Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ancient China Position Of Envoys

It was a fixed rule in ancient China that envoys should be treated with courtesy, and that their persons should be held sacred, whether at residential courts, in durbar, or on the road through a third state. During the wars of the sixth century B.C. between Tsin in the north and Ts'u in the south, when these two powers were rival aspirants to the Protectorate of the original and orthodox group of principalities lying between them, and were alternately imposing their will on the important and diplomatic minor Chinese state of CHÊNG , there were furnished many illustrations of this recognized rule. The chief reason for thus making a fighting-ground of the old Chinese principalities was that it was almost impossible for Ts'u to get conveniently at any of the three great northern powers, and equally difficult for Ts'in, Tsin, and Ts'i to reach Ts'u, without passing through one or more Chinese states, mostly bearing the imperial clan name, and permission had to be asked for an army to pass through, unless the said Chinese state was under the predominancy of Tsin or Ts'u. It was like Germany and Italy with Switzerland between them, or Germany and Spain with France between them. Another important old Chinese state was Sung, lying to the east of CHÊNG. Both these states were of the highest caste, the Earl of CHÊNG being a close relative of the Chou Emperor, and the Duke of Sung being the representative or religious heir of the remains of the Shang dynasty ousted by the Chou family in I 122 B.C., magnanimously reinfeoffed "in order that the family sacrifices might not be entirely cut off" together with the loss of imperial sway. In the year 595 B.C. Sung went so far as to put a Ts'u envoy to death, naturally much to the wrath of the rising southern power. Ts'u in turn arrested the Tsin envoy on his way to Sung, and tried in vain to force him to betray his trust. In 582 Tsin, in a fit of anger, detained the CHÊNG envoy, and finally put him to death for his impudence in coming officially to visit Tsin after coquetting with Tsin's rival Ts'u. All these irregular cases are severely blamed by the historians. In 562 Ts'u turned the tables upon Tsin by putting the CHÊNG envoy to death after the latter had concluded a treaty with Tsin. Confucius joins, retrospectively of course, in the chorus of universal reprobation. In 560 Ts'u tried to play upon the Ts'i envoy a trick which in its futility reminds us strongly of the analogous petty humiliations until recently imposed by China, whenever convenient occasion offered, upon foreign officials accredited to her. The Ts'i envoy, who was somewhat deformed in person, was no less an individual than the celebrated philosopher Yen-tsz, a respected acquaintance of Confucius , and second only to Kwan-tsz amongst the great administrative statesmen of Ts'i. The half-barbarous King of Ts'u concocted with his obsequious courtiers a nice little scheme for humiliating the northern envoy by indicating to him the small door provided for his entry into the presence, such as the Grand Seigneurs in their hey-day used to provide for the Christian ambassadors to Turkey. Yen-tsz, of course, at once saw through this contemptible insult and said: "My master had his own reasons for selecting so unworthy an individual as myself for this mission; yet if he had sent me on a mission to a dog-court, I should have obeyed orders and entered by a dog-gate: however, it so happens that I am here on a mission to the King of Ts'u, and of course I expect to enter by a gate befitting the status of that ruler." Still another prank was tried by the foolish king: a "variety entertainment" was got up, in which one scene represented a famished wretch who was being belaboured for some reason. Naturally every one asked: "What is that?" The answer was: "A Ts'i man who has been detected in thieving." Yen-tsz said: "I understand that the best fruits come from Ts'u, and they say we northern men cannot come near the quality of their peaches. We are honest simpletons, too, and do not look natural on the variety stage as thieves. The true rogue, like the true peach, is a southern speciality. I did see rogues on the stage, it is true, but none of them looked like a Ts'i man; hence I asked, 'What is it?'" The king laughed sheepishly, and, for a time at least, gave up taking liberties with Yen-tsz.
In 545, when Ts'u for the moment had the predominant say over CHÊNG's political action, it was insisted that the ruler of CHÊNG should come in person to pay his respects: this was after a great Peace Conference, held at Sung, on which occasion Tsin and Ts'u arranged a modus operandi for their respective subordinate or allied vassals. There was no help for it, and the Earl accordingly went. The minister in attendance was Tsz-ch'an-a very great name indeed in Chinese history; he was a lawyer, statesman, "democratic conservative," sceptic, and philosopher, deeply lamented on his death alike by the people of CHÊNG, and by his friend or correspondent Confucius of Lu state. The Chinese diplomats then, as now, had the most roundabout ways of pointing a moral or delicately insinuating an innuendo. On arrival at the outskirts of the capital, instead of building the usual daïs for formalities and sacrifices, Tsz-ch'an threw up a mean hut for the accommodation of his mission, saying: "Altars are built by great states when they visit small ones as a symbol of benefits accorded, and by way of exhortation to continue in virtuous ways." Four years later Ts'u sent a mission of menacing size to CHÊNG, ostensibly to complete the carrying out of a marriage agreed upon by treaty between Ts'u and CHÊNG. Tsz-ch'an insisted that the bows and arrows carried by the escort should be left outside the city walls, adding: "Our poor state is too small to bear the full honour of such an escort; erect your altar daïs outside the wall for the service of the ancestral sacrifices, and we will there await your commands about the marriage."
In 538, when Ts'u was, for the first time, holding a durbar as recognized Protector, being at the time, however, on hostile terms with her former vassal, Wu, the King of Ts'u committed the gross outrage of seizing the ruler of a petty state, who was then present at the durbar, because that ruler had married a princess of Wu. The following year, when two very distinguished statesmen from the territory of his secular enemy Tsin came on a political mission, the King of Ts'u consulted his premier about the advisability of castrating the one for a harem eunuch, and cutting off the feet of the other for a door-porter. "Your Majesty can do it, certainly," was the reply, "but how about the consequences?" This was the occasion, mentioned in Chapter VI., on which the king was reminded how many great private families there were in Tsin quite capable of raising a hundred chariots apiece.
It appears that envoys, at least in Lu, were hereditary in some families, just as other families provided successive generations of ministers. A Lu envoy to Tsin, who carried a very valuable gem- studded girdle with him, had very great pressure put upon him by a covetous Tsin minister who wanted the girdle. The envoy offered to give some silk instead, but he said that not even to save his life would he give up the girdle. The Tsin magnate thought better of it; but it is remarkable how many cases of sordid greed of this kind are recorded, all pointing to the comparative absence of commercial exchanges, or standards of value between the feudal states.
Ts'u seems to have thoroughly deserved Yen-tsz's imputations of treachery and roguery. At the great Peace Conference held outside the Sung capital in 546, the Ts'u escort was detected wearing cuirasses underneath their clothing. One of the greatest of the Tsin statesmen, Shuh Hiang managed diplomatically to keep down the rising indignation of the other powers and representatives present by pooh-poohing the clumsy artifice on the ground that by such treachery Ts'u simply injured her own reputation in the federation to the manifest advantage of Tsin: it did not suit Tsin to continue the struggle with Ts'u just then. Then there was a squabble as to precedence at the same Peace Conference; that is, whether Tsin or Ts'u had the first right to smear lips with the blood of sacrifice: here again Shuh Hiang tactfully gave way, and by his conciliatory conduct succeeded in inducing the federal princes to sign a sort of disarmament agreement. This is one of the numerous instances in which Confucius as an annalist tries to menager the true facts in the interests of orthodoxy.
Even the more fully civilized state of Ts'i attempted an act of gross treachery, when in 500 B.C. the ruler of Lu, accompanied by Confucius as his minister in attendance, went to pay his respects. But Confucius was just as sharp as Yen-tsz and Tsz-ch'an, his friends, neighbours, and colleagues: he at once saw through the menacing appearance of the barbarian "dances" , and by his firm behaviour not only saved the person of his prince, but shamed the ruler of Ts'i into disclaiming and disavowing his obsequious fellow- practical jokers. Yen-tsz was actually present at the time, in attendance upon his own marquis; but it is nowhere alleged that he was responsible for the disgraceful manoeuvre. As a result T'si was obliged to restore to Lu several cities and districts wrongfully annexed some years before, and Lu promised to assist Ts'i in her wars.

