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A Woman's Journey Round the World
by Ida Pfeiffer
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Near the fort, a waterfall precipitates itself perpendicularly down a narrow ravine. Unfortunately, the bottom of it is concealed by jutting rocks and promontories, and the volume of water is rather small; otherwise, this fall would, on account of its height, which is certainly more than 400 feet, deserve to be classed among the most celebrated ones with which I am acquainted.

The road from the fort to the Diadem is extremely fatiguing, and fully three hours are required to accomplish the journey. The prospect here is even more magnificent than from the fort, as the eye beholds the sea over two sides of the island at the same time.

This excursion was my last in this beautiful isle, as I was obliged to embark on the next day, the 17th of May. The cargo was cleared, and the ballast taken on board. All articles to which the French troops are accustomed, such as flour, salted meat, potatoes, pulse, wine, and a variety of others, have to be imported. {86}

I felt extremely reluctant to leave; and the only thing that tended at all to cheer my spirits, was the thought of my speedy arrival in China, that most wonderful of all known countries.

We left the port of Papeiti on the morning of the 17th of May, with a most favourable wind, soon passed in safety all the dangerous coral-reefs which surround the island, and in seven hours' time had lost sight of it altogether. Towards evening, we beheld the mountain ranges of the island of Huaheme, which we passed during the night.

The commencement of our voyage was remarkably pleasant. Besides the favourable breeze, which still continued, we enjoyed the company of a fine Belgian brig, the Rubens, which had put to sea at the same time as ourselves. It was seldom that we approached near enough for the persons on board to converse with each other; but whoever is at all acquainted with the endless uniformity of long voyages, will easily understand our satisfaction at knowing we were even in the neighbourhood of human beings.

We pursued the same track as far as the Philippine Islands, but on the morning of the third day our companion had disappeared, leaving us in ignorance whether she had out-sailed us or we her. We were once more alone on the endless waste of waters.

On the 23rd of May, we approached very near to the low island of Penchyn. A dozen or two of the natives were desirous of honouring us with a visit, and pulled stoutly in six canoes towards our ship, but we sailed so fast that they were soon left a long way behind. Several of the sailors affirmed, that these were specimens of real savages, and that we might reckon ourselves fortunate in having escaped their visit. The captain, too, appeared to share this opinion, and I was the only person who regretted not having formed a more intimate acquaintance with them.

28th May. For some days we had been fortunate enough to be visited, from time to time, with violent showers; a most remarkable thing for the time of year in this climate, where the rainy season commences in January and lasts for three months, the sky for the remaining nine being generally cloudless. This present exception was the more welcome from our being just on the Line, where we should otherwise have suffered much from the heat. The thermometer stood at only 81 degrees in the shade, and 97 degrees in the sun.

Today at noon we crossed the Line, and were once more in the northern hemisphere. A Tahitian sucking-pig was killed and consumed in honour of our successful passage, and our native hemisphere toasted in real hock.

On the 4th of June, under 8 degrees North latitude, we beheld again, for the first time, the lovely polar star.

On the 17th of June, we passed so near to Saypan, one of the largest of the Ladrone Islands, that we could make out the mountains very distinctly. The Ladrone and Marianne Islands are situated between the 13 and 21 degrees North latitude, and the 145 and 146 degrees East longitude.

On the 1st of July we again saw land: this time it was the coast of Lucovia, or Luzon, the largest of the Philippines, and lying between the 18 and 19 degrees North latitude, and the 125 and 119 degrees East longitude. The port of Manilla is situated on the southern coast of the island.

In the course of the day we passed the island of Babuan, and several detached rocks, rising, colossus like, from the sea. Four of them were pretty close together, and formed a picturesque group. Some time afterwards we saw two more.

In the night of the 1st-2nd of July, we reached the western point of Luzon, and entered on the dangerous Chinese Sea. I was heartily glad at last to bid adieu to the Pacific Ocean, for a voyage on it is one of the most monotonous things that can be imagined. The appearance of another ship is a rare occurrence; and the water is so calm that it resembles a stream. Very frequently I used to start up from my desk, thinking that I was in some diminutive room ashore; and my mistake was the more natural, as we had three horses, a dog, several pigs, hens, geese, and a canary bird on board, all respectively neighing, barking, grunting, cackling, and singing, as if they were in a farm-yard.

6th July. For the first few days after entering the Chinese sea, we sailed pretty well in the same fashion we had done in the Pacific— proceeding slowly and quietly on our way. Today we beheld the coast of China for the first time, and towards evening we were not more than thirty-three miles from Macao. I was rather impatient for the following morning. I longed to find my darling hope realized, of putting my foot upon Chinese ground. I pictured the mandarins with their high caps, and the ladies with their tiny feet, when in the middle of the night the wind shifted, and on the 7th of July we had been carried back 115 miles. In addition to this, the glass fell so low, that we dreaded a Tai-foon, which is a very dangerous kind of storm, or rather hurricane, that is very frequent in the Chinese sea during the months of July, August, and September. It is generally first announced by a black cloud on the horizon, with one edge dark red, and the other half-white; and this is accompanied by the most awful torrents of rain, by thunder, lightning, and the violent winds, which arise simultaneously on all sides, and lash the waters up mountains high. We took every precaution in anticipation of our dangerous enemy, but for once they were not needed: either the hurricane did not break out at all, or else it broke out at a great distance from us; for we were only visited by a trifling storm of no long duration.

On the 8th of July we again reached the vicinity of Macao, and entered the Straits of Lema. Our course now lay between bays and reefs, diversified by groups of the most beautiful islands, offering a series of most magnificent and varied views.

On the 9th of July we anchored in Macao Roads. The town, which belongs to the Portuguese, and has a population of 20,000 inhabitants, is beautifully situated on the sea-side, and surrounded by pleasing hills and mountains. The most remarkable objects are the palace of the Portuguese governor, the Catholic monastery of Guia, the fortifications, and a few fine houses which lie scattered about the hills in picturesque disorder.

Besides a few European ships, there were anchored in the roads several large Chinese junks, while a great number of small boats, manned by Chinese, were rocking to and fro around us.



CHAPTER VIII. CHINA.



MACAO—HONG-KONG—VICTORIA—VOYAGE ON BOARD A CHINESE JUNK—THE SI- KIANG, CALLED ALSO THE TIGRIS—WHAMPOA—CANTON, OR KUANGTSCHEU-FU— MODE OF LIFE PURSUED BY EUROPEANS—THE CHINESE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS— CRIMINALS AND PIRATES—MURDER OF VAUCHEE—PROMENADES AND EXCURSIONS.

A year before my arrival in China, it would have seemed hardly credible to me that I should ever succeed in taking my place among the small number of Europeans who are acquainted with that remarkable country, not from books alone, but from actual observation; I never believed that I should really behold the Chinese, with their shaven heads, long tails, and small, ugly, narrow eyes, the exact counterparts of the representations of them which we have in Europe.

We had hardly anchored, before a number of Chinese clambered up on deck, while others remained in their boats, offering for sale a variety of beautifully made articles, with fruit and cakes, laid out in great order, so as to form in a few seconds a regular market round the vessel. Some of them began praising their wares in broken English; but on the whole, they did not drive a very flourishing business, as the crew merely bought a few cigars, and a little fruit.

Captain Jurianse hired a boat, and we immediately went on shore, where each person on landing had to pay half a Spanish dollar (2s.) to the mandarin: I subsequently heard that this imposition was shortly afterwards abolished. We proceeded to the house of one of the Portuguese merchants established there, passing through a large portion of the town on our way thither. Europeans, both men and women, can circulate freely, without being exposed to a shower of stones, as is frequently the case in other Chinese towns. The streets, which are exclusively inhabited by Chinese, presented a very bustling aspect. The men were in many cases seated out of doors in groups, playing at dominoes, while locksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, and many others were either working, talking, playing, or dining in the numerous booths. I observed but few women, and these were of the lower classes. Nothing surprised and amused me more than the manner in which the Chinese eat; they have two little sticks, with which they very skilfully convey their victuals into their mouths. This process, however, cannot be so successfully practised with rice, because it does not hold together; they therefore hold the plate containing it close to their mouths, and push it in by the aid of the sticks, generally letting a portion of it fall back again, in no very cleanly fashion, into the plate. For liquids they use round spoons of porcelain.

The style in which the houses are built, did not strike me as very remarkable; the front generally looks out upon the courtyard or garden.

