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mately, whether by rebellion at home or through the instrumentality of an alien conqueror, the ruling house is swept away to make room for some new and more effective occupant of the Dragon Throne. There can be very little doubt that the Manchu Dynasty had reached the end of its proper tether when the Taiping Rebellion occurred; and, by preventing its overthrow, Gordon and his "ever-victorious army" arrested a normal and healthy process of nature. Nothing that the Manchus have done since then affords the slightest evidence that they deserved to be saved. Rather the contrary. And when they fall, as fall they must and will before very long, the upheaval will be all the more violent and all the more protracted for having been so long and unduly postponed.'
So Prince Ito said to me when I was last in Tokio in the spring of 1909, only a few months before the greatest of Japan's Elder Statesmen' came to his tragic end in Manchuria. Few Japanese were better acquainted with China; few followed the course of events there with keener interest; few had more intimate friends amongst the best Chinese; few also had a greater admiration for all the solid qualities of the Chinese people. Starting with the above remarks, he discoursed to me at some length and with great earnestness as to the future of China; and the dramatic events of the last few months have already so largely borne out his anticipations that the views which he then expressed to me still form, I think, a contribution of the utmost value to the study of the present situation in China. I propose therefore to reproduce as fully and as faithfully as I can the exhaustive reasons which he gave me for believing that a great upheaval in China could no longer be delayed, and that when it came it was bound to usher in a period of longdrawn turmoil and strife.
Western observers,' Prince Ito proceeded, 'are apt to ask why China after all may not be expected to work out her own salvation in much the same way as Japan did half a century ago, and with results equally beneficial to her people. I am afraid they forget how very different were the conditions under which the transformation of Japan was effected, and how much more favourable than those which, so far as we can judge, exist to-day in China. Though it was the appearance of Admiral Perry's fleet in
Japanese waters in 1853 that actually broke down the walls of Japanese self-isolation, the Japanese people had already begun on their own account to undermine those walls. I can bear witness myself to the eagerness which prevailed long before that eventful year amongst the young men of my own class and generation to know something of all the wonderful things going on in the mysterious Western world of which we were only allowed to catch a very faint and distorted glimpse in the small Dutch settlement at Deshima. As you know, I was one of the small band who did not wait for the abolition of the heavy penalties imposed upon foreign intercourse, to undertake what seemed at that time a wildly adventurous voyage of exploration into the unknown realms of Western civilisation. You know also with what enthusiasm the youth of Japan followed our example as soon as the old restrictions were removed, and how promptly the State itself began to encourage investigation in every field of Western knowledge.
'The Chinese, on the other hand, have already had for nearly three-quarters of a century abundant opportunities of contact with the West. Chinese and Europeans have lived for whole decades side by side in the Treaty Ports. Chinese officials have endured the foreigner's presence solely because they could not help themselves; and the only class that displayed more friendly tolerance towards him were the traders to whom he brought new opportunities of lucrative commerce. But in no section of the Chinese community was there, for upwards of fifty years, the slightest desire to assimilate or to understand the ideas of their "barbarian" neighbours. You have yourself seen the native city of Shanghai, with all that it stands for of misgovernment and squalor, living its own life, unchanged and changeless, within a stone's throw of the Model Settlement of international Shanghai, with its splendid methods of municipal administration and all its manifold monuments of well-ordered Western energy and enterprise. In the juxtaposition of those two cities lies the most striking illustration of the gulf which has continued to separate the Chinese mind from the Western mind, in spite of all the practical object lessons which the West has brought to the very doors of China. Within the last few years no doubt there has been a con
siderable and a very rapid change, but even that change is not so much a spontaneous growth from within as the result of the importation of Western ideas from without by young Chinese, who have been educated abroad and who have returned to their own country not only imbued with Western conceptions, but almost as widely estranged from all the old Chinese conceptions and from the Chinese point of view as if they were themselves foreigners by birth. Hence the crudity and violence of the doctrines which they teach-doctrines which tend not to the adaptation of what is best or most practical in Western conceptions to Chinese conditions, but to the wholesale uprooting of all Chinese traditions and the revolutionary substitution for them of Western formulæ.
