Page:Tseng Kuo Fan and the Taiping Rebellion.djvu/14

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
xiv
INTRODUCTION

emergence of Tsêng Kuo-fan. Chinese modern history awards this man the honor that is his due, but foreign observers were so dazzled by the fame of the valuable little force of foreign-trained soldiers organised by Frederick Townsend Ward and eventually led by "Chinese" Gordon, that they have immortalised the "Ever Victorious Army" of three thousand men, almost canonised Gordon, and relegated the real hero of the Taiping rebellion to oblivion.

Seldom has a greater injustice been done than that which filched from Tsêng Kuo-fan his dearly earned fame and enshrined Gordon and Li Hung-chang in the temple of history. Against difficulties woven together out of the practices of Chinese government for centuries; with far too little cooperation; lacking funds to secure armies—his total expense for more than ten years being limited to slightly more than a paltry 21,300,000 taels—and without any military skill whatever; Tseng eventually performed the miracle of suppressing this immense rebellion. This he did through clear thinking, unfailing patience, prudence, and common sense. He never feared that others would eclipse him, he begrudged no man his fairly earned laurels; and gathered able men around him through whose talents he made up for his own lack of military skill. Taking Confucius seriously, and attempting to put into his own conduct the qualities of the Princely Man, Tseng was never willing through danger or loss of "face" to swerve from the line of duty. He was plainspoken, straightforward, and, in a time when dishonesty was usual, honest.

A Japanese biographer has, I learn, preceded me in comparing him, not to Napoleon,—whom he did not in the least resemble,—but to George Washington. He was indeed the Washington of the Far East, who through his personal worth and his adherence to the path marked