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brought hearly to their lowest rate by the competition of such multitudes in similar situations. One is greatly at a loss, therefore, to conceive what speculations can be entered into in that country, from the profits of which money can be repaid with 36 per cent of interest. The truth, perhaps, is, that though this be the maximum fixed by the old law, the current rate is greatly interiour; or, perhaps, borrowing at interest is pratised only by profligates and adventurers, from whom the chance of repayment is but small. At Canton, and in dealings with strangers, where the risk must be regarded as considerable, the actual rate of interest is from 12 to 18 per cent, only. Persons not paying the interest of their debts regularly, shall receive thirty lashes monthly, so long as they continue in arrear. It does not appear that the person of a debtor can be attached by his creditor. Mortgages have been long known in China, and many regulations made with regard to them; the interest in such cases varies from 10 to 15 per cent.
Waifed goods must be taken to the magistrate within five days; but, if not claimed within thirty, they are then given to the finder. Combinations to raise the prices of commodities are punished with forty blows; the use of false weights and measures with seventy; all lawful measures to be stamped after comparison with the government standard.
Pretty severe penalties are awarded against magicians, and the irregular worship of sectaries; but the law seems rather to have in view the tumults or conspiracies to which such practices may give encouragement, than the offence to religion. Families burning incense to the North Star during the night, are to be punished; and of magicians, it is said, that
“ If they, having in their possession concealed images of their worship, burn
incense in honour of them, and they assemble their followers by night, in order to instruct them in their doctrines, and, by pretended powers and notices, endeavour to inveigle and mislead the multitude, the principal in the commission of such offences shall be strangled, after remaining in prison the usual period, and the accessaries shall severally receive 100 blows, and be perpetually banished to the distance of 3000 lee.
“If at any time the people, whether soldiers or citizens, dress and ornament their idols, and after accompanying them tumultuously with drums and gongs, perform oblations and other sacred rites to their honour, the leader or instigator of such meetings shall be punished with 100 blows.” p. 175.
Sir George Staunton observes, in a note, that this latter clause must be regarded as obsolete, since the alleged offence is daily committed in open day throughout the whole extent of the empire. There is nothing said, expressly, on the subject of Christianity, in the laws upon sectarian worship, or elsewhere in the code; though sir George has printed, in the appendix, two edicts on the subject, issued in 1805, expressing great disapprobation of their doctrines.
If the emperour's physician compound any medicine in a manner “not sanctioned by established usage,” he shall receive 100 blows. If there be any dirt in his imperial majesty’s food, the cook shall re-, ceive eighty blows; and if any dish be sent up, without being previously tasted, he shall receive fifty. Finally, if any unusual ingredient be put into the food, the cook shall receive 100 blows, and be compelled to swallow the article!
The censors and provincial magistrates shall represent freely to the emperour whatever they think may conduce to the publick advantage. All publick officers of the first rank shall attend the emperour in a cer. tain order. If any person about court impede or prevent their attendance, he shall suffer death. The magistrates of cities shall attend all supe
riour officers passing through, to their gates; but shall be severely punished if they proceed beyond them. Every individual who does not dismount and make way when he meets an officer of government on the road, shall receive fifty blows. No individual to pass through a barrier, without a license or passport, under pain of eighty blows. If he proceed so far as to have any communication with aliens, he shall suffer death. In Pekin, no person whatever to go abroad after nine o'clock in the evening, or before five in the morning, under pain of fifty blows. The same regulation in all the other cities of the empire, with one degree of less severity. The establishment of a government post has long been known as one of the ancient institutions of China. There are various minute regulations with regard to it in this volume. The rate of travelling with publick despatches is not much less than a hundred miles per day. Robbery in the night is punished with death; in the day, with a hundred blows, and perpetual banishment. Any attempt to rescue the offender after he is seized, is capital. The pains of stealing rise in proportion to the value taken—from sixty blows of the bamboo, to death; though sir George Staunton says, that this extreme punishment never is inflicted for this offence. Swindling, or obtaining money on false pretences, punished exactly as theft to the same value; extorting by threats, one degree more severely. Stealing from near relations incurs punishment five degrees less severe than that of common theft. Sir George Staunton attempts to explain this very extraordinary law, by observing, that all the members of a family are considered as having a sort of joint interest in their property; so that the domestick thief takes only what is partly his own, Kidnapping, or stealing human creatures, punished with a hundred
blows and banishment; if the person be wounded or injured, with death. Any person entering a house, either by force or by stealth, in the night, may be lawfully killed. There are very severe and extremely anxious penalties against disturbing graves, or exposing dead bodies to any kind of indecent treatment.
