The Chinese: a General Description. 2

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The Chinese: a General Description. 2
The Chinese: a general description of the Empire of China and its inhabitants
John Francis Davis (1795-1890)
London: C. Knight & Co.
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LITERATURE (continued).

Belles Lettres—The Drama—Passion for Theatrical Exhibitions—Neglect of
the Unities—Character of Plays—Comparison with Greek Drama—Plot of a
Play—Division into Acts—Analysis of a Tragedy—Poetry—Structure of
Verse—Character of Poetry—An Ancient Ode—Poem of London—Romances and
Novels—Outline of a Chinese Romance.

“THE Chinese stand eminently distinguished,” says a writer in the
Quarterly Review,[1] “from other Asiatic nations, by their early
possession and extensive use of the art of printing—of printing, too, in
that particular shape, the stereotype, which is best calculated, by
multiplying the copies and cheapening the price, to promote the
circulation of every species of their literature. Hence they are, as
might be expected, a reading people; a certain quantity of education is
universal among even the lower classes—and, among the higher, it is
superfluous to insist on the great estimation in which letters must be
held under a system where learning forms the very threshold of the gate
that conducts to fame, honours, and civil employment. Amidst the vast
mass of printed books, which is the natural offspring of such a state of
things, we make no scruple to avow that the circle of their Belles
Lettres, comprised under the three heads of Drama, Poetry, and Romances
or Novels, has always possessed the highest place in our esteem; and we
must say that there appears no readier or more agreeable mode of
becoming intimately acquainted with a people, from whom Europe can have
so little to learn on the score of either moral or physical science,
than by drawing largely on the inexhaustible stores of their ornamental
literature.”—We may therefore proceed to consider Chinese belles lettres
in the threefold division of Drama, Poetry, and prose Fiction.

In a moderate collection of Chinese books belonging to the East India
Company there are no less than two hundred volumes of plays, and a
single work in forty volumes contains just one hundred theatrical
pieces. The government of the country, though it does not (like that of
imperial Rome) provide spectacles for the people at its own cost, gives
sufficient countenance and encouragement to such amusements, by
permitting them to be erected in every street by subscriptions among the
inhabitants. On some particular days the mandarins themselves supply the
funds. The principal public occasions of these performances are certain
annual festivals of a religious nature, when temporary theatres,
constructed with surprising facility of bamboos and mats, are erected in
front of their temples, or in open spaces through their towns, the
spectacle being continued for several days together. The players in
general come literally under our legal definition of vagabonds, as they
consist of strolling bands of ten or a dozen, whose merit and rank in
their profession, and consequently their pay, differ widely according to
circumstances. The best are those who come from Nanking, and who
sometimes receive very considerable sums for performing at the
entertainments given by rich persons to their friends.[2]

To prove the rage of the Chinese for their theatrical exhibitions, we
insert an account of the expenses annually incurred at Macao, which is
partly a Portuguese town and contains few rich Chinese, on account of
play-acting.[3] In front of the large temple, near the barrier wall that
confines the Portuguese, twenty-two plays are performed, the acting of
which alone amounts, without including the expenses of erecting the
theatre, to 2,200 Spanish dollars. At the Chinese temple, near the
entrance of the inner harbour, there are annual performances, for which
2,000 dollars are paid; and various lesser exhibitions through the year
make up the total expenditure under this head to upwards of 6,000
dollars, or 1,500l., among a small population of mere shopkeepers and
artisans. A circumstance, however, occurred at Macao in 1833, which must
have impressed the Chinese with the notion that Europeans were fully as
much devoted to such amusements as themselves. A party of Italian
opera-singers from Naples, consisting of two signoras, and five signors,
after having exercised their vocation with success in South America,
proceeded on their way across the Pacific westward towards Calcutta, as
to a likely and profitable field. Circumstances having occasioned their
touching at Macao, they met there with inducements to remain some six
months, until the season should admit of their prosecuting the voyage;
and a temporary theatre having been contrived, they performed most of
Rossini’s operas with great success. The Chinese were surprised to find
what, in the jargon of Canton, is called a Sing-song, erected by the
foreigners on the shores of the celestial empire, and in that very
shape, too, which most nearly resembles their own performances, a
mixture of song and recitative. As the nearest way home from Calcutta,
for these Italians, was by the Cape of Good Hope, they were a singular
instance of the Opera performing a voyage round the world.

