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redaction, or new edition of the a point of this nature; as, even subsisting statutes, which takes the though we were assured that ninename of the reigning family, and tenths of the whole work was of ve. forms the Leu, or fundamental code, ry great antiquity, it is impossible during the subsistence of that race; to be quite certain that this is the all the additional statutes being sub- case as to any particular regulation joined in a subordinate form, as sup- or prescription, the antiquity of plementary clauses of explanation which might lead to the most interor commentary, called Lee, to this esting conclusions. There are some immutable text. Upon the accession laws, in particular, that bear so reof a new dynasty, such parts, both markable an affinity to modern Euof text and supplement, as are ap- ropean institutions, that it would be proved of, are incorporated into a very desirable to know with certainty new text, which takes the name of that they had been very anciently that family, and receives successive enacted among the antipodes. increments in the form of Lee, du- To have translated the whole Leu ring all the period that it possesses Lee, that is, the fundamental text, the sovereignty. The present dy- and all the supplementary clauses, nasty is that of Tsing, which as- would, it seems, have rendered the cended the throne only in the year work far too voluminous. Sir George 1644; and the date of the present Staunton has, therefore, given only fundamental code cannot, therefore, the former in the body of the work, be quite so ancient. This, however, marking, at the end of every secit is obvious, is only true of its pre- tion, how many Lee, or additional sent form and arrangement, or rather clauses, are subjoined to it in the of its authoritative publication under original, and engrossing such of that form; for, in a nation where the them as appear curious or important, veneration for antiquity and esta- in an appendix, which contains a blished usage
so strong as to form great number of other valuable eluthe chief security of the govern- cidations. ment, and the chief obstacle to im- Our readers, we suppose, would provement among the people, it is not thank us for an exact account of impossible not to conclude, that by the divisions, books, and sections of far the greater part of the code thus this Chinese code, with a mere list promulgated, would consist of the of their titles, and of the subjects of identical precepts and regulations which they treat. It will probably which had been enforced, from time suit their purpose better, if we enimmemorial, among this unchanging deavour, in the first place, to point people. The earliest compilation of out what struck us as most remarkwhich sir George Staunton has pro- able in the general character of the cured any authentick intelligence, is work, and then specify such of its ascribed to a worthy of the name of enactments as appear to uś to throw Lee-Quee, who is supposed to have any valuable light on the genius and lived about 250 years hefore Christ, condition of the people, or on the and who does not appear to have nature of their peculiar institutions. been the author of any of the laws And here we will confess, that by which he collected. The greater far the most remarkable thing in part of the present code, sir George this code, appeared to us to be its supposes to be at least as old as the great reasonableness, clearness, and time now mentioned; and much of consistency; the business-like breit, he thinks, may be reasonably vity and directness of the various piresumed to be far more ancient. provisions, and the plainness and It is peculiarly uncomfortable, how. moderation of the language in which ever, to be left to conjecture upon they are expressed. There is nothing, here, of the monstrous verbiage of to his people, published by that cemost other Asiatick productions; lebrated' monarch a year or two after none of the superstitious deliration, he had resigned the sceptre to his the miserable incoherence, the son, and when the increasing infirtremendous non sequiturs and eter- mities of extreme old age began to nal repetitions of those oracular give intimation of his approaching performances; nothing even of the end. The reasonableness, mildness, turgid adulation, the accumulated and simplicity of this extraordinary epithets, and fatiguing self praise of paper, is rather greater than we other eastern despotisms; but a calm, should expect from any of our Euconcise, and distinct series of enact- ropean secretaries of state; and has ments, savouring, throughout, of in it more of a gentle and paternal practical judgment and European tone than we should have looked for good sense, and, if not always con- from a veteran despot. formable to our improved notions of
