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attractions of the empire for the trader and merchant have ever been of the most commanding character. The great variety and richness of its natural productions, together with the inventive ingenuity, the mechanical skill, and the unwearying industry of its people, have made it, since the first dawn of history, one of the great bazars of the world's trade. Such a career of industrial preeminence no other nation or country has seen. How few years have elapsed since the highest ambition of the skilled workmen of Europe was to imitate with success the Chinese porcelain! And hardly does the memory or the tradition of the West reach back to a time when the silk stuffs of China were not the richest articles of apparel and ornament which the earth could afford to the wealthy and luxurious. At precisely what period the products of the Chinese looms and workshops first found their way into western Asia, it is not now possible to say. Vessels of Chinese manufacture are asserted to have been found in Egyptian tombs of not less than fourteen centuries before Christ, but the authenticity of the claim is at least very questionable. The first distinct mention of the country in western literature now extant is supposed to be the well known passage in Isaiah (xlix. 12), "and these from the land of Sinim." At the time of the Jewish prophet, then, at least five hundred years before our era, some dim knowledge of China had reached Palestinedoubtless from Babylon, and as the result of that overland trade to Persia and Assyria which we certainly know to have been actively carried on at a period not much later. The natural position of the empire determined the routes of its early commerce. The ocean was long a barrier, and not a highway, upon its eastern and southern border. There is no evidence that even the adventurous fleets of Phenicia ever reached those shores. The mountains which shut it in upon the west left but a single practicable passage into the interior of Asia, and that was at the northwestern corner of the empire, the entrance way, perhaps, of the Chinese race itself, and near to its earliest historical seats. Through that gate more than one route led across the deserts, amid the wild tribes that infested them, and over lofty chains of mountains, to the valleys of the
Oxus and Jaxartes in northwestern Iran, whence the way lay open to Mesopotamia, Syria, and the Mediterranean. A long and perilous route, truly; and if the prize had been less tempting, even the daring traders of those times would not have cared to risk its dangers. We have authentic information from the Chinese annals, that, in the times of the Han dynasty, a century and more before Christ, the resources of the empire were tasked to quell the insolence of the northern nomads, and give freedom and safety to the westward journeys of the caravans. The vigorous and growing China of those heroic times thus took an active part in the commerce which bore its productions to the West. A couple of centuries later, the borders of the empire were also approached upon the other side, by sea; China was drawn into the net of that world-commerce which brought to Rome and her dependencies, through the Red Sea, and by the mart of Alexandria, the wealth and luxury of India and the farthest East. If the current identification of Ptolemy's Kattigara with the modern Canton be wellfounded, that port began soon after our era to play the prominent part in commercial history which has ever since belonged to it.
An indirect consequence, probably, of the trade between China and Bokhara, and one of far greater importance in the ancient history of the empire than any commerce, was the introduction into it of Buddhism. This Hindu religion-of which the author is supposed to have lived in the sixth century before Christ, and so to have been very nearly a contemporary of Confucius-began, three or four hundred years after its origin, to be carried in every direction beyond the borders of India, by the earliest religious missionaries whom the world has ever seen. The countries on the northwest of India soon became, as they long continued to be, a chief seat of the doctrine of Buddha. There the Chinese first made acquaintance with it, and thence, during the first century of our era, it made its way into China itself. The Chinese have a story of their own respecting the manner in which it was introduced. About A. D. 66, say they, the Han emperor, Ming-ti, had his attention strongly directed by a dream to an expression in one
of the works of Confucius, to the effect that "they of the West have a sage." This western sage he determined to discover, and accordingly sent out in search of him an embassy, which, in due time, returned with Buddhist teachers and books from India. We seem to see in this not very probable story an attempt to attribute the introduction of the strange doctrine to imperial agency, and, more remotely, to the influence of the great Chinese teacher himself; thus, on the one hand, giving the foreign religion a more legitimate status within the limits. of the empire, and, on the other, relieving the dynasty and the literary class of the imputation of having had it brought in upon them without their consent and participation. But, however it may have come in, it took firm root among the Chinese people, and spread rapidly over the empire; and even now, in the classification of the religions of the globe, the four hundred millions of Chinese are wont to be set down as votaries of Buddha.
