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The reservblance, however, to the Greek drama does not stop here. The lyrical compositions, which in the serious and historical plays are more frequent than in dramas like the one in question, bear a very striking affivity to the chorus of the old Greek tragedy, with all due distance, however, as to taste and genius, and like the chorus too, they are sung with an accompaniment of music. The difficulty of many of these choral songs in the Greek tragedy is not greater than the obscurity which prevails in those of the Chinese. Mr. Davis seems to think that these passagesare chiefly intended to gratify the ear, and that sense is very often sacrificed to sound. It may be so; and, if it were, his editor observes, examples of the same kind might be produced nearer home. We are rather inclined to believe, however, from Mr. Davis's own occasional translations that they are meant to convey some sage reflection, or some moral truth, bearing on the subject of the dialogue, and that their obscurity is owing to the figurative signification of the symbols. Without extensive knowledge of their ancient poetry,' says Mr. Morrison, and the customs and manners of the country, it is very difficult to understand their poetical compositions.
The Chinese stage derives none of those helps from scenery which, in Europe, so powerfully assists in augmenting the illusion. Nor have they any permanent theatres : with the ready bamboo, of universal use, a few mats, and soine printed cotton cloths, they will dress up a theatre in a few hours; or a chanıber, with a door for
their exits and their entrances,' will suffice for the purpose. When a foreign ambassador is received by the viceroy of a province, or the governor of a city, or when an officer of state, or a wealthy citizen gives an entertainment to his friends, a set of players and a band of music are the never-failing appendages to the banquet. They are always ready to commence on a certain number of pieces, and they continue to play as long as the guests remain, without intermission. The female characters are usually performed by eunuchs or boys; though women sometimes appear on the stage. The dialogue in their tragedies and historical plays is carried on in a tone of voice considerably elevated above its natural pitch, and continued in a kind of whining monotony, like a bad imitation of the recitative in the Italian opera, but wiihout the modulations and cadences of that pleasing vehicle of fine music. In the lighter pieces of comedy and farce, the dialogue is conducted in the familiar tone of common conversation.
Any extract that we could give would convey but little idea of the merits or defects of the present play; whatever they may be, the Chinese drama is nnquestionably their own; and it appears, both from this and the tragedy of the House of Tchao, that the object is 'to shew virtue her own feature, scorn her own image;" and though the · Heir in his old Age’ was written nearly eight hundred years ago, yet as time stands still in China, with regard to any alteration or improvement, this and all their plays, however old, shew the existing age, his form and pressure.' It is a true picture of Chinese manners and Chinese feelings, and, as such, is a valuable acquisition to our stock of knowledge, as far as it regards this extraordinary nation. There is little or no doubt that the Chinese borrowed the
popular religion, and the remnants they possess of astronomical science, from the Hindoos; but their drama is obviously altogether national. If we may judge from the single Hindoo play that has been published in an European dress, we should say, that while the Hindoos. soar beyond nature into the wilds of mythology, the Chinese adhere rigidly, far too rigidly sometimes, to human actions and human imperfections. It is true, the same feeling of misery attending the want of a son is expressed in Sacontala as in the Chinese play; but among the Hindoos it is more of a religious feeling, and the observance of a precept of the Vedas; thus the prince Dushmanta says:
"Ah me! the departe:l souls of my ancestors, who claim a share in the funeral cake, which I have no son to offer, are apprehensive of losing their due honour, when Dushmanta shall be no more on earth!-who then, alas, will perform in our family, those obsequies which the Veda prescribes ? My forefathers must drink, instead of a pure libation, this: flood of tears, the only offering which a man, who dies childless, can make them."
We are so much pleased with this little performance of Mr. Davis, that we hope to see more of the same kind, from the same, or some other collection of the popular dramas of China ; for nothing can be better calculated to display the manners and the character of the people.
We had promised ourselves much information on the interesting subject before us, from the embassy to China, which, at the present moment, occupies so large a share of the public attention. With such superior advantages to those of Lord Macartney, in having so many of our own countrymen who are well versed in the language, Şir George Staunton, Mr. Morrison, and Mr. Davis, the Editor too, had, naturally enough, anticipated the most favourable results from the mission; which, however, we regret to find, from the Imperial Gazette, are not likely to be fulfilled. That the general facts which have been published are true, we are not disposed to doubt; that the details are false, we entertain as little doubt, well knowing that, for the propagation of falsehood, the old Brussels Gazette was but a type of that of Pekin.
