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if their expressions are taken in their widest sense, as we understand them, they do elevate him too high ; he is to be compared, not with Alfred, William III., Henry IV. of France, and other European kings, but with other Chinese and Asiatic princes, few of whom equal him. The principal events of his long reign are the conquest of the Eleuths, and subjugation of several tribes lying on the north and south of the Celestial mountains; an embassy across the Russian possessions in 1713 to the khan of the Tourgouth Tartars, preparatory to their return to the Chinese territory; the settlement of the northern frontier between himself and the czar, of which Gerbillon has given a full account; the survey of the empire by the Romish missionaries; and the publication of a dictionary of the language. In many things, he showed himself liberal towards foreigners, and the country was thrown open to their commerce for many years. His son Yungching succeeded in 1722; during his reign he endeavored to suppress Christianity and restore the ancient usages, which had somewhat fallen into desuetude during his father's sway, and generally seems to have held the sceptre to the benefit of his subjects. Yungching is regarded as an usurper, and is said to have changed the figure four to fourteen on the billet of nomination, himself being the fourteenth son, and the fourth being absent in Mongolia, where he was soon after arrested and imprisoned, and subsequently died in a palace near Peking; whether he was put to death or not is uncertain, but Chinese annals seldom record any domestic quarrels, and butcheries of the sons and nephews of a deceased monarch by rival aspirants. Kienlung succeeded Yungching in 1736, and proved himself no unworthy descendant of his grandfather Kanghi; like him he had the singular fortune to reign sixty years, and for most of that period in peace. Some local insurrections disturbed the general tranquillity, principally among the aborigines in Formosa and Kweichau, and in an unprovoked attack upon Birmah his armies sustained a signal defeat, and were obliged to retreat. The incur. sions of the Nipalese into Tibet induced the grand lama to apply to him for assistance, and in doing so, he contrived to establish a guardianship over the whole country, and place bodies of troops in all the important positions, so that in effect he annexed that
vast region to his empire, but continued the lamas in the internal administration.
During his long reign, Kienlung received embassies from the Russians, Dutch, and English, by which the character of the Chinese, and the nature of their country, became better known to western nations. These embassies greatly strengthened the impression on the part of the Chinese of their superiority to all other nations, for they looked upon them as acknowledgments on the part of the governments who sent them of their allegiance to the court of Peking. The presents were regarded as tribute, the ambassadors as deputies from their masters to acknowledge the supremacy of the emperor, and the requests they made for trade as rather another form of receiving presents in return, than a mutual arrangement for a trade equally beneficial to both. Kienlung abdicated the throne in favor of his fifth son, and retired with the title of supreme emperor, while his son, Kiaking, had that of emperor.
The character of this prince was dissolute and superstitious, and his reign of 25 years was much disturbed by secret combinations against the government, and by insurrections and pirates in and about the empire. A conspiracy against him broke out in the palace in 1813, where he was for a time in some danger, but was rescued by the courage of his guard and family. A fleet of about 600 piratical junks under Ching Yih and Chang Pau, infested the coasts of Kwangtung for several years, and were at last put down in 1810, by the provincial government taking advantage of internal dissensions between the leaders. The principal scene of the exploits of this fleet was the estuary of the Pearl river, whose numerous harbors and channels afforded shelter and escape to their vessels when pursued by the imperialists, while the towns upon the islands were plundered, and the inhabitants killed if they resisted. The internal government of this audacious band was ascertained by two Englishmen, Mr. Turner and Mr. Glasspoole, who at different times fell into their hands, and were obliged to accompany them in their marauding expeditions. To so great a height did they proceed, that the governor of Canton went to Macao to reside, and entered into some arrangements with the Portuguese for assistance in suppressing them; the piratical fleet was attacked and blockaded for ten days by the combined forces, but without much damage ; and there was little prospect of overcoming them, had not rivalry between the two leaders gone so far as to result in a severe engagement and loss on both sides. The conquered pirate soon