Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHINESE VISITS TO EUROPE.

To the Editor of the Asiatic Journal. Sir: The Editors of the Journal or five little dialogues, three or four Asiatique (No. vii. p. 45), in reviewing models of letters, the Pater, Ave, and a silly work of Madame Celliez, re Credo in Chinese, the beginning of the specting a Chinese who was brought translation of a little romance, and to France, educated there, and pre some fragments of vocabularies. sented to the French king, have intro Michel and Arcadius were literati; duced some reflections upon the ex- they came to Europe at a time when travagant and groundless expectations curiosity respecting China was at its which are formed of the benefits de- highest pitch, because means were rivable from the visits to Europe of wanting to gratify it. Men of the natives of China, and from their being greatest talent became their pupils, instructed in European languages. In and endeavoured to extract from them the course of these reflections, they all the knowledge they could. Their state the names and characters of the efforts were not remarkably successful. Chinese whom chance, or particular What they learned from them amounts circumstances, have conducted into to little. There is not a scholar of France.

the collége royal who, at the end of Of all these, the most intelligent, six months' study, would not be able and who imparted the most informa to derive a hundred times more from tion, was the Chinese whom the Miss Chinese works. sionary Couplet brought from China Three Chinese who came to Paris in 1687. He was a native of Nan- since the Revolution, cannot be put in king, 30 years of age, and named comparison with the two just spoken Michel Chin-fo-tsoung. From him, it of. All three were unlettered men; so is stated, our Hyde obtained, whilst far at least, that neither of them had he was at Oxford, the information obtained that first degree which the concerning the sports of China, their missionaries designate by the term weights and measures, and other in- bachelor. All three had, nevertheless, teresting matters, which appear in his learned to write, and were acquainted dissertations.

with some 300 characters. But a Thirty years afterwards, another

person little proficient in Chinese would Chinese came to Europe, named

soon discover the limit of their eru. Hoang, and surnamed Arcadius. He dition. was born at Hing-hoa, in the province Tschoung-ya-san, or Asam, a young of Fo-kien, the 15th November 1679, trader of the city of Nanking, who of a converted family. He was brought was taken on board an English vessel to France by the Bishop of Rosalia; in 1800, and conducted as a prisoner he remained some time in the seminary of war to Paris, where he was courted of foreign missions, and finished by with childish curiosity, left some pamarrying in Paris. He was appointed

pers

which we have seen. This is he to the king's library, in order to inter- who, by confounding two characters, pret the Chinese books which the mis- both of which are pronounced thang, sionaries had deposited there. His took the word sugar for the name of visit was the occasion of inspiring China, and justified his blunder by deFréret, Fourmont, and other scholars, claring that his country was the sweetest with the idea of studying Chinese. in the world. But he was a feeble instrument for this

Tchang-ya-kin, or as he pronounced purpose.

He died 1st October 1716, his own name Agan, surnamed Tchaoand all the materials he left were four fou, whom a French merchant had

taken into his service at Canton, and their studies, and their object in so who came to Paris with this merchant applying themselves, are sufficient to in 1819, was a young man of 17, of explain and authorize this assertion. low condition, speaking the vulgar dia. Occupied, during their whole life, in lect of Canton, but possessed of some the acquisition of that species of understanding, and ambitious of pass- knowledge which conducts to posts ing for a scholar.

and offices, their moral books are the Lastly, Kiang-hiao, or as Madame exclusive object of their labours. They Celliez calls him, Mons. Kan-gao, sur read them over and over again incesnamed Khe-yeon, the same who was santly, -penetrate into the recesses of brought to France by Capt. Philibert, their meaning, -and learn to repeat was not a Chinese of distinction, as and write them from memory; but this lady says, but a young man be- very few of them, scarcely one in ten longing to one of the families of thousand, have leisure to make exAmory, who trade with Manilla. Als cursions into the fields of history and though he had studied, and knew how philosophy. Those scholars whom to write, he did not speak the Man- peculiarity of taste, or a favourable darin language ; and having the vulgar situation, devotes to more interesting dialect of his country, he had for- studies, are mostly in literary colleges, merly learnt by heart the books of and especially among the association Confucius, and yet at the same time of the Han-lin, or academical ministers could not tell how to use the dictionary of state. These are persons we must of the Emperor Kang-hi. This is not not expect to visit the barbarians of so extraordinary, since he left China Europe. As to the others, what should at 15 years of age, and passed the we ask them about, or what could they twelve following years at Luçoniá. teach us? The history of their coun

