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She herself is to be treated with respect and kindness. If a dull scholar in this school, she is to be treated patiently. She must neither be scolded nor beaten. In sickness she must be fed and nursed with tenderness. If she should turn out to be a worthless wife, she is threatened with horrible infernal tortures. If she proves to be a good wife, this is her portrait: 'She knows how to keep silence, and how to excel in speech. If not of great talents and power, her disposition is excellent. Grave and authoritative, she deserves to rank with the best. She sets but a light value on ornaments, and sacrifices herself for the good of her children. She assists her husband in the practise of filial piety. In poverty she is never dissatisfied; in wealth she is plain and economical. And she treats all under her with consideration and respect.'
The special virtue which the husband is expected to display is benignity. He should be bland, gracious, and condescending. He should know how to behave with propriety to his wife. There is an ancient code of regulations to be observed by husbands and wives in their mutual intercourse. Now-a-days many men fail to observe this code. The husband may not allow his treatment of his wife to depend at all on her good looks. She must, under any circumstances, be treated as an honoured guest. And where this code is mutually observed, the customs of the house will be kept in order, and all the proprieties of home naturally maintained,' 'husband and wife will go singing on to old age in concert, and family doctrines flourish.'
A few words of good advice on the physical aspects of marriage are given in these tracts; and different classes of unworthy husbands are lampooned with considerable severity.
Concubinage forms the weakest point in the morality of Chinese marriage customs. Against it we are bound to protest on the double ground of God's law and man's welfare. Unfortunately, with the Chinese it is or may be a matter of religion and conscience to take a concubine. Should the wife prove childless, and the husband reach the age of forty without children, he is bound to take a concubine lest he should be so supremely unfilial as to die without progeny. 'Money without children is not wealth. Children without money is not poverty. That a man of thirty should have no children passes unnoticed. He is coldly treated if he has none at forty. No one shows him respect if he reaches the age of fifty without offspring. Should he have none at sixty, he snaps off the six degrees of ancestry. old age and has no child is truly miserable.' receive the concubine kindly, and to treat her with respect. In actual life, however, the concubine often takes the place of a superior maid
And he who reaches The wife is exhorted to
servant, being entirely at the command of the wife, unless the fondness of the husband redeems her from this bondage. Then her duty is to treat the wife respectfully, and not to presume on the husband's especial favour. The taking of concubines for any other reason than that above stated, is strongly condemned; but, as everybody knows, condemned in vain.
Widows are taught to remain such to the end of their lives. For them to re-marry is a crime which is sure to bring its calamity with it. Notwithstanding this, in common life, such marriages are quite usual; and they neither appear to entail disgrace or trouble.
The law of divorce seems to be somewhat arbitrary, and to press with cruel severity on the weaker sex. A wife may be put away for any of the following seven reasons:-Persistent unfilial conduct; barrenness; adultery; an envious disposition; a loathsome disease; garrulity; and dishonesty. These reasons, however, are subject to the three following merciful restrictions:-She must not be put away unless she has a home to go to; or if she be at the time in mourning for her parents; or if her husband has grown rich since he married her.
As a rule, native authors treating of the Relation between Elder and Younger Brothers, leave Sisters altogether unnoticed; but in one of the books under review they are graciously included, and brothers are exhorted to treat them kindly; and should the parents be dead, to undertake the responsibility of seeing them suitably married. Harmony is the great desideratum of this relationship; and to promote it the elder brother must be cordial, and the younger brother respectful. A concise rule is given as the standard of brotherly conduct:-'Treat brothers as in your parents' presence, and all will be right.' 'Brothers are of one and the same vital essence. Their natures may be much alike. The younger should study the character of the elder, in order to please him, and to avoid giving offence. The elder should study the character of the younger, in order to see how far he may indulge him, so as to avoid vexatious fault-finding. Brothers must not listen to the gossip of their wives; nor, for profit, fall into quarrels with each other. They must be mutually loving, and so maintain one perfect round of unbroken harmony. Parents still living, witnessing such a happy state of things, will be greatly delighted; and if they be already dead, it will give peace to their spirits. But if brothers pursue a quarrelsome and selfish line of conduct, not only will they give distress to their parents, but will also render it impossible for them in their turn to teach their own children to be loving towards each other.'
The last of the Five Relations is that between Friend and Friend. It is to the credit of the Chinese that they say so much about friend
ship, and say it so well. One may reasonably conclude that, where there is so much smoke there must be some fire. The following is one of the best extracts I can furnish on the subject: 'Good friendship is not a thing which consists merely in drinking wine together in the morning, feasting together in the evening, discoursing about money, position, profit, and the like; it necessitates truth and integrity of motives and affections, absence of all deception, and a constancy which death itself cannot change.' 'The benefits of friendship are great. If I have a good intention, a friend will prompt me to bring it forth into action. If I have a fault, a friend will exhort me to reform. In straights and difficulties, a friend will come to my help. In doubt and perplexity, a friend will discuss the matter with me. In calamity, a friend will save me out of it. Hence sincerity, as the special virtue of this relationship, is indispensable.'