after made his peace with the government, and the victor in time followed the same course. The story of those disturbed times to this day affords a frequent subject for the tales of old people in that region, and the same waters are still infested by the “foam to the sea,” as the Chinese term these freebooters. The reign of Kiaking ended in 1820, and by his will his second son was appointed to succeed him, and took the name of Taukwang. Thus far his administration has been attended with a continual succession of wars, insurrections, and troubles, in one quarter or another of his vast dominions, though none of them threatened the overthrow of the government, until the war with England commenced in 1840. A rebellion in Turkestan in 1828 was attended with great cruelty and treachery on the part of the Chinese, and its leader Jehangir was murdered in violation of the most solemn promises. An insurrection in Formosa, and a rising among the mountaineers of Kwangtung, in 1830–32, were put down more by money than by force, but as peace is both the end and evidence of good government in China, the authorities are not very particular how it is brought about. Still, so far as can be judged from the imperfect data of native historians of former days, compared with the observations of foreigners at present, there is little doubt that this enormous mass has been better governed by the Manchus, than under the princes of the Ming dynasty; there has been more vigor in the adminis. tration of government and less palace favoritism and intrigue in the appointment of officers, more security of life and property from the exactions of local authorities, bands of robbers, or processes of law;-in a word, the Manchu sway has well developed the industry and resources of the country, of which the population, loyalty, and content of the people are the best evidences. The sovereigns of the Ming and Tsing dynasties, being more frequently mentioned in history than those of former races, are here given, with the length of their reigns. The succession of the emperors of all the dynasties is given in Gutzlaff’s History of China, and in Du Halde’s China.
The whole number of sovereigns in the twenty-six dynasties, from Yu the Great to Taukwang is 235, or 243 commencing with Fuhhí, during a period of 4699 years, from B. c. 2852 to A. D. 1847; this gives to each dynasty a duration of 180 years, and to each monarch an average of 194 years. If the computation commence with Yu, the time comprised in the Chinese monarchies gives 162 years to each dynasty, and an average of 17+ years to each reign. From B. c. 2715, when Menes founded the first Egyptian dynasty, to B. c. 331, a period of 2384 years, Manetho reckons thirty-one dynasties, and 378 kings, which is 77 years to each family, and only 64 years to each reign. In England, during the 771 years from William the Conqueror in 1066, to Victoria, in 1837, there have been 34 sovereigns, averaging 223 years to each reign; and about the same average holds in other European states.
THE real religious belief and practices of a heathen people are hard to describe intelligibly. Men naturally exercise much freedom of thought in such matters, and feel the authority of their fellow-men over their minds irksome to bear; and though it is comparatively easy to describe religious ceremonies and festivals, the real belief of a people, especially a pagan people, that which constitutes their religion, their trust in danger and guide in doubt, their prompter to present action and hope for future reward, is not quickly examined, nor easily described. The want of a well understood and acknowledged standard of doctrine, and the degree of latitude each one allows himself in his ob. servance of rites, or belief of dogmas, the diverse views and imperfect knowledge of the writer, and misapprehension of the effect this tenet or that ceremony has upon the heart of the worshipper, both in writer and reader, also tend still further to embar. rass the subject. This at least is the case with the Chinese, and notwithstanding what has been written upon their religion, no one has very satisfactorily elucidated the true nature of their belief, and the intent of their ritual. The reason is owing partly to the indefinite ideas of the people themselves upon the character of their ceremonies, and their consequent inability to give a clear notion of them; and partly to the variety of observances found in . distant parts of the country, and the discordant opinions entertained by those belonging to the same sect, so that what is seen in one district is sometimes utterly unknown in the next province, and the opinions of one man are laughed at by another. Before proceeding, two negative features of Chinese religion deserve to be noticed, which distinguish it from the faith of most other pagan nations. These are, the absence of human sacrifices, and the non-deification of vice. The prevalence of human offerings in almost all ages of the world, and among nations of differ.