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Ywen was ordered to come to its relief; but, on his arrival, was put to the torture and strangled; of which the Tartars were no sooner informed, than they raised the siege, and returned to their own country. In 1636, the rebels above mentioned composed four great armies, commanded by as many generals; which, how ever, were soon reduced to two, commanded by Li and Chang. These agreed to divide the empire between them; Chang taking the western provinces, and Li the eastern ones. The latter seized on part of Shen-si, and then on Honan, whose capital, named Kay-fong-fu, he laid siege to, but was repulsed with loss. He renewed it six months after, but without success; the besieged choosing rather to feed on human flesh than surrender. The imperial forces coming soon after to its assistance, the general made no doubt of being able to destroy the rebels at once, by breaking down the banks of the Yellow river; but unfortunately the rebels escaped to the mountains, while the city was quite overflowed, and 300,000 of the inhabitants perished.
After this disaster, Li marched into the provinces of Shen-si and Honan; where he put to death all the mandarins, exacted great sums from the officers in place, and showed no favour to any but the populace, whom he freed from all taxes: by this means he drew so many to his interest, that he thought himself strong enough to assume the title of emperor. He next advanced towards the capital, which, though well garrisoned, was divided into factions. Li had taken care to introduce beforehand a number of his men in disguise and by these the gates were opened to him the third day after his arrival. He entered the city in triumph at the head of 300,000 men, whilst the emperor kept himself shut up in his palace, busied only with his superstitions. It was not long, however, before he found himself betrayed; and, under the greatest consternation, made an effort to escape out of the palace, attended by about 600 of his guards. He was still more surprised to see himself treacherously abandoned by them, and deprived of all hopes of escaping the insults of his subjects. Upon this, preferring death to the disgrace of falling alive into their hands, he immediately retired with his empress, whom he tenderly loved, and the princess her daughter, into a private part of the garden. His grief was so great that he was not able to utter a word; but she soon understood his meaning, and, after a few silent embraces, hanged herself on a tree in a silken string. Her husband staid only to write these words on the border of his vest: "I have been basely deserted by my subjects; do what you will with me, but spare my people." He then cut off the young princess's head with one stroke of his scymitar, and hanged himself on another tree, in the 17th year of his reign, and 36th of his age. His prime minister, queens, and eunuchs, followed his example; and thus ended the Chinese monarchy, to give place to that of the Tartars, which hath continued ever since.
It was some time before the body of the unfortunate monarch was found. At last it was brought before the rebel Li, and by him used with the utmost indignity; after which he caused two of Whay-tsong's sons, and all his ministers, to be beheaded; but his eldest son happily escaped by flight. The whole em
pire submitted peaceably to the usurper, except Prince U-san-ghey, who commanded the imperial forces in the province of Lyau-tong. This brave prince, finding himself unable to cope with the usurper, invited the Tartars to his assistance; and Tsong-te their king immediately joined him with an army of 80,000 men. Upon this the usurper marched directly to Peking; but not thinking himself safe there, plundered and burnt the palace, and then fled with the immense treasure he had got. What became of him afterwards we are not told; but the young Tartar monarch was immediately declared emperor of China, his father Tsongte having died almost as soon as he set his foot on that empire.
The new emperor, named Shun-chi, or Xun-chi, began his reign with rewarding U-san-ghey, by conferring upon him the title of king; and assigned him the city of Si-gnan-fu, capital of Shen-si, for his residence. This, however, did not hinder U-san-ghey from repenting of his error in calling in the Tartars, or, as be himself used to phrase it," in sending for lions to drive away dogs." In 1674, he formed a very strong alliance against them, and had probably prevailed if his allies had been faithful; but they treacherously deserted him one after another which so affected him, that he died soon after. In 1681 Hong-wha, son to U-sanghey, who continued his efforts against the Tartars, was reduced to such straits that he put an end to his own life.
