
shall visit that first. 

On the last day of February, just as the sun 
was rising, I presented myself at the great gate; 
but, as the porters saw me approaching, they closed 
it in my face. That meant nothing more than 
a demand to be paid for opening it. 
A red card thrust through a crevice, and a promise 
of cum-shaw, proved to be an "open sesame;" 
and the great shrine stood full before me. 


The moon being at the full, a company of young 
men in rich attire were paying their devotions 
to the spirit of their illustrious ancestor. 
I was politely requested to amuse myself in some 
of the adjoining courts, until the service should 
be completed. It was not long, chiefly consisting 
of the k o-toiv, or nine prostrations, accompanied 
by a repetition of the titles of the Sage, in form 
something like a hymn of praise. 

In the meantime, I entered a spacious court paved 
with stone and studded with sculptured pai-lows, 
or honorary gate-ways, that lead nowhere. From 
this, I passed into another of equal extent, which 
had a little canal meandering through it, excavated 
for the sole purpose of giving occasion for a dozen 
or more beautiful bridges of shining marble. 
A third court contained a solemn grove of funereal 
cypress, some of the trees being of enormous size, 
and their deep shade being profoundly impressive. 
One of them, it is alleged, was planted by the Sage 
himself, more than two thousand years ago. 

Beyond these, in another court, sto-.-.l a forest 
of granite columns, range on range, each covered 
with laudatory inscriptions, and sheltered by 
a pretty pavilion. Each column had been erected 
by a sovereign of the empire ; and some of them, 
dating as far back as the dynasties of Han, Tsin, 


and Wei (from fifteen to twenty centuries), were so 
defaced by time as to be illegible. The habit of 
taking printed copies from the stone had helped 
to obliterate the inscriptions. Some, of later 
dynasties, were more distinct. One by Ch eng Hua, 
1465 A.D., particularly attracted my attention. 
It styled Confucius the " Heart of Heaven, 
without whom we should have been wrapped 
in one unbroken night." Expatiating on his virtues, 
it concludes with a hymn of praise. 

The library was a wooden tower, four or five 
stories in height, in the finest style of Chinese 
architecture. Instead, however, of being filled with 
books, it is tenanted by innumerable pigeons ^ 
and, if it ever contained books, there is now no trace 
of them. 

The central shrine, where I had seen the 
descendants of the Sage at their devotions, 
resembles the Confucian temple at Peking, but is 
vaster in its proportions. Like all of its kind, 
it consists of a long hall, rising in one story to 
a great height. In this, however, the front pillars 
are of stone instead of wood ; and a more important 
difference is the fact that here the Sage and his 
principal disciples are represented by statues of 
stone, while elsewhere they have only tablets 
inscribed with their names. The statues are not 


the work of a Pheidias ; and the simple tablets, 
which even here are the chief objects of adoration, 
are far more impressive. 

The tablet of Confucius bears on it the inscription 
" The seat of the spirit of the most holy ancient 
Sage, Confucius." 

Numerous inscriptions on gilded tablets, 
some fixed in the vaulted roof, others pendant 
from the ceiling, set forth the Sage s virtues in 
phrases like the following : 

" The model teacher of all ages." 

" With Heaven and Earth he forms a trinity." 

" His virtue is equal to that of Heaven and Earth." 

" He exhausted the possibilities of Nature." 

" Of all the Sages, he was the grand consummation." 

" His holy soul was sent down from Heaven." 

The tablets of seventy-two, out of his three 
thousand disciples, who became conspicuous for 
wisdom and virtue, are ranged on either hand, 
each in a separate shrine ; while in niches, 
around the walls, are to be seen the tablets 
of some of his eminent followers of later times, 
all participating in the cloud of incense offered 
to the great Master. 

Attached to this building are several others, less 
conspicuous, one of which is devoted to the memory 


of the father of Confucius, of whom nothing is 
known, except that he died too early to influence 
the character of his famous son. A shrine to the 
"Holy Mother" pays deserved honor to the 
woman who trained and taught China s teacher. 
His ancestors for five generations all have places 
of honor, and wear the posthumous title of prince, 
though in life they were poor and unknown. 

The most curious of these collateral shrines is one 
to the " Holy Lady, the wife of the Sage." As she 
was divorced, it suggests the dilemma that, if put 
away for cause, she does not deserve a shrine ; 
if without cause, the Sage was not worthy of his. 

A well, where the Sage is said to have drawn 
water, and a hall, filled with portraits on stone 
of himself and his disciples, were the last objects 
of interest that I had time to inspect. 

On my way to the city gate, I noticed a gilded 
inscription on a marble arch at the entrance 
of a street, informing the passer-by that "This is 
Poverty Lane, where Yen Hui, the favorite disciple, 
formerly dwelt." He died young, but left behind 
him the invaluable example of love of study 
and contempt for luxury. 

Beyond the gate, pursuing for half a mile the 
graceful curves of the " Spirit Road," I came to a 
column marking a limit, where riders are required 


to dismount and proceed on foot to the entrance 
of the Campo Santo. The wall of the holy ground 
encloses a space of about ten acres, shaded by 
great trees and filled with tombs of the Sage s 
descendants, excepting an area of two or three 
acres on the side facing the city, which is occupied 
by a mound so large that it might be described 
as a hill. This is the Sage s tomb. 
The earth of which it is formed is a more 
enduring monument than brick or stone ; 
and a few spadefuls are added every year, 
so that, with the flight of time, the hillock may 
yet become a mountain. A paved court and a 
granite column comprise all that art has done in 
the way of embellishment. 

On one side, an old tree leaning on crutches 
informs you that it was planted by the hand of 
Tze-kung, one of the most eminent in the 
inner circle of the Sage s school ; and near it, a 
tablet marks the site of a lodge in which this 
devoted disciple passed six years, watching by the 
grave of his master. The very grass that grows 
within this enclosure is sacred, and supposed to be 
endowed with powers of divination much beyond 
that which we attribute to witch hazel. 
It gives rise to a brisk trade, which I 
encouraged by buying a bundle of stalks 


(forty-nine in number, viz., 7x7); not that I cared 
to learn from them the secrets of futurity, but to 
prove that I had won the honors of a hadji. 

Though he has a temple in every city, 
Confucius is not deified. The honors paid to him 
are purely commemorative, and he is never 
invoked in the character of a tutelar divinity. 
The homage rendered to him is not, therefore, 
a direct obstacle to the acceptance of the 
Chistian Faith.* 

* For an account of the family of Confucius, and particularly of his 
Ducal representative, see Hanlin Papers (First Series), or the edition 
by Harpers under title of The Chinese, &c. 





