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equalled by the industry and enterprise of the West in the prodigious extent of their public works, * with a huge wall of fifteen hundred miles in length, built two thousand years ago, and a canal of seven hundred, four centuries before any canal had ever been seen in Europe ; the sight of such a country and such a nation is mightily calculated to fix the attention of the most careless observer, and to warm the fancy of the most indifferent. But there are yet more strange things unfolded in the same quarter, to the eye of the political philosopher. All this vast empire under a single head; its countless myriads of people yielding an obedience so regular and so mechanical, that the government is exercised as if the control were over animals or masses of inert matter; the people all this while not only not plunged in rude ignorance, but actually more generally possessed of knowledge, to a certain extent, and more highly prizing it, than any other nation in the world; the institutions of the country established for much above five-and-twenty centuries, and never changing or varying during that vast period of time; the inhabitants, with all their refinement, and their early progress in knowledge and the arts, never passing a certain low point, so that they exhibit the only instance in the history of our species of improvement being permanently arrested in its progress; the resources of this civilized state incalculable, yet not able to prevent two complete conquests by a horde of barbarians, or to chastise the piracies of a neighbouring island, † or to subdue a petty tribe$ existing, troublesome and independent, in the centre of a monarchy which seems as if it could crush them by a single movement of its body; the police of the state all powerful in certain directions, * This was written when our railroads were only just commenced. + Japan.
The Meaou-tse : see Chap. VI.
and in others so weak as habitually to give way for fear of being defeated; the policy of the state an unexampled mixture of wisdom and folly—profound views and superficial errors—patronage of art and of science, combined with prohibition of foreign improvements-encouragement of domestic industry, with exclusion of external commerce -promotion of inland manufactures and trade, without employing the precious metals as a medium of exchange -suffering perpetually from the population encroaching upon the means of subsistence, and yet systematically stimulating the increase of its numbers; removing every check which might mitigate the evil, and closing every outlet for the redundancy; finally, so unwieldy, anomalous, factitious a system of policy, enduring for so many ages, and for the last two centuries in a state of the most unbroken peace, without a foreign quarrel or a domestic convulsion, while all the rest of mankind have been laying waste the earth with their conflicts and changing the face of society by sudden revolutions—such are the marvels which the Chinese history presents to the contemplation of the inquiring mind."
It needs hardly to be observed that the above was written before our war, and the revolution occasioned by it.
I.-FREE IMPORTATION AND CONSUMPTION OF OPIUM.
THE following report from the consul at Amoy (some time since the war) will prove, among many others of the same description, that both the sale and the consumption of opium are now carried on without any attempt at either concealment or prevention. It would therefore be quite as impertinent for us to interfere, as for the Chinese to interfere with the enormous, and far more hurtful, consumption of spirits in England.
“ The dépôt ships lie among the six islands which form the eastern limit of the port of Amoy. These vessels are supplied with opium by small clipper schooners coming up and down the coast. .“ The native boats convey the opium from the dépôt ships to Amoy, and these boats (on account of the costly value of the goods, nearly 1001. each chest) are well manned and armed against the pirates. The opium is brought to the wharves at all hours of the day, and carried through the town without molestation from the authorities. The shops, of which there are many, pay for a licence to the Haefâng mandarins at the rate of ten dollars a month (or 251. a-year).
66 The demand has increased very much of late, to the extent of even forty per cent. in the course of six months. In some cases the opium is paid for at Amoy, and delivered to order--in others the money is sent, and the opium received at the ship; and, as the boats ply in perfect security, it is probable that the demand will in
At the termination of the Company's charter in 1834 the importation of opium was 20,000 chests. It has since been as much as 70,000 per annum, in value nearly 5,000,0001. sterling. This is merely the result of perfect freedom, both of importation and consumption.
II.—THE TAE-PING REBELLION.
THERE can be no doubt whatever of the existing insurrection in China having been the result of our own war. A Manchow general, in his report, distinctly stated that ço the number of robbers and criminal associations is very great in the two Kwang provinces (i. e. Kwang-tung and Kwang-se), and they assemble without difficulty to create trouble ; all which arises from that class having detected the inefficiency of the imperial troops during the war with the English barbarians. Formerly they feared the troops as tigers ; of late they look on them as sheep. Of the multitudes of irregulars who were disbanded on the settlement of the barbarian difficulty, very few returned to their original occupations—most of them became robbers."
- He observes that “ the army has never recovered from the effects of the want of success in the barbarian business (as they call our war): the troops regard retreat on the eve of a battle as established custom, and the abandonment of their posts as an ordinary affair.”
Mr. T. T. Meadows's curious work on the Chinese insurrection, with which he has a most intimate acquaintance (having been deputed by the British plenipotentiary on a mission to its chiefs), affords full and authentic ac