Page images

all forty-nine lamp-dishes, and on the outside, there are one hundred and twenty-eight lamp-dishes. Each night they are supplied with fifty kin weight of oil. Their splendour penetrates upwards to the 33d heaven-midway, they shed a lustre over the people, the good and the bad together,-downwards, they illuminate the earth as far as the city of Tse Kee Hien, in the province of Che-Kiang..

The official title of the head priest of the temple is Chao Sieu. His disciples are called Yue. The total number of priests on the esta¬ blishment is eight hundred and fifty. The family name of the head mason of the building was Yao, his personal name Sieu, and his native town Tsing Kiang Foo. The family name of the head carpenter was Hoo, his personal name Chung, and his native province Kiang See.

The extent of the whole enclosure of the temple is seven hundred and seventy meu*, and eight-tenths. To the southward, towards Chin Van San, are two hundred and twenty-six meu.-Eastward to the boundary of Chin Sien Seng, are two hundred and thirty-four meu, and eight-tenths. In the centre is the ground of Hoo Kin Te.-Westward, as far as the land of She Hou Hoa, are one hundred and twenty meu. -And northward, to the land of Lieu Sien Song, are one hundred and eighty meu.


Viewing, therefore, this History of the Glazed Tower, may it not be considered as the work of a Divinity? Who shall perform the like!

Lately, on the fifteenth day of the fifth moon of the fifth year of Kia-King, at four in the morning, the god of thunder, in his pursuit of a monstrous dragon,+ followed it into this temple, struck three of the sides of the fabric, and materially damaged the ninth story; but the strength and majesty of the god of the temple are most potent, and the laws of Foe are not subject to change :-the tower, by his influence, was therefore saved from entire destruction. The viceroy and the fooyen reported the circumstance to his imperial majesty; and on the sixth day of the second moon of the seventh year, the restoration of the damaged parts was commenced and on the nineteenth day of the fifth moon the repairs were completed.

'On the twenty-ninth day of the sixth moon of the twelfth year of his present majesty, at four in the afternoon, on a sudden there fell a heavy shower of rain, and the god of thunder again rushed forth in front of the tower; and penetrating the roof, pursued the great dragon from, the top to the bottom. The glazed porcelain tiles of the sixth story were much damaged, and, where the god of thunder issued out at the great gate, several of the boards taken from the wood of the heavenly flower-tree were broken:-Thus the god of the thunder, having finally driven away the monstrous dragon, returned to his place in the Heavens.

'The priests of the temple reported the event to the local authorities, and the officer Heu, submitted the report to his imperial majesty, and, awaited the issue of the sums required to defray the charge of the

A meu is somewhat less than an English acre.

By the personification of the dragon the forked lightning would seem to be repre sented; and that of the Deity under the sound of the thunder.


repairs. The gates of the tower have been closed for a year, while theẻ interior has been repairing.

Deny not the presence of a God-a God there is;

He sounds his dread thunder, and all the world trembles.' Mr. Abel was greatly disappointed in not meeting with nume rous examples of that system of terrace cultivation for which China has been so highly extolled. Like one of the missionaries,' he says, I had imagined China to be an immense garden, cultivated with infinite care, and receiving its chief embellishment from mountains cut into terraces, productive in all kinds of vegetable food; and, like him, I was disappointed in finding them very frequently barren of the means of subsistence from the base to the summit.' His own experience, he tells us, agrees with that of Mr. Barrow, who has observed, that in the whole route from Pekin to Capton terrace cultivation occurred on so small a scale as hardly to deserve notice. It is to be hoped that the venerable Abbé Grozier, who is about to bring out an enlarged edition of his ‹ General History of China,' will have corrected the exaggerated statements of the Catholic Missionaries on this as well as on most other subjects connected with that country.

