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(ter vocata audit), and whose functions seem compounded of those of Venus genetrix and Lucina. There is, however, the widest difference, in their estimation, between male and female offspring ; the former are as eagerly desired, as the latter are generally deprecated. Sons are considered in this country, where the power over them is so absolute through life, as a sure support, as well as a probable source of wealth or dignities, should they succeed in learning: but the grand object is the perpetuation of the race, to sacrifice at the family tombs. Without sons, a man lives without honour or satisfaction, and dies unhappy; and, as the only remedy, he is permitted to adopt the sons of his younger brothers. Sometimes, however, the extreme desire of male offspring leads parents to suborn the midwives to purchase a boy of some poor person, and substitute it for the girl, just born. This is termed, tow loong, hoân foong-“stealing a dragon in exchange for a phenix.”
Their maxim is, that as the Emperor should have the care of a father for his people, a father should have the power of a sovereign over his family. A man is even able to sell his children for slaves, as appears from the constant practice. They do not subscribe to the precept of Rousseau -“ Quand chacun pourrait s'aliéner lui-même, il ne ut aliéner ses enfans.” How completely the children of concubines pertain to the lawful wife is proved by this passage in the drama of“ an Heir in old age," where, in addressing his wife, the old man says,
“ Seaou-mei is now pregnant; whether she produces a boy or a girl, the same will be your property; you may then hire out her services, or sell her, as it best pleases you.” The handmaids are in fact only domestic slaves.
The birth of a son is of course an occasion of great rejoicing; the family or surname is first given, and then the « milk name,” which is generally some
diminutive of endearment. A month after the event, the relations and friends between them send the child a silver plate, on which are engraved the three words, “long-life, honours, felicity." The boy is lessoned in behaviour and in ceremonies from his earliest childhood, and at four or five he commences reading. The importance of general education was known so long since in China, that a work written before the Christian era speaks of the “ ancient system of instruction," which required that every town and village, down to only a few families, should have a common school. The wealthy Chinese employ private teachers, and others send their sons to day-schools, which are so well attended that the fees paid by each boy are extremely small. In large towns there are night schools, of which those who are obliged to labour through the day avail themselves !
The sixteen discourses of the Emperor Yoong-ching, called the Sacred Edicts, commence with the domestic duties as the foundation of the political; and the eleventh treats of instructing the younger branches of a family. Dr. Morrison, in his dictionary, has given a selection from one hundred rules, or inaxims, to be observed at a school, some of which are extremely good. Among other points, the habit of attention is dwelt upon as of primary importance, and boys are warned against“ repeating with the mouth while the heart (or mind) is thinking of something else.” They are taught never to be satisfied with a confused or indistinct understanding of what they are learning, but to ask for explanations; and always to make a personal application to themselves of the precepts which they learn. Scholars are not often subjected to corporal punishments. The rule is to try the effects of rewards and of persuasion, until it is plain that these will not operate; after which it is the custom to disgrace a boy by making him remain on his knees at his seat before
the whole school, or sometimes at the door, while a stick of incense (a sort of slow match) burns to a certain point : the last resort is to flog him.
The object of the Government, as Dr. Morrison justly observed, in making education general, is not to extend the bounds of knowledge, but to impart the knowledge already possessed to as large a portion as possible of the rising generation, and “to pluck out true talent" from the mass of the community for its own service. The advancement of learning, or discoveries in physical science, are not in its contemplation. It prescribes the books to be studied; a departure from which is heterodoxy; and discountenances all innovations that do not originate with itself. In this we may perceive one of the causes, not only of the stationary and unprogressive character of Chinese institutions, but likewise of their permanency and continuance.
The process of early instruction in the language is this: they first teach children a few of the principal characters (as the names of the chief objects in nature or art) exactly as we do the letters, by rude pictures, having the characters attached. Then follows the Santse-king, or “trimetrical classic,” being a summary of infant erudition, conveyed in chiming lines of three words, or feet. They soon after proceed to the “ Four books,” which contain the doctrines of Confucius, and which, with the “Five classics” subsequently added, are in fact the Chinese scriptures. The Four books they learn by heart entirely, and the whole business of the literary class is afterwards to comment on them, or compose essays on their texts. Writing is taught by tracing the characters, with their hair pencil, on transparent paper placed over the copy, and they commence with very large characters in the first instance. Specimens of this species of calligraphy are contained in
the Royal Asiatic Transactions. In lieu of slates, they generally use boards painted white to save paper, washing out the writing when finished. Instructors are of course very plentiful, on account of the numbers who enter the learned profession, and fail in attaining the higher degrees.
Every principal city is furnished with halls of examination, and the embassy of 1816 was lodged in one of these buildings, at Nanheung-foo, a town at the bottom of the pass which leads northward from Canton province. It consisted of a number of halls and courts, surrounded by separate cells for the candidates, who are admitted with nothing but blank paper, and the implements of writing ; a part of the system which corresponds with our college examinations. The students who succeed in their own district, at the annual examination, are ranked as Sew-tsae, or bachelors, and according to their merits are drafted for further advancement, until they became fitted for the triennial examination, held at the provincial capital, by an officer expressly deputed from the Hânlin college at Peking. The papers consist of moral and political essays, on texts selected from the sacred books, as well as of verses on given subjects.
Pains are taken to prevent the examiners from knowing the authors of the essays and poems; but of course this cannot always be effectual in shutting out abuse.
Those who succeed at the triennial examinations attain the rank of Kiu-jin, which may be properly termed licentiate, as it qualifies for actual employment; and once in three years all these licentiates repair to Peking, (their expenses being paid if necessary,) to be examined for the Tsin-sse, or doctor's degree, to. which only thirty can be admitted at one time. From these doctors are selected the members of the Imperial college of Hånlin, after an examination held in the