Among other objects which I visited was the grotto, in which the celebrated Portuguese poet, Camoens, is said to have composed the Lusiade. He had been banished, A.D. 1556, to Macao, on account of a satirical poem he had written, Disperates no India, and remained in banishment several years before receiving a pardon. The grotto is charmingly situated upon an eminence not far from the town.

As there was no business to be done, the captain resolved to put to sea again the next morning, and offered in the most friendly manner to take me as his guest to Hong-Kong, as I had only agreed for a passage as far as Macao. I accepted his invitation with the greater pleasure, as I had not a single letter to any one in Macao; besides which, it is very seldom that there is an opportunity of proceeding to Hong-Kong.

On account of the shallowness of the water, our ship was hove to at rather a long distance from the shore, where it was exposed to an attack from the pirates, who are here very daring and numerous. In consequence of this, every precaution was taken, and the watch doubled for the night.

As late as the year 1842 these pirates attacked a brig that was lying at anchor in the Macao Roads, murdering the crew and plundering the vessel. The captain had remained on shore, and the sailors had carelessly given themselves up to sleep, leaving only one man to keep watch. In the middle of the night a schampan—which is the name given to a vessel smaller than a junk—came alongside the brig. One of the rowers then came on board, pretending he had a letter from the captain; and as the sailor went near the lantern to read the letter, he received from the pirate a blow upon his head which laid him senseless on the deck; the rest of those in the boat, who had hitherto remained concealed, now scaled the side of the brig, and quickly overpowered the slumbering crew.

In our case, however, the night passed without any incident worth noting; and on the morning of the 10th of July, having first taken on board a pilot, we proceeded to Hong-Kong, a distance of sixty nautical miles. The voyage proved highly interesting, on account of the varied succession of bays, creeks, and groups of islands which we had to pass.

The English obtained Hong-Kong from the Chinese at the conclusion of the war in 1842, and founded the port of Victoria, which contains at present a large number of palace-like houses built of stone.

The Europeans who have settled here, and who are not more than two or three hundred in number, are far from being contented, however, as trade is not half as good as they at first expected it would be. Every merchant is presented by the English government with a plot of ground, on condition of his building on it. Many of them erected, as I before mentioned, splendid edifices, which they would now be glad to sell for half the cost price, or even very frequently to give the ground and foundations, without asking the smallest sum in return.

I resolved to stop only a few days in Victoria, as it was my wish to arrive at Canton as soon as possible.

In addition to the great politeness he had previously shown me, Captain Jurianse conferred another favour, by allowing me, during my stay here, to live and lodge on board his ship, thereby saving me an expense of 16s. or 24s. {91a} a day; and, besides this, the boat which he had hired for his own use was always at my disposal. I must also take this opportunity of mentioning that I never drank, on board any other vessel, such clear and excellent water—a proof that it is not so easily spoilt by the heat of the tropics, or a protracted period, as is generally imagined. It all depends upon care and cleanliness, for which the Dutch are especially celebrated; and I only wish that every captain would, in this respect at least, imitate their example. It is rather too bad for passengers to be obliged to quench their thirst with thick and most offensive water— a disagreeable necessity I was subjected to on board every other sailing vessel in which I made a voyage of any length.

Victoria is not very pleasantly situated, being surrounded by barren rocks. The town itself has a European stamp upon it, so that were it not for the Chinese porters, labourers, and pedlars, a person would hardly believe he was in China. I was much struck at seeing no native women in the streets, from which it might be concluded that it was dangerous for a European female to walk about as freely as I did; but I never experienced the least insult, or heard the slightest word of abuse from the Chinese; even their curiosity was here by no means annoying.

In Victoria I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with the well- known Herr Gutzlaff, {91b} and four other German missionaries. They were studying the Chinese language; and wore the Chinese costume, with their heads shaved like the natives, and with large cues hanging down behind. No language is so difficult to read and write as the Chinese; it contains more than four thousand characters, and is wholly composed of monosyllables. Little brushes dipped in Indian ink are used for writing, the writing itself extending down the paper from right to left.

I had not been above a few days in Victoria before I had an opportunity of proceeding to Canton on board a small Chinese junk. A gentleman of the name of Pustan, who is settled as a merchant here, and whom I found excessively kind, endeavoured very earnestly to dissuade me from trusting myself among the Chinese without any protector, and advised me either to take a boat for myself or a place in the steamer; but both these means were too dear for my small finances, since either would have cost twelve dollars, whereas a passage in the junk was only three. I must also add, that the appearance and behaviour of the Chinese did not inspire me with the slightest apprehension. I looked to the priming of my pistols, and embarked very tranquilly on the evening of the 12th of July.

A heavy fall of rain, and the approach of night, soon obliged me to seek the interior of the vessel, where I passed my time in observing my Chinese fellow-travellers.

The company were, it is true, not very select, but behaved with great propriety, so that there was nothing which could prevent my remaining among them. Some were playing at dominoes, while others were extracting most horrible sounds from a sort of mandolin with three strings; all, however, were smoking, chatting, and drinking tea, without sugar, from little saucers. I, too, had this celestial drink offered to me on all sides. Every Chinese, rich or poor, drinks neither pure water nor spirituous liquors, but invariably indulges in weak tea with no sugar.

At a late hour in the evening I retired to my cabin, the roof of which, not being completely waterproof, let in certain very unwelcome proofs that it was raining outside. The captain no sooner remarked this than he assigned me another place, where I found myself in the company of two Chinese women, busily engaged in smoking out of pipes with bowls no bigger than thimbles, and in consequence they could not take more than four or five puffs without being obliged to fill their pipes afresh.

They soon remarked that I had no stool for my head. They offered me one of theirs, and would not be satisfied until I accepted it. It is a Chinese custom to use, instead of pillows, little stools of bamboo or strong pasteboard. They are not stuffed, but are rounded at the top, and are about eight inches high, and from one to three feet long. They are far more comfortable than would at first be imagined.

13th July. On hurrying upon deck early in the morning to view the mouth of the Si-Kiang, or Tigris, I found that we had already passed it, and were a long way up the river. I saw it, however, subsequently, on my return from Canton to Hong-Kong. The Si-Kiang, which is one of the principal rivers of China, and which, at a short distance before entering the sea, is eight nautical miles broad, is so contracted by hills and rocks at its mouth, that it loses one half of its breadth. The surrounding country is fine, and a few fortifications on the summits of some of the hills, give it rather a romantic appearance.

Near Hoo-man, or Whampoa, the stream divides into several branches; that which flows to Canton being called the Pearl stream. Although Whampoa of itself is an insignificant place, it is worthy of note, as being the spot where, from the shallowness of the water, all deeply laden ships are obliged to anchor.

Immense plantations of rice, skirted by bananas and other fruit- trees, extend along the banks of the Pearl stream. The trees are sometimes prettily arranged in alleys, but are planted far less for ornament than for use. Rice always requires a great deal of moisture, and the trees are planted in order to impart a greater degree of solidity to the soil, and also to prevent the possibility of its being washed away by the force of the stream. Pretty little country houses of the genuine Chinese pattern, with their sloping, pointed, indented roofs, and their coloured tiles inlaid with different hues, were scattered here and there, under groups of shady trees, while pagodas (called Tas) of various styles, and from three to nine stories high, raised their heads on little eminences in the neighbourhood of the villages, and attracted attention at a great distance. A number of fortifications, which, however, look more like roofless houses than anything else, protect the stream.

For miles below Canton, the villages follow one another in quick succession. They are mostly composed of miserable huts, built for the most part on piles driven into the river, and before them lie innumerable boats, which also serve as dwellings.

The nearer we approached Canton, the busier became the scene on the river, and the greater the number of ships and inhabited boats. I saw some junks of most extraordinary shape, having poops that hung far over the water, and provided with large windows and galleries, and covered in with a roof, like a house. These vessels are often of immense size, and of a thousand tons' burden. I also saw some Chinese men-of-war, flat, broad, and long, and mounting twenty or thirty cannons. {93} Another object of interest was the mandarins' boats, with their painted sides, doors, and windows, their carved galleries, and pretty little silk flags, giving them the appearance of the most charming houses; but what delighted me most was the flower-boats, with their upper galleries ornamented with flowers, garlands, and arabesques. A large apartment and a few cabinets, into which the interior is divided, are reached through doors and windows which have almost a Gothic appearance. Mirrors and silk hangings adorn the walls, while glass chandeliers and coloured paper lanterns, between which swing lovely little baskets with fresh flowers, complete the magic scene.

