Press enter after choosing selection

China And The Chinese: Fragments Of Fletcher Webster's Lectu...

China And The Chinese: Fragments Of Fletcher Webster's Lectu... image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

Street Begging in China. - The condiüon of the class of beggars in Cnnton is wortli remnrking on. They are very wretched and ahvay-s objects of pity, from sorne accident disease, or deformity, and their way of getting n living is curious. China has no charitable instiïutions, no asylums or alms houses, and nmong such a teeming population there areof course inany beggars, though not so mnny as would be supposed; not so great a proportion I apprehend, as in Europe or in our large cities, as iheir wants are few, provisions plenty, and the climato mild. - But there are beggars enough, and they must üvo.aïid Chinese ingenuity provides for their support by a true Chinese "let alone" policy - a 'masterly inactivity,' very chnracteristic. Every beggar is provided with some instrument that makes a disagreeable noise - tvvo wooden clappcrs or a small gong, or at all evenís a most villainous voice, with any or all of which thoy go along the streetsf and select ing ai wiü a shop, enter and (not leaviug ofif'lheir damnable farces,' as Hamlet recommends,) begin to sing or beat llieir gongs or bamboos, to the great annoyanco of the owner, and the complele prohibition of moro decent custoïers, and here they are allowed by law nd custom to remain beating and singng, tiH they receive the cash. If the hopkeepor is, as most Chinamen, are, jlest with that fortitudo whicli is a good eme'iy for evils when there is no other, and Iets them beat till they get tired, hcy He down before lbo counter and forgel their woes in sleep awhile, and then up and beat agnrn. It is a trial of patience to the two. The beggrxr holds on as long as he can, hoping the shopkecper will be aggrtivated to the nmount requisito; the shopkeeper sits witli the utmost npjmrent indifferenco to let the boggnr' see he has no chance. Mennwhile the beggar is losing time, and the shopkeeper customers. lf tho shopkeeper lays atan early period of the vi.sitation, hc tnay get rid of one infliction, only to make way for another. If ho keeps one pretty bearable plague, he is secureagninst others, and may get up a reputation fór invincibility and stoicism that will protect him in tuturQ. So, there they sit, shopkeeper and beggnr, the one doing.his best to annoy, nnd the otlier liis best not to notice it, tril ono or tlie otlier gives in. A Chinese SchoJar. - Ilnving reached Cantón, my first business was to find a Tarter, and by the help of Dr. Parker, one was at last procurcd, who undertook lo instruct us. As he was not a uative of Tartory, but a Chinese scholar. a tall good looking, ntellectual person, and I augured very favorably of our success with him. I noticed that on his first arrival, there was an itppearanco of mystery and concealment. The Chinese who introduced him seemed very anxious. There was a whispering and shutting of doors: and a great many injunctions, apparently, and assurances, exclainations and gestures. Howcver we sat down to our taafe at last, and got through the alphabet. The next day, agreeably to appointment, he carne again, and there was the same closing of cioors, and looking behind and around, and springing up ïf any one entered, and in short such a mysterious air about the whole thing, as ifwewerc conspirators in some plot. J observed hc was norvous and very much agitntecf, hftrdly able lacommand himself, ancf laboring evidently under somo very great cxeilement. He jumped upatany noise as though he apprehcuded imminent danger of some one wris about to sjirhig upon hirn froin behind. The next day he was missing at the' appoinfed fimo. Thr day foUowing he nppeared.' and" wilh more pertubaiion ihari ever. Ho could' hnrdly spenk or stand. He had grown haggard, his eyes were swolen and stariling. Never certain'ly was nortal fear of something, I did not know what.more plainly depictcd on inan's face, tlian on his. He was accompanied b)r Dr. Parkers attendaut. They entered carefully nndsoftly closed and fastened the door. made sure that no one was in the room and then his friend in a low tone, told me the nature of thecase, He was afraid of losing his head for coming to teach a foreign Mantchoo. - He begged me to receive back my moriey, which he brought in his hand, and let gcr. He could not come again. He told me and I believed it that he was on the point of taking poison in his rice, and had talten no sleep since he carne. - Ho expected every moment to be seized by the Mandarins, and carried oflf to be beheaded. Thero was no arguing with him, no comforting or assuring him;, and the only ■jtliing to be done was to discharge him,and let him go. We were more forlunate afierwnrJ, nnd found two ihorongli bred Tnrters, who had no fear of Mandarilis, and who remained with us long after all idoa of going to l'okin was