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that I looked in vain for my artists. At last I found one, on the pavement of the St. Nicholas. There were the tribulation and the snuffling, the bowed-downness and the nostalgia, and there, too, was the placard, Please buy something" but not even one poor lunka cheroot to sell. I had found a great master in his art, and he found his reward. Few passers-by were too busy to stop and bestow applause and coppers on so happy a trick.
Therefore, scapegrace and rogue as he
is, I have entertained a sneaking regard for my celestial friend, and, ever ready to believe that I have met him under disadvantageous circumstances, feel grateful to Mr. Mackie for this his biographical portrait of an illustrious Chinamanscholar, poet, priest, prophet, martyr, hero, statesman, Emperor.
Mr. Mackie begins at the beginning. Once upon a time-that is, in the year of our Lord, Eighteen hundred and thirteen-a little boy was born in the province of Kwang-tung, in China. His father, old Mr. Hung-Jang, was a respectable farmer. Indeed, the Hungs had always been respectable; they claimed to be one of the first families in their part of the country, several of their ancestors having lived godly lives and died of old age. Old Mr. Hung himself had been elected senior of the village, and, though possibly conservative to a degree of old-fogyism, was a man of opinions and substantial character. He had had two daughters and three sons, by his first wife, before this little boy, who was named Phuh. And Phuh Hung was destined to be the genius of the family, before whose bright ascendant star all former Hung luminaries, whether of virtue or learning, were bound to pale their ineffectual fires and become of no account to history. When he was born, the Hungs were living in a small house in a back street; there were three generations of them under the same roof, "beside half a dozen idols, one or more pigs, a small stock of fowls, a couple of dogs, and a cat without a tail."
As little Phuh waxed in stature, his area of freedom was soon enlarged, and we find him at a tender age gamboling artlessly among pigs and ducks, dogs and beggars, around the village pond. When he was four years old, he tumbled into this pond, and would have been drowned--so that History would have had no Tai-Ping-Wang, nor Belles Lettres
this article-had not a big boy dragged him ashore by the tail. So his father, presciently, to prevent a calamity by which the world might be lost, tied a hollow gourd at the small of his back. But the little dirty boys laughed consumedly at little Phuh and his vegetable life-preserver-crying, "Eh! gourd-boy, gourd-boy!"-till the hope of the Hungs fairly took to his heels and ran home crying; whereat old Mr. HungJang incontinently bambooed him. That was the first thrashing of TaiPing-Wang, Celestial Younger Brother, and Prince of Peace-and he says it did him good. Indeed, the instruction which Mr. Hung-Jang imparted to his child, by moral precept and bamboo, was so promptly efficacious, that the old gentleman soon began to build great hopes upon the youngster, and boasted complacently to Mrs. Hung that "our Phuh's" tail was a full inch longer than that of any other boy of his years in the village.
"It is time to put this brat to school," said old Mr. Hung to his wife one day. He will be turning seven soon, and all he knows is a few prayers to the hallidol, and a saw or two of Confucius that his mother has taught him." So they scrubbed Phuh, and Phuh's breeches, and plaited his tail, and tied the end of it with a red string, and took him to Mr. Ting-Jin, the pedagogue.
Dominie Ting-Jin was getting oldish; his tail was gray-a thing you do not often see in China-an old woman with a beard is a commoner sight-and he looked profound through a pair of spectacles about the size of tea-cups, in tortoise-shell frames. Dominie Ting-Jin was a patient man, slow but sure. engaged to indoctrinate his young friend with all the lore of a Forest-of-Pencils Society compressed down to the capacity of a small boy, in consideration of an annual stipend of "two dollars in money, of rice fifty pounds, of tea, salt, lard, and lamp-oil, each one catty"—TingJin to find his pupil in paper, ink and pencils. Frightened Phuh Hung! Fortunate Ting-Jin!
For three long years little Phuh sat swinging himself backwards and forwards in the school-room, sing-songing his multiplication table, ringing the changes on his abacus, or reckoningcase, boxing the compass, and chinchining the tablet of Confucius with the solemn style of a doctor of divinity.
Then his mother died; whereupon Mr. Hung-Jang put a piece of silver in her mouth, made a hole in the roof for her seven senses and three souls to ascend through, sent for son Phuh to come home, and took the red cord out of his tail. The Hung family buried the mother with splendor, and her funeral was certainly the event of Phuh's life, however it may have been eclipsed by the sublimer experiences of Tai-Ping-Wang. They had a priest, and a fortune-teller, and a band of music; and Phuh had a new white jacket-for white is the color of grief in China. They scattered paper money to buy off the devils, and set out roast pig for hungry ghosts, and fired off shooting-crackers, and poured libations of samshu; and all had a big dinner when they returned home. And after that, they all-including Phuhwent without shaving their heads, and let their tails run to seed.