Ancient China The Coast States

Before we enter into a categorical description of the hegemony or Protector system, under which the most powerful state for the time being held durbars "in camp," and in theory maintained the shadowy rights of the Emperor, we must first introduce the two coast states of the Yang-tsz delta, just mentioned as having asserted their independence of Ts'u, each state being in possession of one of the Great River branches, In ancient times the Yang-tsz was simply called the Kiang , just as the Yellow River was simply styled the Ho . In those days the Great River had three mouths-the northernmost very much as at present, except that the flat accretions did not then extend so far out to sea, and in any case were for all practical purposes unknown to orthodox China, and entirely in the hands of "Eastern barbarians"; the southerly course, which branched off near the modern treaty-port of Wuhu in An Hwei province, emerging into the sea at, or very near, Hangchow; and the middle course, which was practically the combined beds of the Soochow Creek and the Wusung River of Shanghai. Before the Chou dynasty came to power in 1122 B.C., the grandfather of the future founder, as a youth, displayed such extraordinary talents, that, by family arrangement, his two eldest brothers voluntarily resigned their rights, and exiled themselves in the Jungle territory, subsequently working their way east to the coast, and adopting entirely, or in part, the rude ways of the barbarous tribes they hoped to govern. We can understand this better if we picture how the Phoenician and Greek merchants in turn acted when successively colonizing Marseilles, Cadiz, and even parts of Britain. Excepting doubtful genealogies and lists of rulers, nothing whatever is heard of this colony until 585 B.C.--say, 800 years subsequent to the original settlement. A malcontent of Ts'u had, as was the practice among the rival states of those, times, offered his services to the hated Tsin, then engaged in desperate warfare with Ts'u: he proposed to his new master that he should be sent on a mission to the King of Wu in order to induce him to join in attacking Ts'u. "He taught them the use of arrows and chariots," from which we may assume that spears and boats were, up to that date, the usual warlike apparatus of the coast power. Its capital was at a spot about half-way between Soochow and Nanking, on the new railway line; and it is described by Chinese visitors during the sixth century B.C. as being "a mean place, with low-built houses, narrow streets, a vulgar palace, and crowds of boats and wheelbarrows." The native word for the country was something like Keugu, which the Chinese promptly turned into a convenient monosyllable Ngu, or Wu. The semi-barbarous King was delighted at the opening thus given him to associate with orthodox Chinese princes on an equal footing, and to throw off his former tyrannical suzerain. He annexed a number of neighbouring barbarian states hitherto, like himself, belonging to Ts'u; paid visits to the Emperor's court, to the Ts'u court, and to the petty but highly cultivated court of Lu , in order to "study the rites"; and threw himself with zest into the whirl of interstate political intrigue. Confucius in his history hardly alludes to him as a civilized being until the year 561, when the King died; and as his services to China could not be ignored, the philosopher- historian condescends to say "the Viscount of Wu died this year." It must be explained that the Lu capital had been celebrated for its learning ever since the founder of the Chou dynasty sent the Duke of Chou, his own brother, there as a satrap . Confucius, of course, wrote retrospectively, for he himself was only born in 551 and did not compose his "Springs and Autumns" history for at least half a century after that date. The old Lu capital of K'uh-fu on she River Sz is the official headquarters of the Dukes Confucius, the seventy-sixth in descent from the Sage having at this moment direct semi-official relations with Great Britain's representative at Wei-hai-wei. It must also be explained that the vassal princes were all dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts, or barons, according to the size of their states, the distinction of their clan or gens, and the length of their pedigrees; but the Emperor somewhat contemptuously accorded only the courtesy title of "viscount" to barbarian "kings," such as those of Ts'u and Wu, very much as we vaguely speak of "His Highness the Khedive," or "His Highness the Amir," so as to mark unequality with genuine crowned or sovereign heads.
The history of the wars between Wu and Ts'u is extremely interesting, the more so in that there are some grounds for believing that at least some part of the Japanese civilization was subsequently introduced from the east coast of China, when the ruling caste of Wu, in its declining days, had to "take flight eastwards in boats to the islands to the east of the coast." But we shall come to that episode later on. In the year 506 the capital of Ts'u was occupied by a victorious Wu army, under circumstances full of dramatic detail. But now, in the flush of success, it was Wu's turn to suffer from the ambition of a vassal. South of Wu, with a capital at the modern Shao-hing, near Ningpo, reigned the barbarian King of Yiieh ; and this king had once been a 'vassal of Ts'u, but had, since Wu's conquests, transferred, either willingly or under local compulsion, his allegiance to Wu. Advances were made to him by Ts'u, and he was ultimately induced to declare war as an ally of Ts'u. There is nothing more interesting in our European history than the detailed account, full of personal incident, of the fierce contests between Wu and Yiieh. The extinction of Wu took place in 483, after that state had played a very commanding part in federal affairs, as we shall have occasion to specify in the proper places. Yiieh, in turn, peopled by a race supposed to have ethnological connection with the Annamese of Vietnam or "Southern Yiieh," became a great power in China, and in 468 even transferred its capital to a spot on or near the coast, very near the German colony of Kiao Chou in Shan Tung. But its predominance was only successfully asserted on the coasts; to use the historians' words: "Yiieh could never effectively administer the territory comprised in the Yang-tsz Kiang and Hwai River regions."
It was precisely during this barbarian struggle, when federated China, having escaped the Tartars, seemed to be running the risk of falling into the clutches of southern pirates, that Confucius flourished, and it is in reference to the historical events sketched above- the providential escape of China from Tartardom, the collapse of the imperial Chou house, the hegemony or Protector system, the triumph of might over rite , and the desirability of a prompt return to the good old feudal ways--that he abandoned his own corrupt and ungrateful principality, began his peripatetic teaching in the other orthodox states, composed a warning history full of lessons for future guidance, and established what we somewhat inaccurately call a "religion" for the political guidance of mankind.

Ancient China The Army

As the struggle for pre-eminency which we are about to describe involved bloodthirsty combats extending almost uninterruptedly over five centuries, it may be of interest to inquire of what consisted the paraphernalia of warfare in those days. It appears that among the Chinese federal princes, who, as we have seen, only occupied in the main the flat country on the right bank of the Yellow River, war-chariots were invariably used, which is the more remarkable in that after the Conquest in 220 B.C. of China by the First August Emperor of Ts'in, and down to this day, war-chariots have scarcely ever once been even named, at least as having been marshalled in serious battle array. The Emperor alone was supposed in true feudal times to possess a force of 10,000 chariots, and even now a "10,000-chariot" state is the diplomatic expression for "a great power," "a power of the first rank," or "an empire." No vassal was entitled to more than 1000 war-chariots. In the year 632 B.C., when Tsin inflicted a great defeat upon its chief rival Ts'u, the former power had 700 chariots in the field. In 589 B.C. the same country, with 800 chariots included in its forces, marched across the Yellow River and defeated the state of Ts'i, its rival to the east. Again in 632 Tsin offered to the Emperor 100 chariots just captured from Ts'u, and in 613 sent 800 chariots to the assistance of a dethroned Emperor. The best were made of leather, and we may assume from this that the wooden ones found it very difficult to get safely over rough ground, for in a celebrated treaty of peace of 589 B.C. between the two rival states Tsin and Ts'i, the victor, lying to the west, imposed a condition that "your ploughed furrows shall in future run east and west instead of north and south," meaning that "no systematic obstacles shall in future be placed in the way of our invading chariots."
One of the features in many of the vassal states was the growth of great families, whose private power was very apt to constrain the wishes of the reigning duke, count, or baron. Thus in the year 537, when the King of Ts'u was meditating a treacherous attack upon Tsin, he was warned that "there were many magnates at the behest of the ruler of Tsin, each of whom was equal to placing 100 war-chariots in the field." So much a matter of course was it to use chariots in war, that in the year 572, when the rival great powers of Ts'u and Tsin were contesting for suzerainty over one of the purely Chinese principalities in the modern Ho Nan province, it was considered quite a remarkable fact that this principality in taking the side of Ts'u brought no chariots with the forces led against Tsin. In 541 a refugee prince of Ts'u, seeking asylum in Tsin, only brought five chariots with him, on which the ruler, ashamed as host of such a poor display, at once assigned him revenue sufficient for the maintenance of 100 individuals. It so happened that at the same time there arrived in Tsin a refugee prince from Ts'in, bringing with him 1000 carts, all heavily laden. On another occasion the prince of a neighbouring state, on visiting the ruler of another, brings with him as presents an eight-horsed chariot for the reigning prince, a six-horsed conveyance for the premier, a four-horsed carriage for a very distinguished minister in the suite, and a two-horsed cart for a minor member of the mission.
Besides the heavy war-chariots, there were also rather more comfortable and lighter conveyances: in one case two generals are spoken of ironically because they went to the front playing the banjo in a light cart, whilst their colleague from another state-- the very state they were assisting--was roughing it in a war- chariot. These latter seem to have connoted, for military organization purposes, a strength of 75 men each, and four horses; to wit, three heavily armed men or cuirassiers in the chariot itself, and 72 foot-soldiers. At least in the case of Tsin, a force of 37,500 men, which in the year 613 boldly marched off three hundred or more English miles upon an eastern expedition, is so described. On the other hand, thirty years later, a small Ts'u force is said to have had 125 men attached to each chariot, while the Emperor's chariots are stated to have had 100 men assigned to each. In the year 627 a celebrated battle was fought between the rival powers of Ts'in and Tsin, in which the former was utterly routed; "not a man nor a wheel of the whole army ever got back." War-chariots are mentioned as having been in use at least as far back as 1797 B.C. by the Tartar-affected ancestors of the Chou dynasty, nearly 700 years before they themselves came to the imperial power. The territory north of the River Wei, inhabited by them, is all yellow loess, deeply furrowed by the stream in question, and by its tributaries: there is no apparent reason to suppose that the gigantic cart-houses used by the Tartars, even to this day, had any historical connection with the swift war- chariots of the Chinese.
Little, if anything, is said of conveying troops by boat in any of the above-mentioned countries north of the Yang-tsz River. None of the rivers in Shen Si are navigable, even now, for any considerable stretches, and the Yellow River itself has its strict limitations. Later on, when the King of Ts'u's possessions along the sea coast, embracing the delta of the Yang-tsz, revolted from his suzerainty and began to take an active part in orthodox Chinese affairs, boats and gigantic canal works were introduced by the hitherto totally unknown or totally forgotten coast powers; and it is probably owing to this innovation that war-chariots suddenly disappeared from use, and that even in the north of China boat expeditions became the rule, as indeed was certainly the case after the third century B.C.
Some idea of the limited population of very ancient China may be gained from a consideration of the oldest army computations. The Emperor was supposed to have six brigades, the larger vassals three, the lesser two, and the small ones one; but owing to the loose way in which a Shi, or regiment of 2,500 men, and a Kun, or brigade of 12,500 men, are alternately spoken of, the Chinese commentators themselves are rather at a loss to estimate how matters really stood after the collapse of the Emperor in 771: but though at much later dates enormous armies, counting up to half a million men on each side, stubbornly contended for mastery, at the period of which we speak there is no reason to believe that any state, least of all the imperial reserve, ever put more than 1000 chariots, or say, 75,000 men, into the field on any one expedition.
Flags seem to have been in use very much as in the West. The founder of the Chou dynasty marched to the conquest of China carrying, or having carried for him, a yellow axe in the left, and a white flag in the right hand. In 660 one of the minor federal princes was crushed because he did not lower his standard in time; nearly a century later, this precedent was quoted to another federal prince when hard-pressed, in consequence of which a sub- officer "rolled up his master's standard and put it in its sheath." In 645 "the cavaliers under the ruler's flag "--defined to mean his body-guard--were surrounded by the enemy.
During the fifth century B.C., when the coast provinces, having separated from the Ts'u suzerainty, were asserting their equality with the orthodox Chinese princes, and two rival "barbarian" armies were contending for the Shanghai region, one royal scion was indignant when he saw the enemy advance "with the flag captured in the last battle from his own father the general." Flags were used, not only to signal movements of troops during the course of battle, but also in the great hunts or battues which were arranged in peace times, not merely for sport, but also in order to prepare soldiers for a military life.
For victories over the Tartars in 623, the Emperor presented the ruler of Ts'in with a metal drum; and it seems that sacrificing to the regimental drum before a fight was a very ancient custom, which has been carried down to the present day. In 1900, during the "Boxer" troubles, General Yiian Shi-k'ai is reported to have sacrificed several condemned criminals to his drum before setting out upon his march.

