In the nineteenth century it was common among Europeans to see China as eternally stagnant and as hopelessly behind their own ever-more dynamic part of the world. China constituted a warning regarding what would happen to a country where tradition and authority came to dominate at the expense of initiative and innovation. While Europe surged steadily ahead, China was sinking ever-deeper into the mire of its own past. And yet it is easy to reveal such conclusions as little but Victorian prejudices. If anything change was always a far greater concern in China than in Europe. As nineteenth-century Chinese scholars may have insisted, change was nothing new, nothing modern, it was instead an inescapable feature of all of nature and all of society. The Chinese had already spent more than 2,000 years reflecting on its sources.