Imatges de pÓgina
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to it as a bad thing in itself, and as likely to bring many
evils in its train upon the Middle Kingdom. The edict in
question, although signed in the name of the Hoppo, was
really drawn up by the pens, and issued by the express
command, of the Board of Censors at Pekin.

Circumstances intervened, moreover, very shortly after the
publication of this edict to give weight to the remonstrances
of those who declared that it was intolerable that the people
of the Celestial Empire should be compelled, against the
inclination of their leaders, to hold communication with
strangers who appeared, in the eyes of a true follower of
Confucius, as little better than barbarians. The laws of war
are arbitrary, and even on the China coast, during the in-
tensity of the great European contest with France, each
combatant strove to snatch an advantage from the other.
The manner in which the Portuguese had come into occupa-
tion of Macao has been previously explained; but when the
nineteenth century commenced the descendants of Da Gama
had lost their national enterprise, and were in very deed as
in name no more there than the tenants of the Chinese.
Yet the position of Macao was so advantageous that it
presented a standing temptation to all interested in the
commerce of the Chinese seas to wrest it from the feeble
hands of those who held it. Immunity from danger, so far
as the Chinese were concerned, seemed to be certain from the
weakness and inefficiency of their fleet; but it was different
with those other Europeans who felt the inducement and
possessed the power.

While the French conceived the undertaking, the English had executed it; and, as it had proved in other parts of Asia between these two rival peoples, the victory was to the swift as well as to the strong. During the year 1802 Macao was occupied by an English force and squadron; and it was only evacuated as one of the minor details of the Treaty of Amiens. Macao was thus treated as if it were a European possession, and probably not the least thought was given to the breach its occupation by an armed force involved of the sovereign rights of China. The brief time that the English squadron remained there in 1802 prevented an angry discussion ; but when the operation was

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repeated six years later, the wrath of the Chinese, as will be seen, could no longer be controlled.

The pretensions of the Chinese are only to be supported by a mighty and efficient power. Without that they must invite many difficulties, and bring down upon the country a multitude of calamities. It was only in the natural course of things that when first a sense of weakness was felt, the arrogance of the Emperor should become more apparent. To Kiaking the presence of Europeans on his coasts in increasing numbers appeared in the light of a danger, in consequence of the ill-concealed disaffection among large sections of his own subjects. Had his Government felt strong in its own resources, it could have afforded to regard the foreign traders at Canton with unaffected indifference; but the Tartars, goaded into irritation by their own fears at the aversion of the Chinese, resorted to a policy of petty provocation in their dealings with the races of Europe. The course they adopted was one well-defined and clearly arranged, for the express purpose of heightening the glory of the rulers of China, and of hindering all relations with the "outer barbarians." In so far as it succeeded it served the purpose for which it was framed, and obtained that sort of popular approval which is never refused to measures that have the tendency to show that a nation is the superior of any other. But when it proved impossible, it became the cause of much national misery and misfortune.

The antipathy to the inhabitants of a strange and unknown world, natural to the human mind, was in China fomented for its own purposes by all the means at the disposal of the ruling caste. The ill-will of Kiaking increased with his personal embarrassments. It was bad enough in his eyes that the peoples of the West should be permitted to plant their feet at any time within the borders of the Empire, but it was intolerable that they should be witnesses of the disunion spreading within the realm, and of the scanty respect paid to even the person of the sovereign. For the popular discontent had reached such a pass that Kiaking could no longer consider himself safe in his own capital. In 1803, when his illustrious father had not been dead more

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than four years, the Emperor was attacked in open day,
while being carried in his chair of state through the streets of
Pekin. The attack was evidently well-planned, and the
plotters almost succeeded in attaining their object. Kiaking
stood in imminent danger of murder, when the striking
devotion of a few of his eunuch attendants foiled his assail-
ants, and saved his life at the price of their own. This
outrage produced a great sensation, and the public mind was
much affected by so flagrant an insult upon the person of
the chosen Son of Heaven. Chinese Emperors, indeed, had
before that fallen victims to the assassin; but if so, it had
been in the interior of their palaces, and not in the open way
of the people. The national sense of decorum then incurred
a grave shock.

The discovery was soon made that this attempted assas-
sination formed part of an extensive plot with ramifications
among the Imperial family itself. A series of inquisitorial
investigations took place, which had as their outcome the
disgrace and punishment of many of the Emperor's relatives;
but even this summary proceeding failed to restore con-
fidence to the heart of Kiaking. He never allowed himself
to forget the narrow escape he had had ; and while he
often expressed surprise at their turpitude, he never after-
wards permitted his kinsmen to pass out of the range of his
suspicion.

