TaipingRebellion.com 太平天囯 Tai Ping Tian Guo
Removing the tablet of Confucius from
his school was bad for business
by Milton Makie 1857
While the religious enthusiasm of Xiuquan mounted so high that, like the Apostle Peter, he demanded a sword, the amount of cash in his pockets was daily running lower and lower. The removal of the tablet of Confucius from the wall of his room had cleared it of pupils, and left his bamboos without a single back to be exercised on. " No students, no rice," is an adage with Chinese professors ; and Xiuquan's present experience did not disprove it. Finding, then, by the poverty to which he was reduced in the course of a few weeks, that preaching in Guanlubu Village ( Hong's home town ) would not keep him from starvation, and reading, at the same time, in the foreign scriptures, that a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house, he conceived the design of setting off on a mission to his relatives in the province of Guangxi. This was a 300 mile journey, which they did by walking .
Two members of the Hong clan, living in Guangxi, had come the previous year on a visit to Guanlubu Village, and had carried back the news of the new religion. Xiuquan, therefore, resolved to follow in the track of these forerunners. He had never in his life been further from home than Canton, and the journey to the distant mountains of Guangxi. was not without its attractions to the romantic mind of the dweller in the rice-plains. But how to subsist on the way, was the question. This, however, he resolved, by determining that he would trust to Divine Providence, and the trade, which he proposed to take up, of peddling pencils and ink-stones. Accordingly, taking with him Feng Yunshan, and two others, he started, in the second month of the year eighteen hundred and forty-four, for Guangxi. Hong Rengan was forbidden by his father to join . With a few pencils and ink-stones in their pockets instead of cash these humble schoolmasters set off on their errand of proselytism in April of 1844 .
Journey to Guangxi (Kwangxi) 1844
It was in the third month that the pilgrims reached the foot of the mountains of Guangxi. Hitherto they had advanced on their journey without much inconvenience, preaching as they went, and obtaining at least sufficient contributions to supply their daily wants. But as the mountains, inhabited in part by the wild tribes of the Miao people ( Miao is a Chinese term and does not reflect the self-designations of the component groups of people, which include (with some variant spellings) Hmong, Hmub, Xong (Qo-Xiong), and A-Hmao. The Chinese government has grouped these people and other non-Miao peoples together as one group, whose members may not necessarily be either linguistically or culturally related, though the majority are members of Miao-Yao language family ), now rose in their path, the hearts of the two attendants and relativesof Xiuquan and Yunshan failed them, and they turned back. But it was not in the nature of either of the others to do this.
The Miao People of China part 1
The Miao People of China part 1
They bravely climbed the mountain-side, and penetrated, After four days had been spent in wandering about in the mountains, the two friends fell in with a Chinese schoolmaster, by the name of Kiang, who was teaching in one of the villages of the Miao . This pedagogue, glad to meet with persons of his own profession from the lowlands, not only entertained them cheerfully, and gave them some supplies and directions for the remainder of their journey, but at the end of nearly three weeks of wandering through the mountain the travelers arrived at Thistle Mountain or Mount Zijing (紫荊山), north of Guiping , Guangxi , the residence of their relative Wang .
Thistle Mountain 紫荊山
Here the evangelists remained several months, teaching daily the new doctrine to this branch of the tribe of the Hongs. And such was the sincerity with which Xiuquan narrated the history of his books and visions, and such the eloquence with which he urged the turning away from idols to the worship of the one true God, and of Jesus his Son, who had made an atonement for the sins of the world, that not only Wang, but several hundred others, believed the good news of salvation from the pains of hell, and were baptized. Xiuquan was looked upon as having come down from heaven to reveal unto them the new doctrine. They believed him to be more than a mortal.
Xiuquan writes a petition
And this belief was considerably strengthened by the circumstance that a petition, which he wrote in behalf of a son of Wang, who had been unjustly thrown into prison by the local magistrate, had the effect of procuring a release.S oon after, Xiuquan himself, having successfully accomplished the object of his mission, left Thistle Mountain ; and, returning by a shorter route, returned home to Guangdong before the in the winter of 1844.
