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ART I.-Travels in China ; containing Descriptions, Observaa
tions, and Comparisons, made and collected in the Course of a short Residence at the Imperial Palace of ruen-min-yuen, and on a subsequent Journey through the Country from Pekin to Canton. In which it is attempted to appreciate the Rank that this extraordinary Empire may be considered to hold in the Scale of Civilized Nations. By John Barrow, Esq. Late Private Secretary to the Earl of Macartney, and one of his Suite as Ambassador from the King of Great Eritzin io tbEinperer.of China. 4to. 21. 125. 6d. Boards. Cadell. 1804
AT the time that Europe was wak.ng.Eropi the profound sleep of the dark ages, China was, compararively speaking, in a very advanced stage of civilization. : The splendour of its monarchy, the order of its government, the learning of its mandarins, the silken dresses of the meanest inhabitants, the stupendous works of art manifested in its immense wall, and a canal traversing the whole empire, struck travellers with the utmost astonishment: and on their return into their own country every thing around them appeared mean and pitiful, while their neighbours received the report of real facts as exaggerated tales, the mere result of an overheated imagination. Succeeding travellers confirmed the reports of their predecessors: the Letters of the Missionaries were perused with eagerness; and men of learning, dissatisfied (and not without reason) with many institutions at home, took delight in expatiating on the excellences of the remote empire of China, but kept studiously out of sight all its defects. During this period Europe was making rapid advances in improvement; but China seems to have been stationary. The improved race viewed this wonderful country with different eyes : the marvellous gradually subsided : its defects became prominent :
Crir. Rev. Vol. 5. May, 1805.
and instead of being a model for legislation, morality, and learning, it was suspected to be in every one of these respects infcrior to most of the states of our western world.
A factory had been established for a long time by the English East India company in a remote corner of China; but trade is held in great contempt in that country, and the agents of the factory do not seem to have made any attempts to raise its credit. They were contented with their appropriate business to buy and to sell, and to get gain : oftentimes little studious of the means, and whilst they complained of the disposition of the Chinese to fraud, unhappily gave convincing proofs that honesty was not the peculiar attribute of the European character. In China rank is estimated not by birth, or riches, but by learning : and this learning is employed not on a foreign, but in the intricacies of their own very extraordinary and scientific language. To attain a certain degree of proficiency in this language is not difficult : but this seems not to have been aimed at by our agents, who transacted their business through the ineans of interpreters, and were of course esteemed as fit company for a inandarin of high rank, as an orange barrow girl in this country is for that of a lady of quality.
The trade betweep. England and China became at last a matter of national importance. Our merchants laboured under some dificulties ;' and it was supposed that by a solemn embassy to. Heking the operor might einbrace at least some of rhe notions: wiicli'the English are apt to entertain of the greatness of their osti nation, and thence that the trade between the: iwo.coinbrics.might be carried on upon a more liberal footing. Very great presents were therefore prepared: a mandarin (as the Chinese would say) of high rank was appointed to lay them at tlie foot of the great emperor: permission was given to the embassy to land; and the moment it set foot on Chinese ground, all its expences were, according to the custom of the East, defrayed by the emperor in the most liberal manner. The presents indeed were conveyed not very agreeably to the feelings of the embassy ; for they were preceded by flags denoting them to be tribute to the emperor: and the jealousy of the country towards strangers was an additional mortification, as it prevented in a very great degree every species of intercourse with the natives.,
Two accounts of this embassy have been given to the public: the one, according to our author, 'founded on the crude notes of one Aneas Anderson, a livery servant of lord Macartney, vamped up by a London bookseller as a speculation that could not fail ;' the other by the late sir George Staunton, who is said by our author to have been 'no less amiable for liberality