" When the administration of this em. expediency in this country, in genes pire was committed to our charge, we, ral approaching to them more nearly indeed, beheld before us a task of serious than the codes of most other nations. difficulty; but we were rendered thereby, When we pass, indeed, from the only more earnest and solicitous in avoidravings of the Zendavesta, or the ing all deviation from the strict line of Puranas, to the tone of sense and of conduct we had prescribed to ourselves. business of this Chinese collection, All parts of our various and widely ex
tended domains, shared equally our atten. we seem to be passing from dark- tion; and frequently, during the darkness ness to light; from the drivelings of of the night, as well as at the middle hour dotage to the exercises of an im., of the day, we have attended, unconscious proved understanding. And, redun- of fatigue, in the councils of our ministers, dant and absurdly minute as these
for the purpose of communicating our laws are, in many particulars, we
decisions on their reports, and of issuing
new ordinances for the publick weal, that scarcely know any European code
thus no day might be permirted to pass that is at once so copious and so away, without having been duly filled and consistent, or that is nearly so free employed." from intricacy, bigotry, and fiction. "Thus, during the long and eventful In every thing relating to political period of our reign, the weighty affairs of freedom or individual independence, government have been the objects of our it is, indeed, wofully defective; but, with the critical importance of the charge,
constant regard; and, deeply impressed for the repression of disorder, and we never ventured to pronounce the ob. the gentle coercion of a vast popu. jects of government to have been so com. lation, it appears to us to be, in pletely attained, or the peace of the em. general, equally mild and efficacious. pire so immutably established, as to admit
of our relaxing our efforts, or indulging in The state of society for which it was
repose. formed appears, incidentally, to be à
“ Ultimately, however, we recalled to low and a wretched state of society; our recollection the mental prayer which but we do not know that wiser means we had addressed to the Supreme Being could have been devised for main- on our accession to the imperial dignity,
and in which we had made a solemn inti. taining it in peace and tranquillity.
To justify what we have said of mation of our intention to resign, to our the European reasonableness of the realm, if the Divine Will should grant
son and successour, the sovereignty of the Chinese official style, we shall here to our reign a sixty years continuance; lay before cour readers a few sen- forasmuch as we were unwilling to extences from a singular state paper, ceed, in any case, the duration of our imor edict, of the late emperour Kien- perial grandfather's government.” Lung, which is translated by sir
"Accordingly, on the first day of the
year Ping-shin, we transferred to our son, George Staunton, in his appendix. the present emperour, the seals of the This is a sort of valedictory address stereign authority, reserving to ourself
the title of MOST HIGH EMPEROUR, as a 150 miles; to 100 blows, and perpedistinctive appellation; thus accomplish, tual banishment to the distance of ing, ir the end, what, in our solemn invó. cation to Heaven, we had originally pro- by decollation, or by torture; and in
1500 miles; to death, by strangling, posed."
“We have already attained the eighty case of any offence, the legal puninth year
of our age. Therefore but a few nishment is directed to be increased short years are wanting to complete the or diminished by a certain number utmosi period of longevity. It then only of those degrees, according to the further behoves us reverently to employ circumstances of aggravation or the remaining days of our life, and tiently to await the hour which is to con- palliation by which it may be atclude it."
tended. In like manner, the punish“ Shortly after we had received the ment of theft is made to vary, ac. congratulations of our ministers, in the cording to the value of the thing hall of audience in the palace of Kan-tsing. stolen, from ten blows with the kung, on the first day of the new year, our appetite wholly failed us; we are now also bamboo, to death by strangling; and sensible that our faculties of sight and all the considerations of stealing hearing are declining apace.
