Mongolian History - The Chinese

As from the great central mass of mankind, the first accumulation of life on our planet, there was parted off into Africa a fragment called the Negro variety, so into eastern Asia there was detached, by those causes which we seek in vain to discover, a second huge fragment, to which has been given the name of the Mongolian variety. Overspreading the great plains of Asia, from the Himalehs to the Sea of Okhotsk, this detachment of the human species may be supposed to have crossed into Japan; to have reached the other islands of the Pacific, and either through these, or by the access at Behring's Straits, to have poured themselves through the great American continent; their peculiarities shading off in their long journey, till the Mongolian was converted into the American Indian. Blumenbach, however, erects the American Indian into a type by himself. Had historians been able to pursue the Negro race into their central African jungles and deserts, they would no doubt have found the general Ethiopic mass breaking up there under the operation of causes connected with climate, soil, food, etc., into vast sections or subdivisions, presenting marked differences from each other; and precisely so was it with the Mongolians. In Central Asia, we find them as Thibetians, Tungusians, Mongols proper; on the eastern coasts, as Mantchous and Chinese; in the adjacent islands, as Japanese, etc.; and nearer the North Pole, as Laplanders, Esquimaux, etc.; all presenting peculiarities of their own. Of these great Mongolian branches circumstances have given a higher degree of development to the Chinese and the Japanese than to the others, which are chiefly nomadic hordes, some under Chinese rule, others independent, roaming over the great pasture lands of Asia, and employed in rearing cattle.

There is every reason to believe that the vast population inhabiting that portion of eastern Asia called China, can boast of a longer antiquity of civilization than almost any other nation of the world, a civilization, however, differing essentially in its character from those which have appeared and disappeared among the Caucasians. This, in fact, is to be observed as the grand difference between the history of the Mongolian and that of the Caucasian variety of the human species, that whereas the former presents us with the best product of Mongolian humanity, in the form of one great permanent civilization - the Chinese extending from century to century, one, the same and solitary, through a period of 3000 or 4000 years; the latter exhibits a succession of civilization - the Chaldean, the Persian, the Grecian, the Roman, the modern European (subdivided into French, English, German, Italian, etc.,) and the Anglo-American; these civilizations, from the remotest Oriental - that is, Chaldean - to the most recent Occidental - that is, the Anglo-American - being a series of waves falling into each other, and driven onward by the same general force. A brief sketch of Chinese history, with a glance at Japan, will therefore discharge all that we owe to the Mongolian race.

Authentic Chinese history does not extend father back than about 800 or 1000 years B.C.; but, as has been the case more or less with all nations, the Chinese imagination has provided itself with a mythological history extending many ages back into the unknown past. Unlike the mythology of the Greeks, but like that of the Indians, the Chinese legends deal in large chronological intervals. First of all, in the beginning of time, was the great Puan-Koo, founder of the Chinese nation, and whose dress was green leaves. After him came Ty-en-Hoang, Ti-Hoang, Gin-Hoang and several other euphonious potentates, each of whom did something towards the building up of the Chinese nation, and each of whom reigned, as was the custom in those grand old times, thousands of years. At length, at a time corresponding to that assigned in Scripture to the life of Noah, came the divine-born Fohi, a man of transcendent faculties, who reigned 115 years, teaching music and the system of symbols, instituting marriage, building walls round cities, creating mandarins, and, in short, establishing the Chinese nation on a basis that could never be shaken. After him came Shin-ning, Whang-ti, etc., until in due time came the good emperors Yao and Shun, in the reign of the latter of whom happened a great flood. By means of canals and drains the assiduous Yu saved the country, and became the successor of Shun. Yu was the first emperor of the ha dynasty, which began about 2100 B.C. After this dynasty came that of Shang, the last of whose emperors, a great tyrant, was deposed (B.C. 1122) by Woo-wong, the founder of the Tchow dynasty.