There was no North-East Frontier Province so-called, but the Burma-Yunnan border was the Raj’s northeast frontier from the fall of Mandalay in 1886 to Burma’s separation from India in 1937. In the north, on the Burma side, were the Kachin Tracts. In the south were the Shan States. Those British names do not do justice to the complex ethnographic map of Burma.
Now India’s northeast frontier is Arunachal Pradesh, which is claimed by China. If you take Arunachal away, it is Assam. Arunachal borders Tibet and Burma. So would Assam but for Arunachal: the buffer was established by the McMahon line in 1914. Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram, to the south of Arunachal, border Burma.
I saw a novella in a real bookshop recently about life in the Kachin country: Last Chukker by JK Stanford (the Wikipedia entry needs an editor), Faber and Faber (no less), mcmli. 1951.
“Few writers have attempted to describe the north-eastern frontier of Burma, where it marches with Yunnan, in all its loveliness and savagery. Fewer still have woven a real knowledge of this land, little known even before the Japanese War, into a tale of smuggling and polo, of mystery and murder, of wild beasts, and even more dangerous men.
“The author of The Twelfth, who knew Burma well for over eighteen years, has crowned the vivid story of Jeremy Gayner (naturalist and ex-policeman and the bankrupt outcast of the European community) with a climax which will thrill even those who have never seen polo played.
“Last Chukker is an unforgettable vignette of the Burma which came to an end so abruptly in 1941.”
How can one resist an invitation to a lost world? I bought, read and enjoyed it.
Stanford saw active service in both wars, and between the wars was a civil servant in Burma, including in the Police Department.
M.F.M.M., Obituary, Lt.-Col. J.K. Stanford, O.B.E., M.C., Scottish Birds, Vol 7, No 1, spring 1972:
“He was one of that admirable band of servants of the British Empire who passed the few hours of leisure they had in enriching, or even founding, the ornithology of the remote areas where they were stationed, and it is as an authority on Burmese fauna that J.K.’s name will largely survive.”
Until twenty years ago, one read obituaries of these Empire naturalists in the Telegraph.
He wrote many books, mainly in his retirement in England. The first, The Twelfth (1944, revised 1964), written in the North African desert, was a comic fantasy of English sporting life about a character called George Hysteron-Proteron. Later came Ladies in the Sun: The Memsahibs’ India, 1790-1860 (1962). His bird knowledge is evident in Last Chukker.
The nineteen year-old Orwell joined the Indian Imperial Police in Burma in 1922 and stayed until ’27. Perhaps Stanford met him. Perhaps Orwell reported to Stanford. Orwell’s maternal grandmother lived at Moulmein. He was posted in various places, ending in Katha, which became the setting for Burmese Days (1934). That was furthest north he got. He arrived in Burma during a crime wave which had turned it into the most violent corner of the Empire.
Emma Larkin quotes a memoir by Stanford (Reverie of a Qu’hai, and Other Stories, 1951, apparently a memoir) in her book about Orwell in Burma, Secret Histories, John Murray, 2004:
“‘Everyone had realised what an astounding assortment of malefactors – murderers, dacoits, thieves, robbers, house-breakers, forgers, coiners, blackmailers, and so on – each district possessed. They seemed to spring up like dragon’s teeth, till there were scarcely enough columns in the criminal game-book.’”
We meet them in Last Chukker. One wonders how much of that savagery was a result of British interference with Burmese life.
Last Chukker has illustrations (drawings by Maurice Tulloch). I wish more books did, but publishers are too lazy and mean to commission them. For “what is the use of a book without pictures or conversation?”
Beyond the Raj, to the north and east, were desert, ice and green: Sinkiang (Xinjiang, Chinese Turkestan), Tibet and Yunnan. Which, come to think of it, are the colours of the Indian flag, not that that is its official symbolism.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and India border Xinjiang.
India, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma border Tibet.
Burma, Laos and Vietnam border Yunnan.
Archive for the 'China' Category
It was the armed forces of the East India Company and the Crown that opened up the sub-continent of India to British trade through the wars of 1799-1849, and it was the Royal Navy that opened up the sub-continent of China to British trade through the War of 1840-2.
1799, as every Victorian schoolboy knew, saw the defeat of Tipu Sultan in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War. 1849 saw the end of the Second Anglo-Sikh War and the annexation of the Punjab. Could one put the first India date earlier, at the start of the First Anglo-Mysore War?
The Mysore Wars broke the power of the Muslim Kings of Mysore. The Maratha Wars broke the resistance of the Hindu Maratha Confederacy in the Deccan. The Sikh Wars, after the conquest of Sindh, broke the power of the Sikh Empire.
First Anglo-Mysore War (1767-69)
First Anglo-Maratha War (1777-83)
Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84)
Third Anglo-Mysore War (1789-92)
Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1798-99)
Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-05)
Third Anglo-Maratha War, or Pindari War (1817-18)
First Anglo-Sikh War (1845-46)
Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-49)
Wellesleys and Lawrences (old post)
First Opium War (1839-42)
Second Opium War (1856-60)
Tipu Sultan confronts his opponent during the Siege of Srirangapatna (1792) in the Third Anglo-Mysore War; Wikimedia Commons, unidentified 1909 source
A Study of History, Vol IV, OUP, 1939 (footnote)
This was a pre-echo of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Imperial Japanese Navy bombed Shanghai on January 28 1932, ostensibly to crush Chinese student protests against the occupation of Manchuria in the previous year. The Chinese fought back. The two sides fought to a standstill. The League of Nations brokered a ceasefire in May.
After twenty years devoted to preliminary domestic exercises in civil wars, the Chinese peasant-soldier had won his spurs in his stubborn defence of an area in Greater Shanghai against a Japanese assault from the 28th January to the 3rd March 1932. [Footnote: See Toynbee, A. J., and Boulter, V. M.: Survey of International Affairs, 1932 (London 1933, Milford), pp. 480-95.] In psychology as well as in strategy this campaign had been reminiscent of the Russo-Turkish wars of A.D. 1828-9 and A.D. 1877-8, and it had been prophetic of China’s ultimate victory over Japan in a defensive war on a sub-continental scale that was to drag on from A.D. 1937 to A.D. 1945. At Shanghai in A.D. 1932, as in the Balkans in the nineteenth century, the moral victory had been won by the belligerent [Japan] who had managed by sheer endurance to postpone the hour of a defeat which he knew to be ultimately inevitable owing to the odds being overwhelmingly in his antagonist’s favour, while this ultimate victor [China] had been humiliated by having to take so long, and pay so high, to overcome the resistance of an antagonist who was notoriously not his match.
Not his match in the long run or in numbers, but in 1932 surely more than his match in everything else. The Chinese barely had an air force. An American army reservist and pilot, US Reserve Lt Robert McCawley Short, was in Shanghai to demonstrate a Boeing fighter biplane to the Chinese and decided to show it in action. He shot down an IJN aircraft on February 19. On February 22 he downed another and was shot down himself and killed. He was posthumously raised to the rank of colonel in the Republic of China Air Force.
A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954
Click to activate. Maps will open in a new window.
Downloading the active file to your desktop should allow controlled navigation.
Not complete, obviously. Some dates are exact, some arbitrary. They are not for the most part the starting dates of dynasties.
The file has to be used with a lot of caution, but it does show a few simple things. For example, the Zhou origins of the Chinese state around the Yellow River. The extension of power south of the Yangtze after the Qin unification. The absorption of Hainan by the Han. The first Chinese expansion into the Tarim basin under the Tang (the area was not re-absorbed until the Qing or Manchu, the last dynasty; not even the Mongols included it). The first inclusion of Manchuria under the Jin, ancestors of the Manchus. How Yunnan was not sinified until the Mongol invasion, even if the Eastern Jin had absorbed it briefly. The inclusion of Mongolia and Tibet by the Mongols (Yuan) and then again by the Qing. The absorption of Taiwan by the Qing. The Qing concession to Russia of territory beyond the Amur.
The Ming conquest of Vietnam lasted about twenty years (1407-27). It appears as part of China in the map here, which is dated 1410. Had earlier Chinese dominations been only in the north?
The confusing thing about Chinese dynasties is that Western and Eastern or Northern and Southern refer to successive incarnations of a dynasty, not simultaneous states of a divided dynasty.
This is from Basil Davidson’s 1984 sweeping Channel 4 television series Africa: A Voyage of Discovery (from the third of its eight one-hour parts).
Davidson put African history on the map for laymen, including Africans. Is he still regarded highly? If not, is that because he has been superseded or because he was self-taught and a journalist and lacked any academic qualifications? Or is it a residue from a time when he must have seemed unsettlingly left-wing and when African history was not considered a real subject?
The Channel 4 series is all on YouTube, but not in one place and not in good recordings. There is no decent bibliography of him online. Many people will know his Lost Cities of Africa (1959), African Slave Trade (1961), Africa: History of a Continent (1966) and Time-Life book African Kingdoms (1966).
Swahili, or Kiswahili, is a Bantu language of the East African coast. It became the tongue of the urban class in the Great Lakes region and went on to serve as a post-colonial lingua franca in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Romans visited the coast in the first century. Arab traders had contact with the black coastal peoples from the sixth century CE or earlier. Islam reached the coast in the ninth century or earlier. There is cultural evidence of early Persian (or Arabo-Persian) settlement on Zanzibar from Shiraz. Swahili contains many Arabic and Persian loan words.
City-states – Muslim, cosmopolitan, and politically independent of each other – began to flourish along the coast and on the islands: Kilwa, Malindi, Gedi, Pate, Comoros, Zanzibar. They depended on trade from the Indian Ocean.
The Swahili acted as middlemen between Africa and the outside world. Slaves, ebony, gold, ivory and sandalwood were brought to the coasts and sold to Arab, Indian and Portuguese traders, who carried them to Arabia, Persia, Madagascar, India, China, Europe. Many slaves sold in Zanzibar ended up in Brazil.
Zanzibar grew spices: cinnamon and cardamom were introduced from Asia (when?), chilli and cacao were brought by the Portuguese from South America. When were cloves introduced? Were spices sent mainly to Europe or also to Asia?
How Arab were the ruling classes? How much of the Indian Ocean sailing was done by black Africans? Is there evidence for the arrival of black traders in China? Wikipedia on Chinese in the Indian Ocean and in Africa.
The sultanates began to decline in the sixteenth century, as Portuguese influence grew. The Portuguese in turn were threatened by Omanis, who controlled Zanzibar from 1698 until the middle of the nineteenth century, when the British started to interfere. They were in turn followed by Germans.
Commerce between Africa and Asia via the Indian Ocean declined, but some of the dhow trade survived when Davidson made his film. Swahili fishermen still sell fish to their inland neighbours in exchange for products of the interior.
The earliest known documents written in Swahili are letters written in Kilwa in 1711 in the Arabic script. They were sent to the Portuguese of Mozambique and their local allies. They are preserved in the Historical Archives of Goa. Another document in Arabic script is Utendi wa Tambuka (The History of Tambuka), an epic poem from 1728, written in Pate, about wars between Byzantium and Muslims from 628 to 1453. The Latin script was used later, under the influence of European colonial powers.
The Far Eastern Civilization, and its offshoots in Korea and Japan, were “affiliated” through the Mahayana to the Sinic Civilization: the Mahayana was the chrysalis of a new society.
The speed and scale of [...] religious landslides appear, as might be expected, to be proportionate to the degree of the pressure exerted on the disintegrating civilization by the barbarian aggressors who are the church’s competitors for this derelict heritage.
