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traveller Tay-Kin has recently returned we propose to lay extracts before our to his native country from a long journey readers. through the remote and unknown regions It has long been conceded that there of Central Tartary, and notwithstanding
more interesting works than the revolution which is now ravaging Chi those which treat of the life and customs na, has succeeded in publishing the results of foreign lands. The Arabian Nights of his observations. They are so graphi
have an exhaustless charm for every gencally and forcibly expressed that the vol eration; “for man,” in the words of Conumes have had an unprecedented circula fucius, “is always man.” These tales tion; and the most enlightened critics of deal with a fairy and impossible realm. Pekin and Shanghai do not hesitate to Their scenery and figures have sufficient call the work, which, in the original flow resemblance to the world with which we ery Chinese, is entitled Light from Dark are familiar to arouse our sympathy and Places, the undoubted Uncle Tom of Chi- profoundest interest, yet without ever risnese literature. This praise, we presume, ing into a consciousness of absolute realis awarded to the book on account of its ity. In this sole respect the great work prodigious sale, rather than from any es of Tay-Kin may be called superior to the sential resemblance to the celebrated Thousand and One Nights. For, although American romance, for, although we have he describes the customs of countries far carefully perused the odd volume which beyond the influence of Christianity, and has fallen into our hands, we do not find, into which the bowie-knife has not yet cut -except possibly in the title-any reason a way for civilization, yet he tells his stofor comparing it with Mrs. Stowe's novel. ry so simply and naturally that the read
The iinmense popularity and interest of er could almost fancy the whole thing to the work may be inferred from the fact be within a day's journey upon the railthat the Emperor of China has, according way. At the same time, for enlightened to the most credible rumors, frequently readers like ourselves, who live in the suspended operations against the rebels midst of humane and noble institutions, when he came to an absorbing passage ;
in a land where social prejudices never and, on one occasion, in the eagerness of compel to crime, and where public opinperusal, he was known to have burned the ion respects true manliness of characimperial mouth by omitting to cool the ter so wisely as to know that it cannot be tea, which he sipped as he read. The his affected by passionate slander,-in a countory of the means by which the odd vol try where it is universally conceded by umo has fallen into our hands shows how the practical men, that the good name the book has bewitched the nation, for it earned by an upright life cannot be tarfell into a chest of superior Gunpowder nished by a single word spoken in anger from the trembling hands of a laborer who by an enemy; for readers so fortunate in was engaged in packing the tea, and en all this as we are, the extracts which we deavoring at the same time surreptitiously have selected from the Chinese work will to devour the Light from Dark Places. have all the charm of an incredible roHe immediately buried it in the tea-leaves mance. that it might not be discovered by the A deeply seated interest in China, datlynx eyes of the overseer, who would not ing from the time when we are first conhave refrained from ordering the extreme scious of having eaten meat, and long and punishment allotted to such neglect of profound study of the willow-pattern duty. Whoever,” says the first section plates which illustrate its history, have of the first statute of the Code of Confu qualificd us, we flatter ourselves, to precius concerning the packing of tea, “shall sent a translation so accurate and so often fall asleep while at work, he shall be im couched in the familiar English idiom, that mediately awakened. But whosoever we are induced to hope the reader, as his shall be detected in the reading of novels eye passes along the page, may gradually or any other exciting books, excepting al forget that he is reading of regions so reways the prolusions of the priests, he mote and of a race so barbarous, and conshall incontinently lose his cue. To this fess with a throb of approval or condemwholesome fear of the loss of the cue, nation the power of Tay-Kin. therefore, we are indebted for our know We must premise that our traveller
had been absent more than a twelvemonth from China travelling toward Yan-Ky, a district of whose people and customs only the vaguest rumors were current in the polished circles of Pekin. We commence our extracts with the opening of the thirteenth volume. --for to each month of his journey the philosopher allotted a volume.
