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image of the figures on the back. The figures are a copy of the picture which the artist has drawn on the face of the mirror, and so concealed by polishing, that it is invisible in ordinary lights, and can be brought out only in the sun's rays. Let it be required, for example, to produce the dragon as exhibited by one of the Chinese mirrors. When the surface of the mirror is ready for polishing, the figure of the dragon may be delineated upon it in extremely shallow lines, or it may be eaten out by an acid much diluted, so as to remove the smallest possible portion of the metal. The surface must then be highly polished, not upon pitch, like glass and specula, because this would polish away the figure, but upon cloth, in the way that lenses are sometimes polished. In this way the sunk part of the shallow lines will be as highly polished as the rest, and the figure will only be visible in very strong lights, by reflecting the sun's rays from the metallic surface.”
Metallic mirrors are now very much superseded among the Chinese by the use of glass ones. Their lookingglasses, however, being extremely thin, and the surfaces not ground and polished, like our plate-glass, are very imperfect. They are coated at the back, like ours, with an amalgam of mercury. The glass at Canton is partly obtained by remelting what is broken after it comes from Europe : but it is certain that the Chinese import our flints chiefly for the glass manufacture.*
The last embassy observed that there were no glass windows near Peking, the universal substitute being a strong semi-transparent paper which comes from Corea. The Chinese explain this by saying that no glass window has ever been found to be proof against such wide extremes of heat and cold as exist in the north of China.
* The materials are fused in a small reverberating furnace.
At Canton it has sometimes been found that an unusual change of temperature has broken the panes; but this must have arisen from the pressure of the half-seasoned and ill-constructed window-frames on the glass. In their table utensils the Chinese adhere to the use of porcelain in preference to glass or any other material.
In the ornamental processes of carving wood and ivory, and other substances, they greatly excel the rest of the world. Those ivory balls, containing sometimes as many as seven or eight others in the interior, have long excited the surprise of Europeans, and even led to the supposition that some deception must be exercised in joining the exterior balls after the others have been inserted. They are, however, really cut one within the other, by means of sharp crooked instruments working through the numerous round holes with which the balls are perforated, and which enable the workman to cut away the substance between, and thus to detach the balls from one another, after which the surfaces are carved. Their skill and industry are not less shown in cutting the hardest materials, as exemplified in their snuff-bottles of agate and rock crystal, which are hollowed into perfect bottles of about two inches in length, through openings in the neck not a quarter of an inch in diameter : but more than this, the crystal bottles are inscribed on the inside with minute characters so as to be read through the transparent substance.
The peculiar fashion of the Chinese tools in most cases proves their originality. Their carpenter's saw is formed of a very thin plate of steel, which for this reason is kept straight by a light frame of bamboo at the back, which serves at the same time as a handle. * In appearance this has a heavy and clumsy look, but the lightness of the
* This sort of saw has been very generally adopted in America.
bamboo prevents it being so in reality. Carpenters work their awls with a thong, whose two extremities are attached to the two ends of a stick. The thong being quite slack, a single turn of it is taken round the handle of the awl, which is then worked backwards and forwards with great velocity. Some of the articles of furniture made for the English at Canton could not often, in point of neatness, be surpassed in this country, and in respect to solidity are sometimes superior. The anvil of the Chinese blacksmith, instead of having a flat surface, is slightly convex or rounded. The iron that is worked upon it thus extends more easily under the hammer on all sides, but the metal probably loses something in solidity. The bellows consist of a hollow cylinder, the piston of which is so contrived that the blast shall be continuous.
But we have yet to say something of the two principal manufactures of China, those of silk and porcelain, the originality of which was never contested, as the introduction of both into Europe is perfectly well ascertained ; and could the Chinese urge no other claims to praise on account of their ingenuity, these two alone might serve to give them a high rank among the nations of the world. D’Herbelot justly considers that, as Rome obtained the silk manufacture from Greece, and Greece from Persia, so the last was indebted for it, according to the best Oriental authors, to China. The tradition, indeed, of the invention is there carried back into the mythological periods, and dates with the origin of agriculture. These two pursuits or professions, namely, husbandry and the silk manufacture, the chief sources of food and clothing, form the subject of one of the sixteen discourses to the people which have been before noticed. It is there observed, that “from ancient times the Son of Heaven himself directed the plough: the Empress planted the mulberry-tree. Thus have these exalted personages, not above the practice of labour and exertion, set an example to all under heaven, with a view to leading the millions of their subjects to attend to their essential interests.”
In the work published by imperial authority, called • Illustrations of Husbandry and Weaving,' there are numerous woodcuts, accompanied by letterpress explanatory of the different processes of farming and the silk manufacture. The former head is confined to the production of rice, the staple article of food, and proceeds from the first ploughing of the land to the packing of the grain ; the latter details all the operations connected with planting the mulberry and gathering the leaves, up to the final weaving of the silk. Besides the common mulberry of China, which differs somewhat from that of Europe, they occasionally, in feeding the worms, have recourse to a wild specimen of the morus tribe, as well as to the leaves of another tree, supposed to be a variety of ash. The production of silk in the Chinese method, and with the aid of natives of the country, was tried experimentally by the East India Company at St. Helena ; but has been abandoned, with the rest of their establishments on that island, since the expiration of the charter. The principal object, in the cultivation of the mulberry for feeding silkworms, is to produce the greatest quantity of young and healthy leaves without fruit. For this reason the trees are not allowed to exceed a certain age and height. They are planted at a convenient distance from each other, on the plan of a quincunx, and are said to be in perfection in about three years.
The mulberry-tree for silkworms is chiefly cultivated in Chě-keang, which province, together with the only three others that produce fine silk, namely, Keang-nân, Hoo-pě, and Sze-chuen, is crossed by the thirtieth parallel of latitude. Chě-keang is a highly alluvial country, intersected by numerous rivers and canals, with a climate that corresponds pretty nearly to the same latitude in the United States of America. The soil is manured with mud, which is dug from the rivers, assisted with ashes or dung; and the spaces between the trees are generally filled with millet, pulse, or other articles of food. The time for pruning the young trees, so as to produce fine leafy shoots, is at the commencement of the year. About four eyes are left on every shoot, and care is taken that the branches are properly thinned, with a view to giving plenty of light and air to the leaves. In gathering these, they make use of steps, or a ladder with a prop, as the young trees cannot support a ladder, and would besides be injured in their branches by the use of one. The trees, with their foliage, are carefully watched, and the mischiefs of insects prevented by the use of various applications, among which are some essential oils.
The young trees of course suffer by being stripped of their leaves, which are the lungs of plants, and this is an additional reason for renewing them after a certain time. They endeavour in part to counteract the evil effect, by pruning and lopping the tree, so as to diminish the wood when the leaves have been stripped, and it is probable that a few leaves are left on. It is surprising, however, to observe how soon a tree in those climates will recover its leaves in the summer or autumn, after having been entirely stripped of them by a typhoon, or hurricane. Fresh plants are procured by cuttings or layers, or sometimes from seed. When the trees grow too old for the production of the finest leaves, and show a greater tendency to fruiting, they are either removed altogether, or cut and managed so as to produce fresh and young branches.
Mr. Barrow, who observed the management of the trees