The Ashburton Guardian. COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1879.
It is difficult to speak with certainty of the history of llussia beyond a century or two, if we confine ourselves to the evidence of that country’s own imperfect annals. But Chinese history is more explicit, and if we fail in getting at definite information regarding the great Northern Power during the early period of the Christain era from Russia’s own chronicles, we can obtain some interesting items bearing on the subject from the contemporaneous history of China. It is interesting to learn that the great Russia was once under the heel of the Mongolian race. In the tenth century she was conquered and overrun by the Mongols, who held possession of their conquest for two 'centuries. It was in the century following, however, that the great supremacy was gained—that swarms of the Asiatics were hurled against the Northern Power, which went down, not before superior arms or military skill, but before sheer mass of numbers. Like an Eastern locust plague they came, and their progress was irresistible, so that for two centuries the great country of Russia was laid under galling tribute. It was only when the fifteenth century was dawning that Russia began to regain her independence, and then the Mongolian stamp had been left indelibly upon her national character. The Mongols introduced the serfdom only recently abolished, and to Mongolian influence is to be attributed the spiritless character of a people who could sit passively down under the officialdom of Russia—an officialdom that means oppression of the worst kind, that not only refuses to recognise the personal liberty of the subject, but terrorises the very thoughts of the human mind. An abject social bondage of this kind seems to be congenial to the Mongolian race—and it is seldom that we find them revolting against it; for it is more rampant in the Chinese empire than it is oven in Russia. But w'hon such fearful oppression exists in what claims to be a Christian country, there is scarcely ground for surprise that Nihilism should raise its terrible bead in the midst of a down trodden people, and in turn terrorise in reaction on the power that oppresses. It is to the Mongolian conquest that Russia owes its traditions. Aggrandisement is now one of the instincts of its statesmen, an instinct bequeathed to them by the regenerator of their country, Peter the Great, whose will laid the acquisition of territory down to his conntrymen as a sacred duty, and at this moment the principle is the end and aim of all their foreign policy. We find them casting lustful eyes upon Afghanistan as the high-road to our Indian possessions, and they have only emerged from a fifth unsuccessful effort to secure the country of the unfortunate Turk. But for the wholesome check held upon Russia by the other European powers, there can be little doubt that the owners of the largest of the European dominions would not be slack to attempt the extension of their territory westward. This desire on the part of Russians for territory they have inherited from their Mongolian masters of early history, and the same desire, though it does not assume the shape of lust for territory, is still manifested by the Chinese. The Chinese are still as numerous in population as they wore when they threw their countless hosts against the Northern barbarian ; their natural increase has even made them more numerous than ever; for no great series of wars have thinned their ranks, and though now and again a famine lias pruned some of their superfluous life, the vital principle jn the population bravely asserts itself, and shoals of Chinese annually swarm off to other lands in every quarter of the globe. A large proportion of them return to their native country, and few indeed ever settle in the land they choose to honor wit!) g sojourn,. Just as they overran llussia so are they overrunning the other lands of the globe where an attractive foothold is offered to them : not, however, with the sword in their hand, —they are no match in war for modern nations but their peculiar characteristics, the inherent principle of slavery within them, that they left as a legacy when they were driven from Russia, and the lust for wealth that consumes them, places them in antagonism to all the interests and instincts of European civilisation, and now the recently colonised divisions of the earth are in mad revolt against their influx. America, on tho Chinese question, has just escaped another civil war, and the agitation will not cease until the hated race has been driven from the vast continent. Australia is fermenting on tho
same question, and we have not yet seen the end of the straggle. And now New Zealand takes her first protective step against the inroads of tbose\)arasitea on civilisation who come to into competition with the toiling 'freemen from Britain. The Chinaman’s lust for wealth is insatiable—wealth is his god, j'ea, his very soul, and he has no enjoyment beyond its acquisition. For generations his race will toil on to achieve a purpose that will bring them gain, and they care not how much labor they expend on their designs, so these designs are productive of a substantial return. Their toil is cheap in their eyes, and so they expend it. We will not go into the many greivances of the British workman against his Asiatic competitor, but would only point to the thirst for gain, and the monopoly ofit, the Chinaman shows even in his own country. For generations the Chinese have been excellent customers of the manufacturing countries, and their imports of manufactured goods have shown well on the books of English producers. But China has well nigh reached her last bale from England and America. British mechanics, at tempting remuneration, have been brought over to erect machinery and teach its working to the natives, and now Chinese factories are rapidly supplying the wants of the country to the exclusion of every foreign fabric. English companies encircled the coast with linos of steamers, and did for the Chinese what they could not do for themselves opened a steam carrying trade. Opposition lines of Chinese steamships have now driven these from the coast, because the natives could command the patronage of Chinese merchants. The Chinaman preys upon every nationality. He serves himself for a time with the skill of the modern artificer and then turns him adrift. He shares his gains with no one, and when he obtains a foothold in any trade, he sweeps up the very crumbs that fall from it.
But his fighting days are not yet over either. Gradually he is acquiring a fleet. It was only the other day we read of four excellent gunboats built in England for China, and it is quite within the bounds of possibility that as the Mongolian adopts, as he will, European arms , and European tactics, lie may again assume ’ the supremacy in the land of his old foe, and hurl against the Russian the terrible hordes that swamped her in centuries long gone by.