its original purity and integrity. Another work, of which we find interefting extracts, under this article, is the Hiao-King, or Canonical Book of Filial Piety, which was compofed in the year 480 before Chrift, and is fuppofed to have been the laft work of Confucius. It was involved in the profcription of the ancient books under the reign of Tin-chi hoangi-how it was recovered-whether or not it remained pure, and which of its copies are the most authentic; thefe are queftions debated among the learned. It was tranflated into Latin by Father Noel, and inferted in a work of his publifhed at Prague, in quarto, in the year 1711, under the title of Sinenfis Imperii Libri Claffici Sex. The tranflation of this work, given here, is different from that of F. Noel. His verfion was made from the Kou-ouen, or old text, this is made from the Sin-ouen, or new text, adopted by the imperial college of China, and the literati in the provinces. This is followed by a piece intitled, Filial Piety of the Emperor, which was published in the year 1689 by the emperor Kang-hi. The extracts here given from this piece are ample, commendable, and inftructive. They fhew the fruits and importance of filial affection, in its root from fon to father, in its progrefs and branches, as comprehending the filial regard of all orders of the empire to the monarch, confidered as the Father and Mother of the nation, and in its effects as engaging the emperor to love that people of which he is the father, to promote agriculture, diminish taxes, fuccour the diftreffed, and foften the rigour of penal laws. All thefe duties are treated in an ample and circumftantial manner, and in this detail the reader will be informed of a multitude of things relative to the customs, manners, and laws of China, that have been hitherto unknown in Europe, or known but imperfectly. In all thefe extracts, however, there is fuch a remarkable monotony, and fuch multiplied repetitions of the fame ideas, that they are, now and then, adapted to exercise the reader's patience.

[ocr errors]

The above-mentioned pieces are followed by feveral petitions. or remonstrances, addreffed to different emperors, in which they are censured for the neglect or violation of the duty under confideration :-fome of these are laughable, and they are all trivial. The details concerning filial piety, drawn from the Cheng-hium of the emperor Kang-hi, are more interesting; to these our Author has added an account of all that relates to this fubject in the code of laws of the reigning dynasty, which he represents as one of the nobleft productions of the human mind. He celebrates this code, and obferves, that the tranquillity, order, fubordination, police, and population, that flourish, at prefent, in the vaft empire of China, are proofs of its excellence. With refpect to population, the miffionary tells us, that according to


the lifts prefented to the empire in the year 1761, the inhabitants of China were computed at 198,214,555. We think the Author fhould here have added in the cautious ftyle of the banker, errors excepted. In this code there are many curious anecdotes relative to the laws and jurifprudence in China.This code is divided into feveral fections, according to the different tribunals, that of the emperor's houfe, the tribunal of the Mandarins, the tribunal of rites, of finances, &c. and it contains fo many inftructive relations, that it is with regret that we pass it over; but an account of all the contents of this volume that merit attention, would fwell this extract beyond all bounds. The article which relates to cenfors, who are, ex officio, monitors of the emperor, and of all in civil and military employment, who watch over the morals and conduct of the citizens of all ranks, and are the continual defenders of the laws, is fingularly curious. The extent of their office, the power and danger that attend it, the intrepidity it requires, the fufferings that often accompany it, are defcribed by our Author, who, however, refers the reader to the Grand Annals of China for a more particular account of this critical employment.

Under this great article of Filial Piety, we are prefented with a collection of different Pieces in Verfe and Profe on the fubject, which are, for the moft part, fenfible, elegant, and pathetic, though not taken from authors of the first class in China. This is followed by a declaration of the Emperor Kang-hi, published in 1663, and another of the Emperor Yong-Tching in 1724; from whence our Author has given several extracts, which we have read with pleasure. We meet with a curious medley of morality and medicine, or rather of medical morality, in the following piece: it gives an idea of the 86th book of the collection, called Kou kin-y-tong, which contains a fummary of the beft books that have been published in China, on the art of healing, fo far down as the year 1617.

This firft Article (which occupies 298 pages) is concluded by the reflections and confiderations of our Author on the Doctrine of Filial Piety in China. These reflections discover good fenfe, fagacity, and candour. This Author acknowledges that the Chinese doctrine on this important duty, which is fo pure and luminous when traced up to its primitive ftate, has degenerated greatly, as the best things do, in paffing through the hands of men, and the courfe of ages. He even draws a striking picture of the abufes that have been introduced by filial piety ill, understood, ill applied, and fuperftitiously or corruptly abufed. It leads, for example, a husband to repudiate a wife whom he loves, when the happens to be difagreeable to his father or mother, -to abandon his mother, if the has been divorced by his father, or has married after his death,-to com

mit the most atrocious acts of barbarity to avenge the injuries done to his parents-to entertain prejudices against a miffionary, because he has left his parents and country, and to fuffer death rather than allow his hair to be cut, or his nails to be paired, from a notion that he is obliged to preferve his body in the fiate we has received from his father and mother. Our Mimionary acknowledges the grofs ignorance of the people in China, ever of thofe in the ranks above the populace, and their blind attachment to the authority of Confucius. Filial Piety incpor alfo the Chinese against the Chriftian religion in fevera, re fpects because this religion treats, as delirious fuperí ion, the rites, the worship, and opinions of their forefathers, for wirer filial piety excites a boundless veneration;--but fartuer our charitable Miffionary, and pray hear him!) this i when compared with what paffes in the tender air ! of a Chinese, when he is told pofitively (by a hates, -, bigot, fay we) that all thofe who have died witho Jefus Chrift, are condemned to eternal punif there is no deliverance. What a bitter wound 1. heart (and is not this a prefumption that it is not e all his ancestors,-that beloved father, that ton whom he is entirely devoted,-that brother and hi he has paffed his life, are in a place where them without being confummately miferable fay here is, that nothing in our miniftry has the difmal office of fupporting and comfort, Neophites, under the agonies of forrow mo.. been thrown by the first dawn of the faith Wretched Miffionary!-is not this abula Gospel, as much as the Chinese ever a Filial Piety? The Miffionary, however, t tian religion has several aspects that render Piety, for which we leave the Reader itself.

