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where would you have obtained your own bodies? Being yourselves the children of those who were once female children, why cast your own into the field of death? Reflect! consider what you are doing! The destruction of female children is nothing less than the slaughter of human beings. That those who kill, shall themselves be killed, is the sure retribution of Omniscient Heaven.” But it must be observed, that infanticide is not recognised or punished as a crime. By the laws of the empire, a child is as much the property of his father, as the ox which draws his plough. To a heart ignorant of its relations to the true God, destitute of natural affection, and perfectly alive—and alive only—to its worldly interests, the temptations to infanticide must be great in China. It does not come under the cognizance of their civil laws. Society imposes no restraint: it never frowns upon such an act, and their friends lose none of their respect for those who commit it.
It has been justly remarked, that a nation's civilization may be estimated from the rank its females hold in society.
If the civilization of China be estimated by this test, then is she far from deserving that place among the nations she so presumptuously claims. Females have always been regarded with contempt by the Chinese; their ancient sages having deemed them hardly worthy of their attention. Confucius thus speaks of them:-“ The lady who is to be betrothed to a husband, should follow blindly the wishes of her parents, yielding implicit obedience to their will. From the moment she is joined in wedlock, she ceases to exist; her whole being is absorbed in that of her lord. She ought to know nothing but his will, and to deny herself in order to please him. She should speak only to her husband, and never be seen out of doors.” Pau Hwuypau, a much admired female historian of China, has laid down rules for the government of her sex, in which she treats of their proper station in society. She tells them that “they hold the lowest rank among mankind, and that employments the least honourable ought to be, and are their lot.” We could not expect that this doctrine, coming from a female who ought to have been an advocate for her sex, and one too held in so much esteem as Pau Hwuy pau, esteemed perhaps on account of this very doctrine, would be overlooked by the “lords of creation," especially as it accords so well with their domineering disposition in China.
A species of middle state between rudeness and civilization, is the portion of a Chinese lady of quality. Inhumanly deprived of the use of her limbs, whenever she desires to go out, she is concealed in a close sedan—and so strictly is this incognito observed, that less wealthy persons keep covered wheel-barrows for their captive wives—not to prevent the winds of heaven from visiting them too roughly, but to deprive them of the homage of earthly eyes. Notwithstanding all this jealous care, the females of the lower classes are treated with little, in fact with no respect. Often is the poor man's wife seen labouring in
VOL. II. — MARCH, 1849. 11
the fields of rice, the farm of cotton, the nurseries of silk, her infant being safely tied to her back, while her husband is engaged in the excitement of smoking or gambling. In the character of the Chinese females we see somewhat to admire. A woman spends most of her time at home, in the discharge of her domestic duties and in the education, so far as she is able, of her young children. Her authority over the male children ends, however, when they have arrived at their tenth year. At this age the boys are removed from their mother's care, nor are they ever after permitted to visit the place in which they were born. In their love of apparel the Chinese ladies are not a whit behind their sisters of the west, and the dresses of the wealthy are magnificent in the extreme. There is no indecency in their costume, for the garments encase their whole person like a tortoise shell; even the small feet are completely hid, for it would be a violation of female propriety to make a parade of this criterion of beauty. To prove that I have not exaggerated the ill-treatment which females suffer at the hands of their husbands, I would state that Dr. Medhurst bears testimony to the fact that in the interior of the country females are sometimes compelled to draw light ploughs and harrows. I have myself seen them at work in the rice fields near Shanghai, half immersed in mud and water. Dr. Parker, who from his station as head of the hospital at Canton, has probably had better means of judging in this matter than any other foreigner, told me