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called a spirited and manly educa: before their entry into the world, tion.
they can then only be looked upon In by far the greatest number of as evils of the greatest magnitude, cases, we Cannot think publick however they may be sanctioned by schools favourable to the cultivation opinion, or rendered familiar to us of knowledge; and we have equally by habit. strong doubts if they be so to the The vital and essential part of a cultivation of morals, though we school, is the master; but, at a pub. admit, that, upon this point, the most lick school, no boy, or, at the best, striking arguments have been pro- only a very few, can see enough of duced in their favour.
him to derive any considerable bene. - It is contended by the friends to fit from his character, manners, and publiek schools, that every person, information. It is certainly of emibefore he comes to man's estate, nent use, particularly to a young must run through a certain career man of rank, that he should have of dissipation; and if that career is, lived among boys; but it is only so by the means of a private education, when they are all moderately watchdeferred to a more advanced period 'ed by some superiour understanding. of life, it will only be begun with The morality of boys is generally greater eagerness, and pursued into very imperfect; their notions of how more blamable excess. The time nour extremely mistaken; and their must, of course, come, when every objects of ambition frequently very man must be his own master; when absurd. The probability then is, that his conduct can be no longer regu- the kind of discipline they exercise lated by the watchful superinten- over each other will produce (when dance of another, but must be gui- left to itself) a great deal of mis ded by his own discretion. Emanci- chief; and yet this is the discipline pation must come at last; and we to which every child at a publick admit, that the object to be aimed at school is not only necessarily expo is, that such emancipation should be sed, but principally confined. Our gradual and not premature. Upon objection (we again repeat) is not this very inviduous point of the dis- to the interference of boys in the cussion, we rather wish to avoid formation of the character of boys bffering any opinion. The manners their character, we are persuaded, of great schools vary considerably will be very imperfectly formed from time to time; and what may without their assistance; but our ob. have been true many years ago, is jection is, to that almost exclusive very possibly not true at the present agency which they exercise in pubperiod. In this instance, every pa- lick schools." rent must be governed by his own After having said so much in opobservations and means of informa- position to the general prejudice in tion. If the license which prevails at favour of publick schools, we may publick schools is only a fair increase be expected to state what species of of liberty, proportionate to advan- school we think preferable to them; cing age, and calculated 10 prevent for if publick schools, with all their the bad effects of a sudden transi- disadvantages, are the best that can tion from tutelary thraldom to per- actually be found, or easily attained, fect self government, it is certainly the objections to them are certainly a good, rather than an evil. If, on made to very little purpose. the contrary, there exists in these We have no hesitation, however, places of education a system of pre- in saying, that that education seems mature debauchery, and if they only to us to be the best, which mingles prevent men from being corrupted a domestick with a school life; and by the world, by corrupting them which gives to a youth the advantage
which is to be derived from the He will be aware, that his object is, learning of a master, and the emu- to fit his pupil for the world; that lation which results from the society constant control is a very bad pre: of other boys, together with the af- paration for complete emancipation fectionate vigilance which he must from all control; that it is not bad experience in the house of his pa- policy to expose a young man, under , rents. But where this species of the eye of superiour wisdom, to education, from peculiarity of cir- some of those dangers which will cumstances or situation, is not attain- assail him hereafter in greater numable, we are disposed to think, a ber, and in greater strength; when society of twenty or thirty boys, un- he has only his own resources to de. det the guidance of a learned man, pend upon. A private education, con: and, above all, of a man of good ducted upon these principles, is not sense, to be a seminary the best a. calculated to gratify, quickly, the va. dapted for the education of youth. nity of a parent who is blest with a The numbers are sufficient to excite child of strong character and preemi. a considerable degree of emula- nent abilities. To be the first scholar tion, to give to a boy some insight of an obscure master, at an obscure into the diversities of the human place, is no very splendid distince character, and to subject him to the tion, nor does it afford that opportuobservation and control of his su- nity, of which so many parents are periours. It by no means follows, desirous, of forming great connex. that a judicious man should always ions for their children. But if the oba interfere with his authority and ad- ject be, to induce the young to love vice, because he has always the knowledge and virtue, we are incli
may conniye at many ned to suspect, that, for the average things which he cannot approve, of human talents and characters, and suffer some little failures to pro, these are the situations in which ceed to a certain extent, which, if such tastes will be the most effec. indulged in wider limits, would be tually formed. attended with irretrievable mischief.
FROM THE EDINBURGH REVIEW.
Ta Tsing Leu Lee; being the Fundamental Laws, and a Selection from the supple.
mentary Statutes of the Penal Code of China; originally printed and published in Pekin, in various successive Editions, under the Sanction and by the Authority of the several Emperours of the Ta T'sing, or present Dynasty. Translated from the Chinese; and accompanied with an Appendix, consisting of authentick Documents and a few occasional Notes, illustrative of the Subject of the Work. By Sir George Thomas Staunton, Bart. F. R. S. 4to. pp. 581. London, 1810.