During this time, some resistance had been made to the Tartars in many of the provinces. Two princes of Chinese extraction had at different times been proclaimed emperors; but both of them were overcome and put to death. In 1682, the whole 15 provinces En were so effectually subdued, that the emperor Kang-hi, tall successor to Shun-chi, determined to visit his native ced dominions of Tartary. He was accompanied by an army of 70,000 men, and continued for some months taking the diversion of hunting. For several years he repeated his visits annually; and in his journeys took Father Verbiest along with him; by which means we have a better description of these countries than could have been otherwise obtained. This prince was a great Ch encourager of learning and of the Christian religion ; ty and in favour of the latter he published a decree, dated cou in 1692. But in 1716, he revived some obsolete laws and against the Christians; nor could the Jesuits with all per their art preserve the footing they had got in China. The causes of this alteration in his resolution are, by the missionaries, said to have been the slanders of the mandarins; but, from the known character of the Jesuits, it will be readily believed, that there was something more at bottom. This emperor died in 1722, and was succeeded by his son Yon-ching; who not only gave no encouragement to the missionaries, but persecuted all Christians of whatever denomination, not excepting even those of that imperial race. At the beginning of his reign he banished all the Jesuits into the city of Canton, and in 1732 they were banished from thence into Ma-kau, a little island inhabited by the Portuguese, but subject to China. He died in 1736: but though the Jesuits entertained great hopes from his successor, we have not heard that they have yet met with any success.
Thus we have given an account of the most memo rable
Climate, soil, and
rable transactions recorded in the Chinese history. We now proceed to describe the present state of the empire and its inhabitants, according to the best and latest
The climate as well as the soil of this extensive empire is very different in different parts; severe cold produce. being often felt in the northern provinces, while the inhabitants of the southern ones are scarcely able to bear the heat. In general, however, the air is accounted wholesome, and the inhabitants live to a great age. The northern and western provinces have many mountains, which in the latter are cultivated, but in the north are barren, rocky, and incapable of improve ment. On the mountains of Chensi, Honan, Canton, and Fokien, are many forests, abounding with tall straight trees, of different kinds, fit for building, and particularly adapted for masts and ship timber. These are used by the emperor in his private buildings; and from these forests enormous trunks are sometimes transported, to the distance of more than 300 leagues. Other mountains contain quicksilver, iron, tin, copper, gold, and silver. Formerly these last were not allow ed to be opened, lest the people should thereby be induced to neglect the natural richness of the soil: and it is certain, that, in the 15th century, the emperor caused a mine of precious stones to be shut, which had been opened by a private person. Of late, however, the Chinese are less scrupulous, and a great trade in gold is carried on by them. Many extravagant fables are told by the Chinese of their mountains, particularly of one in Chensi which throws out flames, and produces violent tempests, whenever any one beats a drum or plays on a musical instrument near it. In the province of Fokien is a mountain, the whole of which is an idol or statue of the god Fo. This natural colossus, for it appears not to have been the work of art, is of such an enormous size, that each of its eyes is several miles in circumference, and its nose extends some leagues.
Lakes and rivers.
China has several large lakes; the principal one is that named Poyang-hou, in the province of Kiang-si. It is formed by the confluence of four large rivers; extends near 100 leagues in length; and, like the sea, its waters are raised into tempestuous waves. The empire is watered by an immense number of rivers of different sizes, of which two are particularly celebrated, viz. the Yang-tse-kiang, or son of the sea, and Hoang ho, or the yellow river. The former rises in the province of Yunan, and passing through Houquang and Kiang-nan, falls into the eastern ocean, after a course of 1200 miles, opposite to the island of Tson-ming, which is formed by the sand accumulated at its mouth. This river is of immense size, being half a league broad at Nanking, which is near 100 miles from its mouth. The navigation is dangerous, so that great numbers of vessels are lost on it. It runs with a rapid current, forming several islands in its course, which are again carried off, and new ones formed in different places, when the river is swelled by the torrents from the mountains. These islands, while they remain, are very useful; producing great quantities of reeds ten or twelve feet high, which are used in all the neighbouring countries for fuel. The Hoang-ho, or Yellow-river, has its name from the yellow colour given it by the clay and sand washed down in the time
of rain. It rises in the mountains which border the China. province of Te-tchuen on the west, and after a course of near 600 leagues, discharges itself into the eastern sea, not far from the mouth of the Kiang. It is very broad and rapid, but so shallow that it is scarcely navigable. It is very liable to inundations, often overflowing its banks, and destroying whole villages. For this reason it has been found necessary to confine it in several places by long and strong dikes, which yet do not entirely answer the purpose. The people of Honan, therefore, whose land is exceedingly low, have surrounded most of their cities with strong ramparts of earth, faced with turf, at the distance of three furlongs.