Before touching on the subject of their dramatic compositions, we will
say a word regarding the mere scenic exhibitions of the Chinese, which
may at any time be viewed by strangers who visit the country, and of
which even persons ignorant of the language can form a sufficient
judgment. “They have no scenical deception (observes the editor of the
Heir in Old Age) to assist the story, as in the modern theatres of
Europe; and the odd expedients to which they are sometimes driven by the
want of scenery, are not many degrees above Nick Bottom's ‘bush of
thorns and a lantern, to disfigure or to represent the person of
Moonshine’—or the man ‘with some plaster, or some loam, or some
rough-cast about him, to signify wall.’” Thus, a general is ordered upon
an expedition to a distant province; he brandishes a whip, or takes in
his hand the reins of a bridle, and striding three or four times round
the stage in the midst of a tremendous crash of gongs, drums, and
trumpets, he stops short, and tells the audience where he has arrived. A
tolerable judgment may be formed of what little assistance the
imaginations of an English audience formerly derived from scenical
deception, by the state of the drama and the stage as described by Sir
Philip Sidney about the year 1583. “Now you shall have three ladies walk
to gather flowers, and then we must believe the stage to be a garden. By
and by we have news of shipwreck in the same place; then we are to blame
if we accept it not for a rock. Upon the bark of that comes out a
hideous monster with fire and smoke, and then the miserable beholders
are bound to take it for a cave; while in the mean time two armies fly
in, represented with four swords and bucklers, and then what hard heart
will not receive it for a pitched field?”

It is very true (as observed in the journal before quoted), that “the
Chinese in their theatres leave more to the imagination than we do. They
neither contrive that the action should all proceed on one spot, as in
most specimens of the Greek tragedy, nor do they make use of shifting
scenes. ‘You can never bring in a wall,’ says Snug the joiner,—so say
the Chinese; and, though their contrivances are not quite so
outrageously absurd as those in the Midsummer Night's Dream, they are
scarcely more artificial.” The truth, however, on this subject seems to
be, that, though scenery and other adventitious aids of the kind no
doubt tend to aid the illusion, they are by no means absolutely
necessary to it; and in fact it is better to trust altogether to the
imagination of the beholder than to fall into those palpable errors
which even Dennis successfully ridiculed in Addison’s Cato, resulting as
they did from a rigid adherence to the unity of place. The best scenic
preparation that ever was devised must still call largely on the
imagination for assistance; and the whole philosophy of the subject is
summed up in the words of the chorus to Shakspeare’s Henry V.

“But pardon, gentles all,

The flat unraised spirit, that hath dar'd

On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth

So great an object. Can this cockpit hold

The vasty field of France, or may we cram,

Within this wooden O, the very casques

That did affright the air at Agincourt?

O pardon, since a crooked figure may

Attest, in little space, a million;

And let us, cyphers to this great account,

On your imaginary forces work:—

Suppose within the girdle of these walls

Are now confin’d two mighty monarchies,

Whose high upreared and abutting fronts

The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder;

Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts.

Into a thousand parts divide one man,

And make imaginary puissance,” &c.

It is very possible that the delicate taste of the Greeks, alive to this
difficulty, chose rather to evade than encounter it, by that rule which
confined the number of interlocutors, at one time on the stage, to three
persons. But then mark the consequence; half the events of the drama
must be told to the audience, and in lieu of the stirring and active
scenes which keep attention alive, and prevent the performance from
flagging, we have those interminably long stories, which may be
beautiful taken by themselves, and constitute a fine dramatic poem for
the closet, but are quite unsuited to the stage. In one of the plays of
Æschylus, the “Seven before Thebes,” there is a spy, or messenger, who
comes in and describes in a speech, of we forget how many pages, the
details of the whole siege, with the arms and accoutrements of the

The costume, at least, of the Chinese stage is sufficiently appropriate
to the characters represented, and on most occasions extremely splendid.
Their gay silks and embroidery are lavished on the dresses of the
actors, and as most of the serious plays are historical, and for obvious
reasons do not touch on events that have occurred since the Tartar
conquest, the costumes represent the ancient dress of China, which in
the case of females is nearly the same now as ever, but, as regards men,
very different. The splendour of their theatrical wardrobe was remarked
by Ysbrandt Ides, the Russian ambassador, as long ago as 1692. “First
entered a very beautiful lady magnificently dressed in cloth of gold,
adorned with jewels, and a crown on her head, singing her speech with a
charming voice and agreeable motion of the body, playing with her hands,
in one of which she held a fan. The prologue thus performed, the play
followed, the story of which turned upon a Chinese Emperor long since
dead, who had behaved himself well towards his country, and in honour of
whose memory the play was written. Sometimes he appeared in royal robes,
with a flat ivory sceptre in his hand, and sometimes his officers showed
themselves with, ensigns, arms, and drums,” &c.

