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convenience of stringing them together, and on the coin certain characters are inscribed in relief. Incredible as it may appear, there are an immense quantity of spurious “ cash” in circulation. These coin are strung together in hundreds, and commonly twenty in each hundred are bad. When a shopkeeper is asked why he mises this bad coin which he will not receive back again, he answers, he does not know, but it is a China custom." I have heard of one place in the interior of China where there are none but spu. rious cash in circulation. Spurious coins are easily detected, even when strung up with lawful money, by an experienced eye. No steps are taken by the state to detect or punish the forgers. When the cash is good, about eight hundred go to the Spanish dollar, but when mixed with spurious coin, about one thousand are taken for the dollar. Of silver there cannot be said to be any coinage in China, as the "tael" which is used as a circulating medium, is a piece of silver of an oblong form, with both ends rounded ; one being rather broader than the other, some. thing like a Chinese boat. This is very thick, and the value varies from 6s. 14d. to 6s. 3d. The Chinese always assay this, to ascertain the purity of the sil. ver, and it is then stamped with the private stamp of the merchant or shopkeeper. “Sycee " silver is always passed in bars varying in weight; it is always assayed, and its weight valued in taels, at the price of the day. There is no paper currency of any description in use throughout China. Dollars, both Spanish and Mexican, are in general circulation, but the Spanish are always preferred. The Chinese are very peculiar in their mode of valuing dollars. Of the Spanish dollars those of Carolus are most prized, and of these, there are some more valuable than others. To our English eye they all appear the same ; however there is some peculiar mark by which the Chic nese distinguish them. I have had one of each put into my hands, but, with all the attention possible, I was unable to discover the least difference. The value of the Spanish dollars varies from 43. 3d. to 4s. 60. ; those of Carolus vary fiom 4s. 4d. to 4s. 6d. Mexican dollars never reach a higher value than 4s. The local government of Hong-Kong have passed an ordinance equalizing
the value of all dollars at 4s. 2d. ; but this legislation can only entail loss upon government servants and troops, who are obliged to take Mexican dollars at 4s. 2d, for which the Chinese shopkeepers will only allow 4s., or, taking them at 4s. 2d., put an increased price upon their goods. It will be impossible to make the Chinese inhabitants of Hong-Kong calculate the value of dollars, otherwise than according to their peculiar ideas, and the mode universally adopted throughout the Chinese empire. Much, however, as the Chinese dislike the Mexican dollar, the rupee is their abhorrence. The government servants and troops used to be paid in Hong-Kong in rupees, the value vary. ing, according to government calculation, from 220 to 227 for the 100 crowns Spanish; but though the go. vernment servants and troops were compelled to take the rupees at this valuation, the Chinese could not be induced to take them at the same rate, but gave only from Is. 6d, to Is. 74d. for them, and some even refused them at any price. The Chinese will only occasionally take English silver, and then not anything like its value. Gold they do not understand at all, and consequently refuse our sovereigns, which can only be occasionally sold (for the use of the goldsmiths who make ornaments or trinkets for Europeans), and then only for 4 crowns Mexican, or 18s.
Money-changers seem to carry on a most lucrative calling in China, if we may be allowed to form an opinion from the numbers engaged in it. They are constantly to be seen in the markets, distinguished by a long string of cash hanging, like an alderman's chain, around their necks, and piles of them strung together in heaps before them. There are also a great number of shops principally devoted to this avocation. No dollar will be changed by themes. cept some article is bought, or a few cash changed. In this manner, and by intermixing spurious coin, they must make enormous profits.
Pawnbrokers flourish as much in China, if not more, than in England. Their rate of interest is exorbitant, and as no questions are asked, they are the great receivers of stolen goods. Every description of article inay be pledged, from the most expensive to the most trifling mechanical tool;
tickets are given corresponding to ours, and a duplicate attached to the article pledged. The broker generally wears a most comely appearance; in fact, he is the very picture of Chinese beauty in man, and his dress invariably betokens wealth. In a thinking nation like the Chinese, and one so deeply calcu. lating, where the value of every article is known to the greatest nicety, it seems most unaccountable that they should deteriorate the value of money by their absurd system of stamping each dollar as it passes through their hands, with the private mark of the merchant or shopkeeper. By this process it becomes at last so thin and battered that it falls to pieces. The pieces thus broken off swell the circulating medium. They pass by weight; perhaps there may be frequently as many as forty pieces to the value of a single dollar. China is not only as striking an example as can be found amongst the nations of the earth, of great inequality of wealth amongst the population, but of the extremes of wealth and poverty. She has many Rothschilds amongst her merchants, and many a Lazarus in her streets. Owing to her absolute monarchy, how ever, the fluctuation of wealth is greater than in any other country. To-day a mandarin is amongst the richest in the land, to-morrow he is disgraced, and not only the whole of his wealth confiscated, but that of his sons or brothers, if he has any. A merchant is amongst the wealthiest of his class, and being detected smuggling opium, the whole of his property, and that of his sons and brothers, is in like manner forfeited.
