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"Siu-tshuen was now allowed to go into the presence of the lord of the celestial palace. Venerable in years, having a long golden beard hanging down his breast, and solemnly robed in black, this personage sat on an elevated throne, and received the stranger with dignity, but much feeling. He was even affected to tears, and briefly said, 'All the human beings in the world are created and sustained by me; yet, though they eat my food and wear my clothing, not one of them all remembers and venerates me; they even take of my gifts and pervert them to the worship of demons; they purposely rebel against me, and arouse my anger. Imitate them not.'
When the aged lord of the palace had finished this speech, he gave Siu-tshuen
a sword, telling him to exterminate the demons with it; also a seal, which should give him power over evil spirits; and a yellow fruit from the tree of life, which was sweet to the taste. Then, exhorting him to take courage for the work it was given him to do, and promising his constant assistance and protection, the lord of the mansion dismissed him from his presence."
A brief period of alternating frenzy and tranquillity, and Siu-tshuen was whole again. Now had he his commission from heaven, and, like a true man and a brave soldier, he began his work. And he looked like the man he was. He had waxed in stature, he had become stalwart; his step was firm, and his aspect imposing.
From this time his progress was rapid. He read the tracts of Liang Afah, and found in them the interpretation of his dream. Straightway, he cast out the tablet of Confucius from his schoolroom, and persuaded his cousin and fellow-student, Li, to throw away his idols. And they two took a bowl, and poured water, each on his own head, saying, "Purification-Putting off the old-Regeneration." Next he converted his friends, Chun, Fung-Yun-San, and Hung-jin, and baptized them in his school-room. But afterward, fearing that the office might not have been performed to the satisfaction of the lord of the palace, he took them down, like a homelier John the Baptist-es vdwoto the canal, and thoroughly scrubbed them there, as the old woman in heaven had done by himself. His father too, Hung-Jang, was baptized, and, with all his house, served the Lord.
But the new faith was not without its foretaste of martyrdom for its believers. A siu-tsai mocked Siu-tshuen at his own board; Hung-jin was beaten by his
brother, and his garments rent, for taking down the tablet of Confucius in his school-room. Yet, in spite of the pounding, Hung-jm lifted up his voice like a hero: Am not I a teacher? And Confucius is only a dead man. Why should I worship him?" But Siu-tshuen saw the need of more striking arguments; so he ordered for himself and Hung-jin two swords, three and a half feet long, and inscribed "Demon-exterminating sword." Then, with a few pencils and ink-stones to peddle, that they might pay their toll, Siu-tshuen and Fung-Yun-San made their way into the province of Kwangsi, preaching, and converting many, by the road.
At this time the inspired scholar made some sublime odes, and his soul was filled with a noble and a restless longing to rid the neck of China of the Manchu yoke.
Then Siu-tshuen and Hung-jin went together to Canton to be taught by an American missionary, the Rev. I. J. Roberts. The visit has been described,
and the interesting circumstances which attended it narrated, in a paper contributed to a late number of Putnam by Mr. Roberts himself. "Siutshuen was then about thirty-four years of age, five feet five inches in height, and in person muscular, broad-shouldered, and well-proportioned. His hands and feet were small; his head oval, with regular and decidedly handsome features; his complexion the color of an oak-leaf faded; dark hair, inclining to brown in the beard; small ears; nose higher than is usual among his countrymen; eyes black, large, and penetrating; a voice well fitted for oratory and com
mand-clear, sonorous, musical; his manners marked by the polite affability of the Central Flowery Kingdom, though with a certain air of self-respect, together with a dash of grave earnestness, which demanded deference and ceremony."
But his ambition and superior attainments awoke the jealousy of the native assistants, who plotted to defeat his efforts to be employed in the missionand with success, for the rite of baptism was refused by the missionaries to the distinguished convert, from an apprehension of selfishness in his motives. Such treatment was neither agreeable
to the pride, nor consoling to the poverty of Siu-tshuen, who accordingly "took leave of a mission which could neither appreciate nor employ him."
The persevering and courageous reformer made his way back to Kwang-si, with but a few cash in his pocket-the prefect of Shau-king, however, and some literati on board a Pearl river passageboat, assisting him with moderate contributions. Thistle-mount, in Kwang-si, was chosen for his headquarters, and the form of worship established there, though constructed on a basis of Christianity, still retained a few of the minor practices of idolatry; cups of tea were poured over the heads of neophytes, and confessions of sin, inscribed on slips of paper, were burned in consecrated lamps. For a time, even Siutshuen burned joss-stick at divine service. But so soon as his sect had waxed strong, by numbers, wealth, and influence, he set his heart on demolishing the image of Kan-wang-ye, in the department of Siang-chau.
"During his life, this Kan had been an inhabitant of the department, and had been extremely addicted to the arts of geomancy. When, then, it was told him one day by a magician, that a bloody burial' would be followed by
great prosperity in his family, he immediately went home, and, killing his own mother, caused her to be buried in the spot marked out by the compasses. The promised prosperity actually followed; and, after a life spent in dissipation, the profligate was worshiped as a demon.
"Great was the dread which fell upon all the people before the image of this Kan-wang-ye; so that, when once a young lad, possessed by its spirit, stopped the sedan-chair of a district magistrate, and demanded, in the name of the idol, a dragon robe,' the mandarin dared not refuse it. The wardens were even afraid to sleep in the temple; and, whenever they entered it to light the lamps and burn incense, they beat the gong to prevent Kan-wang-ye from appearing to them. Whoever said a word against him was sure to be instantaneously seized with bowel-complaint, the course of which could be stayed only by acknowledging the power of his godship-at least, such was the popular belief."