As the Chinese make no regular distinction between tragedy and comedy in
their stage pieces, the claims of these to either title must be
determined by the subject, and the dialogue. The line is in general
pretty strongly marked; in the former by the historical or mythological
character of the personages, the grandeur and gravity of the subject,
the tragical drift of the play, and the strict award of what is called
poetical justice; in the latter, by the more ordinary or domestic grade
of the dramatis personæ the display of ludicrous characters and
incidents, and the interweaving of jests into the dialogue. Some of
their stage pieces are no doubt of a vulgar and indecent description;
but these in general constitute the amusement of a particular class of
society, and are generally adapted to the taste of those who call for
them at private entertainments, as already noticed. A list of the plays,
which the company of actors is prepared to represent, is handed to the
principal guest, who makes his selection in the way most likely to be
agreeable to the audience.

The early travellers, as Bell and others, who have given an account of
the impressions which they received from the Chinese theatrical
performances, were able to judge of little more than the mere spectacle
before them, and, being ignorant of the language, could give no account
of the merits of the dramatic dialogue. The first specimen of a play was
translated into French by the Jesuit Prèmare, who although actually
resident at Peking, and a most accomplished Chinese scholar (as appears
from his Notitia Linguæ Sinicæ), did not give more than the prose parts,
leaving out the lyrical portions, or those which are sung to music,
because, as he observes, “they are full of allusions to things
unfamiliar to us, and figures of speech very difficult for us to
observe.” Voltaire made Prèmare’s translation of the Orphan of Chaou the
groundwork of one of his best tragedies, L’Orphelin de la Chine: it is
founded on an event which occurred about a hundred years before the
birth of Confucius. A military leader having usurped the lands of the
house of Chaou, is determined on exterminating the whole race. A
faithful dependant of the family saves the life of the orphan, and male
heir, by concealing him and passing off his own child in his stead. The
orphan is brought up in ignorance of his real condition, until he
reaches man's estate, when the whole subject being revealed to him by
his tutor and guardian, he revenges the fate of his family on the
usurper, and recovers his rights. In this plot, Dr. Hurd remarked a near
resemblance in many points to that of the Electra of Sophocles, where
the young Orestes is reared by his pædagogus, or tutor, until he is old
enough to enact summary justice on the murderers of his father

It would be easy to point out a number of instances in which the
management of the Chinese plays assimilates them very remarkably to that
of the Greek drama; and they may both be considered as originals, while
the theatres of most other nations are copies. The first person who
enters generally introduces himself to the audience exactly in the same
way, and states briefly the opening circumstances of the action. “These
prologues (observes Schlegel) make the beginnings of Euripides’ plays
very monotonous. It has a very awkward look for a person to come forward
and say, ‘I am so and so, this and that has been done, and what comes
next is thus and thus.’ He compares it to the labels proceeding from the
mouths of the figures in old paintings; and there certainly appears the
less need for so inartificial a proceeding on the Greek stage, inasmuch
as the business of the prologue, or introduction, might have been
transferred to the chorus. The occasional, though not very frequent or
outrageous, violation of the unities in the Chinese drama may easily be
matched in most other languages, and examples of the same occur even in
some of the thirty-three Greek tragedies that remain to us: for the
unity of action is not observed in the Hercules furens of Euripides; nor
that of time in the Agamemnon of Æschylus, the Trachynians of Sophocles,
and the Suppliants of Euripides; nor that of place in the Eumenides of
Æschylus. The unimportance, however, of a rigid attention to these
famous unities has long since been determined, and it is admitted that
even Aristotle, to whom they have all been attributed, mentions only
that of action at any length, merely hints at that of time, and of place
says nothing whatever.

