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CHINESE SKETCHES            Herbert A.Giles

 

 

THE DEATH OF AN EMPEROR

His Imperial MajestyTsai-Shundeputed by Heaven to reign over all

within the four seasexpired on the evening of Tuesday the 13th

January 1875aged eighteen years and nine months. He was erroneously

known to foreigners as the Emperor T'ung Chih; but T'ung Chih was

merely the style of his reignadopted in order that the people should

not profane by vulgar utterance a name they are not even permitted to

write.[*] Until the new monarchthe late Emperor's cousinhad been

duly installedno word of what had taken place was breathed beyond

the walls of the palace; for dangerous thoughts might have arisen had

it been known that the State was drifting rudderlessa prey to the

wild waves of sedition and lawless outbreak. The accession of a child

to reign under the style of Kuang Hsu was proclaimed before it was

publicly made known that his predecessor had passed away.

[*] Either one or all of the characters composing an emperor's name

are altered by the addition or omission of certain component

parts; as iffor instancewe were to write an Alb/a/rt chain

merely because Alb/e/rt is the name of the heir-apparent.

Similarlya child will never utter or write its father's name;

and the names of Confucius and Mencius are forbidden to all alike.

Of the personal history of the ill-fated boy who has thus been

prematurely cut off just as he was entering upon manhood and the

actual government of four hundred million soulswe know next to

nothing. His accession as an infant to the dignities of a sensual

dissipated fatherattracted but little attention either in China or

elsewhere; and from that date up to the year 1872all we heard about

His Majesty wasthat he was making good progress in Manchuor had

hit the target three times out of ten shots at a distance of about

twenty-five yards. He was taught to ride on horsebackthough up to

the day of his death he never took part in any great hunting

expeditionssuch as were frequently indulged in by earlier emperors

of the present dynasty. He learnt to read and write Chinesethough

what progress he had made in the study of the Classics was of course

only known to his teachers. Painting may or may not have been an

Imperial hobby; but it is quite certain that the drama received more

perhaps than its full share of patronage. The ladies and eunuchs of

the palace are notoriously fond of whiling away much of their

monotonous existence in watching the grave antics of professional

tragedians and laughing at the broad jokes of the low-comedy manwith

his comic voice and funnily-painted face. Listening to the tunes

prescribed by the Book of Ceremoniesand dining in solemn solitary

grandeur off the eight[*] precious kinds of food set apart for the

sovereignhis late Majesty passed his boyhooduntil in 1872 he

married the fair A-lu-teand practically ascended the dragon throne

of his ancestors. Up to that time the Empresses-Dowagerhidden behind

a bamboo screenhad transacted business with the members of the Privy

Councilsigning all documents of State with the vermilion pencil for

and on behalf of the young Emperorbut probably without even going

through the formality of asking his assent. The marriage of the

Emperor of China seemed to wake people up from their normal apathyso

that for a few months European eyes were actually directed towards the

Flowery Landand the /Illustrated London News/with praiseworthy

zealsent out a special correspondentwhose valuable contributions

to that journal will be a record for ever. The ceremonyhoweverwas

hardly over before a bitter drop rose in the Imperial cup. Barbarians

from beyond the sea came forward to claim the right of personal

interview with the sovereign of all under Heaven. The story of the

first audience is still fresh in our memories; the trivial

difficulties introduced by obstructive statesmen at every stage of the

proceedingsquestions of etiquette and precedence raised at every

turnuntil finally the /kotow/ was triumphantly rejected and five

bows substituted in its stead. Every one saw the curt paragraph in the

/Peking Gazette/which notified that on such a day and at such an

hour the foreign envoys had been admitted to an interview with the

Emperor. We all laughed over the silly story so sedulously spread by

the Chinese to every corner of the Empirethat our Minister's knees

had knocked together from terror when Phaeton-like he had obtained his

dangerous request; that he fell down flat in the very presence

breaking all over into a profuse perspirationand that the haughty

prince who had acted as his conductor chid him for his want of course

bestowing upon him the contemptuous nickname of "chicken-feather."

[*] These are--bears' pawsdeers' tailducks' tonguestorpedos'

roecamels' humpsmonkeys' lipscarps' tailsand beef-marrow.

Subsequentlyin the spring of 1874the late Emperor made his great

pilgrimage to worship at the tombs of his ancestors. He had previous

to his marriage performed this filial duty oncebut the mausoleum

containing his father's bones was not then completedand the whole

thing was conducted in a privateunostentatious manner. But on the

last occasion great preparations were made and vast sums spent (on

paper)that nothing might be wanting to render the spectacle as

imposing as money could make it. Royalty was to be seen humbly

performing the same hallowed rites which are demanded of every child

and which can under no circumstances be delegated to any other person

as long as there is a son or a daughter living. The route along which

His Majesty was to proceed was lined with closely-packed crowds of

loyal subjectseager to set eyes for once in their lives upon a being

they are taught to regard as the incarnation of divinity; and when the

Sacred Person really burst upon their viewthe excitement was beyond

description. Young and oldwomen and childrenfell simultaneously

upon their kneesand tears and sobs mingled with the blessings

showered upon His Majesty by thousands of his simple-minded

affectionate people.

The next epoch in the life of this youthful monarch occurred a few

months ago. The Son of Heaven[*] had not availed himself of western

science to secure immunity from the most loathsome in the long

category of diseases. He had not been vaccinatedin spite of the

known prevalence of smallpox at Peking during the winter season. True

it is but a mild form of smallpox that is there common; but it is easy

to imagine what a powerless victim was found in the person of a young

prince enervated by perpetual cooping in the heart of a cityrarely

permitted to leave the palaceand then only in a sedan-chaircalled

out of his bed at three o'clock every morning summer or winterto

transact business that must have had few charms for a boyand

possessed of no other means of amusement than such as he could derive

from the society of his wife or concubines. Occasional bulletins

announced that the disease was progressing favourablyand latterly it

was signified that His Majesty was rapidly approaching a state of

convalescence. His deaththereforecame both suddenly and

unexpectedly; happilyat a time when China was unfettered by war or

rebellionand when all the energies of her statesmen could be

employed in averting either one catastrophe or the other. For one

hundred days the Court went into deep mourningwearing capes of white

fur with the hair outside over long white garments of various stuffs

lined also with white furbut of a lighter kind than that of the

capes. Mandarins of high rank use the skin of the white fox for the

latterbut the ordinary official is content with the curly fleece of

the snow-white Mongolian sheep. For one hundred days no male in the

Empire might have his head shavedand women were supposed to eschew

for the same period all those gaudy head ornaments of which they are

so inordinately fond. At the expiration of this time the Court

mourning was changed to blackwhich colouror at any rate something

sombrewill be worn till the close of the year.

[*] Such terms as "Brother of the Sun and Moon" are altogether

imaginaryand are quite unknown in China.

For twelve long months there may be no marrying or giving in marriage

that is among the official classes; the people are let off more

easilyone hundred days being fixed upon as their limit. For a whole

year it is illegal to renew the scrolls of red paper pasted on every

door-post and inscribed with cherished maxims from the sacred books;

except again for non-officialswhose penance is once more cut down to

one hundred days' duration. In these sad times the birth of a son--a

Chinaman's dearest wish on earth--elicits no congratulations from

thronging friends; no red eggs are sent to the lucky parentsand no

joyous feast is provided in return. Merrymaking of all kinds is

forbidden to all classes for the full term of one yearand the

familiar sound of the flute and the guitar is hushed in every

household and in every street.[*] The ordinary Chinese visiting-card--

a piece of red paper about six inches by threeinscribed with its

owner's name in large characters--changes to a dusky brown; and the

very lines on letter paperusually redare printed of a dingy blue.

Official seals are also universally stamped in blue instead of the

vermilion or mauve otherwise used according to the rank of the holder.

Red is absolutely tabooed; it is the emblem of mirth and joyand the

colour of every Chinese maiden's wedding dress. It is an insult to

write a letter to a friend or stranger on a piece of plain white paper

with black ink. Etiquette requires that the columns should be divided

by red lines; orif notthat a tiny slip of red paper be pasted on

in recognition of the form. For this reason it is that all stamps and

seals in China are /red/--to enable tradesmenofficialsand others

to use any kind of paperwhether it has already some red about it or

not; and every foreigner in China would do well to exact on all

occasions the same formalities from his employes as they would

consider a matter of duty towards one of their own countrymenhowever

low he might be in the social scale.

[*] Mencius. Book v.part ii.ch. 4.

Certain classes of the people will suffer from the observance of these

ceremonies far more severely than others. The peasant may not have his

head shaved for one hundred days--inconvenientno doubtfor himbut

mild as compared with the fate of thousands of barbers who for three

whole months will not know where to look to gain their daily rice. Yet

there is a large section of the community much worse off than the

barbersand this comprises everybody connected in any way with the

theatres. Their occupation is gone. For the space of one year neither

public nor private performance is permitted. During that time actors

are outcasts upon the face of the earthand have no regular means of

getting a livelihood. The lessees of theatres have most likely

feathered their own nests sufficiently well to enable them to last out

the prescribed term without serious inconvenience; but with usactors

are proverbially improvidentand even in frugal China they are no

exception to the rule.

Officials in the provincesbesides conforming to the above customs in

every detailare further obliged on receipt of the "sad announcement"

to mourn three times a-day for three days in a particular chapel

devoted to that purpose. There they are supposed to call to mind the

virtues of their late masterand more especially that act of grace

which elevated each to the position he enjoys. Actual tears are

expected as a slight return for the seal of office which has enabled

its possessor to grow rich at the expense too often of a poor and

struggling population. We fancyhoweverthat the mind of the mourner

is more frequently occupied with thinking how many friends he can

count among the Imperial censors than in dwelling upon the

transcendent bounty of the deceased Emperor.

We sympathise with the bereaved mother who has lost her only child and

the hope of China; but on the other hand if there is little room for

congratulationthere is still less for regret. The nation has been

deprived of its nominal heada vapid youth of nineteenwho was

content to lie /perdu/ in his harem without making an effort to do a

little governing on his own responsibility. During the ten years that

foreigners have resided within half a mile of his own apartments in

the palace at Pekinghe has either betrayed no curiosity to learn

anything at all about themor has been wanting in resolution to carry

out such a scheme as we can well imagine would have been devised by

some of his bolder and more vigorous ancestors. And now once more the

sceptre has passed into the hands of a child who will grow uplike

the late Emperoramid the intrigues of a Court composed of women and

eunuchsutterly unfit for anything like energetic government.

The splendid tomb which has been for the last twelve years in

preparation to receive the Imperial coffinbut whichaccording to

Chinese custommay not be completed until death has actually taken

placewill witness the last scene in the career of an unfortunate

young man who could never have been an object of envy even to the

meanest of his peopleand who has not left one single monument behind

him by which he will be remembered hereafter.

 

 

THE POSITION OF WOMEN

It isperhapstolerably safe to say that the position of women among

the Chinese is very generally misunderstood. In the squalid huts of

the poorthey are represented as ill-used drudgesdrawers of water

and grinders of cornearly to rise and late to bedtheir path

through the vale of tears uncheered by a single ray of happiness or

hopeand too often embittered by terrible pangs of starvation and

cold. This picture is unfortunately true in the main; at any rate

there is sufficient truth about it to account for the element of

sentimental fiction escaping unnoticedand thus it comes to be

regarded as an axiom that the Chinese woman is lowvery lowin the

scale of humanity and civilisation. The women of the poorer classes in

China have to work hard indeed for the bowl of rice and cabbage which

forms their daily foodbut not more so than women of their own

station in other countries where the necessaries of life are dearer

children more numerousand a drunken husband rather the rule than the

exception. Now the working classes in China are singularly sober;

opium is beyond their meansand few are addicted to the use of

Chinese wine. Both men and women smokeand enjoy their pipe of

tobacco in the intervals of work; but this seems to be almost their

only luxury. Hence it follows that every cash earned either by the man

or woman goes towards procuring food and clothes instead of enriching

the keepers of grog-shops; besides which the percentage of quarrels

and fights is thus very materially lessened. A great drag on the poor

in China is the family tieinvolving as it does not only the support

of aged parentsbut a supply of rice to unclesbrothersand cousins

of remote degrees of relationshipduring such time as these may be

out of work. Of course such a system cuts both waysas the time may

come when the said relatives supplyin their turnthe daily meal;

and the support of parents in a land where poor-rates are unknownhas

tended to place the present high premium on male offspring. Thus

though there is a great deal of poverty in Chinathere is very little

absolute destitutionand the few wretched outcasts one does see in

every Chinese townare almost invariably the once opulent victims of

the opium-pipe or the gaming-table. The relative number of human

beings who suffer from cold and hunger in China is far smaller than in

Englandand in this all-important respectthe women of the working

classes are far better off than their European sisters. Wife-beating

is unknownthough power of life and death isunder certain

circumstancesvested in the husband (Penal CodeS. 293); whileon

the other handa wife may be punished with a hundred blows for merely

striking her husbandwho is also entitled to a divorce (Penal Code

S. 315). The truth isthat these poor women areon the wholevery

well treated by their husbandswhom they not unfrequently rule with

as harsh a tongue as that of any western shrew.

In the fanciful houses of the richthe Chinese woman is regarded with

even more sympathy by foreigners generally than is accorded to her

humbler fellow-countrywoman. She is represented as a mere ornamentor

a soullesslistless machine--something on which the sensual eye of

her opium-smoking lord may rest with pleasure while she prepares the

fumes which will waft him to another hour or so of tipsy

forgetfulness. She knows nothingshe is taught nothingnever leaves

the housenever sees friendsor hears the news; she is

consequentlydevoid of the slightest intellectual effortand no more

a companion to her husband than the stone dog at his front gate. Now

although we do not profess much personal acquaintance with the

/gynecee/ of any wealthy Chinese establishmentwe think we have

gathered quite enough from reading and conversation to justify us in

regarding the Chinese lady from an entirely different point of view.

In novelsfor instancethe heroine is always highly

educated--composes finished versesand quotes from Confucius; and it

is only fair to suppose that such characters are not purely and wholly

ideal. Besidesmost young Chinese girlswhose parents are well off

are taught to readthough it is true that many content themselves

with being able to read and write a few hundred words. They all learn

and excel in embroidery; the little knick-knacks which hang at every

Chinaman's waist-band being almost always the work of his wife or

sister. Visiting between Chinese ladies is of everyday occurrenceand

on certain fete-days the temples are crowded to overflowing with

"golden lilies"[*] of all shapes and sizes. They give littledinner-

parties to their female relatives and friendsat which they talk

scandaland brew mischief to their hearts' content. The first wife

sometimes quarrels with the secondand between them they make the

house uncomfortably hot for the unfortunate husband. "Don't you

foreigners also dread the denizens of the inner apartments?" said a

hen-pecked Chinaman one day to us--and we think he was consoled to

hear that viragos are by no means confined to China. One of the

happiest moments a Chinese woman knowsis when the family circle

gathers round husbandbrotheror it may be sonand listens with

rapt attention and wondering credulity to a favourite chapter from the

"Dream of the Red Chamber." She believes it every wordand wanders

about these realms of fiction with as much confidence as was ever

placed by western child in the marvellous stories of the "Arabian

Nights."

[*] A poetical name for the small feet of Chinese women.

 

 

ETIQUETTE

If there is one thing more than anotherafter the possession of the

thirteen classicson which the Chinese specially pride themselvesit

is /politeness/. Even had their literature alone not sufficed to place

them far higher in the scale of mental cultivation than the unlettered

barbariana knowledge of those important forms and ceremonies which

regulate daily intercourse between man and manunknown of course to

inhabitants of the outside nationswould have amply justified the

graceful and polished Celestial in arrogating to himself the proud

position he now occupies with so much satisfaction to himself. A few

inquiring natives ask if foreigners have any notion at all of

etiquetteand are always surprised in proportion to their ignorance

to hear that our ideas of ceremony are fully as clumsy and complicated

as their own. It must be well understood that we speak chiefly of the

educated classesand not of "boys" and compradores who learn in a

very short time both to touch their caps and wipe their noses on their

masters' pocket-handkerchiefs. Our observations will be confined to

members of that vast body of men who pore day and night over the

"Doctrine of the Mean" and whose lips would scorn to utter the

language of birds.

And truly if national greatness may be gauged by the mien and carriage

of its peopleChina is without doubt entitled to a high place among

the children of men. An official in full costume is a most imposing

figureand carries himself with great dignity and self-possession

albeit he is some four or five inches shorter than an average

Englishman. In this respect he owes much to his long dresswhichby

the waywe hope in course of time to see modified; but more to a

close and patient study of an art now almost monopolised in Europe by

aspirants to the triumphs of the stage. There is not a single awkward

movement as the Chinese gentleman bows you into his houseor supplies

you from his own hand with the cup of tea so necessaryas we shall

showto the harmony of the meeting. Not until his guest is seated

will the host venture to take up his position on the right hand of the

former; and even if in the course of an excited conversationeither

should raise himselfhowever slightlyfrom a sitting postureit

will be the bounden duty of the other to do so too. No gentleman would

sit while his equal stood. Occasionallywhere it is not intended to

be over-respectful to a visitora servant will bring in the teaone

cup in each hand. Then standing before his master and guesthe will

cross his armsserving the latter who is at his right hand with his

left handhis master with the right. The object of this is to expose

the palm--in Chinesethe /heart/--of either hand to each recipient of

tea. It is a token of fidelity and respect. The tea itself is called

"guest tea" and /is not intended for drinking/. It has a moreuseful

mission than that of allaying thirst. Alas for the red-haired

barbarian who greedily drinks off his cupful before ten words have

been exchangedand confirms the unfavourable opinion his host already

entertains of the manners and customs of the West! And yet a little

trouble spent in learning the quaint ceremonies of the Chinese would

have gained him much esteem as an enlightened and tolerant man. For

while despising us outwardlythe Chinese know well enough that

inwardly we despise themand thus it comes to pass that a voluntary

concession on our part to any of their harmless prejudices is always

gratefully acknowledged. To return"guest tea" is provided to beused

as a signal by either party that the interview is at an end. A guest

no sooner raises the cup to his lips than a dozen voices shout to his

chair-coolies; sotoowhen the master of the house is prevented by

other engagements from playing any longer the part of host. Without

previous warning--unusual except among intimate acquaintances--this

tea should never be touched except as a sign of departure.

Strangers meeting may freely ask each other their namesprovinces

and even prospects; it is not so usual as is generally supposed to

inquire a person's age. It is always a compliment to an old manwho

is justly proud of his yearsand takes the curious form of "your

venerable teeth?" but middle-aged men do not as a rule care about the

question and their answers can rarely be depended upon. A man may be

asked the number and sex of his children; also if his father and

mother are still "in the hall" i.e.alive. His wifehowevershould

never be alluded to even in the most indirect manner. Friends meeting

either or both being in sedan-chairsstop their bearers at onceand

get out with all possible expedition; the same rule applies to

acquaintances meeting on horseback. Spectacles must always be removed

before addressing even the humblest individual--sheer ignorance of

which most important custom has oftenwe imagineled to rudeness

from natives towards foreignerswhere otherwise extreme courtesy

would have been shown. In such cases a foreigner must yieldor take

the chances of being snubbed; and where neither self-respect or

national dignity is compromisedwe recommend him by all means to

adopt the most conciliatory course. Chinese etiquette is a wide field

for the studentand one whichwe thinkwould well repay extensive

and methodical exploration.

 

 

ETIQUETTENO. II

The disadvantages of ignoring alike the language and customs of the

Chinese are daily and hourly exemplified in the unsatisfactory

relations which exist as a rule between master and servant. That the

latter almost invariably despise their foreign patronsand are only

tempted to serve under them by the remunerative nature of the

employmentis a fact too well known to be contradictedthough why

this should be so is a question which effectually puzzles many who are

conscious of treating their native dependants only with extreme

kindness and consideration. The answerhoweveris not difficult for

those who possess the merest insight into the workings of the Chinese

mind; for just as every inhabitant of the eighteen provinces believes

China to be the centre of civilisation and powerso does he infer

that his language and customs are the only ones worthy of attention

from native and barbarian alike. The very antagonism of the few

foreign manners and habits he is obliged by his position to cultivate

tend rather to confirm him in his own sense of superiority than

otherwise. For who but a barbarian would defile the banquet hour "when

the wine mantles in the cups" with a /white/ table-cloththe badge of

grief and death? How much more elegant the soft /red/ lacquer of the

"eight fairy" tablewith all its associations of the bridal hour!The

hosttooat the /head/ of his own boardsitting in what should be

the seat of the most honoured guestand putting the latter on his

/right/ instead of his left hand! Truly these red-haired barbarians

are the very scum of the earth.

By the time he has arrived at this conclusion our native domestic has

by a direct process of reasoning settled in his mind another important

pointnamelythat any practice of the civilities and ceremonies

which Chinese custom exacts from the servant to the masterwould be

entirely out of place in reference to the degraded being whom an

accidental command of dollars has invested with the titlethough

hardly with the rightsof a patron. Consequentlylittle acts of

gross rudenessunperceived of course by the foreignercharacterise

the everyday intercourse of master and servant in China. The house-boy

presents himself for ordersand even waits at tablein short clothes

--an insult no Chinaman would dare to offer to one of his own

countrymen. He meets his master with his tail tied round his headand

passes him in the street without touching his hatthat iswithout

standing still at the side of the street until his master has passed.

He lolls about and scratches his head when receiving instructions

instead of standing in a respectful attitude with his hands at his

side in a state of rest; enters a room with his shoes down at heelor

without socks; omits to rise at the approach of his mastermistress

or their friendsand commits numerous other petty breaches of decorum

which would ensure his instant dismissal from the house of a Chinese

gentleman. We ourselves take a pride in making our servants treat us

with the same degree of outward respect they would show towards native

mastersand we believe that by strictly adhering to this system we

succeed in gainingto some extenttheir esteem. Inasmuchhowever

as foreign susceptibilities are easily shocked on certain points

ignored by Chinamen of no matter what social standingwe have found

it necessary to introduce a special Billknown in our domestic circle

as the Expectoration Act. Now it is a trite observation that the

Chinese make capital soldiers if they are well commandedand what is

the head of a large business establishment but the commander-in-chief

of a small army? The efficiency of his force depends far more upon the

moral agencies brought to bear than upon any system of rewards and

punishments human ingenuity can devise; for Chinamenlike other

mortalslove to have their prejudices respectedand fear of shame

and dread of ridicule are as deeply ingrained in their natures as in

those of any nation under the sun. They have a horror of blowsnot so

much from the pain inflictedas from the sense of injury done to

something more elevated than their mere corporeal frames; and a friend

of ours once lost a good servant by merelyin a hasty fit/throwing

a sock at him/. We therefore think thatconsidering the vast extent

of the Chinese empire and its innumerable populationall of whom are

constructed mentally more or less on the same modeltheir language

and customs are deserving of more attention than is generally paid to

them by foreigners in China.

 

 

LITERATURE

It is an almost universally-received creed that behind the suicidal

prejudices and laughable superstitions of the Chinese there is a

mysterious fund of solid learning hidden away in the uttermost

recesses--far beyond the ken of occidentals--of that /terra

incognita/Chinese literature. Sinologues darkly hint at elaborate

treatises on the various sciencesimpartial histories and candid

biographieslaying at the same time extraordinary stress on the

extreme difficulty of the language in which they are writtenand

carefully mentioning the number (sometimes fabulous) of the volumes of

which each is composed. Henceprobablyit results that few students

venture to push their reading beyond novelsand remain during the

whole of their career in a state of darkness as to that literary

wealth of China which enthusiasts delight to compare with her

unexplored mines of metal and coal. Inasmuchhoweveras it is not

absolutely necessary to read a book from beginning to end to be able

to form a pretty correct judgment as to its valuesomany students

who are sufficiently advanced to read a novel with ease and without

the help of a teachermight readily gain an insight into a large

enough number of the most celebrated scientific or historical works to

enable them to comprehend the true worth of the whole of this vast

literature. For vast it undoubtedly isthough our own humble efforts

to appraise it justlyin comparison of course with the other

literatures of the worldbrought upon us in the first hours of

discovery that some years of assiduous toil had been positively thrown

away. Sir W. Hamiltonif we recollect rightlysaid that by so many

more languages as a man knowsby so many more times is he a man--an

apophthegm of but a shallow kind if all he meant to convey was that an

Englishman who can speak French is also a Frenchman by virtue of his

knowledge of the colloquial. The opening up of new fields of thought

through the medium of a new literatureis a result more worthy the

effort of acquiring a foreign language than sparkling in a /salon/

with the purest imaginable accent; and herein Sir W. Hamilton counted

without Chinese. The greater portion of the "Classics" cherished

tomes to which China thinks even now she owes her intellectual

supremacy over the rest of the worldis open through Dr Legge's

translation to all Englishmenand those who run may readweighing it

in the balance and determining its status among the ethical systems

either of the past or present. Had we found as much that is solid in

other departments of Chinese literatureas there is mixed up with the

occasional nonsense and obscurity of the Four Booksour protest would

have taken a milder form; as it iswe think it right to condemn any

and all random assertions which tend to strengthen in the minds of

those who have no opportunity of judgingthe belief that China is

possessed of a vast and valuable literaturein whichfor aught any

one knows to the contrarythere may lie buried gems of purest ray

serene. Can it be supposed thatif truenothing of all this has yet

been brought to light? There have beenand are nowforeigners

possessing a much wider knowledge of Chinese literature than many

natives of educationbutstrange to saysuch translations as have

hitherto been given to the world have been chiefly confined to plays

and novels! We hold that all those whom tastes or circumstances have

led to acquire a knowledge of the Chinese language have a great duty

to performand this is to contribute each something to the scanty

quota of translations from Chinese now existing. Let us see what the

poetshistoriansand especially the scientific men of China have

produced to justify so many in speaking as they have doneand still

do speakof her bulky literature. Manywe thinkwill be deterred by

the grave nonsense or childish superstitions which they dare not

submit to foreign judges as the result of their labours in this

fantastic field; but to withhold such is to leave the public where it

was beforeat the mercy of unscrupulous or crazed enthusiasts.

We were led into this train of thought by an article in the /North

China Daily News/ of 10th July 1874in which the writer speaks of

China as "a luxuriant mental oasis amidst the sterility of Eastern

Asia" and "possessing a literature in vastness and antiquarianvalue

surpassed by no other." He goes on to say that the translations

hitherto made "have conveyed to us a faint notion of the compass

varietysolidityand linguistic beauties of that literature." Such

statements as these admitunfortunatelyof rhetorical support

sufficient to convince outsiders that at any rate there are two sides

to the questiona conviction which could only be effectually

dispelled by placing before them a few thousand volumes translated

into Englishand chosen by the writer of the article himself.[*]

Whenhoweverour enthusiast deals with more realisable factsand

says that in China "there is no organised book tradenor publishers'

circularsnor Quaritch's Cataloguesnor any other catalogues whether

of old or new books for sale" we can assure him he knows nothing at

all about the matter; that there is now lying on our table a very

comprehensive list of new editions of standard works lately published

at a large book-shop in Wu-chang Fuwith the price of each work

attached; and that Mr Wyliein his "Notes on Chinese Literature"

devotes five entire pages to the enumeration of some thirty well-known

and voluminous catalogues of ancient and modern works.

[*] Baron Johannes von Gumpach. Died at Shanghai31st July 1875.