abandoned. CUINESK COUR.TSHI1'. Every Chinese, assoon as he is in nny way able to do so, takes a small footed wife. ilo sends forsomeold lady, whose well known and recognized, and there considored respoctable trade, ia that of a , 'go-between,' and inquires who among , his neighbors has a nice daughter who , would do for a wife. The lady mentions , one, and gives a deseription of her appearance. She then sees the young lady whorn she thinks he would prefer - sorne Miss Lee Nang or Nou Seen, and cribes tho tnerits of the gallant Noo , Chung. The parents then, with her ■ help, arrnnge the settlement,and the bride , is given away with as great ceremonies ] and rejoicings as the means of the , leswillallow - and in high and weaithy families, the husband first sees her face when he meets her at the door of his house, and taking her out of her sedan chair raises her veil. The Religión ét the Chinese. - Thero are in China three chief systems of religión, those o{ Cpnfucius, Laotse and Boodha. The former is far the more learned, being in fact,rathera moral codo, and a most admirable one too, thtw a religioua creed. The second diflers from this but little; and there is no difliculty in holding the views of both; the Boodliist reügicn is for the least cducated classes. There is no established or state religión in the Empire. The Emperor ia a Boodhist or a follbwer of Fo; but he is alsoa follower of Confucius. China is tolerant of all religions; and it is to be ascribed to the quarrels and bad conduct of its professors, that Christiunity was ever forbidden. The early Catholie priests were extremely well receivcd their learning and science were highly esteemed; their teachings were allowed tnembers even of the roy:il family were converted to their doctrines; and there was a good prospect that the empire would be converted to Christianity. Bu the priests divided into two parties, the early Jesuits forbidding, and the other allowing, the Chinese to pay worship to their ancestors: the Pope issued his buil and docided the controversy; the disturbance carne to the knowledgo of the Ernperor. who, indignant at this presumption, banished 11 the priests nnd prolubiled tho people froui embracing the Christian religión under the penalty oí dealh. Ilis wrath did not subside until the negotiation wilh the French and Ameri1 cans, the latter of whom, by the seventeentli article ofthe trenty, are allowed to estublish hospitals, cemeteries nnd ! churches in any of the five freo ports.- ■ The manner in which his pennissicin wafgranted was highly gratifying. Kwang, the present, lieutenant governor of the Kwang provinces, a sort of sccretary of legation to Kwang, was present at onc of the many conferences which were had upon the subject of the trenty. The American nterpreters, Drs. Parker and Bridgharn, were also present with the American functionnries. Whon they carne to this item of llie treaty, Kwang turned to Dr. P., whom hc very well knew. and wlio enjoys in an extriordinary degree, the regard and respect of the Chinese, both oflicers and people, and said with a courteous smile, 'Certainly, churches and hospitals, ifyou piense - This ready compliance with our desires, vvas a direct tribute of respect to Dr. Parker, which he well meritcd, and was highly honorable to the accoinplished Chinese himself The Boodhist is the religión of the lowest and unedueated classes, who have nottimöor ability deciding upon abstract notions of Diviniiy, but must have soinc visible and tangible objeets of woi - ship. Their temples, like ihe Catholic chnrehes in Macao - Virgin mothor - make prayers for thfi tlead, have monks and nunv, and petition for everyihing, from doliverance of their friends fron) purgntory, to a handsorofe wifer or a rich husbnnd. Besides every shop has an idol or god of wealth - fkI every house has a god of longcvity to which devoot and daily prayers are oflered. Most of thern are utterly ignorant of the existenco even of a future stat'e. Mr. W. gave one instance which had fallen under his personal notice, w Fiere the fellov, a boatman, listened-to Mr. W. with most intense and grateful interest, while he pointed outtohima futnre state, where for good conduct, so far as he knew, he should de forever freed from the sufferings and trials, he sufTered here. That then he shoald not feel the want of food and'clothiivg; no need; of daily toil: and expense, no cojd, heat, thirst, norfatigue; no Ladrones lo rob liim, no pretty Mandarins to oppose hirn, no stormy wirids and rnging waves: 'X,i mulrnulti shade, nodomled sun, Bul s-icred, liiwli, etornal noon.' I painted for liim, snid Mr. Webster.! ratlioran Indian tlian a Christian I en. admiltnd to lliat pqtial sky, His fnitlifnl doj siiould beor liini compnny.' To all tliis the poor man listened eagerly, and asked, viih glistening eyes, whether this was for Chinamen as well as for Americans. This doubt being easily remoyed, Mr. Webster liopcd that the conversation was not without benefit to him.