SATURDAY, December 21.

To-day has been devoted, like yesterday, to Canton sights; but as we had several distant places to visit, we took sedan chairs, and went shouting along, four coolies each, Indian file, through the town, forming quite a cavalcade, with our guide in front. It was the same interminable maze of narrow, crowded thorough-fares, crammed with human beings, that we had seen for the first time yesterday. A great commotion was seen ahead at one place, out of which emerged several men in crimson robes, bearing banners, clearing the way and shouting out the name and dignities of a mandarin who was approaching. An ornamented chair, borne aloft, came into view, on which his lordship, an official of the third or fourth button, sat in state, followed by two servants on ponies, the only species of horseflesh we have seen in Canton. It is with considerable difficulty that even these small animals get through, and their use is confined to escorting high officials.

At almost every corner we pass crowds of poor wretches gambling in various modes, from fantan down to dice and dominoes. Children participate, and stake their "cash" with the elders; indeed, a young Celestial rarely spends his stray coppers in candy without tossing with the stall-keeper, double or quits; the little scamps begin early, and at every counter we noticed the dice lying ready to facilitate the operation. Is it any wonder that the vice of gambling seems inherent in the Chinese character? We saw rather a funny illustration of this practice, at which we couldn't help laughing. A class of venders keep a large pot boiling on the pavement in some partially secluded place, in which is an assortment of odds and ends. Such a mess of tidbits - pieces of liver, chicken, kidneys, beef, almost every conceivable thing! These the owner stirs up, taking care, I thought, to bring the largest bits adroitly to the surface. You should see the longing faces of the hungry beggars around. One risks a cash (one-tenth of a cent), a rattle of the dice - the customer has won. The fork is handed to him, and he has two dabs in the pot. What a prize! Down go the bonnes bouches one after the other, and back goes the fork to the pot-boiler, who again uses it to stir up in the pot prizes to tempt the lucky owner of funds sufficient for the indulgence of this piece of extravagance. I really believe the poor, miserable, hungry wretches lounging around the pot derived satisfaction from the odor emitted. And as the lucky gamester gobbled his prizes, I imagined every one around involuntarily went through the motion of smacking his lips, as if he shared in the inward satisfaction of his lucky neighbor. Vandy almost overwhelmed one of these people by handing him a cash to try his fortune; but he thinks his man was too hungry to risk the dice, and took the sure thing. He probably considered one bite in the mouth worth two in the pot; but he wasn't a representative Chinaman by any means.

At one point our guide in advance called a halt, and upon our dismounting he led us into a walled enclosure, and startled us with the information that we were in the execution grounds. He pointed out spots still damp with the blood of criminals, several jars containing the heads of victims, the protruding hair matted with the lime used to decompose the flesh more rapidly, and a rude cross still remaining upon which a woman had recently been crucified and cut to pieces while alive. Her crime was the gravest known to Chinese law: she had murdered her husband. Poor wretch! probably he had not illy deserved his fate were the whole story known, for the provocation which would nerve a woman in China to rise against her husband and owner must be beyond human endurance. Instead of this spot being set apart and shunned by man, woman and child, as defiled by the horrors enacted within its walls, the area was filled with large clay jars, used as stoves, the product of a manufactory adjoining, set out there in rows to dry. Men moved in and around them unconcernedly, and at the entrance and within the enclosure there was a temporary fantan gambling shop, composed of bamboo poles and mats, in full operation, surrounded by crowds of people. Of a surety the Heathen Chinee is peculiar. The grounds are of course cleared of everything upon "execution days," and I suppose the swarming masses of Canton see no reason why even this acre of notorious ground should be permitted to lie useless several days in succession. There is nothing which is not put to use in China.

Our next visit was more to our taste; it was to the place of the literary examinations, which are held every third year. Here the grounds are kept in good order, and exclusively devoted to this noble use. It is well known that each province in China has public examinations for its students. Those who are successful become eligible for the higher examinations, which are held at Canton and at two or three of the other great cities. Candidates who pass at these are permitted to enter for the final struggle at Peking, where success brings rank, honor, and fortune. At Canton the ten acres of grounds are covered with long rows of brick sheds, divided into stalls about six by four feet, with neither door nor window, and open at the back; a narrow footway permits entrance, and a blank wall forms the front of the succeeding row, and so on. The stalls contain no furniture, but a board extending from the front, half the length of the stall, and working backward and forward in grooves in the wall, is used as a seat; a smaller one higher up at the foot of the stall makes a writing-table, and these combined made a bed. A small lamp is furnished, and the aspirant remains for three days and nights writing upon subjects given to him after he has entered the stall. No chance for cramming here. Out of ten thousand six hundred who competed last year, only eighty-two were found worthy to appear at Peking. I believe only a certain number can succeed throughout the whole Empire, and the standard is, therefore, kept very high.