Prèmare’s specimen of the Chinese stage was followed, at the distance of
about a century, by the translation of the “Heir in Old Age,” which is
in fact a comedy from the same collection (the Hundred Plays of Yuen)
that had afforded the former sample. In this the translator supplied,
for the first time, the lyrical or operatic portions which are sung to
music as well as the prose dialogue, having endeavoured, as he observes
in the introduction, “to render both into English in such a manner as
would best convey the spirit of the original, without departing far from
its literal meaning.” This was the more likely to be efficiently
performed, as he was then resident in the country, and could avail
himself of native references. The “Heir in Old Age” serves to illustrate
some very important points connected with Chinese character and customs.
It shows the consequence which they attach to the due performance of the
oblations at the tombs of departed ancestors, as well as to the leaving
male representatives, who may continue them; and at the same time
describes the ceremonies at the tombs very exactly in detail. The play
serves, moreover, to display the true relation of the handmaid to the
legitimate wife, and proves a point on which we have before had occasion
to insist, that the former is merely a domestic slave, and that both
herself and offspring belong to the wife, properly so called, of which a
man can legally have only one.[4]

To give a brief abstract of this play from the introductory memoir—the
dramatic personæ are made up entirely of the members of a family in the
middle class of life, consisting of a rich old man, his wife, a
handmaid, his nephew, his son-in-law, and his daughter. The old man,
having no son to console him in his age, and to perform the obsequies at
his tomb, had, like the Jewish patriarch, taken a handmaid, whose
pregnancy is announced at the opening of the play, in which the old man
commences with saying, “I am a man of Tung-ping-foo,” &c. In order to
obtain from heaven a son instead of a daughter, he makes a sacrifice of
sundry debts due to him, by burning the bonds, and this propitiatory
holocaust serves, at the same time, to quiet some scruples of conscience
as to the mode in which part of his money had been acquired. He then
delivers over his affairs to his wife and his married daughter,
dismissing his nephew (a deceased brother’s son) with a hundred pieces
of silver to seek his fortune, as he had been subjected at home to the
persecution of the wife. This done, the old man sets out for his estate
in the country, recommending the mother of his expected son to the
humane treatment of the family, and with the hope of receiving from them
speedy congratulations on the birth of a son.

The son-in-law now betrays to the daughter his disappointment at the
expected birth, since, if it proves a girl, they shall lose half the
family property, and if a son, the whole. His wife quiets him by a hint
how easily the handmaid may be got rid and the old man persuaded that
she had suddenly disappeared; and shortly afterwards both the son-in-law
and the audience are left to infer that she had actually contrived to
make away with her. In the mean time the old man waits the result in
great anxiety; his family appear in succession to console him for the
loss of his hopes. In the bitterness of his disappointment he bursts
into tears, and expresses his suspicions of foul play. He then
attributes his misfortunes to his former thirst of gain, resolves to
fast for seven days, and to bestow alms publicly at a neighbouring
temple, in the hope that the objects of his charity may treat him as a
father. Among the beggars at the temple, his nephew appears in the most
hopeless state of poverty, being reduced to take up his lodging under
the furnace of a pottery; he is insulted by the son-in-law, and
reproached by the old man; but his uncle, moved with compassion,
contrives to give him a little money, and earnestly advises him to be
punctual in visiting the tombs of his family at the approaching spring,
assuring him that a due attention to those sacred rites must ultimately
lead to prosperity. It is on the importance attached to the sepulchral
ceremonies that the whole drama is made to turn.

The nephew accordingly appears at the tombs, performs the oblations as
well as his poverty will admit, and invokes the shades of his ancestors
to grant him their protection. He no sooner departs than the old uncle
appears with his wife, expressing their indignation that their own
daughter and son-in-law had neglected to come with the customary
offerings. They observe from the appearances at the sepulchre that their
nephew must have been there. The scene at the tombs, and the reflections
of the old man thereon, have considerable interest; he reasons with his
wife, and convinces her that the nephew is nearer in blood and more
worthy than the son-in-law: she relents, and expresses a wish to make
him reparation; he appears, a reconciliation takes place, and he is
received back into the family. The son-in-law and daughter now enter
with a great bustle, and a procession, to perform the ceremonies, but
are received with bitter reproaches for their tardy piety and
ingratitude, and forbidden to enter the doors again.

On the old man’s birthday, however, they desire permission to pay their
respects, when, to the boundless surprise and joy of the father, his
daughter presents him with the long-lost handmaid and child, both of
whom, it appears, had been secreted by the daughter unknown to her
jealous husband, who supposed they were otherwise disposed of. The
daughter is taken back, and the old man divides his money in three equal
shares between her, his nephew, and his newly found son; the play
concluding with expressions of joy and gratitude that the venerable hero
of the piece had obtained “an heir in his old age.” Such is the brief
outline of the story, which arises entirely out of the misery resulting
from the want of a male heir to perform the oblations at the tombs. The
events follow each other in so natural and uninterrupted a manner, that
the time employed in the course of the piece, which is three years,
would not be perceived but for the age of the child brought forward in
the concluding act. The play, including the Proëm or introductory
portion, consists in reality of just five acts, and this peculiar
division is common to the hundred plays, from which this and the other
translated specimens have been taken.

