Imágenes de página

disposition of profound respect and due obedience on your part, O King, are visibly apparent—

'I therefore thought proper to take frpm among the articles of tribute, only a few maps, some prints of views and portraits; but I highly applaud your feelings of sincere devotedness for me, just the same as if I had received the whole. In return I ordered to be given to you, O King, a Jooree, (emblem of prosperity,) a string of imperial beads, two large silk purses, and eight small ones, as a proof of our tender and indulgent conduct in this affair.

'Your country is too remotely distant from the central and flourish' ing empire; so that to send an ambassador such a distance over the waves of the sea is not a light affair. Besides, your ambassador, it would seem, does not understand how to practise the rites and ceremonies of the central empjre.i The subject indeed involves a severe labour of the lips and the tongue, which is by no means pleasant or easy to bear. . • The celestial empire sets very little value on things that are brought from a distance. Nor does it consider as rare and precious pearls the productions of your country, however curious and ingenious they may be thought.

'That you, O King, may preserve your people in peace, and be careful in giving strength to the boundary lines of your territories, that no separation of those parts which are distant from that which is near at home.may take place,* is what I, the Emperor, sincerely and strongly recommend.

.'.Finally, there will .be no occasion hereafter for you to send an ambassador from so great a distance, and to give him the trouble of passing, over mountains and crossing the ocean. If you do but pour out the heart in dutiful obedience, it is by no means necessary, at any stated •time, to come to the celestial presence, ere it be pronounced, that you turn towards the transforming influences which emanate from this empire.

'This imperial mandate is now issued that you may for ever obey it. Kia-King—-21st year, 7th moon, 20th day.'—(Sept. 11th, lSlo-.)

Troth this imperial epistle two things are sufficiently evident— 1. that the 'Supreme Sovereign of the earth' has as little regard for truth as his officers of state have; and, 2. that he wishes to decline any further diplomatic intercourse with us. We learn however that the officers of Canton are more than usually civil and attentive to our resident countrymen; but at the same time busily engaged in building forts on every accessible part of the coast from the Bocca Tigris to the Pei-ho, his Imperial Majesty's ministers being under great apprehension that their treatment of Lord Amherst may be yet visited upon them by a less pacific mission than the last.

We have little more to say of Mr. Abel. While on the spot, he very laudably exerted himself to procure some information respect

* This seems to be a delicate allusion to our Indian empire. . • :.. •

ing the culture and preparation of tea: he has not been able however to add much to that which was already known.

* I could gain (he says) no information in China inducing me to believe that the process there used in manufacturing the leaf differs materially from that employed in Rio Janeiro, and which appears to be nearly the same as thatof Japan, described by Kaempfer. From persons perfectly con<versant with the Chinese method, I learnt that either of the two plants will afford the black or green tea of the shops; but that the broad thinleaved plant is preferred for making the green tea. As the colour and quality of the tea does not then depend upon the difference of species, it must arise from some peculiarity in the mode of manufacturing them'. Drying the leaves of the green tea in vessels of copper has been supposed, but apparently without foundation, to account for the difference in colour. Without going into the supposition that any thing extraneous or deleterious is used, both difference of colour and quality may perhaps be explained, by considering one of the known circumstances attending its preparation; namely, the due management of the heat Used in drying the plant. There can be little doubt, that a leaf dried at a low heat will retain more of its original colour and more of its peculiar qualities than one that has suffered a high temperature. Supposing, therefore, the leaves of the same species or variety of the tea plant to have undergone such different degrees of heat in their preparation, their peculiar properties would be expected to occur of greatest strength in those of the greenest colour; or in those to'which both Chinese and Europeans attribute the most powerful properties. 1 may here add, that by far the strongest tea which \ tasted in China, called "Yu-tien," and used on occasions of ceremony, scarcely coloured the water. On examining it with a view to ascertain the form of the leaves, I found it to consist of the scarcely expanded buds of the plant/— pp. 222, 223.