 

 

EDUCATIONAL LITERATURE

A ramble through a native town in China must often have discovered to

the observant foreigner small collections of second-hand books and

pamphlets displayed on some umbrella-shaded stallor arranged less

pretentiously on the door-step of a temple. If innocent of all claims

to a knowledge of the written languagehe may take them for cheap

editions of Confuciuswith which literary chair-coolies are wont to

solace their leisure hours; at the worstsome of these myriad novels

of which he has heard so muchand read--in translations--so little.

It possibly never enters our barbarian's head that many of these

itinerant book-sellers are vendors of educational worksmuch after

the style of Pinnock's Catechisms and other such guides to knowledge.

Buying a handful the other day for a few cash[*] we were much amused

at the nature of the subjects therein discussedand the manner in

which they were treated. The first we opened was on Ethnology and

Zoologyand gave an account of the wonderful types of men and beasts

which exist in far-off regions beyond the pale of China and

civilisation. There was the long-legged nationthe people of which

have legs three /chang/ (thirty feet) long to support bodies of no

more than ordinary sizefollowed by a short account of a cross-legged

racea term which explains itself. We are next told of a country

where all the inhabitants have a large round hole right through the

middle of their bodiesthe officials and wealthy citizens being

easily and comfortably carried /a la/ sedan chair by means of a strong

bamboo pole passed through it. Then there is the feathered or bird

nationthe pictures of which people remind us very much of Lapps and

Greenlanders. A few lines are devoted to a pygmy race of nine-inch

menalso to a people who walk with their bodies at an angle of 45

degrees. There is the one-armed nationand a three-headed nation

besides fish-bodied and bird-headed representatives of humanity; last

but not least we have a race of beings without heads at alltheir

moutheyesnose&c.occupying their chests and pit of the stomach!

"And of the cannibals that each other eat

The Anthropophagiand men whose heads

Do grow beneath their shoulders."

The little work which contains the above valuable information was

published in 1783and has consequently been nearly one hundred years

before an enlightened and approving public.

[*] About 24 cash go to a penny.

Not to dwell upon the remaining portiondevoted to Zoologyand

containing wonderful specimens of various kinds of animals and birds

met with by travellers beyond the Four Seaswe would remark that the

geography of the worldnotwithstanding some very fair existing

treatisesis little studied by Chinese at the present day. More works

on topography have been written in Chinese than in probably any other

languagebut to say that even these are read is quite another matter.

Geographyproperly so calledis almost entirely neglectedand in a

rather extensive circle of literary acquaintancesit has never been

our fortune to meet with a single scholar acquainted with the useful

publications of Catholic or Protestant missionaries--the latter have

not contributed much--except perhaps the mutilated edition of

Verbiest's little handbook.

To describe one is to give a fair idea of all such native works for

the diffusion of knowledge. We found in our little parcel a complete

guide (save the mark!) to the /Fauna/ and /Flora/ of the Celestial

Empirebesides a treatise headed "Philosophy for the Young" inwhich

children are shown that to work for one's living is better than to be

idleand that the strength of three men is powerless against /Li/.

Now as /Li/ means "abstract right" and as it is an axiom ofChinese

philosophy that "right in the abstract" does existwe are gravely

informed that neither the moral or physical violence of any three men

acting in concert can hope to prevail against it. So much for the

state of education in China at the present daythe remedy for which

unwholesome condition will by no means readily be found. From time to

time a few scientific treatises are translated by ambitious members of

the missionary bodybut such only tend to swell the pastor's fame

amongst his own immediate flock: they do not advance civilisation one

single step. The very fact of their emanating from a missionary would

of itself be enough to deter the better class of Chinese from

purchasingor even accepting them as a gift.[*]

[*] "The principal priest . . . declined the gift of some Christian

books."--From /Glimpses of Travel in the Middle Kingdom/

published in the /Celestial Empire/ of July 3d1875.

 

 

DENTISTRY

Roaming in quest of novelty through that mine of marvelsa Chinese

citywe were a witness the other day of a strange but not uncommon

scene. We had halted in front of the stall of a street apothecary

surgeonand general practitionerand were turning over with our eyes

his stock of simplesdragons' teethtigers'-clawsand like drugs

used as ingredients in the native pharmacopoeiawhen along came a

manholding his hand up to his jawand apparently in great pain. He

sat down by the doctor and explained to him that he was suffering with

the toothacheto get rid of which he would like to have his tooth

removed. The doctor opened his patient's mouth and inspected the

aching tooth; then he took a small phial from his stock of medicines

and into the palm of his hand he shook a few scruples of a pink-

coloured powder. He next licked his finger and dipped it into the

powderand inserting this into the man's mouthrubbed it on the

aching tooth and gum. He repeated this three or four timesand then

concluded by turning the patient's head upside down; whento the no

small astonishment of many of the bystandersamong whom was

apparently the man himselfthe tooth dropped out and fell upon the

ground. The doctor then asked him if he had felt any painto which he

replied that he had notand the payment of a small fee brought the

/seance/ to a close. At our application the tooth was picked up and

very civilly exhibited to us by the owner himself; it was evidently

fresh from a human jawthough there had not been the slightest

effusion of blood from the man's mouth. The thought had naturally

suggested itself to us that the whole thing was a hoaxand that the

patient was an accomplice; but if sothe doctor was no novice at

sleight of handand the expression of astonishment on the other man's

face when he found his tooth gonewas as perfect a specimen of

histrionic emotion as it has ever been our lot to behold.

That night we had visions of a large establishment in Regent Street

with an enormous placard announcing "Painless Dentistry" over the

doorand crowds of dukes and duchesses mounting and descending our

stairs to have their teeth extracted by some mysterious process

imported from Chinaand known to ourselves alone. Next day we

proceeded to rummage through our Chinese medical library and see what

we could hunt up on the subject of dentistry. The result of this

search we generously offer to our readersthusperhapssacrificing

the chance of securing a colossal fortune.

In the "New Collection of Tried Prescriptions" a sort of domestic

medicine published for the use of families in cases of emergency when

no physician is at handwe find the following remarks:--

Method for Extracting Aching Teeth.

"A tooth ought not to be taken outfor by doing so the remaining

teeth will be loosened. If the pain is very acute and interferes

with eating or drinkingthen the tooth may be extracted;

otherwiseit should be left. Take a bream about ten ounces in

weightrip it open and insert 1/10 of an ounce of powdered

arsenic. Then sew up the body and hang it up in the wind where it

is not exposed to the sun or accessible to cats and rats. After

being thus hung for seven daysa kind of hoar-frost will have

formed upon the scales of the fish. Preserve thisusing for each

tooth about as much as covers one scale. When requiredspread it

on a piece of any kind of plasterpress it with the finger on to

the aching placeand let it stick there. Then let the patient

coughand the tooth will fall out of itself. This prescription

has been tested by Dr. Wang."

Another Method.

"Take a head of garlic and pound it up to a pulp. Mix it up

thoroughly with one or two candareens' weight of white dragon's

bonesand apply it to the suffering part. In a little while the

tooth will drop out."

It will be noticed that the above descriptions are neither without one

or other of two characteristics always to be found in the composition

of Chinese remedies. In the first recipethe ingredients are simple

enoughand all this is required is timeseven days being necessary

for its preparation. Nowas it is very unlikely that any one would

collect the "hoar-frost" deposit from the scales of a bream stuffed

with arsenicin anticipation of a future toothacheand as he would

probably have got well long before the expiration of the seven days if

he set to work to make his medicine only when the tooth began to ache

the genius of the physician and the efficacy of the recipe are alike

secure from attack. In the second casethe very existence of one of

the drugs mentioned isto say the leastapocryphal; and although

such can be purchased at the shops of native druggistsany complaint

on the part of a duped patient would be met by the simple answerthat

the white dragon's bones he bought could not possibly have been

genuine!

A few days after the above incidentwe returned to the dentist's

stalland asked him if he had any powder that would draw out a tooth

by mere application to the gum or to the tooth itself? He replied that

such a powder certainly existedand was commonly manufactured in all

parts of Chinabut that he himself was out of it at the moment. He

addedthat if we would call again on the 4th of the 4th moonbefore

12 o'clock in the dayhe should be in a position to satisfy our

demands.

In conclusionwe append a quotation from the /China Review/which

appeared in print after our own sketch was written:--

"Despite the oft-repeated assertion as to painlessor at least

easydentistry in Chinavery few people seem prepared to admit

that teeth are constantly extracted in the way described by (I

think) a former correspondent of the /Review/. He stated that a

white powder was rubbed on the gums of the patientafter which

the tooth was easily pulled from its socket; and this I can

substantiatenotinghoweverthat the action of the powder

(corrosive sublimate) is not quite so rapid as represented. A

short time since I witnessed an operation of this kind. The

operator rubbed the powder on the gum as describedbut then

directed the patient to wait a little. After perhaps ten minutes'

intervalhe again rubbed the gumand thenintroducing his thumb

into the mouthpressed heavily against the tooth (which was a

large molar). The man winced for a second as I heard the 'click'

of the separationbut almost before he could cry outthe dentist

gripped the tooth with his forefinger and thumband with very

little violence pulled it out. The gum bled considerablyand I

examined the tooth so as to satisfy myself that there was no

deception. It had an abscess at the root of the fangand was

undoubtedly what it professed to be. When the operation was over

the patient washed his mouth out with /cold/ waterpaid fifteen

cash and departed."

 

 

MEDICAL SCIENCE

In spite of the glowing reports issued annually from various foreign

hospitals for nativesand the undeniable goodthough desultory and

practically infinitesimalthat is being worked by these institutions

we cannot blind ourselves to the fact that western medical science is

not making more rapid strides than many other innovations in the great

struggle against Chinese prejudice and distrust. By far the majority

of our servants and those natives who come most in contact with

foreigners never dream of consulting a European doctor; or if they do

that is quite as much as can be saidfor we may pronounce it a fact

that they never take either his advice or his medicine. They still

prefer to appear with large dabs of green plaster stuck on either

templeand to drink loathsome concoctions of marvellous drugs

compounded according to eternal principles laid down many centuries

ago. In serious caseswhen they employ their own doctorsthey are

apt to markas Bacon saidthe hits but not the misses; and failure

of human skill is generally regarded as resulting from the

interposition of divine will. Directlyhowevera foreigner comes

upon the scene they forget at once that medicine is an uncertain

scienceand expect not only a sure but an almost instantaneous

recovery; andunfortunatelya single failure is quite enough to undo

the good of many months of successful practice. One Chinaman bitterly

complained to us of a foreign doctorand sweepingly denounced the

whole system of western treatmentbecause the practitioner alluded to

had failed to cure his motheraged eightyof a very severe paralytic

stroke. A certain percentage of natives are annually benefited by

advice and medicineboth of which are provided gratisand go home to

tell the news and exhibit themselves as living proofs of the /foreign

devils'/ skill; but in many instances their friends either believe

that magical arts have been brought to bearor that after all a

Chinese doctor would have treated the case with equal successand

accordingly the number of patients increases in a ratio very

disproportionate to the amount of good really effected. Besidesif

faith in European doctors was truly spreading to any great extentwe

should hear of wealthy Chinamen regularly calling them in and

contributing towards the income of those now in full practice at the

Treaty ports. It is absurd to point to isolated cases in a nation of

several hundred millionsand argue that progress is being made

because General This or Prefect That consented to have an abscess

lanced by a foreign surgeonand sent him a flowery letter of thanks

with a couple of Chinese hams after the operation. The Chinese as a

people laugh at our medical scienceandwe are bound to saywith

some show of justice on their side. They have a medical literature of

considerable extentand though we may condemn it wholesale as a

farrago of utter nonsenseit is not so to the Chinesewho fondly

regard their knowledge in this branch of science as one among many

precious heirlooms which has come down to them from times of the

remotest antiquity.

We alluded in the last Sketch to a work in eight small volumes called

"New Collection of Tried Prescriptions" a book which answers toour

"Domestic Medicine" and professes to supply well-authenticated

remedies for some of the most common ills that flesh is heir to. This

book gives a fair idea of the principles and practice of medical

science in China. It is divided into sections and subdivided into

chapters under such headings as the /eye/the /teeth/the /hand/

the /leg/&c. &c. We gave a specimen of the prescriptions herein

brought together in our late remarks upon the methods of extracting

teethbut it would be doing an injustice to the learning of its

author if we omitted to point out that in this book remedies are

providednot only for such simple complaints as chilblains or the

stomach-achebut for all kinds of serious complications arising from

the evil influence of demons or devils. One whole chapter is devoted

to "Extraordinary Diseases" and teaches anxious relatives to give

instant relief in cases of "the face swelling as big as a peck

measureand little men three feet long appearing in the eyes."

"Seeing one thing as if it were two" would hardly be classed by

London doctors as an extraordinary diseaseand is not altogether

unknown even amongst foreigners in China. "Seeing things upside down

after drinking wine" belongs in the same categoryand may be cited

in proof of a position take up by most observersnamelythat the

Chinese are a sober people. "Seeing kaleidoscopic views which turn to

beautiful women" "the flesh becoming hard as a stone and sounding

like a bell when tapped" "objecting to eat in company" andsuch

diseases have each a special prescription offered by the learned Dr

Wang with the utmost gravityand accepted in good faith by many a

confiding patient.

Chinamen look with suspicion on the sober treatment of the Westwhere

no joss-stick is burntand no paper money is offered on the altar of

some favourite P'u-sa; thoughif they knew the whole truththey

would discover that intercessory prayers for the recovery of sick

persons are considered by many of us to be of equal importance with

the administration of pills and draughts. Furtherlike our own

agricultural classesthey have no faith in medicine of any kind which

does not make its presence felt not only quickly but powerfully. This

last desire was amply fulfilled in the case of one poor coolie who

applied to an acquaintance of ours for some foreign medicine to cure a

sick headache and bilious attack from which he was suffering. Our

friend immediately bethought himself of a Seidlitz powder; but when

all was readythe acid in one wine-glass of water and the salt in

anotherthe devil entered into himand he gave them to his victim to

drink one after the other. The result was indescribablefor the

mixture /fizzed inside/and the unfortunate coolie passed such a

/mauvais quart d'heure/ as effectually to cure his experimenting

master from any further indulgence in practical jokes of so extremely

dangerous a nature.

 

 

MEDICAL SCIENCENO. II

Luxuriating in the "mental oasis" of Chinese literature in general

and the "New Collection of Tried Prescriptions" in particularwehave

been tempted to carry our researches still further in that last-

mentioned valuable work. It would have been sufficient to establish

the reputation of any European treatise on medical science had it

contained one such simple and efficacious method for extracting teeth

as we gave in our chapter on Dentistry; but Chinese readers are not so

easily satisfiedand it takes something more than mere remedies for

coughscoldslumbagoor the goutto ensure a man a foremost place

among the Galens of China. Even a chapter on "ExtraordinaryDiseases"

marvellous indeed in the eyes of the sceptical barbarianis not

enough for the hungry native mind; and nothing less than a whole

section of the most miraculous remedies and antidotesfor and against

all kinds of unheard-of diseases and poisonswould suffice to stamp

the author as a man of geniusand his work as the offspring of

successful toil in the fields of therapeutic science. Thus it comes

about that the author of the "New Collection of TriedPrescriptions"

gathers together at the close of his last volume such items of

experience in his professional career as he has not been able to

introduce into the body of his bookand from this chapter we purpose

to glean a few of the most striking passages.

To begin with: Mr Darwin will be delighted to hearif this should

ever meet his eyethat the growth of tails among mankind in China is

not limited to the appendage of hair which reposes gracefully on the

backand saturates with grease the outer garment of every high or low

born Celestial. Elongation of the spine isat any ratecommon enough

for Dr Wang to treat it as a disease and specify the remedywhich

consists in tying a piece of medicated thread tightly round itand

tightening the thread from time to time until the tail drops off. In

orderhoweverto guard against its growing againa course of

medicine has to be takenwhereby any little irregularities of the

/yin/ or female principle[*] may be correctedand the unpleasant

tendency at once and for ever checked.

[*] The symbol of the /yin/ and the /yang/or male and female

principleshas been used in the beading of the cover to this

volume. The dark half is the /yin/the other the /yang/.

We then come to elaborate directions for the extirpation of all kinds

of parasiteswhite antsmosquitoes&c.; but judging from the

plentiful supply of such pests in every part of Chinawe can only

conclude that the natives are apathetic as regards these triflesand

do not suffer the same inconvenience therefrom as the more delicately-

nurtured barbarian. The next heading would somewhat astonish us

accustomed as we are to the vagaries of Chinese book-makerswere it

not that the section upon which we are engaged is supposed to contain

"miscellaneous" prescriptionswhich may include anythingthoughit

is a somewhat abrupt transition for a grave medical work to pass from

the destruction of insects to a remedy against /fires/!

"Take three fowl's-eggsand write at the big end of each the word

/warm/at the small end the word /beautiful/. Then throw them singly

to the spot where the fire is burning brightestuttering all the time

'fooshefahrunfooshefahrun.' The fire will then go out." There are

several other methodsbut perhaps this one will be found to answer

the purpose.

Further on we find a most practicable way for pedestrians of

discovering the right direction to pursue at a cross road. "Carry with

you a live tortoiseand when you come to a cross road and do not know

which one to chooseput down the tortoise and follow it. Thus you

will not go wrong." For people who are afraid of seeing bogies at

nightthe following is recommended:--"With the middle finger of the

right hand trace on the palm of the left hand the words /I am a

devil/and close your hand up tight. You will then be able to travel

without fear." Sea-sickness may be prevented by drinking the drippings

from a bamboo punt-pole mixed with boiling wateror by inserting a

lump of burnt mortar from a stove into the hairwithout letting

anybody know it is there; also by writing the character /earth/ on the

palm of the hand previous to going on board ship. Ivory may be cleaned

to look like new by using the whey of bean-curdand rice may be

protected from weevils and maggots by inserting the shell of a crab in

the place where it is kept. The presence of bad air in wells may be

detected by letting a fowl's feather drop down; if it falls straight

the air is pure; if it circles round and roundpoisonous. Danger may

be averted by throwing in a quantity of hot vinegar before descending.

A fire may be kept alight from three to five days without additional

fuel by merely putting a walnut among the live ashes; and a method is

also given to make a candle burn many hours with hardly any

perceptible decrease in size.

We close Dr Wang's "New Collection of Tried Prescriptions" with

mingled feelings of admiration and regret: admirationnot indeed for

the genius of its authoror any new light which may have been let in

upon us during our study of this section of the "mental oasis" of

Chinese literaturebut for the indomitable energy and skill of those

who have helped to emancipate us from similar trammels of ignorance

and folly; regretthat a nation which carries within its core the

germs of a transcendent greatness should still remain sunk in the

lowest depths of superstitious gloom.

 

 

LOAN SOCIETIES

In a country where money is only obtainable at such an exorbitant rate

of interest as in Chinait is but natural that some attempt should be

made to obviate the necessity of appealing to a professional money-

lender. Three per cent. per month is the maximum rate permitted by

Chinese lawwhich cannot be regarded as excessive if the full risk of

the lender is taken into consideration. He has the security of one or

more "middlemen" generally shopkeepers whose solvency is

unimpeachable; but these gentlemen mayand often dorepudiate their

liability without deigning to explain either why or wherefore. His

course is then not so plain as it ought to be under a system of

government which has had some two thousand years to mature. Creditors

as well as debtors shun the painted portals of the magistrate's

yamen[*] as they would the gates of hell. Above them is traced the

same desperate legend that frightened the soul of Dante when he stood

before the entrance to the infernal regions. Truly there is no hope

for those who enter here. Both sides are /squeezed/ by the gate-keeper

--a very lucrative post in all yamens--before they are allowed to

present their petitions. It then becomes necessary for plaintiff and

defendant alike to go through the process of (in Peking slang) "making

a slit" i.e.making a present of money to the magistrate and his

subordinates proportionate to the interests involved. In many yamens

there is a regular scale of chargesanswering to our Table of Fees

but this is almost always exceeded in practice. The case is then

heard: occasionallyon its merits. We say occasionallybecause nine

times out of ten one of the parties bids privately for the benefit of

his honour's good opinions. Sometimes both suitors do thisand then

judgment is knocked down to the highest bidder. The loser departs

incontinently cursing the law and its myrmidons to the very top of his

bentand perhaps meditating an appeal to a higher courtfrom which

he is only deterred by prospects of further expense and repeated

failure. As to the successful litiganthe would go on his way

rejoicingbut that he has a duty to perform before which he is not a

free man. The "slit" he made on entering the yamen needs to be

repairedand on him devolves the necessity of "sewing it up." The

case is then at an endand the prophecy fulfilledwhich says:--

"The yamen doors are open wide

To those with /money/ on their side."

[*] Official and private residenceall in one.

Wiser and more determined creditors take the law into their own hands.

With a tea-pota pipeand a mattressthey proceed to the shop of

the recalcitrant debtor or security as circumstances may dictateand

there take up their abode until the amount is paid. If inability to

meet the debt has been pleadedthen this self-made bailiff will

insist on taking so much per cent. out of the daily receipts; if it is

a mere case of obstinacya desire to shirk a just responsibilitythe

place is made so hot for its owner that he is glad to get rid of his

visitor at any price whatever. Were manual violence resorted tothe

interference of the local officials would be absolutely necessary; and

in all cases where personal injuries are an elementtheir action is

not characterised by the same tyranny and corruption as where only

property is at stake. The chances are that the aggressor would come

off worst.

To protect themselveshoweverfrom such a prohibitive rate of usury

as that mentioned aboveChinese merchants are in the habit of

combining together and forming what are called Loan Societies for the

mutual benefit of all concerned. Such a society may be started in the

first instance by a deposit of so much per memberwhich sumin the

absence of a volunteeris handed over to a managerelected by a

throw of dicewhose business it is to lay out the money during the

ensuing month to the best possible advantage. Frequently one of the

membersbeing himself in want of fundswill undertake the job; and

hein common with all managersis held responsible for the safety of

the loan. At the end of the month there is a meeting at which the past

manager is bound to produce the entire sum entrusted to his charge

together with any profits that may have accrued meanwhile. Another

member volunteersor is elected managerand so the thing goes ona

running fund from which any member may borrowpaying interest at a

very low rate indeed. Dividends are never declaredand consequently

some of these clubs are enormously rich; but any member is at liberty

to withdraw whenever he likesand he takes with him his share of all

moneys in the hands of the Society at the moment of his retirement. To

outsidersthe market rate of interest is chargedor perhaps a trifle

lessbut loans are only made upon the very best securities.

 

 

GUILDS

In every large Chinese city are to be found several spacious buildings

which are generally reckoned among the sights of the placeand are

known by foreigners under the name of guilds. Globe-trotters visit

themand admire the maximum of gold-leaf crowded into the minimum of

spacetheir huge idolsand curious carving; of course passing over

those relics which the natives themselves prize most highlynamely

sketches and scrolls painted or written by the hand of some departed

celebrity. Foreign merchants regard them with a certain amount of awe

for they are often made to feel keenly enough the influence which

these institutions exert over every branch of trade. They come into

being in the following manner. If traders from any given province

muster in sufficient numbers at any of the great centres of commerce

they club together and form a guild. A general subscription is first

leviedland is boughtand the necessary building is erected.

Regulations are then drawn upand the tariff on goods is fixedfrom

which the institution is to derive its future revenue. For all the

staples of trade there are usually separate guildsmixed

establishments being comparatively rare. It is the business of the

members as a body to see that each individual contributes according to

the amount of merchandise which passes through his handsand the

books of suspected defaulters are often examined at a moment's notice

and without previous warning. The guild protects its constituents from

commercial frauds by threatening the accused with legal proceedings

which an individual plaintiff would never have dared to suggest; and

the threat is no vain one when a mandarinhowever tyrannical and

rapaciousfinds himself opposed by a body of united and resolute men.

On the other handthese guilds deal fairly enough with their own

membersand not only refuse to support a bad casebut insist on just

and equitable dealings with the outside world. To them are frequently

referred questions involving nice points of law or customand one of

the chief functions of a guild is that of a court of arbitration. In

addition to this they fix the market rates of all kinds of produce

and woe be to any one who dares to undersell or otherwise disobey the

injunctions of the guild. If recalcitranthe is expelled at once from

the fraternityand should his hour of need arrive he will find no

helping hand stretched out to save him from the clutches of the law.

But if he acknowledgesas he almost always doeshis breach of faith

he is punished according to the printed rules of the corporation. On a

large strip of red paper his name and address are writtenthe offence

of which he has been convictedand the fine which the guild has

determined to impose. This latter generally takes the form of a dinner

to all membersto be held on some appointed day and accompanied by a

theatrical entertainmentafter which the erring brother is admitted

as before to the enjoyment of those rights and privileges he would

otherwise infallibly have lost.

On certain occasionssuch as the birthday of a patron saintthe

guild spends large sums from the public purse in providing a banquet

for its members and hiring a theatrical troupewith their everlasting

tom-tomsto perform on the permanent stage to be found in every one

of these establishments. The Anhui men celebrate the birthday of Chu

Hsithe great commentatorwhose scholarship has won eternal honours

for his native province; Swatow men hold high festival in memory of

Han Wen-Kungwhose name is among the brightest on the page of Chinese

history. All day long the fun goes onand as soon as it begins to

grow dusk innumerable paper lanterns are hung in festoons over the

whole building. The crowd increasesfarce succeeds farce without a

moment's intervaland many a kettle of steaming wine warms up the

spectators to the proper pitch of enthusiasm and delight. Before

midnight the last song has been sunga considerable number of people

have quietly dispersed without accident of any kindand the courtyard

of the guild is once more deserted and still.

It is open to any trader to join the particular institution which

represents his own province or trade without being either proposed

secondedor balloted for. He is expected to make some present to the

resources of the guildin the shape of a new set of glass lanternsa

pair of valuable scrollssome new tableschairsor in fact anything

that may be needed for either use or ornament. Should he be in want of

moneya loan will generally be issued to him even on doubtful

security. Should he die in an impoverished conditiona coffin is

always providedthe expenses of burial undertakenand his wife and

children sent to their distant homewith money voted for that purpose

at a general meeting of the members. Were it not for the action of

these guilds in regard to firelife and property in Chinese cities

would be more in danger than is now the case. Each one has its own

fire-enginewhich is brought out at the first alarmno matter where

or whose the building attacked. If belonging to one of themselvesmen

are posted round the scene of the conflagration to prevent looting on

the part of the crowdand the efforts of the brigade are stimulated

by the reflection that their position and that of the present

sufferers may at any moment be reversed. Picked men are appointed to

perform the most important task of allthat of rescuing from the

flames relics more precious to a respectable Chinaman than all the

jade that K'un-kang has produced. For it often happens that an

obstructive geomancer will reject site after site for the interment of

some deceased relativeor perhaps that the day fixed upon as a lucky

one for the ceremony of burial may be several months after death.

Meanwhile a fire breaks out in the house where the body lies in its

massiveair-tight coffinand all is confusion and uproar. The first

thought is for the corpse; but who is to lift such a heavy weight and

carry it to a place of safety without the dreaded joltingalmost as

painful to the survivors as would be cremation itself? Such harrowing

thoughts are usually cut short by the entrance of six or eight sturdy

men from the nearest guildwhoarmed with the necessary ropes and

polesbear away the coffin through flame and smoke with the utmost

gentleness and care.