that females in the common ranks of life were held in the greatest degradation and were treated as slaves. No one who has seen Chinese females in their own country has failed to observe, that their countenances bear a care-worn expression, as though they were conscious of the inferiority in which they are held. The institutions of the country tend to degrade females. They are purchased by the father as wives for his sons, and the female seldom knows to whom she is to be married until she is carried in the bridal sedan to the door of her intended husband's house. Polygamy is allowed in China, and this includes within itself so much to depress the mind of woman and to benumb her affections, that until public opinion and the laws of the country are changed in this respect, she can never rise to her proper place. The idea that a man can have more than one wife, seems to have more injurious effects, both upon his own affections and the condition of females, than the actual evils resulting from a plurality of wives. Facility of divorce has also a tendency to make a wife more of a slave than a companion and friend. Even Confucius himself, divorced his wife without cause, and such an example the Chinese do not hesitate to follow, when their choice impels them. The ignorance of Chinese females generally, is properly considered as degrading, but we may observe that if they are taught to be virtuous, industrious and decorous, Chinese literature can add but little which is calculated to expand the mind, or purify the heart. In fine, we may sum up all the evils by saying, that as all social intercourse
between unmarried youths of opposite sexes is strictly forbidden, so there being no cordial friendship or reciprocity of esteem before marriage, there is but little afterwards. The husband thinks he has conferred a favour upon his wife by taking away the reproach of being single; and the wife feels her dependence too acutely to think of ever becoming the companion of her lord. Christianity is the only remedy for these evils: its code the only emancipation act that can be found to relieve the daughters of Eve from the slavery of public opinion thus arrayed against them.
G. H. V. (To be continued.)
CALIFORNIA. Upper or Alta California, ceded to the United States by the late treaty with Mexico, extends from the 32d to the 420 parallels of north latitude. It has Oregon on the north, the Pacific ocean on the west, Lower California and Sonora on the south. On the east the boundary is not clearly defined; according to some, the Rio Colorado is the eastern limit; according to others, the Rocky mountains. The Anahuac range lies east of the Colorado, and the Wahsatch to the west of it.
The Sierra Nevada or Snowy range of mountains, runs parallel with the Pacific and divides the inhabited portion of California from that which is unexplored and desert. That part which lies between the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific, is the region known to travellers and emigrants, and contains the valleys of Sacramento and San Joaquin. The other division which lies east of the Sierra Nevada, embraces within it the Great Basin, the Wahsatch mountains, the Great salt lake and the Rio Colorado of the west. Of this portion of California, but little is known. The Mormons have made the only white settlement within its limits, near the salt lake. The Great Basin extends from the Sierra Nevada to the Wahsatch mountains. It has an elevation of four or five thousand feet above the level of the sea, and, so far as the observations of travellers have reached, is covered with evidences of volcanic action. The existence of this great basin is vouched for, by American traders and hunters; and Col. Fremont, who traversed its outer rim, and visited the great salt lake and the Wahsatch mountains, ascertained that there was a succession of lakes and rivers which had no visible outlet to the sea, or connexion with the Columbia or Colorado rivers. He believed that the basin extends four or five hundred miles each way, and that sterility is its prominent characteristic. It is peopled; but from all he heard and saw, humanity is there in its lowest form and in its most elementary state. The greater part of the inhabitants are dispersed in single families—without fire-arms—eating seeds and insects, and digging roots; whilst others, a degree higher, live in communities upon some lake or river that sup
plies fish, and from which they repulse the miserable digger. The rabbit is the largest animal known in this desert-its skin affords a covering to the savages. The wild sage which grows six or eight feet high, serves them for fuel, and for building materials.
