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LAws AND TREATISEs REGARDING MEDICAL PRACTICE. 191
selves of it in time, that it has done no more to lessen the ravages of the disease. In the hospitals at Macao, where children were gratuitously vaccinated, it was found almost impossible to induce parents to bring them; and when the children had been vaccinated, it was increasingly difficult to get them to return, to allow the physician to see the result of the operation. A native practitioner at Canton, called Hequa, has conducted a vaccinating establishment for many years for his countrymen, and the results have been observable in the diminution of the disease in that vicinity. Inoculation has long been practised by inserting a pledget in the nostrils, containing the virus: this mode is occasionally adopted in vaccination. The slovenly habits of the Chinese, as well as insufficient protection and unwholesome food, give rise to many diseases of the skin, some of them quite incurable. The common itch is universal, and among the natives, no one seems to notice even its aggravated forms. The practice of medicine has attracted considerable attention from the Chinese, and there are numerous treatises on its various branches. The common classification of diseases is under nine heads, viz. those which affect the pulse violently or feebly, those arising from cold, female and cutaneous diseases, those needing acupuncture, and diseases of the eyes, the mouth and its parts, and the bones. A professor of each of these classes is attached to the imperial family, who is taken from the Medical College at Peking ; but he has no greater advantages there, than he could get in his own reading and practfee. No museums of morbid or comparative anatomy exist in the country, nor are there any lectures or dissections ; but the routine of practice is required which old custom has sanctioned. Sec. ccxcvii. of the Code orders, that “whenever an unskilful practitioner, in administering medicine, or using the puncturing needle, proceeds contrary to the established forms, and thereby causes the death of a patient, the magistrate shall call in other practitioners to examine the medicine or the wound, and if it appear that the injury done was unintentional, the practitioner shall then be treated according to the statute for accidental homicides, and shall not be any longer allowed to practise medicine. But if designedly he depart from the established forms, and deceives in his attempt to cure the malady in order to obtain property, then, according to its amount, he shall be treated as a thief; and if death ensue from his mal-practice, then, for having thus used medicine with intent to kill, he shall be beheaded.” This statute is seldom carried into execution, however, and the doctors are allowed to kill and cure, secundum artem, as their patients give them the opportunity.
There are many medical works found in the hands of practitioners, and some of them show no little research on the part of the authors in every place except the right one, viz. the body itself. One of the most valuable is the Pun Tsau, or Herbal of Li Shíchin of the Ming dynasty, already noticed in chapter VI. There is a list of two hundred and seventy-six medical works given, which supplied its compiler with the materials of his own performance, and of four hundred and eighty miscellaneous works, which furnished the notices of the habits, localities, &c., of the plants, animals, and other things mentioned.
Natural history, in its various branches of geology, botany, zoölogy, &c., has received some attention, because the objects which come under it could not escape the notice of all the writers in Chinese literature. As sciences, however, none of them have an existence, and they are studied chiefly for their assistance in furnishing articles for the materia medica of the native physician. To these persons nothing comes amiss, and, like the ingredients of the hubbling, bubbling caldron of Macbeth's witches, the stranger it is, the more potent they think a dose will be. Petrifactions of crabs and orthoceras, bezoar of cows, scales of pangolins, horns of rhinoceroses, paws of bears, tigers' bones, and other such like things, are sought after as medicines, and large sums paid for them. It is to be regretted that their investigations should have taken such a direction, but the man of commanding influence has not yet arisen to direct their researches into nature, and divert them from the marvellous and theoretical. On the whole it may be said that, in all departments of learning, the Chinese are unscientific ; and, that while they have collected a few facts, invented many arts, and brought a few to a high degree of excellence, they have never pursued a single subject in a way calculated to lead them to a right understanding of it, and proper classification of the information they possessed relating to it.
* Chinese Chrestomathy, Chap. XVI., pp. 497–532.
