Mongolian History - The Chinese
Hitherto little progress has been made in the investigation of the Chinese civilization. Several conclusions of a general character have, however, been. established. We recognise,' says Schlosser, in the institutions of the Chinese, so much praised by the Jesuits, the character of the institutions of all early states; with this difference, that the Chinese mode of life is not a product of hierarchical or theocratic maxims, but a work of the cold understanding. In China, all that subserves the wants of the senses was arranged and developed in the earliest ages; all that concerns the soul or the imagination is yet raw and ill-adjusted; and we behold in the high opinion which the Chinese entertain of themselves and their affairs, a terrible example of what must be the consequence when all behavior proceeds according to prescribed etiquette, when all knowledge and learning is a matter of rote directed to external applications, and the men of learning are so intimately connected with the government, and have their interest so much one with it, that a number of privileged doctors can regulate literature as a state magistrate does weights and measures.' Of the Chinese government the same authority remarks the patriarchal system still lies at the foundation of it. Round the "Son of Heaven," as they name the highest ruler, the wise of the land assemble as round their counselor and organ. So in the provinces (of which there are eighteen or nineteen, each as large as a considerable kingdom), the men of greatest sagacity gather round the presidents; each takes the fashion from his superior, and the lowest give it to the people. Thus one man exercises the sovereignty; a number of learned men gave the law, and invented in very early times a symbolical system of syllabic writing, suitable for their mono syllabic speech, in lieu of their primitive system of hieroglyphics. All business is transacted in writing, with minuteness and pedantry. Their written language is very difficult; and as it is possible in Chinese writing for one to know all the characters of a certain period of time, or of a certain department, and yet be totally unacquainted with those of another department, there is no end to their mechanical acquisition.' It has already been mentioned that Chinese thought has at various times received certain foreign tinctures, chiefly from India; essentially, however, the Chinese mind has remained as it was fixed by Confucius. 'In China,' says Schlosser, a so-named philosophy has accomplished that which in other countries has been accomplished by priests and religions. In the genuine Chinese books of religion, in all their learning and wisdom, God is not thought of; religion, according to the Chinese and their oracle and lawgiver Con-fu-tse, has nothing to do with the imagination, but consists alone in the performance of outward moral duties, and in zeal to further the ends of state. Whatever lies beyond the plain rule of life is either a sort of obscure natural philosophy, or a mere culture for the people, and for any who may feel the want of such a culture. The various forms of worship which have made their way into China are obliged to restrict themselves, to bow to the law, and to make their practices conform; they can arrogate no literature of their own; and, good or bad, must learn to agree with the prevailing atheistic Chinese manner of thought.'
Such are the Chinese, and such have they been for 2000 or 3000 years - a vast people undoubtedly civilized to the highest pitch of which Mongolian humanity is susceptible; of mild disposition; industrious to an extraordinary degree; well-skilled in all the mechanical arts, and possessing a mechanical ingenuity peculiar to themselves; boasting of a language quite singular in its character, and of a vast literature; respectful of usage to such a degree as to do everything by pattern; attentive to the duties and civilities of life, but totally devoid of fervor, originality, or spirituality; and living under a form of government which has been very happily designated a pedantocracy - that is, a hierarchy of erudite persons selected from the population, and appointed by the emperor, according to the proof they give of their capacity, to the various places of public trust. How far these characteristics, or any of them, are inseparable from a Mongolian civilization, would appear more clearly if we knew more of the Japanese. At present, however, there seems little prospect of any reorganization of the Chinese mind, except by means of a Caucasian stimulus applied to it. And what Caucasian stimulus will be sufficient to break up that vast Mongolian mass, and lay it open to the general world-influences? Will the stimulus come from Europe; or from America after its western shores are peopled, and the Anglo-Americans begin to think of crossing the Pacific?