« AnteriorContinuar »
of general free conversation, and there is scarcely any social barrier between him and the gaming table, the opium pipe, and other animal excitement, except those arising from business and the necessity of sustaining a thrifty reputation. Even brothers and sisters meet under constraint after childhood, and the separation isasstrictas the most rigid Grahamite in New England could desire; with this difference, that the Chinese take care to marry their children at a very early age. The preliminaries before marriage are arranged by professional matchmakers, whose office is considered honorable. After the ceremonies and the procession to the bridegroom's house, he takes the hat and manth; from his wife, and sees her, perhaps, for the first time in his life. When he has taken a good look, the guests and friends come in and criticise her openly; the women are said to be unmerciful on such occasions. In small villages the people call upon the newly married at the end of the full moon, when they are received standing near the bedside; the men enter first and pay their respects to the bride, while the husband calls attention to her charms, praises her little feet, her beautiful hands and face, <kc.: he then goes out with them into the hall, where a collation is served. The women then enter and make their remarks to try her temper; if she show good temper, her reputation is made. Many are so much in fear of offending, that they endure all that is said without replying.
One of Mr. Smith's acquaintances saw a young lady in the street, and was so smitten, that he sent proposals through a matchmaker to the father: he was a little disappointed after marrying to find that he had got the fifth daughter, instead of the fourth! When a young lady "spills the tea," i. e. loses her betrothed husband by death, she is honored if she refuses a second engagement.
To many careful fathers, and managing mothers, who read these pages, it may seem very fine to have the entire control of their children's marriages, and thus to break their hearts, and make them happy, in a sensible way; but there are some evils attending the system, besides that of freezing the natural warmth of youth into the ice of age. The husband often turns out badly who has no affection, and suicides
of brides are not uncommon. One osewred in Canton in 1833, when a yona? wife on a visit to her parents so pathetically described her sufferings, that she snd three of her sisters and friends, joined hands and drowned themselves together in a pond. Another young lady hariii^ heard of the bad character of her husband, when the ceremonies were over, saii "Touch me not; I am resolved to abai' don the world, and become a nun. I -ha! this night cut off my hair. I have sav« $200, which I give you; with the hai you can purchase a concubine, and wit! the rest enter on some trade. Be not lsq or thriftless. Hereafter remember me. Saying this she cut off her hair, and w turned to her father's house. Such case are not uncommon, and young ladies in plore their parents to rescue them frot their sad fate; but the old folks general! know best. Fanciful girls often labor t acquire accomplishments, with the viewt pleasing some future husband, and wbe they find themselves fastened for life t some brutal, depraved tyrant, the disaj pointment is so great that they rush ot of the world. The sister of a scholar ( one of the missionaries died so in Canto! in 1840. But in the majority of instance: the mothers probably take care to instrw them in sound common sense principles perhaps the priests contrive to have finger in the pie, and make them belie* they will suffer eternally, if they vcnrm to have any choice; it would not be sfatgi lar, especially if the priests were to g» by it.
Young children are called by the nan* of flowers, or some endearing or fancif epithet, until they enter school. (W have probably imbibed the same custo with our tea; the writer knows a " Dais; whose name, by and by, will be qtti another.) When they enter school, sui names as Ink-grinder, Promising-stud Opening-olive, Rising-advancement, a given to young students. The sunwn afterwards comes first, thus :—List Wkntai SiemUng. Liang or Millet is t) family name, W&ntai or Terrace of Lett* the given name, and Siensang, Mr. Teacher, the title. Mr. Terrace of Lett* Millet, sounds rather odd, but what rot; the Chinese think of Rev. Charles QuUlaf Puns on names are common.