The oriental bank has established a branch at Hong-Kong. I have heard from those connected with it, that it does not answer, as was foretold by every one who understood anything upon the subject. From the habits of merchants in China, it would be very inconvenient, if not impossible, to keep banking accounts. Spare cash is generally, if not universally, invested in opium, when it can be purchased at a low rate, which is kept until the market rises. To the residence of each merchant is invariably attached a trea. sury for money sycee and opium, which is well built and strongly secured The compredore of each establishment has the custody of this treasury, whose fidelity is secured to the merchant by the wealthy Chinese ; any defalcation
either of treasure or opinion, is immediately made good. This system has been so long adopted in China amongst the merchants, that they are unwilling to try a new one. The only accounts likely to be kept at the bank are such as, from the smallness of their amounts, could not pay, being those, in all probability, of government servants, who could not make any considerable lodgments from their monthly payments, or of European shopkeepers and speculators, whose accounts would rarely exceed £100. From what I have been informed, it appears the result is exactly in conformity with the mercantile predictions. The government, however, have given every encouragement to the undertaking, and very properly have allowed the bank a military guard.
House-rent in Hong-Kong is very expensive. In 1845 I rented a house, as a favour, for a hundred and fifty Spanish dollars per month, for which two hundred Spanish dollars had been offered by another. The rage for building was greater, probably, than in any other new colony. Although the speculators may, in a great measure, have outwitted themselves by overbuilding, yet the rent of a moderatesized house is sixty Spanish dollars, and in the present year, 1846, the commissariat have taken a house, at the monthly rate of three hundred and fifty Spanish dollars. This building is of the first class, and similar to those used by the merchants. Their houses, however, invariably belong to themselves, but they pay similarly high rents for their houses in Canton. The expense of living in China is also excessive : for the benefit of others, I will mention what I learned from visit. ing the East, that a rupee only goes as far in India as a shilling in England. In China, the ratio is doubled. The Spanish dollar will only procure what a shilling would purchase at home. Vegetables are about the same price as in England, but it would be impossible to give old, ever-varying prices of poultry and pigs ; it is true that the old market prices are published weekly by the chief magistrate at HongKong, but I never have been able to purchase at the moderate rate of his quotations, nor have I ever met any one who did. The compredores invariably affirm that the people will not sell at these rates. The poultry, pigs, &c., are all sold by weight. The Chinese exercise their ingenuity in increasing the weight, by administering large doses of salt to the pigs shortly before they are exposed for sale, and giving them water, which they consequently drink to a great extent. They cram the poultry for the same purpose with pellets of wet sand, and rub it abundantly into their feathers. I had the curiosity to examine a duck which was purchased by my compredore, and found half a pound of sand under each wing ; when the bird was killed, I found the craw filled with the same substance. The pork is so disgustingly fat, I could seldom eat it; English bacon was about one shilling and nine pence per pound, and good Cheshire cheese about half a dollar; inferior cheese, such as the Dutch (that servants in England would refuse to eat), from one shilling and sixpence to two shil. lings per pound. In the rainy season, these luxuries might be bought in large quantities considerably cheaper, with the certainty, however, of being spoiled, from the moisture of the atmosphere, in a week's time. Good butter is about two shillings per pound, and very difficult to be obtained. Mutton varies from one shilling and sixpence to two shillings per pound, when it is to be had, and beef is about the same price as in England, of a very bad quality in Hong-Kong; but I have eaten beef in Canton nearly as at home, not forgetting green pease at Christmas! Bread is dearer than in England, and rice, strange to say in a rice producing country, is dearer than in Europe ; this is owing to its being the food of the million. The better sort of French and Rhenish wines, I have bought much cheaper than at home; but every other article of European production is very expensive. I know many may exclaim at this, and refer to the much cheaper prices these articles will fetch at auction, but the auction are also wholesale prices. In many instances, the goods thus bought must be at a
great risk-some may prove of an inferior quality, and some be damaged. This may answer very well for a speculator, but is in no manner calculated for the benefit of the consumer.
