Page images
PDF
EPUB

what is remarkable, the names are changed to express accidental or slight circumstances. Thus a cow has a new name every time she has a calf, and an ox fed for sacrifice has a different name when he is led to the altar. - 687. Paper and Ink. The Chinese primitively wrote

with a style upon picces of bamboo. As an improvement, they introduced the use of cloth and silk stuffs, which are still used to write the praises of the dead on. The present kind of paper first began to be known about 100 years before the christian era. Many substances are now used for paper, as the bamboo, the reed, the cotton shrub, the bark of certain plants, hemp, wheat and rice straw, and other materials. Their paper is very fine, soft and smooth, but subject to injury by moisture and worms. It is often made in sheets of 30 and 40 feet long. The Chinese ink is very durable, or rather indelible, but the manner of making it is a secret. Insted of pens made of quills, the Chinese use pencils made of rabbit's fur, and very soft.

688. Manner of Printing. Printing in China is an ancient art, but very different from ours. Insted of movable types, which, with their number of characters, would be inconvenient, the characters for a particular work are all engraved upon blocks of wood, and every page has a separate block. The manner of doing this is, to take a leaf of the manuscript, lay it on the wood, and trace the characters on the wood with a graver, then carve out the characters in relief. This renders print. ing a slow process, but it has the advantage of perfect correctness. No press is used in printing, as the paper will not bear the pressure, but the paper is laid on the blocks, and pressed slightly with a brush. A gazett is printed daily at the capital, under the orders of the emperor, who suffers no falsehood or idle conjectures to be circulated, to injure private characters, or disturb gov. ernment. - 689. Music. Music also is an ancient art in China, but is not as accurately understood as in Europe. The Chinese have a few characters to represent the principal sounds, but not to express the more minute divisions and

modulations of sounds. The instruments of music are made of skins, baked earth, silk, wood, the bamboo, or gourds. The drum was formerly made of baked earth, covered at the ends with a skin, but wood is now used.. Most of the musical instruments are in shape likę a barrel, but some are cylindrical. The Chinese have also a species of stone, which is cut in different shapes, to render it musical. Bells, made of copper and tin, are also used in China, and some of them are of prodigious size.

690. Education. In China the education of youth is enjoined with great strictness, and numerous schools are provided to teach them the most useful arts and branches of knowledge. Children are taught reading, writing, numbers, music, and especially morality. The first books put into their hands consists of short moral precepts in rhyme ; then a treatise containing the doctrins of Confucius, the characters of which they must learn by heart, at the same time they are learning to form them with a pencil. The children of the poor are instructed in the occupation of their parents. The females are taught to be modest, silent and reserved. Great care is taken to prevent the corruption of morals, and all books and paintings of an immoral tendency are prohibited under severe penalties.

691. Chief Towns. Pekin. The metropolis of China and the residence of the emperor is Pekin, in the 40th degree of north latitude, and about 50 miles from the great wall. Its inhabitants are estimated, by different authors, at two and three millions. The walls are high, and 12 horsemen may ride abreast upon them. The streets are wide, strait, and thronged with passengers and carriages of various kinds, not to mention crowds of people who are collected about jugglers and ballad singers; but no females appear in the streets. Soldiers patrole the streets with a sword and whip to chastise disturbers of the peace. The houses are of one story, but the shops are well filled with wares, and delight the eye by their neatness. The imperial palace, consisting of a variety of elegant edifices, spread over a great extent of

S

ground, and inclosed by a wall two miles in length, exhibits great magnificence.

692. Nankin. Nankin, which was the royal residence till the 15th century, is a larger city than Pekin, being 17 miles in circumference. It lies 3 miles from the Kian-ku, the largest river in China, to which canals are made, sufficient to bear large vessels. The city has lost much of its ancient splendor. The streets are narrow, but paved; the buildings are in general mean, but some public edifices are magnificent ; among others, a tower 200 feet high, covered with porcelain. It has nine stories, with cornishes on the outside, covered with green varnished tiles. Some parts of this city are deserted, others are populous, and it is remarkable for the manufacture of a cotton cloth, of which great quantities are exported under the name of nankeens.