1, Tay-Kin, was now turning southward from Thibet, and at sunset of the tenth day, Whang, my faithful interpreter and guide, pointed toward an irregular ridge of dark mountains that glistened in the fading light, and said sententiously:
6. The Bil-Tek Mountains in Yan-Ky!”
Is that truly Yan-Ky? I asked myself musingly, abandoned to that pleasing melancholy which the first sight of famous places is sure to occasion. Do I really behold Yan-Ky?
As I strained my eyes pensively toward that illustrious land, I recalled the words of my friend the mandarin and philosopher Tom-no, who sat upon the top of the great wall of China dangling his heels, as I passed out of the northern gate toward Thibet, and shouted aster me, as he waved his cue freely, like a banner, over the landscape:
“Hi! hi? so you are going to travel! Give my love to the Grand Lama! Going to Yan-Ky! Ii! hi! In Yan-Ky a vell developed woman is an indecorum ! Afind your cue!"
And so the lingering winds blew me Tom-mo's paternal counsel until distance drank his voice.
As we entered the land of Yan-Ky I opened my eyes and my ears and proceeded to absorb knowledge. When night fell we encamped outside the chief city of the country, and the next morning passed Through the gates. As we were slowly advancing along the street to the great Khan for strangers, I observed a man of lofty mien who stood by the wayside curling a heroic moustache. I was so struck by his warlike aspect that I summoned Whang, and pointing out to him the man of lofty mien inquired his name and position. “ He is, probably, the lord of YanKy," I said to Whang.
" That," replied Whang deferentially, is Zay-ni, which, being interpreted into Chinese, signifies the Soul of Honor."
He had scarcely done speaking when a smaller man, whom a vivid fancy might have mistaken for an off-shoot of the Soul of Honor, a sucker,* approachod me, and, bowing courteously, said:
“Zay-ni requests me to invite you to name time and place, and weapons.
6. What is this?” demanded I, in perplexity, of the faithful Whang. • Zay-ni,”
explained my interpreter, “or the Soul of Honor, conceives that the character of your glance toward him demands the arbitration of the duello."
"I do not understand." I responded plaintively, upon which the Twig, or Sucker, snuffed the air impatiently, and said :
“You are no Mandarin !”
“You are perfectly correct in your remark," answered I, “I am only Tay-Kin, the Philosopher, travelling upon a tour of observation.”
The Twig withdrew toward the Soul of Honor, whose moustache glowed along his lip like a permanent declaration of war; and I rode quietly on with Whang toward the Khan for strangers, much meditating.
At length I said to him:
“I shudder, my dear Whang, with vague apprehension. What may not be true of a land of which Tom-mo's parting remark was descriptive ? Have we not fairly penetrated the outer regions of civilization, or, should not a philosopher say, the very heart of barbarism? Was ever such welcome before offered to innocent philosopher ? O Whang! is not Yan-Ky the Barbary of which we read ?”
“My friend,” returned Whang, fumbling in his crimson silk tobacco-purse, “before lighting the pipe of discussion let us smoke that of narration.” So saying, he piled upon the Gozeh* the weed of Tumbak from Persia, and we sat silently inhaling and expiring that aromatic smoke. Then I ventured to ask my friend and guide:
“What is that duello to which the Twig referred ?"
Whang smoked for some time without replying ; at length he said:
" It is a venerable and honored institution of Yan-Ky, condemned by the public opinion, and cherished by the private opinion of the Yan-Kyse. They who invoke its arbitration upon slight cause, like our friend Zay-ni, are held in contempt, being supposed privately to eat fire. They who, being grave and honorable men, of long and unsullied lives, invoke its aid' to settle the passionate difference of a moment, are held in universal veneration, and receive services of gold and silver, or the equivalent admiration of all Yan-Ky." " Truly ?" asked I.
Remember that you are in a remote and savage land,” replied Whang," nor be surprised when you hear the priests of
Yan-Ky preaching the doctrine of the circular square. Perpend! It is an institution holding neither by logic, humanity, nor common sense, but by the mystery of honor, of which words can give no account. Honor belongs not to men, like nobility, justice, truth, &c., but to gentlemen-one of the inexplicable institutions of Yan-Ky. With the gentleman, the nose is the most sacred part of the person, continued Whang complacently.
