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and moral condition of that region, which, we once thought, was scarcely better than a desert, but which we now find to be, in susceptibility of cultivation, in natural resources of all kinds, almost on a par with many countries of Europe, celebrated for their fertility of soil and geniality of climate. Siberia is under the direction of two governors general, each of which has command of four sub-governments and three oblasts, or districts, each province having its governor, and each district its chief. The population is remarkably vigorous and healthy, and yields occasionally manifestations of ingenuity and penetration which claim the most extensive encouragement on the part of the government.
Mr. Dobell spent seven years in China, a circumstance that gives him an undoubted right to speak of them in a decisive
He attributes to the population the virtues of temperance, industry, and kindness; and says that the crafty, overreaching, and dissembling character, which belongs to them generally, is the result of bad education and worse government. He admits China to no more than the rank of a half civilized country, where the arts of life, public institutions, and social refinement are at the very lowest ebb. The poor are very badly off; those of Canton chiefly reside all the year round in boats, on the water before the town, and, strange to say, these amphibious beings lead much more active lives, and obtain a better and more certain supply of subsistence, than those on shore. The peasantry are subject to those diseases that almost every where result from uncleanliness and a miasmatic neighbourhood. Blindness, he says, is very common amongst them, and many children are born blind. "If the latter fact be true, it is almost decisive that the numerous cases of blindness which are said to distinguish the Chinese, are not referable to any malignant influence connected with their employments, habits, or manners. Many of them are deformed, which may be owing to the weak state of the females generally—the result of their sedentary lives, and of that restraint which they must necessarily undergo when young, in order to acquire diminutive feet. Surgery and anatomy are not cultivated amongst the Chinese, and Mr. Dobell says, that one of the first physicians in Canton was so ignorant as to express his belief, that the circulation of the blood was different on both sides of the body. This explains why the medical men of Canton always examine the pulse in both wrists.
In general the Chinese are very economical, except in their festivals, and in giving these even misers forget their predilection.
• No people,' says our author, ' understand, better than the Chinese, the application of cookery. They make use of earthen stoves, where the heat, from wood and charcoal mixed, is conducted exactly to the centre of the pot or vessel, in which they prepare the food ; consequently, a very small portion is required to cook their victuals. Economy of fuel is a matter of no small importance in a country where wood is so scarce and dear, and the mine-coal so bad that it is difficult to make it burn; in fact,
it is almost destitute of the bituminous quality that renders coal generally so inflammable, and is, therefore, quite unfit for kitchen use. You will see the inhabitants of a sampan (boat) lift up their stern sheets, make their fire, boil their rice, and dress a couple of stews of fish and vegetables, in the course of twenty or thirty minutes, and in the most cleanly manner. Even frogs, cats, dogs, and rats, which they eat occasionally, are washed and prepared, as if they were the most delicate food; and their rice is always washed a dozen times before it is boiled.'-Vol. ii. p. 216.
Who would have imagined that so sublime a people would ever give birth to a dandy? It is a fact, however, that dandyism has made its way to places in China where nothing else, in the nature of Europeanism, dare expose itself.
itself. We give Mr. Dobell's description of a Chinese petit-maitre:
“ His dress is very expensive, being composed of the most costly crapes or silks; his boots or shoes of a particular shape, and made of the richest black satin of Nankin, the soles of a certain height; his knee-caps elegantly embroidered; his cap and button of the neatest cut; his pipes elegant and high priced; his tobacco of the best manufacture of Fokein; an English gold watch; a tooth-pick hung at his button, with a string of valuable pearls; a fan, from Nankin, scented with Chulan flowers. Such are his personal appointments. His servants are also clothed in silks, and his sedan chair, &c. &c. are all correspondingly elegant.--Vol. ii. p. 217.
Mr. Dobell gives a very unfavourable account of the Chinese drama, of which, he says, he cannot impart a due notion without violating decency. Yet these exhibitions are attended and relished by women, who, however, are separated from the male spectators in the theatre, by a curtain. Lord Macartney and his suite were entertained frequently with dramatic performances, during their sojourn in China; but nothing objectionable seems to have been observed in them. Mr. Ellis mentions even that the parts of females were sometimes performed by boys.