Ancient China Evidence Of Eclipses

Having now shown, as shortly and as intelligibly as we can, how the germs of Chinese development were sown at the dawn of true history, let us proceed to examine how far that history, as it has come down to us, contains within it testimony to its own truth. We shall revert to the description of wars and ambitions in due course; but, as so obscure a subject as early Chinese civilization is only palatable to most Western readers in small, varied, and sugared doses, we shall for the moment vary the nourishment offered, and say a few words upon eclipses.
Confucius, whose bald "Spring and Autumn" annals, as expanded by three separate commentators , is really the chief authority for the period 722-468 B.C., was born on the 20th day after the eclipse of the sun which took place in the 10th month of 552 B.C., or the 27th of the 8th moon as worked out to-day . Confucius himself records thirty-seven eclipses of the sun between 720 and 481, those of 709, 601, and 549 being total. Of course, as Confucius primarily recorded the eclipses as seen from his own petty vassal state of Lu in Shan Tung province , any one endeavouring to identify these eclipses, and to compare them with Julian or Gregorian dates, must, in making the necessary calculations, bear this important fact in mind. It so happens that nearly one-third of Confucius' thirty-seven eclipses are recorded as having taken place between the two total eclipses of 601 and 549. This being so, I referred the list to an obliging officer attached to the Royal Observatory, who has kindly furnished me with the following comparative list:-
CONFUCIUS' DATE. OPPOLZER'S JULIAN DATE. B.C. 601, 7th moon.---600, September 20. " 599, 4th " ---598, March 5. " 592, 6th " ---591, April 17. " 575, 6th " ---574, May 9. " 574, 12th " ---573, October 22. " 559, 2nd " ---558, January 14. " 558, 8th " ---557, June 29. " 553, 10th " ---552, August 31. " 552, 9th " " 552, 10th " ---551, August 20. " 550, 2nd " ---549, January 5. " 549, 7th " ---548, April 19.
It will be observed that there is no Oppolzer's date to compare with the first of the two eclipses of 552; this is because I omitted to notice that there had been recorded in the "Springs and Autumns" two so close together, and therefore I did not include it in the list sent to the Observatory; but with the exception of the total eclipse of 601, all the other eclipses, so far as days of the moon and month go, are as consistent with each other as are modern Chinese dates with European dates. As regards the year, Oppolzer's dates are the "astronomical" dates, that is, the astronomical year--x is the same as the year B.C.; or, in other words, the year of Christ's birth is, for certain astronomical exactitude purposes, interpolated between the years 1 B.C. and A.D. 1, as we vulgarly compute them: that is to say, the eclipses of the sun recorded 2,400 years ago by Confucius, from notes and annals preserved in his native state's archives as far back as 700 B.C., are found to be almost without exception fairly correct, with a uniform "error" of about one month, despite the fact that attempts were made by the First August Emperor to destroy all historical literature in 213 B.C. This being so in the matter of a dozen eclipses, there still remain two dozen for specialists to experiment upon, not to mention comets and other celestial phenomena. From this collateral evidence, imperfect though it be, we are reasonably entitled to assume that the three expanded versions of Confucius' history are trustworthy, or at the very least written in the best of faith.
Just as our mathematicians find no difficulty either in foretelling or retrospecting eclipses to a minute, so does the ancient "sixty" cycle, which the Chinese have from time immemorial used for computing or noting days and years, enable them, or for the matter of that ourselves, to calculate back unerringly any desired day. Thus, suppose the 1st January, 1908, is the 37th day of the perpetual cycle of sixty days; then, if the Chinese historians say that an eclipse took place on the first day of the new moon, which began the 9th Chinese month of the year corresponding in the main to our 800 B.C., and that the 1st day of the moon was also the 37th day of the sixty-day perpetual cycle, all we have to do is to take roughly six cycles for each year, six thousand cycles for each thousand years, allowing at the same time two extra cycles every third year for intercalary moons, and then dealing with the fractions or balance of days. If our calculation does not bring the two 37th cyclic days together accurately, we must of course go into the question of how and when the Chinese calendars were altered, a subject that will be treated of in a subsequent chapter. It must be remembered that there can never be any question of so much as a whole year being involved in the balance of error; for, with the Chinese as with us, one year, whenever modified, always means that space of time, however irregularly computed at each end of it, within which two solstices and two equinoxes have taken place, Voltaire, in the article on "China" of his Universal Dictionary, remarks that "of 32 ancient Chinese eclipses, 28 have been identified by Western mathematicians"; and M. Edouard Chavannes, who has given a great deal of time and labour to working out the mysteries of the Chinese calendar, does not hesitate to claim accuracy to the very day for the eclipse of the sun recorded in the Book of Odes as having taken place on the 28th cyclic day of the beginning of the both moon in 776 B.C. . This eclipse is of course not recorded in the "Springs and Autumns," which begins with the year 722 B.C.
The Chou dynasty, which came into power in 1122, for the second time put back the year a month because the calendar was getting confused. That is, they made what we should call January begin the legal year instead of February; or the still more ancient March; but some of the vassals either used computations of their own, or kept up those handed down by the two dynasties previous to that of Chou: hence in the Confucian histories, as expanded, there are frequent discrepancies in consequence of events apparently copied from the records of one vassal state having been reported to the historian of a second vassal state without steps having been taken to adjust the different new years.

Ancient China The Northern Powers

We have already alluded to a princely family, of the same clan- name as the Chou Emperor, which had settled in the southern part of modern Shan Si province, and had thus acted as a sort of buffer state to the imperial domain by keeping off from it the Tartar- Turk tribes in the north. This family was enfeoffed by the new Chou dynasty in 1106 B.C. to replace the extremely ancient princely house which had reigned there ever since the earliest Emperors ruled from that region , but which had resisted the Chou conquest, and had been exterminated. Nothing definite is known of what transpired in this principality subsequently to the infeoffment of 1106 B.C., and prior to the events of 771 B.C., at which latter date the ruling prince, hearing of the disaster to his kinsman the Emperor, went to meet that monarch's fugitive successor, and escorted him eastwards to his new capital. This metropolis had, as we have explained already, been marked out some 340 years before this, and had continued to be one of the chief spiritual and political centres in the imperial domain; but for some reason it had never before 771 B.C. been officially declared a capital, or at all events the capital. Confucius, in his history, does not mention at all the petty semi-Tartar state of which we are now speaking before 671 B.C., and all that we know of its doings during this century of time is that rival factions, family intrigues, and petty annexations at the cost of various Tartar tribes, and of small, but ancient, Chinese principalities, occupied most of its time. It must be repeated here, however, that, notwithstanding Tartar neighbours, the valley of the River Fen had been the seat of several of China's oldest semi-mythical emperors-possibly even of dynasties,-and at no time do the Tartars seem to have ever succeeded in ousting the Chinese from South Shan Si. The official name of the region after the Chou infeoffment of 1106 B.C. was the State of Tsin, and it was roughly divided off to the west from its less civilized colleague Ts'in by the Yellow River, on the right bank of which Tsin still possessed a number of towns. It is particularly difficult for Europeans to realize the sharp distinction in sound between these two names, the more especially because we have in the West no conception whatever of the effect of tone upon a syllable It may be explained, however, that the sonant initial and even-voiced tone in the one case, contrasted with the surd initial and the scaled tone in the other, involves to the Chinese mind a distinction quite as clear in all dialects as the European distinction in all languages between the two states of Prussia and Russia, or between the two peoples Swedes and Swiss: it is entirely the imperfection of our Western alphabet, not at all that of the spoken sounds or the ideographs, that is at fault.
The Yellow River, running from north to south, not only roughly separated from each other these two Tartar-Chinese buffer states in the north-west, but the same Yellow River, flowing east, and its tributary, the River Wei, also formed a rough boundary between the two states of Tsin and Ts'in to the north, and the innumerable petty but ancient Chinese principalities surrounding the imperial domain to the south. These principalities or settlements were scattered about among the head-waters of the Han River and the Hwai River systems, and their manifest destiny, if they needed expansion, clearly drove them further southwards, following the courses of all these head-waters, towards the Yang- tsz Kiang. But, more than that, the Yellow River, after thus flowing east for several hundred miles, turned sharp north in long. 114ø E., as already explained, and thence to the north-east formed a second rough boundary between Tsin and nearly all the remaining orthodox Chinese states. Tsin's chief task was thus to absorb into its administrative system all the Tartar raiders that ventured south to the Yellow River.
But there was a third northern state engaged in the task of keeping back the Tartar tribes, and in developing a civilization of its own-based largely, of course, upon Chinese principles, but modified so as to meet local exigencies. This was the state of Ts'i, enclosed between the Yellow River to the west and the sea to the east, but extending much farther north than the boundaries of modern Shan Tung province, if, indeed, the embouchure of the Yellow River, near modern Tientsin, did not form its northern boundary; but the promontory or peninsula, as well as all the coast, was still in the hands of "barbarian" tribes , of which for many centuries past no separate trace has remained. We have no means of judging now whether these "barbarians" were uncultured, close kinsmen of the orthodox Chinese; or remote kinsmen; or quite foreign. When the Chou principality received an invitation by acclamation to conquer and administer China in 1122, an obscure political worthy from these eastern parts placed his services as adviser and organizer at the command of the new Chou Emperor, in return for which important help he received the fief of Ts'i. Although obscure, this man traced his descent back to the times when his ancestors received fiefs from the most ancient Emperors. From that time down to the year 1122 B.C., and onwards to the events of 771 B.C., nothing much beyond the fact of the Chou infeoffment is recorded; but after the Emperor had been killed by the Tartar- Tibetans, this state of Ts'i also began to grow restive; and the seventh century before Christ opens with the significant statement that "Ts'in, Tsin, and Ts'i, now begin to be powerful states." Of the three, Tsin alone bore the imperial Chou clan-name of Ki.

