d. 1894 Terrien de Lacouperie.

The children of China. Written for the children of England online

. (page 3 of 18)
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food the emperor is to have set before him every day — " Thirty
pounds of meat in a basin, and seven pounds boiled into soup,
one and one-third pounds of hog's fat and the same quantity of
butter ; two sheep, two fowls, and two ducks, the milk of eighty
cows, and seventy-five parcels of tea." Then comes a list of
what the Empress is to have, and afterwards the allowance for
all her servants.

All Chinese ofiicers are called Mandarins by Europeans ; there
are a great many of them, fifteen principal sets, besides many
others not so important, all with their own specisd work to do,
so I cannot tell you about all of them.

Besides those who look after the whole empire, every province
has a governor-general, with another governor under him ; they
have the power of killing any great ofiicers who are not faithful
in doing their work, or they can put any of them out of oflice
if they like. The governors have to look after their province


and keep it in order, aud there is a treasurer who has to keep
all the public money in the province, which is paid in by the
magistrate of each district. Out of this money the treasurer
paj^s all the officers and soldiers, and also provides what is needed
for all public works that have to be done in the province.

Every province has a judge of its own too, whose business
is to examine and punish anyone who commits a crime, but there
are other lower judges under him — the prefect, who manages
a county (all the provinces are divided into counties), and the
district magistrate, who has charge of one of the districts in a

Once in every three 3^ears the governor-general of each
province sends a list of all the officers who are under him, to
a comjiany called the Board of Civil Appointments, who appoint
men to different offices. In this list he not only puts all the
officers' names, but also remarks about them, saying how they
have behaved themselves during the three 3-ears, and what sort
of men they are. They are expected to tell of themselves too
if they have done wrong, and to ask to be punished. According
to this report all the men ai-e either raised to a higher post or
put down to a lower. If there is a distiu'bance in a province,
the governor-general is always punished for it, though he may
have had nothing to do with it ; so you may be sure he will
do his best to keep everything quiet.

There is another set of officers, called Censors, who have
rather a strange kind of work to do. There are two presidents,
one Mauchu, the other Chinese, and forty or fifty members, who
are sent about to different parts of the empire as spies, to see
whether all the officers are doing their work properly, and whether
all the people are in good order.

No one is allowed to be a magistrate in the ^^rovince to which
he belongs, nor to have one of his relations under him ; this is
for fear he should let off his friends if the}' did wrong, and to


keep liim from making particular friends and tlien favouring tlicni.
Every man who liolds office under the Government is moved to
a fresli phice very often.

Besides tliose who have actually to do with the government
of the empii'e, there are a few^ persons wdio have special privileges ;
among these are the memhers of the royal family, of which there
are two lines : the first is descended from the Manchu Emperor
who first conquered China, and the second from his l)rothers and
uncles. None of them have any particular office, nor take any
part in the government ; their chief use is to add to the grandeur
of the emperor hy always heing about him in such large numbers.
They are all obliged to come to the palace at new^ moon and full
moon, and arrange themselves in a certain regular order before
daybreak. When the emperor makes his appearance, they all
fall dowm on their faces. They live very idle, useless lives, and
are often very troublesome to the emperor, who finds it inconve-
nient to have so many relations. They are always known b}' their
dress ; those belonging to the first line wear girdles and. scarves
of yellow (the royal colour), those of the second wear a sash and
scarf of red. There are separate courts of justice for these royal
relations, who must not be tried as if they were common people.

