Изображения страниц

torture and death, than were exhibited by the Chinese missionaries. Not a few of the native Christians were also called to yield up life, or to go into distant exile, for their religion, and most of them, if we may believe the accounts handed down to us, worthily stood the test, while the success of the work of proselyting was hardly less than it had been in the halcyon days of European influence at the imperial court.

To the brief rule of Yung-ching succeeded, in 1736, the long and prosperous reign of Kien-lung, ending with his abdication in 1796. The attachment of the latter to his European artists, mechanicians, and astronomers, was very great, but he adhered inflexibly to the established policy of prohibition of Christianity in the empire, and a slight relaxation of the vigilance and violence of the local authorities of the provinces in discovering and punishing its sectaries was the nearest approach to toleration which could be made during all the latter part of the century which had opened with such signs of promise. But now troubles of another kind came to interrupt the progress of the missions. The order of Jesuits was suppressed. The French revolution put an end to the special support which the Chinese mission had long received from the French government, and the troubled state of Europe, and the prostration of the Romish church, cut off other sources of supply, both of laborers and of means of their support. The Pekin mission grew weaker and weaker, and in 1820 Tao-kwang, upon his accession to the throne, drove out its last remaining representative. Yet has the Catholic church never relinquished its hold upon China; its numerous missionaries still traverse the empire in disguise, keeping up in every city the long established communities of Christians; and its votaries are still counted even by hundreds of thousands. It would, however, be an error to account Catholic Christianity as a power among the Chinese people, or even as having any vital and self-sustaining force in the empire. There is reason to apprehend that its victories have ever been nominal more than real; that its standard of proselytism has been fixed far lower than would satisfy the requirements of the Protestant missions. It is not especially difficult to win, from a people so little attached to


any religion of its own as the Chinese, a verbal acknowledgment of the truth of Christian doctrine, submission to baptism, and partial or occasional compliance with the ceremonial practices of the Romish church; to communicate a real knowledge of Christianity, and the possession of its spirit, is something very different. That the great majority of the millions of converts reckoned by the Catholic missions since their establishment have been converts in form only, is past all reasonable doubt: it were uncharitable to attempt to say just how many may have been of another character. Some appreciation of the spirit in which the later missionary operations are carried on may be won from the fact that a considerable item among them is the baptizing, under false pretences and by unconsecrated hands, of infants considered to be at the point of death from sickness. At all events, even Catholics can hardly refuse to acknowledge that Catholic Christianity has as completely failed to make conquest of China, or to establish itself firmly and securely within the limits of the empire, as did its predecessor, Nestorian Christianity.

Since the beginning of the present century a new era of missionary effort has been inaugurated, under the auspices of the Protestant societies of England, Germany, and America. With the history of this movement our readers are already too well acquainted to need that more than the briefest sketch of it should here be presented. The first Protestant missionary was Morrison, who landed in the country in 1807. The contrast between his career and that of Ricci well illustrates the difference in aim and spirit of the two missions of which they were respectively the founders. Morrison established himself in the most quiet manner at Canton, and devoted his attention especially to two works—the preparation of a dictionary, and the translation of the Bible; works intended to serve as auxiliaries to those who should come after him. He maintained a weekly religious service, but founded no church, and sought not to measure the usefulness of his mission by the number of converts made, and the degree of public attention excited. During his whole life-he died in 1834-he never set foot farther within the interior of the country than Canton. This modest and unaggressive policy was rendered necessary by the changed condition of the empire, taken in connection with the natural limits to the efficiency of Protestant missionaries. To attempt a clandestine entrance into the interior, when every avenue of access was jealously guarded, and open instruction and proselytizing impracticable, would have been useless. The only thing to be done was to begin in confessed weakness and obscurity, and to wait; to lay a foundation, and to hope that better times would build the superstructure. All the ground accessible to the acknowledged missionary was soon occupied, and the expansion of the missions has kept even pace with the unclosing of the empire. During their earlier period, especially, attempts were made to gain influence among the colonies of Chinese emigrants, who are to be found scattered all over the coasts and islands of the Indian and Southern oceans, wherever there is gain to be made by industry and enterprise; but the moderate success met with, and the gradual opening of China itself, have caused them to be for the most part relinquished. More than two hundred men have, during fifty years, been sent out by the various societies. Unlike the Jesuits, they have addressed themselves primarily and chiefly to the common people. They have published numerous editions of the whole or parts of the Bible, in different translations; they have reduced many of the popular colloquial dialects for the first time to a written form, in Chinese or Roman characters, and in these or in the literary language have composed and circulated hosts of tracts, and of elementary text-books in history, geography, natural science, and the like. They have been active and successful in collecting and communicating knowledge of the language, literature, history, and institutions of the empire. If they are not unfrequently sneered at by the Catholics for the limited sphere of their labors, and for their misapplied activity in scattering abroad books which in the great majority of cases must be wasted and lost, the sneer is not a deserved one, and comes moreover with a bad