'The aggressive impact of the West precipitated a great crisis in our history, but it found us prepared to meet that crisis, because the feudal evolution of Japan enabled her to produce at the given moment not only a few individual leaders but a whole class of society equipped and ready to take the lead in a great national movement. There was already, too, in the air a great national idea around which the new and, if you like, revolutionary aspirations of the country were able to crystallise in such a shape as to secure, together with all the benefits of a real revolution, the unbroken continuity of ancient traditions. Instead of destroying the Throne, we were able to claim that our object was to restore the Imperial authority, too long usurped by the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Daimios and the Samurais, who represented the progressive forces in the country, rallied round their Emperor and rescued him from the humiliating seclusion to which he and his predecessors for generations past had been relegated at Kyoto; and under his august leadership the nation entered upon new paths with the confidence and courage which the sanction of its most ancient and sacred traditions could alone inspire. Thus what was undoubtedly in effect a tremendous revolution has gone down, and rightly gone down, to history as a Restoration, i.e. the restoration of the Imperial authority revivified by the spirit of New Japan.
In China one looks, I fear, in vain for any great national idea that can afford a rallying-cry to the different forces which are combined only, as far as one can see, in
a spirit of confused revolt against the old order of things. They cannot rally round the dynasty, for, on the contrary, the dynasty, besides being an alien dynasty, is identified in the mind of Young China with everything against which it is revolting. Nor is there any class which seems capable of directing and controlling a great national movement. The great bureaucracy, which is the only aristocracy that China possesses, is, in spite of some brilliant exceptions, as a whole notoriously incompetent and corrupt. The merchants may be taken as the nearest equivalent to a middle class in China, and in business they have acquired a considerable reputation for honesty and intelligence; but they have always held aloof from public affairs, which, with the Chinese talent for specialisation, they dismiss as entirely outside their own sphere of activity. The great mass of the population is probably even more inert in China than in most Oriental countries. It is thrifty and extremely industrious, but it has been accustomed for so many centuries to be treated by its rulers as the "stupid people" that it may be held now almost to justify the epithet by its supreme indifference to everything beyond its own narrow horizon of daily toil. The young students who have returned from abroad form a very vocal and not unimportant body of agitators, many of whom are animated with excellent intentions; but they have no roots in the country and many of them have entirely lost touch with their own people. As for the Chinese army, it would seem extremely improbable that in a country such as China, so completely bereft of all military traditions, an army could be organised that would possess both the efficiency and the discipline required in a great national emergency.
'Moreover, we must remember, and the Japanese do remember gratefully, that though it was the menace of Western fleets that finally roused us out of our torpor, and though, on one or two occasions, there were actual conflicts between different Japanese factions and the forces of the West, Japan was, on the whole, allowed to work out her own salvation with a minimum of foreign interference. The territorial integrity of our islands was never violated; our national independence was never threatened. The Western Powers had not at that time developed in the Far East the territorial ambitions which
the helplessness of China irresistibly stimulated thirty or forty years later. They possessed then in Japan none of those material interests which have so often served in China as an excuse, more or less valid, for foreign intervention. Foreign settlements in Japan were few, and all that they claimed was security for life and property and modest opportunities of trade. They were confined to one or two points on the coast. There were no missionaries in the interior of the country, no foreign enterprises, no mining concessions, no railways, no spheres of influence, and, above all, no heavy burden of foreign indebtedness to afford leverage to the dangerous forces of international finance.
'Look, on the other hand, at China to-day. Large and flourishing Western communities have planted themselves not only on the Chinese coast, but far away in the interior, along the great waterways of China. Western missionaries have penetrated into all parts of China, and so has Western commercial and industrial enterprise. China is covered with a network of Western economic interests in the shape of mining and railway concessions; and, last but not least, China has delivered herself into the hands of Western finance by piling up enormous foreign loans, for which she has had to pledge the most substantial part of her revenue. Portions of her territory are leased and held by foreign Powers, and foreign troops are more or less permanently quartered in her capital. What remains of her territorial integrity and independence, which she has no material means of defending for herself, is protected, in so far as it is protected at all, far more by international jealousies than by the treaties which are supposed to guarantee them. Yet, though China is, and in fact always has been, at the mercy of foreign Powers, a large section of her would-be reformers do not hesitate to adopt towards them an attitude of almost truculent defiance. One may hope that, when the crisis comes, wiser counsels may prevail; but it is difficult to see how any great upheaval in China, or even any far-reaching reforms, can take place without affecting more or less directly and seriously the widespread ramification of economic and commercial, let alone political interests which foreign Powers are bound to see upheld.
'Of destructive elements there may be enough and