These flower-boats are always stationary, and are frequented by the Chinese as places of amusement, both by day and night. Plays are acted here, and ballets and conjuring performed. Women, with the exception of a certain class, do not frequent these places; Europeans are not exactly prevented from entering them, but are exposed, especially in the present unfavourable state of public opinion, to insult and even injury.

In addition to these extraordinary vessels, let the reader picture to himself thousands of small boats (schampans), some at anchor, some crossing and passing in all directions, with fishermen casting their nets, and men and children amusing themselves by swimming, and he will have some idea of the scene I witnessed. I often could not avoid turning away with terror at seeing the little children playing and rolling about upon the narrow boats, I expected every instant that one or other of them would certainly fall overboard. Some parents are cautious enough to fasten hollow gourds, or bladders filled with air, on their children's backs, until they are six years old, so as to prevent them sinking so quickly, if they should happen to tumble into the water.

All these multifarious occupations—this ceaseless activity, this never-ending bustle, form so peculiar a feature, that it is hardly possible for a person who has not been an eye-witness to obtain a correct idea of it.

It is only during the last few years that we European women have been allowed to visit or remain in the factories at Canton. I left the vessel without any apprehension; but first, I had to consider how I should find my way to the house of a gentleman named Agassiz, for whom I had brought letters of recommendation. I explained to the captain, by signs, that I had no money with me, and that he must act as my guide to the factory, where I would pay him. He soon understood me, and conducted me to the place, and the Europeans there showed me the particular house I wanted.

On seeing me arrive, and hearing the manner in which I had travelled, and the way that I had walked from the vessel to his house, Mr. Agassiz was extremely surprised, and would hardly credit that I had met with no difficulties or injury. From him I learned what risks I, as a woman, had run in traversing the streets of Canton with no escort but a Chinese guide. Such a thing had never occurred before, and Mr. Agassiz assured me that I might esteem myself as exceedingly fortunate in not having been insulted by the people in the grossest manner, or even stoned. Had this been the case, he told me that my guide would have immediately taken to flight, and abandoned me to my fate.

I had certainly remarked, on my way from the vessel to the factory, that both old and young turned back to look after me, and that they hooted and pointed at me with their fingers; the people ran out of the booths, and gradually formed a crowd at my heels. I had, however, no alternative but to preserve my countenance; I walked, therefore, calmly on, and perhaps it is to the very fact of my manifesting no fear that I escaped unmolested.

I had not intended to stop long in Canton, as, since the last war between the English and Chinese, Europeans are obliged to be more careful than ever how they show themselves in public. This hatred is more especially directed against women, as it is declared in one of the Chinese prophecies that a woman will some day or other conquer the Celestial Empire. On account of this, I entertained but slight hopes of seeing anything here, and thought of proceeding directly to the port of Shanghai, in the north of China, where, as I was informed, it was far easier to obtain access both among the nobility and lower classes. Fortunately, however, I made the acquaintance of a German gentleman, Herr von Carlowitz, who had been settled for some time in Canton. He offered, in the kindest manner, to act as my Mentor, on condition that I should arm myself with patience until the mail from Europe, which was expected in a few days, had come in. {95} At such times the merchants are so busy and excited, that they have no leisure to think of anything but their correspondence. I was, therefore, obliged to wait, not only until the steamer had arrived, but until it had left again, which it did not do until a week had elapsed. I have to thank Mr. Agassiz that the time did not hang heavily upon my hands; I was most kindly and hospitably entertained, and enjoyed the opportunity of noting the mode of life of those Europeans who have settled in the country.

Very few take their families with them to China, and least of all to Canton, where both women and children are closely imprisoned in their houses, which they can only leave in a well-closed litter. Besides this, everything is so dear, that living in London is cheap in comparison. Lodgings of six rooms, with a kitchen, cost about 700 or 800 dollars a-year (140 or 160 pounds). A man-servant receives from four to eight dollars a-month, and female servants nine or ten dollars, as Chinese women will not wait upon a European unless greatly overpaid. In addition to all this, there is a custom prevalent here, of having a separate person for each branch of household duty, which renders a large number of servants indispensable.

A family of only four persons requires at least eleven or twelve domestics, if not more. In the first place, every member of the family must have an attendant especially for his or her use; then there is a man-cook, a number of nursery-maids, and several coolies for the more menial duties, such as cleaning the rooms, carrying the wood and water, and so forth. In spite of this number of servants, the attendance is frequently very bad; for, if one or other of them happens to be out, and his services are required, his master must wait until he returns, as no servant could ever be prevailed upon to do another's duty.

At the head of the whole household is the comprador, who is a kind of major-domo. To his care are confided all the plate, furniture, linen, and other effects; he engages all the servants, provides for their board, and anything else they may require, and answers for their good conduct, deducting, however, two dollars a-month from the wages of each, in return for his services. He makes all the purchases, and settles all the bills, giving in the sum total at the end of the month, without descending into the items.

Besides these domestic duties, the comprador is also entrusted with the money belonging to his master's firm; hundreds of thousands of dollars pass through his hands, and he is responsible for the genuineness of every one. He has persons in his own employment who pay and receive all monies, and who examine and test every separate coin with the most marvellous rapidity. They take a whole handful of dollars at a time, and toss them up separately with the finger and thumb: this enables them to determine whether each "rings" properly, and on the coin falling into their hand again, reversed, they examine the second side with a glance. A few hours are sufficient to pass several thousand dollars in review; and this minute inspection is very necessary, on account of the number of false dollars made by the Chinese. Each piece of money is then stamped with the peculiar mark of the firm, as a guarantee of its genuineness, so that it at last becomes exceedingly thin and broad, and frequently falls to bits; no loss is, however, occasioned by this, as the amount is always reckoned by weight. Besides dollars, little bars of pure unstamped silver are used as a circulating medium; small portions, varying in size, being cut off them, according to the sum required. The counting-house is situated on the ground floor, in the comprador's room. The Europeans have nothing to do with the money, and, in fact, never even carry any for their private use.

The comprador has no fixed salary, but receives a stated per-centage upon all business transactions: his per-centage upon the household expenses is not fixed, but is not on that account less certain. On the whole, these compradors are very trustworthy. They pay down a certain sum, as caution-money, to some mandarin, and the latter answers for them.

The following is a tolerably correct account of the mode of life pursued by the Europeans settled here. As soon as they are up, and have drunk a cup of tea in their bed-room, they take a cold bath. A little after 9 o'clock, they breakfast upon fried fish or cutlets, cold roast meat, boiled eggs, tea, and bread and butter. Every one then proceeds to his business until dinner-time, which is generally 4 o'clock. The dinner is composed of turtle-soup, curry, roast meat, hashes, and pastry. All the dishes, with the exception of the curry, are prepared after the English fashion, although the cooks are Chinese. For dessert there is cheese, with fruit; such as pine- apples, long-yen, mangoes, and lytchi. The Chinese affirm that the latter is the finest fruit in the whole world. It is about the size of a nut, with a brown verrucous outside; the edible part is white and tender, and the kernel black. Long-yen is somewhat smaller, but is also white and tender, though the taste is rather watery. Neither of these fruits struck me as very good. I do not think the pine-apples are so sweet, or possessed of that aromatic fragrance which distinguishes those raised in our European greenhouses, although they are much larger.

Portuguese wines and English beer are the usual drinks—ice, broken into small pieces, and covered up with a cloth, is offered with each. The ice is rather a costly article, as it has to be brought from North America. In the evening, tea is served up.

During meal-times, a large punkah is employed to diffuse an agreeable degree of coolness through the apartment. The punkah is a large frame, from eight to ten feet long, and three feet high, covered with white Indian cloth, and fastened to the ceiling. A rope communicates, through the wall, like a bell-pull, with the next room, or the ground floor, where a servant is stationed to keep it constantly in motion, and thus maintain a pleasing draught.

As may be seen from what I have said, the living here is very dear for Europeans. The expense of keeping a house may be reckoned at 30,000 francs (6,000 dollars—1,200 pounds) at the lowest; a very considerable sum, when we reflect how little it procures, neither including a carriage nor horses. There is nothing in the way of amusement, or places of public recreation; the only pleasure many gentlemen indulge in, is keeping a boat, for which they pay 28s. a- month, or they walk in the evenings in a small garden, which the European inhabitants have laid out at their own cost. This garden faces the factory, surrounded on three sides by a wall, and, on the fourth, washed by the Pearl stream.

