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however, from an intermixture with the Malays of Malacca and the Hindoos of the upper and eastern regions of Hindostan, the traces of the Chinese character are in many respects nearly obliterated. The Cochinchinese of Turon, notwithstanding the loose manners of the women which I shall presently have occasion to notice, and the tendency which all revolutions in governments have to change, in a greater or less degree, the character of the people, have preserved in most respects a close resemblance to their original, though in some points they differ from it very widely. They perfectly agree, for instance, in the etiquette observed in marriage and funeral processions and ceremonies, in the greater part of religious superstitions, in the offerings usually presented to idols, in the consultation of oracles, and in the universal propensity of inquiring into futurity by the casting of lots; in charming away diseases; in the articles of diet and the mode of preparing them; in the nature of most of their public entertainments and amusements; in the construction and devices of fire-works; in instruments of music, games of chance, cock-fighting and quail-fighting. The spoken language of Cochin. china, though on the same principle, is so much changed from the original as to be nearly, if not wholly, unin. telligible to a Chinese; but the written character is precisely the same. All the temples which fell under our observation were very humble buildings; and we saw no specimens either of the heavy curved roofs, or of the towering pagodas, so frequently met with in China; but it seems there are, in many parts of the country, monasteries
that are amply endowed, whose buildings are extensive and enclosed with walls for their better security. The houses in general near Turon. bay consisted only of four mud walls, covered with thatch; and such as are situated on low grounds, in the neighbourhood of rivers, are usually raised upon four posts of wood, or pillars of stone, to keep out vermin as well as inundatious.
The dress of the Cochinchinese has undergone not only an altera. tion, but a very considerable abridgment. They wear neither thick shoes, nor quilted stockings, nor clumsy sattin boots, nor petticoats stuffed with wadding; bat always go barelegged and generally barefooted. Their long black hair, like that of the Malays, is usually twisted into a knot, and fixed on the crown of the head. This, indeed, is the ancient mode in which the Chinese wore their hair, until the Tartars, on the conquest of the country, compelled them to submit to the ignominy of shaving the whole head except a little lock of hair behind.
On the precepts of Confucius is grounded the moral system for the regulation of the conduct in this country as well as in China. Here, however, to the exterior forms of morality very little regard seems to be paid. In China these precepts are gaudily displayed in golden characters in every house, in the streets and public places; but here they are seldom seen and never heard. Were they, indeed, repeated in their original language, (and they will scarcely bear a translation,) they would not be understood. Their conduct, in general, seems to be as little influenced by the solema precepts of religion as by those of
morality. The Cochinchinese are, like the French, always gay and for ever talking; the Chinese always grave, and affect to be thinking: the former are open and familiar, the latter close and reserved. A Chi nese would consider it as disgraceful to commit any affair of importance to a woman. Women, in the estimation of the Cochinchinese, are best suited for, and are accordingly entrusted with, the chief concerns of the family. The Chinese code of politeness forbids a woman to talk unless by way of reply, to laugh beyond a smile, to sing unless desired, and, as to dancing, she labours under a physical restriction which makes this kind of movement impossible. In Cochinchina the women are quite as gay and unrestrained as the men. And as a tolerably ac. curate conclusion may be drawn of the state of their society, from the condition in which the female part of it is placed, and the consideration in which the female character is held among them, I shall be more particular in describing the situation here assigned to them, in so far at least as our limited means afforded us the opportunity of observing, than on other points.