It is a curious fact, generally complained of in China, that good tea is not purchasable by retail ; in fact, I never could get any except as a favour, through the merchants. But the best and most delicious teas are not exported, being of too costly a nature, and too much prized by the Chinese ; they are kept for presents. The value is calculated by its weight in silver-a katty of silver to a katty of tea.
I have tasted some of this tea, and the flavour and aroma of it is most delicious. The mandarins are as cu. rious in their collections of teas, as our connoisseurs are in their cellars of wine ; and the wealthy Chinaman takes as much pleasure in getting a friend to taste his various teas, as an English gentleman would experience in producing his various wines to a good judge. Notwithstanding this goût for teas, the Chinese have a great partiality for liqueurs, but our cherry brandy is by far the greatest favourite. of this, a Chinaman will imbibe an incredible quantity in a very short space of time.
Although China is an expensive country to reside in, yet there is a wide field for realizing large fortunes in honest trade, unconnected with that abomination, the trade in opium. There are many shops in Victoria, which, with few exceptions, are kept by Chinese. Amongst these are several which attract the attention of ladies, where curiosities, and fancy articles of all descriptions, are exposed for sale. I have never entered one of these shops with a lady in Victoria, or in Canton (where certainly superior articles are to be had), without fear and trembling. The Chinese are so fearfully depraved, that they expose publicly in their shops, obscene prints, books, and even toys, thus attempting to deprave the very mind of infancy.
GOLDSMITA AND HIS BIOGRAPHERS.*
A CONTROVERSY of no great import ance has been occasioned by Mr. For ster's “ Life and Adventures of Oliver Goldsmith." In 1837, Mr. Prior, who had, for several years before, been occupied in collecting materials for the life of Goldsmith, published what Mr. Forster justly calls his most careful biography of the poet. He, about the same time, edited his “ Miscellaneous Works," incorporating with the old collection much matter gleaned from the reviews and magazines with which Goldsmith was connected; notices of books and essays, which had either been overlooked by former editors, or regarded as undeserving a place among his more permanent works. This task was performed diligently, and with great love of the subject in which he was engaged, by Mr. Prior, and both his books are of exceeding value. Of these books Mr. Forster has made con siderable use, and they must have, in some respects, abridged his labour, when he undertook his own work. This, for the most part, is often enough acknowledged by Mr. Forster, and, to say the truth, we are by no means sure that had Mr. Prior's work never ex isted, Mr. Forster's work would have been materially different from what it is. The character of Goldsmith, as deduced by Mr. Forster, from all ex. isting materials, including those which the diligence of Mr. Prior has added to those previously accessible to all, is not essentially different from the view taken of it by Scott, by Campbell, and by a writer who, had life been spared, would have ranked as an authority on such subjects with either Scott or Campbell—the late Professor Butler,t --all of whose essays on the life and genius of Goldsmith were published before the appearance of Mr. Prior's book. Minute accuracy or inaccuracy, in such a view of the subject as Fors. ter takes, is of but little comparative
moment. He has adopted-perhaps sometimes silently, Mr. Prior's correction of some name of place or date, and he has-silently-corrected Mr. Prior's mistakes-the matters being, for his purposes, almost indifferent, and in our mind, to say the truth, of small account. He has—which Mr. Prior seems unreasonably angry with transcribed Mr. Prior's tran. scripts, instead of transcribing from the old books which are in every library - and this without, in all cases, referring to Mr. Prior. We protest we cannot understand the meaning of this complaint. Our edition of Goldsmith's Works we are sorry to say is not Prior's, which we have no doubt is the best, but it professes to give matter not in former editions. Are we, when we wish to make use of a passage of Goldsmith for any purpose, to examine whether it has been for the first time printed in the volume before us, or not? Has the person, whose claim on public gratitude is the having rendered more easily accessible a passage of a great author that but for him would lie unknown in the dust of libraries, a right to deprive the public of all use of that which he has rendered accessible? Has Forster used anything that it was unfair to use, in these labours of Mr. Prior ? Has there been any ungenerous concealment of the merits of a former labourer in the same field, as far as their field of occupation is the same? If it were true, as Mr. Prior says, that there is no fact in Mr. Forster's book which is not also in his, is not this of but