The living of the Chinese population, on the contrary, costs very little; 60 cash, 1,200 of which make a dollar (4s.), may be reckoned a very liberal daily allowance for each man. As a natural consequence, wages are extremely low; a boat, for instance, may be hired for half a dollar (2s.) a-day, and on this income, a whole family of from six to eight persons will often exist. It is true, the Chinese are not too particular in their food; they eat dogs, cats, mice, and rats, the intestines of birds, and the blood of every animal, and I was even assured that caterpillars and worms formed part of their diet. Their principal dish, however, is rice, which is not only employed by them in the composition of their various dishes, but supplies the place of bread. It is exceedingly cheap; the pekul, which is equal to 124 lbs. English avoirdupois, costing from one dollar and three-quarters to two dollars and a half.

The costume of both sexes, among the lower orders, consists of broad trousers and long upper garments, and is remarkable for its excessive filth. The Chinaman is an enemy of baths and washing; he wears no shirt, and does not discard his trousers until they actually fall off his body. The men's upper garments reach a little below the knee, and the women's somewhat lower. They are made of nankeen, or dark blue, brown, or black silk. During the cold season, both men and women wear one summer-garment over the other, and keep the whole together with a girdle; during the great heat, however, they allow their garments to flutter unconstrained about their body.

All the men have their heads shaved, with the exception of a small patch at the back, the hair on which is carefully cultivated and plaited into a cue. The thicker and longer this cue is, the prouder is its owner; false hair and black ribbon are consequently worked up in it, so that it often reaches down to the ankles. During work, it is twisted round the neck, but, on the owner's entering a room, it is let down again, as it would be against all the laws of etiquette and politeness for a person to make his appearance with his cue twisted up. The women wear all their hair, which they comb entirely back off their forehead, and fasten it in most artistic plaits to the head; they spend a great deal of time in the process, but when their hair is once dressed, it does not require to be touched for a whole week. Both men and women sometimes go about with no covering at all on their head; sometimes they wear hats made of thin bamboo, and very frequently three feet in diameter; these keep off both sun and rain, and are exceedingly durable.

On their feet they wear sewed stockings and shoes, formed of black silk, or some material like worsted; the soles, which are more than an inch thick, are made up of layers of strong pasteboard or felt pasted together. The poor people go barefooted.

The houses of the lower classes are miserable hovels, built of wood or brick. The internal arrangements are very wretched: the whole furniture consists of a worthless table, a few chairs, and two or three bamboo-mats, stools for the head, and old counterpanes; yet, with this poverty, there are always sure to be some pots of flowers.

The cheapest mode of living is on board a boat. The husband goes on shore to his work, and leaves his wife to make a trifle by ferrying persons over, or letting out the boat to pleasure parties. One half the boat belongs to the family themselves, and the other half to the persons to whom they let it; and although there is not much room, the whole boat measuring scarcely twenty-five feet in length, the greatest order and cleanliness is everywhere apparent, as each single plank on board is thoroughly scrubbed and washed every morning. Great ingenuity is displayed in turning every inch of space on board these small craft to advantage, and the dexterity is actually pushed so far as to find room for a tiny domestic altar. During the day all the cookery and washing is done, and though at the latter process there is no want of little children, the temporary tenant of the boat does not suffer the least annoyance; nothing offensive meets his eye; and, at the most, he merely hears at rare intervals the whining voice of some poor little wretch. The youngest child is generally tied on its mother's back while she steers; the elder children, too, have sometimes similar burdens, but jump and climb about without the least consideration for them. It has often grieved me to the heart to see the head of an infant scarcely born, thrown from one side to the other with each movement of the child that was carrying it, or the sun darting so fiercely on the poor little creature, who was completely exposed to its rays, that it could hardly open its eyes. For those who have not been themselves witnesses of the fact, it is almost impossible to form an idea of the indigence and poverty of a Chinese boat-family.

The Chinese are accused of killing numbers of their new-born or weakly children. They are said to suffocate them immediately after their birth, and then throw them into the river, or expose them in the streets—by far the most horrible proceeding of the two, on account of the number of swine and houseless dogs, who fall upon, and voraciously devour, their prey. The most frequent victims are the female infants, as parents esteem themselves fortunate in possessing a large number of male children, the latter being bound to support them in their old age; the eldest son, in fact, should the father die, is obliged to take his place, and provide for his brothers and sisters, who, on their part, are bound to yield implicit obedience, and show him the greatest respect. These laws are very strictly observed, and any one infringing them is punished with death.

The Chinese consider it a great honour to be a grandfather, and every man who is fortunate enough to be one wears a moustache, as the distinctive sign of his good luck. These thin grey moustaches are the more conspicuous, as the young men not only wear none, but, as a general rule, grow no beard at all.

With regard to the social manners and customs of the Chinese, I am only able to mention a few, as it is exceedingly difficult, and, in fact, almost impossible, for a foreigner to become acquainted with them. I endeavoured to see as much as I could, and mixed on every possible opportunity among the people, afterwards writing down a true account of what I had seen.

On going out one morning, I met more than fifteen prisoners, all with a wooden yoke (can-gue) about their necks, being led through the streets. This yoke is composed of two large pieces of wood, fitting into one another, and having from one to three holes in them; through these holes the head, and one or both hands, are stuck, in proportion to the importance of the offence. A yoke of this description varies in weight from fifty to a hundred pounds, and presses so heavily upon the neck and shoulders of the poor wretch who bears it, that he is unable to convey his victuals to his mouth himself, and is compelled to wait till some compassionate soul feeds him. This punishment lasts from a few days to several months; in the latter case the prisoner generally dies.

Another description of punishment is the bastinado with the bamboo, which, when applied to the more tender parts of the body, very often, as early as the fifteenth blow, frees its victim for ever from all his earthly sufferings. Other more severe punishments, which in no way yield the palm to those of the Holy Inquisition, consist in flaying the prisoner alive, crushing his limbs, cutting the sinews out of his feet, and so on. Their modes of carrying out the sentence of death appear to be mild in comparison, and are generally confined to strangling and decapitation, although, as I was informed, in certain extraordinary cases, the prisoner is executed by being sawed in two, or left to die of starvation. In the first case, the unhappy victim is made fast between two planks, and sawed in two longitudinally, beginning with the head; and, in the second, he is either buried up to his head in the ground, and thus left to perish of want, or else is fastened in one of the wooden yokes I have described, while his food is gradually reduced in quantity every day, until at last it consists of only a few grains of rice. In spite of the horrible and cruel nature of these punishments, it is said that individuals are found ready, for a sum of money, to undergo them all, death even included, instead of the person condemned.

In the year 1846, 4,000 people were beheaded at Canton. It is true that they were the criminals of two provinces, which together numbered a population of 9,000,000 souls, but the number is still horrible to contemplate. Is it possible that there could really be so many who should be looked upon as criminals—or are persons sentenced to death for a mere nothing—or are both these suppositions true?

I once happened to go near the place of execution, and to my horror beheld a long row of still bleeding heads exposed upon high poles. The relations enjoy the privilege of carrying away and interring the bodies.

There are several different religions in China, the most prevalent being Buddhism. It is marked by great superstition and idolatry, and is mostly confined to the lower classes. The most natural is that of the wise Confucius, which is said to be the religion of the court, the public functionaries, the scholars, and educated classes.

The population of China is composed of a great many very different races: unfortunately, I am unable to describe their several characteristics, as my stay in China was far too short. The people I saw in Canton, Hong-Kong, and Macao, are of middling stature. Their complexion varies with their occupation: the peasants and labourers are rather sun-burnt; rich people and ladies white. Their faces are flat, broad, and ugly; their eyes are narrow, rather obliquely placed, and far apart; their noses broad, and their mouth large. Their fingers I observed were in many cases extremely long and thin; only the rich (of both sexes) allow their nails to grow to an extraordinary length, as a proof that they are not obliged, like their poorer brethren, to gain their livelihood by manual labour. These aristocratic nails are generally half an inch long, though I saw one man whose nails were quite an inch in length, but only on his left hand. With this hand it was impossible for him to raise any flat object, except by laying his hand flat upon it, and catching hold of it between his fingers.

The women of the higher classes are generally inclined to corpulency, a quality which is highly esteemed not in women alone, but in men as well.

