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JOURNAL OF TWO VOYAGES ALONG THE Coast of China, IN 1831 AND 1832. The first in a Chinese junk, the second in the British ship Lord Amherst; with notices of Siam, Corea, and the Loo-Choo Islands, &c. By CHARLES GUTZLAFF. New York : J. P. Haven. 12 mu pp. 332.
Until within a very few years, the empire of China has been, to Protestant missionaries, a land worse than unknown. Not only did an entire ignorance of the country prevail, except what came indirectly and perverted through the trading factories of Canton, and the ill-conducted embassies of Lords Macartney and Amherst; but a firmly rivetted prejudice existed against admitting even the possibility of knowledge. So firmly established was this prejudice that no serious attempts have been made for a century, to ascertain the facts; and it seemed conceded that every effort to convert China without the intervention of miracles, was vain and hopeless.
The writer of these pages remembers very well the time when this subject was first distinctly brought under his notice, at a meeting of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. He had himself partaken of the general prejudice of which he has spoken, and looked with entire distrust upon every plan for evangelizing China. At the meeting above referred to, the importance of attempting something, was strenuously urged in private conversation, by a very intelligent, liberal and judicious layman, of the city of New York. In opposition to every objection, he urged with great soundness of argument, that the facts had already been taken from hearsay; that the cry of impossibility was always raised against every important moral undertaking; that no one could tell whether the Chinese would reject the Gospel until it had been offered to them; that the Catholics had long ago entered this field with encouraging success, and they were only ruined by their own misbehavior; and finally, that China was given to Christ for his inheritance, and it would be subjected to Him, as soon as Christians, in faith and prayer, made the effort to spread abroad there the blessed Gospel.
These arguments had great effect upon the mind of the writer. Events have since occurred, to demonstrate their entire truth. Especially are they all confirmed in the work whose name is atthe head of this notice.
This little volume contains an account of two voyages made by Mr. Gutzlaff, in 1831 and 1332. The first in a native vessel, or as it is called a junk, the second in a British ship, the Lord Amherst, sent by the East India Company, for the purpose of opening trade with the various emporiums on the Chinese coast. Although the second voyage was the most interestiag in a commercial point of view, yet the first is rather the richest in information to the Christian and missionary. In the second voyage, Mr. G. was attached
to an English and an armed vessel, and though his chief object was the promulgation of the Gospel, yet the natives, who were ignorant of foreigners, would naturally associate with his message and conversation all the vague ideas of mystery which attached to the vessel and her object. In the former case he went as a Chinese, he spoke their language, and was known merely as a benevolent man, a physician, and a distributer of books. Going in this character his reception was as favorable, in every respect, as could have been expected or desired; and the results are such as will, we think, astonish and arouse from the lethargy of ages the whole Christian world.
Some of these results are as follows:
1. The number of inbabitants in China is found to be ever. greater than was formerly supposed. It used to be computed at 333 millions. The last census, however, estimates it at 367 millions. Mr. G., who on several occasions had the opportunity of comparing the numbers assigned in the census to particular districts with the actual facts, found them rather to fall below than rise above the facts. He therefore considers this enormous number as considerably below the actual reality. · Thus,” to use the words of our author, “stands this colossus peerless, if compared either with any state whose greatness is recorded in ancient and modern history; and looking back upon the many centuries of its existence, during which all its cotemporaries have decayed and mouldered in the dust, while China alone has stood the test of ages. The thought that so many millions are slaves to debasing superstition, and the iron rule of antiquated custom, is dark and cheerless. But the day will certainly corne, when the hand of the Almighty will be stretched out to redeem them from spiritual bondage.
2. The researches of Mr. G. have established the fact, that this whole population is able to read. In every place which he visited he found the most acceptable present which he could make was books, and that these were received and read with the utmost avidity.
3. There exists among the people generally, a sufficient degree of intelligence to see the vanity of the idolatry to which they are in subjection. Whenever rebuked by Mr. G. for the wickedness of their customs, they made very little reply and seemed to acknowledge that their conduct was irrational and immoral.
4. Hence they had no such attachment to their own religion as seemed as an obstacle to reception of books which treated of the Christian religion. On the contrary, these books were every where well received, and may be circulated to any conceivable extent.
5. The intolerance of the Government is not by any means so great as has been commonly supposed. Mr. G. found several Mabommedans holding office under the king; and also many
* Gutzlaff's History of China.
Catholics, who had been in a certain sense converted by the former missionaries, who were both living unmolested. Had the Catholics, instead of publishing legends of the saints, published the Holy Scriptures in Chinese, their names would have been hallowed to the latest posterity.
