The dead are supplied with money as well as with food, and that is done by burning gilt paper; clothes are sent to them by cutting out paper in the shape of clothes, (only much smaller,) and by burning the article; and even houses are conveyed to the dead by making baby-houses and burning them.
As an instance of the deceits of the priests, I will tell you of two priests who once stood crying over a pour woman’s gate. “What is the matter?” inquired the woman. “Do you see those ducks?” the priests replied; “our parents’ souls are in them, and we are afraid lest you should eat them for supper.” The foolish woman out of pity gave the ducks to the cunning priests, who promised to take great care of the precious birds; but, in fact, they ate them for their own supper.
The Buddhist priests may be known by their heads close shaven, and their black dress. The priests of Taou have their hair in a knot at the top of their heads and they wear scarlet robes. There are no priests of Confucius; and this is a good thing.
All the religions of China are bad, but of the three the religion of Confucius is the least foolish.
There can be no doubt which of the three religions of China is the least absurd.
The religion of Taou teaches men to act like mad-men.
The religion of Buddha teaches them to act like idiots.
The religion of Confucius teaches them to act like wise men, but without souls.
THE EMPEROR.—There is no emperor in the world who has as many subjects as the Emperor of China: he has six times as many as the Emperor of Russia.
Neither is it possible for any man to be more honored than this emperor; for he is worshipped by his people like a god. He is called “The Son of Heaven,” and “Ten Thousand Years;” yet he dies like every other child of earth. His sign is the dragon, and this is painted on his flags, a fit sign for one who, like Satan, makes himself a god.
Yet the emperor is also styled “Father of his people,” and to show that he feels like a father, when there is a famine or plague in the land, he shuts himself up in his palace to grieve for his people; and by this means he gets the love of his subjects.
Once a year, too, this great emperor tries to encourage his people to be industrious by ploughing part of a field and sowing a little corn; and the empress sets an example to the women, by going once a year to feed silk worms and to wind the balls of silk.
The emperor wears a yellow dress, and all his relations wear yellow girdles.
But the relations of the emperor are not the most honorable people in the land: the most learned are the most honorable. Every one in China who wishes to be a great lord studies day and night. One man, that he might not fall asleep over his books, tied his long plaited tail of hair to the ceiling, and when his head nodded, his hair was pulled tight, and that woke him.