“How ?" interrupted I, fearful that I was losing my senses, and shuddering as I remembered that I was distant many months' journey from the most distant prospect of the Great Wall.
“ The gentleman and the soul of honor, resumed Whang, “are held to be synonymous in Yan-Ky. If I render the word gentleman in pure Chinese, you have, he who respects his nose.
It is the man who always carries that member before him, like the imperial banner of the Celestial Emperor, and defies the world to criticise or touch it. The Yan-Ky doctrine of the nose is subtle, and not easily explained. It presents strange illustrations. It often appears by proxy. Sometimes, for instance, it may be represented by a remark. We will suppose that I declare the day to be pleasant. Into that remark I am held figuratively to put my nose. You, O Tay-Kin, instantly shout offensively, that I am wilfully misstating the fact of the weather ; that, in truth, it is an unpleasant day. Now, figuratively, you are held to have put your hand into your remark, which, as it conflicts with inine, is-clearly enough-your hand, by proxy, pulling my nose, or sacred member, by proxy. At this point, the question of fact drops out of the discussion, and without reference to the state of the weather, we each proceed to show that we were each in the right; or, in other words, we go out to defend our honor, which is the figure of speech used to express the nose upon such occasions. If I succeed in destroying you, I demonstrate by the argumentum ad hominem, as Confucius says, that the day is pleasant.”
“But if I shoot you ?" I replied.
"Ah! in that case the day is not so clear," rejoined Whang; emitting a heavy cloud of smoke.
“But observe," he continued, if we only shoot, whether damage be done or not, honor is held to be satisfied; the nose is put in its right place again. I agree in the most gracious manner, that I intended to remark that the day was un
pleasant. You insist that the first syllable of your adjective was superfluous. We pay profound homage to each other's noses, and Yan-Ky, with loud acclaim, receives us as twin souls of honor. This case involves the principle of the duello. It is an appeal which may be as decently invoked in the small aspersion, as in the large defamation, since, as the Souls of Honor justly declare, a lie given impeaches honor, whether a mill or a million be involved in the question of fact. In truth, the original fact has nothing to do with the decision. It is a matter of the nose. My dear Tay-Kin,” said Whang, “ the history of the father of Zay-ni, which I shall now relate, is the best illustration of the subtle doctrine of the nose, or of a life regulated by what is called in Yan-Ky, the Code of Honor, which is the practical contradiction and denial of the Law of Confucius, and of the Eternal Order of Things.”
Whang refilled the Gozeh, and, after smoking quietly for a few moments, during which my memory recurred regretfully to China and Civilization, he thus commenced :
" The family of Zay-ni, which is one of the largest and the most respected in Yan-Ky, is descended from a king of some emerald island far beyond the Lost Atlantis, of whom it is recorded that, from time to time, he requested the leading men of his kingdom to tread upon the tail of
;-an expression of which there is no equivalent in Chinese. From extreme youth, he was carefully instructed in the orthodox doctrine of the nose; and, if any companion ridiculed its shape or color, he instantly vindicated it from reproach.”
“In what manner ?” I asked.
"By transforming his companion by means of a few magical strokes, into a wine-butt, and then decanting claret from
pi* rejoined the serious Whang, while I fell into more intolerable perplexity with every word he uttered.
"And what proved him to be the Soul of Honor?” I asked faintly.
Whang did not condescend to reply.
“As the youth grew, he disclosed a new way of proving the propriety of his
If any man brushed him roughly in passing, or looked at any lady of YanKy, or trod upon his foot instead of his coat-tail, in passing, Zay-ni instantly called him to account; and if prompt reparation was not made, demonstrated that he was the Soul of Honor."
"By --?" inquired I, doubtfully.
• The translator here introduces English colloquial phrases, corresponding to the Yan-Ky vernacular.
By shooting him dead," replied Whang sententiously, and, I believe, according to the strict idiom of Yan-Ky.
