Page:Tseng Kuo Fan and the Taiping Rebellion.djvu/49

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To this foreign war and its influence on thinking men, on peasants near Canton, and on secret brotherhoods, we must add a series of calamities in the years 1846 and 1847. The failure of the crops in portions of Hunan and Kwangsi led to the rise of robber bands from among the distressed people.[1] In some oases these were small and inconsequential, but in others large bodies of men numbering hundreds and even thousands, under influential leaders, gave to district magistrates and even to provincial authorities, much anxiety.[2]

Against these quasi rebels, the drill and even organisation into armies of the country militia had been directed. The adoption on a large scale of this type of militia, organised into armies similar to that first led by Kiang Chung-yuan, enabled Tsêng Kuo-fan to put down the re-

    years. The unrest resulting from these persecutions led the different religious groups to unite in this movement. There is much to be said in favor of this view, but De Groot is so persuaded of its correctness and sufficiency that he rejects as pure fabrication the story of Hung Siu-ch'üan's visions, which he considers to be Hamberg's. In so doing he leaves us baffled at the subsequent control of the movement by the group that entertained such fanatical semi-Christian views as made them incapable of combining in friendly coöperation with various persecuted sects, in the way his theory presupposes. He does not sufficiently emphasise the fact that the most of the persecutions were actually directed against the revolutionary societies who disguised themselves by claiming religions objectives.

  1. Yueh Fen Chi Shih, I, 1.
  2. A typical Chinese account of this period is found in the Records of the Shanhua Hsien (which included a part of Changsha, Hunan): "The province of Kwangsi has many bandits concealed within its borders. In the twenty-seventh year of Taokwang [1847], there was a severe famine, and robbers sprang up on all sides. The governor, Chen Tsou-tseng, was old, ill, and yielding [literally, inclined to religion], and could not suppress them. At the same time Hunan ruffians. Lei Tsai-hou and Li Yuan-hua, year by year stole into and harassed the borders of the Kwang [provinces]. Though the lesser bandits suffered the penalties of the law, the more important chiefs were not destroyed. In the Kwang [provinces] were Ch'eng A-kwei, Ou Tsou-yun, Shan Chu-chien, Shan Yang-tu and Yen Ping-yao, whose bands each numbered several thousand. Relying on their strategic bases in the hills, they preyed on the people."