Tsze-Kung said, "Who is the superior man? If poor, he does not flatter; if rich, he is not proud.” Mencius said, "He who would be rich will not be benevolent; he who is benevolent will not be rich." Yang-hoo said "Wealth and poverty are but the coverings of the man; the hide of a tiger stripped of its hair is like the hide of a dog stripped of its hair. The Master said, "Riches adorn the house, virtue the person. Gold treasured up for posterity, who shall receive it? Better be upright with poverty, than depraved with abundance. Alms-giving of gold unjustly obtained availeth nothing."
To one interested in the study of man, in his high or low estate, India presents a museum of races gathered from the fragments of a prehistoric world. More than thirty centuries ago Aryan invaders found in the north-western plains a people of degraded type, to which in the Vedic hymns are applied the most scornful of epithets, as "gross feeders on flesh; without gods and without rites.” To this it may be added that they were also without national records of any description, without knowledge of letters or of the simplest form of hieroglyphics, while as to the useful arts the only traces are in the rough stone circles and slabs under which they buried their dead. But these were merely a link in the long chain of races primeval; for in ages much further remote there were tribes whose only weapons for war or the chase were axes of flint and implements of stone. Yet not all were thus barbarous; among them were men of wealth, and in the Vedas there is mention of castles and forts erected by the conquered tribes. Presently alliances were made between Aryan and aboriginal princes; and when we stand on the threshold of history, there were several powerful kingdoms whose rulers were not of Aryan descent. The people tilled the soil and lived in village communities; among them were carpenters, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, and coppersmiths; they fought from chariots, and they had learned how to build ships, or more probably river boats.
Thus from plain to plain and valley to valley spread this migration of Aryan communities, each head of a household being also warrior priest and husbandman.
Among the Aryans who settled in the valley of the Ganges were three principal classes; the Brahmans or priests, the warriors, and agriculturists, this division also extending to other portions of India and existing even at the present day. At first there was no distinction of caste; but later the lines were strictly drawn, intermarriage ceasing and each one adhering to his hereditary calling. Gradually the Brahmans became an in brotherhood, both from a political and social point of view. Their supremacy extended over the warrior class; they framed the laws, which together with their language and religion, their literature arts and sciences, afterward became the standards of the peninsula. Of literature and learning they were not only the custodians but the creators; for to them all Vedic lore was restricted, and to the Veda it was ever their policy to trace all branches of intellectual achievement. Thus for twenty centuries they were accepted as the teachers of the people and the counselors of princes and kings.
For more than 1,000 years the Brahmanical and Buddhist faiths existed side by side, with the latter most in favor during its earlier stages; for Buddhism was the most tolerant as well as the most missionary of all religions. From distant lands came pilgrims to worship at its shrines, among them a Chinaman named Hwen Tsang, who has left some valuable records of the two faiths, as toward the middle of the seventh century of our era they competed for popular suffrage. At Kanauj, on the banks of the Ganges, he found a wealthy and powerful monarch named Siladytia, by whom were built 100 Buddhist monasteries and 200 temples to Brahma, more than twenty tributary kings, with the most learned of monks from all portions of his wide domain, attending a general council held in 634 to consider the various phases of religious life. Once in every five years he distributed the royal treasures impartially among Brahmans and Buddhists, holy men and heretics, first holding festival for seventy- five days, to which were invited all the monarchs of India, with a great multitude of people. Then, to those who stood nearest at hand he presented his own raiment and jewelry, appearing as did the Buddha of old in the garb of a beggar.
The extraneous annals of India begin with its partial conquest by Alexander the Great, though long before his time a vague knowledge of the country had resulted from traffic and travel. Homer, for instance, speaking of Indian merchandise, while in the Bible mention is made of numerous Indian products. There are on record several early expeditions into India from so-called civilized parts, by Diodorus the expedition of Sesostris, BC 1500; and on the authority of Ctesias that of Semiramis BC 1300. The Assyrian queen was fascinated by a report of the riches of India, whose great monarch, Staurobates, was supported by myriads of soldiers with armies of trained elephant-men. A small force would be worse than useless; hence three years were occupied in bringing timber and ship-builders from Cyprus, Phoenicia, and elsewhere, and in massing her army of 3,000,000 infantry, 500,000 cavalry, and 100,000 war chariots.
Alexander founded several cities, which later developed into thriving settlements; so that a Greek empire was established in the frontier provinces of India, one that was not destined to endure but left behind it, many traces of Hellenic culture. Yet he himself left but slight impress on the country; his victories were almost fruitless, and he was only too glad to make his way back to Susa with a remnant of his disheartened and famished soldiery.
For several centuries, however, traces of Greek influence remained, especially in the Punjab, where Alexander had founded settlements. Presently was established the Grajco-Bactrian dynasty, which lasting until near the opening of the Christian era was gradually supplanted by the Scythian and Tartar hordes which swarmed over northern India. Then came further changes, both ethnical and dynastic, which need not here be traced.
Some thirty years after the death of Muhammed, the Punjab was ravaged by Muslim invaders, and after other invasions, early in the 11th century became a Muhammedan province. By the close of the following century the entire region between the Indus and the Brahmaputra had fallen under the Mussulman yoke, and in 1206 a sultan occupied the throne of Delhi, his name being still preserved in the pillar of victory which towers above the ruins of the ancient city. Among the Muhammedan conquerors was Allahuddin, who plundered the temples of Bhilsa, some of the finest specimens of Buddhist architecture. By his lieutenant and favorite, Malik Kafur, were stripped of all their gold and jewels the temples in the present district of Madura, where his name is still associated with the cruelty of fate and the crime of sacrilege. Presently came the invasion of Tamerlane, who winning an early victory outside the walls of Delhi, pillaged the city and massacred the inhabitants, carrying away enormous spoils.
Contemporary with Queen Elizabeth was Akbar the Great, founder of the Mogul empire, which endured in name at least from the middle of the 16th to the middle of the 19th century. After a few years of war, in which he extended his sovereignty over a larger portion of India than was ever the domain of a single ruler, he devoted himself to civil administration, and especially to that of the land revenues. From these he collected nearly $85,000,000 a year; much larger in proportion to area, and in relation to the purchasing value thrice as large as that of British India. By Akbar was also founded a new religion, in accordance with natural theology and the best precepts of established creeds. Of this he was himself the head, worshipping the sun in public, as the representative of the Great Spirit which pervades the universe. After his death in 1605 he was buried in the mausoleum which he erected at Sikandra, where today his name and his tomb are honored. By his son, Shah Jahan, was founded the modern city of Delhi, still called by Muhammedans Jahanabad. Here he erected the famous peacock throne, and the mosque known as Jama Masjid, one of the most beautiful temples in northern India, with graceful minarets, domes of white marble, and the pavement, walls, and roof of the same material. Yet more famous is the mausoleum known as the Taj Mahal, built for his favorite wife at Agra, a most elaborate structure, on which it is said 20,000 men were employed for a score of years.
It is impossible to follow here in detail the long succession of races and dynasties before India fell under British rule. One after another the earlier tribes forced their way into the land through the passes of the Himalaya in search of new homes amid plain or forest. Of these there are now at least sixty of non-Aryan descent, some of them dying out and some increasing. In ancient centers of Hindu civilization they were classed as low-castes or as out-castes, many of the latter owning stalls or shops of bamboo where they sold food and raiment, but only to their fellow pariahs. Not a few were marauders, swooping down on the villages at the close of harvest, and returning laden with plunder to their mountain fastnesses. From the aboriginal races came almost entirely the criminal classes, with organized bands of thugs and thieves, for whom the punishment prescribed by Hindu law was death, imprisonment, or the bastinado. Under British rule all this has disappeared, except for such petty pilfering as is common to all communities, many of the bandit tribes being transformed into soldiers or cultivators of the soil.
In the great Sanskrit epic of the Veda, for which the Brahmans claim divine inspiration, it is related how from the plateaus of Central Asia, where they led a nomad life, driving southward their flocks and herds and nowhere stopping longer than was needed to raise a crop, the Aryans gradually made their way into India. Yet they liked not its hot and dusty plains, never forgetting their highland homes, "where dwell the gods and holy singers, where eloquence descended from heaven among men." But here at least they became wealthy, as wealth was counted in those days, though cattle were still their chief possessions. These entered from the north, but those who were to follow came by sea and found there an abundance of gold accumulated for many years in the treasuries and temples.
From the partial conquest of Alexander until the voyage of Vasco da Gama there had been but slight intercourse between Europe and the further Orient, and little more was known of the country than when Virgil had prophesied of the great Augustus:
Super et Garamantas et Indos.
There was little commerce, and from travelers came wondrous stories of powerful monarchies and wealth untold; but the journey by land lay through pathless deserts and warlike tribes, while the ocean route was as yet unknown. Then came the futile efforts of Columbus , whose expeditions , however, opened to the world two continents more important than all the Indies. In 1498 Vasco da Gama, voyaging by the way of the cape of Good Hope lands at Calicut on the Malabar coast, and finds there a thriving city with stately edifices, including a temple not inferior in size and plan to the largest monasteries in Portugal. Returning, he bears with him a letter to his sovereign, in which the rajah of Malabar says: "My kingdom abounds in precious stones and in spices.
What I ask from thy kingdom is gold and silver, coral and scarlet cloth.” But what the rajah wanted was exactly what the Portuguese monarch would have, so far at least as the gold and silver were concerned. Thus in 1500 Cabral is sent "to promote the cause of Christianity in these distant lands,” then, as later, a favorite euphemism for robbery and murder. In command of a powerful fleet and army, and with instructions "to try preaching first, but if that failed not to spare the sword," he established factories both at Calicut and Cochin. Other settlements followed, the one at Goa, on the western coast, founded by Alphonso de Albuquerque about the year 1510, being still the capital of what little remains of Indo-Portuguese Empire.
For almost a century Portugal enjoyed a virtual monopoly of oriental commerce , presently to be disturbed by Dutch and English competitors. In 1602 a number of trading associations were consolidated in the Dutch East India company, whose operations were far-reaching, the colonial empire of Holland being later widely extended, not only in India but in other lands absorbing nearly all the Portuguese possessions in the east, and expanding westward to the coast of North America and southward to the cape of Good Hope. But the colonial policy of the Dutch was as short sighted as their commercial policy, resembling somewhat in this respect the Phoenicians, who would brook no rivals in commerce, and who left no impress of their civilization on those with whom they were brought into contact. Soon after the capture by Clive in 1758 of the fortress and factory of Chinsurah , their center of trade in Bengal. Dutch supremacy in the Indies came to an end, and half a century later England had wrested from Holland all her more valuable colonies, though for a time longer she maintained her preponderance as a commercial power.
As related in part by Birdwood in his Report on the Old Records of the India Office, the following is briefly the origin and growth of the English East India Company. In 1599, the Dutch having then the control of commerce with the orient, raised the price of pepper from three to eight shillings a pound, whereupon the merchants of London, holding a meeting at which the lord-mayor presided, determined to form an association for trading direct with the Indies. On the last day of the following year this was incorporated by royal charter under the style of the Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading to the East Indies, with a capital of £70,000, increased in 1612 to £ 400,000. The first voyages proved extremely profitable, the average returns exceeding 100 per cent; and notwithstanding strong opposition from the Portuguese, and later from the Dutch and French, the company continued to prosper; so that at the opening of the 18th century it had factories in Bengal Madras and Bombay. Meanwhile several rivals had been consolidated with the original organization, one of which having a capital of £2,000,000 threatened for a time to supersede it, winning its case in parliament because as Evelyn relates in his Diary many friends of the latter were absent, " going to see a tiger baited by dogs.