from those who have themselves signally failed in an opposite course of policy. The Catholic and Protestant systems have not yet come into competition


[ocr errors]

with one another upon the same ground, as may soon be the case, in order that their relative efficiency may be tested. Great hopes have been built upon the complete opening of access to all parts of the empire, which appears now imminent. Yet it should not fail to be borne in mind that but a small part of the obstacles to penetrating the country with civilizing and Christianizing influences will thus be removed. Of all regions of the world, China is the hardest and least promising field for such labor. The whole character of the people, both in its positive and its negative traits, and, not less, their absorption in the struggle for existence forced upon them by the immense over-populousness of the empire, tell powerfully. against the reception of the new doctrines; and no one should be so thoughtless as to expect that, where Nestorian and Roman missionaries have toiled for centuries without any abiding harvest, there is now to be a speedy and notable change for the better. We should ourselves rejoice to see reason to believe that the Chinese are more likely to be penetrated with a new spirit, and to rise in the scale of nations, from free intercourse with Europeans, than to lose what they already have, and to suffer national degradation and extinction. Events are now rapidly approaching to a crisis which will begin the testing of this question, and it is our duty, before quitting our general subject, to review the history also of the political movements of the past few years, and to glance at the present condition of the struggle between European aggressiveness and Chinese exclusiveness. But we have already occupied all the space allotted us in the present Number, and must once more defer to another time the consideration of this final division of our theme.


The re

The physical characteristics of Lebanon, as well as the thousand sacred associations connected with its name, could not fail to invest it with peculiar attractions to any one; but there are also many varied features of interest to be found in the character of its present inhabitants and their past history. During weary centuries of evil, its noble rocks have afforded a kind shelter to freedom, and neither Sultan nor Pasha has been able to play the Asiatic lord long over its sons. sult was, therefore, that while the richest portions of Syria and its fairest plains, such as the Buckaa, Esdraelon, and Sharon are wastes, because they belong to the Turk, the rough mountain nourishes thousands, who on the very face of its cliffs hang their gardens and make them yield abundantly even such luxuries as silk, oil, tobacco, and wine. The traveler who has become disgusted with the dusky Egyptian serfs, or the sullen and stupidly fanatical peasants about Jerusalem and Nablous, is well prepared to welcome the Lebanon mountaineers, whose erect and free carriage, combined with an easy native politeness, at once tell of a different race and a different experience. It is singular, but yet too true, that from the feuds of its inhabitants, its present is its worst history, for often in former times has Lebanon appeared like a rocky island, where some refuge was found from the flood which destroyed what was once the garden of the Lord. Here also are to be found feudal families that boast an ancient lineage which the proudest houses of Europe might envy, and with chronicles as rich in incidents of war, romance or murder as ever poet or novelist would wish.

For a long time the political power of Lebanon has been about equally divided between two very different sects, the Maronite Christians and the Druzes, although in number the latter are hardly a third of the former. The history of the Maronites is a very chequered one, extending from their conversion to Christianity in apostolical times, when their Syriac

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »