The North American Review/Volume 171/Issue 526/The Empire of the Dead

The North American Review by Francis E. Clark
Volume 171, Issue 526, September 1900
The Empire of the Dead


“How did you enter Tientsin?” inquired an old resident of a newcomer to that famous port which has recently been captured by the allied forces of the Powers.  “Oh, I came through the graveyard,” answered the new arrival.  The Old Timer smiled an audible smile, for every entrance to Tientsin, as well as to nearly every other Chinese city, is through “the graveyard.”

The one most impressive feature of the Chinese landscape is the grave.  In the south, the horseshoe grave is usually built of stone; and often, in the case of a mandarin, it is of great size and not a little architectural beauty.  About Ningpo and Shanghai, a great mound, as high as a considerable hill, marks the last resting-place of thousands and tens of thousands of dead Chinamen.  These tumuli are so numerous and so extensive that a very large proportion of the arable land which the living so sorely need is allotted to the dead.  Thus, a new and serious problem is introduced into the economic situation.

About Tientsin and Peking, and in the north of China generally, the graves, while smaller and ruder, are yet so numerous as to withhold very large areas of the most desirable land from cultivation, and to withhold at the same time large amounts of rice and millet from the hungry stomachs of the half-starved coolies.

These graves are the most sacred objects in all China.  Ancestor worship is the sum and substance of her religion.  Before these graves are burned millions of dollars’ worth of mock-money—strips of paper cut to imitate cash, or tissue paper made up into the semblance of blocks of gold and silver bullion.

Every country store in China, whatever else it lacks, is altogether likely to have a supply of mock-money for sale.  A moderate estimate by reliable statisticians makes the amount of good money paid for this mock-money to be burned at graves each year at least four hundred millions of dollars, while other expenses of ancestor worship would probably double this estimate.  A wealthy man of Tientsin, a few months ago, spent one hundred thousand dollars on the funeral of his mother.  This act of filial piety may have been justified by his unusual wealth, but it is often emulated by the poor, who subject themselves and their posterity to grinding poverty for the sake of honoring the manes of their ancestors.

This same regard for the dead and disregard for the living is everywhere displayed throughout the Celestial Empire.  I have recently seen a great catafalque built in the middle of the principal street of Peking, occupying the whole of the wide roadway, remaining there for weeks at a time, and obstructing all the traffic of a crowded city; compelling camels, horses, donkeys, pigs, Peking carts, chair-bearers, wheelbarrows, to say nothing of thousands of foot passengers, to clamber down a ditch and to crowd through a narrow sidewalk, that led under awnings and shop porticoes, to the comparatively free roadway beyond.

I have dwelt upon this exaggerated reverence given to the dead, because it is characteristic of the people, and because it accounts, when its root principle is understood, for the pitiable state of weakness and decay to which China has been reduced, and, indirectly, for the revolution and massacres which have recently horrified the world.

China is the Empire of the Dead.  It is ruled by a Dead Hand.  Its glories are all in the past, and it rejoices in the fact.  Its rapid dissolution as an empire cannot be understood until this idea, which enters so thoroughly into the warp and woof of the nation, is grasped.  In every department of life is the Dead Hand seen.  The labor of every miserable coolie, who toils fourteen hours out of every twenty-four for half as many cents in pay, is daily doubled by this superstitious reverence of the dead.  Not only is he obliged to pay a considerable portion of his poor pittance for incense to propitiate the spirits, and for mock-money to pay the way of his dead forbears on the other side of the Styx, but fear of the spirits and a desire to humor them makes every day’s toil immeasurably harder than it otherwise need be.

There is scarcely a straight road of any length in any Chinese city, because it is thought that the spirits cannot turn a corner, but will go straight on in a given direction when they get started.  So they are fooled and led away from their original destination, if the road turns at a sharp angle away from the house or shop which they wish to haunt.  In making a mile with his heavy burden on his back, the perspiring coolie must often travel two miles, because the road-makers have made the highway a series of zigzags, the better to bewilder the spirits of the dead.

It is also well known in China that a spirit cannot climb a hill.  So, oftentimes, the road goes out of its way to surmount a hill, and every over-loaded, two-footed and four-footed beast of burden that follows that road must also go out of its way to climb that hill, and drag its burden up and down the steep incline.

But these are only the physical and more obvious aspects of this strange power of the Dead Hand.  In more subtle and more powerful ways does this idea rule a quarter of the world’s inhabitants.  Nothing is studied but the learning of the Ancients.  The examination halls, with their ten thousand cells, witness only the writing of useless essays or impotent poems on some classic theme.  Proficiency in the study of neither science, law, medicine, language, theology nor art is tested within their gloomy enclosures, but simply the ability to compose a stilted sentence in ancient style.  The dead hand of Confucius rules the Empire more powerfully than any other, but all the long line of teachers and sages who have followed have added the weight of their skeleton fingers.

It is not right in China to aspire to surpass your father, still less to be the equal of your grandfather, still less to approach the virtue of your great-great-grandfather.  Never was the mighty power of an idea so shown as in this ancestor worship in dwarfing and stunting a great nation.  “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  As a nation thinketh in its heart, so is it.  China has been dominated and belittled by her foolish reverence for ancient days and ways.

China is a land of arrested development, and the cause of this arrest in every department of progress can be traced to this same Dead Hand that rules the Empire.  The most original minds that the world has known have been natives of the most backward of the great nations of the world.  Here was born, we are often told, the man who first learned the use of gunpowder, the man who invented the mariner’s compass, the man who discovered the use of movable type.  Here, or in Corea, lived the wise physician who discovered the principle of inoculation, which the sages of the nineteenth century have been turning to such large account.  For inoculation against smallpox, he blew the powdered scab from a smallpox patient into the nostril of the one he wished to treat; or, making a wound in his arm, rubbed the scab into that.  To be sure, the person thus treated often died of smallpox.  But it is also true that he often had the disease in a mild form, and was made forever safe from the dreadful scourge.

But the trouble with all these inventions in China was that they, too, were ruled by the Dead Hand.  It was proper for a wise man to make them, but it was entirely improper for a wiser man to improve upon them.  They must always remain in the primitive state in which they left the original discoverer’s hand.  It is as though the invention of a Fulton was a sacred thing never to be improved, and we were still doomed to paddle up the Hudson in his awkward side-wheeler at the rate of five miles an hour; or as though Stephenson’s steam engine had been deemed unimprovable, and we had been destined ever since to ride behind a primitive locomotive of his original design.

In China, though gunpowder has been known for centuries, soldiers still practice for a military degree with bows and arrows, and perfect themselves in the use of the spear and broadsword.  Though China has had the mariner’s compass for numberless years, her junks still crawl along the shore, and she has no steamship lines that launch out into the deep and cross the seas.  In China, in spite of the fact that the origin of type is lost in the traditions of the past, printing is still a primitive art, and her native newspapers are few and meagre.  In China, though inoculation has been known for centuries, smallpox is still raging, and the pest shows no sign of dying out.

The fact, as I have said, gives a clue to the situation of China to-day.  The decay of the nation cannot so well be accounted for on any other consideration.  The startling events of the last few months are explained when read in the light of this dominating thought.  The futile efforts for reform of the young Emperor; the reactionary success of a Jezebel Empress Dowager; the supine indifference of the people under the yokes that seem too heavy for any nation to bear; the rise of the semi-patriotic, anti-foreign body of desperadoes called the Boxers, who have probably at length completed the ruin of their country in the late uprising, are all explained by remembering that China is the Empire of the Dead, the dead ancestor, the dead sage, the dead tradition, the dead custom.

The last three years have been momentous ones in the history of the Celestial Empire.  The Dead and the Living have been in mortal combat, and, strange to say, the Dead have won, at least a temporary victory.  Ancient conservatism, represented by the astute and utterly unprincipled Empress Dowager, and modern progress, represented by a well meaning though apparently weak young Emperor, first fought a battle royal, and the Empress won; while the poor Emperor was banished to an island in a lake in his own palace grounds, and, as many of those best informed believe, was slowly being poisoned at the time of the revolution by his aunt, the Empress Dowager, who, without trial or process of law, cut off the heads of six of the bravest reformers of her Empire.

The story of the battle royal between the Dead and the Living is worth recounting briefly, for it explains more recent events.  In the year 1898, the Spirit of the Living appeared to be on the point of winning a great victory.  It seemed as if the vast Empire was at last, after the lapse of centuries, to be rescued from the clutch of the Dead Hand.  The breath of reform blew gently everywhere.  As, after a long, murky night, the sweet breezes of the dawn bring freshness and life to a sleeping world, so the breeze of progress seemed about to rustle the leaves on all the trees of tradition and immemorial custom in China.  This, in fact, was the ease; but, alas, this was all that happened.  There was a great rustling among the dead leaves that hung upon the old tree, but they were not shaken off, and the buds of Reform and Progress could not push their way or unfold their beauties.

For a time, however, it seemed that the new would, very soon, displace the old.  Many of the leading governors, censors and ruling men throughout the Empire were enthusiastically in favor of the new order of things.  The disastrous war with Japan had revealed to them the weakness of their vast nation.  Something must be done, they felt, to avert the tide of disaster.  The old had been tried and found wanting.  “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin,” had been written upon the wall, so that all China must take heed.  There was no hope for China in the minds of these reformers, except in the adoption of Western methods and Western civilization.  When a small nation like Japan, with forty millions of people, could demolish a huge empire like China, with her four hundred millions, as an eggshell is crushed in a child’s hand, there must be some potency in modern ironclads, and Krupp guns and the military tactics of the nineteenth century over the bows and arrows and arquebuses and antiquated smooth-bores on which China still relied for victory.  The wave of progress gathered volume, as it rolled onward.  It affected and profoundly moved the highest dignitaries of the Empire.  It even found its way within the thrice-walled Forbidden City, the Purple Imperial City, in the heart of Peking.  It reached the palace of the Emperor, and that amiable ruler threw himself most heartily into the new order of things.  He called for Western books.  He asked to be instructed in Western sciences, arts and religion.  It is even thought by some that he became a Christian, in part led by a favorite of the court, a girl who had been educated in an American mission school in Peking.  It is, at least, certain that he showed himself extremely interested in Christian books.  Of the one hundred and twenty-nine books which he ordered at this time, no less than fifty-four were religious books, most of them published by the “Society for the Diffusion of Christian and General Knowledge among the Chinese.”  Among these volumes, large and small, were such books as “The Story of Our Lord,” “The Story of King David,” “Communion with God,” “Mission Work in the South Seas,” “Protestant Missionary Pioneers,” “Sketch of the Christian Endeavor Society,” “Family Prayers for Chinese Christians,” “How the English Became Christians.”  Other books on Astronomy, Chemistry, Hygiene, International Law, History and Mathematics were also ordered, and the very best that could be obtained were furnished by the missionaries.  Where the Emperor leads the way, many of the people are sure to follow; and the demand for books of Western Knowledge was unprecedented.

“When the popular edition of five thousand copies of MacKenzie’s Nineteenth Century was brought out,” writes the Rev. Timothy Richard, the eminent secretary of the afore-mentioned society, “four thousand copies of it were sold within a fortnight.  This might not be considered a large number in countries where everybody reads; but, in a country where only ten per cent. read, and that tenth intensely conservative, this is a proof of an unheard of change of attitude.  The old publishing houses could not meet the demand, though one firm alone ordered fifteen tons of paper.”  A large number of new printing establishments sprang up.  The binders of books were unable to cope with their work.  The price of paper was raised throughout the Empire, so great was the demand for books.

But the sincerity of the awakened Emperor and his earnest desire for reform were still more keenly shown by the fact that he called to his aid the most advanced men from all parts of the Empire.  The energy and thorough-going zeal of the Emperor astonished his own people and foreigners alike.  Said the Shanghai Daily News, the leading English daily of China, at the time the reforms were instituted:

“This year an actual miracle occurred in Peking.  The young Emperor, whom we all believed to be a mere puppet, bred in the harem, and studiously kept in ignorance, the passive instrument of his strong-minded aunt, suddenly showed himself an intelligent man, fit to be a ruler, conscious of the humiliation his country experienced at the hands of Japan, and anxious to render such a humiliation impossible again by the adoption of reforms of all kinds.  He read translations of foreign books, gathered round him a band of young reformers, and issued decree after decree, not one of them as we have shown before, impracticable, all of them promising, if carried out, to be of real advantage to the Empire.”

Nine of the edicts issued at this most hopeful juncture by the Emperor Kuang Hsu were as follows:

“(1.) To abolish the Essay system of Examination, which had been in vogue for the last 500 years;

“(2.) To establish a University for the study of Western Science in Peking;

“(3.) To convert Temples into Schools for Western education;

“(4.) To establish a Translation Board, whereby books on Western Learning are to be translated into Chinese;

“(5.) To establish a Patent Office for the encouragement of everything that is new and useful;

“(6.) To protect Christianity without any further evasions;

“(7.) To make the Reform Paper, Chinese Progress, the official organ of the Government;

“(8.) To abolish useless offices both in Peking and the provinces;

“(9.) To make young Manchus study foreign languages and travel abroad.”

Every one of these edicts bears upon its face the stamp of common sense, sincerity and practicability.  “Any one of them,” it has been said, “would have entitled the Emperor to favor.”  Other edicts covered, in the most comprehensive way, reforms of almost every description.  Great trunk lines of railway were to be built by foreign syndicates, covering the land in time with a net-work of iron rails, as Europe and America are to-day covered.  Social reforms, which extended even to the unbinding of women’s feet, were to be inaugurated, and a hundred millions of women, whose cramped and crushed feet compel them to hobble as helpless cripples through life, would forever have blessed the memory of Kuang Hsu, could he have had his way.  The whole community would have been thrown open to friendly foreign nations and a Christian code of laws in harmony with Christendom, if foreign Powers would guarantee the integrity of China.  One of the most remarkable reforms was to be in the whole system of education.  The Confucian classics for centuries have kept their iron grasp on educated China.  To be an educated man in the “Middle Kingdom,” for two thousand years, has simply meant to be possessed of a prodigious memory, and to be able to write a useless essay on some remote and academic theme derived from Confucius.  All this, in the mind of the Emperor and his advisers, was to he changed in a year.  Western sciences, Western languages, Western history were to be taught.  Even the temples might be used for schools of Western learning.  This plan aroused the ire of Buddhist priests, and doubtless contributed to the overthrow of the whole plan.  As a natural consequence of these broad-minded, liberal plans, the religions of the past could not remain unaffected.  It is possible, though perhaps not probable, that Christianity would have become the religion of the Empire.  At any rate, Christianity would have had a free field, if no favor, which is all it wants in any land.  As a result, even of this short-lived agitation, tens of thousands flocked to the missionaries for instruction.

That this, however, was not merely a short-lived propaganda, stirred up by foreigners working on the religious sensibility of the Emperor, is shown by the broad scope of the principles of the Reformers, embracing the best in their old religions and customs.  I confidently believe that the reforms would have resulted in the widespread, if not universal, adoption of Christianity; but that the movement was not in the hands of foreign religious enthusiasts, but sprang from the people themselves, is shown by the following principles by which the Reformers defined their purposes:

1.  Exhort the people to do good.

2.  Teach the law of retribution; “whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.”

3.  Teach Confucianism as a necessary thing.  Originally, it meant the “necessary” teaching.  As man’s need of food and clothing necessitates agriculture and silk culture, so the demands of his moral nature made Confucianism necessary.

4.  Recognize the good in Taoism.  Tao existed before heaven and earth, and is the invisible force behind all.  Afterwards there arose the teaching about the pill of immortality, charms, etc., and the original idea was lost.

5.  Recognize the good in Buddhism.  The meaning of Sakya-Muni (Gautama) is “one who is able to love.”  The common people use Buddhist forms at funerals and often offer Buddhist prayers, and many intelligent men are fond of discussing Buddhism.  When it talks of a holy life, of the unseen, of removing the passions, etc., it is a good thing.

6.  Find out specifics in medicine.  It is very desirable that they be generally known, instead of being lost at the death of those who know them.

7.  Recognize the scholar as one who labors with his mind—a producer.  Collect his thoughts.

8.  Improve farming.

9.  Establish beneficent labor.  In modern days, millions are spent in great factories like Krupp’s, and more money is spent in devising how to kill men than in discovering how to keep them alive.

10.  Extend trade.  To supply the needs of the country by the abundance of another is proper.

11.  Increase useful and fresh learning, especially that knowledge whereby the poor can be saved from their poverty.

12.  Study the laws of other nations.

13.  Learn all about the most important things in other countries.

14.  Print scientific books, maps, etc.

15.  Devise some speedy method for teaching the young.

But, alas, the forces of Light and Life were not destined to have a speedy or unchecked victory.  The powers of Darkness and Death would not give up the fight without a struggle.  China had been too long ruled by a Dead Hand easily to accept the rule of the Living Perhaps the Reformers went too fast, if not too far.  They proposed the degradation of the leaders of the opposite party, as well as the exaltation of their own leaders.  They even suggested the cutting off of the time-honored queue.  This was a little too much.  The wily old Empress Dowager, who had been biding her time, saw that her hour had come.  She could now strike a blow at the Reformers and have a great party at her back.  All the reactionaries, all the mandarins, whose official heads were endangered by the new reforms, most of the scholars who had been brought up on the old system, who could see no good in Western learning; all the priests who feared for their livelihood and their temples; and many of the common people, whose superstitious hatred of foreigners had been skillfully worked upon, and who at least feared for their precious queues, were upon her side, and she was allowed to work her wicked will upon the handful of defenseless reformers.

The Empress is certainly no mere figurehead.  She must be ranked beyond question as among the really great rulers of the world.  “When her consort died in 1861,” we are told, “China was internally largely at the mercy of the Taiping rebels, and externally at the mercy of England and France.  But when she handed over the reins of government to the Emperor, Kuang Hsu, a few years a6o, China’s rebellion had been put down, Kashgar had been recovered from Russia, and the nation was at peace with all the Powers.”  Had the Empress Dowager only been as good as she was great, as enlightened as she is strong, the history of China in the twentieth century would be very different from what it is now likely to be.  But she is as bad as she is powerful, as unscrupulous as she is shrewd, and the poor Reformers had short shrift when she really decided to put them down.

On the 28th of September, 1898, six of them were put to death.  Their names deserve to be recorded in the roll of the world’s martyrs.  They are: Tan Sze-Tung, Lin Kwang-Ti, Yang Tswei, Lin Shio, Yang Shin-shen, and Kang Kwang-jin.  The chief of them all, IIang Yu-Wei, escaped with his life, first to Hong Kong, then to Singapore.  I have seen more than one city wall in China placarded with large posters offering a reward of a hundred thousand dollars for Kang Yu-Wei, dead or alive.

A few weeks ago, when sailing into the beautiful river Mm, on whose bank lies the great city of Foochow, I saw a fine Chinese man-of-war, the fastest war-cruiser in the world, it is said, commanded by the admiral of the navy, just as she was returning from her fruitless search for this reformer.  The little Chinese merchantman, “Hae Shin,” on which I was embarked, had come to anchor for the night just off the bar of the river Min, and had the great cruiser for a companion at the same anchorage.  The next morning the big war-ship weighed anchor, and sailed off toward Shanghai; and as she started, for the sake of signalling the convoys, she blew a long blast on her siren.  As the wild yell of that most sardonic and unearthly of all signals rang out on the still air, and was re-echoed from the mountains along the shore, it seemed to me like the despairing wail of the reform party in China, that has all the power of the Empire turned against it, and like the death knell of the Empire itself.

So the powers of Darkness seemed to have conquered for the time.  China was again ruled by the Dead Hand of the Past.  She, who came so near being the Empire of the Quick, was still the Empire of the Dead.  The results were seen on every hand.  Not only were all the leading reformers killed or banished, and the rest, the more politic reformers, like Li Hung Chang, shut out from all effectiveness by their own fear or selfishness; not only was the Emperor a prisoner in his own Forbidden City, and probably dying of slow poison; but throughout the Empire the clock of Progress seemed to have stopped.  The extraordinary demand for books of Western learning ceased.  The converts to Christianity fell off; many former inquirers no longer dared to see the missionary, and hatred of foreigners and all things foreign broke out with new violence.  Old superstitions were revived, absurd rumors about missionaries poisoning wells, and foreigners burying babies under all their new railroad sleepers were assiduously circulated; and the air, as I breathed it in North China just before the massacre, was surcharged with threats of violence and outrage, upon foreigners and native Christians alike.

The most extraordinary exhibition of this anti-foreign reaction was found in the rise and spread of a secret society called the “Boxers,” or, as its name might be literally translated, “The Righteous Harmonious Fist.”  In a day, almost, this society attained threatening proportions.  The Boxers themselves are, for the most part, a poor, deluded lot of country louts who believe that by some gymnastics and incantations and by a species of hypnotism, they can render themselves invulnerable to foreign bullets and all foreign weapons.  Their significance does not consist in their valor or even in their numbers, but in the fact that they are symptomatic of the ignorance and superstition of the ruling forces of the nation to-day.  In every convenient way it was shown that the Government did not really wish to put them down.  The superstition and ignorance of the Boxers is well shown by the following placard which was widely posted at the time.  It shows the spirit, as well as the superstitions, of the “Harmonious Fisters”:

“The relatives and friends of all around have noticed recently that the members of the Protestant and Roman Catholic religions poison the wells with poisonous powder, so that whoever drinks the water will have their lungs and intestines rotten in eighteen days.  Two men have been arrested by us at Lin-Li-Chuang, and we found out that they have poison all over their bodies.  They are silent when they are questioned, and bold when tortured.  Whoever smells the poison will die immediately; you must be very cautious in drinking the water.  Those who have seen this notice must make it known; it will avert the calamity of the people.  It must by all means be done.”

The recent revolution, with all its heartrending accompaniments of murder, siege and suffering, such as the world has not known since it was shocked by the Indian Mutiny, more than a generation ago, are all the result of the irrepressible conflict between the Past and the Present, the Dead and the Living.  The final contest which has challenged the attention of the world was inevitable.  It might have been delayed.  It might have been less bloody.  It could not have been averted.  What is to be the outcome? I am no prophet, but I confess that I see light in but one quarter of the heavens.  China may be speedily divided between the great nations of the world, because of the rottenness and incapacity of her own government; and the better rule of the Anglo-Saxon, the Celt and the Slav may work out for her a partial and external regeneration.

But, when one is upon the spot, though this outcome seems most desirable, it does not seem to be a solution of the real problem of the regeneration of China.  It is not certain that, if the Powers carve up China among themselves, the real China, the people of China, would be materially improved.  The nation would be still the same stolid, superstitious, ignorant mass of unprogressive humanity that it is to-day.  The lives of the common people would still be ruled by the Dead Hand of the Past.  They would still worship their ancestors and waste their substance on incense and mock-money.  They would still give the best land to the dead) and their poorest acres to feed the living.  I see no real hope for the regeneration of China except by the slow process of education and evangelization.  The leaven is already at work, though it has not as yet by any means leavened the whole lump.  More than two thousand missionaries, mostly American and British, were at work in the Middle Kingdom at the time of the revolution.  Their day schools were numbered by the thousand, perhaps by the ten thousand.  They have established hundreds of hospitals, in some of which as many as ten thousand patients arc treated every year.  In the churches of the Protestant missionaries alone are gathered one hundred thousand substantial converts.  Their adherents are many times that number.  The Catholic missions have more adherents still.

In addition to these thousands of day schools are many high schools, colleges of high grade, and schools for theological instruction.  There are also a multitude of Sunday schools, Christian Endeavor societies, schools for the training of Bible women, orphanages, and institutions for the blind and the deaf and dumb, all under auspices of Christian men and women.  The aggregate of this work is immense.  The story can never be told in print, nor the good accomplished computed in figures.  There is no such force at work to-day for the regeneration of China as the army of missionaries sent out from America and Great Britain.

This is not my opinion only; it is the opinion of many of those who have lived longest in the land, and have had the widest opportunity for investigation.  Said one of America’s most successful and sagacious Ministers Plenipotentiary to me, when speaking of another Asiatic nation: “The most potent force for the uplift of this country is not trade or commerce or diplomacy, but Christian missions.  The missionaries are doing more for this land than all other foreigners combined.”  This is eminently true of China.  I see little hope for China in any other direction.  This force transforms character rather than changes dynasties, and, without a transformed character, China can never be regenerated.  Dynasties may come and dynasties may go, but corruption and ignorance, greed and superstitions, reverence for a dead and outgrown Past go on forever.  The individual Chinaman must be transformed before the nation can be transformed.  A mere change of dynasty, a mere division of the nation between stronger, greedy nations will not usher in China’s Golden Day.

Already, as I have said, much has been done.  Considering the resources at the command of the missionaries, a surprising work has been accomplished.  At the cost of the maintenance of half a dozen iron-dads each year, all the Protestant mission-work of China is being carried on.  Until one travels from Canton to Calgan and takes long journeys into the interior, one cannot realize the extent of this wonderful work, or the resourcefulness of the missionaries.  Nor can one realize the hold which the missionary has upon the future of China.  He has not only established churches and planted schools; he has written books and translated other books, and introduced Western arts and sciences, and pioneered the way for commerce and civilization.

In China, as in other countries, the debt of Philology and the other sciences to the missionary is enormous.  Many volumes would not recount all their services.

But better than all is the unseen but potent influence of unselfish, noble characters that impress themselves on other characters, and turn the people away from the dead Past to the living Present and the hopeful Future.  The missionary is breaking the grip of the Dead Hand of the Past on China’s throat.  The missionary is showing the Chinaman that the “Foreign Devil,” as he calls all “Outlanders,” has something that the Chinaman needs, something of science and civilization, as well as religion.  The missionary is opening the Chinaman’s eyes to the folly of his old superstitions.  The missionary is unsealing the Chinaman’s ears, that he may hear the tramp of the advancing nations of the Twentieth Century.  The missionary is slowly but surely transforming the Empire of the Dead into the Empire of Life and Light.  There may be, for a time, revolutions and counter-revolutions, anarchy and misrule, turmoil and massacre; but the yeast, insignificant as it now appears to some, has been placed within the meal.  The Brighter Day may be long in coming to distracted China, but it is on the way.

Francis E. Clark.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.

This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.