Слике страница
PDF
ePub

cruel than other nations, although less sensitive to pain and torture.

An impartial and absolutely accurate examination of their religious beliefs would do much to clear away misconception of the Chinese. There seems to be little bigotry amongst them. It is hard to realize that of their three chief forms of religion, Confucianism, Buddhism and Taouism, a man may adhere to all without inconvenience or reproach. The lower classes are credited with gross superstition which is always the child of ignorance. There is, evidently, a common detestation of Christianity. The Chinese despise our religion because they see it practically demonstrated by men who assume the name of Christian without exhibiting any of the virtues the missionaries teach them to expect. Possibly if the warships and the buccaneers of commerce stayed away the missionaries would accomplish more. But John Chinaman takes the commercial Christian as he finds him, and applies to the unwelcome visitor the name of "foreign devil." Thackeray declared that the strongest satire on the proud English society of 1825 was that they admired George IV. In like manner, we may say that the cruelest reflection upon the World Powers of 1900 is the mirror which the Chinese hold up for the foreigner to gaze into. The British forced the opium trade upon them; the Americans thrust them from the Pacific Coast by exclusion laws and rough treatment as ruthlessly barbarous in essence as the rule of an Attila or a Tamerlane; the Russians and the French wage war and seize their territory; a German warship sails round the world and plants a military colony at Kiau-Chau with the ardour of an old Viking horde. What must the Chinese think of the Christianizing nations that act in this way, and how will our philosophizing historians a century hence view these proceedings?

Lord Salisbury's warning to the missionaries is not that of a man indifferent to religion. A Christian teacher who lived long in China said not many years ago: "Their own system of

ethics, based upon filial piety and custom, works well, and endeavours to upset it produce at first much harm, whatever the ultimate good. With all their faults-say radical defects-they possess many virtues. They are easygoing, kindly disposed toward one another, clannish in supporting their relations, hospitable, attached to their employers, and public spirited, where their feelings are aro roused, to a degree unknown in Europe." It is well to bear such testimony in mind when the honest zeal of the missionary unites with the greed of the trader to urge the forcing of our customs and religion upon an alien race with the point of the bayonet.

That the temptation to exploit the Chinese Empire for the necessities of modern commerce is strong cannot be denied. The resources of the countries making up the Chinese Empire are generally thought to be rich and varied. The vegetable productions are naturally those of the temperate and tropical zones. Travellers draw fascinating pictures of the homes of the more prosperous farmers where agriculture, even when carried on with primitive implements, yields the richest harvest, and where gardening is a fine art. The northern provinces are just another Eastern Canada in fertility of soil, vigour of climate and beauty of landscape. Less is known of the mineral resources, but all the principal metals are believed by scientific men, who have made partial investigations, to exist in abundance. There are great coal areas in Shan-tung, and the various mineral deposits in all the provinces are rich enough to excite the envy and desire of the least acquisitive. As a fur-bearing country, it is also believed that China, if once opened freely up to foreign trade, would yield great returns. It is thus easy to see what a powerful factor commerce is in the present attitude of the Powers toward China.

Out of all these commercial, religious and racial considerations has been evolved a great political question of the very first magnitude. The pressure of the principal European Governments

upon the Chinese has gradually set up a kind of half-avowed foreign over-lordship. The visible Government is weak, and its administration is satisfactory neither to the foreign elment nor to great numbers of the Chinese themselves. The Manchurian dynasty is on its last legs. The so-called "Boxer movement is one evidence that internal order is becoming hard to maintain. It appears that the movement, which has now culminated in a formidable

99

ization has penetrated into the interior. That the foreigner is to be driven out seems the only possible explanation of the movement. Authentic information is meagrely supplied. The newspapers are filled with the most sensational stories upon which no one of intelligence cares to place much reliance. The Powers are co-operating for the moment for the rescue of their diplomatic corps. Should they succeed, the Chinese authorities would still be called

THE OPENING UP OF CHINA IN BRIEF.

1842-Treaty of Nankin names certain open ports and cedes Hong Kong to the British. 1851-Taiping rebellion breaks out under the pretender Tien Teh. 1858-British and French allied forces proceed toward Pekin and take Peiho ports. JuneTreaty of Tientsin guarantees freedom of trade and toleration of Christianity. 1859-United States Envoy Ward arrives at Pekin and concludes commercial treaty Novem

ber 24.

1860-Anglo-French expedition. Allies take Taku forts with loss of five hundred, march to Pekin, which surrenders on October 12. New treaty signed October 24.

November-Russia concludes treaty, with Russia obtaining free trade and territories. 1864-Gordon's successes against Taipings.

1868-Chinese Embassy, headed by Anson Burlingame, received at Washington and treaty

signed.

1870-Massacre at Tientsin of many French Roman Catholics and converts.

1876-First railway in China opened (eleven miles) at Shanghai.
1877-Decrees of equal rights to Chinese Christians.

1887-General proclamation for protection of Christian missionaries and converts.
1880-New treaties with the United States signed.
1888-Railway from Tientsin to Taku opened.

