John Lord.

Beacon Lights of History, Volume 14 The New Era; A Supplementary Volume, by Recent Writers, as Set Forth in the Preface and Table of Contents online

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resident in our country are to be treated according to the rules of
International Law." While I was copying out the principles and
precedents bearing on the subject, the same Secretary begged me to
hasten my report, "because," said he, "the Grand Council is waiting for
it to embody in an Imperial Decree." True enough, the next day a decree
from the throne announced the outbreak of war; but it added that
non-combatants belonging to the enemy would not be molested. Two of our
professors were Frenchmen, and they were both permitted to continue in
charge of their classes without molestation.

Hostilities were brought to a happy conclusion by the agency of Sir
Robert Hart. One of his customs cruisers employed in the light-house
service having been seized by the French, Mr. Campbell was sent to Paris
to see the French President and petition for its release. Learning that
President Grévy would welcome the restoration of peace, and ascertaining
what conditions would be acceptable, Sir Robert laid them before the
Chinese government, putting an end to a conflict which, if suffered to
go on, might have ruined the interests of more than one country. In this
war and in those peace negotiations the conduct of the Chinese was
worthy of a civilized nation. Yet the result of their experience was to
make them more ready to appeal to arms in cases of difficulty.

Li's connection with this war was very real, though not conspicuous.
Changpeilun, director of the arsenal at Foochow, was his son-in-law. Not
only was Li disposed to aid him in taking revenge, he was himself
building a great arsenal in the north; and it was, no doubt, owing to
efficient succor from this quarter that Formosa was able to hold out
against the forces of the French.



Both in its inception and in its tragic ending the notable conflict with
Japan connects itself with the name of Li Hung Chang. The Island Empire
on the East had long been known to the Chinese, though until our times
no regular intercourse subsisted between the two countries. It is
recorded that a fleet freighted with youth and maidens was despatched
thither by the builder of the Great Wall to seek in those islands of the
blest for the herb of immortality; but none of them returned. It was to
be a colony, and the flowery robe by which its object is veiled is not
sufficient to hide the real aim of that ambitious potentate. Yet,
through that expedition and subsequent emigrations, a pacific conquest
was effected which does honor to both nations, planting in those islands
the learning of China, and blending with their native traditions the
essential teachings of her ancient sages.

For centuries prior to our age of treaties, non-intercourse had been
enforced on both sides, - the Japanese confining their Chinese neighbors,
as they did the Dutch, to a little islet in the port of Nagasaki; and
China seeing nothing of Japan except an occasional descent of Japanese
pirates on her exposed sea-coast.

To America belongs the honor of opening that opulent archipelago to the
commerce of the world. Our shipwrecked sailors having been harshly
treated by those islanders, a squadron was sent under Commodore Perry to
Yeddo (now Tokio) in 1855, to punish them if necessary and to provide
against future outrages. With rare moderation he merely handed in a
statement of his terms and sailed away to Loochoo to give them time for
reflection. Returning six months later, instead of the glove of combat
he was received with the hand of friendship, and a treaty was signed
which provided for the opening of three ports and the residence of an
American chargé d'affaires. In the autumn of 1859 it was my privilege to
visit Yeddo in company with Mr. Ward and Commodore Tatnall. We were
entertained by Townsend Harris and shown the sights of the city of the
Shoguns when it was still clothed in its mediaeval costume. The long
swaddling-garb of the natives had a semi-savage aspect, and the abject
servility with which their todzies (interpreters) prostrated themselves
before their officers excited a feeling of contempt.

