Page images



The Macedonian king, when he had reached the banks of the Indus, wept like a spoiled child at the belief that he should soon have no more worlds to conquer. He knew not that far beyond the Ganges, whose sacred stream he never visited, was a vast region, more populous, more civilized, and more wealthy than any of those which his armies, in their rapid march from the Hellespont, eastward, to the swift Hydaspes, had overrun.

Two hundred years before the era of Alexander the Great flourished Coon-footse, or, as he is known to Europeans, Confucius, the sage and lawgiver of China, and the contemporary of Herodotus, the father of Grecian history. And for centuries before the time of Confucius had the Chinese empire existed ; counting far back her rulers and her dynasties, till the truth of history was lost in a mist of mytholgical ex

aggeration, which absurdly claims for the “ Celestial Empire"-as the Chinese fondly term their country-a date some centuries previous to the time fixed by Moses for the creation of man. This, however, the more enlightened among themselves are content to consider fabulous.

The simple truth is sufficiently wonderful without resorting to fable ; for strange indeed it is that a mighty empire should have flourished, whose very name was for centuries a mystery to the nations of the West, and whose existence was sometimes treated as a chimera.

For more than twenty centuries China appears to have attained nearly the same degree of civilization and advancement in arts, sciences, and government which now so favorably distinguish it from other Asiatic nations ; and there it appears to have been nearly stationary. While the “outside barbarians” of the West have been struggling, century after century, out of the darkness and ignorance and brutality of their forefathers, the Chinese, content with the wisdom, the discoveries, and the precepts that so justly distinguished the remote antiquity of their empire, have hitherto shared but little in the mighty changes, whether for good or evil, which have passed over the face of the earth.

The doctrines of Christianity made but little progress

« PreviousContinue »