An excellent treatise of the kingdome of China , and of the estate and government thereof: Printed in Latine at Macao a citie of the Portugals in China , An. Dom. 1590. and written Dialogue-wise. The speakers are Linus, Leo, and Michael.LINUS.
Concerning the kingdome of China (Michael） which is our next neighbour, we have heard and daily do heare so many reports, that we are to request at your hands rather a true then a large discourse and narration thereof. And if there be ought in your knowledge besides that which by continual rumours is waxen stale among us, we will right gladly give diligent eare unto it. MICHAEL.
Because the report of this most famous kingdome is growen so common among us, reducing divers and manifold particulars into order, I will especially aime at the trueth of things received from the fathers of the societie, which even now at this present are conversant in China . First of all therefore it is not unknowen, that of all parts of the maine continent this kingdom of China is situate most Easterly: albeit certaine Ilands, as our native Japon , & the Ile of Manilia stand more Easterly then China it selfe. As touching the limites & bounds of this kingdom, we may appoint the first towards ye West to be a certaine Ile commonly called Hainan , which standeth in 19 degrees of Northerly latitude. For the continent next adjoining unto this Ile trendeth towardes the East, and that especially, where the promontorie of the citie called Nimpo or Liampo doeth extend it selfe. Howbeit, from that place declining Northward, it stretcheth foorth an huge length, insomuch that the farthest Chinian inhabitants that way doe behold the North pole elevated, at least 50 degrees, and perhaps more also: whereupon a man may easilie conjecture (that I may speake like an Astronomer) how large the latitude of this kingdom is, when as it containeth about more then 540 leagues in direct extension towards the North. But as concerning the longitude which is accounted from East to West, it is not so exactly found out, that it may be distinguished into degrees. Howbeit certaine it is, that according to the Map wherein the people of China describe the forme of their kingdom, the latitude thereof doeth not much exceed ye longitude. This kingdom therfore is, without all peradventure, of all earthly kingdoms the most large and spacious: for albeit divers other kings under their jurisdiction containing in dimensions more length & breadth then all China , do possesse very many kingdoms & far distant asunder: yet none of them all enjoieth any one kingdom so large and so ample, as the most puissant king of China doeth. Now, if we shall make enquirie into his revenues and tributes, true it is, that this king of all others, is endued with the greatest and the richest, both in regard of the fertilitie & greatnes of his dominions, & also by reason of the severe collection and exaction of his duties: yea, tributes are imposed upon his subjects, not onely for lands, houses, and impost of marchandise, but also for every person in each family. It is likewise to be understood, that almost no lord or potentate in China hath authoritie to levie unto himselfe any peculiar revenues, or to collect any rents within the precincts of his seigniories, al such power belonging onely unto the king: whereas in Europe the contrary is most commonly seen, as we have before signified. In this most large kingdom are conteined 15 provinces, every one of which were in it selfe sufficient to be made one great kingdom. Six of these provinces do border upon the sea, namely (yt I may use the names of the Chinians themselves) Coantum, Foquien, Chequiam, Nanquin, Xantum, Paquin: the other 9 be in-land provinces, namely, Quiansi, Huquam, Honan , Xiensi, Xansi, Suchuon, Queicheu, Junan, Coansi. Amongst all the foresayd provinces, two are allotted for the kings court and seat roial, that is to say, Paquin for his court in the North, and Nanquin for his court in the South. For the kings of China were woont to be resident altogether at the South court: but afterward, by reason of the manifold and cruell warres mooved by the Tartars, they were constrained to defixe their princely seate and habitation in that extreme province of the North. Whereupon it commeth to passe, that those Northren confines of the kingdom doe abound with many moe fortresses, martiall engines, and garrisons of souldiers. LEO.
I have heard, amongst those munitions, a certaine strange and admirable wall reported of, wherewith the people of China doe represse and drive backe the Tartars attempting to invade their territories. MICHAEL.
Certes that wall which you have heard tell of is most woorthie of admiration; for it runneth alongst the borders of three Northerlie provinces, Xiensi, Xansi, and Paquin, and is sayd to containe almost three hundred leagues in length, and in such sort to bee built, that it hindereth not the courses and streames of any rivers, their chanels being overthwarted and fortified with wonderfull bridges and other defences. Yet is it not unlikely, that the sayd wall is built in such sort, that onely lowe and easie passages bee therewith stopped and environed; but the mountaines running betweene those lowe passages are, by their owne naturall strength, and inaccessible heigth, a sufficient fortification agaynst the enemie. LINUS.
Tell us (Michael) whether the kingdome of China be so frequented with inhabitants, as wee have often bene informed, or no? MICHAEL.
It is (Linus) in very deed a most populous kingdom, as I have bene certified from the fathers of the societie: who having seene sundry provinces of Europe renoumed for the multitude of their inhabitants, doe notwithstanding greatly admire the infinite swarmes of people in China . Howbeit these multitudes are not pelmel and confusively dispersed over the land, but most conveniently and orderly distributed in their townes and famous cities: of which assemblies there are divers kindes among the Chinians. For they have certaine principal cities called by the name of Fu: other inferior cities called Cheu: and of a third kind also named Hien, which be indeed walled townes, but are not privileged with the dignities and prerogatives of cities. To these may be added two other kindes of lesser townes, which are partly villages, and partly garrisons of souldiers. Of the first and principall kind is that most noble citie standing neere unto the port of Macao , called by the Chinians Coanchefu, but by the Portugals commonly termed Cantam, which is rather the common name of the province, then a word of their proper imposition. Unto the third kind appertaineth a towne, which is yet nigher unto the port of Macao , called by the Portugals Ansam, but by the Chinians Hiansanhien. Al the foresayd provinces therefore have their greater cities named Fu, & their lesser cities called Cheu, unto both of which the other townes may be added. Moreover, in every province there is a certain principal city which is called the Metropolitane thereof, wherein the chief magistrates have their place of residence, as the principal citie by me last mentioned, which is the head of the whole province called Coantum. The number of the greater cities throughout the whole kingdom is more then 150, and there is the same or rather a greater multitude of inferiour cities. Of walled townes not endued with the privileges of cities there are mo then 1120: the villages & garrisons can scarce be numbred: over & besides the which convents it is incredible what a number of countrie farmes or granges there be: for it is not easie to find any place desert or void of inhabitants in all that land. Now in the sea, in rivers, & in barks there are such abundance of people, and of whole families inhabiting, that even the Europaeans themselves doe greatly wonder thereat: insomuch that some (albeit beyond measure) have bene perswaded that there are as many people dwelling upon the water as upon the land. Neither were they induced so to thinke altogether without probabilitie : for whereas the kingdom of China is in all parts thereof interfused with commodious rivers, & in many places consisteth of waters, barges & boats being every-where very common, it might easily bee supposed, that the number of watermen was equal unto the land-inhabitants. Howbeit, that is to be understood by amplification, whereas the cities do swarme so ful with citizens & the countrie with peasants. LEO.