Only the mandarins are allowed to be carried by four bearers,
or accompanied by a train of attendants, except at a w^edding,
w^hen you will see that this rule is not kept. When the people
see a mandarin coming, they stand aside with their arms down
at their sides and their eyes on the ground. One rather extraor-
dinary duty of the mandarins is to " Save the sun " when it is
eclipsed. Before people understood eclipses, the Chinese used, to
believe, w4ien the sun or moon was eclipsed, that it was being
eaten by a great beast, and needed saving ; so at the time of an
eclipse, the mandarins get some priests to help them to save the
sun. They put a censer and two candles on a table, and just as the
eclipse is beginning, a mandarin comes into the roon^, dressed in




his robes of office ; he takes some incense-sticks in both his hands
and inits them into the censer, then kneels down three times
and knocks his head nine times against the floor ; after which the
priests, making a great noise with gongs and drums, march round
the table, singing pra3^ers nntil the eclipse is over. Of course the


sun comes out in time, so they are always able to say they have
saved it from the monster. The mandarins have too much sense
and learning now to believe this is true, and most, if not all, of
them understand quite well what it is that causes an eclipse ;'but
they always go through this form, because it is an old custom.

All civil aiid military officers wear caps in the shape of a


coue, with a bull at the point, and by these balls people cau tell
whether au officer is a great one, or somebody not very particular ;
the balls are different shades of red, blue, or yellow, made of
crystal, white stone, or gold, and every ball has a badge belonging
to it, a piece of silk embroidery about a foot square with a picture
on it ; this badge is worn on the breast and on the back of the
dress belonging to the office. Any one who has a government post
also wears a necklace of large beads, called court beads, reaching
down to the w^aist, and there are different kinds of clasps to go
with the different balls.

But you cannot always be quite certain what a man is from
his dress, as some people pay a great sum of money in order to
be allowed to wear the dress without doing the work. The
only good they get by this is that, if they break the laws, they
cannot be punished on the spot, nor until they have been made
to give up their balls. But those who only wear balls because
they have bought leave to do it, even if it is the highest ball of
all, may be summoned by the very lowest magistrate, and if they
are found guilty may be punished and beaten, besides losing their
balls ; while those who wear them because they deserve them, can
only be punished by one higher than themselves.

Officers in the army are not thought so much of as those who
help in the government, because it does not need much learning
to know how to fight, and the Chinese think more of learning
than of anything else. The only way in which a man can get
famous in China, or get a high government office, is by being
clever at books, so that the poorest man in the empire may come
to be the greatest, next to the emperor, if only he learns enough ;
therefore you will not be surprised to hear that all the boys
work very hard at their lessons, and do their best to become
learned men.

The Chinese are not at all good soldiers. One reason of this
is, that they so seldom have wars, so they have had very little


practice ; and another is that the Manchiis are afraid that some
day the Chinese will rise np against them and make themselves
masters of the country, so they try not to let them he good
soldiers. One way in which they do this is by only allowing
a Chinese soldier half the pay of a Manchu, so no Chinaman
will be a soldier if he can find anything else to do. Chinese
swords are very badl}" made, and their guns are very clumsy, but
they are beginning now to use better arms and to fight more
like Europeans.

The General of the army must always be a Mauchu, but the
lower oflicers may be Chinese. All officers in the army may be
beaten, and they very often are, and even the very highest of
them are put in the caugue : you do not know yet what that means,
but you very soon will. Of late years a few European officers
have been admitted into the army.

The Chinese are generally industrious and contented, partly
because their laws are sensible, and not so cruel as those of other
countries near them. You will like to hear what a Chinaman
once said about his country and its laws: —

" I congratulate myself that I was born in China. It
constantly occurs to me — What if I had been born beyond the
sea, in some remote part of the earth, where the cold freezes and
the heat scorches ; where the people are clothed with the leaves
of plants, eat wood, dwell in the wilderness. He in holes of the
earth, are far removed from the good maxims of the ancient
kings, and are ignorant of home relations ? Though born as one
of the generation of men, I should not have been different from
a beast. But how happily I have been born in China ! I have a
house to live in, I have drink and food and commodious furniture,
I have clothing and caps, and infinite blessings. Truly, the
highest happiness is mine."