THE Chinese have not hitherto love of paradox, and laudable zeal had very fair play in Europe. The to depreciate that part of their spefirst missionaries, from the natural cies with which they are best acpropensity of all discoverers to mag- quainted, eagerly took up and imnify the importance of their disco- proved upon the legends of the holy very, gave a most exaggerated ac- fathers, till they had not only exalted count of their merits and attain those remote Asiaticks above all ments; and then came a set of phi- European competition, but had translosophers, who, from their natural formed them into a sort of biped, Houyhnms; the creatures of pure 'safety, form a judgment for themreason and enlightened beneficence. selves. The translations exhibited This extravagance, of course, pro- by the missionaries were mostly voked an opposite extravagance; from works of fancy; and these were and De Pauw and others, not con- said to be so coloured and adorned tented with denying the virtues, and in their versions, as to convey no sciences of the Chinese, called e- idea whatever either of the taste, qually in question their numbers, style, or character of the people; - their antiquity, and their manual while, the statements made, as to dexterity; and represented them as matters of science and government, among the most contemptible and were far too general to serve as the debased of the barbarians, to whom foundation of any important concluall but Europe seemed to have been sions. It is rather remarkable, inallotted in perpetuity. More moderate decd, that, notwithstanding the great and rational opinions at length suc- commercial intercourse which Ena ceeded; and, when our embassy en- gland has now maintained with Chitered the country in 1793, the intel- na, for more than a century, the ligent men who composed it were work before us should have been the as little inclined, we believe, to ex- very first ever rendered out of that tol the Chinese, from childish ad- language directly into our own. It miration, or out of witty malice, as appears to us, however, to be at to detract from their real merits, least as important in itself, as it is because they appeared under an remarkable for its rarity. It contains, outlandish aspect; or had been over- as the title imports, the authentick praised by some of their predeces- text of the whole penal law of Chi. sors. The effect of this aspect, howe na; and as their peculiar system of ever, and this overpraise, were still jurisprudence has attached a certain vísible, we think, in the different publick punishment to the violation opinions of the candid and intelli- or neglect of almost every civil obgent persons to whom we have allu- ligation, their penal law comprises ded. The noble lord who was at the an incidental view of their whole head of the mission, appears, on the system of legislation. Now, there whole, to have formed a higher es. certainly is no one document from timate of this singular people than which we may form a judgment of any of the persons of his train. His the character and condition of any ingenious and enlightened secretary, nation, with so much safety as from sir George Staunton, seems to have the body of their laws; and when wavered a good deal as to the point these are presented to us, not in the of the scale at which he should place partial abstracts of their admirers them; and Mr. Barrow, though in- or detractors, but in the origina finitely more accurate and candid fulness and nakedness of their authan De Pauw, is evidently actuated thentick statutes, the information by something of the same pique or which they afford may fairly be antipathy to the formal orientals, sidered as paramount to all that can which has given so singular a colour. be derived from other sources. The ing to most of the statements, and representations of travellers, even observations of that zealous philo- where their fidelity is liable to no sopher.
impeachment, will almost always While the opinions of the best take a tinge from their own imagiinformed persons were thus at vari- nation or affections; and, where enance on the subject, it was particu, thusiasm or controversy have any ļarly to be regretted, that there were place in the discussion, there is an scarcely any documents before the end to all prospect of accuracy or publick, from which they could, with justice. The laws of a people, how
ever, are actual specimens of their more than ordinary degree of reprobation. intellect and character; and may
-Trans. Pref. p. ix. Jead the reflecting observer, to whom In spite of all this, he observes, that - they are presented, in any corner of this nation will be found to possess the world, to a variety of important certain considerable advantages, both conclusions that did not occur to the in a moral and political view, wbich individual by whom they were col- are not to be exactly paralleled in lected. In such a work, the legisla- any European society. These he astor inevitably paints both himself cribes, in a very brief and philosoand the people for whom he legis- phical enumeration, lates; and, as nothing here depends upon the colouring of style or orna. to their system of early and uniment, nothing short of intentional ,versal marriage, ezcept, indeed, as far fabrication in the translator, can
as that system may be considered to con.
duce to the misfortune of a redundant prevent us from forming a correct population; to the sacred regard that is notion of the original. In the case habitually paid to the ties of kindred; to before us, however, we have not the sobriety, industry, and even intellionly every reason to believe that the gence of the lower classes; to the almost translation is perfectly just and ac- total absence of feudal rights and privi. curate, but think we can discover, ed property; to the natural incapacity
leges; to the equable distribution of land. in the translator, such candour and and indisposition of the government and coolness of judgment, as would en- people to an indulgence in ambitious protitle him to be trusted in a matter of jects and foreign conquests; and lastly, to far greater temptation.
