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They decide according to the sacred books or laws of astrology, whether it be best for the soul, that the soulless corpse he thrown into the water for the benefit of the fishes, exposed as a prey to the beasts of the field and fowls of the air, or inhumed as the heritage of worms. There are cases in which they are not permitted to adhibit this sound discretion, but the rule stare decisis is imperative; thus he who commits suicide cannot be interred even at a cross road, he who has died under the scorching pains of swellings is not to be burnt; the drowned cannot be committed to a second watery grave.
The tents, which, during the previous part of their journey, had been singly scattered over the plains, were, among the Tsakhars, collected into oulous or villages, and the number of herds, flocks, &c. announced a wealthier and happier state of society. Their country is the last of the Mongols and the last of the Nomade tribes on entering China. In the course of his route from Ourga, Mr. Timkowski sometimes, even in Gobi, found temples for a being that could never inhabit them, but no houses for, men exposed to one of the most inclement of climates. The remains of various cities, at least twenty, are mentioned by the Jesuits, yet even the famous Karakorum has not a wall standing. Probably they were all composed of fragile materials, which yielded easily to time. Both Marco Polo and Rubruquis agree that the walls of Karakoruin were clay or mud.* Malte Brunt is wrong in saying, “the usual drink of the Mongols is water."
“ They never drink water except on pressing occasions; brick tea is the principal beverage of the rich as well as the poor. In every tent there is always a kettle on the fire, full of tea, mixed with butter, salt and milk. The weary traveller may, at all times, boldly enter a tent, and quench his thirst.”
Vol. ii. p. 297. The Mongols also drink the rice wine of the Chinese and Koumiss, or spirit from milk, which they have used ever since the days of Marco Polo. Mr. Timkowski found the Mongols hospitable, affable, obliging, kind, frank and honest. Theft and robbery are hardly known, and what is necessary, where tents are without locks, and steppes without enclosure, those crimes are severely punished. Many specimens of Mongol poetry are given by our author. They show, among other things, that rhyme, which has been used by all nations, whose literature we have known, from the Greekst to our day, is also used in central Asia : thus
* Marco Polo, p. 168, Marsd. edit. Hist. Gen. Des Voy. vol. i. p. 286. Purchase Pilg. vol. iii. p. 39. + Mongolia, Vol. i.
# There are rhymes in Theocritus.
Dze tseriga manitourouni, Dze aidou dze
Tsebden beile, batour bi
Chidar Khounkhour taidzi tyi, &c.
“Bay Courser, with the proud step! thou, who addest beauty of colour to a magnificent figure, when thou sportest among the herd, how much more beautiful dost thou appear among thy fellows ! but that young beauty, whom fate has thrown into a foreign land, languishes far from her country; she incessantly turns ber eyes towards those parts. Alas! did not Mount Kangai rise between us, I could see thee every moment, but in vain ; we would live for love : cruel fate separates us.” Vol. ii. p. 301.
We have had Servian poetry, Lapland poetry, and last, African poetry—but we have no belief in the poetry of barbarians. The few slight poetical beauties, and the slender vocabulary of the originals, are not to be recognized in translations of such men as Bowring, who superadd their own taste and fancy in the copious and polished tongues of civilized Europe.
On the 16th Nov. Mr. Timkowski and his companions crossed the mountains which separate Mongolia from China. The companions of Bell, over these dreary regions, at the sight of the Great Wall of China, shouted LAND, LAND, with as much joy as the companions of Xenophon greeted the sea after their perilous retreat. The travellers soon entered a Chinese village.
“It was with feelings of inexpressible pleasure, [says Mr. Timkowski] that we entered the houses of the Chinese, after a journey of about a thousand wersts from Ourga; during which we had seen no indication of a settled mode of life. At the extremity of the village a kind of inn had been prepared for our reception, the walls of the rooms were of clay, mixed with straw. The cold and dainp had so benumbed our limbs, that it was with difficulty we could get warm. Seated round a bright fire, however, we soon forgot all the fatigues and hardships that we had experienced on our journey." Vol. i. p. 274.