 

 

PAWNBROKERS

Few probably among our readers have had much experience on the subject

of the present sketch--a Chinese pawnshop. Indeedfor others than

students of the manners and customs of Chinathere is not much that

is attractive in these haunts of poverty and vice. The same mighty

miserywhich is to be seen in England passing in and out of

mysterious-looking doors distinguished by a swinging sign of three

golden ballsis not wanting to the pawnshop in Chinathough the act

of pledging personal property in order to raise money is regarded more

in the light of a business transaction than it is with usand less as

one which it is necessary to conceal from the eyes of the world at

large. Nothing is more common than for the owner of a large wardrobe

of furs to pawn them one and all at the beginning of summer and to

leave them there until the beginning of the next winter. The

pawnbrokers in their own interest take the greatest care of all

pledgeswhichif not redeemedwill become their own property

though they repudiate all claims for damage done while in their

possession; and the owner of the goods by payment of the interest

charged is released from all trouble and annoyance.

Pawnshops in China are divided into three classesone of which has

since the days of the T'ai-p'ings totally disappeared from all parts

over which the tide of rebellion passed. This is the /tien tang/

where property could be left for three years without forfeitand to

establish which it was necessary to obtain special authority from the

Board of Revenue in Peking. At present there are the /chih tang/ and

the /ssu ya/both common to all parts of Chinaand to these we shall

confine our remarks. The formerwhich may be considered as the

pawnshop properis a private institution as far as its business is

concernedbut licensed on payment of a small fee by the local

officialsand regulated in its workings by certain laws which emanate

from the Emperor himself. A limit of sixteen months is assigned

within which pledges must be redeemed or they become the property of

the pawnbroker; and the interest chargedformerly four per cent.is

now fixed at three per cent. /per month/. Before the license above-

mentioned can be obtainedsecurity must be provided for the existence

of sufficient capital to guard against a sudden or a fraudulent

collapse. For any article not forthcoming when the owner desires to

redeem itdouble the amount of the original loan is recoverable from

the pawnbroker. Should any owner of a pledge chance to lose his ticket

by theft or otherwisehe may proceed to the pawnshop with two

substantial securitiesand if he can recollect the numberdateand

amount of the transactionanother ticket is issued to him with which

he may recover his property at onceor at any time within the

original sixteen months. Pawn-tickets are not unseldom offered as

pledgesand are readily receivedas the loan is never more than half

the value of the deposit; and tickets thus obtained are often sold

either to a third person or perhaps to the pawnbroker who issued them

in the first instance. Formerlywhen the interest payable was four

per cent. per monthit was a standing rule that during the last three

months in every yeari.e.the winter seasonpledges might be

redeemed at a diminished rateso that poor people should have a

better chance of getting back their wadded clothes to protect them

from the inclemency of frost and cold. But since the rate of interest

has been reduced to three per cent. this custom has almost passed

away; its observance ishoweversometimes called for by a special

proclamation of the local magistrate when the necessaries of life are

unusually dearand the times generally are bad. The following is a

translation of a ticket issued by one of these shopswhich may often

be recognised in a Chinese city by the character for /pawn/ painted on

an enormous scale in some conspicuous position:--"In accordance with

instructions from the authoritiesinterest will be charged at the

rate of three per cent. [per month] for a period of sixteen monthsat

the expiration of which the pledgeif not redeemedwill become the

property of the pawnbrokerto be disposed of as he shall think fit.

All damages to the deposit arising from warthe operations of nature

insectsratsmildew&c.to be accepted by both sides as the will

of Heaven. Deposits will be returned on presentation of the proper

ticket without reference to the possession of it by the applicant."

Besides thisthe name and address of the pawnshopa number

description of the article pledgedamount lentand finally the date

are entered in their proper places upon the ticketwhich is stamped

as a precaution against forgery with the private stamp of the

pawnshop. Jewels are not received as pledgesand gold and silver only

under certain restrictions.

The other class is not recognised by the authoritiesand its very

existence is illegalthough of course winked at by a venial

executive. Shops of this kindwhich may be known by the character for

/keep/are very much frequented by the poor. A more liberal loan is

obtainable than at the licensed pawnbroker'sbut on the other hand

the rate of interest charged is very much more severe. Pledges are

only received for three monthsand on the ticket issued there is no

stipulation about damage to the deposit. No satisfaction is to be got

in case of fraud or injustice to either side: a magistrate would

refuse to hear a case either for or against one of these unlicensed

shops. They carry on their trade in daily fear of the rowdies who

infest every Chinese towngranting loans to these ruffians on

valueless articleswhich in many cases are returned without payment

either of interest or principalthereby securing themselves from the

disturbances which "bare poles" who have nothing to lose are ever

ready to create at a moment's noticeand which would infallibly hand

them over to the clutches of hungry and rapacious officials. The

counters over which all business is transacted are from six to eight

feet highstrongly madeand of such a nature that to scale them

would be a very difficult matterand to grab anything with the view

of making a bolt for the street utterly and entirely impossible. In a

Chinese citywhere there is no police force to look after the safety

of life and propertyand where everybody prefers to let a thief pass

rather than risk being called as a witness before the magistrateit

becomes necessary to guard against such contingencies as these. As

things are nowpawnshops may be considered the most flourishing

institutions in the country; and in these establishments many even of

the highest officials invest savings squeezed from the districts

entrusted to their paternal care.

 

 

POSTAL SERVICE

Many residents in China are profoundly ignorant of the existence of a

native postal service; and even the few who have heard of such an

institutionare not aware of the comparative safety and speed with

which even a valuable letter may be forwarded from one end of the

Empire to the other. Government despatches are conveyed to their

destinations by a staff of men specially employed for the purposeand

under the control of the Board of War in Peking. They ride from

station to station at a fair paceconsidering the sorryill-fed nags

upon which they are mounted; important documents being often carried

to great distancesat a rate of two hundred miles a-day. The people

howeverare not allowed to avail themselves of this means of

communicationbut the necessities of trade have driven them to

organise a system of their own.

In any Chinese town of any pretensions whateverthere are sure to be

several "letter offices" each monopolising one or more provincesto

and from which they make it their special business to convey letters

and small parcels. The safety of whatever is entrusted to their care

is guaranteedand its value made good if lost; at the same timethe

contents of all packets must be declared at the office where posted

so that a corresponding premium may be charged for their transmission.

The letter-carriers travel chiefly on footsometimes on donkeysto

be found on all the great highways of Chinaand which run with

unerring accuracy from one station to anotherunaccompanied by any

one except the hirer. There is little danger of the donkeys being

stolenunless carried off bodilyfor heaven and earth could no more

move them from their beaten track than the traveller whodesirous of

making two stages without haltingcould induce them to pass the door

of the station they have just arrived at. Carrying about eighty or

ninety pounds weight of mail matterthese men trudge along some five

miles an hour till they reach the extent of their tether; there they

hand over the bag to a fresh manwho starts offno matter at what

hour of the day or nightand regardless of good or bad weather alike

till he too has quitted himself of his responsibility by passing on

the bag to a third man. They make a point of never eating a full meal;

they eat themselvesas the Chinese saysix or seven tenths full

taking food as often as they feel at all hungryand thus preserve

themselves from getting broken-winded early in life. Recruited from

the strongest and healthiest of the working-classesit is above all

indispensable that the Chinese letter-carrier should not be afraid of

any ghostly enemysuch as bogies or devils. In this respect they must

be tried men before they are entrusted with a mail; for an ordinary

Chinaman is so instinctively afraid of night and darknessthat the

slightest rustle by the wayside would be enough to make him fling down

the bag and take to his heels as if all the spirits of darkness had

been loosed upon him at one and the same moment.

The scale of charges is very low. The cost of sending a letter from

Peking to Hankow--650 milesas the crow flies--being no more than

eight centsor four pence. About thirty per cent. of the postage is

always paid by the senderto secure the office against imposition and

loss; the balance is recoverable from the person to whom the letter is

addressed. These offices are largely used by merchants in the course

of tradeand bills of exchange are constantly being thus sentwhile

the banks forward the foil or other half to the house on which it is

drawnreceipt of which is necessary before the draft can be cashed.

Such documentstogether with small packets of syceemake up a

tolerably valuable bagand would often fall a prey to the highwaymen

which infest many of the provincesbut that most offices anticipate

these casualties by compounding for a certain annual sum which is paid

regularly to the leader of the gang. For this blackmail the robbers of

the district not only agree to abstain from pilfering themselvesbut

also to keep all others from doing so too. The arrangement suits the

local officials admirablyas they escape those pains and penalties

which would be exacted if it came to be known that their rule was too

weakand their example powerless to keep the district free from the

outrages of thieves and highwaymen. Large firmswhich supply carts to

travellers between given pointsare also often in the habit of

contracting with the brigands of the neighbourhood for the safe

passage of their customers. In some parts soldiers are told off by the

resident military officials to escort travellers who leave the inns

before daybreakuntil there is enough light to secure them against

the dangers of a sudden attack. In othersthere are bands of trained

men who hire themselves out in companies of three to five to convey a

string of carts with their dozen passengers across some dangerous part

of the countrywhere it is known that foot-pads are on the look-out

for unwary travellers. The escort consists of this small number only

for the reason that each man composing it is supposed to be equal to

five or six robbersnot in mere strengthbut in agility and

knowledge of sword-exercise. To accustom themselves to the attacks of

numbersand to acquire the requisite skill in fighting more than one

adversary at a timethese men practise in the following remarkable

manner. In a lofty barn heavy bags of sand are hung in a circle by

long ropes to the roofand in the middle of these the student takes

up his position. He then strikes one of the bags a good blow with his

fistsending it flying to a distance from himanother in the same

waythen anotherand so on until he has them all swinging about in

every possible direction. By the time he has hit two or three it is

time to look out for the return of the firstand sometimes two will

come down on him at once from opposite quarters; his part is to be

ready for all emergenciesand keep the whole lot swinging without

ever letting one touch him. If he fails in thishe must not aspire to

escort a traveller over a lonesome plain; andbesidesthe ruthless

sand-bag will knock him head over heels into the bargain.

 

 

SLANG

Although native scholars in China have not deemed it worth while to

compile such a work as the "Slang Dictionary" it is no less a fact

that slang occupies quite as important a position in Chinese as in any

language of the West. Thieves have their /argot/as with us

intelligible only to each other; and phrases constantly occureven in

refined conversationthe original of which can be traced infallibly

to the kennel. /Why so much paint?/ is the equivalent of /What a swell

you are!/ and is specially expressive in Chinawhere beneath a

flowered blue silk robe there often peeps out a pair of salmon-

coloured inexpressibles of the same costly material. /They have put

down their barrows/means that certain men have struck workand is

peculiarly comprehensible in a country where so much transport is

effected in this laborious way. Barrows are common all over the

Empireboth for the conveyance of goods and passengers; and where

long distances have to be traverseddonkeys are frequently harnessed

in front. The traditional sail is also occasionally used: we ourselves

have seen barrows running before the wind between Tientsin and Taku

of course with a man pushing behind. /The children have official

business/is understood to mean they are laid up with the small-pox;

the metaphor implying that their /turn/ has comejust as a turn of

official duty comes round to every Manchu in Pekingand in the same

inevitable way. Vaccination is gradually dispelling this erroneous

notionbut the phrase we have given is not likely to disappear.

A magistrate who has /skinned the place clean/has extorted every

possible cash from the district committed to his charge--a "father and

mother" of the peopleas his grasping honour is called. /That horse

has a mane/says the Chinese housebreakerspeaking of a wall well

studded at the top with pieces of broken glass or sharp iron spikes.

/You'll have to sprinkle so much water/urges the friend who advises

you to keep clear of lawlikening official greed to dustwhich

requires a liberal outlay of water in the shape of banknotes to make

it lie. A /flowery bill/ is understood from one end of China to the

other as that particular kind in which our native servants delight to

indulgenamelyan account charging twice as much for everything as

was really paidand containing twice as much in quantity as was

actually supplied. A /flowery suit/ is a case in which women play a

prominent part. /You scorched me yesterday/ is a quiet way of

remarking that an appointment was brokenand implying that the rays

of the sun were unpleasantly hot. /Don't pick out the sugar/ is a very

necessary injunction to a servant sent to market to buy food&c.the

metaphor being taken from a kind of sweet dumpling consumed in great

quantities by rich and poor alike. Another phrase is/Don't ride the

donkey/which may be explained by the proverbial dislike of Chinamen

for walking exerciseand the temptation to hire a donkeyand squeeze

the fare out of the money given them for other purposes. /That house

is not clean inside/signifies that devils and bogiesso dreaded by

the Chinesehave taken up their residence therein; in factthat the

house is haunted. /He's all rice-water/i.e.gives one plenty of the

water in which rice has been boiledbut none of the rice itselfis

said of a man who promises much and does nothing. /One load between

the two/ is very commonly said of two men who have married two

sisters. In Chinaa coolie's "load" consists of two baskets or

bundles slung with ropes to the end of a flat bamboo pole about five

feet in lengthand thus carried across the shoulder. Hence the

expression. Apropos of marriage/the guitar string is broken/is an

elegant periphrasis by which it is understood that a man's wife is

deadthe verb "to die" being rarely used in conversationandnever

of a relative or friend. He will not /put a new string to his guitar/

isof coursea continuation of the same ideamore coarsely

expressed as /putting on a new coat/. His father has been /gathered to

the west/--a phrase evidently of Buddhistic import--/is no morehas

gone for a strollhas bid adieu to the world/may all be employed to

supply the place of the tabooed verbwhich is chiefly used of animals

and plants. After a few days' illness /he kicked/is a vulgar way of

putting it and analogous to the English slang idiom. The Emperor

/becomes a guest on high/riding up to heaven on the dragon's back

with flowers of rhetoric ad nauseam; Buddhist priests /revolve into

emptiness/i.e.are annihilated; the soul of the Taoist priest

/wings its flight away/.

/Only a candle-end left/ is said of an affair which nears completion;

/red/ and /white matters/ are marriages and deathsso called from the

colour of the clothes worn on these important occasions. A blushing

person /fires up/or literally/ups fire/according to the Chinese

idiom. To be fond of /blowing/ resembles our modern term /gassing/. A

/lose-money-goods/ is a daughter as compared with a son who can go out

in the world and earn moneywhereas a daughter must be provided with

a dowry before any one will marry her. A more genuine metaphor is a

/thousand ounces of silver/; it expresses the real affection Chinese

parents have for their daughters as well as their sons. To /let the

dog out/ is the same as our letting the cat out; to /run against a

nail/ is allied to kicking against the pricks. A man of superficial

knowledge is called /half a bottle of vinegar/though why vinegarin

preference to anything elsewe have not been able to discover. He has

always /got his gun in his hand/ is a reproach launched at the head of

some confirmed opium debaucheeone of those few reckless smokers to

whom opium is indeed a curse. They have /burnt paper together/makes

it clear to a Chinese mind that the persons spoken of have gone

through the marriage servicepart of which ceremony consists in

burning silver papermade up to resemble lumps of the pure metal. /We

have split/ is one of those happy idioms which lose nothing in

translationbeing word for word the same in both languagesand with

exactly the same meaning. /A crooked stick/ is a man whose

eccentricities keep people from associating freely with him; he won't

lie conveniently in a bundle with the other sticks.

We will bring this short sketch to a close with one more example

valuable because it is oldbecause the date at which it came into

existence can be fixed with unerring certaintyand because it is

commonly used in all parts of Chinathough hardly one educated man in

ten would be able to tell the reason why. A jealous woman is said /to

drink vinegar/and the origin of the term is as follows:--Fang Hsuan-

ling was the favourite Minister of the Emperor T'ai Tsungof the

T'ang dynasty. He lived A.D. 578-648. One day his master gave him a

maid of honour from the palace as second wifebut the first or real

wife made the place too hot for the poor girl to live in. Fang

complained to the Emperorwho gave him a bowl of poisontelling him

to offer his troublesome wife the choice between death and peaceable

behaviour for the future. The lady instantly chose the formerand

drank up the bowl of /vinegar/which the Emperor had substituted to

try her constancy. Subsequentlyon his Majesty's recommendationFang

sent the young lady back to resume her duties as tire-woman to the

Empress. But the phrase livedand has survived to this day.

 

 

FORTUNE-TELLING

Everybody who has frequented the narrowdirty streets of a Chinese

town must be familiar with one figureunusually striking where all is

novel and much is grotesque. It is that of an old manoccasionally

white-beardedwearing a pair of enormous spectacles set in clumsy

rims of tortoiseshell or silverand sitting before a small table on

which are displayed a few mysterious-looking tablets inscribed with

characterspaperpencilsand ink. We are in the presence of a

fortune-tellera seera soothsayera vates; or bettera quack who

trusts for his living partly to his own witsand partly to the want

of them in the credulous numskulls who surround him. These men are

generally oldand sometimes blind. Youth stands but a poor chance

among a people who regard age and wisdom as synonymous terms; and it

seems to be a prevalent belief in China that those to whom everything

in the present is a sealed bookcan for this very reason see deeper

and more clearly into the destinies of their fellows. It is not until

age has picked out the straggling beard with silver that the

vaticinations of the seer are likely to spread his reputation far

beyond the limits of the street in which he practises. Younger

competitors must be content to scrape together a precarious existence

by preying on the small fry which pass unheeded through the meshes of

the old man's net. Just as there is no medical diploma necessary for a

doctor in Chinaso any man may be a fortune-teller who likes to start

business in that particular line. The ranks are recruited generally

from unsuccessful candidates at the public examinations; but all that

is really necessary is the minimum of educationsome months' study of

the artand a good memory. For there really are certain principles

which guide every member of the fraternity. These are derived from

books written on the subjectand are absolutely essential to success

or nativities cast in two different streets would be so unlike as to

expose the whole system at once. The method is this. A customer takes

his seat in front of the table and consults the wooden tablet on which

is engraved a scale of charges as follows:--

Foretelling any single event . . . . . . . . 8 cash

Foretelling any single event with joss-stick16 cash

Telling a fortune . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 cash

Telling a fortune in detail . . . . . . . . . 50 cash

Telling a fortune by reading the stars . . . 50 cash

Fixing the marriage day . . . . . . . According to agreement

In case he merely wants an answer on a given subjecthe puts his

question and receives the reply at once on a slip of paper. But if he

desires to have his fortune toldhe dictates the yearmonthday

and hour of his birthwhich are written down by the sage in the

particular characters used by the Chinese to express times and

seasons. From the combinations of these and a careful estimate of the

proportions in which the five elements--goldwoodwaterfireand

earth--make their appearancecertain results are deduced upon which

details may be grafted according to the fancy of the fortune-teller.

The same combinations of figuresi.e.characterswill always give

the same resultant in the hands of any one who has learned the first

principles of his art; it is only in the readingthe explanation

thereofthat any material difference can be detected between the

reckonings of any two of these philosopherswhich amounts to saying

that whoever makes the greatest number of happy hits beyond the mere

technicalities common to allis esteemed the wisest prophet and will

drive the most flourishing trade.

Fully believing in the Chinese household word which says "Ignorance of

any one thing is always one point to the bad" we have several times

read our destiny through the medium of some dirty old Chinaman. On the

last occasion we received the following advice in return for our 50

cashpaid as per tablet for a destiny in detail:--"Beware the odd

months of this year: you will meet with some dangers and slight

losses. Three male phoenixes (sons) will be accorded to you. Your

present lustrum is not a fortunate one; but it has nearly expiredand

better days are at hand. Fruit cannot thrive in the winter. (We had

placed our birthday in the 12th moon.) Conflicting elements oppose:

towards life's close prepare for trials. Wealth is beyond your grasp;

but nature has marked you out to fill a lofty place." How the above

was extracted from the eight characters which represented the year

monthdayand hour of our birthis made perfectly clear by a sum

showing every step in the working of the problemthough we must

confess it appeared to us a humbugging jumblethe most prominent part

of which was the answer. We found among other things that /earth/

predominated in the combination: hence our inability to grasp wealth.

/Water/ was happily deficientand on this datum we were blessed in

anticipation with three sonsto say nothing of daughters.

And this is the sort of trash that is crammed down the throats of

China's too credulous children--the "babies" as the Mandarins areso

fond of calling them. For this rubbish they freely spend their hard-

earned wagesconsulting some favourite prophet on most of their

domestic and other affairs with the utmost gravity and confidence. Few

Chinamen make a money venture without first applying to the oracle

and certainly never marry without arranging a lucky day for the event.

Ignorance and credulity combine to support a numerous class of the

most consummate adepts in the art of swindling; the supplyhowever

is not more than adequate to the demandalbeit they swarm in every

street and thoroughfare of a Chinese city.

 

 

GAMES AND GAMBLING

Chinamen suffer horribly from /ennui/--especially the first of the

four classes into which the non-official world has been subdivided.[*]

They have no rational amusements wherewith to fill up the intervals of

work. They hate physical exercise; more than thatthey despise it as

fit only for the ignorant and low. Yet they have not supplied its

place with anything intellectualand the most casual observer cannot

fail to notice that China has no national game. Fencingrowingand

cricketare alike unknown; and archerysuch as it isclaims the

attention chiefly of candidates for official honours. Within doors

they have chessbut it is not the game Europeans recognise by that

namenor is it even worthy of being mentioned in the same breath.

There is also another game played with three hundred and sixty black

and white pips on a board containing three hundred and sixty-one

squaresbut this is very difficult and known only to the few. It is

said to have been invented by His Majesty the Emperor Yao who lived

about two thousand three hundred and fifty years before Christso

that granting an error of a couple of thousand years or soit is

still a very ancient pastime. Dominoes are knownbut not much

patronised; cardson the other handare very commonthe favourite

games being those in which almost everything is left to chance. As to

open-air amusementsyouths of the baser sort indulge in battledore

and shuttlecock without the battledoreand every resident in China

must have admired the skill with which the foot is used insteadat

this foot-shuttlecock game. Twirling heavy bars round the bodyand

gymnastics generallyare practised by the coolie and horse-boy

classes; but the disciple of Confuciuswho has already discovered how

"pleasant it is to learn with a constant perseverance and

application"[+] would stare indeed if asked to lay aside for one

moment that dignified carriage on which so much stress has been laid

by the Master. Besides thisfinger-nails an inch and a half long

guarded with an elaborate silver sheathare decidedly /impedimenta/

in the way of athletic success. No--when the daily quantum of reading

has been achieveda Chinese student has very little to fall back upon

in the way of amusement. He may take a stroll through the town and

look in at the shopsor seek out some friend as /ennuye/ as himself

and while away an hour over a cup of tea and a pipe. Occasionally a

number of young men will join together and form a kind of literary

clubmeeting at certain periods to read essays or poems on subjects

previously agreed upon by all. We heard of one youth whoburning for

the poet's laurelproduced the following quatrain on /snow/which

had been chosen as the theme for the day:--

The north-east wind blew clear and bright

Each hole was filled up smooth and flat:

The black dog suddenly grew white

The white dog suddenly grew--

"And here" said the poet"I broke downnot being able toget an

appropriate rhyme to /flat/." A wag who was present suggested /fat/

pointing out that the dog's increased bulk by the snow falling on his

back fully justified the meaningandwhat is of equal importance in

Chinese poetrythe antithesis.

[*] Namely(1) the literati(2) agriculturists(3) artisansand

(4) merchants or tradesmen.

[+] The first sentence of the Analects or Confucian Gospels.

Riddles and word-puzzles are largely used for the purpose of killing

timethe nature of the written language offering unlimited facilities

for the formation of the latter. Chinese riddlesby which term we

include conundrumscharades/et hoc genus omne/are similar to our

ownand occupy quite as large a space in the literature of the

country. They are generally in doggerelof which the following may be

taken as a specimenbeing like the last a word-for-word

translation:--

Little boy red-jacketwhither away?

To the house with the ivory portals I stray.

Say will you come backlittle red-coatagain?

My bones will returnbut my flesh will remain.

In the present instance the answer is so plain that it is almost

insulting to our readers to mention that it is "a cherry" but thisis

by no means the case with all Chinese riddlesmany being exceedingly

difficult of solution. So much so that it is customary all over the

Empire to copy out any particularly puzzling conundrum on a paper

lanternand hang it in the evening at the street doorwith the

promise of a reward to any comer who may succeed in unravelling it.

These are called "lamp riddles" and usually turn upon the name of

some treefruitanimalor bookthe direction in which the answer

is to be sought being usually specified as a clue.

Were it only in such innocent pastimes as these that the Chinese

indulgedwe might praise the simplicity of their moralsand contrast

them favourably with the excitement of European life. But there is

just one more little solace for leisureand too often business hours

of which we have not yet spoken. Gambling isof coursethe

distraction to which we allude; a vice ten times more prevalent than

opium-smokingand proportionately demoralising in its effect upon the

national character. In private lifethere is always some stake

however small; take it awayand to a Chinaman the object of playing

any game goes too. In publicthe very costermongers who hawk cakes

and fruit about the streets are invariably provided with some means

for determining by a resort to chance how much the purchaser shall

have for his money. Hereit is a bamboo tube full of stickswith

numbers burnt into the concealed endfrom which the customer draws;

at another stall dice are thrown into an earthenware bowland so on.

Every hungry coolie would rather take his chance of getting nothing at

allwith the prospect of perhaps obtaining three times his money's

worththan buy a couple of sausage-rolls and satisfy his appetite in

the legitimate way. The worst feature of gambling in China is the

number of hells opened publicly under the very nose of the magistrate

all of which drive a flourishing trade in spite of the frequent

/presents/ with which they are obliged to conciliate the venal

official whose duty it is to put them down. To such an extent is the

system carried that any remissness on the part of the keepers of these

dens in conveying a reasonable share of the profits to his honour's

treasuryis met by /a brutum fulmen/ in the shape of a proclamation

setting forth how "it having come to my ears thatregardless of law

and in the teeth of my frequent warningscertain evil-disposed

persons have dared to open public gambling-housesbe it hereby made

known" &c.&c.the whole document being liberallyinterspersed with

allusions to the men of oldthe laws of the reigning dynastyand

filial piety /a discretion/. The upshot of this is that within twenty-

four hours after its appearance his honour's wrath is appeasedand

croupiers and gamblers go on in the same old round as if nothing

whatever had happened.

 

 

JURISPRUDENCE

Law[*] as we understand the termwith all its paradoxes and

refinementsis utterly unknown to the Chineseand it was absolutely

necessary to invent an equivalent for the word "barrister" simply

because no such expression was to be found ready-made in the language.

Furtherit would be quite impossible to persuade even the most

enlightened native that the Bar is an honourable professionand that

its members are men of the highest principles and integrity. They

cannot get it out of their heads that western lawyers must belong to

the same category as a certain disreputable class among themselvesto

be met with in every Chinese town of importanceand generally

residing in the vicinity of a magistrate's or judge's yamen. These

fellows are always ready to undertake for a small remuneration the

conduct of casesin so far as they are able to do this by the

preparation of skilfully-worded petitions or counter-petitionsand by

otherwise giving their advice. Of course they do not appear in court

for their very existence is forbiddenbut their services are largely

availed of by the peopleespecially the poor and ignorant. At the

trialprosecutor and accused must each manage his own casethe

magistrate himself doing all the cross-examination. We say

/prosecutor/ and /accused/ advisedlyfor as a matter of fact civil

cases are rare in Chinasuch questions as arise in the way of trade

being almost invariably referred to some leading guildwhose

arbitration is accepted without appeal. Nowwe know of no such book

as "Laws of Evidence" in the whole range of Chinese literature; yetwe

believe firmly that the intellects which adorn our own bench are not

more keen in discriminating truth from falsehoodand detecting at a

glance the corrupt witnessthan the semi-civilised native functionary

--that iswhen no silver influences have been brought to bear upon

his judgment. The Chinese have a penal code whichallowing for the

difference in national customs and habits of thoughtstands almost

unrivalled; and with this solitary work their legal literature begins

and ends. It is regarded by the people as an inspired bookthough few

know much beyond the titleand seems to answer its purpose well.