But this was also consolidated, and still the company grew, not only in wealth but in political power, placing its possessions under a territorial sovereignty.
During the long series of wars in the Carnatic Clive appears on the scene, first as a factor and then as an officer in the company's service. By his defense of Arcot he wins reputation. Then comes the tragedy of the black hole at Calcutta, the city being quickly retaken by Clive, with signal overthrow of the nawab who had plundered its fort of more than £2,000,000. The battle of Plassy, followed by other victories, established British supremacy in India, and the conqueror appoints his own nominee as nawab of Bengal. For this the latter must pay a good round sum no less than 22,700,000 rupees, as compensation for losses to the company and to the people of Calcutta, together with the expenses of the army and navy. But such an amount did not exist in the treasury, and British greed must be satisfied with the payment of half its demands. Clive, however, receiving his share in full.
Appointed governor of all the company’s settlements in Bengal, after further consolidating his conquests Clive establishes a thorough system of civil administration, and then returns to his native land with a fortune of £300,000, and a life annuity of £27,000 granted by the nawab whom he had raised to power. After some further service in India, where as a basis of the mighty fabric of British empire he acquired control over 30,000,000 of people with an annual revenue of £4,000,000, he finally journeys homeward, and is impeached by the Commons of which he has become a member, complaining of his examination before the select committee which, as he declares, dealt with him "more like a sheep-stealer than as the member of the house.” When charged with making money, he exclaimed, "I am astonished, gentlemen, at my own moderation." Had he so willed it he might have been ten times as rich; for innumerable were the gifts that he refused from native princes, and all that he acquired was through means that were sanctioned by the company’s usages. Indeed, had such been the case, and if after robbing the people of India, the company had been robbed by its servants, it ought not to complain.
By Warren Hastings was organized the empire which Clive had founded in the east. A tried and trusted servant of the company, a man of superior intelligence and well acquainted with oriental customs in 1772 he was appointed governor of Bengal, and two years later became the first governor-general of India. His instructions were to carry out a thorough system of reforms, especially as to the administration of revenues, and these he executed, as far as possible, in the face of a strong and determined opposition. Removing the seat of government from Murshidabad to Calcutta, he declared that the latter would become the principal city in India, a promise that has long since been fulfilled. The land revenues were reorganized; the police and military systems were strengthened and purified; the pension of the nawab of Bengal was reduced to one-half though still amounting to £160,000 a year, and from the Mogul emperor he withheld the tribute of £300,000 which Clive had promised as a partial equivalent for the financial jurisdiction of Bengal. The cost of his wars he met for a time by loans, and when cash was urgently needed, by contributions from his private purse. In the collection of taxes the closest economy was used, and the company's monopoly of salt and opium was for the first time placed on a paying basis. It was, however, to the stores of native princes that Hastings looked for filling his depleted treasury; nor had he far to seek. The rajah of Benares. Cheyte Sing, was suspected of disloyalty. Then there was the nawab of Oudh, with vast hoards in the possession of his mother, the begum; but whose finances were in disorder, with arrears of the payments demanded for maintaining a British garrison. Here was indeed a golden opportunity for securing unlimited funds under guise of personal intervention, of settling the affairs of these wealthy provinces. In Benares his reception was not as he had expected; for the rajah rose in rebellion and the governor-general was glad to escape with his life, until, a force coming to his assistance, Cheyte Sing was defeated and deposed, and a heavy tribute exacted from his successor. From the nawab and the begum he obtained whatever he demanded, and his demands were not small, amounting to more than £1,000,000, nominally imposed as a fine.
As to the morality of Hastings' conduct, he had always ready the warren excuse that he was but fulfilling the instructions of the East India company, which under pretence of reform were to exact from the country every lac of rupees that its revenues and treasures would yield.
While carrying out the company's orders and at times even bettering their instructions, Hastings had by no means been unmindful of his private interests. Returning home with an ample fortune, after a long and able if somewhat unscrupulous administration, he was well received both by courtiers and countrymen; so that for a time there was talk of a peerage, but he met with impeachment instead; and though purged of the charge of high crimes and misdemeanors, he left the bar of the house of Lords a ruined man, for his defense had cost him all he had.
On the administrative system which Hastings had founded, Lord Cornwallis reared the superstructure. By the latter was introduced in Bengal the system of permanent settlement of the land revenues, the total income from which amounted in 1793 to £750,000. As a military leader Cornwallis met with better success than at Yorktown, ending the second Mysore war with the surrender by Tipu Sultan of half his domain, with the payment of £3,000,000 as indemnity. During the regime of Lord Mornington, which began in 1798, was gradually introduced a radical change in the political relations of native and European rulers; for it was his constant aim to make of England the paramount power, Hindu princes retaining merely the insignia and yielding the substance of independent sovereignty. Such indeed has ever since been England’s policy, to which the final touch was given when in 1877 her queen was proclaimed empress of India. Meanwhile, as the result of the Sepoy mutiny, the East India company had passed out of existence the entire control of the country, which thenceforth became a viceroyalty, being transferred to the crown by act of 1858. Strong and bitter was the protest of the directors to this sweeping measure as well, it might be since for the greater part of its two centuries and a half of existence the company had enjoyed a virtual monopoly of the richest trade in the world, paying handsome dividends on its enormous capital and holding almost absolute sway over the wealthiest provinces of the empire now subject to the crown, with a present revenue of more than 900,000,000 rupees, an area of 1,500,000 square miles, and a population nearly four times as large as that of the United States.
The Crimean war had lately ended and the war with Persia was still in progress, when on the 10th of May 1857 a long period of Sepoy insubordination culminated in open mutiny at Meerut, one of the oldest towns in the northwestern provinces, founded about 250 BC during the reign of the Buddhist emperor Asoka, and long the ancient capital of the Mogul empire, and which had been selected early in the present century as a military depot, though fallen into decay.
From a few hundreds in 1805 when the cantonments were first established, its population had increased to more than 80,000 in 1857. It was strongly garrisoned by English troops of all arms, and of these there were sufficient to overawe and if need be to crush the mutineers. But the British officers were paralyzed by the suddenness and severity of the blow. For many weeks they had passively endured insult from the Sepoys, and now, without lift ing a hand, they allowed them to break open the jail, to rush through their quarters massacring all the Europeans whom they met, and then swarming into the adjacent city of Delhi, to stir up the native garrison to revolt, to release and swell their ranks with hundreds of criminals, and to murder and plunder at will.
From the earliest times of which there is any record, as early at least as the 15th century of the pre-Christian era, a city of metropolitan rank has stood on the site of Delhi or its immediate vicinity, one after another arising on the ruins of its predecessors, until these ruins were spread over an area of nearly fifty square miles. As now it stands, a wall of solid masonry, constructed by the emperor Shah Jahan, encircles three of its sides, the eastern side, which fronts on the Jumna, being protected by its high and precipitous bank. Close to the river is the imperial palace, now converted into a fort, but of which there still remain its entrance and audience halls, with several of its pavilions, though of the stately corridors that connected them few traces are left. On the opposite side of the Jumna are the ruins of a fortress erected in the sixteenth century, and at this point the East India railway crosses the stream on one of the finest bridges in India. In the northern and eastern portions are the treasury and other public buildings, separated by spacious gardens and in contrast with the crowded native quarter in the south and west. While most of the thoroughfares are narrow winding alleys, many of them blind alleys, the principal avenues are sightly and spacious, especially the Chandni Chauk, or street of silver, nearly a mile in length, 75 feet wide, and with a double row of trees on the raised pathway which runs through its center. On a rocky eminence nearby is the Jama Masjid, or great mosque already mentioned with its roomy and cloistered court-yard, nearly half an acre in extent, paved with marble and granite. Elsewhere is the Kala Masjid, or black mosque, so named from its color, and probably erected by one of the first of the Afghan sovereigns.
In the suburbs of the city are the tombs of the royal families of India, and of these the most imposing is the mausoleum of a sovereign of the Mogul dynasty, in the midst of terraces and fountains encircled by a turreted and embattled wall. It is a handsome structure of granite inlaid with marble, resting on a platform 200 feet square and surmounted by a lofty dome.
Such was Delhi in 1857, a city fair of aspect; for though few of the palaces of its nobles were still in existence, there were buildings of elegant design erected by wealthy natives and wealthy foreigners, who here had made their home. Not long did this city remain in the hands of the mutineers. At the time of the outbreak all the British officers were killed, except those who had charge of the magazine, one of the largest in India and containing a vast quantity of arms and ammunition. This they defended until further resistance was useless, and then they blew it up, all but three of the gallant band perishing in the explosion. Meanwhile a large number of Europeans, most of them women, had been confined in a chamber no larger than the black hole at Calcutta, and from this they were dragged forth to be massacred.
As district after district rose in revolt, the Sepoys flocked into Delhi, until a rebel army of at least 50,000 trained and disciplined troops was there assembled. To oust them and to recover the city the British could muster but 10,000, and that with much difficulty and delay, their army consisting mainly of Sikh and Gurkha regiments. On the 20th of September the assault was delivered, and after six days fighting the reconquest was completed, with a loss to the assailants, including the many sorties repulsed during the siege, of more than half their numbers. In due time civil government was restored, and since 1857 Delhi has developed into a great commercial and railroad center, a number of lines bringing to its bazaars from many directions a large volume of valuable merchandise.
While the siege of Delhi was in progress occurred the hideous tragedy of Cawnpore, with the story of which all the world is familiar. Still another episode in the great drama of the Indian mutiny was the relief of Lucknow, and this was one of absorbing interest, for on the issue depended the fate of the empire. As the capital of Oudh, as the fourth among Indian cities in size and one of the first in wealth and as a manufacturing, commercial, strategic center with roads that radiate in several directions, it was in truth a prize worth fighting for, and no wonder that the most important operations of the war centered at this point. As seen from a distance, it appears like a cluster of palaces embowered in foliage; but on a nearer view the charm is dispelled; for in aspect it differs not greatly from other oriental cities. Crossing the Gumti river on an ancient bridge of stone, the visitor observes on his left the walls of a fort encircling the so-called Lachman hill, whence probably the name of the town, for here were erected the first buildings of which there is any record. Near by the huge mausoleum, known as the Imambara, towers above the adjacent edifices, and not far away are the stately minarets of the Jama Masjid, or cathedral mosque. Close to the rivers brink is the palace of Chattar Manzil, a group of leviathan structures without symmetry of design, as also is the Kaisar Bagh the last of the palatial mansions reared by the dynasty of Oudh. The new residency, built on a sightly eminence, is one of the most handsome buildings in the city, and near it, blackened and ruined walls an artificial mound encircled with wreaths and beds of flowers, and a cemetery where 2,000 Europeans lie at rest, recall the gallant defense of the British garrison in the summer of 1857.
On the 1st of July began the siege of the residency, where the British, both soldiery and civilians, had taken refuge within such slight fortifications as could at the moment be constructed. Several assaults were repulsed, and the garrison, though rapidly diminishing in numbers, held its own until the arrival, late in September, of a relieving column under Outram and Havelock. But even then the entire force was only sufficient to hold the residency until further aid should arrive, and all that could be done was to suffer and wait.
Meanwhile Sir Colin Campbell had arrived in India as commander-in-chief, and here at last was the man for the occasion. He found the troops distributed in fragments wherever their services were most required, with little regard to military organization. This he first corrected, restoring system to his disjointed battalions, awaiting the arrival of regiments from England, which was stripped so bare of troops that only the nucleus of an army remained, and notwithstanding all remonstrances, positively refusing to move on Lucknow until his preparations were completed. He was more than justified by the event; for laying siege to the enemy's fortifications with a slender force, but well supplied with artillery, it was only after six days’ hard fighting that the relief was effected, and then by the merest stroke of fortune. At the principal stronghold of the mutineers, the resistance was fierce and determined, the men falling fast before the enemy's fire, so that 450 were stricken down and nothing as yet accomplished.