We believe that Mr. Abel was correctly "informed, that either of the two plants, the broad and narrow-leaved, will make either the black or the green tea of the shops; and that the colour and quality of the tea do not depend on the difference of species, but on the due management of the heat used iri drying the plant. The black tea, for instance, having undergone a high degree of roasting, is deprived of more of the peculiar juices of the plant than the green, which, in the process of preparation, is submitted to a much less degree of heat. Mr. Reeves, the deputy tea-taster at Canton, an ingenious and inquisitive gentleman, discovered that the Chinese had a practice of communicating a finer blooro to dull green teas, by sprinkling a little indigo, mixed with powder of gypsum, while stirring the leaf about in the heated iron pan; but this process was only used in the dull faded teas, and the quantity of the material* was too trifling to be in any way injurious.

It is scarcely worth while to discuss the question, e Whether the tea plant will thrive, in any other country than China,' because there*

F 4 <an jean be very little doubt that it will thrive in any climate where the myrtle grows; in fact, it will bear the winter of England iu certain situations. Iu China the plant is to he met with from Pekin to Canton, and we may therefore conclude that it is by no means • delicate shrub; still we cannot agree with Mr. Abel in thinking that' the Cape of Good Hope would seem to be the most eligible geographical situation for its culture :'—and we are quite sure that he could not have mentioned a situation less adapted for it in an economical point of view, The tea-tree can only be cultivated and prepared for use in a country where the population is exceedingly abundant, and labour exceedingly cheap. At the Cape, where the hire of a common day-labourer is from two to three dollars, a pound of tea could not be raised for a pound sterling; in China, where the wages of labour are little more than three-pence a-day, the same quantity may be brought to market for about half a crown. Mr. Abel may, therefore, be assured that we shall never ' derive the tea from any of our own dependencies,' nor ' cease to be indebted to China for an article that enters so essentially into the comforts of all classes of his countrymen.'

Op leaving China, Lord Amherst availed himself of the opportunity of paying a cursory visit to Manilla. Nothing seems to have struck Mr, Abel while there so much as the general habit of smoking, and the immense size of the cigars which the ladies carried in their mouths. When (says he) these enormous tubes were in full play, they poured forth such volumes of smoke, that ' they might have been taken for chimnies to machines rendered locomotive by the powers of steam.' What follows, though carelessly told^ is curious.

'The manufacture of these cigars affords employment to a great number of native women, and exhibits to the stranger an interesting example of local customs. It is carried on in a spacious gallery of a square form. Upwards of two thousand females of all ages are seated at low tables at which they make cigars by rolling the leaves of the tobacco plant on each other/ (not on the ladies, we hope.) 'The most scrupulous precaution is taken to prevent their smuggling it in any form, Superiutendants walk round the tables and collect the cigars as they are made, and examine the persons of the workers at the close of their labour. This process, for on account of which 1 am indebted to Captain Basil Hall, who witnessed it, is rather singular. Thirty women, for the most part elderly, and thought particularly trust-worthy, seat themselves, excepting one, round a circular landing-place without the entrance to the gallery. One only stands at the door of the gallery with a rattan in her hand, and allows thirty girls to enter, counting them off as they come in. When the thirty have passed, they go up to their respective examiners, and having freed their long black hair, hold it in their hands at arm's length; they then shake their handker7 , . "• chiefs. chiefs and loosen the other parts of their dress, and suffer the examiners to pass their hands over their bodies to ascertain if any tobacco be concealed close to their persons. In this manner successive parties are searched, till all the girls have undergone the examination. The examiners then rise, and in the same way examine each other.'—pp. 239, 2-10.

Our travellers formed a party up the river Passig to Los Bagnos, but nothing very remarkable appears to have occurred in this excursion. We must therefore content ourselves with an extract from Mr. Abel's account of a visit which they made to a small convent in a state of decay. , ,