[*] Civil law.

But inasmuch as in China as elsewhere /summum jus/ is not infrequently

/summa injuria/a clever magistrate never hesitates to set aside law

or customand deal out Solomonic justice with an unsparing hand

provided always he can shew that his course is one which /reason/

infallibly dictates. Such an officer wins golden opinions from the

peopleand his departure from the neighbourhood is usually signalised

by the presentation of the much-coveted testimonial umbrella. In the

reign of the last Emperor but oneless than twenty years agothere

was an official of this stamp employed as "second Prefect" in the

department of Han-yang. Many and wonderful are the stories told of his

unerring acumenand his memory is still fondly cherished by all who

knew him in his days of power. We will quote one from among numerous

traditions of his genius which have survived to the present day.

A poor manpassing through one of the back thoroughfares in Hankow

came upon a Tls. 50[*] note lying in the road and payable to bearer.

His first impulse was to cash itbut reflecting that the sum was

large and that the loser might be driven in despair to commit suicide

the consequences of which might be that he himself would perhaps get

into troublehe determined to wait on the spot for the owner and rest

content with the "thanks money" he was entitled by Chinese customto

claim as a right. Very shortly he saw a stranger approachingwith his

eyes bent on the groundevidently in search of something; whereupon

he made up to him and asked at once if anything was the matter.

Explanations followedand the Tls. 50 note was restored to its lawful

possessorwhorecovering himself instantaneouslyasked where the

other one wasand went on to say that he had lost /two/ notes of the

same valueand that on recovery of the other one he would reward the

finder as he deservedbut that unless that was also forthcoming he

should be too great a loser as it was. His benefactor was protesting

strongly against this ungenerous behaviour when the "secondPrefect"

happened to come round the cornerwhoseeing there was a row

stopped his chairand inquired there and then into the merits of the

case. The result was that he took the Tls. 50 note and presented it to

the honest findertelling him to go on his way rejoicing; while

turning to the ungrateful loserhe sternly bade him wait till he met

some one who had found /two/ notes of that valueand from him

endeavour to recover his lost property.

[*] Fifty taelsequal to about 15 pounds.

 

 

JURISPRUDENCENO. II

From the previous sketch it may readily be gathered that the state of

Chinese lawboth civil[*] and criminalis a very important item in

the sum of those obstacles which bar so effectually the admission of

China--not into the cold and uncongenial atmosphere euphuistically

known as the "comity of nations"--but into closer ties of

international intercourse and friendship on a free and equal footing.

For as long as we have ex-territorial rightsand are compelled to

avail ourselves thereofwe can regard the Chinese nation only /de

haut en bas/; whileon the other handour very presence under such

to them abnormal conditionswill continue to be neither more or less

than a humiliating eye-sore. Till foreigners in China can look with

confidence for an equitable administration of justice on the part of

the mandarinswe fear that even sciencewith all its resourceswill

be powerless to do more than pave the way for that wished-for moment

when China and the West will shake hands over all the defeats

sustained by the oneand all the insults offered to the other.

[*] That islocal custom.

It is in the happily unfrequent cases of homicide where a native and a

foreigner play the principal partsthat certain discrepancies between

Chinese and Western lawrules of procedure and evidencebesides

several other minor pointsstand out in the boldest and most

irreconcilable relief. To begin withthe Penal Code and all its

modifications of murderanswering in some respects to our distinction

between murder and manslaughteris but little known to the people at

large. Naythe very officials who administer these laws are generally

as grossly ignorant of them as it is possible to beand in every

judge's yamen in the Empire there are one or two "law experts" who

are always prepared to give chapter and verse at a moment's notice--

in factto guide the judge in delivering a proper verdictand one

such as must meet with the approbation of his superiors. The people

on the other handknow but one leading principle in cases of murder--

a life for a life. Under extenuating circumstances cases of homicide

are compromised frequently enough by money paymentsbut if the

relatives should steadily refuse to forego their revengefew

officials would risk their own position by failing to fix the guilt

somewhere. As a ruleit is not difficult to obtain the conviction and

capital punishment of any nativeor his substitutewho has murdered

a foreignerand we might succeed equally well in many instances of

justifiable homicide or manslaughter: it is when the case is reversed

that we call down upon our devoted heads all the indignation of the

Celestial Empire. Of course any European who could be proved to have

murdered a native would be hanged for it; but he may kill him in self-

defence or by accidentin both of which instances the Chinese would

clamour for the extreme penalty of the law. Further/hearsay/ is

evidence in a Chinese court of justiceand if several witnesses

appeared who could only say that some one else told them that the

accused had committed the murderit would go just as far to

strangling or beheading himas if they had said they saw the deed

themselves. The accused ismoreovernot only allowed to criminate

himselfbut no case being complete without a full confession on the

part of the guilty mantorture might be brought into play to extort

from him the necessary acknowledgment. It is plainthereforethat

Chinese officials prosecuting on behalf of their injured countrymen

are quite at sea in an English courtand their case often falling

through for want of proper evidencethey return home cursing the

injustice done to them by the hated barbariansand longing for the

day which will dawn upon their extermination from the Flowery Land.

On the other handthe examination of Chinese witnesseseither in a

civil or criminal caseis one of the most trying tests to which the

forbearance of foreign officials is exposed in all the length and

breadth of their intercourse with the slippery denizens of the middle

kingdom. Leaving out of the question the extreme difficulty of the

languagenow gradually yielding to methodical and persevering study

the peculiar bent of the Chinese mindwith all its prejudices and

superstitionsis quite as much an obstacle in the way of eliciting

truth as any offered by the fantasticbut still amenablevarieties

of Chinese syntax. We believe that native officials have the power

though it does not always harmonise with their interests to exercise

itof arriving at as just and equitable decisions in the majority of

cases brought before themas any English magistrate who knows

"Taylor's Law of Evidence" from beginning to end. They accomplishthis

by a knowledge of characterunparalleled perhaps in any country on

the globewhich enables them to distinguish readilyand without such

constant recourse to torture as is generally supposedbetween the

false and honest witness. The study of mankind in China isbeyond all

doubt--man and his motives for action on every possible occasionand

under every possible condition. Thus it iswe may remarkthat the

Chinese fail to appreciate the efforts made for their good by

missionaries and othersbecause the motives of such a course are

utterly beyond the reach of native investigation and thought. They are

consequently suspicious of the Greeks--/et dona ferentes/. The self-

denial of missionaries who come out to China to all the hardships of

Oriental life--thoughas a facetious writer in the /Shanghai Courier/

lately remarkedthey live in the best housesand seem to lead as

jolly lives as anybody else out here--to say nothing of gratuitous

medical advice and the free distribution of all kinds of medicine--all

this is entirely incomprehensible to the narrow mind of the

calculating native. Their observations have been confined to the

characters and habits of thought which distinguish their fellow-

countrymenand with the result above-mentioned; of the European mind

they know absolutely nothing.

As regards the evidence of Chinese taken in a foreign court of

justicethe first difficulty consists generally in swearing the

witnesses. Old books on Chinawhich told great lies without much

danger of convictionmention cock-killing and saucer-breaking as

among the most binding forms of Chinese oaths. The common formula

howeverwhich we consider should be adopted in preference to any

hybrid expression invented for the occasionis an invocation to

heaven and earth to listen to the statements about to be madeand to

punish the witness for any deviation from the truth. This is sensible

enoughand is moreover not without weight among a superstitious

people like the Chinese. The witness then expects the magistrate to

ask him the name of his native districthis own namehis agethe

age of his father and mother (if alive)the maiden name of his wife

her agethe number and the ages of his childrenand many more

questions of similar relevancy and importancebefore a single effort

is made towards eliciting any one fact bearing upon the subject under

investigation. With a stereotyped people like the Chineseit does not

do to ignore these trifles of form and custom; on the contrarythe

witness should rather be allowed to wander at will through such

useless details until he has collected his scattered thoughtsand may

be safely coaxed on to divulge something which partakes more of the

nature of evidence. Under proper treatmenta Chinese witness is by no

means doggedly stubborn or doltishly stupid; he may be either or both

if he has previously been tampered with by native officialsbut even

then it is not absolutely impossible to defeat his dishonesty.

Occasionally a question will be put by a foreigner to an

unsophisticated boornever dreamt of in the philosophy of the latter

and such as would never have fallen from the lips of one of his own

officials; the answers given under such circumstances are usually

unique of their kind. We know of an instance where a boatman was

askedin reference to a collision caseat what rate he thought the

tide was running. The witness hesitatedlooked updownon either

sideand behind him; finally he replied:--"I am a poor boatman; I

only earn one hundred and fifty cash a dayand how can you expect me

to know at what rate the tide was running?"

 

 

BUDDHIST PRIESTS

There are few more loathsome types of character either in the East or

West than the Buddhist priest of China. He is an object of contempt to

the educated among his countrymennot only as one who has shirked the

cares and responsibilities to which all flesh is heirbut as a

misguided outcast who has voluntarily resigned the glorious title and

privileges of that divinely-gifted being represented by the symbol

/man/. With his own hands he has severed the five sacred ties which

distinguish him from the brute creationin the hope of some day

attaining what is to most Chinamen a very doubtful immortality. Paying

no taxes and rendering no assistance in the administration of the

Empirehis duty to his sovereign is incomplete. Marrying no wifehis

affinitythe complement of his earthly existencesinks into a

virgin's grave. Rearing no childrenhis troubled spirit meets after

death with the same neglect and the same absence of cherished rites

which cast a shadow upon his parents' tomb. Renouncing all fraternal

tieshe deprives himself of the consolation and support of a

brother's love. Detaching himself from the world and its vanities

friendship spreads its charms for him in vain. Thus he is in no

Chinese sense a man. He has no nameand is frequently shocked by some

western tyro in Chinese whothinking to pay the everyday compliment

bandied between Chinamenasks to his intense disgust--"What is your

honourable name?" The unfortunate priest has substituted a"religious

designation" for the patronymic he discarded when parentsbrethren

homeand friends were cast into oblivion at the door of the temple.

But it is not on such mere sentimental grounds that the Chinese nation

has condemned in this wholesale manner the clergy of China. Did the

latter carry out even to a limited extent their vows of celibacy and

Pythagorean principles of dietthey would probably obtain a fair

share of that questionable respect which is meted out to enthusiasts

in most countries on the globe. The Chinese hate them as double-dyed

hypocrites who extort money from the poor and ignorantwork upon the

fears ofand frequently corrupttheir wives or daughters; proclaim

in bold characters at the gates of each temple--"no meat or wine may

enter here"--while all the time they dine off their favourite pork as

often as most Chinamenand smoke or drink themselves into a state of

beastly intoxication a great deal more so. Opium pipes are to be found

as frequently as not among the effects of these sainted menwhowith

all the abundant leisure at their commandare rarely of sufficient

education to be mentioned in the same breath with an ordinary

graduate. Occasionally there have been exceptions to the rulebut the

phenomenon is seldom met with in modern times. We have read of a lame

old priest so renowned for self-denying liberality that the great

Emperor Ch'ien Lung actually paid him a visit. After some conversation

Ch'ien Lung presented him with a valuable pearlwhich the old man

immediately bestowed upon a beggar he espied among the crowd. His

Majesty was somewhat taken aback at this act of rudenessand asked

him if he always gave away everything in the same manner. On receiving

an affirmative replythe Emperor added"Even down to the crutch on

which you lean?" "Ah" said the priest"it is writtenthat the

superior man does not covet what his friend cannot spare." "But

supposing" said the Emperor"he was not a superior man.""In that

case" answered the priest"you could not expect me to be his

friend."

Cleanlinessagainis an especial attribute of Buddhismand in a few

temples in the south there is an attempt to make some show in this

direction; but as regards the personpriests are dirtier if anything

than the humblest members of their flock. It is laughable indeed to

hear them chant the /Ching/ignorant as ninety-nine per cent. are of

every word they are sayingfor of late the study of Sanskrit has been

utterly and entirely neglected. Their dutieshoweverin this respect

are as much curtailed as possibleexcept when wafting with their

prayers some spirit of the dead to the realms of bliss above. In such

cases it is a matter of businessa question of money; and the

unctuous air of solemn faith they then put on contrasts curiously with

the bored and sleepy look apparent on their faces as they gabble

through a midnight massin the presence of some such limited and

unimportant audience as a single and perhaps a red-haired barbarian.

It is pleasant to dismiss from our thoughts this lyingshameless

debauched class; and we do sowondering how Buddhism has retained its

hold so long over an intellectual people possessed of an elaborate

moral codewhich has been for centuries the acknowledged standard of

right and wrongand which condemns all fear or hope of an unknown and

unseen world.

 

 

RESPECT FOR THE WRITTEN CHARACTER

One of the most curious and harmless customs of the Chinese is that of

carefully burning every scrap of paper inscribed with the cherished

characters whichas far as calligraphy goesjustly take precedence

of those of any other language on the globe. Not content with mere

reduction by firea conscientious Chinaman will collect the ashes

thus producedand sealing them up in some earthen vesselwill bury

them deep in the earth or sink them to the bottom of a river. Then

only does he consider that he has fully discharged his duty towards

paper which has by mere accident become as sacred in the eyes of all

good men as the most precious relic of any martyred saint in the

estimation of a Catholic priest. Rich men are constantly in the habit

of paying /chiffoniers/ to collect such remnants of written paper as

they may find lying about the streetsand in all Chinese towns there

are receptacles at the most frequented points where the results of

their labours may be burned. The above facts are pretty generally

known to foreigners in China and elsewherebut we do not think that

native ideas on the subject have ever been brought forward otherwise

than indirectly. We therefore give the translation of a short essay

published in 1870 by an enthusiastic scholarand distributed gratis

among his erring countrymen:--

"From of old down to the present time our sages have devoted

themselves to the written character--that fairest jewel in heaven

above or earth beneath. Thosethereforewho are stimulated by a

thirst for /fame/strive to attain their end by the excellency of

their compositions; othersattracted by desire for wealthpursue

their object with the help of day-book and ledgers. In both cases

men would be helpless without a knowledge of the art of writing.

Howindeedcould despatches be composedagreements drawn up

letters exchangedand genealogies recordedbut for the

assistance of the written character? By what means would a man

chronicle the glory of his ancestorsindite the marriage deedor

comfort anxious parents when exiled to a distant land? In what way

could he secure property to his sons and grandchildrenborrow or

lend moneyenter into partnershipor divide a patrimonybut

with the testimony of written documents? The very labourer in the

fieldstenant of a few acresmust have his rights guaranteed in

black and white; and household servants require more than verbal

assurance that their wages will not fail to be paid. The

prescription of the physicianabout to call back some suffering

patient from the gates of deathis taken down with pen and ink;

and the prognostication of the soothsayerwarning men of evil or

predicting good fortuneexemplifies in another direction the use

of the written character. In a wordthe art of writing enriches

and ennobles manhands him over to life or deathconfers upon

him honours and distinctionsor covers him with abuse and shame.

"Of latehoweverour schools have turned out an arrogant and

ignorant lot--boys who venture to use old books for wrapping

parcels or papering windowsfor boiling wateror wiping the

table; boysI saywho scribble over their bookswho write

characters on wall or doorwho chew up the drafts of their poems

or throw them away on the ground. Let all such be severely

punished by their masters that they may be savedwhile there is

yet timefrom the wrath of an avenging Heaven. Some men use old

pawn-tickets for wrapping up things--it may be a cabbage or a

pound of bean-curd. Others use lottery-tickets of various

descriptions for wrapping up a picked vegetable or a slice of

porkwith no thought of the crime they are committing as long as

there is a cash to be made or saved. So also there are those who

exchange their old books for pumeloes or ground-nutsto be

defiled with the filth of the waste-paper basketand passed from

hand to hand like the cheques of the barbarian. Alastoofor

women when they go to fairsfor children who are sent to market!

They cannot read one single character: they know not the priceless

value of written paper. They drop the wrapping of a parcel in the

mire for every passer-by to tread under foot. Their crime

howeverwill be laid at the door of those who erred in the first

instance (i.e.those who sold their old books to the

shopkeepers). For they hoped to squeeze some profitinfinitesimal

indeedout of tattered or incomplete volumes; forgetting in their

greed that they were dishonouring the sagesand laying up for

themselves certain calamity. Why then sacrifice so much for such

trifling gain? How much better a due observance of time-honoured

customensuring as it would a flow of prosperity continuous and

everlasting as the waves of the sea! O ye merchants and

shopkeepersknow that in heaven as on earth written words are

esteemed precious as the jadeand whatever is marked therewith

must not be cast aside like stones and tiles. For happiness

wealthhonoursdistinctionsand old agemay be one and all

secured by a proper respect for written paper."

 

 

SUPERSTITION

Educated Chinamen loudly disclaim any participation in the

superstitious beliefs whichto a European eyehang like a dark cloud

over an otherwise intellectually free people. There never has been a

State religion in Chinaand it has always been open to every man to

believe and practise as much or as little as he likes of Buddhism

Taoismor Mahomedanismwithout legal interference or social stigma

of any kind. Of course it is understood that such observances must be

purely self-regardingand that directly they assume--as lately in the

case of Mahomedanism--anything of a political characterthe Chinese

Government is not slow to protect the unity of the Empire by the best

means in its power. And sobut for the suicidal zeal of Christian

missions and their supporterswho have effected an unnatural

amalgamation of religion and politicsand carried the Bible into

China at the point of the bayonetthe same toleration might now be

accorded to Christianity which the propagators of other religions have

hitherto been permitted to enjoy.

As to religion in Chinait is only of the ethics of Confucius that

the State takes any real cognizance. His is what John Stuart Mill

alluded to as "the best wisdom they possess;" andas he further

observedthe Chinese have secured "that those who have appropriated

most of it shall occupy the posts of honour and power." His maxims are

entirely devoid of the superstitious element. He recognises a

principle of right beyond the ken of man; but though he once said that

this principle was conscious of his existence and his work on earth

it never entered his head to endow it with anything like retributory

powers. Allusions to an unseen world were received by him with scorn;

and as regards a future statehe has preserved a most discreet

silence. "While you do not know lifehow can you know aboutdeath?"

was the rebuke he administered to a disciple who urged some utterance

on the problem of most interest to mankind. And yetin spite of the

extreme healthiness of Confucian ethicsthere has grown uparound

both the political and social life of the Chinesesuch a tangled maze

of superstitionthat it is no wonder if all intellectual advancement

has been first checkedand has then utterly succumbed. The ruling

classes have availed themselves of its irresistible power to give them

a firmer hold over their simple-heartedcredulous subjects; they have

practised it in its grossest formsand have written volumes in

support of absurdities in which they cannot really have the slightest

faith themselves. It was only a year or two ago that the most powerful

man in Chinaa distinguished scholarstatesmanand general

prostrated himself before a diminutive water-snakein the hope that

by humble intercession with the God of Floods he might bring about a

respite from the cruel miseries which had been caused by inundations

over a wide area of the province of Chihli. The suppliant was no other

than the celebrated ViceroyLu Hung-changwho has recently armed the

forts at the mouth and on the banks of the Peiho with Krupp's best

gunsinstead of trustingas would be consistentthe issue of a

future war to the supernatural efforts of some Chinese Mars.

Turning now to the literature of Chinawe cannot but be astonished at

the mass of novels which are one and all of the same tendency; in

factnot only throughout the entire stratum of Chinese fictionbut

even in that of the gravest philosophical speculationshas the

miraculous been introduced as a natural and necessary element. The

following passagetaken from the writings of Han Wen-kungwhose name

has been pronounced to be "one of the most venerated" is a fair

specimen of the trash to be met with at every turn in that trackless

treeless desertwhich for want of a more appropriate term we are

obliged to call the literature of China:--

"There are some things which possess form but are devoid of sound

as for instance jade and stones; others have sound but are without

formsuch as wind and thunder; others again have both form and

soundsuch as men and animals; and lastlythere is a class

devoid of bothnamely/devils and spirits/."

Descending to the harmless superstition of domestic lifewe find that

the cat washing her face is notas with usa sign of rainbut that

a stranger is coming. On the other hand"strangers" in teaportend

as with usthe arrival of some unlooked-for guesttall or shortfat

or leanaccording to the relative proportions of the prophetic twig.

Aching corns denote the approach of wet weather--we do not quote this

as a superstition--and for a girl to spill water on fowls or dogs will

ensure a downpour of rain on her wedding-day. Any one who hears a crow

caw should shatter his teeth three times and blow; and two brooms

together will bring joy and sorrow at the same timeas a birth and a

death on the same day. "Crows' feet" on the face are called"fishes'

tails" and in young men mean what the widower's peak is supposed to

signify with us.

Superstition is China's worst enemy--a shadow which only the pure

light of science will be able to dispel. There are many amongst us who

would give her more: but they will not succeed.

 

 

NATURAL PHENOMENA

It is a question of more than ordinary interest to those who regard

the Chinese people as a worthy object of studyWhat are the

speculations of the working and uneducated classes concerning such

natural phenomena as it is quite impossible for them to ignore? Their

theory of eclipses is well knownforeign ears being periodically

stunned by the gonging of an excited crowd of nativeswho are

endeavouring with hideous noises to prevent some imaginary dog of

colossal proportions from banquetingas the case may beupon the sun

or moon. At such laughable exhibitions of native ignorance it will be

observed that there is always a fair sprinkling of well-to-do

educated personswho not only ought to know better themselvesbut

should be making some effort to enlighten their less fortunate

countrymen instead of joining in the din. Such a holdhoweveras

superstition on the minds of the best informed in a Chinese community

that under the influence of any real or supposed dangerphilosophy

and Confucius are scattered to the four winds of Heavenand the

proudest disciple of the Master proves himself after all but a man.

Leaving the literati to take care of themselvesand confining our

attention to the good-temperedjoyoushospitable working-classes of

Chinawe find many curious beliefs on subjects familiar among western

nations to every national school-boy. The earthfor instanceis

popularly believed to be square; and the heavens a kind of shell or

coveringstudded with stars and revolving round the earth. We

remember once when out of sight of land calling the notice of our

native valet to the masts of a vessel sinking below the horizon. We

pointed out to him that were the earth a perfectly flat surface its

disappearance would not be so comparatively suddennor would the ship

appear to sink. But at the last momentwhen we felt that conviction

was entering into his soul and that another convert had been made to

the great cause of scientific truthhe calmly replied that it was

written--"Heaven is roundearth is square" and he didn't verywell

understand how books could be wrong!

The sun is generally supposed to pass at sunset into the earthand to

come out next morning at the other side. The moon is supposed to rise

from and set in the ocean. Earthquakes are held to result from

explosions of sulphur in the heart of the earth; rain is said to be

poured down by the Dragon God who usually resides on the other side of

the cloudsand the rainbow is believed to be formed by the breath of

an enormous oyster which lives somewhere in the middle of the seafar

away from land. Comets and eclipses of the sun are looked upon as

special warnings to the throneand it is usual for some distinguished

censor to memorialise the Emperor accordingly. The most curious

perhaps of all these popular superstitions are those which refer to

thunderlightningand hailregarded in China as the visitation of

an angry and offended god. In the first place it is supposed that

people are struck by thunder and not by lightning--a belief which was

probably once prevalent in Englandas evidenced by the English word

/thunderstruck/. Sir Philip Sydney writes:--"I remained as a man

thunder-stricken." Secondlydeath by thunder is regarded as a

punishment for some secret crime committed against human or divine

lawand consequently a man who is not conscious of anything of the

kind faces the elements without fear. Away behind the clouds during a

storm or typhoon sit the God of Thunder armed with his terrible bolts

and the Goddess of Lightningholding in her hand a dazzling mirror.

With this last she throws a flash of lightning over the guilty man

that the God of Thunder may see to strike his victim; the pealing

crash which follows is caused by the passage through the air of the

invisible shaft--and the wrongs of Heaven are avenged. Similarlyhail

is looked upon as an instrument of punishment in the hands of the Hail

Goddirected only against the crops and possessions of such mortals

as have by their wicked actions exposed themselves to the slow but

certain visitation of divine vengeance.

Each provincenayeach townhas its own particular set of

superstitions on a variety of subjects; the abovehoweverdealing

with the most important of all natural phenomenawill be found common

to every village and household in the Chinese Empire. The childlike

faith with which such quaint notions are accepted by the people at

large is only equalled by the untiring care with which they are

fostered by the ruling classeswho are well aware of their value in

the government of an excitable people. The Emperor himself prays loud

and long for rainfine weatheror snowaccording as either may be

needed by the suffering cropsand never leaves off until the elements

answer his prayers. But here we are ridiculing a phase of superstition

from which nations with greater advantages than China are not yet

wholly free.

 

 

CELEBRATION OF THE NEW YEAR

China New Year!--What a suggestive ring have those three words for

"the foreigner in far Cathay."[*] What visions do they conjure upof

ill-served tiffinsof wages forestalledof petty thefts and perhaps

a burglary; what thoughts of horrid tom-toms and ruthless fire-

crackersmaking day hideous as well as night; what apparitions of

gaudily-dressed butlers and smug-faced cooliestheir rear brought up

by man's natural enemy in China--the cookfor once in his life clean

and holding in approved Confucian style[+] some poisonous indigestible

present he calls a cake!

[*] The title of Mr Medhurst's work.

[+] "In presenting giftshis countenance wore a placidappearance."--

Analects: ch. x.

New Year's Day is the one great annual event in Chinese social and

political life. An Imperial birthdayeven an Imperial marriagepales

before the important hour at which all sublunary affairs are supposed

to start afreshevery account balanced and every debt paid. About ten

days previously the administration of public business is nominally

suspended; offices are closedofficial seals carefully wrapped up and

given into the safe keeping of His Honour's or His Excellency's

wife.[*] The holidays last one monthand during that time inaction is

the order of the dayit being forbidden to punish criminalsor even

to stampand consequently to writea despatch on any subject

whatever. The dangerous resultshoweverthat might ensue from a too

liberal observance of the latter prohibition are nearly anticipated by

stamping beforehand a number of blank sheets of paperso thatif

occasion requiresa communication may be forwarded without delay and

without committing an actual breach of law or custom.

[*] A universal custom which may be quoted with countless others

against the degradation-of-women-in-China doctrine.

The New Year is the season of presents. Closely-packed boxes of

Chinese cakebiscuitsand crystallised fruitare presented as

tributes of respect to the patriarchs of the family; grapes from

Shansi or Shan-tunghams from Foochowand lichees from Cantonall

form fitting vehicles for a declaration of friendship or of love. Now

toothe birthday gifts offered by every official in the Empire to his

immediate superiorare supplemented by further propitiatory

sacrifices to the powers that bewithout which tenure of office would

be at once troublesome and insecure. Such are known as /dry/in

contradistinction to the /water/ presents exchanged between relatives

and friends. The latter are whollyor at any rate in partarticles

of food prized among the Chinese for their delicacy or rarityperhaps

both; and so to all appearance are the baskets of choice oranges&c.

sent for instance by a District Magistrate with compliments of the

season to His Excellency the Provincial Judge. But the Magistrate and

the Judge know betterfor beneath that smiling fruit lie concealed

certain bank-notes or shoes of silver of unimpeachable touchwhich

form a unit in the sum of that functionary's incomeand enable him in

his turn to ingratiate himself with the all-powerful Viceroywhile he

lays by from year to year a comfortable provision against the time

when sickness or old age may compel him to resign both the duties and

privileges of government.

