Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

APPEARANCE AND QUALITY OF CHINESE TROOPS. 161

The uniform and regimentals of the Chinese troops are not calculated to give them even a fine appearance when drawn up for parade, and no one, looking at them, can believe that men dressed in loose jackets and trousers, with heavy shoes and bamboo caps, could be trained to cope with western soldiers. Fans or umbrellas are often held in the hand on parade to assuage the heat or protect from the rain, while the chief object of these parades is to salute and knock head before some high officer. In attempting to repress insurrection, the government has been frequently compelled to buy off the turbulent leaders with office and rewards, and thus disorganize and scatter the enemy it could not vanquish. But however ridiculous the army and navy of the Chinese now are in our view, the people would soon become good soldiers under proper officers and instruction, attended with a little actual fighting to practise their drilling.

The progress of the Chinese is not to be fairly measured by their attainments in war, although it has been said that the two best general criteria of civilization among any people are superior skill in destroying our fellow-men, and the degree of respect paid to women. China falls far behind her place among the nations if judged by these tests alone, and in reality owes her present advance in numbers, industry, and wealth, mainly to her peaceful character and policy. She would have probably presented a spectacle similar to the hordes of Central Asia, had her people been actuated by a warlike spirit, for when divided into fifty or more feudal states, as was the case in the days of Confucius, she made slow progress in the arts of life. The Manchu emperors have often endeavored to conquer their neighbors, the Birmans and Coreans, but were satisfied with the outward homage of a kotau, and a few articles of tribute, when they met with resistance to oppressive interference from their lieges. The Siamese, Cochinchinese, Coreans, Tibetans, Lewchewans, and some of the tribes of Turkestan, are nominally vassals of the son of heaven, but they find his an easy sovereignty, and their paltry tribute returned them many fold. The precepts of Confucius taught the rulers of China to conquer their neighbors by showing the excellence of a good government, when their enemies would come and voluntarily range themselves under their sway; and although the kindness of the rulers of China to those fully

their power, is as hypocritical as their rule is unjust, those nations who pay them homage do it voluntarily, and still manage their own internal affairs. The maxims of Confucian politics, aided by the temper of the people, have had some effect, in the lapse of years, it cannot be doubted ; and to the literature and language of which his writings form the main feature, much of the advances made by these tributaries in good government, industry, and arts, is to be ascribed. The Chinese empire is a stupendous example of the good results of a peaceful policy; and the sincere desire of every well wisher of his race doubtless is, that this mighty mass of human beings may be Christianized and elevated from their present ignorance and vice, by a like peaceful infusion of the true principles of good order and liberty. The Chinese are no better skilled in building proper fortifications than they are in bravely defending them. The forts in the neighborhood of Canton are probably among the best in the empire, and they are all constructed without fosses, bastions, glacis, or counter-defences of any kind; some are square, and approachable without danger; others are circular on the outer face, and built on a hill-side like a pound, so that the garrison, if dislodged from the battlements, are forced to fly up the hill in full range of their enemy's fire. The gate is placed in the side, unprotected by ditch, drawbridge, or portcullis, and poorly defended by guns upon the walls or in the area behind it. The points generally chosen for the forts display little knowledge of the true principles of defence, though some of them are located in commanding positions. The soldiers in the forts are for the most part among the laziest, dirtiest, most cowardly, and dissolute specimens of humanity to be found in the country, quite on a par with the artillery they use, and the dirty places they occupy. On extraordinary occasions of parade, a little bustle and cleaning up is made ; and when, as was the case a few years ago, the brunt of war really came, new troops and armaments were put in them, and the best defence possible made. The Chinese have many treatises upon the art and practice of war, one of which, called the Soldier's Manual,” in eighteen chapters, contains some good directions. The first chapter treats of the mode of marching, necessity of having plans of the country through which the army is to pass, and cautions the troops against

* Chinese Repository, Vol. XI., p. 487.

