Sivut kuvina

pecul, or candareens per catty, is the same as so many dollars per cwt., or cents per pound.” The monetary system is arranged on the principle of weight, and the names tael, mace, candareen, and cash, are applied to the divisions, though the only native coin now current is a small copper piece called tsien, or cash by foreigners, the other three being nominal. The piece is thin and circular, about three-quarters of an inch in diameter, with a square hole in the middle for the convenience of stringing them. The obverse bears the names of the dynasty and of the reigning monarch in Manchu, on each side of the square hole; the reverse has the four words Taukwang tung pau, i. e. Taukwang's current money, arranged on the sides of the hole. Mints for casting cash are established in each provincial capital under the direction of the Board of Revenue, which sends the moulds. The coin should consist of pure copper, but it is so mixed with sand, iron filings, and tutenague, that it is one of the basest coins to be found in any country. Each piece should weigh one mace, or 58 grs. troy, but the value has depreciated from 1000 to about 1680 or 1700 cash to a tael, or from 720 to 1050 or 1200 to a dollar. The workmen in the mint are required to remain within the building except when leave of absence is obtained, but in spite of all the efforts of government, private coinage is issued to a great amount, and sometimes with the connivance of the mint-master. At present the cash is so debased as not to repay counterfeiters for the risk of imitating it, which is perhaps the best security the government can have of keeping it in their own hands; and this trifling with the purity of the metal is the reason why the Chinese are unable to maintain a silver currency, though silver coins have been in use at several periods, and unsuccessfully attempted, even lately, in Fuhkien. In that province, a coin was issued by the provincial treasurer, weighing 517 grs. tr., bearing a figure of the god of Longevity on the obverse, and a legend stating it to have been cast in the reign of Taukwang, a “cake of pure silver weighing 7 mace 2 candareens.” The reverse presented a tripod to denote that it was a government coin, and the word Formosa in Manchu. Spanish and South American dollars are employed as a commercial medium along the coast, and their value is understood

* Chinese Repository, Vol. X., p. 650; Chinese Chrestomathy, Chinese Commercial Guide.


in most parts of the empire. The common practice of stamping them with the owner's mark as a pledge of their purity soon takes away their chief advantage of coined money, that of having a fixed and uniform weight. The stamps are driven into the coin, and soon flatten it and obliterate the impression, and further blows break it into fragments as it passes from hand to hand, after which it is taken by weight and melted into bullion. The native bullion is called sycee, from the words sì-sz' or fine floss, sometimes given to denote its purity; the common name is win gin or veined silver, and the ingots, called shoes from their shape, weigh from five to fifty taels. Gold bullion is cast into similar lumps. The ingot is stamped with the names of the banker and workmen, the year and district in which it is cast, and sometimes the kind of tax to be paid with it. Taxes of all kinds are paid in sycee of 98 per cent. fineness, and licensed bankers are connected with the revenue department to whom the proceeds are paid, and who are allowed a small percentage for refining and becoming responsible for its purity, and paying them over to government on demand. The inconveniences of this mode of operation are apparent to themselves, yet cannot be avoided as long as the rulers have not the honesty to maintain the currency. Dollars and ingots are counterfeited so much, that all classes have them inspected before taking them by shroffs, who by practice are able to decide upon the degree of alloy in a piece of silver with great accuracy, by the sight merely, though usually they employ touchstone needles to assist them, different degrees of fineness imparting a different color to the needle. The practice of counterfeiting dollars is so extensive that there is a book in print, like Sylvester's Bank-note Table, giving an account of the process of manufacturing each variety of false money, describing its appearance, and rules for detecting the forgery. Chartered banking companies are unknown, but private bankers are found in all large towns, some of whom pay interest on money deposited on security. Paper money was formerly issued in immense quantities under the Mongol dynasty, and its convenience is highly praised by Marco Polo; but it is now unknown as a general circulating medium, though still used in particular cities. It is highly probable that the repudiation of the notes by the Mongol emperors who succeeded Kublai, and their utter loss when his dynasty was expelled, effectually destroyed all the credit of Chinese imperial honesty with the people. Promissory notes and pawnbrokers’ tickets circulate a little; bills of exchange are common, drawn by one banker upon another in favor of the bearer or depositor in any part of the empire, affording a convenient remittance to merchants, and accommodation to travellers. The little trust reposed in a bare word or signa. ture leads to the practice of depositing pledges when large sums are borrowed, and a resort to pawnbrokers’ shops to raise small amounts. There are three classes of licensed pawnbrokers, the first and largest of whom are usually connected with banking establishments, and placed under numerous restrictions; they are allowed three years to redeem, and must give three years' notice of retiring. Inferior establishments are licensed to allow only two years to redeem, and a third class can dispose of the pledges in a twelvemonth. The length of time which must elapse before the broker can dispose of his articles is injurious to him, and unnecessarily so, for not one pledge in ten is ever redeemed. Officers of government frequently raise money at these shops by sending some cast-off garments, for which they receive two or three times their value, the excess being a well understood sop to wink at irregularities. In case of fire on the premises, the pawnee claims the full amount; but if it communicate from a neighbor’s only one half is paid. These establishments are generally very extensive, and the vast amount of goods stored in them, especially garments and jewelry, shows their universal patronage. One pawnbroker's warehouse at Tinghai was used by the English forces as a hospital, and accommodated between two and three hundred patients. The legal interest allowed on small loans is three per cent. per month, but this rate is sel. dom paid, and in transactions among business men in large amounts it is 12 or 15 per cent. per annum; special agreements are made between these two rates. The theory of war has received more attention among the Chinese than its practice, and their reputation as an unwarlike people is as ancient and general among their neighbors as that of their seclusion and ingenuity. The Mongols and Manchus, Huns and Tartars, all despised the effeminate braggadocio of the Chinese troops, and easily overcame them in war, but were themselves conquered in their turn in peace. Minute directions are