The abundance of people which you tell us of seemeth very strange: whereupon I conjecture the soile to be fertile, the aire to be holesome, and the whole kingdom to be at peace. MICHAEL.
You have (friend Leo) ful judicially conjectured those three: for they do all so excel, yt which of the three in this kingdom be more excellent, it is not easie to discerne. And hence it is that this common opinion hath bene rife among the Portugals, namely, that the kingdom of China was never visited with those three most heavy & sharpe scourges of mankind, warre, famine, & pestilence. But that opinion is more common then true : sithens there have bene most terrible intestine and civile warres, as in many and most autenticall histories it is recorded: sithens also that some provinces of the sayd kingdom, even in these our dayes, have bene afflicted with pestilence and contagious diseases, and with famine. Howbeit, that the foresaid three benefits do mightily flourish and abound in China , it cannot be denied. For (that I may first speake of the salubritie of the aire) the fathers of the societie themselves are witnesses, that scarcely in any other realme there are so many found that live unto decrepite and extreme old age: so great a multitude is there of ancient and grave personages: neither doe they use so many confections and medicines, nor so manifold and sundry wayes of curing diseases, as wee saw accustomed in Europe. For amongst them they have no Phlebotomie or letting of blood: but all their cures, as ours also in Japon , are atchieved by fasting, decoctions of herbes, & light or gentle potions. But in this behalfe let every nation please themselves with their owne customes. Now, in fruitfulnes of soile this kingdom certes doth excel, far surpassing all other kingdoms of the East: yet is it nothing comparable unto the plentie and abundance of Europe, as I have declared at large in the former treatises. But the kingdom of China is, in this regard, so highly extolled, because there is not any region in the East partes that aboundeth so with marchandise, and from whence so much traffique is sent abroad. For whereas this kingdome is most large & full of navigable rivers, so that commodities may easilie be conveyed out of one province into another: the Portugals doe find such abundance of wares within one and the same Citie, (which perhaps is the greatest Mart throughout the whole kingdome) that they are verily perswaded, that the same region, of all others, most aboundeth with marchandise: which notwithstanding is to be understood of the Orientall regions: albeit there are some kindes of marchandise, wherewith the land of China is better stored then any other kingdom. This region affordeth especially sundry kinds of mettals, of which the chiefe, both in excellencie & in abundance, is gold, whereof so many Pezoes are brought from China to India, and to our countrey of Japon , that I heard say, that in one and the same ship, this present yeere, 2000 such pieces consisting of massie gold, as the Portugals commonly call golden loaves, were brought unto us for marchandise: and one of these loaves is worth almost 100 duckats. Hence it is that in the kingdom of China so many things are adorned with gold, as for example, beds, tables, pictures, images, litters wherein nice and daintie dames are caried upon their servaunts backes. Neither are these golden loaves onely bought by the Portugals, but also great plentie of gold-twine and leaves of gold: for the Chinians can very cunningly beate and extenuate gold into plates and leaves. There is also great store of silver, whereof (that I may omit other arguments) it is no small demonstration, that every yeere there are brought into the citie commonly called Cantam by the Portugal marchants to buie wares, at the least 400 Sestertium thereof, and yet nothing in a maner is conveied out of the Chinian kingdom: because the people of China abounding with all necessaries, are not greatly inquisitive or desirous of any marchandise from other kingdomes. I doe here omit the Silver mines whereof there are great numbers in China , albeit there is much circumspection used in digging the silver thereout: for the king standeth much in feare least it may bee an occasion to stirre up the covetous and greedie humour of many. Nowe their silver which they put to uses is for the most part passing fine, and purified from all drosse, and therefore in trying it they use great diligence. What should I speake of their iron, copper, lead, tinne, and other mettals, and also of their quick-silver? Of all which in the realme of China there is great abundance, and from thence they are transported into divers countreys. Hereunto may bee added the wonderfull store of pearles, which, at the Ile of Hainan, are found in shell-fishes taken very cunningly by certaine Divers, and doe much enlarge the kings revenues. But now let us proceed unto the Silke or Bombycine fleece, whereof there is great plentie in China : so that even as the husbandmen labour in manuring the earth, and in sowing of Rice; so likewise the women doe employ a great part of their time in preserving of silke-wormes, and in keeming and weaving of Silke. Hence it is that every yeere the King and Queene with great s olemnitie come foorth into a publique place, the one of them touching a plough, and the other a Mulberie tree, with the leaves whereof Silke-wormes are nourished: and both of them by this ceremonie encouraging both men and women unto their vocation and labour: whereas tunnes, and vessels of great quantity, being very finely and cunningly wrought, which, by reason of the danger and difficulty of carriage, are not transported out of the realme, but are used onely within it, and especially in the kings court. The beauty of this matter is much augmented by variety of picture, which is layed in certaine colours upon it, while it is yet new, golde also being added thereunto, which maketh the foresayd vessels to appeare most beautifull. It is wonderfull how highly the Portugals do esteeme thereof, seeing they do, with great difficulty, transport the same, not onely to us of Japon and into India, but also into sundry provinces of Europe. Unto the marchandize above-mentioned may be added divers and sundry plants, the rootes whereof be right holesome for mens bodies, and very medicinable, which are brought unto our Iles of Japon, and unto many other lands, amongst the which that wood may be reckoned, which (by a synechdoche) is called The wood of China , being of