1891-Anti-European riots; Emperor decrees protection for foreigners; diplomatic protests;
Britain, France, Germany and United States unite to protect their "nationals" against
Chinese violence. Insurrection in Mongolia and northern China against foreigners
and native Christians suppressed after much slaughter.
1894-War with Japan.
1895-Treaty with Japan cedes Formosa.

1897-Germans seize Port of Kiaochou on account of murder of two missionaries. 1898-January-Germany obtains ninety-nine years' lease of District of Kiaochou, in Shantung. March-Russia obtains lease of Port Arthur and Talienwan and territories for twentyfive years.

April-Britain obtains lease of Weihaiwei for period coterminous with Russia's occupation of Port Arthur. France obtains ninety-nine years' lease of Bay of Kwangchauwan, in southeast China. 1899-Dowager Empress resumes regency and favours reactionary Ministers. Powers send

marines to Pekin to protect Legations. 1900-Boxer agitation against foreigners.

mob threatening both foreigner and the nominal forces of the state, began two years ago in the shape of clubs, chiefly throughout Shan-tung, formed for athletic purposes. Ether on ac

count of economic conditions or of political intrigues the Boxers have developed into anti-foreign armed organizations, disturbing the peace of the provinces on the coast with which European nations have most dealings. It is not known how deeply the organ

upon to make reparation for lives already lost and property destroyed. The real intentions of at least three of the nations-Russia, Germany and France-are carefully concealed. The British policy alone is openly avowedto maintain, if possible, a stable native Government and to press for wider opportunities to trade, open to all alike. The object of Russia, it is clear, is to detach from China enough of her northern territory to extend the

Russian Empire on the Pacific Ocean, with ports open all winter, so that she may be the dominant force in the whole region. All the political writers favourable to Great Britain urge that she should not only retain her supremacy in the central region farther south but also check Russia in the north. In this latter work, it is supposed, Germany will co-operate, receiving some tangible reward not yet clearly indicated. To the ordinary observer it appears as if the scramble had begun

and that nothing can save China from wholesale dismemberment and spoliation but an uprising of the yellow race against the interlopers. Lord Wolseley has pointed out the possible magnitude of such an uprising. The prospect seems dubious enough. It is easy to speculate, but the situation is too complex, the theatre of action too widely extended, the forces at work too various for the expression of definite conclusions.

DR. BRYCE'S "HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY."*

A REVIEW.

By The Rev. R. G. MacBeth, Author of "The Making of the Canadian West," Etc.

DR. BRYCE has been a voluminous writer on matters pertaining to the Canadian West. He has written six books, all of which, except his "History of the Canadian People" are concerned with matters exclusively Western. Besides these books he has published some thirty pamphlets, and nearly all these deal with some phase of the life and history of the same region. Perhaps Dr. Bryce's writings have been too voluminous. Not that he has exhausted the field, for there are still "unexplored remainders," but because a man who has done such immense work in other spheres could scarcely hope to write so extensively with entire credit to his reputation as an exact historian or a smooth-flowing stylist. Accordingly, Dr. Bryce himself has recognized that in his earlier books he has fallen into some considerable errors, and others have felt that his written productions were those of an inordinately busy man, and hence that they were not always equal to his well-known capabilities. But of all his publications his recent work on the

Hudson's Bay Company is, both in matter and literary style, distinctly superior to anything he has yet produced. That it is so is due to causes readily apparent. To begin with, nearly all Dr. Bryce's preceding efforts being, as we have said, largely connected with the country over which the Company operated, were a preparation for this present book. In order to prepare his former publications he has for many years been digging and delving into old records, and he has interviewed all sorts of people-old settlers on the Red River, hunters, trappers and frontiersmen, as well as employees of the Company, from the youngest clerk up to Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, the present notable Governor. Under this process Dr. Bryce has become so saturated with the history of the period that having the facts more readily at his command than formerly, he has been able to devote more time to the writing, and has now produced the most readable of all his books. As to the matter of the book, the same kind of result has been

*The Remarkable History of The Hudson's Bay Company. By Professor George Bryce, M.A., LL.D. Toronto: William Briggs. Cloth, illustrated, 500 pp. $3.00.

achieved. Some of his earlier works were written from scanty materials, as well as at too close range to the events recorded to get the true perspective, and hence mistakes as to facts and errors as to historical setting occurred. These mistakes of fact and errors as to setting Dr. Bryce has discovered during the intervening years, and in the present book he indicates, acknowledges and corrects them for the benefit of his readers.

As we open this "Remarkable History" it puts us on good terms with the author to find him starting right at the spring of this great river of mighty men and valiant deeds. Old London, central city of the "nation of shop-keepers," was the scene of the inception of this giant trade organization. French Protestant, Pierre Esprit Radisson, was the forceful personality at the very beginning of it. Radisson had been in Canada, had travelled great tracts of the wilderness, acquired an extraordinary influence over the native tribes, and had passed through many dangers unhurt that he seemed to bear a charmed life. He came back to the old world filled with stories as to the limitless possibilities of commerce in the new land, and after coquetting a while with France and England, settled on the latter as the place where his projects would be best understood.

