Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
HISTORY]
199
CHINA

abortive. Destitute of all royal qualities, a slave to his passions, and the servant of caprice, Kia-k‛ing died in 1820. The event fraught with the greatest consequences to China which occurred in his reign (though at the time it attracted little attention) was the arrival of the first Protestant missionary, Dr R. Morrison (q.v.), who reached Canton in 1807.

Tao-kwang (1820–1850), the new emperor, though possessed in his early years of considerable energy, had no sooner ascended the throne than he gave himself up to the pursuit of pleasure. The reforms which his first manifestoes foreshadowed never seriously occupied his attention. Insurrection occurred in Formosa, Kwang-si, Ho-nan and other parts of the empire, and the Triad Society, which had originated during the reign of K‛ang-hi, again became formidable.

More important to the future of the country than the internal disturbances was the new attitude taken at this time towards China by the nations of Europe. Hitherto the European missionaries and traders in China had been dependent upon the goodwill of the Chinese. The Portuguese had been allowed to settle at Macao (q.v.) for some centuries; Roman Catholic missionaries since the time of Ricci had been alternately patronized and persecuted; Protestant missionaries had scarcely gained a foothold; the Europeans allowed to trade at Canton continued to suffer under vexatious regulations—the Chinese in general regarded Europeans as barbarians, “foreign devils.” Of the armed strength of Europe they were ignorant. They were now to be undeceived, Great Britain being the first power to take action. The hardships inflicted on the British merchants at Canton became so unbearable that when, in 1834, the monopoly of the East India Company ceased, the British government sent Lord Napier as minister to superintend the foreign trade at that port. Lord Napier was inadequately supported, and the anxieties of his position brought on an attack of fever, from which he died at Macao after a few months’ residence in China. The chief cause of complaint adduced by the mandarins was the introduction of opium by the merchants, and for years they attempted by every means in their power to put a stop to its importation. At length Captain (afterwards Admiral Sir Charles) Elliot, the superintendent of trade, in 1839 agreed that all the opium in the hands of Englishmen should be given up to the native authorities, and he exacted a pledge from the merchants that they would no longer deal in the drug. On the 3rd of April 20,283 chests of opium were handed over to the mandarins and were by them destroyed. The surrender of the War with Great Britain, 1840. opium led to further demands by Lin Tze-su, the Chinese imperial commissioner, demands which were considered by the British government to amount to a casus belli, and in 1840 war was declared. In the same year the fleet captured Chusan, and in the following year the Bogue Forts fell, in consequence of which operations the Chinese agreed to cede Hong-Kong to the victors and to pay them an indemnity of 6,000,000 dollars. As soon as this news reached Peking, Ki Shen, who had succeeded Commissioner Lin, was dismissed from his post and degraded, and Yi Shen, another Tatar, was appointed in his room. Before the new commissioner reached his post Canton had fallen into the hands of Sir Hugh Gough, and shortly afterwards Amoy, Ning-po, Tinghai in Chusan, Chapu, Shanghai and Chin-kiang Fu shared the same fate. Nanking would also have been captured had not the imperial government, dreading the loss of the “Southern Capital,” proposed terms of peace. Sir Henry Pottinger, who had succeeded Captain Elliot, concluded, in 1842, a treaty with the imperial commissioners, by which the four additional ports of Amoy, Fu-chow, Ningpo and Shanghai were declared open to foreign trade, and an indemnity of 21,000,000 dollars was to be paid to the British.