Peel's heavy batteries, their volleys delivered within sixty yards of the walls, could make no impression, and orders were sent him to retire after picking up all his dead and wounded. At this juncture two young subalterns, discussing the situation during a lull in the fight and bethinking them what could be done, observed near at hand a rocky height from which the entire position could be surveyed. "Let us climb it." they said, "and see for ourselves how matters stand; there is surely some way of forcing an entrance into Lucknow.” They scaled the height and reaching its summit unscathed, rich indeed was their reward; the stronghold was deserted! An hour or two later Outram and his staff shook hands with their deliverers, and under cover of a heavy fire Sir Colin drew off the garrison by night, together with the civilians, including hundreds of women and children, all of whom were conveyed into safe quarters after long and weary months of suffering from hunger thirst and sickness, and above all suffering from the dread that on themselves would be visited the nameless horrors of Cawnpore.
With the relief of Lucknow and its subsequent recapture in March 1858, the back of the rebellion was broken, and after a year or more of active campaigning the country was finally subjugated. The mutiny cost the lives of several thousand Europeans and of scores of thousands of Hindus; it added $200,000,000 to the debt of India and increased the annual expenditure by $50,000,000. Not least among its results was that it put an end, as I have said, to the East India Company, an act of 1858 for the better government of India transferring the entire administration to the crown. No revengeful measures were adopted, but rather measures of conciliation; amnesty was declared for all save those who had been guilty of the massacre of Europeans, and in July 1859 peace was formally proclaimed.
During the administrations of Lord Elgin, Sir John Lawrence, Lord Mayo and Lord Northbrook, the first of the viceroys except Canning, little of importance occurred. A famine in the province of Orissa in 1863 swept away nearly one-third of its population, floods in the following year destroyed crops to the value of $15,000,000. But worst of was that which prevailed in 1877-8, extending over a wide area southward from the Deccan to Cape Comorin. For two years the rains had failed and at the close of 1876 the gaunt specter of famine cast its shadow athwart the land. All that the authorities could do was done. By ship and rail nearly 1,000,000 tons of grain were poured into the stricken provinces and $55,000,000 expended in relieving the distress.
Nevertheless the loss of life was appalling, more than 5,000,000 people perishing from starvation and the diseases which followed in its train.
Lord Lytton, Ripon, and Duffer in were succeeded by the marquis of Lansdowne and the earl of Elgin. When the latter came into office, in 1894, he found himself ruler of an empire containing nearly 1,000,000 square miles of territory and a population of 225,000,000 directly subject to British control, with feudatory states covering 600,000 square miles and peopled by 70,000,000 inhabitants. The wealth of this empire is enormous, and in proportion taxed for purposes of government much more lightly than under native rule, one of the Mogul emperors collecting in 1697 more than $400,000,000. The revenue for 1894-5, placing the silver rupee at its then current value of 20 cents, was estimated at $250,000,000, or about one-half of the amount levied in the United States from a people less than one-third in number. Land is the principal source of income, and next are opium and salt, the cultivation of the poppy being limited to certain districts, in most of which it is a government monopoly. The expenditure for the same year was about on a par with the revenue, or perhaps leaving a small deficit, the maintenance of the civil service and of an army of 75,000 European and 150,000 native troops requiring 46 percent of the total, but with liberal appropriations for railways, roads, irrigation, and other pubic work.
In these is represented a large proportion of the $600,000,000 of public debt, a heavy burden in truth, though nearly one-half of it is borne by Great Britain, the interest averaging less than four percent.
For many years the government has given its attention to the building of canals, some for irrigation and others for navigation, the latter chiefly in southern India, for south of the Gangetic basin there are no rivers that are navigable for any considerable distance. In the rainy season they are torrents, and in the dry season the scantest of rivulets, sometimes dwindling into scattered pools. Where the volume of water is ample, as in the Godavari, which runs through the center of the peninsula, its channel from one to three miles in width, there are rapids or other obstructions almost impossible to overcome. On the attempted construction of canals around the barriers of this stream $7,500,000 was expended in vain, though its delta has been converted into a garden spot by irrigating, and for the most part navigable canals, 530 miles in length and capable of watering 800,000 acres. Of all irrigation works the largest and most costly is the Sirhind canal in the Punjab, with 5,200 miles of main and distributary ditches, costing more than $10,140,000. Another is the Ganges canal, already briefly mentioned, its 4,160 miles requiring an outlay of $7,780,000. In the presidency of Madras alone more than 2,000,000 acres are artificially watered, and in all British India nearly 14,000,000 acres, from which is derived a gross revenue of $12,500,000 a year. India is the land of irrigation, and without it could not be supported the teeming population of a country subject to periodical famines. In portions of Bengal and Oudh there are 500 or 600 inhabitants to the square mile, and yet even where two heavy crops a year are raised in favorable seasons, these are insufficient for their support.
India is and ever has been essentially an agricultural country, though it is only within the last quarter of a century that her resources in this direction have been systematically developed. In 1894 there were at least 200,000,000 acres actually under cultivation, and of the surveyed area there were still about 90,000,000 acres available for tillage. As the tax on land yields the largest item of revenue, so is the cultivator of the soil the most important factor in the body politic. Nearly 50,000,000 people, or more than two-thirds of the entire male population, are engaged in husbandry, and many additional millions are indirectly dependent on husbandry for a livelihood. Rice is the staple product of India, though not as is commonly supposed the staple food of its people, the consumption of millet being on a much larger scale, for this is the most prolific of grains and the one best adapted to a tropical climate. In rice there were 70,000,000 acres under cultivation in 1894 and in millet and other cereals 120,000,000,000. Out of 25,000 acres planted in wheat, 9,000,000 are in the Punjab, producing in ordinary seasons from 12 to 15 bushels an acre, or about the same as in the United States, the finest qualities ranking almost on a par with the best American grades. As wheat is more costly than millet or rice, and was never a favorite article of food much of the crop is exported, the reduction in the price of wheat within recent years to a point where it is no longer profitable to raise it, being due in part to Indian competition. The advantages of cheaper labor and irrigation are powerful factors in favor of the Hindu farmer, and there is practically no limit to the quantity that can be produced, for the plant thrives well in nearly all the provinces.
The 3,000,000 acres planted in sugar-cane are insufficient for local requirements, though the product is supplemented by date-sugar, made chiefly in the district of Jessore, where it is a thriving industry.
The cane is grown for the most part on irrigated lands, and its cultivation is fairly profitable, but requires too much outlay, time, and care to find favor with the Hindu. And so with the tea-plant, which is indigenous to Assam, probably its native home, and whence at some prehistoric date it was introduced into China, though according to Chinese legend the shrub was first discovered in 2,737 BC by the mythic emperor Chinnung. Tea culture is entirely in the hands of Europeans, to whom it has been a source of heavy gains and losses, the success of the earlier planters leading to the speculative mania which culminated in 1865 and was speedily followed by collapse. Of late the returns have been satisfactory; for the market for Indian teas is unlimited, exports for 1894 amounting to $18,000,000, and it is not improbable that at no very distant day the crop will exceed that of China. Coffee, introduced as is said more than two centuries ago by a pilgrim returning from Mecca, is largely produced by the natives, their plantations covering 125,000 acres and yielding more than enough for domestic use. Vegetables of many varieties are raised in plats for household consumption, and on larger areas in the neighborhood of towns. Of fruits there are the pineapple, custard-apple, melon, plantain, tamarind, fig, lime, citron, shaddock, orange, mango, and guava, the flavor of the three last being nowhere excelled.
During the cotton famine in England at the time of the civil war, India was the principal source of supply, and though raised for local consumption since time immemorial it was not until 1861 that cotton was largely grown for exportation. From a few million dollars before that date, exports increased in value to nearly $200,000,000 in 1866 and yielded enormous profits, the price increasing from $6.25 a bale in 1860 to $27.50 in 1864. Here production culminated, shipments of raw and manufactured cottons amounting in 1894 to less than $54,000,000, against a much larger volume of imported fabrics. As to quantity the crop is fair, exceeding 60 pounds of cleaned cotton to the acre; but the staple is too short for the finer class of yarns, and in other respects Indian cotton cannot compete with that which is raised in the southern states of America.
Jute, grown almost entirely in Bengal, is next in importance among fibrous products, and in this there are 2,300,000 acres under cultivation. Sericulture was fostered by the East India Company, reelers being brought from Italy as early as 1769 to teach the Bengalese the art of filature. About half a century later the company had eleven large factories in the province of Bengal, exporting, besides raw silk, at the rate of 1,000,000 pounds a year. Under imperial rule this industry was further developed, but of late has fallen into decadence, the worms being afflicted with a disease for which no remedy has been found. Nevertheless in districts exempt from the pest, and especially in lower Bengal, sericulture finds favor with the natives, 100,000 acres being planted in mulberries in the single district of Rajshahi.
In 1894 opium to the value of $22,000,000 was exported as private merchandise, and probably five times as much by the government of India, whose revenue is increased thereby at least $50,000,000 a year. In Bengal contracts are made by the authorities with farmers encouraged by promised advances in cash to plant certain quantities of land in poppies, the entire crop to be delivered at the government agencies at a stipulated price. At Patna and Ghazipur, where are the two central agencies, the drug is manufactured and prepared for the Chinese and other markets, shipments probably exceeding 150,000 chests a year, or more than sufficient to poison the entire human race. Tobacco for home consumption is grown in every part of India, but finds no market abroad. Indigo, though less cultivated than in former years is still a valuable crop, and of this in Bengal alone there are 40 varieties, classed according to color.
Such are the leading agricultural staples of Hindustan, sufficient, except in occasional seasons of dearth, to support its 300,000,000 inhabitants, and to permit the exportation of food-products to the value of $70,000,000 or $80,000,000 a year. An additional element of wealth is the forests which until recent years were being rapidly destroyed by timber cutters, charcoal burners, and by the hill tribes for nomadic cultivation. To clear the soil, timber-trees of the finest quality were set on fire, the flames often spreading over many thousand acres of forest land.
This was of less importance so long as the chief aim of the government was the extension of husbandry; but as population increased and railroad development created a growing demand for fuel the matter assumed a more serious aspect. Moreover, forests were the inheritance of future generations, and the effect of their denudation on climatic conditions was being demonstrated in Europe and the United States. Thus stringent measures were adopted for their protection; an inspector-general was appointed and a school of forestry established, conservators being also trained for their duties in similar institutions in France and Germany. Up to 1895 more than 70,000 square miles of timber lands had been reserved by the state; the reservation of additional tracts was still in active progress, and while thus acquiring the fee-simple of this boundless source of wealth, the department had added several millions a year to the national revenue.
In 1773 was opened the first coal mine in India; in 1895 there were nearly 100 collieries, their output approximating 3,000,000 tons, valued at $8,000,000. Nevertheless coal and other fuel are largely imported, the home supply not keeping pace with the development of railroads and manufactures. The deposits are widely distributed, the most valuable being those of the Raniganj district, where several European and many native companies and firms are exploiting its 500 square miles of coal-beds. It was probably in India that iron was first mined and manufactured; for here are the remains of the most ancient workings thus far discovered in any country in the world. Almost throughout the peninsula, wherever there are hills there is iron, and this is worked by the same methods that obtained nearly thirty centuries ago.