These separate portions of the play, however, are not so distinctly
marked on the Chinese stage as on ours, there being little need of
preparation or change of scene, and the division seems to exist rather
in the book than in the representation. The first, or introductory,
portion is called the “opening,” and the remaining four are styled
“breaks.” All the directions to the actors are printed as in our stage
books. “Ascend” and “descend” are used for enter and exit, and to speak
aside is expressed by a term which means, to “say at the back” of any
person. Thus in one of the Hundred Plays, an intriguing lover, who meets
his mistress by appointment, exclaims on seeing her, as any other
Lothario might do, “(aside) she has changed her habit of yesterday, and
truly looks like a divinity.” In the Chinese playbooks certain
invariable words or names are adopted to mark the particular relations
of the different dramatis personæ, as the first and secondary male and
female characters (the prima donna, &c.), and these are used in every
play indiscriminately, whethor its complexion be tragic or comic. The
musical portions, in accordance with the Chinese theory of poetry,[5]
express the most passionate parts, and therefore belong only to the
principal characters. In this respect there is no resemblance to the
Greek theatre, where the chorus, as a distinct body, sang together, or
in responsive parts called strophe and antistrophe; while certain spoken
portions were delivered by their Coryphæus, or leader, who therefore
speaks in the singular number.

In another specimen of the Chinese theatre, which is of a tragic cast,
and turns on the misfortunes of one of the native Emperors against the
Mongol Tartars, the translator has followed the example of Prèmare, and
having before (for the first time) given a drama in its whole details,
including the lyrical portions, confined himself on this occasion
chiefly to the spoken dialogue, and the principal course of the action.
Love and war constitute the whole subject of the piece, of which the
moral is to expose the evil consequences of luxury, effeminacy, and
supineness in the sovereign. The story is taken from that portion of the
Chinese annals previous to the first conquest by the Mongols, when the
declining strength of the government emboldened the Tartars in their
aggressions, and gave rise to the system of propitiating those
barbarians by tribute, and by alliances with the daughters of China. The
play opens with the entrance of the Tartar Khan, who thus προλογίζει:—

“We have moved to the south, and approached the border, claiming an
alliance with the imperial race. I yesterday despatched an envoy with
tributary presents to demand a princess in marriage, but know not if the
Emperor will ratify the engagement with the customary oaths. The
fineness of the season has drawn away our chiefs on a hunting excursion
amidst the sandy steppes. May they meet with success!—for we Tartars
have no fields; our bows and arrows are our sole dependence.” [Exit.]

Then appears the Emperor’s chief minister and favourite, who in a
soliloquy makes known the system by which he governs his master,
persuading him, “to keep aloof from his wise counsellors, and seek all
his pleasures among the women of his palace.” To him enters the Emperor,
and after a consultation it is settled that the minister shall proceed
diligently through the realm in search of the most beautiful ladies, and
furnish his master with faithful portraits of them, as a means of fixing
his choice. He abuses his commission, however, and makes it an occasion
for extorting bribes from those who seek the benefit of the alliance.
The most beautiful of all is daughter to a cultivator of the land, who
has not the means of satisfying the rapacity of the minister; and the
latter, in order to be revenged, misleads the Emperor by presenting him
with a disfigured portrait of the fair one. Chance, however, throws her
in the Emperor’s way, who is struck by her beauty, and the secret is now
discovered, as he at once learns from her how he has been deceived by
his favourite.

