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in the palmy days of the T'ang, that a purse contains money, is now anything but certain.
'He knew me not where I stopped one day
At a Sylvan Spring beside the way;
"Fear not to lose your wine," I cried,
"A purse is sure to have cash inside."
In the following verses any single line by itself, or any couplet may be regarded as a Proverb.
COMPRISING A VARIETY OF USEFUL INFORMATION.
'A Stick that is crooked, though ironed out straight, is as crooked at last as before, And the Wolf that you train to behave like a Dog, will hardly stand guard at your door. The Raven, though powdered and washed till he's white, not for long will appear to be clean,
And the pure Fairy Crane when you've dyed him in ink, will never look fit to be seen. The juice of the Wormwood, with honey though mixed, yet its taste it is hopeless to sweeten;
So Melons and Fruits that are picked while they're green, will never be good to be eaten.
The Ode, like the Antithetical Couplet, is a favorite means of conveying reproof. A School teacher with whom the writer is acquainted, composed the following lines for the benefit of his brother. Opiumsmokers, it is unnecessary to remark, are not reformed by reason— much less by rhymes.
'The Opium-smoker alas! alas! affairs have come to a horrible pass;
Wife and children hungry and cold, and he cares nothing for young or old.
His friends exhort him again and again, till he hates the sound of their voice,
Yet when he looks in the mirror clear, it makes his heart rejoice,
So thin and light his body has grown, when he is dead 't will rise alone—
In a hamlet in the province of Shantung, a few persons had been
baptized, in connection with a Protestant mission. The village con
tained two small temples, one to Kuan Ti () the god of War, and the other to All-the-gods (). At the New Year's time, one of
the villagers copied a familiar verse, in which by an easy adaptation of the original significance the old religions were allegorically represented as a Pine tree on the Mountain, while the new faith appears as a conceited little Flower, ridiculing the old Tree as inferior to itself. But the sharp Frost (by which the righteous anger of Kuan Ti and All-the-gods was figured) demolishes the Flower, leaving the Tree unscathed. The four lines of this verse were most absurdly separated from each other, the first two being pasted on the posts of the temple at the eastern end of the village, and the remaining two upon the pillars of the temple at the western end. The leader of the new sect, perceiving his faith thus assailed, rushed to the rescue with a counter set of verses, which he pasted on the temple wall, where they were allowed to remain until blown away by the wind. Each of these poetical disputants was a poor and hard-working farmer, neither of them could lay claim to any education, and neither of them could write without inditing false characters. The verses, themselves, which are given below, are of no other interest than as exemplifying in a striking manner, the irresistible propensity of the Chinese (as already mentioned) to reach an opponent by indirection. The ingenuity of the attack, lay entirely in its obliquity, converting an Ancient Verse by implication into an Ode against Christianity.
'High on the mountain a dark green Fir-a Floweret on the plain;
But the Flower is proud and laughs aloud at the Fir with high disdain,
BY A ZEALOUS (BUT IMPERFECTLY EDUCATED) CHRISTIAN.
The Fir was made to shoot up tall, and the Flower to bloom below;
The dark green Fir-the blooming Flower-now what by these are meant ?
Each has its birth from the mother earth-but what do they represent ?
And you that sit at the Sage's feet, and would his pupil be,
"He that is good, acts as he should," what mean such words to thee?
The wise man's awe of Heaven's decree, is an awe you sadly lack,
As forth you pour at the temple door your incoherent clack.'
Chinese history abounds in Odes-as we have seen to be the case with Antithetical Couplets-which have been made on special occasions,
real or imaginary. In the horrible wars carried on by the Northern
Tartars who founded the Yuan Dynasty, vast regions of country were
involved. Among other places the city of Chi An () in the province of Kiang Hsi was stormed and captured, and its inhabitants subjected to spoliation and insult. A beautiful woman whose surname was Chao, was pursued by the savage Tartars, and clasping to her bosom her infant boy, fled to the refuge of a temple. The soldiers soon overtook her, when she reviled them, at which they were so exasperated that they plunged their swords into the child. The mother immediately dipped her finger in his blood, and wrote the following verse, after which she dashed her head against the wall, and died. The blood stains, we are assured have outlasted six hundred years, and are still visible. The verse has been cut in the stone upon which it was written.
A MOTHER'S SORROW.
'If I had died before my son his heart had swelled with grief,
And since I see him snatched away my woe finds no relief.
Ah! happy fate which suffers us to perish hand in hand,
So with a smiling countenance we enter the Shady Laud.'