FORTIFICATIONS AND GARRISONS. 163

harassing the people unnecessarily—not a useless admonition, for a body of Chinese soldiers is like a swarm of locusts, when they encamp near a town or village. The second chapter teaches the mode of building bridges, the need there is of cautious explorations in marching, and of sending out scouts; this subject is also continued in the next section, and directions given about castrametation, defending and locating the camp, placing sentries, and keeping the troops on the alert, as well as under strict discipline in camp. The rest of the book is chiefly devoted to directions for the management of an actual battle, sending out spies beforehand, choosing good positions, and bringing the various parts of the army into action at the best time. The hope of reward is held out to induce the soldier to be brave, and the threats of punishment and death if he desert or turn his back in time of battle. The Manchu troops, stationed in large cities, are quartered in an inclosed encampment, occasionally placed, as at Fuhchau, where it will overlook or command the city, and spacious enough for the comfortable residence of the troops and their families. That at Chapu is separated from the rest of the city by a thin wall, and the buildings are located in a small inclosure, of suf. ficient size to allow a courtyard in front of each. In the internal arrangement of the houses, or their furniture and ornaments, there is nothing different from ordinary Chinese residences, and in these respects the Manchus had everything to learn from the Chinese. Their stipend is so small that they resort to some occupation to maintain themselves, and although intermarriages with the natives are prohibited, the two races in numerous cases live and work together. Both officers and men are subject to corporeal punishment in case of misdemeanor, the bamboo on the back of a Chinese being exchanged for a whip upon the Manchu, and the cangue put upon both. Soldiers of honor and bravery cannot well be made out of men subjected to such humiliations, whose skill in knocking their heads on the ground is oftener called into practice than that of knocking their enemies on the head; nor can efficiency be given to an army whose rations hardly pay for the men's uniforms. The utility of music in encouraging troops and exciting them to the charge is fully appreciated, but to our notions of harmony it no more deserves the name of music than the collection of half

drilled louts in petticoats does to that of an army, when compared with a European force. However, its antiquity renders it a subject of some interest to the musical student, while its power of association over the people seems to be none the less because it is unscientific. The musical instruments used in the army are chiefly the gong and trumpet, but the entire list of stringed, wind, and percussion, comprises almost every one we have. However small their attainments in the theory and practice of music, no nation gives it a higher place. It was regarded by Confucius as an essential part in the government of a state, harmonizing and softening the relations between the different ranks of society, and causing them all to move on in consentaneous accord. It is remarked of the sage himself that having heard a tune in one of his ramblings, he did not know the taste of food for three weeks after —but, with all deference to the judgment of so distinguished a man, we cannot help thinking his food would have been more palatable without music, if it was no better then than it is at the present day. The Chinese never had anything like the musical contests among the Greeks, for popular assemblies have never been agreeable to oriental despotism and education.

The names and characters used for notes in vocal music are here given, though their succession is not accurately represented by our staff. The second octave is denoted by affixing the sign jin, a man, to the simple notes, or as shown in the second che, by a peculiar hooked bottom.

[ocr errors]

ź. s:” chang ché kung fan liu wu chang ché kung fan

If the first note in this scale be taken as the tonic, then they form a diatonic octave, with a supernumerary note, which is an octave above the second one sz', the first one ho being an octave below liv, the eighth. But the semitones i and fan are very little used, and it loses in some degree its diatonic character. No chromatic scale exists among them, at least none of their instruments can enounce flat and sharped notes. In writing instrumental music, marks, meaning to push, fillip, hook, &c., are added to denote the mode of playing the string; the two are

Character AND NOTATION OF MUSIC. 165

united into very complicated combinations. For instance, in writing a tune for the lute or pipa, “each note is a cluster of characters; one denotes the string, another the stud, a third informs you in what manner the fingers of the right hand are to be used, a fourth does the same in reference to the left, a fifth tells the performer in what way he must slide the hand before or after the appropriate sound has been given, and a sixth says, perhaps, that two notes are to be struck at the same time.” These complex notes are difficult to learn and remember, and therefore the Chinese usually play by the ear. This mode of notation, in addition to its complexity, must be varied for nearly every kind. of instrument, inasmuch as the combinations fitted for one instrument are inapplicable to another; but music is written for only a few instruments, such as the lute and the guitar. These notes, when simply written without directions combined with them as described above, indicate only their pitch in a certain scale, and do not denote either the length or the absolute pitch; they are written perpendicularly, and various marks of direction are given on the side of the column regarding the proportionate length of time in which certain notes are to be played, others to be trilled or repeated once, twice, or more times, and when the performer is to pause. No beats occur at regular intervals, nor is any time marked, much less are the different parts of counterpoint exhibited on parallel staves, of which the Chinese know nothing; the swell, diminish, flat, sharp, appoggiatura, tie, and other marks in European notation, which assist in giving expression to the piece, are for the most part unknown among the Chinese, nor are any of their tunes set to any key. The neatness and adaptation of the European notation is better appreciated after studying the clumsy, imperfect mode which is here briefly described. No description can convey a true idea of Chinese vocal music, and few persons are able to imitate it when they have heard it. De Guignes says, “It is possible to sing a Chinese song, but I think it would be very difficult to give it the proper tone without having heard it by a native, and I rather believe that no one can perfectly imitate their notes.” They seem, in some cases, to issue from the larynx and nose, the tongue, teeth, and lips having little to do with them, the modulation being made mostly with the muscles of the bronchia; at other times, the enunciation of the

« EdellinenJatka »