[ocr errors]

On the arrival of the embassay at Canton, they soon discovered, that all the transactions of the Pei-ho and the court of Yuenming-yuen had preceded them; that instructions had reached the viceroy respecting the entertainmeut of the ambassador, the lecture he was to read to him, and the manner in which he was finally to dismiss him. The ceremony of delivering the Emperor's letter to the Prince Regent, or rather, to the King of England, for the Chinese understand not what a regent is, was more imposing (Mr. Abel assures us) on the part of the English than of the Chinese: it was chiefly interesting to us (he adds) as affording the spectacle of a petty tyrant shrinking under the calm dignity of an English nobleman; the viceroy, whose lowering brow and gloomy visage strongly expressed his character of cunning, and his feeling of mor tified pride, and who had endeavoured, on first meeting his excellency, to assume an overbearing port, grew pale, and his eye sunk under the stern and steady gaze of the English ambassador.' We did not think that Lord Amherst could assume so formidable a look -at all events, we are inclined to think that the presence of Captain Maxwell and the recollection of the guns of the Alceste in passing the Bocca Tigris, were not without their due share in blanking the once bold visage' of the viceroy.

Mr. Abel tells us that the contents of the Emperor's letter to the Prince Regent formed a subject of much speculation with the embassy;' and that there was every reason to expect, judging from

[blocks in formation]

the imperial edicts which had transpired, that it would give a very false and distorted account of all the transactions of the embassy.' This document had also preceded the ambassador, and was circulated among the missionaries in Macao;-so little difficulty do they find in maintaining a rapid communication between the two extremities of this vast empire, notwithstanding their complaints of the vigilance and jealousy of the Chinese! Of this precious epistle we are happily enabled to furnish our readers with a copy-with some loss, we fear, to the spirit of the original, since it has only reached us through the medium of an Italian translation.

The Supreme Sovereign of the earth, who has received it from heaven and revolving time, issues this imperial mandate to the King of England, with the purport of which let him be most fully acquainted.

'Your country, O King, is situated at an immense distance beyond a vast ocean, yet you send to me, in the sincerity of your heart, an offering of devotedness, and turn with a zealous affection to the transforming influences which emanate from the middle kingdom (China).

'On a former occasion, in the fifty-eighth year of Kien-lung, at a time when the reign of the exalted, the honourable, and the immaculate emperor was approaching towards its close, you sent an ambassador across the seas to the residence.

[ocr errors]

- At that time, your ambassador, in approaching the throne with veneration and respect, performed the accustomed ceremony without exceeding or falling short of what is required; and duly observed all the forms with proper decorum; and was then enabled to look up, and to receive the favour and affection of the Son of Heaven; to see his majesty's celestial face; to be entertained at a grand banquet; and to have numerous and valuable presents bestowed upon him.

In this present year you, O King, have thought fit again to send an ambassador to our court, with a written representation, and with orders to present me with the productions of your country on his being introduced to my presence.

I, the Emperor, having reflected that you, O King, had done so in sincerity of heart, and from feelings of respect and obedience, rejoiced exceedingly at this intelligence; I caused forthwith the former records to be examined; and I ordered the proper number of officers of state to await the arrival of your ambassador, that on the very day of his approach to the palace he might, in all due respect, behold the imperial person, and then be entertained with a grand festival, according to all things, and with exactly the same ceremonies which were observed in the preceding reign.

'Your ambassador first began to open his communications at Tientsing. I appointed great officers of state to be there to give to him an imperial feast and entertainment. When, behold! instead of your ambassador returning thanks for this feast, he refused to pay obedience to the prescribed ceremonies.

'I, the

I, the Emperor, in the affair of an inferior officer of state arriving from a remote country, did not deem forms and ceremonies of any great importance; it was an affair in which some indulgence and a compassionate forbearance might be shewn to the individual; and I therefore made a special order for all my great officers of state to use gentleness and accommodating behaviour towards your ambassador; and to inform him on his arrival at Pekin, that in the fifty-eighth year of Kien-lung, your ambassador, in performing the usual ceremony, always fell upon his knees, and bowed his head to the ground according to the established forms; how, indeed, on such an occasion, could any change be allowed? 'Your ambassador then told my great officers, face to face, that when the proper time came he would comply with the ceremonies, and would perform the kneeling and prostration, and bowing of the head to the ground; and that no exceeding or falling short of the established forms should occur.


