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THE BRITISH

QUARTERLY REVIEW.

NOVEMBER 1, 1853.

ART. I.—(1.) Papers respecting the Civil War in China: presented to the House of Commons, by Command of Her Majesty, in pursuance of their Address of August 5, 1853.

(2.) History of the Insurrection in China; with Notices of the Christianity, Creed, and Proclamations of the Insurgents. By MM. CALLERY and YVAN. Translated from the French. Smith, Elder, & Co. London. 1853.

(3.) The Emperor of China versus the Queen of England. A Refutation of the Arguments contained in the Seven Official Documents transmitted by Her Majesty's Government at Hong-Kong, &c. &c. By P. P. THOMS. London: P. P. Thoms.

(4.) An Essay on the Opium Trade, including a Sketch of its History, Extent, Effects, &c., as carried on in India and China. By NATHAN ALLAN, M.D. Boston: J. P. Jewett & Co.

(5.) The Jews at K'ae-Fung-Foo: being a Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jewish Synagogue at K'ae-Fung-Foo, on behalf of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews: with an Introduction by the Right Rev. George Smith, D.D., Lord Bishop of Victoria. Shanghae: Printed at the London Missionary Society's Press.

(6.) The Religious Aspect of the Civil War in China. By the Rev. W. H. RULE, &c. London: Partridge & Oakey.

THE Celestial Empire has hitherto proved an unsolved problem. Anomalies and paradoxes cluster upon us whenever we think of the country, its history, its people, and its government. A unity, unbroken from its foundation in ages far too remote either for history or monuments; an impenetrability which has either wholly excluded the prying eye of curiosity, or contrived to deceive it; a strength of internal government and of external resistance almost amount

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ing to haughty defiance, combined with utter debility and rottenness in every limb of the administration; a nation paying homage to reason and morality, but yet utterly destitute of integrity, void of honour, and without a conscience; a people in social intercourse polite and ceremonious to an absurd extreme, and yet inhuman and cruel; intelligent, ingenious, generally educated, and emulous of learning, yet repelling all foreign knowledge from their shores; gloating with such absurd complacency over their own possessions, material and intellectual, that they could never think of casting a glance at the condition of other nations; deeming themselves the sole favourites of Heaven, and all other men mere outcasts; their empire alone was the Central Kingdom, the exclusive abode of refinement and knowledge; while nothing through long ages has ever availed to convince them that all the rest of mankind were not irreclaimable savages.

The mystery is, how the rulers have contrived to keep up the delusion age after age, and how they have managed to keep down the spirit and intelligence of a people so numerous, coming into contact, at least to some extent, with other nations, and to hold them so long in the equilibrium state, without either perceptible advancement or deterioration.

The origin, the character, the government, the language of the Chinese, with almost everything pertaining to the Celestial Empire, is unique, and out of keeping with our common humanity. When we think of a people that had the start by centuries of all the rest of the civilized world in those three elements alone of national progress, the compass, printing, and gunpowder,-immediately there presents itself before us one of the most perplexing of problems-how is it that they should have been at a stand-still for ages, while all the western world, with inferior advantages, has risen from barbarism to refinement? China-a world within itself, a world once far a-head probably of all contemporaries—has been effectually stereotyped, or rather petrified, by its own incrustation of pride and archæolatry, while all the rest of the world has outstripped and eclipsed it in every item of national greatness and social advancement.

The advocates of human progress, however, can have no reason to be dissatisfied with the recent movement of the Chinese. For at any rate it is a brave beginning, and a flattering omen of what is to come. The sympathy manifested with the onward spirit of the age by a people so hopelessly dormant, and so perversely secluded, is surely enough to make the most eager progressionist exult. The gravest ethnographers and most saturnine of philosophers may turn with deepest interest to consider this strange phenomenon; for China is likely to supply them in its present phase,

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or, indeed, in all its phases, with as many problems as they may choose to entertain, and with more than they will find it easy to solve. The movement itself is as yet a mystery, and has received no adequate solution. Time, however, will show the various causes that have conspired to bring it about, and the master-hand that has thus far wielded the mighty agency.

All must admit that so far as the affair is known in Europe, there appears to be in it something pre-eminently glorious and exciting. Take the fact, the bare but grand fact, of one-third of the whole human family, after being like a still lake for ages, agitated as by a sudden healthful gale, and moved to its very depths. It is cheering to see them startled any how, though by a desperate wrench or electrical shock, out of their apathy and selfishness, and made suddenly conscious through every limb and nerve of a living power which they did not know they possessed, and had never dreamt of exercising. It is just as if a body long paralyzed all over, should in a moment recover its nervous energy, and start up amazed at its new agility and strength. To think of that populous nation, after remaining for untold ages hermetically sealed against all innovations, and proud to a proverb of being immutable in their nationalities, and fixed, as all the world thought, immovably, in the conviction that they above all people had reached the acme of perfection in everything, most unexpectedly starting in the race of revolution and reform; proposing, and, to a certain extent, effecting, more changes in three years than their ancestors in three thousand-is indeed enough not only to astonish, but confound one. It is difficult to enter into the case, and realize the facts reported, as facts pertaining to China and the Chinese. The veriest radical never dreamt of a revolution in China.