To "all between the four seas" patrician and plebeian[*] alikethe

New Year is a period of much intensity. On the 23rd or 24th of the

preceding moon it is the duty of every family to bid farewell to the

Spirit of the Hearthand to return thanks for the protection

vouchsafed during the past year to each member of the household. The

Spirit is about to make his annual journey to heavenand lest aught

of the disclosures he might make should entail unpleasant

consequencesit is adjudged best that he shall be rendered incapable

of making any disclosures at all. With this viewquantities of a very

sticky sweetmeat are prepared and presented as it were in sacrifice

on eating which the unwary god finds his lips tightly glued together

and himself unable to utter a single syllable. Beans are also offered

as fodder for the horse on which he is supposed to ride. On the last

day of the old year he returns and is regaled to his heart's content

on brown sugar and vegetables. This is the time /par excellence/ for

cracker-firingthoughas everybody knowsthese abominations begin

some days previously. Every onehowevermay not be aware that the

object of letting off these crackers is to rid the place of all the

evil spirits that may have collected together during the twelve months

just overso that the influences of the young year may be

uncontaminated by their presence. New Year's eve is no season for

sleep: in factChinamen almost think it obligatory on a respectable

son of Han to sit up all night. Indeedunless his bills are paidhe

would have a poor chance of sleeping even if he wished. His

persevering creditor would not leave his sidebut would sit there

threatening and pleading by turns until he got his money or effected a

compromise. Even should it be past twelve o'clockthe wretched debtor

cannot call it New Year's Day until his unwelcome dun has made it so

by blowing out the candle in his lantern. Of course there are

exceptionsbut as a rule all accounts in China are squared up before

the old year has become a matter of history and the new year reigns in

its stead. Thenwith the first streaks of dawnbegins that incessant

round of visits which is such a distinguishing feature of the whole

proceedings. Dressed out in his very bestofficial hat and boots

button and peacock's featherif lucky enough to possess them[+]

every individual Chinaman in the Empire goes off to call on all his

relatives and friends. With a thick wad of cardshe presents himself

first at the houses of the elder branches of the familyor visits the

friends of his father; when all the seniors have been disposed ofhe

seeks out his own particular croniesof his own age and standing. If

in the service of his countryhe does not omit to call at the yamen

and leave some trifling souvenir of his visit for the officer

immediately in authority over him. Wherever he goes he is always

offered something to eata fresh supply of cakesfruitand wine

being brought in for each guest as he arrives. While thus engaged his

fatheror perhaps brotherwill be doing the honours at homeready

to take their turn as occasion may serve. "New joynew joy; get rich

get rich" is the equivalent of our "Happy New Year" and isbandied

about from mouth to mouth at this festive seasonuntil petty

distinctions of nationality and creed vanish before the conviction

thatat least in matters of sentimentChinamen and Europeans meet

upon common ground. Yet there is one solitary exception to the rule--

an unfortunate being whom no one wishes to see prosperousand whom

nobody greets with the pleasant phrase"Get richget rich." It is

the coffin-maker.

[*] Chinese society is divided into two classes--officials and non-

officials.

[+] No matter whether by merit or by purchase.

 

 

THE FEAST OF LANTERNS

A great Chinese festival is the Feast of Lanternsone which is only

second in importance to New Year's Day. Its name is not unfamiliar

even to persons in England who have never visited Chinaand whose

ideas about the country are limited to a confused jumble of pigtails

birds'-nest soupand the /kotow/. Its advent may or may not be

noticed by residents in China; though if they know the date on which

it fallswe imagine that is about as much as is generally known by

foreigners of the Feast of Lanterns.

This festival dates from the time of the Han dynastyorin round

numbersabout two thousand years ago. Originally it was a ceremonial

worship in the temple of the First Causeand lasted from the 13th to

the 16th of the first moonbringing to a close on the latter date all

the rejoicingsfeastingsand visitings consequent upon the New Year.

In those early days it had no claim to its present titlefor lanterns

were not used; pious supplicants performed their various acts of

prayer and sacrifice by the light of the full round moon alone. It was

not till some eight hundred years later that art came to the

assistance of natureand the custom was introduced of illuminating

the streets with many a festoon of those gaudy paper lanternswithout

which now no nocturnal fete is thought complete. Another three hundred

years passed away without changeand then two more days were added to

the duration of the carnivalmaking it six days in all. For this it

was necessary to obtain the Imperial sanctionand such was ultimately

granted to a man named Ch'ienin consideration of an equivalent

whichas history hintsmight be very readily expressed in taels. The

whole thing now lasts from the 13th of the moonthe day on which it

is customary to light up for the first timeto the 18th inclusive

when all the fun and jollity is over and the serious business of life

begins anew. The 15th is the great timework of every kind being as

entirely suspended as it is with us on Christmas Day. At night the

candles are lighted in the lanternsand crackers are fired in every

direction. The streets are thronged with gaping crowdsand cut-purses

make small fortunes with little or no trouble. There being no

policemen in a Chinese moband as the cry of "stop thief" wouldmeet

with no response from the bystandersa thief has simply to look out

for some simple victimsnatch perhaps his pipe from his handor his

pouch from his girdleand elbow his way off as fast as he can go.

Plenty of lights and plenty of joss-stick would be enough of

themselves to make up a festival for Chinamen; in the present instance

there should be an extra abundance of boththough for reasons not

generally known to uneducated natives. Ask a coolie why he lights

candles and burns joss-stick at the Feast of Lanternsand he will

probably be unable to reply. The idea is that the spirits of one's

ancestors choose this occasion to come back /dulces revisere natos/

and that in their honour the hearth should be somewhat more swept and

garnished than usual. Therefore they consume bundle upon bundle of

well-scented joss-stickthat the noses of the spirits may run no risk

of being offended by mundane smells. Candles are lightedthat these

disembodied beings may be able to see their way about; and their sense

of the beautiful is consulted by a tasteful arrangement of the pretty

lamps in which the dirty Chinese dips are concealed. Worship on this

occasion is tolerably promiscuous; the Spirit of the Hearth generally

comes in for his shareand Heaven and Earth are seldom left out in

the cold. One very important part of the fun consists in eating

largely of a kind of cake prepared especially for the occasion. Sugar

or some sweet mince-meatis wrapped up in snow-white rice flour until

about the size of a small hen's eggonly perfectly roundand these

are eaten by hundreds in every household. Their shape is typical of a

complete family gatheringfor every Chinaman makes an effort to spend

the Feast of Lanterns at home.

Under the mournful circumstances of the late Emperor's deaththe 15th

of the 1st Chinese moon was this year (1875) hardly distinguishable

from any other day since the rod of empire passed from the hands of a

boy to those of a baby. No festivities were possible; it was of course

unlawful to hang lamps in any profusionand all Chinamen have been

prohibited by Imperial edict from wearing their best clothes. The

utmost any one could do in the way of enjoyment was to gorge himself

with the rice-flour balls above-mentionedand look forward to gayer

times when the days of mourning shall be over.

 

 

OPIUM SMOKING

Many writers on Chinese topics delight to dwell upon the slow but sure

destruction of moralsmannersand menwhich is being gradually

effected throughout the Empire by the terrible agency of opium.

Harrowing pictures are drawn of once well-to-do and happy districts

which have been reduced to know the miseries of disease and poverty by

indulgence in the fatal drug. The plague itself could not decimate so

quicklyor war leave half the desolation in its trackas we are told

is the immediate result of forgetting for a few short moments the

cares of life in the enjoyment of a pipe of opium. To such an extent

is this language usedthat strangers arriving in China expect to see

nothing less than the stern reality of all the horrors they have heard

described; and they are astonished at the busynoisy sight of a

Chinese townthe contentedpeaceful look of China's villagersand

the rich crops which are so readily yielded to her husbandmen by many

an acre of incomparable soil. Wherethenis this scourge of which

men speak? Evidently not in the highwaysthe haunts of commerceor

in the quiet repose of far-off agricultural hamlets. Bent on search

and probably determined to discover somethingour seeker after truth

is finally conducted to an opium denone of those miserable hells

upon earth common to every large city on the globe. Here he beholds

the vice in all its hideousness; the gamblerthe thiefthe beggar

and such outcasts from the social circlemeet here to worship the god

who grants a short nepenthe from suffering and woe. Thisthenis

Chinaand travellers' tales are but too true. A great nation has

fallen a prey to the insidious drugand her utter annihilation is but

an affair of time!

We confesshoweverwe have looked for these signs in vain; but our

patience has been rewarded by the elucidation of facts which have led

us to brighter conclusions than those so generally accepted. We have

not judged China as a nation from the inspection of a few low opium-

shopsor from the half dozen extreme cases of which we may have been

personally cognizantor which we may have gleaned from the reports of

medical missionaries in charge of hospitals for native patients. We do

not deny that opium is a cursein so far as a large number of persons

would be better off without it; but comparing its use as a stimulant

with that of alcoholic liquors in the Westwe are bound to admit that

the comparison is very much to the disadvantage of the latter. Where

opium kills its hundredsgin counts its victims by thousands; and the

appalling scenes of drunkenness so common to a European city are of

the rarest occurrence in China. In a country where the power of

corporal punishments is placed by law in the hands of the husband

wife-beating is unknown; and in a country where an ardent spirit can

be supplied to the people at a low price/delirium tremens/ is an

untranslateable term. Who ever sees in China a tipsy man reeling about

a crowded thoroughfareor lying with his head in a ditch by the side

of some country road? The Chinese people are naturally sober

peacefuland industrious; they fly from intoxicatingquarrelsome

samshooto the more congenial opium-pipewhich soothes the weary

braininduces sleepand invigorates the tired body.

In point of factwe have failed to find but a tithe of that real vice

which cuts short so many brilliant careers among men whowith all the

advantages of education and refinementare euphemistically spoken of

as addicted to the habit of "lifting their little fingers." Few

Chinamen seem really to love wineand opiumby its very priceis

beyond the reach of the blue-coated masses. In some partsespecially

in Formosaa great quantity is smoked by the well-paid chair-coolies

to enable them to perform the prodigies of endurance so often required

of them. Two of these fellows will carry an ordinary Chinamanwith

his box of clothesthirty miles in from eight to ten hours on the

hottest days in summer. They travel between five and six miles an

hourand on coming to a stagepass without a moment's delay to the

place where food and opium are awaiting their arrival. After smoking

their allowance and snatching as much rest as the traveller will

permitthey start once more upon the road; and the occupant of the

chair cannot fail to perceive the lightness and elasticity of their

treadas compared with the dulltired gait of half an hour before.

They die earlyof course; but we have trades in civilised England in

which a man thirty-six years of age is pointed at as a patriarch.

It is also commonly stated that a man who has once begun opium can

never leave it off. This is an entire fallacy. There is a certain

point up to which a smoker may go with impunityand beyond which he

becomes a lost man in so far as he is unable ever to give up the

practice. Chinamen ask if an opium-smoker has the /yin/ or not;

meaning therebyhas he gradually increased his doses of opium until

he has established a /craving/ for the drugor is he still a free man

to give it up without endangering his health. Hundreds and thousands

stop short of the /yin/; a fewleaving it far behind them in their

suicidal careerhurry on to premature old age and death. Further

from one point of viewopium-smoking is a more self-regarding vice

than drunkennesswhich entails gout and other evils upon the third

and fourth generation. Posterity can suffer little or nothing at the

hands of the opium-smokerfor to the inveterate smoker all chance of

posterity is denied. This very important result will always act as an

efficient check upon an inordinately extensive use of the drug in

Chinawhere children are regarded as the greatest treasures life has

to giveand blessed is he that has his quiver full.

Indulgence in opium ismoreoversupposed to blunt the moral feelings

of those who indulge; and to a certain extent this is true. If your

servant smokes opiumdismiss him with as little compunction as you

would a drunken coachman; for he can no longer be trusted. His wages

being probably insufficient to supply him with his pipe and leave a

balance for family expenseshe will be driven to squeeze more than

usualand probably to steal. But to get rid of a writer or a clerk

merely because he is a smokerhowever moderatewould be much the

same as dismissing an employe for the heinous offence of drinking two

glasses of beer and a glass of sherry at his dinner-time. An opium-

smoker may be a man of exemplary habitsnever even fuddledstill

less stupefied. He may take his pipe because he likes itor because

it agrees with him; but it does not follow that he must necessarily

make himselfeven for the time beingincapable of doing business.

Wine and moonlight were formerly considered indispensables by Chinese

bards; without themno inspirationno poetic fire. The modern

poetaster who pens a chaste ode to his mistress's eyebrowseeks in

the opium-pipe that flow of burning thoughts which his forefathers

drained from the wine-cup. We cannot see that he does wrong. We

believe firmly that a moderate use of the drug is attended with no

dangerous results; and that moderation in all kinds of eating

drinkingand smokingis just as common a virtue in China as in

England or anywhere else.[*]

[*] Sir Edmund Hornleyafter nine years' service as chief judge of

the Supreme Court at Shanghaidelivered an opinion on the anti-

opium movement in the following remarkable terms:--"Of all the

nonsense that is talkedthere is none greater than that talked

here and in England about the immorality and impiety of the opium

trade. It is simply sickening. I have no sympathy with itneither

have I any sympathy with the owner of a gin-palace; but as long as

China permits the growth of opium throughout the length and

breadth of the landtaxes itand pockets a large revenue from

it--sympathy with her on the subject is simply ludicrous and

misplaced."--(J. W. Walker v. Malcolm28th April 1875.)

But the following extract from a letter to the /London and China

Express/of 5th July 1875part of which we have ventured to

reproduce in italicssurpassesboth in fiction and naivete

anything it has ever been our lot to read on either side of this

much-vexed question:--"The fact isthat this tremendous evil is

utterly beyond the control of politiciansor even

philanthropists. Nothing but the divine power of Christian life

can cope with itand though this process may be slowit is sure.

Christian missions alone can deal with the opium trafficnow that

it has attained such gigantic dimensionsand the despised

missionaries are solving a problem which to statesmen is

insoluble. Thosethereforewho recognise the evils of opium-

smoking will most effectually stay the plague /by supporting

Christian Protestant Missions in China/.--Yours faithfully

An Old Residenter in China.

"LondonJune 281875."

 

 

THIEVING

Nowhere can the monotony of exile be more advantageously relieved by

studying dense masses of humanity under novel aspects than in China

where so much is still unknownand where the bulk of which is

generally looked upon as fact requires in most cases a leavening

element of truthin others nothing more nor less than flat

contradiction. The days are gone by for entertaining romances

published as if they were /bona fide/ books of traveland the opening

of China has enabled residents to smile at the audacity of the too

mendacious Huc. It has enabled them at the same time to view millions

of human beings working out the problem of existence under conditions

which by many persons in England are deemed to be totally incompatible

with the happiness of the human race. They behold all classes in China

labouring seven days in every weektaking holidays as each may

consider expedient with regard both to health and meansbut without

the mental and physical demoralisation supposed to be inseparable from

a non-observance of the fourth commandment. They see the unrestricted

sale of spirituous liquorsunaccompanied by the scenes of brutality

and violence which form such a striking contrast to the intellectual

advancement of our age. They notice that charity has no place among

the virtues of the peopleand that nobody gives away a cent he could

possibly manage to keep; the apparent result being that every one

recognises the necessity of working for himselfand that the

mendicants of a large Chinese city would barely fill the casual ward

of one of our smallest workhouses. They have a chance of studying a

competitive system many hundred years oldwith the certainty of

concluding thatwhatever may be its fate in England or elsewhereit

secures for the government of China the best qualified and most

intelligent men. Amongst other pointsthe alleged thievishness of the

Chinese is well worth a few moments' considerationwere it only out

of justice to the victims of what we personally consider to be a very

mischievous assertion. For it is a not uncommon sayingeven among

Europeans who have lived in Chinathat the Chinese are a nation of

thieves. In Australiain Californiaand in IndiaChinamen have

beaten their more luxurious rivals by the noiseless but irresistible

competition of temperanceindustryand thrift: yet they are a nation

of thieves. It becomes then an interesting question how far a low tone

of morality on such an important point is compatible with the

undisputed practice of virtues which have made the fortunes of so many

emigrating Celestials. Nowas regards the amount of theft daily

perpetrated in Chinawe have been able to form a rough estimateby

very careful inquiriesas to the number of cases brought periodically

before the notice of a district magistrate or his deputiesand we

have come to a conclusion unfavourable in the extreme to western

civilisationwhich has not hesitated to dub China a nation of

thieves. We have taken into consideration the fact that many petty

cases never come into court in Chinawhichhad the offence been

committed in Englandwould assuredly have been brought to the notice

of a magistrate. We have not forgotten that more robberies are

probably effected in China without detection than in a country where

the police is a well-organised forceand detectives trained men and

keen. We know that in China many cases of theft are compromisedby

the stolen property being restored to its owner on payment of a

certain sumwhich is fixed and shared in by the native constable who

acts as middleman between the two partiesand we are fully aware that

under circumstances of hunger or famineand within due limitsthe

abstraction of anything in the shape of food is not considered theft.

With all these considerations in mindour statistics (save the mark!)

would still compare most favourably with the records of theft

committed over an area in England equal in size and population to that

whence our information was derived. The above refers specially to

professional practicebut when we descend to private lifeand view

with an impartial eye the pilfering propensities of servants in China

we shall have even less cause to rejoice over our boasted morality and

civilisation. In the first placesqueezing of masters by servants is

a recognised system among the Chineseand is never looked upon in the

light of robbery. It is /commission/ on the purchase of goodsand is

taken into consideration by the servant when seeking a new situation.

Wages are in consequence low; sometimesas in the case of official

runners and constablesservants have to make their living as best

they can out of the various litigantsvery often taking bribes from

both parties. As far as slight raids upon winehandkerchiefsEnglish

baconor other such luxuries dear to the heart of the Celestialwe

might ask any one who has ever kept house in England if pilfering is

quite unknown among servants there. If it were strictly true that

Chinamen are such thieves as we make them out to bewith our eastern

habits of carelessness and dependencelife in China would be next to

impossible. As it ispeople hire servants of whom they know

absolutely nothingput them in charge of a whole house many rooms in

which are full of tempting kickshawsgo away for a trip to a port

five or six hundred miles distantand come back to find everything in

its place down to the most utter trifles. Merchants as a rule have

their servants /secured/ by some substantial manbut many do not take

this precautionfor an honest Chinaman usually carries his integrity

written in his face. Confucius gave a wise piece of advice when he

said"If you employ a manbe not suspicious of him; if you are

suspicious of a mando not employ him"--and truly foreigners in China

seem to carry out the first half to an almost absurd degreeplacing

the most unbounded confidence in natives with whose antecedents they

are almost always unacquaintedand whose very names in nine cases out

of ten they actually do not know! And what is the result of all this?

A few cash extra charged as commission on anything purchased at shop

or marketand a steady consumption of about four dozen pocket-

handkerchiefs per annum. Thefts there areand always will bein

China as elsewhere; but there are no better grounds for believing that

the Chinese are a nation of thieves than that their own tradition is

literally true which says"In the glorious days of oldif anything

was seen lying in the roadnobody would pick it up!" On the contrary

we believe that theft is not one whit more common in China than it is

in England; and we are fully convinced that the imputation of being a

nation of thieves has been castwith many othersupon the Chinese by

unscrupulous persons whose business it is to show that China will

never advance without the renovating influence of Christianity-an

opinion from which we here express our most unqualified dissent.

 

 

LYING

We have stated our conviction that the Chinese as a nation are not

more addicted to thieving than the inhabitants of many countries for

whom the same excuses are by no means so available. That no

undiscerning persons may be led to regard us as panegyrists of a

stationary civilisationwe hasten to counterbalance our somewhat

laudatory statements by the enunciation of another proposition less

startlingbut if anything more literally true. /The Chinese are a

nation of liars./ If innate ideas were possiblethe idea of lying

would form the foundation of the Chinese mind. They lie by instinct;

at any ratethey lie from imitationand improve their powers in this

respect by the most assiduous practice. They seem to prefer lying to

speaking the trutheven when there is no stake at issue; and as for

shame at being found outthe very feeling is unfamiliar to them. The

gravest and most serious works in Chinese literature abound in lies;

their histories lie; and their scientific works lie. Nothing in China

seems to have escaped this taint.

Essentially a people of fictionthe Chinese have given up as much

time to the composition and perusal of romances as any other nation on

the globe; and this phase of lying is harmless enough in its way.

Neither can it be said to interfere with the happiness of foreigners

either in or out of China that Chinese medicalastrological

geomanticand such workspretend to a knowledge of mysteries we know

to be all humbug. On the other handthey ought to keep their lying to

themselves and for their own special amusement. They have no right to

circulate written and verbal reports that foreigners dig out babies'

eyes and use them in their pharmacopoeia. They have no right to

publish such hideousloathsome pamphletsas the one which was some

years ago translated into too faithful English by an American

missionarywho had better have kept his talents to himselfor to

post such inflammatory placards as the one which is placed at the end

of this volume. Self-glorificationwhen no one suffers therefromis

only laughable; and we shall take the liberty of presenting here the

translation of an article which appeared in the /Shun Pao/ of the 19th

September 1874as a specimen of the manner in which Chinamen delight

to deceive even themselves on certain little points connected with the

honour and glory of China. The writer says:--

"I saw yesterday in the /Peking Gazette/ of the 10th September

1874 that the Prince of Kung had been degraded--a fact received

with mingled feelings of surprise and regret by natives of the

Middle and Western kingdoms alike. For looking back to the last

year of the reign Hsien Fengwe find that not only internal

trouble had not been set at rest when external difficulties began

to spring up around usand war and battle were the order of the

day. To crown allHis Majesty became a guest in the realm above

leaving only a child of tender yearsunable to hold in his hands

the reins of government. Thenwith our ruler a youth and affairs

generally in an unsettled statesedition within and war without

although their Majesties the Empresses-Dowager directed the

administration of government from behind the bamboo screenthe

task of wielding the rod of empire must have been arduous indeed.

Since that timeten years and morethe Eighteen Provinces have

been tranquillised; without/western nations have yielded

obedience and returned to a state of peace/; withinthe empire

has been fixed on a firm basis and has recovered its former

vitality. Nevereven in the glorious ages of the Chou or Hsia

dynastieshas our national prosperity been so boundless as it is

to-day. Whenever I have seen one among the people patting his

stomach or carolling away in the exuberance of his joyand have

asked the cause of his satisfactionhe has replied'It is

because of the loving-kindness of this our dynasty.' I ask what

and whence is this loving-kindness of which he speaks? He answers

me'It is the beneficent rule of their Majesties the Empresses-

Dowager; it is the unspeakable felicity vouchsafed by Heaven to

the Emperor; it is the loyalty and virtue of those in high places

of Tseng Kuo-fanof Li Hung-changof Tso Tsung-t'ang.' These

howeverare all provincial officials. Within the palace we have

the Empresses-Dowagerand His Majesty the Emperortoiling away

from morn till dewy eve; but among the ministers of state who

transact businessreceiving and making known the Imperial will

working early and late in the Cabinetthe Prince of Kung takes

the foremost place; and it is through his agencyas natives and

foreigners well knowthat for many years China has been regaining

her old statusso that any praise of their Imperial Majesties

leads naturally on to eulogistic mention of our noble Premier.

Hearing now that the Prince has incurred his master's displeasure

there are none who do not fear lest his previous services may be

overlookedhoping at the same time that the Emperor will be

graciously pleased to take them into consideration and cancel his

present punishment."

Lyingunder any circumstancesis a very venial offence in China; it

isin factno offence at allfor everybody is prepared for lies

from all quartersand takes them as a matter of course.

It is strangehoweverthat such a practical people should not have

discovered long ago the mere expediency of telling the truthin the

same way that they have found mercantile honesty to be unquestionably

the best policyand that trade is next to impossible without it. But

to argueas many dothat China is wanting in moralitybecause she

has adopted a different standard of right and wrong from our ownis

/mutato nomine/one of the most ridiculous traits in the character of

the Chinese themselves. They regard us as culpable in the highest

degree because our young men choose their own partnersmarryand set

up establishments for themselvesinstead of bringing their wives to

tend their aged parentsand live all together in harmony beneath the

paternal roof. We are superior to the Chinese in our utter abhorrence

of falsehood: in the practice of filial piety they beat us out of the

field. "Spartan virtue" is a household word amongst usbutSparta's

claims to pre-eminence certainly do not rest upon her children's love

either for honesty or for truth. The profoundest thinker of the

nineteenth century has said that insufficient truthfulness "does more

than any one thing that can be named to keep back civilisation

virtueeverything on which human happinesson the largest scale

depends"--an abstract proposition which cannot be too carefully

studied in connection with the present state of public morality in

Chinaand the general welfare of the people. Dr Leggehoweverwhose

logical are apparently in an inverse ratio to his linguistic powers

rushes wildly into the concreteand declares that every falsehood

told in China may be traced to the example of Confucius himself. He

acknowledges that "many sayings might be quoted from himin which

'sincerity' is celebrated as highly and demanded as stringently as

ever it has been by any Christian moralist" yeton the strength of

two passages in the Analectsand another in the "Family Sayings"he

does not hesitate to say that "the example of him to whom they bow

down as the best and wisest of menencourages them to actto

dissembleto sin." And what are these passages? In the first

Confucius applauds the modesty of an officer whoafter boldly

bringing up the rear on the occasion of a retreatrefused all praise

for his gallant behaviourattributing his position rather to the

slowness of his horse. In the secondan unwelcome visitor calling on

Confuciusthe Master sent out to say he was sickat the same time

seizing his harpsichord and singing to it"in order that Pei might

hear him." Dr Legge lays no stress on the last half of this story--

though it is impossible to believe that its meaning can have escaped

his notice altogether. Lastlywhen Confucius was once taken prisoner

by the rebelshe was released on condition of not proceeding to Wei.

"Thithernotwithstandinghe continued his route" and when askedby

a disciple whether it was right to violate his oathhe replied"It

was a forced oath. The spirits do not hear such."

We shall not attempt to defend Confucius on either of these

indictmentstaken separately and without reference to his life and

teachings; neither do we wish to temper the accusations we ourselves

have made against the Chineseof being a nation of liars. But when it

is gravely asserted that the great teacher who made truthfulness and

sincerity his daily textsis alone responsible for a vicious national

habit whichfor aught any one knows to the contrarymay be a growth

of comparatively modern timeswe call to mind the Horatian poetaster

who began his account of the Trojan war with the fable of Leda and the

swan.

 

 

SUICIDE

Suicidecondemned among western nations by human and divine laws

alikeis regarded by the Chinese with very different eyes. Posthumous

honours are even in some cases bestowed upon the victimwhere death

was met in a worthy cause. Such would be suicide from grief at the

loss of a beloved parentor from fear of being forced to break a vow

of eternal celibacy or widowhood. Candidates are for the most part

womenbut the ordinary Chinaman occasionally indulges in suicide

urged by one or other of two potent causes. Either he cannot pay his

debts and dreads the evil hour at the New Yearwhen coarse-tongued

creditors will throng his dooror he may himself be anxious to settle

a long-standing score of revenge against some one who has been

unfortunate enough to do him an injury. For this purpose he commits

suicideit may be in the very house of his enemybut at any rate in

such a manner as will be sure to implicate him and bring him under the

lash of the law. Nor is this difficult to effect in a country where

the ends of justice are not satisfied unless a life is given for a

lifewhere magistrates are venaland the laws of evidence lax.