[ocr errors]

Accordingly, my great officers, in conformity to, and in reliance on, this declaration, reported the affair to me, and I sent down my pleasure that on the 7th day of the 7th moon your ambassador should be ordered appear before the imperial person; that on the 8th in the great hall of light and splendour, an entertainment should be conferred, and gifts bestowed; and again, that in the gardens of perpetual pleasure, a feast should be prepared; that on the 9th, he should have his audience of leave, and that on the same day it should be permitted him to ramble among the hills of ten thousand ages: that on the 11th, at the gate of perfect concord, gifts should again be conferred, after which he should repair to the board of ceremonies and there again be feasted; and that on the 12th he should be finally dispatched, and ordered to proceed on his journey. The day fixed for performing the ceremony, and the precise form to be observed, were previously communicated to your ambassador by my great officers of state.

On the 7th, the day appointed for your ambassador to approach and behold the imperial person, he accordingly arrived at the palace, and I, the Emperor, was just about to enter the great hall of audience. "Your ambassador, all on a sudden, asserted that he was so exceedingly ill, that he could not stir a step: I thought it not impossible, and therefore ordered the two assistant ambassadors to enter the hall and appear before me; but both the assistant ambassadors also asserted that they too were ill. This certainly was an instance of rudeness which had never been exceeded. I did not, however, inflict severe chastisement; but I ordered them to be sent off the same day, on their return to their own country. As your ambassador was thus prevented from beholding the imperial presence, it was not expedient that he should send in the written representation from you, O King. It is, therefore, sent back in the same state it came, by your ambassador.

'We have considered, however, that you, O King, from the immense distance of many times ten thousand lee, respectfully caused a written representation to be presented to me, and duly offered presents; that your ambassador's inability to communicate, on your behalf, with profound reverence and sincere devotion, is his own fault; and that the



[ocr errors]

disposition of profound respect and due obedience on your part, O King, are visibly apparent

"I therefore thought proper to take from among the articles of tribute, only a few maps, some prints of views and portraits; but I highly applaud your feelings of sincere devotedness for me, just the same as if I had received the whole. In return I ordered to be given to you, O King, a Joo-ee, (emblem of prosperity,) a string of imperial beads, two large silk purses, and eight small ones, as a proof of our tender and indulgent conduct in this affair.

Your country is too remotely distant from the central and flourishing empire; so that to send an ambassador such a distance over the waves of the sea is not a light affair. Besides, your ambassador, it would seem, does not understand how to practise the rites and ceremonies of the central empire. The subject indeed involves a severe labour of the lips and the tongue, which is by no means pleasant or easy to bear.

The celestial empire sets very little value on things that are brought from a distance. Nor does it consider as rare and precious pearls the productions of your country, however curious and ingenious they may be thought.

'That you, O King, may preserve your people in peace, and be careful in giving strength to the boundary lines of your territories, that no separation of those parts which are distant from that which is near at home may take place,* is what I, the Emperor, sincerely and strongly recommend.

Finally, there will be no occasion hereafter for you to send an ambassador from so great a distance, and to give him the trouble of passing over mountains and crossing the ocean. If you do but pour out the heart in dutiful obedience, it is by no means necessary, at any stated time, to come to the celestial presence, ere it be pronounced, that you turn towards the transforming influences which emanate from this empire.


"This imperial mandate is now issued that you may for ever obey it. Kia-King 21st year, 7th moon, 20th day.'-(Sept. 11th, 1816.) From this imperial epistle two things are sufficiently evident1. that the Supreme Sovereign of the earth' has as little regard for truth as his officers of state have; and, 2. that he wishes to decline any further diplomatic intercourse with us. We learn however that the officers of Canton are more than usually civil and attentive to our resident countrymen; but at the same time busily engaged in building forts on every accessible part of the coast from the Bocca Tigris to the Pei-ho, his Imperial Majesty's ministers being under great apprehension that their treatment of Lord Amherst may be yet visited upon them by a less pacific mission than the last.

We have little more to say of Mr. Abel. While on the spot, he very laudably exerted himself to procure some information respect

This seems to be a delicate allusion to our Indian empire.

« PreviousContinue »