[...] we have already observed that in a moribund Sinic World the Mahāyāna began to make appreciable progress after the collapse of the Han Empire [which lasted from 206 BC to AD 220] towards the close of the second century of the Christian Era and its replacement in the third century by the indigenous successor-states known as “the Three Kingdoms”. When, however, in the fourth century of the Christian Era the North was overrun and occupied by Eurasian Nomad war-bands, while the regions south of the watershed between the Yellow River and the Yangtse Basin succeeded in keeping these alien invaders at bay, there was a sudden sharp differentiation in the fortunes of the Mahāyāna in these two now politically differentiated areas. In the North the Mahāyāna now captivated an overwhelming majority of the population – no less than 90 per cent., even according to the testimony of unsympathetic historians of the Confucian School. In the South, where the sense of insecurity was less acute, the new higher religion never succeeded in either absorbing or erasing the old secular culture. Though the strength of the hold which the Mahāyāna obtained there too is attested by the devotion to it of so cultivated a ruler as Liang Wuti (imperabat A.D. 502-49), the tradition of Confucian scholarship and administration succeeded in maintaining in the South a base of operations from which it eventually reasserted itself throughout the domain of a nascent Far Eastern Society.
In Reconsiderations, Toynbee abandons the Sinic-Far Eastern distinction.
A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954
In A.D. 1952 it would, no doubt, have been folly for a Western World that had been thrown on the defensive by a Russo-Chinese entente under the banner of Communism to count upon any possibility of a future breach between the two titanic non-Western Powers that were now cooperating with one another in an anti-Western campaign.
But a breach occurred in 1961. The two powers had been diverging ideologically since 1956.
There was perhaps more legitimate ground for encouragement in the fact that a Western Community which had come into headlong collision with the Chinese in Korea and which was desperately embroiled with the Vietnamese in Indo-China had managed to come to terms with the Indonesians after having crossed swords with them on the morrow of the “liberation” of the East Indian archipelago from the Japanese, and had voluntarily abdicated its dominion over the Filipinos, Ceylonese, Burmans, Indians, and Pakistanis by amicable agreements that had not been sullied by any stain of bloodshed.
The voluntary liquidation of American rule in the Philippines was perhaps not so remarkable – though an English observer could hardly claim to be an impartial judge in this case – as the voluntary liquidation of a British Rāj in India that was not only a hundred years older than the American régime in a former dominion of the Spanish Crown but had also come to count for far more in the life of the ruling Western country. When, on the 18th July, 1947, [footnote: This was the date on which the Royal Assent was given, at Westminster, to an India Independence Act enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The formal assumption of authority by the Governments of the Indian Union and Pakistan followed on the 15th August, 1947.] Great Britain had completed the fulfilment of a pledge, first made on the 20th August, 1917, [footnote: In the House of Commons at Westminster by the Secretary of State for India, Mr. Edwin Montagu.] to grant full self-government to India by stages at the fastest practicable pace, the Western country that had carried out this transfer of political power on this scale without having been constrained by any immediate force majeure [he is flattering us] had performed an act that was perhaps unprecedented and was certainly auspicious for the future, not merely of the Western Civilization, but of the Human Race.
A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954
Was Goethe inspired by some picture, or pictorial image, of Chinese provenance when he wrote
Kennst du den Berg und seinen Wolkensteg?
Das Maultier sucht im Nebel seinen Weg,
In Höhlen wohnt der Drachen alte Brut,
Es stürzt der Fels und über ihn die Flut:
Kennst du ihn wohl?
Geht unser Weg; O Vater, lass uns ziehn!
He doesn’t give a reference, but this is the third and last section of the visionary song that opens Book Three of Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1795-96) sung by the waif Mignon accompanying herself on a zither. The song begins “Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn [...]?”.
Juliane Banse in the orchestral version, made by Wolf, of the Wolf setting; Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Kent Nagano:
A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954 (footnote)
Before the Industrial Revolution, Man had devastated patches of the biosphere. For instance, he had caused mountain-sides to be denuded of soil by felling the trees that previously had saved the soil from being washed away. Man had cut down forests faster than they could be replaced, and he had mined metals that were not replaceable at all. But, before he had harnessed the physical energy of inanimate nature in machines on the grand scale, Man had not had it in his power to damage and despoil the biosphere irremediably. Till then, the air and the ocean had been virtually infinite, and the supply of timber and metals had far exceeded Man’s capacity to use them up. When he had exhausted one mine and had felled one forest, there had always been other virgin mines and virgin forests still waiting to be exploited. By making the Industrial Revolution, Man exposed the biosphere, including Man himself, to a threat that had no precedent.
The Western peoples had begun to dominate the rest of mankind before the Industrial Revolution. In the sixteenth century the Spaniards had subjugated the Meso-American and Andean peoples and had annihilated their civilizations. In the course of the years 1757-64 the British East India Company had become the virtual sovereign of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. In 1799-1818 the British subjugated all the rest of the Indian subcontinent to the south-east of the River Sutlej. They had a free hand because they held the command of the sea and because in 1809 they made a treaty with Ranjit Singh, a Sikh empire-builder, in which the two parties accepted the line of the Sutlej as the boundary between their respective fields of conquest. In 1845-9 the British went on to conquer and annex the Sikh empire in the Punjab. Meanwhile, in 1768-74, Russia had defeated the Ottoman Empire decisively; in 1798 the French had temporarily occupied Egypt, and in 1830 they had started to conquer Algeria; in 1840 three Western powers and Russia had evicted the insubordinate Ottoman viceroy of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, from Syria and Palestine. In 1839-42 the British had defeated China dramatically. In 1853 an American naval squadron compelled the Tokugawa Government of Japan to receive a visit from it. The Japanese recognized that they were powerless to prevent this unwelcome visit by force of arms.
These military successes of Western powers and of one Westernized Eastern Orthodox power, Russia, were won at the cost of occasional reverses. In the seventeenth century, the Portuguese were evicted forcibly from both Japan and Abyssinia. A British army that invaded Afghanistan in 1839-42 was annihilated. Yet by 1871 the Western powers and Russia were dominant throughout the World.
Even before the Industrial Revolution in Britain the Tsar of Russia, Peter the Great, had recognized that the only means by which a non-Western state could save itself from falling under Western domination was the creation of a new-model army on the pattern of the Western armies that were being created in Peter’s time, and Peter also saw that this Western-style army must be supported by a Western-style technology, economy, and administration. The signal military triumphs of the Western powers and of a Westernized Russia over non-Westernized states between 1757 and 1853 moved the rulers of some of the threatened states to do what Peter the Great had done.
Eminent examples of Westernizing statesmen in the first century after the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Britain are Ranjit Singh (ruled 1799-1839), the founder of the Sikh successor-state, in the Punjab, of the Abdali Afghan Empire; Muhammad Ali, the Ottoman Padishah’s viceroy in Egypt from 1805 to 1848; the Ottoman Padishah Mahmud II (ruled 1808-39); King Mongkut of Thailand (ruled 1851-68); and the band of Japanese statesmen that, in the Emperor’s name, liquidated the Tokugawa regime and took the government of Japan into its own hands in 1868. These Westernizing statesmen have had a greater effect on the history of the Oikoumenê than any of their Western contemporaries. They have kept the West’s dominance within limits, and they have done this by propagating, in non-Western countries, the modern West’s way of life.
While the achievements of all the Westernizers mentioned above are remarkable, the Japanese makers of the Meiji Revolution were outstandingly successful. They themselves were members of the hitherto privileged, though impoverished, traditional military class, the samurai; the Tokugawa Shogunate succumbed after offering only a minimal resistance; a majority of the samurai acquiesced peacefully in the forfeiture of their privileges; a minority of them that rebelled in 1877 was easily defeated by a new Western-style Japanese conscript army composed of peasants who, before 1868, had been prohibited from bearing arms.
Muhammad Ali and Mahmud II did not have so smooth a start. Like Peter the Great, they found that they could not begin to build up a Western-style army till they had liquidated a traditional soldiery. Peter had massacred the Muscovite Streltsy (“Archers”) in 1698-9; Muhammad Ali massacred the Egyptian Mamluks in 1811, and Mahmud II massacred the Ottoman janizaries in 1826. The new Western-style armies all gave a good account of themselves in action. Muhammad Ali began building his new army in 1819 and a navy in 1821; in 1825 his well-drilled Egyptian peasant conscript troops almost succeeded in re-subjugating for his suzerain Mahmud II the valiant but undisciplined Greek insurgents. The Greeks were saved only by the intervention of France, Britain, and Russia, who destroyed the Egyptian and Turkish fleets in 1827 and compelled Muhammad Ali’s son Ibrahim to evacuate Greece in 1828. In 1833 Ibrahim conquered Syria and was only prevented from marching on Istanbul by Russia’s intervention on Mahmud II’s behalf. Muhammad Ali’s army was more than a match for Mahmud’s because he had been able to make an earlier start in building it up. Mahmud could not start before 1826, the year in which he destroyed the janizaries; yet, in the Russo-Turkish war of 1828-9, his new-model peasant conscript army put up a much stiffer resistance than the old Ottoman army in the Russo-Turkish wars of 1768-74, 1787-92, and 1806-12.
Ranjit Singh, like his contemporary Muhammad Ali, engaged former Napoleonic officers as instructors. The British succeeded in defeating the Western-trained Sikh army in 1845-6 and again in 1848-9, but these two wars cost the British a greater effort and heavier casualties than their previous conquest of the whole of India outside the Punjab.
Rulers who set out to Westernize non-Western countries could not do this solely with the aid of a few Western advisers and instructors. They had to discover or create, among their own subjects, a class of Western-educated natives who could deal with Westerners on more or less equal terms and could serve as intermediaries between the West and the still un-Westernized mass of their own fellow-countrymen. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Ottoman Government had found this newly needed class, ready to hand, among Greek Ottoman subjects who were acquainted with the West through having been educated there or having had commercial relations with Westerners. Peter the Great in Russia, Muhammad Ali in Egypt, and the British in India had to create the intermediary class that they, too, needed. In Russia this class came to be called the intelligentsia, a hybrid word composed of a French root and a Russian termination. During the years 1763-1871, an intelligentsia was called into existence in every country that either fell under Western rule or saved itself from suffering this fate by Westernizing itself sufficiently to succeed in maintaining its political independence. Like the industrial entrepreneurs and the wage-earning industrial workers who made their appearance in Britain in the course of this century, the non-Western intelligentsia was a new class, and by the 1970s it had made at least as great a mark on mankind’s history.
The intelligentsia was enlisted or created by governments to serve these governments’ purposes, but the intelligentsia soon realized that it held a key position in its own society, and in every case it eventually took an independent line. In 1821 the ex-Ottoman Greek Prince Alexander Ypsilantis’s invasion of the Ottoman Empire taught the Ottoman Government that its Greek intelligentsia was a broken reed. In 1825 a conspiracy of Western-educated Russian military officers against Tsar Nicholas I was defeated and was suppressed, but it was a portent of things to come, and this not only in Russia but in a number of other Westernizing countries.
To live between two worlds, which is an intelligentsia’s function, is a spiritual ordeal, and in Russia in the nineteenth century this ordeal evoked a literature that was not surpassed anywhere in the World in that age. The novels of Turgenev (1818-83), Dostoyevsky (1821-81), and Tolstoy (1828-1910) became the common treasure of all mankind.
See the eighth volume of the Study and the Reith lectures.
Vasily Timm, The Decembrist revolt, painted 1853, St Petersburg, Hermitage
The scampering boy in the foreground appears in so many works of this period and somewhat earlier. In British prints he sometimes rolls a hoop and is followed by a scampering dog.
Mankind and Mother Earth, OUP, 1976, posthumous
“Welcome to Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire. This website holds detailed information on over 6000 films showing images of life in the British colonies. Over 150 films are available for viewing online. You can search or browse for films by country, date, topic, or keyword. Over 350 of the most important films in the catalogue are presented with extensive critical notes written by our academic research team.
