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antiquity, precedents, and form, as any mandarin in the empire. Neither are his maxims, for the most part, characterised by any great depth or originality; and certainly (with very few exceptions), do not transcend the level attained by the generality of other moralists. They are good practical maxims, but do not indicate any very profound acquaintance with the more subtle springs of human action, or the more comprehensive mysteries of man's moral nature. As to his philosophical writings in general, if we may judge from the samples given by M. Huc and other travellers, they are either deeply infected by the mysticism which attaches to all the Chinese philosophers, (who, in endeavouring to make the sacred writings of the Yking* and similar oracles intelligible, seem to have been employed in manufacturing a meaning for what never had any,) or consist of little more than a string of pompous commonplaces and truisms expressed in the most tediously redundant forms. The following specimen, taken from several others in these volumes, seems to us constructed on the principle of the well-known composition, called the House that Jack built,' and is, perhaps, nearly as edifying:
'We must first know the goal towards which we are tending, or our definitive destination. This being known, we may afterwards maintain the calmness and tranquillity of our minds. The mind being calm and tranquil, we may afterwards enjoy that unalterable repose which nothing can trouble. Having then attained to the enjoyment of the unalterable repose which nothing can trouble, we may afterwards meditate and form our judgment on the essence of things; and, having formed our judgment on the essence of things, we may then attain to the desired perfection.'
We wonder whether any one ever better understood the 'goal' towards which he tended,' or more truly formed a judgment of the essence of things,' by any such philosophy. Again :
The principles of action being thoroughly examined, the moral knowledge attains the highest degree of perfection; the moral know
This, says M. Huc, is a treatise on divination founded on the combination of sixty-four lines (some entire, others broken,) and called Koua, the discovery of which is attributed to Fouhi, the founder of Chinese civilisation. Fouhi is said to have found these mysterious lines, which, he says, are capable of explaining all things, on the back of a tortoise. But what will explain the lines? Confucius gave himself up most assiduously to the duties of commentator, without success, as might be expected. According to M. Huc, no less than 1450 treatises on the same 'lines' attest the industry and absurdity of Chinese philosophy.
ledge having attained the highest degree of perfection, the intentions are rendered pure and sincere; the intentions being rendered pure and sincere, the soul is penetrated with probity and uprightness, and the mind is afterwards corrected and improved; the mind being corrected and improved, the family is afterwards better managed; the family being better managed, the kingdom is afterwards well governed; and the kingdom being well governed, the world enjoys harmony and peace.'
But perhaps the reader may derive more light from the following:
The beings of nature have causes and effects, human actions, principles, and consequences. To know causes and effects, principles, and consequences, is to approach very nearly to the rational method by which perfection is attained.' (Vol. i. p. 117.)
It would be unjust to deny, however, that the writings of not only Confucius, but of other Chinese sages, are rich in maxims of ordinary life and conduct, which, though not often very profound, are the fruit of just observation and great acuteness, and are often most happily and tersely expressed. Their proverbs, we should imagine, are equal to anything which can be found in the collections of the same sententious wisdom among the western nations. These maxims, too, are very happily embodied in metaphor, the most attractive and impressive form which they can assume, because they then appeal to the imagination as we!! as the intellect. M. Huc has given a score or two from a little collection which he happened to meet with on one occasion, and which he says he read with much pleasure. We do not wonder at it. Many of these maxims seem to us not inferior in nicety of observation or felicity of expression to the best of Rochefoucauld, or any other western writer of the same class. We justify these remarks by culling a few.
The wise man does not speak of all he does, but he does nothing that cannot be spoken of.'
'Attention to small things is the economy of virtue.'
Raillery is the lightning of calumny.'
Man may bend to virtue, but virtue cannot bend to man.'
Virtue does not give talents, but it supplies their place. Talents neither give virtue nor supply the place of it.'
He who finds pleasure in vice, and pain in virtue, is a novice both in the one and the other.'
'Ceremony is the smoke of friendship.'
The pleasure of doing good is the only one that never wears
'To cultivate virtue is the science of men; to renounce science is the virtue of women.'*
'The tongues of women increase by all that they take from their feet.' †
When men are together, they listen to one another; but women and girls look at one another.'
The tree overthrown by the wind had more branches than roots.'
The dog in the kennel barks at his fleas, but the dog who is hunting does not feel them.' ‡
Receive your thoughts as guests, and treat your desires like children.'
The prison is shut night and day, yet it is always full; the temples are always open, and yet you find no one in them.'
Towers are measured by their shadow, and great men by those who are envious of them.'
What a pleasure it is to give! There would be no rich people if they were capable of feeling this.'S
'One forgives every thing to him who forgives himself nothing.' Who is the greatest liar? He who speaks most of himself.' One never needs one's wits so much as when one has to do with a fool.'
Sir John Davis, in his work on China, has given similar specimens of the genius of the nation for this proverbial wisdom; we remember two of them which inculcate a wary conduct in suspicious circumstances, and seem to us expressed in very homely but felicitous metaphor. Beware of adjusting your cap ' under a plum-tree, or tying your sandals in a garden of melons.'