notable force to expell out of mens bodies those humours, which would breed contagious diseases. To these you may adde sugar-canes (for in the realme of China there is great store of excellent sugar) which is conveyed by the Portugals very plentifully, both into our countrey, and also into Iidia. My speeches uttered immediatly before concerned marchandize onely, in regard whereof this kingdome is beneficiall not to itselfe alone, but most profitable to many other nations also. As for those fruits which pertaine to yerely sustenance and common food, they can scarse be numbred; albeit, of those three commodities which they of Europe so greatly account of; namely of cornes, vines, and olives the land of China is not very capable: for the Chinians know not so much as the name of an Olive tree (out of the fruit whereof oile is expressed) neither yet the name of a vine. The province of Paquin is not altogether destitute of wine, but whether it be brought from other places, or there made, I am not able to say: although it aboundeth with many other, and those not unpleasant liquours, which may serve in the stead of wine it selfe. Now, as touching corne, there is indeed wheat sowen in all the provinces, howbeit rise is in farre more use and request then it: and so in regard of these two commodities profitable for mans life; namely, wine and corne; the kingdome of China and our countrey of Japon may be compared together otherwise, all the whole yeere throughout, no man besides the principall magistrates, may once attaine to the sight of the king. Of this Silke or Bombycine fleece there is such abundance, that three shippes for the most part comming out of India to the port of Macao , & at the least one every yeere comming unto us, are laden especially with this fraight, and it is used not onely in India, but caried even unto Portugal . Neither is the Fleet it selfe onely transported thence, but also divers & sundry stuffes woven thereof, for the Chinians do greatly excel in the Art of weaving, and do very much resemble our weavers of Europe. Moreover the kingdom of China aboundeth with most costlie spices & odours, and especially with cynamom (albeit not comparable to the cynamom of Zeilan) with camphire also & muske, which is very principal & good. Muske deriveth his name from a beast of the same name (which beast resembleth a Bever ) from the parts whereof brused & putrified proceedeth a most delicate & fragrant smel which the Portugals highly esteem, commonly calling those parts of the foresaid beasts (because they are like unto the gorges of foules) Papos, & convey great plenty of them into India, & to us of Japon . But who would beleeve, that there were so much gossipine or cotton-wool in China ; whereof such variety of clothes are made like unto linnen; which we our selves do so often use, & which also is conveied by sea into so many regions? Let us now intreat of that earthen or pliable matter commonly called porcellan, which is pure white, & is to be esteemed the best stuffe of that kind in the whole world: wherof vessels of all kinds are very curiously framed. I say, it is the best earthen matter in all the world, for three qualities; namely, the cleannesse, the beauty, & the strength thereof. There is indeed other matter to be found more glorious, and more costly, but none so free from uncleannes, and so durable: this I adde, in regard of glasse, which indeed is immaculate and cleane, but may easily be broken in pieces. This matter is digged, not thorowout the whole region of China , but onely in one of the fifteene provinces called Quiansi, wherein continually very many artificers are imployed about the same matter: neither doe they onely frame thereof smaller vessels, as dishes, platters, saltsellers, ewers, and such like, but also certaine huge LEO.
You have discoursed (Michael) of the fruitfulnesse of China , whereof I have often heard, that it is no lesse pleasant than fruitful, and I have bene especially induced so to thinke, at the sight of the Chinian maps. MICHAEL.
The thing it selfe agrees right well with the picture: for they that have seene the mediterran or inner parts of the kingdome of China , do report it to be a most amiable countrey, adorned with plenty of woods, with abundance of fruits and grasse, and with woonderfull variety of rivers, wherewith the Chinian kingdome is watered like a garden; divers of which rivers doe naturally flowe, and others by arte and industry are derived into sundry places. But now I will intreat of the tranquillity and peace of China , after I have spoken a word or two concerning the maners of the inhabitants. This nation is indued with excellent wit and dexterity for the attaining of all artes, and, being very constant in their owne customes, they lightly regard the customes or fashions of other people. They use one and the same kinde of vesture, yet so, that there is some distinction betweene the apparell of the magistrate & of the common subject. They all of them do weare long haire upon their heads, and, after the maner of women, do curiously keame their dainty locks hanging downe to the ground, and, having twined and bound them up, they cover them with calles, wearing sundry caps thereupon, according to their age and condition. It seemeth that in olde time one language was common to all the provinces: notwithstanding, by reason of variety of pronunciation, it is very much altered, and is divided into sundry idiomes or proprieties of speech, according to the divers provinces: howbeit, among the magistrates, and in publike assemblies of judgement, there is one and the very same kinde of language used thorowout the whole realme, from the which (as I have sayd) the speech of ech province differeth not a little. Moreover this people is most 10yall and obedient unto the king and his magistrates, which is the principall cause of their tranquillity & peace. For whereas the common sort doe apply themselves unto the discretion and becke of inferiour magistrates, and the inferiour magistrates of the superiour, and the superiour magistrates of the king himselfe, framing and composing all their actions and affaires unto that levell : a world it is to see, in what equability and indifferency of justice all of them do leade their lives, and how orderly the publike lawes are administred. Which thing notwithstanding shall be handled more at large, when we come to intreat of the government. LINUS.
Tell us now (Michael) of the industry of that people, whereof we have heard great reports. MICHAEL.