The foreign shipping trade of India is very large, more than 10,000 vessels, with at least 3,000,000 of tonnage, entering and clearing in 1894. During the same year 1,700 steamers passed through the Suez Canal. Of the coast trade the proportions are enormous, the entrances and clearances for the twelve-month exceeding 200,000 and the tonnage 22,500,000. A large proportion of all the craft were built at Indian ports, 80 to 100 vessels, constructed chiefly at Bombay and Madras, being added yearly to the commercial marine.
It may be stated in general terms that the foreign commerce of India is conducted by Europeans, and that her internal trade is in the hands of Hindus. By the agents of the former produce is collected at central points and dispatched to the seaboard from innumerable farms and villages, among which manufactured goods are distributed in return; by the latter commodities are interchanged between neighbors and neighboring districts. The natives, and especially the Parsees, are shrewd and eager traders, many of them competing closely with foreign firms, and now that British rule has abolished the shackles of despotism, the field for their enterprise is almost unlimited.
Nearly 4,000,000 persons are directly engaged in various branches of traffic; but of these a large proportion are peddlers; for farmers seldom visit the towns, and expect at their doors the itinerant venders whose wallets supply their needs. Every village has one or more shopkeepers, who also act as money lenders and dealers in grain and specie, without whom the more improvident portion of the people would be in danger of starvation. In the towns and larger villages there are weekly markets, and in nearly all the districts are held periodical fairs partaking of a religious character, or for which religious ceremonies serve as a pretext. Some of these fairs, as the one at Hurdwar on the upper Ganges, are attended by 200,000 or 300,000 visitors, all kinds of articles of home production being offered for sale and changing hands to the amount of many millions of rupees.
By the government and municipal authorities are maintained 160,000 miles of highway roads, though in the rainy season rivers and canals are the chief and in some districts the only means of communication. In thickly peopled districts the roads are metalled and all are kept in repair. Large rivers are crossed in the dry season by bridges of boats and in the wet season by ferries; for floods would cover or carry away any permanent structures that could be erected; though across the smaller streams are bridges resting on solid foundations of stone and often supported by substantial iron girders.
It was Lord Dalhousie, as I have said, who in 1850 turned the first sod for an Indian railway, and to him is largely due the planning of the present railroad system, nearly 20,000 miles in length, traversing the entire peninsula, connecting the cities and larger towns and with feeders tapping the principal areas The trunk lines of production were built by private companies, under a government guarantee of five percent interest on the invested capital and these were later transferred to the authorities, though for the most part still under lease to the companies. Up to the close of 1894 about $725,000,000 had been expended by the state on railroad construction and by corporations $350,000,000, or $1,075,000,000 in all. The gross earnings for that year may be stated at $71,000,000, and the working expenses at $34,000,000, or 48 percent of the income.
Though fares and freights are extremely low, so low that railways have absorbed most of the traffic and travel that formerly passed over roads and canals, the net earnings suffice for the payment of annual dividends averaging five and a half percent. Like all else under state control in India and there are railroads are honestly managed, neither stealings, perquisites, nor watering of stock.
In 1854 there were less than 700 post-offices in all the peninsula; in 1894 there were nearly 25,000, distributing 400,000,000 letters, postal cards, newspapers, parcels, and money orders. While the system is somewhat expensive, the outlay of this department is but slightly below its revenue. Much of the service is performed by runners, by boats and carts or on horseback, the railroads covering less than one-fourth of the total distance travelled by the mails. Of telegraph offices there are about 1,200, and of telegraph lines some 45,000 miles, all under government control and extending throughout the entire empire. None of the cities and towns and few of the larger villages are without telegraphic and postal facilities, extended year by year as wants increase and means permit.
According to the census of 1891 there were 75 cities and towns in India whose population exceeded 50,000; there were 40 that contained from 35,000 to 50,000, and 766,000 villages with from 500 to less than 200 inhabitants. Yet, as we have seen, this represents less than one-third of the entire population, the remaining two-thirds being farmers or farm laborers; for nothing short of imminent starvation will drive the Hindu from what he deems the sacred calling of agriculture.
From a group of mud villages at the close of the seventeenth century, Calcutta has developed into a city of 1,000,000 people in these closing years of the nineteenth. Here, after building Fort William in 1696, the East India Company established its headquarters in Bengal, purchasing the native settlement of Calcutta from Prince Azim, son of the emperor Aurungzebc. The guard-room of this fort, less than 20 feet square and with only two small windows, was the Black Hole into which 146 Europeans were driven at the point of the sword, and from which, after hour’s imprisonment, only 23 were taken alive.
Soon afterward the fort was abandoned, and another site was completed in 1773 the present Fort William at a cost of $10,000,000. From it extends towards the east the maidan, or park, with its beautiful gardens and spacious promenades and drives, where in the cool of eventide gather the beauty and fashion of the metropolis. On other sides it is flanked by Government house, by public offices, and the costly residences of the Chauringi, or European quarter, beyond which are the thickly clustered and peopled huts of the native population.
Passing to the island of Ceylon, may first be mentioned the remains of what were formerly among the largest irrigation works in the world, some of them in the form of artificial lakes several miles in circumference, and with canals for conducting their waters to the fertile valleys and plains which this country, under its ancient rulers, the granary of southern Asia. While many of these have fallen into decay, some have been restored and others are in process of restoration; for agriculture is still, as in olden times, the favorite industry of the Cingalese, even the hillsides being laid out in terraces and producing crops of rice. Wheat was not raised in considerable amount until Ceylon became a British possession, and manufactures were few and primitive; but there were other sources of wealth, especially in the pearl fisheries on the northwest coast, while precious stones were fairly abundant.
China, the Sin, Chin, or Sinas of ancient times known to the Romans as the land of the Seres, and in the middle ages as Cathay, was to Europe almost a fabled realm until the thirteenth century, when Genghis Khan and his successors were extending Mongol rule westward through northern and central Asia and into the heart of Europe. Priests and envoys visited the great Khan in Mongolia, returning with statements for the most part reliable and of which many have been preserved. Among them were the Franciscan friars Juan de Plano Carpini and William of Rubruk, the latter from French Flanders who about the middle of the century reported, "The country is very rich in corn, wine, gold, silver, and silk;" "their betters as craftsmen cannot be found;" in great Cathay is the Land of the Seres, for the best silk stuffs are got from there;" "the common money of Cathay consists of pieces of cotton paper, about a palm in length and breadth, upon which certain lines are printed resembling the seal of Mangu Khan."
The friars, however did not penetrate far into the country, but acquired their information chiefly from Cathayans at the bazaars in the camp of Genghis Khan. The first Europeans to travel and report at length on Cathay were members of the Polo family, of Venice, Marco especially encountering many strange and novel experiences, a few of which are here related for what they are worth. Not far from Peking he came to a castle, which had once been the residence of him who was called the golden king, potent and wealthy prince, the great hall of his palace being finished in gold. "There used to be in his service,” says the Venetian, "none but beautiful girls, of whom he had a great number at his court. When he went to take the air about the fortress these girls used to draw him about in a little carriage which they could easily move.” In crossing what he names the river Kiansuy, he speaks of a great stone bridge, "seven paces in width and half a mile in length; on either side are columns of marble to bear the roof, for the bridge is roofed over with timber, all richly painted.
And on this bridge there are houses in which a great deal of trade and industry is carried on; the dues taken on this bridge bring to the lord 1,000 pieces of fine gold every day." The city of Kinsay, otherwise Kingsze. or Hangchau, he assures us was 100 miles in compass; and there were "12,000 bridges of stone, for the most part so lofty that a great fleet could pass beneath them. And there were in this city twelve guilds of the different crafts, each guild having 12,000 houses in the occupation of its workmen. Each of the houses contained at least twelve men, while some had twenty or forty, masters and workmen. And yet all these craftsmen had full occupation, for many other cities of the kingdom were supplied from the city. The number and wealth of the merchants, and the amount of goods which passed through their hands were so enormous that no man could form a just estimate thereof. Moreover it was an ordinance laid down by the king that every man should follow his father's business, and no other, no matter if he possessed 100,000 bezants.
"Further more there exists in this city the palace of the king who fled, him who was emperor of Manzi, that is to say the Song palace, and that is the greatest palace in the world. Its demesne hath a compass of ten miles, all enclosed with lofty battlemented walls; and inside the walls are the finest and most delectable gardens upon earth, filled with the finest fruits. There are numerous fountains in it also, and lakes full of fish. In the middle is the palace itself, a great and splendid building. It contains twenty great and handsome halls, one, more spacious than the others, affording room for a vast multitude to dine. It is all painted in gold, with many histories and representations of beasts and birds, of knights and dames, and many marvellous things. It forms a really magnificent spectacle, for over all the walls and all the ceiling you see nothing but paintings in gold. And besides these halls the palace contains 1,000 large and handsome chambers, all painted in gold and divers colors." There were in the city, as Marco would have us believe 1,600,000 buildings, among them a great number of rich palaces. On one side of the city was a fresh-water lake and on the other a large river, with many canals intervening. There were ten principal markets, besides many others, the former all occupying squares, extending half a mile on each side. From this city the emperor drew a large revenue, first from salt, "5,600,000 saggi of gold, each saggio being worth more than a gold florin, or ducat; in sooth a vast sum of money! In this city and in its dependencies they make great quantities of sugar, as indeed they do in the other eight divisions of this country; so that I believe the whole of the rest of the world together does not produce such a quantity, and the sugar produces an enormous revenue. Spicery pays three and a third percent on the value, and all other merchandise the same.
The rice-wine also makes a great return, and coal, of which there is a great quantity; and so do the twelve guilds of craftsmen."
Fuju, or Fokien, was another great city, the seat of large trade and manufactures "There flows through the middle of this city a great river, which is about a mile in width, and many ships are built at the city which are launched upon this river. Enormous quantities of sugar are made, and there is a great traffic in pearls and precious stones. For many ships of India come to these parts bringing many merchants who traffic about the isles of the Indies. For this city is, as I must tell you, in the vicinity of the ocean port of Zayton, which is greatly frequented by the ships of India with the cargoes of various merchandise. Hither is imported the most astonishing quantity of goods, and of precious stones and pearls; and from this they are distributed all over Manzi. And I assure you that for one shipload of pepper that goes to Alexandria, or elsewhere, destined for Christendom, there come a hundred such, aye, and more too, to this haven of Zayton, for it is one of the two greatest havens in the world for commerce. The ships were of fir timber, one deck, each of fifty or sixty cabins, wherein the merchants abide greatly at their ease, every man having one to himself. These ships carry 5,000 or 6,000 baskets of pepper, and require 200 or 300 men.
An important work, so far at least as it relates to European trade with China, is the old commercial guide book entitled Libro di divisamenti di Paesi, written about 1340 by Francesco Balducci Pegolotti, a clerk in the Florentine house of Bardi, and giving information as to routes of travel, currency, in the form of silver ingots and paper money, and the purchase of merchandise of which silk was the leading article. The country has much good soil, and its wealth-producing power is largely increased by numerous rivers and canals. The two largest rivers are the Yangtsze Keang and the Hwangho, or Yellow river, noted for its destructive floods. The Yunho, or Grand Canal, is an artificial river extending from Hangchow to Tsinkeangpu, where it unites with the Yangtsze Keang, after passing through some of the most fertile districts of the empire. A feature of the surface formation of northern China is the loess region, an area of more than 250,000 square miles covered with friable earth and yielding abundant crops with slight expense of labor and without the use of fertilizing substances.
