of an everlasting future. Yet who shall say what Life is? What is the value of a system of philosophy which denies or discards the only rational solution of the very first problem and condition of our own existence?—Edinburgh Review.
|THE CHINESE: THEIR MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.|
THE manners and customs of the Chinese—an extensive subject, and our canvas a narrow one.
But where to begin?—Domestic life, religion, war, courts of justice, schools, literature, are all alike almost unknown. Be chance our guide. A paper is lying open on our table: it is the "Times." Let us follow the order of its articles and commence at once with the article of births, marriages, and deaths.
Births will afford us but little subject for remark. Let us, however, suppose that the solemn bath appointed for the third day is over, which would seem to be almost a Chinese baptism, and the mother to be convalescent. If the offspring be a girl, there will probably be no rejoicing, but, if a boy, the mother will go in state to the temple frequented by her family and offer thanks to Tien How, the queen of heaven. The only time it was our fortune while in China to see a native lady of any standing was on such an occasion. A wife of Howqua, the son of the celebrated Hong merchant, had gone to the Temple of Honam to return thanks for the birth of a son. The shrine in the temple which she was visiting had been founded by the elder Howqua in honor of his ancestors: it was a lofty hall with roof open to the beams, closed in the rear and at the sides, but in front opening with richly carved doors on a raised terrace surrounded by a stone balustrade and overlooking a square, turfed inclosure containing two or three fine specimens of the Chinese banyan, or Ficus religiosa, and a pond of water covered with the broad green leaves and rose-tipped flowers of the lotus, the sacred plant of Buddha, who is often represented as seated on its open flower. Crossing this pond and skirting it were a bridge and gallery of massive stone carving, corresponding with the balustrades and communicating with the terrace. On the opposite side of the gallery was seen the rear of another shrine, colored of a deep vermilion like the one in front, with its high arched roof sweeping down like the curved outline of a Tartar tent (from which the Chinese style of architecture is supposed to be borrowed), and adorned with dragons, birds, and dolphins in glazed pottery of the brightest colors. Down either side stretched a line of gloomy cloisters communicating with the rest of the building. At one end of the terrace were two or three small tables arranged with viands placed