HE near approach of the fourth centennial 
of the discovery of America carries our 
thoughts back to what we may call 
the heroic age of maritime adventure. 
In that line of enterprise, the Portuguese were 
the forerunners and the rivals of Spain. The fame 
of Diaz, who, five years before, had penetrated 
to the southernmost extremity of Africa, had 
doubtless much to do with the resolution of 
Columbus to steer for the West ; and the success of 
the latter impelled the Portuguese in turn to 
attempt to eclipse his renown by five years later 
opening the way to the East. 

The accomplishment of that undertaking is 
the subject ot the Lnsiad. We take up the poem 
of Camoens as a literary study, deserving, as a work 

* Yale Review, December, 1890. 


of genius, a liberal share of that attention which is 
accorded to the world s great epics ; but, aside from 
its literary merit, it challenges our consideration 
for the light which it throws on the canvas 
of history. It illuminates the track of Vasco da 
Gama with a phosphorescence that is not 
momentary ; and it affords us glimpses of Africa, 
which ought to be of special interest at an hour 
when Stanley is revealing the mysteries of the 
Upper Congo, and when three European nations 
are contending for the possession of that Eastern 
Coast along which Vasco was the first to sail. 

The poem connects itself with China, not merely 
by describing the voyage that opened the way 
to her seaboard, but by the curious fact that it was 
written in part during the author s temporary 
sojourn in the south of that empire, about 330 years 
ago. Nor is its bearing on Japan of less importance. 
Not only does the poet allude to the early efforts 
made by St. Xavier and others to evangelize those 
islands, it is not improbable that he visited them 
himself, as an active traffic was at that time carried 
on by his countrymen between Japan and their new 
colony in China. It is to be regretted that this 
old poem, which deals with the earliest authentic 
periplus of Africa, and with the opening of the 
three great empires of Asia, has not commanded 


to a greater degree the attention of studious men. 

Its date, only the length of a human life from 
the first landing of the Portuguese on the coast 
of Malabar, and only half that distance from their 
arrival at Canton, forms an]^ important epoch 
well suited for catching the spirit of the age, 
and conveying to posterity the impressions produced 
on the mind of a poetic observer, by one of the 
most startling revolutions in human history. 
A Chinese statesman, whose work I recently read, 
describes it Irom his stand-point as a greater change 
for China to find herself face to face with the 
great nations of the West, than anything that 
has occurred in her history since the Builder of 
the Great Wall abolished the Feudal States. 

The terms in which Camoens depicts the 
impressions made on him by the unbarring of 
the gates of the Orient are equally strong and much 
more poetical. The adventurous expedition of the 
Argonauts to the Euxine, in quest of the golden 
fleece, he represents as quite cast into the shade 
by the exploit of his countrymen in doubling the 
" Cape of Storms," and crossing the Indian sea. 
Even the invasion of India by Alexander 
and the fabled conquest of India by Bacchus are, 
in his estimation, eclipsed by the triumphs of 
Lusitanian arms. 


He says but little of China, and that little 
mostly wrong, his admiring gaze resting chiefly 
on the ephemeral dominion founded by his 
people in the south of Asia. Could his vision 
have taken a wider sweep, looking with prophetic 
foresight down on the unfolding centuries, 
his patriotic pride might have suffered by the 
revelation ; but \vould not a nobler sentiment 
have supplied its place, leading him to hail the 
rise of British power in India, and the renovation 
through Western influence of the two independent 
empires of Eastern Asia ? That he felt the 
grandeur of his theme, limited as was his faculty 
of prevision, does it not prove that he was 
indeed an inspired vatcsf 

It is somewhat singular that, in the whole of 
his ten cantos, Camoens makes not the most 
distant allusion to Columbus, though there can 
be no doubt that the maritime enterprise of the 
Portuguese was greatly stimulated by the success 
of his daring voyage. 

As a matter of fact, Columbus aimed at the same 
objective as the Portuguese navigators ; and, in the 
view of Camoens, his voyage was a failure, the 
long, wild shore that barred his way to Japan, China, 
and India, being a discovery of utter insignificance, 
in comparison with the opening of a water-way 


to the richest, most populous, and (at that time) 
most civilized nations of the earth. 

Nor does he allude to the mariner s compass. 
Indispensable as a guide to the westward sailing 
fleet of Queen Isabella, the needle had little to 
do with the success of the Portuguese. 
Their voyage, portentous as it was in length, was 
after all nothing more than a prolonged cabotage* 
or coasting voyage. At every point where they 
entered a port, their first inquiry was for pilots 
to conduct them to the next. 

Daring beyond all precedent as was that long 
expedition, in which they four times crossed the 
equator, and drew a girdle round the African 
continent which thenceforth hung like a pendant 
from the belt of their king, it lacks the sublimity 
that attaches to the triumphs of science. 
Courage and skill are qualities which they displayed 
in a conspicuous degree ; but the manner in which 
Columbus divined the existence of a new way to 
the East, if not that of a new world in the West, 
was little less marvellous (considering the time) 
than Leverrier s prognostication of a planet outside 
of the orbit of Uranus. 

* It reminds us of the leading part which Portugal took in maritime 
commerce, to find in common use a French word derived from the 
Portuguese Cabo, a headland, and the Knglish word Capstan from 
the Portuguese Cabrt slante, a standing goat. 


" Long lay the ocean paths from man concealed, 
Light came from heaven, the magnet was revealed. 
Then first Columbus with the mighty hand 
Of grasping genius weighed the sea and land, 
When, sudden as creation burst from naught, 
Sprang a new world through his stupendous thought." 

In Genoa, one sees a magnificent statue of 
Columbus, who is represented as pondering the 
figure of a globe/ and solving the problem of ages. 
That, however, is a recent work, a tardy homage 
to make amends for the want of early recognition. 
Not only did the men of his time fail to 
encourage his undertaking ; when it was crowned 
with success, they failed to appreciate the 
grandeur of his achievement. No Italian or 
Spanish bard of that day celebrated it in any 
considerable poem that has come down to our times. 
It is an English poet of recent date, who extols 
it in the noble lines which I have cited ; and it was 
reserved for an American, almost of our own 
times, to make it the subject of an epic poem. 
Alas ! the Columbiad of Joel Barlow, grand as is 
its theme, is wanting in the sacred fire that burns 
in every stanza of the immortal Camoens. 
More inspiring than a hundred Columbiads w r ill be 
the great celebration of 1892 ! 

But it is time to come to a closer examination 


of the poem before us. In the composition of the 
Lusiad, we discover three leading elements : 

1. A historic narrative. 

2. Numerous patriotic episodes. 

3. Mythologic machinery. 

The consideration of these will prepare us 
to appreciate, in conclusion, the characteristics 
of the poet, and the fortunes or rather misfortunes 
of the man. 


The action centres in Vasco da Gama and his 
adventurous voyage. The poet, who was a poet 
of some renown before he took up this weighty 
theme, selected the exploit of Vasco as the most 
signal event in the history of his people. He was 
right ; for, as their long wars with the Moors 
culminated in carrying the war into Africa, so their 
pertinacious conflict with the seas reached its climax 
in the opening of the way to India and the East. 