Six months after the funeral, Mr. Hung-Jang married again, and Phuh went back to school. He devoted himself to his sing-song once more, "with as much patience as was displayed by the good woman, celebrated in Chinese annals, who, wishing for a needle, undertook to make one by rubbing down
a crow-bar." At the end of a year he had backed the whole horn-book of Wang-Pihau-Trimetrical Classic, Mil lenary Classic, Five Classics, Four Books, and all. Then Ting-Jin, having crammed him with many sapient say. ings of Chu-Hi and Wan-Wang, and no end of the solemn, long-winded maxims of Confucius, sent him home to his father with a blessing, and a recommendation for the honors of the Forest-of-Pencils Society.
Mr. Hung-Jang happened to feel very poor at this time; so Phuh's literary aspirations were unceremoniously suspended for the nonce, and he was set to tending buffaloes among the hills. Phuh, like a brave scholar, as he was. kept up a stout heart and a healthy intellectual appetite. Book under arm, he blended scholastic pursuits with cowdriving. As his cattle ruminated around him, he also chewed the cud of much sweet and bitter fancy-chanting the moral lessons of the early philosophers. and the odes of the Chinese masters in poesy. "These still, thoughtful days, wherein the mind of the young scholar experienced the first burst of imagination and gush of sentiment, were to him as the cool of the evenings to Adam,
when he walked with God, or as the nights to Jacob, when he lay dreaming at the foot of the angels' ladder; and when, at the end of the pasturing season, he returned from the hills, such a change had passed over him that his eyes were full of lustre, and his face shone, not altogether unlike that of Moses when he descended from the sacred mountain of the law."
Young Phuh began now to have a lively appreciation of his own attainments, and having resolved to try the district examinations for high literary degrees, he thenceforth disdained his milk-name, and modestly insisted on being called Siu-tshuen, "Elegant and Perfect." He became a diligent student, and sought to imitate the example of the illustrious Sung-King, "who, to prevent his head from nodding over the midnight page, tied it up by the queue to a beam; or of Che-jin, who pored over a book by the light of a glow-worm; or of Kiang-han, who
conned the Trimetrical Classic, tied to the horn of his buffalo. Struck by his ambition and assiduity, some of his Hung kindred made up a purse and sent him to take lessons of a distinguished rhetorician.
At the age of sixteen, being well crammed, Siu-tshuen prepared to run the gauntlet of examinations and degrees which, if safely passed, were to bring him to the Forest-of-Pencils Society. There was the siu-tsai, or "flowering talent;" and the ku-jin, or "promoted men:" and the tsin-szu, or "entered doctors ;" and the han-lin, or Forest of Pencils. Whosoever obtains this last is admitted to the Imperial Academy, and can hold the proudest offices in the Emperor's gift. Before trying for the siu-tsai, it was necessary that the qualifications of the candidate should be tried in the chief town of his district. Thither, accordingly, Siutshuen went, "his heart beating all the way like gongs." In examination hall,
the chi-hien sat in robes of state, supported by the hioh-ching, or "corrector of learning." Siu-tshuen gave in, at the clerk's desk, first his own name, and then his father's, and his grandfather's, and his great-grandfather's, as well as his place of birth and residence; then he took his seat on the anxious bench. Themes, for trial essays, were set to some four or five hundred candidates; and after much scratching of queues, and many and dreadful mental throes, about a dozen acceptable compositions were brought forth. Siu-tshuen was among the honored. They posted his name on the wall, and dubbed him hienming, which signifies "having a name in the village."
Then Siu-tshuen ascended to the city of the department, where, amid even more imposing ceremonies, and before severe and reverend big-wigs, he tried for the fu-ming-which means "having a name in the department”—and won it.
"And now came the third great trial, that for the degree of siu-tsai, or bachelor of arts, at the provincial capital of Canton. Should Siu-tshuen succeed in getting this, he might become a mandarin, with a button in his cap, or even a peacock feather; and, at least, he would be forever exempted from the disgraceful punishment of the bamboo, except by order of the chancellor." In the Hall of Examinations they searched his pockets for scraps of learning; they iuspected his finger-nails to discover if aught from Confucius were written on them; [Ah! Johnny, my son, only to think that it should be just so in China, too!]-they overhauled his queue for smuggled trifles from the horn-book; and they pulled off his shoes to look for the Trimetrical Classic. But Siu-tshuen had a clean bill from the scholars' custom-house.