Recent accounts from the embassy state, that on the arrival of the ships in the gulph of Pe-tche-lee, on the 28th July, two military officers came off from the shore, and expressed some surprize at their having reached that anchorage in so short a time after notice had been first received of the embassy; and it was evident that no preparations had been made for its reception. Two days afterwards, however, the same officers returned with intelligence that three mandarins of rank had been appointed to attend the anbassador to the capital; the first of the name of Quong, the imperial legate, and a Tartar; the second, Chang, a civilian; tlie third, Yin, a military officer; being the exact counterparts of the three Ta-jin, or greut men, appointed to wait on Lord Macartney; and, to make the parallel complete, the Tartar legate announced his intention of receiving the ambassador on shore, while the other two paid their respects to him on board the Alceste. They brought with them a fleet of junks, as on the former occasion, containing the imperial present of refreshments for the ships' crews, intended also, when unloaded, to convey back the presents and baggage of the ambassador and his suite. The present did not contain such a vast profusion of hogs, fowls, pumpkins, and pears, as on the former occasion, from the want, most probably, of a longer notice to provide them ; but it was ample; and the friendly attentions of these two men, as well as the conciliating manners of the legate, held out the promise of a favourable and honourable reception in Pekin. Two circumstances, however, were casually mentioned, that in some degree cast a damp over this agreeable prospect. In the first place, it was rumoured among the Chinese on shore that the Emperor would set out for Gehol, in Tartary, on the 9th September, previously to which, he would receive the ambassador in Pekin, and give him bis final audience of leave: secondly, the two mandarins Chang and Yin insinuated pretty plainly that the usual ceremony of prostration would be expected from the ambassador; if the former point was not got over, it was quite evident that no time would be allowed for the transaction of any kind of business, and the question of the ceremony was considered as a point of vital importance-as, on the refusal or compliance with this degrading and humiliating demand, England must continue to maintain, in the eyes of this haughty government, that bigh rank and independent spirit for which she had hitherto been known to them, or set the seal of vassalage to her submission, and be registered among the vumber of their petty tributaries. However, as these men seemed not to have any positive instructions on that head, and as every thing hitherto had been conducted on the same plan and principles as heretofore, it was hoped that no such concession would be per. sisted in, or any material deviation be demanded, inconsistent with the precedent established by Lord Macartney.
Some little objection was at first made to the number of persons attached to the embassy, which, with the guard, band of music, and servants, amounted to seventy-five; the orders from Pekin limiting the number to fifty. The objection, however, was immediately removed, and a fleet of more than thirty commodious barges appointed to carry them up the river to Tong-shoo, within twelve miles of the capital; and so studious were They to follow the former precedent, that a vessel was prepared to receive two cows, to supply the English with milk for their tea.
Here ends our direct information from the embassy; the rest is from Chinese authority, which is, in fact, no authority at all; the most audacious falsehoods were daily published when the former embassy was in the country, and Lord Macartney had constant occasion to observe, that their ideas of the obligations of truth were very lax;' besides, whatever appears in the Pekin Gazette is prepared solely and exclusively for the Chinese. No foreigner is supposed to know any thing of what passes in China. It would seem, then, from this gazette, that the emperor had not seen the ambassador, nor received the Regent's letter and presents; and that the reason assigned for this unfriendly proceeding was the refusal, on the part of Lord Amherst, to go through the degrading ceremony required from all the petty kingdoms nominally under the protection of the empire; a ceremony which, as we have stated, is the sign and seal of their vassalage. This ceremony requires the person to fall down at the word of command on both knees, and, on another word being giveu by a kind of herald, to bow the head nine distinct times to the ground. It has been conjectured, that our quarrel with the Nepaulese had some share in the untoward circumstances of the embassy ; but this is not likely; much less is it so that the emperor should have been first informed of that quarrel by Lord Amherst. He had in fact appointed a general, and marched an army through Tartary to Thibet, long before the arrival of the embassy; and that general reached Lassa about the same time that Lord Amherst arrived at Tien-Sing. The first appearance of discontent is manifested at the circumstance of the ships leaving the gulf of Pe-tche-lee without orders; it insinuates. that these ships went off for some bad purpose, and with the design of examining the coast; and circular orders were sent to the officers of the maritime provinces, directing them not to permit the ships to anchor, or a single man to land, but to desire them immediately to proceed to Macao, and there to wait the arrival of the ambassador. This ignorant government could not conceive the danger
of a large ship of war lying at anchor in the middle of an extensive gulph, in less than four fathoms water, and eleven miles from shore, at a time too when the change of the monsoon was momentarily expected, and when those horrible liurricanes called typhoons prevail, and in one of which, in fact, the Alceste was caught in her return to the southward :—deceitful in all its proceedings; its conduct at variance with all its moral and political maxims; it could only impute bad motives to measures of necessary precaution, though the same measures bad also been adopted by Sir Erasmus Gower on the former occasion.
The danger, in fact, was stated to the legate and the two mandarins; and so well satisfied were they with the reasons assigned for not remaming in that open anchorage, that they furnished Cap"tain Maxwell with a letter, ordering the provincial authorities, wherever he might touch, to supply the wants of the ships. If they neglected to interm his imperial majesty of this circunstance, they alone were to blame. However they did not troable the coast of China; they stood across the gulph of Leatong, saw the great wall, winding up one side of steep mountains and descending the other down into the very gulph ; and instead of meeting with the eastera coast of Corea, where it appears on our charts, they fell in with an archipelago of a thousand islands, among which were the most commodious and magnificent harbours; the real coast of the Corean peninsula being at least 120 miles farther to the eastward. From hence they proceeded to the Leiou-Kieou islands, where they met with a harbour equal to that of Port Mahon, and with the most friendly reception from the poor but kind-hearted people of those islands. Finally, from hence they stood across direct for Canton.
Woo Cool1794.7** In the mean time the embassy proceeded to Pekin; and on their arrival at Tien-Sing, so it is stated in the Gazette before us, a grand entertainment was given to Lord Amherst, agreeably with the established ceremonies of the empire; for which, however, his lordship.is said not to have been sufficiently thankful. Another edict, bearing date the 28th of August, announces the arrival of the ambassador at Pekin, bearing a letter and tribute from the King of England; and another ediet, in the next day's Gazette, proclaims the conclusion of the mission, orders it to quit Pekin the same day, points out its route through the provinces to Canton, commands the great officers of the provinces and the criminal judges to attend the ambassador, together with a large military escort; and it is difficult to say whether suspicion, weakness, or pusillanimity most preponderates in the precautions dictated in these absurd orders; or whether petulance or timidity is most apparent in them. It