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WOL boot Su DO off
himself successfully to the study of ancient records, which, at that time, were only to be met engraved on bamboo.
" Desirous of turning his acquired knowledge to some advantage, he made good government the principal object of his solicitude; visited the different princes, and endeavoured to prevail upon them to establish a wise and peaceful administration in their respective territories. His wisdom and birth recommended him to the patronage of kings; he was anxious to apply his theory to practical government, but had to learn by sad experience that his designs were frequently thwarted. After many changes and disappointments, he became minister in his native country, Loo, (Lou,) when fifty-five years of age. By his influence and prudent measures, the state of the kingdom underwent a thorough change within the space of three years. But the king of Tse, envious of the fourishing state of the Loo country, and fearing lest his rival, the king of Loo, might become too powerful, sent some dancing girls to the court, who captivated the senses of the king of Loo; and Confucius, after many vain remonstrances upon the danger of introducing these seductive females at court, quitted his situation. After having tried at different courts to get employment, in order to render the people happy, he came to Chin,(Tshin,) where he lived in great misery. From thence he returned again to Loo, but not to office. His great fame had attracted for him about three thousand disciples, but only ten were honoured with his intimacy. To them he taught the art of becoming virtuous, to discourse well, to understand the principles of good government, and to express elegantly, by writing, the ideas of the mind.
“In a vicious age he became an object of scorn to many, who hated his rigid principles. 'He was even once in danger of being killed, but betrayed no fear. He was a man of very commanding aspect, tall and well proportioned; in his manners very decorous, kind to his inferiors, and temperate in his habits ; so that his disciples, by his sole look, were inspired with reverence. In his leisure hours, he composed a part of the four classics, reduced the Yih-king* to a system, compiled the Shoo-king, and Chiu-tsen, and gave a ceremonial code to his countrymen in the Le-ke. There are, besides, two other works, which treat upon filial piety, ascribed to him, viz. the Heaou-king and the Léaou-héo."
“ The Shoo-king is a collection of old traditions, which Confucius put in order, to give them the shape of a history. To teach moral lessons appears to be the great aim of this work. We find long speeches, which neither tradition, nor even records would have preserved. They are, moreover, so similar in character, that we suspect Confucius to be the author of them all, though he adapted the leading points to the circumstances of the times. Some parts are utterly unintelligible, others are written with a pleasing conciunity, but none can be called elegant. This is the only Chinese work wherein the doctrine of a Supreme Being is taught. Even the word 'heaven' seems, in the acceptation of the ancient Chinese, to have been synonymous with God; but we will not define their ideas which themselves never did. This much is certain, that their posterity understand invariably the material heaven, and laugh at the idea of a spiritual being the god above all. We may consider this work as the source of all Chinese learning. All the institutions of the country, the rudiments of their science, their moral philosophy, wisdom, prudence, political economy, and astronomy, are contained in nucleo in this work; even music finds its place. It is the great text book upon which all Chinese writers have commented, and forms the invariable rule for governing the nations in all ages."
We must say that we have always doubted whether former missionaries, or Mr. Gutzlaff in the present case, have duly appreciated the religious views of the Chinese. The indisposition manifested by this nation to listen to their doctrines, may readily have been confounded by zealous men with an actual want of all religious feeling. That this want is far from existing, is evident from the great prevalence of the religion of Buddha,
one marked tenet of which is the existence of the soul in the manner of metempsychosis; the religion Tao-tse admits the worship of idols and demons; and when we find in the very text book of the religion of the instructed, that the existence of a Supreme Being is taught, that the ineffable name Jehovah was not unknown to the progenitors of the nation, that sacrifices are offered to heaven, and that the ancestors of illustrious families are deified, we cannot but infer that religious feeling, and a belief in the existence of beings superior to man, must not only be prevalent, but produce its natural effect upon the morals of the people.
