« PreviousContinue »
bearing acorns, and its trunk exhibit- form to a tree, the branches are bent ing all
the external marks of an aged into shape, and retained in it by tree. I have also had orange and means of pieces of bamboo. Although citron trees of the same size, bearing China does not abound in a redundanfruit of a very fine flavour. One of cy of those large trees and forests, these orange-trees used to produce, at seen in other parts of Asia, still there the same moment, incipient buds, is no paucity of timber or useful trees, blossoms in full flower, fruit newly excepting in the Ladrone Islands, of set, and of full size, in a green state which Hong-Kong is the worst speciand ripe. But the greatest curiosity men. The banyan or pagoda-tree, flour. I had, was a bamboo-tree, two feet ishes well, sending down its branches and a half high, so distorted, as to re- to root in the earth, and reproduce present a dragon with a boy seated on other trees, to be similarly multiplied, his back.
till innumerable arched trees, and I had a very curious Camelia Ja- cloistered alcoves, surround the enorponica ; I never heard of, or saw one mous parent trunk. It is necessary like it in China. It was of a unique, to see this tree, to estimate its beauty, bright purple colour. The Chinese or the comfort afforded by its shade. could not have dyed it, as it bloomed It is needless to speak of the mulin my own possession. The flower berry-trees which furnish food for the was large, and its form was perfect. innumerable silkworms, whose silk All these dwarfs of the vegetable forms so material an article in the exworld were the gift of a valued friend, ports from China. From the lackerwho took some pains to procure them tree, which is the size of our ash, the for me; but the air of Hong-Kong Chinese obtain a very valuable oil, destroyed them, as it does everything which they employ for varnish ; it is else. I have seen a lu-chee tree, necessary, however, to be most carewhose natural size is that of our full- ful in the use of this oil, for, if dropgrown mulberry-tree, dwarfed into ped on the skin, it produces a cutaone of three feet; its trunk had all neous disease, which it is difficult to the appearance of old timber, and the
There is a particular tree, branches tapered similar to those on which I heard of, but did not see, in a natural-sized tree. I have heard China, which attracts a bee, called the of an orange-tree being distorted into “ white-wax bee,” which feeds upon the form of a man's hand; but I did its blossoms; the natives fasten nests not see it. The mode of dwarfing is in this tree, in which the bee deposits simple: the branch of a full-grown her wax, which is remarkably pure. tree is covered with mould, which is The most curious tree in China is the bound round with cloth or matting, tallow.tree, from whose fruit is exand kept constantly wet; the fibres of tracted a vegetable fat, from which the branch thus covered soon shoot candles are manufactured; and from into the mould, and then the branch the kernels an oil is prepared, which is carefully cut from the tree, the is used by the poorer classes. When bandage is removed, and it is planted the fruit is ripe, which in appearance in new earth. The fibres then be- is something like the elderberry, but come roots, and thus that which was much larger, the leaves are tinted previously a branch on the parent with a most beautiful purple-scarlet tree becomes a trunk, bearing flowers hue. The only laurel known in China and fruit. The buds at the extremity is the camphor-laurel, which grows to of the branches, which are intended a great size, and is used in ship-buildto be dwarfed, are torn off as soon as ing The camphor is obtained by they appear, and by this means, the
boiling the branches and leaves, when branches are arrested in their growth, an oil is collected from the surface of and other buds and branches shoot the water, and is then passed through out. After a certain time, sugar-juice a variety of processes ; but the is applied to the trunk of the dwarf- camphor thus produced, is not equal tree, by which means insects are at- to that which is found in the trunk of tracted, and thus the bark is injured, the tree. I have been informed, that and that knotted appearance is pro
the Borneo camphor is much purer duced, peculiar to old trees. When and far superior to the Chinese. it is proposed to give any particular There are whole forests of the camphor.