I wonder how many of you who read this book have ever
thanked God that you were born in a better country even than




Cliiiici, a coiiutry where the true God is kuowu and loved and
worshi23ped, and where there is nothing to hinder your knowing
Him and serving Him. Do not let the Chinese be more grateful
for their blessings than you are for yours, which are so much
greater, but as you think of the many things which you have and
they have not, let gratitude lead you to pray and to work for those
who know nothing of the richest gift of all, God's " unspeakable
gift" ( ) of His own Son.



NE reason why the Chinese Empire is so great is, that
it is the law that the position of every man must
depend on his own learning and talent, not on his
having plenty of land or money, or belonging to a great
family ; so whoever wants to he great must work hard.
Yon will not be surprised to hear that the laws
against treason (that is, saying or doing anything against the
emperor) are very strict. When a man tried to kill the emperor,
in 1803, he was ordered to he killed as slowdy as possible, and his
sons, who were all little boys, were strangled.

If anyone who is less than fifteen years old, or more than
seventy, commits a crime not great enough to be punished with
death, he may buy off his punishment by paying a fine, and it is
not allowed to torture people under fifteen or over seventy. You
will be glad of that when you hear what Chinese punishments
are like.

If a man robs another, and uses a stick or any other weapon
to help him in the work, he is punished with death ; but if he onl}-
steals and does not hurt anyone, he is either beaten or banished.
His punishment depends rather on how much he steals. If a man
kills another in a quarrel or with a weapon, he is strangled for it ;
if he did it accidentally, he may buy off his punishment by paying
a fine to the relations of the dead man.

A father may do almost anything he likes with his children ;


eveu if he kills one of tlieiii 011 purpose, he is only whipped or
banished for a year; and if the child struck him first, he
will not be punished at all. But, on the other hand, the respect
required from children to their parents is so great, that if a child
curses or strikes his father or mother, he is punished by death.

If a man is seen striking another man with his hand or foot,
he is punished for it ; so, though Chinamen often quarrel, they
seldom fight, and may often be seen in the streets jumpiog about,
and abusing and threatening each other, but not thinking of
coming to blows.

If a man goes too long without paying his debts, the person
to whom he owes money, if he has sent in his bill and not had it
paid, sometimes comes and lives in the house of his debtor, and
in some cases even brings his whole family with him ; and no one
will interfere with him, unless there is fighting ; so he can get his
debt paid by making his debtor feed him. It is considered much
more disgraceful to owe money to a foreigner than to a Chinaman.

It is a law in China, that nobody can be punished for a crime
until he has confessed it, so if he refuses to do this, he is tortured
till he does.

Chinese punishments are not at all like English ones; they
are so much more cruel. It is thought a great disgrace for a high
officer to be killed by an executioner, so if one of them has offended
the emperor, and has to die for it, the emperor will sometimes
send liim a piece of silk cord, and the man wdio gets this under-
stands at once that it means he will have to die. If he waits and
does nothing after getting the cord, the emperor will send a man
to cut his head off, and the officer will have to go into the next
world with a broken body ; so to avoid this fate, he will strangle
himself with the silk cord, as that will not break or cut his body.
It is considered a very great honour if the emperor allows a man
to kill himself in this way, instead of being killed by another.
Among the mandarins the favourite way of committing suicide is


by swallowing gold leaf. Belieadiug and strangling are the two
chief punishments for those who are condemned to die.

Before a man is beheaded, he is carried in a cage through
the town where he lives, with the account of his crime written on
a slip of paper, which is stuck in his hair. In the cage there is
also a pail, ready for his head to be pat in when it is cut off.

The most frequent instrument of punishment is the bamboo.
When a trial is going on, the judge always has beside him a small
tube, full of slips of bamboo wood, and when he passes sentence
on the prisoner, he takes out a certain number of these slips, the
number depending upon how bad the man has been, and throws
them on the floor. The ofiicers who are standing by take up these
slips of wood, and give the prisoner four blows with each slip.