Although I had heard a great deal about the small feet of Chinese women, I was greatly astonished at their appearance. Through the kind assistance of a missionary's lady (Mrs. Balt) I was enabled to behold one of these small feet in natura. Four of the toes were bent under the sole of the foot, to which they were firmly pressed, and with which they appeared to be grown together; the great toe was alone left in its normal state. The fore-part of the foot had been so compressed with strong broad bandages, that instead of expanding in length and breadth, it had shot upwards and formed a large lump at the instep, where it made part and parcel of the leg; the lower portion of the foot was scarcely four inches long, and an inch and a half broad. The feet are always swathed in white linen or silk, bound round with silk bandages and stuffed into pretty little shoes, with very high heels.

To my astonishment these deformed beings tripped about, as if in defiance of us broad-footed creatures, with tolerable ease, the only difference in their gait being that they waddled like geese; they even ran up and down stairs without the aid of a stick.

The only persons exempted from this Chinese method of improving their beauty are girls of the lowest class—that is, those who live in boats; in families of rank they are all subject to the same fate; while in those of the middle classes, as a general rule, it is limited to the eldest daughter.

The worth of a bride is reckoned by the smallness of her feet.

This process of mutilation is not commenced immediately the child is born, but is deferred until the end of the first, or sometimes even third year, nor is the foot after the operation forced into an iron shoe, as many have affirmed, but merely firmly compressed with bandages.

The religion of the Chinese allows them to have a number of wives, but in this respect they are far behind the Mahomedans. The richest have rarely more than from six to twelve, while poor persons content themselves with one.

I visited during my stay in Canton as many workshops of the different artists as I could. My first visit was to the most celebrated painters, and I must frankly own, that the vividness and splendour of their colouring struck me exceedingly. These qualities are generally ascribed to the rice paper on which they paint, and which is of the greatest possible fineness, and as white as milk.

The paintings upon linen and ivory differ very little, as far as the colouring is concerned, from those of our European artists, and the difference is therefore the more visible in their composition, and perspective, which, with the Chinese, are yet in a state of infancy. This is more especially true of perspective. The figures and objects in the back-ground rival in size and brilliancy those in front, while rivers or seas float in the place which should be occupied by clouds. On the other hand, the native artists can copy admirably, {101} and even take likenesses. I saw some portraits so strikingly well drawn, and admirably coloured, that first-rate European artists need not have been ashamed to own them.

The Chinese possess marvellous skill in carving ivory, tortoiseshell, and wood. Among the superior black lacquered articles, especially with flat or raised gold ornaments, I observed some, which were worthy of a place in the most valuable collections of objects of vertu. I saw some small work-tables worth at least 600 dollars (120 pounds). The baskets and carpets, made from the bamboo, are also remarkably beautiful.

They are, however, far behind-hand in gold or silver work, which is generally heavy and tasteless; but then again, they have attained great celebrity by their porcelain, which is remarkable not only for its size, but for its transparency. It is true that vases and other vessels four feet high are neither light nor transparent; but cups and other small objects can only be compared to glass for fineness and transparency. The colours on them are very vivid, but the drawings very stiff and bad.

In the manufacture of silks and crape shawls, the Chinese are unsurpassable; the latter especially, in beauty, tastefulness, and thickness, are far preferable to those made in England or France.

The knowledge of music, on the other hand, is so little developed, that our good friends of the Celestial Empire might almost, in this respect, be compared to savages—not that they have no instruments, but they do not know how to use them. They possess violins, guitars, lutes (all with strings or wires), dulcimers, wind instruments, ordinary and kettle-drums, and cymbals, but are neither skilled in composition, melody, nor execution. They scratch, scrape, and thump upon their instruments in such a manner, as to produce the finest marrowbone-and-cleaver kind of music imaginable. During my excursions up and down the Pearl stream, I had frequent opportunities of hearing artistic performances of this description on board the mandarin and flower-boats.

In all kinds of deception the Chinese are great adepts, and decidedly more than a match for any Europeans. They have not the slightest sense of honour, and if you detect them, content themselves with saying: "You are more clever or cunning than I." I was told that when they have any live stock, such as calves or pigs, for sale, they compel them, as they are disposed of by weight, to swallow stones or large quantities of water. They also know how to blow out and dress stale poultry, so as to make it look quite fresh and plump.

But it is not the lower classes alone that indulge in cheating and fraud; these agreeable qualities are shared by the highest functionaries. It is a well-known fact, for instance, that there are nowhere so many pirates as in the Chinese sea, especially in the vicinity of Canton; yet no measures are taken to punish or extirpate them, simply because the mandarins do not think it beneath their dignity to secretly share in the profits.

For example, though the opium trade is forbidden, so much of this drug is smuggled in every year, that it is said to exceed in value that of all the tea exported in the same period. {102a} The merchants enter into a private understanding with the officers and mandarins, agreeing to give them a certain sum for every pikul, and it is no rare occurrence for a mandarin to land whole cargoes under the protection of his own flag.

In like manner there is said to be on one of the islands near Hong- Kong a very extensive manufactory of false money, which is allowed to be carried on without any interruption, as it pays a tribute to the public functionaries and mandarins. A short time ago, a number of pirate vessels that had ventured too near Canton, were shot into and sunk, the crews lost, and their leader taken. The owners of the vessels petitioned the government to set the prisoners free, and threatened, in case of a refusal, to make extensive disclosures. Every one was convinced that a sum of money accompanied this threatening letter, for shortly after it was reported that the prisoner had escaped.

I myself was witness of a circumstance in Canton, which caused me great uneasiness, and was a pretty good proof of the helplessness or apathy of the Chinese government.

On the 8th of August, Mr. Agassiz set out with a friend, intending to return the same evening. I was left at home alone with the Chinese servants. Mr. Agassiz did not return at the appointed time. At last, about 1 o'clock the next morning, I suddenly heard voices in loud conversation, and a violent knocking at the street door. I at first supposed it to be Mr. Agassiz, and felt much surprise at the late hour of his arrival, but I soon perceived that the disturbance was not in our house, but in that on the opposite side of the way. It is easy to fall into an error of this description, as the houses are situated quite close to each other, and windows are left open day and night. I heard voices exclaim, "Get up,— dress!" and then, "It is horrible—shocking—good heavens?—where did it happen?"—I sprang quickly out of bed and huddled on my gown, thinking either that a fire had broken out in some house or other, or that the people had risen in insurrection. {102b}

Seeing a gentleman at one of the windows, I called and inquired of him what was the matter. He told me hurriedly that intelligence had just arrived that two of his friends who were proceeding to Hong- Kong (Whampoa lay on the road) had been attacked by pirates, and that one was killed and the other wounded. He then immediately retired, so that I was unable to learn the name of the unfortunate victim, and was left all night a prey to the greatest anxiety lest it should be Mr. Agassiz.

Fortunately, this at least was not the case, as Mr. Agassiz returned at 5 o'clock in the morning. I then learned that this misfortune had happened to Monsieur Vauchee, a Swiss gentleman, who had passed many an evening in our house. On the very day of his departure, I met him at a neighbour's, where we had all been in the highest spirits, singing songs and quartettes. At 9 o'clock he went on board the boat, set off at 10, and a quarter of an hour afterwards, in the midst of thousands of schampans and other craft, met his tragical end.

Monsieur Vauchee had intended to proceed to Hong-Kong, and there embark on board a larger vessel for Shanghai; {103} he took with him Swiss watches to the value of 40,000 francs (1,600 pounds), and, in speaking to a friend, congratulated himself on the cautious manner he had packed them up, without letting his servants know anything about it. This, however, could not have been the case: and, as the pirates have spies among the servants in every house, they were unfortunately but too well acquainted with the circumstance.

During my stay in Canton, the house of a European was pulled down by the populace, because it stood upon a piece of ground which, though Europeans were allowed to occupy, they had not hitherto built upon.

In this manner there was hardly a day that we did not hear of acts of violence and mischief, so that we were in a continual state of apprehension, more especially as the report of the near approach of a revolution, in which all the Europeans were to perish, was everywhere bruited about. Many of the merchants had made every preparation for instant flight, and muskets, pistols, and swords were neatly arranged ready for use in most of the counting-houses. Luckily, the time fixed for the revolution passed over, without the populace fulfilling its threats.

The Chinese are cowardly in the highest degree; they talk very large when they are certain they have nothing to fear. For instance, they are always ready to stone, or even kill, a few defenceless individuals, but if they have to fear any opposition, they are sure not to commence the attack. I believe that a dozen good European soldiers would put to flight more than a hundred Chinese. I myself never met with a more dastardly, false, and, at the same time, cruel race, in my life; one proof of this is, that their greatest pleasure consists in torturing animals.