North of the Yellow River, where it then entered the sea near the modern treaty-port of Tientsin, there was yet another great vassal state, called Yen, which had been given by the founders of the Chou dynasty to a very distinguished blood relative and faithful supporter: this noble prince has been immortalized in beautiful language on account of the rigid justice of his decisions given under the shade of an apple-tree: it was the practice in those days to render into popular song the chief events of the times, and it is not improbable, indeed, that this Saga literature was the only popular record of the past, until, as already hinted, after 827 B.C., writing became simplified and thus more diffused, instead of being confined to solemn manifestoes and commandments cast or carved on bronze or stone.
"Oh! woodman, spare that tree, Touch not a single bough, His wisdom lingers now."
The words, singularly like those of our own well-known song, are known to every Chinese school-boy, and with hundreds, even thousands, of other similar songs, which used to be daily quoted as precedents by the statesmen of that primitive period in their political intercourse with each other, were later pruned, purified, and collated by Confucius, until at last they received classical rank in the "Book of Odes" or the "Classic of Poetry," containing a mere tenth part of the old "Odes" as they used to be passed from mouth to ear.
Even less is known of the early days of Yen than is known of Ts'in, Tsin, and Ts'i; there is not even a vague tradition to suggest who ruled it, or what sort of a place it was, before the Chou prince was sent there; all that is anywhere recorded is that it was a very small, poor, and feeble region, dovetailed in between Tsin and Ts'i, and exposed north to the harassing attacks of savages and Coreans . The mysterious region is only mentioned here at all on account of its distinguished origin, in order to show that the Chinese cultivators had from the very earliest times apparently succeeded in keeping the bulk of the Tartars to the left bank of the Yellow River all the way from the Desert to the sea; because later on Yen actually did become a powerful state; and finally, because if any very early notions concerning Corea and Japanese islands had ever crept vaguely into China at all, it must have been through this state of Yen, which was coterminous with Liao Tung and Manchuria. The great point to remember is, the extensive territory between the Great Wall and the Yellow River then lay almost entirely beyond the pale of ancient China, and it was only when Ts'in, Tsin, Ts'i, and Yen had to look elsewhere than to the Emperor for protection from Tartar inroads that the centre of political gravity was changed once and for ever from the centre of China to the north.
We know nothing of the precise causes which conduced to unusual Tartar activity at the dawn of Chinese true history: in the absence of any Tartar knowledge of writing, it seems impossible now that we ever can know it. Still less are we in a position to speculate profitably how far the movements on the Chinese frontier, in 800-600 B.C., may be connected with similar restlessness on the Persian and Greek frontiers, of which, again, we know nothing very illuminating or specific. It is certain that the Chinese had no conception of a Tartar empire, or of a coherent monarchy, under the vigorous dominion of a great military genius, until at least five centuries after the Tartars, killed a Chinese Emperor in battle as related . It is even uncertain what were the main race distinctions of the nomad aggregations, loosely styled by us "Tartars," for the simple reason that the ambiguous Chinese terminology does not enable us to select a more specific word. Nevertheless, the Chinese do make certain distinctions; and, as what remains of aboriginal populations in the north, south, east, and west of China points strongly to the probability of populations in the main occupying the same sites that they did 3000 years ago , we may fairly assume that the distribution was then very much as now-beginning from the east, Japanese, Corean, Tungusic, Mongol-Turkish, Turkish, Turkish-Tibetan, and Mongol-Tibetan , Tibetan. The Chinese use four terms to express these relative quantities, which may be called X, Y, Z, and A. The term "X," pure and simple, never under any circumstances refers to any but Tibetans ; but "X + Y" also refers to tribes in Tibetan regions. The term "West Y" seems to mean Tibetan-Tartars, and the term "North Y" seems to mean Mongoloid- Tunguses. There is a third Y term, "Dog Y," evidently meaning Tartars of some kind, and not Tibetans of any sort. The term "Z" never refers to Tibetans, pure or mixed, but "Y + Z" loosely refers to Turks, Mongols, and Tunguses. The terms "Red Z", "White Z," and "North Z" seem to indicate Turks; and what is more, these colour distinctions--probably of clothing or head-gear-continue to quite modern times, and always in connection with Turks or Mongol- Turks. The fourth term "A" never occurs before the third century before Christ, and refers to all Tartars, Coreans, etc.; but not to Tibetans: it need not, therefore, be discussed at present. The modern province of Sz Ch'wan was absolutely unknown even by name; but several centuries later, as we shall shortly see, it turned out to be a state of considerable magnitude, with quite a little imperial history of its own: probably it was with this unknown state that the bulk of the Tibetans tried conclusions, if they tried them with China at all.
Be that as it may, the present wish is to make clear that at the first great turning-point in genuine Chinese history the whole of north and west China was in the hands of totally unknown powers, who completely shut in the Middle Kingdom; who only manifested themselves at all in the shape of occasional bodies of raiders; and who, if they had any knowledge, direct or indirect, of India, Tibet, Turkestan, Siberia, Persia, etc., kept it strictly to themselves, and in any case were incapable of communicating it in writing to the frontier Chinese populations of the four buffer states above enumerated.

Ancient China The Southern Power

But the collapse of the imperial power in 771 B.C. led to restlessness in the south as well as in the north, north-western, and north-eastern regions: except for a few Chinese adventurers and colonists, these were exclusively inhabited by nomad Tartars, and perhaps some Tibetans, destitute of fixed residences, cities, and towns; ignorant of cultivation, agriculture, and letters; and roving about from pasture to pasture with their flocks and herds, finding excitement and diversion chiefly in periodical raids upon their more settled southern and western neighbours.
The only country south of the federated Chinese princes in Ho Nan province was the "Jungle" or "Thicket," a term which vaguely designated the lower waters of the Han River system, much as, with ourselves, the "Lowlands" or the "Netherlands" did, and still does, designate the outlying marches of the English and German communities. "Jungle" is still the elegant literary name for Hu Peh, just as Ts'in, Tsin, and Ts'i are for Shen Si, Shan Si, and Shan Tung. The King of the Jungle, like the Warden of the Western Marches, traced his descent far back to the same ancient monarchs whose blood ran also in the veins of the imperial house of Chou; and moreover this Jungle King's ancestors had served the founders of the Chou dynasty in 1150 B.C., whilst they were still hesitating whether to accept the call to empire: hence in later times the King made it a grievance that his family had not received from the founder of the Chou dynasty presents symbolical of equality of birth, as had the Tsin and Lu houses. If any tribes, south, south-east, or south-west of this vague Jungle, whose administrative centre at first lay within a hundred miles' radius of the modern treaty-port of Ich'ang, were in any way known to Central China, or were affected by orthodox Chinese civilization, it was and must have been entirely through this kingdom of the Jungle, and in a second-hand or indirect way. The Jungle was as much a buffer to the south as Ts'in was to the north-west, Tsin to the north, and Ts'i to the north-east. The bulk of the population was in one sense non- Chinese; that is, it was probably a mixture of the many uncivilized mountain tribes who still survive in every one of the provinces south of the Yang-tsz Kiang; but the ruling caste, whose administrative centre lay to the north of these tribes, though affected by the grossness of their barbarous surroundings, were manifestly more or less orthodox Chinese in origin and sympathy, and, even at this early period , possessed a considerable culture, a knowledge of Chinese script, and a general capacity to live a settled economical existence. As far back as 880 B.C. the King of the Jungle is recorded to have governed or conciliated the populations between the Han and the Yang-tsz Rivers; but, though he arrogated to himself for a time the title of "Emperor" or "King" in his own dominions, he confessed himself to be a barbarian, and disclaimed any share in the honorific system of titles, living or posthumous, having vogue in China, reserving it for his successors to assert higher rights when they should feel strong enough. Like an eastern Charlemagne, he divided his empire between his three sons; and this empire, which gradually extended all along the Yang-tsz down to its mouths, may have included in one of its three subdivisions a part at least of the Annamese race, as will be suggested more in detail anon.
The first really historical king, who once more arrogated the supreme title in 704 B.C., took advantage of imperial weakness to extend his conquests not only to the south but to the north of the River Han, attacking petty Chinese principalities, and boldly claiming recognition by the Emperor of equality in title. "I am a barbarian," said he, "and I will avail myself of the dissensions among the federal princes to inspect Chinese ways for myself." The Emperor displayed some irritation at this claim of equal rank, but the King retorted by referring to the services rendered by his ancestor, some five hundred years earlier, to the Emperor's ancestor, virtual founder of the Chou dynasty. In 689 B.C. the next king moved his capital from its old site above the Ich'ang gorges to the commanding central situation now known as King-thou Fu, just above the treaty-port of Sha-shi': this place historically continues the use of the old word Jungle , and has been all through the present Manchu dynasty the military residence of a Tartar-General with a Banner garrison; that is, a garrison of privileged Tartar soldiers living in cantonments, and exempt from the ordinary laws, or, at least, the application of them. It is only in 684 B.C. that the Jungle state is first honoured with mention in Confucius' history: it was, indeed, impossible then to ignore its existence, because, for the first time in the annals of China, Chinese federal princes between the Han River and the westernmost head-waters of the Hwai River had been deliberately annexed by these Jungle "barbarians." History for the next 450 years from this date consists mainly of the intricate narration how Ts'in, Tsin, Ts'i, and the Jungle struggled, first for hegemony, and finally for the possession of all China, The Jungle was now called Ts'u.