Another instrument is the cangue; this is a large board, some-
times weighing as much as a hundred pounds, with a hole in the
middle, through which the man's head is put. The board is so
large, that he cannot put his hand to his mouth, so he always has
to be fed by others. On the board is written in large letters the
crime for which the man is being punished ; sometimes he will
have to wear this board for a month, sometimes for three months ;
it is locked on during the day and taken off at night. All day the
man has to stand at the road-side, in the evening the constable
takes him away. He begs his living from the people in the street,
unless his friends like to provide for him.

Banishment is a common punishment in China, sometimes
only from one part of the country to another, sometimes out of
China altogether; sometimes for life, sometimes only for a certain
number of years.

Manchus who break the laws are generally beaten v "th a
whip instead of with the bamboo, and are made to wear the
cangue instead of being banished.

One of the worst punishments is the bamboo cage, which
is just a little taller than the man who is put into it ; his head

ITS L.nVS. 43

is put tliroiigli a board at the top, and he can just manage to
touch the bottom with his toes, so he must either stand all the
time on the very ends of his toes, or else hang by his neck ; one
way is about as painful as the other ; sometimes the poor man
is not allowed to come out of his cage at all, but is stood in the
street and left to die of hunger.

Beating the cheeks or back is another cruel punishment.
The man is made to kneel down, and an oflicer comes to him and
seizes him by the hair with one hand, while with the other hand
he gives him the number of blows ordered by the mandarin, with
a piece of leather about a foot long and two or three inches wide,
on his cheeks. If it is the back that has to be beaten, he is laid
on the ground on his face, and his back is beaten with a strip of
bamboo ; if the bamboo is five feet long and two inches wide, he
gets forty strokes, but if it is three feet long and one inch wide,
he may have any number the mandarin likes to order. Even
with the long bamboo the poor man often gets more than the
forty strokes, but if he is rich enough he will bribe the officer
to beat him lightly. Do you remember who it was who five times
was beaten with thirty-nine strokes for the sake of the Lord
•Jesus? ( )

If a man refuses to confess the crime he is accused of,
squeezing the fingers is a means that is often tried to make him
do it. The man is made to kneel down, and is tied by his hair
to a post. Then a little instrument made of rods is fastened to
each of his hands in such a way that one of the rods comes
between every two fingers, and the man who is using it, by pulling
a cord fastened to the rods, squeezes the fingers between them.
The harder the cord is pulled, the more tightly the fingers are
squeezed ; the pain is so dreadful that the man always says
whatever he is wanted to say before very long.

Sometimes a man is hung by one arm over a pole, raised
several feet fi'om the ground. His other arm is passed under


bis legs, and then his two hands are tied together by the thumbs,
just nnder his knees. No part of his body is allowed to touch
the floor, so all his weight will hang on his one arm-pit. If yon
are a boy, yon had better get two people to hold a big stick for
you, and you try to hang on it as I have described : you will
understand better then what it is like. If you are a girl, then
get your brothers to try, and you watch them.

Smoking the head is another punishment. This is done by
holding a tub upside down over a man's head and burning incense
under it, so that all the smoke goes into the tub and suffocates him.

One of the most horrible punishments of all is to make a
man wear a shirt of iron netting, to which a cord is fastened ;
as the cord is pulled, the shirt fits tighter and tighter, and little
bits of flesh come through the holes of the wire. Then some one
passes a sharp knife all over the outside of the netting, and so
cuts off the little bits of flesh all over the man's body.

There is a whip used in some parts of China, which has
at the ends of the lashes five sharp hooks, which stick into the
body of the person who is being whipped.

Sometimes when a man is going to be beaten with a whip or
a bamboo, instead of letting him kneel on the floor, he is made to
kneel on broken bits of china or glass, or on chains, and some-
times is made to stay there till he has had several hundred blows.

Prisoners are treated very severely in China, and are often kept
in prison a very long time. Each prisoner is kept by himself, and
is never allowed to see any of the others. The people call going to
prison "going to hell." The prisoners are often terribly tortured;
the gaolors can treat them just as they like, and very often torture
them till they promise them money if they will let them alone.