In spite of the unfavourable disposition of the populace, I ventured out a good deal. Herr von Carlowitz was untiring in his kindness to me, and accompanied me everywhere, exposing himself to many dangers on my account, and bearing patiently the insults of the populace, who followed at our heels, and loudly expressed their indignation at the boldness of the European woman in thus appearing in public. Through his assistance, I saw more than any woman ever yet saw in China.

Our first excursion was to the celebrated Temple of Honan, which is said to be one of the finest in China.

This temple is surrounded by numerous out-buildings, and a large garden enclosed with a high wall. You first enter a large fore- court, at the extremity of which a colossal gateway leads into the inner courts. Under the archway of this portico are two War Gods, each eighteen feet high, in menacing attitudes, and with horribly distorted features. They are placed there to prevent evil spirits from entering. A second similar portico, under which are the four Celestial Kings, leads into the inmost court, where the principal temple is situated. The interior of the temple is 100 feet in length, and 100 feet in breadth. The flat roof, from which hang a number of glass chandeliers, lamps, artificial flowers, and silk ribbons, is supported upon several rows of wooden pillars, while the multitude of statues, altars, flower-pots, censers, candelabra, candlesticks, and other ornaments, involuntarily suggest to the mind of the spectator the decoration of a Roman Catholic church.

In the foreground are three altars, and behind these three statues, representing the God Buddha in three different aspects: the past, the present, and the future. These figures, which are in a sitting posture, are of colossal dimensions.

We happened to visit the temple just as service was being performed. It was a kind of mass for the dead, which a mandarin had ordered for his deceased wife. At the right and left altars were the priests, whose garments and gesticulations also resembled those of the Roman Catholics. At the middle altar was the mandarin, piously engaged in prayer, while two stood beside him, fanning him with large fans. {104} He frequently kissed the ground, and every time he did so, three wax tapers were presented to him, which he first elevated in the air, and then gave to one of the priests, who placed them before a statue of Buddha, but without lighting them. The music was performed by three men, one of whom twanged a stringed instrument, while the second struck a metal globe, and the third played the flute.

Besides the principal temple there are various smaller ones, and halls, all adorned with statues of gods. Especial honour is paid to the twenty-four Gods of Pity, and to Kwanfootse, a demi-god of War. Many of the former have four, six, and even eight arms. All these divinities, Buddha himself not excepted, are made of wood, gilt over, and painted with glazing colours.

In the Temple of Mercy we met with an adventure which was nearly attended with unpleasant consequences. A priest, or bonze, handed us some little tapers for us to light and offer to his divinity. Herr von Carlowitz and myself had already got the tapers in our hands, and were quite willing to afford him this gratification, when an American missionary, who was with us, tore the tapers from our grasp, and indignantly returned them to the priest, saying, that what we were about to do was an act of idolatry. The priest took the matter very seriously, and, instantly closing the doors, called his companions, who hurried in from all sides, and abused us in the most violent and vociferous fashion, pressing closer every instant. It was with the greatest difficulty that we succeeded in fighting our way to the door, and thus making our escape.

After this little fray, our guide conducted us to the dwelling of the Holy—Pigs! {105} A beautiful stone hall is set apart for their use, which hall these remarkable divinities fill, in spite of all the care bestowed on them, with so horrible a stench, that it is impossible to approach them without holding one's nose. They are taken care of and fed until death summons them away. When we visited the place there were only a pair of these fortunate beings, and their number rarely exceeds three couples.

I was better pleased with the residence of a bonze, which adjoined this holy spot. It consisted of a sitting-room and bed-room merely, but was very comfortably and elegantly fitted up. The walls of the sitting-room were ornamented with carved wood-work, and the furniture was old-fashioned and pleasing: at the back of the apartment, which was flagged, stood a small altar.

We here saw an opium-eater, lying stretched out upon a mat on the floor. At his side was a cup of tea, with some fruit and a little lamp, besides several pipes, with bowls that were smaller than a thimble. On our entrance, he was just inhaling the intoxicating smoke from one of them. It is said that some of the Chinese opium smokers consume from twenty to thirty grains a-day. As he was not altogether unconscious of our presence, he managed to raise himself, laid by his pipe, and dragged himself to a chair. His eyes were fixed and staring, and his face deadly pale, presenting altogether a most pitiable and wretched spectacle.

Last of all, we were conducted to the garden, where the bonzes, at their death, are burnt—a particular mark of distinction, as all other people are interred. A simple mausoleum, about thirty feet square, and a few small private monuments, were all that was to be seen. None of them had any pretensions to elegance, being built of the simplest masonry. In the former of these edifices are preserved the bones of the persons who have been burnt, and among them are also buried the rich Chinese, whose heirs pay pretty handsomely to obtain such an honour for them. At a little distance stands a small tower, eight feet in diameter and eighteen in height, with a small pit, where a fire can be kindled, in the floor. Over this pit is an armchair, to which the deceased bonze is fastened in full costume. Logs and dry brushwood are disposed all round, and the whole is set fire to, and the doors closed. In an hour they are again opened, the ashes strewed around the tower, and the bones preserved until the period for opening the mausoleum, which is only once every year.

A striking feature in the garden is this beautiful water-rose, or lotus-flower (nymphaea nelumbo), which was originally a native of China. The Chinese admire this flower so much, that they have ponds dug in their gardens expressly for it. It is about six inches in diameter, and generally white—very rarely pale red. The seeds resemble in size and taste those of the hazel; and the roots, when cooked, are said to taste like artichokes.

There are more than a hundred bonzes who reside in the temple of Honan. In their ordinary dress, they differ nothing from the common Chinamen, the only means of recognising them being by their heads, which are entirely shaved. Neither these nor any other priests can boast, as I was told, of being in the least respected by the people.

Our second excursion was to the Half-way Pagoda, so called by the English from its lying half way between Canton and Whampoa. We went up the Pearl stream to it. It stands upon a small eminence near a village, in the midst of immense fields of rice, and is composed of nine stories, 170 feet high. Its circumference is not very considerable, but nearly the same all the way up, which gives it the look of a tower. I was informed that this pagoda was formerly one of the most celebrated in China, but it has long ceased to be used. The interior was completely empty; there were neither statues nor any other ornaments; nor were there any floors to prevent the eye from seeing to the very top. On the outside, small balconies without railings surround each story, to which access is gained by steep and narrow flights of stairs. These projecting balconies produce a very fine effect, being built of coloured bricks, very artistically laid, and faced with variegated tiles. The bricks are placed in rows, with their points jutting obliquely outwards, so that the points project about four inches over one another. At a distance, the work seems as if it were half pierced through, and from the beautiful colours and fineness of the tiles, a person might easily mistake the entire mass for porcelain.

While we were viewing the pagoda, the whole population of the village had assembled round about us, and as they behaved with tolerable quietness, we determined on paying a visit to the village itself. The houses, or rather huts, were small and built of brick, and with the exception of their flat roofs, presented nothing peculiar. The rooms did not possess a ceiling of their own, but were simply covered by the roof; the floor was formed of earth closely pressed together, and the internal walls consisted partly of bamboo-mats. What little furniture there was, was exceedingly dirty. About the middle of the village was a small temple, with a few lamps burning dimly before the principal divinity.

What struck me most was the quantity of poultry, both in and out of the huts, and we had to take the greatest care to avoid treading on some of the young brood. The chickens are hatched, as they are in Egypt, by artificial heat.

On our return from the village to the pagoda, we saw two schampans run in shore, and a number of swarthy, half-naked, and mostly armed men jump out, and hasten through the fields of rice directly to where we were. We set them down as pirates, and awaited the upshot with a considerable degree of uneasiness. We knew that, if we were right in our supposition, we were lost without hope; for, at the distance we were from Canton, and entirely surrounded by Chinese, who would have been but too ready to lend them assistance, it would have been doubly easy for pirates to dispatch us. All idea of escape or rescue was out of the question.

While these thoughts were flashing across our minds, the men kept approaching us, and at length their leader introduced himself as the captain of a Siamese man-of-war. He informed us, in broken English, that he had not long arrived with the Governor of Bangkok, who was proceeding for the rest of the way to Pekin by land. Our fears were gradually dispelled, and we even accepted the friendly invitation of the captain to run alongside his ship and view it, on our return. He came in the boat with us, and took us on board, where he showed us everything himself: the sight, however, was not a particularly attractive one. The crew looked very rough and wild; they were all dressed in a most slovenly and dirty manner, so that it was utterly impossible to distinguish the officers from the common men. The vessel mounted twelve guns and sixty-eight hands.

