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an iron tyranny which forbids their seeking knowledge of the world beyond their shores. Such is the condition of affairs at present in the kingdom of Corea; but the shadow-or, perhaps, it were better to say the light-of Western advances has already fallen upon its borders, and the bulwarks of this last refuge of Turanian self-seclusion are visibly doomed to overthrow.

It is not an exaggeration to say that geographers know more of Central Africa and its mountain and river systems than they do of the interior of this mere promontory, interposed like a wedge between the seas of China and Japan. With the exception of some scanty notices collected by the earlier Jesuit missionaries in China and by writers such as Kæmpffer and Siebold in Japan, no published accounts of the geography or constitution of the Corean kingdom are in existence; and although the coast surveys effected at divers times by British and French men-of-war have made the external contour of the peninsula sufficiently well known for purposes of navigation, nothing but the barest notion of the internal configuration of the country has been arrived at. According to the latest writer who has devoted a chapter to this subject,

• Corea is a peninsula lying obliquely N.W. by S.E., lat. 34° 40' and 42° 30', and long. 125° to 129° E., bounded on the east by the Sea of Japan, on the south by the Yellow Sea, on the west by the Yellow Sea and the Gulf of Pechili, and on the north by the rivers Ya-lu and Tumên, which separate the country from Chinese and Russian Manchuria respectively. The area is estimated at 79,414 square miles, exclusive of the numerous islands which crowd its southern and western shores, or more than one and a quarter times larger than Shantung (the province of China lying opposite to Corea), and more than three times larger than Scotland. It is a land of mountains, which as a rule are higher than those of Shantung, many on the seaboard reaching an elevation of from 1,000 to 8,000 feet, according to the measurements of our nautical surveyors. The valleys are said to be fertile, and the mountains in many parts of the country are often covered to their summits with dense forests.' (Williamson, vol. ii. p. 295.)

With the exception of a few particulars respecting the course of the two great rivers of Corea, this passage comprises very nearly all that European geographers find to say in attempting to describe the Corean peninsula; whilst, if we turn to Chinese sources, we meet with equal ignorance plus an entire and characteristic indifference. Content in selfgratulation on the allegiance to his sacred Majesty the Son of Heaven which modern Corean rulers have found it convenient to profess, the Chinese have never manifested a desire to


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become intimately acquainted with this, their nearest neighbour; but have striven, on the other hand, to confine within the narrowest possible limits the commercial intercourse which human instincts and necessities have created even here. The stringent severity with which Chinese and Coreans are kept as much as possible apart arises in great measure, no doubt, from the ingrained distrust and dislike of everything 'non• Chinese,' which forms so important an element in the character and policy of the Celestial Empire; but it is also partly due to the traditions of enmity which have grown out of centuries of warfare, dating from times anterior to the Christian era ; when the kingdom of Ch'ao-Sien, as Corea was termed in the second century B.C., gave abundance of trouble to the Chinese emperors of the Han dynasty. Long previously to this, viz., towards the end of the twelfth century B.C., according to the traditions preserved in the Shoo King or Book of History, a scion of the dynasty of Shang had retired to the Corean peninsula on the overthrow of that ill-fated line, and to him is attributed, although doubtless mythically, the first introduction of humanising influences among the barbarians' who up to this time had dwelt among the mountain-fastnesses east of the river Liao. This river, traversing what is now the Manchurian province of Fêng-t'ien, was for many centuries the frontier between the territory claimed by the Chinese sovereign and that of Ch'ao-sien, though it was repeatedly crossed by ambitious invaders, notably during the reigns of the T’ang dynasty, coinciding with the period of the Heptarchy in England. At this time the country appears to have been divided between several independent rulers, some of whom were of Chinese descent, and the population generally was tinctured also to a large extent with Chinese elements, due to the numbers of emigrants and outlaws who sought refuge from the tyranny or disorders of their own country under the easier rule of the petty Corean kings. The Mongol conquerors of China, in our thirteenth century, extended their sway over the greater part of Corea, incorporating the whole of its provinces with the Chinese empire; but on the accession to power of the founder of the Ming dynasty, at the close of the fourteenth century, this ruler acknowledged the sovereignty of the then claimant of the Corean throne, and conferred upon him a patent of investiture with the title of Kao-li*

This designation, derived from one of the ancient dynastic titles of the kingdom, is the origin of our word Corea (the French Corée), obtained through the Japanese, by whom the Chinese sound is represented as Ku-rai.


Wang or feudatory King of Corea. Tribute was regularly paid by this prince and his successors during several centuries to the sovereigns of the Ming dynasty, and the kingdom was mapped out on the Chinese model into provinces (at that time called tao), prefectures, departments, and districts. The peace and prosperity which Corea had long enjoyed under the nominal sway of the Chinese sovereignty was at length rudely interrupted by an invasion from Japan, when the victorious usurper Taicosama resolved upon making this country the basis of operations for his meditated conquest of China. The historians of the Ming dynasty narrate with grief how the Japanese army, many tens of thousands strong, landed in A.D. 1592 on the shores of Corea and overran the entire country almost unopposed. The King, abandoning his capital, fled to the Chinese Court for assistance, and a powerful Chinese army was despatched to Corea, only, however, to encounter ignominious defeat at the hands of the Japanese. Wan-Li, the reigning emperor, was fain to make terms with Taicosama, and to recognise him as sovereign not only of Japan but also of a large portion of Corea itself, though notwithstanding this, hostilities continued to be waged at intervals between the Chinese and Japanese forces until the final retreat of the latter from Corea in 1598.