11 The discovery of the East," says a Portuguese 
critic with pardonable partiality, " supplied Camoens 
with a theme not less grand than that which the 
Cfusades gave to Tasso ; " and its consequences, 
he asserts, were even superior in importance. 
Certain it is that few poets have been so fortunate 


in the choice of a subject for the Epic Muse. 
His hero, in character, is less distinct and striking 
than Achilles, or even than Godfrey of Boulogne ; 
but he compares favorably with the pious ^Eneas. 
It must not be forgotten that not Achilles, 
but the siege of Troy ; not the Count of Bouillon, 
but the conquest of the Holy Land ; not the son 
of Anchises, but the founding of Rome, were the 
real subjects of those three great Epics. 

So lofty is the subject of the Lusiad, and at the 
same time so comprehensive, that it may well 
dispense with the special attractions of a single 
hero. Vasco, clad in a weather-beaten tarpaulin 
enthroned on his quarter-deck, trumpet in hand, 
making the voice of command ring out above 
the loar of angry winds, is, at all events, a noble 
figure ; though, unlike the impiger iracundus Achilles, 
a trifle monotonous. 

Our poet is not writing history, though his subject 
is eminently historical ; and it would not be fair to 
exact from him a strict conformity to facts, 
any more than to bring Tasso to book for his 
account of the exploits of Tancred and Rinaldo. 
A poet does not relish a simple ascent in a captive 
balloon. He must be free to rise as high, and roam 
as far, as the divine afflatus may carry him, before 
returning to terra firma. It ought, however, to be 


set down to the credit of Camoens that he 
distinguishes pretty clearly between fact and fiction. 
The latter, as it appears in his Cantos, always bears 
some mark of its aerial origin ; and the former 
is related so truthfully that, were other records 
wanting, a pretty fair account of Portuguese 
maritime adventure might be made out from this 
poem alone. 

Its sins are more those of omission than of 
exaggeration. It passes almost in silence over 
the remarkable performance of Bartholomew Diaz, 
who doubled the Cape of Storms ; and it touches 
but lightly on other enterprises of the reigns of John 
and Manuel. An abortive attempt to reach India, 
made under the former of these kings, is, however, 
duly recorded. Allow me to condense the narrative, 
and give it in my own prosaic version. 

"Johannes, our thirteenth king, eager to clothe 
himself with fame eternal, attempted that which 
mortal man had never essayed; that was to find 
the limit of the rosy East." "The same," 
said Gama, "is now the object of our quest."* 
" His messengers, passing through Spain, France, 
and Italy, took ship in the port of Parthenope 
(Naples), a city subject to many masters, and now 

* When he says this, he is still on the East Coast of Africa. 


a gem in the Spanish crown. Sailing through the sea 
of Sicily, they touch on the shore of sandy Rhodes. 
Thence they gain the coast on which great Pompey 
fell. They proceed to Memphis and lands watered 
by the overflowing Nile ; ascending beyond Egypt 
as far as Abyssinia, where the holy rites of Christ 
continue to be observed, they next cross the 
Erythrean waves, which Israel of old passed over 
without the aid of ships. Having completed the 
circuit of Arabia, they enter the Persian Gulf,* 
where the memory of Babel and its confusion still 
abides. There the Euphrates mingles with the 
Tigris, both famed for springing from the fountains 
of an earthly Paradise. Thence through the waves 
of an ocean which Trajan never dared to pass, 
they go in search of the pure waters of the 
Indus, a search," said Gama, " whose history is 
not yet finished. 

" They saw there strange peoples, strange manners, 
and many monsters ; but, alas I from wanderings 
so wide, it was not easy to recall their feet. 
They died there, and there they rest ; and not 
one of them returned to his beloved home." 
" It appears," continued Gama, " that heaven 
was reserving this arduous enterprise as a 
reward for the merit of our King Manuel.. 

* Thus far, they seem to have gone from the upper Nile by land.. 


Manuel, in succeeding to the throne of John, 
inherited his lofty thoughts. In accepting the 
sceptre of the land, he accepted also the task of 
conquering the sea." 

Here begins the narrative of Gama s expedition, 
which he himself is represented as relating to the 
Moorish King of Melinda. We shall follow him 
in outline, at the risk of being a little prolix. 

A vision of the old man of the Ganges invites 
the King of Portugal to a conquest, which already 
forms the subject of his waking and his sleeping 
thoughts. His counsellors approve the undertaking, 
showing that the heart of the nation is in it. 
He names Gama for his admiral, who replies : 
"For thee, O King, I am ready to face sword, 
fire, and snow. It pains me that I have but one life 
to offer in the service of my Lord." The King 
assigns him four ships of war, and he places 
his brother Paolo in command of one of them. 
When ready to put to sea (July 8th, 1497), 
their last act is to march in solemn procession, 
preceded by a thousand monks, to a little church 
at the water s edge, and there receive the Viaticum, 
as if they were going to certain death. The parting 
scene is heart-rending, wives, mothers, sisters, 
fathers, tenderly reproaching the hardy adventurers 
for seeking death in foreign climes ; but not 


one of them loses heart. Of each, it could be 

Illi robur et aes triplex 

Circa pectus erat. 

Passing Madeira, they turn to the south, 
sighting the Canaries and the coast of Morocco. 
Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, and Mandingo land, 
are referred to as well known, the latter as 
producing gold. The great rivers Senegal and 
Gambia are mentioned ; the Niger is alluded to, 
but not named. A reference to the Congo is 
of special interest. 

" Leaving," he says, " the rough Mount of Lions 
and a headland, to which we gave the name of Cape 
of Palms, we plunged into a vast gulf (Gulf of 
GuineaJ. The greatest kingdom there is that of 
Congo, by us converted to the faith of Christ. 
Through this there flows, long and bright, a river 
called the Zaire, never seen by any of the ancients," 

He continues : 

" We now see opening before us a new celestial 
hemisphere, bestudded with new stars. Traversing 
that region over which Apollo passes twice in each 
year, we see the northern bears, in spite of Juno, 
bathe themselves in the waters of Neptune." 

"It were long to tell of wonders of the sea, 
which mortal men do not understand ;, for I have 


seen things which rude mariners, guided only by 
experience, hold for certain, but which men 
of science boldly deny. I have seen that living 
light, which mariners take for the apparition 
of a Saint, in time of tempest.* Nor was it less 
a miracle to see the clouds, through a long tube, 
suck up the uplifted waters of the sea. But when 
the trombe gives back its floods, no taste of salt 
remains. Let the wise in learning see what secrets 
still remain hidden in the heart of nature ! " 

"Five times the moon has renewed her horn 
when, from the main-top, a seaman sharp of sight 
cries Land!" 