Amid much which causes one to mourn for the backwardness of this country, here is the bright jewel in her crown. China is, as far as I know, the only nation which has advanced beyond the so-called heroic age when the soldier claims precedence. England and America must be content to claim that

  "Peace hath her victories 
   No less renowned than war,"

while here the triumphs of peace are held in chief esteem. No general, no conqueror, be his victories what they may, can ever in China attain the highest rank. That is held only by successful scholars who have shown the possession of literary talent. When the news reaches a town or village that a townsman has been victorious at Peking, a general rejoicing takes place, and triumphal arches are built in his honor to witness for centuries how deeply they appreciate the honor conferred upon the town by their illustrious fellow-citizen. Upon his return the whole population turns out to meet and welcome him, and his career inspires other young men to emulate his virtues. Henceforth his life is one of honor, for from this class the rulers of China are taken. These are the Mandarins, and there is no other aristocracy in China. Nor are his honors hereditary. His sons, if they would be ennobled, must outstrip their fellows in knowledge, as their father did before them. An aristocracy founded upon learning, and composed of those who know the most, is an institution with which we have no serious quarrel. It is claims from birth which make my blood boil. These are an insult to every commoner, and we must not rest until every trace of hereditary privilege is swept from the earth. Neither king, queen, prince, nor lord should live in our native isle to insult us if I had my way - and my way may come ere I depart if I get the three score and ten allotted to mortals by the psalmist.

Our trip to-day had another surprise for us. We were taken to the city court and prison. A poor naked wretch was on his knees as we entered, his back a mass of blood caused by the blows just inflicted with the bamboo which an officer, standing close behind, still held over the victim, ready to use again at a word from the judge. What a quivering, miserable spectacle the culprit was! As I write this I can see him tremble. His reputed crime was stealing, but he had denied it, and the judge, not getting satisfactory answers to his questions, had ordered the bamboo to be applied. Another poor soul sat under torture, laced by ropes against a large flat board in some diabolical manner so that his features were distorted by pain, while at a short distance from the door many hardened-looking criminals, all chained to large balls of iron, awaited trial and sentence. The most enlightened of the judges here still urge that it would be impossible to administer justice without torture or physical punishment in order to force replies from the accused. If you can compel a culprit to answer every question which a trained examiner is allowed to put, it is not difficult to convict the guilty. With us we forego that advantage by requiring no man to convict himself. Here he has to prove his innocence in a measure; at least he must tell a straight story; and this he would never do, it is said, in China, unless he were held in fear of bodily chastisement or torture. It is an effectual mode of getting answers, as I can testify. The judge asks a question which goes to the very root of the matter. The wretch hesitates an instant. I thought I could see from his supplicating gesture that he felt the true answer would expose his guilt. "Bamboo, attend - ready!" Another instant, and the blow descends, the trembling man stammers out his reply, and his sentence is pronounced. Another, who has been cleverly allowed to witness the manner in which recusant parties are dealt with, is dragged before the judge, his back bared, and he falls on his knees to make answer. No skilful lawyers here to defend and throw around the prisoner the safeguards of the law; but neither is there any upon the side of the prosecution. The accused has only to satisfy the judge by giving a true account of himself and his doings. I should say an innocent man would prefer this mode, a guilty one detest it; and this seems a strong argument in its favor.