The captain set before us Portuguese wine and English beer, and the evening was far advanced before we reached home.

The longest trip that can be made from Canton is one twenty miles up the Pearl stream, and Mr. Agassiz was kind enough to procure me this pleasure. He hired a good boat, which he furnished abundantly with eatables and drinkables, and invited a missionary, who had made the trip several times, Herr von Carlowitz, and myself. The company of a missionary is as yet by far the safest escort in China. These gentlemen speak the language; they become gradually acquainted with the people, and travel about, with hardly any obstacle to speak of, all round the vicinity of Canton.

About a week before we had decided on going, a few young gentlemen had endeavoured to make the same excursion, but had been fired upon from one of the fortresses that lie on the banks of the river, and compelled to turn back half-way. When we approached the fortress in question, the crew of our boat refused to proceed any further, until we had almost employed violence to make them do so. We also were fired into, but fortunately not until we were more than half past the fortress. Having escaped the danger, we pursued our course without further interruption, landed at several hamlets, visited the so-called Herren Pagoda, and took a good view of everything that was to be seen. The scenery all round was charming, and displayed to our view large plains with rice, sugar, and tea-plantations, picturesque clumps of trees, lovely hills, and more elevated mountain ranges rising in the distance. On the declivities of the hills, we beheld a number of graves, which were marked by single, upright stones.

The Herren Pagoda has three stories, with a pointed roof, and is distinguished for its external sculpture. It has no balconies outside, but, instead of this, a triple wreath of leaves round each story. In the first and second story, to which access is gained by more than usually narrow stairs, are some small altars with carved idols. We were not allowed to go into the third story, under the excuse that there was nothing to be seen there.

The villages we visited, resembled more or less, that we had seen near the Half-way Pagoda.

During this journey I was an eye-witness of the manner in which the missionaries dispose of their religious tracts. The missionary who had been kind enough to accompany us, took this opportunity of distributing among the natives some seeds that should bring forth good fruit. He had 500 tracts on board our boat, and every time that another boat approached us, a circumstance that was of frequent occurrence, he stretched himself as far as possible over the side with half a dozen tracts in his hand, and made signs to the people to approach and take them. If people did not obey his summons, we rowed up to them, and the missionary gratified them with his tracts in dozens, and went his way rejoicing, in anticipation of the good which he did not doubt they would effect.

Whenever we arrived at a village, however, matters reached even a higher pitch. The servant was obliged to carry whole packs of tracts, which in a moment were distributed among the crowd of curious who had quickly gathered round us.

Every one took what was offered to him, as it cost nothing, and if he could not read it—the tracts were in Chinese—he had at least got so much paper. The missionary returned home delighted; he had disposed of his 500 copies. What glorious news for the Missionary Society, and what a brilliant article for his religious paper, he no doubt transmitted to Europe!

Six young Englishmen made this same excursion up the Pearl stream six months later, stopping at one of the villages and mixing with the people. Unhappily, however, they all fell victims to the fanaticism of the Chinese: they were most barbarously murdered.

There was now no trip of any distance left but one round the walls of the town of Canton, {108} properly so called. This, too, I was shortly enabled to undertake through the kindness of our good friend the missionary, who offered to come as guide to Herr von Carlowitz and myself, under the condition, however, that I should put on male attire. No woman had ever yet ventured to make this trip, and he thought that I ought not to venture in my own dress; I complied with his wish, therefore, and one fine morning early we set out.

For some distance our road lay through narrow streets or alleys paved with large flags. In a small niche somewhere in the front of every house, we saw little altars from one to three feet high, before which, as it was yet early, the night lamps were still burning. An immense quantity of oil is unnecessarily consumed in keeping up this religious custom. The shops now began to be opened. They resemble neat entrance halls, having no front wall. The goods were exposed for sale either in large open boxes or on tables, behind which the shopkeepers sit and work. In one corner of the shop, a narrow staircase leads up into the dwelling-house above.

Here, as in Turkish towns, the same regulation is observed of each trade or calling having its especial street, so that in one nothing but crockery and glass, in another silks, and so on, is to be seen. In the physician's street are situated all the apothecaries' shops as well, as the two professions are united in one and the same person. The provisions, which are very tastily arranged, have also their separate streets. Between the houses are frequently small temples, not differing the least, however, in style from the surrounding buildings: the gods, too, merely occupy the ground floor, the upper stories being inhabited by simple mortals.

The bustle in the streets was astonishing, especially in those set apart for the sale of provisions. Women and girls of the lower classes went about making their purchases, just as in Europe. They were all unveiled, and some of them waddled like geese, in consequence of their crippled feet, which, as I before observed, extends to all ranks. The crowd was considerably increased by the number of porters, with large baskets of provisions on their shoulders, running along, and praising in a loud voice their stock in trade, or warning the people to make way for them. At other times, the whole breadth of the street would be taken up, and the busy stream of human beings completely stopped by the litter of some rich or noble personage proceeding to his place of business. But worse than all were the numerous porters we met at every step we took, carrying large baskets of unsavoury matter.

It is a well known fact, that there is perhaps no nation on the face of the earth equal to the Chinese in diligence and industry, or that profits by, and cultivates, as they do, every available inch of ground. As, however, they have not much cattle, and consequently but little manure, they endeavour to supply the want of it by other means, and hence their great care of anything that can serve as a substitute.

All their small streets are built against the city walls, so that we had been going round them for some time before we were aware of the fact. Mean-looking gates or wickets, which all foreigners are strictly prohibited from passing, and which are shut in the evening, lead into the interior of the town.

I was told that it has often happened for sailors, or other strangers, during their walks, to penetrate through one of these entrances into the interior of the town, and not discover their mistake until the stones began flying about their ears.

After threading our way for at least two miles through a succession of narrow streets, we at length emerged into the open space, where we obtained a full view of the city walls, and from the summit of a small hill which was situated near them, a tolerably extensive one over the town itself. The city walls are about sixty feet high, and, for the most part, so overgrown with grass, creeping plants, and underwood, that they resemble a magnificent mass of living vegetation. The town resembles a chaos of small houses, with now and then a solitary tree, but we saw neither fine streets nor squares, nor any remarkable buildings, temples, or pagodas. A single pagoda, five stories high, reminded us of the peculiar character of Chinese architecture.

Our road now lay over fertile eminences, varied with fields and meadows in a high state of cultivation. Many of the hills are used as cemeteries, and are dotted over with small mounds of earth, walled in with stone flags, or rough hewn stones two feet high, frequently covered with inscriptions. Family tombs were also to be seen, dug in the hill, and enclosed with stone walls of the shape of a horse-shoe. All the entrances were built up with stone.

The Chinese do not, however, bury all their dead: they have a remarkable way of preserving them in small stone chambers, consisting of two stone walls and a roof, while the two other sides are left open. In these places, there are never more than from two to four coffins, which are placed upon wooden benches two feet high: the coffins themselves consist of massive trunks of trees hollowed out.

The villages through which we passed presented an animated appearance, but appeared poor and dirty. We were often obliged to hold our noses in passing through the lanes and squares, and very frequently would fain have closed our eyes as well, to avoid the disgusting sight of people covered with eruptions of the skin, tumours, and boils.

In all the villages I saw poultry and swine in great numbers, but not more than three horses and a buffalo-cow; both the horses and the cow were of an extremely small breed.

When we had nearly reached the end of our excursion, we met a funeral. A horrible kind of music gave us warning that something extraordinary was approaching, and we had hardly time to look up and step on one side, before the procession came flying past us at full speed. First came the worthy musicians, followed by a few Chinese, next two empty litters carried by porters, and then the hollow trunk of a tree, representing the coffin, hanging to a long pole, and carried in a similar manner: last of all, were some priests and a crowd of people.

The chief priest wore a kind of white {110} fool's cap, with three points; the other persons, who consisted of men alone, had a kind of white cloth bound round their head or arm.

I was lucky enough to be enabled to visit some of the summer palaces and gardens of the nobility.

The finest of all was certainly that belonging to the Mandarin Howqua. The house itself was tolerably spacious, one story high, with very wide, splendid terraces. The windows looked into the inner courts, and the roof was like those in European buildings, only much flatter. The sloping roofs, with their multitude of points and pinnacles, with their little bells and variegated tiles, are only to be found in the temples and country-houses, but never in the usual residences. At the entrance there were two painted gods: these, according to the belief of the Chinese, keep off evil spirits.