On the accession of Hien-fêng in 1850, a demand was raised for the reforms which had been hoped for under Tao-kwang, but Hien-fêng possessed in an exaggerated form the selfish and tyrannical nature of his father, together with a voluptuary’s Hien-fêng emperor. craving for every kind of sensual pleasure. For some time Kwang-si had been in a very disturbed state, and when the people found that there was no hope of relief from the oppression they endured, they proclaimed a youth, who was said to be the representative of the last emperor of the Ming dynasty, as emperor, under the title of T‛ien-tê or “Heavenly Virtue.” From Kwang-si the revolt spread into Hu-peh and Hu-nan, and then languished from want of a leader and a definite political cry. When, however, there appeared to be a possibility that, by force of arms and the persuasive influence of money, the imperialists would re-establish their supremacy, a leader presented himself in Kwang-si, whose energy of character, combined with great political and religious enthusiasm, speedily gained for him the suffrages of the discontented. This was Hung Siu-ts‛üan. He proclaimed himself as sent by heaven to drive out the Tatars, and to restore in his own person the succession to China. At the same time, having been converted to Christianity and professing to abhor the vices and sins of the age, he called on all the virtuous of the land to extirpate rulers who were standing examples of all that was base and vile in human nature. Crowds soon flocked to his standard. T‛ien-tê was deserted; and putting himself at the head of his followers (who abandoned the practice of shaving the head), Hung Siu-ts‛üan marched northwards and captured Wu-ch‛ang on the Yangtsze-kiang, the capital of Hu-peh. Then, moving down the river, he proceeded to the attack of Nanking. Without much difficulty Hung Siu-ts‛üan in 1853 established himself within its walls, and proclaimed the inauguration of the T‛ai-p‛ing dynasty, of which he nominated himself the first emperor under the title of T‛ien Wang or “Heavenly king.” During the next few years his armies penetrated victoriously as far north as Tientsin and as far east as Chin-kiang and Su-chow, while bands of sympathizers with his T‛ai-p‛ing rebellion. cause appeared in the neighbourhood of Amoy. As if still further to aid him in his schemes, Great Britain declared war against the Tatar dynasty in 1857, in consequence of an outrage known as the “Arrow” affair (see Parkes, Sir Harry Smith). In December 1857 Canton was taken by the British, and a further blow was struck against the prestige of the Manchu dynasty by the determination of Lord Elgin, who had been sent as special ambassador, to go to Peking and communicate directly with the emperor. In May 1858 the Taku Forts were taken, and Lord Elgin went up the Peiho to Tientsin en route for the capital. At Tientsin, however, imperial commissioners persuaded him to conclude a treaty with them on the spot, which treaty it was agreed should be ratified at Peking in the following year. When, however, Sir Frederick Bruce, who had been appointed minister to the court of Peking, attempted to pass Taku to carry out this arrangement, the vessels escorting him were treacherously fired on from the forts and he was compelled to return. Thereupon Lord Elgin was again sent out with full powers, accompanied by a large force under the command of Sir Hope Grant. The French (to seek reparation for the murder of a missionary in Kwang-si) took part in the campaign, and on the 1st of August 1860 the allies landed without meeting with any opposition at Pei-tang, a village 12 m. north of Taku. A few days later the forts at that place were taken, and thence the allies marched to Peking. Finding further resistance to be hopeless, the Chinese opened negotiations, and as a guarantee of their good faith surrendered the An-ting gate of the capital to the allies. On the 24th of October 1860 the treaty of 1858 was ratified by Prince Kung and Lord Elgin, and a convention was signed under the terms of which the Chinese agreed to pay a war indemnity of 8,000,000 taels. The right of Europeans to travel in the interior was granted and freedom guaranteed to the preaching of Christianity. The customs tariff then agreed upon legalized the import of opium, though the treaty of 1858, like that of 1842, was silent on the subject.

Great Britain and France were not the only powers of Europe with whom Hien-fêng was called to deal. On the northern border of the empire Russia began to exercise pressure. Russia had begun to colonize the lower Amur region, and was pressing towards the Pacific. This was a remote region, only part of the Chinese empire since the Manchu conquest, and by treaties of 1858 and 1860 China ceded to Russia all its territory north of the Amur and between the Ussuri and the Pacific (see Amur, province). The Russians in their newly acquired land founded the port of Vladivostok (q.v.).

Hien-fêng died in the summer of the year 1861, leaving the throne to his son T‛ung-chi (1861–1875), a child of five years old, whose mother, Tsz‛e Hsi (1834–1908), had been raised from the place of favourite concubine to that of Imperial T‛ung-chi emperor; dowager empress regent. Consort. The legitimate empress, Tsz‛e An, was childless, and the two dowagers became joint regents. The conclusion of peace with the allies was the signal for a renewal of the campaign against the T‛ai-p‛ings, and, benefiting by the friendly feelings of the British authorities engendered by the return of amicable relations, the Chinese government succeeded in enlisting Major Charles George Gordon (q.v.) of the Royal Engineers in their service. In a suprisingly short space of time this officer formed the troops, which had formerly been under the command of an American named Ward, into a formidable army, and without delay took the field against the rebels. From that day the fortunes of the T‛ai-p‛ings declined. They lost city after city, and, finally in July 1864, the imperialists, after an interval of twelve years, once more gained possession of Nanking. T‛ien Wang committed suicide on the capture of his capital, and with him fell his cause. Those of his followers who escaped the sword dispersed throughout the country, and the T‛ai-p‛ings ceased to be.