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[Letter from Young John Allen (recipient unkown), December 21, 1869]
Dec. 21, 1869.
Physically helpless, her mental force abated and her morals decayed, aged and inert, had her mountains and plains, lakes and rivers, been as little amenable to the laws of gravity and motion as she to progress and development, the Pacific Ocean would long since have compassed her domain and peopled it with the monsters of the deep, while she, plucked from the earth, had gone like the lost Pleiad , to enjoy her exclusiveness in utter darkness.
But the world does move in more respects than one, and happy will it be for China, if from some of the "apples" now falling under her philosohic eye, she be able to deduce her proper relations to the outer world, amid which she claims to be the central sun, which only does not move.
Philosophically, she already begins to have doubts about the future tenability of her long cherished position; and while the foreign astronomer in the Peking College is trying to teach her youth the proper motion of the earth, its laws and relations to the Universe. Commerce with its treaties, also moving like the earth, from the west to the east, is mobilizing her people and their treasures, and forcing upon the Government the urgent necessity of recognizing the universality of International Law and claiming its benefits.
Fifteen different nations now have treaties with China, and daily flaunt their flags before the eyes of the five-clawed Imperial Dragon. Austria has just concluded her first, while England
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and America have only this day made public the latest revised editions of theirs.
Chinamen know but little of Geography, and are greatly surprised to see how many brothers and sisters the three great nations, England, France, and America, have. The family of nations is much larger than they have any conception of, and they were astonished that Mr. Burlingame should require yet another two years for his Embassy to see and mong mong them all.
The spirit of Western progress is irrepressible, and a wonderful advance is being made among the people. Every treaty strengthens the moral force that is brought to bear, and every revision deepens the impression already made. You may expect, therefore, before long to hear of vast and important changes in this Empire. Oh! that the Church was as wide awake to its duty as are the Merchants, Consula and Ministers who represent the interests of this world!
Yours,Y. J. Allen