LINUS. Concerning the kingdome of China (Michael) which is our next neighbour, we haue 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 vs, we will right gladly giue diligent eare vnto it.
MICHAEL. Because the report of this most famous kingdome is growen so common among vs, reducing diuers and manifold particulars into order, I will especially aime at the trueth of things receiued from the fathers of the societie, which euen now at this present are conuersant in China. The situation and limites of China. First of all therefore it is not vnknowen, that of all parts of the maine continent this kingdom of China is situate most Easterly: albeit certaine Ilands, as our natiue Iapon, and the Ile of Manilia stand more Easterly then China it selfe. As touching the limites and bounds of this kingdom, we may appoint the first towards the West to be a certaine Ile commonly called Hainan, which standeth in 19 degrees of Northerly latitude. For the continent next adioining vnto 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 eleuated, at least 50 degrees, and perhaps more also: whereupon a man may easilie coniecture (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. Chinian Cosmographers. 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 the longitude. This kingdom therefore is, without all peradventure, of all earthly kingdoms the most large and spacious: for albeit diuers other kings vnder their iurisdiction containing in dimensions more length and breadth then all China, do possesse very many kingdoms and far distant asunder: yet none of them all enioyeth any one kingdom so large and so ample, as the most puissant king of China doeth. The rich reuenues of the king of China. Now, if we shall make enquirie into his reuenues 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 and greatnes of his dominions, and also by reason of the seuere collection and exaction of his duties: yea, tributes are imposed vpon his subiects, not onely for lands, houses, and impost of marchandise, but also for euery person in each family. It is likewise to be understood, that almost no lord or potentate in China hath authoritie to leuie vnto himselfe any peculiar reuenues, or to collect any rents within the precincts of his seigniories, al such power belonging onely vnto the king: whereas in Europe the contrary is most commonly seen, as we haue before signified. In this most large kingdom are conteined 15 prouinces, euery one of which were in it selfe sufficient to be made one great kingdom. Six of these prouinces do border vpon the sea, namely (that I may vse the names of the Chinians themselues) Coantum, Foquien, Chequiam, Nanquin, Xantum, Paquin: the other 9 be inland prouinces, namely, Quiansi, Huquam, Honan, Xiensi, Xansi, Suchuon, Queicheu, Iunan, Coansi. The seats roiall of the king of China. Amongst all the foresayd prouinces, 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 mooued by the Tartars, they were constrained to defixe their princely seate and habitation in that extreme prouince of the North. Whereupon it commeth to passe, that those Northren confines of the kingdom doe abound with many moe fortresses, marciall engines, and garrisons of souldiers.
LEO. I haue heard, amongst those munitions, a certaine strange and admirable wall reported of, wherewith the people of China doe represse and driue backe the Tartars attempting to inuade their territories.
MICHAEL. Certes that wall which you haue heard tell of is most woorthie of admiration; for it runneth alongst the borders of three Northerlie prouinces, Xiensi, Xansit and Paquin, and is sayd to contayne almost three hundred leagues in length, and in such sort to bee built, that it hindereth not the courses and streames of any riuers, their chanels being ouerthwarted and fortified with wonderfull bridges and other defences. Yet is it not vnlikely, that the sayd wall is built in such sort, that onely lowe and easie passages bee therewith stopped and enuironed; 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 vs (Michael) whether the kingdome of China be so frequented with inhabitants, as wee haue often bene informed, or no?
MICHAEL. It is (Linus) in very deed a most populous kingdom, as I haue bene certified from the fathers of societie: who hauing seene sundry prouinces 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 pel-mel and confusiuely dispersed ouer the land, but most conueniently and orderly distributed in their townes and famous cities: of which assemblies there are diuers kindes among the Chinians. For they haue 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 priuileged with the dignities and prerogatiues 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 vnto the port of Macao, called by the Chinians Coanchefu, but by the Portugals commonly termed Cantam, which is rather the common name of the prouince, then a word of their proper imposition. Vnto the third kind appertaineth a towne, which is yet nigher vnto the port of Macao, called by the Portugals Ansam, but by the Chinians Hiansanhien. Al the foresayd prouinces therefore haue their greater cities named Fu, and their lesser cities called Cheu, vnto both of which the other townes may be added. Moreouer in euery prouince there is a certain principal city which is called the Metropolitane thereof, wherein the chief magistrates haue their place of residence, as the principal citie by me last mentioned, which is the head of the whole prouince 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 priuileges of cities there are mo then 1120: the villages and garrisons can scarce be numbred: ouer and besides the which conuents it is incredible what a number of countrie fames or granges there be: for it is not easie to find any place desert or void of inhabitants in all that land. The Chinian riuers greatly inhabited. Now in the sea, in riuers, and in barks there are such abundance of people, and of whole families inhabiting, that euen the Europæans themselues doe greatly wonder thereat: insomuch that some (albeit beyond measure) haue bene perswaded that there are as many people dwelling vpon the water as vpon 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 riuers, and in many places consisteth of waters, barges and boats being euery-where very common, it might easily bee supposed, that the number of watermen was equal vnto the land inhabitants. Howbeit, that is to be vnderstood by amplification, whereas the cities do swarme so ful with citizens and the countrie with peasants.