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P.T.: Have you ever talked to the real fire-eaters, to any of the Pentagon generals?
A.T.: Well now, I was once invited to give a talk in the Pentagon to a roomful of staff colonels, and the wife of the then Secretary for War got up and attacked me for saying that we ought to recognise China. She was a real fire-eater. She had no business to be there, I suppose, but she didn’t hesitate to throw her – or perhaps it was her husband’s – weight about in the presence of all those distinguished professionals. I got a horrible feeling when I went into the Secretary for War’s office. It was full of little cardboard models of missiles. They were all over the tables and chairs and everywhere, and he was delighting in them – like a child surrounded by its toys. Now that was alarming.
In Britain a Minister of Defence separate from the prime minister replaced the Secretary of State for War (office established 1794; the “War Office”) in the cabinet in 1946, but the office survived as a non-cabinet post. It was abolished in 1964, along with that of First Lord of the Admiralty and Secretary of State for Air, and the cabinet minister was restyled Secretary of State for Defence.
Nixon visited China in 1972. The US recognised China on January 1 1979. Russia and China had been diverging ideologically since 1956. The Sino-Soviet split came into the open in 1961 and was never repaired.
With Philip Toynbee, Comparing Notes, A Dialogue across a Generation, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1963
Owing to the tendency of the parochial states of a broken-down civilization in its Time of Troubles to sharpen their weapons in fratricidal conflicts with one another and to take advantage of this dearly bought increase in their military proficiency to conquer neighbouring societies with their left hands while continuing to fight one another with their right hands, most universal states have embraced not only a fringe of conquered barbarians but substantial slices of the domain of one or more alien civilizations as well. Some universal states, again, have been founded by alien empire-builders, and some have been the product of societies within whose bosoms there has already been some degree of cultural variety even on a reckoning which does not differentiate between march-men and the denizens of the interior of the same social world. [...]
No other universal state known to History appears to have been as homogeneous in culture as Japan under the Tokugawa régime. In “the Middle Empire” of Egypt, in which a fringe of barbarians on the Nubian glacis of its Theban march was one element of variation from the cultural norm of the Egyptiac Society of the age, there was another and more positive feature of cultural diversity in the Empire’s culturally Sumeric provinces and client states in Palestine and Coele Syria. As for “the New Empire”, which was a deliberate revival of the original Egyptiac universal state, it accentuated the pattern of its prototype by completing the assimilation of the barbarians of Nubia and by embracing the domain of an abortive First Syriac Civilization in Syria and North-Western Mesopotamia; and this culturally tripartite structure – in which the cultural domain of the civilization through whose disintegration the universal state has been brought into existence is flanked by culturally alien territories annexed at the expense of both barbarians and neighbouring civilizations – appears to be the standard type.
For example, in the Mauryan Empire, which was the original Indic universal state, an Indic cultural core was flanked by an alien province in the Panjab, which had been at least partially Syriacized during a previous period of Achaemenian rule after having been partially barbarized by an antecedent Völkerwanderung of Eurasian Nomads, while in other quarters the Mauryan Empire’s Indic core was flanked by ex-barbarian provinces in Southern India and possibly farther afield in both Ceylon and Khotan as well. The Guptan Empire, in which the Mauryan was eventually reintegrated, possessed an ex-barbarian fringe, with an alien Hellenic tincture, in the satrapy that had been founded by Saka war-bands in Gujerat and the North-Western Deccan, and a Hellenized fringe, with a Kushan barbarian dilution, in the territories under its suzerainty in the Panjab. In a Han Empire which was the Sinic universal state, the Sinic World proper was flanked by barbarian annexes in what was eventually to become Southern China, as well as on the Eurasian Steppe, and by an alien province in the Tarim Basin, where the Indic, Syriac, and Hellenic cultures had already met and mingled before this cultural corridor and crucible was annexed to the Han Empire for the first time in the second century B.C. and for the second time in the first century of the Christian Era. In the Roman Empire, which was the Hellenic universal state, a culturally Hellenic core in Western Anatolia, Continental European Greece, Sicily, and Italy, with outlying enclaves in Cilicia, in Syria, at Alexandria, and at Marseilles, was combined with the domain of the submerged Hittite Civilization in Eastern Anatolia, with the homelands of the Syriac and Egyptiac civilizations in Syria and in the Lower Nile Valley, with the colonial [Carthaginian] domain of the Syriac Civilization in North-West Africa, and with ex-barbarian hinterlands in North-West Africa and in Western and Central Europe as far as the left bank of the Rhine and the right bank of the Danube. [Footnote: Leaving out of account the late-acquired and early-lost Transdanubian bridgehead in Dacia.]
There are other cases in which this standard cultural pattern has been enriched by some additional element.
In the Muscovite Tsardom, a Russian Orthodox Christian core was flanked by a vast ex-barbarian annex extending northwards to the Arctic Ocean and eastwards eventually to the Pacific, and by an Iranic Muslim annex consisting of the sedentary Muslim peoples of the Volga Basin, the Urals, and Western Siberia. This pattern was afterwards complicated by Peter the Great’s deliberate substitution of a Westernized for a traditional Orthodox Christian cultural framework for the Russian Orthodox Christian universal state, and by the subsequent annexation of additional alien territories – at the expense of the Islamic World on the Eurasian Steppe and in the Crimea, the Caucasus, and the Oxus-Jaxartes Basin, and at the expense of Western Christendom in the Baltic Provinces, Lithuania, Poland, and Finland.
In the Achaemenian Empire, which was the original Syriac universal state, there was an antecedent cultural diversity, within the Syriac core itself, between the Syrian creators of the Syriac Civilization and their Iranian converts, and a geographical gap between Syria and Iran that was still occupied by the dwindling domain of the gradually disappearing Babylonic culture. The Achaemenian Empire also embraced the domain of the submerged Hittite culture in Eastern Anatolia, the best part of the domain of the Egyptiac Civilization, fringes torn from the Hellenic and Indic worlds, and pockets of partially reclaimed barbarian highlanders and Eurasian Nomads. Moreover, after its life had been prematurely cut short by Alexander the Great, its work was carried on by his political successors, and especially by the Seleucidae, whom it would be more illuminating to describe as alien Hellenic successors of Cyrus and Darius. In the Arab Caliphate, in which the Achaemenian Empire was eventually reintegrated, the Syriac core – in which the earlier diversity between Syrian creators and Iranian converts had been replaced by a cleavage, along approximately the same geographical line, between ex-subjects of the Roman and ex-subjects of the Sasanian Empire – was united politically, by Arab barbarian empire-builders, with barbarian annexes – in North-West Africa, in the fastnesses of Daylam and Tabaristan between the Elburz Mountains and the Caspian Sea, and on the fringes of the Eurasian Steppe adjoining the Oxus-Jaxartes Basin – and with fragments of alien civilizations: a slice of the new-born Hindu World in Sind; the potential domain of an abortive Far Eastern Christian Civilization in the Oxus-Jaxartes Basin; an Orthodox Christian diaspora in Syria and Egypt; and a fossil of the by then elsewhere extinct Babylonic Society at Harran.
In the Mongol Empire, which was a universal state imposed by alien empire-builders on the main body of the Far Eastern Society in China, the annexes to a Chinese core were unusually extensive – including, as they did, the whole of the Eurasian Nomad World, the whole of Russian Orthodox Christendom, and the ex-Sasanian portion of a Syriac World which by that time was in extremis. The Mongols themselves were barbarians with a tincture of Far Eastern Christian culture. In the Manchu empire-builders, who subsequently repeated the Mongols’ performance on a less gigantic yet still imposing scale, there was the same tincture in a more diluted form; and the Chinese universal state in its Manchu avatar once again embraced, in addition to its Chinese core, a number of alien annexes: a “reservoir” of barbarians in the still unfelled backwoods and still virgin steppes of Manchuria, the whole of the Tantric Mahayanian Buddhist World in Tibet, Mongolia, and Zungaria, and the easternmost continental outposts of the Islamic World in the Tarim Basin, the north-western Chinese provinces of Kansu and Shansi, and the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan.
In the Ottoman Empire, which provided, or saddled, the main body of Orthodox Christendom with its universal state, the alien ʿOsmanli empire-builders united an Orthodox Christian core with a fringe of Western Christian territory in Hungary, with the whole of the Arabic Muslim World except Morocco, the Sudan, and South-Eastern Arabia, and with pockets of barbarians and semi-barbarians in Serbia, Bosnia, Albania, the Mani, the Caucasus, the Crimea, and on the Arabian Steppe. In the Mughal Empire, which was the Ottoman Empire’s counterpart in the Hindu World, the pattern was simpler, since, apart from the Iranic Muslim empire-builders and their co-religionists who had been deposited in the Hindu social environment by earlier waves of invasion from the Middle East and Central Asia [since the twelfth century], the Mughals’ only [sic] non-Hindu subjects were the Pathan barbarian highlanders on the north-western fringe of their dominions. When, however, the Mughal Rāj was replaced by a British Rāj, the pattern of the Hindu universal state became more complex; for the advent of a new band of alien empire-builders, which substituted a Western element for an Islamic at the political apex of the Hindu universal state, did not expel the Indian Muslims from the stage of Hindu history, but merely depressed their status to that of a numerically still formidable alien element in the Hindu internal proletariat, so that the Hindu universal state in its second phase combined elements drawn from two alien civilizations with a Pathan barbarian fringe and a Hindu core.
There had been other universal states in which, as in the Mughal Empire, the cultural pattern had been less complex than the standard type yet not so simple as that of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The Empire of Sumer and Akkad, which was the Sumeric universal state, included no representatives of an alien civilization – unless Byblus and other Syrian coast-towns are to be counted as such in virtue of their tincture of Egyptiac culture. On the other hand, the Sumeric Civilization itself was represented in two varieties at least – a Sumero-Akkadian and an Elamite – and in no less than three if the domain of the Indus Culture should prove also to have been included in “the Empire of the Four Quarters of the World”. Moreover, the Babylonian Amorites, who eventually restored a polity that had been first constructed by the Sumerian Ur-Engur (alias Ur-Nammu) of Ur, were not merely marchmen but marchmen with a barbarian tinge. So, on a broader and a longer view, the cultural pattern of the Sumeric universal state proves to have been less homogeneous than might appear at first sight. “The thalassocracy of Minos”, again, which was the Minoan universal state, probably included representatives of the continental Mycenaean variety of the Minoan culture as well as the creators of that culture in its Cretan homeland, even if it did not embrace any representatives of an alien civilization.
In the Central American World, two once distinct sister societies – the Yucatec Civilization and the Mexic – had not yet lost their distinctive characteristics, though they had already been brought together by force of Toltec arms, when the task, and prize, of establishing a Central American universal state was snatched, at the eleventh hour, out of the hands of barbarian Aztec empire-builders by Spanish representatives of an utterly alien Western Christendom. In the Andean World the Empire of the Incas, which was the Andean universal state, already included representatives of the Kara variety of the Andean culture [...] before the indigenous Incan empire-builders were suddenly and violently replaced by Spanish conquistadores from Western Christendom who turned the Andean World upside-down, with a vigour reminiscent of Alexander the Great’s, by proceeding to convert the indigenous population to Christianity and to variegate the social map by studding it with immigrant Spanish landlords and self-governing municipalities.
