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A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY



A Sketch



. p e '



OF



Chinese History



BY



Rev. F. L. HAWKS POTT, D.D.

President of St. John's College, Shanghai.
Author (>/"The Outbreak in China."




SHANGHAI — HONGKONG — YOKOHAMA — SINGAPORE:

KELLY & WALSH, LIMITED.
1903.









THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED
TO

J. F. SEAMAN, ESQ.,

AN AMERICAN MERCHANT IN CHINA FOR FORTY- TWO YEARS AND ONE OF
THE U.S. COMMISSIONERS FOR THE REVISION OF THE COMMERCIAL TREATY
WITH CHINA, AS A TOKEN OF THE AUTHOR'S SINCERE REGARD FOR ONE
WHO IN PRIVATE CHARACTER AND IN PUBLIC LIFE EXHIBITS THE BEST
TRAITS OF THE AMERICAN GENTLEMAN AND PUBLIC SPIRITED CITIZEN.




PREFACE.

INCE the outbreak of 1900, so many books have been
written about China that it would seem as if there
ought to be some explanation on the part of one
who ventures to add to their number.

The present volume is written to meet a practical need. The
author has long felt in his work as a teacher the want of a short
history of China. Of larger histories, and of monographs treating
fully of some one period, there is no lack, but a concise outline of
Chinese history accenting the turning points in the life of the
nation has not yet been produced.

To reduce the voluminous native histories of China to a small
compass is undoubtedly an ambitious undertaking, but yet it is a
task that someone must attempt. The average student has not the
time nor the inclination to wade through the cumbrous volumes
which exist at present, and when he ventures to do so, he often
becomes discouraged because of the impossibility of remembering
the strange and difficult names of the persons and places with
which the pages are crowded, and so perhaps lays dowm the book
without having gained any very clear impression of the history
as a whole.

It is hoped that this brief survey of the entire field may be
of service in making it easier for the reader to fix in his mind the
salient points of the long story.

In the spelling of the names of persons and places we have
followed as far as possible one system throughout, namely, that of
Professor Giles of Cambridge University.

A word may be said as to the attitude of the writer. It is
difficult to write history without bias, and the author does not claim
wholly to have escaped this danger, but at the same time he can
t



Vni PREFACE.

honestly say that he has tried to be fair, and to regard his subject
as well from the point of view of the Chinese as that of the
foreigner. It seems to him that many otherwise excellent books
concerning China are vitiated by the fact that their authors could
only see one side of a question.

If the West is ever to understand the East, something more is
necessary than the mere reading of descriptive books of the
Empire, written by travellers and journalists. To understand a
people one must have some knowledge of their history.

This humble contribution to the history of China is offered to
the public in the hope that it may prove useful as a text book in
schools, and may be of some value in acquainting the people of the
West with the people of China.

The author wishes to acknowledo;e his indebtedness to the
Rev. C. F. McRae, B.D., for his valuable assistance in reading
the proofs and compiling the index. His advice on many points
has helped to render the book more accurate and perspicuous.



CONTENTS.



Chapter I. Introduction



PAGE
1



DIVISION I.

The Conquest o-P China by the Chinese
(B.C. 2852-206).

Chapter II. The Mythical and Legendary Periods (B.C. 2852-1766) ...
Chapter III. Epoch of the Development of Tribal Chieftains into

Emperors (B.C. 1766-1122)

Chapter IY. The Feudal Period (B.C. 1122-255)

Chapter V. The Period of Centralization (B.C. 221-206)



18
23
30



Chapter VI.

Chapter VII,
Chapter VIII.

Chapter IX.



DIVISION II.

The First Struggle with the Tartars
(B.C. 206— A.D. 589).

The Han Dynai^ty, also styled the Former or "Western

Han (B.C. 206— A.D. 23) 34

The Later or Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220) ... 41

The Period of Disunion at the Close of the Han

Dynasty (A.D. 214-223) 46

Division of the Empire between the Tartars in the

North and the Chinese in the South (A.D. 223-589) 50



DIVISION III.

The Second Struggle with the Tartars
(A.D. 589-1644).

Chapter X. The Period of Reconsolidation (A.D. 589-907) 57

Chapter XI. The Epoch of the Five Dynasties (A.D. 907-960) ... 68
Chapter XII. The Division of the Empire between the Kins (Tartars)
in the North and the Sungs (Chinese) in the South
(A.D. 960-1280) 71



CONTENTS.