a system of penal laws, if not the most Sir George Staunton, in an intro- just and equitable, at least the most com
prehensive, uniform, and suited to the duction of considerable length, but genius of the people for whom it is de. which its clearness, modesty, and signed, perhaps of any that ever existed." intelligence, made us wish longer, Trans. Preface, p. xi.. has presented us with an interesting sketch of the general character of
Upon the whole, he thinks it reathe Chinese institution's; and endea- sonable to conclude, that a philosovoured, though with a visible lean- pher who should survey this people ing in their favour, to mediate be with an enlightened and liberal indultween-those who had exaggerated gence, would probably find “sometheir pretensions, and those who thing to compensate the evils he had had been effended at the disappoint- justly reprobated and lamented; and ment of extravagant expectations. might even have at last determiHe confesses, that the romantick ned, that a considerable proportion ideas which had been diffused by of the opinions most generally enthe writings of some of the missio tertained by Chinese and Europeans ,
of each other, was to be imputed realized by an actual inspection of either to prejudice, or to misinforthe Chinese.
mation; and that, upon the whole, it
was not allowable to arrogate, on “Their knowledge," he observes,
either side, any violent degree of perceived to be defective in those points moral or physical superiority."in which we have, in Europe,recently made Trans. Pref. p. ix. the greatest progress, and to which we Though we approve very much of virtues were found to consist more inter the spirit of these observations, we remonial observances, than in moral du.
cannot yet persuade ourselves to ties; more in profession, than in praetice; acquiesce in the equation with which and their vices, when traced and discothey conclude. Yet if Sir George yered, upon occasions where they were the Staunton's statements are to be res least expected, seemed to deserye a lied on, and every thing about them
entitles them to the highest authó. which the reader is left to find from rity; the intellectual condition of the their intrinsick qualities, it is easy to Chinese must be a subject of more conceive how infinitely laborious the curious investigation than the best task must be, of decyphering their of our recent accounts would lead us more elaborate and ornamental comto believe.
posidons. We learn, accordingly, The elements of literature, by from sir George Staunton, that one which we suppose is meant the art of of the missionaries, who was most reading the easiest and most simple thoroughly acquainted with the lancharacters, are almost universally guage, and was highly distinguished diffused among the natives; and this among the Chinese themselves for accomplishment is fostered and re- proficiency in their literature, dewarded, by an infinite multitude of clared, that he should never have publications, upon all subjects but been able to read or translate a cethose connected with the govern- lebrated, imperial poem, which he ment of the country, and particu. entitles “ Eloge De Mougden," withlarly in the departments of poetry out referring, occasionally, to a preand the belles lettres. These works vious translation of it into the lanare multiplied by a clumsy species of guage of the Manchoo Tartars. printing, which has been practised The elementary books of the laws,
among them for time immemorial; however, the translator assures us, and every considerable city contains are composed in a much simpler various booksellers’ shops, where a style; and, being intended for the great variety of publications may perusal of the whole body of the peoalways be purchased.
ple, consist, almost entirely, of the The extreme difficulty of the writ- easiest and most simple characters. ten language is acknowledged by This circumstance, joined to their sir George Staunton; and, unfortu- great importance in illustrating the nately, this difficulty increases pretty character and condition of the peo. nearly in the same proportion with ple, recommended them, in a pecuthe merit of their works of poetry liar manner, as a subject for transand eloquence. In compositions lation, and as calculated to afford a which have nothing to do with safe and satisfactory specimen, both words, all the beauties of versifica- of Chinese composition and of Chition, rythm, and every thing that is nese legislation. called style in other languages, is of As sir George Staunton considers course out of the question. Their it (upon grounds which we hope he poetry does not consist of verses, nor wili hereafter elucidate more fully) their oratory of periods; but both are as one of the facts most incontestadistinguished from the pictures of bly proved in history, that the Chitheir ordinary thoughts by the use nese were united under a regular of less obvious and more ingenious government, and in no low state of metaphors, and by a selection of civilisation, at least as early as the characters, the elementary parts of third century before our era, it might which present, a series of pleasing have been expected that, among a ideas, though the signification of the people so tenacious of old usages, whole may not be different from that their fundamental, penal code should of some ordinary character. Com- have been deduced from a very repositions of this kind do not, of mote antiquity. Their great love of course, admit of translation; and, as their ancestors, however, gives place, the genius of the language rejects it seems, to their greater love for the aid of common particles of con- their reigning emperour; and, on nexion, and presents merely a string the accession of every new dynasty, of detached images, the relations of it is the custom to make a sort of