693. Canton. Canton, a large commercial city, lies upon the river Taa, in the southern part of China, north latitude 23 degrees. It is estimated that it contains a million and a half of inhabitants. The streets are narrow, but strait and paved. The houses are low and plain, except the temples, which are more magnificent. Foreigners are not permitted to enter the city, but they have the privilege of resorting to and residing in the suburbs near the river; where all the foreign trade is carried on. Here are shipped vast quantities of tea, to Europe and America, of which 18 millions of pounds pass to Europe, and several millions to America. So populous is that country, that multitudes of poor people live in boats upon the rivers, and cats, rats, dogs, Trogs and snakes, are constantly sold in market for food.

694. Highevaus. The excellent roads in China are evidence of high improvement. They are generally broad, in the southern provinces all paved, as are some in the northern, but on the pavement no horses or carriages are suffered to pass, an unpared path being left for these on the sides. In many places the roads are cut through mountains ; in others, valleys have been filled, so as to make the road level, and in general the roads are bor. dered with lofty trees. Covered seats are erected along

the highways to shelter psssengers from the inclemen. cies of the weather; inns are also provided, but not well furnished, according to European ideas; and towers, with watch boxes on the top, and flags for signals in case of alarm, are erected on the road, for securing the peace of the country. These roads, and the numerous canais of China, facilitate a vast inland commerce. .

695. Manufictures. The manufactures of China comprehend almost every article of necessity, conveni. ence and luxury. The production of silk, which has been known in China from the remotest antiquity, far. nishes that article in such abundance, that it is worn by all persons of moderate fortune, and great quantities exported. The mulberry is not suffered to grow to a tree, but its branches repeatedly mowed off, for the worms, so as to render the collection of the leaves easy. Here are made the most beautiful and durable satins, taffeties, crapes, brocades, plush, velvet, and other stuffs, and none but poor people will condescend to wear cotton.

696. Porcelain. A manufacture of much celebrity is porcelain. This is made of a species of pure white clay called kaolin, and is divided into four classes, according to its fineness and beauty. That of the first class is all reserved for the use of the emperor. But the porcelain is so well imitated by the manufactures of Europe, that its value is very much reduced in our markets. Glass is made in China, but is much less valued than in Europe and America.

697. Commerce. The Chinese are not friendly to commerce, any farther than it takes off their superfluous commodities, and brings them necessaries. Hence they never send their own ships to distant countries for the purpose of importing foreign articles, but they tolerate foreigners in taking off their superfluous goods. The principal articles exported to Europe and America are tea, silk, porcelain and japanned wares, for which they take some woollen cloths, tin and furs, but chiefly specie. The trade with Russia is more valued, as the furs of Siberia are found necessary in China for clothing, and an inland commerce is carried on to a considerable extent

between the northern provinces of China and the Asiatis dominions of Russia.

698. Revenue, Interest of Money, and Shipping. The revenues of the emperor are stated at about 180 millions of dollars, and the taxes are mostly paid in the produce of the country, as in silk, grain, fruits and the like.These are mostly consumed by the officers of government and army in the provinces, so that the people are not oppressed. Money lent produces an annual interest of 30 per cent. paid monthly. As the Chinese policy does not encourage foreign commerce, the art of ship building receives no improvement. Their vessels have only a main and foremast, without a bowsprit or topmast. Their sails are mats, strengthened by bamboos. They use for calking a gum mixed with lime, instead of pitch, and buckets instead of pumps. They claim to have been the inventors of the mariner's compass, and are skilful in the management of their vessels.

CHINESE TARTARY. 899. Situation and Extent. Between China and the Russian dominions in Asia, is an extensive territory, inhabited by several nations and hords of Tartars. This territory extends from the 72d degree of east longitude to the Pacific Ocean, or about 3200 miles in length; and from the northern limit of Tibet to the confines of Siberia, or about 1200 miles in bredth. It is inhabited by considerable nations, as the Mandshurs, the Monguls, the tribes called Kalkas, Eluts and Kalmuks. From this region formerly issued numerous armies of Huns and Tartars, who repeatedly ravaged Europe ; but these nations are now mostly subject to China and Russia.

700. Mountains. This vast territory contains some large chains of mountains. On the north is the Altaic chain; on the west the great chain of Belur Tag, ancient. ly called Imaus, running north and south, between the Usbecks and Kalmuks; and through the center, the Alak mountains. But this country is little known. One remarkable feature must not be omitted, which is a vast #levated plain from the mountains of Tibet on the south,

« PreviousContinue »