Like the mayors of the palace in mediaeval France, the Shoguns or
generals had relegated the Mikado to a single city of the interior;
while for six hundred years they had usurped the power of the Empire,
practically presenting the spectacle of two Emperors, one "spiritual"
(or nominal), one "temporal" (or real). Little did we imagine that
within five years the Shoguns would be swept away, and the Mikado
restored to more than his ancient power. The conflagration was kindled
by a spark from our engines. The feudal nobles, of whom there were four
hundred and fifty, each a prince within his own narrow limits, were
indignant that the Shogun had opened his ports to those aggressive
foreigners of the West. Raising a cry of "Kill the foreigners!" they
overturned the Shoguns and restored the Mikado. Their fury, however,
subsided when they found that the foreigner was too strong to be
expelled. A few more years saw them patriotically surrendering their
feudal powers in order to make the central government strong enough to
face the world. About the same time our Western costume was adopted, and
along with it the parliamentary system of Great Britain and the school
system of America. Some foreigners were shallow enough to laugh at them
when they saw those little soldiers in Western uniform; and the Chinese
despised them more than ever for abandoning the dress of their

To protect themselves at once against China and Russia, the Japanese
felt that the independence of Corea was to them indispensable. The King
had been a feudal subject to China since the days of King Solomon; and
when at the instance of Japan he assumed the title of Emperor, the
Chinese resolved to punish him for such insolence. This was in 1894. The
Japanese took up arms in his defence; and though they had some hard
fighting, they soon made it evident that nothing but a treaty of peace
could keep them out of Peking.

Li Hung Chang, who had long been Viceroy at Tientsin and who had built
a northern arsenal and remodelled the Chinese army, had to confess
himself beaten. For him it was a bitter pill to be sent as a suppliant
to the Court of the Mikado. That China was beaten was not his fault. Yet
he was held responsible by his own government and departed on that
humiliating mission as if with a rope about his neck. Fortunately for
him, during his mission in Japan an assassin lodged a bullet in his
head, and the desire of Japan to undo the effect of that shameful act
made negotiation an easy task, converting his defeat into a sort of
triumph. Happily, too, he enjoyed the counsel and assistance of J.W.
Foster, formerly United States Secretary of State. Formosa, one of the
brightest jewels in the Chinese crown, had to be handed over to Japan,
and lower Manchuria would have gone with it, had not Russia, supported
by Austria and Germany, compelled the Japanese to withdraw their claims.

The next turn of the kaleidoscope shows us China seeking to follow the
example of Japan in throwing off the trammels of antiquated usage. In
1898, when the tide of reform was in full swing, the Marquis Ito of
Japan paid a visit to Peking, and as president of the University, I had
the honor of being asked to meet him along with Li Hung Chang at a
dinner given by Huyufen, mayor of the city, and the grand secretary,
Sunkianai. It was a lesson intended for them when he told us how, on
his returning from England in the old feudal days, his prince asked him
if anything needed to be reformed in Japan. "Everything," he replied.
The lesson was lost on the three Chinese statesmen, progressive though
they were, for China was then on the eve of a violent reaction which
threatened ruin instead of progress.



The last summer of the century saw the forts at the mouth of the Peiho
captured for the third time since the beginning of 1858. It was the
opening scene in the last act of a long drama, and more imposing than
any that had gone before, not in the number of assailants nor in the
obstinacy of resistance, but in the fact that instead of one or two
nations as hitherto, all the powers of the modern world were now
combined to batter down the barriers of Chinese conservatism. Getting
possession of Tientsin, not without hard fighting, they advanced on
Peking under eight national flags, against the "eight banners" of the
Manchu tribes.

What was the mainspring of this tragic movement? What unforeseen
occurrence had effected a union of powers whose usual attitude is mutual
jealousy or secret hostility? In a word, it was _humanity_. Spurning
petty questions of policy, they combined their forces to extinguish a
conflagration kindled by pride and superstition, which menaced the lives
of all foreigners in North China.

In 1898, when the Emperor had entered on a career of progress, the
Empress Dowager was appealed to by a number of her old servants to save
the Empire from a young Phaeton, who was driving so fast as to be in
danger of setting the world on fire. Coming out of her luxurious
retreat, ten miles from the city, where she had never ceased to keep an
eye on the course of affairs, she again took possession of the throne
and compelled her adopted son to ask her to "teach him how to govern."
This was the _coup d'état_. In her earlier years she had not been
opposed to progress, but now that she had returned to power at the
instance of a conservative party, she entered upon a course of reaction
which made a collision with foreign powers all but inevitable. She had
been justly provoked by their repeated aggressions. Germany had seized a
port in Shantung in consequence of the murder of two missionaries.
Russia at once clapped her bear's paw on Port Arthur. Great Britain set
the lion's foot on Weihaiwei; and France demanded Kwang Chan Bay, all
"to maintain the balance of power." Exasperated beyond endurance, the
Empress gave notice that any further demands of the sort would be met by
force of arms.