Chapter XIII.
Chapter XIV.

Chapter XV.
Chapter XVI.

Chapter XVII.

Chapter XVIII.

Chapter XIX.

Chapter XX.

Chapter XXI.

Chapter XXII.

Chapter XXIII.

Chapter XXIV.
C HAPTfiR XXV.



page

The Yuan Dynasty (A.D. 1280-1368) 84

China under the Chinese. Restoration of a Chinese
Dynasty, The Ming (A.D. 1368-1644) 91

The Period of the Manchu Conquest (A.D. 1644-1662) 102
The Consolidation of the Manchu Empire under

K'ang Hsi (A.D. 1662-1723) 106

Attempts on the part of Western Powers to open

Diplomatic and Commercial Eelations with China 114
The First War between China and Great Britain

(A.D. 1840-1843) 125

The First Stage of the T'ai-ping Rebellion (A.D.

1850-1860) 138

The Second War betAveen China and Great Britain

(A.D. 1856-1860) 143

The Second Stage of the T'ai-ping Rebellion (A.D.

1860-18G4) 158

Important Events succeeding the Suppression of the

Rebellion (A.D. 1867-1882) 166

The War with France and succeeding Events (A.D,

1884-1894) 178

The War with Japan (A.D. 1894-1895) 184

Recent Events in China (A.D. 1895 ) 191



LIST OF MAPS.



1.

2.
3.
4.
5.



Map of China at the present time

Map showing the gradual extension of the Empire
Map of China during the Hsia Dynasty

Map of China during the Feudal Period ...

Map of China during the Period of •' The Three Kingdoms "



PAGE
Frontisjileee
12
16
23
46



Note. — The Author is indebted to Mr. E. H. Parker for j^enmssion to reproduce
hia niajf showing the gradual extension of the Empire.




MAP OF
CIIIXA

AT THE

PRESENT PBEIOD






A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY.



CHAPTER I.
Introduction.

Peculiar Features of Chinese History.

The History of China is remarkable for many reasons. In
the first place, it is the history of the oldest nation in the world.
Other ancient Empires like Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria, which
were once contemporaries of China, came into existence, reached
the zenith of their development, and passed away, while she still
continues to exist.

A second remarkable feature of Chinese history is that it tells
the story of a people who over three thousand years ago attained to
a high degree of civilization, but who since that time have moved
forward but little. As has often been stated, China furnishes a
striking example of what the scientist calls arrested development.
Up to a certain point progress was made in the art of government,
arts, manufactures, literature, religion, philosophy, and all that is
included in the term civilization, but then there came a period of
stagnation, from which China has never wholly recovered.

A third striking feature is that it is the history of a nation
which up to recent times has been little influenced by the rest of
the world. The Chinese, for ages, owing largely to their isolated
geographical position, were not brought into close relations with
the people of other Continents. As a consequence of this
separation they developed their own peculiar type of civilization,



2 A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY.

and the spirit of exclusiveness and contempt for those outside the
Middle Kingdom, as they call their country, became ingrained in
their nature. In modern times wlien they were forced to come
into intercourse with the Countries of Europe these traits of
national character became very manifest.
The Origin of the Chinese Race.

The origin of the Chinese Race* is shrouded in obscurity.
Some suppose that the ancestors of the Chinese first lived in the
territory south of the Caspian Sea, and migrated eastward some-
where about the twenty-third century B.C. Others assert that
their original home was in Akkadia, on the great Euphrates Plain,
and that they have derived many of the elements of their
civilization from the ancient Chaldseans.

What seems certain is, that they were originally a nomad
people who travelled from the western part of Asia and made a
settlement first of all in what is now the modern Province of
Shensi, in the valley of the Yellow River.

After their migration they soon took up agricultural pursuits
and ceased to be merely a pastoral people. Among the most
primitive characters of the Chinese written language, we find
hieroglyphs which point to the conclusion that they not only
kept sheep and cattle but were also engaged in tilling the
land.

It is thought by some that Chinese architecture furnishes us
with a proof that the Chinese in ancient times were a nomadic
people. In many ways the construction of a modern Chinese
house bears a strong resemblance to that of a tent, and it is
possible to suppose that the similarity may be accounted for in
this way.
The Aborifi^ines of China.