It is evident that the ruling powers are as much taken by surprise as all the rest of the world. They had, no doubt, been calculating that their tame and spiritless subjects were to remain to the end of time as submissive in their ignorance of what all the rest of the world was about, as they had been from the days of Noah. But an extensive mine had been quietly progressing for many years, unheeded by the governors, who reposed in selfsecurity, when, lo, suddenly it explodes with a convulsive force that makes the country rock from end to end.

Mandarins of the highest order and greatest influence, the most renowned commanders and experienced ministers, have not only been startled from their propriety by the suddenness of the shock, but reduced to their wit's end to know how to meet it. In their perplexity the gravest counsellors of the emperor have been driven like chaff before a whirlwind. The voice of imperial authority,

though strained to its highest pitch, has produced as little effect as oratory upon the tempest. The whole military force of the empire has hitherto evinced no more power to stay the insurrection than an embankment of sand against a deluge. Imperial commissioners have been dispatched to the scene of action, but on the first brush with the enemy have either run away as poltroons, or been remanded and disgraced to give place to others deemed fitter for the crisis, while not a few through fear of shame have committed suicide. But after all the displays that have been made of the vermilion pencil, with innumerable loppings of tails, and deprivation of buttons, sometimes of heads, about the same result has followed as if they had made just so many processions of lanterns or exhibitions of fireworks. The rebellion has received no check, the foe has still advanced.

Meanwhile the attention of the civilized world has been drawn towards China with an intenseness of interest altogether unprecedented; for it seems as if this vast section of the human family, so long estranged from the common brotherhood, isolated and walled in by their exclusive spirit from all sympathy with mankind, were now about to shake hands with humanity, and enter the arena of universal competition and progress on equal terms. Whatever may be the issue of the present revolution as to the internal economy and external relations of this extraordinary country and people, our readers of every class, commercial, philosophic, philanthropic, and religious, cannot fail to be deeply interested in the facts of the case, and the progress which these show up to the present time; for in them are found the hopeful pledges and pregnant omens for the future of China. These we shall endeavour to collect and record as succinctly as possible, together with such evidence of the principles and professions of the revolutionizers as may be drawn from the most authentic

sources.

To many of our readers, however, it may not be undesirable to preface our account of the revolution with a summary of the information at present possessed respecting China, its people, and its religions. There is no other nation under heaven so peculiar in its character, so permanent in its seat, so little changed by time, and so venerable for antiquity. Once, and, indeed, not long since, it was appealed to by the sceptical philosophers of Europe, always eager to impeach the testimony of revelation, in proof of an antiquity greatly anterior to the Mosaic chronology. They were almost disposed to parade it, as their pet proof of the favourite dogma, that the world and its inhabitants had been the same through all eternity.

But when these appeals were made, and these arguments

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broached, the sceptical sages knew next to nothing of the history, language, and literature of China. It is to Christian missionaries that Europe is mainly indebted for anything approaching to accurate and complete information upon the many interesting topics relating to the people and their country. The recent investigations into their history, and into the notions entertained by their learned men, of their origin and antiquity, have completely silenced the objections once derived from this source against the authority of Moses. The world will hear no more of the ten thousand ages attributed to this nation by the sciolists of infidelity; for it is now clear that such pretensions to incalculable antiquity derive no sanction from their native authors. These state that, prior to the time of Confucius, there is no reliable history; and though tradition assumes to carry back their origin till it is lost in the obscurity of remote ages, yet nearly every fact told of those ages is either obviously fabulous, or capable of being identified with facts more distinctly and veritably recorded in the sacred history. The best authorities among the Chinese do not presume to possess a national chronology beyond two thousand two or three hundred years before the Christian era; which would take them back to something like one hundred and fifty years after the deluge, or fifty after the confusion of tongues at Babel; in which event the primitive pictorial language of the Chinese may very reasonably be supposed to have originated. There is nothing in the independent testimony of their historians irreconcilable with the sacred history, but rather, we should say, corroborative of its statements. It is, at all events, quite certain that the ascertainment of these facts has tended to silence much scepticism, and remove various formidable objections to the trustworthiness of the Mosaic chronology. China refuses to contradict the Bible. It is, moreover, an interesting conclusion, to which we are led by these discoveries, that Noah was very probably still alive when the first settlers in China took possession of their present locality, and laid the foundations of that empire, which has never been overturned, nor shaken out of its place by all the convulsions that have kept the rest of the world in a state of change. A remarkable fact, indeed, this, that they should be the only people under heaven, saving the Jews, that can, by any fair links of probability, be traced back to the time of Noah and his sons—just there, and no further. It is also highly satisfactory to observe how the facts and traditions of the Chinese history synchronize with the discoveries made in recent times in Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian history and antiquities. The foundations of all these ancient empires are now placed, by the elaborate researches of these times, in almost perfect harmony with the sacred history;

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