Murder is punished with death. Even an intention to commit parricide has the same pain; and, if the parent be actually killed, torture is added. Administering poison is capital, even though it does not kill. Killing in an affray is also capital; if by accident, and quite without intention, the party may redeem his life by a small fine. Physicians who kill by absurd medicines, if without any malicious purpose, may also redeem themselves, but must for ever quit the profession. , Husbands may kill persons caught in adultery.
There is a long gradation of punishments in cases of assault, both the pains and the injury being nicely distinguished. Mitigations are also allowed on account of provocation, as may be seen from the following characteristick enactment.
* In the case of a combat between two persons; and in the case of several persons engaging in an affray, and promiscuously striking and fighting each other, they shall be punished respectively, according to the blows duly ascertained, and proved, by the examination of the effects, to have been received by their antagonists; except that the punishment of the person or persons who only return the blows received, and have the right and justice of the dispute on his or their side, shall be reduced two degrees in consideration of such favourable circumstances; but this reduction shall not take place in the instance of striking an elder brother or sister, or an uncle; or when inflicting, in any case, a mortal blow.
“As for instance; let Kia and Yee be supposed to quarrel and fight, and that, Ria deprives Yee of an eye, and Yee deprives Kia of a tooth; now the injury sustained by Fee is the heaviest, and subjects JKia to the punishment of 100 blows and three years banishment, whilst the lesser
injury sustained by Kia subjects Yee to a punishment of 100 blows only: nevertheless, if it appears that Kia only returned the attack, and had the right on his side, his punishment shall be reduced two degrees, and accordingly amount to eighty blows and two years banishment. On the contrary, if Yee only returned the attack, and had the right in the dispute, his punishment shall be reduced two degrees, and amount to 80 blows only; the punishment to which the antagonist is subjected, remaining in either case the same as before.” p. 326, 327.
The punishment for striking an individual of the imperial blood is less severe than for striking an officer of the government. Persons inflicting wounds are liable for their consequences, for twenty, thirty, or fifty days, according to the nature of the injury. If the sufferer die after the legal period, the assailant is not responsible. A slave striking a free man, suffers only one degree more severely than for an assault among equals; and vice versa; though a master may strike his slave with impunity, if it be done for correction, and do not cut. Striking parents is death in all cases. Wife striking husband, is punished three degrees more severely than for a common assault; if she maim him, with death; if he die, with death by torture. If a father kill his child by excessive chastisement, a hundred blows. There is no warrant in the letter of the law for infanticide. If one kill another to revenge the slaughter of a parent, the punishment is only a hundred blows.
The author of all anonymous accusations against others, shall suffer death, although the charge should prove true. False and malicious accusations shall be punished with a pain two degrees more severe than the accused would have undergone, if the charge had been true. This, again, is exemplified by the anxiety of the legislator, through a great variety of imaginary cases. We shall give merely the general rule of equation.
“When any person accuses another of two or more offences, whereof the lesser only proves true; and when, in the case of a single offence having been charged by one person against another, the statement thereof is found to exceed the truth; upon either supposition, if the punishment of the falsely, alleged, or falsely aggravated offence, had been actually inflicted in consequence of such false accusation; the difference (estimated according to the established mode of computation hereafter exemplified) between the falsely alleged and the actually committed offence, or between the falsely alleged reater, and the truly alleged lesser of. ence, shall be inflicted on the false accuser; but if punishment, conformably to the nature of the falsely alleged, or falsely aggravated offence, shall not have actually been inflicted, having been prevented by a timely discovery of the falsehood of the accusation, the Å. accuser shall be permitted to redeem, according to an established scale, the whole of the punishment which would have been due to him in the former case, provided it does not exceed 100 blows; but if it should exceed 100 blows, the 100 blows shall be inflicted,
and he shall be only permitted to redeem
the excess. p. 366, 367. There is a very long section on
bribery, with a prodigious scale of
punishments, as usual, according as
the bribe is large or small, or taken,
for an innocent or a criminal object. The pains range from 60 blows with the bamboo to death; that extreme punishment being inflicted for taking more than 80 ounces of silver [under 30l.] for an unlawful object, and 120 [or 60l.] for a lawful one. Agreeing to take a bribe has the same punishment as actually taking it; offering or giving it a much lighter one; and if asked or extorted by an officer of government, no punishment at all, Forging an imperial edict is death; or counterfeiting the copper coin, the only proper currency of the em
pire. There does not appear to be. any precise regulation about the for
gery of private writings. Rape is punished with death; a
dultery among private persons, with
100 blows; but much more severely
