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terms. When the bargain is concluded, which is generally influenced by the personal attractions of the lady-determined by the smallness of her feet, her pale complexion, and slender waist—the stipulated sum is paid, and a day appointed for the wedding, which takes place amidst the sound of mirth and music.
On her marriage the lady assumes her husband's
But these forced marriages often produce the most tragical results. Suicides frequently take place among the women of China; and they frequently attempt to poison those by whom their earthly happiness is destroyed.
One leading cause of the unhappiness of the marriage life in China appears to arise from the custom allowed by law, for a man to maintain concubines under the same roof. Although these do not possess equal privileges with the wife, but are bought for money, and received into the house nearly like any other domestic, yet their children are admitted to the rights of natural offspring. Hence heart-burnings and jealousies, such as those which drove Hagar and her son into the arid desert, take possession of the breast of the legitimate wife, and these are frequently followed by madness and vengeance.
Divorce is common among the Chinese. They have borrowed the notion from the Budhists, that marriage goes by destiny. Early marriages are promoted by every motive of humanity. Their maxim on this subject is, that “there are three great acts of disregard to parents, and to die without a progeny is the chief." Hence the desire for children among the Chinese, which is scarcely less ardent than that which existed among the Hebrews. Hence, also, the birth of a son is an occasion of great rejoicing. Parents and friends alike join in celebrating the event, as one of the happiest which could fall to their lot. The father especially rejoices, and that not simply because his name will be perpetuated, but because he will have a helper during life, and one to perform his funeral rites when dead at the family tomb.
There is no duty among the Chinese so scrupulously performed as that which relates to the tombs of their ancestors. They conceive that any neglect of this duty is sure to be succeeded by
worldly misfortune, and the performance of it takes the character of a religious sense.
“When a parent or elder relative among the Chinese dies," says Davis, " the event is announced to all the branches of the family : each side of the doors is distinguished by labels in white, which is the mourning colour. The lineal descendants of the deceased, clothed in coarse white cloth, with bandages of the same round their heads, sit, weeping, near the corpse, on the ground; the women keeping up a dismal howl, after the manner of the Irish. In the meantime the friends of the deceased appear, with white coverlids of linen or sılk, which are placed on the body; the eldest son, or next lineal male descendant, supported on each side by relations, and bearing in his hands a porcelain bowl containing two copper coins, now proceeds to the river, or the nearest well, or the wet ditch of the city, to buy water, as it is termed. The ceremony must be performed by the eldest son's son, in preference to the second son ; and this entitles him to a double share of the property, which in other respects is divided equally among the sons. The form of washing the face and body with this water being completed, the deceased is dressed as in life, and laid in a coffin, of which the planks are from four to six inches in thickness, and the bottom strewed with quick lime. On being closed, it is made air-tight by cement, being, besides, varnished on the inside and outside. A tablet is then placed on it, inscribed with the name and titles of the deceased, as they are afterwards to be cut upon his tomb.
“ On the expiration of thrice seven, or twentyone days, the funeral procession takes place; the
tablet being conveyed in a gilded sedan, or pavilion, with incense and offerings before it. It is accompanied by music, closely resembling the Scottish bagpipe, with the continual repetition of three successive strokes on a sort of drum. The children and relations of both sexes follow, in white, without much order or regularity; and, upon reaching the grave, the ceremonies and oblations commence.
It being a part of their superstition that money and garments must be burned for the use of the deceased in the world of spirits, these are, with a wise economy, represented by paper. The form of the tomb, whether large or small, is that of a Greek 2, which, if taken in the sense of the end,' is a singular coincidence. Those of the wealthy and noble are sometimes very large, and contain a considerable quantity of masonry, with figures of animals in stone. The whole detail of sepulchral rites, with the sentiments of the Chinese concerning the dead, are contained in the drama of ' An Heir in Old Age.
“After the interment, the tablet of the deceased is brought back in procession ; and if the family be rich, it is placed in the hall of ancestors ; if poor, in some part of the house, with incense before it. Twice in every year, in the spring and autumn, are the periods fixed for performing the rites to the dead; but the first is the principal period, and the only one commonly attended to. Unlike the generality of the Chinese festivals, which are regulated by the moon, this is determined by the sun, and occurs annually one hundred and five days after the winter solstice, that is, on the 5th of April. About that time the whole population of the town is seen trooping out
in parties to the hills, to repair and sweep the tombs, and make offerings ; leaving behind them, on their return home, long streamers of red and white paper, to mark the fulfilment of the rites. Whole ranges of hills, sprinkled with tombs, may at that season be seen covered with these testimonials of attention to the departed, fluttering in the wind and sunshine."
The graves and monuments of the Chinese are uniformly situated upon the hill sides. Their reasons for this appear to be threefold : first, that they are unfit for cultivation ; secondly, that, as they are well exposed to the winds, every kind of noxious exhalation is soon dispersed; and thirdly, that they are associated in their minds with the pleasing appearances and fructifying effects of the atmosphere, as well as with curious legend and captivating story. To the hills, therefore, the dead, whether rich or poor, are brought and buried; and hither affectionate mothers, forlorn widows, and dutiful sons, resort to mourn the loss of the departed. Frequently a temporary habitation is erected by the side of the grave, to shelter them from the inclement skies, while they eat “the bread of mourners," and the “sorrowful meat," and take their “fill of tears." They sorrow as those without hope. Wrapped in the coarsest cloth, they forego the custom of personal attention, and sometimes show an extraordinary example of patience and self-mortification. But this is not common. The majority adhere to the rules established by etiquette, as to the time which mourners ought to spend at the grave of the deceased.
The period of mourning prescribed by the ritual is three years for a parent. This, however, is com