Here, for the first time, they go on shore; 
and, by means of the astrolabe, "a new 
instrument,! invention of a subtle brain," they 
ascertain the height of the sun, and find the place 
to lie to the south of Capricorn. The natives 
of this region, he describes as "bestial, brutish, 
and ill-disposed. From them, no knowledge could 
we gather of India, our goal." 

From this point, probably within the limits 
of the present British colony, sailing five days 

St. Elmo s fire, an appearance produced by the escape of 
electricity from projecting points of the rigging. 

fThe astrolabe was not "new," though its use in navigation 
probably was so. 


through seas which, forgetful of Diaz, he speaks 
of as "never plowed by any other keel," they 
reach the Cape of Storms, henceforth called Cape 
of Good Hope. " Here, turning our prow to seek 
the burning median line, the antarctic pole remains 
behind us; and we pass the point of land (ilho), 
which a former fleet had sought and found, and made 
the limit of its discoveries," a disparaging allusion 
to one of the greatest achievements in the history 
of maritime exploration. 

From this, their course lay over new ground; and, 
more anxious than before to obtain a pilot, 
after sailing a little distance on the Eastern coast, 
they go on shore "a second time," probably at Port 
Elizabeth or Algoa Bay. They meet a kindly 
welcome and receive supplies of food; but, 
adds Gama, "for want of a common tongue, none 
of my companions could gather any hint of the 
places we were seeking." 

On Christmas they entered a spacious harbor, 
to which, from the day, they gave the name of Port 
Natal. Here they found fresh food and fresh water, 
but the Admiral repeats : " Yet, withal, no sign 
of India we find, the people being dumb to us." 

Slowly working northward against a powerful 
current as far as Sofala, they are cheered by the 
sight of sails, betokening a higher social state than 


they had before met with on the coast of Africa. 
Hopes are .kindled anew of gaining information, 
or of finding a pilot ; and they are not wholly 
disappointed. The natives know a few words 
of Arabic enough to tell us of a rich realm 
to the north " whence come ships as large as ours, 
and whose people have skins like ours, the color 
of day-light" 

The place indicated was Mozambique, a Moslem 
State, whose capital was built on an island 
near the coast. Here Vasco and his people came 
near falling victims to the treachery of the Arabs. 
Not ignorant of the hostility of the Portuguese 
to the faith of Islam, these Arabs, receiving them 
with a show of friendship, endeavor to draw them 
into an ambuscade. The fire-arms and prowess 
of the Europeans are, however, too much for them ; 
and the whole population of the little island betake 
themselves to the mainland, leaving their houses 
and property a booty to the victor. 

Foiled in one stratagem, the petty king resorts 
to another. With humble submission, he begs 
for peace, and offers a pilot, who knows the way 
to India, a gift as dangerous as that of the Trojan 
horse. Vasco, whose wisdom is less conspicuous 
than his valor, accepts the pilot, and entrusts 
the fleet to his guidance, little suspecting that he 


has instructions to cause them to perish in the sea, 
or to deliver them into the hands of some powerful 

In answer to Gama s questions, the pilot imparts 
much correct information regarding India and its 
people, as also touching the east coast of Africa, 
along which they were then creeping. Learning 
that, at no great distance to the north, there is an 
island called Quiloa, inhabited by Christians, Vasco, 
as the traitor foresaw, gives orders to head for 
that place. 

Through good luck or divine favor they are 
carried past by strong winds, and the pilot informs 
them of another island still further to the north, 
where Moslems and Christians dwell together in 
unity. Gama makes for the place and finds 
it to be Mombaga, a place which has recently 
acquired fresh prominence in connection with the 
East African colonization schemes of the English 
and Germans. 

Learning caution from experience, he dispatches 
a couple of messengers to reconnoitre and report, 
before venturing into the harbor. These messengers, 
who curiously enough belong to a body of 
condemned criminals brought along to be employed 
on dangerous errands as enfants perdus, making a 
favorable report, Gama prepares to cross the bar. 


As providence would have it, he fails to strike 
the channel, and so, says the poet, "escapes a 
second snare more dangerous than the first;" 
for, once within the bar, the fleet would have 
been at the mercy of the Moors, who were plotting 
its destruction. Discovering the meditated treachery, 
Gama proceeds further to the north, until, falling in 
with coasting vessels, he is conducted to Melinda, 
another island nearly under the equator. 
Here he is entertained so royally by the king, 
and served so loyally by the people, though 
king and people are alike Moslems, that one 
suspects the bloody collision at Mozambique of 
having been brought about by Portuguese aggression; 
and the treacheries, attempted there and at Mombaqa, 
of being poetic fictions, introduced to . vary the 
monotony of perils by sea. 

The former pilot having thrown himself into the 
sea and escaped to land, Vasco here obtains 
another, who conducts him faithfully through storm 
and calm to the port of Calicut (not Calcutta) 
on the coast of Malabar. This was his final goal, 
the crown of his great achievement. 

Europe f fri^ India were henceforth inseparably 
linked ; andjJftqii was astonished to find itself in 
communication with the other, though their 
slow-sailing craft required a year or more to 


complete the voyage. What would they have 
thought, had some prophet foretold that in days to 
come the East and West would be linked together 
by a submarine cable, over which electric messages 
would course to and fro, in less than the twinkling 
of an eye ! Perhaps their surprise would not have 
been greater than it really was, for our capacity for 
astonishment has, like other faculties, its limits ; 
it can take in but one object at a time, 
and men who believed that the earth is flat could 
not have been more surprised, had they been told of 
other worlds suspended in the sky, than they 
actually were at seeing men who had sailed round 
the earth and proved it to be a globe. 

The glory of being the first circumnavigators 
fairly belongs to the Portuguese ; for not only 
was Magellan a Portuguese in Spanish service, 
as Camoens takes pains to inform us, but the honor 
of having led the way should be awarded to 
Gama himself. When all the zones except the 
frigid had been twice crossed, and a pathway found 
across the Indian occean, but few links remained 
to complete the chain. ^ 

In Calicut, Gama finds on the thy / u Zamorin, 
some of whose ministers are . lammedans. 
The old feud is not slow to ^break out. 
New perils and new treacheries beset the Europeans. 


Gama is allured on shore and detained as a 
hostage for the surrender of his fleet ; but, by 
dint of skill and courage, he secures his liberty, 
and, seizing some of the natives by way of 
reprisal, and to serve as living proof of his 
successful voyage, he weighs anchor for his distant 
home. On his arrival, he is honored not merely 
as the discoverer of a new route for commerce, 
but as the founder of a new empire; for, with the 
unscrupulous morals of those times, discovery was 
always regarded as the forerunner of conquest. 

This terminates the direct narration. The progress 
of conquest in India, and the extension of maritime 
adventure to China and Japan, are related in 
episodes. To Japan the poet gives but a single 
stanza, in which he speaks of the triumphs of the 
Faith, St. Francis Xavier having already completed 
his wonderful mission. To China, though the name 
occurs more than once, he devotes no more than 
two stanzas. 