The practice of polygamy has given to the social condition of the wealthier Chinese a very peculiar aspect. That it is fruitful of every species of domestic immorality, we should conclude from the very nature of the principle, had we not evidence to that effect in the case of China. The women are not allowed to mix with men in society--they even do not live on the same side of a house with the male parts of the family. They are uneducated, sometimes employ themselves at needle-work and music; and, 'to kill time,' says Mr. Dobell, they play at cards, and dominoes, and smoke incessantly. The men under such circumstances are accustomed to seek amusement out of doors. Their principal pastimes are cards and dice, quail-fighting, cricket-playing, shuttle cock played with the feet, and tumbling, at which they are very expert.' Next, however, to quail-fighting, the flower boats occupy most of a Chinese gentleman's leisure time. These boats lie near the shore, and are of most beautiful construction. The men and women that frequent these vessels are obliged to have a
license, and they appear on the whole to be nothing more than small marine gambling houses, where every species of allurement is employed, to corrupt and plunder wealthy young men. Mr. Dobell has been told that from forty to sixty thousand Spanish dollars are expended daily in the flower boats at Canton. It is curious enough that the Hong merchants always invite those with whom they make contracts for tea every year, to a flower boat, and the bargain is said generally to be lucrative in proportion as. the entertainment is splendid. Tea is the general beverage of all classes. Those in easy circumstances drink the infusion whilst it is hot on the leaves, and renew the water and drink it alternately several times. Mechanics and labourers draw their tea pretty much in the same manner that prevails in Europe. The principal meal amongst the bon ton is the dinner at six o'clock, and if it be a dinner of ceremony, a sing song or play accompanies it. Of the sing song Mr. Dobell has confirmed the account already given by Mr. Ellis, who calls it an “infernal annoyance.” The dinner customs are exceedingly curious. The details which Mr. Dobell furnishes may be well abridged. The invitation comes on large red paper several days before the feast. On the eve of the day another is sent on rose-coloured paper; and lastly, on the day itself, a third invitation is brought. The guests are all placed at separate tables, and it is a point of ton that as few as possible should sit at the same board. Each table is served with exactly the same description of fare, and exactly at the same instant. When the guests are assembled, cups of warm almond milk are first presented. The dinner consists of several courses. The first is generally composed of dejeuné articles, dried fish, cold ham, livers and gizzards of fowls, salted ducks, powder of dried pork and venison, fried worms found in the sugar-cane, (a great luxury), and such delicacies. The dinner being now about to begin, the host rises, drinks to the guests, who return the compliment. The Chinese use no table-cloth ; but the tables being double, the upper one is removed altogether, with the first course upon it, and then the second course is laid. Between the first and second course, dishes of all sorts are served—but all coming under a particular denomination. During the interval the guests may rise and walk about if they please. The second course being laid, the guests return to their seats when birds-nests’-soup is served up, with pigeons' and plovers' eggs floating in it, to each person. The nests here alluded to are literally the habitations of birds. The sea swallows of the eastern seas compose their nests of a sea-weed which possesses a very large proportion of delicate mucilage. The best comes from Batavia and the Nikobar islands. The nest is formed of three layers, the last one of which, being the inside of the abode, is the most precious, commonly fetching from forty-five to sixty Spanish dollars for about a pound and three quarters weight. After this soup, the rest of the dinner is served in large
bowls in quick succession, containing soups, ragouts, and stews of fish, meat, birds, &c. Towards the end the last six or seven bowls are formed into a circle on the table, so as that every two shall support little plates of fish and meat variously dressed. In the middle a tureen with similar food is laid. The rice is then served
up in cups, and may be eaten with any of the contents of the plates or tureen, according to the taste of the guests. Lastly, tea is served up in covered cups on the leaves, without any addition, and thus the entertainment ends. During the dinner, liquors and cordials are in constant use. Chinese wine is not made of
grapes; but the sort consumed is generally mixed with liqueur. The custom of drinking with one another prevails in China as much as in England; but when it is done ceremoniously, the Chinese leave us at a tremendous distance, according to our author.