Occasionally a young wife is driven to commit suicide by the harshness

of her mother-in-lawbut this is of rare occurrenceas the

consequences are terrible to the family of the guilty woman. The blood

relatives of the deceased repair to the chamber of deathand in the

injured victim's hand they place a broom. They then support the corpse

round the roommaking its dead arm move the broom from side to side

and thus sweep away wealthhappinessand longevity from the accursed

house for ever.

The following extract from the /Peking Gazette/ of 14th September

1874being a memorial by the Lieutenant Governor of Kiangsiwill

serve to show--though in this case the act was not consummated--that

under certain circumstances suicide is considered deserving of the

highest praise. In any casepublic opinion in China has every little

to say against it:--

"The magistrate of the Hsin-yu district has reported to me that in

the second year of the present reign (1863) a young ladythe

daughter of a petty officialwas betrothed to the son of

an expectant commissioner of the Salt Gabelleand a day was fixed

upon for the marriage. The bridegroomhoweverfell ill and died

on which his /fiancee/ would have gone over to the family to see

after his intermentand remain there for life as an unmarried

wife. As it washer mother would not allow her to do sobut

beguiled her into waiting till her fatherthen away on business

should return home. Meanwhilethe old lady betrothed her to

another man belonging to a different familywhereupon she took

poison and nearly died. On being restored by medical aidshe

refused food altogether; and it was not until she was permitted to

carry out her first intentions that she would take nourishment at

all. Since then she has lived with her father and mother-in-law

tending them and her late husband's grandmother with the utmost

care. They love her dearlyand are thus in a great measure

consoled for the loss of their son. Long thorns serve her for

hair-pins;[*] her dress is of cotton cloth; her food consists of

bitter herbs. Such privations she voluntarily acceptsand among

her relatives there is not one but respects her.

"The truth of the above report having been ascertainedI would

humbly recommend this virtuous ladyalthough the full time

prescribed by law has not yet expired[+] for some mark[:] of Your

Majesty's approbation." Rescript:--Granted!

[*] Instead of the elaborate gold and silver ornaments usually worn by

Chinese women.

[+] A woman must be a widow before she is thirty years oldand remain

so for thirty years before she is entitled to the above reward.

This is both to guard against a possible relapse from her former

virtuous resolutionand to have some grounds for believing that

she was prompted so to act more by a sense of right than by any

ungallant neglect on the part of the other sex.

[:] Generally a tablet or bannerinscribed with well-chosen words of

praise.

The only strange part in this memorial is that the girl's mother was

not censured for trying to prevent her from acting the part of a

virtuous wife and filial daughter-in-law. It is also more than

probable that her early attempts at suiciderather than any

subsequent household economy or dutiful behaviourhave secured for

this lady the coveted mark of Imperial approbation.

Suicidewhile in an unsound state of mindis rare; insanity itself

whether temporary or permanentbeing extremely uncommon in China.

Neither does the eye detect any of the vast asylums so numerous in

England for the reception of lunaticsidiotsdeaf-mutescripples

and the blind. There are a few such institutions here and therebut

not enough to constitute a national feature as with us. They are only

for the poorest of the poorand are generally of more benefit to

dishonest managers than to anybody else. And yet in the streets of a

Chinese town we see a far less number of "unfortunates" than amongour

own highly civilised communities. Blindness is the most common of the

above afflictionsso many losing their sight after an attack of

small-pox. But a Chinaman with a malformation of any kind is very

seldom seen; andas we have said beforelunacy appears to be almost

unknown. Such suicides as take place are usually well-premeditated

actsand are committed either out of revengeor in obedience to the

"despotism of custom." Statistics are impossibleand we offer our

conclusionsfounded upon observation alonesubject to whatever

correction more scientific investigators may hereafter be enabled to

produce.

 

 

TORTURE

Torture is commonly supposed to be practised by Chinese officials upon

each and every occasion that a troublesome criminal is brought before

them. The known necessity they are under of having a prisoner's

confession before any "case" is considered completecoupled withsome

few isolated instances of unusual barbarity which have come to the

notice of foreignershas probably tended to foster a belief that such

scenes of brutality are daily enacted throughout the length and

breadth of China as would harrow up the soul of any but a soulless

native. The curious part of it all is that Chinamen themselves regard

their laws as the quintessence of leniencyand themselves as the

mildest and most gentle people of all that the sun shines upon in his

daily journey across the earth--and back again under the sea. The

truth lies of course somewhere between these two extremes. For just as

people going up a mountain complain to those they meet coming down of

the bitter coldand are assured by the latter that the temperature is

really excessively pleasant--sofrom a western point of view certain

Chinese customs savour of a cruelty long since forgotten in Europe

while the Chinese enthusiast proudly compares the penal code of this

the Great Pure dynasty with the scattered laws and unauthorised

atrocities of distant and less civilised ages.

The Han dynasty which lasted from about B.C. 200 to A.D. 200 has been

marked by the historian as the epoch of change. Before that time

punishments of all kinds appear to have been terribly severeand the

vengeance of the law pursued even the nearest and most distant

relatives of a criminal devoted perhaps to death for some crime in

which they could possibly have had no participation. It was then

determined that in future only rebellion should entail extirpation

upon the families of such seditious offendersand at the same time

legal punishments were limited to fiveviz.: bambooing of two degrees

of severitybanishment to a certain distance for a certain time or

for lifeand death. These werehoweverfrequently exceeded by

independent officers against whose acts it would have been vain to

appealand it was not until the Sui dynasty (589-618 A.D.) that

mutilation of the body was absolutely forbidden. It mayindeedbe

said to have survived to the present day in the form of the "lingering

death" which is occasionally prescribed for parricides and matricides

but that we now know that this hideous fate exists only in words and

form. When it was first held to be inconsistent with reason to mete

out the same punishment to a highway robber who kills a traveller for

his purseand to the villain who takes away life from the author of

his beinga distinction was instituted accordinglybut we can only

rest in astonishment that any executioner could be found to put such a

horrible law into execution as was devised to meet the requirements of

the case. First an arm was chopped offthen the other; the two legs

in the same way. Two slits were made transversely on the breastand

the heart was torn out; decapitation finished the proceedings. Nowa

slight gash only is made across each collar-boneand three gashes

across the breast in the shape of the character meaning /one

thousand/and indicative of the number of strokes the criminal ought

properly to have received. Decapitation then follows without delay.

The absurd statement in the Shanghai /Daily News/ of the 16th January

lastthat this punishment "is the most frightful inflictedeven in

any of the darkest habitations of crueltyat the present day" is

utterly unworthy of that respectable journalbut only of a piece with

the general ignorance that prevails among foreigners generally on

topics connected with China and the Chinese. At the same timeit may

fairly be pleaded that the error in question was due to

disingenuousness on the part of the translator from the /Peking

Gazette/ whomentioning that such a sentence had been lately passed

upon two unhappy beingsadds that"they have been publicly sliced to

death accordinglywith the usual formalities"--which certainly might

lead a mere outsider to conclude that the horrible decree had actually

been put into execution. We may notice in passing that this so-called

"lingering death" is now almost invariably coupled with the name of

some poor lunatic who in a frenzy of passion has killed either father

or mothersometimes both. Vide /Peking Gazette/two or three times

every year. This is one of those pleasant fictions of Chinese official

lifewhich every one knows and every one winks at. In nine cases out

of tenthe unhappy criminal is not mad at all; but he is always

entered as such in the report of the committing magistratewho would

otherwise himself be exposed to censure and degradation for not having

brought his district to estimate at their right value the five[*]

cardinal relationships of mankind.

[*] Between(1) sovereign and subject(2) husband and wife(3)

parent and child(4) brothersand (5) friends.

Under the present dynasty the use of torture is comparatively rare

and mutilation of the person quite unknown. Criminals are often thrust

into filthy dungeons of the most revolting descriptionand are there

further secured by a chain; but except in very flagrant casesankle-

beating and finger-squeezingto say nothing of kneeling on chains and

hanging up by the earsbelong rather to the past than to the present.

The wife and children of a rebel chief may pass their days in peace

and quietness; innocent people are no longer made to suffer with the

guilty. A criminal under sentence of death for any crime except

rebellion may save his life and be released from further punishment

if he can prove that an aged parent depends upon him for the

necessaries of daily existence. The heavy bamboounder the infliction

of which sufferers not uncommonly diedhas given place to the lighter

instrument of punishmentwhich may be used severely enough for all

practical purposes while it does not endanger life. The Emperor K'ang

Hsiwhose name is inseparably connected with one of the most valuable

lexicons that have ever been compiledforbade bambooing across the

upper part of the back and shoulders. "Near the surface" said this

benign father of his people"lie the liver and the lungs. For some

trivial offence a man might be so punished that these organs would

never recover from the effects of the blows." The ruling system of

bribery has taken away from the bamboo its few remaining terrors for

those whose means are sufficient to influence the hand which lays it

on. Petty offences are chiefly expiated by a small payment of money to

the gaolerwho lets the avenging bamboo fall proportionately light

or assists the culprit by every means in his power to shirk the

degradation and annoyance of a week in the cangue.[*] These two are

the only ordinary punishments we hear much about; tortureproperly so

calledis permitted under certain circumstancesbut rarely if ever

practised.

[*] A heavy wooden collartaken off at night only if the sentence is

a long oneor on payment of a bribe.

In further support of this most heterodox positionwe beg to offer a

translation of two chapters from "Advice to Government Officials"a

native work of much repute all over the Empire:--

"CHAPTER V.

"The infliction of the bamboo is open to abuse in various ways.

For instancethe knots in the wood may not have been smoothed

off; blows may be given inside the jointsinstead of above the

knees; the tip end instead of the flat of the bamboo may be used;

each stroke may be accompanied by a drawing movement of the hand

or the same spot may be struck again after the skin has been

brokenwhereby the suffering of the criminal is very much

increased. Similarlythe "squeezing" punishment depends entirely

for its severity on the length of the sticks employedwhether

these are wet or dryas well as upon the tightness of the string.

Such points should be carefully looked to by the magistrate

himselfand not left to his subordinates. At the time of

infliction still greater precautions should be taken to prevent

the possibility of any accidentand where the offence was

committed under venial circumstancessome part of the punishment

may be remitted if it is considered that enough has already been

inflicted. Such punishments as pressing the knees to the ground

making prisoners kneel on chainsor burning their legs with hot

ironsadopted under the specious pretence of not using the

"squeezing" tortureare among the most barbarous of prohibited

practicesand are on no account to be allowed."

"CHAPTER VI.

"Lu Hsin-wu saysThere are five classes of people who must be

exempted from the punishment of the bamboo. (1) The aged. (2) The

young. (3) The sick. [It is laid down expressly by statute that

the aged and the young must not be thus coerced into giving

evidencebut there is a danger of overlooking this in a moment of

anger.] (4) The hungry and naked. [For thus to punish a beggar

half dead with cold and hunger and destitute of friends to nurse

him afterwardswould be equivalent to killing him outright.] (5)

Those who have already been beaten. [Whether in a brawl or by

other officials. A second beating might result in death for which

the presiding magistrate would be responsible.]

"There are five classes of people not to be hastily sentenced to

the bamboo. (1) Members of the Imperial family. [The relatives of

his Majestyeven though holding no rankare notsays the

statuteto be hastily punished in this way. The case must be laid

before the proper authorities.] (2) Officials. [However low down

in a scalethey are still part of the scheme of government;

besidesit affects their good name ever afterwards.] (3)

Graduates. (4) The official servants of your superiors. [Look out

for the vase when you throw at the rat. Though you may be actually

in the rightyet the dignity of your superiors might be

compromised. A plain statement of the facts should be made out and

privately handed to the official in questionleaving punishment

in his hands. But to refrain from such a course through fear of

the consequences would be weak indeed.] (5) Women.

"There are also five cases in which temporary suspension of

punishment is necessary. (1) When the prisoner is under the

influence of excitementor (2) anger. [The working classes are an

obstinate lot and beating only increases their passionso that

they would die rather than yield. Arguments should first be used

to show them their errorand then corporal punishment may be used

without fear.] (3) Or drink. [A drunken man doesn't know heaven

from earthhow can he be expected to distinguish right from

wrong? Besides he feels no painand further there is a risk of

his insulting the magistrate. He ought to be confined until he is

sober and then punished; but not in a cold place for fear of

endangering his life.] (4) Or when a man has just completed a

journeyor (5) when he is out of breath with running.

"There are also five instances in which it is well for your own

sake to put off punishment for a time. (1) When you are in a rage.

(2) When you are drunk. (3) When you are unwell. [For in the

latter case the system is heatedand not only would you be more

liable to improper infliction of punishmentbut also to lose your

temper; and thus injury would be done both to yourself and the

prisoner.] (4) When you can't see your way clearly as to the facts

of the case. (5) When you can't make up your mind as to the proper

punishment. [For in difficult cases and when the prisoner in

question is no ordinary manit is just as well to look forward a

little as to how the case is likely to end before you apply the

bamboo. It would never do to take such measures without some

considerationor you might suddenly find that you had by no means

heard the last of it.]

"There are three classes of people who should not be beaten in

addition to what they are to suffer. (1) Those who are to have

their fingers squeezed. (2) Those who are to have the ankle frame

applied. (3) Those who are to be exposed in the cangue. [For if

previously beaten they might be almost unable to moveor their

sores might not healand death might perhaps ensue. The statute

provides that they shall be beaten on releasebut this might

easily be forgotten in a moment of anger.]

"There are three instances in which compassion should save the

prisoners from the bamboo. (1) When the weather is extremely cold

or hot. (2) When a festival is being celebrated. (3) When the

prisoner has lately been bereaved. [A man who is mourning for his

fathermotherwifeor childshould not be punished

corporeally; it might endanger his life.]

"There are three cases in which a beating deserved should

nevertheless be remitted. (1) When one of the litigants is

considerably older than the otherhe should not be beaten. (2)

When one of the litigants is an official servantthe other should

not be beaten. [For although the former may be in the righthis

opponent should be treated with leniencyfor fear of people

saying you protect your Yamen servants; and lest in futurewhen

the servant is in the wrongno one will dare come forward to

accuse him.] (3) Workmen and others employed by the magistrate

himself should not be bambooed by himeven if they deserve it.

"Three kinds of bambooing are forbidden. (1) With the greater

bamboo. [One stroke of the /greater/ bamboo is counted as ten;

three with the /middle-sized/and five with the /smaller/.

Officials are often too free withnever too chary oftheir

punishments. With the smaller bambooused even to excesslife is

not endangered. Besidesif the punishment is spread over a longer

timethe magistrate has a longer interval in which to get calm.

But with the heavy bamboothere is no saying what injuries might

be done even with a few blows.] (2) It is forbidden to strike too

low down. (3) It is forbidden to allow petty officers to use

unauthorised instruments of punishment. These five preceding

clauses refer to cases in which there is no doubt that punishment

ought to be inflictedbut which officials are apt to punish too

indiscriminately without due investigation of circumstances

whereby they infallibly stir up a feeling of discontent and

insubordination. As regards those instances where punishment is

deserved but should be temporarily suspendeda remission of part

or the whole of the sentence may be granted as the magistrate sees

fit. The great point is to admit an element of compassionas

thereby alone the due administration of punishment can be

ensured."

 

 

FENG-SHUI

"Feng-shui" has of late years grown to be such a common expressionin

the mouths of foreigners resident in China that it stands no poor

chance of becoming gradually incorporated in the languages of more

than one nation of the West. And yetin spite of Dr Eitel's little

hand-bookwe may venture to assert that a very small percentage of

those who are constantly using this phrase really have a distinct and

correct idea as to the meaning of the words they employ. It is vaguely

known that Feng-shui is a powerful weapon in the hands of Chinese

officials whereby they successfully oppose all innovations which

savour of progressand preserve unbroken that lethargic sleep in

which China has been wrapt for so many centuries: beyond this all is

mystery and doubt. Some say the natives themselves do not believe in

it; others declare they do; others again think that the masses have

faithbut that enlightened and educated Chinese scout the whole thing

as a bare-faced imposture. Most Chinamen will acknowledge they are

entirely ignorant themselves on the subjectthough at the same time

they will take great pains to impress on their hearers that certain

friendsrelativesor acquaintances as the case may behave devoted

much time and attention to this fascinating study and are downright

professors of the art. They will further express their conviction of

its infallibilitywith certain limitations; and assert that there are

occasions in lifewhen to call in the assistance of Feng-shui is not

only advisable but indispensable to human happiness.

For those who will not be at the trouble of reading for themselves Dr

Eitel's valuable little bookwe may explain that Feng is the Chinese

word for /wind/ and Shui for /water/; consequentlyFeng-shui is wind-

water; the first half of which/wind/cannot be comprehendedthe

latter half/water/cannot be grasped. It may be defined as a system

of geomancyby the /science/ of which it is possible to determine the

desirability of sites whether of tombshousesor citiesfrom the

configuration of such natural objects as riverstreesand hillsand

to foretell with certainty the fortunes of any familycommunityor

individualaccording to the spot selected; by the /art/ of which it

is in the power of the geomancer to counteract evil influences by good

onesto transform straight and noxious outlines into undulating and

propitious curvesrescue whole districts from the devastations of

flood or pestilenceand "scatter plenty o'er a smiling land" which

might otherwise have known the blight of poverty and the pangs of

want. To perform such miracles it is merely necessary to build pagodas

at certain spots and of the proper heightto pile up a heap of

stonesor round off the peak of some hill to which nature's rude hand

has imparted a square and inharmonious aspect. The scenery round any

spot required for building or burial purposes must be in accordance

with certain principles evolved from the brains of the imaginative

founders of the science. It is the business of the geomancer to

discover such sitesto say if a given locality is or is not all that

could be desired on this headsometimes to correct errors which

ignorant quacks have committedor rectify inaccuracies which have

escaped the notice even of the most celebrated among the fraternity.

There may be too many treesso that some must be cut down; or there

may be too fewand it becomes necessary to plant more. Water-courses

may not flow in proper curves; hills may be too hightoo lowand of

baleful shapesor their relative positions one with another may be

radically bad. Any one of these causes may be sufficient in the eyes

of a disciple of Feng-shui to account for the sudden outbreak of a

plaguethe gradual or rapid decay of a once flourishing town. The

Feng-shui of a house influences not only the pecuniary fortunes of its

inmatesbut determines their general happiness and longevity. There

was a room in the British Legation at Peking in which two persons died

with no great interval of time between each event; and subsequently

one of the students lay there /in articulo mortis/ for many days. The

Chinese then pointed out that a tall chimney had been built opposite

the door leading into this roomthereby vitiating the Feng-shuiand

making the place uninhabitable by mortal man.

From the above most meagre sketch it is easy to understand that if the

natural or artificial configuration of surrounding objects is really

believed by the Chinese to influence the fortunes of a citya family

or an individualthey are only reasonably averse to the introduction

of such novelties as railways and telegraph poleswhich must

inevitably sweep away their darling superstition--never to rise again.

And they /do/ believe; there can be no doubt of it in the mind of any

one who has taken the trouble to watch. The endless inconvenience a

Chinaman will suffer without a murmur rather than lay the bones of a

dear one in a spot unhallowed by the fiat of the geomancer; the sums

he will subscribe to build a protecting pagoda or destroy some harmful

combination; the pains he will be at to comply with well-known

principles in the construction and arrangement of his private house--

all prove that the iron of Feng-shui has entered into his souland

that the creed he has been suckled in is the very reverse of outworn.

The childlike faith of his early years gradually ripens into a strong

and vigorous belief against which ridicule is perhaps the worst weapon

that can possibly be used. Nothing less than years of contact with

foreign nations and deep draughts of that real science which is even

now stealing imperceptibly upon themwill bring the Chinese to see

that Feng-shui is a vain shadowthat it has played its allotted part

in the history of a great nationand is now only fit to be classed

with such memories of by-gone glory as the supremacy of Chinathe bow

and arrowthe matchlockand the junk.

 

 

MONEY

Few things are more noticeable in China than the incessant chattering

kept up by servantscooliesand members of the working classes. It

is rare to meet a string of porters carrying their heavy burdens along

some country roadwho are not jabbering awayone and allas if in

the very heat of some exciting discussionand afraid that their

journey will come to an end before their most telling arguments are

exhausted. One wonders what ignorantilliterate fellows like these

can possibly have to talk about to each other in a country where beer-

shop politics are unknownwhere religious disputations leave no sting

behindand want of communication limits the area of news to half-a-

dozen neighbouring streets in a single agricultural village. Comparing

the uncommunicative deportment of a bevy of English bricklayerswho

will build a house without exchanging much beyond an occasional pipe-

lightwith the vivacious gaiety of these light-hearted sons of Han

the problem becomes interesting enough to demand a solution of the

question--What is it these Chinamen talk about? And the answer is

/Money/. It may be said they talkthinkdream of nothing else. They

certainly live for little besides the hope of some day compassingif

not wealthat any rate a competency. The temple of Plutus--to be

found in every Chinese city--is rarely without a suppliant; but there

is no such hypocrisy in the matter as that of the Roman petitioner who

would pray aloud for virtue and mutter "gold." And yet a rich manin

China is rather an object of pity than otherwise. He is marked out by

the officials as their lawful preyand is daily in danger of being

called upon to answer some falsesome trumped-up accusation. A

subscription listnominally for a charitable purposefor building a

bridgeor repairing a roadis sent to him by a local magistrateand

woe be to him if he does not head it with a handsome sum. A ruffian

may threaten to charge him with murder unless he will compromise

instantly for Tls. 300; and the rich man generally prefers this course

to proving his innocence at a cost of about Tls. 3000. He may be

accused of some trivial disregard of prescribed ceremoniesgiving a

dinner-partyor arranging the preliminaries of his son's marriage

before the days of mourning for his own father have expired. No handle

is too slight for the grasp of the greedy mandarinespecially if he

has to do with anything like a recalcitrant millionaire. But this very

mandarin himselfif compelled by age and infirmities to resign his

placeis forced in his turn to yield up some of the ill-gotten wealth

with which he had hoped to secure the fortunes of his family for many

a generation to come. The young hawks peck out the old hawks' e'en

without remorse. The possession of money is therefore rather a source

of anxiety than happinessthough this doesn't seem to diminish in the

slightest degree the Chinaman's natural craving for as much of it as

he can secure. At the same timethe abominable system of official

extortion must go far to crush a spirit of enterprise which would

otherwise most undoubtedly be rife. Everybody is so afraid of bringing

himself within the clutch of the lawthat innovation is quite out of

the question.

Neither in the private life of a rich Chinese merchant do we detect

the same keen enjoyment of his wealth as is felt by many an affluent

westernto whom kindly nature has given the intellect to use it

rightly. The former indulges in sumptuous feastsbut he does not

collect around his table men who can only give him wit in return for

his dinner; he rather seeks out men whose purses are as long as his

ownfrom amongst whose daughters he may select a well-dowried mate

for his dunderheaded son. He accumulates vast wardrobes of silk

satinand furs; but he probably could not show a copy of the first

edition of K'ang Hsior a single bowl bearing the priceless stamp of

six hundred years ago. These articles are collected chiefly by

scholarswho often go without a meal or two in order to obtain the

coveted specimen; the rich merchant spends his money chiefly on

dinnersdressand theatrical entertainmentsknowing and caring

little or nothing about art. His conversation is alsolike that of

his humbler countrymenconfined to one topic; if he is a banker

rates of exchange haunt him day and night; whatever he ishe lives in

daily dread of the next phase of extortion to which he will be obliged

to open an unwilling purse. How different from the literati of China

who live day by day almost from hand to moutheking out a scanty

subsistence by writing scrolls for door-postsand perhaps presenting

themselves periodically at the public examinationsonly to find that

their laboured essays are thrown out amongst the ruck once more! Yet

these last are undeniably the happier of the two. Having no wealth to

excite the rapacious envy of their rulersthey pass through life in

rapt contemplation of the sublime attributes of their Master

forgetting even the pangs of hunger in the elucidation of some obscure

passage in the Book of Changesand caring least of all for the idol

of their unlettered brethrenexcept in so far as it would enable them

to make more extensive purchases of their beloved booksand provide a

more ample supply of the "four jewels" of the scholar. Occasionallyto

be seen in the streetsthese literary devotees may be known by their

respectable but poverty-stricken appearancegenerally by their

spectaclesand always by their stoopacquired in many years of

incessant toil. These are the men who hate us with so deep a hatefor

we have dared to set up a rival to the lofty position so long occupied

by Confucius alone. If we came in search of trade onlythey would

toleratebecause they could understand our motivesand afford to

despise; but to bring our religion with usto oppose the precepts of

Christ to the immortal apophthegms of the Masterthis is altogether

too much for the traditions in which they have been brought up.

 

 

A DINNER-PARTY

It is a lamentable fact that although China has now been open for a

considerable number of years both to trade and travellersshe is

still a sealed book to the majority of intelligent Europeans as

regards her manners and customsand the mode of life of her people.

Were it not sosuch misleading statements as those lately published

by a young gentleman in the service of H.I.M. the Emperor of China

and professing to give an account of a Chinese dinnercould never

have been served up by half-a-dozen London newspapers as a piece of

valuable information on the habits of Chinamen. There is so much that

is really quaintinterestingand worthy of record in the social

etiquette observed by the natives of Chinathat no one with eyes to

see and ears to hear need ever draw upon his imagination in the

slightest degree. We do not imply that this has been done in the

present instance. The writer has only erred through ignorance. He has

doubtless been to a Chinese dinner where he "sat inside a glass door

and cigars were handed round after the repast" as many other brave

men have been before him--at Mr Yang'sthe celebrated Peking pawn-

broker. But had he been to more than that oneor taken the trouble to

learn something about the subject on which he was writinghe would

have found out that glass doors and cigars are not natural and

necessary adjuncts to a Chinese dinner. They are in fact only to be

found at the houses of natives who have mixed with foreigners and are

in the habit of inviting them to their houses. The topic is an

interesting oneand deserves a somewhat elaborate treatmentboth for

its own sake as a study of native customsand also to aid in

dispelling a host of absurd ideas which have gathered round these

everyday events of Chinese life. For it is an almost universal belief

that Chinamen dine daily upon ratspuppy-dogsand birds'-nest soup;

whereas the truth is thatsave among very poor peoplethe first is

wholly unknownand the two last are comparatively expensive dishes.

Dog hams are rather favourite articles of food in the south of China

but the nests from which the celebrated soup is made are far too

expensive to be generally consumed.

A dinner-party in China is a most methodical affair as regards

precedence among gueststhe number of coursesand their general

order and arrangement. We shall endeavour to give a detailed and

accurate account of such a banquet as might be offered to half-a-dozen

friends by a native in easy circumstances. In the first placeno

ladies would be presentbut men only would occupy seats at the

squarefour-legged "eight fairy" table. Before each there will be

found a pair of chopsticksa wine-cupa small saucer for soya two-

pronged forka spoona tiny plate divided into two separate

compartments for melon seeds and almondsand a pile of small pieces

of paper for cleaning these various articles as required. Arranged

upon the table in four equidistant rows are sixteen small dishes or

saucers which contain four kinds of fresh fruitsfour kinds of dried

fruitsfour kinds of candied fruitsand four miscellaneoussuch as

preserved eggsslices of hama sort of sardinepickled cabbage&c.