In common with other nations, the Chinese were probably a nomadic before they became an agricultural people, first appearing in history as a small and migratory horde roaming the plains and forests of Shanse, houseless, destitute of clothing, and subsisting on roots, insects, and the raw flesh of animals slain in the chase; for to them the use of fire was as yet unknown. But soon after entering the flowery kingdom their wanderings practically ceased, for if nomads, they brought with them a knowledge of certain industries; so that presently we find them growing grain, spinning silk, and weaving flax into garments; indeed, time enough they had to do much, as from the creation to the days of Confucius they counted somewhat more than 2,267,000 years. The chronology and traditions of this period I do not propose to inflict on the reader, remarking only that it is little wonder their historical dramas should occupy a year or two in the performance.
There were many epochs and dynasties which native historians have described or invented—ten epochs preceding the Chow dynasty; after which were the Shang dynasty, the Leang, Yang, Tsin, and Han dynasties, and the rest. Among the earliest of noted personages were he who discovered the element of tire by the accidental friction of dry pieces of wood, and the one who discovered iron, as did the Phoenicians the art of making glass, in the ashes of a fire kindled on the ground.
In science, Chin Nung, the botanist, was eminent; to the seventy poisonous plants, knowledge of which the world first owed to his investigations, he found seventy antidotes in other plants, thus equalizing matters. The empress Selingshe, wife of the usurper Hwangle, noticed the silkworm wind its delicate thread into the cocoon, which she thereupon unraveled and wove the filaments into a web of cloth. During the reigns of Yaou and his successor, more than 2,300 years before Christ, marts of trade and local fairs were established throughout the empire, which never before had been so prosperous or so free from crime. Far otherwise was the condition of affairs when Confucius attempted in vain the reformation of a people among whom, as his disciple Mencius relates, "virtue and right principle had disappeared and wicked deeds were waxen rife, ministers murdering their rulers and sons their fathers." To this he might have added that the country was distracted by civil wars and harassed by predatory incursions; for about four centuries before the days of Confucius the Tartars appeared on the scene, and thenceforth, though repeatedly driven back, became a perpetual source of peril and annoyance.
Better was the nation governed during the regime of Che Hwangte, "the first universal monarch" of a realm almost coextensive with modern China. Ascending the throne when but thirteen years of age, some three centuries after the birth of Confucius, he devoted himself to works of public utility, as the construction of roads, canals, and public edifices, erecting in his chosen capital—the present Segan Foo—what was in that age the grandest of Chinese palaces.
Then, with all the forces at his disposal, he marched against the Tartars, exterminating or driving them into their mountain fastnesses. He it was who took upon himself the task of building the great wall of China, almost completed during the latter years of his reign and under his own supervision, though extending across the entire northern frontier. In height it varied from 15 to 30 feet; was 25 feet thick at the base, and at the top wide enough for several horsemen to ride abreast, requiring, as is said, the enforced labor of every third man in the empire. Notwithstanding its fortified towers, with guards or garrisons stationed at short intervals, it did not serve to keep out the Tartars, any more than did the congressional wall thrown around the United States in these latter days of the 19th century serve to keep out the Chinese.
Passing to the middle ages may first be mentioned the usurper Yangte. who after putting to death the rightful heir to the throne, early in the seventh century, gave himself over to carnal lust and debauchery, which presently gave place to the lust of conquest. Expeditions sent against the Tartars were followed by one conducted in person against the Coreans, whose empire he found in greater disorder even than it has been during these latter days. Meanwhile he squandered the nation’s funds on public works of doubtful utility, and on the erection of a costly palace at Loyang, thus laying such heavy burdens on his people as to arouse a spirit of rebellion and discontent, culminating in his assassination. For one thing only his reign is to be commended, and that is his respect for literature. The imperial library, before consisting of 15,000 volumes, was increased to 54,000; and among them were many works relating to the history of the empire, records of which had been destroyed, but restored in part from memory.
About the close of the century we find a woman ruling over a country where women were accounted as little better than slaves; Woo How was her name. On the death of her husband she had usurped the throne, and managed the affairs of state with greater discretion than most of her male predecessors. Then follows a long succession of vicious and for the most part feeble administrations and dynasties, until we come to the invasion of Genghis Khan, whose hosts swept through the land like a blast from the pit of Acheron, so that it was said a horseman could ride without obstruction over the sites where ninety cities had stood. In 1259 Kublai, grandson of the fierce Mongol warrior became emperor of China, though not universally acknowledged until some twenty years later. He it is whom Marco Polo calls the great khan, and great indeed he was; for his domain extended from the straits of Malacca westward to the banks of the Dnieper, and princes were proud to call themselves his vassals and to pay him yearly tribute. Never before nor since was the nation more powerful or prosperous: for while making himself felt abroad, Kublai was not unmindful of the welfare of his subjects, expending his revenues on public improvements and giving freely of his substance to the poor.
Three centuries ago the late war between China and Japan had its parallel in a struggle for the possession of Korea. In 1597 the Japanese invaded the peninsula, and after destroying the Chinese army and navy ravaged the western coast of the Yellow sea but for some unexplained reason retired without gathering the fruits of their conquest. Other raids followed at brief intervals; so that the empire was seldom at peace for so many as a score of years at a time. Doubtless these periods of blood-letting relieved the country of many impurities, and of much surplus and undesirable population. In former times war was less a matter of money than of men; but in these latter days the pecuniary cost is enormous, and the victors' reward must be largely in cash, the issue depending rather on the metal that is turned into coin than on that which is turned into swords.
Thus far the wars of China were only against Asiatics; but in 1840 came hostilities with England, resulting in the cession of Hong Kong, the payment of $27,000,000 as indemnity, and the opening of several ports to foreign trade. The cause was sufficiently disgraceful, and only too well known—the import and sale of opium by English merchants, in spite of the protests and preventive measures of the mandarins. The sedative and medicinal properties of the juice of the poppy, indigenous in southern Europe and western Asia, were known long before the cycles of our modern era began their numbering. With the spread of Islamism opium was introduced into India, and thence by the Arabs some centuries afterward into China. Its sale was monopolized by monarchs and powerful corporations, notably the great mogul and later the East India Company. In 1796, the emperor Kea King forbade the importation of the drug, and the penalty for opium smoking was imprisonment or death; but England had much of it to sell, and China must furnish a market, even though it be forced upon her with gunboats. At first her people abhorred the poison, but presently learned to crave it; so that between 1820 and 1830 the consumption amounted to nearly 200,000 chests. In a second war, ending in 1860, a strong force of British and French advanced on Peking, and the emperor was only too glad to rid himself of the hated foreigners by another payment of about $12,000,000 or $13,000,000.
Without tracing further the wars and dynasties of China, let us turn to the industries and resources, the customs and habits of a people at least as ancient as the Egyptians, and of whose early history even less is known. In this connection may first be given a brief description of the imperial city; for here is a notable example of what money, men, and time will accomplish. Khanbalik, or the city of the Khan, the capital of Cathay in thirteenth century parlance; Peking, the capital of China, as today we call it, is probably more than 3,000 years old, and with a present population of somewhat over 1,000,000, —a smaller number than its area would suggest, for the outer walls are 30 miles in circuit. There are many vacant spaces, especially around the royal palace, the se yuen, or western park, with an artificial lake spanned by a marble bridge, forming a part of its grounds. The crowded quarters are few, and viewed from the walls it presents the aspect of a city of palaces, mansions, and temples, of fantastic design to our western notions, gay with many colored tiling, and fringed with groves and gardens. Trade yang fang is limited, and there is little foreign commerce.
As to the resources industries, and commerce of China, what is said of the present applies largely to the past, since for many centuries the Chinese have changed but little, and railroad construction with all such modern appliances as would open the interior to modern intrusion, have been persistently discouraged. Of the wealthy and wealth producing classes apart from government officials, farmers, and men of letters occupy a foremost position merchants and mechanics being held in less esteem. Like all else in China, the origin of agriculture is traced back into the mists of prehistoric ages; yet while the country is the most densely peopled on earth, there are still large areas available for cultivation, the government exempting from tribute tracts reclaimed from waste. Realty is held in freehold subject to the payment of a tax, which is remitted in case of a failure of crops; and in the larger villages is an agricultural board whose duty it is to see that the husbandman makes the most of his opportunities; for the law requires that all lands shall be kept in a high state of cultivation. The farm houses are usually built of clay with tile roofs extending far over the walls and for implements. there are the plow with wooden share, differing but little from the one which Chin Nung is said to have invented some thousands of years before Christ; the iron-tipped hoe, the harrow, spade, flail, reaping hook, and winnowing-machine. In the Northern provinces, the summer rain and winter snow furnish as a rule sufficient moisture; in the south, where rice is the staple product, irrigation is essential, though methods are crude and primitive, the chain-pump and bucket playing a conspicuous part. In horticulture and pisciculture the Chinese excel, and for domesticated animals, there are the buffalo camel and yak, oxen milch-cows and sheep, goats swine and poultry, horses asses and mules, all of which are offered for sale at the country fairs, where trading in live-stock is a leading feature.
Sericulture is and long has been a prominent industry; for the silk-moth is believed to be indigenous to China, and silk was thence introduced into southern Europe long before the opening of the Christian era, the Greek words ser as applied to the worm and serikon to the fabric, pointing to its origin in the land of the Seres, as China was termed in the classic age. First discovered, as I have said, more than twenty-six centuries before Christ, by the empress Selingshe, for whom is also claimed the invention of the loom, it has never ceased to be a favorite occupation, so that to this day is held an annual cocoon festival, at which the court ladies gather mulberry leaves, feed the worms, and reel off the filaments with gold and silver implements. The secret of this valuable art was carefully guarded, and when first silk made its appearance among nations bordering on the Mediterranean, they knew not what it was, some pronouncing it to be a very fine quality of wool or cotton, and others the down of leaves. It was, moreover, very costly, at times beyond the means even of monarchs and millionaires, the emperor Aurelian for instance refusing his wife a silken gown on account of the expense. But presently the process became known beyond the flowery kingdom; first to the people of India, whither as tradition relates the ova of the moth were surreptitiously carried in the head-dress of a Chinese princess; then to the Koreans, by whom a temple was erected to the first weavers of silk. By Persian monks the eggs were brought to Constantinople concealed in a hollow cane, and from the contents of this Cane have come all the varieties of silk, the manufacture of which has been to the western world an unfailing source of wealth.
To China sericulture is what coal and iron are to England, export values ranging from fifty to sixty millions of dollars a year, exceeding even those of tea, and almost as great as those of all other commodities combined. While the foreign demand is mainly for raw silk, large quantities are wrought into fabrics at home, especially in Canton, where is a large body of resident weavers. The industry is fairly profitable, and the more so that it is well subdivided; some raising and tending the worms, some growing the mulberry trees and selling the leaves, others trading in cocoons, and still others manufacturing the silk.
The properties of tea, now used as a beverage by half the civilized world, are said to have been discovered more than 2,700 years before Christ by the emperor Chin Nung, to whom, as we have seen, is also credited the invention of the plow; for to this mythical personage the Chinese attribute all that was first made known of agriculture and pharmacy. Certain it is that tea is mentioned in the works of Confucius, or at least in those which he edited; but it was not until some fourteen centuries later that through general use it became a source of public revenue. In one form or another the plant is raised almost throughout the empire, green tea in the north and black varieties in the southern provinces. Modes of culture and manipulation differ widely, that which is retained for home consumption being treated by special processes, and of superior quality to any of the exported articles. Exports for 1890 were valued at some $40,000,000, the smallest in many years on account of increased competition, especially with Japan, Ceylon, and the British East Indies. The plant takes kindly to many soils and climates northward from about latitude 40°to the shores of Brazil and Australia, and has even been raised in the open air on the southern coast of England. That for 2,000 years or more it was restricted exclusively to China is due less to natural advantages than to superior methods and to the fact that the crop can there be raised and gathered for a wage of six to ten cents a day.