6. The hostility of the nation to foreigners, is by no means such as has been supposed. The people are every where glad to receive them, and would willingly establish with thein amicable commercial relations. The hostility exists only in the Government, and is at variance with the wishes and feelings of the people. This hostility, however, has only to do with the commercial relations, and would not interfere with the circulation of books and tracts.
Mr. G. was even applied to for religious books for the Emperor himself, who, it was said, desired to procure and to examice them.
7. The moral condition of the country is such as to call in a special manner for the exercise of Christian benevolence. Lying, cheating, lewdness, gaml·ling, intemperance from the use of opium, inhumanity of every sort, and particularly infanticide, are almost universal. If any part of the human race need the Gospel of Christ, and are already in the most important sense waiting to receive it, the Chinese are certainly that people.
As to the manner in which such a mission is to be conducted, we would speak with the diffidence becoming those, who being so far from the scene of action, and so little acquainted with the peculiar habits of the people. It seems, however, to us that the great engine to be brought to bear upon the Chinese is the press. Bibles and tracts can be printed in Chinese, either in Singapore, Calcutta, or even in Boston. Their character is remarkably adapted for the purpose of stereotyping. A Chinese junk, carrying a few articles of traffic, and commanded and manned by Chinese and Siamese Christians, might pass from one end of the coast to the other, distributing in every part the word of the living God. The usefulness of such an expedition would also be greatly increased, if some of the persons who composed it were arquainted with medicine. So great is the necessity of medical aid in China, that it is doubtful whether the Mandarins, even if they were so disposed, would be able to prohibit the visits of those who appeared among the people with such a recommendation.
We shall devote the remaining pages of this notice, to extracts from this work, which we think will be read with intense interest by every one at all concerned in the promulgation of the Gospel of Christ.
The spirit by which Mr. G. is sustained in his missionary labors is so truly apostolical, that we willingly devote the first place to the following passage. He was, at the time it was written, approaching Teen-tsing, a city in the vicinity of Peking, the capital.
“My anxiety was greatly increased by our approach to Peking. A visit to the capital of the Chinese empire—an object of no little solicitude, after many perils, and much loss of time, -was now near in prospect. How this visit would be viewed by the Chinese government, I knew not. Hitherto, they had taken no
police of me; but a crisis had now come. As a missionary, anxious to promote the welfare of my fellow-creatures, and more willing to be sacrificed in a great cause, than to remain an idle spectator of the misery entailed on China by idolatry, I could net remain concealed at a place where there are so many mandarins; -it was expected that the local authorities would interfere. Almost friendless, with small pecuniary resources, without any personal knowledge of the country and its inhabitants, I was forced to prepare for the worst. Considerations of this kind, accompanied by the most reasonable conjecture, that I could do nothing for the acodinplishment of the great enterprize, would have intimidated and dispirited me, if a Power from on high had not continually and graciously upheld and strengthened me. Naturally timid, and without talent and resources in myself, yet, by divine aid—and by ihat alone,-) was foremost in times of danger, and to such a degree, that the Chinese sailors would often call me a bravado.
“ Fully persuaded that I was not prompted by self-interest and vain-glory, but by a sense of duty, as a missionary, and deeply impressed by the greatness and allsufficiency of the Saviour's power and gracious assistance enjoyed in former days, 1 grounded my hope of security on protection under the shadow of His wings, and my expectation of success on the promises of His holy word. It has long been the firm conviction of my heart, that, in these latter days, the glory of the Lord will be resealed to China; and that, the dragon being dethroned, Christ will be the sole King and object of adoration throughout this extensive empire. This lively bope of China's speedly deliverance from the thraldom of Satan, by the hand of the great Lord, Jesus Christ—the King of kings,-10 whom all nations, even China, are given as an inheritance, constiintiv prompts me to action, and makes me willing rather to perish in the atteinpt of carrying the Gospel to China, than to wait quietly on the frontiers, deterred by the numerous obstacles which seem to forbid an entrance into the country.
“I am fully aware that I shall be stigmatized as a head-trong enthusiast, an unprincipled rambler, who rashly sallies forth, without waiting for any indications of Divine Providence,-without first seeing the door opened by the hand of the Lord; -as one fond of novelty, anxious to have a namie, fickle in his purposes, who leaves a promising field, and, restless, hurries away to another,call of whose endavors will not only prove useless, but will actually impede the progress of the Saviour's cause. I shall not be very anxious to vindicate myself against such charges—though some of them are very well founded, -until the result of my labors shall be made known to my accusers. I have weighed the arguments for and zgainst the course I am endeavoring to pursue, and have formed the resolution to publish the Gospel to the inhabitants of China Proper, in all the ways, and by all the m :ans, which the Lord our God appoints in his word, and by bis providence; --to persevere, in the most indefatigable manner, so long as there remains any hope of success.-and, rather to be blotted out from the list of mortals, than to behold with indifference the uncontrolled triumph of Satan over the Chinese. Yet etill, I am not ignorant of my own nothingness, nor of the formidable obstacles, which, on every side, shut up the way, and ir: pede our progress; and I can only say, :Lord, here I am; use me according to thy holy pleasure.'