Holesome aire, plenty and peace in China. LEO. The abundance of people which you tell vs of seemeth very strange: whereupon I coniecture the soile to be fertile, the aire to be holesome, and the whole kingdom to be at peace.
MICHAEL. You haue (friend Leo) ful iudicially coniectured those three: for they do all so excel that 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 been rife among the Portugals, namely, that the kingdom of China was neuer visited with those three most heauy and sharpe scourges of mankind, warre, famine, and pestilence. But that opinion is more common then true: sithens there haue bene most terrible intestine and ciuile warres, as in many and most autenticall histories it is recorded: sithens also that some prouinces of the sayd kingdom, euen in these our dayes, haue bene afflicted with pestilence and contagious diseases, and with famine. Chinian stories. 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 themselues are witnesses; that scarcely in any other realme there are so many found that liue vnto decrepite and extreme old age: so great a multitude is there of ancient and graue personages: neither doe they vse so many confections and medicines, nor so manifold and sundry wayes of curing diseases, as wee saw accustomed in Europe. For amongst them they haue no Phlebotomie or letting of blood: but all their cures, as ours also in Iapon, are atchieued by fasting, decoctions of herbes, and light or gentle potions. But in this behalfe let euery nation please themselues with their owne customes. Now, in fruitfulnes of soile this kingdom certes doth excel, far surpassing all other kingdoms of the East: yet it is nothing comparable vnto the plentie and abundance of Europe, as I haue 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. The city of Coanchefu, aliàs Cantam. For whereas this kingdome is most large and full of nauigable riuers, so that commodities may easilie be conueyed out of one prouince 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 vnderstood of the Orientall regions: albeit there are some kindes of marchandise, wherewith the land of China is better stored then any other kingdom. Great abundance of gold in China. This region affordeth especially sundry kinds of mettals, of which the chiefe, both in excellencie and in abundance, is gold, whereof so many Pezoes are brought from China to India, and to our countrey of Iapon, 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 loaues, were brought vnto vs for marchandise: and one of these loaues 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 vpon their seruants backes. Neither are these golden loaues onely bought by the Portugals, but also great plentie of gold-twine and leaues of gold: for the Chinians can very cunningly beate and extenuate gold into plates and leaues. Great store of siluer. There is also great store of siluer, whereof (that I may omit other arguments) it is no small demonstration, that euery 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 conueied out of the Chinian kingdom: because the people of China abounding with all necessaries, are not greatly inquisitiue or desirous of any marchandise from other kingdomes. I doe here omit the Siluer mines whereof there are great numbers in China, albeit there is much circumspection vsed in digging the siluer thereout: for the king standeth much in feare least it may bee an occasion to stirre vp the couetous and greedie humour of many. Nowe their siluer which they put to vses is for the most part passing fine, and purified from all drosse, and therefore in trying it they vse great diligence. What should I speake of their iron, copper, lead, tinne, and other mettals, and also of their quick-siluer. Of all which in the realme of China there is great abundance, and from thence they are transported into diuers 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 Diuers, and doe much enlarge the kings reuenues. Great store of silke in China. But now let vs proceed vnto the Silke or Bombycine fleece, whereof there is great plentie in China: so that euen 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 preseruing of silke-wormes, and in keeming and weauing of Silke. Hence it is that euery yeere the King and Queene with great solemnitie come foorth into a publique place, the one of them touching a plough, and the other a Mulberie tree, with the leaues whereof Silke-wormes are nourished: and both of them by this ceremonie encouraging both men and women vnto their vocation and labour: whereas otherwise, all the whole yeere throughout, no man besides the principall magistrates, may once attaine to the sight of the king. Silke brought into Iapon. 