The Chinese were not the first inhabitants of the country in
which they settled. Upon migrating to the valley of the Yellow
River they found aboriginal tribes, already in possession of the soil,
and obtained the territory from them by conquest. As the Chinese



A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY. 6

extended, these native tribes were pressed farther and farther to
the South and West, but were never entirely exterminated. The
modern Lolos, Shans and Miaotsz are the descendants of these
original inhabitants and still have settlements in the islands of
Formosa and Hainan, and in the Provinces of Kueichou,
Ssuch^uan, Yunnan, Kuangtung and Kuangsi.
The Geographical Configuration of the Chinese Empire.

We have already referred to the fact that China by its
geographical position is an isolated country. It is bounded on the
North and AVest by deserts or steppes, beyond which are high
mountain chains ; it is bounded on the East and South by the
waters of the Pacific. In shape it is an irregular triangle,
covering 5,000,000 square miles and supporting a total population
of 400,000,000 souls.

If we bisect it by drawing a line from North to South, we
shall find that the western half is for the most part mountainous
and the Eastern half is generally flat. The Eastern half is the
richer and contains three-quarters of the population. With the
exception of Ssuch'uan, the Western half in its present
undeveloped state is comparatively poor.

The country also naturally divides itself into a North and a
South, the Yangtsze River forming the boundary between the two
divisions. x\s we shall see, the Great River of China has more
than once been the dividing line separating warring Kingdoms and
factions. The characteristics of the people of the North and the
South differ considerably, the inhabitants of the North being
especially noted for their physical strength and those of the South
for their intellectual vigour.

In extending their Empire the Chinese have naturally
chosen the point of least resistance. Their first great historical
advance was up the River Wei into Ssuch'uan. Somewhat later
they passed tli rough the two great lake regions by way of the
Kan River of Kiangsi and the Yiian and Hsiang Rivers of
Hunan into the region about Canton.



4 A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY.

Epochs of Chinese History.

When we study the history of the countries of Europe one of the
principal points of interest is to observe how the form of government,
as it exists at the present day, is the result of a gradual evolution.
We are able to trace the rise and growth of modern political and
social institutions, and to notice the trend toward the establishment
of self-governing states, possessing civil and political freedom.
In the study of Chinese History it is difficult to pursue the same
method. Chinese historians have not written history in the true
sense of the word, but have only left behind them a vast mass of
facts, without attempting to trace the connection between causes
and effects. The most trivial and the most important occurrences
stand side by side on their pages, and the arduous task of sifting
and arranging these data and of tracing the relations between them
remains to be accomplished by some future historian.

Owing to the way in which Chinese History has been written,
some have hastily come to the conclusion that it is lacking
in any real advance, that there has been no change in the political
and social institutions for thousands of years, and that all the
narrator can do is to give a dry account of the lives of the Emperors
of the successive Dynasties — a chronicle rather than a history.

A closer study however shows us that Chinese History is not
the vast level plain it is sometimes described, but has its hills and
summits, and that numerous important movements can be
clearly traced and distinguished.

Chinese History may be divided into four Great Periods,
which are as follows : —

I. — The Conquest of China by the Chinese.
11. — The First Struggle with the Tartars, ending with the
Division of the Empire between the Tartars and the
Chinese.
III. — The (Second Struggle with the Tartars, ending in the

conquest of China by the Manchus.
IV. — The Struggle between China and Western Nations.



A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY.



These main divisions may be subdivided as follows : —

L— The Conquest of China by the Chinese (B.C. 2852-
A.D. 190).

1. — The Mythical and Legendary Period (B.C.

2852-1766).
2. — The Epoch of the development of Tribal

Chieftains into Emperors (B.C. 1766-1122).
3.— The Feudal Period (B.C. 1122-221).
4. — The Period of centralization, and consolidation

of the Empire by Shih Huang-ti (B.C. 221-206).
II.— The First Struggle with the Tartars (B.C. 206-
A.D. 589).

1.— The Han Dynasty (B.C. 206-A.D. 214).

