But what is it the Chinese learn with so much pains?
Chiefly the books of Confucius, and a few more; but in none of them is God made known: so that, with all his wisdom, the Chinaman is foolish still. The words of the Bible are true.
“The world by wisdom knew not God.” Yet to know God is better than to know all beside.
There is a great hall in every town where all the men who wish to be counted learned meet together once a year. They are desired to write, and then to show what they have written; and then those who have written well, and without a mistake, have an honorable title given to them; and they are allowed to write another year in another greater hall; and at last the most learned are made mandarins.
What is a mandarin? He is a ruler over a town, and is counted a great man. The most learned of the mandarins are made the emperor’s counsellors. There are only three of them, and they are the greatest men in all China, next to the emperor.
There are many poor men who study hard in hopes to be one of these three.
This is the greatest honor a Chinaman can obtain. But a Christian can obtain a far greater, even the honor of a crown and a throne in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at his coming.
The mandarins are all of the religion of Confucius, and despise the poor who worship Buddha.
ANIMALS AND TREES.—Once there were lions in China, but they have all been killed; there are still bears and tigers in the mountains and forests on the borders of the land.
There are small wild-cats, which are caught and fastened in cages, and then killed and cooked. There are tame cats, too, with soft hair and hanging ears, which are kept by ladies as pets.
There are dogs to guard the house, and they too are eaten; but as they are fed on rice only, their flesh is better than the flesh of our dogs. The dogs are so sensible that they know when the butcher is carrying away a dog that he is going to kill him, and the poor creatures come round him howling, as if begging for their brother’s life.
The pig is the Chinaman’s chief dish; for it can be fed on all the refuse food, and there is very little food to spare in China.
There are not many birds in China, because there is no room for trees. Only one bird sings, and she builds her nest on the ground; it is a bird often heard singing in England floating in the air,—I mean the lark.
In most parts of China men carry all the burdens, and not horses and asses.
A gentleman is carried in a chair by two men: and a mandarin by four. Yet the emperor rides on horseback.
THE THREE GREAT CITIES
Pekin on the north.
Nankin in the middle.
Canton on the south.
Pekin is the grandest.
Nankin is the most learned.
Canton is the richest.