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, and at the least one euery yeere comming vnto vs, are laden especially with this fraight, and it is vsed not onely in India, but caried euen vnto Portugal. Neither is the Fleece it selfe onely transported thence, but also diuers and sundry stuffes wouen thereof, for the Chinians do greatly excel in the Art of weauing, and do very much resemble our weauers of Europe. Moreouer the kingdom of China aboundeth with most costlie spices and odours, and especially with cynamom (albeit not comparable to the cynamom of Zeilan) with camphire also and muske, which is very principal and good. Muske deriueth his name from a beast of the same name (which beast resembleth a Beuer) from the parts whereof bruseda and putrified proceedeth a most delicate and fragrant smel which the Portugals highly esteem, commonly calling those parts of the foresaid beasts (because they are like vnto the gorges of foules) Papos, and conuey great plenty of them into India, and to vs of Iapon. Cotton wooll, whereof Calicut-cloth is made. But who would beleeue, that there were so much gossipine or cotton-wool in China; whereof such variety of clothes are made like vnto linnen; which we our selues do so often vse, and which also is conueied by sea into so many regions? Let vs now intreat of that earthen or pliable matter commonly called porcellan, which is pure white, and is to be esteemed the best stuffe of that kind in the whole world: whereof 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, and the strength thereof. There is indeed other matter to be found more glorious, and more costly, but none so free from vncleannes, 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 prouinces called Quiansi, wherein continually very many artificers are employed about the same matter: neither doe they only frame thereof smaller vessels, as dishes, platters, salt sellers, ewers, and such like, but also certaine huge 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 vsed 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 vpon 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 vs of Iapon and into India, but also into sundry prouinces of Europe. Vnto the marchandize aboue-mentioned may be added diuers and sundry plants, the rootes whereof be right holesome for mens bodies, and very medicinable, which are brought vnto our Iles of Iapon, and vnto many other Ilands, 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 conueyed by the Portugals very plentifully, both into our countrey, and also into India. My speeches vttered immediatly before concerned marchandize onely, in regard whereof this kingdome is beneficiall not to itselfe alone, but most profitable to many other nations also. China in a maner destitute of corne, wine, and oile. 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 oliues the land of China is not very capable: for the Chinians know not so much as the name of an Oliue tree (out of the fruit whereof oile is expressed) neither yet the name of a vine. The prouince 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 vnpleasant liquors, which may serue in the stead of wine it selfe. Now, as touching corne, there is indeed wheat sowen in all the prouinces, howbeit rise is in farre more vse and request then it: and so in regard of these two commodities profitable for mans life; namely, wine and come; the kingdome of China and our countrey of Iapon may be compared together.
LEO. You haue discoursed (Michael) of the fruitfulnesse of China, whereof I haue often heard, that it is no lesse pleasant than fruitful, and I haue 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 haue 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 riuers, wherewith the Chinian kingdome is watered like a garden; diuers of which riuers doe naturally flowe, and others by arte and industry are defined into sundry places. But now I will intreat of the tranquility and peace of China, after I haue spoken a word or two concerning the maners of the inhabitants. The disposition and maners of the Chinians. 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 vse one and the same kinde of vesture, yet so, that there is some distinction betweene the apparell of the magistrate and of the common subiect. They all of them do weare long haire vpon their heads, and, after the maner of women, do curiously keame their dainty locks hanging downe to the ground, and, hauing twined and bound them vp, they couer them with calles, wearing sundry caps thereupon, according to their age and conditon. It seemeth that in olde time one language was common to all the prouinces: notwithstanding, by reason of variety of pronunciation, it is very much altered, and is diuided into sundry idiomes or proprieties of speech, according to the diuers prouinces: howbeit, among the magistrates, and in publike assemblies of iudgement, there is one and the very same kinde of language vsed thorowout the whole realme, from the which (as I haue sayd) the speech of ech prouince differeth not a little. Their loyaltie vnto their superiours. Moreouer this people is most loyall and obedient vnto the king and his magistrates, which is the principall cause of their tranquility and peace. For whereas the common sort doe apply themselues vnto 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 vnto that leuell: a world it is to see, in what equability and indifferency of iustice all of them do leade their liues, and how orderly the publike lawes are administred. Which thing notwithstanding shall be handled more at large, when we come to intreat of the gouernment.