This Mons. Kan-gao, according to try? the greatest part of them have Madame Celliez, maintains that the hardly read it. The processes of their Chinese and French dictionary is not arts ? they scorn to be acquainted accurate: an opinion which makes the with them, and leave such subjects to editors of the Journal Asiatique very tradesmen and mechanics. Details angry, and with some appearance of respecting the natural productions of reason. They subjoin some remarks, China ? physicians are the only nawhich deserve to be recorded.

turalists there : learned men have no “But let us suppose that the knowledge in this department beyond Chinese who visit us are as cultivated the most vulgar notions. Should one as they really are ignorant in general: of the Han-lin come to visit us, we the advantages we could gain from would consult him concerning a multithem would be neither much more nu tude of historical points which we have merous nor more important. The title marked in the works of Sse-ma-thsian, of lettered must not be allowed to de. Lo-pi, Tou-chi, Hiu-chin, Ma-touanceive us: in China, as elsewhere, there lin. But the Han-lin come neither to are many men of letters, and very few London nor to Paris. They do not men of knowledge. A lettered man visit even Canton, as we may perceive (whether bachelor or licentiate) comes by certain passages in the works of to us, and he can scarcely teach us any Morrison and others.” thing we care to know. The method The latter part of this extract conwhich the Chinese literati follow in tains, I suppose, a sneer.

A-Z.

TONGATABO O.

The barriers to the establishment of a conception of which, Mr. Lawry has one Mission in the Friendly Islands appeared in his garden (having purchased several extremely formidable to encounter. Hardly acres of land from king Palau*) suffi. a ship could once touch without bloodshed. ciently capacious to contain all the people Upwards of twenty years since, it is within of Tonga; thus shewing, that a kind recollection, several gentlemen from the Providence makes suitable provision for London Missionary Society were landed the otherwise intolerable warmth of the there; but operations with them had climate. The sea abounds with fine fish, scarcely begun, ere most of the party were of which the natives take but little notice. butchered—while some providentially ef The centipede is the only venomous reptile fected an escape.

Those islands are ag. on the island, and this is rarely found. gregated at about one hundred and eighty- Mr. Lawry says that Tonga is much eight, and for nearly the last twenty years prettier than can be conceived. The the inhabitants have been engaged in san people are vastly superior to the New guinary wars. About eight years since, Zealanders, both in body and mind. In war raged with dreadful fury; another was New Zealand, the chiefs are destitute of waged about four years ago; and the last authority and importance, equally as much has only terminated two years. It is ac as our aboriginal chiefs; but in Tonga, knowledged by the natives, that a depopu. affairs are conducted in quite a different lation of one-half of the islands bas oc way. The mandate of the chief must be curred in those contests, which are con. obeyed, or death is dealt to the transducted in a way far more horrible and gressor. The chief, by whom Mr. Lawry bloody than can be well conceived by and his family are especially protected, is Europeans. Those islanders now, how. represented as a very fine looking man, ever, are in the enjoyinent of tranquillity; and is much heavier than two common appear to be heartily sickened of war; and sized Europeans; he only had fourteen the fields are therefore “ white to the wet-nurses to attend bim in his infant days. harvest." When the St. Michael left The mental endowments of this chief are Tonga, Mr. Lawry was devoting bis at discovered to be proportioned to his cor. tention to the acquirement of the Tongese poreal powers ; “ a more shrewd, discernlanguage, wbile his little heroic retinue ing, generous, and prudent man (says Mr. were busily engaged in erecting a dwelling Lawry) no one could expect without the house, and cultivating a garden. Wheat, lines of civilization.” Palau, the name maize, peas, beans, turnips, cabbage, me of this king, for he is the principal autholons, pumpkins, &c. were sown, and rity among the islands, of which Tonga came forward with rapid growth. The is the London, would pass as a very fair soil is pronounced much richer than the civilian, with the possession of the English banks of the Hawkesbury. Trees of va- language. Timber, either for building or rious kinds are very numerous; but in furniture, is not plentiful. As for labour, consequence of the majority bearing fruit, the Tongese vie with our poor aborigines the natives are very backward in allowing in that respect; if tools are placed in their them to be cut down for the purposes of hands, they smile at the simplicity of their building. Bananas are abundant enough new friends, and quietly walk off! Soine for five times the number of the inhabi. tolerably correct information has been tants; almost all the ground is covered gained of the murder of the three mission. with trees, bearing luxuriant productions, aries before alluded to: the natives affirm save occasionally an open field in cultiva. that they were killed in battle; not that tion. The roads are good, which are they actually fought, but when the opchiefly shaded by umbrageous boughs and posing party was coming upon them, they vines. The convolvulus canariensis, bear maintained their ground; though the exing blue and white flowers, climbs higli- cellent chief who engaged to protect them, est trees, and, in some places, they extend actually lost his own life in endeavouring from bough to bough over acres of ground. The island is adorned too with delightful