little moment when the question is not as to the facts themselves, but as to the view taken of them? A little examination would leave a good many of these facts in rather a shattered condition; and, as far as Mr. Forster's work is concerned, we really think it would be, in every respect, improved by the omission of several of them, to which, whatever be the test applied, we think a little examination will shew he has given too easy credence. The disputes as to Goldsmith's birth-place have been removed by a reference to the family bible, which determines it to have been at Pallas, in the county of Longford. In three lives of Gold. smith, published before Mr. Prior's, that are on our shelves, Pallas is stat. ed to be his birth-place. It was stated also on his monument in Westminster Abbey. This was thought to have been disproved, and other places were successively assigned, on what seemed sufficient authority. Mr. Forster states the fact as it truly was; but we think that, as it had been a matter of dispute, and as without the evidence wbich Mr. Prior was, we believe, the first to produce, it would have been impossible for any person to decide between the conflicting claims, it was scarcely reasonable not to have stated that the point was fixed beyond controversy by Mr. Prior. The inscription on his monument misstates the year of his birth. Biographers who lived before Mr. Prior stated the true date, but to Mr. Prior is due the merit of establishing it; and, were it of much importance, we think a foot-note, indicating this, ought to have been given; but, through Mr. Forster's beautifully-printed volume, no one foot-note occurs ; and we al most fall out with a symmetry which interferes with convenience to such an extent, as to deprive author and readers of what, to both author and readers, is calculated to present a great advantage. In this controversy, which has extended to several lengthy letters, that have been published in the weekly literary journals, we differ from both the combatants. Forster's use of Mr. Prior's work we think per fectly fair_but we think it ought to have been more distinctly stated than it is as for instance, in the case which we have mentioned. We feel that there ought to have been words of the very strongest acknowledgment of a debt to Mr. Prior, which not only Forster, but every man who shall ever write on the subject of Goldsmith, must be contented to owe to a biographer, whose researches have led him to every accessible source of information, at a time when they were still accessible. On the other hand, we
* " The Life and Adventures of Oliver Goldsmith.” By John Forster, Esq. London: Bradbury and Evans. 1848.
f Professor Butler's paper on the subject appeared in the DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE, Vol. VII., 1836- Gallery of Illustrious Irishmen, No. I.
cannot agree with Mr. Prior in thinking that Mr. Forster, or any other writer is precluded from a statement of the facts of Goldsmith's life, because be, Prior, has succeeded in verifying or refuting former narratives. It would have been impossible for Mr. Forster to build his superstructure of interesting comment on the character of Goldsmith and the literature of his era, without detailing the facts of his life. Had Prior's account of them been less loaded with the production of evi. dence necessary for his purpose of establishing the facts themselves, but unnecessary and only cumbersome for Mr. Forster's, where the facts them. selves are treated but as evidence of something more important, we should have thought Forster's easier and more natural course would have been to quote more frequently than he does, Mr. Prior's very words. The ascertainment of the actual facts of Goldsmith's life has been Mr. Prior's peculiar province. The inferences to be deduced from these facts are, properly speaking, the sole object of Mr. Forster's book. Each work is, in its own way, valuable. Each book is, for its own purposes, best. We think Mr. Forster's acknowledgments ought to have been far more distinct, as his necessary obligations to Mr. Prior are coextensive with the whole life of Goldsmith, and not confined to the incidents first mentioned by Prior. We think, too, that a juster appreciation of the proper merits of Mr. Forster's book will, when the excitement of this controversy is over, make Mr. Prior feel that, for Forster's purposes, the minute accuracy of information which his book has given to Mr. Forster, in common with every person who studies the subject, was not essential-and is therefore not, perhaps, spoken of with all the gratitude to which Mr. Prior thinks himself entitled. The character of Goldsmith is Forster's sole subject-it is but one of Mr. Prior's for Forster assumes the facts which Mr. Prior investigates; but to say the truth, the facts are rather inconvenient to both, and not quite reconcilable with either Prior's history, or Forster's romance. But for the interruption of these facts, as they are called, there is no saying to what extent the idolatries of these worshippers of Goldsmith would have gone.