question as to the founder of the movement; from both Hung Jin and the Chungwang it is certain that if Hung knew of the purpose at all, which I doubt, he had very little to do with the actual work of bringing it to fruition.
The troubles of 1846 and 1847 afforded the occasion for organising the new religious brotherhoods into companies of militia. With bandits and robbers from the famine region going freely to and fro, and with no adequate military resources available, the people of the villages throughout these provinces were drilling and forming themselves into military companies to defend their countryside from pillagers. The God-worshippers also organised themselves into military units, but carefully avoided joining the other volunteers. There was an abundance of zeal and a shade too much rivalry between the various parties, but the total effect was to increase their enrolment very materially.
As early as 1848 these new military companies were in conflict with imperial soldiers, though it is possible that nothing more resulted than minor skirmishes. In this year their cause passed through some kind of serious crisis, one fraught with peril to them, followed by a deliverance that appeared little short of miraculous. Its exact nature we are only able to surmise, but the subsequent references to this year point to two things; first, a series of conflicts with the authorities, and second, an
- Chungwang, Autobiography, p. 3, "For some years after the promulgation of the new doctrine, no apparent movement was made. In the 27th and 28th years of Taokuang, however, when the banditti were ravaging the surrounding places and the volunteer movement was set on foot, the worshippers formed themselves into a body, distinct from the volunteers. Each party pursued its own course and endeavored to surpass the other, which finally led to a great disturbance, and the augmentation of the number of worshippers."
Tsih Jih-ch'ang,—six men,—aside from whom not a single person knew that the T'ienwang contemplated a political movement." Ibid. (My own translation.)