Their industry is especially to be discerned in manuary artes and occupations, and therein the Chinians do surpasse most of these Easterly nations. For there are such a number of artificers ingeniously and cunningly framing sundry devices out of golde, silver, and other mettals, as likewise of stone, wood, and other matters convenient for mans use, that the streets of cities being replenished with their shops and fine workemanship, are very woonderfull to beholde. Besides whom also there are very many Painters, using either the pensill or the needle (of which the last sort are called Embrotherers) and others also that curiously worke goldetwine upon cloth either of linnen or of cotton: whose operations of all kinds are diligently conveyed by the Portugals into India. Their industry doth no lesse appeare in founding of gunnes and in making of gunpowder, whereof are made many rare and artificiall fire-works. To these may be added the arte of Printing, albeit their letters be in maner infinite and most difficult, the portraitures whereof they cut in wood or in brasse, and with marvellous facilitie they dayly publish huge multitudes of books. Unto these mechanicall & illiberall crafts you may adde two more; that is to say, navigation and discipline of warre; both of which have bene in ancient times most diligently practised by the inhabitants of China : for (as we have before signified in the third dialogue) the Chinians sailing even as farre as India, subdued some part therof unto their owne dominion: howbeit afterward, least they should diminish the forces of their realme by dispersing them into many provinces, altering their counsell, they determined to containe themselves within their owne limits: within which limits (as I have sayd) there were in olde time vehement and cruell warres, both betweene the people of China themselves, and also against the Tartarian king, who invaded their kingdome, and by himselfe and his successours, for a long season, usurped the government thereof. Howbeit the kings of the Tartarian race being worne out, and their stocke and family being utterly abolished, the Chinians began to lift up their heads, and to advance themselves, injoying for these 200 yeeres last past exceeding peace and tranquillity, and at this day the posterity of the same king that expelled the Tartars, with great dignity weareth the crowne, and wieldeth the royall scepter. Albeit therefore the people of China (especially they that inhabit Southerly from the province of Paquin） are, for the most part, by reason of continuall ease and quiet, growen effeminate, and their courage is abated, notwithstanding they would proove notable and brave souldiers, if they joyned use and exercise unto their naturall fortitude. As a man may easily observe in them, that maintaine continuall warres against the most barbarous and cruel Tartars. Howbeit in this kingdome of China there is so great regard of military discipline, that no city nor towne there is destitute of a garison, the captaines and governours keeping ech man his order; which all of them, in every province, are subject unto the kings lieutenant generall for the warres, whom they call Chumpin, and yet he himselfe is subject unto the Tutan or viceroy. Let us now come unto that arte, which the Chinians do most of all professe, and which we may, not unfitly, call literature or learning. For although it be commonly reported, that many liberall sciences, and especially naturall and morall phylosophy are studied in China , and that they have Universities there, wherein such ingenuous artes are delivered and taught, yet, for the most part, this opinion is to be esteemed more popular then true: but I will declare, upon what occasion this conceit first grew. The people of China doe, above all things, professe the arte of literature; and learning it most diligently, they imploy themselves a long time and the better part of their age therein. For this cause, in all cities and townes, yea, and in pety villages also, there are certaine schole-masters hired for stipends to instruct children: and their literature being (as ours in Japon is also) in maner infinite, their children are put to schole even from their infancy and tender yeeres, from, whence notwithstanding such are taken away, as are judged to be unfit for the same purpose, and are trained up to marchandise or to manuary sciences: but the residue do so dedicate themselves to the study of learning, that (a strange thing it is to consider) being conversant in the principall books, they will easily tel you, if they be asked the question, how many letters be conteined in every page, and where ech letter is placed. Now, for the greater progresse and increase of learning, they (as the maner is in Europe) do appoint three degrees to the attaining of noble sciences: that is to say, the lowest, the middle degree, and the highest. Graduates of the first degree are called Siusai, of the second Quiugin, and of the third Chinzu. And in ech city or walled towne there is a publique house called the Schoole, and unto that all they doe resort from all private and petyschooles that are minded to obtaine the first degree; where they do amplifie a sentence or theame propounded unto them by some magistrate: and they, whose stile is more elegant and refined, are, in ech city, graced with the first degree. Of such as aspire unto the second degree triall is made onely in the metropolitan or principall city of the province, whereunto, they of the first degree, every third yere, have recourse, and, in one publike house or place of assembly, doe, the second time, make an oration of another sentence obscurer then the former, and doe undergo a more severe examination. Now, there is commonly such an huge multitude of people, that this last yere, in the foresayd famous city of Cantam, by reason of the incredible assembly of persons flocking to that publike act or commencement, at the first entrance of the doores, there were many troden under foot, and quelled to death, as we have bene most certainly informed. Moreover they that sue for the highest degree are subject unto a most severe and exact censure, whereby they are to be examined at the Kings Court onely, and that also every third yere next insuing the sayd yere wherein graduates of the second degree are elected in ech province, and, a certaine number being prescribed unto every particular province, they do ascend unto that highest pitch of dignity, which is in so great regard with the king himselfe, that the three principall graduates do, for honours sake, drinke off a cup filled even with the Kings owne hand, and are graced with other solemnities. Out of this order the chiefe magistrates are chosen: for after that they have attained unto this third degree, being a while trained up in the lawes of the realme, and in the precepts of urbanity, they are admitted unto divers functions. Neither are we to thinke that the Chinians be altogether destitute of other artes. For, as touching morall philosophy, all those books are fraught with the precepts thereof, which, for their instructions sake, are alwayes conversant in the hands of the foresayd students, wherein such grave and pithy sentences are set downe, that, in men void of the light of the Gospell, more can not be desired. They have books also that intreat of things and causes naturall, but herein it is to be supposed, that aswell their books as ours do abound with errors. There be other books among them, that discourse of herbs and medicines, and others of chivalry and martiall affaires. Neither can I here omit, that certaine men of China (albeit they be but few, and rare to be found) are excellent in the knowledge of astronomy, by which knowledge of theirs the dayes of the new moone incident to every moneth are truely disposed and digested, and are committed to writing and published: besides, they doe most infallibly foretell the eclipses of the Sun and Moone: and whatsoever knowledge in this arte we of Japon have, it is derived from them. LEO.