These four are in the middlethe other twelve being arranged

alternately round them. Wine is produced the first thingand poured

into small porcelain cups by the giver of the feast himself. It is

polite to make a bow and place one hand at the side of the cup while

this operation is being performed. The host then gives the signal to

drink and the cups are emptied instantaneouslybeing often turned

bottom upwards as a proof there are no heel-taps. Many Chinamen

howevercannot stand even a small quantity of wine; and it is no

uncommon thing when the feast is given at an eating-houseto hire one

of the theatrical singing-boys to perform vicariously such heavy

drinking as may be required by custom or exacted by forfeit. The

sixteen small dishes above-mentioned remain on the table during the

whole dinner and may be eaten of promiscuously between courses. Now we

come to the dinnerwhich may consist of eight large and eight small

coursessix large and six smalleight large and four smallor six

large and four smallaccording to the means or fancy of the host

each bowl of food constituting a course being placed in the middle of

the table and dipped into by the guests with chopsticks or spoon as

circumstances may require. The first is the commonestand we append a

bill of fare of an ordinary Chinese dinner on that scaleeach course

coming in its proper place.

I. Sharks' fins with crab sauce.

1. Pigeons' eggs stewed with mushrooms.

2. Sliced sea-slugs in chicken broth with ham.

II. Wild duck and Shantung cabbage.

3. Fried fish.

4. Lumps of pork fat fried in rice flour.

III. Stewed lily roots.

5. Chicken mashed to pulpwith ham.

6. Stewed bamboo shoots.

IV. Stewed shell-fish.

7. Fried slices of pheasant.

8. Mushroom broth.

Remove--Two dishes of fried puddingone sweet and the other salt

with two dishes of steamed puddingsalso one sweet and one

salt. [These four are put on the table together and with them

is served a cup of almond gruel.]

V. Sweetened duck.

VI. Strips of boned chicken fried in oil.

VII. Boiled fish (of any kind) with soy.

VIII. Lumps of parboiled mutton fried in pork-fat.

These last four large courses are put on the table one by one and are

not taken away. Subsequently a fiftha bowl of soupis addedand

small basins of rice are served roundover which some of the soup is

poured. The meal is then at an end. A /rince-bouche/ is handed to each

guest and a towel dipped in boiling water but well wrung out. With the

last he mops his face all overand the effect is much the same as

half a noggin of Exshare diluted with a bottle of Schweppe. Pipes and

tea are now handed roundthough this is not the first appearance of

tobacco on the scene. Many Chinamen take a whiff or two at their

hubble-bubbles between almost every courseas they watch the

performance of some broad farce which on grand occasions is always

provided for their entertainment. Opium is served when dinner is over

for such as are addicted to this luxury; and after a few minutes

spent perhaps in arranging the preliminaries of some future banquet

the partywhich has probably lasted from three to four hoursis no

longer of the present but in the past.

 

 

FEMALE CHILDREN

A great deal of trash has been committed to writing by various

foreigners on the subject of female children in China. The prevailing

belief in Europe seems to be that the birth of a daughter is looked

upon as a mournful event in the annals of a Chinese familyand that a

large percentage of the girls born are victims of a wide-spread system

of infanticidea sufficient numberhoweverbeing spared to prevent

the speedy depopulation of the Empire. It became our duty only the

other day to correct a mistakeon the part of a reverend gentleman

who has been some twelve years a missionary in Chinabearing on this

very subject. He observed that "the Chinese are always profuse in

their congratulations on the birth of a /son/; but if a girl is born

the most hearty word they can afford to utter is'girls too are

necessary.'" Such a statement is very misleadingand cannotin these

days of enlightenment on Chinese topicsbe allowed to pass

unchallenged. "I hear you have obtained one thousand ounces ofgold"

is perhaps the commonest of those flowery metaphors which the Chinese

delight to bandy on such an auspicious occasion; another being"You

have a bright pearl in your hand" &c.&c. The truth is thatparents

in China are just as fond of all their children as people in other and

more civilised countrieswhere male children are also eagerly desired

to preserve the family from extinction. The excess in value of the

male over the female is perhaps more strongly marked among the

Chineseowing of course to the peculiarity of certain national

customsand not to any want of parental feeling; buton the other

handa very fair share both of care and affection is lavished upon

the daughters either of rich or poor. They are not usually taught to

read as the boys arebecause they cannot enter any condition of

public lifeand education for mere education's sake would be

considered as waste of time and money by all except very wealthy

parents. Besideswhen a daughter is marriednot only is it necessary

to provide her with a suitable dowry and trousseaubut she passes

over to the house of her husbandthere to adopt his family name in

preference to her ownand contract new obligations to a father- and

mother-in-law she may only have seen once or twice in her lifemore

binding in their stringency than those to the father and mother she

has left behind. A son remains by his parents' side in most cases till

death separates them for everand on him they rely for that due

performance of burial rites which alone can ensure to their spirits an

eternal rest. When old age or disease comes upon thema son can go

forth to earn their daily riceand protect them from povertywrong

and insultwhere a daughter would be only an additional encumbrance.

It is no wonder therefore that the birth of a son is hailed with

greater manifestations of joy than is observable among western

nations; at the same timewe must maintain that the natural love of

Chinese parents for their female offspring is not thereby lessened to

any appreciable degree. No /red eggs/ are sent by friends and

relatives on the birth of a daughter as at the advent of the first

boythe hope and pride of the family; but in other respects the

customs and ceremonies practised on these occasions are very much the

same. On the third day the milk-name is given to the childand if a

girl her ears are pierced for earrings. A little boiled rice is rubbed

upon the lobe of the earwhich is then subjected to friction between

the finger and thumb until it gets quite numb: it is next pierced with

a needle and thread dipped in oilthe latter being left in the ear.

No blood flows. Boys frequently have one ear piercedas some people

sayto make them look like little girls; and up to the age of

thirteen or fourteengirls often wear their hair braided in a tail to

make them look like little boys. But the end of the tail is always

tied with /red/ silk--the differentiating colour between youths and

maids in China. And here we may mention that the colour of the silk

which finishes off a Chinaman's tail differs according to

circumstances. Black is the ordinary colouroften undistinguishable

from the long dresses in which they take such pride; /white/ answers

to deep crape with usand proclaims that either the father or mother

of the wearer has bid adieu to this sublunary sphere;[*] /green/

/yellow/and /blue/are worn for more distant relativesor for

parents after the first year of mourning has expired.

[*] The verb "to die" is rarely used by the Chinese of their

relatives. Some graceful periphrasis is adapted instead.

We will conclude with a curious custom whichas far as our inquiries

have extendedseems to be universal. The first visitorstranger

messengercoolieor friendwho comes to the house where a new-born

baby liesignorant that such an event has taken placeis on no

account allowed to go away without having first eaten a full meal.

This is done to secure to the child a peaceful and refreshing night's

rest; and as Chinamen are always ready at a moment's notice to dispose

of a feed at somebody else's expensedifficulties are not likely to

arise on a score of a previous dinner.

 

 

TRAVEL

Books of travel are eagerly read by most classes of Chinese who have

been educated up to the requisite standardand long journeys have

often been undertaken to distant parts of the Empirenot so much from

a thirst for knowledge or love of a vagrant lifeas from a desire to

be enrolled among the numerous contributors to the deathless

literature of the Middle Kingdom. Such travellers start with a full

knowledge of the tastes of their publicand a firm conviction that

unless they can provide sufficiently marvellous stories out of what

they have seen and heardthe fame they covet is not likely to be

accorded. No European reader who occupies himself with these works can

fail to discover that in every single one of them invention is brought

more or less into play; and that when fact is not forthcomingthe

exigencies of the book are supplemented from the convenient resources

of fiction. Of course this makes the accounts of Chinese travellers

almost worthlessand often ridiculous; though strange to sayamongst

the Chinese themselveseven to the grossest absurdities and most

palpable falsehoodsthere hardly attaches a breath of that suspicion

which has cast a halo round the name of Bruce.

We have lately come across a book of travelsin six thin quarto

volumeswritten by no less a personage than the father of Ch'ung-hou.

It is a very handsome workbeing well printed and on good paper

besides being provided with numerous woodcuts of the scenes and

scenery described in the text. The authorwhose name was Lin-ch'ing

was employed in various important posts; and while rising from the

position of Prefect to that of Acting Governor-General of the two

Kiangtravelled about a good dealand was somewhat justified in

committing his experiences to paper. We doubthoweverif his

literary efforts are likely to secure him a fraction of the notoriety

which the Tientsin Massacre has conferred upon his son. He never saw

the moon shining upon the waterbut away he went and wrote an ode to

the celestial luminaryalways introducing a few pathetic lines on the

hardships of travel and the miseries of exile. One chapter is devoted

to the description of a curious rock called the /Loom Rock/. It is

situated in the Luhsi district of the Chang-chou prefecture in Hunan

and is perfectly inaccessible to manas it well might beto judge

from the drawing of it by a native artist. From a little distance

howevercaves are discernible hollowed out in the cliffand in these

the eye can detect various articles used in housekeepingsuch as a

teapot&c.; and amongst others a /loom/. On a ledge of smooth rock a

boat may be seenas it were hauled up out of the water. How these got

thereand what is the secret of the placenobody appears to know

but our author declares that he saw them with his own eyes. We have

given the above particulars as to the whereabouts of the rockin the

hope that any European meditating a trip into Hunan may take the

trouble to make some inquiries about this wonderful sight. The late Mr

Margary must have passed close to it in his boatprobably without

being aware of its existence--if indeed it does exist at all.

We cannot refrain from translating verbatim one passage which has

reference to the Englishand of which we fancy Ch'ung-hou himself

would be rather ashamed since his visit to the Outside Nations. Here

it is:--

"When the English barbarians first began to give trouble to the

Inner Nationthey relied on the strength of their ships and the

excellence of their guns. It was therefore proposed to build large

ships and cast heavy cannon in order to oppose them. I

representedhoweverthat vessels are not built in a dayand

pointed out the difficulties in the way of naval warfare. I showed

that the power of a cannon depends upon the strength of the

powderand the strength of the powder upon the sulphur and

saltpetre; the latter determining the explosive force forwards and

backwardsand the formerthe same force towards either side.

Therefore to ensure powder being powerfulthere should be seven

parts saltpetre out of ten. The English barbarians have got rattan

ash which they can use instead of sulphurbut saltpetre is a

product of China alone. AccordinglyI memorialised His Majesty to

prohibit the export of saltpetreand caused some thirty-seven

thousand pounds to be seized by my subordinates."

 

 

PREDESTINATION

Theoreticallythe Chinese are fatalists in the fullest sense of the

word. Love of life and a desire to enjoy the precious boon as long as

possibleprevent them from any such extended application of the

principle as would be prejudicial to the welfare of the nation; yet

each man believes that his destiny is pre-ordainedand that the whole

course of his life is mapped out for him with unerring exactitude.

Happilywhen the occasion presents itselfhis thoughts are generally

too much occupied with the crisis before himto be able to indulge in

any dangerous speculations on predestination and free-will; his

practicethereforeis not invariably in harmony with his theory.

On the first page of a Chinese almanack for the current yearwe have

a curious woodcut representing a flya spidera birda sportsmana

tigerand a well. Underneath this strange medley is a legend couched

in the following terms:--"Predestination in all things!" The

letterpress accompanying the picture explains that the spider had just

secured a fat flyand was on the point of making a meal of himwhen

he was espied by a hungry bird which swooped down on both. As the bird

was making off to its nest with this delicious mouthfula sportsman

who happened to be casting round for a supperbrought it down with

his gunand was stooping to pick it upwhen a tigeralso with an

empty stomachsprang from behind upon the manand would there and

then have put an end to the dramabut for an ugly wellon the brink

of which the bird had droppedand into which the tigercarried on by

the impetus of his springtumbled headlongtaking with him man

birdspiderand fly in one fell career to the bottom. This fable

embodies popular ideas in China with regard to predestinationby

virtue of which calamity from time to time overtakes doomed victims

as a punishment for sins committed in their present or a past state of

existence. Coupled with this belief are many curious sayings and

customsthe latter of which often express in stronger terms than

language the feelings of the people. For instanceat the largest

centre of population in the Eighteen Provincesthere is a regulation

with regard to the porterage by coolies of wine and oilwhich

admirably exemplifies the subject under consideration. If on a wet and

stormy dayor when the ground is covered with snowa coolie laden

with either of the above articles slips and fallshe is held

responsible for any damage that may be done; whereasif he tumbles

down on a fine day when the streets are dryand there is no apparent

cause for such an accidentthe owner of the goods bears whatever loss

may occur. The idea is that on a wet and slippery day mere exercise of

human caution would be sufficient to avert the disasterbut happening

in brightdry weatherit becomes indubitably a manifestation of the

will of Heaven. In the same wayan endless run of bad luck or some

fearful and overwhelming calamityagainst which no mortal foresight

could guardis likened to the burning of an /ice-house/whichfrom

its very naturewould almost require the interposition of Divine

power to set it in a blaze. In such a casehe who could doubt the

reality of predestination would be rankedin Chinese eyesas little

better than a fool. And yet when these emergencies arise we do not

find the Chinese standing still with their hands in their sleeves (for

want of pockets)but working away to stop whatever mischief is going

onas if after the all the will of Heaven may be made amenable to

human energy. It is only when an inveterate gambler or votary of the

opium-pipe has seen his last chance of solace in this life cut away

from under himand feels himself utterly unable any longer to stem

the currentthat he weakly yields to the force of his destinyand

borrows a stout rope from a neighbouror wanders out at night to the

brink of some deep pool never to return again.

There is a charming episode in the second chapter of the "Dream of the

Red Chamber" where the father of Pao-yu is anxious to read the

probable destiny of his infant son. He spreads before the little boy

then just one year oldall kinds of different thingsand declares

that from whichever of these the baby first seizeshe will draw an

omen as to his future career in life. We can imagine how he longed for

his boy to grasp the manly /bow/in the use of which he might some

day rival the immortal archer Pu:--the /sword/and live to be

enrolled a fifth among the four great generals of China:--the /pen/

and under the favouring auspices of the god of literaturerise to

assist the Son of Heaven with his counselsor write a commentary upon

the Book of Rites. Alas for human hopes! The naughty babyregardless

alike of his father's wishes and the filial codepassed over all

these glittering instruments of wealth and powerand devoted his

attention exclusively to some hair-pinspearl-powderrougeand a

lot of women's head-ornaments.

 

 

JOURNALISM

Were any wealthy philanthropist to consult us as to the disposal of

his millions with a view to ensure the greatest possible advantages to

the greatest possible numberwe should unhesitatingly recommend him

to undertake the publication of a Chinese newspaperto be sold at a

merely nominal figure per copy. Under skilled foreign guidanceand

with the total exclusion of religious topicsmore would be effected

in a few years for the real happiness of China and its ultimate

conversion to western civilisationthan the most hopeful enthusiast

could venture to predict. The /Shun-pao/edited in Shanghai by Mr

Ernest Majoris doing an incredible amount of good in so far as its

influence extends; but the daily issue of this widely-circulated paper

amounts only to about four thousand copiesor one to every hundred

thousand natives! Missionary publications are absolutely uselessas

they have a very limited sale beyond the circle of converts to the

faith; but a /colporteur/ of religious books informed us the other day

that he was continually being asked for the /Shun-pao/. Now the /Shun-

pao/ owes its success so far to the fact that it is a pure money

speculationand therefore an undertaking intelligible enough to all

Chinamen. Not only are its columns closed to anything like

proselytising articlesbut they are open from time to time to such

tit-bits of the miraculous as are calculated to tickle the native

palateand swell the number of its subscribers. Thereforeto avert

suspicionit would be necessary to make a chargehowever small

while at the same time such bogy paragraphs as occasionally appear in

the columns of the /Shun-pao/ might be altogether omitted.

Our attention was called to this matter by a charming description in

the /Shun-pao/ of a late balloon ascent from Calaiswhich was so

nearly attended with fatal results. Written in a singularly easy

styleand going quite enough into detail on the subject of balloons

generally to give an instructive flavour to its remarksthis article

struck us as being the identical kind of "light science for leisure

hours" so much needed by the Chinese; and it compared most favourably

with a somewhat heavy disquisition on aeronautic topics which appeared

some time back in the /Peking Magazine/albeit the latter was

accompanied by an elaborate woodcut of a balloon under way. There is

so much that is wonderful in the healthy regions of fact which might

with mutual advantage be imparted to a reading people like the

Chinesethat it is quite unnecessary to descend to the grossand too

often indecentabsurdities of fiction. Much indeed that is not

actually marvellous might be put into language which would rivet the

attention of Chinese readers. The most elementary knowledgeaccording

to our standardis almost always neweven to the profoundest scholar

in native literature: the ignorance of the educated classes is

something appalling. On the other handall who have read their /Shun-

pao/ with regularityeven for a few monthsare comparatively

enlightened. We heard the other day of a Tao-t'ai who was always

meeting the phrase "International Law" in the above paperand his

curiosity at length prompted him to make inquiriesand finally to

purchase a copy of Dr Martin's translation of "Wheaton." He

subsequently complained bitterly that much of it was utterly

unintelligible; and judging from our own limited experience of the

translationwe think His Excellency's objection not altogether

groundless.

Of the domestic life of foreignersthe Chinesewith the exception of

a few servantsknow absolutely nothing; and equally little of foreign

mannerscustomsor etiquette. We were acquainted with one healthy

Briton who was popularly supposed by the natives with whom he was

thrown in contact to eat a whole leg of mutton every day for dinner;

and a high native functionarycomplaining one day of some tipsy

sailors who had been rioting on shoreobserved that "he knew

foreigners always got drunk on Sundaysand had the offence been

committed on that day he would have taken no notice of it; but"&c.

&c. They have vague notions that filial piety is not considered a

virtue in the Westand look upon our system of contracting marriages

as objectionable in the extreme. They think foreigners carry whips and

sticks only for purposes of assaultand we met a man the other day

who had been wearing a watch for yearsbut was in the habit of never

winding it up till it had run down. This we afterwards found out to be

quite a common custom among the Chineseit being generally believed

that a watch cannot be wound up whilst going; consequentlymany

Chinamen keep two always in useand it is worth noticing that watches

in China are almost invariably sold in pairs. The term "foreigndevil"

is less frequently heard than formerlyand sometimes only for the

want of a better phrase. Mr Alabasterin one of his journeys in the

interiorwas politely addressed by the villagers as /His Excellency

the Devil/. The Chinese settlers in Formosa call themselves "foreign

men" but they call us "foreign things;" forthey argueifwe called

you foreign menwhat should we call ourselves? The /Shun-pao/

deserves much credit for its unvarying use of /western/ instead of

/outside/ nations when speaking of foreign powersbut the belief is

still very prevalent that we all come from a number of small islands

scattered round the coast of one great centrethe Middle Kingdom.

And so we might go on multiplying /ad nauseam/ instances of Chinese

ignorance in trivial matters which an ably-conducted journal has it in

its power to dispel. We are so dissimilar from the Chinese in our ways

of lifeand so unlike them in dress and facial appearancethat it is

only many years of commercial intercourse on the present familiar

footing which will cause them to regard us as anything but the

barbarians they call us. Red hair and blue eyes may make up what Baron

Hubner would euphemistically describe as the "beau type d'un gentleman

anglais" but when worn with a funny-shaped hata short coattight

trousersand a Penang lawyerthe picture produced on the retina of a

Chinese mind is unmistakably that of a "foreign devil."

 

 

FUNERALS

Of all their cherished ceremoniesthere are none the Chinese observe

with more scrupulous exactness than those connected with death and

mourning. We have just heard of the Governor of Kiangsu going into

retirement because of the decease of his mother; and so he will

remainineligible to any officefor the space of three years. He

will not shave his head for one hundred days. For forty-nine nights he

will sleep in a hempen garmentwith his head resting on a brick and

stretched on the hard groundby the side of the coffin which holds

the remains of the parent who gave him birth. He will go down upon his

knees and humbly kotow to each friend and relative at their first

meeting after the sad event--a tacit acknowledgment that it was but

his own want of filial piety which brought his beloved mother

prematurely to the grave. To the coolies who bear the coffin to its

resting-place on the slope of some wooded hillor beneath the shade

of a clump of dark-leaved cypress treeshe will make the same

obeisance. Their lives and properties are at his disposal day and

night; but he now has a favour to ask which no violence could secure

and pleads that his mother's body may be carried gentlywithout jar

or concussion of any kind. He will have her laid by the side of his

fatherin a coffin which cost perhaps 100 poundsand repair thither

periodically to appease her departed spirit with votive offerings of

fruitvegetablesand pork.

Immediately after the decease of a parentthe children and other near

relatives communicate the news to friends living farther offby what

is called an "announcement of death" which merely states that the

father or motheras the case may behas diedand that theythe

survivorsare entirely to blame. With this is sent a "sad report"or

in other words a detailed account of deceased's last illnesshow it

originatedwhat medicine was prescribed and takenand sundry other

interesting particulars. Their friends reply by sending a present of

money to help defray funeral expensesa present of food or joss-

stickor even a detachment of priests to read the prescribed

liturgies over the dead. Sometimes a large scroll is written and

forwardedinscribed with a few such appropriate words as--"A hero has

gone!" When all these have been receivedthe members of the bereaved

family issue a printed form of thanksone copy being left at the

house of each contributor and worded thus:--"This is to express the

thanks of . . . the orphaned son who weeps tears of blood and bows his

head: of . . . the mourning brother who weeps and bows his head: of

. . . the mourning nephew who wipes away his tears and bows his head."

It is well known that all old and even middle-aged people in China

like to have their coffins prepared ready for use. A dutiful son will

see that his parents are thus providedsometimes many years before

their deathand the old people will invite relatives or friends to

examine and admire both the materials and workmanshipas if it were

some beautiful picture or statue of which they had just cause to be

proud. Upon the coffin is carved an inscription with the name and

titles of its occupant; if a womanthe name of her husband. At the

foot of the coffin are buried two stone tablets face to face; one

bears the name and title of the deceasedand the other a short

account of his lifewhat year he was born inwhat were his

achievements as a scholarand how many children were born to him.

Periods of mourning are regulated by the degrees of relationship to

the dead. A son wears his white clothes for three years--actually for

twenty-eight months; and a wife mourns her husband for the same

period. The death of a wifehowevercalls for only a single year of

grief; foras the Sacred Edict points outif your wife dies you can

marry another. The same suffices for brothersisteror child.

Marriages contracted during these days of mourning are not only

invalidbut the offending parties are punished with a greater or

lesser number of blows according to the gravity of the offence.

Innumerable other petty restrictions are imposed by national or local

customwhich are observed with a certain amount of fidelitythough

instances are not wanting where the whole thing is shirked as

inconvenient and a bore.

Cremationonce the prevailing fashion in Chinais now reserved for

the priest of Buddha alone--that self-made outcast from society

whose parting soul relies on no fond breastwho has no kith or kin to

shed "those pious drops the closing eye requires;" but whoseatedin

an iron chair beneath the miniature pagoda erected in most large

temples for that purposepasses away in fire and smoke from this vale

of tears and sin to be absorbed in the blissful nothingness of an

eternal Nirvana.

 

 

INQUESTS

Inquests in China serveunfortunatelybut to illustrate one more

phase of the folly and ignorance which hopelessly overshadow the vast

area of its Empire. For although the Chinese justly regard such

investigations as matters of paramount importanceand the office of

coroner devolves upon a high functionary--the district magistrate--yet

the backward state of science on the one handand the necessity the

ruling classes have been under of supplying this deficiency on the

otherhave combined to produce at once the most deplorable and the

most laughable results. Two good-sized volumes of "Instructions to

Coroners" beautifully printed on white paper and altogether

handsomely got upare published under the authority of the

Governmentand copies of this book are to be found in the offices of

every magistrate throughout the Empire. It is carefully studied even

by the underlings who play only subordinate parts on such occasions

and the coroner himself generally carries his private copy with him in

his sedan-chair to the very scene of the inquest. From this work the

following sketch has been compiledfor though it has been our fate to

be present at more than one of the lamentable exhibitions thus

dignified by the name of inquestand to have had ocular demonstration

of the absurdities there perpetratedit will be more satisfactory to

stick closely to the text of an officially-recognised bookthe

translation of which helped to while away many a leisure hour.

The first chapter opens as follows:--

"There is nothing more sacred than human life: there is no

punishment greater than death. A murderer gives life for life: the

law shows no mercy. But to obviate any regrets which might be

occasioned by a wrong infliction of such punishmentthe validity

of any confession and the sentence passed are made to depend on a

satisfactory examination of the wounds. If these are of a /bona

fide/ nature [i.e.not counterfeit]and the confession of the

accused tallies therewiththen life may be given for lifethat

those who know the laws may fear themthat crime may become less

frequent among the peopleand due weight be attached to the

sanctity of human existence. If an inquest is not properly

conductedthe wrong of the murdered man is not redressedand new

wrongs are raised up amongst the living; other lives may be

sacrificedand both sides roused to vengeance of which no man can

foresee the end."

On this it is only necessary to remark that the "validity" of a

confession is an important point in Chinasince substitutes are

easily procurable at as low a rate as from 20 to 50 pounds a life.

The duties of a Chinese coroner are by no means limited to /post

mortem/ examinations; he visits and examines any one who has been

dangerously woundedand fixes a date within which the accused is held

responsible for the life of his victim.

"Murders are rarely the result of premeditationbut can be

tracedin the majority of casesto a brawl. The statute which

treats of wounding in a brawl attaches great weight to the 'death-

limit' which means that the wounded man be handed over to the

accused to be taken care of and provided with medical aidand

that a limit of time be fixedon the expiration of which

punishment be awarded according to circumstances. Now the

relatives of a wounded manunless their ties be of the closest

generally desire his death that they may extort money from his

slayer; but the accused wishes him to live that he himself may

escape deathand therefore he leaves no means untried to restore

his victim to health. This institution of the 'death-limit' is a

merciful endeavour to save the lives of both."

One whole chapter is devoted to a division of the body into vital and

non-vital parts. Of the former there are twenty-two altogether

sixteen before and six behind; of the latter fifty-sixthirty-six

before and twenty behind. Every coroner provides himself with a form

drawn up according to these divisionsand on this he enters the

various wounds he finds on the body at the inquest.

"Do not" say the Instructions"deterred by the smell of the

corpsesit at a distanceyour view intercepted by the smoke of

fumigationletting the assistants call out the wounds and enter

them on the formperhaps to garble what is of importance and to

give prominence to what is not."

The instructions for the examination of the body from the head

downwards are very explicitand among them is one sentence by virtue

of which a Chinese judge would have disposed of the Tichborne case

without either hesitation or delay.

"Examine the cheeks to see whether they have been tattooed or not

or whether the marks have been obliterated. In the latter case

cut a slip of bamboo and tap the parts; the tattooing will then

re-appear."

In cases where the wounds are not distinctly visiblethe following

directions are given:--

"Spread a poultice of grainand sprinkle some vinegar upon the

corpse in the open air. Take a piece of new oiled silkor a

transparent oil-cloth umbrellaand hold it between the sun and

the parts you want to examine. The wounds will then appear. If the

day is dark or rainyuse live charcoal [instead of the sun].

Suppose there is no resultthen spread over the parts pounded

white prunes with more grains and vinegarand examine closely. If

the result is still imperfectthen take the flesh only of the

pruneadding cayenne pepperonionssaltand grainsand mix it

up into a cake. Make this very hotand having first interposed a

sheet of paperlay it on the parts. The wound will then appear."

Hot vinegar and grains are always used previous to an examination of

the body to soften it and cause the wounds to appear more distinctly.