The Chinese have been at great pains to turn their Canals. lakes and rivers to the advantage of commerce, by promoting an inland navigation. One of their principal works for this purpose is the celebrated canal reaching from Canton to Peking, and forming a communication between the southern and northern provinces. This canal extends through no less a space than 600 leagues; but its navigation is interrupted in one place by a mountain, where passengers are obliged to travel 10 or 12 leagues over land. A number of other canals are met with in this and other provinces; most of which have been executed by the industry of the inhabitants of different cities and towns, in order to promote their communication with the various parts of the empire. M. Grosier remarks, that, in these works, the Chinese have "surmounted obstacles that perhaps would have discouraged any other people: such, for example, is part of a canal which conducts from Chaoking to Ning-po." Near these cities there are two canals, the waters of which do not communicate, and which differ ten or twelve feet in their level. To render this place passable for boats, the Chinese have constructed a double glacis, of large stones, or rather two inclined planes, which unite as an acute angle at their upper extremity, and extend on each side to the surface of the water. If the bark is in the lower canal, they push it up the plane of the first glacis by means of several capstans until it is raised to the angle, when by its own weight it glides down the second glacis, and precipitates itself into the water of the higher canal with the velocity of an arrow. astonishing that these barks, which are generally very long and heavily loaden, never burst asunder when they are balanced on this acute angle; however, we never hear of any accident of this kind happening in the passage. It is true they take the precaution of using for their keels a kind of wood which is exceedingly hard, and proper for resisting the violence of such an effort.
The following remarkable phenomenon in a Chinese Remarkriver is related by Father le Couteux, a French mis- able river sionary. "Some leagues above the village Che-pai, which part(says he), the river becomes considerably smaller, al-y sinks under ground. though none of its waters flow into any other channel l; and eight or nine leagues below, it resumes its former breadth, without receiving any additional supply, excepting what it gets from a few small rivulets, which are almost dry during the greater part of the year. Opposite to Che-pai it is so much diminished, that, excepting one channel, which is not very broad, I have passed and repassed it several times by the help of a com
mon pole. I was always surprised to find this river so narrow and shallow in that place: but I never thought of inquiring into the cause of it, until the loss of a bark belonging to a Christian family afforded me an opportunity. In that place where the river diminishes almost of a sudden, it flows with great impetuosity; and where it resumes its former breadth it is equally rapid. At the sixth moon, when the water was high and the wind strong, the bark I have mentioned arriving above Che-pai, was driven on a sand-bank; for between these two places the river is full of moveable sands, which are continually shifting their situation. The master of the boat dropped his anchor until the wind should abate, and permit him to continue his voyage; but a violent vortex of moveable sand, which was cast up from the bottom of the river, laid the bark on its side; a second vortex succeeded; then a third; and afterwards a fourth, which shattered the bark to pieces. When I arrived at the place where this bark had been lost, the weather was mild and serene; I perceived eddies in the current everywhere around, which absorbed, and carried to the bottom of the ri ver, whatever floated on the surface; and I observed, at the same time, that the sand was thrown violently up with a vortical motion. Above these eddies the water was rapid, but without any fall; and in the place below, where the river resumes its usual course, no eddies are to be seen, but the sand is thrown up in the same violent manner; and in some places there are water-falls and a kind of small islands scattered at some distance from one another. These islands which appear above the surface of the water, are not solid earth, but consist of branches of trees, roots, and herbs collected together. I was told that these boughs rose up from the water, and that no one knew the place from whence they came. I was informed that these masses, which were 40 or 50 feet in extent on that side on which we passed, were immoveable and fixed in the bottom of the river; that it was dangerous to approach them, because the water formed whirlpools everywhere around them; that, however, when the river was very low, the fishermen sometimes ventured to collect the bushes that floated on its surface, and which they used for fuel. I am of opinion, that, at the place of the river which is above Che-pai, the water falls into deep pits, from whence it forces up the sand with that vortical motion; and that it flows under-ground to the other place, eight or nine leagues below, where it carries with it all the boughs, weeds, and roots, which it washes down in its course, and thus forms those islands which appear above its surface. We know there are some rivers that lose themselves entirely, or in part, in the bowels of the earth, and which afterwards arise in some other place; but I believe there never was one known to lose part of its water below its own channel, and again to recover it at the distance of some leagues."