■s take a han or "designation" which pplies to themselves and to their shop, jd serves to brand goods: thus, Hnyuen, "inghing, Yuenki, meaning Harmonious prings. Cheering Prospects, Fountains lemorial, may be seen on parcels of tea id silks, (though perhaps our readers ay labor under similar disabilities to ir own, in regard to the Chinese writing.) oreigners call both this mark and the uods it denotes a chop, (hence probably le phrase, "first chop.") Common visiting cards are made of ips of vermilion paper, eight inches long nd three wide, and are single or folded lany times according to the visitor's uality. The name is stamped on the pper right corner, or on the lower corner, Tin an addition, thus :—" Your humble trvant, (lit. stupid younger brother,) Pi 'hiwan, bows his head in salutation." If e cannot be received, instead of "not at ome," the host sends out to "stay the yntleman's approach," and the card is eft. In reply to the remark, "It is a oeg time since we have met, sir," the lost replies, (literally,) " How presume to eceive the trouble of your honorable ootsteps? is the person in the chariot rell ?"—which means simply, " I am much tbliged for your visit, and hope you enjoy :uod health." When boys are brought a, the visitor hopes " the boy will perpetuite the literary reputation of his family," fif. he will fully carry on the fragrance of he books.) The father says, "The repuati<m of our family is not great, (/it. hills ad 6f Ids' happiness is thin ;) high expecAuoos are not to be entertained of him; f he can only gain a livelihood, it will be nough." After a few such compliments, J* boys say, Shau pet, "slightly waiting » you," L e. pray excuse us, and retire. SirLs are seldom brought in.and young ladies »ever. "Does the honorable great man »joy happiness?" means, " How is your £»iher?" "Distinguished and aged one, what honorable age ?" asks how old he is. If one asks, "How many worthy young girntlemen (sons) have you'?" the father replies, "I am unfortunate in having but one little boy," (Hi. "My fate is niggardly; I have only one little bug." The request, "Make my respects to your mother," for t*~> Chinese gentleman asks to see the Wies, is literally, "Excellent longevity
hall place for me wish repose." A man speaks of his wife as " the mean one of the inner apartments," " the foolish one of the family;" while another calls her "the honorable lady," "worthy lady," "your favored one," etc.
The common form of a salutation is for each one to clasp his own hands before his breast and make a slight bow, saying, "Tsing! Tsitig .'" i. e. " Hail! Hail!" An
invitation to dinner reads, "On the
day, a trifling entertainment will await the light of your countenance: Tsau Sanwei's compliments."
A description of the Chinese Now Year's festivities and congratulations would double the length of this article. The greeting is "Kany hi!" equivalent to our Huppy New Year! More fire-crackers are burnt at this time, than would supply New York for several Fourths-of-July.
Flying kites is a great amusement, both with old and young; they make them of all conceivable shapes, in imitation of birds, butterflies, lizards, &c, and fly them with unequalled skill; contrivances are sometimes attached to make a whistling sound in the air. Fights are rare with the Chinese: "After a vast variety of gesture and huge vociferation of opprobrium, they will blow off their wrath and separate almost without touching each other."
Land is held in freehold, so long as the tithe tax on the produce is paid; and the record of the owner's name in the district magistrate's office as the tax-payer is the evidence of title. The estate goes to the eldest son; but the brothers can remain upon it with their families and devise their portion in perpetuo to their children, or a composition can be made. A mortgagee must enter into possession and become responsible for the taxes to make the mortgage valid; and the land may be redeemed any time within thirty years.
The Chinese are an agricultural people, but are rather gardeners than farmers. In arboriculture and horticulture their skill is well known. They have modes of dwarfing trees and forcing them to grow in all manner of grotesque shapes.
In the mechanical arts they are the most ingenious people in the world. The name porcelain was given to their ware by the Portuguese, from its resembling in translucency the inner parts of sea shells, porcellana. Their silks are the finest that are made. Nankeens come from the central provinces. The producing, manufacturing and packing of tea have become a great business with them, and the trade therein has and must tend to bring them more and more in contact with Christian nations. The real name of tea is cha, so that the French and Irish have it nearer light than we. Bohea is the name of the hills where that species is grown; pecco, "white hairs," is so called from the down on the young leaves; souchong, or siau chiing, means "little plant;" pouchong, "folded sort;" hyson is At chun, i. e., '• flourishing spring."
Tea is often repacked in New York. When grocers here receive an order from the South or West for a particular chop, (fee, which they do not happen to have, they take their tea to a packer, who does it over in Chinese paper, sheet lead, lacquered boxes, covered with characters, &c, Ac, according to order. Thus the grocer has his tea of any chop or cargo that may suit his fancy. A barbarous practice! But practiced dealers easily detect the disguise.