The species of poppy from which is obtained the opium of commerce is grown in many provinces, and in some places where silver is scarce opium is used as currency. Though the area of cultivation is steadily enlarging, the supply does not keep pace with the demand, imports of the drug amounting to $40,000,000 or $50,000,000 a year.
Rice is a staple product, especially in the south, where also sugar is raised, and wheat maize barley and millet, with other cereals are among the chief resources of northern China.
Coal is found in all the provinces, and to some extent is exported, mines worked under foreign control being extremely productive; while of iron and copper there are large deposits as yet almost untouched. For domestic purposes charcoal is preferred to coal and in the few districts where iron is mined the hills are covered with furnaces. Sulfur is plentiful in the island of Formosa, and is used not only for the manufacture of gunpowder and fireworks, but for tanning bleaching and dyeing. As to the precious metals, while in fair supply, and with extensive veins both of gold and silver worked by the government, mining in this direction finds little encouragement, since capital is needed for the purpose, and capital demands protection and security, which as yet are missing factors in the body politic.
In contrast with the dormant and self-satisfied condition of China is the progress of Japan within recent years in industries and arts, in systems of commerce and communication, in local and national government, in naval and military affairs, and above all in education, the last due largely to intercourse with the United States. In its treatment of Japan the Anglo-American republic has been guided by no selfish policy, its diplomatists, teachers, and men of science aiding the struggling nation to the best of their ability, and with an earnest desire for her welfare. Hundreds of Japanese travelers and specialists, whose purpose was to study our western civilization, have been hospitably received, and hundreds of students have been taught at American institutions of learning. At their own university are colleges of law and literature, of engineer and other sciences; there are schools of every grade from the kindergarten to the normal academy, with commercial, technical, and industrial schools, attended in all by more than 10,000,000 pupils; there are at least a score of libraries, and more than 1,000 newspapers and periodicals assist in training the people to a sense of their responsibilities. Such is the Japan of today; and yet some three or four decades ago the nation was as much self-concentrated as the hermit or the flowery kingdom, content with the past, without ambition for the future, and willing to abide under the order of things established by a dynasty almost as old as the monarchy of ancient Rome.
But first let us hear briefly from the beginning, so far as it is connected with our theme, the story of the Japanese empire as related in substance by themselves, Japan, they say, is the world, and Isanagi and Isanami made it, and from this creative pair sprang all the people.
By the left eye of the sun-god, as he was bathing in the sea, was begotten the sun-goddess Amaterasu, primogenitress of Jimmu Tenno, founder of the dynasty of which the present Mikado is the 121st successor. Among the most beneficent of the earlier sovereigns was Sojin Tenno, the tenth in succession, whose rule extended from 97 to 30 BC. Agriculture was his special care, and it was he who built the first reservoir for the irrigation of rice fields. The work was continued by his son and successor, many canals and storage tanks being constructed, together with magazines in which the grain was preserved for seasons of famine. He reared also the famous temple of the sun-goddess, which afterward became the national shrine. By later rulers the work of irrigation was further extended, and especially by Ojin Tenno, who with enforced Korean labor made reservoirs and trenches, of which not a few are still in use. From Kudar he imported horses and arms, weavers and workers in iron and copper, and those who knew how to make brandy. To a learned Chinese doctor named Wani he entrusted the education of his son, and thus was the philosophy of Confucius and Mencius first introduced into Japan.
Jingo Kogo, empress of the 14th Mikado, who died shortly after the time of Christ, conquered Korea, thus preparing the way for the introduction of Chinese civilization, with the domesticated animals and cultivated plants of China, the religion of Buddha, and the philosophy of Confucius. In these 121 Mikados were 114 men of wealth, whose several fortunes cannot here be chronicled. Nintoku, the 16th on the list, also constructed roads and irrigation ditches for the extension of rice-planting, and to him are probably due the first experiments in the breeding of silk worms. He was esteemed as a beneficent ruler, a man of worth and wealthy withal. Some of his successors were warriors and did more killing than creating. Sashun, the 32d of the line, erected costly temples to Buddha, zeal for the holy work increasing during the reigns immediately following. About the year 600 AD. Doncho, a Buddhist priest, brought to this kingdom of Wo, as the Chinese called Japan, knowledge of the use of paper and ink, and millstones. Next to the Mikados the oldest and richest family in Japan was that of Fujiwara, whose founder was Nakatomi.
The empress Jito, the 41st sovereign, increased the number of Buddhist temples to 545, and Mommu Tenno, next in succession, revised the laws of the empire, and encouraged the study of Chinese philosophy, promoting also the cultivation of the mulberry tree and the manufacture of silk. It was during his reign that cremation was first introduced, a custom still existing. A copper mine was found in Musashi, during the reign of the empress Gemmei, AD 710; while under Shomu, the 45th Mikado, who spent nineteen years in acquiring a knowledge of Chinese law letters and philosophy, and invented syllabic writing, the first gold mine in Japan was discovered and the orange-tree introduced.
Kuwammu, the 50th Mikado, was a great and good man, solicitous for the progress and prosperity of his country. He made canals and dams, abolished the mendicancy licensed by the priests, reorganized the civil service, and fostered education. He removed the royal residence to Uda afterward Kyoto, and there, on the bank of the Kamogawa he built the palace of Heianjo, or city of Peace, where his successors resided until 1868. This palace which had twelve gates and was surrounded with beautiful gardens, stood almost in the center of the capital, where were more than 1,200 streets, clean, well kept, adorned with monuments of art and history, and lined with houses of tasteful architecture; so that presently Kyoto became the national center of wealth and culture . The religion of Buddha likewise flourished and never before had so large a following. Nimmio, who reigned between 834 and 851, encouraged agriculture and built asylums for the indigent and sick.
Uda defeated a piratical expedition from Shiraki, and by the 67th Mikado the Koreans were driven back within their boundaries in 1012-1017. Under the pious Shirakawa, 72d sovereign, the priests of Buddha became exceedingly powerful and by their arrogance and extravagance gave much cause of offence.
With the 12th century came feudalism and military despotism civil wars and fanatical outbursts continuing for several centuries of the Japanese middle ages. During the Mongol invasion of China, when Marco Polo was the guest of Kublai Khan, Korean envoys presented to Gouda, 91st Mikado, a demand for his submission, which was rejected with scorn. Godaigo, who ruled from 1319 to 1338, prevailed on the rich men of Japan to lend their aid in relieving the distress caused by a great famine then in the land. When Columbus sailed to America. GotsuchiMikado was 102d sovereign and with the Portuguese on the coast of China, and the Sinniards at the Philippine isles, the teachings of Christ began to compete with those of Buddha for the attention of the now prosperous and wealthy Japanese. Mendez Pinto was in Japan in 1542, and the reports which he brought back to Portugal the credulity of his hearers. Soon were at hand the emissaries of Loyola, whose order was founded about this time.
Conspicuous in the history of Japan is Ieyasu, whose military prowess led to the capture of the castle of Ozaka in 1615. During the regime of his grandson, Lyemidzu, Christianity was eradicated; coinage established; weights and measures regulated; and a survey and cartography of the country instituted.
Among the richest and most influential houses of Japan were those of Shimadzu of Satsuma, and Nabeshima, daimio of Saga, followed in the earlier part of the 17th century by that of the house of Hosokawa; also Kato Kiyomasa, to whom belonged the fertile province of Higo; the three rival houses of Ogasawara in Buzen, Kuroda in Chikuzen, and Mori in Choshiu; while by the house of Li was claimed the fair domain of Ishida Mitsunari. Class distinctions were clearly marked; first, there was the Mikado's establishment with its royalty and court nobility; second, the laborers, military; and third the people, and wealth-producers, on whom the others lived. The Mikado was the son of heaven; he was richest of all because to him belonged, at least in name, whatever the nation possessed. Indeed, his life and rulership were so divine and spiritual that oftentimes he appeared to know less of his belongings on earth than of his mansion in the skies. Of his subjects he knew nothing and was to them unknown, living and dying within the walls of his yellow palace at Kyoto and being deified after death. He had one, wife a dozen or so of concubines, and as man more women as he cared to trouble himself withal. Belonging to the court nobility, there are now about 150 families descendants of former Mikados and whose residences surround the imperial palace. The daimios, or representatives of the feudal aristocracy, were nominally entrusted with the peace and welfare of the nation. The richest fiefs were Kaga, Satsuma, and Mutsu; next to them were Owari, Kii, and Mito, with revenues equal to 610,500,559,000, and 350,000 kokus of rice respectively, which provinces Iyeyasu gave to his three youngest sons.
As to resources and industries, Japan is not what may be termed a rich country, though fairly supplied with minerals, the main island being mountainous and with rugged upland regions. Rivers are numerous but of no great length, and vegetation is luxuriant with forests of cedar and pine, maple and mulberry, the ilex and the giant camellia, while of fruit-trees there are the orange apple and plum, the peach vine and persimmon, with chestnuts and walnuts, though of none are the products equal to European or American varieties. The camphor tree is indigenous, and a source of considerable profit, exports of camphor for 1890 amounting to nearly 2,000,000 yen. The cotton plant, introduced from India in 799, thrives on Japanese soil, as also does the tea-plant, the leaf of which next to silk being the leading article of export. Rice, the staple crop, is grown wherever agriculture is practicable, nearly 7,000,000 acres, watered by irrigation ditches, producing 190,000,000 bushels in 1891. Of wheat, barley, and rye the total yield for that year was about 89,000,000 bushels; of sugar for 1890, 92,000 tons, and of silk 18,000,000 pounds. Of cattle and swine there were at the latter date somewhat over 1,000,000, and of horses and ponies, 1,600,000, monkeys which swarm in the forests, serving for food in place of sheep, for which the pasturage is unsuitable. Lands are largely held by peasant proprietors and in diminutive holdings, especially in the rice or paddy-fields. Agricultural implements are still for the most part of primitive pattern, and agricultural villages are poverty stricken in the extreme, women and children scantily clad and fed working on the farms from dawn till dusk.
Manufactures are in better condition, especially in Kyoto, the home of the fine and decorative arts and the former seat of government, where still is maintained the reputation for silks and Crapes, for porcelains and bronzes, carvings and embroideries, which for many centuries this ancient city has enjoyed. In all the larger mills Jacquard and other looms have taken the place of hand machines, operatives who have been trained in Lyons factories returning with a knowledge of modern methods and machinery.
For the Mikado and his family are made the finest of silks and brocades, some of the latter still with gold threads and covered with designs representing the imperial chrysanthemum. There are also delicate white silken undergarments which his majesty wears but once and then presents to his subjects by whom they are valued as priceless treasures. Nishikis, or brocades of the finest workmanship, of which few are found in foreign markets, were always highly prize, as is attested by the old saying, "He wears rags, but his heart is brocade." Tapestries are woven which compare in beauty and durability with those of Gobelins and Beauvais. Crapes are fashioned in many patterns and textures, the most expensive being the kabe habutai, a soft but substantial fabric which shows neither crease nor wrinkle, and the kinu chirimen, a beautiful tissue with ridgings in parallel lines. Silk rugs of the best quality are worth $18 a square yard, and though of superior finish, are suggestive rather of western than oriental design.
