[This article is from Friday’s Post, The Ipswich Journal (Ipswich, England), Saturday, January 17, 1801. It’s quite interesting to read how Western media’s view of Chinese in 19th century, no issues about anti Chinese cheap products, no human rights problems, or air polutions.]
The common people in China, have ballads and songs inculcating chiefly the rules of civility; the relative duties of life, and maxims of morality.
The Chinese novels are amusing and instructive; they enliven the imagination without corrupting the heart, and are replete with axioms which tend to the reformation of manners by a powerful recommendation of the practice of virtue.
Conscious that the political existence of a Government depends on the proper regulation of the impulses of Nature, the severest penalties are denouced by the Chinese code of laws against all publications unfriendly to decency and good order; the purchasers of them are held in detestation by the greater part of the community; and with the publishers are alike obnoxious to the laws, which no rank, or station, however exalted, can violate with impurity.
The greatest encouragement is given by this extraordinary people to the cultivation of letters. The literati rank above the military, are eligible to the highest stations, and receive the most profound homage from all ranks.
Some of the Chinese paper is made of cotton, some of hemp; other sorts are of the bamboo, of the mulberry, or of the arbutus, which last is most in use. The inner rind, being reduced by maceration and pounding to a fluid paste, is then placed in frame moulds, and the sheets are completed by drying in a sort of stove.
The ink, commonly called “Indian ink,” is made of lamp-black, beat up in a mortar with musk, and a thin size. When brought to the consistence of paste, it is put into small moulds, stamping upon the ink what characters are wanted; and it is then dried in the sun or air.
The Chinese do not use pens, but pencils made with hair, particularly with that of rabbit.
When they write, they have upon their table a small piece of polished marble, with an hollow at one end to contain water; into this they dip their stick of ink and rub it upon the smooth part, leaning more or less heavily, to proportion the blackness.
When they write, they hold the pencil perpendicularly. They write in columns, from the top of the paper to the bottom, commencing on the right-hand side of the margin and end their books where Europeans begin theirs, whose last page is with them the first.
The paper, ink, pencil, and marble, are called “pau-tsee,” “The four precious things.”