Ancient China Opening Scenes

The year 842 B.C. may be considered the first accurate date in Chinese history, and in this year the Emperor had to flee from his capital on account of popular dissatisfaction with his tyrannical ways: he betook himself northward to an outlying settlement on the Tartar frontier, and the charge of imperial affairs was taken over by a regency or duumvirate.
At this time the confederation of cultured princes called China-- or, to use their own term, the Central Kingdom--was a very different region from the huge mass of territory familiar to us under those names at the present day. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that civilized China, even at that comparatively advanced period, consisted of little more than the modern province of Ho Nan. All outside this flat and comparatively riverless region inhabited by the "orthodox" was more or less barbaric, and such civilization as it possessed was entirely the work of Chinese colonists, adventurers, or grantees of fiefs in partibus infidelium . Into matters of still earlier ancient history we may enter more deeply in another chapter, but for the present we simply take China as it was when definite chronology begins.
The third of the great dynasties which had ruled over this limited China had, in 842 B.C., already been on the imperial throne for practically three hundred years, and, following the custom of its predecessors, it had parcelled out all the land under its sway to vassal princes who were, subject to the general imperial law and custom, or ritual, together with the homage and tribute duty prescribed thereunder, all practically absolute in their own domains. Roughly speaking, those smaller fiefs may be said to have corresponded in size with the walled-city and surrounding district of our own times, so well known under the name of hien. About a dozen of the larger fiefs had been originally granted to the blood relations of the dynastic founder in or after 1122 B.C.; but not exclusively so, for it seems to have been a point of honour, or of religious scruple, not to "cut off the sacrifices" from ruined or disgraced reigning families, unless the attendant circumstances were very gross; and so it came to pass that successive dynasties would strain a point in order to keep up the spiritual memory of decayed or rival houses.
Thus, at the time of which we speak , about ten of the dozen or so of larger vassal princes were either of the same clan as the Emperor himself, or were descended from remoter branches of that clan before it secured the imperial throne; or, again, were descended from ministers and statesmen who had assisted the founder to obtain empire; whilst the two or three remaining great vassals were lineal representatives of previous dynasties, or of their great ministers, keeping up the honour and the sacrifices of bygone historical personages. As for the minor fiefs, numbering somewhere between a thousand and fifteen hundred, these play no part in political history, except as this or that one of them may have been thrust prominently forward for a moment as a pawn in the game of ambition played by the greater vassals. Nominally the Emperor was direct suzerain lord of all vassals, great or small; but in practice the greater vassal princes seem to have been what in the Norman feudal system were called "mesne lords"; that is, each one was surrounded by his own group of minor ruling lords, who, in turn, naturally clung for protection to that powerful magnate who was most immediately accessible in case of need; thus vassal rulers might be indefinitely multiplied, and there is some vagueness as to their numbers.
Just as the oldest civilizations of the West concentrated themselves along the banks of the Euphrates and the Nile, so the most ancient Chinese civilization is found concentrated along the south bank of the Yellow River. The configuration of the land as shown on a modern map assists us to understand how the industrious cultivators and weavers, finding the flat and so-called loess territory too confined for their ever-increasing numbers, threw out colonies wherever attraction offered, and wherever the riverine systems gave them easy access; whether by boat and raft; or whether--as seems more probable, owing to the scanty mention of boat-travel--by simply following the low levels sought by the streams, and tilling on their way such pasturages as they found by the river-sides. When it is said that the earliest Chinese we know of clung to the Yellow River bed, it must be remembered that "the River" turned sharp to the north at a point in Ho Nan province very far to the west of its present northerly course, near a city marked in the modern maps as Jung-t&h, in lat. 35 degrees N., long, 114 degrees E., or thereabouts; moreover, its course further north lay considerably to the westward of the present Grand Canal, taking possession now of the bed of the Wei River, now of that of the Chang River, according to whether we regard it before or after the year 602 B.C.; but always entering the Gulf near modern Tientsin. Hence we need not be surprised to find that the Conqueror or Assertor of the dynasty had conferred upon a staunch adviser, of alien origin, and upon two of his most trusty relatives, the three distant fiefs which commanded both sides of the Yellow River mouth, at that time near the modern Tientsin. There was no Canal in those days, and the river which runs past Confucius' birth-place, and now goes towards feeding the Grand Canal, had then a free course south-east towards the lakes in Kiang Su province to the north of Nanking. It will be noticed that quite a network of tributary rivers take their rise in Ho Nan province, and trend in an easterly direction towards the intricate Hwai River system. The River Hwai, which has a great history in the course of Chinese development, was in quite recent times taken possession of by the Yellow River for some years, and since then the Grand Canal and the lakes between them have so impeded its natural course that it may be said to have no natural delta at all; to be dissipated in a dedalus of salt flats, irrigation channels, and marshes: hence it is not so obvious to us now why the whole coast-line was at the period we are now describing, when there was no Grand Canal, quite beyond the reach of Chinese colonization from the Yellow River valley: this was only possible in two directions--firstly to the south, by way of the numerous ramifications of the Han River, which now, as then, joins the Yang-tsz Kiang at Hankow; and secondly to the south- east, by way of the equally numerous ramifications of the Hwai River, which entered the sea in lat. 34ø N. No easy emigration to the westward or south-westward was possible in those comparatively roadless days, for not a single river pointed out the obvious way to would-be colonists.
Accustomed as we now are to regard China as one vast homogeneous whole, approachable to us easily from the sea, it is not easy for us to understand the historical lines of expansion without these preliminary explanations. Corea and Japan were totally unknown even by name, and even Liao Tung, or "East of the River Liao," which was then inhabited by Corean tribes, was, if known by tradition at all, certainly only in communication with the remote Chinese colony, or vassal state, in possession of the Peking plain: on the other hand, this vassal state itself , for the three centuries previous to 842 B.C., had no political relations with the federated Chinese princes, and nothing is known of its internal doings, or of its immediate relations with Manchus and Coreans. The whole coast-line of Shan Tung was in the hands of various tribes of "Eastern Barbarians." True, a number of Chinese vassal rulers held petty fiefs to the south and the east of the two highly civilized principalities already described as being in possession of the Lower Yellow River; but the originally orthodox rulers of these petty colonies are distinctly stated to have partly followed barbarian usage, even despite their own imperial clan origin, and to have paid court to these two greater vassals as mesne lords, instead of direct to the Emperor. South of these, again, came the Hwai group of Eastern barbarians in possession of the Lower Hwai valley, and the various quite unknown tribes of Eastern barbarians occupying the marshy salt flats and shore accretions on the Kiang Su coast right down to the River Yang-tsz mouth.
As we shall see, a century or two later than 842 B.C. powerful semi-Chinese states began to assert themselves against the federated orthodox Chinese princes lying to their north; but, when dated history first opens, Central China knew nothing whatever of any part of the vast region lying to the south of the Yang-tsz; nothing whatever of what we now call Yiin Nan and Sz Ch'wan, not to say of the Indian and Tibetan dominions lying beyond them; _ fortiori_ nothing of Formosa, Hainan, Cochin-China, Tonquin, Burma, Siam, or the various Hindoo trading colonies advancing from the South Sea Islands northwards along the Indo-Chinese coasts; nothing whatever of Tsaidam, the Tarim Valley, the Desert, the Persian civilization, Turkestan, Kashgaria, Tartary, or Siberia.
It is, and will here be made, quite clear that the whole of the left bank of the Yellow River was in possession of various Turkish and Tartar-Tibetan tribes. The only exception is that the south- west corner of Shan Si province, notably the territory enclosed between the Yellow River and the River F&n was colonized by a branch of the imperial family quite capable of holding its own against the Tartars; in fact, the valley of this river as far north as P'ing-yang Fu had been in semi-mythical times the imperial residence. It will be noticed that the River Wei joins the Yellow River on its right bank, just opposite the point where this latter, flowing from the north, bends eastwards, the Wei itself flowing from the west. This Wei Valley was also in 842 B.C. colonized by an ancient Chinese family--not of imperial extraction so far as the reigning house was concerned--which, by adopting Tartar, or perhaps Tartar--Tibetan, manners, had for many generations succeeded in acquiring a predominant influence in that region. Assuming that--which is not at all improbable--the nomad horsemen in unchallenged possession of the whole desert and Tartar expanse had at any time, as a consequence of their raids in directions away from China westward, brought to China any new ideas, new commercial objects, or new religious notions, these novelties must almost necessarily have filtered through this semi- Chinese half-barbarous state in possession of the Wei Valley, or through other of their Tartar kinsmen periodically engaged in raiding the settled Chinese cultivators farther east, along the line of what is now the Great Wall, and the northern parts of Shan Si and Chih Li provinces.
We shall allude in a more convenient place and chapter to specific traditions touching the supposed journeys about 990 B.C. of a Chinese Emperor to Turkestan; the alleged missions from Tonquin to a still earlier Chinese Emperor or Regent; and the pretended colonization of Corea by an aggrieved Chinese noble-all three events some centuries earlier than the opening period of dated history of which we now specially speak. For the present we ignore them, as, even if true, these events have had, and have now, no specific or definite influence whatever on the question of Chinese political development as expounded here. It seems certain that for many centuries previous to 842 B.C. the ruling and the literary Chinese had known of the existence of at least the Lower Yang-tsz and its three mouths : they also seem to have heard in a vague way of "moving sands" beyond the great northerly bend of the Yellow River in Tartarland. It is not even impossible that the persistent traditions of two of their very ancient Emperors having been buried south of the Yang-tsz--one near the modern coast treaty-port of Ningpo, the other near the modern riverine treaty-port of Ch'ang-sha--may be true; for nothing is more likely than that they both met their death whilst exploring the tributaries of the mysterious Yang-tsz Kiang lying to their south; because the father of the adventurous Emperor who is supposed to have explored Tartary in ggo B.C. certainly lost his life in attempting to explore the region of Hankow, as will be explained in due course.
All this, however, is matter of side issue. The main point we wish to insist upon, by way of introduction, in endeavouring to give our readers an intelligible notion of early Chinese development, is that Chinese beginnings were like any other great nation's beginnings--like, for instance, the Greek beginnings; these were centred at first round an extremely petty area, which, gradually expanding, threw out its tentacles and branches, and led to the final inclusion of the mysterious Danube, the gloomy Russian plain, the Tin Islands, Ultima Thule, and the Atlantic coasts into one fairly harmonious Graeco-Roman civilization. Or it may be compared to the development of the petty Anglo-Saxon settlements and kingdoms and sub-kingdoms, and their gradual political absorption of the surrounding Celts. In any case it may be said that there is nothing startlingly new about it; it followed a normal course.