tree there, which are cut down by the the old leaves, which have been natives, solely for the sake of the gathered, without any preparation. camphor, and the timber is left to rot. In the mountainous parts of China, Had we possession of this island, this unsuitable to the cultivation of other might be made a valuable article of crops, a species of tea-plant is grown, trade. Cotton grows in great luxuri. called, by the Chinese, “flower of ance in many parts of China. From tea." The flower of this plant, they the rind of a species of sycamore, the sometimes mix with their finest teas, Chinese manufacture some of their to impart a more fragrant flavour. finest paper. There is a tree, also, from The Arabian jessamine is said to be the pith of which, when dried, they sometimes substituted for this purpose. produce a flour, used in culinary pur- A very superior oil is extracted from poses. It is unnecessary to dilate the nut of the “flower-of-tea” plant. upon the culture of the tea-plant, so The vegetable productions of China much has been already written upon are not only those peculiar to a tropithe subject. It grows wild in China, cal climate, such as brimjals, yams, to the height of two or three feet, and occus, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins, bears a white fragrant flower ; when but also potatoes (though of an inferior cultivated, it attains the height of four description), peas, Windsor-beans, or five feet. It is planted in rows, French-beans, turnips, and carrots, and weeded with the greatest care ; equal to our own. I have frequently the greater the care bestowed upon had at my own table, an excellent the plant, the finer is the flavour of white-cabbage, which is unknown in the tea. There are many varieties; England, very good salad, radishes, and the Chinese say, they have more a species of cucumber, equal in tlathan one hundred descriptions of the vour to ours, but of a different aptea-plant. It is a most mistaken idea pearance altogether; I must not forget to suppose, that the green tea is the truffles, which are not inferior to made by the process of drying upon those of the continent, nor the capers, copper ; as copper is never used in which are very good. The tobacco. drying it. But black teas are often plant is cultivated in China to some made green by colouring matter, which extent ; but it is of an inferior descripis very easily discovered by chewing tion. The plant from which castora few leaves, or breathing upon a oil is extracted, grows wild; but it is handful, when the green bue will also cultivated with great care. soon disappear ; this tea is known as China is thus blessed in the fertili“ Canton Green." The green teas ty of her soil, and the produce of her are a different species from the black silk-worms; but such prosperity is altogether. The finest sorts of tea, often arrested by one of the curses which are used by the emperor and with which the Almighty formerly the wealthy mandarins, are cultivated scourged the land of Egypt: whole with the same care which we bestow provinces are sometimes entirely de upon exotics. The younger the leaves vastated by locusts.
These voracious are, when gathered, the finer is the insects are peculiarly beautiful, of flavour of the tea. The coarser kinds great variety, and some of a very large of tea, which are used by the poor, are size, in China.
CHAPTER XI. --ARTS AND MANUFACTURES OF CHINA-GOLD AND SILVER TINSEL
PORCELAIN-SILKS_DESCRIPTION OF THE CARVED IVORY BALLS-COLOURS AND BEAUTY OF DYES — VISIT TO THE ATELIER OF LUM-QUA, THE SIR T. LAWRENCE OF CHINA-MANUFACTORY OF PAPER AND PRINTING OF BOOKS-LITERATURE OF THE COUNTRY.
Among the manufactures China, the
frequent attempts have been made to gold and silver tinsels of Pekin stand in discover the secret, which have all the highest estimation. Their chief proved abortive, much to the detrivalue arises from their possessing ment of our own manufactures
, whose the property of never tarnishing in any value would be considerably enhanced by climate. In appearance, they resemble the discovery. Tinsels are wrought of cloth of gold or silver. Various and various patterns, which have all the
appearance of being woven into the tonishing. I have seen in China specloth, and not stamped upon its sur- cimens of enamelling, which surpass face. They are constantly used in any I have ever seen produced at Getrimming their silken robes.
neva; and their excellence is particuThe beauty of the Chinese porcelain larly exemplified in their mode of using is well known, and could we introduce ultra-marine, which is rendered evertheir colours into our manufactures, lasting. It is said that this manufacwe might rival those of France. The tory is chiefly confined to Nankin. finest specimens come from the manu- France might well be proud, could factory near Pekin. The beautiful she improve any of her manufactures, transparency and brilliancy of the white by ascertaining and adopting those proground is supposed to be produced by cesses by means of which the Chinese an incombustible stone or earth, em- excel in any of the above arts; and it ployed in its manufacture. If this be is very possible that some object of this true, and the locality (which is said to sort has led her to incur the expense be in the vicinity of the Yellow River) of an embassy to China, and to mainwere discovered, this stone, or earth, tain a squadron in those seas. It bemight be brought, at a comparatively hoves Great Britain to be on the alert, trifling cost, to England, as ballast in and watch the movements of her neightea-ships, as all vessels laden with tea bour in China. are obliged to have a certain quantity The beauty, pecularity, and depth of of ballast. The beauty of the porce- the carvings in ivory and tortoise-shell, lain-enamelling, in natural colours, are well known. I took some trouble upon metals, is too well known to re- and pains to obtain a view of the instruquire description ; and the Chinese ments with which the artists worked, might here, again, become our instruc- but regret to say I was unsuccessful. tors. The silks, satins, and crapes of The ivory balls so elaborately carved, China, are most beautiful; but I have and the ingenuity with which they are learned from merchants that they are constructed, have long excited admiratoo costly, and too much prized in tion, and surprise at the artistic skill China, to form articles of any consi- and means by which so many concentric derable trade with Great Britain. It balls can be carved one within the is curious, that though the silks and other. I know not whether any one satins surpass the looms of Great Bri- else has made the discovery, but the tain and France, both for beauty of co- truth is, that each ball is constructed lour and durability of texture, yet the of two pieces, the edges of which are silk velvets are far inferior to those so finely scraped down, that the edge produced in England. The Chinese of one hemisphere is made to overlap silk velvets, although possessing much its counterpart with the greatest nicesubstance, have the peculiarly dead ty. Thus one ball is easily enclosed hue of an English cotton velvet, ard within an other. The joinings are are totally void of the silky lustre of then united by a peculiarly strong cethose manufactured at Genoa and ment, aided by the employment of Lyons.