The governor of Shantung appointed by her was a Manchu by the name of
Yuhien, who more than any other man is to be held responsible for the
outbreak of hostilities. He it was who called the Boxers from their
hiding-places and supplied them with arms, convinced apparently of the
reality of their claim to be invulnerable. For a hundred years they had
existed as a secret society under a ban of prohibition. Now, however,
they had made amends by killing German missionaries, and he hoped by
their aid to expel the Germans from Shantung. On complaint of the German
Minister he was recalled; but, decorated by the hands of the Empress
Dowager, he was transferred to Shansi, where later on he slaughtered all
the missionaries in that province.

In Shantung he was succeeded by Yuen Shikai, a statesmanlike official,
who soon compelled the Boxers to seek another arena for their
operations. Instead of creeping back to their original hiding-place they
crossed the boundary and directed their march toward Peking, - on the way
not merely laying waste the villages of native Christians, but tearing
up the railway and killing foreigners indiscriminately. They had made a
convert of Prince Tuan, father of the heir apparent. He it was who
encouraged their advance, believing that he might make use of them to
help his son to the throne. Their numbers were swelled by multitudes who
fancied that they would suffer irreparable personal loss through the
introduction of railways and modern labor-saving machinery; and China
can charge the losses of the last war to those misguided crowds.

Fortunately several companies of marines, amounting to four hundred and
fifty men, arrived in Peking the day before the destruction of the
track. The legations were threatened, churches were burnt down, native
Christians put to death, and fires set to numerous shops simply because
they contained foreign goods. Then it was that the foreign admirals
captured the forts, in order to bring relief to our foreign community.
That step the Chinese Foreign Office pronounced an act of war, and
ordered the legations and all other foreigners to quit the capital. The
ministers remonstrated, knowing that on the way we could not escape
being butchered by Boxers. On the 20th of June, the German Minister was
killed on his way to the Foreign Office. The legations and other
foreigners at once took refuge in the British legation, previously
agreed on as the best place to make a defence. Professor James was
killed while crossing a bridge near the legation. That night we were
fired on from all sides, and for eight weeks we were exposed to a daily
fusillade from an enemy that counted more on reducing us by starvation
than on carrying our defences by storm.

About midnight on August 13, we heard firing at the gates of the city,
and knew that our deliverers were near. The next day, scaling the walls
or battering down the gates, they forced their way into the city and
effected our rescue. The day following, the Roman Catholic Cathedral was
relieved, - the defence of which forms the brightest page in the history
of the siege, and in the afternoon we held a solemn service of
thanksgiving. The palaces were found vacant, the Empress Dowager having
fled with her entire court. She was the same Empress who had fled from
the British and French forty years before.

She was not pursued, because Prince Ching came forward to meet the
foreign ministers, and he and Li Hung Chang were appointed to arrange
terms of peace. Li was Viceroy at Canton. Had he been in his old
viceroyalty at Tientsin, this Boxer war could not have occurred. That
its fury was limited to the northern belt of provinces was owing to the
wisdom of Chang[5] and Liu, the great satraps of Central China who
engaged to keep their provinces in order, if not attacked by foreigners.

[Footnote 5: Chang is regarded as the ablest of China's viceroys. He
published, prior to the _coup d'état_, a notable book, in which he
argues that China's only hope is in the adoption of the sciences and
arts of the West.]

I called on the old statesman in the summer of 1901, after the last of
the treaties was signed. He seemed to feel that his work was finished,
but he still had energy enough to write a preface for my translation of
Hall's "International Law," and before the end of another month his
long life of restless activity had come to a close at the age of
seventy-nine. By posthumous decree, he was made a Marquis.

