Ignoring the fact that the movement was a Christian one, and might have gone far towards establishing Christianity among the Chinese, and friendly relations with foreign peoples, the English seemed mainly governed by the circumstance that opium was prohibited by the Tai-ping government at Nanking, the trade in this pernicious drug proving a far stronger interest with them than the hopeful results from the missionary movement.
Judged by a European standard, it does not amount to much outside of mere numbers; though in addition to it there is a sort of militia, camped in the several provinces, more in the nature of police than soldiers, of twice as many men as the imperial army. "The first great war in China was the Tâi-Ping rebellion, which the older of you can remember.
The Tai-ping rebellion, which had begun in the south some three years earlier , had established its capital at Nanking, on the Yangtse River, and had sent its "long-haired" rebels north on an expedition of conquest, the ultimate aim of which was Peking.
Another graduate of Walker's army was Captain Fred Townsend Ward, a native of Salem, Mass., who after the death of Walker organized and led the ever victorious army that put down the Tai-Ping rebellion, and performed the many feats of martial glory for which Chinese Gordon received the credit. In Shanghai, to the memory of the filibuster, there are to-day two temples in his honor.
Li Hung-chang had won his title to greatness during the Tai-ping rebellion, for his part in the final extinction of which he was ennobled as an Earl. From this time onward she placed him in the highest positions of honour and power within sufficient proximity to the capital to have his services within easy reach.
When I entered the dimly lighted room she was sitting in the midst of a group of women and girls patients in the hospital who listened with bated breath as she told them of the horrors of the Tai-ping rebellion.
Far across on the opposite shore, blurred by the mist that the alchemy of the setting sun transmuted from miasmic vapour to a veil of gold, rose the purple-shadowed, stone-tumbled ruins of Hang Gow, ruins that had been a proud, walled city in the days before the Tai-ping Rebellion.
Being now in possession of the ancient capital of the kingdom, Hung proclaimed himself emperor under the name of Teen Wang, or "Heavenly King," giving to his dynasty the title of the Tai-ping. And now for a number of years victory followed every movement of the Tai-ping army.
In 1851 the Tai-ping Rebellion began. The fuel that fed the flame was various. It was reaction against oppressive government. It was iconoclasm inspired by a spurious Christianity. It was pride of race that would not tolerate a Manchu on the throne. For fourteen years China staggered under this awful scourge. Whole provinces were devastated and almost depopulated.
At the same time that the Tai-ping rebels were spreading their new doctrines in China, a prophet, Choi-Chei-Ou by name, arose in Corea, who taught a doctrine made up of dogmas of the three religions of China, with some Christian ideas thrown in. This prophet was seized as a Roman Catholic in 1865 and executed, but his followers, known as the Tong-Haks, held firm to their faith.