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indeed, only have been adopted out of policy, or as the means to an end, but the effect is the same. It is the state teaching a great moral principle; and its instructions have a salutary effect.
By it the young
not only respect their parents, but their elders ;, and men of all ages and classes, thus trained to practical obedience, with some exceptions only, become willing subjects.
Admiration of this fundamental principle of the Chinese government, however, has its limits. The end to which it is made the means is one of doubtful good. Unhappily, indeed, under the endearing name of a patriarchal and paternal government, China is the beau-ideal of despotism. By it, one man only, the emperor, possesses authority; and he uses that authority frequently to evil purposes-purposes which have a debasing influence over the minds of his subjects. When he uses it to the promotion of social peace and order, then he acts in the spirit of a wise ruler ; but when he makes it an instrument of his own deification, and the consequent degradation of his subjects, then he perverts it to an evil purpose: and that he does do this, is fully shown in a previous chapter, “The Court of China."
Notwithstanding, amidst all his despotism and high pretensions, the Chinese emperor, through his organ the government, is not unmindful of his duties. Having thus effected social peace and order, he employs it to the promotion of the very best of all possible preventives of commotion, that of cheerful industry. Under his fostering care agriculture, trade, and commerce flourish, and the people are left to possess their full share of the results of their labour. The surest proof of this
is the characteristic cheerfulness with which the Chinese proceed to their daily toil; and which is so marked, that it never fails to excite the attention of travellers to that country.
Another good effect of the social peace and order promoted by the government of China, is the universal diffusion of intelligence and education through the lower classes. Notwithstanding the empire consists of so many millions, almost every man can read and write sufficiently for the ordinary purposes of life. Education is, in truth, inculcated by the government; for one of the discourses in the book of Sacred Instructions, which is read to the people, inculcates the necessity of a general acquaintance with the penal laws, and these penal laws are printed and distributed among the people. The discourse in question argues,
that as men cannot properly be punished for what they do not know, so they will be less liable to incur the penalty if they are made duly aquainted with the prohibition. Education, therefore, is made by the Chinese the means of "preventive justice ;” and it is, upon every principle of reason, humanity, and sound principle, preferable to "punitive justice." Evil can only be prevented by a man possessing a just notion of its consequences.
This appears to be the general sentiment of the Chinese ; and this is enforced upon the parent's notice by the government. Every parent is by law liable to punishment for the crimes of his children at any period of their lives; and he, also, is entitled to rewards for their merits; and hence, influenced by the motives of fear and hope, education is generally promoted. Every town and
village has its public place of instruction, and wealthy families have private tutors. So sensible are the Chinese of the importance of education, that their language abounds with maxims having reference to its utility, such as,
“ Bend the mulberry tree when young;" and,“ Without education no governors can be obtained for the people.”
It is all these circumstances combined, the latter of which are but ramifications of the first principle of government, that have produced the general harmony which prevails among the Chi
Influenced by them, they seem to have acquired a general horror of political disorder; a feeling which may be heightened by the recollection of the evils produced by anarchy in former ages.
A common maxim among them is, “Better be a dog in peace, than a man in anarchy ;" and they observe that, “ The worst of men are fondest of change and commotion, hoping that they may thereby benefit themselves; but by adherence to a steady, quiet system, affairs proceed without confusion, and bad men have nothing to gain." It is to this soul-pervading sentiment, perhaps, that the cause must be looked for as engendering this effect; namely, that amidst all the internal revolutions of China, no single instance has occurred of an attempt to change the form of the patriarchal government. Whenever anarchy has prevailed, it has been for the destruction of a tyrant ; or when the country was divided into several states, because one man sought the acquisition of universal power. Change of rule might be sought, but never change of principle. Satisfied with the means of acquiring a livelihood and a competency, the Chinese have always opposed
national changes, from the aristocracy down to the meanest peasant. All seem to be deeply convinced that their interest is concerned in the maintenance of the state of things as they exist, and hence they are averse to any innovations.
Even if this feeling did not exist, policy has upreared such obstacles in the way of change, as could not easily be overcome.
In order to strengthen the hands of government, it has drawn a strong line of demarcation between its officers and the people. All, from the highest state minister to the meanest soldier, are by their situations interested in upholding the existing order of things, since all they have, and all they hope to have, is derived from the emperor.
States men, soldiers, and scholars, alike can only look to the court for honours and emoluments, whence they present a formidable front to every aggression. The very aristocracy of the country is official, and not hereditary, whence they are ever looking to the throne for favours; and if that throne was utterly subverted, their expectations would be cut off. Besides, all rank of consequence is determined by talent, the test of which is afforded by public examinations, which are open to the poorest persons; menial servants, comedians, and the lowest agents of the police excepted: and the multitude, therefore, are encouraged, as well as officials, to seek for promotion at the hands of the emperor.
Another barrier thrown in the way of change by the government of China, is by its adopting an extensive system of surveillance. The actions of all the officers are mutually watched, and their merits or demerits represented to their
superiors. Thus a sword is ever suspended over their heads, and they are careful not to cut the thread by which it hangs, lest their lives should be endangered. But this system, while it promotes watchfulness, and guards the throne, works for evil. Knowing that if they are detected in any error they will certainly suffer for it, deceit and prevarication become the order of the day, that punishment may be avoided.
This system of surveillance, however, and the line of demarcation drawn between the officers and the people, are adopted as a means of guarding the throne of the present dynasty, and not as the essential principles of government. To the same end, civilians are not allowed to hold a place in their native province; and high officers are frequently removed from one station to another, raised and degraded, summoned to appear before the throne, and again dismissed. The principal authority, moreover, is divided between two grandees, independent and frequently jealous of each other, so that it would be extremely difficult for a party to be formed in the provinces of sufficient strength to overthrow the supreme government.
The exact position which the emperor of China holds in the state has been fully shown. His principal ministers form the Nuy-ko, or “ interior council chamber;" and the chief counsellors, who bear the titles of Choong-t'hang and Ko-laou, are four in number, two Tartars, and two Chinese; the former taking the precedence. Below these are a number of assessors, who, with them, form the council of state. All these are selected from the Imperial or Han-lin college. Besides the supreme council, there is the Keun-ky-tâ-chin, a