The Danubian Hapsburg Monarchy, which served as a carapace for Western Christendom against the assaults of the ʿOsmanlis, and which, seen from the south-east, wore the deceptive appearance of being a full-blown Western universal state, set itself, like the Tokugawa Shogunate, to achieve domestic cultural uniformity, but lacked both the ruthlessness and the insularity which, between them, enabled the Japanese isolationists for a time to put their policy into effect. In pursuing its aim of being totally Catholic, the Hapsburg Power did succeed, more or less, in extirpating Protestantism within its frontiers; but the very success of its stand, and eventual counter-attack, against the Ottoman embodiment of an Orthodox Christian universal state broke up the Danubian Monarchy’s hardly attained Catholic homogeneity by transferring to Hapsburg from Ottoman rule a stiff-necked minority of Hungarian Protestants and a host of Orthodox Christians of divers nationalities, most of whom proved unwilling to accept the ecclesiastical supremacy of Rome, even when the yoke was proffered in the easy form of Uniatism [union with Rome and retention of local rites], while, among those who did accept this relatively light burden, the rank and file remained nearer in heart and mind to their dissident Orthodox ex-co-religionists than they ever came to be to their fellow Catholics who were of the Latin Rite.
The [post-Assyrian] Neo-Babylonian Empire [or Chaldean Empire], which was the Babylonic universal state, similarly forfeited its cultural purity – and thereby worked unwittingly for the eventual extinction of the Babylonic Civilization itself – when Nebuchadnezzar conquered and annexed the homeland of the Syriac Civilization west of the Euphrates; and the impress of the indigenous Babylonic culture became progressively fainter as the domain which Nebuchadnezzar had bequeathed to a short line of native successors was incorporated first into the barbaro-Syriac Empire of the Achaemenids and then into the Hellenic Empire of the Seleucids.
Our survey has shown that, in the cultural composition of universal states, a high degree of diversity is the rule; and, in the light of this fact, it is evident that one effect of the “conductivity” of universal states is to carry farther, by less violent and less brutal means, that process of cultural pammixia that is started, in the antecedent Times of Troubles, by the atrocities that these bring in their train. The refugees, exiles, deportees, transported slaves, and other déracinés of the more cruel preceding age are followed up, under the milder régime of a universal state, by merchants, by professional soldiers, and by philosophic and religious missionaries and pilgrims who make their transit with less tribulation in a more genial social climate.
A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954
Charming BBC slideshow of pre-’49 China, from an archive being assembled by Robert Bickers at Bristol University.
“The archive is a collaboration between scholars at the University of Bristol, University of Lincoln, the Institut d’Asie Orientale and TGE-Adonis, [and] aims to locate, archive, and disseminate photographs from the substantial holdings of images of modern China held mostly in private hands overseas.”
Site: Historical Photographs of China, hpc.vcea.net.
There are more images of peace than of war.
BBC article paraphrase, my links:
“Old photographs are rare in China. Archives were lost through war, invasion, revolution. Mao regarded the past as a time to be erased. The Cultural Revolution finished the job. Families had to destroy their records before the Red Guards came and found evidence of a bourgeois, counter-revolutionary past. Holiday snapshots, studio portraits of weddings and babies, all were incriminating. One might have drunk coffee in a café, à la mode. Most surviving photographs are with foreigners whose families took them out of China.
“Bickers started by putting online a list of British policemen who had worked in the Shanghai Municipal Police. Relatives then sent him photographs. Photographs by one of the SMP, William Armstrong, show plump and contented, not starving, peasants in the ’20s. The Chinese Maritime Customs is another large collection. Photographs by G Warren Swire record the trading interests of Swire. British businessmen, missionaries, customs officers and police worked in remote places. Photographs by a Chinese politician and diplomat, Fu Bingchang, show the Kuomintang élite. In 1949, Fu went into exile in France. Others record childhoods spent with servants, as parents attended to their business and social lives.
“Slideshow includes voices of Tita Hayward and Audrey Gregg, who lived in China as children, Robert Bickers and Jamie Carstairs from Bristol, and Fu’s son and granddaughter.”
Another site: Visualising China, visualisingchina.net.
This is “a JISC-funded project to allow users to explore and enhance more than 8000 digitised images of photographs of China taken between 1850 and 1950. It allows access to many previously unseen albums, envelopes and private collections and also major collections such as Historical Photographs of China, the Sir Robert Hart Collection and Joseph Needham’s Photographs of Wartime China. These have many sub-collections and albums.”
Shanghai in this blog.
One can find informal photographs of ordinary Russian life under Communism, at least from the ’60s onwards, though nobody in the West saw them at the time. We didn’t know what young Russians looked like. In China there is little before the death of Mao.
Rural woman with toddler, Taihu region, west of Shanghai
Customs officials, Peking, c 1891
Historical Photographs of China and Visualising China allow Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike republication of images. These two photographs appear in both.
This is in the Wikipedia article on the Japanese flag – Nisshōki, or Hinomaru – and needs to be seen fully enlarged (it should be bigger than a laptop screen). It was posted by Takato Marui from Osaka. The date is August 17 1939. It shows the “enrollment of my granduncle. The text of the sash says ‘Draftee from Kamisuwa (city)’.”
Marui has more on Flickr. Kami-Suwa is part of Suwa city in Nagano prefecture.
The flag on the right shows its conventional design from 1870 to the present. On the left is the variant sun disc with sixteen red rays in a Siemens star formation which was used by the Imperial Japanese Army from 1870 to 1945 and, in a different form, the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1889 to ’45. To the dismay of all other East Asian countries, it was re-adopted for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in ’54.
Where is the conscript off to? Obviously, China. Japan had been, as Toynbee would have said, intoxicated by a string of victories. It had defeated China in the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895 and Russia in 1905 and had been on the Allied side in the First World War. In 1931, it had occupied Manchuria and from there, in 1937, it had launched a full-scale invasion of China. The Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45 was the largest-scale war in Asia in the twentieth century.
The Japanese had been drilled into a submission to ultranationalist causes. In war, their human feelings were suppressed further than war normally suppresses them. Spontaneity, and often even common sense, were sacrificed to strict performance of the soldier’s role. Relationship between the new ethos and the ethos of the samurai. Effect on soldiers of the propagation of myths of the Emperor and of Japan through State Shinto. The British who fought the Japanese in Burma and Malaya, or were enslaved by them, spoke more bitterly about their cruelty than their fellow-soldiers spoke about the Germans. They would not forgive them.
Despite the earlier victories – there would be many more in the early stages of the Second World War – there is a conspicuous look of strain on most of the faces in the photograph. And, in fact, in 1939, things were no longer going well in China. The war seemed to have reached a stalemate. The Japanese were losing many men. They were fighting the Russians at the Manchurian border as well. It was expensive. They had started to meet the resistance of the Kuomintang, who were headquartered at Chongqing, with the repeated indiscriminate bombing of Chinese cities. The photograph was taken just on the eve of their unprecedented defeats at Changsha and at Guangxi.
It isn’t polite to write about a photograph some of whose subjects might still be living, but Mr Marui has placed it in the public domain. There could be many reasons for the expression on their faces. Still, one might have expected such a send-off to be upbeat or at least merely solemn (the Japanese tended to look solemn in photographs); but the faces are sombre and troubled. Toynbee would have told us that they betray not only a response to immediate events, but a “schism in the soul”. It was an ordeal to live in a society in which so many were required to kill. State Shinto and its causes opposed the calls of Buddhism and of common kindness. Perhaps they knew unconsciously that they were heading towards disaster. But the main subject of the picture looks as if he is already fighting. I am not sure that I would like to have met Mr Marui’s granduncle in the Malayan jungle.
Click. (Strange spelling of Uzbekistan.) The Hindu Kush is a western extension of the Pamirs. On Aksai Chin, see this post.
Both images Wikimedia Commons.
Maps of the Silk Road differ and are often approximate if not inaccurate. Nor is there one Silk Road. I’ll take this one, which appears to be in the public domain, as a simple reference. It shows the main route from Chang’an, now Xi’an, in Shaanxi province, going north and south of the Taklamakan desert or Tarim Basin. The westernmost city in modern China here is Kashgar or Kashi. From there the road passes through Tajikistan (and perhaps Kyrgyzstan) into Uzbekistan – in other words, through Sogdiana – and from there into Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria.
This does not show an alternative southern route which began west of Kashgar and passed through Bactria, north of the Hindu Kush, before rejoining the main route north of Merv.
Another road left China to cross the Karakoram into what is now Pakistan.
The Silk Road is not a steppe route. It runs south of the steppe. It is a mountain and desert route.
Buddhism entered China on the Silk Road via the Kushan Empire in the first century of the Christian era.
H. A. L. Fisher has made fun of me for taking the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang seriously. “In the great operatic performance of humanity he detects,” Fisher says of me, “the occurrence of this Leitmotiv of Yin and Yang. Other ears will be less sensitive to the regularity of the Chinese beat” (The Nineteenth Century and After, December, 1934, p. 672). On this I can only comment: “They have ears, but they hear not” (Psalm cxxxv.17).
Fisher made an oblique reference to Toynbee in the Preface to his History of Europe (1935).
“One intellectual excitement has [...] been denied to me. Men wiser and more learned than I have discerned in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern. These harmonies are concealed from me. I can see only one emergency following upon another as wave follows upon wave, only one great fact with respect to which, since it is unique, there can be no generalizations, only one safe rule for this historian: that he should recognize in the development of human destinies the play of the contingent and the unforeseen.”
(The Nineteenth Century was a monthly literary magazine founded in 1877 by James Knowles, architect of Albert Mansions in Victoria Street. Many early contributors were members of the Metaphysical Society (1869-80). In 1901, the title was changed to The Nineteenth Century and After. It was published with that name until 1951 (or 1972?). The Nineteenth Century and After was also the title of a poem by Yeats in The Winding Stair (1933).)
Colour printing on title pages is rare, and always pleasant to find. It was commoner in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when red was often used. The Taoist Yin-Yang symbol appears in blue and red, without dots, on the title page of A Journey to China, or Things Which Are Seen, Constable, 1931. On the South Korean flag, the red is on top of the blue, with no dots. Toynbee’s book has the red on the left and the blue on the right.
The Taegeuk symbol, without dots, appears in Korean carvings of the seventh century (or even earlier). As far as I know, it has never been used in Japan.
In China, the Taijitu symbol appears (according to Wikipedia) later: a version of it in the eleventh century (Northern Song) and something closer to the modern symbol in the sixteenth (Ming). When were the dots introduced in China?
The design has Celtic, Etruscan and Roman precedents which precede the earliest Korean examples, though no eastern origin for them has been shown. The classical pattern, with dots, appears for the first time anywhere in the Notitia Dignitatum, among shield patterns of the Western Roman army c AD 430. The document has survived in manuscript copies. There is a certain oriental appeal in these patterns at a distance.
The Yin and Yang duality is introduced in the first volume of A Study of History (pp 196-204).
They are always mentioned in this order – Yin, the static condition, and Yang, the dynamic activity – and never the other way round (Forke, A.: Die Gedankenwelt des chinesischen Kulturkreises (Munich and Berlin 1927, Oldenbourg), p. 110).
A Study of History, Vol XII: Reconsiderations, OUP, 1961 (footnote)
A Study of History, Vol I, OUP, 1934 (footnote)
In the encounter between a dawning philosophy and a traditional paganism there had been no problem of reconciling Heart and Head because there had been no common ground on which the two organs could have come into collision. The pith of Primitive Religion is not belief but action, and the test of conformity is not assent to a theological creed but participation in ritual performances. For the vast majority of the faithful, the correct and alert execution of their ritual duties is the alpha and omega of Religion; primitive religious practice is an end in itself, and it does not occur to the practitioners to look, beyond the rites which they perform, for a truth which these rites convey. The truth is that the rites have no meaning beyond the practical effect which their correct execution is believed to have upon the human performers’ social and physical environment. The so-called “aetiological myths”, which purport to explain a traditional practice’s historical origin, are not taken as statements concerning matter[s] of fact that can be labelled “true” or “false”; they are taken in the spirit in which, in a more sophisticated state of society, a child takes a fairy-story or a grown-up person takes poetry. Accordingly, when, in this primitive religious setting, philosophers arise who do set out to make a chart of Man’s environment in intellectual terms to which the labels “true” and “false” apply, no collision occurs so long as the philosopher continues to carry out his hereditary religious duties – and there can be nothing in his philosophy to inhibit him from doing this, because there is nothing in the traditional rites that could be incompatible with any philosophy.