given in books with regard to the drilling of troops, which are seldom reduced to practice, either in the garrison or the camp. The puerile nature of the examinations which candidates for promotion in the army pass through, proves the remains of the ancient hand to hand encounter, and evinces the low standard still entertained of what an officer should be. Personal courage is highly esteemed, and the prowess of ancient heroes in the battle field is lauded in songs, and embellished in novels. The total force of the Chinese army can hardly be ascertained, and the various estimates given by authors indicate that it is not the same at different periods. It may perhaps amount to a million of men; but probably not half that number could be mustered. De Guignes concludes that there are not more than a hundred thousand Manchu troops, and about half a million Chinese, of whom only fifteen thousand are on the northern frontier; in his estimate of the expenditure of government, quoted in Chap. V., he places the infantry at 600,000 men, and the cavalry at 262,000. There is no body of engineers, artillerymen are taken from the garrisons, mariners are drawn from the line, and admirals and captains from the infantry, sappers and miners are unknown, and the most efficient branch of the cavalry is probably the couriers and postmen. The pay of a foot-soldier is about $4 per month, and a horseman about $5.25, but even this is not regularly given them. When called away from their farms and shops into service, the soldiers soon become troublesome for their pay, and clamor to be allowed to return to their homesteads. No daily drill or duties, no guards patrolling the limits, or inspection and exercise of arms, are seen in Chinese encampments; but after the tents are pitched or the huts built, the men drone away the time in idleness, gambling, smoking, and sleeping, or harass the villagers with their lawless demands and insults. Once a month there is a sort of drill on the parade-grounds near cities, consisting of a sham review, which imparts no efficiency to the force. The arms of the Chinese principally consist of bows and arrows, spears, matchlocks, swords, and cannon of various sizes and lengths. The bow is still a favorite weapon, used more for show in the military examinations, than for real service in battle, at which time the matchlock and ginjal are the main dependence. Rattan shields, painted with tigers' heads, are used on board the revenue cutters to turn the thrust of spears, and on ceremonial occasions, many of the companies are paraded in their uniforms with swords and shields. The uniform of the different regiments consists of a jacket of brown, yellow, or blue, bordered with a wide edging of another color; the trowsers are usually blue. The cuirass is made of quilted and doubled cotton cloth, and covered with iron plates or brass knobs connected by copper bands; the helmet is iron or polished steel, sometimes inlaid, weighing 24 lbs., and has neck and ear lappets to protect those parts. The back of the jacket sometimes bears the word yung, “courage,” and on the breast is painted the service the corps is attached to, whether to the governor, commandant, or emperor's. The exhibition of courage among Chinese troops is not, however, always deferred to the time when they run away, though it is doubtless much easier to wear their bravery on their backs, as some in other countries do the cross about the neck as a symbol of their religion, than in either case to infuse it into the heart. *The matchlock is of wrought iron worked like a fowling-piece; it has a longer barrel than a musket, so long that a rest is sometimes attached for greater ease in firing ; the match is a cord of hemp or coir, and the pan must be uncovered with the hand before it can be fired, which necessarily interferes with, and almost prevents its use in wet or windy weather. The cannon are cast, and although not of very uniform calibre from the mode of manufacture, are still sufficiently serviceable for salutes, at which time only three guns are required. The invention of gunpowder is probably due the Chinese, but fire-arms of effective make were not known until the time of the Mongols or shortly before; and notwithstanding the efforts made to improve their manufacture by officers instructed by the Jesuits, at the command of Kanghi, their quality is still poor, and the gunpowder coarse and badly triturated, though the ingredients are mixed in the same proportion as our own. The ginjal is a kind of swivel from six to fourteen feet long, resting on a tripod, less liable to burst than their cannon, and the most effective gun the Chinese possess; brass cannon have been recently cast in imitation of English. Few of the large pieces rest on carriages, or have any contrivance for changing their direction, so that even if the enemy is so accommodating as to remain in range, the artillerymen are, in forts, greatly exposed when reloading.

« EdellinenJatka »