tween the harvests the people sow several kinds of Chin pulse and small grain. The plains of the northern provinces yield wheat; those of the southern, rice, because the country is low and covered with water. Notwithstanding all this fertility, however, the inhabitants are much more frequently afflicted with famine than those of the European nations, though the countries of Europe produce much less than China. this two causes are assigned. 1. The destruction of the rising crops by drought, hail, inundations, locusts, &c. in which case China cannot like the European countries be supplied by importation. This is evident by considering how it is situated with regard to other nations. On the north are the Mogul Tartars, a lazy and indolent race, who subsist principally on the flesh of their flocks; sowing only a little millet for their own use. The province of Leatong, which lies to the north-east, is indeed extremely fertile, but too far distant from the capital and centre of the empire to supply it with provisions; and besides, all carriage is impracticable but in the winter, when great quantities of game and fish, preserved in ice, are sent thither. No corn is brought from Corea to China; and though the Japan islands are only three or four days sailing from the Chinese provinces of Kiang-nan and Che-kyang, yet no attempt was ever made to obtain provisions from thence; whether it be that the Japanese have nothing to spare, or on account of the insults offered by those islanders to foreign merchants. Formosa lies opposite to the province of Fo-kien; but so far is that island from being able to supply any thing, that in a time of scarcity it requires a supply from China itself. The province of Canton is also bounded by the sea, and has nothing on the south but islands and remote countries. year, when rice was exceedingly scarce there, the emperor sent for F. Parranin, a Jesuit missionary, and asked him if the city of Macao could not furnish Canton with rice until the supply he had ordered from other provinces should arrive: but was informed that Macao had neither rice, corn, fruit, herbs, nor flocks, and that it generally got from China what was necessary for its subsistence.-The only method, therefore, the Chinese can take to guard against famines arising from these causes, is to erect granaries and public magazines in every province and most of the principal cities of the empire. This has at all times been a principal object of care to the public ministers; but though this mode of relief still takes place in theory, so many ceremonies are to be gone through before any supply can be drawn from those public repositories, that it seldom arrives seasonably at the places where it is wanted and thus numbers of unhappy wretches perish for want. 2. Another cause of the scarcity of grain in this empire, is the prodigious consumption of it in the composition of wines, and a spirituous liquor called rack. But though government is well apprised that this is one of the principal sources of famine throughout the empire, it never employed means sufficient to prevent it. Proclamations indeed have frequently been issued, prohibiting the distillation of rack; and the appointed officers will visit the still-houses and destroy the furnaces. if nothing is given them; but on slipping some money into their hands, they shut their eyes, and go some
It has already been said, that China is, in general, is subject a fertile country; and indeed all travellers agree in this to famines, respect, and make encomiums on the extent and beauty standing its of its plains. So careful are the husbandmen of this empire to lose none of their ground, that neither inclosure, hedge, nor ditch, nay, scarce a single tree, are ever to be met with. In several places the land yields two crops a-year; and even in the interval be
China. where else to receive another bribe. When the mandarin himself goes about, however, these distillers do not escape quite so easily, the workmen being whipped and imprisoned, after which they are obliged to carry a kind of collar called the Cungue; the masters are likewise obliged to change their habitations and conceal themselves for a short time, after which they generally resume their operations. It is impossible, however, that any method of this kind can prove effectual in suppressing these manufactories, while the liquors themselves are allowed to be sold publicly; and against this there is no law throughout the empire. Our author, however, justly observes, that in case of a prohibition of this kind, the grandees would be obliged to deny themselves the use of these luxuries, which would be too great a sacrifice for the good of the em
