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inspection, observing, that he wished to see in what respects the heart of a sage differed from those of
With the Chinese, the heart is the seat of the mind.
At length Woo-wong, literally “ the martial king,” was called upon to depose the tyrant, and all the people turned against the latter. When no hopes were left, he arrayed himself in his splendour, and retiring to his palace set fire to it and perished, like another Sardanapalus, in the flames.
When the conqueror entered, the first object he perceived was the guilty queen, whom he put to death with his own hand, and immediately became the first of the dynasty Chow. This forms the subject of a portion of the Shooking, one of the five classical books delivered down by Confucius.
The Chinese have no existing records older than the compilations of Confucius, who was nearly contemporary with Herodotus, the father of Grecian history, and to whom Pope has given a very lofty niche in his Temple of fame:
“Superior and alone Confucius stood,
Who taught that useful science-to be good.” The five classics and the four books, which were bequeathed by that teacher, or by his disciples, contain what is now known of the early traditions or records of the country. The period of authentic history may be considered as dating from the race of Chow, in whose time Confucius himself lived; for although it might be going too far to condemn all that precedes that period as absolutely fabulous, it is still so much mixed up with fable as hardly to deserve the name of history. In his work called Chun-tsieu (spring and autumn, because written between those seasons) Confucius gives the annals of his own times, and relates the wars of the several petty states against each other. The southern half of the present
empire (to the south of the Yangtsekiang) was then in a state of entire barbarism ; and the northern half extending from that river to the confines of Tartary, was divided among a number of petty independent states, derived from a common origin, but engaged in perpetual hostilities with each other.
The period of Chow, comprising above eight centuries, and extending down to 240, B.C., was dis tinguished, not only by the birth of Confucius, but by the appearance, in China, of Laou-keun, and in India, of Fo, or Budh, who were destined to give rise to the two sects, which, subordinate to that of Confucius himself, have influenced rather than divided the population of China ever since. The estimation, however, which they have respectively enjoyed has been very different. The memory and the doctrines of Confucius have met with almost uninterrupted veneration to the present time; they have even retained their supremacy oớer the native worship of the Tartar dynasty; while the absurd superstitions of the other two have been alternately embraced and despised by the different. Sovereigns of the country. The mummeries of the Budhists are a parallel to the worst parts of Roman Catholicism; and the disciples of Laou-keun combine a variety of superstitions ; each sect, at the same time, being plainly a corruption of something that was better in its origin. We shall have to speak of these more in detail hereafter, under the head of Religions.
Confucius was respected by the Sovereigns of nearly all the independent states of China, and was employed as minister by one of them. After his death, which happened B.C. 477, at the age of seventy-three, a series of sanguinary contests arose among the petty kingdoms, which gave to this period of history the name of Chen-kuo, or the “contending nations," and proved in after-times the ruin of the race of Chow.
ERECTION OF GREAT WALL.
The King of Tsin had long been growing powerful at the expense of the neighbouring states : he fought against six other nations, and after a course of successes compelled them all to acknowledge his supremacy. The chief Government began now to assume the aspect of an empire, which comprehended that half of modern China lying to the north of the great Keang; but which, after the lapse of a few centuries, was doomed again to be split into several parts.
The first Emperor (which is implied by the title Chy-hoang-ty) being troubled by the incursions of the Tartars on the northern frontier, rendered himself for ever famous by the erection of the vast wall, which has now stood for 2,000 years, extending along a space of 1,500 miles, from the gulf of Peking to Western Tartary. It has been estimated that this monstrous monument of human labour contains materials sufficient to surround the whole globe, on one of its largest circles, with a wall several feet in height. Another act of the same Emperor entitled him to a different species of fame.“. He ordered that all the books of the learned, including the writings of Confucius, should be cast into the flames; many of course escaped this sentence, through the zeal of those who cultivated learning; but it is said that upwards of 400 persons, who attempted to evade or oppose the order, were burned with the books they wished to
It is not easy to explain the fantastic wickedness of such an act on any common principles; but one reason alleged for it is, the jealousy that this foolish Emperor entertained of the fame of his progenitors, and the wish he indulged that .posterity should hear of none before himself.
About the year 201, B.C., the race of Hân succeeded to the sovereignty, and commenced one of the most celebrated periods of Chinese history. It was now that the Tartars by their predatory warfare
became the source of endless disquiet to the more polished and peaceful Chinese, by whom they were in vain propitiated with alliances and tribute. They were the Hingkuo (erratic nations), against whom the first Emperor had vainly built the wall; and under the name of Heung-noo (Huns) they constantly appear in the historie sor fictions of that period. The first Emperors of this race endeavoured to make friends of the Tartar Chiefs by giving them their daughters in marriage. “The disgrace," says a historian of that period, “could not be exceeded from this time China lost her honour.” In the reign of Yuenty, the ninth Emperor, the Tartars having been provoked by the punishment of two of their leaders, who had transgressed the boundaries of the Great wall in hunting, the empire was again invaded, and a princess demanded and yielded in marriage. This forms the su bject of one of the hundred plays of Yuen, an English version of which was printed by the Oriental Translation Committee in 1829, under the name of the “Sorrows of Hân.”. The impolitic system of buying off the barbarians, which commenced so' early, terminated many centuries afterwards in the overthrow of the empire.
T'he seventeenth Emperor of Hån, by name Ho-ty, is said to have had considerable intercourse with the west. It is even recorded that one of his envoys reached Tatsin, or Arabia. It is certain that eunuchs, those fertile sources of trouble to his successors, were introduced during his reign, and it may be inferred that he borrowed them from western Asia, about A.D. 95. The reigns of the last two Emperors of Hån were disturbed by the machinations of the eunuchs, and by the wars with the rebels called Hoangkin, or Yellow Caps. At this time so little was left of the sovereign authority, that the Emperors are frequently designated by the mere term Choo, or Lord.
The period of the San-kuo, or “ Three States," nto which the country was divided towards the close of Hân, about A.D. 184, is a favourite subject of the historical plays and romances of the Chinese. A work, designated particularly by the above name, is much prized and very popular among them, and a manuscript translation of it in Latin, by one of the Catholic missionaries, exists in the library of the Royal Asiatic Society. Extracts from it might be made interesting, but the whole is perhaps too voluminous to bear an English translation in print. It is, however, as little stuffed with extravagancies as could be expected from an Oriental history, and, except that it is in prose, bears a resemblance in some of its features to the Iliad, especially in what Lord Chesterfield calls “the porter-like language” of the heroes. These heroes excel all moderns in strength and prowess, and make exchanges after the fashion of Glaucus and Diomed, Hector and Ajax. One shows his liberality in horses, another in a weight of silver, or iron :
“ And steel well-tempered, and refulgent gold.” Society seems to have been in much the same state, split into something like feudal principalities, hanging loosely together under the questionable authority of one head. That great step in civilization, the invention of printing (which arose in China about the tenth century of our era), had not yet taken place, and even the manufacture of paper had not long been introduced.
The leader of Wei, one of the three states, having at length obtained the sovereignty, established the capital in his own country, Honân, and commenced the dynasty called Tsin, A.D. 260. Having taken warning from the distractions arising from the interference of eunuchs and women in affairs of government during the period of the three states, a