• The parties rise from their chairs and proceed to the middle of the room. They then raise their cups as high as their mouths, and lower them again until they almost touch the ground the lower the more polite. This process is repeated three, six, or nine times, each watching the others' motions with the greatest exactness: nor will one of them drink before the other, until, after repeated attempts, their cups meet their mouths at one and the same instant; when they empty them, and turn them up so as to expose the inside, and show that every drop has been drunk. After this, they hold the empty cups and salute one another in the same manner, retreating by degrees towards their chairs, when they sit down to resume their functions at the repast. — Vol. p. 237.
As the opportunities of observing domestic manners amongst the Chinese are very scanty, which are granted to foreigners, we have dwelt the longer on the results of Mr. Dobell's researches into that part of their national peculiarities. He has supplied many curious and original details, respecting the habits of the people of China, which are all perfectly consistent with what has been recorded by travellers from our own country. He is of opinion that, under the present system of government, China never will advance in arts or morality; or, rather, will never cease to be a semi-barbarous country, inasmuch as it is a contrivance founded on the principle of self perpetuation. Mr. Dobell is a staunch enemy to the free-trade system, now so much the rage with a certain class of politicians. We are not disposed to touch this question at present, but those who wish to form a just opinion upon it, would do well to make themselves acquainted with Mr. Dobell's sentiments. We have only to say that we have been highly amused and much instructed by his work.
ART. III.-The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.-Vol. XI.,
Parts I. and II. 8vo. Edinburgh : Cadell and Co.; and London :
Simpkin and Marshall. 1830. The first part of this volume, which completes the new edition of Sir Walter Scott's poetical works, is occupied by some essays on ballad poetry, and by a series of introductions to be prefixed to the several poems, and poetical collections, respectively, which have proceeded from the prolific pen of this celebrated author. In those introductions the writer has furnished us with a connected history of his literary career, so far as it was connected with his speculations in poetry-his success and ultimate failure in that department. This portion of Sir Walter's biography places him in a very singular light, and one that is calculated to excite some very curious reflections. The narrative, it should be observed, shews all through a strong sense, on the part of the writer, of the obligation of candour. There is not the slightest partiality for his hero visible in any one page ; but he sits in judgment upon himself, resolved to unfold the truth whatever be the sort of effect which it may produce. We acknowledge at once, that the impression we have received from a perusal of these Sketches is not altogether very satisfactory, so uncomfortable it is sometimes to be undeceived. We feel exactly as if, after we had been most delightfully terrified by the thunder and lightning of the stage, the manager came forth, with the rosin powder in his hand, and read us a lecture on the conteinptible sources of the counterfeit electricity. The chemistry of the mind can only be admired in its results; the charcoal and crucibles of the laboratory destroy the enchantment, and bring down the most striking phenomena to the level of natural and explicable operations. But though the plain speaking of the conjuror himself may, in some degree, dissipate the pleasing spell of poetry, yet we should set a high value on confessions like those before us, inasmuch as they enlarge the authentic materials for the history of the human mind. What should we not now sacrifice to have such revelations from the pen of Shakspeare? to be told by himself who the old lady was that delighted his young mind with the melancholy story of Hamlet; or who was the Jew of his acquaintance that stood for Shylock; or what blessed name did she bear on earth, whom he canonized under the name of Miranda—or of Imogen- or of Jessica ? Yet, ardent as we should be for those details, we doubt if, even in the case of Shakspeare, our admiration would not lessen in proportion as our curiosity would be gratified; and perhaps after all, the dim and mysterious object which Shakspeare personally appears in the distance of years, has tended not a little to perpetuate the veneration which we feel for his works. However the truth may be on this subject, we can have no doubt that the partial autobiography before us, along with being very curious, is very instructive; and though it may not tend to raise the poetical character of Sir Walter Scott, it will certainly afford some lessons to be prized for their practical and general utility.