« ZurückWeiter »
in labor, nor to draw carriages. That oxen are used; but the chief of their labor is done by men, not only in the fields, but on the roads, travellers being carried from town to town in bamboo chairs, by hired chairmen, throughout the country; and goods also, either hanging on poles between two, and sometimes four men, or in wheel-barrows; they having no coaches, carts, or waggons, and the roads being paved with flat stones.
They say that their great father (so they call the emperor) forbids the keeping of horses, because he had rather have his country filled with his children than with brutes; and one horse requires as much ground to produce him food, as would feed six men; yet some great people obtain leave to keep one horse for pleasure. That the master, having a farm left to him by a deceased relation, in a distant part of the country, sold the land he lived on, and went with the whole family to take possession, and live on the other. That they embarked in one of the boats that carry sea fish into the heart of the empire, which are kept fresh even in hot weather, by being packed in great hampers with layers of ice and straw, and repacked every two or three days with fresh ice, taken at ice-houses on the way. That they had been ten days on their voyage, when they arrived at the new farm, going up always against the stream. That the owner of the boat, finding him handy and strong in rowing and working her, and one of the hands falling sick, persuaded him to go fifteen days farther, promising him great pay, and to bring him back to the family. But that, having unloaded the fish, the Chinese went off with his boat in the night, leaving him behind, without paying him. That there is a great deal of cheating in China, and no remedy. That stealing, robbing, and
house-breaking are punished severely; but cheating is free there in every thing, as cheating.in horses is among our gentlemen in England.
That, meeting at that place with a boat bound towards Canton in a canal, he thought it might be a means of escaping out of that country, if he went in her; so he shipped himself to work for his passage, though it was with regret he left for ever the kind family he had so long lived with. That after twentyfive days' voyage on the canal, the boat stopping at a little town, he went ashore, and walked about to look at it, and buy some tobacco; and in returning he was stopped, taken up, examined, and sent away, under a guard, across the country to a mandarin, distant two days' journey. That here he found the lingo somewhat different, and could not so well make himself understood; that he was kept a month in prison before the mandarin had leisure to examine him. That, having given a true account of himself, as well as he could, the mandarin set him at liberty, but advised him to wait the departure of some persons for Canton, with whom he proposed to send him as a shipwrecked stranger, at the emperor's expense. That in the mean time he worked in the mandarin's garden, and conversed with the common people. He does not recollect the name of the province, but says it was one of the tea countries; and that, besides the true tea, they made a vast deal of counterfeit tea, which they packed up in boxes, some mixed with good tea, but mostly unmixed, and sent it away to different sea-ports for the supply of foreign countries. That he observed they made ordinary tea of the leaves of sweet potatoes, which they cut into form by stamps, and had the art of giving such color and taste as they judged proper. When he spoke of this practice as a fraud, they said
there was no harm in it, for strangers liked the false tea as well, or better, than the true; and that it was impossible to load with true tea all the ships that came for it; China could not furnish such a quantity; and, if the demand went on increasing as it had done some years past, all the leaves of all the trees in the country would not be sufficient to answer it. This tea was sold cheap, as he understood twenty catty of it (a catty is near our pound) for about an ounce of silver. They did not drink it themselves, but said it was not unwholesome, if drunk moderately.
That after some time he set out in the train of seven merchants for Canton, with a passport from the mandarin, going partly by land, but chiefly by water in canals. That they stopt a week in a part of the country where a great deal of China ware is made; that many farmers had little furnaces in some out-house, where they worked at leisure times, and made, some nothing but tea-cups, others nothing but saucers, &c., which they sold to country shopkeepers, who collected quantities for the merchants. The ware is there very cheap. He could have bought a dozen pretty cups and saucers for as much silver as is in an English half-crown.
He says it is not true, that they have large wheel carriages in China, driven by the wind; at least he never saw or heard of any such; but that the wheelbarrow porters indeed, when passing some great open countries, do sometimes, if the wind is fair, spread a thin cotton sail, supported by a light bamboo mast, which they stick up on their wheelbarrows, and it helps them along. That he once saw a fleet of near three hundred sail of those wheelbarrows, each with a double wheel. That, when he arrived at Canton, he did not make himself known to the English there, but got down as soon as he could to Macao, hoping to meet with his Portuguese captain; but he had never returned. That he worked there in rigging of vessels, till he had an opportunity of coming home to Europe; and, hearing on his arrival here, from an old comrade in the packet, that his sweetheart is married, and that the Resolution and Endeavour got home, he shall decline going to England yet a while, fearing he may be punished for carrying off the boat; therefore he has shipped himself, as I wrote you before, on a voyage to America. He was between three and four years in China. This is the substance of what I got from him, and nearly as he related it. He gave me the names of some places, but I found them hard to remember, and cannot recollect them.