The front part of the house consisted of several reception rooms, without front walls, and immediately adjoining them, on the ground floor, elegant parterres; and on the first floor magnificent terraces, which were also decorated with flowers, and afforded a most splendid view over the animated scene on the river, the enchanting scenery around, and the mass of houses in the villages situated about the walls of Canton.

Neat little cabinets surrounded these rooms, from which they were only separated by walls that in many cases were adorned with the most artistic paintings, and through which the eye could easily penetrate. The most remarkable of these walls were those composed of bamboos, which were as delicate as a veil, and plentifully ornamented with painted flowers, or beautifully written proverbs.

A numberless quantity of chairs and a great many sofas were ranged along the walls, from which I inferred that the Chinese are as much accustomed to large assemblages as ourselves. I observed some arm- chairs most skilfully cut out of a single piece of wood; others with seats of beautiful marble-slabs; and others again of fine coloured tiles or porcelain. Among various objects of European furniture, we saw some handsome mirrors, clocks, vases, and tables of Florentine mosaic, or variegated marble. There was also a most extraordinary collection of lamps and lanterns hanging from the ceilings, and consisting of glass, transparent horn, and coloured gauze or paper, ornamented with glass beads, fringe, and tassels. Nor was there any scarcity of lamps on the walls, so that when the apartments are entirely lighted up, they must present a fairy-like appearance.

As we had been fortunate enough to reach this house without being stoned, we were emboldened to visit the Mandarin Howqua's large pleasure-garden, situated on a branch of the Pearl stream, about three-quarters of a mile from the house. We had, however, hardly entered the branch of the river, before the crew wanted to turn back, having observed a mandarin's junk, with all its flags hoisted, a signal that the owner himself was on board. They were unwilling to venture on conveying us Europeans past the vessel, for fear they should be punished, or stoned to death, along with ourselves, by the people. We obliged them to proceed, passed close by the junk, and then landed, and continued our excursion on foot. A large crowd of people soon collected in our rear, and began pushing the children up against us, in order to excite our rage; but arming ourselves with patience, we moved quietly on, and reached, without any accident, the garden gates, which we instantly closed behind us.

The garden was in a perfect state of cultivation, but without the least pretension to taste in its arrangement. On every side were summer-houses, kiosks, and bridges, and all the paths and open spots were lined with large and small flower-pots, in which were flowers and dwarfed fruit-trees of every description.

The Chinese are certainly adepts in the art of diminishing the size of, or rather crippling their trees, many of which very often scarcely attain a height of three feet. These dwarf trees are very prevalent in their gardens, and preferred to the most magnificent and shady trees of a natural size. These lilliputian alleys can hardly be considered in good taste, but it is most remarkable with what a large quantity of beautiful fruit the tiny branches are laden.

Besides these toys we also observed figures of all descriptions, representing ships, birds, fish, pagodas, etc., cut out of foliage. In the heads of the animals were stuck eggs, with a black star painted on them to represent the eyes.

There was also no scarcity of rocks, both single and in groups, ornamented with flower-pots, as well as little figures of men and animals, which can be removed at pleasure, so as to form new combinations, a kind of amusement of which the Chinese ladies are said to be very fond. Another source of entertainment, no less popular, as well among the ladies as the gentlemen, consists in kite-flying, and they will sit for hours looking at their paper monsters in the air. There is a large open spot set apart for this purpose in the garden of every Chinese nobleman. We noticed an abundance of running water and ponds, but we did not observe any fountains.

As everything had passed off so well, Herr von Carlowitz proposed that we should go and see the garden of the Mandarin Puntiqua, which I was very anxious to do, as the mandarin had ordered a steam-boat to be built there by a Chinese, who had resided thirteen years in North America, where he had studied.

The vessel was so far advanced that it was to be launched in a few weeks. The artist showed us his work with great satisfaction, and was evidently very much pleased at the praise we bestowed upon him for it. He attached great importance to his knowledge of the English language, for when Herr von Carlowitz addressed him in Chinese, he answered in English, and requested us to continue the conversation in that idiom. The machinery struck us as not being constructed with the usual degree of neatness for which the Chinese are famous, and also appeared far too large for the small vessel for which it was intended. Neither I nor my companion would have had the courage to have gone in her on her experimental trip.

The mandarin who had the vessel built, had gone to Pekin to obtain a "button" as his reward for being the first person to launch a steamer in the Chinese empire. The builder himself will, in all probability, be obliged to rest contented with the consciousness of his talent.

From the ship-yard we proceeded to the garden, which was very large but greatly neglected. There were neither alleys nor fruit trees, rocks nor figures; but, to make up for these, an insufferable quantity of summer-houses, bridges, galleries, little temples, and pagodas.

The dwelling-house consisted of a large hall and a number of small chambers. The walls were ornamented, both inside and out, with carved wood-work, and the roof abundantly decorated with points and pinnacles.

In the large halls plays and other entertainments are sometimes enacted for the amusement of the ladies, who are universally confined to their houses and gardens, which can only be visited by strangers in their absence. {112}

A number of peacocks, silver-pheasants, mandarin-ducks, and deer are preserved in their gardens. In one corner was a small, gloomy bamboo plantation, in which were some family graves; and not far off a small earthen mound had been raised, with a wooden tablet, on which was a long poetical inscription in honour of the favourite snake of the mandarin, which was buried there.

After duly inspecting everything, we set off on our road home, and reached there in safety.

I was not so fortunate a few days later on visiting a tea-factory. The proprietor conducted me himself over the workshops, which consisted of large halls, in which six hundred people, including a great many old women and children, were at work. My entrance occasioned a perfect revolt. Old and young rose from work, the elder portion lifting up the younger members of the community in their arms and pointing at me with their fingers. The whole mass then pressed close upon me and raised so horrible a cry that I began to be alarmed. The proprietor and his overseer had a difficult task to keep off the crowd, and begged me to content myself with a hasty glance at the different objects, and then to quit the building as soon as possible.

In consequence of this I could only manage to observe that the leaves of the plant are thrown for a few seconds into boiling water, and then placed in flat iron pans, fixed slantingly in stone-work, where they are slightly roasted by a gentle heat, during which process they are continually stirred by hand. As soon as they begin to curl a little, they are thrown upon large planks, and each single leaf is rolled together. This is effected with such rapidity, that it requires a person's undivided attention to perceive that no more than one leaf is rolled up at a time. After this, all the leaves are placed once more in the pan. Black tea takes some time to roast, and the green is frequently coloured with Prussian blue, an exceedingly small quantity of which is added during the second roasting. Last of all the tea is once more shaken out upon the large boards, in order that it may be carefully inspected, and the leaves that are not entirely closed are rolled over again.

Before I left, the proprietor conducted me into his house, and treated me to a cup of tea prepared after the fashion in which it is usually drunk by rich and noble Chinese. A small quantity was placed in a China cup, boiling water poured upon it, and the cup then closed with a tightly-fitting cover. In a few seconds the tea is then drank and the leaves left at the bottom. The Chinese take neither sugar, rum, nor milk with their tea; they say that anything added to it, and even the stirring of it, causes it to lose its aroma; in my cup, however, a little sugar was put.

The tea-plant, which I saw in the plantations round about Canton, was at most six feet high; it is not allowed to grow any higher, and is consequently cut at intervals. Its leaves are used from the third to the eighth year; and the plant is then cut down, in order that it may send forth new shoots, or else it is rooted out. There are three gatherings in the year; the first in March, the second in April, and the third, which lasts for three months, in May. The leaves of the first gathering are so delicate and fine that they might easily be taken for the blossom, which has no doubt given rise to the error that the so-called "bloom or imperial tea" is supposed not to consist of the leaves but of the blossom itself. {114} This gathering is so hurtful to the plant that it often perishes.

I was informed that the tea which comes from the neighbourhood of Canton is the worst, and that from the provinces somewhat more to the north the best. The tea manufacturers of Canton are said to possess the art of giving tea that has been frequently used, or spoiled by rain, the appearance of good tea. They dry and roast the leaves, colour them yellow with powdered kurkumni, or light green with Prussian blue, and then roll them tightly up. The price of the tea sent to Europe varies from fifteen to sixty dollars (3 to 12 pounds) a pikul, of 134 lb. English weight. The kind at sixty dollars does not find a very ready market; the greater part of it is exported to England. The "bloom" is not met with in trade.

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