The Shians are said to be an intelligent peopleabut sadly lacking in many of those qualities which are essential to win respect. Their system of education, it would appear, in the monasteries (the discipline in which is, like that in their religion, infinitely more lax than that even of the Burmese), does not tend to make themathat is the menaand as a consequence, the women,aa moral people. I have been assured by one who has travelled and lived amongst them that they are immoral to a degree, and never pure in person, manners, habits, or conversation ! Delicacy is not known amongst the inferioraand if known not practised among the superior classes. In this
respect they are declared to be very far behind both the Burmese and the Chinese. For all this my informant blames the system of education aloneaand not any natural or obstinate depravity in the people, or inability to appreciate, when taught, the proprieties of moral and social life.
When, however, their present political position is considered, the only wonder is that they have any education, good or bad, at all ! They may be said to be the serfs of vassals. Not only are they under a system of military despotism of their own feudal chiefs, which the worst period of the European middle ages would exemplify, but their fiefs or principalities are again subject to a superior lordathe kings of Burmah and Siam, to whom they carry obedience in accordance with, or proportion to, the distance their countries are situated from the capital of the two kingdoms. Of these the Burmese have by far a greater power over their feudal chiefs than the Siamese, whoser kingdom, if it have not been latterly subject to the convulsions of Burmah, has been one in every way less intelligent, and inferior to it.
The old feudal system of England forms a very fair type of that existing amongst the Shians. They are serfs to their hereditary chiefs, of whom three or four form the head families, which rise in gradation to the superior power in the state ; and this is carried on progressively from house to house, until the last failing, the power reverts to the eldest son of the first family, and so, in like way, passes through a fresh generation. The confirmation of this power rests with their respective lords athe kings of Burmah and Siam, who, however, seldom, if ever refuse to ratify the chosen authority, as they are chary of interfering with the wishes and prejudices of the people, whom they rather desire to conciliate than to provoke to rebellion.
The Shians, notwithstanding their long depression, are not so lost to the love ofThe Shians, notwithstanding their long depression, are not so lost to the love of