In some of the provinces of China women are condemned to the degrading and laborious task of dragging the plough, and otherwise employed in various kinds of heavy drudgery. In Cochinchina it would appear likewise to be the fate of the weaker sex to be doomed to those occupations which require, if not the greatest exertions of bodily strength, at least the most persevering industry. We observed them, day after day, and from morning till night, standing in the midst of pools of water, up to the knees,
occupied in the transplanting of rice. In fact, all the labours of tillage, aud the various employments connected with agriculture, seem to fall to the share of the female peasantry; whilst those in Turon, to the management of domestic concerns, and the superintendance of all the details of commerce. They even assist in constructing and keeping in repair their mud-built cottages; they conduct the manufacture of coarse earthen ware vessels ; they manage the boats on rivers and in harbours; they bear their articles of produce to market; they draw the cotton wool from the pod, free it from the seeds, spin it into thread, weave it into cloth, dye it of its proper colour, and make it up into dresses for themselves and their families. Almost all the younger part of the males are compelled to enrol themselves in the army; and such as are exempt from military service employ themselves occasionally in fishing, in collecting swallow's nests and the biches de mer among the neighbouring islands, as luxuries for the use of their own great men, but more particularly as articles of export for the China market; in felling timber; building and repairing ships and boats, and a few other occupations which, however, they take care shall not engross their whole time, but contrive to leave a considerable portion of it unemployed, or employed only in the pursuit of some favourite amusement: for they are not by any means of an idle disposition. But the activity and the industry of the women are so unabating, their pursuits so varied, and the fatigue they undergo so harassing, that the Cochinchinese apply to them the same proverbial expression which
confer on a cat, observing that a woman, having nine lives, bears a great deal of killing. It is evident, indeed, from the whole tenor of their conduct, that the men, even in the common ranks of life, consider the other sex as destined for their use; and those in a higher station, as subservient to their pleasures, The number of wives or of concubines, which a man may find it expedient to take, is not limited by any law or rule; but here, as in China, the first in point of date claims precedence and takes the lead in all domestic concerns. The terms on which the parties are united are not more easy than those by which they may be separated. To break a sixpence between two parting lovers is considered, among the peasantry of some of the counties in England, as an avowal and pledge of unalterable fidelity. In Cochinchina, the breaking of one of their copper coins, or a pair of chop-sticks, between man and wife, before proper witnesses, is considered as a dissolution of their former compact, and the act of separation.
In China the men have sedulously and successfully inculcated the doc trine, that a well bred women should not be seen abroad; that she should confine herself constantly to her own apartments; that in the presence of even her nearest male relations she should not expose her neck and her hands, to prevent which her gown is buttoned up close to the chin, and its sleeves hang down below the knee; and so craft tily have they contrived; their precepts to operate, that the silly women have actually been prevailed on to consider a physical defect which confines them to the house as a fashionable accomplishment.
Here, in this respect, there is a total difference with regard to the sex. So far from the Cochinchinese women being deprived of the free use of their limbs or their liberty, they have the enjoyment of both to the fullest extent. It certainly was not in Cochinchina where Eudoxus, in his travels, is said to have observ ed the feet of the women to be so small, that they might with propri ety be distinguished by the name of the "ostrich-footed ;" fœminis plantas adeo parvas ut Struthopodes appel lentur; as by their bustling about with naked feet, they become unusually large and spreading; but the name might aptly enough be applied to the feet of the Chinese ladies, whose undefined and lumpish form is not unlike the foot of the ostrich.
Extremes often approximate. The same cause which in China has operated this total seclusion of the sex from society, and the abridgment of their physical powers, has produced in Cochinchina a diametrically opposite effect, by permitting them to revel uncontrolled in every species, of licentiousness. This cause is their being degraded in public opinion, and considered as beings of an infe rior nature to the men. Thus situ. ated, character becomes of little value either to themselves or to others; and, from all accounts, it appears they are fully sensible of its unimportance in this respect. The consequence of which is, that women of less scrupulosity, or men of more accommodating dispositions, are not certainly to be met with in any part of the world than those in the environs of Turon bay. It is to be hoped, however, that the gene. ral character of the nation may not exactly correspond with that which prevails
prevails at one of the most frequented of its sea-port towns. The sin gular indulgence, granted by the laws of Solon, of permitting young women to dispose of personal favours, for the purpose of enabling them to procure articles of the first necessity for themselves or their families, is sanctioned by the Cochin chinese without any limitation as to age, condition, or object. Neither the husband nor the father seem to have any scruples in abandoning the wife or the daughter to her gallant.