steam and pressure.
Any one who The embroidery of the Chinese is wishes to make the expensive trial will peculiar to themselves, and is not only soon ascertain the fact by applying a unequalled, but is far superior to that very powerful heat to one of these of any other nation. The exquisite con- balls, which will open at the joints in trivance by which the figures are made due time. The most curious variety, to correspond on both sides of the one of which I possess, is a ball, which cloth continues a profound secret. The has all the appearance of being cut out finest specimens of embroidery are ma- of the solid mass, with perforated holes, nufactured in the interior, from which through which, in whatever way it we are still excluded.
is turned, spikes of ivory protrude. The filagree work of the Chinese Though the surface is perfectly smooth, equals any ever produced by ancient and the weight such as to imply soVenice, and their chasing in silver is lidity, without any carving to conceal certainly unrivalled. The beautiful a joining, yet I doubt not that it is fidelity with which they represent fi- executed in a manner similar to the gures, houses, &c., within a less space others. than a quarter of an inch, is truly as- The dyes of the Chinese have been before alluded to, the knowledge of our manner, and although they ap. which would prove a source of im- peared the same as those which he was provement to our manufactures; but using, the tints were totally different. the colours prepared and used by their I tried to induce him to give or sell artists equal, if they do not surpass, me some prepared colours; but neithose used formerly in the Venetian, ther fair words nor money could perItalian, or Flemish schools. When suade him to accede to my request. in Canton, I went to visit the atelier of Here I saw some highly-finished waLum-qua—the Sir Thomas Lawrence ter-colour drawings upon rice-paper, of China-and my attention was par- representing human beings, animals, ticularly attracted by what I consider- flowers, and birds. But the most reed a very pretty female face, of round, markable of these drawings were a seplump. contour, the eyes rather too ries which, corresponding with Shaksmall; the figure was habited in Chinese speare's Seven Ages of Man, reprecostume. On asking the artist who sented the life and death of a mandathe lady was, he replied—" That fancy rin. The first in order exhibited an portrait for Englishman. That not infant just born, whom the female atChina beauty. That China beauty," tendants immerse in his first bath. pointing to the portrait of a boatwo- Next his father leads him by the hand, man, which most certainly ill-accorded and conducts him to school. Then he with our ideas of feminine loveliness. appears in the house of a mandarin, The colouring of this artist's oil-paint- to whom he presents certain writings. ings was very beautiful. He showed Next, having been just married, he me many portraits, several of which I attends to welcome and receive his instantly recognized, both of Euro- bride at his own house. Now, habited peans and Chinese. Though deficient as a soldier, he knocks his head before in light and shade, they were executed the emperor, who confers upon him in a most masterly manner. There the button of a mandarin, as a reward is, however, a want of life and expres. for military services. Arrayed in sion, which no doubt these ingenious mandarin robes, and surrounded by people might soon rectify. I possess numerous attendants, he proceeds to the interior of a Chinese dwelling, pay a visit to his schoolmaster, to painted in oil by this master, which for thank him for the successful education chasteness of composition, accuracy of he received under his charge. “ The perspective, truthfulness of design, and last stage (of life) in this eventful hissubdued toue of colouring, has never tory,” represents the mandarin on his been surpassed by any master of the death-bed, surrounded by a numerous ancient schools. What renders this family of weeping wives, sons, daughpainting so remarkable, is the diversity ters, grand-children, and other relaof subject. The figures and costumes tives, while near him is placed a coffin are perfect; and the objects of still- exquisitely decorated. The last drawlife, animals and flowers, are delineated ing exhibits the deceased mandarin with Chinese accuracy. I was not borne to the grave, preceded by inpreviously aware of their proficiency in numerable banners, on which are in. oil-painting, nor do I believe it is ge- scribed his manifold titles, and various nerally known. Their water-colour good qualities, followed by a train of drawings have often been imported to sedan.chairs, occupied by mourners Europe.