under trust, or from the publick, or " The emperour, our son, has, indeed, from relations, are made to aggrabeen piously engaged in procuring medical vate or diminish the punishment by assistance, and assiduously attentive in a certain number of those degrees. seeking the means most likely to conduce Besides all this, almost all the acto our recovery; but we feel that at our tions of a man's life are subjected advanced period of life, medicine can prove of very little avail, and, therefore, to the control of the government; make this preparation previous to the last and its penal sanctions are incurred mortal paroxysm of disease. After a long for improprieties of the most domes.. succession of years, we are about to close tick nature, and even for the most a reign sustained with caution and assi. innocent transactions, if entered into duity, and invariably favoured by the dis- without its special license. Thus, a tinguished protection of Heaven, and of
man is severely punished for marry. our, ancestors. We are now about to resign for ever the administration of this empire; ing while his parents are in prison, but shall leave it in the hands of the em. or within three years after their perour, our son, whose eminent abilities death, or for neglecting to pay and pious dispositions are in every respect, honour to their sepulchres; and also conformable to our wishes, and will, for acting as a commercial agent, or, doubtless, ensure to him a felicity like ours in his future undertakings; an idea which
even for killing his own oxen, withfunishes us with the most grateful con
out a written permission from the solation.” p. 482.
magistrate; for dressing himself in
an unsuitable manner; for allowing - The next thing that strikes us as his lands to lie waste, or neglecting remarkable in this collection, is the to pay interest for borrowed money. excessive and unprofitable accuracy. Now, this extraordinary minuteness and minuteness of its regulations; and oppressive interference with the the constant desire to regulate every freedom of private conduct, is not thing whatever; to interfere in every to be considered merely as arising action; and to fix immutably, before- from that passion for governing too hand, the effect of every shade of much, which is apt to infest all perdistinction which a case may receive sons in possession of absolute power; from its circumstances. Thus, the but appears to us to indicate a cerfoundation of the whole code is laid tain stage in the progress of society, in fixing a scale of punishments, and to belong to a period of civilisarising through twenty degrees, from tion, beyond which the Chinese have ten blows with the bamboo to 100 not yet been permitted to advance. blows; to sixty blows, with banish- The first efforts of legislation, in ment for one year to the distance of all countries, are very short and ger
neral; and consist, for the most part, quently moulded by the violence of in little else than the brief and au- its early rulers into a form altogether thoritative enunciation of some of the forced and unnatural, and been great and obvious maxims of moral- crushed into artificial regularity, to ity, or some of the established usages the obstruction of all its happy and to which the society had previously healthy movements. To this source, conformed. Such are the decalogue we conceive, are to be referred the of Moses; the laws of the twelve institution of castes in India and in tables; and the primitive laws of ancient Egypt; the inflexible and the Persians and other rude nations. intolerable discipline of Sparta; a When society has advanced a little, great part of the military array of however, and governments have bee the feudal-system; the distinctions come strong, the legislator takes a and ceremonies of the tribes of the much more ambitious aim. De South Sea and North America; the lighted with the effect of his own burdensome police and subdivisions regulations of police, and the con- imputed to Alfred in Old Engvenience of his own fixed and arbi- land; and, perhaps, the impassable trary rules of proceeding, he endea- boundaries which existed, till lately, vours to extend the same rigid order between the noblesse and the comthrough all the departments of life; monalty in continental Europe. In he represses irregularities merely in all these institutions we see a love order to realize an ideal notion of per- of regularity, and of complete and fection, and labours to sunject the thoroughgoing control, interfering, whole frame of human society to a law at a very early period, with the ofunitormity and subordination, under natural freedom and equality of men; which it is not caiculated to flourish. and endeavouring, with a forcible
In the exultation of their first tri- and jealous hand, to repress all those umph over the lawless disorders of movements of individual indulgence savage life, the first reformers of the or ambition, from the greater excessworld seem to have thought that it es of which, society had at that time, was impossible to have too much perhaps, more need of protection. law or too much order; and, having As real civilisation advanced, fixed, in their own minds, how it however, this control was felt to be could be best and most convenient both grievous and unnecessary; a that men should live together, to more liberal system was gradually have aimed at enforcing the essential introduced; and, wherever human and the insignificant parts of their intellect expanded, and national system with the same indiscrimina-, prosperity rose high, the bands of ting earnestness. Having uppermost this barbarick regularity were burst in their thoughts the dangers of a asunder. Members of a truly well tumultuary and uncontrolled state of regulated state were left to a freedom society, they set a most exaggerated which appeared frightful and pernivalue on coercive regulations; and, cious to the keepers of a half tamed forgetting altogether both the suf- generation; and men were restored fering and the debasement that was to every degree of independence that to result from the destruction of in- did not manifestly endanger the dividual freedom, thought of nothing safety of their neighbours. Then, but of enforcing and reducing to at last, it was discovered, that the practice their own schemes of per- irksome discipline of a school could manent control and complete super. not be advantageously continued tointendance.