We doe freely confesse that (Michael) sithens our books intreating of the same arte are, a great part of them, written in the characters or letters of China . But now, instruct you us as touching their maner of government, wherein the Chinians are sayd greatly to excell. MICHAEL.
That, that, in very deed, is their chiefe arte, and unto that all their learning and exercise of letters is directed. Whereas therefore, in the kingdome of China , one onely king beares rule over so many provinces, it is strange what a number of Magistrates are by him created to administer publique affaires. For (to omit them which in ech Towne and City have jurisdiction over the townesmen and citizens) there are three principall Magistrates in every province. The first is he that hath to deale in cases criminall, and is called Ganchasu: the second is the Kings Fosterer, and is called Puchinsu: the third is the Lieutenant-generall for the warres, named, as we sayd before, Chumpin. These three therefore have their place of residence in the chiefe City of the province: and the two former have certaine associates of their owne order, but of inferiour authority, appointed in divers Cities and Townes, unto whom, according to the variety of causes, the Governours of Townes, and the Maiors of Cities doe appeale. Howbeit the three forenamed Magistrates are in subjection unto the Tutan, that is, the Vice-roy, ordained in ech province. And all these Magistrates beare office for the space of three yeeres together: yet so, that for the governing of ech province, not any of the same province, but strangers, that is, men of another province, are selected: whereof it commeth to passe, that the Judges may give sentence with a farre more entire and incorrupt minde, then if they were among their owne kinsefolke and allies. Over and besides all these, there is an annuall or yeerely Magistrate, which is called Chaien, whose duety it is to make inquisition of all crimes, and especially the crimes of Magistrates, and also to punish common offences: but concerning the faults of the great magistrates to admonish the king himselfe. Of this order, every yere, are sent out of the Kings Court, for ech province, one; and going over all the Cities and Townes thereof, they do most diligently ransacke and serch out all crimes, and upon them which are imprisoned they inflict due punishment, or, being found not guilty, they dismisse them unpunished. Hence it is, that all Magistrates greatly fearing to be called in question by the Chaien are well kept within the limits of their callings. Besides all these Magistrates there is at either Court, namely in the North, and in the South, a Senate or honourable assembly of grave counsellours, unto the which, out of all provinces, according to the neerenesse and distance of the place, affaires of greater weight and moment are referred, and by their authority divers Magistrates are created: howbeit the managing and expedition of principall affaires is committed unto the Senate of Paquin. Moreover there are every yeere certaine Magistrates appointed in ech province, to goe unto the king: and every third yeere all the Governours of Cities and of Townes do visit him at once, what time triall is made of them that aspire unto the third degree: upon which occasion there is at the same time an incredible number of people at the Kings Court. By reason of this excellent order and harmony of Magistrates placed one under another, it can scarse be imagined, what sweet peace and tranquility flourisheth thorowout the whole realme, especially sithens, after speedy inquisition, persons that are guilty be put (as the maner is there) to the punishment of the bas tonado: neither yet are suits or actions any long time delayed. Also it is not to be omitted, that for the obtaining of any dignity or magistracy, the way is open, without all respect of gentry or blood, unto all men, if they be learned, and especially if they have attained unto the third and highest degree aforesayd. Neither can it be expressed how obedient and duetifull the common sort are unto their Magistrates, and with what magnificence and pompe the sayd Magistrates come abroad: for the most part of them have fiftie or threescore Sergeants attending upon them, and going before them, two and two in a ranke: some of them carrying Halberds, Maces, and Battle-axes: some trailing yron chaines upon the ground: others holding great roddes or staves of a certaine kinde of reede, wherewith malefactours are punished, in their hands: and two there are that carry, inclosed in a case, the Kings seale peculiar for ech office: and many others also, that shew sundry spectacles unto the people: whereunto may be added the horrible outcries and showtes, which betweene whiles they utter, to strike a terrour into the hearts of all men: and at length come the Magistrates themselves, being carried in a throne upon the backs of foure men, sixe men, or eight men, according to the dignity of their office. Now, as concerning their houses, they are very large and stately, being built and furnished with all necessary stuffe, at the Kings owne cost, in the which, so long as their magistracy lasteth, they leade a brave and an honourable life. The sayd houses are without variety of stories one above another, which in the kingdome of China and in our Iles of Japon also are not ordinarily used for habitation, but either to keepe watch and ward, or els for solace and recreations sake (for the which purposes, eight most lofty turrets of nine stories high are built) or els for the defence of Cities. Howbeit in other regardes these buildings doe shew foorth no small magnificence: for they have their cisternes for the receit of raine-water, which are adorned with beautifull trees, set in order, round about them: and they have also their places designed for the administration of justice, and divers other convenient roomes to bestow their wives and families in. Within the doores of the foresayd habitations a certaine number of Sergeants and officers, having cabbins or little houses allotted them on both sides, doe alwayes give their attendance; and so long as matters of judgement are in deciding, they be alwayes ready at hand, that, at the direction of the Magistrates they may either beat malefactours, or by torments constraine them to tell the trueth. The sayd Magistrates also have their peculiar barges wherein to take the water; being in breadth and length not much unlike to the galleys of Europe, but for swiftnesse and multitude of oares, farre inferiour unto them. The rowers, sitting upon galleries without the hatches or compasse of the barge, doe moove it on forward with their oares: whereupon it commeth to passe, that the middle part of the barge affoordeth sufficient roome for the Magistrates themselves to abide in, containing chambers therein almost as convenient and handsome, as in any of their foresayd publique houses, together with butteries and kitchins, and such other places necessary for the provision and stowage of victuals. LEO.