“ The doctrines of Confucius have all a practical tendency,--there is scarcely any thing but common sense: no speculation, no search after knowledge not of immediate practical usefulness. The mind of Confucius is not, however, greatly re. fined; he courts honour and emolument, but all with the best intention, that of doing good. His knowledge of human nature is very limited; he considers man as naturally virtuous, To make a whole nation virtuous is as easy as to turn the finger in the palm of the hand; you have only to show a good example and all the world will follow it.' How far this coincided with his own experience we cannot say, for among all his disciples he had only one who was truly virtuous, and he died early.' Notwithstanding his good example, the world remained in a depraved state, and not one kingdom was thoroughly reclaimed from vice. The sage himself was liable to moral defects, and nevertheless views the original bent of his mind as decidedly virtuous.
"We may find the test of his system in its having kept so many millions for so many centuries together. No human institution has stood so long, has found so many admirers and followers. If we have to regulate our opinion upon this subject according to the influence exerted upon the Chinese nation, it will be favourable. We only lament that a people, not yielding to any other in Asia the palm of superiority, has become formal, and a mere slave to antiquated custom. Improvement has for many centuries ceased; the Chinese have ceased to think, and become gross in their appetite; sincerity is extinct in every breast, their heart is hardened against religious impressions, they are a nation who maintain the form of virtue, but hate to practise it. But we will not ascribe these bad effects to Confucius."
A contemporary of Confucius founded the heretical sect of Tao-tse, and these divided China, until the introduction of the religion of Buddha. The enlightened Chinese of the present day view them all with tolerance, and have a proverb that the three are no more than one.
To return to our historical sketch. In the year 255 B. C., the imperial line of Tcheou was destroyed, and the prince of Tshin obtained the supremacy. His son and successor assumed the imperial dignity in 249 B. C. But many of the feudal kingdoms resisted his sway, and were not wholly subdued until the grandson, the celebrated Chi-Hoang-Ti, ascended the throne. Not content with causing his supremacy to be acknowledged, he dethroned their rulers, and thus probably for the first time united China into an undivided empire. The southern barbarians of Quang.tong and Quang.Se were rendered dependent, the south western tribes incorporated with the empire, and his sway finally extended over the whole of China Proper.
Up to the date of his reign, the northern provinces of China had been exposed to the incursions of a barbarous race, occupying a great part of the present Chinese Tartary. These were driven from the frontiers by Chi-Hoang-Ti, and, to prevent their future inroads, he completed and united into one great line of fortification, the separate and imperfect bulwarks commenced by some of his predecessors; thus forming the great wall of China. This work exists in good preservation at the present day, attesting, on the one hand, the power of Chi-Hoang-Ti, and the resources of his empire; on the other, the formidable character of the Hiongnou, and the greatness of the fear they caused to the Chinese. It is in this nation that De Guignes sees the progenitors of the Huns, and he is followed by our author. Klaproth, on the other hand, considers it as a Turkish race, which, after a temporary decline under the influence of Chinese policy, reappeared in the same regions, under the name of Thou-kiou.