* Cocevernal is the name given by Mr. L., 10 and refreshing arbours; to forin some

tlois estate.

to force them out of danger. Those may be taught by the Papylangy (the people have no particular deity to whom English). The people are not allowed, adoration is paid; annually they appear to in the most remote way, to infringe upon have a general meeting from all parts, the grounds or retirement of Mr. Lawry which is a festival, that continues nine and bis family; one instance to the condays; during which, great regard is paid trary occurred, in which complaint was to the spirit of eminent departed chiefs, necessarily made, and His Majesty Palau who are the only tutelary gods towards immediately, in propria persona, inflicted whom the appearance of worship is mani severe corporal punishment, to which the fested. In those seasons, club-fights form sufferers silently yielded. A man named part of the amusement upon the occasion; Singleton, who has been on the island upand there is nothing equal to those brutal wards of twenty years, is still alive. This sports, for such they are esteemed in individual, who seems to be as much in. Tonga. To contemplate the herculean volved in darkness as those around him, size of our visitors by the St. Michael, has lately narrowly escaped death. It was an adequate conception may be formed of supposed that he had come in contact with the blows that are dealt out at those feasts. the interest of one of the petty chiefs, and Offerings of yams and other productions, a stratagem was laid for his life. Discowhich should be of the choicest kind, are very taking place, he fled to Mr. Lawry presented to the spirit: and upon the last for protection; who hopes thereby to adday, a rush is made to see who can grasp vantage the object for which he has relinmost of the offerings, in which one ge- quished the comforts of civilized life, Sin. neral confusion ensues, and then each fa- gleton acting as an interpreter ; by which mily retires peaceably to its respective providential means, the gospel scheme dwelling. But some of those islanders, will be explained to those nations, until who are eminent and proverbial for trea- Mr. L. becomes sufficiently acquainted chery, also endeavour to deceive their with the language. The interpreter begods. Mr. Lawry observed several indi- trays no small confusion in instrumentally viduals bringing the shadow for the sub- unfolding the precepts of Christianity to stance of the articles that should have been those people, in contravention to which he offered : for instance, instead of present- lived for so many years. Such an influing yams, as the first fruits of a plentiful ence has religion upon the mind of the crop, and thus expressing gratitude to the most abandoned. We must abridge this deity, some took merely the leaves. This interesting account to another opportunity. act of deceit was pointed out to one of The next arrival from Tonga will let us the chiefs by the missionary, who laughed more into the history and manners of this heartily at the detection. The males un new world of beings, for such it may condergo the rite of circumcision ; and both sistently be styled: and, in the interim, it male and female lose the little finger of becomes important that every Christian the right hand, which is amputated in should offer up fervent prayers for the proinfancy with a sharp stone. Palau is well tection of all missionaries, and for the supported in his authority, owing to many promised final accomplishment of the of the chiefs in the contiguous islands mighty undertakings that so gloriously being nearly related to him; and seems to agitate the Christian world.-Sydney Gaz., wish all the children under his controul Jan. 9, 1823.

ON THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE ARSACIDES.