All these things agree right well with the reports, which we have heard of the stately and renowmed kingdome of China : I would now right gladly know somewhat concerning the order which is observed in the obtaining of magistracies. MICHAEL.
You have enquired of a matter most woorthy to be knowen, which I had almost omitted to entreat of. The Chinians therefore doe use a kinde of gradation in advancing men unto sundry places of authority, which for the most part is performed by the Senatours of Paquin. For first they are made Judges of Townes: then of Cities: afterward they are elected to be of that order, which decreeth punishments in cases criminall without further appeale, or of their order, that are the kings fosterers. And in both of these Orders, which are very honourable, there are many places and degrees, so that from the inferiour place they must ascend unto the superiour, untill they have attained unto the highest dignity of all: and immediatly after that they come to be Vice-royes. Howbeit this gradation is not alwayes accomplished in one and the same province, but in changing their offices they change places and provinces also. Moreover, next after the office of Vice-roy they are capable to be chosen Senatours of Nanquin, and last of all to be elected into the Senate of Paquin. Now, there is such an order and methode observed in the ascending unto these dignities, that all men may easily conjecture, what office any one is to undertake. And there is so great diligence and celerity used for the substitution of one into the roome of another, that, for the same purpose, messengers are dispatched by land, upon swift posthorses, unto divers provinces, almost twenty dayes journey from the Kings Court. And, to be short, there is such district severity in degrading those that unjustly or negligently demeane themselves, from an honourable unto an inferiour and base office, or altogether in depriving them of the kings authority: that all Magistrates doe stand in feare of nothing in the world more then of that. The same order, almost, is observed among the Captaines and Lieu-tenants generall for the warres: except onely in them, that their birth and offspring is respected: for many there be, who descending by parentage from such men as have in times past atchieved brave exploits in warfare, so soone as they come to sufficient yeeres, are created Centurions, Colonels, and Governours, untill at last they attaine to be Lieu-tenants generall and Protectours of some whole province: who notwithstanding (as I have sayd) are in all things subject unto the Viceroy. All the foresayd Magistrates both of warre and of peace have a set number of attendants allotted unto them, enjoying a stipend, and carying certaine ensignes and peculiar badges of their office: and (besides the ordinary watch, which souldiers appointed for the same purpose doe in the night season, after the City gates be shut, keepe in their forts) wheresoever any Magistrate is, either at his house or in his barge, the sayd attendants striking upon a cymball of brasse, at certaine appointed times, do keepe most circumspect and continuall watch and ward about his person. LINUS.
You have (Michael) sufficiently discoursed of the Magistrates: informe us now of the king himselfe, whose name is so renowmed and spread abroad. MICHAEL.
Concerning this matter I will say so much onely as by certaine rumours hath come to my knowledge: for of matters appertaining unto the kings Court we have no eye-witnesses, sithens the fathers of the society have not as yet proceeded unto Paquin, who so soone as (by Gods assistance) they shall there be arrived, will by their letters more fully advertise us. The king of China therefore is honoured with woonderfull reverence and submission thorowout his whole Realme: and when soever any of his chiefe Magistrates speaketh unto him, he calleth him VAN-SI, signifying thereby that he wisheth tenne thousands of yeeres unto him. The succession of the kingdome dependeth upon the bloud royall: for the eldest sonne borne of the kings first and lawfull wife obtaineth the kingdome after his fathers decease: neither doe they deprive themselves of the kingly authority in their life time (as the maner is in our Ilands of Japon） but the custome of Europe is there observed. Now, that the safety and life of the king may stand in more security, his yoonger brethren, and the rest borne of concubines are not permitted to live in the kings Court: but places of habitation are by the king himselfe assigned unto them in divers provinces farre distant asunder, where they dwell most commodiously, being comparable unto kings for their buildings and revenues: howbeit they exercise no authority over the people, but all the government of those Cities wherein they dwell, concerneth the Magistrates, who notwithstanding have the sayde Princes in high regard and honour, and doe visit them twise in a moneth, and salute them kneeling upon their knees, and bowing their faces downe to the earth: and yet they communicate nothing unto them as touching the administration of the Common-wealth. These are they which may properly be called the Peeres or Princes of the Realme of China: for they derive their houses and revenues unto their posterity, and so are these royall families continually preserved. But to returne unto the king himselfe, hee is most chary in observing the Chinian lawes and customes, and diligently exerciseth himselfe in learning so much as concernes his estate, sheweth himselfe dayly unto his chiefe Magistrates, and communeth of matters appertaining to the publique commodity of the Realme. His palace is of woonderfull largenesse and capacity, out of the which he very seldome takes his progresse; and whensoever he doeth so, there are twelve chariots brought foorth, all of them most like one to another both in workemanship and in value, that no man may discerne in which the king himselfe is placed. He followeth in religion especially the opinions of the Magistrates, attributing divine power unto heaven and earth as unto the parents of all, and with great solemnity sacrificing unto them. He hath divers most sumptuous Temples dedicated unto his ancestours, whereunto likewise he ascribeth divine honour, and yet ceaseth hee not to favour Priests of other sects, yea hee erecteth Temples unto their Patrons, endowing them with most rich revenues; and so often as any urgent necessity requireth, he enjoynes continuall fastings and prayers unto them: and after this sort he doeth in a maner patronize all the idolatrous sects of his Realme, and shewing himselfe ready to embrace any false religion whatsoever, he liveth in sundry and manifolde kindes of superstition. Out of all the former particulars by me alledged, you may easily conjecture that the administration of the kingdome of China doeth, for the most part, agree with the instinct of nature, authority being committed, not unto rude and unskilfull persons, but unto such as have beene conversant in the use and exercise or learning, yea, and in promoting learned men unto magistracies, great consideration is had of their wisedome, justice, and of other vertues esteemed by the Chinians: wherefore the way being open for all men, without any respect of degree or parentage, to obtaine any of the foresayd dignities, it can not be but that this most mighty and famous kingdome must needes enjoy exceeding peace and tranquillity. LEO.