There was little prepossessing in the general appearance and character of the Cochinchinese. The women had but slender pretensions to beauty; yet the want of personal charms was in some degree compensated by a lively and cheerful temper, totally unlike the dull, the morose, and secluded Chinese. An expressive countenance, being as much the result of education and sentiment as a delicate set of features and a fine complexion are of health, case, exemption from drudgery and exposure to the vicissitudes of the weather, could hardly be expected in Cochinchina. In point of fact, both sexes are coarse featured, and their colour nearly as deep as that of the Malay; and, like these people, the universal custom of chewing areca and betel, by reddening the lips and blackening the teeth, gives them an appearance still more unseemly than nature intended. The dress of the women was by no means fascinating. A loose cotton frock, of a brown or blue
ings and shoes they are wholly unacquainted; but the upper ranks wear a kind of sandals or loose slippers. As a holiday dress, on particular occasions, a lady puts on three or four frocks at once, of different colours and lengths; the shortest being uppermost. Their long black hair is sometimes twisted into a knot and fixed on the crown of the head, and sometimes hangs in flowing tresses down the back, reaching frequently to the very ground. Short hair is not only considered as a mark of vulgarity, but an indication of degeneracy. The dress of the men has little, if any thing, to distinguish it from that of the other sex, being chiefly confined to a jacket and a pair of trowsers. Some wear handkerchiefs tied round the head in the shape of a turban; others have hats or caps of various forms and materials, but most of them calculated for protecting the face against the rays of the sun; for which purpose they also make use of umbrellas of strong China paper, or skreens of the leaves of the borassus or fan-palm and other kinds of the palm-tribe, or fans made of feathers. Consonant with the appearance of their mean and scanty cloathing, as frequently thrown loosely over their shoulders as fitted to the body, were their lowly cabins of bamboo. short, nothing met the eye that could impress the mind of a stranger with high notions of the happy condition of this people.
colour, reaching down to the middle On the State of the Arts, &c. From of the thigh, and a pair of black nankin trowsers made very wide, constitute in general their common cloathing. With the use of stock
That particular branch of the arts in which the Cochinchinese may be 3 K 4
said to excel at the present day is naval architecture, for which, how ever, they are not a little indebted to the size and quality of the timber employed for that purpose. Their row-gallies for pleasure are remarkably fine vessels. These boats, from fifty to eighty feet in length, are sometimes composed of five single planks, each extending from one extremity to the other, the edges morticed, kept tight by wooden pins, and bound firm by twisted fibres of bamboo, without either ribs or any kind of timbers. At the stem and stern they are raised to a considerable height, and are curiously carved into monstrous figures of dragons and serpents, ornamented with gilding and painting. A num. ber of poles and spears bearing flags and streamers, pikes ornamented with tufts of cows' tails painted red, lanterns and umbrellas, and other insignia denoting the rank of the passenger, are erected at each end of the boat. And as these people, like the Chinese, differ in most of their notions from the greater portion of mankind, the company always sit in the fore part of the boat; but as it would be a breach of good manners for the rowers to turn their backs on the passengers, they stand with their faces towards the bow of the boat, pushing the oars from them instead of pulling towards them, as is usually done in the western world. The servants and the baggage occupy the stern of the boat. The vessels that are employed in the coasting trade, the fishing craft, and those which collect 'the trepan and swallow's nests among the cluster of islands called the Paracels, are of various descriptions; many of them, like the Chinese Sampans, covered with sheds
of matting, under which a whole family constantly resides; and others, resembling the common proas of the Malays, both as to their hulls and rigging. Their fo. reign traders are built on the same plan as the Chinese junks, the form and construction of which are cer tainly not to be held out as perfect models of naval architecture; yet, as they have subsisted some thou sands of years unaltered, they are at least entitled to a little respect from the antiquity of the invention. As these vessels never were intended for ships of war, extraordinary swiftness for pursuit or escape was not an essential quality security rather than speed was the object of the owner. And as no great capi. tals were individually employed in trade, and the merchant was both owner and navigator, a limited tonnage was sufficient for his own mer. chandize; the vessel was therefore divided, in order to obviate this inconvenience, into distinct compart. ments, so that one ship might sepa rately accommodate many mer chants.
these divisions were formed consist. The bulk heads by which ed of planks of two inches thick, so well caulked and secured as to be completely water-tight.
Whatever objections may be started against the dividing of ships' holds, and the interference in the stowage seems to be the most material one, it cannot be denied that it gives to large vessels many impor tant advantages. A ship, thus fortified with cross bulk heads, may strike on a rock and yet sustain (no serious injury; a leak springing in one division of the hold will not be attended with any damage to the articles placed in another: and by the ship being thus so well bound together,