LINUS. Tell vs now (Michael) of the industry of that people, whereof we haue 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 deuices out of golde, siluer, and other mettals, as likewise of stone, wood and other matters conuenient for mans vse, 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, vsing either the pensill or the needle (of which the last sort are called Embrotherers) and others also that curiously worke golde-twine vpon cloth either of linnen or of cotton: whose operations of all kinds are diligently conueyed by the Portugals into India. Their industry doth no lesse appeare in founding of gunnes and in making of gun-powder, 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 maruellous facilitie they dayly publish huge multitudes of books. Vnto these mechanicall and illiberall crafts you may adde two more; that is to say, nauigation and discipline of warre; both of which haue bene in ancient times most diligently practised by the inhabitants of China: for (as we haue before signified in the third dialogue) the Chinians sailing euen as farre as India, subdued some part thereof vnto their owne dominion: howbeit afterward, least they should diminish the forces of their realme by dispersing them into many prouinces, altering their counsell, they determined to containe themselues within their owne limits: within which limits (as I haue sayd) there were in olde time vehement and cruell wares, both betweene the people of China themselues, and also against the Tartarian king, who inuaded their kingdome, and by himselue and his successours, for a long season, vsurped the gouernment thereof. Howbeit the kings of the Tartarian race being worne out, and their stocke and family being vtterly abolished, the Chinians began to lift vp their heads, and to aduance themselues, inioying for these 200 yeeres last past exceeding peace and tranquility, 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 prouince of Paquin) are, for the most part, by reason of continuall ease and quiet, growen effeminate, and their courage is abated, notwithstanding they would prooue notable and braue souldiers, if they ioyned vse and exercise vnto their naturall fortitude. As a man may easily obserue in them, that maintaine continuall warres against the most barbarous and cruell 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 gouernours keeping ech man his order; which all of them, in euery prouince, are subiect vnto the kings lieutenant generall for the warres, whom they call Chumpin, and yet he himselfe is subiect vnto the Tutan or viceroy. Let vs now come vnto that arte, which the Chinians do most of all professe, and which we may, not vnfitly, 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 haue Vniuersities there, wherein such ingenuous artes are deliuered and taught, yet, for the most part this opinion is to be esteemed more popular then true; but I will declare, vpon what occasion this conceit first grew. The people of China doe, aboue all things, professe the arte of literature; and learning it most diligently, they imploy themselues 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 Iapon is also) in maner infinite, their children are put to schole euen from their infancy and tender yeeres, from whence notwithstanding such are taken away, as are iudged to be vnfit for the same purpose, and are trained vp to marchandize or to manuary sciences: but the residue do so dedicate themselues to the study of learning, that (a strange thing it is to consider) being conuersant in the principall books, they will easily tel you, if they be asked the question, how many letters be conteined in euery 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 each city or walled towne there is a publique house called the Schoole, and vnto that all they doe resort from all priuate and pety-schooles that are minded to obtaine the first degree; where they do amplifie a sentence or theame propounded vnto 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 vnto the second degree triall is made onely in the metropolitan or principall city of the prouince, whereunto, they of the first degree, euery third yere, haue 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 vndergo a more seuere 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 vnder foot, and quelled to death, as we haue bene most certainly informed. Moreouer they that sue for the highest degree are subiect vnto a most seuere and exact censure, whereby they are to be examined at the Kings Court onely, and that also euery third yere next ensuing the sayd yere wherein graduates of the second degree are elected in ech prouince, and, a certaine number being prescribed vnto euery particular prouince, they do ascend vnto 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 euen with the Kings owne hand, and are graced with other solemnities. Note the extraordinary honor vouchsafed by the great King of China vpon his learned graduates. Out of this order the chiefe magistrates are chosen: for after that they haue attained vnto this third degree, being a while trained vp in the lawes of the realme, and in the precepts of vrbanity, they are admitted vnto diuers function. 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 conuersant in the hands of the foresayd students, wherein such graue and pithy sentences are set downe, that, in men void of the light of the Gospell, more can not be desired. Naturall philosophy. They haue 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 chiualry 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 euery moneth are truly disposed and digested, and are committed to writing and published: besides, they doe most infallibly foretell the eclipses of the Sun and Moone: and whatsoeuer knowledge in this arte we of Iapon haue, it is deriued 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. The politike gouernment of China. But now, instruct you vs as touching their maner of gouernment, wherein the Chinians are sayd greatly to excell.