(From the Second Number of the Journal Asiatique.) It is generally supposed, that the spe we examine this opinion, it will vanish cies of government which prevailed some before inquiry, or at least adunit of remark. centuries ago, called the Feudal System, able modifications; and it will be evident, was peculiar to Europe ; and that we must that if we have derived the feudal system seek its origin in the forests of Germany. from the forests of Germany, it certainly Nevertheless, if, instead of admitting did not originate there. facts without discussion, as is often done, If we compare Europe as it was in the Asiatic Journ.--No. 99.

Vol. XVII. 2 K

a con

12th century, with the monarchy founded of the Parthians had occasion for only 850 by the Arsacides, in Asia, three centuries knights, or men at arms, to overcome before our era, we shall behold similar in- him. Shortly before, twenty-five Parthian, stitutions and customs; we shall find the knights had conquered Judea and taken same ranks, and the same titles, even those Jerusalem. It would be easy to extend of marquess, baron, knight, and simple the parallel farther, and show the striking men at arms. In both cases,

resemblance between the Arsacidean mo siderable number of men enjoyed all the narchy and the kingdoms of the West. We privileges of liberty, whilst a much should not find there, it is true, the titles greater number was altogether deprived of of Duke, and of Count, which modern it. Our imagination generally paints be- feudalism imparted to the Roman empire; fore us in the East a wretched troop of but we might see a constable commanding slaves, subjected to a despot. Under the their armies, and marquesses defending Arsacides, no doubt, the Persians, the Sy- their frontiers. Barons, and feudal lords rians, and other natives of Asia, were al- of every sort, whose names I cannot most all slaves; but they were in the same call to mind, and among whom were condition as the Gauls and the Romans many invested, as with us, with sacerdotal under the dominion of the Franks, and by offices, distributed the land among themthe same law, that of conquest : they selves, and formed the noble part of the composed the mass of the population. But nation, or rather the nation itself; whilst it was not thus with the Parthians; like the people, attached to the soil, was serf in our warlike ancestors, they were great the full force of the expression. At the lovers of liberty, but chiefly on their own head of this political system was a prince, behalf, and with very little consideration who was called King of Kings, and was for that of others. To drink, to hunt, to really so, for his chief vassals bore the title fight, to make and unmake kings; these of king. Their number was fixed at seven, were the noble occupations of a Parthian. like the seven electors of the holy Roman Those who prefer a tempestuous liberty to empire. what they call tranquil servitude, would If we are not the inventors of the have found themselves quite to their con- feudal system, let us not imagine that it tent among them; for, as was the case at was first conceived by the Parthians. the Polish diets, blood often flowed in What is a feudal government? It is notheir electoral assemblies; and more than thing more than the military occupation of once has the edge of the sword interrupted a vast territory, divided among all the the speech of a rash orator. The throne soldiers, rank being preserved therein like belonged of right to a single family; even the gradations in an army. It is the inthe claim of seniority was recognized; but evitable consequence of a military governwoe to him who added no better titles : ment or a conquest. The Arsacides were this turbulent nation was disposed to obey not the inventors of this mode of governonly those princes whose rights had been ment, since they were not the first consanctified by victory. Such was the people querors of Asia ; they succeeded other before whom the Roman power was obliged empires and other conquerors. The preto become stationary. How were their decessors of the Assyrians, those by whom formidable armies composed ? of the same they were expelled, the Medes and the materials as with us. I he Parthian nobles, Persians, had a government altogether siman and horse covered with steel, may be milar : The Arsacides have merely copied not inaptly compared to our men at arms, them. The titles of Master of the World, our preur chevaliers; the strength of their Great King, King of Kings, and others bearmies consisted in them alone; the people sides, which have been transmitted to us who fought on foot were reckoned for from people to people, from tradition to nothing; the noble knight was only held tradition, have always been used to desigin any consideration, who was rich enough nate the supreme monarch of Asia, even to take other brave men into his pay, or in those countries that did not exactly acpossessed himself such valour and renown knowledge his sway. When the Greeks, as could attach others to his fortune. who professed to defy the power of the When Mark Antony marched to the East, King of Persia, but who received his to revenge the defeat of Crassus, the King subsidies, spoke of the King, the Great

« PreviousContinue »