One half of the people now on earth are Mongolians. Their tribes have covered or influenced more than half of the land surface of the globe, east, west, north, and south. Their original home is now within the Russian Empire and covers an area as large as the United States exclusive of Alaska. Their most important modern country is China, that present great home of more than a third of the human race. The Chinese are the only stereotyped nation on the globe. While, for instance, their present vessels and tonnage exceed in number that of all the other nations of the world, yet they use the same junks and tackle now as their people did before the birth of Christ, and money is weighed in scales as in Abraham’s day. The manners and customs of their forefathers four thousand years ago are their present customs and manner.
They claim their written language was given by the great philosopher Fouhee (supposed by some to be Noah), 3200 B.C., or, according to others, 2800 B.C., who say taught them agriculture and how to make clothing, furniture, and other arts of life, and gave the marriage laws to his people.
Another tradition names the philosopher Tsang-ki, 2800 B.C. or 2500 B.C., as the author of writing in China, of which there are thirty different styles.
There are fragments of literature (calendars or local events only) as ancient, it is supposed, as 2000 B.C., but very little authentic history before the fifth century before Christ, the days of the reformer and moralist Confucius (551-479 B.C.), who sought to revive the ancient usages and morals. He left a compilation, the Shu-King, or Book of Annals, covering the ancient times to 560 B.C., and more than any other has made China what it has been for the ages past. Those Annals, however, are mere jumble of ancient names, legends, ceremonies, and sayings, and according to no interpretation history in our modern sense.
His code of rites, the Li-ki, a compilation of ancient usages, still regulates the Chinese manners. These ceremonial usages, estimated at three thousand, are interpreted by one of the bureaus at Pekin, the Board of Rites.
Teachings of Confucius
The primitive Chinese religion was very simple, the worship of a Supreme Being. Later, they worshiped, as now, the wise men of olden times and the souls of their ancestors. But Confucius taught that from this Original Being came Yang, the Perfect, including “heaven, sun, day, heat, manhood,” and the Yen, the Imperfect, comprising “mood, earth, night, cold, womanhood,” which crude philosophy has been the principle of government and of religion for the past two thousand three hundred years in China, and sheds much light upon the sad condition of women in that vast empire. For thousands of years she has been, like her sex in other ancient lands, little, if any, better off than the most abject of slaves, this perfect creature, man, in China, literally owning the imperfect being, woman, and selling her or beating her as he wished.
Polygamy was anciently and is yet openly tolerated, secondary wives being common, especially if the first is childless.
While those ancient morals complied by Confucius were excellent, they have not made China moral. The obedience to and reverence for parents, superiors, and rulers, that he declared the sages of old and taught men, soon degenerated into a despotic form of government, and into a superstitious reverence for parents. Their religion, their morals, their wisdom, begin in words and end in words.
China, in short, is the gray ages of the times of Abraham projected into our modern days; the stagnant sea of humanity yet unvivified [sic] by the heralds of the twentieth century civilization.
The historian Lecky has somewhere said that Christianity introduced two new ideas into the world — the brotherhood of man and the sacredness of human life. It did far more, it created a new woman wherever it regenerated a man. At its coming three quarters of the immense population of Rome, the then great capital of the world, were paupers, and much more than the proportion were dissolute in morals and life, while it was far worse outside of Rome. But thereafter, wherever the Christian Faith was accepted and lived, whether by individuals or communities, it became synonymous with purity, its first cardinal virtue. If purity and hitherto had been found among men and women, and, that God, it had, it existed, not because of their religions, but in spite of them. Thereafter, religion was to mean purity, and the elevation and ennobling of woman, wherever its influence was rightly understood and it was permitted, in freedom, to exercise its beneficence.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.