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The children associate together till they are about eight years old, when the boys are sent to school, and the girls kept secluded in the house. When a boy enters school, he receives another name, called the book-name, which is conferred with much ceremony, and which he afterwards retains. In the family, however, he is often called familiarly by his milk-name.
Persons engaged in business have what is called a shopname, not putting their own proper names on their stores. This shop-name is somewhat analogous to our names for hotels; consisting sometimes of such phrases as “ mutual advantage,” “ abundant profits,” &c.
A man's last name is given to him after his death, on account of his moral qualities, and is equivalent to the epitaphs on our tombstones.
THE LITERATURE OF CHINA Is very extensive, although it cannot be said to contain much that would repay the study of foreigners. Their most celebrated writings are the nine volumes already referred to, and which may be regarded as their sacred books. They are called the Five Classics and the Four Books, and are chiefly written by Confucius. They contain, among other things, the early history of the empire, and abundance of moral precepts, minute directions for human conduct from childhood and upward. Many of the latter would appear to us childish and trifling; but not so to the Chinese, who are taught to revere and govern themselves by them.
Of historians they have many, and their works are very voluminous. They have only two or three distinguished poets; but are very fond of making poetry, as an amusement. A person at the table will give out a subject, and each of the company will write verses upon it. Their poetry is mostly in heptameter, the character of their language not allowing the variety of metres that we make use of. Sometimes they will adopt a very artificial style, make all the words in a line end in the same sound; the number of characters having the same sound affording great facility for this kind of composition. Novels are very abundant, and some of them very licentious.
CHINESE LANGUAGE. The Chinese is the only modern language in which the characters do not represent sounds. The whole number of characters in their dictionaries is upward of forty thousand; but as many of them are obsolete, or duplicates, the actual number is not more than thirty thousand. They may be arranged under the following classes :
Imitative symbols, which bear some resemblance to the things they are designed to represent.
Indicative symbols, in which something in the form of the character indicates its meaning; as a dot under a line signifies “ beneath;" a triangle, “unity;" a stroke drawn through a square signifies “the middle,” or “to divide.”
Combined symbols. The symbols for fire and surround, when united, signify “to roast.” An eye, with legs under it, means “to see.” A child in a house signifies “letters," because learning requires long study in a house.
There are also inverted and syllabic symbols ; but their number is not large.
All the characters in the language may be resolved into two hundred and fourteen radicals. The greatest number of strokes in any one character is forty-seven. The number of characters in actual use is not more than ten thousand.
[Mr. Medhurst says that by a careful collation of an historical novel in twenty volumes, and of the Chinese version of the Scriptures, it appears that the whole amount of characters used in both does not much exceed three thousand different sorts.]
There are several dialects in China ; but as their written language represents things, and not sounds, it may be perfectly intelligible to persons who could not understand one another's speech. In this respect it resembles our figures, or characters to represent numbers, which are as intelligible to a Frenchman or to a Spaniard as to us; yet each in speaking would designate the numbers by words which we could not understand. The Japanese, Mantchous, and Chinese, can understand one another when they write, although their spoken languages are very different.
The variety of spoken dialects in China are rather perplexing to travellers, who find it necessary to learn the court dialect, which is understood by some persons in all parts of the country.
BOOKS. Books in China are very abundant, and cheap ; but the charge for almanacks, dictionaries, and topographical works, is higher than for other books. They are printed from wooden blocks, on each of which a page of the matter has been cut. These blocks will give three thousand impressions before they are so worn as to require re-touching. Their paper is very thin, and printed only on one side. The top, bottom, and back of the volume, are cut; but in front the folds are left uncut, so that the blank sides of the leaves are not seen. The books are merely stitched through, and have no stiff cover, or durable binding, like ours; consequently they do not last long: and very few old books are to be seen.
The Chinese begin their books at what we should call the last page ; and the lines go down, instead of across, the page.
CHINESE PROVERBS. The Chinese are very fond of aphoristic proverbs and sayings. Mr. Williams repeated many of these, from which we select the following as specimens:
“Never climb a tree to catch a fish.”
“Win a cat, and lose a cow :” ridiculing the folly of going to law for trifles.
“Good iron is not used for nails, nor are soldiers made of good men."
“ Ivory does not come from a rat's mouth.”
“ An avaricious man is like a serpent wishing to swallow an elephant.”
“Two skins cannot be stript from one cow : "meaning that there is a limit to extortion.
“To instigate a villain to do wrong is like teaching a monkey to climb trees.”
“ The chick will come out of the egg :” equivalent to our “Murder will out."
Vol. XI. Second Series. M
266 ARGUMENT TO PROVE THE UNITY AND PERFECTIONS OF GOD.
“ Exaggeration paints a serpent, and adds legs.”
“ All that a fish drinks goes out at its gills : ” applied to a spendthrift.
“A blustering fellow is like a paper tiger.” “ Dig a well before you are thirsty."
“Let every man sweep the snow from his own door, and not busy himself about the frost on his neighbour's tiles.”
AN ARGUMENT A PRIORI TO PROVE THE
BY THE REV. MOSES LOWMAN.
If all Existence is contingent, and none necessary, all Existence may not be, as well as may be, by Definition fifth.
What may not be cannot be, without a prior cause of Existence, by Axiom first.
If then all possible Existence was only contingent, all Existence would be impossible, as an Effect without a Cause.
To suppose all Existence impossible, is contrary to Proposition first.
There must therefore be some other Existence besides contingent; that is, there must be some necessary Existence, as all possible Existence is contingent or necessary, by Proposition second.
Necessary Existence must be actual Existence, actual Existence being included in the very nature of it, according to Definition fourth; and it is a plain contradiction, for necessary Existence not to be.
SCHOLIUM. This Proposition does not suppose any actual Existence, but proves it, I think, fully, from the two foregoing Propositions.
The Proof for the Possibility of Existence will remain good, unless the Impossibility of Existence could be shown; for that will remain possible, which is not impossible ; or, what is the same in argument, which does not appear impossible.
Now the possibility of contingent Existence, evidently supposes some necessary Existence; without which all Existence would be impossible. This clearly shows some Existence is necessary, or all Existence is impossible.
To suppose all Existence impossible, is not only a supposition without proof, but contrary to a plain proof, for the Possibility of Existence, from the very notions of Possible and Existence.
It is not allowable, I think, to oppose to such Evidence, a bare supposition, without reason or ground. As, that it is possible there may be no necessary Existence, and, therefore, that possibly all Existence may be impossible.
To oppose the Proof in the foregoing Propositions, it should be shown, either that all Existence is in its own nature impossible, or that there is something in the nature of necessary Existence to make necessary Existence impossible; upon which the Impossibility of all Existence would follow : otherwise it will remain, according to the rules of right reasoning, not impossible; that is, it will remain possible; and if possible, then necessary; else it would be possible and impossible at the same time, which is a manifest contradiction.
It may be further observed on this argument, that necessary Existence, if it be not impossible, must be, and cannot but be. It is of contingent Existence only, we can suppose it may be, or it may not be ; of necessary Existence we can only conclude, either it must be, or it cannot be.
COROLLARY. From this Proposition it will follow, that contingent Existence depends upon necessary existence for its Being, and all Qualities and Powers arising from it; and vice versa, that necessary Existence cannot depend on contingent Existence for anything.
PROPOSITION IV. Necessary Existence must be Eternal. Necessary Existence cannot but be, by Definition fourth.