wards men of mature growth and It is upon this principle, as it ap- understanding; that individual happears to us, that society has, in all piness and comfort (which were the quarters of the world, been so fre- ends of all government) were of more value than the preservation of substances are thrown on the upper a vain and fantastick uniformity; or the under part of the body, or on and that the hazard of occasional the back part or the fore. In andisorder was but a cheap price to cient Europe, there was the same be paid for the spirit of enterprise fantastick and preposterous minuteand exertion. Stocks and stones, ness; the table of pains, indeed, was it was perceived, might be wrought, different; and as our ancestors were with advantage, into forms of perfect of too high a spirit to submit to beand iminutable symmetry; but men, ing logged, consisted, for the most like plants, could only flourish when part, in pecuniary fines. In Wales, they were free; and if the gardening where specie was less abundant, the was bad which planted trees in tri. law laid on the mulct in grain; and angles and clipped them into cones, the operation of the same spirit is the policy was worse which subject- visible in the anxiety with which the ed men, in their private functions, Chinese code directs certain offences to the control of government, and to be expiated by 50 blows inflicted drilled them into spiritless subjec. on the posteriors with a piece of tion, by the perpetual visitation of bamboo, five tsun in length, one and the law.
a half tsun in thickness, and two kin In the spirit of this policy, how, in weight, held by the smaller end; ever, and in the stage of society by and in the no less ingenious and which it is engendered, does the anxious enactment of the Welch Chinese code appear to have been legislator, who provides, that for framed; and to this general and certain delinquencies the culprit widely operating cause, are we in- shall pay as much grain as, being clined to refer its jealous and vexa- poured out on the floor, shall stand tious interference with the ordinary in a heap sufficiently high in the duties of individuals. Its minute centre to cover the body of a full and anxious attempts at accuracy in grown cat, held by the tip of the distinguishing cases and proportion- tail; with her nose just touching the ing punishments, originate in the ground ! same blind love of regularity, and Upon the folly of these regulations will be found to correspond exactly it is unnecessary to enlarge. They with the institutions of other coun- have their origin in that unenlight, tries, while under the influence of ened presumption, which supposes the same principle. In Hindoostan that it is possible for human in where this systematick spirit has genuity to anticipate all the shades perhaps been carried the mo:t un- and variations of which human de. relenting length, and been longest linquency is susceptible, and to ac. maintained, the distinctions are still commodate punishment in so wise a more ludicrously minute, and the proportion to offence, in a general scale of punishment graduated with and permanent code, as that justice more elaborate ingenuity. In China, shall always be exactly done by its the legislator thought he went far literal enforcement. This, too, is enough, when he specified the pre- an errour of early legislation; and cise penalty for tearing off two tse an errour that, in the happier reof hair, or for throwing filth and gions of the world, is speedily de ordure on another. The Hindoo, tected by the light of experience however, has had the precaution to and philosophy; proving both that provide an appropriate rate of punish- the object is unattainable, and that ment for the offence of throwing the it is not worth attaining. In almost was of the ears, or the parings of the all cases of variable delinquency, nails at one's neighbour; and even the law need fix only the maximum to vary the pain according as those of punishment, leaving it to the