" Here, set China, whose proud empire, 
Famed for its ample lands and wealth untold, 
Extends its domain from the burning tropic 
To the frigid zone." 

" Behold its Wall, a structure huge past all belief; 
Between two realms it forms the bound, 
A monument of princely power, pride, and wealth 


This is true of the extent of the empire in the 
days of Kublai ; but it speaks little for the knowledge 
of a poet, who is believed to have written these 
lines in China itself, that he should not have 
known that Tartary was at that time independent 
and at war with the dynasty of Ming. What shall 
we say of the next quatrain, in which he gives 
the leading feature of the state policy of China? 

" The king who rules this people is not born a prince ; 
Nor does the throne descend from sire to son ; 
But they always choose for sovereign 
A man who is famed for wisdom and for virtue." 

Is this an echo from the days of Yao and Shun, 
who set aside their own sons and chose successors 
from among the people ? Or, is it an allusion to 
the founder of the dynasty of Ming, who certainly 
was not "born a prince?" Or, is it an obscure 
statement of the fact that, in theory, the Emperor 
of China possesses at all times the power of 
naming his successor, irrespective of the order 
of consanguinity ? It reads, however, as if the poet 
were describing China as an elective monarchy, 
such as was the empire of Germany, or the kingdom 
of Poland ; and it must have been so understood 
by his earlier readers. But, is it conceivable that 
he could have spent a week not to say a year 


in China without learning that, as a matter of fact, 
the throne is strictly hereditary, though not limited 
to the line of primogeniture ? 


We come now to what, for want of a better 
designation, I have chosen to call the poet s patriotic 
episodes. Camoens is not a servile imitator, and his 
use of a model is always redeemed by striking 
evidence of originality. It is, nevertheless, amusing 
to remark how he not only conforms the action 
of his poem to that of the ^neid, but follows Virgil 
in his deviations from the main line of his story. 
His longer episodes betray a studied correspondence 
with those of the earlier Epic. 

As ^neas, at the request of Dido, relates the story 
of the fall of Troy, so Gama describes the wars of 
Portugal, at the desire of the king of Melinda. 
The one begins Regina jubcs; the other, Mandas 
me O Rci. One tells a tragic tale of ruin ; 
the other, a history of triumph and expansion. 
The story is too long for one sitting, 
though the whole of a balmy night, on the 
waters of an equatorial sea, is given to it. 
It is accordingly resumed before another audience, 
on the waters of another sea, on this occasion the 
Minister of Malabar being auditor, and Paolo, 
not Vasco, narrator. 


When Virgil wishes to reveal the future glory of 
his country, he transports his hero to the Elysian 
fields, and makes him hear it in prophecy from the 
lips of his father Anchises ; in this, following the lead 
of Homer, who makes Ulysses penetrate the world 
of shades, in order to learn from Laertes the secrets 
of the future. Camoens is not more of a plagiarist 
than the Bard of Mantua, when he carries his hero 
to an enchanted isle, where a sea nymph and a 
goddess, one after the other, sing the coming 
conquest of the East. Here again he puts the 
prophetic narrative into the mouth of two, instead 
of one as in the ancient Epics, the idea 
being not merely that of relief from monotony, 
but that of expansion befitting an empire whose 
marvellous growth had stretched beyond the 
flight of the Roman eagle. 

Besides these, there are minor episodes too 
numerous to mention. At the slightest suggestion, 
the thought of the poet wanderer takes wing, and 
revisits his native hills. The fervor of his affection 
for that terra amada, breathing as it does through 
every Canto, imparts a peculiar charm to the 
whole poem. 

The " patriot passion, " like other passions, 
is liable to dazzle the eye and warp the judgment ; 
but, if untinged with hatred of other countries, 


it is always amiable, and often the prolific mother of 
glorious achievements. He who is destitute of 
such a sentiment deserves the malediction of 
another patriotic poet : 

11 Living, to forfeit fair renown, 
And doubly dying to go down 
To the vile dust from which he sprung." 

The want of it, in the case of one of England s most 
gifted sons, imparts a repulsive element to the finest 
productions of his genius. 

To the countrymen of Camoens, the chief 
attraction of the Lusiadl can afiirm without 
hesitation, is found in these patriotic episodes. 
They find in them not the details, but the spirit of 
their history, the characters of their great men, 
the triumphs of their people, glorified by the touch of 
a pencil of unfading light. It is said that, while 
engaged in the siege of Colombo, the weary soldiers 
were wont to revive their courage by singing those 
stanzas in which Camoens extols the exploits of the 
first Lusitanian conquerors. Of the martial poet, 
may it not be said, as truly as of the Scottish 
chieftain, that 

11 One blast upon his bugle horn 
Was worth a thousand men." 


Bugle tones prevail through these portions of our 
poet s work, but they are interspersed with passages 
plaintive and tender, tales of love and sorrow. 
What, for example, in the whole range of literature, 
can exceed the pathos of the story of Inez de Castro, 
whom the king, returning from a campaign, 
caused to be taken from her tomb and seated on 
the throne to receive the homage of his subjects, 
in order to fulfill a vow that he would 
make her his queen ? This incident, borrowed 
from Camoens, forms the subject of one of 
Mrs. Hemans most touching poems. 

In the opening of these historical digressions, 
the poet invokes the aid of Calliope ; and of all 
of them it may be affirmed that the elevation 
and force of his style are not unworthy of the 
Muse of Epic Poetry. 


The third component of this great poem is its 
supernatural machinery. 

Here it is impossible to accord any portion of 
that praise, which we have freely bestowed on the 
poet s narrative of facts. He is not to be blamed 
for adhering to the traditionary belief that the 
employment of supernatural agents is essential to the 
creation of an Epic. Had not Virgil woven the old 
mythology, like a silver thread, into the texture 


of his dZneid, disguising and embellishing that 
which would otherwise have been coarse and 
repulsive? And if Virgil, why not Camoens? 
The answer is obvious. That which was silver to 
the Roman had become dross in the days of the 
Portuguese poet. The old mythology was dead ; 
and to mingle its faded shreds with the fresher 
elements of Christian poesy was a blemish, 
not a beauty. 

The servility (for there is no weaker word to 
express it), with which Camoens has done this, is 
truly pitiable ; and the effect is decidedly comical. 
Venus is chosen as the patroness of Vasco, 
apparently because she had been the tutelary 
divinity of ^Eneas. Bacchus, instead of Juno, 
plays the rdle of persecuting power, his reason 
for doing so being simply the fear that the 
Portuguese might eclipse the fame of his own 
expedition to India. 

Jove, as of old, summons the parliament of 
Olympus, and despatches Mercury to announce 
his decrees. Neptune, Tethys, Amphitrite, and the 
Nereids, continue to rule the waves, and favor or 
obstruct the voyage, as they are gained over by 
one party or the other. 

