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transported to the deserts of Mantchouria, that they may learn to inure themselves to a hardy life.
In order to keep the princes of the blood in awe, they are placed under the control of the Tsung-jin-foo, à tribunal which consists of six individuals, all of them bearing high titles, and possessing the entire confidence of the emperor. It is the duty of this tribunal to keep an exact register of the births, marriages, deaths, and relations of the princes. This they do, and they divide their genealogical tables into yellow and red; the former including the imperial kindred, and the latter the collateral branches. These lists are submitted once in ten years to the emperor, when he confers on each their titles, as well as other times, upon the recommendation of the Tsung-jin-foo.
These titles are conferred under four considerations: as hereditary ; as an imperial favour ; on account of having rendered some prominent service to the state ; and by right of having passed the examinations. They are twelve in number, and are composed of Mantchoo and Chinese names, of which no translation can be given. Seven titles are distributed among the female members of the court, the first of which is given to the legitimate daughters of the emperor; the second to the offspring of his concubines; and the remaining five to the descendants of the higher nobility. The inferior grades are called Tsung-neu, or princesses in general.
The examinations alluded to, consist in the proficiency of military exercises, as bow-shooting, riding, and gymnastics: they take place every
quarter, and a due report thereof is made to the emperor. He himself is often present, to superintend the drill, when he rewards the ablest among them, not by wealth or honours, but by a favourable glance of his eye!
The princes are obliged to study Mantchoo and Chinese literature ; but it would appear that their education, except in the military art, is very lax. To assist in their studies, and to superintend their domestic habits, a number of inferior officers are appointed; but these, like the governors of the Greek youth, in the days of antiquity, frequently corrupt rather than improve their man
Among the titles which the emperor of China bestows on the imperial family, as well as others of his remote descendants who have gained bis favour, is that of king: but a Chinese king is a very different personage to those who bear the title in Europe. He is merely the highest nobleman in the empire, with as many subjects as the emperor condescends to grant; and who are frequently mere attendants, honoured with the name of slaves. And the title is merely nominal; for when they attend upon the emperor, they are considered only servants. As for their power, it is a mere shadow; it does not extend beyond their household, and even within those limits they are not allowed to inflict capital punishment. And then their incomes are contemptible, compared with their titles : these are subject to the emperor's bounty, and they are never sufficient to enable them to exhibit regal pageantry. The guard of honour allowed them, in truth, consists only of twenty persons.
These kings, as well as the higher ranks of nobility, follow in the train of the emperor on all solemn occasions : at sacrifices they are always present; and when the emperor gives audience to great multitudes, they crouch before him. They likewise perform the sacrificial rites, as proxies of the emperor, as well as the duties of sentinels at the palace. He surrounds himself with them, in order to insure their fidelity, and, consequently, his own safety : deeming the ties of blood his best safeguard.
The treatment which these kings receive occasionally, sufficiently shows their degraded state. If they commit any crime, they are bastinadoed, loaded with chains like a common criminal, fined, and disgraced. Sometimes, indeed, their names are changed into ignominious epithets, their property confiscated, and they are sent into banishment, where mortification and incessant grief not unfrequently bring them down to the grave. All this is done by the law; and however unjust their condemnation may be, there is no appeal. Hence, to escape such punishment, many among the descendants of “Heaven's son feign stupidity and carelessness, as Brutus did, in the times of the corrupted Roman commonwealth.
The princesses of the blood are still less favoured than the princes. The only education they receive is in the harem, where they become versed in all the intrigues of the eunuchs. A small pittance only is allowed them; and when they are married, the emperor bestows upon them a dowry, consisting of a few pieces of silk, and
some hundred taëls. * Their partners are provided by the court, and they are sacrificed to the policy of the court. Frequently, without any regard to their feelings, their hand is bestowed upon Mongol chiefs, by which means the Chinese court either is, or hopes to be, made acquainted with the affairs of that hostile race. A strong bulwark is thereby formed against Mongol invasion. And yet, notwithstanding the Chinese emperor expects his daughters still to show filial duty towards his “
sacred person,” he pays no regard to their affection. When they are once sent to the desert, severe laws prevent their return to the capital, lest they should occasion expense, and leave their duties of espionage unfulfilled.
This conduct of the emperor of China towards his offspring exhibits the evils of polygamy in its clearest light. By it the stream of natural affection, the great solace of a parent's life, seems
It even puts a sword into his hand to slay the children born unto him ; or, at least, converts him into a persecutor: for the whole imperial family seems to be looked upon by him as so many slaves, born to do his will, and wait his bidding. Even the natural affection of their hearts is blighted in the bud. They would love, as nature would dictate; but the cold treatment they receive repels their affections. The branch thereby is severed from the root, and the unlovely spectacle of the father arrayed against the son, and the son against the father, is presented to the
* The value of a taël in English money is six shillings and a fraction.
world. Such are the unhallowed fruits of paganism.
Nominally, the Chinese constitution maintains the following privileged classes: the privilege of imperial blood; of long service; of illustrious actions; of talent and wisdom ; of great abilities ; of zeal and assiduity ; of nobility; and of birth. The privilege of the first of these classes belongs to those who are descended from the same ancestor as the emperor; those who are of the emperor's mother and grandmother, within four degrees ; those who are of the empress within three degrees; and those who are of the consort of the heir apparent, within two degrees. The second and third classes are intended for faithful servants of the state, both civil and military ; the fourth, fifth, and sixth classes for civilians, and the literati, including those mandarins who excel in administration ; the seventh comprehends the nobility; and the eighth the sons of meritorious officers.
By this the reader will learn in what light the Chinese view nobility. Merit, for the most part, takes the precedence of birth ; and if this were carried out, the arrangement would be excellent. Unfortunately, however, this arrangement of nobility by the Chinese constitution is but theoretical; for it happens that the vicious are frequently exalted, while merit goes unrewarded. The payment of a sum of money is made to pass for an illustrious action, and the basest intrigue for consummate wisdom. Hence the rule laid down by law regarding nobility becomes a dead letter. It makes out its patent excellently well, but the