"The Elegant and Perfect did his best that day;" but, unhappily, the purse of the Elegant and Perfect was as empty as his shoes or his hair; finding nothing in that, they found nothing in his head. So, not having the wherewithal to grease the tails of the board, the Elegant and Perfect went back to Kwang-tung and kept school on his own hook. At this time, into the secret chambers of the mind of the poor schoolmaster who was one day to be Tai-PingWang, Celestial Younger Brother, crept certain agitating doubts touching the worship of idols.
A Chinese maxim says there are three things to be especially desired in this world-male progeny, official employment, and a long life. • I'll begin at the beginning," thought the Elegant and Perfect. So he went to the paternal Hung, who had become a penurious old hunks, and convinced him, out of Confucius and Luchau, that he should buy his son a wife. Elegant and Perfect had saved a small sum from his pittance of a salary as teacher, whereby his father's objections were already more than half removed. Accordingly, the daughter of a respectable rice-planter in the neighborhood was selected to be the happy woman; a mei-jin, or match-maker- that is, a widow with a natural turn for the adjustment of hymeneal preliminarieswas retained to negotiate with the father and brother of the proposed bride; and a horoscope being cast, and the stars found agreeable, Siu-tshuen gallantly offered twenty dollars for the lady. The terms were accepted, the required documents drawn up, signed, sealed and delivered. Some presents were sent by Hung-Jang-consisting of a ham, some vermicelli, sweetmeats, and dried melon-seeds-and accepted with salutes of fire-crackers; and a wedding-procession was planned.
Metaphorically speaking, the baked meats of old Mrs. Hung's funeral coldly furnished forth the marriage table; for the fragrance of the wedding roast pig was as the fragrance of the funereal ditto, and the flute-blower and the gong-banger were the same. Siutshuen had new clothes of blue cotton, and bore himself bravely. On the arrival of the company at his house, he examined his purchase and found her face not bad, and her foot not exceeding five and a quarter inches. He was happy. They had plenty of samshu, and tea only a little inferior in quality to "old man's eyebrow." They had, also, some cockroaches done in castor oil, very delicate. When all was over, a ring was presented to the bride; the bridegroom was endowed with a new, and more imposing name--HungKung-Phuh-Siu-tshuen-and made the usual obeisance of happy significance, to a goose!
Our hero began his married life by opening a new school in the picturesque and salubrious village of Water-lily, and turning Confucian philosopher. In
Society. Again the stars were not with him; but he had an adventure which advanced him in a remarkable manner on his way from the condition of a poor and disappointed scholar to that of a Celestial Younger Brother and Prince of Peace. He met with a fortune-teller, and consulted him. Sitting in his high-backed chair, the seer pulled a solemn face, and pretending to hold communion of awful import with certain bamboo slips and tablets, the primary colors and the human viscera, made answer: "You will succeed; you will be ill; my respects to your virtuous father"-all of which was, no doubt, eminently satisfactory to the bothered traveler toward the Forest of Pencils. Certainly satisfactory-for the very next day he returned, his wife being with child to ask how about the male progeny. But the soothsayer was gone, and in his place was a venerable inan with large sleeves and a long beard, from whom, without money and without price, the young oracle-seeker received certain religious tracts entitled Keuen she leang yen, or "Good Words for Exhorting the Age." That was Liang-Afah, a native Evangelist, employed by the London Bible Society to distribute tracts among the candidates for literary degrees who came to Canton to attend the examinations. Siutshuen took the tracts home and read them; but finding the wholesome truths they contained not of the clearest, he laid them on a shelf to await the fullness of time and the ripening of his understanding.
During the next three years, Siutshuen floated quietly down the tide of time, with scarcely wind enough astern to fill his main-sail. He passed his days in his school-room, now reopened in his native village, while his wife spent hers in either domestic labors or field-work. The one conceived, from time to time, a new idea, and the other endeavored to bring forth male offspring. In not one instance, however, did she succeedthe second birth, like the first, proving to be that of a daughter, and constituting about the only event which, during these years, occurred to mar the felicity of Siu-tshuen."
At last the fortune-teller's prediction came to pass. Siu-tshuen fell ill-very ill, indeed. And as if that were not bad enough, Doctors Ki-hi, Vang-sou, and Tchong-king-ho, did their Chinese