When the mission reached the Great Wall, the members of it were desired to descend from their carriages, as it was necessary to enter the Celestial Empire on foot.
We select Mr. Timkowski's observations on the Great Wall:
“Notwithstanding the many centuries which have elapsed since the erection of this Wall, it was built with so much skill and care, that far from falling to ruin, it looks like a stone rampart produced by nature itself to defend the northern provinces of China, Pe-tchy-li, Chansi and Chen-si from the invasion of the Mongols, who have not entirely lost their warlike character. The wall is properly composed of two thin VOL. IV.NO. 7.
walls, the tops of which are crenated : the interval is filled up with earth and gravel. The foundation consists of large unhewn stones : the rest of the wall is of brick ; its height is twenty-six feet, and its breadıb, at the top, fourteen. Towers, in which there are many cast iron cannon, are placed at about an hundred paces from each other: the great tower is decayed from age; the gate is much damaged as well as the adjacent wall. No care is now taken to keep it in repair.
“ To give a just idea of the mass of this gigantic work, I do not think it superfluous to quote the calculation of Mr. Barrow, who went to China with Lord McCartney in 1793-4. He supposed that in England and Scotland there were one million eight hundred thousand houses. Estimating the masonry of each as containing two hundred cubic feet, he thinks that all these houses do not contain as much as the Great Wall of China. It must be observed, however, that Mr. Barrow includes in the calculation, all the earth and gravel which forms the interior of the wall, but he does not reckon the great towers which project beyond it.” Vol. i. p. 310.
Yet, despite of this colossal bulwark, China was conquered successively by the Mongols and Mantchoos, to the latter of whom it may still be called a colony. Half the time spent on a work which experience has twice demonstrated to be ineffectual, devoted to training their immense army, would have promised a far more cheapand potent barrier. Even now their army appears more formidable in numbers than real force. In a note to vol. ii. p. 461, Mr. Klaproth says, that the Chinese army should consist of one million three hundred and fifty-eight thousand men, both infantry and cavalry, but is, in reality, one third less, which, though large, is much under the English computation. The men, according to Mr. Timkowski, are badly trained, and their powder too bad to propel a ball to any great distance. It is said by many authors* that gunpowder was known to the Chinese before the birth of Christ ; but it was probably only used for fire-works, in which, according to all accounts, they still excel every other nation. The writer of the embassy of Schah Rokh,+ (1318) mentions their fire-works, which is the earliest authentic authority we have met with. We allude to this more especially, because different authors have supposed, without any evidence, that gunpowder, as well as printing and the mariner's compass, was introduced into Europe from China by Marco Polo.
At every step the mission took in China, it saw proofs of the populousness and civilization of “the finest empire in the world,” as Mr. Ellis, in spite of his prejudices, was compelled to call it.
Duhalde, Barrow, &c.
Hist. Gen. Des Voyages, vol. vii. p. 387
"On the sides of the mountains, says our narrative, there are villages with temples ; some dwellings are hewn in the solid rock, or built against it like birds nests; there are many trees and meadows on a clayey soil. We particularly admired the boldness and indefatigable activity of the Chinese cultivators: the summits of the highest mountaios were converted into fertile fields. It is scarcely possible to conceive how they could till these naked and almost inaccessibie rocks." Vol. i. p. 276.
“ In several places we saw cottages surrounded with small cultivated fields. Though the passage through this defile is tedious on account of the surrowness and irregularity of the road, it is, notwithstanding, interesting from the enchanting prospects which are, every moment, presented to the view : here we see frightful overhanging rocks which seem ready to crush the travelier; there, we behold houses with lovely garders, watered by murmuring streams, and planted with nut and chesnut trees, vines, cypresses, &c.” Vol. i. p. 312.