I would nowe (Michael) right gladly understand, what kinde of urbanity or civill demeanour both the common people and the Magistrates doe use one towardes another: for it is not likely that where such due administration of justice is, common civility, which so well beseemeth all men, should be wanting. MICHAEL.
You have hit even the very naile on the head: for among the five vertues, which the Chinians principally regard, urbanity or courtesy is one; the rest are piety, a thankefull remembrance of benefites, true dealing in contracts or bargaines, and wisedome in atchieving of matters: with the praises and commendations of which vertues the Chinian bookes are full fraught. Now as touching their urbanity, it is much unlike unto ours in Japan , and unto that of Europe: howbeit under two principall kindes the rule of their urbanity or courtesie may be comprehended: whereof one is observed betweene equals, and the other betweene superiours and inferiours. For when men of equall dignity meet together, they stand bending their backes, and bowing their heads downe to the ground, and this they doe either once or twise, or sometimes thrise. Now, when the inferiour meets with his superiour, the sayd inferiour, for the most part kneeling lowly on his knees, enclineth his countenance downe to the earth. But how often and when this obeizance is to be performed it is woonderfull what a number of rules and prescriptions are set downe, which to recount would require a long time. Somewhat also I will say as touching their piety, and especially of the piety which they use towards their parents, which verily is so exceeding great, that for the space of three whole yeres together, the sonnes being cladde in mourning vestures doe bewaile the death of their parents, which duety is performed not onely by the common sort, but even by all the Magistrates themselves, and that most curiously and diligently. And, that all men may wholly give their attendance unto this businesse, it is provided by a most inviolable law among the Chinians, that Magistrates, upon the death of their parents, must foorthwith renounce their authority, and three whole yeeres, for the performance of their fathers exequies, must betake themselves unto a private kinde of living: which also is most duely put in practise by the Senatours of the Kings owne Councell. For albeit a man be right gracious in the eyes of his Prince, yea, and such an one, as upon whom the administration of the Realme doeth principally depend; yet having heard of the death of his parents, that is, of his father or his mother, he hies himselfe immediatly home to solemnize their funerals: insomuch that if the king would retaine him still in his office, he should be esteemed by the people, as a transgressour of the lawes and customes of China : which accident (as it is recorded) in ancient times fel out even so. For whenas a certain king most familiarly used a certaine Senatour of his about the managing and expedition of publique affaires, and understanding well how necessary the helpe of his foresayd Senatour was, would gladly, after the death of his father, have retained him still in his office: yet a certaine other man, being a welwiller unto the Chinian lawes, could in no case abide it, but checking his Prince with sharpe rebukes, objected the transgression of the law against him. The king waxing wroth menaced present death unto the man: but when the party being no wit danted with the terrour of death, persisted still in his sayings, the king changing his determination dismissed the Senatour to mourne for his father, but as for his reprehender he advanced him unto an higher dignity. LINUS.
I perceive (Michael) that drawing to an end of these dialogues, and being weary of your long race, you begin to affect brevity: yet let it not seeme troublesome unto you to speake somewhat of the religion of China , which onely thing seemes to be wanting in this present dialogue. MICHAEL.
I confesse indeed that I endevour to be briefe, not so much in regard of wearisomnesse, as for feare least I have bene over tedious unto you: howbeit I will not faile but accomplish that which I have undertaken, and (according to your request) adde somewhat more concerning religion. Whereas therefore the kingdome of China hath hitherto bene destitute of true religion, and now the first beginnings thereof are included in most narrow bounds, that nation being otherwise a people most ingenious, and of an extraordinary and high capacity, hath alwayes lived in great errours and ignorance of the trueth, being distracted into sundry opinions, and following manifolde sects. And among these sects there are three more famous then the rest: the first is of them that professe the doctrine of one Confucius a notable philosopher. This man (as it is reported in the history of his life) was one of most upright and incorrupt maners, whereof he wrote sundry treatises very pithily and largely, which above all other books, are seriously read and perused by the Chinians. The same doctrine do all Magistrates embrace, and others also that give their mindes to the study of letters, a great part whereof Confucius is sayd to have invented: and he is had in so great honour, that all his followers and clients, upon the dayes of the new and full Moone, doe assemble themselves at the common Schoole, which I have above mentioned, and before his image, which is worshipped with burning of incense and with tapers, they doe thrise bend their knees, and bow their heads downe to the ground; which not onely the common scholars, but the chiefe Magistrates do performe. The summe of the foresayd doctrine is, that men should follow the light of nature as their guide, and that they should diligently endevour to attaine unto the vertues by me before mentioned: and lastly, that they should employ their labour about the orderly government of their families and of the Common-wealth. All these things are in very deed praise-woorthy, if Confucius had made any mention of almighty God and of the life to come, and had not ascribed so much unto the heavens, and unto fatall necessity, nor yet had so curiously intreated of worshipping the images of their forefathers. In which regard he can very hardly or not at all be excused from the crime of idolatry: notwithstanding it is to be granted, that none other doctrine among the Chinians approcheth so neere unto the trueth as this doeth. The second sect is of them which follow the instructions of Xaquam, or as the Chinians call him Xequiam, whose opinions, because they are well knowen amongst us, it were bootlesse for me to repeat; especially sithens, in the Catechisme composed by our grave visitour, they are notably refuted. This doctrine doe all they embrace, which are in China called Cen, but with us at Japon are named Bonzi. For this I doe briefly and by the way give you to understand, that all words of the Chinians language are of one sillable onely, so that if there be any word that consisteth of more sillables then one, it consisteth also of more wordes then one. These sectaries called Cen doe shave their beards and their heads, and doe for the most part, together with divers of their associates, inhabit the Temples of Xaquam, or of others which in regard of the same profession have in their Kalenders beene canonized for Saints, and doe rehearse certaine prayers after their maner, either upon books or beads, using other ceremonies after the maner of our Bonzi. These men have some inckling of the life to come, and of the rewardes of good men, and the punishments of the wicked: howbeit all their assertions are fraught with errours. The third sect is of them which are called Tauzu: and those doe imitate a certaine other man, to be adored, as they thinke, for his holinesse. These also are Priests after their kinde, howbeit they let their haire grow, and doe in other observations differ from the former. Nowe, because the sect of Confucius is the most famous of all the three, and the two other sects called Cen and Tauzu are not much addicted unto learning, their religion prevailing onely among the common sort, the Priests of both the sayd sects doe leade a most base and servile life amongst the Chinians, insomuch that they kneele downe before the Magistrates, and are not permitted to sit beside them, and sometimes, if the Magistrate please, are abased unto the punishment of the bastonado: whereas in our lies of Japon it is farre otherwise, Priests, even of false religion, being had in so great honour among us. LEO.