MICHAEL. That, that, in very deed, is their chiefe arte, and vnto that all their learning and exercise of letters is directed. Whereas therefore, in the kingdome of China, one onely king beares rule ouer so many prouinces, it is strange what a number of Magistrates are by him created to admister publique afiaires. For (to omit them which in ech Towne and City haue iurisdiction ouer the townesmen and citizens) there are three principall Magistrates in euery prouince. 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 haue their place of residence in the chiefe City of the prouince: and the two former haue certaine associates of their owne order, but of inferiour authority, appointed in diuers Cities and Townes, vnto whom, according to the variety of causes, the Gouernours of Townes and the Maiors of Cities doe appeale. Howbeit the three forenamed Magistrates are in subjection vnto the Tutan, that is, the Vice-roy, ordained in ech prouince. And all these Magistrates beare office for the space of three yeeres together: yet so, that for the gouerning of ech province, not any of the same prouince, but strangers, that is, men of another prouince, are selected: whereof it commeth to passe, that the Iudges may giue sentence with a farre more entire and incorrupt minde, then if they were among their owne kinesfolke and allies. Ouer 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, euery yere, are sent out of the Kings Court, for ech prouince, one; and going ouer all the Cities and Townes thereof, they do most diligently ransacke and serch out all crimes, and vpon them which are imprisoned they inflict due punishment, or, being found not guilty, they dismisse them vnpunished. 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. Two Senates or Counsels continually holden in China. Besides all these Magistrates there is at either Court, namely in the North, and in the South, a Senate or honourable assembly of graue counsellors, vnto the which, out of all prouinces, according to the neerenesse and distance of the place, affaires of greater weight and moment are referred, and by their authority diuers Magistrates are created: howbeit the managing and expedition of principall affaires is committed vnto the Senate of Paquin. Moreouer there are euery yeere certaine Magistrates appointed in ech prouince, to goe vnto the king; and euery third yeere all the Gouernours of Cities and of Townes do visit him at once, what time triall is made of them that aspire vnto the third degree: vpon which occasion there is at the same time an incredible number of people at the Kings Court. The causes of peace in China. By reason of this excellent order and harmony of Magistrates placed one vnder another, it can scarse be imagined, what sweete 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 bastinado: neither yet are suits or actions any long time delayed. Learning the only step to honour in China. 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, vnto all men, if they be learned, and especially if they haue attained vnto the third and highest degree aforesaid. The stately and formidable procession of the Chinian magistrates. Neither can it be expressed how obedient and duetifull the common sort are vnto their Magistrates, and with what magnificence and pompe the sayd Magistrates come abroad: for the most part of them haue fiftie or threescore Sergeants attending vpon them, and going before them, two and two in a ranke: some of them carrying Halberds, Maces and Battle-axes: some trailing yron chaines vpon the ground: others holding great roddes or staues 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 vnto the people: whereunto may be added the horrible out-cries and showtes, which betweene whiles they vtter, to strike a terrour into the hearts of all men: and at length come the Magistrates themselues, being carried in a throne vpon the backs of foure men, sixe men, or eight men, according to the dignity of their office. The houses of the Chinian magistrates. 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 braue and an honourable life. The sayd houses are without variety of stories one aboue another, which in the kingdome of China and in our Iles of Iapon also are not ordinarily vsed 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 haue their cisternes for the receit of raine-water, which are adorned with beautifull trees, set in order, round about them: and they haue also their places designed for the administration of iustice, and diuers other conuenient roomes to bestow their wiues and families in. Within the doores of the foresayd habitations a certain number of Sergeants and officers, hauing cabbins or little houses allotted them on both sides, doe alwayes giue their attendance; and so long as matters of iudgement 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 magistrates barges. The sayd Magistrates also haue their peculiar barges wherein to take the water; being in breadth and length not much vnlike to galleys of Europe, but for swiftnesse and multitude of orres, farre inferiour vnto them. The rowers, sitting vpon galleries without the hatches or compasse of the barge, doe mooue it on forward with their oares: whereupon it commeth to passe, that the middle part of the barge affordeth sufficient roome for the Magistrates themselues to abide in, containing chambers therein almost as conuenient and handsome, as in any of their foresayd publique houses, together with butteries and kitchins, and such other places necessary for the prouision and stowage of victuals.
LEO. All these things agree right well with the reports, which we haue heard of the stately and renowmed kingdome of China: I would now right gladly know somewhat concerning the order which is obserued in the obtaining of magistracies.