The population of China, is so great, in comparipopulation. son with that of the European countries, that the accounts of it have generally been treated as fabulous by the western nations. From an accurate investigation of some Chinese records concerning the number of persons liable to taxation throughout the empire, M. Grosier concluded that it cannot be less than 200 millions. For this extraordinary population he assigns the following causes. 1. The strict observance of filial duty throughout the empire, and the prerogatives of fraternity, which make a son the most valuable property of a father. 2. The infamy attached to the memory of those who die without children. 3. The universal custom by which the marriage of children be comes the principal concern of the parents. 4. The honours bestowed by the state on those widows who do not marry a second time. 5. Frequent adoptions, which prevent families from becoming extinct. 6. The return of wealth to its original stock by the disinheriting of daughters. 7. The retirement of wives, which renders them more complaisant to their husbands, saves them from a number of accidents when big with child, and constrains them to employ themselves in the care of their children. 8. The marriage of soldiers. 9. The fixed state of taxes; which being always laid upon lands, never fall but indirectly on the trader and mechanic. 10. The small number of sailors and travellers. 11. To these may be added the great number of people who reside in China only by intervals; the profound peace which the empire enjoys; the frugal and laborious manner in which the great live; the little attention that is paid to the vain and ridiculous prejudice of marrying below one's rank } the ancient policy of giving distinction to men and not to families, by attaching nobility only to employments and talents, without suffering it to become bereditary. And, 12. lastly, A decency of public manners, and a total ignorance of scandalous intrigues and gallantry.
Extravagant, however, and almost incredible as this account of the population of China may appear to some, we have very respectable authority for believing that it is much below the truth. Whether the causes of this phenomenon, as above enumerated by M. Grosier, be the only ones assignable, it is certain that the population of this country was estimated at 333,000,000 * In 1793. at the time when Sir George Staunton visited it in
the capacity of secretary to the British plenipotentiary, China. as appears from the following estimate of the popula tion of each province, made by Chow-ta-zhin, and taken from his official documents.
of the em
The accounts, however, on which these statements rest, are found, when investigated, to abound in inconsistencies which destroy their credit. Mr Barrow, after balancing and comparing a variety of authorities, concludes, that the actual amount of the population of China is about 146,000,000. See CHINA, SUPPLEMENT, p. 102. The government of China, according to the Abbé Unlimited. Grosier, is purely patriarchal. The emperor is more authority unlimited in his authority than any other potentate on earth; no sentence of death, pronounced by any of perer. the tribunals, can be executed without his consent, and every verdict in civil affairs is subject to be revised by him; nor can any determination be of force until it has been confirmed by the emperor: and, on the contrary, whatever sentence he passes is executed without delay; his edicts are respected throughout the empire as if they came from a divinity; he alone has the disposal of all offices, nor is there any such thing as the purchase of places in China; merit, real or supposed, raises to an office, and rank is attached to it onÎy. Even the succession to the throne is not altogether hereditary. The emperor of China has a power of choosing his own successor, without consulting any of his nobility; and can select one not only from. among his own children, but even from the body of his people; and there have been several instances of his making use of this right: and he has even a power of altering the succession after it has once been fixed, in case the person pitched upon does not behave towards him with proper respect. The emperor can also prevent the princes of the blood from exercising the title, with which, according to the constitution of the empire, they are invested. They may, indeed, notwithstanding this, possess their hereditary dignity; in which case they are allowed a revenue proportioned to their high birth, as well as a palace, officers, and
China. a court; but they have neither influence nor power, The accomplishments necessary for a mandarin of arms
and their authority is lower than that of the meanest are, strength of body, with agility and readiness in per-
forming the various military exercises, and compreMandarins The mandarins are of two classes, viz. those of let- hending the orders requisite for the profession of arms ; of different ters, and the inferior sort styled mandarins of arms. an examination on these subjects must be undergone classes.