I heard also (Michael) that the Saracens superstition takes place in China : now, whether it doth or no, you can resolve us. MICHAEL.
That forren superstition was brought into China what time the Tartars invaded the kingdome, and usurped the government thereof. All the Saracens therefore in China are originally descended of the Tartars, who, because they were an infinite number, could not utterly be expelled and rooted out of the kingdome, but remaining still there, have propagated their posterity, though not their religion. These therefore are souldiers for the greater part of them, and sometimes doe obtaine martiall dignities: and except a few ceremonies of their superstition which is nowe become stale and almost worne out, they doe live altogether after the Chinians fashion, their predecessours being brought into the same kingdome about foure hundred yeeres agoe. LINUS.
Now (Michael) let us heare you say somewhat of the Christian religion, which as we hope hath set most happy footing in that kingdome. MICHAEL.
I could say much concerning those most wished and acceptable beginnings, were they not already published in Japon by the letters of the fathers: howbeit I will make a briefe rehearsall of all things, that I may not seeme altogether to have abandoned this labour. You know that from the time wherein the fathers of the society arrived in our Ilands, to the end they might augment Christian religion, they were in like sort most carefull how they might insinuate themselves into the innermost parts of the kingdome of China . In the middest of this endevour and travell Francis Xavier, a most devout man of the foresayd society, departed out of this present life at the Ile of Sancian (which some call Sangiam) leaving an example unto the rest of his associates, how they should likewise doe their best to plant the religion of Christ in that nation. This man was seconded by others, who used all meanes, and left no practise unattempted, that they might bring these good beginnings unto a prosperous issue: howbeit they were greatly hindered by reason of an ancient custome in China , in regard whereof they doe not without great difficulty and circumspection admit any strangers into their dominions, except those which having a long time executed the office of ambassadours doe ordinarily every third yeere present themselves before the king: in the admission of whom likewise there is marvellous care used, that they may not easily espie and become acquainted with the affaires of the Realme. Heereunto may be added, that the Chinians are great contemners of other nations, and most constant observers of their owne lawes and customes: in all which respects it came to passe, that there was woonderfull labour and diligence employed above thirty yeeres together, onely to get an entrance, untill in the yeere one thousand five hundred fourescore and three, two fathers of the foresayd society, that had pretty skill in the letters and language of China , utterly despairing of mans helpe, and depending upon the providence of almighty God, obtained licence of the Tutan or Vice-roy to build them an house and a Church in the City of Xauquin, which by reason of the commodiousnesse thereof is the seat of the Viceroy himselfe. This worke being begunne, the sayd fathers of the society, for the novelty thereof, were a few yeeres right well entreated by the Magistrates : insomuch that two others out of India had free and easie accesse unto them, one couple remaining still in their foresayd house at Xauquin, and the other two taking their journey for the inner provinces, to convert more people unto the faith: who notwithstanding afterward, other Magistrates not approoving of their attempts, were constrained to retire. Nowe all the time wherein the foresayd fathers abode at Xauquin (being more then five yeeres) certaine of the common people were restrained from false superstition to Christian religion, and seventy persons were baptized. But the enemy of mankinde, who omitteth none opportunity for the hinderance of Christian religion, suggested into the mindes of the Chinians (being, as I sayd, of their owne nature, a people estranged from the traffique and acquaintance of other nations, and alwayes being too too suspicious of strangers) that they should exhibite letters of supplication unto the Caien and the Tutan their principall Magistrates, to have the fathers expelled out of Xauquin : which Magistrates repairing unto their foresayd house and Church entered consultation how they might bannish them out of the sayd City of Xauquin: in which thing verily they used great moderation, not any way offending or exasperating the mindes of the fathers, but onely signifying that they had regard unto the estate of their Commonwealth. For the Tutan or Vice-roy calling the fathers unto him, and (to let passe other accidents) using courteous and familiar conference with them, declared by many arguments, that their habitation in the City of Xauquin was not convenient, especially sithens so many Magistrates resorted unto that City, who would take great offence at the presence of strangers. For the which cause he perswaded them to accept some part of the money which they had bestowed in the building of their house, and so to returne either home into their owne countrey, or unto the port of Macao . Howbeit, such was the instant supplication of the fathers, and so woorthy of compassion, that the Tutan or Vice-roy, in the extreame and mediterrane borders of the province of Coantum, assigned unto them a new habitation at the city called Xaucheo, commending them also to a certaine Magistrate, who was come from the same place to salute him. Thither therefore the sayd fathers, not without great sorrow and griefe of the Christians, hied themselves, and as we are informed by their last letters, they have even now layed the foundation of their first building, and have also written that they are like to live much more peaceably and conveniently for the propagating of Christian religion. These be the first beginnings of Christianity in China , where, even as in other places of the Christian Common-wealth, the seed is to be sowen with great labour and teares, that acceptable fruits may be reaped with gladnesse. LEO.
It is even as you have sayd (Michael) and nowe for this your pleasant and eloquent discourse we do acknowledge our selves much bounden unto you.