Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/296

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272
THE OUTLINE OF HISTORY

been drawn.[1] The war captive and the slave class play a smaller part in Chinese history than in any more westerly record of these ages before the Christian era.

One fact, we may note, is common to all these three stories of developing social structure, and that is the immense power exercised by the educated class in the early stages before the crown or the commonalty began to read and, consequently, to think for itself. In India, by reason of their exclusiveness, the Brahmins, the educated class, retain their influence to this day; over the masses of China, along entirely different lines and because of the complexities of the written language, the mandarinate has prevailed. The diversity of race and tradition in the more various and eventful world of the West has delayed, and perhaps arrested for ever, any parallel organization of the specially intellectual elements of society into a class ascendancy. In the Western world, as we have already noted, education early "slopped over" and soaked away out of the control of any special class; it escaped from the limitation of castes and priesthoods and traditions into the general life of the community. Writing and reading had been simplified down to a point when it was no longer possible to make a cult and mystery of them. It may be due to the peculiar elaboration and difficulty of the Chinese characters, rather than to any racial difference, that the same thing did not happen to the same extent in China.

 

§ 8

In these last six chapters we have traced in outline the whole process by which, in the course of 5000 or 6000 years—that is to say, in something between 150 and 200 generations—mankind passed from the stage of early Neolithic husbandry, in which the primitive skin-clad family tribe reaped and stored in their rude mud huts the wild-growing fodder and grain-bearing grasses with

  1. The Grand Canal of China, the longer portion of which was made in the sixth century a.d., has a total length of nearly 900 miles. It was begun in the fifth century b.c. "Between Su-chow and Chin-kiang the canal is often 100 feet wide and its sides are, in many places, faced with stone. It is spanned by fine stone bridges, and near its banks are many memorial arches and lofty pagodas." The Great Wall of China, which was begun in the third century b.c., was built originally to defend China against the Huns. It is about 1500 miles long; its average height is between 20 and 30 feet, and every 200 yards there are towers 40 feet high.