The history of the Chinese has excited less attention among western scholars than it deserves, though in some respects no nation has more claims to have its chronicles carefully and fairly examined; the best accounts of the succession of dynasties and leading events, are Mailla's translation and Pauthier's Chine in the Univers Pittoresque; and the sketches of Du Halde, Grosier, Gutzlaff, and others, afford a succinct view of its history. The belief is generally entertained that their pretensions to antiquity are ridiculous, and incompatible with the Mosaic chronology, not only making the world to have existed myriads of years, but reckoning the succession of their monarchs far beyond the creation, and ascribing to them a longevity that carries its own confutation on its face. In consequence of this opinion, some have doubted the native historians altogether, and the whole subject of the settlement and early progress of this ancient race has been considered beyond the reach, and almost unworthy the attempt, of sober investigation. But this is an erroneous and hasty conclusion, and the early records of the sons of Han contain much which is worthy of credence, and much more that is highly probable. A wide field is here opened for the researches of a Heeren or a Niebuhr, and as long as we are destitute of a good history of China, and its connexions with other Asiatic nations, we shall not only be unable to form a correct opinion respecting the people, but shall lack many important data for a full illustration of the early history of the human race. It is very easy to laud the early records of the Chinese to the skies, as the French writers have done; nor is it more unjust to cry them down, as is now the fashion. The reputation both the people and their records have received is owing, in some measure, to the undue laudation and depreciation they have received from foreigners, as well as to the intrinsic merits and defects of their histories, and Wol. ii. 10
the want of correspondence they exhibit with the records and monuments of other times and countries. China has her mythological history like other countries, and it should be separated from the more recent, and received, as her own historians regard it, as the fabrication of subsequent times. She also has her ancient history, whose earliest dates and events blend confusedly with the mythological, but gradually grow more credible and distinct as they come down the stream of time to the beginning of modern history. The early accounts of every nation whose founding was anterior to the invention of printing, or other means of making authentic records, must necessarily be obscure and doubtful. What is applicable to the Chinese has been true of other ancient people, and “national vanity and a love of the marvellous have influenced them all, and furnished materials for many tales, as soon as the spirit of investigation has supplanted that appetite for wonders which marks the infancy of nations as well as of individuals.” The ignorance of the “art preservative of all arts” will greatly explain the subsequent record of the wonderful, without supposing that the infancy of nations partook of the same traits of weakness and credulity as that of individuals. In this work, it is unnecessary to repeat or abridge the details contained in authors, concerning the history and succession of dynasties that have swayed the Middle Kingdom, for to one not specially engaged in their examination, their recital is proverbially dry, and the array of uncouth names destitute of lasting interest; mainly because the absence of the charm of association with western nations, renders them uninviting to the general reader. Some account of the leading events and changes is all that is necessary to explain what has been elsewhere incidentally referred to. Chinese historians have endeavored to explain the creation and origin of the world around them; but, ignorant of the sublime fact that there is one Creator who upholds his works by the word of his power, they have invented various modes to account for it, and wearied themselves in theorizing and disputing with each other. One of them, Yangtsz', remarks, in view of these conflicting suppositions, “Who knows the affairs of remote antiquity, since no authentic records have come down to us He who examines these stories will find it difficult to believe them, and careful scrutiny will convince him that they are without foundation. In
COSMOGONY OF CHINESE HISTORIANS. 195
the primeval ages no historical records were kept. Why then, since the ancient books that described those times were burnt by Tsin, should we misrepresent those remote ages, and satisfy ourselves with vague fables 2 But as everything except heaven and earth must have a cause, it is clear that they have always existed, and that cause produced all sorts of men and beings, and endowed them with their various qualities. But it must have been man who in the beginning produced all things on earth, and who may therefore be viewed as the lord, and from whom rulers derive their dignities.” This extract is not a bad example of Chinese writers and his. torians; a mixture of sense and nonsense, partially laying the foundation of a just argument, and ending with a tremendous non-sequitur, which form together an incoherent mélange like the clay and iron in the feet of Nebuchadnezzar's image. Most of the Chinese imagine that the world owes its existence to the retroactive agency of the dual powers yin and yang, which first formed the outline of the universe, and were themselves influenced by their own creations. One of the most sensible of their authors
“Heaven was formless, an utter chaos; and the whole mass was nothing but confusion. Order was first produced in the pure ether, and out of it the universe came forth; the universe produced air, and air the milky-way. When the pure male principle yang had been diluted, it formed the heavens; the heavy and thick parts coagulated, and formed the earth. The refined particles united very soon, but the union of the thick and heavy went on slowly; therefore the heavens came into existence first, and the earth afterwards. From the subtle essence of heaven and earth, the dual principles yin and yang were formed; from their joint operation came the four seasons, and these putting forth their energies gave birth to all the products of the earth. The warm effluence of the yang being condensed, produced fire; and the finest parts of fire formed the sun. The cold exhalations of the yin being likewise condensed produced water; and the finest parts of the watery substance formed the moon. By the seminal influence of the sun and moon, came the stars. Thus heaven was adorned with the sun, moon, and stars; the earth also received rain, rivers, and dust.”
But this acute explanation, like the notions of Hesiod among the Greeks, was too subtle for the common people; they also wanted
* Chinese Repository, Vol. III., page 55.