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MUTUAL RESPONSIBILITY. 2 I
at the matter in a reverse light, and to consider each leader as only such in so far as he represents the natural action of those over whom he is placed. Hence a peculiarity in Chinese government which has frequently been alluded to without being properly understood. Each family, clan, village, district, department, and province, is expected to harmonise itself; and, strictly speaking, it is no part of the business of Supreme authority to interfere, unless when called upon by the parties themselves, with the affairs of minor circles. If quarrels or crimes arise in a family, then the head of the family must settle these, or take the consequences, and to that end he has very great power committed to him. If a village is at war with itself, the head men have power to settle the dispute, and have practically almost unlimited power of punishing. So in the district, the department, the province. Each circle being called upon to harmonise itself, has immense power committed to it for that end, and must take equal responsibility. Hence the rationale, if not the rationality, of the Chinese system of punishing a parent for the sins of his children, and of holding a village or a district responsible for the crimes of its individual members. The whole arrangements of the nation, public as well as private, are based on a system of mutual responsibility, which of course involves a system of mutual surveillance. Even the Emperor, though nominally supreme, stands in awe of the Censorate, and of a popular revolution ; the Futai, or governor of a province, has to stand well with his subjects, as well as at Peking; and the Magistrate of a district is nothing more than the recorder and executor of sentences passed by local juries.
CHA PTE R II.
PREPARATIONS FOR TAI-PINGDOM.
EASTERN REVERENCE FOR ANTIQUITY-THE ASIATIC HEBREW-THE INDO-ARYAN–CH IN ESE IIDEAL OF HAPPY LIFE—CHINESE REBELLIONS AND REVOLUTIONS — THE BALANCE OF POWER — MONGOL AND MANCHU CONQUESTS-SECRET SOCIETIES-THE OPIUM WAR, AND INCREASING DISORGANISATION OF CHINA.
OF course the Chinese State has fallen very far short of the theory on which it was founded; but I have indicated that theory, which hitherto has been overlooked by European Scholars, because some comprehension of it is absolutely necessary to a proper understanding of Chinese rebellions and revolutions. Every people has certain traditionary and religious ideas, sustained by spirit-stirring stories, which underlie its institutions, and limit the working of the national mind, however despised by individuals, and imperfectly conformed to in the national life. Despite our modern disregard of tradition, and even amid the innumerable influences affecting modern civilisation, each nation of Europe, of any strength, moves within a charmed circle of its own ; and an instinctive feeling of the limits of that circle is necessary to the great statesman, even to the great warrior. But when religious, social, and political ideas are inextricably interwoven, springing from one common root, as in the case of the
EASTERN REVERENCE FOR ANTIQUITY. 23
Chinese, and when, moreover, these are hallowed by the
and fire, destined to rule the earth, and receiving amid the thunders of Sinai a sacred, moral, and ceremonial law of which no clause must pass away. Even at the present hour the Indo-Aryan, as he watches the red flush of morning, or sits under the palm and banian, is really dwelling in an antique ideal world of the most extraordinary kind. Accepting for his practical life, with implicit submission, the laws of Manu, and the most rigid ancient caste arrangements, his ineffable yearning for eternity and for reabsorption into deity leads him to shut his eyes on the glories of nature in India, and on all this world of outward seeming, as merely evil illusions obscuring eternal light. Aided by mystic rites and ancient hymns, he looks entranced into a vague world, at first without sky above or firmament beneath, but filled with a shoreless dazzling light of power and love, which is soon darkened by the vast shadowy forms of Varuna, and Indra, and Agni, and all the mighty gods. Ushas, the beautiful dawn, passes over the horizon; Vishnu, the preserving light, strides thrice through the universe, and the Maruts or winds sweep over; but the evil form of Shiva the destroyer appears upon the scene. Gods play with milkmaids; Rama the divine hero makes war on minor evil spirits and hideous giants; and long lines of fabulous kings enter into the vision. In the confusion which follows, the natural and supernatural, the grotesque and the sublime, become inextricably blended. The ashy devotee sitting at the roadside may be a demon, or Vishnu himself, or the Lord of Devas; but, with all its modern touches, it is the world of ancient India in which the modern Hindu daily dwells, and for him, having turned away his wearied eyes
“From earth's dull scene, Time's weary round,
THE CHINESE IDEAL OF LIFE. 25
Blue Krishna frolics o'er the plain,
Even more, perhaps, than the Hindu, the Chinaman dwells in a peculiar ideal world of his own, but it is One much less fanciful, much more definite, much more credible, and much more historical. Still it is an ideal world beyond which he can rarely pass, which constantly occupies his thoughts, and conditions his actions. Every One who has dwelt much among the Chinese, as I have done, and especially in their villages, will bear me out in saying that there is common to them all a certain simple ideal of life which they regard as constituting the highest human happiness, which they claim as their right, which they hold usually existed from the earliest times, and which is intimately connected with the doctrines of their sages, and with their historical beliefs. Unlike the Hindu, the Chinaman lives in an ordered and somewhat prosaic ideal world. He beholds, indeed, against his Turanian historical dawn the gigantic figures of Yaou and Shun, and the great Yu overshadowing the long valley of centuries; and the great sages, such as Confucius and Mencius, correcting the errors of their times, and dropping words of invaluable wisdom ; but though all these are grand to him, they are so not so much in themSelves as in their useful relationship to the knowable and the attainable—to the great primary wants of his race. The determination of the seasons, the building embankments against devastating floods, or the harmonising of