In physical science the Chinese are of course much behind the western nations. In mathematics they have, however, borrowed much of the practical part from Europe. They have several good treatises on arithmetic, and one, Tsuimi-shan Fang Sho Hioh, (!) in 36 volumes 8vo, contains a complete course in geometry, trigonometry, mensuration, &c, with tables of natural sines and tangents and logarithmic sines, tangents and secants, &c, for every degree and minute; in this it is stated that "the western scholar, John Napier, made logarithms." Their year is 365\ days; sixty years make a cycle, a mode of reckoning introduced B. C. 2637; the present year is the 45th of the 75th cycle, or 4485th since their era. Besides lunar months, the year is divided into twenty-four tsieh of about 15 days each; their names have reference to the season, as rain-water, rernal-equinor, spiked-grain, little-heat, &c. Their constellations are named from animals, but ditfer from ours. Even so late as 1820 one of their astronomers makes the heavens consist of ten concentric hollow spheres. A figure of a raven in a circle U the sun; the moon is represented by a
rabbit on his hind legs, pounding rice in s mortar. The sun and moon are reganfco as the foci of the dual powers, the iml and female principles, which are the grei ultimate elementary causes in all the philosophy.
They have various modes of measurre: time, but at Canton they use watches aw clocks, and prefer our division of hour? (N. B.—Our Connecticut readers mayrtv on this statement's being fairly given froc Mr. Williams.) Time sticks, or long spin pieces of prepared clay and saw-dust mai to burn slowly, are also used; some i them will last a week. The Almanac i an important government work, containit besides the calendar the lucky and m. lucky days. It is published by the Bom of Rites, and no one ventures to be *iit out one.
They weigh almost everything, and is singular that their weights should be i the ratio of ours, thus:—tael, 11 oz.; catti 1J lbs.; pecul, 133 J lbs. Their measun also correspond very nearly to ours. I money they reckon by decimals of gol taels. They have so much countcrfe money that they have a publication fil our bank note detectors to find it oo Promissory notes and pawnbrokers' tickei circulate a little; bills of exchange ai common, drawn in different parts of U empire.
Chinese troops are not very formidabl They are . a peaceful people; and tl swarming and generally happy populstii is the result of a long-continued peace! policy on the part of the governraer Would that our own might in this respe follow their example!
They are a lively race, and some their caricatures are the most grotesq and laughter-provoking imaginable. Th are great consumers of medicine, a though their knowledge of it is, of cour imperfect, they have something like system, and it is probable there is as lit downright quackery among them as amo us. Mercury is used in its common fori and many of the vegetables used here. 1 doctors sometimes undertake to cure man for a certain sum; if the first d< not succeed, the patient thinks him a ch< and tries another.- Some of their phj cians, by shrewdness and long practi acquire great experience and become ri ad influential; a skillful physician is lumped as the "nation's hand." Generally ley have regular fees. In the cholera me, the profession, finding their remedies * no avail, wisely gave up all treatment, he Chinese, from their slovenly habits, re subject to diseases of the skin; a large roportion of the inhabitants are experiiced performers on the Scottish national istrument. Their materia medica includes great many queer ingredients, and needs Tv much the influence of the Baconian hilosophy.
The Chinese do not appear to be a returns people. Their philosophy is purely orldly, and they have no state hierarchy, hey have no human sacrifices, and what
more remarkable, no deification of vice, ideed, they are in daily life, as well as in -ligion, as corrupt and decent a people as ny of their more enlightened brethren.
Their state religion is not so much a latter of doctrine as of mere ceremony,— ix word for doctrine which applies to rezious creeds does not apply to this, which eems only a national ritual. There are bree grades of sacrifices, the great, medim, and inferior. The objects to which lie first are offered are four, viz.: /ten, the ky, called the imperial concave expanse; 1, the earth; lot matt, or great temple of ncestors, which contains the tablets of eceased monarchs; and the Me tsih, or wis of the land and grain. The medium icrifices are offered to the sun and moon, be manes of former emperors, Confucius, be ancient patrons of agriculture and silkreaving, the gods of heaven, earth and be passing year. The inferior to the ncient patron of the healing art, to the enumerable spirits of deceased philanthropists, eminent statesmen, martyrs to irtue, Ac, clouds, wind, rain, thunder; he five celebrated mountains, four seas, ■cd four rivers; famous hills, flags, gods •f cannon, gates, the north pole, and many ther things.
The common people may worship what hey please, except the objects of imperial uluration, the heavens and earth; these ire reserved for the Emperor, or son of vsaven. Confucius did not pretend to unk-rstand about the gods, and his teaching u\ had reference to this life, though he supposed himself commissioned by Heaven ki revive ancient learning. "Not knowing
VOL. L BO. III. SEW SERIES.
life," said he, "how can we know death?" His commentators resolve everything into pure materialism; making nature begin with the primary material principle, which, operating upon itself, resolved itself into the dual powers, or male and female principles—the yin and yang. But they suppose that pure-minded men and sages are gradually raised up as expounders of these principles, and form with them a Trinity, or class of saints to be worshipped.
