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having my name carved with the title of "E,"
which means "Righteousness," and designates the fourth official rank under that of a prince, which is the first. My title was written out on a piece of yellow satin stamped with the official seal of the Kan Wong. I was placed in a quandary and was at a loss to know its purport,— whether it was intended to detain me in Nanking for good or to commit me irretrievably to the Taiping cause, nolens volens. At all events, I had not been consulted in the matter and Kan Wong had evidently acted on his own responsibility and taken it for granted that by conferring on me such a high rank as the fourth in the
/ official scale of the Taipings, I might be induced to accept and thus identify myself with the
/ Taiping cause—of the final success of which I had strong doubts, judging from the conduct, character and policy of the leading men connected I with it. I talked the matter over with my associates, and came to the decision that I must forthwith return the seal and decline the tempting bauble. I went in person to thank Kan Wong for this distinguished mark of his high consideration, and told him that at any time N
when the leaders of the Taipings decided to carry out either one or all of my suggestions, made in my first interview with him, I should be most happy to serve them, if my services were needed to help in the matter. I then asked him as a special favor for a passport that would'guarantee me a safe conduct in traveling through the territory under the jurisdiction of the Taipings, whether on business or pleasure. The passport was issued to me the next day, on the 24th of December, and we were furnished with proper conveyances and provisions to take us back to the city of Tan Yang, where our boat lay under the protection of Chin, second in command of the city, waiting our return from Nanking. We started on our return trip for Shanghai on the 27th of December by the same route as we came, and arrived safely in Tan Yang in the early part of January, 1861.
On my way back to Shanghai, I had ample time to form an estimate of the Taiping Rebellion—its origin, character and significance.
REFLECTIONS ON THE TAIPING
Rebellions and revolutions in China are not
made it for a period of fifteen years a constantly impending danger to the Manchu Dynasty, whose corruption, weakness and maladministration were the main causes that evoked the existence of this great rebellion.
The religious element that gave it life and character was a foreign product, introduced into China by the early Protestant missionaries, of whom Dr. Robert Morrison was the first English pioneer sent out by the London Mission, followed a decade later by the Rev. Icabod J. Roberts, an American missionary. These two missionaries may properly claim the credit, if there is any, of having contributed (each in his particular sphere) in imparting to Hung Siu Chune a knowledge of Christianity. Dr. Morrison, on his part, had translated the Bible into Chinese, and the Emperor Khang Hsi's dictionary into English; both these achievements gave the missionary work in China a basis to go upon in prosecuting the work of revising and of bringing the Bible to the Chinese standard of literary taste, so as to commend it to the literary classes, and in making further improvements in perfecting the Chinese-English dictionary, which was subsequently done by such men as Dr. Medhurst, Bishop Boone, Dr. Legge, E. C. Bridgeman, and S. Wells Williams.
Besides these works of translation, which undoubtedly called for further revision and improvement, Dr. Morrison also gave China a native convert—Leang Ahfah—who became afterwards a noted preacher and the author of some religious tracts.
Hung Siu Chune, in his quest after religious knowledge and truths, got hold of a copy of Dr. Morrison's Bible and the tracts of Leang Ahfah. He read and studied them, but he stood in need of a teacher to explain to him many points in the Bible, which appeared to him mysterious and obscure. He finally made the acquaintance of the Rev. Mr. Icabod J. Roberts, an American missionary from Missouri, who happened to make his headquarters in Canton. Hung Siu Chune called upon him often, till their acquaintance ripehed into a close and lasting friendship, which was kept up till Hung Siu Chune succeeded in taking Nanking, when Mr. Roberts was invited to reside there in the double capacity of a religious teacher and a state adviser. This was undoubtedly done in recognition of Mr. Roberts' services as Hung's teacher and friend while in Canton. No one knew what had become of Mr. Roberts when Nanking fell and reverted to the imperialists in 1864.