When, on the return home of Xiuquan, it became known that he had accomplished the journey to the distant mountains of Guangxi, and there preached the new doctrine with great success, his reputation rose higher than it had ever been before through all the villages in his native district. He was regarded both as a far-traveled man, and the founder of a new religious sect. Many, therefore, who would not listen to his words before because he had not been further from home than Canton ( Guangzhou ) , now gathered around the missionary who had told the story of his books and dreams in the mountains of the wild Miao.
Some, who had been the loudest mockers, gladly submitted their heads to baptism in the canal ; and Xiuquan became established as a regular preacher of the foreign righteousness, with a respectable body of followers. He was also successful in reopening his school, which he continued to teach for the space of two years, the boys soon forgetting the tablet of Confucius, the absence of which at first had raised their queues in terror. During these two years a large number of verses and essays were written by him on the subject of the new religion, the principal of which were afterwards rewritten and published in " The Imperial Declaration of Tai-ping-wang," under the titles of, " An Ode on the Origin of Virtue and the Saving of the World," ' An Ode on Correctness, ' An Essay on the Origin of Virtue, for the Awakening of the Age," and, " Further Exhortations on the Origin of Virtue, for the Awakening of the Age."
But while occupied with the composition of these writings, there was a secret thought in the bottom of Xiuquan's heart, to which he gave no public utterance. This was entrusted only to the ears of his faithful friend Hung- Jin, then a teacher at n nearby village, where he had succeeded in getting a school, by so far compromising his principles as to allow his pupils to worship Confucius, while he did not do it himself. But, being both intelligent and devoted to Xiuquan, he was made a confidant of by the latter, who revealed to him the wish, which had sprung up, and was kept hid in his breast, to deliver his countrymen some day from the bondage of the Manchus.
As he reflected how, for two hundred years, these Tartars, though comparatively a handful, had ruled over the native Chinese, still keeping their own race distinct, residing in separate quarters of the cities, and retaining in their hands all the chief offices of the army, and a large proportion of those of the state, his heart burned within him, and he said one day to Jin, "God has divided the kingdoms of the world, and made the ocean to be a boundary for them, just as a father divides his estates among his sons ; every one of whom ought to reverence the will of his father, and quietly manage his own property. Why, now, should these Manchus forcibly enter China, and rob their brothers of their estate ?" At a later period, he reverted to the subject in a tone of more confidence, saying, *"If God will help me to recover our country, I ought to teach all nations to hold every one its own possessions, without injuring or robbing one another ; we will have intercourse in communicating true principles and wisdom to each other, and receive each other with propriety and politeness ; we will serve together one common heavenly Father, and honor together the doctrines of one common heavenly Brother, the Savior of the world ; this has been the wish of my heart since the time when my soul was taken up to heaven." Not long after, Xiuquan had a dream, which made considerable impression on his mind, wherein he saw a globe of fire like the sun, hovering over his head, and which became associated in his thoughts with the prophecy of the Chinese Confucian philosopher Mencius (372 - 289 BC) of the appearance of a sage every five hundred years who would transmit the true teaching and thereby restore order to the world .
Believing this personage to be none other than himself, and that he was destined not only to remove the idols out of the land, but also to expel the Manchus, he composed the following lines upon the subject : " Now that five hundred years have past, The true sun moves in sight ; And how shall these poor glowworms dare to rival it in light? On its suspense in heaven's arch all vapors disappear ; And as it shines, demons and imps are hidden out of fear. The North and South, the East and West, to it their homage pay. And hosts of the barbarian tribes are yielding to its sway. The stars, by its great splendor, in obscurity are hurled. And solely its pure brilliant rays Illuminate the world." At this time, Xiuquan said nothing to any one, excepting his friend, Hung-Jin, respecting his hope of delivering his countrymen from the yoke of the Tartars, but he often pondered over it in his heart.
In the meantine in Guangxi, Feng made thousands of converts, chiefly among the Hakka and the Miao people, and organized the religious society known as 拜上帝會 Bai Shang Di Hui or Association of God Worshippers.