The latter by no means enjoy the same consideration before the candidate can attain the wished-for dig.
any measure, their resolution must still be submitThere are eight orders of these mandarins in China. ted to the revisal of a bigher court wamed ping-pou, 1. The calao, from whom are chosen the ministers of which is entirely of a civil nature. The chief of these state, the presidents of the supreme courts, and all the mandarins is a general of course, whose powers are superior officers among the militia. The chief of this equivalent to those of our commanders in chief; and order presides also in the emperor's council, and en- below him are other mandarins who act as subordinate joys a great share of his confidence. 2. The te-hiose, oflicer3. or man of acknowledged ability, is a title bestowed These two classes of mandarins compose what is callupon every mandarin of the second rank; and from ed the nobility of China : but as we have already hintthese are selected the viceroys and presidents of the ed, their office is not hereditary; the emperor alone supreme council in the different provinces. 3. The continues or confers it. They have the privilege of retchong-tchueo, or school of mandarins, act as secretaries monstrating to the emperor, either as individuals or in to the emperor. 4. Y-tchuen-tao. These keep in re- a body, upon any part of his conduct which appears pair the harbours, royal lodging houses, and barks contrary to the interest of the empire. These remonwhich belong to the emperor, unless particularly en
strances are seldom ill received, though the sovereign gaged in some other office by his order. 5. The ting- complies with them only when he himself thinks proper. pi-tao have the inspection of the troops. 6. The tun- The number of literary mandarins in China is computtien-hao have the care of the bighways. 7. The ho- ed at upwards of 14,000; and those of arms at 18,000 ; tao superintend the rivers. 8. The hai-tao inspect the the former, however, are considered as the principal sea-coasts.
body in the empire ; and this preference is thought to Thus the whole administration of the Chinese empire damp the military ardour of the nation in general, is intrusted to the mandarins of letters; and the bo- and to be one cause of that weakness in war for which mage paid by the common people to every mandarin in the Chinese are remarkable. office almost equals that paid to the emperor himself.
The armies of this empire are proportioned to its Militar This indeed flows from the nature of their government. vast extent and population ; being computed in time force. In China it is a received opinion that the emperor is of peace at more than 700,000. Their pay amounts the father of the whole empire ; that the governor of a to about two-pence halfpenny and a measure of rice province is the father of that province'; and that the per day, though some of them have double pay, and mandarin who is governor of a city is also the father of the pay of a horseman is double that of a foot soldier ; that city. This idea is productive of the highest re- the emperor furnishes a horse, and the horseman respect and submission, which is not at all lessened by ceives two measures of small beans for his daily subtheir great number; for though the mandarins of letters sistence; the arrears of the army being punctually paid amount to more than 14,000, the same respect is paid up every three months. to every one of them.
The arms of a horseman are, a helmet, cuirass, lance, The mandarins of arms are never indulged with any and sabre; those of a foot soldier are a pike and sabre; share in the government of the state ; however, to at. some have fusees, and others bows and arrows. All
tain the dignity, it is also necessary to pass through these are carefully inspected at every review, and if the degrees of bachelor, licentiate, and doctor of arms. any of them are found in the least rusted, or otherwise