So, with small ado, Siu-tshuen took with him Yun-san, Wang-ngi, and a few more, and departed upon an iconoclastic expedition. Arrived at the temple of the god, he strode unceremoniously into the presence of the gilded mon
ster, and with might and main smote him ten blows on the face: First blow, for killing his mother; second, for despising God; third, for frightening the hearts of the sons and daughters of God; fourth, for coveting the food of the children of God; fifth, for forcing his sister to make the acquaintance of a profligate; sixth, for disseminating obscene songs between males and females; seventh, for arrogantly exalting himself; eighth, for extorting money from the people; ninth, for demanding a dragon robe from the mandarin; and tenth, for continuing his mischief as a demon. Then Siu-tshuen and his friends flung the image to earth, and broke it in pieces; rent its robes, destroyed the sacrificial vessels and departed.
Kan-wang-ye was a sensible demon; his sagacity was worthy of a better cause, for he said unto his worshipers, "The idol-smashers are sincere, you cannot hurt them; be content with mending my image." But the congregation grew too bold, and were hurried by their zeal into intemperance; so that at last, a complaint being lodged against them by one Wang, a wealthy man of letters, two of them were thrown into prison; and the mandarin being desired to interfere for the honor of the new faith, his worship irreverently declined, saying, "Hi-yah! sing song all same pigeon"-religion all the same sort of business.
Following these proceedings, the succession of alarming events was rapid and easy. Siu-tshuen and Yun-san had been preaching in the villages, when the mandarins threatened to arrest them, as leaders of a secret society, in rebellion against the government. tshuen saw that now was the time for bold deeds-that the season had arrived when sword and buckler might be substituted with advantage for scrip and staff. So he called his congregation around him at Thistle-mount, and took under his protection many families of the wild Miautsz' mountaineers, who had been extortionately persecuted by government officials.
"The God-worshipers obeyed the voice of their prophet. They immediately assembled at Thistle-mount, bringing with them their cattle, their provisions, their money, and every kind of movable property, and, for arms, such agricultural implements, and other weapons, as they could lay their hands on.
Among those who came at the call, were a number of graduates, and heads of clans, one of whom, by the name of Wei-ching, brought in no less than a thousand retainers. All gave in their individual property to the public treasury, to be used for the daily maintenance of the members of the congregation, each sharing alike.”
Then they marched on the nearest market town, and levied freely on its well-stocked shops, for clothing and provisions. Thus was formed the nucleus of that great jubilant army, which, taking up its march from the pulpit hills of Kwang-si, never stopped nor stayed till its great gongs thundered from the walls of Nanking, and its banners floated from the Porcelain Tower.
The imperial soul of Tai-Ping-Wang was in the first political proclamation of Siu-tshuen :
"The Manchus who, for two centuries, have been the hereditary occupants of the throne of China, were originally members of a small foreign tribe. With the aid of a powerful
army, they took possession of our treasure, our lands, and the government of our country, proving that superior strength is all that is required for the usurpation of an empire. There is, therefore, no difference between us, who levy contributions on the villages we have taken, and the officials sent from Peking to collect the taxes. Taking and keeping are both fair alike. Why, then, without any motive, are troops marched against us? This appears to us very unjust. How have the Manchus, who are foreigners, a right to collect the revenues of eighteen provinces, and to appoint the officers who oppress the people; while we, who are Chinese, are forbidden to take a little money from the public stock? Universal sovereignty does not belong to any individual to the exclusion of all the rest; and no one ever saw a dynasty which could count a hundred generations of emperors. Possession -and possession only-gives a right to govern.
So Tai-Ping-Wang-the boy Phuh by his latest title, signifying Prince of Peace and all his people immediately cut off their tails, their badges of bond
from the city of the Mings. "And on the eighth of March, the watchman on the walls of Nanking beheld the thousand banners of the insurgent host advancing from the west." He who had been a poor, rustic schoolmaster; who had been stript by thieves while carrying the message of the silver-bearded Lord of the Palace to the idol-adorers of Kwang-si; who had led a handful of image-breakers to victory after victory over the flower of the imperial army, making great cities his own, and taking a prince's toll on high-ways and broad rivers--now sat down before the walls of the proud south
ern capital, which, in all the appliances of elegance and luxury, surpassed the earthly paradise of Suchau; and on the nineteenth he took it, putting the Tartar population to the sword.
Then Tai-Ping-Wang laid a plan for starving out the Emperor, by intercepting his supplies; and by so reducing the tribute of cash and rice as seriously to impoverish the royal treasury, to promote popular discontent at Peking, and perhaps procure the overthrow of the imperial house. He sent forces northward, which, crossing the Yellow river, "trespassed on the imperial domain of Pih-Chih-le," and advanced within less
than a hun
dred miles of Peking. Emperor Hienfung was in a terrible fright. He set his generals to repairing the walls of the city; he directed that every man should put his lantern in order, and that the magistrates should look well to
the tablets on the walls and doors of houses. He reduced unlucky generals to the ranks, un-buttoned mandarins, and sent
the Lins and Sius of the august Commission "beyond the wall." Of the viceroy of Pih- Chih-le, he wrote: "It is now several days that that man has made no report of himself, and I I cannot think what he can be about, or where he can
be staying; it is, in fact, most extraordinary."
Meantime, the official Peking Gazette was doing its best to console him, by recording from time to time the amazing victories of the imperial forces. The "obstreperous fellows without queues," who were constantly "retreating toward Peking," were being slaughtered by thousands; chiefs in red caps and yellow jackets were hourly converted into a fine quality of mincemeat; and the abundance of spoils and trophies was fatiguing to contemplate. The imperial generalissimo, too, entertained the numerous readers of the