2. — Period of Disunion at the close of the Han

Dynasty (A.D. 214-223).
3. — The Division of the Empire between the

Tartars in the North and the Chinese in the

South (A.D. 223-589).
III.— The Second Struggle with the Tartars (A.D. 589-1644).
1. — A period of reconsolidation (A.D. 589-907).
2. — A period of Military Supremacy, when

successful generals seized and occupied the

throne (A.D. 907-960).
3. — The Division of the Empire between the Kins

(Tartars) in the North and Sungs (Chinese) in

the South (A.D. 960-1280).
4. — The Mongol Invasion and Conquest of China

(A.D. 1280).
5. — The Rule of the Mongols. The Yiian Dynasty

(A.D. 1280-1368).
6. — The Expulsion of the Mongols and the

Restoration of a Chinese Dynasty, the Ming

(A.D. 1368-1644).

7. — The period of the Manchu Conquest (1644).
t



A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY.

IV. — The Struggle between China and Western European

]^ations (A.D. 1662 ).

1.— Wars with Great Britain (1840-1861).

2.~-War with France (1884).

3. — War with Japan, and subsequent acts of

aggression by Western Powers (1894).
4. — Tlie attempt to drive out Westerners and save
the Empire from disintegration (1900).



A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY.



DIVISION I.



.• ■ • c-



The Conquest of China by the Chinese
(B.C. 2852-206.)

CHAPTER II.

The Mythical and Legendary Periods
(B.C. 2852-1766).

The Mythological Ag^e.

The Chinese, like the people of India, believe that from the
beginning of the world until the present an exceedingly long
period of time has elapsed. From the formation of heaven and
earth to the accession of Fu Hsi (B.C. 2852) at least 500,000
years are supposed to have intervened. In connection with that
vast period there are many myths, a few of which may be
mentioned.
Myths in reg^ard to Creation.

P'an Ku is said to have been the first living being on the
earth, and to him was committed the task of moulding the chaos
which produced him, and of chiselling out the earth which was
to contain him. He is represented in pictures as a huge giant
holdino; in one hand a chisel and in the other a mallet, eno:a""ed
in splitting and shaping the rocks. He is believed to have worked
for 18,000 years, and as the result of his toils the heavens and
earth were gradually formed.

There followed him in succession three mythological persons,
called the celestial, the terrestrial, and the human sovereigns.



8 A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY.

Each of these lived for 18,000 years, and as the result of their
united operations the universe went through a slow process of
transformation until it assumed its present shape.
Myths in regard to the origin of Dwellings and Fire.

Yu Ch'ao, which means " the dweller in a nest," succeeded
the last of the above-mentioned mythological rulers. As his
name suggests, he taught men how to build houses to dwell in,
for before his time they had lived in the holes of the ground,
the caves of the hills, and among the branches of the trees.

Then followed Sui Jen, which means the '" producer of fire."
Like Prometheus in Greek Mythology, he taught men how to
bring fire down from heaven. The method he employed was the
simple one of boring one piece of wood with another until the
friction produced combustion. This discovery is said to have hud
a sreat civilizin cr influence, for then fire first beaan to be used in
the preparation of food, which formerly had been eaten raw ; and
men gave up living like the wild beasts of the forest.

To Sui Jen is also ascribed the instructinor of men in makins
calculations by the primitive method of tying knots on strings at
different intervals.
The value of these EVIyths.

From the historian's point of view these myths possess
but little value, but still they are interesting because they give
us a glimpse into the working of the human mind and show
us how the Chinese reasoned as to the origin of things. "VVe
learn that they believed that there was a long period of develop-
ment or evolution before the world attained its present condition,
and also that primitive man was barbarous in his habits, and that
progress in civilization was made slowly and gradually. The
myths are also interesting because they are stories which have
been handed down from the earliest times, and which account
for the operations of nature and the progress made by human
invention by attributing them to the actions of su])eruaiural
beings.



A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY. 9

Sources of Historical Infiormation.