In embroidery the Japanese have never been excelled, not only in minuteness and precision of needlework, but in combination of colors and ingenuity of design, imitating, for instance, the scales of fish, the fur of animals, the plumage of birds, the bloom of fruit, and even the dew on flowers with a fidelity of detail impossible to western artists. Among the finest specimens were the ornamental panels prepared for the royal palace at Tokio and exhibited at the Paris Exposition of 1889. Worthy of mention also are the fukusas, or squares of satin or crape, on many of which, now in the possession of the oldest families, are the finest of pictures in needlework. Screens of all sizes and figures, manufactured chiefly at Kyoto, are shipped by thousands to foreign countries; and so with fans, of which, it is said, an American railway company purchases 100,00 a year for advertising purposes. To wall papers applies much that has been said of decorative methods, and especially noticeable is the skill with which they disguise the effect of repetition while preserving uniformity of pattern.
For the manufacture of pottery and porcelains, introduced as is related by Korean priests many centuries before the Christian era, a prominent center is at Nagoya, the donjon tower of whose citadel—a striking specimen of ancient architecture—is surmounted by golden dolphins, one of them, valued at $80,00, forming a portion of the government display at the Vienna Exposition. Here are distributed, as the products of surrounding factories, all grades of porcelains, from the finest egg-shell varieties, decorated in Yokohama for European and American markets to the ceramic nightmares that foreigners are willing to accept and pay for as gems of art. Not far away, and in the same province of Owan is the town of Seto, near which are deposits of clay not inferior to those of Staffordshire and where are made some of the finest articles in softly tinted gray and green found only in Japanese households.
Kiomidzu is famous for its faience; but this also is seldom seen outside of Japan; while at Kinkozan and elsewhere are made by shiploads other ceramic monstrosities in the form of the cream-colored articles with crackled glaze and garish coloring, so largely exported to the United States under the name of Awata, Kyoto, or Satsuma porcelains. The best of real Satsuma pieces are small, are painted by a few artists whose workmanship is familiar only to connoisseurs, and with decorative scheme so exceedingly fine as to require the use of a magnifying glass. But of these the value is not generally known; so that a collection of old Satsuma, purchased in Europe, was sold for thrice its cost in Japan. But perhaps the finest of all and of which there are countless imitations, are the Imari and Hirado vases, with their delicate colorings in blue and white genuine Hirados of ancient pattern being extremely rare and worth many hundreds of dollars. Many of the porcelains made in recent years for export are lacquered, a process which has little to recommend it, except when it serves as groundwork for paintings, often of remarkable beauty both as to color and design. In the Awata district lived not long ago, one Nammiwaka, esteemed as the foremost cloisonné artist in the world, and though those who few might enter his workshop, did so were well rewarded; for nowhere else could be found such harmony of tone and symphony of hue. Finally it may be remarked that in the depicturing of floral, insect, and animal life, Japanese art-pottery is not inferior to that of Greek or Etruscan workmanship, though in the portrayal of the human figure, they do not of course compare with classic masterpieces. From Japan the art of lacquering was introduced into Europe during the 17th century; but neither in Europe nor elsewhere in the world have Japanese lacquer wares been surpassed in beauty and finish. The finer specimens are remarkably handsome and durable, the hardness of the coatings increasing with age, so that they are proof against acids, and when scratched with a knife they show no trace. Lacquered boxes a few inches square have sold for $500, or more than their weight in gold, and for a screen displayed at the Paris Exposition of 1868 was demanded the sum of $11,000. Ikeda. where is one of the choicest art collections in the empire, is a leading center of this industry; but in the streets of many Chinese cities may be seen tubs of the malodorous dark-colored varnish which the workmen apply in successive coats and at stated intervals, smoothing each layer with their fingers and preparing the article for its design, which is often fashioned in ivory, silver, gold, or precious stones. Some of the choicest specimens represent masters of their craft for months or years; but these are rare and seldom offered for sale.
In metal work the Japanese are equally skillful, and especially in the minuteness and delicacy of their designs, reproducing, for instance, a leaf or flower with all their intricate curves and lines with startling fidelity to nature. And so with bronzes, many of them cast in living forms, to which through processes known only to themselves they impart a singularly graceful and life-like; appearance. Their carvings in ivory, especially the diminutive groups of figures known as nitsukė, are to be seen in the shop-windows of nearly all the larger cities in the United States; but these are for the most part of inferior quality, and by no means represent the skill and inventive faculties of Japanese artisans.
Foremost among the religious centers of the empire is Nikko, or the Brightness of the Sun, its still and shaded avenues, its ancient shrines and sanctuaries, its crumbling tombs and mortuary temples, visited yearly by thousands of white-robed pilgrims, all adding to the fascinations of this the most sacred of the sacred places of Japan. Here was erected, in times whereof no record remains, one of the earliest of Shinto temples, and here was founded, more than 1,100 years ago, a Buddhist fane with which are connected the most cherished of popular legends.
Here also are the mausolea of the great shogun Iycyasu and his grandson Iyemitsu, resting, as for centuries they have rested, under the shade of the consecrated groves which cast on this necropolis of kings and princes a dim cathedral light. Of the numerous structures, not a few of which are still in perfect condition, the most remarkable is a five-storied pagoda, with spiral summit, lacquered walls, and brass-trimmed roof, from the angles of which depend innumerable bells in all varieties of color. Nearby, in an enclosure of trelliswork, is a series of chapels lavishly decorated with gilding and lacquer-work, one of them, the holy of holies, shielded from the gaze of the profanum vulgus. There are also gilded halls and gilded shrines, with the most elaborate of carvings, and in the temple of Iyemitsu are still preserved the sacred writings, the golden lotus-leaves, the tall candelabra, the gongs and banners, and the censer whence issued the fragrant incense in honor of the grand old faith which Gautama Buddha taught.
Of all the countries of antiquity there are none so bare of historic monuments as the kingdom of Korea, which in everything that tends to the betterment of man’s estate remains about where it was when in the twelfth century of the pre-Christian era the nation first appears in history as affording asylum to a Chinese refugee. Buddhist monasteries there are, and temples to Confucius, to Siatsik their patron saint, and Siangtiei their supreme divinity, with pagodas erected in Chinese fashion when Buddhism was the national faith; but apart from the royal palace, if such it can be called, with its massive and lofty walls several miles in circuit, there are no other structures worthy of mention in the hermit land of the present, as of all previous ages. Still the majority of the people live, as ever they lived, in clay or wooden huts a few feet square, thatched with rice-straw, some of them windowless, and none with more than a single story. There is no furniture or nothing that deserves that name the bare earthen floor, with a few cheap mats, serving at once for seat and bed. Their clothing is of the poorest fashioned of coarse cotton cloth with sandals of straw; but for the most part they have a sufficiency of food, though badly and often filthily cooked. Two-thirds at least of the inhabitants are in a condition of serfdom; but above them are many grades, at the head of which are the nobles and government officials, the former proud of above all of their harems and guards of eunuchs. Yet, with all their short-comings the Koreans are noted for their hospitality, their charity, their patriotism, while as among the Chinese learning is held in the highest esteem.
The country is by no means lacking in resources, and especially in mineral deposits, as yet almost untouched, copper and other metals being largely imported, gold mining prohibited, and even the use of coal restricted to certain provinces. The surface is mountainous; but there are many fertile valleys, and especially in the southern portion of the peninsula cereals are raised of all descriptions, with cotton, hemp, tobacco, and ginseng, the last a government monopoly and raised for export to China.
Fruits are plentiful, but of inferior quality, and beans are almost the only vegetable, the planting of potatoes being forbidden for reasons best known to the authorities. Of domesticated animals there are cattle, horses, and swine, sheep and goats being used mainly for sacrificial purposes, while as an article of food the flesh of dogs is preferred to either. Manufactures are but little developed, except that of paper, which is used for a variety of purposes. Roads are few and poor, and wheeled vehicles almost unknown, goods being loaded on the backs of horses and oxen, and the shoulders of human beings. In all the land, except at its capital city of Seoul, there is not a single bridge deserving so to be called. There are no railways; but within recent years telegraph lines have made connection with the Chinese, Japanese, and Russian systems. Internal traffic is conducted at fairs and markets, and the little foreign commerce that exists is chiefly with Japan and China, though cotton goods are largely imported from England.
Such is the hermit kingdom where from time immemorial was acknowledged the suzerainty of China, until an American counselor to the king induced him to shake off the yoke. By Japan the same authority was claimed; and in the light of recent events it would seem that the promise which a Japanese empress made to her husband early in the Christian era will receive a second fulfillment in these closing years of the 19th century. “There is a land to the westward, and in that land there is an abundance of various treasures, dazzling to behold, from gold and silver downward. I will bestow that land upon thee."
Miscellany—The inventory of treasure taken by Sultan Mahmood, founder of the Muhammedan Indian empire at the capture of the Hindu temple of Nagarcote, AD 1005, contained, among other things, according to Ferishta, 700,000 golden dinars, or $1,500,000, 700 maunds of gold and silver plate, 200 maunds of gold in ingots, 2,000 maunds of unwrought silver, and twenty maunds of pearls, corals, diamonds, and rubies. It is asserted that the returns were greater than had ever before been gathered into a royal treasury; and when on his return a triumphal banquet was spread out on a spacious plain, and the spoils of India, exhibited on thrones of gold and tables of gold and silver, they made a pretty show, even for oriental wealth and splendor.
The revenue system of Muhammed Tughlak was peculiar. He increased the land tax between the Ganges and the Jumna in some districts tenfold, in others twentyfold. Husbandmen fled before his tax gatherers and turned robbers. His son, Firuz Tughlak, (1351-88) undertook many public works such as dams across rivers for irrigation, tanks, caravansaries mosques, colleges, hospitals, and bridges. He made the canal which drew its waters from the Jumna, near a point where it leaves the mountains, and connects that river with the Ghaggar and the Sutlej by irrigation ditches.
The pearl fisheries furnished occupation for a special division of the fisher caste of southern India. As Pliny would have us believe, the pearl oysters swam in shoals led by a king oyster distinguished by his superiority in size and coloring. This they aimed at capturing, for then the whole swarm was easily caught; but as long as the king was free he knew how to guide them to places of safety.
By Vinala Sah, a merchant prince, was erected in the eleventh century on Mount Aboo, in the province of Gujart, a temple which was fourteen years in the building and is said to have cost nearly $100,000,000. Externally its surface was plain; but nothing could surpass the richness and magnificence of the interior decorations.
The Kuth Kinar at Delhi is a column of victory built early in the thirteenth century by Kuth-u-din to celebrate his partial conquest of Hindustan. It is 290 feet in height and nearly 50 in diameter at its polygonal base, with balconies encircling the pillar.
Of the Pandavas, writing early in the century, Rajendratala Mitra says: "Close by Indraprastha there happened to be a large forest which the Pandavas burnt down and cleared. The extension of their possessions towards the west and southwest, where they met with little opposition, soon enabled them to assume a high position among the crowned heads of India. A magnificent palace, called Sabha, or audience chamber, was next built in the capital, and it proved to be the finest work of art that had ever been produced in this country. A Titan, Danava, was its architect, and it was enriched with the most precious materials that could be culled from the different parts of India, including some highly-priced stones from the Himalaya. Its description refers to floors of crystal, partitions of glass, and marble of all colors; to spacious and lofty apartments; doors and windows; terraces and gardens; artificial lakes and fountains. Much of this is doubtless due to the poet's imagination; but there was nevertheless enough to make the owner proud of its possession, and to long to show it to his rivals."