It must be Satan who puts such cruel ideas into people's
heads ; and the best way of putting a stop to it must be to tell
the Chinese more about Him who came into the world on purj^ose
" that He might destroy the works of the devil " ( ).


OW many people does your geography say there are m
China ? ( ) That is more than there are in

India, though the country is not so large.

You will understand a little hetter how many people
there are in China, when I tell you that if 3'ou were to
stand still, and all the people in China were to walk
past you in a long line, one person in every second, it would take
thirteen j^ears for them all to get past. You would be rather tired
of standing and looking by that time, wouldn't you ? And if all the
people in the world were to walk past you, one by one, every third
person would be Chinese, so that a third part of all the people in
the world are Chinese. There are as many people in China as
there are in all Europe, and North and South America besides.
If all the Chinese were put in a row^, they would reach all the
way to the moon, or go round the world three times at the
equator. We get this account of the number of people in China
from the census which the Chinese government has made, but
some people think there are really more ; at any rate there are
quite as many. I expect the number is really veiy much what
the census says, for the government is very particular about taking
it correctly. Every district has its own officer, every street its
own constable, every ten houses have what is called a " tithing
man," and every family is obliged to have a board liauging wp in
the house, on which are written the names of all who live in it,


men, women, and children ; so it does not seem as if the census
conld be very far wrong ; but some people say that many names
are not written on the board, but are kept back on purpose.

China is much more thickly j>eopled in some parts than
in others ; so while in some provinces the people are very close
together indeed, in the province of Yunnan, which is larger than
Great Britain, there are only a few more people than there are
in London.

The population of China has not increased much lately.
There are several reasons for this. A great many people have
been drowned in floods, and many millions died in the famine you
read about. Then a great many were killed in the Tai-ping
Kebellion, w^hen whole cities were sometiines left empty : in one
city alone 700,000 men were either killed or else died from disease.
And another very sad reason why the population does not increase
very fast is, that many mothers kill their own little girls and throw
them away ; so you may be very glad that you are not a Chinese
little girl.

There are a great many people in China who do not live
in houses at all ; nor in towns, nor villages, nor out in tlie country,
but on the canals and rivers in boats, whole families of men,
women, and children. There are a thousand families living on
the rivers near Canton, in little boats called egg-houses. The
men and w^omen row the boats ; the children have gourds fastened
to them to keep them from sinking if they should fall over the
sides of the boats into the river. A gourd is a very large fruit,
that floats on the water like cork.

But all the people in China are not Chinese or Manchus.
Besides these two great nations, there are several other races.
One of these is the Shans, who live in the west and south of the
proviuce of Yunnan. They are most likely some of the aborigines
of Cliina. What are aborigines ? ( )

and were driven to their present home by the Cliinese ; they live


among the nioimtains, and sometimes pay visits to the plains
to sell the things they have grown or made or found in their own
country — capsicums, arsenic, paper, rough rubies and amethysts,
and cattle very much like Alderney cow^s. Most of the Shans
belong to the Buddhist religion, but a few have become Christians.
Some American missionaries have worked amongst them, and parts
of the Bible have been translated into their language.

Then there are the Lolos, also aborigines of China. They
live in Si-chuen and Yunnan, and complain that the Chinese have
stolen their country. Some of the Chinese call the Lolos " wdld
men," but really they are nearly as civilized as the Chinese
themselves. The men are tall and thin, and very timid. They
have not many bad habits, but one very bad one is that all the
men and women drink a good deal of wine. When they come
to the Chinese towns to do their buying and selling, they always
carry their wine bottles with them. They are very fond of
tobacco, but seldom smoke opium, as the Chinese do.

The Lolo w^omen are very handsome, and much sharper than
the men ; they do all the marketing, and a great deal of the
outdoor work. Most of the men have shaved their heads, thus

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Online Libraryd. 1894 Terrien de LacouperieThe children of China. Written for the children of England → online text (page 3 of 18)