China Past and Present

My wife Michelle and I have decided to digitise a number of Sunday magazines from the Victorian Era, starting with the Sunday at Home. This was published by the Religious Tract Society in London from the 1850s to the 1920s and contains a wealth of interesting material. Amongst the most interesting are the various missions reports from around the world.

This series of four articles document missions work in China up to 1889.

Rev. John Ross, “China Past and Present,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1815 (Feb. 9th 1889): 86-88. [Click here to download in PDF]

Rev. John Ross, “China: Past and Present, Part II,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1816 (Feb. 16th 1889): 108-109. [Click here to download in PDF]

John Ross, “China: Past and Present. Education,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1824 (April 13th 1889): 236-237. [Click here to download in PDF]

John Ross, “China: Past and Present. Religion,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1831 (June 1st 1889): 346-348. [Click here to download in PDF]

 China Past and Present

If the changes introduced into the polity, education and manners of the Chinese are less startling and revolutionary than we have seen in the neighbouring kingdom of Japan, they are none the less real or potent, nor will their issues in the future be less far-reaching. The cautious conservatism which forms so large an element in the national character of the Chinese makes it impossible for them to adopt important changes into their political and social life with the facility so characteristic of their light-hearted neighbours. In studying their ancient books, reading the story of the inter¬course of Europeans during the past few centuries and observing the Chinese of the present day, one is particularly struck with the little difference observable in the people, mentally, socially or physically. Even the great upheaval consequent

on the introduction and spread of Buddhism, like their changes of dynasty, was but the sudden rising of a great wave subsiding quickly, leaving everything at its formal level, rather than an earthquake shock pushing up rocks into permanent heights.

From what part of the west the original Chinese migrated, and how they established themselves on the banks of the Yellow River, where the foundations were laid of the present empire with its customs and manners, must ever remain a mystery. But that they attained to a high degree of civilisation at a period when every other existing nationality was still in the grossest barbarism is matter of history. From the earliest recorded times they were surrounded by people and nations who were their mental and social inferiors. How far their settled agricultural life will account for their superiority over houseless nomads is a subject of interest, though hot now demanding investigation. The fact remains that up to and long after the time of Confucius, the Chinese came, whether in peace or war, into contact with peoples from whom they were never able to learn anything valuable, and to whom they always taught whatever amount of civilisation these were capable of adopting. The Chinese did not in those very ancient times know anything of Europe, but had they been brought into familiar contact with European peoples they would have encountered, beyond the borders of little Greece, only savages like their own neighbours.

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