The late Doctor Adam and attendants. The beauty of coClarke possessed a series of great louring in this series of drawings is beauty, representing all the legends inimitable, and an extraordinary likeof their mythology. There is some- ness is preserved in the face from the thing very peculiar in the preparation infant to the dying mandarin. The of their oil-paints. On one occasion whole of the accessories appertaining I watched with an artist, who was in to each epoch are faithfully delineated, company with me, the operations of a and the backgrounds are most delipupil who was mixing some paints. cately stippled in. The accuracy and When Lum-qua observed us, he in- fidelity of the Chinese artist contrasts stantly stopped his progress, nor did amusingly with the attempts made by he allow him to resume his occupation our own artists to represent Chinese during our stay. I purchased some customs and manners. In represent colours from him, and mixed them in ing a criminal receiving the bastinado,
English draftsmen represent the feet but the paper being of too porous a held by two Chinese, dressed in boots nature to receive impressions on both and wearing mandarins' caps and fea. sides, it becomes necessary to fold the thers. Executioners were never graced paper. These doubled sheets are then with such appendages. This cap and stitched together, the fold is at the boots never are, and dare never be outer edge, with two coarser sheets of worn except by mandarins. The pea- paper to form a cover. But the wealthier cock's feather is rarely conferred by classes are as particular as we are, the emperor, and then only as a mark in their bindings, which are of beauof distinction for some public service. tifully figured silks and satins, someOn some rare occasions, an individual times of gold or silver tinsels. The of merit may receive the distinction of Chinese being a very reading nation, three feathers. It is considered nearly never destroy the slabs on which the as great an honour to receive this fea. characters of a work are cut, which are ther, as to obtain from the emperor laid by with great care, and the place the gift of some of his personal appen- of their deposit is referred to in the dages--such as a fan and fan-case, or preface of the work. his purse, which is the highest distinc- Books are sold at so cheap a rate tion known.
that they are within the reach of all. The manufactory of paper is said to But it is deplorable to witness the have been discovered in China many depravity of taste so publicly exhibited centuries earlier than in Europe. Tra- in China, by the circulation of an dition affirms that the invention is due enormous number of obscene publi. to a mandarin, who mixed silk and cations and indecent engravings, which pulp of trees together, which he spread are eagerly sought after. The taste in the sun. The very inferior des- for reading may very cheaply be cription of paper which is produced in gratified in China, by means of itineChina, seems a tacit contradiction to rant circulating libraries, which are this claim of priority, as it is almost carried about by their proprietors, incredible that a nation, which has in boxes slung over their shoulders. brought other arts to so great perfec- In no part of the world is education tion, and where literature is so highly so universal as it is in China. In such prized, should so long stand station- estimation is literature held, that liteary in an art so useful. Their best rary attainments form the only passand finest paper is made of the pulp of port to the highest offices in the state. the sycamore tree, and their coarser Each province is furnished with officers paper from paddy-straw, the fibre of appointed to examine claimants or hemp, and the barks of various trees; aspirants to state preferment, who go that which we erroneously call rice- their circuits twice in each year. paper is made from a very fine des- Each candidate must submit to repeatcription of bark; but the best
paper ed examinations previous to the discomes from Nankin.
tinction of being placed upon the The Chinese also lay claim to the books for preferment. When a man invention of printing, at an equally has reached the highest class of liteearly period. From the nature of the rary_attainment, he is examined by language, however, this art does not the Emperor in person, and if approved appear capable of much improvement, of by him, he attains the highest since the Chinese language consists of honours. It would appear that genius between seventy thousand and eighty or originality is not so much admired thousand characters, each character in China as memory. The power of representing a distinct word. It seems reciting the greatest number of the almost impracticable to use moveable sayings of their ancient sages. is contypes; and therefore they adopt the sidered the acmé of learning. Every plan of cutting in relief all the charac- literary honour confers the rank of ters of the work to be printed, on slabs a mandarin on its possessor; and of a very hard wood.
The printer each grade is distinguished by its pedaubs these over with a preparation of culiar dress. Although honours are Indian-ink, and the paper, being pressed not hereditary (even the emperor seupon them, receives the impression. lects whom he pleases, as his successor, One coating of the printing fluid is from the royal blood), yet the descendsufficient for two or three impressions, ants of men of learning are treated