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the richest black satin of Nankin, with soles of a certain height; his knee caps are elegantly embroidered ; his cap and button are of the neatest cut; his pipes elegant and high-priced ; his tobacco of the best manufacture of Fokien ; an English gold watch ; a tooth-pick hung at his button, with a string of valuable pearls ; and a fan from Nankin, scented with chulan flowers—such are his personal appointments. He is attended by servants in costly liveries; and, when he meets an acquaintance, his studied manners and ceremonial are as carefully displayed, as the airs of the most accomplished dandy in Christian countries.
All amusements are anxiously sought after. Theatrical exhibitions constantly take place after dinner in the houses of the rich. Cards and dice abound every where. Besides these, they have many other sports and games of chance, peculiar to the country. Cricket fighting and quail fighting are very common. To make two male crickets fight, they are placed in an earthen bowl, about five or eight inches in diameter; the owner of each, tickles his cricket with a feather, which makes them both run round the bowl different ways, frequently jostling one another as they pass. After several meetings in this way, they at length become exasperated, and fight with great fury until they literally tear each other limb from limb.
Quails for fighting are prepared with great care. Every one has a separate keeper, who has his bird confined in a small bag, which he carries with him wherever he goes. The poor prisoner is rarely permitted to see the light, except when he is fed, or it is deemed necessary for his health ; he is then held by the keeper on his hand, sometimes for hours. When two quails are brought to fight, they are placed in a thing like a large sieve, in the centre of a table, round which the spectators stand to witness the battle and make their bets. Some grains of millet seed are put into the sieve, and the quails are taken from the bags and placed near it, opposite to each other. If they are birds of courage, the moment one begins to eat he is attacked by the other, and they fight hard for a few minutes. The quail that is beaten flies up, and the conqueror remains to eat the seed. The best fights seldom last more than five minutes. Immense sums of money are lost and won on them, for they are very uncertain ; sometimes one quail has been known to win several hundred battles, and then suddenly to be beaten by a new and untutored bird.
Next to quail fighting, the flower-boats occupy most of a Chinese gentleman's leisure hours. They are the residence of women, generally of agreeable conversation and lively manners, but not of the purest character. The vessels are so called, from having the sides, windows, and doors, carved in flowers, and
painted green and gilded. They are divided into rooms, which are well ventilated and fitted up with verandas, galleries, and all the conveniences of comfort, luxury, and dissipation. The gentlemen go to them in the afternoon ; parties are formed ; they all sit round a large table, well furnished, and eat, drink, sing, and play, until morning. It is said that from forty to fifty thousand dollars are spent daily in the flower-boats of Canton. By an ancient custom, the Hong-merchants there, when making their contracts for tea, (which is generally done a year in advance,) are obliged to invite the persons with whom they wish to contract, to partake of a repast in one of those boats. The bargain is always easy in proportion to the sumptuousness and splendour of the supper, during which it is concluded ; and although very expensive, is fully repaid by the advantages gained in the contract.
When a Chinese gives a ceremonious dinner, it is done with great splendour. Several days before, a large red paper is sent to the guests, on which the invitation is written in the politest terms of the language. On the day preceding the party, another invitation is sent on rose coloured paper, to remind them of it, and to ascertain whether they are coming. Again, on the next day, a short time before the hour appointed, the invitation is repeated, to inform them that the feast is prepared and awaits them. A great number of dishes are served on small ebony tables, and dressed in the most piquant manner; there are several courses; and, in addition to various wines, cordials of a fiery nature are offered from time to time. When two persons wish to pledge one another, they leave the tables, go into the middle of the room, and take care to place the cups to their lips exactly at the same instant. They are not apt to become intoxicated. Between the courses they rise from the table and walk about. The most expensive delicacy they can offer is birds' nest soup, with pigeons or plovers' eggs floating on it. The birds' nests, so used, are formed of a mucilage supposed to be collected from certain weeds floating on the sea, by the swallows of the Indian, Chinese, and Pacific oceans; some of the best come from Batavia and the Nikobar Islands; they are sold by weight, and a catty (one pound and three quarters) of the best parts, sells for the enormous price of forty-five to sixty dollars.
The Chinese do not appear to be governed by fixed and solid principles of religion, such as the Christian faith, produced by conviction or reason. They have a superstitious reverence for certain ceremonies, rights, and ancient customs, which have prevailed for ages; and these serve, in many ts, to cover various vices and habits which are prevalent. They seem, however, to believe in a Supreme Being, called the Great Joss, or Yook-Chee, represented only to the mind, and not allowing his
image to be made on earth ; and they say, should any one be rash enough to make a statue of him, he would be immediately struck dead. He is, however, described on paper, holding the little finger of his right hand across the first joint of the middle finger, the fore-finger resting on the point of the little finger, and the third finger bent round it, whilst the thumb is also bent upwards, a very curious and difficult position to place the fingers in. They believe that when he opens his hand, the world and mankind are to be destroyed; and they consider all the other deities and spirits, to whom, however, they do not pay a very great adoration, as sent by him to the world. These are supposed to preside over rain, crops, dreams, &c., and have various attributes, which it would require volumes to explain. The Chinese have no regular priesthood, supported by the government; it depends on voluntary contributions and endowments of the rich ; it has its monasteries, where numbers of both sexes devote themselves to celibacy ; but, in general, it seems, as a body, to have less influence than in most countries. In all rich families, there is a shing-shang, or astrologer, who is consulted on all occasions ; he is the tutor, and generally the writer; and thus becomes a man of much importance. The funerals are objects of great attention; and, where it is possible, great expense is bestowed on them ; every care is taken to choose a lucky spot for interment, and the tombs are made very splendid.