**Should any individuals be prompted to extol my conduct, I would meet and repel sach commendation, by my thorough consciousness of possessing not the least merit. Let such persons, rather than thus vainly spend their breath, come forth, and jrvin in the holy cause, with zeal and wisdom superior to any who bave gone before them. The field is wide, the harvest truly great, and the laborers are few. gotism, obtrusive monster ! lurks through these pages. It is my sincere wish, therefore, to be completely swallowed up in the Lord's great work, and to labor unknown and disregarded, cherishing the joyful hope, that my reward is in heaven, and my pame, though a very unworthy one, written in the book of life.' í return to my detail.
* In the afternoon, Sept. 22d, we passed a grove, on the left bank of the river Pei-ho, which is said to have been visited by the Emperor Keen-lung It contains a few houses, but is at present a mere jungle. On the opposite bank, we observed a shop, having a sign, with this inscription, written in large capitals,-Idols and Budhas, of all descriptions, newly made and repaired.
This sign told plainly the condition of the people around me, and called forth earnest intercession on their behalf.” pp. 100—102.
RECEPTION AT TEEN-TSIN.
“The curiosity to see me was, during several days, very great; and the captain's anxiety much increased, when he saw that I attracted the attention of so mangi individuals. There were some, who even muttered that I had come to make a map of the country, in order to become the leader in a premeditated assault on the empire. Yet all these objections were soon silenced, when I opened my med. icine chest, and, with a liberal hand, supplied every applicant. God, in his mercy, bestowed a blessing on these exertions, and gave me favor in the eyes of the people. Several persons of rank and influence paid me frequent visits, and held long conversations with me. They were polite, and even servile in their manners. Their inquiries, most of them trivial, were principally directed to Siam ; and their remarks concerning Europe, were exceedingly childish. The concourse of people became so great, at length, that I was obliged to hide myself. A gentleman, who lived opposite to the house where I resided, wishing to purchase me from the captain, with a view to attract customers by my presence, offered to pay for me the sum of 2000 taels of silver (about 2700 dollars.) My patients had now become so numerous as to engross all my attention; from very early in the morning, till late at night, I was constantly beset by them, and often severely tried. Yet I had frequent opportunities of making known to them the doctrines of the Gospel, and of pointing out the way of eternal life.
It had been my intention to proceed from Teen-tsin up to Peking, a journey which is made in two days. To effect this, it would have been necessary to learn the dialect spoken in this province, and to have obtained the acquaintance of some persons, resident at the capital. For the accounplishment of the first, there was not sufficient time, unless I should resolve to abandon the junk in which I had arrived, and to stay over the winter. For the attainment of the latter, some individuals very kindly offered their services. I thought it best, therefore, 10 stay, and to observe the Jeadings of Providence. Some experiments which I made, to cure the habit of opium-smoking, proved so successful, that they attracted general notice, and drew the attention of some mandarins, who even stooped to ply me a visit, and to request my aid, stating that his imperial majesty wiis highly enraged, because so many of his subjects indulged in this practice. But, as soon as the Chaou-chow and Fuhkeen men observed that the native patients were becoming too numerous, they got angry; saying, “This is our doctor, and not yours; and, as this argument was not quite intelligible, they drove many of the poor fellows away by force. In a few days, moreover, the whole stock of medicines I had with me, was exhausted, and I had to send away with regret, those poor wretches, who really stood in want of assistance.” pp. 108, 109.
FEELINGS OF THE PEOPLE TOWARDS THE GOVERNMENT.
“ By inquiries, I found that the people cared very little about their imperial government. They were only anxious to gain a livelihood, and accumulate riches. They seemed to know the emperor only by name, and were quite unacquainted with his character. Even the military operations in Western Tartary, were al nost unknown to them. Nothing had spread such consternation amongst them as the late death of the heir of the crown, which was occasioned by opium-smoking. The emperor felt this loss very keenly. The belief that there will be a change in the present dynasty, is very general. But, in case of such an event, the people of Teen-tsin would hear of it with almost as much indifference as they would the news of a change in the French government. The local officers were generally much dreaded, but also much imposed upon. They are less tyrannical here, in the neighborhood of the emperor, judging from what the people told me, than they are in the distant provinces. When they appear abroad, it is with much pageantry, but with little real dignity. Indeed, I saw nothing remarkable in their deportment. No war-junks nor soldiers were there to be met with, though the latter wer said to exist. To possess fire-arms, is a high crime; and the person sound guilty of 80 doing, is severely punished. Bows and arrows are in common use.