CHAPTER XXI. THE REGENCY
The year 1865, which witnessed this very interesting event in the history of the Chinese government, beheld before its close the departure of Sir Frederick Bruce from Pekin, and the appointment of Sir Rutherford Alcock, who had been the first British minister to Japan during the critical period of the introduction of foreign intercourse with that country, to fill the post of Resident Minister at Pekin. Sir Rutherford Alcock then found the opportunity to put in practice some of the honorable sentiments to which he had given expression twenty years before at Shanghai. When Sir Rutherford left Yeddo for Pekin, the post of Minister in Japan was conferred on Sir Harry Parkes, who had been acting as consul at Shanghai since the conclusion of the war. The relations between the countries were gradually settling down on a satisfactory basis, and the appointment of a Supreme Court for China and Japan at Shanghai, with Sir Edmund Hornby as Chief Judge, promised to enforce obedience to the law among even the unsettled adventurers of different, nationalities left by the conclusion of the Taeping Rebellion and the cessation of piracy without a profitable pursuit.
While the events which have been set forth were happening in the heart of China, other misfortunes had befallen the executive in the more remote quarters of the realm, but resulting none the less in the loss and ruin of provinces, and in the subversion of the emperor's authority. Two great uprisings of the people occurred in opposite directions, both commencing while the Taeping Rebellion was in full force, and continuing to disturb the country for many years after its suppression. The one had for its scene the great southwestern province of Yunnan; the other the two provinces of the northwest, Shensi and Kansuh, and extending thence westward to the Pamir. They resembled each other in one point, and that was that they were instigated and sustained by the Mohammedan population alone. The Panthays and the Tungani were either indigenous tribes or foreign immigrants who had adopted or imported the tenets of Islam. Their sympathies with the Pekin government were probably never very great, but they were impelled in both cases to revolt more by local tyranny than by any distinct desire to cast off the authority of the Chinese; but, of course, the obvious embarrassment of the central executive encouraged by simplifying the task of rebellion. The Panthay rising calls for description in the first place, because it began at an earlier period than the other, and also because the details have been preserved with greater fidelity. Mohammedanism is believed to have been introduced into Yunnan in or about the year 1275, and it made most progress among the so-called aboriginal tribes, the Lolos and the Mantzu. The officials were mostly Chinese or Tartars, and, left practically free from control, they more often abused their power than sought to employ it for the benefit of the people they governed. In the very first year of Hienfung's reign (1851) a petition reached the capital from a Mohammedan land proprietor in Yunnan named Ma Wenchu, accusing the emperor's officials of the gravest crimes, and praying that "a just and honest man" might be sent to redress the wrongs of an injured and long-suffering people. The petition was carefully read and favorably considered at the capital; but beyond a gracious answer the emperor was at the time powerless to apply a remedy to the evil. Four years passed away without any open manifestation of the deep discontent smoldering below the surface. But in 1855 the Chinese and the Mohammedan laborers quarreled in one of the principal mines of the province, which is covered with mines of gold, iron, and copper. It seems that the greater success of the Mohammedans in the uncertain pursuit of mining had roused the displeasure of the Chinese. Disputes ensued, in which the Mussulmans added success in combat to success in mineing; and the official appointed to superintend the mines, instead of remaining with a view to the restoration of order, sought his personal safety by precipitate flight to the town of Yunnan. During his absence the Chinese population raised a levy en masse, attacked the Mohammedans who had gained a momentary triumph, and compelled them by sheer weight of numbers to beat a hasty retreat to their own homes in a different part of the province. This success was the signal for a general outcry against the Mohammedans, who had long been the object of the secret ill-will of the other inhabitants. Massacres took place in several parts of Yunnan, and the followers of the Prophet had to flee for their lives.