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The two religious orders of Fo and Taou, which are only tolerated, and not maintained by the Government, derive support entirely from their own funds, or from voluntary private contributions. This remark must of course be confined to China; for in Mongol Tartary the Emperor finds it expedient to show more favour to the Lamas of the Budhist hierarchy, on account of their influence over the people of those extensive regions. It is a striking circumstance that the Confucian persuasion should have continued supreme in China, though the conquerors of the country were not Confucians.
The Emperor's principal ministers form the Nuyko, or “interior council-chamber," and the chief councillors are four in number, two Tartars and two Chinese, the former always taking precedence : they all bear the titles of Choong-thang and Ko-laou, written by the Jesuits Colao. Below these are a number of assessors, who, together with them, form the great council of state. The body whence these chief ministers are generally selected is the Imperial college, or National Institute, of the Hân-lin. If there is any thing which can be called a hierarchy of the state religion (which we have already stated the Government does not maintain in a special shape), it is this Hanlin. In his Memoirs of Napoleon, Bourrienne relates a very characteristic trait: in the classification of his private library, the Emperor arranged the Bible under the head of political works. Just in the same spirit the Chinese Government makes religion an engine, or rather a part, of political rule. The Sovereign is high-priest, and his ministers the members of the hierarchy; and the sacred books of Confucius are studied and expounded by the Hân-lin College, which in this respect is a species of Sorbonne. Besides the supreme council of the Emperor already mentioned, there is the Keun-ky-tâ-chin, a body of privy-coun
MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT.
cillors, for occasions when secrecy and despatch may be particularly required. The person called Duke Ho, in Lord Amherst's embassy, was one of these.
The Lew-poo, or Six Boards for the conduct of Government business in detail, are, 1. The Board of Official Appointments, which takes cognizance of the conduct of all civil officers; 2. The Board of Revenue, which regulates all fiscal matters; 3. The Board of Rites and Ceremonies ; 4. The Military Board ; 5. The Supreme Court of Criminal Jurisdiction; 6. The Board of Public Works. These have all subordinate offices under them, as, for instance, the Astronomical Board is attached to the third, the ritual being regulated by the calendar.
The Lyfân-yuen may be literally rendered by the “office for foreign affairs.” As its name imports, it has charge of the external relations of the empire. One of the Presidents was deputed to receive the British embassy in 1816, and they consist always of Manchow or Mongol Tartars, no Chinese ever being employed. A very peculiar feature of the Government is next observable in the Too-chă yuen, or office of Censors, of which the members are generally styled Yu-shee. There are two Presidents, a Tartar and a Chinese, and the members consist in all of about forty or fifty, of which several are sent to various parts of the empire, as imperial inspectors, or perhaps, more properly speaking, spies. By the ancient custom of the empire they are privileged to present any advice or remonstrance to the Sovereign without danger of losing their lives; but they are frequently degraded or punished when their addresses are unpalatable. An example of the office, and the fate of one of these, occurs at the commencement of the romance of the “ Fortunate Union,” published by the Oriental Translation Committee. A living example, however, is conspicuous in
Soong-ta-jin, the conductor of Lord Macartney's embassy, who, at a very advanced age, is in a state of what may be styled respectable disgrace, for the boldness and honesty with which he has always spoken out.
The foregoing are the principal organs of the imperial Government at Peking. The provinces are placed under the principal charge, either singly of a Fooyuen, or Governor, or two provinces together are made subject to a Tsoong-tó, or General
governor," who has Fooyuens under him for each single province. Canton, and Kuâng-sy adjoining, are together subject to the Tsoong-to, commonly called the Viceroy of Canton. In each of these Governments there is a chief criminal judge and a treasurer, the latter having usually cognizance of civil suits, but his especial business being the charge of the territorial revenue. The salt department is sufficiently important to be under the particular management of the Yen-yun-sse, or “salt mandarin,” as he is called at Canton; the Chinese Government, like so many others, having reserved to itself the monopoly of this necessary of life.
The separate cities and districts of each province, in the three ranks of Foo, Chow, and Hien, are under the charge of their respective magistrates, called Chyfoo, Chy-chow, and Chy-hien. The total number of civil magistrates throughout China is estimated at 14,000. The importance of the European trade at Canton has given rise to the special appointment there of the Hae-kuân, or commissioner of the customs, who is called by Europeans Hoppo, a corruption of Hoo-poo, the Board of revenue at Peking. He is generally some Tartar favourite of the Emperor, sent down to make his fortune by the foreign trade, and he generally contrives to do this rapidly, by squeezing the Hong merchants, over whom he has entire control.
CHECKS ON ORGANS OF GOVERNMENT.
A red-book (being literally one with a red cover), in six small volumes, is printed quarterly by authority, containing the name, birth-place, and other particulars relating to every official person in the empire, No individual can hold a magistracy in his own province ; and each public officer is changed periodically, to prevent growing connexions and liaisons with those under his government. A son, a brother, or any other very near relation, cannot hold office under a corresponding relative. Once in three years the Viceroy of each province forwards, to the Board of Civil appointments, the name of every officer under his government down to a Hien's deputy, with remarks on their conduct and character, which have all been received from the immediate superiors of each ; -a plan not unlike that which has lately been adopted in the civil Government of British India. According to this report, every officer is raised or degraded so many degrees. Each magistrate is obliged to state, in the catalogue of his titles, the number of steps that he has been either raised or degraded. The offences of great officers are tried by imperial commissioners, specially appointed. Disturbances or rebellions in a province are never forgiven to a Governor or Viceroy. The Governor of Canton, who only one year before had obtained signal marks of the Emperor's favour, was ruined in 1832 by the rebellion or irruption of the mountaineers in the northwest, though he was quite innocent of any blame on the occasion.
The relative degrees of civil and military officers are partly distinguished by the colour of the ball which they wear at the apex or point of their conical caps. These are red, light blue, dark blue, crystal, white stone, and gold; and, with some modifications, they serve to distinguish what are called the nine ranks.” Each ball is accompanied by its corre
sponding badge, which is a piece of silk embroidery, about a foot square, with the representation of a bird, or other device, on both the breast and back of the ceremonial habit, together with a necklace of very large “court-beads” descending to the waist.
These mere outward decorations, however, are not infallible signs of the real rank of the wearer, for the bare permission to assume the dress, without any of the powers or privileges of an officer of Government, may be purchased for a large sum of money. The only benefit derived is this, that in case of a breach of the law, the individual cannot be punished on the spot, nor until he has been formally deprived of his ball, or button, a process which is not long in performing. Any Hong merchant at Canton who should have purchased leave to wear the blue ball on his cap may be cited to appear by a magistrate of the lowest grade, who wears only a gold or rather a gilt one, and, if really criminal, he may be deprived of his finery and punished with the bamboo like any unprivileged person.
It may be considered as one proof of social advancement, on the part of the Chinese, that the civil authority is generally superior to the military, and that letters always rank above arms, in spite even of the manner in which the Tartars obtained the empire. In this respect China may be said to have subdued her conquerors.
A military mandarin of the highest grade may be often seen on foot, when a civil officer of middling rank would be considered as degraded except in a chair with four bearers; the others are not allowed chairs, but may ride. The present dynasty, as an encouragement to its army, established examinations, or rather trials, in the military art (as in riding and shooting with the bow), at which the candidates are ranked for promotion in three degrees, like the civilians, though of course