"But in winterwhen the corpse is frozen hardand no amount of

grains and vinegarhowever hotor clothes piled uphowever

thickwill relax its rigiditydig a hole in the ground of the

length and breadth of the body and three feet in depth. Lay in it

a quantity of fuel and make a roaring fire. Then dash over it

vinegarwhich will create dense volumes of steamin the middle

of which place the body with all its dressings right in the hole;

cover it over with clothes and pour on more hot vinegar all over

it. At a distance of two or three feet from the hole on either

side of it light firesand when you think the heat has thoroughly

penetratedtake away the fire and remove the body for

examination."

It is always a great point with the coroner to secure as soon as

possible the fatal weapon. If a long time has elapsed between the

murder and the inquestand no traces of blood are visible on the

knife or sword which may have been used"heat it red hot in a

charcoal fireand pour over it a quantity of first-rate vinegar. The

stains of blood will at once appear."

The note following this last sentence is still more extraordinary:--

"An inquest was held on the body of a man who had been murdered on

the high roadand at first it was thought that the murder had

been committed by robbersbut on examination the corpse was found

to be fully clothed and bearing the marks of some ten or more

wounds from a sickle. The coroner pointed out that robbers kill

their victims for the sake of bootywhich evidently was not the

case in the present instanceand declared revenge to be at the

bottom of it all. He then sent for the wife of the murdered man

and asked her if her husband had lately quarrelled with anybody.

She replied Nobut stated that there had been some high words

between her husband and another man to whom he had refused to lend

money. The coroner at once despatched his runners to the place

where this man livedto bid the people of that village produce

all their sickles without delayat the same time informing them

that the concealment of a sickle would be tantamount to a

confession of guilt. The sickles were accordingly producedin

number about eightyand spread out upon the ground. The season

being summer there were a great quantity of fliesall of which

were attracted by one particular sickle. The coroner asked to whom

this sickle belongedand lo! it belonged to him with whom the

murdered man had quarrelled about a loan. On being arrestedhe

denied his guilt; but the coroner pointed to the flies settling

upon the sickleattracted by the smell of bloodand the murderer

bent his head in silent acknowledgment of his crime."

Inquests are often held in China many years after the death of the

victim. Give a Chinese coroner merely the dry and imperfect skeleton

of a man known to have been murderedand he will generally succeed in

fixing the guilt on some one. To supplement thus by full and open

confession of the accused is a matter of secondary difficulty in a

country where torture may at any moment be brought to bear with

terrible efficacy in the cause of justice and truth. Its application

howeveris extremely rare.

"Man has three hundred and sixty-five bonescorresponding to the

number of days it takes the heavens to revolve. The skull of a

manfrom the nape of the neck to the top of the headconsists of

eight pieces--that of a Ts'ai-chow manof nine; women's skulls

are of six pieces. Men have twelve ribs on either side; women have

fourteen."

The above being sufficient to show where the Chinese are with regard

to the structure of the human framewe will now proceed to the

directions for examining bonesit may be months or even years after

death.

"For the examination of bones the day should be clear and bright.

First take clean water and wash themand then with string tie

them together in proper order so that a perfect skeleton is

formedand lay this on a mat. Then make a hole in the ground

five feet longthree feet broadand two feet deep. Throw into

this plenty of firewood and charcoaland keep it burning till the

ground is thoroughly hot. Clear out the fire and pour in two pints

of good spirit and five pounds of strong vinegar. Lay the bones

quickly in the steaming pit and cover well up with rushes&c. Let

them remain there for two or three hours until the ground is cold

when the coverings may be removedthe bones taken to a convenient

spotand examined under a red oil-cloth umbrella.

"If the day is dark or rainy the 'boiling' method must be adopted.

Take a large jar and heat in it a quantity of vinegar; then having

put in plenty of salt and white prunesboil it altogether with

the bonessuperintending the process yourself. When it is boiling

fasttake out the boneswash them in waterand hold up to the

light. The wounds will be perfectly visiblethe blood having

soaked into the wounded partsmarking them with red or dark blue

or black.

"The above method ishowevernot the only one. Take a new yellow

oil-cloth umbrella from Hangchowhold it over the bonesand

every particle of wound hidden in the bones will be clearly

visible. In cases where the bones are old and the wounds have been

obliterated by long exposure to wind and rain or dulled by

frequent boilingsit only remains to examine them in the sun

under a yellow umbrellawhich will show the wounds as far as

possible.

"There must be no zinc boiled with the bones or they will become

dull.

"Bones which have passed several times through the process of

examination become quite white and exactly like uninjured bones;

in which casetake such as should show wounds and fill them with

oil. Wait till the oil is oozing out all overthen wipe it off

and hold the bone up to the light; where there are wounds the oil

will collect and not pass; the clear parts have not been injured.

"Another method is to rub some good ink thick and spread it on the

bone. Let it dryand then wash it off. Where there are wounds

and there onlyit will sink into the bone. Or take some new

cotton wool and pass it over the bone. Wherever there is a wound

some will be pulled out [by the jagged parts of the bone]."

A whole chapter is devoted to counterfeit woundsthe means of

distinguishing them from real woundsand the manner in which they are

produced. Section 2 of the thirteenth chapter is on a cognate subject

namelyto ascertain whether wounds were inflicted before or after

death:--

"If there are several dark-coloured marks on the bodytake some

water and let it fall drop by drop on to them. If they are wounds

the water will remain without trickling away; if they are not

woundsthe water will run off. In examining woundsthe finger

must be used to press down any livid or red spot. If it is a wound

it will be hardand on raising the finger will be found of the

same colour as before.

"Wounds inflicted on the bone leave a red mark and a slight

appearance of saturationand where the bone is broken there will

be at either end a halo-like trace of blood. Take a bone on which

there are marks of a wound and hold it up to the light; if these

are of a fresh-looking redthe wound was afflicted before death

and penetrated to the bone; but if there is no trace of saturation

from bloodalthough there is a woundif was inflicted after

death."

In a chapter on wounds from kicksthe following curious instructions

are given regarding a "bone-method" of examination:--

"To depend on the evidence of the bone immediately below the wound

would be to let many criminals slip through the meshes of the law.

Where wounds have been thus inflictedno matter on man or woman

the wounds will be visible on the upper half of the bodyand not

on the lower. For instancethey will appear in a male at the

roots of either the top or bottom teethinside; on the right hand

if the wound was on the leftand /vice versa/; in the middle of

the wound was central. In womenthe wounds will appear on the

gums right or left as above."

The next extract needs no commentexcept perhaps that it forms the

most cherished of all beliefs in the whole range of Chinese medical

jurisprudence:--

"The bones of parents may be identified by their children in the

following manner. Let the experimenter cut himself or herself with

a knife and cause the blood to drip on to the bones; thenif the

relationship is an actual fact the blood will sink into the bone

otherwise it will not. N.B. Should the bones have been washed with

salt watereven though the relationship existsyet the blood

will not soak in. This is a trick to be guarded against

beforehand.

"It is also said that if parent and childor husband and wife

each cut themselves and let the blood drip into a basin of water

the two bloods will mixwhereas that of two people not thus

related will not mix.

"Where two brothers who may have been separated since childhood

are desirous of establishing their identity as suchbut are

unable to do so by ordinary meansbid each one cut himself and

let the blood drip into a basin. If they are really brothersthe

two bloods will congeal into one; otherwise not. But because fresh

blood will always congeal with the aid of a little salt or

vinegarpeople often smear the basin over with these to attain

their own ends and deceive others; thereforealways wash out the

basin you are going to use or buy a new one from a shop. Thus the

trick will be defeated.

"The above method of dropping blood on the bones may be used even

by a grandchilddesirous of identifying the remains of his

grandfather; but husband and wifenot being of the same flesh and

bloodit is absurd to suppose that the blood of one would soak

into the bones of the other. For such a principle would apply with

still more force to the case of a childwho had been suckled by a

foster-mother and had grown upindebted to her for half its

existence. With regard to the water methodif the basin used is

large and full of waterthe bloods will be unable to mix from

being so much diluted; and in the latter case where there is no

waterif the interval between dropping the two bloods into the

basin is too longthe first will get cold and they will not mix."

Not content with holding an inquest on the bones of a man who may have

been murdered five years beforea Chinese coroner quite as often

proceeds gravely to examine the wounds of a corpse which has been

reduced to ashes by fire and scattered to the four winds of heaven. No

mere eyewitness would dare to relate the singular process by which

such a result is achieved; but directions exist in black and whiteof

which the following is a close translation:--

"There are some atrocious villains whowhen they have murdered

any oneburn the body and throw the ashes awayso that there are

no bones to examine. In such cases you must carefully find out at

what time the murder was committed and where the body was burnt.

Thenwhen you know the placeall witnesses agreeing on this

pointyou may proceed without further delay to examine the

wounds. The mode of procedure is this. Put up your shed near where

the body was burntand make the accused and witnesses point out

themselves the very spot. Then cut down the grass and weeds

growing on this spotand burn large quantities of fuel till the

place is extremely hotthrowing on several pecks of hempseed. By

and by brush the place cleanand thenif the body was actually

burnt in this spotthe oil from the seed will be found to have

sunk into the ground in the form of a human figureand wherever

there were wounds on the dead manthere on this figure the oil

will be found to have collected togetherlarge or smallsquare

roundlongshortobliqueor straightexactly as they were

inflicted. The parts where there were no wounds will be free from

any such appearances. But supposing you obtain the outline only

without the necessary detail of the woundsthen scrape away the

masses of oillight a brisk fire on the form of the body and

throw on grains mixed with water. Make the fire burn as fiercely

as possibleand sprinkle vinegarinstantly covering it over with

a new well-varnished table. Leave the table on for a little while

and then take it off for examination. The form of the body will be

transferred to the table and the wounds will be distinct and clear

in every particular.

"If the place is wild and some time has elapsed since the deed was

doneso that the very murderer does not remember the exact spot

inquire carefully in what direction it was with regard to such and

such a village or templeand about how far off. If all agree on

this pointproceed in person to the placeand bid your

assistants go round about searching for any spots where the grass

is taller and stronger than usualmarking such with a mark. For

where a body has been burnt the grass will be darker in huemore

luxuriantand taller than that surrounding itand will not lose

these characteristics for a long timethe fat and grease of the

body sinking down to the roots of the grass and causing the above

results. If the spot is on a hillor in a wild place where the

vegetation is very luxuriantthen you must look for a growth

about the height of a man. If the burning took place on stony

groundthe crumbly appearance of the stones must be your guide;

this simplifies matters immensely."

Suchthenare a few of the absurdities which pass muster among the

credulous people of China as the result of deep scientific research;

but whether the educated classes--more especially those individuals

who devote themselves in the course of their official duties to the

theory and practice of /post mortem/ examinations--can be equally

gulled with the gaping crowd around themwe may safely leave our

readers to decide for themselves.

 

 

INQUESTSNO. II

Section IV. of the valuable work which formed the basis of our

preceding sketchis devoted to the enumeration of methods for

restoring human life after such casualties as drowninghanging

poisoning&c.some hours and even days after vitality has to all

appearances ceased. We shall quote as before from our own literal

translation.

"Where a man has been hanging from morning to nighteven though

already colda recovery may still be effected. Stop up the

patient's mouth tightly with your handand in a little over four

hours respiration will be restored. /Or/Take equal parts of

finely-powdered soap-bean and anemone hepaticaand blow a

quantity of this--about as much as a bean--into the patient's

nostrils.

"In all cases where men or women have been hangeda recovery may

be effected even if the body has become stiff. You must not cut

the body downbutsupporting ituntie the rope and lay it down

in some smooth place on its back with the head propped up. Bend

the arms and legs gentlyand let some one sitting behind pull the

patient's hair tightly. Straighten the armslet there be a free

passage through the wind-pipeand let two persons blow

incessantly into the ears through a bamboo tube or reedrubbing

the chest all the time with the hand. Take the blood from a live

fowl's comband drop it into the throat and nostrils--the left

nostril of a womanthe right of a man; also using a cock's comb

for a mana hen's for a woman. Re-animation will be immediately

effected. If respiration has been suspended for a long timethere

must be plenty of blowing and rubbing; do not think that because

the body is cold all is necessarily over.

"Where a man has been in the water a whole nighta recovery may

still be effected. Break up part of a mud wall and pound it to

dust; lay the patient thereon on his backand cover him up with

the sameexcepting only his mouth and eyes. Thus the water will

be absorbed by the mudand life will be restored. This method is

a very sure oneeven though the body has become stiff.

"In cases of injury from scaldingget a large oyster and put it

in a basin with its mouth upwards somewhere quite away from

anybody. Wait till its shell opensand then shake in from a spoon

a little Borneo camphormixed and rubbed into a powder with an

equal portion of genuine musk. The oyster will then close its

shell and its flesh will be melted into a liquid. Add a little

more of the above ingredientsand with a fowl's feather brush it

over the parts and round the woundgetting nearer and nearer

every time till at last you brush it into the wound; the pain will

thus gradually cease. A small oyster will do if a large one is not

to be had. This is a first-rate prescription.

"Where a man has fallen into the water in winterand has quite

lost all consciousness from coldif there is the least warmth

about the chestlife may still be restored. Should the patient

show the slightest inclination to laughstop up his nose and

mouth at onceor he will soon be unable to leave offand it will

be impossible to save him. On no account bring a patient hastily

to the firefor the sight of fire will excite him to immoderate

laughterand his chance of life is gone.

"In cases of nightmaredo not at once bring a lightor going

near call out loudly to the sleeperbut bite his heel or his big

toeand gently utter his name. Also spit on his face and give him

ginger tea to drink; he will then come round. /Or/Blow into the

patient's ears through small tubespull out fourteen hairs from

his headmake them into a twist and thrust into his nose. Also

give salt and water to drink. Where death has resulted from seeing

goblinstake the heart of a leek and push it up the patient's

nostrils--the left for a manthe right for a woman. Look along

the inner edge of the upper lips for blisters like grains of

Indian cornand prick them with a needle."

The work concludes with an antidote against a certain dangerous poison

known as /Ku/originally discovered by a Buddhist priest and

successfully administered in a great number of cases. Its ingredients

which comprise two red centipedes--one live and one roasted--must be

put into a mortar and pounded up together either on the 5th of the 5th

moonthe 9th of the 9th moonor the 8th of the 12th moonin some

place quite away from womenfowlsand dogs. Pills made from the

paste produced are to be swallowed one by one without mastication. The

preparation of this deadly /Ku/ poison is described in the last

chapter but one of Section III. in the following words:--

"Take a quantity of insects of all kinds and throw them into a

vessel of any kind; cover them up and let a year pass away before

you look at them again. The insects will have killed and eaten

each other until there is only one survivorand this one is

/Ku/."

In the next chapter we are informed that spinach eaten with tortoise

is poisonas also is shell-fish eaten with venison; that death

frequently results from drinking pond-water which has been poisoned by

snakesfrom drinking water which has been used for flowersor tea

which has stood uncovered through the nightfrom eating the flesh of

a fowl which has swallowed a centipedeand wearing clothes which have

been soaked with perspiration and dried in the sun. Finally

"A case is recorded of a man who tied his victim's hands and feet

and forced into his mouth the head of a snakeapplying fire at

the same time to its tail. The snake jumped down the man's throat

and passed into his stomachbut at the inquest held over the body

no traces of wounds were found to which death could be attributed.

Such a crimehowevermay be detected by examination of the bones

whichfrom the head downwardswill be found entirely of a bright

red colourcaused by the dispersion of the blood; and moreover

the more the bones are scraped awaythe brighter in colour do

they become."

It is difficult to speak of such a book as "Instructions toCoroners"

with anything like becoming gravityand yet it is one of the most

widely-read and highly-esteemed works in China; so much sothat

native scholars frequently throw it in the teeth of foreigners as one

of their many repertories of real wonder-working scienceequal to

anything that comes from the Westif only foreigners would take the

trouble to consult it. To satisfy our own curiosity on the subject we

bought a copy and translated it from beginning to end; but our readers

will perhaps be able to determine its scientific value from the few

quotations given aboveand agree with us that it would hardly be

worth while to learn Chinese for the pleasure or profit to be derived

from reading "Instructions to Coroners" in the original character.

 

 

CHRISTIANITY

The extraordinary feeling of hatred and contempt evinced by the

Chinese nation for missionaries of every denomination who settle in

their countrynaturally suggests the question whether Christianity is

likely to prove a boon to Chinaifindeedit ever succeeds in

taking root at all. That under the form of Roman Catholicismit once

had a chance of becoming the religion of the Empireand that that

chance was recklessly sacrificed to bigotry and intoleranceis too

well known to be repeated; but that such an opportunity will ever

occur again is quite beyond the boundsif not of possibilityat any

rate of probability. Missionary prospects are anything but bright in

China just nowin spite of rosily worded "reports" and annual

statistics of persons baptized. A respectable Chinaman will tell you

that only thieves and bad characters who have nothing to lose avail

themselves of baptismas a means of securing "long nights of

indolence and ease" in the household of some enthusiastic missionary

at from four to ten dollars a month. Educated men will not tolerate

missionaries in their housesas many have found to their cost; and

the fact cannot be concealed that the foreign community in China

suffers no small inconvenience and incurs considerable danger for a

cause with which a large majority of its members has no sympathy

whatever. It wouldhoweverbe invidious to dwell upon the class of

natives who allow themselves to be baptized and pretend to accept

dogmas they most certainly do not understandor on the mental and

social calibre of numbers of those gentlemen who are sent out to

convert them; we will confine ourselves merely to considering what

practical benefits Christianity would be likely to confer upon the

Chinese at large. And this we may fairly donot being of those who

hold that all will be damned but the sect of that particular church to

which they themselves happen to belong; but believing that the Chinese

have as good a chance as anybody else of whatever happiness may be in

store for the virtuouswhether they become Christians or whether they

do not.

In the course of eight years' residence in Chinawe have never met a

drunken man in the streets. Opium-smokers we have seen in all stages

of intoxication; but no drunken brawlsno bruised and bleeding wives.

Would Christianity raise the Chinese to the standard of European

sobriety? Would it bring them to renounce opiumonly to replace it

with gin? Would it cause them to become more frugalto live more

economically than they do now on their bowl of rice and cabbage

moistened with a drink of teaand perhaps supplemented with a few

whiffs of the mildest possible tobacco? Would it cause them to be more

industrious than--e.g.the wood-carvers of Ningpo who work daily from

sunrise to duskwith two short intervals for meals? Would it make

them more filial?--justly renowned as they are for unremitting care of

aged and infirm parents. More fraternal?--where every family is a

small societyeach member toiling for the common goodand being sure

of food and shelter if thrown out of work or enfeebled by disease.

More law-abiding?--we appeal to any one who has lived in Chinaand

mixed with the people. Would it make them more honest?--when many

Europeans confess that for straightforward business they would sooner

deal with Chinamen than with merchants of certain Christian

nationalities we shall not take upon ourselves to name. Should we not

run the risk of sowing seed for future and bloody religious wars on

soil where none now rage? To teach them justice in the administration

of law would be a glorious task indeedbut even that would have its

dark side. Litigation would become the order of the dayand a

rapacious class would spring into existence where lawyers and

barristers are now totally unknown. The striking phenomenon of extreme

wealth side by side with extreme povertymight be produced in a

country where absolute destitution is at present remarkably rareand

no one need actually starve; and thus would be developed a fine field

for the practice of that Christian charity which by demoralisation of

the poorer classes so skilfully defeats its own end. We should rejoice

if anything could make Chinamen less cruel to dumb animalsdesist

from carrying ducksgeeseand pigshanging by their legs to a pole

feed their hungry dogsand spare their worn-out beasts of burden. But

pigeon-shooting is unknownand gag-bearing reins have yet to be

introduced into China; neither have we heard of a poor heathen

Chinaman "skinning a sheep alive." (/Vide Daily Papers of July/ 12

1875.)

Last of allit must not be forgotten that China has already four

great religions flourishing in her midst. There is /Confucianism/

whichstrictly speakingis not a religionbut a system of

self-culture with a view to the proper government of (1) one's own

family and of (2) the State. It teaches man to be goodand to love

virtue for its own sakewith no fear of punishment for failureno

hope of reward for success. Is it below Christianity in this?

/Buddhism//Taoism/and /Mahomedanism/share the patronage of the

illiterateand serve to satisfy the natural craving in uneducated man

for something supernatural in which to believe and on which to rely.

The /literati/ are sheer materialists: they laugh at the absurdities

of Buddhismthough they sometimes condescend to practise its rites.

They strongly object to the introduction of a new religionand

successfully oppose it by every means in their power. They urgeand

with justicethat Confucius has laid down an admirable rule of life

in harmony with their own customsand that the conduct of those who

approximate to this standard would compare not unfavourably with the

practiceas distinguished from the professionof any religion in the

world.

 

 

ANTI-CHRISTIAN LYRICS

The following inflammatory placardwhich was posted up last year at a

place called Lung-p'ingnear the great tea mart of Hankowwill give

a faint idea of native prejudice against the propagation of

Christianity in China. The original was in verseand evidently the

work of a highly-educated man:--

Strange doctrines are speedily to be eradicated:

The holy teaching of Confucius is now in the ascendant.

There is but one most sacred religion:

There can be but one Mean.

By their great virtue Yao and Shun led the way

Alone able to expound the "fickle" and the "slight;"[*]

Confucius' teachings have not passed away

Yet working wonders in secret[+] has long been in vogue.

Be earnest in practising the ordinary virtues:

To extend filial pietybrotherly loveloyaltyand

consideratenessis to benefit one's-self.

Be careful in your speech

And marvelsfeats of strengthseditionand spirits[:] will

disappear from conversation.

I pray you do not listen to unsubstantiated words:

Then who will dare to deceive the age with soft-sounding phrases.

Our religion is for all who choose to seek it;

But we build no chapels to beguile the foolish.

Our true religion has existed from of oldup to the present day

undergoing no change.

Its true principles include in their application those of the middle

and outside nations alike.

Great is the advantage to us!

Great is the good influence on this generation!

Of all religions the only true one

What false doctrine can compare with it?

The /stillness/ and /cleanliness/ of Buddhism

The /abstruseness/ and /hollow mockery/ of Taoism--

These are but side-doors compared with ours;

Fit to be quittedbut not to be entered.

These are but by-paths compared with ours;

Fit to be blocked upbut not to be used.

How then about this onestranger than Buddhist or Taoist creed?

With its secret confusion of sexesunutterable!

More hurtful than all the dogmas of the other two;

Spreading far and wide the unfathomable poison of its mysteries.

Herein you must carefully discriminate

And not receive it with belief and veneration.

Those who now embrace Christ

Call him Lord of heaven and earth

Worshipping him with prayer

Deceiving and exciting the foolish

Dishonouring the holy teaching of Confucius.

I laugh at your hero of the cross

Whothough sacrificing his lifedid not preserve his virtue

complete.

Missions build chapels

But the desire to do good works is not natural to them.

The method of influencing the natures of women

Is but a trick to further base ends.

They injure boys by magical arts

And commit many atrocious crimes.

They say their religion is the only true one

But their answers are full of prevarication.

They say their book is the Holy Book

But the Old and New Testaments are like the songs of Wei and

Cheng.[!]

As to the people who are gradually being misled

I compassionate their ignorance;

As to the educated who are thus deceived

I am wroth at their want of reflection.

For these men are not of us;

We are like the horse and the cow;[@]

If you associate with them

Who will expel these crocodiles and snakes?

This is a secret grievance of the State

A manifest injury to the people!

Truly it is the eye-sore of the age.

You quietly look on unconcerned!

Imusing over the present state of men's hearts

Desire to rectify them.

Alas! the ways of devils are full of guile!

But man's disposition is naturally pure.

How then can men willingly walk with devils?

Youlike trees and plantswithout understanding

Allow the Barbarians to throw into confusion the Flowery Land.

Is it that no holy and wise men have appeared?

Under the Chow dynastywhen the barbarians were at the height of

their arrogance

The hand of Confucius and Mencius was laid upon them!

Under the T'ang when Buddhism was poisoning the age

Han and Hsi exterminated them.

Now these devils are working evil

Troubling the villages and market-places where they live.

Surely many heroes must come forward

To crush them with the pen of Confucius.

Turn then and consider

That were it not for my class[#]

None would uphold the true religion.

I say unto you

And you should give heed unto me

Believe not the nonsense of Redemption

Believe not the trickery of the Resurrection.

Set yourselves to find out the true path

And learn to distinguish between man and devil.

Pass not with loitering step the unknown ford

Nor bow the knee before the vicious and the depraved.

Wait not for Heaven to exterminate them

To find out that earth has a day for their destruction.

The shapelessvoiceless imp--

Why worship him?

His supernaturalunprincipled nonsense

Should surely be discarded.

Ye who think not so

When the devils are in your houses

They will covet your homes

And they will take the fingers and arms of your strong ones

To make claws and teeth for imps.

They excite people at first by specious talk

Not one jot of which is intelligible;

Then they destroy your reason

Making you wander far from the truth.

You throw over ancestral worship to enjoy none yourselves;

Your wives and children suffer pollution

And you are pointed at with the finger.

Thus heedlessly you injure eternal principles

Embracing filth and treasuring corruption

To your endless shame

And to your everlasting misfortune.

Finallyif in life your heads escape the axe

There will await you the excessive injury of the shroud.[$]

Judging by the crimes of your lives

Your corpses will be cast to scorpions and snakes.

The devils introduce this doctrine

Which grows like plants from seeds;

Some one must arise to punish them

And destroy their religion root and branch.

Hastenall of youto repent

And walk in the way of righteousness;

We truly pity you.

A warning notice to discard false doctrines!

[*] The fickle nature of men's mindsand slight regard for the true

doctrine.

[+] Forbidden by Confucius.

[:] Avoided by Confucius as topics.

[!] Licentious.

[@] The Chinese say horses prefer going againstcows withthe wind.

[#] The /literati/.

[$] Missionaries are said to keep the corpses of converts concealed

from public view between death and intermentthat the absence of

the dead man's eyes may not be detected.

 

 

CONCLUSION

"Surely it is manifest enough that by selecting the evidenceany

society may be relatively blackenedand any other society relatively

whitened."[*] We hope that no such principle of selection can be

traced in the preceding pages. Irritation against traducers of China

and her morality[+] may have occasionally tinged our views with a

somewhat rosy hue; but we have all along felt the danger of this bias

and have endeavoured to guard against it. We have no wish to exalt

China at the expense of European civilisationbut we cannot blind

ourselves to the fact that her vices have been exaggeratedand her

virtues overlooked. Only the bigoted or ignorant could condemn with

sweeping assertions of immorality a nation of many millions absolutely

freeas the Chinese arefrom one such vice as drunkenness; in whose

cities may be seen--what all our legislative and executive skill

cannot secure--streets quiet and deserted after nine or ten o'clock at

night. Add to this industryfrugalitypatriotism[:] and a boundless

respect for the majesty of office: it then only remains for us to

acknowledge that China is after all "a nation of much talentandin

some respectseven wisdom."[!]

[*] Spencer's Sociology: The Bias of Patriotism.

[+] "The miseries and horrors (?) which are now destroying (?) the

Chinese Empire are the direct and organic result of the moral

profligacy of its inhabitants."--/Froude's Short Studies on Great

Subjects/.

[:] "Every patriotic Chinese--and there are millions of such."--/Dr

Legge to London and China Telegraph/July 51875.

[!] Mill's Essay on Liberty.