“But the wife and children of the dead ?"
"O Tay-Kin." responded Whang, "whoever undertakes to live in Yan-Ky, where the nose is held sacred, must not entangle himself with domestic alliances, for he can never tell when, where, nor in what shape, the injured nose may present itself, and demand satisfaction. The principles of the nose, or, as they are generally called, the Code of Ilonor, declare, that the fact that wife and children depend upon the tongue of a inan, is a profound reason for his holding it fast, and not suffering it to wag against his neighbors.”
" True," I answered; "but if your tongue wags against me, thereby exposing your wife and children, it may be well enough that you and your family suffer. But why should I and my family suffer, who are entirely innocent, and are wagged against ? or why should the decision be left to a chance which may punish the offended, and let the offender free?"
“O Tay-Kin,” replied Whang, “you do not understand the sublime mystery of the nose. Rather be silent, therefore, and listen. Long after Zay-ni was a full-grown man, which in Yan-Ky is upon the completion of the sixteenth year, he was one evening assisting at the frequently-recurring fête of Hele-an-to, the great god of the Yan-Ky nobility. In the midst of his devotions to that deity, while he was performing the priestly function with a solemnity and religious sadness beyond all praise. another of the absorbed devotees encountered him suddenly, and for a moment they both tottered, but fortunately neither fell. Now during the performance of the solemn rites of Hele-an-to, the entire person of the devotee partakes of the sacred inviolability of the nose, and violently to touch the body, is an aggravated assault upon that member. Zayni, therefore, having concluded the customary genuflexion to his partner, who, in these Ilele-an-to ceremonies, is always of the other sex, slipped smilingly into an adjoining apartment, and there met the young Spoonski. He requested Spoonski to inform Klumski, who had encountered him, that he demanded an apology for his awkwardness. Klumski, whom every body in Yan-Ky respected and loved, and who had recently married a young wife, who, with her infant, was
fondly attached to him, said to Spoonski, that he was sorry if he had harmed Zayni, and regretted the encounter, but that he considered Zay-ni to be a very foolish fellow to demean hiniself so like an emperor; adding, that he feared Zay-ni was in the habit of eating fire, and cherished too exclusive a regard for his nose; and that, for his part, he should as soon consider a man who eat fire as much beside himself, as he who only drank it; and precisely as much to be avoided, and treated as a dangerous neighbor.
When Spoonski repeated this message to Zay-ni, his wrath was unbounded.
“İle piles insult upon insult,' said Zay-ni. Ile then departed to find his friends, while his nose, angrily flaming, led the way like a burning torch.
“He bumps me: he says he is sorry in an insulting manner; and my outraged nose is ready to drop,' cried Zayni, fiercely., 'By acknowledging his regret in such a manner, he makes his offence a deliberate insult, which, if I endured, I should ill deserve to be called the Soul of Honor.'
• Perhaps you were hasty,' said one.
“He is a coward !' said Zay-ni, in the large Yan-Ky manner.
56" But his wife and child ?' said another.
“But my nose!' shrieked Zay-ni, while that sacred member kindled and flamed with ardor.
"In vain the thoughtful of his friends quoted the sayings of the wise men, and the commands of Confucius. Zay-ni snuffed the air, and said:
** Oh, yes; that's all very well: but we understand that kind of thing, you know. Do you suppose I am a woman?'
"Your sex seems to be a little uncertain,' said the oldest friend. “You say that you are not a woman, but is this the conduct of a man ??
“So said a few of the thoughtful and the best. But Yan-Ky at large said that it was a pity Klumski should have criticised the conduct of Zay-ni. No man should make remarks concerning his townsmen which he is not willing to stand by.* Klumski, on the other hand, said that he had made no remark that he was not willing to stand by; and begged to repeat, that he considered Zay-ni to be a very foolish fellow.
Upon which repetition, Zay-ni sent Spoonski, suinmoning Klumski to the duello.