Awkward situations do, no doubt, occasionally arise, as when, in a ritually conservative Athens, the intellectually adventurous Ionian philosopher Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (vivebat 500-428 B.C.) got into trouble for having made public his opinion that the heavenly bodies were not living gods but inanimate material objects. A more celebrated case was the prosecution, conviction, and judicial murder of Socrates by his Athenian fellow countrymen in 399 B.C. on three charges, [footnote: Plato: Apologia Socratis, 24 B.] of which the second was that Socrates did not pay due worship to the gods who were the official objects of worship at Athens, and the third was that he paid worship to other divinities who were strange gods. Yet it may be doubted whether legal proceedings involving Anaxagoras would have been taken, some twenty years after the Clazomenian philosopher had ceased to reside in Athens, if these had not served the current political purpose of “smearing” Pericles; and it may equally be doubted whether Socrates would have suffered the death-penalty that Anaxagoras escaped if Socrates’ attitude towards religion had been all that his enemies had had against him. Socrates was – and remained to the last – a scrupulous performer of his ritual duties; and, on the religious counts, Aristophanes’ malicious caricature of him in The Clouds might have remained the limit of the penalty exacted from him, if he had not also been under fire in 399 B.C. on another count – the political charge of “corrupting the young” – which, significantly, figured first in the indictment. Socrates was the victim, not so much of conservative Athenian religious fanaticism, as of democratic Athenian resentment over the final defeat of Athens in the long-drawn-out Atheno-Peloponnesian war and democratic Athenian vindictiveness towards a fascist-minded Athenian minority who had seized the opportunity opened to them by the discrediting of the democratic régime through military defeat in order to overthrow the democratic constitution. Socrates’ past personal association with Critias, the moving spirit among “the Thirty Tyrants”, was the offence that the restored democratic régime could neither forget nor forgive. It was Politics, not Religion, that cost Socrates his life.
Where the issue was not confused, as it was in Socrates’ case, by political animus, Philosophy and Primitive Religion encountered one another without colliding. The death of Socrates was an exception to a rule of which the life of Confucius was a classical example. Confucius reconciled a conservative reverence for the traditional rites of primitive Sinic religion with a new moral philosophy of his own making by presenting his personal ideas as the meaning which the rites had been intended to convey. Fortunately for himself, Confucius found no Sinic Critias to be his political pupil in his own lifetime; and – thanks to this failure, which was the great disappointment of his life – he died peacefully in his bed. Confucius’s attitude and experience were characteristic of the normal relations between Philosophy and Primitive Religion; but a new situation arose when the higher religions came on the scene.
The higher religions did, indeed, sweep up and carry along with them a heavy freight of traditional rites that happened to be current in the religious milieux in which the new faiths made their first appearance; but this religious flotsam was not, of course, their essence. The distinctive new feature of the higher religions was that they based their claim to allegiance, and their test of conformity, on personal revelations received by their prophets; [footnote: This was true in some degree in practice even if not in theory of the “Indistic” higher religions as well as the “Judaistic”. Ipse dixit came to be a criterion of truth, not only for the followers of Jesus and Muhammad, but also for the followers of Siddhārtha Gautama and of the philosophic prophets of a post-Buddhaic Hinduism.] and these deliveries of the prophets were presented, like the propositions of the philosophers, as statements of fact, to be labelled either “true” or “false”. Therewith, Truth became a disputed mental territory; for thenceforward there were two independent authorities – on the one hand prophetic Revelation and on the other hand philosophical or scientific Reason – each of which claimed sovereign jurisdiction over the Intellect’s whole field of action; and, when once the hypothesis that the spheres of Revelation and Reason were even partially coincident had been accepted – and both parties did accept this as axiomatic – it became impossible for Reason and Revelation to live and let live on the auspicious precedent of the amicable symbiosis of Reason and Ritual. “There is a peculiar agony in the paradox that Truth has two forms, each of them indisputable, yet each antagonistic to the other.” [Footnote: Gosse, E.: Father and Son, chap. 5.] In this new and excruciating situation, there were only two alternative possibilities. Either the two rival exponents of a supposedly one and indivisible Truth must convert their rivalry into a partnership by agreeing that their expositions were mutually consistent, or, finding themselves unable to agree, they must decide the ownership of an apparently unpartitionable disputed territory in an ordeal by battle that would have to be fought out until one or other party had been driven right off the field.
The Hellenic world and China have been the only two places where advanced philosophy has preceded “higher religion” (if we regard the Vedic origins of Hinduism as belonging to that category).
Where did the conflict occur in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions? Is there even a serious gulf between philosophical/scientific and religious thought in the Indian tradition? In Hinduism, revelation is implied in the terms Apaurusheyatva and Śruti. Can one speak of revelation in Buddhism?
Anaxagoras, young crater near the lunar north pole
A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954
The contact of China with [...] medieval Western Christendom during the brief period when the Mongol universal state extended continuously from the coasts of China to the coasts of the Black Sea and the Baltic was a curiosity of history which, like Alexander’s raid on India, had no lasting effect.
This refers to Alexander’s crossing of the Indus. His effect on the right bank of the Indus was lasting, and his Bactrian successor Demetrius made a more lasting impact in northwest India.
A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954 (footnote)
In the encounter between the world and the West that has been going on by now for four or five hundred years, the world, not the West, is the party that, up to now, has had the significant experience. It has not been the West that has been hit by the world; it is the world that has been hit – and hit hard – by the West; and that is why, in the title of this book, the world has been put first.
The World and the West, OUP, 1953
The French psyche was [...] a psychological barometer on which the readings at successive dates of Western history since A.D. 1494 had been apt to give accurate forecasts of imminent rises and falls in the strength of martial feeling in the Western World as a whole. The progressive militarization of Western Christendom in the course of the four centuries beginning with a French King Charles VIII’s invasion of Italy had been registered in the French people’s change of mood from the peaceableness (perhaps due to their still lively memories of their sufferings in the Hundred Years War) that had been characteristic of a majority of the French people in the first chapter of this tragic story to the chauvinism that had come to be characteristic of a majority of them by the Napoleonic Age. This adventitious aggressive spirit in France had not been blunted by the horrors of the Grand Army’s retreat from Moscow in A.D. 1812 or by the experience of fighting on French soil in A.D. 1814 or even by the humiliatingly decisive defeat, at Waterloo in A.D. 1815, of a light-hearted attempt to reverse the military decision of the preceding year. Thereafter, the French had still had in them the spirit to seek psychological compensation for the loss of an abortive Napoleonic French empire in Europe by embarking in A.D. 1830 on the arduous aggressive military enterprise of conquering a substitute-empire in North-West Africa; and a French aggressiveness which had thus survived a chastisement with whips at Waterloo had required the sharper sting of a chastisement with scorpions at Sedan  to make it wince and wilt. The nemesis of a Napoleon I’s militarism had not deterred Frenchmen of a later generation from placing their lives and fortunes in the hands of a Napoleon III; and, after having pandered to his subjects’ still impenitently militaristic taste by leading them successively into a Roman adventure in A.D. 1849, a Russian adventure in A.D. 1854-6, an Austrian adventure in A.D. 1859, and a Mexican adventure in A.D. 1862-7, this second-rate practitioner of a dangerous trade had committed his country in A.D. 1870 to a Prussian adventure in which the agonies of the Hundred Years War had been concentrated within a Time-span of seven months. This terrible retribution upon France for a militarism to which her Government had been addicted since A.D. 1494, and her people since A.D. 1792, had been so shattering a psychological experience that French souls had never afterwards fully recovered from it.
Though in A.D. 1914 a conscript French national army had patriotically flown to arms to stem a fresh German invasion, and though for four years thereafter the French people had heroically endured casualties of a severity that was crushing for a country in which the population had ceased to increase, besides being grievous for millions of bereaved families, the French had emerged in A.D. 1918 from this deadly struggle for existence with a sharpened consciousness of having been caught by the malice or nemesis of History in a strategico-political position that was so perilously exposed that, sooner or later, it must prove untenable. History had condemned France in a post-Modern Age to have for her next-door neighbour a German national state that was at least as aggressive-minded as France had ever been at her worst, and that was now far more than a match for France in industrial war-potential, as well as in man-power. On the 11th November, 1918, the French had been aware that they would never have emerged on the winning side from a war with the Germany of that day if the combined strength of all the English-speaking peoples had not also been thrown into the anti-German scale; and from that moment onwards France’s English-speaking allies and associates had started perversely to do their worst to break French hearts by serving public notice on France that she could not depend upon their being willing to come to her rescue again if the German peril were once more to loom up. In these cruelly unpropitious circumstances the French had entered an inter-war breathing-space in a mood of disillusionment and discouragement that had been registered in action eventually in France’s collapse and capitulation in June 1940; and the ensuing passage of French history had been big with the future of the Western World as a whole.
The Vichyssois temper and régime had given a practical demonstration of a psychological process through which Nationalism, when carried to an extreme, could box the compass by turning into an equally extreme renunciation of a traditional will to maintain and assert a parochial sovereign independence. Frenchmen, responsible at the time for the government of their country, who, on the 16th June, 1940, had rejected with indignation Churchill’s eleventh-hour offer of a voluntary political union on equal terms between a then all-but-conquered France and a then still unconquered United Kingdom, on the ground that this British offer was an insidious move to consummate the sacrifice of France for the United Kingdom’s benefit, did not rebel when, six days afterwards, on the 22nd June, they were required to sign an armistice which placed France at the mercy of a National Socialist Germany, and did not refuse, after that, to accede to German demands for French collaboration with Germany’s continuing war-effort against a Britain who, till yesterday, had been France’s ally, though a German victory over Great Britain would have extinguished France’s last hope of ever being liberated from the German yoke to which she had bowed her neck. The ostensibly nationalist Vichyssois slogan “la France seule” was a euphemism for the unspeakable truth that France had placed herself at Germany’s disposal and had accepted the shameful role of principal slave to a foreign tyrant nation that had attacked and conquered its neighbours in Continental Europe as a first step towards attacking and conquering the rest of the World with sinews of war that were to be reinforced thanks to the pliancy of Continental European victims who were to be bullied into becoming their German conquerors’ accomplices.
It was true that a demoralized French nationalism would never have entered into a transaction of which it was manifestly ashamed if the alternative course demanded by a traditional standard of heroism had not been beyond the French people’s powers of endurance under novel technological conditions of warfare which had keyed up a once familiar and tolerable ordeal to an unprecedented degree of severity; but this turn of a technological screw was not the whole explanation of the collapse of French moral that had declared itself in A.D. 1940. Part of the explanation also was that, for nationalist-minded souls, the psychological difficulty of acquiescing in the abrogation of a national sovereign independence by a foreign conqueror’s exercise of an irresistible brute force was not so great as the psychological difficulty of taking the initiative in voluntarily surrendering some agreed part of the same national sovereign independence in order to enter into co-operation with people of other nations, on a footing of equality, in a loose confederation like the League of Nations or in a full federal union like the United States and this though the difference between the respective effects of these two alternative ways of foregoing sovereignty was the extreme difference between purchasing security through cooperation and paying the penalty of subjection for the luxury of choosing the psychologically easier option of accepting a fait accompli imposed by force majeure.