The selection of friends is a subject on which much wise and weighty counsel is given. Be intimate only with the virtuous. Virtuous men who are old enough to have gained much knowledge and experience, upright and unbending, without selfishness, intolerant of wrong and vice, sincere and straightforward. These are the men to become intimate with. They certainly will never lead one wrong. They may be difficult to obtain, but the benefits of having them are great.' 'Avoid vicious companions. Sly, false, sharp, cunning, mean men, men given to gambling, lechery, and the like-these are the men you must avoid. Those who are wise see such like men as if they were tigers or snakes, and try to keep as far from them as possible.' In the matter of friendship the principle that, "birds of a feather flock together" is acknowledged: 'If there are Superior Men in the house, Superior Men will come to them.' The great influence friends exert over one another is recognised, and the consequent need of caution in selecting friends carefully enforced. Position, conduct, disposition, learning, talents, possessions, and virtues, are all to be taken into account in selecting a friend. Unfortunately there is evidence in all these advices of a selfish spirit, which somewhat detracts from their excellence. In making friends, I must always think supremely of my own advantage; and never form a friendship purely to do another good. A good deal is said in these books of friends which are not wanted, and also of the evils of pernicious friendships, which I need not here reproduce.
The relation existing between Owners and Slaves in China is, in theory at least (and I am ready to believe in practice also), much more tolerable and in accordance with the claims of humanity, than in any other country. Still, human nature being what it is, and being at
least no better in China than elsewhere, I feel bound to class this slavery with infanticide, concubinage, and the general degradation of woman, as one of the foul blots on the otherwise tolerably fair picture of Chinese domestic and social life. It is the special object of the tracts under review, whenever they refer to this subject, to promote the welfare of the enslaved by exhorting their owners to treat them with consideration and kindness. Hence the darker aspects of the subject are only hinted at, and are rather to be guessed at from prohibitions, than to be plainly learnt from straightforward statements of fact. That the children of slaves are born slaves, and that the children of masters enjoy their fathers' rights over slaves from generation to generation, are acknowledged facts. The ranks of slavery are recruited from two other sources, viz., the sale of children (against the strict letter of Chinese law,) on the plea of poverty, and the forfeiture of civil rights by crimes against the Government.
Owners of slaves, male or female, are bound to treat them well. They may not abuse and strike them unjustly. They may not so stint them of bedding and clothing as to shame them; nor of food as to pine them. And when sick the slave must be properly cared for, a doctor called in, and medicine provided. Male slaves when grown up should be allowed the privilege of redeeming themselves; and the female slave's family or friends may be called on to redeem her. If they cannot do so, the owner may select a husband for her and marry her as though she were his own daughter. After that let him set her free. Kind and generous masters are encouraged to expect substantial reward for their goodness, in the shape of augmented riches and increased length of days. Ungenerous owners, unreasonable owners, unrighteous owners, licentious owners, are warned of such changes of fortune as shall deprive them altogether of the ability to own slaves, and plunge them into poverty and misery. It may finally be observed, that the rigours and misery of slavery in China are mitigated considerably by the fact that the owner and his slaves are of one and the same nation: it is not a ease of white men versus negroes.
Besides the social duties already specified, the Chinaman is taught to acknowledge certain claims upon him coming from his Clan and his neighbours. Promote harmony in your Clan. In the eyes of the common ancestor all are his descendants; and if he sees one of them quarrelsome, it is as if one of the veins in his body ceased to flow, so causing him pain in that part. He delights in those who strive to promote harmony in the clan. When harmony prevails the poor of the clan are relieved, the bereaved comforted, slight offences are overlooked, trifles are passed over, all mix together peaceably, all present
an appearance of joy and peace, and all their ancestors are tranquilized at the sight.' 'Promote concord amongst neighbours. Neighbours resemble the lips and teeth, they are mutually dependent and beneficial. This is evident in cases of robbery, fires, and litigation. As the proverb says, 'Neighbours first; relations afterwards.' The great object is to dwell together in good fellowship; and to secure this respect must be shown to the aged, kindness to the young, speech must be affable, deeds must be just, generosity must be shown to the poor, there must be no fawning to the rich, the orphaned and distressed must be cared for, the overbearing must be treated with forbearance, women and children with patience, there must be avoidance of tittle tattle, and one must be good to his own children.'
There is yet another grand duty which the model Chinaman owes to society at large: namely, the education of his children and grandchildren. Daughters and grand-daughters are not entirely shut out from the benefits of education. They get less than their share, but they get a little. All who have sons are bound to educate them. Otherwise they will grow up to be licentious, gamblers, indolent, and undutiful to their parents. Hence their education must begin early.' On dull children special care must be bestowed. And no matter how many sons a man has all must be educated. They must be guarded carefully against moral evil, and instructed in all ancient lore. The complaint is made that many parents pet and spoil their sons, and so neglect their education. 'Now if a child be a born genius such neglect will not hurt him. But only boys of this first class are naturally good without instruction; and these are very few. The second, middle, and lower classes, are very many; and they must be taught in order to become virtuous.' The evils of neglected education are well pointed out, and it is asserted that, 'Children early trained in the right way, when grown up will be wise and good, as a matter of course.'
The education and training recommended for girls is extremely cautious, and seems never to lose sight of the fact that they are soon destined to become wives and mothers. Hence many things are taught in their text books which we should not think of mentioning to them; and by rule they are stiffened up into proper, prudish maidens, knowing much, but seeming as innocent as doves.
Next to morality, Religion is the most important and most prominent topic discussed and enforced in these native tracts. I have never met with a passage, to my recollection, in which the gods were said to help men to become virtuous and to remain so, in any similar way to that in which we Christians expect the help of the Holy Spirit.