All this nonsense is set forth in language of 
exquisite beauty. One could enjoy it thoroughly, 


if he could only forget its glaring anachronism. 
The theology of Christianity refuses to blend with 
the mythology of paganism ; and their forced union 
produces a turbid compound, like the mixture of 
oil and water. 

To enhance this incongruity at the epoch of 
this composition Christian theology was dominant 
in the policy of nations far more than it now is. 
The struggle with Islam had been a question of 
life and death for all Europe, but especially for the 
states of the Iberian peninsula, which did not 
succeed in ridding themselves of the incubus until 
after a conflict of nearly eight centuries. 
To them, every contact with people of another faith 
took the form of a crusade. The world was to 
be conquered for Christ, in a carnal as well as 
a spiritual sense. 

This is set forth as the leading aim of Vasco s 
voyage. In the exordium, " The glorious memory 
of kings who spread the faith " stands conspicuous 
as a leading theme ; and, in some form or other, 
it is repeated on almost every page. With this end 
in view, the adventurers take the holy communion 
before embarking. Yet, it is a pagan deity to whom 
they look for protection, in the perils of the sea. 
At Mombasa, Gama prays for succor : 


" O guardian divine, take thought of those 
Who, failing thee, have none to guard them ; 
Vouchsafe to show the land we seek, 
Since solely for thy service do we sail abroad." 

No\v, to whom is this prayer addressed, and in 
whose service do they brave the dangers of the deep? 
The poet answers 

" The lovely Dione heard these touching words, 

And, moved thereby, she brought the needed aid." 
Such passages are innumerable, and the unseemly 
jumble of religions never fails to produce an 
impression akin to burlesque. 

Dante makes abundant use of heathen gods, 
but he puts them in his Inferno. Milton uses them, 
but he employs them as Satan s retinue. 
Tasso, who wrote a century later than Camoens, 
makes no use of pagan mythology except in the 
way of allusion. With him, the Blessed Virgin and 
the holy saints take the place of gods and 
goddesses, a usage which, even in our age, could 
not offend the taste of Protestant or Catholic. 
How much his poem would have gained in the 
beauty of consistency, had Camoens committed the 
voyage of discovery to the patronage of the mother 
of Christ, with the aid of the holy angels, 
the abortive opposition being led by Satan and 
spirits of evil ! 



Judged by the Lusiad as his opus magnum, 
the question rises How does Camoens rank as 
a poet ? It is a weakness of all poets, and of some 
who are not poets, to think highly of their own 
genius. From this, the author of the Lusiad was 
not exempt. If, at a feast of poets, he had been 
called on to choose his place, I am not sure that 
he would not have had the assurance, like Piron, 
to march out at the head of the company. 
Witness one of his closing stanzas, in which he 
says to the king 

" In such high strains my Muse shall sing of thee, 
That all the world shall Alexander see, 
Nor of Achilles need he envious be " 

alluding to the saying of the Macedonian, that, of all 
the heroes of antiquity, the one he most envied 
was Achilles, because he had a Homer to celebrate 
his victories. Camoens was no Homer, nor even a 
Virgil. Without the creative genius of the one, 
or the sustained dignity and faultless grace of the 
other, he yet possesses high qualities which assure 
him no mean place among the masters of Epic song. 
Of course, he does not approach anywhere near to 
our Milton, of whom it was happily said 


" The force of nature could no further go, 
To form a third she joined the other two." 

He does not even rise above the author of 
Jerusalem Delivered; because, as the Portuguese 
assert, it was his misfortune to precede Tasso, 
and to be the first of the moderns to produce a 
genuine Epic poem. 

The poet of the Crusades acknowledges Camoens 
as a kindred spirit ; and, in terms that recall the 
speech of Alexander, he praises the fortune of Gama 
in having for his poet il buono Luigi. 

" And now the Muse of Luis de Camoens 
Extends her glorious flight 
Far beyond that of your white-winged ships." 

There are poets whose fancy forms their speech 
and clothes their thoughts in a robe of many colors. 
Their separate words are aglitter with bright 
images, gleaming like the facets of a diamond, 
or like a falling shower lit up by sunbeams. 
The diction of Camoens is not of this description. 
Its beauties are, however, of a noble order, 
not unlike the massive grandeur of a Doric structure, 
which spurns the ornament of sculptured flowers. 
In force and fervor, it reminds us of a swollen river, 
rather than a babbling brook, a torrent of majestic 
eloquence, by which the mind of the reader is 
irresistibly borne away. 


In his opening invocation to the Muses of the 
Tagus, alluding to the humble minstrelsy of his 
early days, he prays : 

" Give me now a voice sublime and lofty, 
A style both grand and flowing ; 
A sort of sonorous fury ; 
Not like the rustic reed, or sylvan flute, 
But trumpet-toned to sing the scenes of war." 

Such was his ideal ; and who shall say that his 
performance falls below it ? 

It is, in fact, the sustained elevation of his style 
that most strikes the attention of a reader. 
No poet, ancient or modern, surpasses him in 
skill to " build the lofty rhyme." 

His marvellous facility sometimes betrays him into 
negligence. Faulty stanzas are not rare ; because, 
to Camoens, as to all such fertile minds, 
the labor limae was irksome. A kindred fault, into 
which he often falls, is excessive diffuseness. 
One grows weary of broad fields spread over 
with a thin covering of cloth of gold. Happily his 
gold is not all in the form of superficial gilding. 
Many of his couplets and single lines (mostly at the 
end of a stanza) possess the weight and compactness 
of solid nuggets ; or rather, of minted coins, 
which, to this day, provide a currency of proverbs 
for those who use his tongue. 


The eight-lined stanza the Ottava Rima of the 
Italians he wisely chose in preference to any other 
measure, as equally adapted to the genius of 
his language and the nature of his subject. 
He was not, however, the first to import it into 
Portugal. To an earlier poet, Sa-e-Miranda, 
belongs that distinction ; but Camoens has the 
honor of connecting it inseparably with the glory 
of his country. 

The language, to the use of which he was 
born, was to our poet a precious inheritance, 
a circumstance which ought not to be overlooked 
in the enumeration of his natural advantages. 
Harsh in comparison with the dulcet tones of Italy, 
or even with the more polished lingua caste liana, 
the Portuguese is characterized by a certain wild 
energy superior to either ; while it possesses in a 
high degree that sonorousness which Cicero describes 
by ore-rotnndo, and Dante by the expressive term 
rimbombo. Take, for example, the following 
passage : 

11 A disciplina militnr prestantc^ 
Nao se apprende, Scit/ior, na phantasia % 
Sonhatido, imaginando, ou estudando ; 
Scnao vcndo, tratando, c pclfjaiido" 

Does not the alliterative roll of the last two lines 
rival that of the best of our Latin hymns ? 