*It is a great pity!' said Yan-Ky; 'but really, what can a man do? My
* Vernacular Yan-Ky.
dear (addressing its wife), it is most time for the temple-service : you had better
“And thereupon Yan-Ky decorously went to the temple, and heard the priests read the laws of Confucius, and expound the behest of the Eternal Order of Things; and coming out of the temple, said, each man to the other,
“I am very much opposed to the duello. You know we have laws against it. But in this case, what can a man do ?'
“Klumski, however, smiled, and returned this answer to Zay-ni, that he had considered him a foolish fellow, and had therefore called him so when occasion arose; but that now he had taken such pains to prove it to all the world, that he trusted there would be no longer any difference of opinion.
“'Because you are a fool,' said he, sternly, 'I shall not be one; not even if all Yan-Ky, obeying its old, stupid superstition, undertakes to be foolish, and to condemn me. Their tacit opinion justifies your conduct, thereby giving the measure of the worth of their opinion. I prefer to be right with myself, and with Confucius, and with the wise and brave, who perceive the Eternal Order of Things, rather than with those who support Zayni in his theory of the nose.?'
“Alas! my honored Whang," interrupted I, “I seem to be listening to stories of animals, and not of men. Who would have dreamed, that upon the same globe with our placid and discreet China, there could have existed a nation of such moral savages, the law of whose religion, and whose statute-book, was set aside by a dull, unreasonable, and inexplicable superstition ? Wonderful is travel ! But pray, proceed with the story of Zay-ni, the Soul of Honor."
Whang continued :
“Zay-ni determined that he would take subtle revenge upon Klumski. He reasoned thus:
4. Klumski has put a mortal slight upon me, by bumping me in the solemn service of IIele-an-to; apologizing with an insult; and then refusing to abide by the duello. I may have been hasty, but he has been impertinent beyond account. If I suffer this offence to pass unheeded, all Yan-Ky will doubt my honor, and every fool will feel at liberty to criticise my nose. I must assert my honor. I must prove the strict inviolability of my nose. How shall it be done?'
“Here he paused. It was clear that
but one way remained. Zay-ni must undertake to obtain, by personal chastisement, the reparation to his nose which Klumski declined to give with the instruments of the duello. Now, like other Souls of lionor, although the nose of Zay-ni had a self-asserting and audacious air, a kind of just-come-and-pull-me-ifyou-dare look, derived undoubtedly from the please-tread-on-my-coat-tail trait of their common emerald ancestor, yet he was not a brave man, but was extremely accomplished in the use of the instruments of the duello. He liked an encounter in which he enjoyed all the advantage. Therefore, as the project of personally attacking Klumski was not promising for his own ease and security, he resolved upon a more exquisite revenge.
“Zay-ni was rich. He had no profession, and had nothing to do but to devote life to cherishing his nose.
“Klumski langhs at the duello,' said Zay-ni, with a sneering smile. “Now, no man can live in Yan-Ky without the good opinion of the Yan-Kyse. I will therefore force him to propose the duello to me, himself.
“In the gay circles of Yan-Ky, the elegant Zay-ni was more polished than ever. The beautiful belles of Yan-Ky agreed, that of all loves of men hitherto encountered, he was the most lovely.
"So handsome !' they said, -because his cheeks were red, and his hair was black.
“So well-dressed !’they said.—because his clothes fitted him like a glove, and he seemed to have been dropped into them like the French Count d'Artois into his trousers.
"So gentlemanly!' they said, -because he said nothing in a low tone, without laughing, and with a semi-glance of wellbred contempt at all men who had emotions.
««Such a small foot !' they said, -because a small foot is more readily comprehended than a large head.
6.Such eyes!' they said, -because the eyes had said to each one of those belles, I love you best.
6. So fascinating !' said they all,-because he treated each as if she were the sole charmer.
66 And such a sacred respect for his nose!' chimed in the tenor chorus of the beaux of Yan-Ky, whose noses were generally small.
"Among those belles Klumski had a sister, young and tender as the summer
* Colloquial Yan-Ky.