Page:Tseng Kuo Fan and the Taiping Rebellion.djvu/46

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When we seek the causes for such a mighty upheaval as the Taiping rebellion, many points of weakness in the government suggest themselves at once. But those causes were inherent in the organisation of the military and civil services, and we are compelled to examine more closely into the particular circumstances which prevailed in the southern part of China if we would attempt to understand the movement.

The decade which ended with the outbreak of the Taiping rebellion had been marked by military disaster and natural calamities. A relatively small force of outer barbarians, in the so-called Opium War (1839-1842), had wrested victory from the imperial commissioner at Canton and made its triumphant way along the coasts and into the Yangtse River, eventually to wring from the Manchu government, at Nanking, a treaty of peace with recognition of full equality.[1] This war was a shock to the nation at large, revealing Chinese pretensions and the weakness of their military arm.[2]

  1. Consult Williams, The Middle Kingdom, or Morse, International Relations of the Chinese Empire, for good accounts of this war.
  2. Such men as Tsêng at Peking were carefully watching this war. Several times he writes home about the progress of events. When the British were at Nanking he wrote: "The English barbarians are at Kiangman and peace is already decided on, because Kinling is the throat as between the north and south. Since it is already taken by the English we are com-