My room fronts on the river, and is upon the second story of this strange little hotel. This gives me fine views of the unceasing traffic of the stream, but it is not without its disadvantages as a place of rest at night. The Chinese gods, or devils rather, have a strong fondness for fire-crackers, and these are set off at all hours of the night by the more devout of the boat-women right under my windows. I waken with a start every now and then, as an unusally large bunch is fired. It occurred to me last night that some of the extra fees bestowed upon our woman and her bright little sister may be responsible for part of this species of devotion. It is very likely that some part of their extra earnings is considered due to their gods. I write this at nine in the morning, and there are two boats busily engaged in their prayers just now, one battery of crackers responding to the other. One would almost think a naval war upon a small scale was raging. I must plead ignorance till now of this strange manner of propitiating the supernatural powers. If I ever read of it, it has passed away and been forgotten, like a thousand things one reads of. Another custom which interferes with slumber is the noise made by the night watchman, who walks backward and forward beating a tenor gong with a hard stick. One, two, three, slowly, followed by two quick taps, is the signal that all is well. Extraordinary precautions have to be taken in the cities against theft. Almost every block has its watchman, and gates short distances apart are shut at nine o'clock, after which only those known personally to him are allowed to pass. One provision struck me as putting an effectual check upon mischief of all kinds: no one is allowed to walk after night without carrying a lantern, and one found disregarding this law would be held "suspect." Our landlord told me that the watchman would be sternly dealt with if a robbery occurred, as he is held responsible for the safety of his block.

The boat population of Canton is famous as being something unique, but it exceeds all ideas I had formed of it. It is said that three hundred thousand people live in boats ranging from the size of a skiff to that of a yawl. I have seen a family of six huddled together in one of the former size, but these were the poorest of the poor. The usual passenger boat is twenty feet long by four and a half wide - the size of the hotel boats we use. We got into one this morning, and as the crackers were going off from numerous boats on all sides, our woman explained that the unusually vigorous fusilade was owing to this being "Joss day." "All people go Jossee Temple this day." "Do you go?" "No; have got Jossee here on boatee." "Where? Show us." With that one of the girls at the stern pushed aside two small sliding-doors in the extreme end of the boat, and revealed a little shrine with a lamp ever burning, and Joss sticks in the incense bowl. The entire family burst into laughter at our surprise, evidently tickled with the idea that it was a decidedly cute thing to have their Joss cooped up "Jack-in- the-box" style. Yesterday the Emperor, at Peking, after fasting all the previous day, would ascend into the Temple of Heaven, accompanied by two thousand of his highest officials, and worship, while his subjects celebrate the event by this fire-cracker carnival.

I was curious to see how a small yawl could be the residence of a family, and examined several of them. The centre of the extreme stern is occupied by the Joss temple, on either side of which small dishes, cans, etc., are arranged; then comes an open space extending across the boat, about four feet long, over which is thrown a light board about six inches wide, upon which stands the woman who sculls and steers the craft. A permanent bamboo roof is built over about the next six feet of the boat, and around the walls are hung a few ornaments, generally old-fashioned plates and cheap prints from the English illustrated papers, while on a shelf are those indispensable articles, the smoking pipes of the family - large and curious affairs, with richly ornamented square brass bowls about four and one-half by two inches in size. A tiny china tea-set and various little "curios" are found in the best boats. The next portion, where passengers sit, has nicely cushioned seats running across the boat, and on each side as well, and is also covered by the roof. Next to the bow is a platform three feet deep, upon which stands the second woman, who rows or poles the boat, as may be necessary. Under her feet is the kitchen, and she has only to lift a board to show a small square covered with clay, upon which a fire can be built. Pots and pans are seen snugly stowed away around this, so that, by means of movable platforms, trap-doors, etc., the entire boat is rendered available to its very keel. At night, when the business of carrying passengers is over, all the boards are made into a fine flush deck, which is divided, in a very few minutes, into sleeping apartments by means of bamboo poles and mats; and so it comes to pass that what I was before disposed to believe almost impossible is accomplished with a degree of comfort quite surprising. These boat people live for less than ten cents a day. Rent there is none; food costs about five cents per day for each person; clothing does not cost two. From the child of eight to the great- grandmother, all do something. When not otherwise engaged, they sew, make Joss-sticks, slit bamboo, or do something or other, the baby being strapped on the mother's back that her capacity for work may not be interfered with; and her stepping backward and forward as she sculls must be a soothing lullaby, for we haven't heard a child crying yet in China. Upon such boats as I have here attempted to describe, and many far smaller and destitute of ornament, millions of the people of China live, move, and have their being. Children-are born, old men die, upon them, and many thousands of their occupants have never slept a night upon shore.

I was surprised to hear that there is no theatre at Canton. The government had some time ago to prohibit night performances, as they were constantly the scenes of disorder. The only amusement is furnished upon large gayly decorated boats, where feasts are given, at which girls belonging to the boats appear and sing. We saw one of these, but it was a poor performance compared with our experience in Japan.

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