The peculiar feature of this conspiracy was its originating, perhaps, and certainly its extensively developing, under the auspices of one of those secret societies, which, in the form of fraternal confederacies and associations, have always been a feature in Chinese life, but which have acquired during the present century an importance they could never previously claim, both in China itself, and among Chinese colonies abroad. Of these the first to attract notoriety, and to be marked out for disapproval by the Government, was the society known as the sect of the White Water-lily, or the Pe-lëen-keaou. Whether because it was as a matter of fact incriminated in the plot of 1803, or whether, and more probably, the Government availed itself of that event as an excuse to denounce and punish the members of a society

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which it both disapproved of and feared, the fact is certain that the members of the Water-lily association were accused of holding unorthodox opinions, and of meditating treasonable practices. The province of Shantung was the immediate scene of their appearance and outbreak; but although the Water-lilies threatened to be dangerous, they very soon lost their significance, and disappeared in the more formidable and extensive confederacy known as the Society of Celestial Reason, which at a still later period was merged into that of the Triads.

Although the designations were frequently changed, and sometimes with the express object of misleading the authorities no name was taken or at least publicly revealed, there seems little doubt that the Water-lily* sect was the originating society, and that all the subsequent orders sprang from its members. The escape of the Emperor, and the summary punishment of those leaders of the conspiracy who were captured, did not lead to the collapse of the Water-lily band, and, although proscribed by name, their operations continued, and their daring was remarkable. We have seen the financial embarrassments of Kiaking, and that the escheated property of Hokwan served but to minister to his personal pleasure, and not to the alleviation of the difficulties of government. The dissatisfaction of the seditiously inclined grew rapidly, and before the Emperor's advisers had realized the extent of the discontent, many of the inhabitants of Shantung, and of three other provinces, had joined the society of the Waterlily, and had formed themselves into a common band, no longer for the attainment of secret ends, but from open hostility to the ruling powers.

In China the machinery resorted to for the redress of public grievances may assume a character of secrecy; but if the objects are based on palpable facts, such as popular suffering, the spirit of insubordination very speedily reveals itself. So it was in the case of the

The name Water-lily was chosen on account of the popularity of that plant. M. Huc says, “The poets have celebrated it in their verses, on account of the beauty of its flowers; the doctors of reason have placed it among the ingredients for the elixir of immortality ; and the economists have extolled it for its utility.”_" Chinese Empire," vol. ii. pp. 309-10.

THE IMPERIAL RESIDENCE.

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Pelëen brotherhood, which, far from being crushed by Imperial edicts, and by the failure in the streets of Pekin, declared itself openly inimical to the constituted authorities, and did its best to meet force by force.

The details of this strife, if what probably partook more of the character of rioting than of open warfare can be designated by that name, elude the most careful inquiry ; but Kiaking took a later occasion to inform us that he ordered his generals to proceed against the rebels, and that he was employed for eight years in unceasing operations for their chastisement. But although the particulars have not been preserved, there is no doubt that the realm was distracted by the seditious movement of the Water-lily sect, until it gave place to the more formidable association known as the Theen Te. Not, however, for the suffering of his people, nor for the rude blows inflicted on the reputation of his Government, would Kiaking abandon the life of indulgence passed in his residence at Pekin.

Even the recurrence of the personal danger from which he had had the good fortune to once escape, failed to arouse him from the torpor, or the indifference to external things, which from force of habit had become part of his nature. In the year 1813 the popular discontent had again reached so great a pass that the secret societies found it possible to organize a fresh attempt on the person of the ruler, more audacious in its scope, and more nearly successful in its object, than that which preceded it. At Pekin the Imperial residence forms almost a city to itself, and entrance to it is only permitted to privileged persons. The vigilance of the garrison insures the safety of the Emperor, for whose protection no precaution has been overlooked. The greater the discord in the country, the wider the hostility of the people, all the closer are drawn the guards round the Emperor's residence, and the more rigorously are the regulations enforced. A sense of temporary security is purchased at the cost of not merely forfeiting popular esteem, but also of losing that touch with the wants of a people which it is most necessary should be kept up between the ruler and those he rules. Such was the state of things, we can feel very sure,

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