MICHAEL. You haue enquired of a matter most woorthy to be knowen, which I had almost omitted to entreat of. The maner of electing magistrates in China. The Chinians therefore doe vse a kinde of gradation in aduancing men vnto sundry places of authority, which for the most part is performed by the Senatours of Paquin. For first they are made iudges 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. Degrees vnto honour. 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 vnto the superiour, vntill they haue attained vnto 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 prouince, but in changing their offices they change places and prouinces also. Moreouer, 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 obserued in the ascending vnto these dignities, that all men may easily coniecture, what office any one is to vndertake. Riding post. And there is so great diligence and celerity vsed for the substitution of one into the roome of another, that for the same purpose, messengers are dispatched by land, vpon swift post-horses, vnto diuers prouinces, almost twenty dayes iourney from the Kings Court. And, to be short, there is such district seuerity in degrading those that vniustly or negligently demeane themselues, from an honourable vnto an inferiour and base office, or altogether in depriuing them of the kings authority: that all Magistrates doe stand in feare of nothing in the world more then of that. Martiall dignities. The same order, almost, is obserued 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 haue in times past atchieued braue exploits in warfare, so soone as they come to sufficient yeeres, are created Centurions, Colonels, and Gouernours, vntill at last they attaine to be Lieu-tenants generall and Protectours of some whole prouince; who notwithstanding (as I haue sayd) are in all things subiect vnto the Vice-roy. All the foresayd Magistrates both of warre and of peace haue a set number of attendants allotted vnto them, enioying 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) wheresoeuer any Magistrate is, either at his house or in his barge, the sayd attendants striking vpon a cymball of brasse, at certaine appointed times, do keepe most circumspect and continuall watch and ward about his person.
LINUS. You haue (Michael) sufficiently discoursed of the Magistrates: informe vs now of the king himselfe, whose name is so renowmed and spread abroad.
The king of China. MICHAEL. Concerning this matter I will say so much onely as by certaine rumours hath come to my knowledge; for of matters appertaining vnto the kings Court we haue no eye-witnesses, sithens the fathers of the society haue not as yet proceeded vnto Paquin, who so soone as (by Gods assistance) they shall there be arriued, will by their letters more fully aduertise vs. Van–Sui. The king of China therefore is honoured with woonderfull reuerence and submission thorowout his whole realme; and whensoeuer any of his chiefe Magistrates speaketh vnto him, he calleth him VAN-SVI, signifying thereby that be wisheth tenne thousands of yeeres vnto him. The succession of the crowne. The succession of the kingdome dependeth vpon 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 depriue themselues of the kingly authority in their life time (as the maner is in our Ilands of Iapon) but the custome of Europe is there obserued. The kings yonger brethren. 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 liue in the kings Court: but places of habitation are by the king himselfe assigned vnto them in diuers prouinces farre distant asunder, where they dwell most commodiously, being comparable vnto kings for their buildings and revenues: howbeit they exercise no authority ouer the people, but all the gouernment of those cities wherein they dwell concerneth the Magistrates, who notwithstanding haue the sayde Princes in high regard and honour, and doe visit them twise in a moneth, and salute them kneeling vpon their knees, and bowing their faces downe to the earth: and yet they communicate nothing vnto 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 deriue their houses and reuenues vnto their posterity, and so are these royall families continually preserued. But to returne vnto the king himselfe, hee is most chary in obseruing the Chinian lawes and customes, and diligently exerciseth himselfe in learning so much as concernes his estate, sheweth himselfe dayly vnto his chiefe Magistrates, and communeth of matters appertaining to the publique commodity of the Realme. Twelue chariots. His palace is of woonderfull largenesse and capacity, out of the which he very seldome takes his progresse; and whensoeuer he doeth so, there are twelue 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. The idolatrous religion of the king. He followeth in religion especially the opinions of the Magistrates, attributing diuine power vnto heauen and earth as vnto the parents of all, and with great solemnity sacrificing vnto them. He hath diuers most sumptuous Temples dedicated vnto his ancestours, whereunto likewise he ascribeth diuine honour, and yet ceaseth hee not to fauour Priests of other sects, yea, hee erecteth Temples vnto their Patrons, endowing them with most rich reuenues; and so often as any vrgent necessity requireth, he enioynes continuall fastings and prayers vnto 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 whatsoeuer, be liueth in sundry and manifolde kindes of superstition. The ciuill gouernment of China most agreeable to the instinct of nature. Out of all the former particulars by me alledged, you may easily coniecture that the administration of kingdome of China doeth, for the most parts agree with the instinct of nature, authority being committed, not vnto rude and vnskilfull persons, but vnto such as haue beene conuersant in the vse and exercise of learning, yea, and in promoting learned men vnto magistracies, great consideration is had of their wisedom, justice, and of other virtues esteemed by the Chinian: 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 enioy exceeding peace and tranquility.