among persons high in office; fornication, with 70 blows; other offences of a more detestable nature only with the same punishment. A person accidentally setting fire to his house, shall receive 40 blows; and if the fire spread to the gate of an imperial palace, shall be put to death. Wilfully setting fire to one's own house, 100 blows; to any other house, publick or private, death. Very severe penalties for neglecting the reparation of roads, bridges, and canals, and for damaging or encroaching on them. Such are a few of the leading provisions of this oriental code: and defective as it must no doubt appear, in comparison with our own more liberal and indulgent constitutions, we conceive, that even this hasty sketch of its contents will be thought sufficient to justify all that we have said of its excellence, in relation to other Asiatick systems. How far it is impartially enforced, or conscientiously obeyed, we have not, indeed, the means of knowing; and so slight is the connexion between good laws and national morality, that prohibitions often serve only to indicate the prevalence of crimes, and the denunciation of severe punishments to prove their impunity. Of one crime, indeed, and that the most heavily reprobated, perhaps, of any in this code, we know the Chinese to be almost universally guilty; and that is, the crime of corruption. At Canton, it is believed, our traders have never yet met with any officer of government inaccessible to a bribe; and where this system is universal, it is evident that the very foundations of justice and good government must be destroyed in every department of the state. Of the ex
tent to which falsification may be
carried, and of the impunity of which it may be assured by bribery, a notable instance is recorded in the detail published by sir George Staunton, in the appendix, of the circumstances attending the trial and acquittal of an English seaman,
the amount, as was reported, of no less than 50,000l. not only to get a whole host of witnesses to swear to a detailed story directly contrary to the truth, but to prevail on the tribunals and chief magistrates, among whom the real state of the fact was notorious, to certify and report it to the supreme government at Pekin, and to pronounce a solemn sentence in conformity to that statement. Such, however, will always be the fate of A NATION without HoNour; and this is the grand and peculiar reproach of the singular people we have been contemplating. That noble and capricious principle, which it is as difficult to define, as to refer in all cases to a sure foundation in reason or in morality, is, after all, the true safeguard of national and individual happiness and integrity, as well as of their dignity and greatness. It is found, too, in almost all conditions of society, and in every stage of its progress; among the savages of America, and the bandits of Arabia, as well as among the gentlemen of London or Paris; among Turks, heathens, and Christians; among merchants and peasants; republicans and courtiers; men and children. It is found every where refining and exalting morality; aiding religion, or supplying its place; inspiring and humanizing bravery; fortifying integrity; overawing or tempering oppression; softening the humiliation of poverty, and taming the arrogance of success. A nation is strong and happy exactly in proportion to the spirit of honour which prevails in it; and no nation, ancient or modern, savage or civilized, seems to have been altogether destitute of it, but the Chinese. To what they are indebted for this degrading peculiarity, we shal! not pretend to determine. The despotism of the government; the trading habits of the people; the long peace they have enjoyed; and their want of intercourse with other nations, may all have had their share. The fact, however, we take to be undoubted; and it both explains and justifies the chief deformities in the code we have now been considering. If such a code could be imposed by force upon an honourable and generous people, it would be the most base and cruel of all atrocities to impose it. But it is good
enough for a race to whose habits it was originally adapted, and who have quietly submitted to it for two thousand years. When governments begin to think it a duty to exalt and improve the condition of their subjects, the Chinese government will have more to do than any other; but while the object is merely to keep their subjects in order, and to repress private outrages and injuries to individuals, they may boast of having as effectual provisions for that purpose, as any other people.
FROM THE QUARTERLY REVIEW. Old Ballads, Historical, &c. By Thomas Evans. Revised, &c. by his son, R. H. Evans.
4 vols. cr. 8vo. pp. 1504. London. 1810.
Essays on Song Writing, &c. By John Aikin. A new edition, with Additions and Corrections, and a Supplement By R. H. Evans. cr. 8vo. pp. 380. London. 1810. Vocal Poetry, or a Select Collection of English Songs. To which is prefixed, an
M. D. post 8vo. pp. 304 London. 1810.
rious dissertations upon subjects connected with or tending to elucidate the ancient ballads which they preceded. The arrangement of the specimens was so managed as to exhibit the gradation of language, the progress of popular opinions, the manners and customs of former ages, and the obscure passages of our earlier classical poets. The plan of this publication was eminently calculated to remove the principal obstacle which the taste of the period offered to its success. To bring Philosophy from heaven to dwell among men, it was necessary to devest her of some of her more awful attributes, to array her doctrines in familiar language, and render them evident by popular illustration. But Dr. Percy had a different course to pursue when conducting Legendary Lore from stalls, and kitchens, and cottage chimneys, or at best, from the dust, moths, and mould of the Pepysian or Pearsonian collections, to be an inmate of the drawing