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REGULATIONS FOR WATCHMEN, BEGGARS, AND FIREs. 17
allotted stipend, which cannot be less than one cash to each person; they sit in the doorway, and sing a ditty or beat their clapdishes and sticks to attract attention, and if the shopkeeper has no customers, he lets them keep up their cries, for he knows that the longer they are detained at the door, so much the more time will elapse before they come again to his shop. Many of them are blind, and all of them present a sickly appearance, their countenances begrimed with dirt, and furrowed by sorrow and suffering. The areas before temples and the vicinity of markets, are the resort of numbers, and there too they die by scores from disease and starvation, presenting an affecting illustration of the cold indifference heathenism exhibits towards the distress of the poor. Many persons give the headman a dollar or more per month to purchase exemption from the daily importunity of the beggars; and families about to perform housewarming, a mar. riage, or funeral, and newly arrived junks, are obliged to fee him to get rid of the clamorous and loathsome crowd. When fires occur, the officers of government are held responsible ; the law being, that if ten houses are burned within the walls, the highest officer in it shall be fined nine months’ pay; if more than thirty, a year's salary; and if three hundred are consumed, he shall be degraded one degree. The governor and other high officers, attended by a few troops, are frequently seen at fires in Canton, as much to prevent thievery as to direct in extinguishing the flames. The engines are hurried through the narrow streets at a fearful rate ; those who carry away property are armed with swords to defend it, and every one adds to the crash of the burning houses by loud cries. The police are authorized to pull down houses, if the fire can thereby be sooner extinguished, but there is no independent organized body of firemen, nor any well arranged system of operations in such cases, though conflagrations are ordinarily soon got under. The condition of the women and children at such times is pitiable, and cruel men often take the opportunity to steal and carry off defenceless persons, especially young girls. In addition to the edifices already described, is the pagoda, a building considered as so peculiar to the Chinese, that a landscape or painting relating to China without a pagoda perched on a hill, like one of Egyptian scenery destitute of a pyramid or a desert plain, would be considered deficient. The term pagoda has been applied by De Guignes and other writers on China, to temples, in conformity with the usage of the word in India, where it originated ; by other authors, principally English, it has been appropriated to the polygonal towers occurring in all parts of the country; and this restricted application is the best use of the term, since the word temple is better understood as designating edifices containing idols. The pagodas are usually called tah, but some which are inhabited and contain idols are called sz’, or monastery. The two in the city of Canton were erected, it is affirmed, to bring and secure good luck to the region in accordance with the rules of the fungshurui, or wind and water doctrine. There are six others between Canton and Macao, none of them inhabited, but the people believe all of them exert a great influence upon the fortunes and prosperity of the surrounding region. These edifices are strongly built; one near West lake in Chehkiang is stated to have been erected fifteen centuries. They are always an odd number of stories, seldom less than five, and none more than eleven. Small octagonal houses, three stories high, are sometimes built as temples or literary halls, dedicated to the god of Letters. There is a temple and pagoda near Hangchau fu, described by De Guignes, as “well built and kept in good repair, with the single exception of one building used for a magazine. The court contains two pavilions, one has a bell, the other a gong. The pagoda is beautiful, each of its eight sides being 28 feet wide, and the wall at the base, including the covered stairway, 18 feet thick. This stairway is about three feet wide, and ascends spirally between two walls, the inner of which is about six feet thick ; the diameter of the room within is 18 feet, and each one contains niches for idols, except the top one, which upholds a large post that projects many feet beyond the roof; including this, the height is about 170 feet. There is a covered gallery at each story on the outside, which had begun to show the effects of time. The prospect from the summit is superb; we could discover the course of the river, and a part of the city and suburbs; near by were many tombs, which with vegetable gardens attached to the establishment, and the trees in their environs, heightened the picturesque scene. Fifty priests reside here, who told us the pagoda had been built seven hundred years; if so, the woodwork must have been often repaired.”