“Keeper of the Yellow gate, bring us that picture that we may view it.
(Sees the picture.) Ah! how has he dimmed the purity of the gem, bright
as the waves in autumn. (To the attendant.) Transmit our pleasure to the
officer of the guard to behead Maou- yen-show, and report to us his

The traitor, however, contrives to escape, and carries his head safely
upon his shoulders to the Tartar camp, where he exhibits a true likeness
of the lady to the barbarian king, and persuades him, with ingenious
villany, to demand her of the Emperor. An envoy is immediately
despatched by the Khan, who adds, “should he refuse, I will presently
invade the south: his hills and rivers shall be exposed to ravage.” The
unfortunate Emperor’s fondness continues to increase, and the arrival of
the Tartar envoy fills him with perplexity and despair. He calls on his
servants to rid him of these invaders, but they bewail the weakness of
the empire, point out the necessity of the sacrifice, and call on his
majesty to consult the peace and safety of his realms by complying with
the Khan’s demand. He consents, after a struggle, to yield up the
beauty, who is now a princess, but insists on accompanying her a portion
of the way. The parting scene has considerable interest, and the
language or the imperial lover is passionate to a degree that one is not
prepared to expect.—Then at length comes the catastrophe. The Tartar
retires with his prize, until they reach the banks of the river Amoor or
Saghalien, which falls into the sea of Ochotsk.

“Princess. What place is this?

“Khan. It is the river of the Black Dragon,[6] the frontier of the
Tartar territories and those of China. This southern shore is the
Emperor’s—on the northern side commences our Tartar dominion.

“Princess—(to the Khan). Great King, I take a cup of wine, and pour a
libation towards the south—my last farewell to the Emperor. (Pours the
libation.) Sovereign of Hân, this life is finished: I await thee in the
next!”—With these words she throws herself into the river, and perishes;
and here the tragedy might properly end. The Khan in great sorrow
decrees her a tomb on the river’s bank, and, with more generosity than
might have been expected from him, remits all farther demands on the
Emperor; directing that the wicked cause of these misfortunes shall be
delivered over to the Chinese, to receive the just reward of his
misdeeds. But the piece continues through another act, in which the
Emperor’s sorrows are either said or sung, until he is at length
pacified by the death of the traitor.

Another specimen from the Hundred Plays has been translated in France by
M. Stanislas Julien, now professor of Chinese at Paris. As in the
previous instance of the “Heir in Old Age,” he has given a version of
the whole drama, including both the prose and the lyrical parts, and
promises some farther samples of the same kind. The name of the piece
which he has rendered into French is Le Cercle de Craie, “the chalk
ring, or circle,” founded on the principal incident in the piece, which
is in fact so like the Judgment of Solomon, that it might lead one to
believe the Chinese play had been borrowed from some obscure tradition,
or report of it. Two women claim to be the mothers of the same child
before a judge, who, in order to get at the truth, orders a chalk ring
to be drawn on the floor of the court, and the contested child placed in
the middle of it. He then declares that the child shall belong to
whichever of the women may succeed against the other in pulling it out
of the circle. The feigned mother, having no compunction for the infant,
gets the better of the real one, who from her maternal tenderness for
the child is afraid of exerting her whole strength; and the sagacious
judge, “a second Daniel come to judgment,” gives the cause in favour of
the right claimant. With this last specimen we conclude our sketch of
the Chinese theatre.

[1] Vol, xli. p. 85.

[2] The female parts are never performed by women, but generally by
boys. “No women ever appeared on the Greek and the Roman theatres; but
the characters in the dramas of the latter, as (occasionally) in those
of China, were sometimes played by eunuchs. The soft and delicate female
characters of Shakspeare had not the advantage of being played by female
during his life; Mrs. Betterton, about 1660, being the first, or nearly
the first, female who played Juliet and Ophelia.”—Brief View of the
Chinese Drama, p. xiv.

[3] Chinese Gleaner, 1821, p. 60.

[4] In the Penal Code there are some express safeguards for the rights
of a wife, and it is provided that any man degrading legal wife to the
situation of a handmaid shall be punished with one hundred blows; and
that he who during the life of his legitimate spouse treats any handmaid
on an equality with her, shall receive ninety blows, and both parties be
restored to their proper stations. It is added, “He who, having a wife,
marries another wife, shall be punished with ninety blows, and the
second marriage shall be void.” The notes on this law observe that “a
wife is one whose person is equal in rank to that of her husband: a
handmaid, one who is merely admitted to his presence.”

[5] See page 59.

[6] In this name the Chinese have translated the Tartar, Saghalien oula,
“Black Water river,” by Black Dragon river. The same fabulous monster is
common to the mythological literature of ancient Europe and China, being
always described and represented as a scaly serpent with claws, fraught
with fire and smoke.

— πυρος

Δρακοντ' αναβλεποντα φοίνιαν φλογα

The Chinese dragon is in reality a hydra, but with one head; and we
may perceive, in the analogy between the waving track of the monster,
and the serpentine course of rivers, a simila: origin for the hydras
of Greece and China.