Ancient China Shifting Scenes

Having now seen how the Chinese people, taking advantage of the material and moral growth naturally following upon a settled industrial existence, and above all upon the exclusive possession of a written character, gradually imposed themselves as rulers upon the ignorant tribes around them, let us see to what families these Chinese emigrant adventurers or colonial satraps belonged. To begin with the semi-Tartar power in the River Wei Valley-- destined six hundred years later to conquer the whole of China as we know it to-day--the ruling caste claimed descent from the most ancient Emperors of China; but for over a thousand years previous to 842 B.C. this remote branch of the Chinese race had become scattered and almost lost amongst the Tartars. However, a generation or two before our opening period, one of these princes had served the then ruling imperial dynasty as a sort of guardian to the western frontier, as a rearer of horses for the metropolitan stud, and perhaps even as a guide on the occasion of imperial expeditions into Tartarland. The successor of the Emperor who was driven from his capital in 842 B.C. about twenty years later employed this western satrap to chastise the Tartar nomads whose revolt had in part led to the imperial flight. After suffering some disasters, the conductors of this series of expeditions were at last successful, and in 815 B.C. the title of "Warden of the Western Marches" was officially conferred on the ruler for the time being of this western state, who in 777 B.C. had the further honour of seeing one of his daughters married to the Emperor himself. This political move on the part of the Emperor was unwise, for it led indirectly to the Tartars, who were frequently engaged in war with the Warden, interfering in the quarrels about the imperial succession, in which question the Tartars naturally thought they had a right to interfere in the interests of their own people. The upshot of it was that in 771 B.C. the Emperor was killed by the Tartars in battle, and it was only by securing the military assistance of the semi-Tartar Warden of the Marches that the imperial dynasty was saved. As it was, the Emperor's capital was permanently moved east from the immediate neighbourhood of what we call Si-ngan Fu in Shen Si province to the immediate neighbourhood of Ho-nan Fu in the modern Ho Nan province; and as a reward for his services the Warden was granted nearly the whole of the original imperial patrimony west of the Yellow River bend and on both sides of the Wei Valley. This was also in the year 771 B.C., and this is really one of the great pivot-points in Chinese history, of equal weight with the almost contemporaneous founding of Rome, and the gradual substitution of a Roman centre for a Greek centre in the development and civilization of the Far West. The new capital was not, however, a new city. Shortly after the imperial dynasty gained the possession of China in 1122 B.C., it had been surveyed, and some of the regalia had been taken thither; this, with a view of making it one of the capitals at least, if not the sole capital.
As Chinese names sound uncouth to our Western ears, and will, therefore, in these introductory chapters only be used sparingly and gradually, it becomes correspondingly difficult to explain historical phenomena adequately whilst endeavouring to avoid as far as possible the use of such unintelligible names: it will be well, then, to sum up the situation, and even repeat a little, so that the reader may assimilate the main points without fatigue or repulsion. The reigning dynasty of Chou had secured the adhesion of the thousand or more of Chinese vassal princes in 1122 B.C., and had in other words "conquered" China by invitation, much in the same way, and for very much the same general reasons, that William III. had' accepted the conquest of the British Isles; that is to say, because the people were dissatisfied with their legitimate ruler and his house. But, before this conquest, the vassal princes of Chou had occupied practically the same territory, and had stood in the same relation to the imperial dynasty subsequently ousted by them in 1122, that the Wardens of the Marches occupied and stood in when the imperial house of Chou in turn fled east in 771 B.C. The Shang dynasty thus ousted by the Chou princes in 1122, had for like misgovernment driven out the Hia dynasty in 1766 B.C. Thus, at the time when the Wardens of the Marches practically put the imperial power into commission in 771 B.C., the two old-fashioned dynasties of Shang and Chou had already ruled patriarchally for almost exactly one thousand years, and nothing of either a very startling, or a very definite, character had taken place at all within the comparatively narrow area described in our first chapter.
From this date of 771 B.C., and for five hundred years more down to 250 B.C., when the Chou dynasty was extinguished, the rule of the feudal Emperors of China was almost purely nominal, and except in so far as this or that powerful vassal made use of the moral, and even occasionally of the military power of the metropolitan district when it suited his purpose, the imperial ruler was chiefly exercised in matters of form and ritual; for under all three patriarchal dynasties it was on form and ritual that the idea of government had always been based. Of course the other powerful satraps--especially the more distant ones, those not bearing the imperial clan-name, and those more or less tinged with barbarian usages--learning by degrees what a helpless and powerless personage the Emperor had now become, lost no time in turning the novel situation to their own advantage: it is consequently now that begins the "tyrant period," or the period of the "Five Dictators," as the Chinese historians loosely term it: that is to say, the period during which each satrap who had the power to do so took the lead of the satrap body in general, and gave out that he was restoring the imperial prestige, representing the Emperor's majesty, carrying out the behests of reason, compelling the other vassals to do their duty, keeping up the legitimist sacrifices, and so on. In other words, the population of China had grown so enormously, both by peaceful in-breeding and by imperceptible absorption of kindred races, that more elbow-room was needed; more freedom from the shackles of ritual, rank, and feudal caste; more independence, and more liberty to take advantage of local or changed traditions. Besides all this, the art of writing, though still clumsy, expensive, and confined in its higher and literary aspects to the governing classes, had recently become simplified and improved; the salt trade, iron trade, fish industry, silk industry, grain trade, and art of usury had spread from one state to the other, and had developed: though the land roads were bad or non-existent, there were great numbers of itinerant dealers in cattle and army provisions. In a word, material civilization had made great strides during the thousand years of patriarchal rule immediately preceding the critical period comprised between the year 842 B.C. and the year 771 B.C. The voices of the advocates and the preachers of ancient patriarchal virtues were as of men crying in a wilderness of substantial prosperity and manly ambition. Thus political and natural forces combined with each other to prepare the way for a radical change, and this period of incipient revolution is precisely the period treated of in Confucius' history, the first history of China--meagre though it be--which deals with definite human facts, instead of "beating the air" with sermons and ritualistic exhortations.

Ancient China First Protector Of China

The first of the so-called five hegemons or lords-protector of the federated Chinese Empire was the Lord of Ts'i, whose capital was at the powerful and wealthy city of Lin-tsz , in Shan Tung province. Neither the Yellow River nor the Grand Canal touched Shan Tung in those days, and Lin-tsz was evidently situated with reference to the local rivers which flow north into the Gulf of "Pechelee," so as to take full political advantage of the salt, mining, and fishing industries. A word is here necessary as to this Protector's pedigree: we have seen that his ancestor, thirteen generations back, had inspired with his counsels and courage the founder of the imperial Chou dynasty in 1122 B.C.; he had further given to the new Emperor a daughter of his own in marriage, had served him as premier, and had finally been enfeoffed in reward for his services as Marquess of Ts'i, the economic condition of which far-eastern principality he had in a very few years by his energy as ruler mightily improved, notably with reference to the salt and fish industries, and to general commerce. The Yellow River, then flowing along the bed of what is now called the Chang River, and the sea, respectively, were the western and eastern limits of this state, which embraced to the north the salt flats now under the administration of a special Tientsin Commissioner, and extended south to the present Manchu Tartar-General's military garrison at Ts'ing-thou Fu. Of course, later on, during the five-hundred-year period of unrest, extensions and cessions of territory frequently took place, both within and beyond these vague limits, usually at the expense of Lu and other small orthodox states. Across the Yellow River, whose course northwards, as already stated, lay considerably to the west of the present channel, was the extensive state of Tsin; and south was the highly ritual and literary Weimar of China, the unwarlike principality of Lu, destined in future times to be glorified by Confucius.
Scarcely anything is recorded of a nature to throw specific light upon the international development of these far-eastern parts. But in the year 894 B.C. the reigning prince of Ts'i was boiled alive at the Emperor's order for some political offence, and his successor thereupon moved his capital, only to be transferred back to the old place by his son thirty-five years later. The imperial flight of 842 naturally caused some consternation even in distant Ts'i, and in 827 the next Emperor on his accession commanded the reigning Marquess of Ts'i to assist in chastising the Western Tartars. When this last Emperor's grandson was driven from his old hereditary domain in 771, and the semi-Tartar ruler of Ts'in took possession of the same, as already narrated, Ts'i was still so inconsiderable a military power that even two generations after that event, in the year 706, it was fain to apply for assistance against Northern Tartar raids to one of the small Chinese principalities in the Ho Nan province. In 690 the prince, whose sister had married the neighbouring ruler of Lu, made an armed attack by way of vengeance upon the descendant of the adviser who had counselled the Emperor to boil his ancestor alive in 894: his power was now so considerable that the Emperor commissioned him to act with authority in the matter of a disputed succession to a minor Chinese principality. This was in the year 688 B.C., and it was the first instance of a vassal acting as dictator or protector on behalf of the Emperor; only, however, in a special or isolated case. Two years later this prince of Ts'i was himself assassinated, and the disputes between his sons regarding the succession terminated with the advent to the throne of one of the great characters in Chinese history, who was magnanimous and politic enough to take as his adviser and premier a still greater character, and one that almost rivals Confucius himself in fame as an author, a statesman, a benefactor of China; and a moralist.
This personage, who, like most Chinese of the period, carried many names, is most generally known as the philosopher Kwan-tsz, and his chief writings have survived, in part at least, until our own day. He was, in fact, a distant scion of the reigning imperial family of Chou, and bore its clan name of Ki. Here it may be useful to state parenthetically that most prominent men in all the federated states seem to have belonged to a narrow aristocratic circle, among whose members the craft of government, the knowledge of letters, and the hereditary right to expect office, was inherent; at the same time, there was never at any date anything in the shape of a priestly or military caste, and power appears to have been always within the reach of the humblest, so long as the aspirant was competent to assert himself.
The new ruler of Ts'i officially proclaimed himself Protector in the year 679 B.C., which is one of the fixed dates in Chinese history about which there is no cavil or doubt, He soon found himself embroiled in war with the Tartars, who were raiding both the state to his north in the Peking plain, and also the minor state, south of the Yellow River, that his predecessor has protected specially in 688. This was the state of Wei , through or near the capital town of which, near the modern Wei-hwei Fu, the Yellow River then ran northwards.
The way these successive Protectors of China afterwards exercised their preponderant influence in a general sense was this: When it appeared to them, or when any orthodox vassal state complained to them, that injustice was being done; whether in matters of duty to the Emperor, right of succession, legitimacy of birth, great crime, or inordinate ambition; the recognized Protector summoned a durbar, usually somewhere within the territory of the central area, or China proper as previously defined, and consulted with the princes, his colleagues, as to what course should be pursued. A distinction was drawn between "full-dress durbars" and "military durbars"; the etiquette in either case was very minute, and external behaviour at least was exquisitely courteous, though treachery was far from rare, and treaties never lasted long unbroken. But to return to the First Protector. Towards the end of his glorious reign of forty-three years the Marquess of Ts'i grew arrogant, vainglorious, and licentious, so much so that his western neighbour, the powerful state of Tsin, declined to attend the durbars. Of the other great powers Ts'in was much too far off to take active part in these parliaments; Ts'u was too busy in spreading civilization among the barbarous states or tribes south of the Yang-tsz. The Emperor was practically a _roi fainéant_ by this time, and, curiously enough, less is known of what went on within his dominions or appanage after the western half of it fell to Ts'in in 771, than of what transpired in the territories of his three menacing vassals to the north, north-west, and north-east, and of his half- civilized satrap to the south. The fact is, all four rising powers were now carefully engaged in watching each other, and in playing a profound political game around their prey. This prey was the eastern half of the Emperor's original domain and the dozen or so of purely Chinese, highly cultured, vassal states making up the rest of modern Ho Nan province, together with small parts or wedges of modern Chih Li, Shan Tung, An Hwei, and Kiang Su. From first to last none of these ritual and literary states showed any real fight; there is hardly a single record of a really crushing victory gained by any one of them. The fighting instincts all lay with the new Chinese, that is, with the Chinese adventurers who had got their hand well in with generations of fighting against barbarians--Tartars, Tunguses, Annamese, Shans, and what not--and had invigorated themselves with good fresh barbarian blood. The fact is, the population of China had enormously increased; the struggle for life and food was keener; the old patriarchal appetite for ritual was disappearing; the people were beginning to assert themselves against the land-owners; the land-owners were encroaching upon the power of the ruling princes; and China was in a parlous state.