We cannot resist the temptation to amuse the reader with one more extract to enable him to gather some idea of the military character in China. We all know well enough that the uniform' does not make the soldier, but it is generally enough to distinguish him. In China, it would seem, that unless he be duly ticketed and labelled as Ping,' a soldier,' there would (as M. Huc slyly surmises) be considerable doubt as to his profession. He needs an authentication by placard before the looker-on
Better suited to the meridian of Pekin than London.
† Another specimen of Chinese gallantry. Yet if it be true, how strange that the Chinese gentleman should tolerate the little feet! How ought he to plead for their being permitted to reach their natural dimensions with all convenient speed!
A capital maxim for hypochondriacal patients, and every form of luxurious indolence.
In the very manner of Pascal. Has M. Huc been pointing the maxim a little? The same question might be asked as to some others. The expression seems too good for the redundant gentlemen from whom we quoted a page or two back.
VOL. CI. NO. CCVI.
would suspect anything martial in his composition. The device is as admirable as that of some juvenile artists, who, after making their first rude essays in delineating animals, considerately ap pend beneath the monster. This is a cow,'-' This is a lion.' The whole account of the military review, of which the following extract is a part, we commend to the reader's attention. M. Huc is surprised to find certain neophytes of his, of whom he had never suspected any such thing, to be soldiers, and that they were about to present themselves at a Review.
'You soldiers! we exclaimed, contemplating our two Christians from head to foot. We thought we must have misunderstood them, and that they had said "subjects of the Emperor;" but not at all,they were really soldiers, and had been for a long time. For more than two years that we had known them we had never had the smallest suspicion of the fact, though this does little credit to our sagacity; for when there had been any reviews, exercises, or forced labour, they had been in the habit of going away, and leaving as their substitutes any persons they happened to meet with. Our catechist confessed to me, nevertheless, that he had never touched a gun in his life, and that he should be afraid to do so. He did not think he should have courage to fire off a cracker.
'Being now sufficiently enlightened as to the true social position of these two functionaries of the Mission, we told them that, as they bore the title of soldiers, and received the pay, they must fulfil the duties, at least on extraordinary occasions; that the threat of the rattan and the fine was an unequivocal proof of the will of the Emperor on the subject, and that, as Christians, they were specially bound to set a good example of obedience and patriotism. It was then agreed that they should go where honour called, and on our side we determined to be present at a display which promised to be so magnificent.
The appointed day having come, our two veterans of the Imperial army took, at an early hour, a very solid breakfast, and emptied a large jug of hot wine to keep up their spirits. After this, they set about disguising themselves as soldiers. This did not take
long. They had but to substitute for their little black caps a straw hat of a conical shape, with a tuft of red silk at the top, and to put on over their ordinary clothes a black tunic with a broad red border. This tunic had, before and behind, an escutcheon of white linen, upon which was drawn, very large, the character ping, meaning soldier. The precaution was by no means a useless one, for without such a ticket, one might easily have made a mistake. This little tailor, for instance, with his pallid face, feeble diminutive body, and tearful-looking eyes, always modestly cast down, had not such a decidedly martial aspect that there was no mistaking him; but now when you looked either at his breast or his back, there was the inscription, as plain as possible, "This is a soldier," and you knew what he was meant for.' (Vol. i. pp. 398, 399.)
We must here stop; it has not been our purpose to give an analysis of the very varied contents of the book, which touches more or less fully on nearly everything of interest in China. This would be impossible within the limits of a brief article. If our slender specimens shall induce the reader to peruse the work for himself, we can assure him that he will not regret it. Though we have several very instructive and popular works on China and the Chinese, that of Sir John Davis, for instance, and the three volumes in the Edinburgh Cabinet Library, are both of them excellent compilations,the volumes of M. Huc will be found not less instructive; in some respects, as the fruit of greater opportunities of observation, more authentic; and assuredly not inferior in entertainment.
Of the great revolution which broke out shortly after M. Huc quitted China, and which held the gaze of Europe in suspense till it was arrested by more terrible meteors nearer home, our author has said comparatively little. He has just touched on the subject in his Preface.' He tells us, with proper caution, that it is by no means easy at present to determine its causes or its character; still less the course it will take, or the phases it may assume. This, of course, everybody will agree with. He is evidently a little disposed, however, to depreciate the probable influence of Protestant missions in diffusing the ideas which contributed to produce it; and, so far as any foreign influence may be supposed to have operated at all, is inclined to assign, as a more powerful cause, the gradual diffusion of European ideas in the Chinese mind through the efforts of the ancient Jesuit missionaries and the books they left behind them. The Chinese,' he says, 'have for a long time had at their command a precious collection of books of Christian doctrine, composed by the ancient missionaries, and which, even in a 'purely literary point of view, are much esteemed in the Empire. These books are diffused in great numbers through⚫ out all the provinces; and it is more probable that the Chinese innovators have drawn the ideas in question from these sources than from the Bibles prudently deposited by the • Methodists on the sea-shore.' (Vol. i. Preface, p. xvi.)
On this we shall merely remark, first, that we think it highly probable that the labours and books of the Jesuit missionaries had their influence in spreading European ideas, and formed very appreciable item in the sum of causes which have been long slowly at work, and are now producing their effects. This may be admitted without in the smallest degree detracting from the influences also exerted by the Protestant missionaries. Secondly that if books' deposited by Jesuit missionaries in