LEO. I would nowe (Michael) right gladly vnderstand, what kinde of vrbanity or ciuill demeanour both the common people and the Magistrates doe vse one towardes another: for it is not likely that where such due administration of iustice is, common ciuility, which so well beseemeth all men, should be wanting.
The fiue vertues principally esteemed among the Chinians. MICHAEL. You haue hit euen the very naile on the head: for among the fiue vertues, which the Chinians principally regard, vrbanity or courtesy is one, the rest are piety, a thankefull remembrance of benefites, true dealing in contracts or bargaines, and wisedome in atchieuing of matters: with the praises and commendations of which vertues the Chinian bookes are full fraught. Vrbanity. Now as touching their vrbanity, it is much vnlike vnto ours in Iapan, and vnto that of Europe: howbeit vnder two principall kindes the rule of their vrbanity or courtesie may be comprehended: whereof one is obserued 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 twice, 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. The Chinians great piety towards their parents. Somewhat also I wil say as touching their piety, and especially of the piety which they vse 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 euen by all the Magistrates themselues, and that most curiously and diligently. And that all men may wholly giue their attendance vnto this businesse, it is prouided by a most inuiolable law among the Chinians, that Magistrates, vpon the death of their parents, must foorthwith renounce their authority, and three whole yeeres, for the performance of their fathers exequies, must betake themselues vnto a priuate kinde of liuing: 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 vpon whom the administration of the Realme doeth principally depend; yet hauing heard of the death of his parents, that is, of his father or his mother, he hies himselfe immediately home to solemnise 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 euen so. A memorable story. For whenas a certain king most familiarly vsed a certaine Senatour of his about the managing and expedition of publike affaires, and vnderstanding well how necessary the helpe of his foresayd Senatour was, would gladly, after the death of his father, haue retained him still in his office: yet a certaine other man, being a welwiller vnto the Chinian lawes, could in no case abide it, but checking his Prince with sharpe rebukes, obiected the transgression of the law against him. The king waxing wroth menaced present death vnto 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 be aduanced him vnto an higher dignity.
LINUS. I perceiue (Michael) that drawing to an end of these dialogues, and being weary of your long race, you begin to affect breuity: yet let it not seeme troublesome vnto you to speake somewhat of the religion of China, which onely thing seemes to be wanting in this present dialogue.
The religion of China. MICHAEL. I confesse indeed that I endeuour to be briefe, not so much in regard of wearisomnesse, as for feare least I haue bene ouer tedious vnto you: howbeit I will not faile but accomplish that which I haue vndertaken, 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 extraordinory and high capacity, hath alwayes liued in great errours and ignorance of the trueth, being distracted into sundry opinions, and following manifolde sects. Three principall sectes among the Chinians. And among these sects there are three more famous then the rest: Confucius authour of the first sect. 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 vpright and incorrupt maners, whereof he wrote sundry treatises very pithily and largely, which aboue all other books, are seriously read and perused by the Chinians. The same doctrine do all Magistrates embrace, and others also that giue their mindes to the study of letters, a great part whereof Confucius is sayd to haue inuented: and he is had in so great honour, that all his followers and clients, vpon the dayes of the new and full Moone, doe assemble themselues at the common Schoole, which I haue aboue 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 Confucius his doctrine. The summe of the foresayd doctrine is, that men should follow the light of nature as their guide, and that they should diligently endeuour to attaine vnto the vertues by me before mentioned: and lastly, that they should employ their labour about the orderly gouernment of their families and of the Common-wealth. All these things are in very deed praise-worthy, if Confucius had made any mention of almighty God and of the life to come, and had not ascribed so much vnto the heauens, and vnto 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 approacheth so neere vnto the trueth as this doeth. Xequiam author of the second sect, whose followers are called Cen or Bonzi. The second sect is of them which followethe the instructions of Xaquam, or as the Chinians call him Xequiam, whose opinions, because they are well knowen amongst vs, 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 vs at Iapon are named Bonzi. Note. For this I doe briefly and by the way giue you to vnderstand, 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 shaue their beards and their heads, and doe for the most part, together with diuers of their associates, inhabit the Temples of Xaquam, or of others which in regard of the same profession haue in their Kalenders beene canonized for Saints, and doe rehearse certaine prayers after their maner, either vpon books or beads, vsing other ceremonies after the maner of our Bonzi. These men haue 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. 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 obseruations differ from the former. Now, 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 adicted vnto learning, their religion preuailing onely among the common sort, the Priests of both the sayd sects doe leade a most base and seruile life amongst the Chinians, insomuch that they kneele downe before the Magistrates, and are not permitted to sit beside them, sometimes, if the Magistrate please, are abased vnto the punishment of the bastonado: whereas in our Iles of Iapon it is farre otherwise, Priests, euen of false religion, being had in so great honour among vs.
