In one respect at least pilgrims from other lands must bow to the empire we are about to visit. It is the oldest form of civilized government on earth. While the English monarchy boasts its uninterrupted course of eight hundred years, and America has just celebrated its first century of existence, this remarkable people live under a government which has been substantially unchanged for four thousand long years. The first authenticated dynasty dates from 2345 B.C., and what is now China has been under one central government for nearly two thousand five hundred years. Even the Papacy, the most venerable of existing Western institutions, is young compared to this. There was something in the reply of the mandarin to the boast of one of our people as to the superiority of our system: "Wait until it is tried!" To a Chinaman a thousand years or so seems too short to prove anything. Theirs alone has stood the test of ages. That the Chinese are a great race goes without saying. Four hundred millions (nearly one-third of the human race) existing for thousands of years under one unchanging government, riding out the storms which have overwhelmed all other nations; nay, even absorbing into themselves the Tartar hordes, who came as conquerors, and making them Chinese against their will. Such a record tells a story indeed! At a date so remote that Egypt and Assyria were the great Western powers, when Athens and Troy had just been founded, and Rome was not even thought of, these people were governed much as they are now, and since A.D. 67 have published a daily Peking Gazette, of which (thanks to our intelligent "host of the Garter," Mr. Janssen) we have secured a copy. We are all but of yesterday compared to the Heathen Chinee, and it is impossible to sit down and scribble glibly of such a people. In Japan there is no record. It is a new race appearing almost for the first time among civilized nations. It has given the world nothing, but how widely different here! It is to China the world owes the compass, gunpowder, porcelain, and even the art of printing, and to her also alone the spectacle of a people ruled by a code of laws and morals embracing the most minute particulars, written two thousand four hundred years ago, and taught to this day in the schools as the rules of life. It is an old and true saying that almost any system of religion would make one good enough if it were properly obeyed; certainly that of Confucius would do so. I have been deeply impressed with his greatness and purity. Dr. Davis writes in his work on China: "Confucius embodied in sententious maxims the first principles of morals and of government, and the purity and excellence of some of his precepts will bear comparison with even those of the Gospel." In Thornton's History of China I find this noteworthy passage: "It may excite surprise, and even incredulity, to state that the golden rule of our Saviour had been inculcated by Confucius five centuries before almost in the same words." If any of my readers wish a rare treat, I advise him to add at least the first volume of the Rev. Dr. Legge's Life of Confucius to his library immediately, and let him not entertain the idea that the sage was a heathen or an unbeliever; far, very far from that, for one of his most memorable passages explains that all worship belongs to Shangti (the Supreme Ruler); no matter what forms or symbols are used, the great God alone being the only true object of worship. But I must resist this fit of Confucianism, reserving, however, the privilege of regaling you with more of it by and bye, for really it is too good not to be scattered among you. Meanwhile, remember well what Matthew Arnold says:

  "Children of men! the unseen Power, whose eye 
   For ever doth accompany mankind, 
   Hath look'd on no religion scornfully 
   That men did ever find.

   Which has not taught weak wills how much they can? 
   Which has not fall'n on the dry heart like rain? 
   Which has not cried to sunk, self-weary man: 
   Thou must be born again!"

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