Singularly enough, it is to the period of this incursion that the interest of European nations in Corean affairs inust be traced, and its remote effects are even now apparent among the political influences of the day. The invasion of Taicosama was the means of introducing Christianity into Corea, and here, if subsequent experience may be trusted, the Western religion found—if not a congenial soil—at least more steadfast believers than have hitherto been acquired in any Asiatic country. The Jesuit historians of Japan relate that the army sent across the sea to achieve the conquest of Corea consisted wholly of Christian converts, and their two chief leaders were among the most notable Christian magnates of an empire which had been looked upon shortly before this epoch as on the point of becoming wholly converted to the Cross. A missionary named Cespedes was actually permitted to accompany the expedition and to look forward to the evangelisation of Corea. The splendid visions of the Church were, however, destined to be cruelly shattered, and if the Jesuit narrator may be believed, the mission of the Christian army to Corea was resolved upon by Taicosama as much with the design of insuring its destruction as with the hope of achieving the conquest of the country, After the expedition had sailed, the proscription of Chris

tianity which had been for some time threatening was finally declared, and of the Christian soldiers who crossed the straits in 1592 few if any returned to their native land when Corea was finally evacuated seven years afterwards. The seed, however, had been dropped in the soil newly laid open before the untiring husbandmen of the Order of Jesus, and from the close of the sixteenth century to the present day, whilst all the world besides has been content well-nigh to forget the existence of this most remote and forlorn of Asiatic peoples, the Church has never turned away her steadfast gaze from the field where such abounding harvests had been promised.

When the Ming dynasty fell and Peking was given up (in A.D. 1644) to the victorious Manchus, the reigning King of Corea, who had been taken prisoner some time previously by the conquerors in one of their inroads into his country, was brought in their train to the capital of China, and became acquainted with the celebrated Jesuit Adam Schall, who, with characteristic adroitness, had succeeded in transferring his allegiance from the defunct sovereign of the Ming dynasty to the chieftain of the Tartar invaders. The Corean ruler having manifested a desire to become acquainted with the writings of the missionaries, Father Schall sent him a complete collection of their works, scientific as well as religious ; and on the King's departure to resume the government of his country, after acknowledging the supremacy of the Manchu sovereign, he intimated to Father Schall, it is said, a desire that some of the latter's European companions might be sent to Corea to afford instruction in the new branches of study of which a glimpse had been afforded him. Circumstances, however, proved adverse to the hopes excited by this invitation. Owing, possibly, to the advice of more cautious counsellors at home or to the jealous restrictions imposed by the Chinese Government, the King gave no subsequent effect to the desire he is said to have manifested for the introduction of European missionaries within his dominions; and for upwards of a century Corea remained a sealed land, recalled to notice from time to time only by the scattered notices of intercourse with the members of the mission at Peking which appeared in the periodical reports of the Jesuit missionaries, or by such an incident as that of the captivity of the Dutch mariner Hamel, who, shipwrecked on Quelpaert Island in 1653 while on a voyage to Japan, was detained for thirteen years in Corea, but eventually contrived to escape and rejoin his countrymen in Nagasaki. On his return to Holland he published an account of his adventures and a description of Corea, which long re

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mained the principal source of information whence European geographers derived their scanty knowledge of the country.

At length, in 1784, an opportunity occurred which enabled the Jesuits at Peking to introduce the seed of their teachings within the soil towards which their secret longings had been turned for upwards of a hundred years. The son of the Corean envoy, named Li, who was sent in that


with the customary tribute to Peking, having heard of the wondrous skill of the European missionaries in the sciences of astronomy and mathematics, addressed himself to them for instruction and was led to embrace their religious doctrines. Corean, it is related, having become inwardly struck with the sublimity of the Christian dogmas and the purity of their moral lessons, his convictions became at length so assured that he openly received the rite of baptism. Pierre Li, as the neophyte was thenceforth styled, burning with zeal and apostolic ardour, proved untiring in the work of opening the minds of his countrymen to the faith he had accepted, and it is recounted that in less than five years after his return to the Corean capital, four thousand Coreans of both sexes were numbered among his converts. According to the Abbé Pichon, to whose narrative we have recourse at this point,

· Religion was publicly preached; it was preached at court and in the provinces; the true God had great numbers of adorers among the nobility. In 1788 the governor of the capital caused Thomas King to be arrested for preaching a foreign religion. On this becoming known, several neophytes spontaneously presented themselves before the governor, and declared that they also were Christians and preachers of this religion. The governor, astonished by their number, sent them to their homes and condemned Thomas King to exile, in which he died in the following year. The Christians, far from being intimidated by this commencement of a persecution, became only the more filled with ardour; and fresh progress was made in fact by the faith daily. (Pichon, p. 221.)

Such were the beginnings of the Roman Catholic propaganda in Corea; and whatever may be thought of the degree of purity with which the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith can have been placed before the minds of the Corean converts, or of the rapidity with which the new religion was adopted and the fervour with which it was embraced, there can be no doubt that the seeds of Christianity were introduced into Corea by purely native agency, and that they germinated in a soil which was destined to produce thenceforward a perennial harvest of believers, who have not hesitated in countless instances to seal their convictions with their blood. There is


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