In the autumn the court returned to Peking, the way having been opened
by Li's negotiations. Thanks to the lessons of adversity, the Dowager
has been led to favor the cause of progress. Not only has she re-enacted
the educational reforms proposed by the Emperor, but she has gone a step
farther, and ordered that instead of mere literary finish, a knowledge
of arts and sciences shall be required in examinations for the
Civil Service.

The following words I wrote in an obituary notice, a few days after Li's
death: -

"For over twenty years Earl Li has been a conspicuous patron of
educational reform. The University and other schools at Tientsin were
founded by him; and he had a large share in founding the Imperial
University in Peking. During the last twenty years I have had the honor
of being on intimate terms with him. Five years ago he wrote a preface
for a book of mine on Christian Psychology, - showing a freedom from
prejudice very rare among Chinese officials.

"Another preface which he wrote for me is noteworthy from the fact that
it is one of the last papers that came from his prolific pencil. Having
finished a translation of 'Hall's International Law' (begun before the
siege), I showed it to Li Hung Chang not two weeks ago. The old man took
a deep interest in it, and returned it with a preface in which he says
'I am now near eighty; Dr. Martin is over seventy. We are old and soon
to pass away; but we both hope that coming generations will be guided by
the principles of this book.'

"With all his faults - those of his time and country - Li Hung Chang was a
true patriot. For him it was a fitting task to place the keystone in the
arch that commemorates China's peace with the world."





Africa is the most ancient and the most recent conquest of the human
race. As far as the light of history can be projected into the past, we
see Egypt among the first and foremost on the threshold of civilization.
The continent discovered last and opened last to the enterprises of the
world is still Africa. Why is it that we see there both the dawn of
civilization and the tardiest development of human progress?

The reasons are not far to seek. The physical conformation of no other
continent is so unfavorable for exploration and development. Africa's
straight coast-lines, affording little shelter to the primitive ships of
early mariners, repelled the enterprising Phoenicians and other
seafarers in their eager search for new lands worth colonizing. Nor was
it easy for explorers to penetrate into the interior. In its surface
Africa has been compared to an inverted saucer, - the high plateaus
occupying most of the interior descending to the sea by short, abrupt,
and steep slopes, so that the wide and peaceful rivers of the plateaus
are lashed into foam as they approach the ocean by many series of rapids
and cataracts.

In all the other continents rivers have been the lines of least
resistance to the advance of man. Civilization has developed first along
the great rivers. The valleys were first settled, and up these valleys
man carried his industries and commerce far inland. Thus the Euphrates
and Tigris of Mesopotamia, the Ganges and Indus of India, and the Hoang
and Yangtse of China, were the creators of history; but this is true in
Africa only of the Nile. All the other rivers have been impediments
instead of helpful factors in the formidable task of exploration and

The trying climate, also, gave Africa odious repute and delayed for
centuries the study and utilization of the continent. When the British
expedition under Captain Tuckey attempted to ascend the Congo, in 1816,
to see if it were really the lower part of the Niger River, as had been
conjectured, nearly all of its members perished miserably among the
rapids less than two hundred miles from the sea. Such tragedies as this
paralyzed enterprise in Africa until white men learned that the climate
was not so deadly, after all, if they adhered to the manner of life, the
hygienic rules, that should be observed in that tropical expanse.

In all the other continents, also, explorers have had the advantage of
domestic animals to carry their food and camp equipment; but in large
parts of tropical Africa the horse, ox, and mule cannot live. The bite
of the little tsetse fly kills them. Its sting is hardly so annoying as
that of the mosquito, but near the base of its proboscis is a little bag
containing the fatal poison. Camels have been loaded near Zanzibar for
the journey to Tanganyika, but they did not live to reach the great
lake. The "ship of the desert" can never be utilized in the humid
regions of tropical Africa.

The elephant is found from sea to sea, but he has not proved to be so
amenable to domestication as his Asian brother. He may yet be reduced to
useful servitude. The efforts in this direction in the German and French
colonies are somewhat encouraging, though in 1901 only six elephants had
thus far been broken to work and were daily used as beasts of burden.
Explorers of tropical Africa have always been compelled to rely upon
human porterage, the most expensive and unsatisfactory form of
transportation, with the result that nearly all the great lines of
exploration have been extended through the continent at enormous cost.