Then follows the story of the granting of the Charter by Charles II., in May, 1670. It was a Royal Charter, and in this case Charles was a royal giver. We hear of people in whom acquisitiveness is so abnormally developed that, as the saying goes, "they want the earth and they want it fenced." Certain it is that Charles gave to "the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay" a very large portion of the earth and he gave it to them fenced in so far as a Royal Charter could secure them a monopoly. The marvel is, as Dr. Bryce points out, that a Company with such enormous powers and such unlimited opportunities should have been able to administer its immense territory

for two centuries, so as to secure the entire confidence of the native tribes and the almost unqualified admiration of all intelligent men to this day. The secret of this record, differing so splendidly from that of many other similar organizations with somewhat similar powers, is not hard to find as we study the book. The Company, doubtless, had some unworthy officers and men, but, on the whole, the directors seemed to have had wonderful success in securing for their prominent posts men whose great courage, extraordinary intelligence and strict integrity remain as one of the best traditions of the vast country over which they had such absolute sway. Dr. Bryce is not quite correct, however, in saying that the early colonists under the jurisdic tion of the Company, had no representative institutions. In one sense they had not, but the Council of Assiniboia, though chosen by the Company to help in governing the country, was carefully selected with a view to giving all elements in the community a voice in public affairs.

It was not to be expected that the Company would be left undisturbed in the enormous territory and vast trade covered by its charter. Dividends began to grow to great sums, and other people wanted a share in the spoils. An Irish gentleman, with the somewhat unromantic name of Dobbs, was, as Dr. Bryce tells us, one of the first to decry the Company as an organization that was sleeping on the shores of Hudson Bay, without exploring the interior of the country or endeavouring to find the Northwest Passage, as required by its Charter. There was some ground for this contention, and Mr. Dobbs had no difficulty in securing support for a new organization. This was about the year 1725, and was the beginning of much opposition to the Hudson's Bay Company. The tracing of this opposition through a whole century of conflict, gives us one of the strongest and best parts of Dr. Bryce's book. He must have expended much time and effort in searching records as to this complex period. The situation

was so full of romantic life and strenuous endeavour that we are not surprised when the author is tempted into bypaths and introduces somewhat irrelevant matter occasionally; but on the whole he keeps his point of view well and writes with great impartiality. The rise of the Scottish merchants in Montreal, the formation of the Northwest Company, the X. Y. Company and the Astor Company-all these matters are graphically recorded. There are some dark spots in the record, as for instance when for a time the rival companies attempted to secure the friendship and trade of the Indians by the lavish use of liquor; but apart from this and a few lawless incidents, we have much that calls for our admiration and gratitude. The magnificent daring of explorers, the extraordinary extent and permanent value of their discoveries, and the chivalrous spirit of the leaders give us to realize how fitting it is that the names of these men are written indelibly on plains, rivers and mountains in the nomenclature of the west.

The story of Lord Selkirk's colony on the Red River bulks large in the volume; and, without doubt, of all whose lives are recorded in the book Lord Selkirk was incomparably the greatest man of his time. The author makes no special effort to have him appear as such, but faithfully records his lifework amongst the rest. That is sufficient to give Lord Selkirk preeminence, for in the midst of the fierce conflict for material gain which pervades the history of these companies, the work of this heroic philanthropist, who threw his fortune and his life away in efforts to help his homeless countrymen, stands out in the immortal splendour that always accompanies vicarious sacrifice. That is a page of Canadian history worthy of much study in these days when all around us men toil and suffer and cry for help.

Coming down to more recent years, Dr. Bryce describes the decadence of the civil power of the Hudson's Bay Company, and gives in evidence instances where the laws were defied. We

think he makes too much of this supposed decadence. There were personal elements in the cases of Sayer, Corbett and Schultz which take them out of the usual category and make them unsafe as criteria of popular opinion. Up to the time of the first Riel rebellion the force of the Company had not materially abated as a representative of British law, though doubtless larger legislative machinery would soon have become necessary to meet changing conditions. But after the opening of negotiations for the transfer, the Company seemed of its own volition to let the old forceful authority die out by degrees. In his necessarily brief sketch of the rebellion, Dr. Bryce points to the non-resistance of the Company as a sign of its decrepitude. But we have always felt that the local officers of the Company which had sold out its rights to the Canadian Government did not consider themselves under covenant to "deliver the goods," and hence they declined to embroil themselves by getting between a blundering Government and an angry people. Dr. Bryce says further, that the white settlers of the old colony refrained from interfering against Riel because they had lost confidence in the strength of the Company as a governing body. That was not the reason for their non-interference. They simply felt that the affair was none of their business, and they told Col. Dennis so quite plainly when he wished to raise a force under authority of Governor McDougall's alleged proclamation. These settlers had not asked for any change in regime. What they had enjoyed for six decades under the Company was good enough for them, for it was the best they knew experimentally, and if the Canadian Government had seen fit to initiate proceedings to take over the country without consulting these settlers it seemed reasonable that the Government should carry out its programme without calling on them for active assistance. The white colonists had full confidence in the fact that the Government of Canada would deal

« ПретходнаНастави »