…is about as annoying as I had feared. Still, there’s an interesting bit on China in Past and Present:

Or let us give a glance at China. Our new friend, the Emperor there, is Pontiff of three hundred million men; who do all live and work, these many centuries now; authentically patronised by Heaven so far; and therefore must have some ‘religion’ of a kind. T his Emperor-Pontiff has, in fact, a religious belief of certain Laws of Heaven; observes, with a religious rigour, his ‘three thousand punctualities,’ given out by men of insight, some sixty generations since, as a legible transcript of the same,– the Heavens do seem to say, not totally an incorrect one. He has not much of a ritual, this Pontiff-Emperor; believes, it is likest, with the old Monks, that ‘Labour is Worship.’ His most public Act of Worship, it appears, is the drawing solemnly at a certain day, on the green bosom of our Mother Earth, when the Heavens, after dead black winter, have again with their vernal radiances awakened her, a distinct red Furrow with the Plough,– signal that all the Ploughs of China are to begin ploughing and worshipping! It is notable enough. He, in sight of the Seen and Unseen Powers, draws his distinct red Furrow there; saying, and praying, in mute symbolism, so many most eloquent things!

If you ask this Pontiff, “Who made him? What is to become of him and us?” he maintains a dignified reserve; waves his hand and pontiff-eyes over the unfathomable deep of Heaven, the ‘Tsien,’ the azure kingdoms of Infinitude; as if asking, “is it doubtful that we are right well made? Can aught that is wrong become of us?”–He and his three hundred millions (it is their chief ‘punctuality’) visit yearly the Tombs of their Fathers; each man the Tomb of his Father and his Mother: alone there, in silence, with what of ‘worship’ or of other thought there may be, pauses solemnly each man; the divine Skies all silent over him; the divine Graves, and this divinest Grave, all silent under him; the pulsings of his own soul, if he have any soul, alone audible. Truly it may be a kind of worship! Truly, if a man cannot get some glimpse into the Eternities, looking through this portal,– through what other need he try it?

Our friend the Pontiff-Emperor permits cheerfully, though with contempt, all manner of Buddhists, Bonzes, Talapoins and such like, to build brick Temples, on the voluntary principle; to worship with what of chantings, paper-lanterns and tumultuous brayings, pleases them; and make night hideous, since they find some comfort in so doing. Cheerfully, though with contempt. He is a wiser Pontiff than many persons think! He is as yet the one Chief Potentate or Priest in this Earth who has made a distinct systematic attempt at what we call the ultimate result of all religion, ‘Practical Hero-worship:’ he does incessantly, with true anxiety, in such way as he can, search and sift (it would appear) his whole enormous population for the Wisest born among them; by which Wisest, as by born Kings, these three hundred million men are governed. The Heavens, to a certain extent, do appear to countenance him. These three hundred millions actually make porcelain, souchong tea, with innumerable other things; and fight, under Heaven’s flag, against Necessity;–and have fewer Seven-Years Wars, Thirty-Years Wars, French-Revolution Wars, and infernal fightings with each other, than certain millions elsewhere have!

Which passage follows his advice to factory operatives to wash themselves.

Advertisements