CONSTRUCTION AND OBJECT OF PAGODAs. 19
Sir John Davis visited one near Lintsing chau in Shantung, in very good repair, inhabited by Budhist priests, and containing two idols; each of its nine stories was inscribed with Ometo Fuh, in large characters. It was erected since the completion of the Grand canal. A winding stairway of near 200 steps conducted to the top, about 150 feet from the ground, from whence an extensive and beautiful view was obtained of the surrounding country. The basement was excellently built of granite, and all the rest of glazed brick, beautifully joined and cemented.*
The appearance of a Chinese city when seen from a distance is unlike the view of European cities, in which spires, domes, and towers of churches and cathedrals, halls, palaces, and other public buildings, and green spots from squares and gardens intervening between the streets, relieve the uniformity of rows of dwellings; and stacks of chimneys or glittering roofs further add to the liveliness of the scene. In China, temples, houses, and palaces are nearly of one height; their sameness being only partially relieved by trees here and there, and pairs of tall flag-staffs with frames near their tops, which at a distance not a little resemble dismantled gallows. Nature, however, charms and delights, and few countries present more beautiful landscapes; even the tameness of the works of man serves as a foil for the diversified beauties of the cultivated landscape.
A Chinese usually travels by water, and in the south-eastern provinces, it may be said that vehicles solely designed for carrying travellers or goods do not exist, for the carts and wheelbarrows which are met with are few and so miserably made, as hardly to serve any purpose, or prove an exception to the remark. In the plains of Chihlí and about the capital, and further northward, they are more common but wretchedly made, the wheels being often solid, and fixed to short axletrees. Hundreds of them are to be hired in the streets of Peking, which are no better than oblong boxes fastened to an axle and cushioned to alleviate the jolting, and drawn by one horse; the passengers get in and out at the sides or front, where the driver sits close to the horse. In Kiangsí, wheelbarrows are made of a peculiar shape, and employed for transporting passengers and their baggage, but not to any great distance, nor is the same description of vehicle common in the other provinces.
* Voyages à Peking, tom. II., p. 79. Davis’ Sketches, Vol. I., p. 213.
Where travelling by water is impossible, sedan chairs are used to carry passengers, and coolies with poles and slings transport their luggage and goods. There are two kinds of sedan, in both of which the traveller sits; the light one is made of bamboo, and so narrow that the sitter is obliged to lean forward as he is carried; the large one, called kiau, is, whether viewed in regard to lightness, comfort, or any other quality associated with such a mode of carriage, one of the most convenient articles found in any country. It is prohibited to the common people, but those possessing any kind of privilege are allowed to use it; two men easily support it on their shoulders, and can carry it four miles an hour. Goods are safely carried upon poles, and however large or heavy the package may be, the porters contrive to subdivide its weight between them by means of their sticks and slings. The number of persons who thus gain a livelihood is great, and in cities they are employed by headmen, who contract for work just as carmen do elsewhere; or when unengaged by overseers, parties station themselves at corners and other public places, ready to start at a beck. A person going through the streets of Canton will often meet groups of brawny fellows idling away their time in smoking, gambling, sleeping, or jeering at the
MODES OF TRAVELLING. 21
wayfarers; and, like the husbandmen mentioned in the parable, if he ask them why they stand there all the day idle 2 will be in like manner answered, “Because no man hath hired us.” The chairbearers also form a somewhat distinct clan, and the establishments where sedans and their bearers are to be hired suggest a comparison with the livery stables of western cities; the men in fact are nicknamed at Canton mo mi ma, i. e. tailless horses. There is a vehicle used sometimes by the emperor and high officers, consisting of an open chair set upon poles, and so made that the incumbent can be seen as well as see around him. It undergoes many changes in different parts of the country, as it is both cheap and light, and well fitted for traversing mountainous regions. In the construction and management of their river craft the Chinese excel. Most of the boats are intended to be the residences of those who navigate them, and regard is had to this in their arrangement. Only a part of the fleets of boats seen on the river at Canton are intended for transportation, a large number being designed for fixed residences, and perhaps half of them are moored stem and stern in rows. They are not obliged to remain where they station themselves, but both the boats and their inmates are under the supervision of a water police, who register them and point out the position they may occupy. Boats for families, those in which oil, salt, fuel, or other articles are sold, lighters, passage-boats, flower-boats, and other kinds, are by this means grouped together, and more easily found. It was once ascertained that there were 84,000 boats registered as belonging to the city of Canton, but whether they all remained near the city and did not go to other parts of the district, or whether the old ones were erased from the register when broken up, was not ascertained ; though it is not likely that at one time this number of boats ever lay opposite the city. No one who has been at Canton, can forget the bustling, noisy, and animating sight the river offers, nor failed to have noticed the good humored carefulness with which boats of every size pass each other without collision. It is difficult to describe the many kinds of craft found on the Chinese waters, without the assistance of drawings. They are furnished with stern sculls, which move upon a pivot, and easily propel the boat amid the crowd. Large boats are furnished