The enormous territory of the Chinese Empire, and the vast multitudes who inhabit it, would well-nigh entitle it to be regarded as a sixth quarter of the globe. For many ages it remained apart from the general current of Western civilisation, but in recent times the improvement in the means of intercommunication has so diminished distance that the Chinese nation has found it no longer possible to maintain its former attitude of isolation and aloofness. One by one the barriers of separation have been broken down, and the Chinese people have themselves come to recognise that they have much to gain by familiarising themselves with the discoveries in every branch of knowledge that have been made by the nations of the West.
For just a hundred years past continuous efforts have been made to impart to the Chinese the knowledge of Christianity and the benefit it confers on mankind. In 1807 the pioneer Protestant missionary Robert Morrison of the London Missionary Society landed at Canton. At the present moment his successors, belonging to seventy different Societies, number more than 3700 of both sexes, and are to be found preaching, tending the sick, and teaching in nearly every important city throughout the Empire.
To the exertions of missionaries we owe the greater portion of the knowledge we possess of the language and literature, the history, the manners and customs of the