The fecond Article in this volume concerning the Intereft of Money in China this fubject, our Author enters into concerning the form of the Chine the taxes, the manner of railing ti finances, the riches of the dif circulation of fpecie, coin, wer other objects of political aony heads is curious and inftructive

in this Memoir which have 1.5. we to give this piece a te fhould call it, an Effay on t culture, Commerce, and pol

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


.fs in Litudes I wenty and they

thefe hu

After having employed near 40 pages on these objects, the Author proposes and answers the two following questions: What is the prefent legal intereft of money in China? The anfwer is, 30 per cent. annually, which is paid by the lunar or civil month (the fixth and twelfth excepted), and confequently comes to 3 per cent. per month. But this gives rife to a fecond question: What is the end of the Chinese government in fixing the intereft of money fo high? Our Miffionary has derived little affiftance from the Chinese in answering this question. After all his researches, he could not find a fingle work where the queftion was profeffedly treated and thoroughly examined. Some incidental reflections that he met with in different authors have, however, given him fome infight into the subject: but we think them long, obfcure, and unfatisfactory. The part of this difcuffion that is the moft exempt from perplexity comes to this, that the great object and end of the Chinese government is to render luxury and vice ruinous to those who pursue them; that the government never borrows, but always accumulates, and to prevent borrowing among individuals, which is confidered as a mark of diffipation and prodigality, this high interest has been authorized for above 450 years. A great minifter of China has obferved, that the facility of obtaining gratuitous loans bas ruined more poor families than the paying an intereft of 30 per cent, Thus, according to this doctrine, a law, rigorous in appearance, is become, by its effects, a law of oeconomy to the multitude, and has proved a remedy to the greatest abuses. With this law (fays our Author, quoting a Chinese writer) to restrain them, luxury and vice cannot stand their ground long two years are fufficient, at prefent, to ruin entirely the heir of a mandarin or a rich merchant, who might formerly have enjoyed the fruits of his prodigality during many years, and corrupted a whole city by his expenfive entertainments and debaucheries." All this is neither clear nor conclufive..

The remaining Memoirs of this volume, though lefs ample than the preceding, prefent to us interefting objects, and points of view, that may be turned to public utility. The third, which treats concerning the Small-pox, a disease known for more than 3000 years in China, contains the ancient hiftory of that diftemper, and alfo an analyfis of a work publifhed on that fubject fome years ago by the Imperial College of Phyfic. We fee here that the Chinese reckon forty-two different kinds of fmall-pox, whofe malignity is terrible in that country. In a few months of the year 1767 it carried off, in the city of Peking, near 100,000 children, and refifted all the remedies and efforts employed to oppose its progress, and prevent its fatal ef-· fects. Inoculation is an ancient practice in China: it was introduced, if not invented there, in the tenth century, and has

thus above 700 years antiquity. We cannot say that the manner and circumftances of inoculation in China are adapted to open points of view that may contribute to the improvement of that practice in Europe. This, therefore, is not one of the Memoirs from which much utility can be drawn: the difference between the climate, the feed, and the manner of living in China and ours, and the dependence of the medical fyftem of that people on the combined authority of aftrology, fuperftition, and idolatry, must render, in general, the methods of cure, and the rules of inoculation observed in China, disgusting to a judicious practitioner among us. However, amidst all the marks of ftupidity and fuperftition, which deform the medical proceedings of the Chinese, there are fome obfervations, facts, and practices, that are not unworthy the attention of an European.

An Account of the Chinese Book called SI-YEN is given in the fourth Memoir. This book treats of the different figns and indications by which the Chinese pretend to diftinguish the kind of death, by the infpection of the corpfe, and, in case of a violent death, the causes that have produced it. The tribunals of juftice, feconded by the medical tribe, have carried these obfervations to a great length;-they will tell you, on the infpection of a perfon who has been ftrangled, whether he fuffered the violent act ftanding, on his knees, or lying at full length, what kind of noose was employed, and fo on, to the minuteft particulars. This book has been fent to all the tribunals of juftice in China; and though its authors have carried too far their confidence in certain figns, yet furgeons and apothecaries, and even fome phyficians, may derive materials from thefe obfervations for improving their acumen in diagnoftics. We were not a little furprized at an incidental discovery we made in reading this Article, viz. the prodigious number of fecret crimes that are committed in China, where public acts of violence and injuftice are faid to be rare.

The most ridiculous object imaginable is exhibited to us in the fifth Article, viz. an Account of the Cong-fou, or Poftures of the Bonzas of Tao-fee. Thefe idle priefts are extravagant enough to imagine that they have found out a remedy for the greatest part of difeafes, by fubjecting the bodies of the patients to the moft abfurd, forced, and whimsical poftures, which furpafs in number and inflexion the complicated and diverfified attitudes of comedians, rope-dancers, and academical models. Twenty of these postures are engraven in the volume before us, and they are whimfical beyond expreffion.

The fixth Article happily draws our attention from these opinions and cuftoms that degrade reafon, and afflict the humanity of the reader, to fix it on the obfervations made in natu


« VorigeDoorgaan »