'It was inhabited by one of the native priests, and one or two females of rather doubtful relation to the worthy father. Having passed through a large lumber-room and up a ladder, we entered a spacious apartment furnished with a large table and a few old chairs, and communicating at one end with the chapel, and at the other with the dormitory of the establishment. From the latter came forth, on our entrance, the clerigo, in person and dress so grotesque, as to tax our risibility very severely in avoiding to offend him by our mirth. Imagine a figure little more than five feet high, haung a large head with black hair, projecting forehead with a wart in the centre that looked like the budding of a horn, pig's eyes, flat nose, expanded nostrils, wide mouth and thick lips, dressed in an old-fashioned suit of black cloth, without stockings, and his shirt hanging below his knees, rushing out wild with astonishment, and only answering with grins the questions put to him. When the excess of surprise was passed, he walked successively round each of the party, viewing him narrowly from head to foot, but at length was motioning us to be seated, when he found fresh occasion for astonishment. Mr. Griffith, the chaplain to the embassy, had entered the room with a double-barrelled gun in his hand, and was now introduced as a brother clerigo. A protestant clergyman was, no doubt, in himself an object of great curiosity to one brought up in the extreme of bigotry, but a clergyman with a double-barrelled gun seemed to disturb all his notions of ecclesiastical propriety.' (Is Mr. Abel surprized at this?) 'He immediately went up to Griffith and examined him with great deliberation, walked round him again and again, and did not recover himself till repeated requests for refreshment induced him to depart. He soon re-appeared with shoes and buckles, and his shirt properly adjusted, and calling loudly about him, brought out one of his female associates, a very striking contrast to himself. With some of his peculiarities of physiognomy, she was tall, thin, and withered, decorated with crucifixes and other ornaments, and might have illustrated Smollett's description of the Indian wife of Lismahago. She had more self-possession than her friend, and speedily supplied us with some delicious chocolate, the famed produce and preparation of the island.'—pp. 246, 247.

We have now a long account of the shipwreck of trie Alceste: {he story had alreadv been told with so much spirit and feeling by

Mr. Mr. M'Lctod, that we think our author acted rather injudiciously in dwelling upon it at such length. The notice respecting Java too, after the very ample account which has been given of that magnificent ishmd by the late Governor Raffles, might as well have been omitted; (together with the geological discussion on the appearances of the peninsula of the Cape, especially as they have been described more fully and more scientifically by Captain Hall in the Philosophical Transactions of Edinburgh.

On anchoring at St. Helena, Lord Amherst paid a visit to Buonaparte, who, having previous notice of his intention, and being furnished with a catalogue raisonnee of his suite, was prepared to say something apropos to each individual. At that time he was at the point of dying, as he has been ever since, of an incipient hepatites; —but, says Mr. Abel,

'Buonaparte's person had nothing of that morbid fulness which I had been led to look for. On the contrary, I scarcely recollect to have seen a form more expressive of strength and even of vigour. It is true that he was very large, considering his height, which is about five feet seven inches; but his largeness had nothing of unwieldiness. The fine proportion of his limbs, which has been often noticed, was still preserved. His legs, although very muscular, had the exactest symmetry. His whole form, indee>3, was so closely knit, that firmness might be said to be its striking characteristic. His standing posture had a remarkable statue-like fixedness about it, which seemed scarcely to belong to the graceful ease of hisi step. The most remarkable character of his countenance was, to me, its variableness. Buonaparte has the habit of earnestly gazing for a. few seconds upon the person whom he was about to address; and whilst thus occupied holds his features in perfect repose. The character of his countenance in this state, especially when viewed in profile, might bee called settled design. But the instant that he enters into conversation bis features express any force or kind of emotion with suddenness and ease. His eye, especially, seems not only to alter its expression, but its colour. I am sure, had I only noticed it while the muscles of the face, and particularly of the forehead, were in play, I should have called it a very dark eye; on the contrary, when at rest, I had remarked its light colour and peculiar glary lustre. Nothing, indeed, could better prove its changeable character than the difference of opinion which occurred amongst us respecting its colour. Although each person of the embassy naturally fixed his attention on Napoleon's countenance, all did not agree on the colour of his eyes.

'There was nothing in the appearance of Buonaparte which led us to think that his health had at all suffered from his captivity. On the contrary, his repletion seemed to be the consequence of active nourishment. His form had all that tone, and his movement all that elasticity, which indicate and spring from powerful health. Indeed, whatever sympathy we felt for the situation of any of the prisoners received no


« AnteriorContinuar »