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slips of bamboo; systems of bells and pieces of sonorous metal; and drums covered with snake-skin. In lieu of catgut, they string their instruments with silk and wire. Many of the Chinese have a ready ear for music, though accompanied by such a bad national taste. The magistrate of the Macao district was on a visit to the writer of this, when, the piano being touched with a Chinese air, called Mooleehwa, of which the music is given in Barrow's Travels, he immediately turned with a look of pleased surprise, and named the tune,
Among the Chinese instruments we must not forget to mention one which emits, as nearly as possible, the tones of the Scottish bagpipe, without the buzzing sound that is produced by the drone of the latter. The melody of the Chinese and Caledonian pipes is so exactly similar, that it has never failed to excite the attention of the Scotch who have visited China ; and indeed the recognition has been mutual, for when a Highland piper (who had been taken out in an Indiaman) was sent up to Canton to attend a meeting of the sons of St. Andrew on the national anniversary, the Chinese were no less struck with the picturesque costume of the plaided Gael, than ravished by the strains which proceeded from his instrument. It may be hoped that, in this respect, they evinced a more correct taste than was displayed by one of the sailors on board the same ship with the Highlander. It was, on some occasion when the latter, with pistol and dirk at his side, was parading the deck with his pipes, that the unlucky Jack, tempted by the mere spirit of mischief, or willing to lower the inflation of his Scottish shipmate, snatched up a young pig, and, placing it between his right arm and his side, squeezed the poor animal until it emitted sounds as loud at least, if not as musical, as those of the instrument which it thus unconsciously burlesqued.
The action was so irresistibly comic that shouts of laughter echoed through the ship; and the piper would have been provoked to take summary vengeance on the author of the jest, had he not been prevented by the interference of the bystanders.
Three divisions of human knowledge-Contempt for abstract scienceOptics — Union of astrology with medicine — Scheme of physics — Practice of medicine — Ignorance of native doctors — Small-pox and vaccination — Chemistry — Cooking by steam – Distillation — Dispensaries – Science of numbers — Geography - Astronomy — Lunar year and cycle — Almanac — Mechanics and machinery — Architecture — The arch.
The Chinese profess to make a general distribution of human knowledge under the three heads of “Heaven, Earth, and Man,” and this may appear to some readers not altogether unlike the three-fold division proposed by Lord Bacon, of “God, Nature, and Man.” A well-known encyclopædia, in sixty-four volumes, called San-tsae-toohoey, which dates about the end of the sixteenth century, consists of woodcuts, illustrated by letterpress, in the three departments above stated. This work, however, having been the compilation of one person only, and consisting chiefly of plates, is superficial even for the Chinese, and does not contain a full account of their science, such as it is. The character of the book may be partly gathered from the following account of its contents and method of arrangement. Under the head of Heaven, of course comes astronomy, and this includes something of what was learned from the Arabians and Europeans. The department of Earth includes principally their imperfect notions of geography. The third division, that of Man, is by far the most copious. It contains representations of persons famous in history, and of different tribes of men. Then is introduced the subject of the Chinese cycle (which rather belongs to the first department), and of the numerical combinations of Fo-hy. Next come buildings; furniture ; implements used in husbandry, manufactures, and the arts of peace ; arms and warlike weapons; woodcuts in anatomy; costumes; games of skill; specimens of ancient inscriptions ; botany and natural history, as applicable to medicine ; active sports and exercises ; specimens of coins and money.
The actual state of the sciences in China may perhaps be ranked with their condition in Europe some time previous to the adoption of the inductive method in philosophy. The constitutional ingenuity and industry of the people has led them to fall upon various practical results, in spite, as it would seem, of a feature in their character and habits which is opposed to the progress of knowledge. They profess to set no value on abstract science, apart from some obvious and immediate end of utility. Among ourselves, the practical application of scientific discoveries is sometimes long subsequent to the discoveries themselves, which might perhaps never have been made, had not science been followed up through its by paths for its own sake merely, or with a very remote view to utility in practice. The Chinese always estimate such matters by their immediate and apparent cui bono. Dr. Abel relates, that, after satisfying a mandarin in reply to his questions concerning some of our useful manufactures, he took occasion to mention that we had metals which on coming in contact with water burst into flame. “I had some potassium with me (he adds), and was desirous of showing its properties to him. He immediately inquired concerning its uses, and, when these could not be very satisfactorily explained to him, looked too contemptuously to induce me to venture
an experiment.” And yet this discovery of the metallic base of potash was one result of the investigations of Sir Humphry Davy, whose practical applications of his scientific discoveries to useful and beneficial purposes were of such inestimable value and importance.
A surprising enumeration might be made of instances in which the Chinese appear to have stumbled by mere chance upon useful inventions, without the previous possession of any scientific clue. Cases, however, occur in which it may be fairly suspected that they were indebted to the European missionaries. Without knowing anything, for instance, of that theory of optics which treats of the convergence and divergence of rays of light by lenses of different shapes, they use both convex and concave glasses, or rather crystals, to assist their sight. We noticed in the last chapter that they possess glass in a very coarse and inferior state, and that at Canton they sometimes melt down broken glass from Europe. In spectacles, however, the want is supplied, all over the empire, by the use of rock crystal. This is ground with the powder of corundum; and if anything could prove the Chinese spectacles to be original inventions, or not borrowed from Europe, it would be their very singular size and shape, as well as the strange way of putting them on. The annexed cut represents a pair of these primitive optics, slung over the ears with silken strings and weights, and imparting by their immense size a most sapient appearance to the wearer.
For checking the glare of the sun, they make use of a mineral which they call Cha-shě, or “ tea-stone,” from the resemblance of its transparent hue to a weak infusion of black tea. This, in all probability, is a smoky quartz, or silex, allied to the cairngorum of Scotland. In some instances the Chinese have been known to attempt slavish