The superstition of the Saracens. LEO. I heard also (Michael) that the Saracens superstition takes place in China: now, whether it doth or no, you can resolue vs.
MICHAEL. That forren superstition was brought into China what time the Tartars inuaded the kingdome, and vsurped the gouernment thereof. All the Saracens therefore in China are originally descended of the Tartars, who, because they were an infinite number, could not vtterly be expelled and rooted out of the kingdome, but remaining still there, haue 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 liue, altogether after the Chinians fashion, their predecessours being brought into the same kingdome about foure hundred yeeres agoe.
Christian religion planted in China. LINUS. Now (Michael) let vs 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 Iapon by the letters of the fathers: howbeit I will make a briefe rehearsall of all things, that I may not seem altogether to haue abandoned this labour. You know that from the time wherein the fathers of the society arriued in our Ilands, to the end they might augment Christian religion, they were in like sort most carefull how they might insinuate themselues into the innermost parts of the kingdome of China. In the middst of this endeauour and trauell Francis Xauier, a most deuout man of the foresayd society, departed out of this present life at the Ile of Sancian (which some call Sangiam) leauing an example vnto the rest of his associates, how they should likewise doe their best to plant the religion of Christ in that nation. An ancient custome worthy the obseruation. This man was seconded by others, who vsed all meanes, and left no practise vnattempted, that they might bring these good beginnings vnto a prosperours 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 hauing a long time executed the office of ambassadours doe ordinarily euery third yeere present themselues before the king: in the admission of whom likewise there is maruellous care vsed, that they may not easily espie and become acquainted with the affaires of the Realme. The Chinians contemne other nations. Hereunto may be added, that the Chinians are great contemners of other nations, and most constant obseruers of their owne lawes and customes: in all which respects it came to passe that there was wonderfull labour and diligence employed aboue thirty yeeres together, onely to get an entrance, vntill in the yeere one thousand fiue hundred fourescore and three, two fathers of the foresayd society, that had pretty skill in the letters and language of China, vtterly despairing of mans helpe, and depending vpon the prouidence 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 himselue. This worke being begunne, the sayd fathers of the society, for the nouelty therof, were a few yeeres right well entreated by the Magistrates: inasmuch that two others out of India had free and easie accesse vnto them, one couple remaining still in their foresayd house at Xauquin, and the other two taking their iourney for the inner prouinces, to conuert more people vnto the faith: who notwithstanding afterward, other Magistrates not approouing of their attempts, were constrained to retire. Nowe all the time wherein the foresayd fathers abode at Xauquin (being more then fiue yeeres) certaine of the common people were restrained from false superstition to Christian religion, and seuenty persons were baptised. 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 suspicious of strangers) that they should exhibit letters of supplication vnto the Caien and the Tutan their principall Magistrates, to haue the fathers expelled out of Xauquin: which Magistrates repairing vnto their foresayed house and Church entered consultation how they might bannish them out of the sayd City of Xauquin: in which thing verily they vsed great moderation, not any way offending or exasperating the mindes of the fathers, but onely signifying that they had regard vnto the estate of their Common-wealth. For the Tutan or Vice-roy calling the fathers vnto him, and (to let passe other accidents) vsing courteous and familiar conference with them, declared by many arguments, that their habitation in the City of Xauquin was not conuenient, especially sithens so many Magistrates resorted vnto 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 own countrey, or vnto 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 prouince of Coantum, assigned vnto 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 others, not without great sorrow and griefe of the Christians, hied themselues, and as we are informed by their last letters, they haue euen now layed the foundation of their first building, and haue also written that they are like to liue much more peaceably and conueniently for the propagating of Christian religion. These be the first beginnings of Christianity in China, where, euen 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 euen as you haue sayd (Michael) and nowe for this your pleasant and eloquent discourse we do acknowledge our selues much bounden vnto you.
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