Many Indian writers of fiction delight in the idea of a talisman which can satisfy all desires. One of the earliest examples occurs in the Ramajana, where King Visamitra, who would become a Brahman visits Vasichta the chief of hermits and finds him in the possession of a sacred cow named Sabala, which can provide him with whatsoever he wants. After partaking of a banquet furnished by Sabala, at which were heaped all kinds of food and drink such as befitted a king, Vasamitra offers for her first 100,000 and then 1,000,000 cows, with 14,000 elephants, 11,000 well-bred steeds, chariots of gold, and golden ornaments innumerable: but all in vain. Finally the sovereign carries her away by force; but Sabala runs back, trampling on the soldiers in her flight. Despite the Brahman’s protest, she declares that no earthly power can prevail over spiritual might, and calls into existence powerful armies wherewith the hermit vanquishes the hosts of Visamitra. Thereupon the latter retires into the wilderness, where he remains for 100 years in prayer to Mahadera, who sends him in response flaming arrows and other heavenly weapons, wherewith he lays waste the beautiful gardens of the sacred cow. But Visichta raises his scepter, and the monarch's weapons serve him no more. Acknowledging his fault, he returns to the wilderness, and there for 1,000 years lives a life of penance, after which he is permitted to become a Brahman. India absorbs annually about $50,000,000 of the world's gold and silver, in the proportion of $15,000,000 of gold to $35,000,000 of silver.
Among the many native or feudatory states more or less subject to British control one of the wealthiest is Baroda, its capital of the same name containing the royal palace of the gaikwars, richly furnished and of enormous size. Some of the chambers, thickly walled and with iron doors, are used for the treasury, the contents of which are at times displayed to visitors. Rousselet, who was thus favored in 1865, tells how the servants displayed to him a dazzling collection of diadems, necklaces, bracelets, rings, diamonds, and costumes embroidered with the finest of pearls and precious stones. In one of the necklaces, among the most valuable in the world, were several brilliants of remarkable size including the famous Star of the South and Star of Dresden. The former, purchased in the previous year, was conveyed into the city after the manner of a triumphal entry, and carried to the temple to be blessed by the priests. Among the vast procession which attended it were the nobles of the realm, all wearing a profusion of gems and golden ornaments, and mounted on horses covered with richly embroidered trappings. Then came the ministers and other high functionaries, seated in silver howdahs carried by elephants with drapery of gold-fringed velvet hanging to the ground. In a massive golden howdah ablaze with jewels, a present from England’s queen, was the gaikwar himself, attired in a tunic of purple velvet studded with costly jewels, and on his turban an aigrette of diamonds, among them the Star of the South.
In the island of Jugnavas Rousselet mentions a series of palaces built by the rajah Juggut Singh, extending over 160 acres, all constructed entirely of marble, with reception halls, kiosks, and chambers of most finished workmanship, richly adorned with mosaics and historic frescoes.
There was nothing splendid about them; but they were elegant and comfortable, each one having its garden shaded with stately tamarind and mango trees.
While Christendom long held the age of the earth at 6,000 years, the Chinese with their own history and mythology went back 30,000 years. Now come modern scientists with estimates of age, Darwin 200,000,000 years; Lyell, 240,000,000; Geikie, 73,000,000; Clarence King, 24,000,000 and Winchell, 25,000,000 years. C. D. Walcott, of Washington, estimates that 1,200,000 years were required to deposit the 6,000 feet of limestone over the 400,000 square miles of Utah and Nevada, and for the deposits of shales and sandstones to the thickness of 15,000 feet he allows 16,000,000 years. He places the age of the earth at 45,000,000 years.
At Peking the Great Wall of China is 50 feet in height, and varies from 60 to 40 in width. From its summit there is little to be seen except for a monotonous expanse of f lat-roofed dwellings, interspersed with foliage and here and there a temple tower or pagoda. Proceeding along the top of the wall for a mile or two from its principal gate we come to the observatory erected in 1668 by the Jesuit Father Verbiest, and where are bronze astronomical instruments of his own construction. In a garden not far away are still preserved the instruments which Marco Polo describes, including a globe and sextant and the zodiacal sphere, fashioned during the reign of Kublai Khan and of most delicate design. To defend China would require fewer men than to defend the wall of China.
Near Hang-chow-foo is one of the most ancient of Chinese temples called the tower of the Thundering Winds, and said to have been erected some 2,500 years ago.
The emperor of China has many titles, and among them is the Lord of Ten Thousand Isles, for islands are as numerous as on the western coast of Scotland, and on one of them is built the city of Hong Kong.
By the emperor Yong-lo was erected the famous porcelain tower of Nanking, one of the most valuable specimens of Chinese art, and so-called from the white porcelain tiles with which the brickwork is covered. It is nine stories in height, octagonal in shape, and with most accurate and graceful proportions. At every corner hangs a bell and around each story is a balustrade of green porcelain. Within are many deities and in the hope of gaining their favor money in large sums is handed to the priests at all religious festivals.
The canonical works acknowledged by the 80,000,000 disciples of Confucius are in five parts, and are called King, that is to say The Books. These writings have largely influenced the Chinese mind and morals, and indeed it is not easy to imagine what China would be without them. The sacred books of Buddha, with his 500,000,000 devotees, are in 115 volumes. The Koran, though small, is sufficient for the 200,000,000 disciples of Muhammed. The Vedas of the Hindus are in four books, for the Zend Avesta of the Persians with its 2,000,000 verses, Zoroaster is said to have covered 12,000 cow-skin parchments with his characters. The Kojiki, or Japanese book of ancient traditions was compiled at an early date.
The choicest of Chinese porcelains are manufactured at King- techin in the province of Keangsy, erected some 900 years ago and still employing many thousands of operatives.
Of the 1,500,000,000 or more inhabitants of earth, increasing at the rate of some 3,000,000 a year, more than one-half dwell in Asia, nearly 400,000,000 are Chinese and more than 40,000,000 Japanese. The population of Europe is estimated at 370,000,000; of Africa, 150,000,000; and of America and the islands adjacent, 152,000,000. In color there are but 300,000,000 white men, most of the remainder being black, dusky, yellowish, or copper-colored. Only one-fifth of the human race are clothed in civilized garb; about one-half are partially clad, and the remainder are naked, except for a breech cloth. Nearly one-half of mankind live in huts, tents, or caves; one-fifth, perhaps, in houses worthy of the name, and the rest are homeless, sleeping on whatever spot of earth they happen to be when night overtakes them.
Chowfa Maha Vajirunhis, crown prince of Siam, died of asthma on the 4th of January, 1895. He was but sixteen years of age, and at twelve was declared heir to the throne with costly and imposing ceremony; the boy receiving the homage of the people as he rode in state through the streets. He was a lad of kindly disposition, intelligent and well educated, speaking English and other languages almost as fluently as his own.
As to the recent progress of Japan we have a striking example in the city of Yokohama, which is practically the port of Tokio and of the northeastern section of the empire, none of the other treaty ports exceeding its volume of commerce.
Before the treaty of 1859 it was merely a fishing village: but after that date foreigners began to arrive; a town was laid out; the swamps were filled in; roads constructed, and wharves, piers and breakwaters built for the shelter and accommodation of all classes of shipping. For 1892 its imports and exports exceeded $60,000,000, almost doubling within a decade, and forming nearly one-third of the entire foreign commerce of Japan.
Tokio, called Yedo until it became the imperial city, had in 1892 a population of 1,155,000, and even then was less crowded than New York; for it contained 277,000 houses, or about four to each dwelling. Public buildings were numerous, many of them comparing favorably in structural design with those of the United States. There were about 80 banks, including branch offices, at least as many large commercial firms, and more than 100 factories, with product and stock exchanges, a chamber of commerce, and industrial exposition buildings. Several railroad lines had their terminus at Tokio, and there were extensive telegraph and telephone systems, with gas and electric lights.
Kyoto, for more than 1,000 years the capital of the empire, had at the same date a population of 290,000, and was a large manufacturing center, especially for embroideries and other textile fabrics, porcelains, copper and lacquered wares. Osaka had 474,000 inhabitants, and for more than two centuries has been a great commercial emporium, its foreign commerce being now conducted largely through the adjacent port of Kobe, since the entrance to its bay is obstructed by bars and shallows. Here is the main arsenal of Japan and a mint equipped with the best of modern machinery in which is a large collection of native and foreign coins, the former complete from the earliest times. In 1885 the city was almost destroyed by flood, only a few business blocks remaining above water, while 146 bridges and thousands of dwellings collapsed like houses built of cards. The surrounding plain became a lake, and a typhoon accompanied by torrents of rain deluged the adjoining districts. Of this disaster few traces now remain, for Osaka is the Chicago of Japan, with its board of trade its bustle of traffic and its wonderful recuperative powers. Nagasaki, situated on one of the most picturesque harbors in the world, an inlet from the great inland sea of Japan, has lost much of the commercial importance of former years, when it was the principal trading port with foreign lands. It has a dry-dock which cost $1,000,000, and nearby are coal mines of large extent and easily worked; so that here is a favorite coaling station for the navies of Europe and the United States.
Trade-unions are numerous in Japan with more than 2,000 in existence in 1892, their object being less to maintain rates of wages than to improve the quality and establish the reputation of manufactures. There are also merchants' and artisans' clubs or associations, where competitive exhibitions are held and commercial and industrial questions discussed. At more than a dozen rice-exchanges, the outcome of the rice market established by Osaka merchants early in the seventeenth century, transactions are conducted somewhat as on the Chicago board of trade. In 1877 a stock exchange was established at Tokio, and later at other cities, dealing not only in stocks and government bonds, but in produce and fertilizing substances. Finally there are about 3,000 joint-stock companies, with an aggregate capital exceeding $200,000,000.
Industrial pursuits are classified into those which are original and those which are introduced. The former are by far the numerous, and though still carried on with primitive implements, the processes show little trace of those which were borrowed from China and Korea many centuries ago. Chief among the latter are cotton-spinning, glass and brick-making, the manufacture of machinery, and the preparation of drugs and chemicals, these and others being conducted on an extensive scale and with the use of steam and water power.
About the year 1548 appears in Japan the Portuguese missionary Xavier, with two others, come to prepare the way for Christianity and for the gathering of gold; so that between 1550 and 1639 their countrymen claim to have shipped bullion to the value of $300,000,000. Early in the seventeenth century the Dutch begin to trade with the empire, and with the permission of the Mikado build a factory at Hirado, obtaining during the period 1609 to 1858 nearly $75,000,000 in gold, $140,000,000 in silver, and of copper 200,000 tons. Meanwhile, during the reign of James I, the English East India company had developed a moderate traffic, increasing later to three or four millions of dollars a year, with large homeward shipments of the precious metals. To stop this drain of treasure foreign commerce was restricted by various edicts, as in 1685, when it was limited to transactions of small amount with Holland and China. Nevertheless it continued cargoes of silk, cotton, wine, sugar, and other commodities being exchanged on the open sea for copper sulfur, camphor, and above all, for gold and silver. American influence dates from the visit of Perry in 1854, where after these far off and isolated people of Zupangu quickly awoke from their slumber of centuries.
Li Houng, late king of Korea, succeeded to the throne in 1864 when only 13 years of age. He was a well-meaning but weak-minded sovereign, and completely under the sway of his wife, a woman of strong intelligence and decided character. Unlike her subjects of the wealthier class the queen wore no jewelry, unless the heavy gold rings on her fingers can so be called. Scribes were employed in the royal palace to keep a record of everything the monarch said or did. The system of government is complex. The king is assisted by ministers named the worshipful counselor and the counselors of the left and right. The ministers are advised by judges, each of whom has his own adviser, and is in charge of some department of state. The provinces are under the control of governors responsible to the ministerial council, and are divided into more than 300 districts in charge of mandarins. The land tax is the principal source of revenue, and is usually paid in kind.