The second factor that was reinforcing the effect of an advancing Technology in undermining a parochial patriotism was a victory of class-feeling over patriotism in a competition for precedence between two conflicting expressions of sectional corporate self-interest that were irreconcilable in the last resort. In a France that had been living under the regime of a Front Populaire from June 1936 to April 1938 a considerable portion of the middle class had apparently come, by A.D. 1940, to feel that the aggression of its working-class fellow-countrymen on a domestic front was a greater menace to the preservation of the middle class’s most highly prized assets than the aggression, on an international front, of a Fascist Power which promised to protect a compliant French bourgeoisie’s private property as a quid pro quo for the abrogation of their country’s national sovereignty. [Footnote: Similarly, in a China that had been living under the régime of a Kuomintang during the years A.D. 1928-48, a considerable section of the industrial working class and even of the peasantry had apparently come, by A.D. 1948, to feel that the incompetence and corruption of this ruing clique of a Chinese intelligentsia was a greater evil than the hegemony of a Soviet Union under which they would be allowing their country to fall if they acquiesced in the liquidation of the Kuomintang régime by a Chinese Communist Party.]
If in France the Vichyssois policy and spirit had thus demonstrated that the experience of a First World War had made one once aggressively martial-minded Western nation willing to purchase peace “at any price”, the French people’s British allies had been convicted of a willingness to purchase peace “at almost any price” [footnote: “Not peace at any price, but peace at almost any price” (Mr. Eden in the House of Commons at Westminster on the 25th June, 1937).] by a policy and spirit of “appeasement” (in a pejorative connotation of the word) that had been in the ascendant in Great Britain from the 18th September, 1931, when her inter-war temper had first been put to the test by the opening move in a new Japanese campaign of military aggression in the Far East, and the 10th May, 1940, when the British people had taken for their leader a statesman who had lost no time in putting their temper to the test again by his challenging offer to his countrymen of “blood and toil and tears and sweat” [footnote: Mr. Churchill in the House of Commons at Westminster, 13th May, 1940.] as the price that must be paid for the United Kingdom’s present survival and future victory.
From June 1940 to August 1945 the British people had paid as appallingly heavy a price for the purchase of an inestimably valuable spiritual treasure as the French people had paid in A.D. 1914-18; and in A.D. 1952, some seven years after their release from this supreme ordeal, it had still to be seen whether the ultimate psychological effect of a Second World War on British moral would or would not prove to have been the same as the effect of a First World War had proved to have been on French moral. Would British souls that had been willing to purchase peace “at almost any price” rather than have to face a Second World War be found willing to purchase it “at any price” if a third world war were to descend upon them? There were, after all, limits to Human Nature’s powers of endurance, even in communities of the toughest moral fibre fortified by the most Spartan martial tradition. If the spirit of France had flinched in June 1940 at the prospect of having to face casualties in the field even heavier than the French casualties in A.D. 1914-18 and having to see the whole of her metropolitan territory overrun by a temporarily victorious enemy, how was the spirit of Britain likely to react to the prospect of seeing a congested island subjected to an intensive bombardment with guided atomic missiles which would do incomparably greater execution than the heaviest of the blows recently delivered by Göring’s Luftwaffe?
The answer to this question was no foregone conclusion, and any future follower, German or Russian, in Hitler’s footsteps would be inviting the fate that Hitler had brought on himself and his ambitions if, like Hitler, he were to gamble on the answer to the question turning out to be that the British no longer had any spirit left in them; yet, for all that, the question could not be denied a hearing in A.D. 1952; and the British people was not, of course, the only people in the World at this date about whom this importunate question had to be asked. If it was at least questionable whether a third world war would be endurable for the people of the United Kingdom, it was manifestly questionable a fortiori whether this tribulation would be endurable for Continental West European peoples who had undergone in the years A.D. 1940-5 – and, in the Belgian, French, Italian, and Polish cases, in the years A.D. 1914-18 before that – an experience that was more harrowing, and very much more demoralizing, than the British people’s ordeal of an aerial bombardment. These Continental West European victims of an inordinate German militarism had seen their countries partially or completely overrun and occupied by invading hostile armies, and they had found themselves at the mercy of an occupying alien enemy that had taken advantage of its power over them to distrain upon their material resources for the reinforcement of its own war effort against their surviving allies and to harness their energies to its own evil will by training upon them all the terrors of a post-Modern Western totalitarian police-state.
This institutional engine of militarism had been keyed up to a sinister efficiency on the home fronts of a Fascist Italy and a National-Socialist Germany; and, while in A.D. 1952 it was indisputably true that Western Europe as a whole had had its martial spirit damped by its devastating experiences since A.D. 1914, was this true without reservations of the two West European countries in which Fascist national governments had deliberately re-stoked the local fires of militarism after the First World War with the intention of profiting, in a Second World War, by a consequent marginal difference between the respective limits of their foreign victims’ and their native instruments’ capacity for continuing to stand the traditional test of an ordeal by battle? What had been the ultimate effect, on Italian and German souls, of the misdeeds that they had allowed their governments to require of them, and of the retribution that they had consequently allowed their governments to bring down upon their guilty heads? In what mood had the Italians emerged from the twenty-one years A.D. 1922-43, and the Germans from the twelve years A.D. 1933-45?
An observer in the year A.D. 1952 could predict with some assurance that the Italians would prove to have no more stomach for a Mussolinian militarism to which a majority of the nation had paid lip-service, not because they ever had it in them to go forth conquering and to conquer any foreign people that was their match in technical equipment, but because they did not have in them the spirit to defy the will of a domestic tyrant from the Romagna. It was assuredly no accident that there was always an exceptionally strong local resistance to Fascism in a Piedmont that was also exceptional in being the one locality in a twentieth-century Italy that had preserved something of an earlier martial tradition. On this showing, it might be prophesied in A.D. 1952 that Italy would go the same way as the rest of Western Europe. But could the same prophecy be made at the same date with the same confidence about Germany, where the traditional Prussian militarism that Hitler had stoked up to such incendiary effect manifestly had a far more wide-spread and far more tenacious hold on the souls of the people?
This question was one of grave concern to non-German West Europeans at a moment when, with their reluctant and half-hearted assent, the Americans were soliciting a German people that had attacked and overrun its neighbours twice in one lifetime to revive a martial tradition that, within living memory, had cost the rest of the World two world wars. At the time of writing, it was impossible to predict what the German response was going to be to a challenge presented to Germany by the current quarrel between the ex-victors in the latest of two wars that Germany had made and lost. Which of two features in the new situation would loom the larger in German eyes? The possibility for Germany of reacquiring political power by auctioning German military services to the higher bidder of the two parties that were now feverishly competing for so unquestionably valuable a military asset? Or the possibility of exposing herself to suffer a fate that would be even worse than the fate that she had brought upon herself in A.D. 1945, and indeed as bad as the fate that she had experienced in A.D. 1618-48, if she were now to become the battlefield of a war between foreign Powers by whom she had formerly been “encircled”? On the morrow of the War of A.D. 1939-45 there were signs in Germany that some Germans, at any rate, had by this time had enough of sacrificing life, property, and conscience by submitting to serve as “cannon-fodder” for successive German Governments to spend in successive wars of aggression ending in successive disastrous defeats; and the emergence of this mood in Germany after VE-Day, 1945, was, after all, something that was to be expected in the light of similar changes of heart which, at earlier dates, had come over other West European peoples who, in their day, had been addicted to Militarism no less strongly or persistently than the Germans.
The Germans’ French victims, as we have already noticed, had lent themselves to Militarism for 376 years (A.D. 1494-1870), till they had been cured of it by a crushing German retort. A Swedish militarism that had been rampant since Gustavus Adolphus (regnabat A.D. 1611-32) had disembarked his expeditionary force on German soil on the 27-28th June, 1630, had been extinguished by a subsequent and consequent Swedish experience of being bled white by Charles XII (regnabat A.D. 1697-1718). A Spanish militarism that had been coeval with its French counterpart had evaporated after the Thirty Years War. “Therefore say: ‘Thus saith the Lord God: … I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh and will give them an heart of flesh’.” [Footnote: Ezek. xi. 16 and 19.] When this God-given change of heart had been vouchsafed, in recent Western experience, to the Spaniards and the Swedes and the French, it seemed unlikely that the Germans would be proof against an influence to which these other West European peoples had all yielded. Spanish, Swedish, and French hearts had been changed, sooner or later, by the experience of learning through suffering (πάθει μάθος); [footnote: Aeschylus: Agamemnon, l. 177, quoted in this Study, passim.] and since A.D. 1914 the Germans had received, in their repeated punishment for a repeated sin, a double measure of this sovereign spiritual education. “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He received!”, [footnote: Heb. xii. 6.] was a timeless truth that held out hope for the conversion of the Germans in the sixth decade of the twentieth century of the Christian Era.
No doubt the non-German West Europeans, in their dealings with their German neighbours at this critical time, might, while putting their trust in God, still feel inclined, en attendant, to keep their powder dry. Yet, notwithstanding the openness of this question concerning Germany, by the year A.D. 1952 it looked as if, in a Western Europe which had already been put to the torment of a Second World War, dispirited nations and exasperated social classes had been reduced, by the combined operation of the psychological forces analysed above, to a temper in which their moral capacity to offer resistance to a world-conqueror would be at a minimum.
One could quibble with the use of the phrase “rises and falls” in the plural at the beginning.
Churchill’s phrase, in the first of his three Battle of France speeches, was “blood, toil, tears and sweat”, not “blood and toil and tears and sweat”. (He may have adapted it from Garibaldi, who had rallied his forces in Rome on July 2 1849 with the words “Non offro nè paga, nè quartiere, nè provvigioni. Offro fame, sete, marce forzate, battaglie e morte”, or from Theodore Roosevelt, who may have said something similar in 1897.)
A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954
In writing both the world and the west into my title, and writing the two words in that order, I was doing both things deliberately, because I wanted to make two points that seem to me essential for an understanding of our subject. The first point is that the west has never been all of the world that matters. The west has not been the only actor on the stage of modern history even at the peak of the west’s power (and this peak has perhaps now already been passed). My second point is this: in the encounter between the world and the west that has been going on now for 400 or 500 years, the world, not the west, is the party that, up to now, has had the significant experience. It has not been the west that has been hit by the world; it is the world that has been hit – and hit hard – by the west; and that is why, in my title, I have put the world first.
Let us try, for a few minutes, to slip out of our native western skins and look at this encounter between the world and the west through the eyes of the great non-western majority of mankind. Different though the non-western peoples of the world may be from one another in race, language, civilisation, and religion, if we ask them their opinion of the west, we shall hear them all giving us the same answer: Russians, Moslems, Hindus, Chinese, Japanese, and all the rest. The west, they will tell us, has been the arch-aggressor of modern times, and each will have their own experience of western aggression to bring up against us. The Russians will remind us that their country has been invaded by western armies overland in 1941, 1915, 1812, 1709, and 1610; the peoples of Africa and Asia will remind us that western missionaries, traders, and soldiers from across the sea have been pushing into their countries from the coasts since the fifteenth century. The Asians will also remind us that, within the same period, the westerners have occupied the lion’s share of the world’s last vacant lands in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, and South and East Africa. The Africans will remind us that they were enslaved and deported across the Atlantic in order to serve the European colonisers of the Americas as living tools to minister to their western masters’ greed for wealth. The descendants of the aboriginal population of North America will remind us that their ancestors were swept aside to make room for the west European intruders and for their African slaves.
This indictment will surprise, shock, grieve, and perhaps even outrage most of us westerners today. Dutch westerners are conscious of having evacuated Indonesia, and British westerners of having evacuated India, Pakistan, Burma, and Ceylon, since 1945.