The first man, Pwanku, hatched from Chaos by the dual powers, had the task of hewing out the earth. He is painted at the work, which took him 18,000 years. With him are the dragon, the phoenix, and the tortoise, and sometimes the unicorn, divine types and progenitors with him of the animal creation, but whose origin is left in obscurity. He is succeeded by three monstrous sovereigns, whose reigns lasted another 18,000 years. During this time good government commenced, men learned to eat and drink, sleep was invented, and many other improvements adopted ; but of all this there is no record because the mysterious tortoise, on whose carapace was written in tadpole-headed characters the history of the anterior world, did not survive. All their mythology is equally abstract and passionless.
The result of all is, that the learned Chinese have no definite religion, but a mere pageant. Sometimes they worship with the Buddhists or disciples of Fo, sometimes with the Rationalists, who believe in a final swallowing up of the individual in the pure, supreme, eternal Reason. On great occasions they worship anything and everything. In 1835, when there was a great drought at Canton, the prefect advertised, offering a reward to whoever could succeed in producing rain by prayers. An altar was erected before his office, and a Buddhist priest prayed there incessantly for three days without success. A public, fast was then ordered, still with no avail. At length, the day before the rain came, the prefect gave notice of an intention to liberate all prisoners not charged with capital offences. As soon as the rain fell, the people presented thank offerings, and the southern gate of the city, which had been closed to keep out the hot wind, was opened, accompanied by an odd ceremony of burning the tail of a live sow, 17
while the animal was held in a basket. The learned men, while they admit the folly of these things, still join in them. "Buddhism," says Dr. Morrison, " in China is decried by the learned, laughed at by the profligate, yet followed by all." The priesthood have the better judgment of the people against them, and are rather feared for the mischief which it is supposed they can do than honored as examples of a pious life.
The ceremonies at funerals vary in different parts of the country. In some parts they make a hole in the roof as soon as a person dies, to let the spirit pass out. The body is coffined arrayed in the richest robes the family can procure; a fan is put in one hand and a prayer on a piece of paper in the other. A coffin is made of boards three or four inches thick, and is rounded at the top; it is called "longevity boards." The body is generally laid in with lime and the lid closed with mortar; the coffin is then kept in or about the house many years, and incense burned before it morning and evening. The Chinese often purchase coffins in their lifetime; the price varies from $5 to $500, and even thousands are sometimes paid for them.
Upon a general survey of the Chinese character, they appear to be as amiable and sensible a family as the race has ever produced. Though jealous of foreigners, they are not so bigoted to their old usages as to reject what are real improvements, when they comprehend them. They take life in a very business-like way, and make the most of it. Whether their very vagueness or almost entire want of a definite religious faith will make it easier to christianize them or not, is questionable. We should think their indifference quite as hard to overcome as a belief in some wild form of superstition. The labor of a Christian missionary among them must be no slight one.
The true way to reach a people so little
imaginative in religion must be throi»k education. Here the great difficulties «n the language and the old custom; it »ffl go hard to break down what has worked tolerably well for so many hundreds and thousands of years. But the struggle mns come; it is the inevitable result of th« contact of the weak and false with the strong and true. The only hope for lb poor Chinese is their unrivalled docflhj and quickness of imitation. They wish t: know and pursue the right, and their re ligion and philosophy have kept them a least pure-minded in comparison withotif pagan races. One cannot read withou pity the history of their efforts to pn down opium smoking. Our teetotal sot; eties and license laws are but faint mea; ures compared with those. They trir moral suasion in all sorts of modes; tk present work gives one of a series < plates representing the opium smoker' downward progress, also some rig-emu writing against it from one of their scho! ars; the physicians tried medicine; final! government made it penal. Though all ha been without much avail, yet the progre of the anti-opium "cause," as our ten perance people would phrase it, has show a right spirit. The same may be seen i their adoption of many foreign inventions. The result of the English opium wa Mr. Williams's history of which we ha< not room to sketch, has opened Cantm Amoy, Ningpo, and Shanghai to forw* trade, and cannot but have the effect' extend foreign influence in the empire, will be as remarkable a fact as any coi nected with their singular history, shou the Chinese now gradually and quiet come up to the standard of western ci ilization. When the influences are coi sidered that are bearing more and mo upon them, their destiny appears one the greatest mysteries of Providence th time shall solve. G. W. P.