Ancient China Treaties And Vows

Treaties were always very solemn functions, invariably accompanied by the sacrifice of a victim. A part of the victim, or of its blood, was thrown into a ditch, in order that the Spirit of the Earth might bear witness to the deed; the rest of the blood was rubbed upon the lips of the parties concerned, and also scattered upon the documents, by way of imprecation; sometimes, however, the imprecations, instead of being uttered, were specially written at the end of the treaty. Just as we now say "the ink was scarcely dry before, etc., etc.," the Chinese used to say "the blood of the victim was scarcely dry on their lips, before, etc., etc." When the barbarian King of Wu succeeded for a short period in "durbaring" the federal Chinese princes, a dispute took place between Tsin and Wu as to who should rub the lips with blood first--in other words, have precedence. In the year 541 B.C., sixty years before the above event, Tsin and Ts'u had agreed to waive the ceremony of smearing the lips with blood, to choose a victim in common, and to lay the text of the treaty upon the victim after a solemn reading of its contents. This modification was evidently made in consequence of the disagreement between Tsin and Ts'u at the Peace Conference of 546, when a dispute had arisen , as to which should smear the lips first. This was the occasion on which the famous Tsin statesman, Shuh Hiang, in the face of seventeen states' representatives, all present, had the courage to ignore Ts'u's treachery in concealing cuirasses under the soldiers' clothes. He said: "Tsin holds her pre-eminent position as Protector by her innate good qualities, which will always command the adhesion of other states; why need we care if Ts'u smears first, or if she injures herself by being detected in treachery?" It has already been mentioned that Confucius glosses over or falsifies both the above cases, and gives the victory in each instance to Tsin. Though these little historical peccadilloes on the part of the saint homme are considered even by orthodox critics to be objectionable, it must be remembered that it was very risky work writing history at all in those despotic times: even in comparatively democratic days , the "father of Chinese history" was castrated for criticizing the reigning Emperor in the course of issuing his great work; and so late as the fifth century A.D. an almost equally great historian was put to death "with his three generations" for composing a "true history" of the Tartars then ruling as Emperors of North China; i.e. for disclosing their obscure and barbarous origin, Moreover, foreigners who fix upon these trifling specific and admitted discrepancies, in order to discredit the general truth of all Chinese history, must remember that the Chinese critics, from the very beginning, have always, even when manifestly biased, been careful to expose errors; the very discrepancies themselves, indeed, tend to prove the substantial truth of the events recorded; and the fact that admittedly erroneous texts still stand unaltered proves the reverent care of the Chinese as a nation to preserve their defective annals, with all faults, in their original condition.
At this treaty conference of 546 B.C., held at the Sung capital, the host alone had no vote, being held superior to all; and, further, out of respect for his independence, the treaty had to be signed outside his gates: the existence of the Emperor was totally ignored.
A generation before this another important treaty between the two great rivals, Tsin and Ts'u, had been signed by the high contracting parties outside the walls of Sung. The articles provided for community of interest in success or failure; mutual aid in every thing, more especially in war; free use of roads so long as relations remained peaceful; joint action in face of menace from other powers; punishment of those neglecting to come to court. The imprecation ran: "Of him who breaks this, let the armies be dispersed and the kingdom be lost; moreover, let the spirits chastise him." Although both orthodox powers professed their anxiety to "protect" the imperial throne, yet, seeing that the Emperor was quietly shelved in all these conventions, the reference to "court duty" probably refers to the duty of Cheng and the other small orthodox states to render homage to Tsin or Ts'u as settled by this and previous treaties. In fact, at the Peace Conference of 546, it was agreed between the two mesne lords that the vassals of Ts'u should pay their respects to Tsin, and vice versa. But, during the negotiations, a zealous Tsin representative went on to propose that the informal allies of the chief contracting powers should also be dragged in: "If Ts'in will pay us a visit, I will try and induce Ts'i to visit T'su." These two powers had ententes, Ts'i with Tsin, and Ts'u with Ts'in, but recognized no one's hegemony over them. It was this surprise sprung upon the Ts'u delegates that necessitated an express messenger to the king, as recounted at the end of

Ancient China Education And Literary

There is singularly little mention of writing or education in ancient times, and it seems likely that written records were at first confined to castings or engravings upon metal, and carvings upon stone. In the days when the written character was cumbrous, there would be no great encouragement to use it for daily household purposes. It is a striking fact, not only that writings upon soft clay, afterwards baked, were not only non-existent in China, but have never once been mentioned or conceived of as being a possibility. This fact effectually disposes of the allegation that Persian and Babylonian literary civilization made its way to China, for it is unreasonable to suppose that an invention so well suited to the clayey soil in which the Chinese princes dwelt could have been ignored by them, if ever the slightest inkling of it had been obtained.
In 770 B.C., when the Emperor, having moved his capital to the east, ceded his ancestral lands in the west to Ts'in on condition that Ts'in should recover them permanently from the Tartars, the document of cession was engraved upon a metal vase. Fifteen hundred years before this, the Nine Tripods of the founder of the Hia dynasty, representing tributes of metal brought to the Emperor by outlying tribes, were inscribed with records of the various productions of China: these tripods were ever afterwards regarded as an attribute of imperial authority; and even Ts'u, when it began to presume upon the Chou Emperor's weakness, put in a claim to possess them.
In distributing the fiefs amongst relatives and friends, the first Chou emperors "composed orders" conferring rights upon their new vassals; but it is not stated what written form these orders took. Written prayers for the recovery of the first Emperor's health are mentioned, but here again we are ignorant of the material on which the prayers were written by the precentor. Four hundred years later, in 65, when Ts'in had assisted to the throne his neighbour the Marquess of Tsin, the latter gave a promise in writing to Ts'in that he would cede to her all the territory lying to the west of the Yellow River. The next ruler of Tsin, the celebrated wanderer who afterwards became the second Protector, is distinctly stated to have had an adviser who taught him to read; it is added that the same marquess also consulted this adviser about a suitable teacher for his son and heir. About the same time one of the Marquess's friends, objecting to take office, took to flight: his friends, as a protest, hung up "a writing" at the palace gate. In 584 a Ts'u refugee in Tsin sends a writing to the leading general of Ts'u, threatening to be a thorn in his side. It is presumed that in all these cases the writing was on wood. The text of a declaration of war against Ts'u by Ts'in in 313 B.C., at a time when these two powers had ceased to be allies, and were competing for empire, refers to an agreement made three centuries earlier between the King of Ts'u and the Earl of Ts'in; this declaration was carved upon several stone tablets; but it does not appear upon what material the older agreement was carved. In 538, at a durbar held by Ts'u, Hiang Suh, the learned man of Sung, who has already been mentioned in Chapter XV. as the inventor of Peace Conferences in 546, and as one of the Confucian group of friends, remarked: "What I know of the diplomatic forms to be observed is only obtained from books." A few years later, when the population of one of the small orthodox Chinese states was moved for political convenience by Ts'u away to another district, they were allowed to take with them "their maps, cadastral survey, and census records."
There is an interesting statement in the _Kwoh Yü_, an ancillary history of these times, but touching more upon personal matters, usually considered to have been written by the same man that first expanded Confucius' annals, to the effect that in 489 B.C. the King of Wu inflicted a crushing defeat upon Ts'i at a spot not far from the Lu frontier, and that he captured "the national books, 800 leather chariots, and 3000 cuirasses and shields." If this translation be perfectly accurate, it is interesting as showing that Ts'i did possess _Kwoh-shu_, or "a State library," or archives. But unfortunately two other histories mention the capture of a Ts'i general named Kwoh Hia, alias Kwoh Hwei-tsz, so that there seems to be a doubt whether, in transcribing ancient texts, one character may not have been substituted for the other . Two years later the barbarian king in question entered Lu, and made a treaty with that state upon equal terms.
Shortly after this date, the Chinese adviser who brought about the conquest of Wu by the equally barbarous Yiieh, had occasion to send a "closed letter" to a man living in Ts'u. When we come to later times, subsequent to the death of Confucius, we find written communications more commonly spoken of. Thus, in 313, Ts'i, enraged at the supposed faithlessness of Ts'u, "broke in two the Ts'u tally" and attached herself to Ts'in instead. This can only refer to a wooden "indenture" of which each party preserved a copy, each fitting 'in, "dog's teeth like," as the Chinese still say, closely to the other. A few years later we find letters from Ts'i to Ts'u, holding forth the tempting project of a joint attack upon Ts'in; and also a letter from Ts'in to Ts'u, alluding to the escape of a hostage and the cause of a war. In the year 227, when Ts'in was rapidly conquering the whole empire, the northernmost state of Yen , dreading annexation, conceived the plan of assassinating the King of Ts'in; and, in order to give the assassin a plausible ground for gaining admittance to the tyrant's presence, sent a map of Yen, so that the roads available for troops might be explained to the ambitious conqueror, who would fall into the trap. He barely escaped.
All these matters put together point to the clear conclusion that such states as Ts'in, Tsin, Ts'i, Yen, and Ts'u were able to communicate by letter freely with each other: _á fortiori_, therefore, must the orthodox states, whose civilization they had all borrowed or shared, have been able to communicate with them, and with each other. Besides, there is the question of the innumerable treaties made at the durbars, and evidently equally legible by all the dozen or so of representatives present; and the written prayers, already instanced, which were probably offered to the gods at most sacrifices. A special chapter will be devoted to treaties.
In the year 523 the following passage occurs, or rather it occurs in one of the expanded Confucian histories having retrospective reference to matters of 523 B.C:--"It is the father's fault if, at the binding up of the hair , boys do not go to the teacher, though it may be the mother's fault if, before that age, they do not escape the dangers of fire and water: it is their own fault if, having gone to the teacher, they make no progress: it is their friends' fault if they make progress but get no repute for it: it is the executive's fault if they obtain repute but no recommendation to office: it is the prince's fault if they are recommended for office but not appointed." Here we have in effect the nucleus at least of the examination system as it was until a year or two ago, together with an inferential statement that education was only meant for the governing classes.
It is rather remarkable that the invention of the "greater seal" character in 827 B.C. practically coincides with the first signs of imperial decadence; this is only another piece of evidence in favour of the proposition that enlightenment and patriarchal rule could not exist comfortably together. When Ts'in conquered the whole of modern China 600 years later, unified weights and measures, the breadth of axles, and written script, and remedied other irregularities that had hitherto prevailed in the rival states, it is evident that the need of a more intelligible script was then found quite as urgent as the need of roads suitable for all carts, and of measures by which those carts could bring definite quantities of metal and grain tribute to the capital. Accordingly the First August Emperor's prime minister did at once set to work to invent the "lesser seal" character, in which the first Chinese dictionary was written; this "lesser seal" is still fairly readable after a little practice, but for daily use it has long been and is impracticable and obsolete. If we reflect how difficult it is for us to decipher the old engrossed charters and written letters of the English kings, we may all the more easily imagine how even a slight change in the form of "letters," or strokes, will make easy reading of Chinese impossible. It is a mistake to suppose that the Chinese have to "spell their way" laboriously through the written character so familiar to them: it is just as easy to "skim over" a Chinese newspaper in a few minutes as it is to "take in" the leading features of the Times in the same limited time; and volumes of Chinese history or literature in general can be "gutted" quite easily, owing to the facility with which the so-called pictographs, once familiar, lend themselves to "skipping."
The Bamboo Books, dug up in A.D. 281, the copies of the classics concealed in the walls of Confucius' house, the copy of Lao-tsz's philosophical work recorded to have been in the possession of a Chinese empress in 150 B.C.--all these were written in the "greater seal," and the painstaking industry of Chinese specialists was already necessary when the Christian era began, in order to reduce the ancient characters to more modern forms. Since then the written character has been much clarified and simplified, and it is just as easy to express sentiments in written Chinese as in any other language; but, of course, when totally new ideas are introduced, totally new characters must be invented; and inventions, both of individual characters and of expressions, are going on now.

