Five Years in China from 1842 to 1847

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Five Years in China from 1842 to 1847
Five years in China; from 1842 to 1847: with an account of the occupation of the islands of Labuan and Borneo by her Majestys forces
Frederick Edwyn Forbes
London: Richard Bentley
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Having been presented, and taken the liberty of presenting to the lady a
small English purse, which was thankfully received, I made my bow and
took leave of her. I next joined the bridegroom at an entertainment
given to his friends (i.e., all who had sent cards and money). Much
samshoo was drank, and after the feasting was over a kind of game was
played, one party threw out a number of fingers, and called them; while
at the same time the other anticipated, and threw out a similar number,
the failure in doing so incurred the obligation of drinking off a cup of
samshoo. In another apartment, at the same time, the bride entertained
her friends.

In the evening a temporary theatre is erected in front of the house; and
performances, fireworks, and the din of gongs and music lasts till
daylight, when all disperse. On the following day servants,
sedan-bearers, performers, and all who have waited the day before are
feasted, and thus ends the ceremony. The bride becomes the slave of her
lord, whom perhaps she has never seen before. If her mother-in-law be
alive, she becomes only second in the household, being entirely under
the guidance of her mother-in-law for her life. And should she not in
due season present her lord with an offspring, or should repeated
presentations prove females he is by law at liberty to take a concubine,
whose position in household affairs is secondary to the wife’s; and
again, should that lady prove barren, or not produce a male, a second or
more follow. But it is not lawful for a man to put aside his wife and
marry one of these concubines. But matrimony is not always the
realization of hope, as I trust it was with my friend the grocer. A
merchant in Ningpo having seen and admired the fair daughter of a fellow
townsman, got his parents to arrange a marriage; when all was ready, he
opened the bridal chair, and led into the house his intended’s sister,
who was not only ugly, but terribly pitted with small pox: it was too
late to retreat, he had got her for better and worse, and there was no
redress obtainable. I heard the story from the poor fellow’s own lips.