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blacking, in the usual style of contrariety to our customs. The thick soles of their boots and shoes in all probability arose from the circumstance of their not possessing such a substance as well-tanned leather, a thinner layer of which is sufficient to exclude the wet. The shoes made for Europeans at Canton are perfectly useless in rainy weather, and spoiled on the very first wetting.
The Chinese dresses of ceremony are exceedingly rich and handsome, and contrast to great advantage with the queer, unmeaning capings and skirtings of our coats. The colour of the spencer is usually dark blue, or purple, and the long dress beneath monly of some lighter and gayer hue. On state occasions this last is very splendidly embroidered with dragons or other devices, in silk and gold, and the cost amounts frequently to large sums. At the imperial feast, of which the last embassy partook at Tien-tsin, the crowd of mandarins in full dress, surmounted by their crimson caps and various coloured balls, certainly produced a striking effect.
The great sin of the Chinese costume is the paucity of white linen, and consequently of washing. Even their body-garment is sometimes a species of light
silk, but capable of purification. All the rest of their dress being of silks or furs, there is less demand for white calico or linen, in proportion to the numbers, than in any other country. They spread neither sheets upon their beds, nor cloths on their tables, and the want of personal cleanliness has of course a tendency to promote cutaneous and leprous complaints. Their substitute for soap is an alkaline ley, derived from a mineral substance, and rather corrosive in its nature.
The skins of all animals are converted into apparel for the winter. The lower orders use those of sheep, cats, dogs, goats, and squirrels. Even rat and mouseskins are sewn together for garments. The expensive fur dresses of the higher orders descend from father to son, and form sometimes no inconsiderable portion of the family inheritance. At an entertainment in Canton, where the party, according to the custom of the country, were seated in an open room without fires, the European guests began to complain of cold; upon which the host immediately accommodated the whole number of ten or twelve with handsome widesleeved spencers, all of the most costly furs, telling them at the same time that he had plenty more in
They have one singular species of refinement on the score of skins. The young lamb in utero, after a certain period of gestation, is taken out, and its skin prepared with the fine silky wool upon it for dresses, which of course require, on account of their small size, a great number of lambs to be thus
untimely ripped,” and the luxury is therefore an expensive one.
The Chinese, perhaps, may be said to possess an advantage in the absence of those perpetual and frequently absurd mutations of fashion in Europe, which at one period blow out the same individual like a balloon, whom at another they contract into
a mummy; and which are frequently ridiculed and followed in excess at one and the same time. They are not at the mercy and disposal, in matters of taste, of those who make their clothes, and their modes generally last as long as their garments. The human shape and dress are not varied with the infinite mutations of a kaleidoscope; and that peculiar, though indisputable species of merit, “ being in the height of the fashion,” the honours of which must be chiefly shared with the tailor and the milliner, is nearly unknown to them.
The only setter of fashions is the board of rites and ceremonies at Peking, and to depart materially from their ordinances would be considered as something worse than mere mauvais ton. It is their business not only to prescribe the forms on all occasions of worship, or of ceremony, but the costumes which are to be worn must be in strict conformity to rule. The dresses of all ranks and orders, and of both sexes about the imperial palace, are specified, as regards cut, colour, and material, with as much precision as in any court of Europe. From the Tartar religion of the Lamas, the rosary of 108 beads has become a part of the ceremonial dress attached to the nine grades of official rank. It consists of a necklace of stones and coral nearly as large as a pigeon's egg, descending to the waist, and distinguished by various beads according to the quality of the wearer. There is a smaller rosary of only eighteen beads, of inferior size, with which the bonzes count their prayers and ejaculations, exactly as in the Roman Catholic ritual. The laity in China sometimes wear this at the waist, perfumed with musk, and give it the name of Heângchoo, “ fragrant beads."
The various appendages worn at the girdle, as the purse or pouch, the steel and flint case for lighting the pipe, the watch-case, &c., are generally of the finest silk embroidery, which forms one of the prin
cipal accomplishments of Chinese ladies. Indeed all the handsome crape shawls taken to England, some of which cost from sixty to eighty dollars, are entirely the work of women, many of whom earn more than twenty dollars a month by their labour. A Chinese is seldom seen without his snuff-bottle, which is of oval construction, and less than two inches in length, the stopper having a small spoon attached, similar to that for cayenne-pepper, with which a portion of snuff is laid on the left hand, at the lower joint of the thumb, and thus lifted to the nose. The material of these bottles is sometimes of porcelain, or of variegated glass, carved with considerable skill in the style of cameos; or of rock-crystal, with small figures or writing on the inside, performed in a manner which it is not easy to account for.
Among the presents sent to, or, in the language of Peking diplomacy, conferred upon foreign sovereigns, is the embroidered silk purse, one of which the old Emperor Kien-loong took from his side and gave to the youth who officiated as page to Lord Macartney. This, however, was of the imperial yellow colour, with the five-clawed dragon, and could hardly be worn by Chinese subjects, who always displayed the most profound reverence and admiration when they saw it, and knew it was from the great Emperor's own person. The ornament which has sometimes, for want of a better name, been called a sceptre, is, in fact, an emblem of amity and goodwill, of a shape less bent than the letter S, about eighteen inches in length, and cut from the jade or yu stone. It is called joo-ee, “ as you wish,” and is simply exchanged as a costly mark of friendship; but that it had a religious origin seems indicated by the sacred flower of the Lotus (Nymphea nelumbo) being generally carved on the superior end.
The Chinese have some singular indees of demonstrating their respect and regard on the departure