« НазадПродовжити »
MUSIC. The music of the Chinese merits attention, on account of its antiquity. Their vocal music is very peculiar, and to our ears not very pleasing: it seems to be formed by closing the glottis, and forcing the sound through the nose. Their musical instruments are very numerous, amounting to about seventy or eighty. They have the model of nearly all ours. In a Chinese concert there is unison, but not harmony; they keep pretty good time, but make such a clatter that it seems as though each performer played on his own hook. Their tunes have no semitones, and consequently cannot be played on our instruments.
GEOGRAPHY. Mr. Williams exhibited two Chinese maps, illustrating their knowledge of geography. One was their map of the world, in which China appears as a huge continent, occupying nearly the whole surface of the map, while other countries are represented as small islands on each side and in the corners. England is in the north-west corner, and immediately below it are the islands of France and Spain. America is shut out of the map altogether. The size of the map is about three feet by four.
The other chart, which was one of their own country, displayed much more topographical knowledge; the position of places being given with considerable accuracy, from data furnished by the Jesuits. A survey of the empire was made in 1700, and fifteen Jesuits were employed in the work. This map is very large, covering nearly one hundred square feet. The price of a map like this is about fifteen or twenty dollars : smaller ones are sold at from one dollar, to one dollar seventyfive cents.
The Chinese have a fabulous chronology which extends back about eighteen thousand years; but this is not believed
by themselves. Their true chronology is not discordant with the Bible. Their first line of Kings commenced about four hundred and fifty years after the deluge, according to Hales's chronology. The present is the twenty-eighth dynasty. Each dynasty has its peculiar name. The present is called the pure dynasty ; the one preceding was the bright dynasty; and the one before that the original dynasty. Of the present dynasty there have been two Kings who reigned each sixty years.
COMPUTATIONS OF TIME. The Chinese begin the day about half an hour before midnight; and divide it into twelve hours, each, of course, twice as long as ours. They keep no Sabbath, nor is there any evidence that they ever knew of any seventh day of rest. Their year commences with the first new moon after the sun enters Aquarius.
NEW-YEAR'S DAY is a general festival, and regarded as the birthday of the whole nation. If a child was born only a month before, he is considered a year old on New-Year’s day. The shops are shut up for three days. It is the time for general settlement of accounts, and everybody is expected to pay his debts. If a debtor refuses to pay, the creditor can put a notice on the door of his house; and if the debt is not paid in three months, he can sell his goods for the amount.
Religion OF THE CHINESE. The religion of the Chinese is very peculiar. Indeed, they can scarcely be said to have any religion except the worship of their ancestors. Their celebrated philosopher, Confucius, never taught any kind of religion : he only treats on morals as they concern the present life. There is in China a small sect, a sort of Transcendentalists; but they are not in much repute among the Chinese. Budhism, by its imposing ceremonials, has gained much favour among the people; but it is not countenanced by the Government.
Ancestral worship is offered daily, and each offering costs the worshipper something. Every family has in the house its shrine or altar, and the offerings consist chiefly in burning gilt paper, incense-sticks, &c.; in the purchase of which, for this purpose, about four hundred millions of dollars are annually expended, or about a cent and a quarter a day for each inhabitant. The Chinese do not believe that the souls of their ancestors are the highest objects of religious reverence; but they regard them as a kind of mediators, who can feel an interest in their individual concerns. Ancestral worship presents the greatest obstruction to the spread of Christianity in China. It is founded in one of the best and strongest principles of our nature, respect for parents, a virtue for which the Chinese are especially distinguished.
When the Chinese pray, it is not so much to obtain blessings, as to be protected from evil. If no calamity or loss befall them, they are content. They have never been in the practice of offering human sacrifices; nor have they ever deified vice : in these particulars they are an exception to the rest of the heathen world.
ROMISH MISSIONS. The Romanists have seven Bishops in China, and fiftyseven Priests, besides one hundred and fourteen native Priests. They have two colleges for the education of native Priests ; and a large number of other schools. The number of their adherents is estimated at about three hundred thousand. The Romanists have never given the Bible to the Chinese, nor made any efforts to promote its circulation.
The present number of Protestant Missionaries is thirtyfour, who are employed by five different Societies, three American and two English. The Protestant Missions are confined to the five open ports. Their actual operations may be said to have commenced at Amoy, in 1841, all that was done before that time being but preparatory work. There is a hospital at each station, where the natives may receive gratuitous medical treatment. While in the hospital they
are in a position favourable to the reception of religious instruction ; and the Missionaries embrace the opportunity to place good books into their hands, and by other means to impress the truths of Christianity upon them. The Bible and various religious books and tracts have been translated into Chinese by Protestant Missionaries, and distributed among the people; and several schools have been established. There is among the Chinese an increasing desire for information on the subject of Christianity; and the Missionaries now preach the Gospel to five or six thousand in their own language.
MORALS OF THE PEOPLE.
Though superior in this respect to all other heathen countries, they are below the standard of the lowest Christian nation. Their most common vices are gambling, lying, and vile conversation. One of their Emperors said, “Have we governed this nation seventeen years, and have our Ministers not learned that all we expect of them is to speak the truth ?” But alas ! His Majesty also tells lies; and how can he expect his Ministers to be better than himself?
Their favourable traits are their peaceful character, their respect for their superiors, and their filial duty. The latter may be called their strong saving grace, if such a term may be allowed. The promise attached to the observance of the fifth commandment certainly seems to have been fulfilled in their case ; for they have been preserved as a separate nation in their own land longer than any other people, not excepting the Jews.
Women are treated with more respect than in any other heathen country; but Christianity is needed to raise the female sex to their proper station in society.
Though they give but little education to women, they expect mothers to bring up their children well; and they attribute the good character of a son to the excellent training received from his mother.
The polygamy of the Chinese has been greatly exaggerated. Not above one in fifty have more than one wife.
SLAVERY. Poor persons sometimes sell their female children to the rich. Slavery prevails very extensively: there are about eighteen or twenty thousand slaves in the city of Canton. It is, however, of a very mild character; nothing like the system of slavery in our southern States. Families cannot be separated. But notwithstanding these mitigations, the evils resulting from the practice of selling human beings are very great.
Tuis unnatural practice does not prevail so extensively as is generally supposed. Amoy is the centre of this practice : at Canton there is not much of it. If you speak to a person in Canton, he will tell you that it is in the province of Fokien that they do this. In that province it is computed that about thirty per cent. of the female infants are destroyed : at Canton there is not more than three or four per cent.
CHINESE COMMERCE. The Chinese, in a commercial point of view, are superior to all the nations of Asia : indeed their commerce is greater than that of any other heathen kingdom that ever existed. The character of the trade at Canton has been very creditable to all parties. But this is but a small part of their commerce, the internal trade far exceeding the foreign. The number of tons of shipping in China is greater than that of all the rest of the world. One hundred and seventy thousand tons of shipping may be seen before a single city. The line of boats on the river before Pekin is sometimes three miles long. On the river opposite Canton there are eighty thousand vessels of various sizes. All the large towns in China are on the banks of rivers.
In 1721 an edict of the Emperor confined the foreign trade to the city of Canton, where it was carried on through what were called the Hong merchants, who were about twelve in number. This monopoly was abolished in the treaty with the British in 1842. The word hong signifies a row, as a row