So most other parts of the world were occupied, colonized, civilized,
before Africa was explored. A continent one-fourth larger than our own
was for centuries neglected and despised. "Nothing good can come out of
Africa" became proverbial. Seventy years ago Africa, away from the
coasts and the Nile, was almost a blank upon our maps, save for fanciful
details that are ludicrously grotesque in the light of our present
knowledge (1902).

Then dawned the era of David Livingstone. Sixty-two years ago this
humble Scotchman went to South Africa as a missionary. It was not long
before he became imbued with the idea that missionary service could not
be projected on broad, economic, and effective lines till the field was
known. The explorer, he said, must precede the teacher and the merchant.
We can work best for Christianity and civilization after we learn what
the people are and know the nature of their environment. This was the
thought that took him into the unknown; that inspired him with
unflagging courage and zeal throughout twenty years of weary plodding in
the African wilderness among hundreds of tribes who never before had
seen a white man. And all the years he was studying the country and
winning the love of its people, his faith in Africa, in its abounding
resources worth the world's seeking, in the capacity of its people for
development, steadily grew till it became the all-pervading impulse of
his life. Livingstone's faith converted the world to the belief that,
after all, there was good in Africa.

"I shall never forget," said Stanley, one day in New York, "the time
when I stood with Livingstone on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, and he
raised his trembling hand above his head, leaned towards me as he looked
me in the eye, and said in a voice broken with emotion: 'The day is
coming when the whole world will know that Africa is worth reclaiming,
and that its people may be brought out of barbarism. The world needs
Africa; and teachers, merchants, railroads, and every influence of
civilization will be spread through this continent to fit it for the
place in human interests that belongs to it.' I thought then that
Livingstone was an enthusiast and a visionary; but long ago I learned to
believe that every word he said was true."

Europe and America were thrilled by the simple narrative of those
twenty-two thousand miles of wanderings that brought into the light of
day millions of human beings who had been as much unknown to us as
though they inhabited Mars. Livingstone did not live to know it, but it
was he who kindled the great African Movement, - an outburst of zeal for
geographic discovery and economic development such as was never
seen before.

Thirteen years ago (1889) a Frenchman named De Bissy completed the
largest map yet made of Africa. In the preparation of this great work,
which occupied much of his time for eight years, he used as his sources
of information nearly eighteen hundred route and other maps, nearly all
of which were the result of the work of explorers in the preceding
quarter of a century. All that we know of the geography of over
three-fourths of Africa is the work of the past half-century since
Livingstone made his first journey in 1849; and we know far more of
inner Africa to-day than was known of inner North America three hundred
years after Columbus discovered the western world. A little over a
century ago, our great-grandfathers were reading in their school
geographies that North America had no conspicuous mountains except the
Alleghanies; and these mountains and the Andes of South America were
believed to be one and the same chain, interrupted by the Gulf of
Mexico. Many men not yet bent with years can remember when the interior
of Africa was a white space on the maps; but it is not possible to-day
to make such a geographical blunder as we have mentioned, about any part
of Africa.

It is because of the work he did in those twenty years, sowing all the
while the seeds from which sprang the great African Movement, that "the
gentle master of African exploration" is acclaimed to-day as one of the
world's great men, and that his body rests in Westminster Abbey among
the illustrious dead of Britain.

The son of a worthy weaver in Blantyre, Scotland, Livingstone's early
life was that of a poor boy, working in a spinning-mill, quiet, sober,
affectionate, and faithful in every relation of life. Moved at last by
the thirst for knowledge that has distinguished many a humble Scotch
boy, he entered the University at Glasgow, studying during the winter
months and spending the summers at his trade in the factory, fitting
himself all the while for the conquests he little dreamed he was to
achieve over difficulties almost insurmountable. A classmate spoke of

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Online LibraryJohn LordBeacon Lights of History, Volume 14 The New Era; A Supplementary Volume, by Recent Writers, as Set Forth in the Preface and Table of Contents → online text (page 16 of 26)