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ry cause; for, he reasons, the multitude, all reduced to
At the present day, however, the loss of this very badge of servitude is considered one of the greatest of calamities, scarcely less dreaded than death itself. To be deprived of it is one of the most opprobrious brands put upon convicts and criminals. Those to whom nature has been sparing in respect to the natural covering of the head, supply her deficiencies by the artificial introduction and intermingling of other hair with their own, thus seeking to “increase it to a reputably fashionable size.” We must not take leave of these our good Chinese friends, without observing that they put faith in the external developments of the skull, and are, therefore, to a certain extent, phrenologists. They look for the principal characteristics of a man in his forehead, and of a woman on the back of the cranium.
XX. The Room in the south-east corner of the Saloon.
This is an apartment corresponding in size with the silk store. It is filled with a great number of implements, chiefly agricultural; but as they have not been arranged, we cannot attempt a description. We notice, however, confusedly thrown together, axes, hoes, rakes, forks, shovels, spades, flails, a plough and harrow, a wild-looking husbandman's dress made of flags, for rainy weather, &c. &c. These are, for the most, simple and rude; and there is little to be learned from them. We have before had occasion to mention the Chinese winnowing machine. It is almost identical with ours, and there is reason to believe that it, together with our flail, came originally from China. Mr. Davis says, that a model was carried to Holland, and that from Holland the first specimen reached Leith.
The most cursory account of the Celestial Empire, should include some notice of its agriculture. Of all classes who labour with their hands, the husbandman is there the most honoured, being accounted second only to the literati of the realm. Nothing appears so strongly to have roused the wonder of the early missionaries to China, as the agricultural skill of the natives; and in nothing, perhaps, did they so much indulge in exaggeration, as in their accounts of it. But, whatever abatements truth may require to be made from their glowing descriptions, there can hardly be a doubt that the Chinese manage to get more out of an acre of ground than any other nation, the English alone excepted.
The “Stranger in China,” on the authority of Amiot, states the cultivated lands of the country at 596,172,500 English acres. This immense territory is divided into patches of a few acres each, generally owned by the occupants. A rigid economy of soil is practised. With the exception of the royal gardens at Peking, no land in the empire is taken up with parks and pleasure grounds. Of meadows, there are none; of pasture grounds, scarcely any. The few ruminating animals, scattered thinly over the country, gather a scanty subsistence, as best they may, on mountains and marshes, unfit for cultivation. As wheel carriages are not used, the highways are but a few feet wide, and nothing is thrown away there. No fences are allowed to encumber the soil, no hedges to prey upon its strength. Sepulchres are alWays on hills too barren for cultivation. A narrow footpath separates neighbouring farms, and porcelain landmarks define more permanently their respective limits. Even the sterile mountains are terraced into fertility, and glow with ripening harvests, intermingled with the brilliant foliage of clustering fruit-trees.
But their economising of the soil is not more rigid, than the methods by which they seek to preserve or to renovate its strength, are new and various. Necessity may here truly be said to have been the mother of invention. Every conceivable substance, possessing any enriching qualities, has been converted into a manure. Not only lime, ashes, dung of animals, &c., but hair of all kinds, barber’s shavings, horns and bones reduced to powder, soot, night soil, the cakes that remain after the expression of their vegetable oil, the plaster of old kitchens, and all kinds of vegetable and animal refuse, are among the substances used as manures. These are all carefully collected and husbanded, being frequently kept in cisterns constructed for the purpose, or in earthen tubs sunk in the ground, where, covered with straw to prevent evaporation, and diluted with a sufficient quantity of water, they are left to undergo the putrefactive fermentation, after which they are applied to the land. The Chinese understand well the enriching effect of frequent ploughings. * Horses or oxen are rarely attached to their ploughs; more commonly a small species of buffalo; and oftener still, men and women. Frequently the plough is not used at all, the spade and hoe supplying its place. In the irrigation of their lands, they display great ingenuity and diligence. Their numerous rivers are here of essential utility. Rice is their staple grain. They always get two crops a year out of their land; sometimes three. When a third is not raised, the soil is, nevertheless, again taxed in the production of pulse, greens, potatoes, and other vegetables. Millet is extensively cultivated. Women labour on the farms equally with the men. A stout and healthy wife is therefore a great desideratum with a Chinaman, and the “working wives of Kiang-see” are said to be held in high estimation throughout the provinces. Notwithstanding the immensity of labour bestowed on the cultivation of the earth—and the Chinese agriculturists are like ants or bees in respect to both their number and industry—it seems incapable of sustaining the swarming population of the Empire. Hence every harbour, lake, river, and stream of whatever description, are literally thronged and darkened by fishermen, who resort to the most ingenious and novel methods of alluring and entrapping their victims. Nor do they forget or onlit to take care that the waters be not, as it were, depopulated by these ceaseless ravages. They take the utmost pains to collect the spawns of fishes, and to deposit them in convenient places for breeding.
* Sir Joseph Banks expresses his surprise that this principle is not turned to greater account by the Europeans. Repeated ploughings are almost the only fertilizing process known among the Hindoos.
“Such is their toil, and such their busy pains,
XXI. First Wall Case on the south side, with the two opposite Cases.
Continuing our course around the saloon, and numbering the cases on the south wall in a reverse order, we next come to one containing a numerous collection of miscellaneous articles, which throw no little light on the characteristic intelligence, skill, and taste of the Chinese. Those which will first attract notice, as being the most
* Dryden's Virgil.