William and Robert Chambers,
Text on page A-47
Ways, branching off to the different countries, or islands, as they represent them. They suppose that ships which keep along these highways go safely, but if they, through ignorance or stress of weather, diverge, they soon get among these awful billows, and are lost !
The beggars are very numerous and pitiable. They are seldom obtrusive, but a donation to one will bring several upon you, and keep you annoyed for many paces. In streets so narrow, they cannot of course be allowed to sit or lie down. The open spaces near temples and other public places afford the only chance for them to *est, and here many of them, utterly houseless, lie down and die. In one of these openings, not fifty feet square, I have seen six or eight of these unhappy beings at a time breathing their last, covered only with an old mat, such as comes round goods. Many who walk about have merely such a mat, fastened round their loins by a wooden pin. With such shelter only do they pass the night upon the earth or pavement, and always after a cold night some are found dead. There seems to be no particular want of charity among those who are able to give, but the evil lies too deep for casual gifts to cure. Such as are not too sick to go about, are sure of something daily, for custom gives them a right to enter any Place, and makes it disgraceful to send them away empty. They are obliged to depart, however, with the gift even Af a single cash, and are often kept waiting a long time. J have often, as I passed, admired the patience both of the beggar and the shopmen. Many of them carry small cymbals, or two pieces of bamboo, with which they keep time, at a deafening rate, to a plaintive drawl. The shopman stands the racket as long as he can, or till a customer comes in, when he throws them the cash, and they are bound to go. If he give soon, the place is but so much the sooner filled by another.
Distressing as are the sights of mendicity in Canton, they are less so than I have seen in some other cities, especially Dublin and Turin ; and almost all are either blind or evidently sick, which is far from being the case cither in Ireland or Italy.
I had supposed that small-footed women, being of the genteel circles, would not often be seen. Instead of this, large numbers of them, evidently poor, and often extremely so, are met with in every street. Many of these, doubtless, have been reduced from competency ; hut many are the offspring of persons who, from fondness or ambition, had brought up their children in a manner beyond their station in life. The smallest shoes and models shown in America are no exaggerations. All, indeed, are not equally compressed, but pften the foot of an adult does not exceed four inches m length, and from a breadth of two and a half inches at the heel tapers to a perfect point. They walk precisely as a person would do on two wooden legs. Other poor women often go barefoot, but these never. Either the appearance of such a foot is too bad, or the toes, turned under, are too tender. Many of these victims
a false pride sit in open spaces, as public menders of Ald clothes. A passenger can thus get a patch or a button set on, while he waitsaa custom which might Usefully be introduced among us.
We rail at the Chinese for compressed feet with little Reason, so long as we persist in compressing the waist, fror are we wholly exempt from the folly of crushing the feet also. Our easiest shoes, though less absurd than the Chinese, are by no means patterned from nature.
I enjoyed, in walking with Mr Bridgman, what few foreigners doathe advantage of an interpreter. I was thus enabled to stop at many places, witnessing various Chinese arts, and conversing freely with the operatives, ^any of these occupations are known among us, but in every case they seem to be carried on by an unique method. I was surprised to find labour-saving machinery employed to a considerable extent. One instance pleased exceedingly, namely, a bellows for blowing glass, vhich almost entirely saved the workman's lungs. In every establishment, whether of an artist, mechanic, or tradesman, we were received with great civility, and generally offered some slight refreshment.
One of our walks was to the place of execution, which in China is generally done by beheading. It is part of a populous street, thirty or forty feet wide just at that point, and a common thoroughfare. On one side is a high blank wall, and on the other is a row of potteries. The drying wares are spread over a considerable part of the space, bringing strongly to mind the bloody potter's field of the New Testament. A narrow shed twelve or fifteen feet long, stood against the wall, with shelves of open bamboo. Lifting up an old mat with my cane, there lay a row of heads, apparently three or four days old. On the ground in a corner were a few skulls, nearly bleached by time. Executions occur here every few days, and with very little notice or formality. The poor culprit kneels on the ground, his long queue is twisted up into a knot upon his head, he puts his palms together in a posture of obeisance, and leaning forward, one stroke severs his head from his body. The remains are generally allowed to be removed by friends.
The Chinese bury their dead, and are very careful of the tombs of ancestors. To these they often resort to make prayer and offerings ; and so long as there are male descendants, they are kept in repair. Their modo of constructing them is peculiar, invariable, and so unlike any others in the world, that a picture alone can explain.
They cover many acres of ground near Singapore Malacca, and other cities where Chinamen are numerous and land plenty ; and even in China engross much space, but generally only rocky or barren spots, incapable of other uses.
The cheapness and frivolity, as well as the universality of Chinese piety, was every evening forced upon our observation, whether we returned on foot or by boat. Not a family on shore or afloat is without its little altar, nor does a sun set without each being lighted up with tapers, and incensed with fragrant matches. Besides the gaudy domestic altar, with its flaunting mottoes and varied tinsel, nearly every house has a little niche in the wall, near the ground, inscribed with sacred characters, where also tapers and j os-sticks are burned. The air is thus loaded every twilight with sandal-wood smoke. Here and there you see men making additional offerings, by setting on fire articles of gilded paper or making libations before the shrine. These vespers be'ine finished, the Chinaman's religion is complete for that day ; and he retires to pleasure or repose, with the full comfort of self-righteousness.
It is so unpopular to be familiar with foreigners, that an opportunity of visiting the private houses of respectable Chinese is rarely enjoyed by transient sojourners in Canton. One of the principal hong merchants, being particularly indebted to Dr Parker for removing a polypus, and at the same time a man of uncommon independence, I was glad to embrace a proposal to visit him. Dr Parker having announced our desire, we received a very cordial invitation. The house stands in a crowded suburb ; nothing being visible from the street but a wall of the ordinary height. PassingIt is so unpopular to be familiar with foreigners, that an opportunity of visiting the private houses of respectable Chinese is rarely enjoyed by transient sojourners in Canton. One of the principal hong merchants, being particularly indebted to Dr Parker for removing a polypus, and at the same time a man of uncommon independence, I was glad to embrace a proposal to visit him. Dr Parker having announced our desire, we received a very cordial invitation. The house stands in a crowded suburb ; nothing being visible from the street but a wall of the ordinary height. Passing