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with one-half of the prejudices of the Hindoos, a large portion of the Chinese population would perish with hunger. They make no difficulty whatever of dogs, cats, and even rats; and indeed the first of these are enumerated as a regular article of food in one of their ancient books. Among the rich themselves, a wild cat, previously prepared by feeding, is reckoned a delicacy. Chinese dogs are said to have a particular aversion for butchers, in consequence, no doubt, of the violation of those personal exemptions and privileges, which the canine race are allowed to enjoy almost everywhere else.
As might be expected from the economical habits of the people, that great save-all, the pig, is universally reared about cottages, and its flesh is by far the commonést meat: the maxim is," that a scholar does not quit his books, nor the poor man his pigs.” If it be true that the frequent use of pork produces or predisposes to leprosy, (“ cui id animal obnoxium," says Tacitus,) the Chinese would go to corroborate the truth of the observation, being very subject to that, as well as other cutaneous affections; but it must be remarked, at the same time, that their soal-feeding is universal. They contrive to rear ducks very cheaply, by making them hunt for their own food. Large quantities of the eggs are hatched artificially, and the, ducks brought up by thousands in peculiar boats, where their lodging is constructed upon broad platforms, extending far beyond the sides of the boat. In this manner they are conveyed to different parts of the rivers, and turned out to seek their food upon the muddy banks and shoals. So well disciplined are these birds, that, upon a given signal, they follow their leaders with great regularity up the inclined board, by which they return to their habitation on the close of the day's feeding. The flesh is preserved by the bodies of the ducks being split open, flattened, and
TAVERNS AND EATING-HOUSES.
salted, and in this condition exposed to the dry northerly winds during the cold months.
The consumption of salted provisions is very general, and enables the Government to draw a large revenue from the gabelle which it levies on salt. In consequence of the immense quantities of both sea and river fish which are daily caught, and the rapidly putrescent nature of that species of provision, a considerable portion is cured with salt, and dried in the sun, the haut gout which generally accompanies it being rather a recommendation to the taste of the Chinese. Indeed, it is one of their most favourite as well as universal articles of food; and they even overcame their prejudice, or indifference for whatever is foreign, on the occasion of salted cod being introduced for two or three years in English ships ; the somewhat decayed condition, in which it reached China, being said to have been any thing but a drawback. This species of cargo, however, besides its disagreeable nature, and the injurious effect which it might have on more delicate articles of shipment, was found during the long voyage to breed a peculiar insect, which, from the readiness with which it bored into the planks and timbers of a ship, was considered as dangerous, and accordingly the import was greatly discontinued.
The middling and poorer classes are amply accommodated with taverns and eating-houses, where, for a very small sum, a hot breakfast or dinner may be obtained in a moment. There are some favourable specimens of these at Canton, to the west of the factories, built up to the height of two stories, and looking down the river. Such is the jealous inhospitality of the local government, or rather of the Hong merchants, (who have charge of foreigners,) that the owners of these taverns are strictly prohibited from entertaining Europeans ; and they have often
refused all offers from those who wished to try the entertainment which they afforded. Such of the Chinese of respectability as have not their families at Canton frequently resort to these places in the evening, where they are provided with a comfortable dinner; and about the period of sunset, the whole range is seen gaily lighted up through its several stories.
The public-houses for the poorer people are generally open sheds, and on particular festivals these consist of a temporary structure of matting, with a boarded floor, fitted up with tables and benches, and affording the means of gambling and drinking to the dissolute portion of the lowest class. To the credit of the Chinese, as a nation, it must be stated that the proportion which this description of persons bears to their numerous population is not large. The seafaring people of Canton and Fokien are perhaps among the worst. The dangerous profession of these poor people, and their unsettled, wandering habits, tend together to give them the reckless and improvident character which is often found attached to the lower grades of the maritime profession in other countries. Mr. Gutzlaff has drawn a very revolting picture of the sailors who navigate the Chinese junks, and his account is no doubt in the main quite correct; but it must be observed, in general, of the gentlemen of his profession, both Catholics and Protestants, that, accustomed habitually to view the heathen almost exclusively on the side of their spiritual wants, they have sometimes drawn rather too unfavourable a picture of their moral character. This, however, is more true of many others than of Mr. Gutzlaff, whose candour has occasionally done fair justice to the inhabitants of the Chinese empire, on the score of their good qualities.
Though the lowest orders are certainly very prone to gambling, this is a vice which is chiefly confined to them. So much infamy attaches to the practice in
any official or respectable station, and the law in such cases is so severe, that the better classes are happily exempt from it. This seems to be a point on which the liherty of the subject may in any community (where public opinion is ineffectual) be unceremonic sly violated, very much to its own benefit, since true liberty consists in the power to do every thing except that which is plainly opposed to the general good. Those laudable inventions, dice, cards, and dominos, are all of them known to the Chinese. Their cards are small pieces of pasteboard, about two inches long, and an inch broad, with black and red characters on the faces. The idle and dissolute sometimes train quails for fighting, as the Malays do cocks; and even a species of cricket is occasionally made subservient to this cruel purpose*. The Chinese chess differs in board, men, and moves from that of India, and cannot in any way be identified with it, except as being a game of skill, and not of chance.
They have two contrivances for the promotion of drinking at their merry-meetings. One of these, called Tsoey-moey, consists in each person guessing at the number of fingers suddenly held up between himself and his adversary, and the penalty of the loser is each time to drink a cup of wine. In still, calm evenings, during the continuance of the Chinese festivals, the yells of the common people engaged at this tipsy sport are sometimes heard to drown all other noises. It is precisely the same as the game of morra, common among the lower orders in Italy at the present day, and derived by them from the Roman sport of “micare digitis," of which Cicero remarked, that “
you must have great faith in the honesty of any man with whom you played in the dark;" multâ fide opus est, ut cum aliquo in tene
* Two of them are placed together in a bowl, and irritated until they tear each other to pieces.
bris mices." The other festive scheme is a handsome bouquet of choice flowers, to be circulated quickly from hand to hand among the guests, while a rapid roll is kept up on a kettle-drum in an adjoining apartment. Whoever may chance to hold the flowers at the instant the drum stops, pays forfeit by drinking a cup of wine. It may be easily imagined that this rational amusement occasionally gives rise to scenes worthy of Sir Toby and his associates in Twelfth Night.
In lieu of theatrical entertainments at their dinners, conjuring, sleight of hand, and other species of dexterity are sometimes introduced for the diversion of the assembly. The conjuror has always an accomplice, as usual, who serves to distract the attention of the spectators. One of their best exhibitions of mere dexterity is where a common China saucer is spun on its bottom upon the end of a rattan cane, in a very surprising manner. The rapid revolution communicated to the saucer by the motion of the performer's wrist, through the medium of the flexible and elastic rattan, keeps it whirling round without falling, even though the cane is occasionally held nearly horizontally, and sometimes passed behind the back, or under the legs of the exhibitor. It may be observed, that the cup is seldom in danger of falling, except for the moment when the eye of the performer may be taken off from it.
Among their out-of-door amusements, a very common one is to play at shuttlecock with the feet. A circle of some half-a-dozen keep up in this manner the game between them with considerable dexterity, the thick soles of their shoes serving them in lieu of battledores, and the hand being allowed occasionally to assist. In kite-flying the Chinese certainly excel all others, both in the various construction of their kites, and the heights to which they make them rise.