Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/53

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INTRODUCTION

taking up arms against the throne and the proclaiming of himself as the "Heavenly King,"

Inspired in its beginnings with much that was good, such as the condemnation of opium-smoking, the observance of the Sabbath, the circulation of the Scriptures—these being specially bound with the Taiping arms emblazoned on the cover—it gradually degenerated into a cruel and terrible rebellion which devastated the fairest of China's provinces and slew millions of human lives. The rebellion was not quelled until 1864, wheu the city of Nanking fell before General Gordon, the rising having commenced in 1850. With the various opinions as to the good and evil connected with this movement there is not space to deal here. Suffice it to say that the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1853 decided to celebrate its Jubilee by the printing of one million New Testaments in Chinese, the Christian public at home, in common with many of the missionaries on the field, hoping that the movement might result in a general acceptance of Christianity on the part of the Chinese.

Meanwhile, in the midst of these troubles, England's second war with China broke out over the lorcha Arrow incident. This boat, engaged in smuggling opium, was flying the British flag, but without authorisation for so doing. The Chinese Government not unnaturally seized the boat (Oct. 1856), knowing her true nature, while the British demanded immediate satisfaction for what was regarded by them as an insult to the British flag. The war which followed lasted, with an unsatisfactory peace of one year, from 1856—when Canton was bombarded—until 1860, when the 1858 treaty of Tientsin was ratified at Peking.

From 1858 to 1860 no fewer than nine treaties were signed between China on the one hand, and Britain, the United States, France, and Russia on the other, while one with Prussia was signed during the following year. By these treaties Peking was opened to the residence of Foreign Ministers, and, if the whole list as it appears in Article VI.