At once the disbanded soldiers of Kwangtung scattered out among their villages and hillsides to take up their peaceful occupations again or to engage in the more exciting pursuit of robbery. These must inevitably have regaled their friends and companions with fearful tales of Western prowess, of the superior foreign guns and their unheard of tactics, until they came to regard those strangers with awe, if not with affection. But, watching the foreigners at close range in Canton, they discovered that the foreigner who had made imperial commissioners tremble could not secure admission to the city, the turbulence of the population being adduced as the chief cause for this refusal. A common saying arose. "The populace fears the officials," it ran, "the officials fear the foreigners, and the foreigners fear the populace." As to the last statement the fact was that, out of a consideration for the interests of trade, the question of entering Canton had been waived for the time being, though it was to reëmerge, in connection with the incident of the lorcha Arrow in 1856, as an unsettled issue. Nevertheless, the humiliation of the Manchus in the Opium War led reflective minds to wonder if the Chinese themselves, in a national uprising, might not drive back their inefficient soldiery and set a native prince on the throne.
Such an object lesson could not fail to make its impression on the revolutionary brotherhoods that existed in China. Some of these combined political aims with definite religious teachings; others were more completely
- Yueh Fen Chi Shih, I, 1.
Such an object lesson could not fail to make its impression on the revolutionary brotherhoods that existed in China. Some of these combined political aims with definite religious teachings; others were more completely pelled to adopt a peaceful policy instead of one of force, to quiet the people and turn off the army. … Since the English stirred up trouble two years have elapsed; the officers have not been skillful enough and the soldiers have not obeyed orders, to the great injury of the country, etc." Home Letters, Oct. 20, 1842.