It was thus that what was originally one of the periodical anti-dynastic risings, with the usual scion of the Ming dynasty as figure-head, lost sight of its objective and became a bloodthirsty anti-foreign outbreak.
The immediate danger in China seems, so far as I can judge, to be that the anti-foreign feeling, which is undoubtedly intense especially in the south of the Empire, may come to a head any day and prematurely explode. The nincompoops and quidnuncs and newspaper men ravenous for copy who prate about a "yellow peril" may, in this latter fact, find some slight excuse for their blatant lucubrations.
In all my wandering in it I heard not an unpleasant word, not a jest at my expense, almost no evidence of anti-foreign feeling, which seems not indigenous to the peon, but implanted in him by those of ulterior motives. Nor did they once ask alms or attempt to push misery forward.
These were the seeds which, cunningly sown in their minds, caused to grow up within them a bitter undiscriminating hatred of foreigners. To them the mysterious thing they variously called the 'Friscal Policy', the 'Fistical Policy', or the 'Fissical Question' was a great Anti-Foreign Crusade.
The early part of 1900 saw an outbreak of religious and anti-foreign fanaticism in China which rapidly assumed alarming proportions. A sect or society known as the Boxers, founded in 1899 originally as a patriotic and ultra-conservative body, rapidly developed into a reactionary and anti-foreign, and especially anti-Christian organisation.
Ichang is an open port; it is the scene of the anti-foreign riot of September 2nd, 1891, when the foreign settlement was pillaged and burnt by the mob, aided by soldiers of the Chentai Loh-Ta-Jen, the head military official in charge at Ichang, "who gave the outbreak the benefit of his connivance."
The famine was laid to the charge of the Christians, and a commission of mandarins drew up a formal indictment of Christianity, which has stood its ground ever since as the text of the argument of the anti-foreign school. No permission has ever been given to the people of this country to embrace it. Nay, the laws have absolutely long forbidden its adoption.
The masses in China, it is alleged, would not be anti-foreign were it not for the influence of their literati, and the thoughts of these Indian literati must also become the thoughts of the Indian masses. It is the mind of these literati, mainly, which we are trying to gauge. According to the census of 1901 their total number approached one million, being those who could read and write English.
If the Satsuma men thus received a conclusive lesson as to the superiority of Western armaments, the Choshu fief was destined to be similarly instructed not long afterwards. It will have been perceived that at this epoch the Imperial Court was very prolific in anti-foreign edicts.
Up to this point all had gone well, but the anti-foreign party began to raise obstructions, and, headed by Sund Fo, the conqueror of the Goorkhas, to advise the emperor not to receive the embassador, and to reject all his propositions.