In fact Camoens claims, with no little pride, 
that his national speech is "Latin in the least corrupt 
of its modern forms." Portuguese is not, however, 
a direct offshoot of Latin ; but rather a dialect 
of the Spanish, standing related to the Castilian 
of the upper Tagus, much as low Dutch does to 
the German of the upper Rhine. The nations 
that settled on the sea-coast, near the embouchure 
of both rivers, distinguished themselves above their 
neighbors by the boldness of their maritime 
enterprise. Their dominions, at first confined to 
a strip of coast, expanded to the dimensions of 
empires ; and their dialects, originally a kind of 
patois, rose to the dignity of cultivated languages. 
Both nations imbibed the spirit of freedom from 
the waves of the wide-rolling deep ; and, in the 
rough, strong tones of both tongues, one hears 
the echo of the sea resounding on their 
storm-beaten shores. 


We come, in the last place, to take a parting 
glance at the fortunes of the man who, as poet, 
soldier, and adventurer, embodied in his own 
person the spirit of his people. 

Born in 1525, the young hidalgo was early 
introduced at court, where, scarcely arrived at man s 
estate, he conceived a romantic passion for one 


of the maids of honor, the beautiful Donna 
Catharina. All great poets have had such passions. 
Petrarch had his Laura, Dante his Beatrice, 
Tasso his Leonora ; and it was in Catharina that 
Camoens found the woes and the bliss of his 
existence. It was to her that he addressed many 
of those minor effusions which, for tenderness 
and elegance, are not unworthy to compare with 
those of Laura s lover. 

Happy in having his affection reciprocated, 
he was less happy in being sent into exile on that 
account. Nor was that his only experience of 
the hardships of banishment. Exiled again in 
later life to the Colony of Macao, his eventful 
story connects itself with China as well as India. 

After fighting the Moors in Morocco and 
losing an eye in battle, he enlisted for India, 
whether from chagrin or ambition it is not 
easy to conjecture. This much is certain, that, 
during an absence of sixteen years, through perils 
by sea and conflicts on land, he remained faithful 
to his early flame, and was inconsolable on hearing 
of her death. The passion of Dante for his beautiful 
mistress was not more pure or noble ; nor, 
to complete the parallel, were the wanderings 
and sufferings of the Florentine more pitiable or 
more painful than those of Camoens. 


Returning from India with his completed Epic, 
on which he had been building rhymes, 
while others had been amassing wealth, he failed 
to win at court the favor he so confidently expected. 
In extreme penury, he retired to a convent, 
where his last sigh was breathed into the ear of a 
sympathizing monk, and where he owed the 
distinction of a grave-stone to the charity of a 

Rest thee, noble Bard; and let it comfort thee, 
in thy elysium of fame, that a grateful posterity 
has sought to make amends for the ingratitude 
of thy fellows ! 

The poem, which, when ship-wrecked on the 
coast of Cochin-China, buffeting the waves, 
he bore to land as his only treasure, has survived 
the storms of three centuries, and serves to 
form the speech and cultivate the heart of successive 
generations on both sides of the Atlantic. The 
sceptre of India has long since slipped from the 
hands of Portugal ; but in Brazil, of which he 
scarcely deigns to speak, there is now rising a 
greater empire, and the Lusiad of Camoens will 
continue to be the favorite Classic of its growing 

* Pelos Portuguezes preferido a todos, says a countryman of the Poet. 
There are two or three translations ot the Lttsiad into English, 
but the writer has not seen them ; and, of Portuguese editions, he is not 
acquainted with any but that of Lopes de Moura. 





JHE text of the inscription describes the vessel, 
and relates a visit of Confucius to the temple 
in which it was preserved. It is also 
embellished by a pictorial representation of 
the Sage and his disciples. For the photographic 
reproduction of it, I am indebted to my friend 
Dr. McCartee, formerly Professor in the University 
of Tokio, Japan. He obtained it from a native 
photographer, and has not been able to trace the 
inscription to its original place in Japan. 

That it came from one of the palaces, there can be 
no doubt, from the nature and design of this 

Of the wonderful vessel, ascribed to Duke Chow, 
of China, I had previously heard, and made 
unsuccessful efforts to obtain a picture or diagram 
of it. The Japanese picture is a fancy drawing, 
attached to a text borrowed from China, 
and is of no value, not fulfilling the hydrostatic 
conditions stated in the text. The text is found 
in the Family Traditions of Confucius, a work which, 

* Referred to as Chapter XVIII. 


though semi-apocryphal, contains some grains of 
traditional history. In this case, the germ of the 
narrative, which is much expanded, is the existence 
of such a vessel, and the fact of its having been 
seen by Confucius. 

The Family Traditions dates from the Han, 
but the vessel is made the subject of a discourse 
by Suen Ching, who lived two centuries earlier. 
A Chinese archeologist of some note asserts that 
the mysterious vessel was preserved in the Capital 
at Loyang, until the end of the Han period, 
when it was lost or destroyed in the overthrow 
of the dynasty. 

The inscription is as follows : 

" In the temple of Duke Huan of Lu, Confucius 
saw a vessel hanging obliquely. What is this vessel, 
he inquired of the temple-keeper. It is, replied the 
latter, what is called the Guardian of the Throne. 
I have heard, said Confucius, of the Throne-guarding 
vessel. When empty, it hangs obliquely ; when half 
full, it comes to an erect position ; and when filled to 
the brim, it suddenly turns over and spills its 
contents. Wise Princes looked on it as the best 
of monitors, and always had it placed by the side 
of the Throne. 

Turning to his disciples, he said : Pour in water and 
try it. They did so. When half full, it became erect ; 


and when full, it turned over. The Master heaved 
a sigh and said: Alas! Is there anything which, 
when full, is not overturned? Is there not, 
asked Tsze Lu, a way to preserve that which is full 
from being overturned ? 

The Master replied : For eminent talent, the 
safe-guard is in affected ignorance. For exalted 
merit, the safe-guard is in modest self-abnegation. 
For great courage, the safe-guard is an aspect of 
timidity. And for wealth, such as he possesses who 
owns all within the Four Seas, the safe-guard 
is humility. Thus, things are preserved by loss, 
i.e., by affecting the opposite." 

I conclude this notice with two remarks. 

1. In Chinese, fullness (g jjjj) is a synonym 
for pride ; and, as " pride comes before a fall," 
the vessel, which, when full, turned over 
and spilled its contents, was an impressive 
warning against pride and ruin. As such, it was 
named the Guardian of the Throne, and kept in the 
Throne Room at Loyang, as we are expressly told. 
The pictorial scene, presented in this inscription, 
was no doubt an ornament in the Throne Room 
of the Emperors of Japan. 

2. The reverence with which the vessel was 
regarded, and the air of mystery that surrounded it, 
shows that the ancient Chinese were more addicted 



to moralizing than to physical investigation. 
With our knowledge of the centre of gravity and 
the principles of hydrostatics, it is easy to construct 
a vessel which will fulfill all the conditions of the 
problem ; still it is disappointing that the Japanese 
artist has given us a common cylindrical bucket, 
instead of the true figure of the vessel seen by 
Confucius in the temple of Lu. 