That was almost all the imperial evacuation that had happened by 1952, except for the abandonment of concessions in China. Hard as it is to believe now, the British Empire handed over no territory (except the Anglo-Egyptian “condominium”, Sudan; I don’t count Palestine or the military base at Suez) between the end of the Raj on August 15 1947 and the independence of Ghana on March 6 1957. 1952 was also a year of direct British and American interference in the internal affairs of Iran.
British westerners have no aggressive war on their consciences since the South African war of 1899-1902, and American westerners none since the Spanish-American war of 1898. We forget all too easily that the Germans, who attacked their neighbours, including Russia, in the First World War and again in the Second World War, are westerners too, and that the Russians, Asians, and Africans do not draw fine distinctions between different hordes of “Franks” – which is the world’s common name for westerners in the mass. “When the world passes judgment, it can be sure of having the last word”, according to a well-known Latin proverb. And certainly the world’s judgment on the west does seem to be justified over a period of about four and a half centuries ending in 1945. In the world’s experience of the west during all that time, the west has been the aggressor on the whole; and, if the tables are being turned on the west by Russia and China today, this is a new chapter of the story which did not begin until after the end of the Second World War. The west’s alarm and anger at recent acts of Russian and Chinese aggression at the west’s expense are evidence that, for westerners, it is today still a strange experience to be suffering at the hands of the world what the world has been suffering at western hands for a number of centuries past.
The lectures introduced ideas which would be developed in the eighth volume of the Study.
In the encounter between the world and the west that has been going on now for 400 or 500 years, the world, not the west [...], has had the significant experience
is the most striking sentence. These views were shocking, as he says, to many listeners in 1952. They seemed defeatist.
I have taken this from a transcript on the BBC website, not from the printed book: there may be differences. The transcript probably shows what was printed in The Listener. I have made the use of upper case in references to world wars consistent.
The lectures were published in book form as
The World and the West, OUP, 1953
Storm approaching Hong Kong, though no signal seems to have been hoisted. Tweeted by Chien Mi Wong, retweeted by Andrew Cover.
But it seems the word “hoisted” is no longer used. Another piece of old Hong Kong gone.
Wikipedia: “In the past, the signals were physically hoisted at many locations in Hong Kong; there were 42 signal stations around the territory in the 1960s. However, as radio and television weather reports became increasingly effective, the need to hoist physical signals diminished. The last signal station, Cheung Chau aeronautical meteorological station on Cheung Chau, was decommissioned on 1 January 2002. Accordingly, the observatory has replaced the word hoist with issue in its official terminology, although the phrase ‘Signal No. __ has been hoisted’ is still widely used by the public and the mass media. Weather authorities in Macao, however, still use the term ‘hoisted’ when issuing their tropical cyclone warnings, the system of which is based heavily upon Hong Kong’s.”
So what is now “issued” is a warning, not a signal. The official term is tropical cyclone. The informal word in East Asia is typhoon. Hurricanes, unromantic, are American.
South Kensington c 2090, after a few more decades of climate change.
Or Pimlico, or Belgravia.
Actually, none of those, but a street on Shamian Island (simplified Chinese: 沙面岛; traditional Chinese: 沙面島; Mandarin Pinyin: Shāmiàn dǎo; Jyutping: saa1min6 dou2). Shamian, formerly Shameen, or Shamin, from the Cantonese pronunciation, is a sandbank in the Liwan District of Guangzhou, Guangdong province. The name means sandy surface. It was divided into French and British concessions in the nineteenth century. Some of the architecture remains. It is edged to the south by the Pearl River and separated from the main city by a canal. The second picture below is what one thinks of as the local loggia style.
Even when Europeans built pastiche cities in a hurry, the builders left quickly and there was repose. There is more recent pastiche here too.
Other posts which mention China’s habit of looking like London:
Site on old Shameen:
A patronising Chinese view of Europe:
In A.D. 1952 [...] the [world’s] peasantry could get arms from one or other of the two industrially potent Super-Powers that were competing, at this time, for the peasantry’s allegiance. A North Korean, Continental Chinese, and Communist Annamese peasant soldiery was being armed from an “arsenal of Communism” in the Soviet Union, while a South Korean, Formosan Chinese, and anti-Communist Annamese peasant soldiery was being armed from an “arsenal of Democracy” in the United States.
There was as yet no vast unaligned secondary market. Russia and China had been diverging ideologically since 1956, but the Sino-Soviet split came into the open in 1961 and was never repaired.
Russia and China competed to support North Vietnam, while the US supported the south.
The Cambodia-Vietnam war of 1976-90 became part of the Sino-Soviet rivalry, with Russia supporting Vietnam and China Cambodia.
A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954 (footnote)
Philip Walker, foreignpolicy.com, June 24.
The transit of the Far Eastern [Han dynasty] invention of paper across the conductive expanse of the Arab Caliphate [...] was impressively rapid. Reaching Samarqand from China in A.D. 751, the use of paper had spread to Baghdad by A.D. 793, to Cairo by A.D. 900, to Fez (Fas), almost within sight of the Atlantic, by about A.D. 1100, and to Jativa in the Iberian Peninsula by A.D. 1150.
It might pedantically be pointed out that Cairo was not founded until 969. But Fustat is in effect now old Cairo.
A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954
“I have got patronage, but am too lazy to use it;
I have got land, but am too lazy to farm it.
My house leaks; I am too lazy to mend it.
My clothes are torn; I am too lazy to darn them.
I have got wine, but am too lazy to drink;
So it’s just the same as if my cellar were empty.
I have got a harp, but am too lazy to play;
So it’s just the same as if it had no strings.
My wife tells me there is no more bread in the house;
I want to bake, but am too lazy to grind.
My friends and relatives write me long letters;
I should like to read them, but they’re such a bother to open.]
I have always been told that Chi Shu-yeh
Passed his whole life in absolute idleness.
But he played the harp and sometimes transmuted metals,]
So even he was not so lazy as I.”
Bai Juyi, Lazy Man’s Song in Arthur Waley, translator, More Translations from the Chinese, George Allen & Unwin, 1919, a sequel to A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, Constable, 1918. Links aren’t to the first UK editions. Waley calls him Po Chü-i (Wade-Giles). Xi Kang is indeed Chi Shu-yeh.
That is in the acknowledgements in Vol X. A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems actually came out in 1918.
A Chinese battlefield:
The lacrimae rerum [...] [footnote: Virgil: Aeneid, Book I, l. 462.] [...] are as innumerable as the drops of water in the sea, since sorrow is the web of Man’s mortal life. This is the emotional charge in Hesiod’s elegy on Homer’s heroes [footnote: Hesiod: Works and Days, ll. 156-73, quoted in [a previous volume].] and in Ch’ü Yüan’s and Angilbert’s elegies on the victims of fratricidal warfare.
The warriors are all dead: they lie on the moor-field.
They issued but shall not enter: they went but shall not return.]
The plains are flat and wide; the way home is long.
Their swords lie beside them: their black bows, in their hand.
Though their limbs were torn, their hearts could not be repressed. …]
Steadfast to the end, they could not be daunted.
Their bodies were stricken, but their souls have taken Immortality –]
Captains among the ghosts, heroes among the dead.
[Footnote: Ch’ü Yüan (vivebat 332-295 B.C.), translated by Arthur Waley in A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems (London 1920, Constable), pp. 23-24.]
The same voice that speaks these lines in a Sinic Time of Troubles [Warring States period (post here)] also makes itself heard in lines written during a post-Carolingian interregnum.
Albent campi vestimentis mortuorum lineis
Velut solent in autumno albescere avibus. …
Maledicta dies illa, nec in anni circulo
Numeretur, sed radatur ab omni memoriâ,
Iubar Solis illi desit, Aurora crepusculo,
Noxque illa, nox amara, noxque dura nimium,
In quâ fortes ceciderunt, proelio doctissimi,
Pater, mater, soror, frater, quos amici fleverant.
[Footnote: Angilbert’s elegy on the Battle of Fontenoy (commissum A.D. 841), in The Oxford Book of Medieval Latin Verse, chosen by Stephen Gaselee (Oxford 1928, Clarendon Press), pp. 45-46.]
The Battle of Fontenoy was fought between the heirs of Charlemagne’s empire and led to the Treaty of Verdun in 843.
There is a translation by Helen Waddell in her Mediæval Latin Lyrics, Constable, 1929. Including the lines omitted by Toynbee:
“Now the fields are bleached to whiteness with the white shrouds of the slain,]
Even as they bleach in autumn with the coming of the gulls.]
Be no glory of that battle, never let that fight be sung,
From his rising in the morning to the setting of the sun,
South and North, bewail them who in that ill chance to death were done.]
Cursed be the day that saw it, in the circuit of the year
Count it not, let it be razèd from the memory of men,
Never shine the sun upon it, nor its twilight break in dawn.]
And that night, a night of anguish, night too bitter and too hard.]
Night that saw them fallen in battle, fallen the wise and high of heart:]
Father, mother, sister, brother, friend for friend have wept in vain.]”
Waddell had been born in Tokyo. Her first publication had been Lyrics from the Chinese, Constable, 1913. It presented metrical versions of translations by James Legge. There are a few Tang poems. The others are from the the Spring and Autumn Period (post here) or earlier. She writes in her Introduction:
“It is through two stout volumes of ‘The Chinese Classics’ that this road to Babylon runs; a pleasant edition, printed at Hong Kong, and sold there ‘At the Author’s.’ That author was Dr. Legge, sometime missionary in China, late Professor of Chinese at Oxford. He was not the first to find the road – it was a Jesuit Father of the eighteenth century, one Père Lacharme, who first passed under the ‘East Gate’ into the city of the Shih-King, but he wrote of it in Latin, and the book was not popular. This [Legge’s] is the easier road; every lyric has its Chinese text, black and unfamiliar and satisfying; beneath it a prose translation of unflinching accuracy, and footnotes that unravel all things, from the habits of a sinister plant called tribulus – Shakespeare would have had it in his witches’ cauldron – to the wickedness of the Duke Seuen in his palace of Wei. It is the footnotes that create so gracious a sense of security, an atmosphere in which even the Duke Seuen loses half his terrors: the kindly precision of a scholar without guile.
“And a generous scholar; for at the end of ‘the great travail so gladly spent,’ he leaves it to the pleasure of ‘anyone who is willing to undertake the labour … to present the pieces in a faithful metrical version.’ These stones are from his quarry; it was under the great Sinologue’s Act of Indulgence that these lyrics were chosen.”
Did she know Chinese? In the same way, at roughly the same time, Hans Bethge (post here) was adapting a German translation of a French translation of poems of the Tang era in order to present them to a wider public. They reached Gustav Mahler.
No doubt Waley came across Waddell’s collection when he was working at the British Museum. Toynbee does not cite Waddell anywhere in the Study.
Waddell notices a dark mood in some poems written c 780 BC. “The lyrics of this decade are of a darker temper. It is the spirit of the Jacquerie, the far-off anticipation of ‘Ça ira.’” This is the time of transition between the Western and Eastern Zhōu. The Zhōu (post here) had been attacked by barbarians, possibly nomads, who evicted them from the Wei basin.
“No man is in the fields,
The forest’s stripped and bare,
A few poor faggots left,
And there is none to care.
These men are in great place,
And still they grind the State.
The people cry to heaven,
And think that God is great.
– Is He too great to hate?”
A Study of History, Vol X, OUP, 1954
Though, in all persecutions, there are, no doubt, always many weaker vessels who [...] fail to stand the ordeal, the followers of the higher religions have been conspicuous, on the whole, for their steadfastness and courage when put to the test.