These are a few of the facts we have noted with regard to the Chinese, in perusing Mr. Dobell's volumes; and but a very
few. Those who are desirous to obtain a fuller account of the country, manners, and state of society of that singular people, than our limited space will permit us to give, may turn to them with great profit. He has evidently devoted much attention to the collection of information; and, resulting as it does, from the observations of a number of years, with an opportunity of correcting and comparing accounts and impressions, received at various times and under various circumstances, we believe that just and great reliance may be placed on it. We must now leave China, however, and follow him on his expedition to the north of Asia.
Leaving Canton, and proceeding along the western shore of the Pacific ocean, he landed at the harbour of St. Peter and St. Paul, on the 25th of August, 1812. He describes the bay of the Avatcha, which forms the port, as forty versts in circumference, encompassed by forest-covered mountains and extensive meadows. It is so capacious and safe, that large fleets may securely lie there; and it affords a combination of picturesque beauty, grandeur, and security, rarely equalled in other parts of the globe. Immense tracts of low ground extend along the outlet of the river Avatcha, which present the appearance of hav. ing been banked out in former times, to prevent their being over
flowed. So numerous, indeed, are these embankments, and so far beyond the necessities or ability of such a population as the present, to erect, that they are by many of the inhabitants supposed to be natural mounds. This conjecture, however, Mr. Dobell was convinced was incorrect, from repeated observation.
"Evident marks remain," he observes, " where the earth has been dug out and thrown up; the holes, which were very deep, are now ponds, whilst the shallower ones have been filled up with soft mud, and have a thick surface of turf upon them, resembling what is called a shaking bog. There is no doubt of their being the work of man; but when and how it was performed was what I could not discover. The Kamtchatdales themselves could have had no induce. ment to undertake such a laborious task ; as, when they were first known, they had neither horned cattle nor horses. They were probably made after the con. quest of that country by the Russians, when domestic animals were introduced ; as they are evidently intended to preserve the low lands for hay and pasture. This has been so well accomplished, that the greater part of them are still actually in good order.”
After passing a few days at Avatcha, and gratifying the inhabitants with a ball on board of his vessel, Mr. Dobell set out, on the first of September, for Nijna Kamtchatsk, a town seven hundred and fisty miles distant, the residence of the governor, whom it was necessary for him to see, in order to make the commercial arrangements he desired. He ascended the Avatcha river, the banks of which are for the most part composed of fine meadow land, or hills thickly covered with birch. Early on the following day, the party left their boats, and proceeded on horseback over two or three very steep mountains, and amid clouds of mosquitoes, which tormented them exceedingly. The houses at which they stopped, from time to time, were in general black, smoky, and dirty, but the inhabitants kind and hospitable beyond measure, though poor. The universal food is fish-men, dogs, bears, wolves, and birds of prey, all live upon them, and indeed they abound, in quantities fully sufficient to supply all ; they are seen in the streams sporting about by thousands, and even the shores are covered with dead ones thrown up by the current.
The dwelling of the Kamtchatdales is of two kinds—for the summer and the winter. The former, which is called a ballagan, is a building of a conical form, composed of poles fourteen or fifteen feet long, laid up from the edge of a circle, ten or twelve feet in diameter, the tops meeting at the centre, and tied there by ozier twigs or ropes. The outside of these is covered with birch or pine bark, over which there is sometimes a thatching of coarse grass, fastened down by other poles and oziers. This kind of hut is generally erected in the centre of a square platform, elevated ten or twelve feet, upon large posts planted deep in the ground. Poles are again placed in rows under the building and between the posts, where they dry their fish, which the hut serves to cover from the weather, as well as
to store and preserve them when dried. The door of the ballagan is always opposite to the water; the fire-place on a bed of earth outside, at one corner of the platform. A large piece of timber, with notches cut in it instead of steps, and placed against the platform at an angle of forty-five degrees, is the method of ascending and descending, particularly unsafe and inconvenient for those not accustomed to so uncouth a staircase.
The winter house, or jourta, is a sort of subterranean dwelling. It generally consists of a frame of timber, put into a square hole four or five feet deep, and within the frame a quantity of stakes are set close together, inclining a little inwards, and the earth thrown against them. The stakes are left round on the outside, but hewn within, and the top is framed over in the same manner and arched and supported by stanchions. In the centre of the roof is a square hole, which serves the double purpose of a door and a chimney, the inhabitants passing in or out by means of a piece of timber with notches cut in it, such as we have before described. The top and sides of the jourta are covered outside with a quantity of earth and sodded. At one end, there is a large hole with a stopper to it, which is opened when the oven is heating, to force the smoke out at the door. When once heated, and the stopper closed, jourtas are warm, and, were it not for the smoke, would be comfortable. The description of such subterranean habitations, and of the lives led by these rude people during their long and bitter winters, cannot be read without reviving in the memory those lines of Virgil, which describe a race similar in all respectseven to the acid liquors they distil; but dwelling in regions far less remote from the warm skies of Italy.
“ Ipsi in defossis specubus secura sub altâ
Otia agunt terrâ ; congestaque robora, totasque
Et pecudum fulvis velantur corpora setis." The increase of civilization, wealth, and intercourse with other nations, has however effected a great change in the mode of life among this remote people. Cottages, made generally of logs, are substituted for these ruder mansions, especially in the neighbourhood of the sea-ports; and a traveller occasionally meets with much that reminds him of fairer climes, and a state of society less primitive.
“On reaching Sherrom, a cottage was pointed out to us as the habitation of the Toyune, the outward appearance of which was too engaging not to excite anticipations of good cheer within. As it was low building, I put my head into one of the windows that was open, and was quite surprised to see so neat and
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