NOTE. I first became acquainted with this 
beautiful poem, by reading it on the monolith 
overlooking the cataract. On mentioning it to the 
Rev. Dr. Knox of Tokio, he kindly procured for me 
a rubbing, from which this translation is made. 
The author is a man of genius, well known in Japan. 
The poem is in excellent Chinese. 

Of all under heaven, the sunlight mountains take the lead 

in scenery; 
And of all their scenery, the crown is the Kegonotaki 

How great is the true God, who created these cliffs and 


And, between the two, made a place for this great lake ! 
The lake has a gap in one corner, like the fabled gap in 

the corner of the sky ; 
Through this, the water rushes with violence, takes wings, 

and flies, 

And the cataract hangs suspended. 
At the first plunge it leaps a thousand yards, and then leaps 

ten thousand more. 
Its angry roaring shakes the earth, and thunders echo from 

the sky. 

Is it water or not water, snow or not snow, 
Which in wild confusion scatters these pearly gems ? 


Struck by a gust from the foot of the fall, 

They dissolve into smoke in the slanting sunbeams that 

peep over the mountain tops. 
The beholder s eye is dazzled with rainbow hues, and his 

ear deafened by the thundering roar; 
It chills the stoutest heart. 
Its strength is like that of Mcng-k o, whose spirit blended 

heaven and earth ; 
Its rapidity is like that of Hiang-yu, 
Who in the battle of Chti-lu slew men and horses ten 

thousand thousand. 

Of a truth, the universe has no finer spectacle. 
Alas! that the poet who descended from another sphere 

is no more ; and that there is none to inherit his 

How can I, with unblushing face, dare to indite these 

verses ? 
I have heard that, of the Books of Buddha, the Kegono 

is the most esteemed ; t 
Its name is not unfittingly bestowed on this wondrous 



This Kegonotaki Waterfall has long been famed; 
but recently the Brotherhood of Heart-Sincerity have 
proposed to set up a monument on its brink. 
I accordingly offer them this Inscription. 

(Signed) Chogen. 
nth Year of Meiji (1878). 

* Li Tai-po, described as gjj fjlj . 



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(From the Journal of the China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society). 

This great pagoda, built on the finest site of 
a famous mountain, being happily preserved, 
and displaying a sincere reverence for the 
teachings of Buddha, which open our intelligence, 
proclamation is made as follows : 

At the south gate of Kingling (Nanking), where 2 
precious things are collected, when the wind 
moves, the bells send forth wonderful tones, 3 
ever rejoicing in the rebuilding of Asoka s tower, 
the renovation of Buddha s idea, and the 
manifestation of imperial reverence. 

Do you with the whole heart repeat the 
praises of Amida Buddha, with reverence and 
understanding, asking yourself "What in reality 
was I in the beginning ? " This phrase, do you 
think you understand? 

It is to know whence came the inward 
consciousness of one s own heart, and what it is 

I. This Pagoda, erected about 1,420, and rightly deemed a Wonder 
of the World, was destroyed by the Taiping rebels about 1860. 

2. The name of a place taken in its first meaning. 

3- Or, in the reign of Yung-loh, the characters being taken in 
a double sense. 


to say "I know what I know, and whether my 
goodness is thorough." 

Truly this is my heart s most marvellous point. 4 
Its nature, what and whence? Its original aspect, 
have you realized ? This, to compare with other 
books, is called "having the pure spirit unobscured." 6 
What this says it originally was, do you fully 
apprehend ? To be obscured or unobscured, 
is not that the shadow of self-knowledge ? 

You must not resist, and in your haste foolishly 
let go, your heart s original. Is not this (original) 
really the Buddha of the West? His rainbow 
glories and the relics of his body have been 
transmitted to this eastern land, so that men 
may seek happiness, and know the fountain of 

The relics and their rainbow light, all men can 
plainly see. Earlier and later dynasties may difter ; 
but the tower and its stores firmly abide, 
the same through all ages. The Emperor s merit 
is infinite in building this most noted Pagoda, 
to repay the grace of Buddha. 

4. The symbol of the dual powers, or mundane egg, is here 
introduced into the text as the original of human nature. 
5. A phrase from Chu Fu-tsc s Commentary on the Ta Hio 



The relic s precious light is true beyond a doubt. 
The first right principle is the boundless presence 
of Buddha s person. To know this is truly to be 
"unobscured." It is what we men originally possess, 
and no one is without it. 

Therefore, it is said the wise differ from the 
common herd, in being free from error ; 
yet, in our original perceptions, what difference is 
there between the good and evil ? 

You must have no obstacle to your knowledge 
before you can understand the grace of Buddha, 
and his boundless renovating purpose. 

Therefore, this is called "The Tower of the 
Temple of Gratitude," " The Tower of Buddha s 
Hidden Relics." 

The Tower is sublime in height; through its 
good luck, its relics, even till now, have not 
lost their light. 

Of old, Asoka s faith erected 84,000 pagodas ; 
but the Princes of Han and Tsin sometimes built 
and sometimes destroyed. 


1. The spiritual mountain of our ancient Buddha is 

neither far nor near, 
When heart is not divided from heart. 
All ye who are grounded in faith, 
Awake and ascend the spiritual mountain, and gain 
merit in this Pagoda. 


2- His body formed a crystal tower, containing seven 

precious things. 
He was torn from his mother s side and sat in a 

lotus-flower, filling the world with fragrance. 
Genii, Buddhas, and Bodisatwas had previously awaked. 
The reflection of their early light took shape in his 


3. Of old, some are spell-bound, and some awake; 
The spell-bound are hard to renew and convert. 
Good and evil originate in the human heart ; 
But high and low are always the work of fate. 
4 If you penetrate the original of man, right and wrong 

are empty names ; 

If you awake to a sense of gratitude, your heart is good, 
And you get the full-orbed light of a better life. 
5- The Buddhas of all lands are ready to save the world, 
But men s hearts do not receive the light. 
If only a touch of spiritual consciousness awakes, 
It is like the ringing of a morning bell. 
6. May harmonious winds and gentle waves propel 

your boat ! 
On the hill-tops of either shore, you hear the voice 

of birds. 
The matin-bells of the ancient cloister anticipate the 

morning sun, 
Which causes this crystal Pagoda to gleam with 

auspicious light. 










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NOTE. There is no certain indication of the 
authorship of the first of these compositions ; 
but it must have been either written or authorized 
by the Emperor Yung-loli, who erected the famous 
Tower on which it was inscribed, as an expression 
of gratitude to his Grand-mother. 

The second is without doubt the composition of 
that Emperor. Both contain grateful allusions to 
his parents, and are not unlike in style. 

The text is probably not free from errors.