It is common in China to punish thieves, by tattooing upon the temple the character ch'ich () 'Thief,' which is done by pricking its outline with needles, and afterwards rubbing in coloring matter. There is a story of a certain culprit thus treated, whose brand when inspected by the Magistrate, was found to be only the abbreviated form of the character () whereupon he required that the operation should be performed all over again in the regular way. These occurrences having rendered the prosecution of his calling somewhat inconvenient, the thief took to begging, and as he begged chanted the following
ODE OF A TATTOOED BEGGAR.
Showing the disadvantages of bearing a Bad Character, how it may be painful to acquire, and hard to get rid of.
'In my hand I hold a mirror, as I scrutinize my face
I see the fresh blood dripping from the wound in the same old place.
Had I dreamed of this disaster when first I learned to steal,
Of reduplicated tortures which he would make me feel,
As I practiced my profession I'd have taken greater heed
To avoid a District Magistrate who knows enough to read!'
The forms of versification afford a convenient vehicle in Chinese,
as in other languages, for little tales with a moral. Popular Proverbs
are easily introduced to point the moral, and adorn the tale.
Showing the folly of Avarice, and the universally subjective tendencies of the Human Race. A rich and avaricious man who was
dangerously ill, called his family about him, in hopes of finding some one of them who was willing to die in his place. His first appeal for a substitute is to his Daughter. Her Husband immediately nips this plan in the bud.
'Quickly the Son-in-law comes to the fore,
Oh Father-in-law, quoth he,
I grieve to say that your words to-day
Are as silly as words can be.
Your Son inherits your ample wealth,
While we have never a share,
Then why should the burden of Life and Death
Be laid upon us to bear?
Perceiving that he has no hope of a reprieve in this direction, the old man next summons his Son, and begs him to die in his Father's
place. Upon this the Son's Wife promptly comes forward:
'In haste the Daughter-in-law draws near,
Oh Father-in-law quoth she,
I'm sorry to say that your words appear
Death summons you and you ask your Son
To meet the messenger grim;
Your Father died with you at his side
Why did n't you die for him?'
Disappointed by his unfilial children, the dying man turns implor
ingly to his old Wife, and makes his petition to her. She responds:
'Each mortal eats to the full, and tries
To satisfy Number One,
So every mortal is born and dies,
And when he is dead, he is done.
The heavy burden of Life and Death
You wish me to bear for thee,
But then my burden of Life and Death
Pray who is to bear for me?'
This exasperating unanimity of opposition to his request, puts the old man into a passion. He reminds them that all his property is of his own gathering, and since no one of them will take his place and allow him still to enjoy it, he will embarrass them with conditions as to its expenditure-conditions which they will not dare to disregard. His coffin is to be magnificent, and a part of his wealth is to be placed in it for his own use in the Shady Land, and especially is a gold coin to be put in his mouth for immediate use when wanted. The splendor of the funeral attracted universal notice, and the fact that treasure had been buried was notorious. On the very first night after the
interment, a gang of robbers split open the coffin, and rifled its contents. The corpse was left on the ground, a prey to dogs who soon scattered the bones, until nothing remained at the grave but the skull. A party of children were one day gathering fuel in the neighborhood, and finding the skull, struck it with their rakes. This produced a clinking sound, and upon examination they perceived the shining piece of gold within, and were unable to extract it, but this was at last effected by shattering the skull with a brick-bat. Just as this final act of despoliation was complete, Han Hsiang tzu (7) one of the Eight Immortals (1) chanced that way:
'Wide scattered now beside the road
'Ten thousand strings of cash, he cried,
This mortal owned, but when he died
'What now has become of his ample wealth
And his coffin so heavy and thick
It has gone to smash-and for only a cash
His skull is split with a brick!'
THE POPULAR RELIGIOUS LITERATURE OF THE CHINESE.
BY REV. W. SCARBOROUGH.
(Continued from page 307.)
THE HE wedding ceremony over, the bride takes up her residence in her husband's home, or rather that of the family to which he belongs, and her education begins. The virtue which she is especially called upon to cultivate is compliance. She must first learn this in connection with her parents-in-law. Rumour says that the mother-in-law often assumes the character of a tyrant with regard to her daughtersin-law; but these books suggest that not infrequently the girl's own disobedience is to blame for that. She must also be taught to behave. amiably towards all the females of the family, to speak always mildly and kindly, and to be diligent and economical. And should her husband happen to be very fond of her, she must on no account assume a proud and haughty demeanour. She must preserve a most correct and respectful carriage, and treat him always as an honoured guest.' Indeed 'if a wife loves her husband as she ought to do, this will result in complete respectfulness in her behaviour to him.'