The Christian Church was put to this test by the Roman Empire; the Mahāyāna by the Chinese Empire in its avatar in the age of the T’ang Dynasty. Both churches responded by producing martyrs; but the Christians in the Roman Empire seem to have been more steadfast than the Mahayanian Buddhists in China in standing a more severe ordeal; and this apparent preeminence of the Christians in a common heroism is, indeed, what was to be expected. We should expect both the Mahāyāna and Christianity to shine in facing persecution, since the distinguishing mark of the higher religions is, as we have seen, their voluntary acceptance of Suffering as an opportunity for active service. At the same time we should expect the persecution itself to be sharper, and the endurance of it more heroic, in the western than in the eastern half of the Old World because the temper of life in South-West Asia and in the Graeco-Roman Society was more tragic and more intransigent than the temper in either India or China. In appraising both the comparative mildness of the T’ang imperial government and the comparative softness of its Buddhist victims, we must make the allowance for this general difference in psychological climate. It would be unwarrantable to assume that the T’ang régime was more virtuous than the Roman régime was, or that the Buddhist martyrs were less heroic than the Christian martyrs were.
The same difference in temper between the two halves of the Old World comes out in other historical parallels as well. For example, Christianity and Buddhism were, each, expelled from its homeland by a rival younger religion which had derived its inspiration from the older religion that it was opposing and evicting. Christianity was expelled from South-West Asia by Islam; Buddhism was expelled from India by a post-Buddhaic Hinduism whose philosophy bears indelible marks of its Buddhist origin. But the advance of Hinduism at Buddhism’s expense in India in the age of the Gupta Dynasty was accomplished as peacefully as the previous advance of Buddhism at the expense of a pre-Buddhist Indian paganism in the age of the Maurya Emperor Açoka. By contrast with this Indian record, the supplanting of Christianity by Islam in South-West Asia and Egypt in the age of the Arab Caliphate was a story of pressure and penalization – though, by contrast with the treatment of subject Jews and Muslims in Christendom, the treatment of subject “People of the Book” in Dār-al-Islām has been honourably distinguished by its comparative tolerance.
An Historian’s Approach to Religion, OUP, 1956
We have watched the Confucian litterati surviving the dissolution of a Sinic universal state embodied in the Han Empire and eventually regaining their monopoly of an imperial civil service after a ghost of the Han Empire had been raised by the Sui Dynasty and kept on foot by the Sui’s successors the T’ang; and in the same contexts we have also observed that, in achieving this remarkable recovery of lost ground on the plane of public administration, the Confucians were winning a political victory over Taoist and Mahayanian Buddhist contemporaries and rivals. The reestablishment by T’ang T’ai Tsung, in A.D. 622, of an official examination in the Confucian Classics as the method of selecting new recruits for the imperial civil service signified that, in this political field, the Taoists and Buddhists had let slip an opportunity for supplanting the Confucians which had seemed to be within the grasp of these upstart competitors for public office during a post-Sinic interregnum, when the prestige of the Confucians had been damaged by the collapse of the universal state with which they were identified, while, in a defunct Han Empire’s former northern provinces, which had been the cradle of the Sinic culture, Taoists and Buddhists were enjoying the political patronage of barbarian rulers of local successor-states who found the Mahāyāna more attractive than Confucianism and who would have been glad in any case to recruit their civil servants from any non-Confucian community that might be qualified for office by possessing the necessary standard of education, rather than place themselves in the hands of Confucians whose loyalty they sagely doubted.
A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954
“The Qiu-pu shore teams with white gibbons.
They leap and bounce like flying snow.
They tug their young down from the branches
To drink and play with the moonglow.”
Li Bai again.
A Song of Qiu-pu in Vikram Seth, translator, Three Chinese Poets, Faber and Faber, 1992. I think this is the shore of the Chao Lake in Anhui province. The poets are Wang Wei, Li Bai and Du Fu.
The Tang dynasty lasted from 618 to 907. The Sui (581-618) had reunited China for the first time since the Han. The Tang emperors preserved this unity.
Mahler discovered the Tang poems which he used in Das Lied von der Erde through some German versions by Hans Bethge. Bethge published his Die chinesische Flöte in 1907.
Texts here, except for the English translation of Mahler’s version, and including the Chinese, are from mahlerarchives.net, with some minor changes or clarifications. I’ve made the semi-literal version more readable. The English translation of Mahler’s version is more or less as on a YouTube page. I don’t know who made the two English translations.
A poem by Li Bai; the unbracketed part was the source of the first of Mahler’s six settings:
Semi-literal translation of that part (by whom?) as Tale of Sorrowful Song:
“Sorrow comes, sorrow comes,
Host has wine, pour not yet.
Listen to my sorrowful song.
Sorrow approaches, neither sob nor laugh.
Nobody in this world knows my heart;
You have several measures of wine,
I have a three-foot lute;
Lute playing goes with happy drinking,
One drink equals a thousand taels of gold.
Sorrow comes, sorrow comes,
Everlasting as the heaven and the earth,
Yet a roomful of gold and jade shall not last.
A hundred years of wealth amounts to what?
Everyone lives and dies only once;
A lonely ape sits over the grave and howls at the moon.
I must empty this cup of wine in one gulp.”
Translation by the Marquis D’Hervey Saint-Denys as La chanson du chagrin:
“Le maître de céans a du vin, mains ne le versez pas encore:
Attendez que je vous aie chanté
La chanson du chagrin.
Quand le chagrin vient, si je cesse de chanter ou de rire,
Personne, dans ce monde, ne connaîtra les sentiments de mon cœur.
Seigneur, vous avez quelques measures de vin,
Et moi je posséde un luth long de trios pieds;
Jouer du luth et boire du vin sont deux choses qui vont bien ensemble.
Une tasse de vin vaut, en son temps, mille onces d’or.
Bien que le ciel ne périsse point,
Bien que la terre soit de longue durée,
Combien pourra durer pour nous la possession de l’or et du jade?
Cent ans au plus. Voilà le terme de la plus longue espérance.
Vivre et mourir une fois, voilà ce dont tout homme est assuré.
Écoutez là-bas, sous les rayons de la lune,
Écoutez le singe accroupi qui pleure, tout seul, sur les tombeaux
Et maintenant remplissez ma tasse; il est temps de la vader d’un seul trait.”
Hans Heilman published a book called Chinesische Lyrik in 1907 in which he translates the Hervey de Saint Denys. I can’t find it, but Bethge adapted Heilman’s version in his book of the same year. Hervey de Saint Denys knew Chinese. I presume Heilman did not. Did Bethge?
“Schon winkt der Wein im goldenen Pokalen,
Doch trinkt noch nicht, erst sing ich euch ein Lied!
Das Lied vom Kummer soll euch in die Seele
Auflachend klingen! Wenn der Kummer naht,
So stirbt die Freude, der Gesang erstirbt,
Wüst liegen die Gemächer meiner Seele.
Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod.
Dein Keller birgt des goldnen Weins die Fülle
Herr dieses Hauses, – ich besitze andres:
Hier diese lange Laute nenn ich mein!
Die Laute schlagen und die Gläser leeren,
Das sind zwei Dinge, die zusammen passen!
Ein voller Becher Weins zur rechten Zeit
Ist mehr wert als die Reiche dieser Erde.
Dunkel is das Leben, ist der Tod.
Das Firmament blaut ewig und die Erde
Wird lange feststehn auf den alten Füssen,
Du aber, Mensch, wie lang lebst denn du?
Nicht hundert Jahre darfst du dich ergötzen
An all dem morschen Tande dieser Erde,
Nur ein Besitztum ist dir ganz gewiss:
Das ist das Grab, das grinsende, am Erde.
Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod.
Sehr dort hinab! Im Mondschein auf den Gräbern
Hockt eine wild-gespenstische Gestalt –
Ein Affe ist es! Hört ihr, wie sein Heulen hinausgellt
In den süßen Duft des Abends!
Jetzt nehmt den Wein! Jetzt ist es Zeit, Genossen!
Leert eure goldnen Becher bis zum Grund!
Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod!”
Mahler’s version, Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde, based on Bethge; was that Heilman’s title, Bethge’s or his own?:
“Schon winkt der Wein im goldnen Pokale,
Doch trinkt noch nicht, erst sing ich euch ein Lied!
Das Lied vom Kummer soll auflachend
In die Seele euch klingen. Wenn der Kummer naht,
Liegen wüst die Gärten der Seele,
Welkt hin und stirbt die Freude, der Gesang.
Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod.
Herr dieses Hauses!
Dein Keller birgt die Fülle des goldenen Weins!
Hier, diese Laute nenn’ ich mein!
Die Laute schlagen und die Gläser leeren,
Das sind die Dinge, die zusammen passen.
Ein voller Becher Weins zur rechten Zeit
Ist mehr wert, ist mehr wert, ist mehr wert als alle Reiche dieser Erde!
Dunkel is das Leben, ist der Tod.
Das Firmament blaut ewig und die Erde
Wird lange fest stehen und aufblühn im Lenz.
Du aber, Mensch, wie lang lebst denn du?
Nicht hundert Jahre darfst du dich ergötzen
An all dem morschen Tande dieser Erde!
Seht dort hinab! Im Mondschein auf den Gräbern
Hockt eine wildgespenstische Gestalt –
Ein Aff ist’s! Hört ihr, wie sein Heulen hinausgellt
In den süßen Duft des Lebens!
Jetzt nehm den Wein! Jetzt ist es Zeit, Genossen!
Leert eure goldnen Becher zu Grund!
Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod!”
Drinking Song of the Misery of the Earth, English translation of Mahler’s version (from YouTube):
“The wine is already beckoning in the golden goblet,
But do not drink yet – first, I will sing you a song!
The song of sorrow shall resound
Laughingly in your soul. When sorrow draws near,
The gardens of the soul will lie desolate,
Wilting; joy and song will die.
Dark is life, dark is death.
Lord of this house!
Your cellar is full of golden wine!
Here, this lute I call my own!
Strumming on the lute and emptying glasses –
These are the things that go together.
A full glass of wine at the proper moment
Is worth more than all the riches of the world!
Dark is life, dark is death.
The heavens are forever blue and the earth
Will stand firm for a long time and bloom in spring.
But you, Man, how long will you live then?
Not a hundred years are you allowed to enjoy
In all the rotten triviality of this earth!
Look down there!
In the moonlight, on the graves
Crouches a wild, ghostly figure – It is an ape!
Hear how its howls resound piercingly
In the sweet fragrance of life!
Now take the wine! Now is the time – enjoy it!
Empty the golden goblet to the bottom!
Dark is life, dark is death!”
The Mahlerian end-product, with Klemperer, the Philharmonia and Fritz Wunderlich, the best-balanced recording, and not a hint of strain in Wunderlich:
Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod! seems to belong more to the Nietzsche poem.
An episode from the early Qing dynasty that is relevant today: Robert Barnett, New York Review of Books, April 6.
Buddhism arrived in Tibet in the seventh century. Tibetan Buddhism was important from the eleventh century in Central Asia, especially Mongolia and Manchuria. It was introduced into China by the Mongol Yuan dynasty and the Manchu Qing dynasty.
This episode is from 1679 and the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. Barnett:
“It was the Fifth Dalai Lama who was first given the authority to rule Tibet [politically], following its invasion by a Mongol warlord who was a ferocious supporter of the Dalai Lama’s sect and so placed him on the throne, when he was twenty-five years old. [...] The Fifth seems to have been extraordinarily capable, because under his rule, backed up by the Mongols’ army, Tibet expanded into a vast and unified state covering most of the Tibetan plateau, with an organized bureaucracy, tax, and census system.” The fifth Dalai Lama and his regent Sangye Gyatso built the Potala Palace.