Ancient China Land And People

What sort of folk were the masses of China, upon whom the ruling classes depended, then as now, for their support? In the year 594 B.C. the model state of Lu for the first time imposed a tax of ten per cent, upon each Chinese "acre" of land, being about one-sixth of an English acre: as the tax was one-tenth, it matters not what size the acre was. Each cultivator under the old system had an allotment of 100 such acres for himself, his parents, his wife, and his children; and in the centre of this allotment were 10 acres of "public land," the produce of which, being the result of his labour, went to the State; there was no further taxation. A "mile," being about one-third of an English mile, and, therefore, in square measure one-ninth of an English square mile, consisted of 300 fathoms , and its superficies contained 900 "acres" of which 80 were public under the above arrangement, 820 remaining for the eight families owning this "well-field"--so called because the ideograph for a "well" represents nine squares: a four-sided square in the centre, four three-sided squares impinging on it; and four two-sided squares at the corners; i.e. 100 "acres" each, plus 2-1/2 "acres" each for "homestead and onions"; or 20 of these last in all. Nine cultivators in one "well," multiplied by four, formed a township, and four townships formed a "cuirass" of 144 armed warriors; but this was under a modified system introduced four years later . It will be observed that the arithmetic seems confused, if not faulty; but that does not seriously affect the genuineness of the picture, and may be ignored as mere detail.
The ancient classification of people was into four groups. The scholar people employed themselves in studying tao and the sciences, from which we plainly see that the doctrine of _tao,_ or "the way," existed long before Lao-tsz, in Confucius' time, superadded a mystic cosmogony upon it, and made of it a socialist or radical instead of an imperialist or conservative doctrine. The second class were the trading people, who dealt in "produce from the four quarters"; there is evidence that this meant chiefly cattle, grain, silk, horses, leather, and gems. The third class were the cultivators, and in those days tea and cotton, amongst other important products of to-day, were totally unknown. The fourth class consisted of handicraftsmen, who naturally made all things they could sell, or knew how to make.
Another classification of men is the following, which was given to the King of Ts'u by a sage adviser, presumably an importation from orthodox China. He divided people into ten classes, each inferior class owing obedience to its superior, and the highest of all owing obedience only to the gods or spirits. First, the Emperor; secondly, the "inner" dukes, or grandees of estates within the imperial domain: these grandees were dukes proper, not dukes by posthumous courtesy like the vassal princes after decease, and the Emperor used to send them on service, when required, to the vassal states; they were, in fact, like the "princes of the Church" or cardinals, who surround the Pope. Thirdly, "the marquesses," that is the semi-independent vassal states, no matter whether duke, marquess, earl, viscount, or baron; this term seems also to include the reigning lords of very small states which did not possess even the rank of baron, and which were usually attached to a larger state as clients, under protectorate; in fact, the recognized stereotyped way of saying "the vassal rulers" was "the marquesses." Then came what we should call the "middle classes," or bourgeoisie, followed by the artisans and cultivators: it will be noticed that the artisans are here given rank over the cultivators, which is not in accord with either very ancient or very modern practice; this, indeed, places cultivators before both traders and artisans. Lastly came the police, the carriers of burdens, the eunuchs, and the slaves. By "police" are meant the runners attached to public offices, whose work too often involves "squeezing" and terrorizing, torturing, flogging, etc. To the present day police, barbers, and slaves require three generations of purifying, or living down, before their descendants can enter for the public examinations; or, to use the official expression, their "three generations" must be "clear"; at least so it was until the old Confucian examination system was abolished as a test for official capacity a few years ago. Of eunuchs we shall have more to say shortly; but very little indeed is heard of private slaves, who probably then, as now, were indistinguishable from the ordinary people, and were treated kindly. The callous Greek and still more brutal Roman system, not to mention the infinitely more cowardly and shocking African slavery abuses of eighteenth- century Europe and nineteenth-century America, have never been known in China: no such thing as a slave revolt has ever been heard of there.
In the year 548 the kingdom of Ts'u ordered a cadastral survey, and also a general stock-taking of arms, chariots, and horses. Records were made of the extent and value of the land in each parish, the extent of the mountains and forests, and the resources they might furnish. Observation was also made of lakes and marshes suitable for sport, and it was forbidden to fill these in. Note was taken of such hills and mounds as might be available for tombs--a detail which shows that modern graves in China differ little if at all from the ancient ones; in fact in Canton "my hill," or "mountain," is synonymous with "my cemetery." In order to fix the taxes at a just figure, stock was taken of the salt- flats, the unproductive lands, and the tracts liable to periodical inundation. Areas rescued from the waters were protected by dykes, and subdivided for allotment by sloping banks, but without introducing the rigid nine-square system. Good lands, however, were divided according to the method introduced by the Chou dynasty; that is to say, six feet formed a "fathom," 100 fathoms an "acre," 100 "acres" the allotment of one family; these English terms are, of course, only approximately correct. Nine families still formed a hamlet or "well," and they cultivated together 1000 "acres," the central hundred going to pay the imposts. Taxes, direct and indirect, were fixed with exactitude, and also the number of war-chariots that each parish had to furnish; the number of horses; their value, age, and colour; the number of armoured troopers and foot soldiers, with a return of their cuirasses and shields. Regarding this colour classification, of the horses, it may be mentioned that the Tartars, in the second century B.C., were in the habit of equipping whole regiments of cavalry on mounts of the same colour, and it is, therefore, possible that this practice may have been imitated in South China; but Ts'u never once herself engaged in warfare with the Tartars; at all events with Tartars other than Tartars brought into Chinese settlements.
Long before this, the philosopher-statesman Kwan-tsz of Ts'i had so developed the agriculture, fisheries, trade, and salt gabelle, and had governed the country in such a way that his State, hitherto of minor importance, soon took the lead amongst the Chinese powers for wealth and for military influence. His classification of the people was into scholars, artisans, traders, and agriculturalists. He is generally credited with having introduced the "Babylonian woman" into the Ts'i metropolis, in order that traders, having sold their goods there, might leave as much as possible of their money behind in the houses of pleasure. There are many accounts of the luxury of this populous city, where "every woman possessed one long and one short needle," and where a premium levied upon currency, fish, and salt was applied to the relief of the poor and to the rewarding of virtue. Kwan-tsz also maintained a standing army, or perhaps a militia force, of 30,000 men; but he was careful so to husband his strength that Ts'i should not have the external appearance of dominating; his aim was that she should rather hold her power in reserve, and only use it indirectly: as we have seen, his master was, in consequence of Kwan-tsz's able administration, raised to the high position of the first of the Five Protectors.
From this it will be plain that there was considerable commercial activity in China even before the time of Confucius: there was quite a string of fairs or market towns extending from the imperial reserve eastwards along the Yellow River to Choh-thou , which was then the most northernly of them: apparently each considerable state possessed one of these fairs. The headwaters of the River Hwai system were served by the great mart belonging to the state of Cheng. As with our own histories, Chinese annals consist chiefly of the record of what kings and grandees did, and mention of the people is only occasional; and, even then, only in connection with the policy of their leaders.
As soon as the second of the Protectors, the Marquess of Tsin, was seated on his ancestral throne , his first act was to reduce the tolls and make the roads safer; to facilitate trade, and to encourage agriculture. Also to "make friends of the eleven great families" , whose development, however, in time led to the collapse of this princely power, and to its division between three of the "great families." A century after this, a minister of the Ts'u state praised very highly the efficiency of the Tsin administration. "The common people are devoted to agriculture; the merchants, artisans, and menials are all dutiful." For the conveyance of grain between the Ts'in and the Tsin capitals, both carts and boats were requisitioned, from which we must assume that there were practicable roads of some sort for two-wheeled vehicles. In the year 546, when some important reserves were made by Tsin at the Peace Conference, an express messenger was sent from Sung to the Ts'u capital to take the king's pleasure: this means an overland journey from the sources of the Hwai to the modern treaty port of Sha-shr above Hankow.
It may be added that, five centuries before Kwan-tsz existed, the founder of the Ts'i state, as a vassal to the new Chou dynasty, had already distinguished himself by encouraging trade, manufactures, fisheries, and the salt production; so that Kwan-tsz was an improver rather than an inventor.
Thus we see that, from very early times, China was by no means a sleepy country of ignorant husbandmen, but was a place full of multifarious activities; and that her local rulers, at least from the time when the patriarchal power of the Emperors decayed in 771, were often men of considerable sagacity, quite alive to the necessity of developing their resources and encouraging their people: this helps us to understand their restlessness under the yoke of "ritual."