In speaking of crops by the way-side, Mr. Timkowski always agrees with Van Braam in considering the Chinese as the best agriculturists of the world, but his details are scanty to a provoking degree:
“ We saw some Chinese at work in the fields. Their plough, which resembles ours, is drawn by two oxen; then they employ a sowing machine, which has a great resemblance with the plough, and has three hollow teeth, with iron supports.
Above the wheels there is a box, fro a the bottom of which the seed falls through the teeth, which about an arsbeen in length, constantly following the motion of the plough in the furrows. Behind, is a small wooden roller, which covers the seed which has been sown; it supplies the place of a barrow. This plough is so light that it may be lifted with one hand. If the harvest in China produces fifty, seventy, and even a hundred fold, the cause will be found in the care with which they manure the ground, and the custom of sowing early, of weeding and watering ; besides, the furrows are from seven to fourteen inches distant from each other, which gives the corn sufficient room to grow freely. In sowing, they cast the seed by a tube, or with their hands, so that the grains may be equally spread upon the ground, and not hinder each other in growing. Late wheat is sown in the intervals left between early wheat. The Chinese farmer saves his land, his seed, his time, and the strength of his cattle.” Vol. ii. p. 368.
Our travellers, after leaving the elevated country, descended into the fertile plains of Pe-tchy-li, where the beauties of nature were so seconded by the aids of art as to present a constant succession of the most lovely landscapes. They passed along roads bordered with trees, and over streams spanned with marble bridges. The fields, in the highest state of cultivation, were sprinkled with villages, embosomed in woods. Here, were seen large groves of cypress, walnut, tufted willow and juniper trees, rivalling the loftiest pines; there, the mansions of the wealthier
Chinese, distinguished more by elegant simplicity than magnificence, and now and then picturesque burying grounds, with their splendid marble tombs peeping through the dark green of the cedar and lignum vitæ. In the distance still appeared, the light blue outlines of the lofty mountains.
The willows of China, that have so much attracted the notice of travellers, are frequently admired by Mr. 'Timkowski. “The rose, (says a French writer) has been much vaunted by our poets : it has inspired them with a great number of verses since Anacreon first sung its praises; but perhaps all the verses, made in Europe, for this Queen of Flowers, does not equal those which the Chinese literati have made in honour of the willow."
Staunton mentions one of those trees fifteen feet in girth, as measured at a man's height above the root :t
“ At length, [December 1st.) the immense distance which separates Petersburg from the capital of China was passed. Forgetting all our fatigues, we, the inhabitants of the coast of the gulf of Findland, fancied ourselves conveyed, in a moment, by some supernatural power into this city, which had been long the object of our thoughts and of our wishes.” Vol. 1. p. 316.
The distance from Petersburgh to Kiakhta, is estimated at six thousand five hundred wersts, and from thence to Pekin, about fifteen hundred wersts. Mr. Timkowski was now comfortably located in the Russian house in Pekin, and we think, that dwelling in the chief city of China during five months and a half, and with companions perfectly conversant with the Mantchoo and Chinese languages, we ought confidently to have expected novel and ample details from him ; yet he has scarcely furnished us with a new fact in the midst of the meagre array of his dry and threadbare diary. Even bis description of Pekin is the old one slightly retouched of Gaubil, which is to be found in all the Encyclopedias, some score of Geographies, &c. From father Hyacinth, who had remained many years in Pekin, and was perfectly au fait in the language, literature and manners of the country, he might have reaped an abundant barvest. We notice, from the public journals, that father Hyacinth, since his return to Russia, is about to publish Memoirs of Mongolia, and a new plan and description of Pekin. He has also translated the “Tai thsing, i toung tchi, or Geographical description of China, the Mongol Code, &c." which latter will be contained in his forthcoming work. A new Chinese Dictionary, or rather a modification and improvement of the Dictionary of the Jesuit
* Loiseleur des Long Champs. Dict. des Cciences Nat.--Article-Saules.
Vol. i. pp. 171-241.