Passing over the period of pure myth we come to the period
of Legendary History. First, however, we must say a few words
as to the sources from which we derive our knowledge of Chinese
History. Reliable Chinese History does not extend further back
than the middle of the Chou Dynasty (B.C. 722), and the account
of tlie precedinor a^-es is so mingled with tradition that it is almost

I OCT c

impossible to distinguish with certainty what is authentic and what
is legendary. We owe our scanty knowledge of the 2,000 years
preceding the Chou Dynasty to the labors of Confucius and
Mencius, who took great pains to collect and hand down to
posterity all they could gather in regard to Chinese antiquity.
Confucius obtained his knowledge of ancient history from the
bamboo slips, upon which were written the earliest historical annals.
In the S]iu-ching^ the Ancient Book of History, he has put together
the beginnings of Chinese History. After the time of the Chou
Dynasty we come to more solid ground, for at the beginning of
the Han Dynasty (B.C. 206) the custom originated of employing
Court Chroniclers, whose duty it was to write a daily account of
governmental proceedings. These diaries were kept secret and
stored away in iron chests until the Dynasty which they chronicled
had passed away ; then they were opened and published, and so
form the basis of our knowledge of the events which had transpired
while the Dynasty was in existence.

This custom is still employed and the official archives of
the present Dynasty will not be made public until it has passed

away.

The Legendary Age of the Five Rulers.

Legendary History begins with an account of nine rulers,
five of wdiom were celebrated for illustrious virtue — hence the
title of the Age. These Rulers in some ways were much more
like great Tribal Chieftains than Kings in the true sense of the
word. Each of these five is said to have ruled for a very long
period of time and to have done much for the civilization of the



10 A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY.

people. The first was Fu Hsi (B.C. 2852). He resided in
Honan, near the present Kai-feng-fu, and is said to have taught
the people to fish with nets, to rear domestic animals, and to use
the lute and Ijre ; to have instituted laws of marriage, and to have
invented a system of writing by using pictures as symbols.

Much is attributed to him which was undoubtedly of later
origin, as for instance the highly complicated system of Chinese
written characters. Probably at this date the Chinese possessed
nothing except rude hieroglyphics, and the method of writing
used at the present time is the product of the slow development of
ages.

Fu Hsi is generally revered among the Chinese as the founder
of their historv.

He was succeeded by Shen Nung (B.C. 2737), who taught
the people the art of agriculture and the use of herbs as medicine.

After several inferior rulers, Huang Ti (B.C. 2697) ascended
the throne.

According to tradition, he invented the Chinese Calendar and
the method of dividing time into cycles of sixty years. His wife
taught the people to rear silk-worms and to make garments of
silk.
The Reisn of Yao (B.C. 2356).

Passing over four rulers we come to the time of Yao, who
may be considered the fourth of The Five Rulers. He and the
two succeeding Rulers, Shun and Yii, form a trio which has been
immortalized in the writings of Confucius and Mencius. They
are constantly referred to as peerless in wisdom and virtue,
and the period in which they lived is regarded as the Golden Age
of China. The eifort of all reformers has been to incite those in
authority to imitate the lives of these ancient worthies, and thus
restore the halcyon days of Yao and Shun.

Owing to this process of glorification so much has been added
to the account of the lives of these men that it is impossible now
to separate fact from fiction. For instance, we read that in their



A SKETCH OF CHINESE HISTORY. 11

days everyone was so honest that doors were never shut at night,
and that if anyone found an article of value lying on the road, he
would pass by without stopping to pick it up, allowing it to
remain there until the owner came and claimed it.

Yao became Ruler in B.C. 2356, at the age of sixteen.
The Great Flood (B.C. 2297).

The prosperity of his reign was disturbed by a great
inundation of the country caused by the overflow of the Yellow
River (commonly called China's Sorrow, on account of its frequent
overflows). The waters are said to have submerged a vast extent
of territory and to have risen to the tops of the mountains.
Probably the accounts of the disaster have been greatly ex-
aggerated, but, making every allowance, it must have been a
severe calamity.
Yao appoints Shun as his associate (B.C. 2286).

Yao hearing of the great filial piety displayed by Shun, a
young man of twenty, determined to make him an associate in the
management of the affairs of the Kingdom, and for the rest of his
life he ruled conjointly with Shun.

Shun recommended to Yao the famous Yii as one competent
to cope with the disastrous flood, and through the efforts of the
latter the inundation was finally brought under control, the waters
being drained off into rivers, and into canals especially dug for
this purpose.

When Yao was about to die he passed over his own worthless
son and appointed Shun, to whom he had given his two daughters


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Online LibraryF. L. Hawks (Francis Lister Hawks) PottA sketch of Chinese history → online text (page 1 of 17)