The western division of Alta California, to which our attention must be principally directed, lies, as we have stated, between the Sierra Nevada range and the Pacific ocean. It is thus described by Col. Fremont:
“West of Sierra Nevada, and between that mountain and the sea, is the second grand division of California, and the only part to which the name applies in the current language of the country. It is the occupied and inhabited part, and so different in character-so divided by the mountain wall of the Sierra from the great basin above as to constitute a region to itself, with a structure and configuration--a soil, climate and productions—of its own; and as northern Persia may be referred to as some type of the former, so may Italy be referred to as some point of comparison for the latter. North and south, this region embraces about ten degrees of latitude—from 32° where it touches the peninsula of California, to 42°, where it bounds on Oregon. East and west, from the Sierra Nevada to the sea, it will average, in the middle parts, one hundred and fifty miles; in the northern parts, two hundred --giving an area of above one hundred thousand square miles. Looking westward from the summit of the Sierra, the main feature presented is, the long, low, broad valley of the Joaquin and Sacramento riversthe two valleys forming one-five hundred miles long and fifty broad, lying along the base of the Sierra, and bounded to the west by the low coast range of mountains, which separates it from the sea. Long dark lines of timber indicate the streams, and bright spots mark the intervening plains. Lateral ranges, parallel to the Sierra Nevada and the coast, make the structure of the country and break it into a surface of valleys and mountains—the valleys a few hundred, and the mountains two or four thousand feet above the sea. These form greater masses, and become more elevated in the north, where some peaks, as the Shasti, enter the regions of perpetual snow. Stretched along the mild coast of the Pacific, with a general elevation in its plains and valleys of only a few hundred feet above the level of the sea—and backed by the long and lofty wall of the Sierra—mildness and geniality may be assumed as the characteristic of its climate. The inhabitant of corresponding latitudes on the Atlantic side of this continent can with difficulty conceive of the soft air and southern productions under the same latitudes in the maritime regions of Upper California. The singular beauty and purity of the sky in the south of this region is characterized by Humboldt as a rare phenomenon, and all travellers realize the truth of his description.
“ The present condition of the country affords but slight data for forming correct opinions of the agricultural capacity and fertility of
the soil. Vancouver found, at the mission of San Buenaventura, in 1792, latitude 34 deg. 16 min., apples, pears, plums, figs, oranges, grapes, peaches, and pomegranates growing together with the plantain, banana, cocoa nut, sugar cane, and indigo, all yielding fruit in abundance, and of excellent quality. Humboldt mentions the olive oil of California as equal to that of Andalusia, and the wine like that of the Canary Islands. At present, but little remains of the high and various cultivation which had been attained at the missions. Under the mild and paternal administration of the Fathers,' the docile character of the Indians was made available for labour, and thousands were employed in the fields, the orchards, and the vineyards. At present, but little of this former cultivation is seen. The fertile valleys are overgrown with wild mustard; vineyards and olive orchards, decayed and neglected, are among the remaining vestiges; only in some places do we see the evidences of what the country is capable. At San Buenaventura, we found the olive trees, in January, bending under the weight of neglected fruit; and the mission of San Luis Obispo (latitude 35 deg.) is still distinguished for the excellence of its olives, considered finer and larger than those of the Mediterranean.
“ The productions of the south differ from those of the north and of the middle. Grapes, olives, Indian corn, have been its staples, with many assimilated fruits and grains. Tobacco has been recently introduced; and the uniform summer heat which follows the wet season, and is uninterrupted by rain, would make the southern country well adapted to cotton.- Wheat is the first product of the north, where it always constituted the principal cultivation of the missions. This promises to be the grain-growing region of California. The moisture of the coast seems particularly suited to the potato and to the vegetables common to the United States, which grow to an extraordinary size.”
The principal towns in California are Monterey, San Francisco, Puebla de los Angelos, San Diego, San Jose, &c. Monterey is the seat of government, and is situated on a bay of the same name; but San Francisco or Yerba Buena is the principal point of attraction, for thither is bound the great body of emigrants and adventurers from all parts of the world now crowding to the western Eldorado on the shores of the Pacific. The California Star, a paper published in San Francisco, gives the following description of the place.
“Yerba Buena, (San Francisco) the name of our town, which means “good herb,” is situated on the south-west side of the principal arm of San Francisco bay, about five miles from the ocean, on a narrow neck of land, varying from four to ten miles in width—the narrowest place being sixteen miles south-west of the town. It is in latitude 37 45 N. This narrow strip of land is about sixty miles in length, extending from the point formed by the bay and the ocean, to the valley of San Jose. The site of the town is handsome and commanding—being an