It is not difficult to see why Buddhism should have made extensive conquests among the tribes of Central Asia. It came to them as one of the matured fruits of a culture vastly superior to their own. It brought with it knowledge, arts, and letters. Its doctrines were in most respects full of attraction. Its morality was all gentleness and purity. It breathed a spirit of toleration, compassion, love to all living creatures. It was instinct with the sentiment of the universal brotherhood of man, a sentiment then unknown elsewhere in the world. Its motto
was peace on earth, good will to men. Its philosophy was indeed atheistic, and its acknowledged and coveted chief good annihilation. Yet these features of its doctrine, little calculated to recommend it to the acceptance of wild and simpleminded races, were at a very early period greatly modified and concealed, and in its popular aspect hardly appeared at all. Its want of a pantheon and a mythology was supplied by the elevation of its own author into an object of worship, and by the creation of a host of kindred deities about him: its chilling end was hidden by the interminable series of renewed existences, of heavens and hells, interposed between this life and it, or was altogether explained away. No wonder, then, that it
spread and flourished among the uncultivated people of Asia. No wonder that it acted upon them as a softening and civilizing influence, and that its results were, upon the whole, eminently happy.
China had a civiliza
In China, the case was far otherwise. tion and a literature, arts and sciences, of its own, not less developed and worthy of admiration, in their different and peculiar types, than those of India. It had a code of morality as correct and exalted, if less mild and winning, than that which Buddha promulgated. In these respects it had nothing to gain from foreign teachers. And the antithesis of the Chinese and Hindu characters has always been such that it would seem impossible that any product of the one should be heartily accepted by the other. The Chinese are distinguished by hard common sense, by worldliness, thrift, industry, domesticity: the Hindu is imaginative and metaphysical beyond all due measure, careless of the actual and the present, living in and for the future. Not only was the philosophy of Buddhism thoroughly penetrated with the negativeness, the quiescence, the subjectivity of India; its external institutions were in many points repugnant to the principles of Chinese social polity. The assemblage of its special votaries, male and female, in great cloisters, shocked Chinese ideas of propriety; its priests, those who had risen highest in its faith and practice, and had a peculiar title to the rewards it promised, were professed celibates and beggars, two characters alike hateful to the orthodox followers of Confucius. How is it, then, that Buddhism made conquest of China also, as well as of all the countries to the west of it?
We confess that we see no way of answering this question. satisfactorily, if the religious condition of the empire at the time be not fully taken into consideration. The Chinese people was, so to speak, without any religion. We have shown in our former Article how scanty was the content, how meager the forms, of the ancient Chinese faith; how the whole business of keeping up its ceremonies, saving only the offerings to the dead, had fallen into the hands of the state, and become a matter of official duty only; how Confucius had known no re
ligion, and taught none. But it would require a dryness of spirit beyond the measure even of Chinese aridity, a philosophic enlightenment and freedom from superstitious tendencies far greater than China could boast, to maintain a whole nation permanently in this negative condition. It must have a positive and tangible creed and worship. Buddhism then, as we conceive, was not ill calculated to supply the want. Where such a want was felt, its many claims to admiration and acceptance would be fully appreciated, and its repulsive features overlooked. It was far from exciting enmity and opposition by setting itself up in hostility to the native religion. Everywhere and always tolerant in its character beyond any other religion-the only one, perhaps, which never set on foot a religious persecution-it fully admitted and encouraged the ceremonial observances of the state officials, and the ancestral rites of the common people. It was not above adapting itself to the popular mind, and even making itself the minister of the popular superstition. It came in thus, as it were, and quietly occupied an almost forsaken territory, neither expelling nor disturbing the few original possessors still left there.
Our view of the causes of the success with which the efforts of the Buddhist missionaries in China were attended, is supported by the after history of the religion, and by the effects which it produced, and which were produced upon it, in its joint workings with the native institutions. It suffered far more change than it wrought. Greatly altered and corrupted, hollowed out from within and overlaid with strange matter from without, as Buddhism has been everywhere in Asia, in China it soonest and most completely lost its original character and legitimate influence. Not that there were not for a long time among its numerous followers those who were zealous for the purity of the faith. Time and again, through a succession of centuries, enthusiastic and devoted Chinese monks visited India, bringing back from thence fresh supplies of sound doctrine, and great stores of the Buddhistic legendary and controversial literature-the dreariest literature, perhaps, that was ever painfully scored down, and patiently studied, and religiously preserved-which then found Chinese translators and