The feudal tenures which had formed the basis of the government of the Tcheou, maintained a strong hold in the breasts of the great families, and were sustained by reference to the ancient books and records. Irritated by a continual opposition to his government, growing out of this source, the emperor ordered most of the existing works of history to be burnt, and particularly those of Confucius. The latter have, however, been in a great degree recovered, and, as the writings of the sect Tao-tse were exempted, we are under the impression that the value of the writings lost has been exaggerated. Up to this time, writing consisted in tracing the characters with a style upon slips of bamboo-a laborious and imperfect process. But the reign of ChiHoang-Ti is marked, not only by the destruction of the ancient books, but by an improvement by which new ones could be produced with less labour. A general of this emperor discovered the mode of manufacturing paper from the bark of a tree, and invented ink and the pencil. The change in the materials produced a change in the form of the letters, which lost their purely pictorial character, and assumed one better suited to rapid delineation. The
power of the Tsin dynasty was of short duration; in the reign of the son of Chi-Hoang-Ti, rebellions took place in all directions, and eight independent kingdoms arose. These were short lived, and yielded in 202 B. C. to the arms of an individual of obscure origin, who founded the dynasty of Han. In the earlier reigns of this dynasty the Hiong-nou again became troublesome; and not only made incursions into China, but conquered or expelled the neighbouring barbarians from their possessions. Among these were the Yue-tchi, known to the Roman historians as the Massagetes. These originally inhabited the mountains on the north western frontier of China. In 165 B. C., they were
attacked by the Hiong-nou, chased to the west, and established
power of the Han dynasty was not without its reverses. internal commotions occasionally lessened the external influence of the empire; the eastern Hiong-nou resumed their incursions, the western allies and subjects seceded from their faith. But in its turn, the influence of Čhina again became paramount. It was under the emperors Ming-ti and Tchang-ti, that the power of China reached its widest extent. Their general, Pan-thcao, not only recovered all that had been lost by Their predecessors, but in an expedition to the west, reduced more than fifty petty kingdoms, and carried the arms of China to the shores of the Caspian. In this position, (A. D. 102), he entertained the magnificent project of attacking the Roman empire, then in the zenith of its power; and his plan was not so visionary as might at first appear, when we consider, that he could have directed against it the united force of the barbarous tribes to whose successive and separate attacks it afterwards yielded.
The dynasty of Han retained from this period a preponderating influence in the affairs of central Asia; but much of this was lost at its fall. On the destruction of this dynasty, (A. D. 226), China was divided into three separate kingdoms; that of Goei on the north ; of Chou-Han in the middle; and of Ou in the
south. The first of these still retained some relations with the former subjects of China, and was in alliance with the people of Bucharia.
China was again reunited into a single empire in A. D. 280. A general of the Goei reduced the empire of Chou-Han, and by the influence of his military glory, possessed himself of all the authority of his master. His son constrained the nominal emperor to surrender to him the title as well as the authority, and then subdued the kingdom of Ou.
The new monarch founded the dynasty known as that of Tsin. His reign was prosperous. Not only was nearly the whole of China subject to his sway, but the southern Hiong-nou acknowledged him as their sovereign. The latter had now abandoned their savage mode of life, and adopted the manners and civilization of the Chinese. Among their chiefs was one who claimed descent from the family of Han. This connexion probably arose from the habitual policy of the Chinese emperors, to give their daughters in marriage to the kings of tributary countries. Be this as it may, he succeeded in forming a separate kingdom in the north, and took the Tsin emperor prisoner. The latter family was, however, maintained in the collateral line, although ruling over dominions diminished in extent, and is ranked by the Chinese historians as the imperial dynasty until A. D. 419. This family, like that of Goei, was dethroned by one of its own successful generals, who founded the dynasty of Soung. The princes of the latter race were not able to extend their power over the whole of the present China. Great troubles and dissensions arose; finally, the Soung became sovereigns of all the country south of the Hoang Ho, and the greater part of the north obeyed the rule of the later Goei. This family, although probably connected in the female line with the former dynasty of the same name, was of barbarous descent, belonging to a nation often met with in Chinese history, under the name of Sian-pi, and different from the Turks, the Monguls, or the Mantchous. Under the Tsin they had overrun the province of Chan-si, and obtained from the emperor the recognition of their authority as tributary kings; this allegiance they refused to transfer to the Soung. The rule of the Goei lasted until A. D. 550, when the last of the family was dethroned by his prime minister. The family of Soung retained the throne in the south until 479, when it yielded to the dynasty of Thsi. The latter was short lived, retaining its authority no longer than A. D. 501.
During the division of the Chinese empire, a new power had arisen in the north. The northern branch of the Hiong-nou had joined a tribe supposed by Klaproth to be of the same race with themselves, and the nation thus formed had assumed the name of Turks, rendered by the Chinese Thou-kiou. The year A. D.